Thursday, April 26, 2007

As Nice As It Gets

Wed. night 4-25-07 was a nice a day as is possible in Corpus Christi. A fast moving norther had blown away the humidity and what was left behind was a cool, dry northerly flow in crisp sun shine. The crew was Jan, Danny, Chris, Ruddy, John Files, and a new friend of Jan's Kathy. The course was 2p-10p-1s-TH. We flew the 150 beast to practice for the Port Aransas Race but left the spinnaker in the bag because of the light crew. After the race we cruised the Boat Show from the water. It was a spectacular display of gleaming fiberglass. I am looking forward to seeing it from the shoreside Friday.

Sunday, April 22, 2007

Getting Ready for Port Aransas Race 2007

We have have had two nice, very quiet Wed. night races which tested the refrigerator more than the boat and crew. Chris has come twice and shows much promise. Danny and Skeeter with Mrs. Skeeter came 4-17-07. That day we had to motor in.

Next Saturday is the Port Aransas Race. Once in my life I felt that was the most important day of the year, and my whole world revolved around it. I did win my class once. It was one of the best days of my life. That was over 20 years ago, and now a respectable finish with no damage, injury, or outrageous expense would be wonderful.

Today Jan and I planned to sail, but the weather was awful. We cleaned, replaced dock lines, and replaced a damaged electrical cord. Actually, it was the cord from the Seabrook yard; my original one having vanished months ago.

The race is Sat. 4-28-07. Skippers meeting at 9 am with a start about 10:30. We have a slip reserved in Port A. Reservations are available on the hotel White Pepper. The ladies race will have the same start sequence Sunday.

To prepare for the race Danny has to do the bottom. Jan and I will get the race sails on the boat Wed. or Thurs. Everyone should make their own travel arrangements for Sat. pm and Sun. am. We will party at Shorty's Sat. night and breakfast at the Island Cafe Sunday.

Also the Corpus Christi in the Water Boat Show is this weekend. I plan to view it Friday afternoon with my office staff. This show will be the culmination of Peter Davidson's vision for the CC Marina. I hope that it goes off well.

Thursday, April 12, 2007

First Wed. Night

Wed. 4-11-07 was the first time White Pepper was back on the race course since last Oct. and it felt great. Crew was Jan, Steve, Danny and Skeeter, John Files, and a newcomer, Chris Lykes.

Wind was light and variable. Course was 2-10-2-10-TH. Joe Knolle had a clean bottom and slipped way ahead. Brad Stokes dropped out. We finished far back, but we had cold beer from the new fridge all the way.

Chris seems very enthusiastic and hopefully we be a regular.

Sunday, April 8, 2007

The Long Entry

The day the boat was finally arrived on Friday March 30, 2007. Joe and Rita Kessling graciously drove Jan, John Hornung, and I to Seabrook. She was lying in the slip looking intact and even clean. I spent an hour checking out the rigging and deck work. The lights all seemed to work except for the bow lights. The two bulbs had been cooked by the welding done to the bow pulpit. Kevin Wilson of Stix and Riggin' came down and we went over the work again. He made several good suggestions, chief of which was that the rod rigging should be bar tight, "one with the boat." This was contrary to the owner's manual and advice from Mark Foster, but I will stick with Kevin from now on. There was a new centerboard cable and pulley with housing on the deck. The box that feeds the cable into the centerboard truck is new stainless steel. At first there was alarm that it might be leaking but soon we realized it was left over rainwater. All of the heads on the rods have been re-cold headed at $32.00 apiece and a toggle added to the back stay at the mast head. A new VHF antenna was placed at the masthead, but more importantly a new thicker VHF cable was lead down the mast. This will be needed when we add AISC to the navigation package. AISC is a poor man's radar based on VHF signals. Finally when all of the talking was done, Keven gave me the bill. I was very pleased to pay $5500.00 after estimating the cost to be more like $7000.00. From now on I will recommend all of my yacht buddies to deal with Stix and Riggin'.

Now we made a run to Spec's for supplies, checked in Joe and Rita at the Hampton Inn, and headed to Pappadeaux's for dinner. Dinner got a little silly with John Hornung, who is rail thin and and almost anorectic in his dietary habits, lecturing Joe about needing to lose 130 pounds. Joe took it in good spirits. John, Jan, and I spent the night on the boat. It really rained and stormed hard all night. But it felt wonderful to heard the rain beating on the foredeck after all these months.

