Wednesday, November 9, 2016

A weekend on the hook - Finally

Howdy Folks,

If you've managed to make it through a few of our blog posts, chances are you've asked yourself..."Do these guys ever actually get out and use their boat?"

Fair question, I know Kara and I have been joking with each other and most of our boating friends about that for a quit a while.  The fact of the matter is, we're 3.5 hours 1 way from the boat...after our move back to Austin (4.5 hrs before we sold the house).  That distance combined with the large list of items we wanted to address in a short period of time, has meant that the majority of our weekends on the boat (2-3 a month) have been dedicated to working on the boat vs. actually enjoying it.

While we've made some real progress this last year, all work and no play has been frustrating at times.  So we talked to a few of our marina boat buddies and decided that this past weekend (Nov 5 2016) we where dedicating to getting away from the dock for a change.  A weekend away for a little sailing and few nights at anchor...what an novel concept.

Unfortunately work conspired against me and I had to be in Austin for an important customer meeting Friday afternoon.  The original plan was to work in Houston and make for an early afternoon.  Get out and anchored in time to fire up the grill and enjoy a few sundowners with our friends.  As it turned out Kara and I weren't able to join the rest of the group until 10PM on Friday.  But hey, we made it in time to launch the new dink and row over (still working to replace some missing fuel fittings for the outboard) to a friend's boat and join the group for a few drinks in the cockpit.

We anchored out at redfish island in Galveston bay, which is an oddly cool anchorage.  Not real picturesque compared to the type of images that come to mind for most of us when contemplating the cruising lifestyle, but cool none the less.  It's a little man-made island right off the Houston ship channel.  The shape provides good shelter from the East and NE as well as blocking the wakes from the passing ships.  It's out towards the center of the bay so you get a nice breeze and can sit in the cockpit and watch the massive ships role by, so cool in its own right.  Oh and did I's outside the marina, that might be the best part.

Chart view of Red Fish with the Houston ship channel to the East

We had a nice night at anchor and got up early to enjoy a little coffee in the cockpit while watching the ship traffic.  The original plan suggested by our friends was to sail down to Galveston just outside the ship channel and possibly anchor in the Galveston yacht basin.  Our original target of Offatts Bayou and Moody Gardens wasn't really an option due to the Galveston causeway rail bridge being closed for work between 7AM-7PM.  Since the clearance is around 8 ft when the bridge is closed, that was out.

Our buddy boats at anchor Saturday morning.  The shipping traffic is much closer than my iphone shows here.

Our friends boat Irie (Catalina 36)

Vela at anchor, as seen from Irie.  Thanks Joel and Jennifer for the pic.

We got a late start the next morning and a tight wind angle combined with close quarters to very large fast ships made for a stressful situation for Kara and I.  Since the goal of the weekend was to have fun, we opted to turn around and just spend the day sailing around the bay.  Once we made that change, we had a nice relaxed afternoon of sailing.  We tacked and jibed our way around the bay, while watching a few Saturday afternoon rum racers fighting it out around the marks. Then just decided to be lazy and head back over to Red Fish to set the hook and grill a few turkey burgers over sundowners in the cockpit.  The wind picked up overnight but our 73lb Rocna didn't seem to notice, which is just how we like it.

Too cloudy for much of a sunset but hey, at least we where able to take advantage of the breeze with our new silentwind generator.

The next morning we made coffee and enjoyed breakfast in the cockpit. Stowed the dinghy on the davits and upped anchor for a nice sail back to the marina.  For the first time in WAY too long, we went the whole weekend without touching land, nice change.

This was also our first real test of the new solar panels and wind gen, both worked perfectly and our old degraded lifeline batteries never dropped below 13v all weekend.  Of course, we didn't put much of a load on them either, but it sure was nice to enjoy a little piece and quiet for a change.  Of course this weekend, it's back to the grindstone...we have several projects to knock out.  But we're getting there.

According to my little countdown app....we're a little over 5 months away.


Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Project update - Stern Seats, Davits and a new Dink

Howdy Folks,

Just a quick update on our progress to date.  We're now finished with the new stern rail seats and they turned out even better than we where hoping.

New stern seat - 3 coats of Cetol natural and 3 coats of gloss

Getting there - We've since replaced these speakers with a new pair of fully waterproof speakers from wetsounds.

New seats are much more usable and orders of magnitude more comfortable than the old ones.

The next step was finally taking Vela over to Seabrook for some much needed fiberglass repair.  This was primarily to patch all the holes we made when removing the old stern hardware to make room for the arch.  We removed an old wind generator, davits, stern light and various hardware to make room for the arch.  We installed a new LED stern light on the arch to make it more visible, due to the added height.  The new wind generator is also up on the arch, so we had several holes left in the fiberglass as a result of the moves.   Getting these all fiber glassed in, means we no longer have a bunch of duct tape covered holes on we're pretty happy about that.

Vela patiently waiting at the dock to patch the holes and finally remove the duct tape.

Our next order of business was rigging up the davits and motor lift to get ready for our new AB lammina 10AL dinghy.  To do that I finally learned to splice double braided line, thanks to our friends at Stix-n-Rig'n, who where kind enough to teach me...and then a bit of trial and error back at the marina.

Newly rigged davits with 6:1 lifting tackle.  The motor lift took a little more time since I had to splice it directly onto the becket of the top block.

Then a few days later our new dinghy showed up.  The best pricing we could find, even after heading to the Annapolis boat show, was from Defender.  Of course that presented some logistics challenges trying to coordinate shipping when we're 3.5 hours away from the boat.

Fortunately, being a Texan I drive a truck.  Big thanks to our friends at JZ Custom rails (they built our arch) for letting us ship the dink to their shop and loading it into the truck with their forklift.

Unpacking back at the marina

Good ole Texas neighbors helping bring her down to the slip.

Inflated and ready for Vela to return from the fiberglass work.  No fiberglass on this boat 117lb of aluminum and Hypalon.

Good looking dink, can't wait to share many cruising and diving adventures with her.

And finally, my reward for a 'quick trip' down to pick-up the dinghy.

Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned.  Our next update is actually a full weekend....away from the dock....crazy!