14 July 2010

History - Part 3 - S/V Houqua

The Spring of 2002
- still living in the Rockland apartment

In an episode of luck, (good / bad who knows what would have happened if we choose the other adventure) we found ourselves in the possession of a Sailstar Corsair in the Spring of 2002. We had her hauled to the boatyard SS was working at, and set about making her seaworthy.

Sailstar built boats from 1962-1971, at which time it was acquired by Pearson and became part of Bristol. Bristol continued to build the 24' sloop under the name Bristol 24.

Houqua is the dinette model, shown in the bottom schematic, with a double berth / table on the port side and counter with ice box and sink on the starboard.
The deck was wet around each stantion base and at the bow, so we recored and re-glassed large portions of the deck. The keel/ hull had cracked where water penetrated the space between the concrete keel and the fiberglass hull. I removed and re-glassed a large section of the starboard hull below the waterline, and installed and fared in a drain plug to prevent a reoccurrence. We also removed the sole and re-glassed over the keel to prevent water infiltration. When we reinstalled the sole we lowered it about an inch increasing the headroom so my 5'9'' frame could stand erect. We removed the carpet wall covering and repainted the interior. We also painted the hull and applied non-skid to the deck. Finally we repainted the original name to the transom. (Alas 2002 predates our purchase of a digital camera, so we don't have any photos of the work undertaken.)

Houqua is a famous ship name, first used on a clipper ship in the 1840s it honored the Chinese tea merchant, Houqua. After researching the name we decided to keep it, although wondering if it wasn't a bit much for our Sailstar to live up to. To keep with the caffeinated theme we named our tender Green Tea, and attempted to write the name in Chinese as well as English. Though a Japanese friend later informed us it was missing an important brush stroke.

A friend's Chinese Crested models atop Green Tea. The name is upside down because we were living in the Rockland apartment so the tender spend most of it's life upside down, atop SS's car.
We had many marvelous trips aboard Houqua. We traveled from Thomaston as far North as Somes Sound during the Summer months, only missing one very short and rainy Summer between 2002 and 2009. She treated us well, earning new sails, a roller furler and a new tender along the way. She remains in our driveway eagerly awaiting her next trip out.

08 July 2010

The Shakedown Cruise...

Day 1: Thomaston to Vinalhaven.

We awoke made coffee and left the dock before seven. Motoring to make the most of the outgoing tide we watched the river come to life for the day.

Once we reached the bay we set the sails and I jumped into Chronos for a photo shoot. As tends to happen, the wind picked up and SS had the opportunity to practice his "man over board" skills as he circled around to pick me up. All was well and the increasing wind made for a smooth and fast sail across East Penobscot bay, to the White Islands, SW of Vinalhaven.

This is one of our favorite anchorages (shh don't tell anyone), and we expected it to be crowded on a beautiful 4th of July weekend. However we anchored with only one other boat, and by the end of the evening only one additional boat had arrived. The original boat was a Bristol 24 / Sailstar Corsair, which is the make and model of our "old" boat. Anchoring our "new" boat by our "old" boat brought back memories of past trips, while increasing our pleasure in the new accommodations.
We ended the day with brie, warm rolls fresh from the oven, and Dark and Stormies in the cockpit. The cockpit table is a vast improvement from the 5 gallon bucket we used on the old boat to keep the appetizers out of reach of the dog.

Day 2: Vinalhaven to Isle au Haut.... or maybe Harbor Island.

After a walk on the rocks and breakfast we set out
for Isle au Haut through Carver's harbor, passing South of Vinalhaven. There was a SE swell and the forecast was for winds S 5-10 knots. It should have been a lovely reach. The gods had other plans. As we rounded the Southern tip of Vinalhaven the winds were coming from the West. We set the sails and were able to run wing on wing on wing for a time. As the reached the middle of West Penobscot bay the swells were at their peak and the mizzen began to creak with each roll. Louder and louder.
The sail plan on this boat is a little odd, and looking at the line plans for the closest Atkins boat, Tern, you will find a sloop rig. Somewhere along the way, perhaps at Narragansett shipyard where she was built, someone decided that she was to be a ketch. Yet they left the mizzen unstayed. Tapering to a 2 inch diameter at the top the mast sits in a fiberglass pedestal, which extends through the cockpit sole and ends above the engine shaft. We questioned the previous owner and he said the mizzen had never been stayed. Yet, there are two unused chainplates just forward of her step. We decided we would sail her "as is" for this first season and then make changes as needed. So, as we approached Isle au Haut, the creaking was increasing, and the pedestal was flexing.

Irregardless of the mizzen and her well being we decided that the swells would make our proposed anchorage uncomfortable, and we changed course to the North, headed for merchants row. The wind began to die as we passed the town of Isle au Haut. Considering the lobstering traffic in the morning and the forecast we settled on anchoring South of Harbor Island.

