No danger of Ariose dragging anchor. We’re securely on-the-hard. If you’re not familiar with the term, this marina webcam view of Ariose is as good as any definition.
Good news, though. A rudder in decent condition from a derelict Alberg 30 is on its way to us. As tempting as it was to go with a new rudder (Competition Composites Inc in Arnprior offers impressive quality and customer service), the fabrication time required would mean postponing our cruising to next season. Besides, giving new life to a chunk of fibreglass and metal, likely on its way to a landfill, also seems a more responsible choice. We hope to be back in the water within the week, and once rigging is up, and we’ve confirmed that the engine, dormant for 4 years, is ready to run, we’ll be on our way. I’ve tried to bribe the boat repair dude, just putting it out there that there will be fresh baked, solar oven brownies waiting for him should he arrive with the rudder early in the week. So far, he’s not biting.
In the meantime, we wait. Some days, patiently. And others, heat and humidity-induced crankiness sets in. We countered that last Friday with a date night that will dispel any envy others may feel for the “romantic” life we’re living. We started the evening by donning backpack and shopping bags and walked to the closest grocery store. Once we had gathered needed provisions, we hit the frozen foods aisle to treat ourselves to a 4-pack of ice cream sweets. We then paid, plunked down at the staff-break picnic table, and gobbled two up in the ambience of the moonlight reflecting off the No Frills yellow wall. Then we raced home burdened by the groceries’ weight to stash the remaining bars in the fridge before melting. That’s a romantic evening!
We’re keeping busy as, well, you know … sorry for the cliché… but couldn’t resist including a photo of this little fellow determined to gather pollen from our boat. Actually, we’re not busy as bees. We’re not even particularly busy at all. The sweltering temps of this past week and living up a ladder combine to make it difficult to be productive. Cool mid-day showers & siestas are a saviour for me. Tim tends to engage low gear once fueled by his morning coffee, and power through the heat with the occasional transitioning-between-tasks break. For the most part, we’re tackling projects that we planned to complete once underway, so checking them off our list now will provide for more leisure later, and most likely, fewer tools donated to the depths.
It’s not just gear that is at risk of falling overboard when underway. We are as well. One of my tasks this week was making new lifelines. These are the “fence” that helps keep us on board. They offer security, albeit not iron-clad protection, so we do our best to never put ourselves in a situation in which we would test if they would indeed keep us from falling overboard. Our lines had lived beyond their safe lifespan, so I set about to replace them.
Typically, lifelines are steel cable running through bolted-on stanchions (2.5 foot high stainless steel posts) around the perimeter of the deck. Having them custom made is beyond our budget, and a DIY apporach requires specialized swaging tools or costly fittings. The cable can be hard on hands, and if any of the strands chafe, they can make mincemeat of skin that is unfortunate enough to come in contact with it. To alleviate this, the cable often is vinyl coated. That’s far more comfortable to touch but it holds in moisture so not only promotes but hides, corrosion. We’ve heard scary stories of undercover rust running rampant, only to be discovered when an apparently strong lifeline gives way at the worst possible moment. So, for many reasons, cable wasn’t a great option for us.
Over the last decade or so, there have been amazing developments in the world of rope. High density polyethylene (HDPE), often referred to as Dyneema, one of the more common brand names, is literally stronger than steel and much lighter. There’s all sorts of applications for it on boats, from standing rigging (the ropes that hold the mast up), to soft shackles to attach boat parts to other boat parts, to lifelines.
As a kid, I had fun playing around with macramé – I was a child of the 60s after all! Since getting into sailing, I’m enjoying upping my rope-work skills as opportunities arise, so the ideal of using Dyneema had extra appeal.
We went with 1/4” thick rope for the upper lines, and 3/16” for the lower, far thicker than needed, but we wanted to have something substantial enough to feel ok to grab as moving around the deck. With tensile strength of 9,700 pounds, we could use a single strand of 1/4″ Dyneema to lift Ariose into the water. We could, but we won’t! One drawback is it will suffer UV degradation, so over-sized Dyneema allows the outer fibres, once damaged, to act as a sun-shield for the more-than-strong enough remaining inner fibres.
