Monday, June 3, 2013

Cruising on Plover -- Shake Down Cruise to Ingleside, Texas

We are presently at the Bahia Marina in Ingleside after an extended trip down the coast from Kemah. Our original plan was to get to Bahia Marina in Ingleside by Saturday, May 11, because we needed to be in San Antonio on Monday, May 13, for THE BIG GRADUATION EVENT OF JAMES TOMSETT. We didn't get away from Kemah until the morning of May 9, after spending the night tied up at The Turtle Club in Seabrook. Yes, we spent the night tied up at a bar. Oddly, this was not to be the first night we tied up at a bar, but I digress.  Here is a picture of us as we left Kemah:

Our first stop was Teacup Anchorage just outside Galveston Yacht Basin. It turned out to be a nice anchorage but did get a bit rolly in the morning when the work boats started traveling by. We went to the fuel dock and topped off with diesel and then headed for the ICW to Freeport. We still had things that needed to be done to the boat before we could take her offshore, such as wiring the running lights and installing cleats for securing the seat covers. Our plan was to take the ICW to Freeport and then go offshore to Port Aransas.

After clearing the Galveston Causeway, we were hit by a major thunderstorm and took refuge in Offats Bayou. While there, we discovered one of our batteries was dead, so a hike to Auto Zone ensued and Chris packed the battery back to the boat. We got back on the ICW at 4 p.m. and I promptly ran us hard aground. We spent the next 2 hours kedging and leaning and poling, and were finally assisted by a kind hearted power boater. How embarrassing for me. That was  not the only time we ran aground that night, though, so I felt better about it as the night wore on. We came to the conclusion that dodging tugboats and barges on the ICW at night, with no moon, and no spotlight, is not a good idea and about 1 a.m. we pulled over and set the anchor to await daylight.

I had asked Chris one time what he thought the weakest link on our boat was. He couldn't come up with anything but, after thinking about it, I decided it was human error. Our Plover is strong and seaworthy but if we mess up and do something dumb, she may not be able to take care of us. So, that morning on the ICW, I told Chris, "We're making the most common mistake sailors make -- we're trying to get somewhere according to a deadline rather than making sure we have a safe passage. We need to forget about trying to get to Ingleside and just take it slow from here on out." And that is exactly what we did. We secured a slip at Freeport Municipal Marina and went to San Antonio for Jimi's graduation and spent a few days visiting with family.

After returning to Freeport, we continued down the ICW, stopping for the night at Sting Rae's bar and grill in Sargent. Although the bar was closed, Rae was very friendly and invited us to spend the night in a slip there and gave us the code to her WiFi. A guy in a pickup came by to admire the boat and gave Chris a ride to a convenience store to get us some ice. It turned out that the guy was Major's vet, Gordon, from Pet Care Express, in Houston. What a small world we live in !!

We then traveled 12 miles to the San Bernard River where we anchored and walked over to the beach on the Gulf side of the island. The San Bernard River was an excellent anchorage and we had a very nice time there although we didn't catch many fish. I caught a few gaff top catfish which we didn't keep as they were a little on the small side. Major had a great time at the beach. I think he ran nonstop for at least 2 hours and rolled in every dead smelling thing he could find.

The next day we exited the ICW at Matagorda on the Colorado River. The following is an email I sent to my parents about the trip:

Subject: Arrived Port Aransas
Sent: Sat, May 25, 2013 10:58 a.m.

Hi. We left Matagorda about 9 a.m. to go to Port Aransas offshore, a distance of about 80 miles. NOAA said winds 10-15 and seas 2-3 feet which is how the day started. We worked our way out about 10 miles offshore and the seas/wind increased throughout the day. We were under stay sail, full main, and mizzen. Chris took a nap from about 4-6 pm and then we had sausage jerky and water for dinner as it was too rough to cook. After dinner, I got about a one hour nap but it was difficult to sleep because of the conditions. We had 5 foot waves that were cresting which was interesting when they crested under the boat. We reefed the main and still maintained about 4-5 knots, eventually taking down the main, then the mizzen, running under stay sail alone. The seas were confused so we had these big rollers in one direction and then 2-3 ft. waves at another angle. This caused side to side rolling as well as front to back. It was uncomfortable but no one got sea sick and we didn't take any water over the bow. Major was scared and became very quiet, sticking close to us, and wouldn't eat or drink anything. As we neared Port A, we had difficulty identifying some lights. They looked like ships but we thought they might be really big drilling rigs. When the sun came up we saw they were anchored ships. The wind had died down to about 10 knots, so we got the reefed main and the mizzen up again, and shook the reef out of the main before long. A pod of dolphins played around the boat, leaping out of the water and one threw water at us with his tail. We arrived Port Aransas about 11:30 a.m. and had an easy entrance into the jetties. We had worried about the big rollers and the small entrance so we had put Major down below in case anything crazy happened. I looked below to check on him and caught him eating the rest of our sausage jerky. So much for sea sickness. All in all it was a good shake-down cruise. We towed the dinghy behind us and only got about 2 cups of water in it. The boat performed beautifully and took good care of us. We wore the safety harnesses you gave us the entire time and were clipped on to the mizzen mast when in the cockpit or to jacklines run bow to stern when on deck. We are here in Ingleside for a month while we take care of little projects.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Cruising on Plover -- May 2013

