The lesson here is that a sail’s stitching should be repaired before it becomes a tear in the sailcoth.

I just learned that lesson.

I’ve known for the past few sails that there was a section of stitching near the clew of the main that needed re-sewing. Yeah sure, I’ll get to it. Eventually. During a day-sail last week, eventually became immediately, as the foot of the sail tore out around the broken stitches for a length of about 12 inches. I pulled down to the first reef to finish out the sail, and took the sail down the next day to fix it.

I could have done this by hand with my Speedy Stitcher, but I have access to a marina neighbor’s heavy-duty sewing machine. It was time to give it a try.

Forthunately, I’ve watched my wife sew long enough and asked her enough questions to understand what has to happen with the machine – the concept of the locking stitch, what the bobbin does, what effect the tension knob has, and why a sewing machine is threaded the way it is – so I was able to figure out how to thread and adjust the machine, and how to refill the bobbin with a little trial-and-error.

I cut a patch to sew down over the tear, placed over the carefully positioned section for repairing with the help of double-sided sewing tape, and began to carefully feed it through the machine. Four times! This is a straight-stitch-only machine, so I had to make sure I had sewn down all the edges and fully supported the material surrounding the tear.

The machine is made by Thomas - heavy, strong gears and body allow it to punch through many layers of cloth.

The machine is made by Thompson – heavy, strong gears and body allow it to punch through many layers of cloth.

In the photo above you can see the patch applied – it’s to the left of the seam opening – through which daylight is pouring! I repaired this open seam, and inspected the rest of the sail as well. I restitched down the entire length of the leach, as much of the stitching was weak or missing, and reenforced a few other places too.

Here's an image of the repaired sail in use. The repairs aren't beautiful, but the are strong.

Here’s an image of the repaired sail in use. The repairs aren’t beautiful, but they’re strong. And it looks like I need to adjust the wrinkles out of the trim too. . .

I discovered yesterday that I missed one weakened seam just above the first reef point – and it began to open up in the brisk breeze. I dropped the main as soon as I noticed it (see – I’m learning) and finished out the sail on jib alone. Today, I’ll take a closer look at it. This one may be small enough to repair by hand. If not, I’ll bring the machine down to the boat, simply pull the foot of the sail off the outhaul, and repair it right there on deck.

Finally, during a walk today through another marina in my neighborhood, I came across this beautiful lapstrake dinghy and though you would enjoy a photo of it.

Tender to s/v Hesper, featured in this post.

Tender to s/v Hesper, featured in this post.

I’ve got a bit of catching up to do, since I didn’t have much cell service last night.

After a fairly leisurely morning, we upped anchor in the Rhode River and started towards the Wye River on the Eastern Shore. It wasn’t a windless day, but pretty near so. Once into the West River we raised sail and ghosted along at 1-2 knots. When the wind quit completely, we started the motor and made wake for the Eastern Shore, slowing down briefly for the hopes of sailing again, but with no substantive progress towards our goal. When the very light wind failed again, we motored on, finally dropping the hook in the first large creek to starboard on the Wye. We had hoped to go all the way up to our favorite place an hours’ motoring up the river – Ward’s Cove (our name for it) – but with an eye towards the weather forecast for the next two days, we decided to stay near mouth of the Wye. Rain was/is predicted today (this afternoon), as it accompanies a major cold front blowing through. Then tomorrow, temps are to drop into the low 50s with winds on the open bay up to 25 mph. Not dangerous for cautious sailors like us, but certainly not comfortable. We made the decision to come back a day early, and easy access to the mouth of the Wye took an hour off our trip.

Sunrise on the Rhode River

Sunrise on the Rhode River

Windless bay and another motoring sailboat.

Windless bay and another motoring sailboat.

We dropped anchor in six feet of water. There was much honking amid the many different groups of Canada geese in the creek. We were flanked by several of the typical Eastern Shore mansions one sees on the waterfront of many creeks, rivers and estuaries of the bay.

2016-10-20-17-23-052016-10-20-17-22-30I guess the is the country get-away for the east coast one percent. You can see why – it’s just beautiful up here. We relaxed a bit, had dinner, went to bed, and the wind picked up pretty good. 15 – 20 mph gusts made me anxious about my rode to chain splice, but we were fine through the night. Our new Delta 33# anchor held us fast.

Relaxing with a book before dinner.

Relaxing with a book before dinner.

Bugs not welcome. Although a bit worse for wear, our bug screens are indispensable, keeping the buggy wild life on the outside.

Bugs not welcome. Although a bit worse for wear, our bug screens are indispensable, keeping the buggy wild life on the outside.

