First Three Weeks on the Water

First Three Weeks on the Water

I’ve tried to get down to the boat at least a couple times a week. I’m avoiding the weekends if I can. I’ve come to realize that the small 1,300 acre Prairie Creek Reservoir also rents slips for 300 other boats, mostly pontoons. Additionally, fishing boats and ski boats can be launched from the public ramp. There’s a 20 mph speed limit and a 200 foot idle zone from the shore that few recognize. Tubing is only allowed on the south 1/4 of the lake but often they can be seen screaming past the entrance to the club. I’ve been told the Indiana DNR enforces both the state and Muncie ordinances. Really? Although the sailing club offers private docks, fishermen can bring their boats into the docks to fish as long as they don’t tie-up to the docks. I upgraded my bow dockline with some heavy rubber snubbers to reduce the bucking caused by the excessive wake from non-idlers.

The Muncie Sail Club had their first get together since the WUHAN flu lock down. It was a full moon sunset cruise. It gave me a chance to try out my new battery and nav lights. After that, I decided to invest in a solar battery charger. I also installed a 12 volt accessory outlet that allows me to plug in the charger or a USB adapter (to charge my phone) or a new oscillating fan. I stayed overnight one evening and the cabin never cooled off. The companionway and hatch had to stay closed to keep out the mosquitoes! I’m on my second attempt at a screen for the hatch. I sewed up a mesh screen with Sunbrella edging with Velcro.

I took my trailer to a local welding shop near the club last week. I’m having him modify the trailer so it will have a true telescoping hitch. I’m hoping for about a 12 foot extension that can be easily used during launch and recovery.

Lastly, I’m now on my THIRD outboard. My second, the 1985 Mariner that I drove 3-1/2 hours to buy last winter, will no longer go into forward gear. Of course I discovered this when I needed it to get away from the rock seawall. I somehow kept the boat from grounding and managed it into another slip to tie-up over night. After some quick research online, I learned it may be a worn out dog clutch $$$. I confirmed this with the mechanic that bought my old Evinrude. He offered me a newer, 1993, 4 hp Mariner that he had picked up for somebody else. It’s in very good condition with a long shaft and for a great price. I picked it up yesterday morning and soon realized my old Mariner was 5 inches longer! It’s a 25 inch shaft instead of a 20 inch. I hadn’t planned on going to the club yesterday, but I had to find out if it will work with the existing mount. It will be close. If we keep the weight aft and the lake isn’t too rough it should do the job. I may need to find a different mount or extend the throw on the existing mount.

Almost forgot! I did put on my new slippery sails one afternoon. They were great! But when it came time to flake the main on the boom, it was impossible for one person to get it done. I’m back with the old worn out sails for now. 🙁

First Time Out – Solo

First Time Out – Solo

I’m slowly learning the ropes on how a Harpoon 6.2 sails solo. Everything needs to be prepped before leaving the dock. For now, I’m using the original sails that I repaired. The first time out, I rigged the Gerr downhaul on the headsail. It took quite awhile to thread the line through the blocks so it wouldn’t foul. The only issue I see with it is where the line passes through the clew grommet. It was pretty tight.

The next time out, I put up the main and jib. All was going great until I let the jib fly over itself and the Gerr downhaul blocks prevented it to clear. When I tried to lower the jib it jammed. I had to tie off the tiller and move to the bow very quickly to get it down.

I also figured out what to do about the boom vang clearing the dodger. The boom also interfered with the dodger so apparently it has to be dropped underway. Collapsing the dodger isn’t hard to do, but it’s a shame it can’t be used when sailing.

The first rain we had, I left the bailers closed while in the slip. There must have been two inches of water in the cockpit. Once I opened the bailers, the water drained to where it was just at the top of the bailer wells. So, with the bailers open the water seems to equalize with the waterline. Underway once you get enough speed, you can actually hear the water getting sucked out! The sales brochure is right – you can leave the bailers open in the slip.

