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Thursday, October 1, 2009

Good to be home

October 1 and the marina is clearing out. Most, if not all of the
summer folks who live on their boats have headed home for the winter.
I think there is only one other year-rounder on E dock with us. The
parking lot is practically empty. It's a beautiful morning although
they're predicting a 50% chance of rain this afternoon. Of course,
50% chance pretty much means "it might rain and it might not". Got up
bright and early (9:30), made some coffee and read an old issue of
Cruising World that I found in the laundry room. Lulu got up about 15
minutes later and had her usual breakfast of granola and banana. I
opted instead to fix myself a plate of fried potatoes and eggs.

Right now, Lulu is off to town to check into a 3-day-a-week job
cooking for Meals On Wheels. She's trying to find some sort of part
time cooking job to keep her busy and bring in a few extra bucks
through the dark months. I, on the other hand, am not quite so
anxious to jump back into the workaday world. I like getting up at
9:15. Not to be labelled a complete layabout or slugabed, I am
volunteering at the Newport Aquarium. My first all-day training
session is this Saturday at the ungodly hour of 9:00 AM. Oh well,
I'll soldier through somehow. I have 3 training sessions and then
commit to 100 hours of service over the course of the next 9 months
(ordinarily it would be over a year but we won't be here for a full
year). Should be pretty interesting to see what goes on behind the
scenes at the Aquarium. The free passes will be nice, too.

Yesterday I went up the mast to install the final mast step that I had
somehow neglected to install when we were in the yard. This step is
the last climbing step. It's just below the two steps at the very top
that are used to stand on while working on the lights and such at the
very top of the mast. The big deal about yesterday's trip aloft was
that I did it by myself. No one on deck belaying my safety line.
"Waddya, stooopid?" you ask. No, no. There are safe ways to do
this. And, the time may come when I have to go aloft at sea when Lulu
is needed for other things, like steering the boat. So, best to learn
it dockside. The trick is to be able to be tied off to a safety line
in such a way that you can still climb but, if you should lose your
grip, you're held in place by a safety tether. There are mechanical
devices for this called ascenders or Jumars. Rock climbers use them.
However, there is a much cheaper way. By tying a couple of safety
tether loops to the safety line using a prussik knot (http://www.indoorclimbing.com/Prusik_Knot.html
). You can then slide the safety tether ahead of you going either
direction and, if you fall, you'll only fall as far as the amount of
slack in the tether. I use two safety tethers for insurance. It
worked like a charm and was by far the easiest setup I've used for
going aloft yet.

note: Some of you have chided me for my use of nautical terms that you
find completely unintelligible. So, the following section has the
lubber's translation in parentheses. I'll use this method in future
blogs when I remember to.

Today's job is to plug up a rain leak. Found water on the ceiling
(outboard wall or hull liner) next to my side of the bunk yesterday
morning. This seemed weird because, although it had rained the night
before, it hadn't rained very hard. We've been through lots rainier
nights with nary a leak. Well, on investigation, I found what I think
is the source of the leak. On the inside of the starboard (right hand
side when facing forward) bulwark (outermost part of the hull that
rises above the deck 6-8 inches and keeps whatever you just dropped
from sliding immediately into the ocean) there is a spring-mounted
block (pulley) through-bolted. This block was used as a fairlead (a
device for ensuring that a line runs "fair" or in a nice straight line
where you want it to go) for the staysail sheet (the staysail is the
triangular sail aft of the jib which is the furthest forward sail.
the "sheet" is the line that is used to control the sails). With the
boomless staysail, the sheets run differently and the block was not
being used. However, I decided to use it to run the furling line from
the jib furler (c'mon, we talked about this in an earlier entry. The
furler is the device that allows me to wrap a sail up like a window
shade instead of removing it when not i use). The base of this block
appears to be the source of the leak. Why hasn't it shown up before?
Well, when there is pressure on the block, it is pulled away from the
bulwark. We have never had the block in use in the rain before. But,
with the furling gear installed, I want to keep the furled sails
wrapped tightly so the wind won't pull them open. This means that
both the furling line and the sheets have considerable tension on them
all the time. This apparently was enough to pull the base of the
block out from the bulwark enough to let some rain water in. I'm
dragging my feet a little because in order to rebed (put fresh
caulking under the base) the block I have to remove part of the
overhead (ceiling) and ceiling (wall) from my side of the v-berth (our
bedroom). This of course requires that I remove 2 bookshelves and
possibly a light fixture. And all this is just so that I can (I hope)
get my hand up into the bulwark enough to get a wrench on the nuts
holding the block in place. But, such is life on a boat.

OK, enough procrastinating. Time to get to work. Happy October 1 to
you all.

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