When Your Main Gets Stuck, I Mean REALLY, REALLY Stuck!

main stuck
Stuck 3/4 the way up due to a spit sheave at the masthead.

Stardate: 30 Apr 15. It seemed like a fine day to head to the infamous Pine Key (aka. Beer Can Island) for our first night of anchoring out on the Serenity. Initially, the weather forecasters predicted a day of no wind, but the wind, indeed, did pick up, so we decided to hoist the main. 3/4 of the way up the mast, the sail was no longer going up- it fought us. There was much cursing, as this is the point that always becomes a PITA- it this because the mast is raked? I hang on the main, trying to bring it down- there is only so much 135 pounds can do in this situation. Brian finally assists and it is down. Thinking it was one of the cars sticking, he lubes them with white lithium and here is try #2. And… stuck. Again, at the same point. By now the wind is really picking up, and guess what? We can’t get it down, and have no idea what to even do. We tried everything- to include hooking reef points to the boom vang. We are so screwed. Three sail slugs are now broken. There is a lot of profane language. Finally, we are able to somewhat secure the main to the mast (the battens posed a total b**** in this process) and called SSMR. “Um hello, what time do you close?” “All of our people have departed for the day…” WTF?!? It was 3PM on a Monday! I want this work schedule! Since anchoring out in our current state would be a bad choice (due to the battens, we still had a slight mainsail shape), so figured our best bet was to limp back to dock and lick our wounds. As we arrived back, the winds had calmed and backing in to the slip was eerily easy. Of course, it was a matter of 5 minutes before our boat neighbors came by to stare and ask questions. “Do you have in-mast furling?” I finally just smiled and replied to each “looky-loo”- “We are designing a new sail shape called, ‘My sail won’t go up or down.'” “Well, I ain’t never for the life of me seen anything like this!” one neighbor remarked. Of course, everyone wanted to offer their own advice, and seemed horrified we’d pay someone to fix it. Sometimes, it is better to just trust the professionals…. And those are not the marina neighbors.

31 Apr 2015: We awoke early and headed to SSMR. I called them to let them know we’d be arriving when they opened. “We will be on the dock awaiting your arrival.” Indeed they were- they waved us in, and I sarcastically asked, “How did you know it was us? Hahaha…” (It was pretty obvious with our sail whipped to the mast….) They said this sort of thing happens quite more often than naught. Anyhoo, as we suspected, it was the sheave on top of the mast, which had split and locked the line in. These guys were total pros, spent a good hour beating it out- and gave us way more insight into the Hunters than we even knew- “Oh, BTW- your mast rake is perfect, and here is why…” They took Brian next door to get our sail fixed while we waited- the sail fix? $10. We also had the install the new windex and Raymarine wireless anemometer after they replaced the block. Total bill: $152. We thought we’d pay far more. While the rigging (which we suspect is original) does not need to be replaced, but was recommended, could last us another year, we got a quote ($2300), which is actually reasonable, includes a roller furling upgrade and will be doing this this coming Wednesday. These guys have been in the business for a pretty long time, and really know/love sailboats (the guys who work there ARE sailors.) What really sold me on them, though, is their dog. This puppy was a total sweetheart who really hates powerboats (no, really- all you have to say is “powerboat” and he will go crazy trying to find it and bark at it. Such a good puppy!) At the end of the day, I believe everything happens for a reason, and indeed, we were lucky. Had this happened on a windy day or if we were on a long passage, we would have been screwed. I feel this way, too, about having the halyards replaced- we were here for a reason, and I’d rather pay a few boat bucks now in prevention versus a demasting later on from a cracked shackle.

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.

The Weeping Keel

A weeping keel.  The boat had been out of the water for about a month.  Even though the keel seemed to be dry, it proved that it wasn’t a few days after the first barrier coat went on.  It ended up taking about 4+ months to completely dry out before we added additional barrier coats of Interlux 2000e

Hunter 33.5 weeping keel
Hunter 33.5 weeping keel
Hunter 33.5 weeping keel
Hunter 33.5 weeping keel