The next morning we checked out the interior work done by Seabrook Yacht Service. There was a new plastic holding tank, and two stainless steel water tanks that seemed water tight. I do not remember when the old tanks were ever tight. So Jan and I will have to get a feel for how long 64 gallons can last. Finally there is a freezer/refrigerator--the reason for it all. After months of research and planning I had a vision of what I wanted the fridge to look like and to do. I had left a few drawings, sketches really, and waved my hands around in front of O.J. Young, the assistant manager, who did not seem to be listening. Imagine my astonishment and relief when everything worked and looked just as I had wanted. The compressor was neatly tucked into the compartment between the fridge and the batteries. There was a slick new thru hull to pump out the heat, the compressor hummed so quietly you could barely hear it, and the box was blowing cold air. It did take all night to chill down with the shore power running. After that the power consumption, with the lids closed of course, was only 2.3 amps. This is less than the running lights. The freezer compartment is designed to chill to 20 degrees F. then the pass thru blower keeps the refrigerator at 40 degrees F. There is six inches of foam around the freezer and four inches around the refrigerator. The lids are large vacuum hatches with magnetic seals that came from Frigiboat.com. The new formica top and fiddles were a perfect match to the original factory work. I almost ran to pay the bill. O.J. was not in the office. The secretary gave me the bill. She said, "You know we could have charged you $12,000.00 for that box, but Mark (the owner) said it wouldn't be right." The total bill was $11,000.00 with only $6000.00 assigned to the refrigerator. All that along with the $4,000 deposit and $1200 for parts was about $5,000.00 less than I had planned to pay. Needless to say I was only too pleased to write out a check and add "paid in full." David was the carpenter, and I can not say too much about his work. It was magnificent.

Joe and Rita ran us around to do chores--pick up the life raft from Triad and buy provisions at Walmart. John insisted that I buy a pint of ice cream as the true test of the freezer. I am happy to say it froze so solid we had to use a knife to eat it. Then Joe and Rita said good bye and headed back to Corpus Christi. Many thanks.

The weather forecast was for bad weather on Saturday--it was--to be followed by marvelous weather on Sunday--it wasn't. We hung out Saturday preparing the boat--bending on sails, fixing the running lights, stowing gear, cleaning, and getting diesel. I bought 32 gallons of untaxed diesel for $83.00--my first sticker shock at the marine pump ever. We had a modest dinner at the Sundance Grill in the marina and went to bed early.

We cast off before dawn in a still fog. Thanks goodness for GPS. I still had the way points in the Garmin from many previous trips back and forth. Regardless it took some care to get into open water when we could not see from one day marker to the next. The trip down the Houston Ship channel was uneventful in the early dawn. I have made the trip several times at night. It has a certain stark beauty at night with very bright red and green lights stretching out to each horizon. However, it is a bit like hanging out on the deck of a working aircraft carrier and is no place for the unwary. Usually passing Galveston is filled with nostalgia and reverie, but this morning I could not enjoy it. A stiff breezing was building from the SW directly on the line to Port Aransas. Foregoing an option to take to ditch south for reasons that I still do not understand, we pressed on down the Bolivar Roads, thru the jetties, an on out into the Gulf of Mexico about 11:15 am 4-1-07.

I put in a reef and strapped the jib in tight. John was steering. The auto pilot was not working. Jan was the one to understand that the reason was the new stainless steel water tanks were distorting the magnetic fields so that the flux gate compass could not work. The fix will be easy, but for this trip it will be hand steering all the way. Everything seemed well for a while. The wind was easily over 20 knots from the SW driving us hard to the S or SSW. Then things started to deteriorate. A large swell set in from the SE and a short chop from the SW with the wind. The breeze dropped as predicted leaving the White Pepper underpowered. The only headsail on the boat was the 93% roller furling blade and it wasn't enough to get thru the seas which by now had started to resemble a washing machine. Jan was the first one to get seasick, and I was soon ill as well. John Hornung never turned a hair. John steered well, but since he was not briefed on the complexity of the running rigging I had to do all of the work of running the boat while nauseated. We tacked back in shore about 15:oo. At first we seemed to be lifted, but as the wind lessened the heading slid to NW or back to Galveston. I fired up the engine and headed straight SW. The extra forward speed helped the nausea. By nightfall the worst of the seasickness was over. However, no dinner was served or requested.

We motored all night in a beautiful calm with the full moon lightly overcast. The course was along the edge of the ship fairway so there were few rigs and they all well lit. This will be the first trip back and forth to Galveston that I have not seen an unlit rig. Steering by hand in a dark seas with no wind is quite difficult. We had watches of 2 hours on and 4 off. Everyone said they had difficultly keeping the heading within 30 degrees. The dawn was late (7:21 CDT), cool, and overcast. Jan served up a great breakfast of healthy eggbeater tacitoes in whole wheat tortillas. A light breeze came up from the E. allowing us to motor sail in flat seas quite fast.
Finally we motored thru the jetties at 11:35 or just over 24 hours after leaving the Galveston jetties. It was a fast safe trip although not very pleasant at first.

We had a leisurely calm sail to Corpus Christi being able to finally sample some of the supplies from Spec's. At the dock I was able to show off my new fridge to anybody that would come aboard.

All in all I am thrilled with the work and the price. I hope it will be a good first step into our new lifestyle.