They say that the definition of cruising is working on your boat in exotic locations. I'm not sure who "they" are but the definition holds true as we are working on a myriad of details that must be completed before we can leave Clear Lake for our first destination, Ingleside, Texas.

We left Hillman's Shipyard on Saturday, May 4, 2013, and headed to the home of our friends, Karen and Tony Townsend, who have a slip on a canal behind their house and had offered to let us use it for a few days while we got things squared away on the boat.

Gordo took this picture from the top of the mast. It's definitely a view of our boat that we won't usually get to see.

Hanging a pirate from the yard arms -- actually, that's Gordo Barcomb working on some splicing and changing out some blocks.


Monday, May 6, 2013

The Plover Project -- Life in the Boat Yard (Part 9)

Launch Day !!

On Saturday, May 4, 2013, Plover began a new chapter in her life and we began a new chapter in ours.

John Goodman, Gordo Barcomb, Chantel Barcomb, and my parents, Jerry and Margaret Jourdan were in attendance.

The following pictures show the sequence of events from transporting her to Hillman's Shipyard to her first moments on the water.

As we left Hillman's, Gordo said, "From this point on, you're cruising!"

Leaving the boatyard:

On the road:

Chantel Barcomb was there to photograph the event:

Arrived safely at Hillman's Shipyard:

 Gordo Barcomb helped with rigging:
My parents, Jerry and Margaret Jourdan, were there for the big event.
 Into the sling:



Backing out of sling:
Heading to Clear Lake. I'm not sure what Major is thinking but I believe it has something to do with "Oh man, here we go again."

Monday, April 29, 2013

The Plover Project -- Life in the Boat Yard (Part 8)

Making Lists:

I'm a list maker. I'm not one of those people that can keep it all in my head. I have to write it down and sometimes, if I complete a task that wasn't on my list, I will add it to my list just to experience the satisfaction of crossing it off. I know. Sick. My list of stuff to do has become 4 separate lists:

1. Stuff we gotta do today.
2. Stuff that can wait until next week.
3. Stuff that can wait until next haul out.
4. Stuff we ain't never gonna do.


We spent the past few days painting. I've gotten one good coat of bottom paint on and will add a second coat. I love painting the bottom because I don't have to worry about making it look nice, I just have to get a nice, even coat of the thick, copper-filled paint on everything below the water line. We lucked out on our bottom paint and found 2 gallons that had been discontinued for $20 a can. The normal price is $200 a can.

We decided to paint the cap rails and rub rails instead of varnishing them. After almost 50 years of sanding and varnishing, and sometimes letting the varnish go and allowing the wood to become weathered, there was no way we were ever going to get them to look nice. We cut out and replaced sections of rot, sanded them as smoothly as we could get them, and started getting paint on them. Replacing the cap rails, rub rails, and bulwarks have been added to List No. 3, Stuff That Can Wait Until Next Haul Out.

Chris is taping off, I'm painting:

Green bulwarks, primer on cap rails and rub rails:

Our neighbor made window frames for our larger windows:

Chris got this box to mount our masthead lights on:

Saturday, April 27, 2013

The Plover Project -- Life in the Boat Yard (Part 7)

I haven't posted much lately mostly because it seems like I don't have much to say about our progress on the boat. For example, today I sanded. Yesterday I sanded. I sanded the day before that, too, and I will be sanding tomorrow.

We did take care of some things that we had been putting off. We built a storage shed that fits on top of our flatbed trailer, cleaned out our storage unit, stored all that crap in the storage shed, and then guess what we did? We worked on the boat, e.g., sanded.

