Another Great Sail and 2014 Pack NFC North Champs!

Another Great Sail and 2014 Pack NFC North Champs!

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Cap’n Chris at the helm

This morning did not start off without a hitch, as none ever do.  Brian was not feeling 100% and was running a low grade fever.  So, I decided it would not be a good idea to overnight on the boat, and gave him a “bye” for sailing today.  Plus, I do not like fog, and there was more projected fog for after sunset.  Brian will never turn down an opportunity to sail!  The local media stated, “Winds 5 knots, seas calm.”  I have learned weather varies dramatically based on tv channels.  We headed to St. Pete in the convertible- with a high of 80 in the local area, this is absolutely perfect for cruising.  It is odd to think that 2 years ago, instead of the BMW Z4, we were cruising up a mountain in Japan in the dead of winter in a Mazda Eunos with the top down (which is the Miata in the States), and having snow start to fall upon us.

New years day mountain drive W. of Tokyo, Japan
2013 throw back:  New years day mountain drive W. of Tokyo, Japan

Anyhow, as we establish our boat routines, launching was a breeze.  The only concern, “Um, how do we only have a half tank of gas?”  “Um, I did not think we motored THAT much…”  Well, either the motor really gets terrible mileage, someone is siphoning our gas (the diesel is old) or our fuel gauge is off…  We motored out and launched the main.  Winds were about 10 knots.  Seeing as our main sail is ginormous, I figured we should reef it.  Brian was thinking the same thing. Only, I had never reefed a sail before.  Yes, I have only owned small boats before- their sails were small, and 10 knots was to be cherished.  Serenity has a monster sail!  Brian immediately came to the rescue and we discovered we were missing some hardware that is in the garage.  No matter- it worked.  We were hitting speeds of 5 knots- hooray! with just the main.  Finally, Brian let out a little genoa.  We stayed at the same speed.  A great day sailing in the bay.  We have also discovered our high-tech stereo is an energy hog.  Brian switched to the TV in the settee (which one can see perfectly from the cockpit), so I sailed and watched football.  While it was the Saints versus the Buccs, I was cheering for my Tampa losers, who indeed, despite an impressive lead, ended up losing.  But, clad in Packers gear, all I really cared about was watching my team’s kick-off.  (Go Pack GO!)  The trip back to the marina was pretty uneventful, other than the fact, as usual, I could stay all year out sailing and always hate having to go back into port.  I swear it gets easier each time we back the boat in with tying and tidying up.  It was the first day both Brian and I exclaimed, “Wow!  There were no pressing projects we had to do before going out!”  And on a funny note, as we were cruising home in the Bimmer, I looked at Brian and commented, “Dude.  There’s like a middle-aged Harley Davidson motorcycle gang next to us.  I mean, seriously Mom-Pants and everything.”  I have never seen a Mom-Pants Biker gang before- I felt the need to eat all of my broccoli next to these women.  Yes, they do apparently exist- Sons of Anarchy have nothing on this gang.

80s in December!?!

80s in December!?!

Sailing in shorts, December 2014
Sailing in shorts, December 2014

The weather has been unseasonably warm.  After finishing the V-Berth cushions yesterday (Brian had to work, and I was at home cursing at the Sailrite, which has lately been the bane of my existence.  I was able to finish the cushions using my old-school $100 Brother sewing machine, and the weight of said Sailrite prevented it from being thrown in the front-yard…)  Anyhow, the cushions turned out even better than expected when on the boat (I was ready to take a nap on them today!), but Brian had projects in store for me, like replacing the genoa blocks.  Ironically, I took one look at the nuts of the old one and KNEW I would need a 10mm wrench.  Either I have spent too much time on boats, or this was an oxymoron based on the fact I purchased a million of these damn wrenches in Thailand based on a job project…  They were pretty cheap there.  Nonetheless, after the project was completed, it was off for sail numero dos aboard Serenity.  Other than a few weird random things (we have some boat neighbors who seem to have taken a liking to me.  In fact, they chose to ogle me while we cast off this afternoon.  I even asked Brian, “Am I paranoid, or were those dudes really creepy?”  “No, they are just old creepy men…”), and the fact the main sail STILL get caught on randomness when being hoisted (what the hell?!?), the main sheet was up.  Nothing.  No sense putting out the genny at this point- we were in the doldrums, baby!  It was hot, I changed into a swimsuit (hell, I was ready to jump into the dirty bay water at this point to cool down), and a sailboat near us started to track our same path.  “Do they not realize we are, too, in the doldrums, and going nowhere fast?”  The wind started to pick up- we could see the ripple of wind on the water.  1.1 knots soon became 2.8 knots, time to unfurl the genoa…  4.5 knots.  Oh yeah, baby, we are finally sailing!  I was trying to feel out Serenity, and get the best feel for how she performs.  We had a little lee going.  I was booking for 4.5 knots! Brian eventually broke up the romance, “So, when do you want to turn around?”  “NOOO!” I wailed, “It is probably only 2PM!”  “Um, no, it is closer to 4!”  Mentally, I was of the mindset, “Keep sailing!” but common sense reminded me our only provisions were 2 bags of chips, 2 Diet Cokes and some Gatorade…  This could present a problem.  Begrudingly, I tacked- I did not want to, but the thought of Thai take-out helped alleviate the stressors.  Dodging the land-mine field of crab traps at sunset was a PITA< but we made it safely back to dock.  Other than a very expensive cockpit cushion meeting the drink (FML, we seriously need to get the snaps installed!) and rescuing it, it was a fine day indeed.

