Wednesday, July 31, 2013

sail struggles

Part of our preparations for offshore cruising include modifications to the headsail and mainsail. We are converting the headsail from a furling sail (rolls up on the forestay or the wire brace at the front of the boat) to a hank-on sail (drops to the deck like a shower curtain). We are also converting the trailing edge of the mainsail from a roach (edge curves outward) to a hollow leach (edge curves inward). This change allows the elimination of the battens (short narrow wooden slats in pockets at trailing edge of the sail).  These are actually fairly controversial changes. 

The advantage of a furling headsail is that when the wind gets too high, the sail can be stowed without leaving the cockpit by simply pulling a line and rolling it up. The disadvantage is that if the furler fails, the sail can't be stowed and the flogging headsail could cause a dismasting in high winds. The advantage of a hank-on headsail is that it is simple and you can always get the sail down. The disadvantage is that you have to leave the cockpit (no matter how wildly the boat is pitching and rolling) and go forward to lower the sail. 

The advantages of a mainsail with a trailing edge roach and battens is that the sail size and efficiency are slightly increased. The disadvantages are that the battens can hang up in the rigging unless the boat is headed directly upwind when the sail is raised and lowered and, over time, the battens cause a lot of wear and damage to the sail. The advantages of a hollow leach are that, in rough weather, you don't have to turn upwind to reduce sail and the batten maintenance problems are avoided. The disadvantage is that the sail size and efficiency are slightly reduced. 

We really don't have the experience to guide our choice on these options. Instead, we have to rely on the recommendations of the "experts" and there are many experienced sailors who argue both sides of these potentially life threatening choices. 

So, our approach is to take the simplest and most reliable alternatives. We would rather take precautions to avoid being thrown overboard than experience a catastrophic equipment failure. 

So, that explains why we are modifying the sails. The picture at the top shows the problem that we ran into today. In trying to maneuver the large headsail through the new sewing machine, the needle bent and was driven into the bobbin carrier shown in the photo. It is also damaged and will have to be replaced and the machine will have to be adjusted. Dang!!

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

the new normal

We spent the last week and a half visiting our children and driving between New York, Alabama and Texas. When we pulled into Corpus Christi last night, I asked Kathy if it felt like we were home?  Her feelings on that were the same as mine, no, not yet. 

We have been on the boat for 2 1/2 months as "live-a-boards" and it really hasn't completely sunk in yet.  Of course it hasn't helped that I broke my hand and that we have taken two trips. But now, we are ready to determine what the "new normal" is going to be. For the next few weeks, we are going to focus on establishing a pattern (not a schedule) for working on the boat, exercising, eating, socializing and relaxing. Or in other words, trying to find a new normal. 

Sunday, July 14, 2013

dock cat

Without a doubt, one of the most difficult parts of cutting our ties with Lubbock and moving onto the boat in Corpus was saying goodbye to our cats, Lucy and Lyla. 

Tonight, we got a treat when the local extroverted dock cat, also named "Cat," paid us a visit. It was a very nice and unexpected gift. How do animals know how and when to do that?

Saturday, July 13, 2013

katherine and ben

We have had the good fortune of spending our last four summers with engineering students at the Texas Tech Center in Sevilla, Spain. Katherine and Ben were with us in the summer of 2011. They are both great students and it was a pleasure to work with them.  

It turns out that Katherine is from Corpus Christi and they were here to visit her parents this weekend. We were pleased and surprised to get a Facebook message from Ben asking to meet us for lunch. We did that today and had a very nice visit with them. 

This summer Katherine (civil engineer) and Ben (computer science) are each doing engineering internships for companies in Austin. It was clear that they are both happy with what they are doing and excited about their futures. It was great fun visiting with them. 

Friday, July 12, 2013

triple seamed

Whenever you do boat work and feel that, in anybody's opinion, you had done a good job, you say that the work was done in a "seamanly" fashion. Evidently, those seamen are some kind of craftsmen. 

Well, when working on sails, one of the marks of good seamanly work is triple seamed broadseams. The sails that came with the boat had only been double seamed. Today, we are adding a third seam between the two that were already there. 

The challenge in doing this is that the sail is nearly 40 feet tall. That makes arranging the stiff, slippery Dacron fabric difficult on a 6 foot table in a small room. It's a good team building activity.