We spent 2 weeks at the local crack hotel so that I could completely paint and varnish the interior of the boat without messing up our nice cushions and everything else we own. I was able to set up a varnishing station in the kitchen area of our room and started each day by putting another coat of varnish on a few pieces I brought over. At least the smell of varnish masked the heavy cigarette smoke aroma that permeated the entire room. The hotel was surprisingly quiet (we expected crack head brawls about midnight every night), free of roaches (except for the extremely large one that resided in the bathroom and flew through the air, landing on Chris and traveling down his arm one night), and had a seemingly unlimited supply of hot water (although Chris enjoyed turning on the kitchen faucet while I was in the shower, causing me to get scorched and then frozen). Shower or no shower, launched or not, I missed living on the boat and was happy to move back aboard.

Aside from sanding, varnishing, and painting, I have learned a new skill. I put threads on all the bronze rod that Chris had cut into 3 inch lengths for attaching our chainplates to the hull. It was interesting to do, I had to be very careful to make the thread straight, and I only chopped off a small section of the tip of my index finger on my left hand.

Guess what I'm doing?

What do you think? Good idea?
First coat goes on.
 View from the bow:

View from the ground. That's our neighbor's boat in the background.

That's John Goodman standing on the stern, helping Chris. I don't know what we would have done without his help.

Newly painted cockpit.

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Plover Project -- Life in the Boat Yard (Part 6)

March 1:

March means Spring is here and Winter is officially over (in this part of Texas anyway). It means warmer weather but not too hot. Bluebonnets and Indian Paintbrushes. My birthday is this month -- yippee :) I love March.

Today we paid our boatyard rent for the (hopefully) last time.
We also paid our rent at the storage facility and gave our 30 day notice to vacate. I was looking at what is left in there and it is significantly less than what we originally stored. Still, it will be a big project to get it cleaned out because, other than the initial organizational fervor of shelf building and box marking, nothing has been done to maintain order. Most of the time, we drop by the storage to pick up a tool or some piece of hardware, and leave as quickly as we can.

I saw my framed college diploma leaning precariously against the back wall behind some shelves. There are miscellaneous boxes of boat hardware that we have rifled through when retrieving usable items for Plover. The sailing rig for Sherpa, our dinghy, as well as the sailing rig for another dinghy, now long gone. All of our camping gear. All of our fishing gear. All the sails for Plover as well as a collection of miscellaneous sails. A bin of stiff, dirt encrusted dock lines. Several small anchors. Boxes of household items we haven't yet parted with. Books. More books. The list goes on....

I'll get some pictures ready for posting next time. I'm too tired to deal with it right now.

Monday, February 25, 2013

The Plover Project -- Life in the Boat Yard (Part 5)

Our Nature's Head composting toilet.
We had decided that we wanted a self contained composting toilet rather than a marine toilet with a holding tank and thru hull fitting. It took us awhile to get around to ordering it because it wasn't cheap so it was a tough decision to make. We have had it in use for over a month now and are completely happy with it. 
John Goodman arrived to help with sanding (again). We should be able to paint the hull this week if the weather cooperates.


Chris with the belt sander; it broke later that day and we had to get a new one. So far, we have worn out and replaced an orbital sander, a belt sander, and a drill. I'm sure most of our other power tools are feeling abused and won't last much longer.

I'm glad he's wearing the respirator while sanding fiberglass. Major was having a problem a few weeks ago with nose bleeds and we guessed it was due to inhaling fiberglass dust. The poor little guy needs a doggie respirator.

When the going gets tough, Major relaxes in the truck. He likes to hang out in there and we leave the door open so he can come and go as he pleases.
We got the rudder hung. I scraped and sanded off all the old fiberglass and it now has all new hardware.
New prop too, although it's hard to see it in this picture:

Food storage under our bed. All the cans have to be marked with a sharpie to show their contents in case the labels get wet and come off. We won't have refrigeration on our boat so most of our diet will be from canned and packaged foods.

I like this can, no need to mark the top, it's already labeled.

Friday, February 22, 2013

The Plover Project -- Life in the Boat Yard (part 4)

The first of February found us hard at work (still) and enjoying perfect weather. The mud puddles are drying out and we are making good progress on the boat.
I discovered more rot while I was sanding the cap rail and rub rail. Luckily, it was right about where Chris was going to install the bow roller so cutting out and repairing this section is not as bad as it seems.

We go through a lot of sandpaper. Chris is sanding the hull in preparation for painting. At the end of the day, he looked like a powdered sugar donut.

We had decided that on the next rainy day, we would take an overnight trip to Galveston. We booked a room at the Super8 (so luxurious!), had a nice dinner out, and walked the beach. We also took about 5 showers and laughed at Family Guy on tv for 2 hours. Proof positive there is something seriously wrong with us.

I hope we never wind up like this guy. 

Boatyard Cat. She was waiting patiently for us to return.

It's not all work and no play.