I think I may also have my docklines figured out. The boat points toward the prevailing southwest wind in the slip. I have two lines. The first is looped on both ends and tied fast in the middle to the anchor eye inside the bow. These are thrown over the two posts on the pier. The second line is also looped on both ends and it has a heavy stainless carabiner tied in the middle. These are looped over the the pier posts and the carabiner in snapped onto the eye in front of the bow. This one comes off last and stays on the pier. For the aft lines, there are a cleat on both sides. The loops are thrown over the stern poles. These lines are longer enough to allow getting on at the bow but short enough to keep the bow off the pier. I’m not sure what Boston Whaler had in mind for tying up and hanging fenders because there aren’t enough cleats on the boat.

I quickly realized how slippery all of my freshly varnished mahogany is with wet feet. My only access to the boat from the pier is over the pulpit. I found some rubber grey anti-skid tape with an adhesive backing. I really didn’t want to put it on the anchor locker cover but it had to be done for safety’s sake.

Lastly, I spent a night on the boat alone. I stacked the new cushions I had made to get more padding. All night long they kept sliding out from under me. The Sunbrella is too slippery on the painted plywood covers. I’m beginning to think that the original design that had the upholstery stapled to the plywood is the right way to go. I’m going to try some rug anti-skid sheet to see if that will make a difference.

In the Water

In the Water

New Companionway Cover

New Companionway Cover

I recently found out that the shop where I had planned on taking my Mariner 4 hp outboard will not look at it. So, I did my own tune-up. One new sparkplug, dumped the old gas, cleaned the little screen in the bottom of the tank, ran a shot of Seafoam through it to clean out the pipes and changed the gear oil. I ran it for over 30 minutes in a barrel of water and it looks ready to go. I also bought a new impeller to install, but I’m going to wait on that one for now.

There were many nicks in the gelcoat that needed to be fixed. A couple were deep enough to see the fiberglass below. I used Andy Miller’s Boatwork’s Today videos to attempt to color match the Harpoon off-white color. It’s a slow process mixing and I only mixed two, 2 oz. batches. I probably used less than half before it began to set. The color came out pretty close. I still have a lot of cosmetic “age” cracks that need attention.

I debated messing with the red boot stripe but once I had the bottom looking so nice it had to be done. More tape, more hand sanding with 150 grit and a wipe down of 202. I went with Rustoleum’s Topside bright red. The paint was so thick I had to water it down with mineral spirits. Starting at the bow and working toward the stern, I used a new, small 4 inch foam roller for each side. It was getting very sticky by the time I was finished. The port side was rougher as there were many spots that were sanded down to the gelcoat.

I picked up my new companionway cover just in time for a good round of storms coming through over the next few days. It fit pretty much as I had planned. Yes, the window flap is upside down. It’s getting fixed now. I didn’t want to add anymore snaps to the boat, so it’s pinched in place by the hinged top board and held down at the bottom by tucking it under the cooler cover lid.

I setup the dodger and boom tent to see how it looks. Apparently the boom vang cannot be used, if the dodger is on! I also found out that the 303 I carefully applied to the dodger didn’t stop the rain. It slowed it down but by the pools of water on the new companionway cover shows – it leaks bad. I’ve decided that the boom tent will be rarely used. While it does protect the cockpit mostly, it’s a pain to take on and off. And since I’ll be stepping off the pier onto the bow, it would be difficult to get in the back door.

I also rigged up the Gerr downhaul on the jib. The stainless steel blocks I bought might be larger than needed, but they were a great price. It looks like it will work to douse the jib while sailing one-handed. I won’t know for sure until I get it out on the water.


Bottom Paint Done!

Bottom Paint Done!

Before starting to paint the final two coats of paint on the bottom, I did a quick search online for Interlux Bottomkote NT painting tips. I’m glad I did. I found a forum post where someone had primered their boat in the fall, then applied the bottom paint the next spring. When he pulled the boat at the end of the season, big flakes of the bottom paint had fell off!

