OK to Close

I have been taking some heat as of late for not posting any progress on the boat. Properly chastised, I am back at it. I’ll finish up the Texas 200 later, for now here you go Tricia!

Going back a few posts you may remember that I ran out of wood for the planking. Since I was out of wood (the sailboat fund is currently low) and I have been dodging it for a while, I figured it was time to catch up on some of the less pleasant work.

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Sanding is fun, sanding is therapeutic.  Keep telling yourself that over and over. Idle Hands is made of marine plywood and this type of construction has you coat all of the wood inside and out with epoxy. The epoxy soaks into the wood and prevents water from getting to the fibers of the wood. Before you epoxy coat, it’s best to sand off all of the glue goobers and fill any mistakes you have made during construction if you want a good finish. After the epoxy is cured you sand it again, prime, sand again, paint, wet sand, and then you are done. Right now I am just sanding the interior and getting the epoxy on the wood. I am only planning on painting one area now. I’ll save the rest of the painting until I am ready to put the floorboards/seats down.

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One thing that you have to do before you fit the last plank on the sides is to fit the anchor well floor. This panel closes out the very front of the boat and acts as the floor of the anchor well. This is an exciting time because it is the first piece of the boat that is going to be closed out forever. I took my time in this area because I never want to dig down this far again. It was the usual process of fill, sand, epoxy coat, sand, primer coat, sand, bilge paint, NO SANDING!

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With one last check to make sure there was nothing left to do I gave myself the OK to close and glued her down.

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For  now that is how she sits. I have it in the back of my mind to flip the boat over this fall. I still have to finish planking, make the rudder and rudder head, fit the king plank, and a few other things before I flip it so I guess I had better get to work.

Until next time.

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The Ultimate Test Drive

Part II 

I had set my alarm for 5:30 am but really didn’t need it. As the morning neared I could hear more and more motion from outside. Sometime around 4:30 am I heard Peter moving around the room and I figured it was time to get up. The whole marina was alive with nervous energy; boats were being prepped, supplies loaded. Peter and I had done most of the work Sunday so all we really had to do was load coolers and personal bags. We shifted and fiddled in our new home getting everything where we wanted it, and then, finally, it was light enough to head out. Peter was as excited as a kid on Christmas day. As we putted out under engine power he broke out the stereo and blasted pipes and drums to set us off right. On either side of the channel homeowners were sitting on the back porch watching us roll out. We cleared the channel and hoisted sail and settled in for the long haul.

The weather guessers had predicted 20+ mile per hour winds for the first few days so we reduced the size of the sail Sunday night.  It didn’t take long for the winds to pick up and our caution to be rewarded. The wind was directly behind us so we had our sails poled out wing on wing. The high winds and wide shallow bays led to us surfing down the front of some pretty big waves at the highest speeds I have ever seen in a single hulled boat. Toward the end of the day we were bumping up against 8 miles per hour!

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The last section of day one involved a right turn and a seven mile sail between Padre Island and South Padre Island to the Port Mansfield Jetties. Peter and I made a plan to face into the wind and drop the main sail and continue in under the jib and the mizzen only. One of the cool things about a yawl is that you can pull the rear sail tight and the ship faces right into the wind and waves so the crew can change sails or even take a break if they need it. As we approached the turn the weather was at its worst. The bay we were in was large but super shallow; the waves had built to 3-4 feet with steep sides and spray coming off the top. We pulled the aft sail tight and the Flying M dutifully faced into the wind.

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We dropped the main sail and faced back toward the jetties. The sails filled and we should have taken off like a rocket but the wind and waves kept knocking us nose into the wind. Finally I was whipped and Peter came aft and fired up the outboard and we headed in. I flopped into the beanbag chair and just held on. As Peter guided us in I could see the other boats in the fleet getting their butts kicked too. The wind and the tide led to some really big waves that broke over the bow of the Flying M and led to a very wet seven miles. As we reached the entrance to the Gulf of Mexico we finally came to camp one. A few boats had already arrived having sailed outside in the gulf instead of inside behind the islands like us. The closer we got I could tell something was wrong.

Peter yelled over the wind and told me to get the radio. I did and heard Matt, the club president, saying there was a sailor in the water outside the jetties and asking if anyone with an engine could go help. Peter and I exchanged a wordless glance and he gunned the engine and headed out. It took only minutes for us to realize that the weather was just too much for us. Even with our six horse engine the incoming tide and waves pushed us back faster than we could go. Not wanting to be the next swimmers in the water we headed in. Peter guided us into the beach and when I hopped off my first words were “shit this is deep” The beach dropped off super steep so only a couple of feet off the beach I was in up to my chest. We anchored the boat to the beach and Peter threw me a beer to celebrate surviving the day.

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Over the next hour or so we set up camp, the swimmer in the water made it to the jetty, then to a fishing boat, and the Coast Guard dispatched a helicopter from Corpus Christi. The boats kept filtering in and, as I was taking some stuff up the beach I heard Peter yell “where is the lifeline!” Peter grabbed the line and I could see what had happened. A large cabin style boat had edged up to the beach and the captain had jumped out with a bow line and no life vest and now he and the boat were headed out to sea. Peter ran over and heaved the line in a perfect throw and I could see the relief in the captains eyes when Peter pulled him ashore. I helped secure the boat and then it hit me. I have had enough. I walked over to my tent to rest for a minute right as the Coast Guard did a low flyby.

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I woke up as the sun was on its way down. Camp one had turned into a small town during the time I was asleep. I met back up with Peter and found out that shortly after I laid down he had to use the lifeline again for the same reason. “I have carried this for years and never used it and I needed it twice today.” The rest of the evening had us socializing and drinking a few of our precious beers. At the end of the night I took a walk down the beach to see how many people had shown up. The numbers told the tale. There were 50+ boats that left Monday morning, 30 or so were on the beach. What a day. With that in mind it was time for bed.