Friday, June 21, 2013

Re-masting, part two!

Alas...despite Nick's help initially, and my possessed work pace for the next 8 days, I simply ran out of time before I needed to return to Orcas and prepare for a two-day Longboat Surfing class through Body Boat Blade.  It was literally as close as this:  I had 2 hours before the crane was scheduled to arrive, and four hours of work to complete...I had to call it off.

So I motored the newly christened "Lung-Ta" back to Orcas--a beautiful little trip with the sun beaming on my face as I felt the relief and wisdom of knowing when to let go of a deadline.  My poor boat looked as though she might have felt naked in a new land.  Sailboats just don't look right without a mast.

Mastless...for a while.
The class was a true success;  we had near perfect conditions, a GREAT group of students who truly wanted to develop their surfing skills, and I had the privilege of co-coaching with BBB's newest coach, Don Chayette.  Don and I stayed an extra night so we could fit in one more solid surf session and our friend and a student on the class, David Kau, stayed as well.

Don catching a nice one.

Back to Orcas, back to the boat, and discouragement set in....What the hell was I thinking?  What was I doing with my life?  Where was the ingenuity and excitement I had felt at the onset of the project?  The whole plan was all about living on the water again, and creating more space and time in my life, not less.  Here I was floating on a mastless boat in the cold drizzle of early spring, and I was pretty bummed.

Hhhmmm....Well, when we encounter such feelings we can give up, or finish what we have set out to do.  So, I packed all the tools up again, motored the boat back to Anacortes, then hopped back to move my truck there as well.  This "second round" was really a gift;  I had worked so hard before, but had been very attached to the outcome I wanted, and that had tainted the whole experience with a bitter flavor.  I had been hustling, brows furrowed, going to bed exhausted.  My unfinished tasks from each day got tacked onto the ext day's list, making it feel like I was getting further behind rather than the truth:  I was making progress, just not as fast as I had hoped.  Now, engaging with it after a break, my enthusiasm returned, and I vowed to try to have more fun with the rest of the project.

Lists to help sequence the events

It worked!  Even with some changes in my plan, and a lot of extra $ spent to get the job done, I had  a good time.  All of the guys at Northwest Rigging are knowledgable, and dedicated sailors.  My day always started at their shop and their smiles and humor were contagious--they seem to love what they do.  I could tell they wanted to see my project succeed as much as I did.

The day of stepping was nigh -- I was excited and a bit nervous.  One error made in the process could end in someone getting hurt, or the new mast and my boat being damaged.  After so much hard work and money that would be a shame.  I knew it would be asses and elbows for a brief spell, but that it would end with my mast up and secure, and that's exactly how it went.

Kent, Dean, and Mareck doing what they do.

I had a few more days tied to the dock in Anacortes to finish some facets of the project with the mast up, install the StrongTrack mainsail track, install the boom, and fasten and bed 8 chainplates.  One evening I finished my day at midnight and was asleep as my head hit my "pillow".

Looks just right

My friend Kimaya offered to come over and share the boat ride back with me, and we had a great time feeling the warm sun, and I basked in the feeling of a project done.

Mast up, boom on, new rigging

"Lung-Ta" still isn't quite sailable yet, but with a newer mainsail getting modified at San Juan Canvas, and a bunch of necessary deck hardware ordered it won't be too long before feeling the magic of sailing  again will be a reality.

Note spreader width

RE-Masting, Sail 2 Surf

The decision to remove a functional mast from my trimaran (the platform for the Sail 2 Surf project) and replace it with a different spar was a tough one.  The driving factors were 1) the existing spar, though strong and functional, was significantly shorter than design spec, thus sails and sail area were below design spec, 2) A new suit of sails is needed anyway, so might as well be of the correct dimensions and 3) with the goal of zero fossil fuel use, the boat needs to be able to move in light air, since roughly 50 % of cruising is done in winds under 12 knots.

I'd been saving up for this project for the last month and a half, working full-time doing finish carpentry and deliberating for ages about how to rig this mast on my boat such that it would be as functional, safe and strong as possible.

Design showing proper mast height.

Andy and Kent at Northwest Rigging Northwest Rigging, in Anacortes have proved invaluable in the project thus far, offering some yard space, product consult and ordering, swaging and shop needs, and expertise.  If you are doing anything with rigging I can't recommend them highly enough.  They are also DIY friendly--but do everyone a favor and have yourself sorted beforehand.  Also, plan to tackle your project before May, as most marine service businesses get swamped for the first couple of months of the boating season.

Nick Scoville offered to come up to Orcas, from Portland, and help sail the trimaran over to Anacortes, and help me out for a couple of days with the re-masting.  We decided to turn it into a bit of an adventure, so departed Orcas on saturday afternoon, sailing into Obstruction pass that evening.  A short hike away was a good friend's birthday party, and some new friends for Nick, then a moonlight paddle back out to the boat to crash.

The following morning dawned sunny and warm, but quickly turned cloudy and windy.  We hopped onto the strong ebb and made it to Anacortes in 3 tacks, a stomping sail averaging about 8 or 9 knots (with shamefully sloppy sail trim!).  We snuck into the lee of the penninsula which most of the town sits on, and felt our way closer to the docks in very shallow water.  I love the daggerboard and kick-up rudder for this reason.

