Spring Sailing & Maintenance (February - July 2001)
As most boat owners will attest, sailing and maintenance are two sides of the same coin.

Saturday, February 24, 2001: A Marvelous Daysail

Theresa's mom was in town for the weekend, and since we had yet to take her out on our boat (despite the fact that we've owned the boat now for nearly a year and a half), we planned the whole weekend around a sailing trip, weather permitting. As luck would have it, Lavonne called that Friday to say that they would be in town on Saturday too, so we invited Lavonne, Eric, and their baby Katie to come with us. (We certainly appreciated the chance to have two other experienced sailors on the boat with us.)

The weather cooperated beautifully, and we woke Saturday to a gorgeous day with a nice wind out of the north. Furthermore, high tide was shortly after noon, so we were able to get out around noon and back before dusk. The company was delightful, the sailing was delightful, and a pod of dolphins even came over to play in our bow wake during the sail back in. What more could anyone want? We even went out to dinner afterwards. Just a great day.

March, 2001: Some Spring Cleaning

We discovered on our last outing that most of the food we'd left on the boat after our ICW trip had gone bad. It had been nearly a year, so I guess this shouldn't have been surprising, but the remaining food was so well-packaged that I had thought it could keep for years. In any case, I took a day while Theresa was away on a business trip to sort through all the food and throw out everything that was obviously or even probably bad. In the end, it wasn't really that much food, but it's probably something I should have done earlier.

Saturday, April 7, 2001: A Little Daysail

Patrick & Keri were in town for the weekend, so we planned a little daysail for Saturday. Unfortunately, the weather wasn't very accomodating, providing a strong wind out of the west. We sailed out the Pass-A-Grille channel to the inlet, but the waves were rolling in from the west, so we didn't even try to get out. Instead, we just sailed up and down the Pass-A-Grille channel. It was fairly relaxing.

Late April, 2001: Seeking a New Slip

Our landlord gave us tentative notice that he wanted to move down to Florida this summer, so we started looking for another place to live. After a couple weekends of searching, we found a nice house up in Dunedin (just north of St. Petersburg) that was on a little lake, and that didn't cost any more than our current place.

This only left the problem of where to keep our boat, since it would now be almost an hour away. I spent most of the latter part of April scouting out alternative marinas while Theresa was away on business trips, but I never found anything suitable:

  • The Clearwater Marina was nice, well-protected, right on a deep-water channel, close to our new house, and cheap, but it had a two-year waiting list.
  • The Sailfish Marina at John's Pass was right on a deep-water channel, well-protected from weather, cheap, and available, but it didn't have any security, and it was a half-hour drive from our new place.
  • Another marina in Clearwater was close to our new house and had some nice slips, but it was very expensive, a long way from the inlet, and in the process of being sold.
  • A marina north in Tarpon Springs was cheap, well-protected, available, and reasonably close, but it was an hour up the river from the Gulf.
Nothing seemed to work, so we decided to leave the boat at the Tierra Verde Marina until something more attractive came to light.

After all this work, a miraculous series of coincidences involving both our current landlord and our new one conspired to give us the option of staying where we are, so in the end, we didn't move at all. What a ridiculous waste of time!

Thursday, May 3, 2001: Big Hail Storm & Unrelated Battery Problem

There was an amazing hail storm on May 3 while Theresa was at a meeting in Largo. The wind was so strong that it was raining SIDEWAYS, directly into the sliding glass doors. There was so much water and ice spraying against them (and this is UNDER THE DECK, mind you) that I couldn't open them without filling the living room with icewater. The noise was deafening, and I began to fear that the hail, being driven as it was HORIZONTALLY into the sliding doors, was going to shatter them. I got the truck into the garage in the nick of time though, and I rescued my Norfolk Island Pine off of the porch.

The storm shredded the bimini on our neighbor's sailboat, so I went over to the marina afterward to check on our boat. She was fine, except that the zippers had torn away from the bimini some more, but that's something I've been meaning to fix anyway. However, I did discover that the batteries were dead, apparently because the fresh-water pump had been running continuously in vapor-lock since I was on the boat the week before. To compound the problem, I discovered that the water in the batteries was badly depleted, so I was obliged to add distilled water immediately, before I could even begin to recharge them.

Fortunately, Big Reds are awesome batteries, and they hadn't sulfated so badly that they couldn't be recharged. It took several weeks on constant shore-power, but the batteries came back up nicely. It was an important lesson though: since there was no juice to run the bilge pump, if the storm had broken something (like a skylight or a through-hull fitting), we would have had some serious problems.

Saturday, June 9, 2001: Binoculars

When we were outfitting for our trip down the ICW, Theresa and I bought a new pair of waterproof marine binoculars at West Marine. Somehow, they developed what appeared to be salt crystals inside the eyepieces, so I took them back to West Marine to have the lenses repaired. We rarely used the binoculars, and they hadn't ever really been wet, so I was a bit peeved by their failure. West Marine refused to exchange them, but instead shipped them back to the factory for repair. They came back fine, but I kind of resented having to wait two weeks to get them back. Not a very strong warranty.

Friday, June 15 - Sunday, June 17, 2001: Charger Circuit & Docklines

Dad was in town for Father's Day weekend, and we had planned to do some sailing. Unfortunately, there was absolutely zero wind the entire weekend, and it was uncomfortably hot out. With no wind, Dad helped me out one of the days with a couple of boat projects.

Back in the fall the charger had started going on the fritz, dropping into error mode when the charger attempted to switch from Accept to Float. I was more recently reminded of the problem when I had to recharge and recondition the depleted battery bank. I contacted Heart about the problem in late May, and they sent me a new circuit board for the inverter. Dad and I pulled the inverter/charger out of its closet (a fairly laborious task) and successfully installed the new circuit board.

We also installed some new docklines, which subsequently stretched considerably, obliging me to check the lines at all points of the tide over the next two weeks to get them set correctly again. The combinations of current and wind make the line positioning in that slip an exacting science. I'm really starting to hate our slip.


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Changes last made on: Sat, Oct 27, 2001
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