What’s In a Boat Name?

What’s In a Boat Name?

Serenity

We’ve often had people ask us, when she had no name, “Why Serenity, and why not Wu-Wei II?!?” Well, seeing as we got her with the name “Missy K II”, in what I can only refer to as “bad 70s graphics” and half of my heart went with the beloved Wu-Wei (which really WAS an awesome name!), Brian and I are both fans of the now defunct Firefly… I mean, seriously, yes, we realize it lasted one season, but nonetheless, we are both fans. It would seem weird to us to name her “Wu-Wei II” (and bad karma, as there will only be one Wu-Wei), AND WHY ON EARTH would we name her Missy K II??? So we went the SciFy route. Seriously, do you know what a PITA it is to get the graphics in the right font? While we would have spent $1.5K on graphics from a “professional”, we did it for under $100 from the local Flea Market (hell, that is where we got Wu-s graphics fr

 

Serenity

om, and 6 years later, they still looked brand new!) While we had to wait a day (“We do not have this font… But that is bad-ass! Browncoats forever!””), our graphics were pretty on-point when we picked them up. Ironically, we later learned, “This is one of the most over-used boat names! Never name your boat “Serenity”!” or my favorite, “Are you reformed alcoholics? This comes from the 12-step prayer…” Or the Seinfeld, “Serenity NOW!” No, fools, we simply like a show on SciFy and wanted to name her after the main vessel. So I have learned, no matter what you name your yacht (hell, we are neighbors to “Tigger”), someone will always judge you. If you want to name your vessel, “Spongebob”, who cares? At the end of the day, it is YOUR yacht. No matter what you name your yacht, name it for something you love.  The dingy will be “Companion”… just saying…Serenity

S/V Serenity’s Maiden Shakedown Sail (video)

S/V Serenity’s Maiden Shakedown Sail (video)

As we were departing the dock, a routine that should be ingrained in me from Wu-Wei, but still feels so alien aboard this boat, our boat neighbor remarked, “Did you check the winds for this afternoon?”  Taken aback by this statement (because, no I had not bothered to check, despite the fact this would be Serenity’s maiden sail), “Um, no, why?”  (I just expected Poseidon and Njord would smile upon me… I mean, come on, we are in the Bay), “No reason.  Just wondering if it is worth taking my boat out.”  No matter the winds, a boat should always be taken out.  Hell, it could have been gusting 40s and I would have thought it was a fine idea.  Nonetheless, after dealing with the landmines of crab traps (these should be illegal in FL), we set about to “release the girl”, kill the engine and throw up the sheets.  First issue- the damn mainsail got caught on the lazy jacks.  I was cursing like an old salty sailor, which could be construed as unfavorable for a dame, but nonetheless…  Da**ed raked mast is an issue here- the cars want to stick.  We eventually got it up, but there is a huge pocket in the sail since Brian pointed out- “Um, the bimini/dodger frame is too high…”  (This actually IS my fault, since I wanted this thing installed before we departed the Boatyard of Broken Dreams…  There was more cursing on my part, but hell, it is too late…  $3K later and this boat better overcome this setback!)  Also, the line on the genoa was catching on itself.  Da hell!  Nonetheless, the sweet window in the top of the bimini gave me a view of the mast, and I was sailing!  Max speed- 1.1 knots.  Which, yeah, is good for a shakedown cruise, but is kind of boring for those adrenaline junkies (e.g. me) who wanted to see what she could do.  Anyhoo, what we did learn- the RayCharles, I mean, RayMarine Dragonfly started shutting itself down under motor, but was fine under sail.  We started the engine utilizing battery bank #2 instead of #1 (house versus motor) which means we have a bad battery.  Yeah, the engine battery is a bad-ass beast (Interstate), and the house batteries are cheapo Wally World ones…  We kind of suspected this. No fitting or through-hulls leaked, which is good, and to compensate for the bimini, we really need to get the mast un-raked (I say, let the professionals do it.  We already need a few backstay holds replaced and some stuff on the mast.  This is why sailors keep SSMR in business!)  As we motored back to our dock, our boat neighbor was already drinking beers on another boat while his poor, sad boat start unused again for another day.  Brian backed up to the dock as a pro, and we tied up lines.  Indeed, a fine day to learn Serenity’s systems, but I will not lie- I missed my old girl, Wu, and felt like I was cheating on her!

A turn of events, a little more history… From the original owner!

GHSA raft up, year unknown....
GHSA raft up, year unknown….

Well, this is an interesting turn of events… This much we know, our boat was a one owner boat purchased at the 1990 Chicago sailboat show, built in FL, shipped up to and launched in the Great Lakes, sailed for a year or so and brought back to FL when they moved down here to retire. We got an unexpected email from the original owner’s ex wife this week with some the boats colorfull history and sailing stories. Turns out she lives near us in Bradenton, Fl… how cool is that? Had we known that before, we would have asked her out to the boat to do the renaming ceremony! Picture is of a regatta raft up the boat was in back in the day