Sunday, January 10, 2016

Recent sailing stuff

Over at Exile in Portales, regular commenter Virgil Xenophon asks for us to keep telling sailing stories.

Ok. The latest sailing tale goes back to a year ago, around Oct of 2014. I was looking over eBay at sailboats for sale and was hoping to find a trailer for the 22 footer I had parked out back. I would up bidding on a San Juan 23 with trailer up in Worcester, Massachusetts. I won the bid with a ridiculously low bid and with that made a road trip to Taxachusetts.

I borrowed a friend's one ton truck and drove through Pennsylvania into New Jersey. I presumed the stupid Tom-Tom would find my way to I-95 and then I would vector left for Mass. via Connecticut.


Tom-Tom made me go across the George Washington Bridge ($13.00 toll!) and dropped me into the Bronx, just in time for commuter traffic. I had to aggressively muscle my way back to some parkway which brought me into Connecticut and into some of the worst traffic i have seen since Los Angeles! After a couple hours of that nonsense, I finally made way into Massachusetts and got to Worcester around 2230. Checked into a crummy hotel and waited for morning when I was due to meet the seller  off the boat and close the deal.

I finally saw the sailboat in person, sometime around 1100. The tires were flat and the boat looked pretty rough. I tried to take the wheels off to inspect the bearings, but I failed in those tasks. I bought some trailer lights and a couple of tubes of bearing grease and spent the entire day trying to get the boat ready to move. The seller was kind of urging me to get going, too. After spending a frustrating afternoon and evening, I checked into an expensive hotel for the night.

First view of the Nu-Gnu!

Not a bad boat

Hopefully, we would be ready to go by 0800... Not.

Quick inspection of the room, it was clean and a review of the mattress seams was ok, the mattress was actually sealed by a couple of sheets so I could not see the actual seam but it all looked proper. And this was a $175 room so I was confident. I ate a bad sandwich and drank two beers sometime around 2030 and hit the sack at 2100 for the night.

I woke up itchy, at 0400. Turned on the lights and saw nothing. Woke again a half hour later and gave up on sleep. Especially when I noticed the welts on my torso, arms and legs. Covered. In. Bites. Big puffy welts like a score of mosquitoes had lunched on me in the tropics! I hopped rapidly into the shower and scrubbed myself for at least forty minutes. I looked again for any signs of bugs and couldn't see any, so I packed my small bag and went to the desk.

When I tried to discretely mention my dilemma to the desk person, he rapidly passed me over to the manager, an older lady who was quite helpful.

"I think you might want to send a cleaning crew to my room, pull out the mattresses and bug bomb the place," I said quietly, while pulling my sleeve up to show the welts.

My hotel bill was instantly reversed and they spent a few moments apologizing. What could I say?

Got back to the sailboat and it began to rain as I did the final tie-downs and hook up to the truck. Miserable, wet and itchy was the state of affairs.

We got the paper work done and I left town on a slick road in the New England rain. Tom-Tom kept trying to send me back to NYC, which I responded by turning the damn thing off. It was about eight more hours until I got to Harrisonburg, Virginia and returned the truck to my friend Bruce.

Once there at Bruce's home, we got the boat stowed and headed to Wally-World for new clothes and skivvies. I pulled all my stuff from my bag and dropped it all into a hot wash. I left the bag outside in the cold. My entire body was now swelling up from an allergic reaction to the bug bites and I was an unhappy cat for the night.

Just my thigh. It was most ugly the next few days. 
Common sight in Harrisonburg.

Still holding together!

Next morning we took off for Florida towing the boat merrily down the interstate. The only snag was when a large part flew off the trailer and went into the roadway, thankfully landing in the center guardrail. Otherwise no problems to Jax!

Once we got the boat home, we began the cleanup of the interior and an inventory of gear and sails. I was pleasantly surprised by the great condition of the sails and hull! We changed out a bulkhead that was rotted with some stuff called Star Board, which is a dense plastic sheet made to replace wood.

The Dude will abide.

New Bulkhead is stronger than original!

Cut a pattern using old rotted wood as template.

We put the Nu-Gnu away for the season while Bruce returned to his duties back in the Sand Box and I stayed home waiting for Spring. Once Spring had Sprung it was decided we would race the Nu-Gnu on the St Johns River in the annual Mug Race.

Heck, we didn't know if the boat floated, but we had faith! We set up the mast using a mast raising system which consisted of levering the mast with the boom and a 7:1 pulley system. One person can raise the mast, which is pretty remarkable!

It all works!

We connected up to the truck and drove forty miles to Palatka and dropped the boat in. We set up the sails and joined all the sailors at the big beer party by the river.

World War 1 Naval Memorial, Palatka, FL.

Underway and sailing!

Fearless Skipper takes a selfie.

San Juan 23, Hull number 346.

It took about eleven hours but we finally made it to the finish line, we were fourth in our class and beat out an identical San Juan 23!

Yes, it is myself on the helm for the thrilling finish in the Florida sunset!

Funny, this whole sailing trip began in October, 2014 and yet came to a great conclusion in May, 2015.  Probably one of the best days on the water in many years, at least since the last big trip to Oz in the South Pacific. Big thanks and gratitude to Bruce for doing all the hard work which enabled the Nu-Gnu to do this sailing trip. I look forward to when Bruce comes back, there is another big trip on a Morgan 36 sailboat which is in the planning stages...


OldAFSarge said...

Well, I agree with Virgil, more sailing stories! Good to see you writing again.

I-95, George Washington Bridge, Connecticut. Wow, you hit all the highlights of driving to New England from points south. Crummy hotels in Massachusetts? Yup, there are a few. Sorry to hear you almost got eaten.

If I'd known you were in these parts, we could have had a meal and a libation (or two). Next time. Next time.

DC said...

Thanks, AF Sarge. I gotta win the lotto, or something, there are a couple of commercial vessels in your area that I would love to take on as the new Barco. Who knows, maybe I will be visiting the Northern territories, and I will be better at letting friends know my itinerary.

Alison said...

Just a quick drop by to say hello and hope you weathered "Micheal" with little to no incident... I'm glad you're still writing! Best regards... A.

DC said...

Thanks, Alison! We have cruised through the Hurricane and are in fine shape. I'm still here, stopping by every-so-often. Stay well!