With my trusty google tutor on my iPad, a canvas shade rigged overhead, and a dollar-store spray bottle for cooling spritzes at my side, I set to work. It took me a couple days to complete our new lifelines. Dyneema is a bit pricey, but lends itself to a DIY approach, so in the end, here is much saved in labour cost and hours. It would have been even more economical had I not mis-measured before cutting a section. Twice. Oh, I was supposed to measure twice and cut once? My brain seems to have a tendency to flip spacial orientation mid-splice, making me realize that I need to adopt a protocol of measure twice, do a mock-up, measure again and THEN cut once. My mistakes mean we now have a healthy supply of left-over Dyneema to repurpose elsewhere on Ariose.
So there you have it. Snazzy Dyneema lifelines: strong, easy on hands, easy to inspect, rust free, chafe resistant, they look good, no more costly than other options, and are (relatively) easy to make. Done!
Tim’s been busy too, mainly focusing on electrical projects, tidying wires and trouble-shooting gremlins. He’s made some sweet improvements, like moving the engine starter to a new position where it will no longer get a saltwater bath every time waves broach our cockpit (which, with our low freeboard, is often). We now have the safety of a solenoid switch and a sensor for the propane that fuels our stove and heater, and USB outlets in convenient spots. He’s also created an array of pretty coloured lights at the binnacle. Tim is sticking to the official rationale that they are warning lights for various situations, but I detect a 70’s disco sparkle in his eyes as he demonstrates their operation. He’s also installing new equipment (radar and iridiumGO – more about these in a future post perhaps), far easier with the mast down and cockpit lockers empty, than had we waited to do so once underway.
Having extra time to complete boat work is one of the silver linings to this delayed departure. Meeting lots of interesting people is the other.
We’ve enjoyed hours of conversations every day, some quick and casual, and some engaging enough that we’ve chatted through voracious dusk-launched mosquito attacks, right Lisa & Guy? Many who keep their boats here, like Claudia and Bill, and Wayne, and others, are fortunate enough to live in the neighbourhood. They are a pleasure to chat with as they drop into the marina, and have been generous with offers to help out. There is a camaraderie among Alberg owners and admirers, and it’s easy to feel a strong kinship with the many who have stopped by. Decades ago, Brian, his wife and 3 kids sailed their’s south. For a year! There is little cabin space on an Alberg 30. Very little. It’s not effort f without effort for Tim and I to be able to cohabitate peacefully aboard. We have great admiration for any family of 5 able to make it work.
Liveaboards like Jane, have been welcoming to us as temporary residents. Mike’s kindly lent us his jeep for errands, and gifted us a canvas canopy that is saving us from baking ourselves. We’re rooting for him to follow his South Pacific dreams. We’ve enjoyed good wine with Patrick at sundown as he prepares to return home to France via Greenland. Meeting kindred spirits like George who has cultivated a simple life on land and on sea, has been heart-warming. Robert’s plans to solo-sail Sarah Lynne parallel ours, so we’ll buddy-boat with each other along the way, easing spouse Eunice’s worry. Charles has dug into his reservoir of sails on the St.Lawrence to share all sorts of useful tidbits for our voyage. We’ve learned much and been entertained by the stories of more accomplished sailors. Hopefully, we have been able to pay it forward by inspiring and sharing our bits of hard-earned wisdom with others. It’s affirming to be in a more experienced and prepared position as we launch this time around. But we know we have much yet to learn.
It’s not just the boating community that we’ve connected with. Sue, my best friend from primary school, and hubby Mark, also live nearby. She surprised me when she hustled down to the marina within minutes of our last post. She found me in the same chair that I had just taken a selfie in to include in that post! It’s always good catching up – there’s been far too few opportunities over the years. Once we’re beyond the bizarre initial time-warp moments as 40+ years condense, we get comfortable connecting with the aged incarnation of our 10 year old selves that now resemble our respective moms.
Living-on-the-hard is, well, hard! Up and down the ladder. At bedtime, shifting gear that’s settled on our v-berth. Having a perpetually cluttered cockpit. Carving out space on the already challengingly-limited galley counter to prepare meals. Clonking our heads multiple times daily on the mast that bisects our deck and cockpit. Spending more time looking for mis-placed tools than using them. I decided to take a brief break from the boat and leaving Tim alone made it easier for him to check more items off his task list.
So I’m writing this post as I return from Montreal , having spent a lovely couple days with one of my kids. Getting such a late start to our departure will mean we may not stop to visit en route, so it was really special having time with them.
I’ll wrap up with a hot-off-the-press update. Just got confirmation that the rudder will be installed tomorrow or Friday this week! I think I’ll still bake up some brownies. Their promise may not have been effective in moving things along more quickly, but we’re grateful nonetheless and hopefully they will express our thanks.