Morning dawned clear and cool, then a brief fog rolled through, clearing up in about an hour. We got underway at 0930, and as I stowed the rode and chain down the hawse pipe I inspected the rope/chain splice – it was fine: no chafe, no rot, no problem, and no worries. Back out on the Eastern Bay, we raised the jib, as the wind was behind us (my least favorite point of sail with jib and main raised together) and made 3 knots. Turning left on to the Eastern Bay put us hard on the wind, at which point we raised the main. We had about 4 miles to go and a point of land to leeward to clear to get out on the open bay. I wasn’t sure we could point that high the whole time. We actually made it handily. Watkins 27s don’t have a reputation for being very weatherly sailboats, but I think they are fine if handled well and have a set of sails in reasonably good shape. Once we turned into the Eastern Bay, we followed a single compass course for the next 13 miles. Exiting from Eastern Bay, the wind gradually strengthened to about 15 mph and backed around from South to SSE. I kept easing the sheets until we were on a beam reach, and hitting 6.1-6.2 knots from time to time. The sky was blue, it was 70 degrees, and we were on a beam reach for close to two hours. Glorious sailing!

As we approached our home port of Deale, we saw the clouds moving in from the SW. We were moored by 1430, had the boat unloaded by 1500, and the rain began at 1600.

Tomorrow, cold and windy. Glad we’re home snug and warm.

 

 

Exciting day. We didn’t pick up the anchor, and we didn’t move the boat. In fact, we didn’t do anything. My metabolism conspired against me when I when to bed last night – I was awake for a long time after midnight, then woke once in the early morning hours, and stayed awake for a while.  Finally falling back asleep, I slept til nearly 0900! Ruth slept like the dead, but woke early. Finally rising, we drank tea (I’m off of coffee for now), ate breakfast after 1030. . . it was a very slow start to the day.

The anchorage is so pleasant, the weather so beautiful, the crew so lazy, that we simply stayed put, reading, napping (repeat 3x), ’til it was dinner time. In fact,the most ambitious we did today was to talk about taking the dinghy for a sail – but we never got past talking about it.

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All in all, a very satisfying day. Tomorrow we’ll move, probably over to the Wye River, approximately 15 miles to the east.

 

Although our wedding anniversary was in August, we couldn’t get away to celebrate until this week. Even so, we just had to carve out a few days from the calendar. Retired life can get fairly busy! So today through Saturday we’ll be on the bay visiting our favorite haunts, as the weather and wind allow. I will post daily, provided that I have cell service.

We finally got away from the pier at 1600 and made for the Rhode River, as a northerly course seemed to promise a more favorable point of sail. And it did, for an hour and a half, but as we got clear of the shadow of Herring Bay, the breeze clocked around to a vector more directly astern, losing strength at the same time. I finally dropped the headsail, sheeted the main to centerline, and started the motor. We didn’t want to be caught dodging crab pot floats in the dark. We made good time with a fair current, motorsailing until we made the final turn up the river.

I stowed the sails as Ruth steered, then mustered the sea-and-anchor detail (me).

We’re at anchor now, in a spot we’ve been many times, finished with dinner and waiting for the critical mass to accumulate for showers and bed.

Until tomorrow. . .

Good things happen to those who look in free-cycle bins.

Several days ago I was looking in the free-cycle bins at a local marina. I lifted the lid and noticed armfuls of material. Huh! I wonder what that is. After digging around a bit, I determined that it was a full cover for a sailboat – I had no idea what size. I hauled it out and decided to sort it out later.

Yesterday was later, so I spread it out and measured. 34′-36′ x 14′ depending on how I count the sprit cover. My boat is 27 x10. . . Wow – that might work. It was designed for a cutter, as there are cut-outs for a forestay and inner stay, replete with dimensions for the rollerfurling drums. It has a couple of small tears – really, not difficult to repair at all – and one zipper that’s broken. The cover will have to be adjusted to fit perfectly, but that’s okay.

2016-10-17-17-47-13 2016-10-17-17-46-27There are reliefs for stanchions – all in the wrong place, as far as I can tell – but the edges are bound and tabbed with turn-buttons; the tabs are reinforced; all the openings are set with turn-buttons or zippers, and potential chafe areas are bound with leather edging. This was thoughtfully put together, and it doesn’t seem like any expense was spared. It has been used, obviously, but the fabric is by no means worn out. I don’t know how water-proof it is anymore – treatment with a waterproofing compound would be a good idea regardless.

The boom will have to come off and a lower ridge pole set up, otherwise the width won’t extend to or past the gunwales. The forward section is fitted first up to, and around the mast, then the aft section is buttoned into it, and it also wraps around the mast. There is a full-width zipper about 25% forward from the stern, which will allow access while covered.

2016-10-17-17-46-52This forward section has three reinforced lifting points, currently joined with a continuous line, and terminating at an adjustable ring – it looks to be “self adjusting,” meaning that you can slide the ring along the continuous line for optimal positioning after a halyard is attached and the section is lifted from the deck.

2016-10-17-17-46-46The after section has a large pocket to accommodate its rise up and around the mast, while the area over the cockpit has two straps underneath to go around the ridge pole, assuring that it won’t flap too much in windy conditions.

