Howdy, World

Island Girl has been ours for just over year, but looking over friends’ sailing blogs has compelled us to start a working blog of our dear love and floating money-hole, HMS Island Girl. I begin this entry in the hope that we break the usual record of sailing blogs: posting more than once. Well, I find myself needing to keep busy as I work to buck this sticky gut issue of mine, and what better way to write about my favourite home away from home.

I’ll dispense with the usual introductions and descriptions, and enter that info in a dedicated page.

Fast forward, instead, to the rapidly approaching summer of 2015. IG had her bottom completely stripped and re-done by George of G-Yachts last year. After that substantial cost and effort, we were eager to get her started for our second season.

As if we expected to spend less money, of course. Back in January, I trepidatiously set foot in the Vancouver boat show, expecting to invest in a modest anemometer system, as IG came to us lacking one entirely.

But now that I think of it…

The thing is, we also lack a tri-data instrument, or anything to show our depth data, other than our mid-aughties Garmin plotter. The latter swings out on an arm into the companionway, which my shipmates loathe to squirm around on their way out of the cabin. Fair enough, but I like to have depth in easy sight, cautious skipper that I am.

The up-sell

Then I saw Raymarine’s new line of products. Ooooh, bitmapped colour screens with configurable displays! Just the thing—why use a slew of dedicated instrument panels when you can route all the information you want through a custom display. And it came in a package of suited transducers for less than the cost of buying separate display units and/or instrument panels.

Language barriers

Not so simple, of course. The i70 speaks digital NMEA 2000 (I barely understand what this is, as yet). But in fact, not even the supplied transducers send digital signals. That’s ok; the package came with essentially a DAC for the transducers, but we weren’t ready to haul-out again this year to install a new depth sounder. We wanted to use our existing unit. Plus that anemometer rig needed to go up the mast…

So we got the venerable Steve Whyte to come check us out, and see if he could run the wire down from the masthead unit to the base of the mast conduit.

Wishful thinking

There was some sort of blockage that prevented the wire running down the conduit past the masthead. Steve told us the only way to run it past would be to haul the damn mast off.


Meanwhile the sale of the i70 had long become final. We considered a few options:

  1. Trade up for a wireless system (back to dedicated displays)
  2. Use the Burrard crane to haul the mast ourselves (yipe!)
  3. Wait it out a year.

After much deliberation, the crew elected to just get ‘er done. Being that the Burrard crane was a little short for IG’s tall rig (a disappointment for dad; a relief for son), we decided to head back to our friends at Lynnewood, where Steve would use their crane to haul out. Sarena and I had some friends over for drinks on a Friday night, and we broke the vee berth bedding out of its winter seal to camp out at the marina. This was a frustrating challenge for me: after some mishaps on previous trips that ended up being a precursor to my current gut trouble, it was as if my sensitive innards sensed the return to a floating home, and got proper distressed. Oh well; I slept eventually despite a marina full of banging halyards. Next morning, dad hopped on board and we took her out for a few hours in the bay, waiting for a favourable tide to take us under the two bridges.

It was at the .5 mile point west of the Second Narrows bridge that dad mused that our aforementioned tall rig probably wouldn’t make it under the rail bridge. Oh, right. Old Velocitas didn’t have that problem. Happily we still had internet, and quickly figured out how to radio in to lift the bridge (channel 12, yall!). We curled around past Deep Cove and dropped a hook in busy Bedwell bay—clearly others had the same plan to take advantage of the warming weather! Happily, the anchor rode paid out nicely despite previous attempts. I think that grinding the 300 feet of line and chain back in by the windlass allowed the rode to coil naturally, creating little resistance on the way out past the capstan, despite that I suspect the drive shaft remains slightly misaligned from past adventures.

Our neighbour was a sleek ~45 foot cruiser with a shining back hull and apparently a centre and aft cockpit. Much self-conscious spying was done through the windows below deck. We had a good supper, and I slept like a log. We had jury-rigged our first pass at an anchor snubber after enduring many years of noisy rode popping across the bow roller—especially so on IG with an unprotected metal roller shaft (another project that needs doing).

Next morning we caught the tide back under the bridge and slipped into Lynnwood, exactly 24 hours before Steve & team were to show up. We spent the morning pulling the running rigging off the deck, removing the sails, and finally disconnecting the boom. We left the boat clean and tidy, deck devoid of rigging and a boom on the gangway, swaddled in sail cover.