Day 3: Work Day

The work list:
1. Support base of mizzen- completed with a wonderful piece of drift wood and a hack saw.
2. Rebed port aft cleat. Leak?
3. Hang line bag in stbd locker to hold winch handle + odds and ends.
4. Install towel "rod" in head.
5. Install hooks and eyes in port v-berth to better store dinghy mast, boom and sail.
6. Install hook and eye in port locker to hang pfds.
7. Install cleat on main for throat halyard.

8. Figure out how and where to hang hammock.

Obviously the day was a great success, as I was able to relax in the hammock in the afternoon. We also installed a step on the rubber, and each practiced boarding the boat from the water. (It was hot - we went swimming!)

Day 4: Harbor Island to Winter Harbor

After a breakfast of scrambled eggs with goat cheese and scallions we hauled up the anchor and headed West for Winter Harbor (the one on NE Vinalhaven). What was unusual was that SS insisted that I drive across the bay. Here comes the why... the engine on Kairos is a 10HP SABB diesel, one cylinder, with a variable pitch propellor. Which means, unlike normal boats, there isn't a gear box which changes the direction the propellor is spinning for forward and reverse. Instead each of the two blades pivot on their base, and the shaft always spins in the same direction. Unfortunately somewhere during it's life the handle for the throttle disappeared, and is now controlled with a pair or vice grips. Learning where the ideal position for each lever is, and how not to bump the vice grips off the little nub kept my attention across the bay.

We anchored in 26' of water on the North shore of Winter harbor next to a vertical rock face. It was unseasonably hot and we set up a "bimimi" SS had sewn for the old boat. By dropping the 1/4 lifts we were able to secure the awning over the cockpit and created a wonderful shaded space. We spent a relaxing afternoon reading and knitting, waiting for the cool air of evening to arrive.

To end the day the dog was given a bath on the aft deck with the remaining water from the sun shower.

Day 5: Winter harbor - through Fox Island Thorofare and into Rockland Harbor

A sail so amazing that not a single photo was taken. We sailed off the anchor, and beat out of the harbor. We saw 6.5 knots SOG on the GPS on a close reach in 7-10 knots of wind. We sailed into Rockland harbor and through the mooring field, and completed the day by picking up the mooring under sail. Phew. Amazing.

Clearly many details of the trip are not included in this telling. I allude to the flexing of the mizzen base, but as on any shakedown cruise things broke, things were fixed, and a list was made.

The current list:

1. Screen drop board
2. Foam dog pillow for the cockpit
3. Non-skid on the sole and locker in the v-berth for paw traction
4. Need mclube for the centerboard turning block
5. Repeat math to determine length of lazy jacks - and purchase line for the 4th lazy jack - which I somehow forget about when rigging the other 3.
6. Put chafe gear on bowsprit at bow roller as shackle tends to bind up.
7. Line to chain splice for anchor line - see above.
8. Get a smoke bell for the oil lamp to protect the overhead.
9. Rebuild the lavac pump.
10. Remember to bring handheld GPS onto boat.
11. Get a pencil.
12. First aid kit.
13. Boat hook.
14. Stopper for the sail slides on the mizzen.
15. Grits.
16. Hand soap for the head.

You get the idea. The head was a little troublesome. The oil lamp bubbled the paint on the overhead. Anchoring with the roller and shackles that didn't fit wasn't fun. 30' of chain is heavy. The centerboard turning block squeals. The dog doesn't like jumping into the v-berth. She does like our cockpit chairs and wants her own. It was a challenge to pick up a mooring without a boat hook, under sail. Not such a bad list for a shakedown cruise.
We learned that she is stable, and makes amazing progress in very little wind. We learned that despite having a bigger boat with more sails we can still sail on and off anchor. What more is there in life? We will see!

View Shakedown Cruise in a larger map

01 July 2010

History - Part 2.

The saga continues..

I blame credit Chesapeake Light Craft with bringing us together. CLC sells and designs kits for glue and stitch boats. Originally emphasizing kayaks their line now includes canoes, sailboats, and row boats. When we met back in 2000 we each owned a home build kayak. The boy had built his 17 foot kayak while living in Alaska. Mine was built by my father when I was sixteen, at 18 feet it is a beautiful boat, but was in need of some TLC nine years after construction.

We spent much of the winter of 2000-2001 re-glassing the bottom, painting, and varnishing my boat. At the same time the boy, let's call him SS, was building a trimaran rig with amas and akas for his kayak. Once Spring arrived we ventured along the Southern Maine coast checking out harbors, inlets and rivers from the vantage point of our kayaks.

(My Cape Charles 18 is on the right in the photo, his Chesapeake 17 is on the left. - alas this story predates digital cameras - so no photo of the trimaran rig.)

Once graduation arrived we had to decide where to settle. Due to some extended family issues mid-coast Maine became the location of choice. We each found employment at local boat yards and set up house in a second floor apartment.

..... .................. ....

Although on Rte 1, almost across from McDonald's, that apartment was a jewel with a picture window framing both the breakwater lighthouse, and Owl's Head light, in Rockland, Maine.

But how does sailing come into this story? More to come...