I contacted Interlux’s help line and was told that it would need to be sanded again and wiped down with Interlux’s 216 solvent. I thought since I had recently applied the primer that I could paint away. We got started early and was ready to slap paint a little after noon. This gave me a chance to get the second coat on about six hours later.

I’ve never seen the boat with the mast up and needed to figure out the rigging and lines, so up it must go. I thought between my wife and I and the poorly written factory documents that we could get it up on our own. I assumed that the standing rigging was adjusted correctly, but that wasn’t the case. Once we eventually man-handled it up into the air with the help of a young lad, I remembered that the shrouds were reversed from when I took them off many months ago. In making it right, the top shrouds in the aft holes on the chainplates were now too short. After loosening the turn-buckles, i was able to pin in the forestay and we could walk-away for a quick beer break.

I took a chance raising the old set of sails just to be sure I understood that process. The boat is strapped to the trailer and I was careful not to pull them in tight just in case the boat would heel over from a strong gust from the southwest. There was an extra block and tackle attached to the transom that I wasn’t sure what it was for until once the backstay was in place, I realized it’s a backstay adjuster.

The bailers are also installed now using 3M 4200 sealant. I also added some handmade anchor rode hangers made from aluminum 1/8 in x 1 in bar stock. I screwed them to the supports on the inside of the anchor locker cover. I’m hoping it keeps the rode organized and dry when not in use. I set the Mariner 4 hp outboard on the mount and it looks like it was a perfect fit.


New Halyards – Check!

New Halyards – Check!

Having finished with the four coats of primer, I turned my attention to replacing the halyards. My first attempt in ordering the correct size line was a bust. I never could find any specific documentation for the Harpoon 6.2 so I measured the old stuff and placed an order with Defender for some Sampson Ropes, 3/8 in. (10 mm), double-braided rope in four different tracer colors (green = main to starboard aft, red = head to port aft, yellow = topping to starboard fwd. and blue = spinnaker to port fwd.). I couldn’t justify the cost of pre-assembled halyards with new shackles, so I decided that I would learn how to eye splice the old, good condition, shackles onto the new halyards. Easy right? WRONG!

I had watched several different YouTube videos and found the cheapest plastic fids in a local hardware store so I thought I was ready. When the rope arrived, I attempted my first eye splice which turned out to be a total failure. The plastic fids were too fat and too short to use with the rope. I soon realized I needed the “real” thing. That’s also when I found out that 3/8 in. was too big to fit it on the pulleys in the mast! I took a chance and contacted Defender to see if I could return them. Their answer was well, maybe – YES!

I kept the one piece of red 3/8 in. rope that I had already practiced on and it now serves as new mainsheet. I ordered four new 5/16 in. (8 mm) ropes and a set of five stainless steel fids made by Selma. After many more videos and several attempts, I actually got it figured out. The best video I found was done by Marlow Ropes. There are many different ways to do a double-braid eye splice but they’re all basically the same.

I managed to bring the mast inside the garage to run the new halyards and reinstall the standing rigging. I also replaced the old stainless steel wire on the spreader ends and added two large rubber spreader boots. I have a 22 x 22 foot garage so it will just fit if it is put in diagonally. It was a cold and windy week finishing off with a day of snow yesterday!

I also reinstalled the hatch after I first needed to reseat two screws due to wood rot. The mast base was a little more difficult. The mahogany core had been wet for a long time under the base. I picked out all the rotten wood I could, let it dry out, then packed it full of the JB Weld Wood Restore Premium Epoxy Putty. I used the butyl tape to rebed both the hatch and mast base. All I need now is to leak test again.

I also scrubbed the old sails with the Iosso Mold & Mildew Stain Remover. They do look brighter, but the stains are still there. Looks like warmer weather is on the horizon so next up is two coats of black bottom paint.

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