No boom! De-boomed and ready for transport

Steve showed up bright and early next morning, and went to work on the most painless procedure I’ve ever seen. Amazing what happens when an olympic sailor/rigger goes at a contained project. They cut out the old boot at the deck, cut the wires at the stepping, loosened the shrouds and then the stays, put the crane line around the spreaders, and lifted her out like a toothpick from a cake. No worries. Protip: prior to lifting, they knocked out the wooden blocks around the mast at the deck fitting, and numbered them with a sharpie to make the re-stepping simple.

Up it goes...

They worked on the rig for about half a day, clearing the blockage at the spreaders (an awkward 90 degree turn of wires), running a new coaxial for the VHF, replacing a halyard shiv, rescuing our primary jib halyard from the very top of the mast (the agent of that mishap has yet to be identified), changing light bulbs, and putting slippery end-caps on the spreaders. Dad and I milled about, looking at other boats for ideas about instrument pods and bow rollers, and trying to monitor the work without getting in the way. A difficult manoeuvre.

Just a powerboat now

After waiting for the Lynnewood yard crane to finish a hose-down and change a spare-tire, they plunked the mast back in, with nary a scrape. Beautiful. The wood supports went back in as numbered. Steve put a new rubber boot at the deck fitting, and caulked and taped it down. They re-tensioned the standing rigging by their expert standards, and that was a neat thing to observe. They put more tension on the forward and mid shrouds than the aft, creating a gentle pull forward. I really don’t know how much play we can get with our adjustable backstay given our rod rigging and the roller foil on our forestay; I think their tensioning will give us the optimal balance for most conditions. Finally, Steve went up the mast like a olympic-class monkey and put back our sensitive masthead instruments. That was interesting to see: Steve used the standing rigging as hand- and footholds and bodily hauled himself up, entailing that his mate basically only needed to keep tension on his bosun’s chair. A much more controlled ascent than what I usually do: going up the mast sitting prostrate in our elderly little seat, letting the wind and deck rake bonk me back and forth around the shrouds. Easy to watch; hard to imitate.

Down it goes...

Done deal!

Steve owes us a couple new turnbuckle parts, as some of them are corroded (another protip: don’t wrap your turnbuckles; they’ll just get water trapped inside the wrap. Just get the cotter pins nice and bent so you don’t snag your trousers). We revved up and sped out of Lynnewood just as the tide was turning in our favour.

Despite the tide, I was disappointed to note that we seemed severely under-powered, barely breaking 5 knots with the tide at about 1800 rpm. I am certain we can do a lot better than that; I clearly recall being delighted last year that we could clear 6 knots under similar engine thrust, regardless of the tide. Hmmm. I didn’t even notice this drag the previous day, though perhaps I was distracted. I remain suspicious that we hooked some crud on our keel or rudder during the trip to Lynnewood. Despite that it’s been only nearly a year since we were hauled out and had the bottom redone. George recommended ablative paint, and this should have kept the mollusks off through the year, though admittedly IG had a curtailed season last year and may have not had the opportunity to ablate sufficiently. Well, at the first mooring in relatively clean water, some of us will put a wetsuit on and have a look below the water-line. That drop in speed vexes me; despite her creature comforts, IG is a bat out of hell, under all points of sail and particularly with her over-powered engine. Not that we intend to spend our time on her under power, but after a few final seasons on Velocitas with an under-serviced engine and an ever-increasing fouling on her paint-caked bottom, I was looking forward to spending time on a zippy new craft.

The following weekend, we re-attached the boom, re-ran and adjusted some blocks on the running rigging, cleaned deck, put back the teak cockpit sole, and a host of other preparatory tweaks. Dad and I even got in an evening sail, and she performed admirably in the light evening breeze, though the drag is still detectable.

A hugely productive day, and now our anemometer is ready to be connected to the i70 instrument. For this, we needed a wiring guy, and our recommends are being slow to respond. However, we want to take this opportunity to switch out the autohelm instrument to the steering binnacle, which will leave a hole that ought to accommodate the i70 perfectly. So we just ordered a single-unit pod mount from the states, which ought to arrive sooner than an electrician will respond to us. In the meantime, we will see for ourselves about getting a wire into the binnacle tubing.

Dad also put a couple more varnish coats on the outside teak—all is looking golden and smooth. Excellent.

A finely finished taffrail A finely finished taffrail

So strike one project from the list, and consider the many more:

  1. Complete i70 install and wiring.
  2. Strengthen the bow roller and get the anchor and rode off of the bare bolt.
  3. Repair and re-install our leaky galley foot pump.
  4. Clean the bottom and make her fast again.

And so the season begins…