Friday, April 22, 2011

And then there were two (jibs, that is!)

Reboot and Door into Summer made it into New Bern, NC yesterday afternoon.  It was not, however, without its final piece of drama.

New Bern is my summer repair and refit marina.  I estimate that Reboot has sailed about 10,000 NM since I left Milwaukee about two years ago.  That was the last time that she was actually on the hard except for a quick pull and scrape of the bottom at Green Cove Springs.  Add another 5,000 NM sailing and racing in Lake Michigan and Lake Huron before I moved aboard and its time to go over her from stem to stern before heading for the Eastern Caribbean and South America in the Fall.  I also have friends with boats here that can watch over her and give me some time to do a couple of land visits.  For example I am going up to Madison, Chicago and Milwaukee to attend Spencer's graduation and visit Trevor in a couple of weeks.  (Joy of joys, not only will Spencer graduate but he also has a job offer!)

After a long and tiring sail from Charleston to Morehead City and a short night tied up to a dock with No Trespassing signs which we could not see in the dark (we subsequently talked to the security guard, explained that it was the middle of the night and that we had been at sea for 3 days and he took pity on us - thank you) we headed up the ICW to the Neuse Rive and New Bern.  The forecast was for 20 knot winds gusting to 25 - not a great time to be in the river.  It can get very nasty.  All the way up the ICW we had sunny skies and no wind.  Ed, not being totally read into the sailing life asked me on the radio - "so how are you liking the 20 knot winds?"  I told him it was not a good thing to tease the weather gods, that superstitious sailors considered it bad luck.  We both had a bit of a laugh.

We exited the ICW and headed up the river toward New Bern.  For the first half of the trip there was no wind, it finally picked up just enough to put out the jib and get a little boost.  All of a sudden, and I mean within 30 seconds the wind went from nothing to 40 knots.  Reboot's 150% jib was fully out and all of a sudden I had a skysail jib and a main jib as it split in two from leech to luff!  Then the furler jammed.  All in all not much fun.  After doing a couple of pirouettes to get the sail unwrapped and the shredded jib wound around the foil we started to head back toward New Bern.  (Door into Summer had turned around, dropped its sails and was standing by in case I needed assistance.)  The wind dropped to about 20 knots and the waves kicked up giving us a lot of leeway as we negotiated the narrow channel near New Bern.  We finally arrived with but one last challenge, to get under the lift bridge into the New Bern harbor.  I called the bridge and requested an opening.  I told the bridge operator that it was very windy and that we would appreciate it if he would start his opening early so that we could maintain speed toward the bridge.  He agreed.  So of course he didn't start the opening until I was about 500 feet from the bridge.  Since I had anticipated this response I was actually about 100 feet up current from the bridge.  Ed, on Door into Summer behind me, was wondering what I was doing.  I had to slam Reboot into all back emergency which not only removed all headway but also the ability to steer.  I drifted smartly 100 feet to port, went back into forward and under the bridge.  Ed of course had to do a full emergency reverse to avoid hitting me.  As he passed under the bridge we both called the operator and thanked him for the lift.  It never pays to piss off a bridge tender!

Inside the harbor there was no wind and no waves so I figured I was home free.  The wind had been shifting all day but Reboot was rigged port side for her slip.  The dock hand answered on the radio that he would stand by to handle lines and warned me that there was a rapid current in the slipway.  As I turned down into the slipway I found out how rapid, I had to hold the bow up about 30 degrees to go in a straight line down the     way.  I got to the slip, turned hard in and realized that I was not going to make it but rather hit the boat on the starboard side of the bow.  Once again, all back emergency!  Reboot shuttered, turned elegantly to align herself perfectly in the slip, and as I dropped power blissfully drifted into the slip and the waiting hands of the line handlers.  In the computer business we call this "FM" and in the military "DFL."  Everyone watching complemented me on my extraordinary ship handling.  I excused myself and went below to change my underwear!

After tying up the next step was to get the jib down.  Of course the wind had come up by this point, it had unwrapped itself and both pieces were starting to flog.  With the help of Allan, the dock hand, and a knife we finally got it all off the forestay.

On the way in Claudia had said that she wanted champagne to celebrate the end of the winter cruising season.   I had been carrying a bottle of Crystal for ages waiting for the right time to open it.  I decided this was the right time so I carried it over to Door into Summer and we had a mini-celebration and Ed offered a prayer of thanks for good friends and a successful and safe boating season.  Then we all got cleaned up after about 5 days without a shower (except of course for Claudia, but she is a girl and so into the hygiene thing.) Dave of Bomba Shack drove over, picked the three of us up and we headed over to the local Outback Steakhouse for a celebratory dinner.  Fortunately Dave works in the marine trades here so he has offered to help me out lining up some skilled craftsmen to look at Reboot and arranging for her to be put on the hard to redo the bottom and swap the current propeller back to the folding propeller.

I am looking forward to a couple of days of doing nothing and then getting on with working on Reboot while it is still cool here.  The last couple of days I have had to use a blanket in the evening, something that has not been necessary for the last 8 months!

I will keep you informed as to the state of boat projects in the coming weeks and also provide contact numbers and experiences with the local boat technicians.  Fair winds and following seas.

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