And here’s what it looks like draped over the boat:

2016-10-17-17-32-46 2016-10-17-17-34-03 2016-10-17-17-33-43 2016-10-17-17-34-21Pretty sure it’s got to feed under the safety lines to reach over the gunwales, and that improves the slope for shedding water and snow as well. I don’t think it will be a “set up and forget it” type of thing.  I’ll still want to come and check for water pockets, and clear off significant snow falls – good thing I live a mile from the boatyard! Still, I think it will be a huge improvement over what I’ve done in winters past, which includes ill-fitting, wind-shifting tarps, and . . . nothing.

This is the time of year when sailing is good almost every day. Breeze is strong, temps are moderate, even the rain is tolerable. So I’ve posted a few photos from recent sails. Not great stuff, but just to give you the feel of sailing on the Chesapeake in October.

Weather looks a little doubtful with respect to rain, but the wind was good. It was a fantastic day to sail.

Weather looks a little doubtful, but the wind was good. It was a fantastic day to sail.

. . . and I wasn't the only one who thought it was a good day to be on the water.

. . . and I wasn’t the only one who thought it was a good day to be on the water.

Photo from yesterday. Started out with fog in the morning. By the time I got on the water the fog was burning off. You can see the remnant mist off the point of Rosehaven (at right).

Photo from yesterday. Started out with fog in the morning. By the time I got on the water the fog was burning off. You can see the remnant mist off the point of Rosehaven (at right).

The cliffs, where I anchor in shallow water and scrub the growth off the bottom. I can anchor in about 4 feet and stand beside the boat brushing the growth off.

The cliffs, where I anchor in shallow water and scrub the growth off the bottom. I can anchor in about 4 feet and stand beside the boat brushing the growth off.

The work boats are always out here. Weather smeather ! - they've got to make a living. This is a hard job.

The work boats are always out here. The water is never too rough, the weather never too bad to make a living. This is a hard job.

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And I'm not the only pleasure boater who thought that a Tuesday morning was a good time to sail.

And I’m not the only pleasure boater who thought that a Tuesday morning was a good time to sail.

I think this boat has a throttle setting titled "plow," or "maximum fuel usage." He was at the perfect speed to send out maximum wake. I'd hate to have his fuel bill.

I think this boat has a throttle setting titled “plow,” or “maximum fuel usage.” He was at the perfect speed to send out maximum wake. I’d hate to have his fuel bill.

Canada geese making their way. One of the iconic harbingers of autumn on the Chesapeake.

Canada geese making their way. One of the iconic harbingers of autumn on the Chesapeake.

Hands-free steering.

Hands-free steering.

Salty skipper and the obligatory selfie.

Salty skipper and the obligatory selfie.

Learning more about sailing alone - heaving to affords a controlled way to drop and bag the sails. Heaving to is the answer to many moments when you just need a to create a space of calm, reduced motion without having to mind the helm.

Learning more about sailing alone – heaving to affords a controlled way to drop and bag the sails. Heaving to is the answer to many moments when you just need a to create a space of calm, reduced motion without having to mind the helm.

After a week of rain I had to get off the pier. There was no wind, but I didn’t care. I got on board, stowed the swash boards – and noted water stains inside where there had been none before (a week of rain will do that), opened the right valves, got out keys, cushions, and boat hook. I started the engine, cast off the lines – all but one, and promptly threw the boat hook into the water. Well, I had placed it on deck, then somehow knocked it off the deck with my foot. My neighbor rescued me and loaned me his boat hook. Took me several minutes of fishing to figure out that the hooky thing on the end was the perfect place to hook my own boat hook. I amaze myself.

Okay, lines cast off, life line gates latched, and off we go.

Motoring down the creek. Marinas to the right. . .

Motoring down the creek. Marinas to the right. . .

. . . marinas to the left. . .

. . . marinas to the left. . .

Out to the open bay. The water is glass. There are many boats wrapping up their weekend. I can still hear their crews sighing with relief because the rain has stopped. There were even a few optimistic sailboats out with their sails up, but they were going no place fast. There was no wind – no wind all day.

Many terns and gulls taking advantage of the glassy water in which bait fish churned on the surface, the birds diving from the air, or sitting at the edge of bait balls of fry, gorging themselves. Motor boaters seemed to take great delight driving right through groups of birds on the water – 30 to 40 strong – making them fly, like I did as a kid in the park dashing through crowds of pigeons. Have to admit, I aimed at a couple of groups of birds too, but sailboats are too slow to set off a really satisfying alarm amongst them..

2016-10-02-18-08-07There were enough clouds to provide dramatic effect for my crumby phone/camera photos (providing I used some fairly heavy editing to come up with something worth looking at). I have been forgetting to take my dslr with me lately, so I have to make do with the phone.

2016-10-02-18-18-36After motoring for 35 minutes, I turned around and headed back to the pier. Nice to be on the water, even if the sails stayed under cover. This coming week promises to be better for sailing.

Inside the breakwater, setting sun shining on white things.

Inside the breakwater, setting sun shining on white things.

Back to the slip, backing into the slip – landed first time like a pro (what luck!) and my neighbor was still there to witness it – thereby partially redeeming myself for throwing my boat hook into the water.

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