After anchoring the boat, we reconned for a public dock to tie up to, and sort out where the lifting crane was.  Nick returned to Orcas for his truck full of my tools, and I made arrangement to pick the mast the following day.

Removing the older mast.

Nick proved to be pivotal in these first couple of days, and, though deeply appreciative of his generous time,  I was sad to see him go--the guy is an exceptional boater and waterman.  THANKS NICK!

The old mast after un-stepping with the "Figh-dollah crane"

We were able to remove the old spar, strip it of hardware which can be re-used, completely service the outboard engine, layout the new rigging plan on the new mast, and fortify the hull and decks with backing material to accommodate new rigging attachment hardware like chainplates, etc.

The next three days will be filled with getting the new masts hardware attached, bedded, and insulated (electrically), mast base plate attached, and (fingers crossed) the mast on the boat by late friday.

Like so much in life, this is one of those projects which can't be put on the shelf half-done...but as circumstances would have it, I need to be adaptive.

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Lumpy Waters 2012!

Lumpy Waters Symposium this autumn was a really nice progression in the 4 years it's been held.  I saw significant evolution in not only the choice of courses offered, but also in the caliber of coaching, and in skill level of the students (including the most accurate self-assessment and matching of students to courses).  Paul Kuthe keeps raising the bar--showing us all how to get a large group of folks even more psyched than they already are, helping everyone find the right fit regarding classes, juggling coaches and courses as weather and swell change, and keeping a stellar attitude the whole time.  Well done (yet again!), Paul...

As logic would dictate, one can only luck out with the weather for so long....and the previous two symposiums had coincided with nearly ideal conditions.  This year, the week prior to Lumpy Waters, I was fortunate enough to be asked to coach at BCU Week, held in various venues near Astoria, Or.  When I showed up, the first nasty low-pressure system of the year had arrived--after nearly 80 days of zero precipitation.  Judging by the small lakes in the campsites, we were all in for a wet one.  Lumpy was no exception--we had big, sloppy swells and winds from the SW to NW at small-craft advisory strength.

With good timing and positioning, some were able to surf distances like that separating Jeff Laxier and Matt Palmariello.

The coaches adapted with smooth grace, and the students at the event were very understanding of the need to keep things safe and fun for everyone.  It appears that a combination of 1) A small number of students being involved in preventable incidents (and not wanting to make the same mistakes twice), and 2) a general increase in personal responsibility and risk assessment process, have contributed to an improvement in group "mode of operation" within the general paddling community.  I'm hoping I won't be proved wrong on this through the winter and coming season.

Out of necessity, we utilized some new venues (at least to me), which were quite good--and will be used in future events, even in better conditions.  I coached two days of "Long Boat Surfing" with both Sean Morely and Rob Avery, a short boat surfing session with Chris Bensch and Cate Hawthorne, and closed with one day of co-coaching/leading a short journey near the mouth of Tillamook Bay.  We found some fabulous rock-gardening around some rocks near the entrance, and had a great time on the way back running some slots and pourovers.  Nobody really wanted the paddling to end, and it didn't--for some....

Everun' cep' me...

A post-symposium tradition seems to have developed of the coaches (who can stay an extra day) getting together for an evening of libations and blowing off some steam, followed by a short day of rock-gardening and surf, before everyone must get traveling home.  Conditions this year were a bit nastier than in the last few, but out we went anyway.  Good friend and fellow coach,  Jeff Laxier, was celebrating his birthday today, and what better a way to celebrate than going boating!

We had fun doing a little rock gardening, but swell size and direction were pretty inconsistent, the short period also made timing a bit more tricky.  Gusty winds from the southwest damped down the spectator  appeal--we didn't really hang around any on spot, but paddled around the two outermost islands, through some caves, and then we found ourselves at a very challenging steep arette angled steeply into the swell.  A rock exists about 6-10 feet (depending on swell size) out from the arette.  The swell would sort of wash through, but would be lateral just as often, and when so,  it was washing/breaking through from either side.  Sean ran it on the fly, seeing a beautiful window, and timed it perfectly.  Then the rest of us held position while Jeff L. waited patiently for his moment.  He kept at it, almost going for it a couple of times, but clearly treating it with respect.  I wasn't even considering running it, but had fun close to Jeff as the big sets came through.

On bigger sets, one could catch a decent surge through here towards viewer.
We found a fun reefy zone on the S. side of the rocks, with some fun breaks allowing us to short for maybe 80 feet max, over the rest of the reef.  Patience was required waiting for a swell of the right size and direction, and we were catching them very close to the exposed rock.

Bowling up behind Nick Scoville.
At this point, we had a short group chat, and ended up splitting up into two pods, one going up the headland a short bit for more rocks, and a few of us heading back to the launch area to do some surfing.

Rob Yates has hooking some good waves, it was difficult to exit off at the end of the ride, we all got creamed every so often.
We had some meaty rides, which were short and usually ended well if you could make a hasty exit off the wave.  I didn't always succeed, and got a bit of a thrashing for it.

We all had a good time, but the weather was such that it lessened our sadness to get on the road and head home.