>You can’t pull the mast in a gale?

>This weekend I moved Pandora from her slip to the yard in Back Creek Annapolis where she will spend the winter.  The big project is to paint the mast.  On Thursday evening I headed from New York ,where I had meetings for the day, to head south.  It was raining steadily when I got to the boat around 10pm all I could think about was getting the boat over to Port Annapolis Marina the next morning.  The bad news is that there was a gale forecast for all day Friday.  At 8:30 on Friday morning a friend helped me back out of the slip and I headed out into the bay.  It was indeed “blowing a gale” with steady winds of 30kts.   Not a nice day at all.

I headed into Back Creek, called the marina and learned that they wanted me to put my lines and fenders on the starboard side to tie up at the dock.  That’s a simple request but I was on board alone and with the wind blowing like stink it took me about 4 passes going by the marina while I scrambled up on deck to put out each of the lines and fenders.   By this time there were 4 guys waiting on the lift dock to catch me as I came in.  With 20+ kts on the port beam I lined up to make the shot into the dock area and headed in.   I expected to be set hard to starboard as I came up to the dock with the wind blowing so hard so I lined Pandora up about 10′ off of the dock, put the boat in reverse to stop the boat and get her lined up where I wanted to meet the dock.  With my heart pumping a bit harder than usual I headed in, and held my breath.

Amazingly, the maneuver worked and I stopped just where I was supposed to, Pandora quickly drifted to starboard toward the dock and into the welcoming hands of the marina guys.   The wind pinned Pandora hard against the dock and it took everyone pushing against the wind to hold her off while I rigged fenders to keep the boat from hitting the pilings.  It was now 10am and I was securely tied up.  What to do next?  Unfortunately I had not pulled off the sails when I had left the boat a few weeks ago and now that I was being pinned to the dock by 20+kt winds there was no getting them off now.   With that realization, I came to grips with the fact that Pandora wasn’t leaving the water today.  Bummer to that.

Besides, with winds of that strength, there was no way that the rigger was going to attempt to pull out the mast, perhaps damaging something in the process.  Actually, that turned out to be for the best as I couldn’t have gotten the radar mount off of the back stay, loosened all of the stays and shrouds, removed the boom and all of the many things that had to be done in advance of pulling the mast in the rain and wind anyway.

Given the considerable cost of pulling the mast and getting it painted, I plan on addressing some rigging issues at the same time.  I am interested in setting up the boat so that she can handle conditions with wind of 30+ kts, conditions that are too strong for her now even when she is double reefed with the jib out.  Going to windward under such conditions are too much like work so something needed to be done.

The rigger suggested that I install an inner forestay, or in this case an inner, inner forestay since Pandora already has two fixed forestays, one for the jib and the outer and most forward one for the genoa.   The plan will be to put a third fitting on the mast to handle a shorter stay that will connect to a fitting on the deck about two or three feet behind the inner fixed stay.  By using the jib sheet on the storm jib attached to the inner stay I will be able to hank on a very small jib and sheet it in using the jib track, a really nice and simple option.  When the stay isn’t being used I will clip it to a small pad eye on the deck to the side of the mast.  I am also going to put a foam luff into the jib which will make it possible to roll that sail up a bit without compromising the sail’s shape.   When you roll up a sail on a furler, it’s necessarily to add bulk the fabric in the middle portion of the leading edge or luff of the sail or luff so that it doesn’t bag and holds it’s shape when partially rolled up.

I will also have a third reef put into the main so that sail can also be made even smaller when the wind is over 30kts or so.  Between the genoa, jib, storm jib and three reefs I should be able to handle most wind conditions up to 40kts or so and even more if needed.  I don’t particularly want to be out in such conditions but it’s nice to know that I will be able to prepare the boat properly in the event that I find myself in a situation where the conditions require substantially reduced sail. 

Friday, because of the wind and rain, was sort of a bust.  In spite of that I was able to get the engine oil changed and winterized as well as spray it with an oil to keep it from rusting over the winter.

The next morning, Saturday my friend Denise showed up to help me pull off the sails at 8:30am.  The wind had dropped to less than 10kts, which was good, but it was still raining lightly.   With a deadline of needing to get everything in order prior to leaving town I decided to pull the sails off anyway, wet or not, stuff them in their bags and take them off to the sail maker.   When the jib and genoa came off I was stunned to see that algae had grown all over them from all the rain this summer. In spite of using the boat a lot the roller furler had allowed the sails to stay wet and become a bit of a swamp.  The genoa is made of a mylar layer covered on both sides with a dacron fabric so it’s not very porous and needs to be treated on alternate years to avoid mildew.   It’s clearly time for another treatment.  Fortunately, the sailmaker can send them out to be laundered and get them treated again which should solve the algae problem. 

After Denise left mid morning, my friend Ken showed up to help me prepare the mast for removeal. We loosened all of the stays holding up the mast, removed the boom and secured everything to be sure that taking out the mast would be as quick as possible.  The cost of getting the mast out and back in can really add up so it’s important to do whatever you can to be sure that the boat is ready to go before the “big guns” show up ready to run up a big tab.

After getting the rig ready I turned my attention to winterizing the water system.  With two heads, a cockpit shower and lots of hoses running around inside the boat it’s critical that antifreeze be put in the system and circulated fully so nothing will freeze and break when it gets cold.  I have always had a tough time getting the fluid to cirulate efficiently in the system and came up with the idea of putting in a fitting between the water tanks and the pressure pump.  By turning off the tank valves I can pull in antifreeze from a convenient funnel and minimize the wasted fluid.  I actually don’t know if I thought this up myself or if someone told me but it works very well. See these two photos of the fitting I installed. 

This shows the “T” fitting between the valves to the water tanks and the pressure pump. It is a very simple solution.
By using a funnel and hose to the fitting I can feed in the “pink stuff” easily with little waste.
It’s critical to take photos to be sure that the myriad lines end up back in the same place when Pandora is put back together again.  Fingers crossed!!!
After everything is done the boat really looks like a mess and it’s hard to believe that she will ever look like a proper little ship any time soon.
Pandora looking quite nasty but ready to haul. 
In a few weeks I will head back down to Annapolis to get the cover back on so that she is protected from the weather.  Still lots to do and so few months until March when she goes back in.

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