The Minimalist Sailor

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Monsoons and Mosquitoes

Downtown Houston this past Monday

So it’s been raining in Texas… like a lot.  This is the wettest spring/early summer that I can recall in my lifetime.  Rivers have spilled their banks, bridges have washed out, and major thoroughfares have been underwater.  And the mosquitoes are swarming in droves.  Some areas have received feet of rain in a single day.   For the last few months, I have been watching the forecasts and gribs like a hawk.  They’re saying this is an “El Niño” year.  Now whether or not that has to do with this insane weather is up for interpretation,  I’ll be watching the tropics this hurricane season with high scrutiny nonetheless.  Lorilee depends on it.

I’ve noticed in the last few months that my awareness of the weather has grown more sensitive.  My ears perk up at the slightest change in wind direction or speed, and I can feel subtle changes in humidity and pressure.  I know it sounds cheesy, but it’s true.  Just the other night, I was having a few beers on the back patio of a busy restaurant.  The wind shifted to the North, and despite the live band and noisy crowd, it immediately got my attention.

doveSomething else I’ve noticed developing in my psyche is the strangest comfort in always knowing where general North is.  There’s something satisfying in having a subconscious sense of direction, even indoors.   I am slowly teaching myself celestial navigation so I don’t have to rely on GPS.  It is a modern luxury indeed, but so many people put all of their stock in it.   Heck, even one of the Volvo Ocean Race teams, with their million dollar high-tech yacht, ran aground due to some kind of GPS error.  I don’t trust electronics any further than I can throw them. Remove your eyes from the screen and open them to the world around you.

With all of the weather recently, my work with Lorilee has slowed.  I have three more things that I want to do on the mast before stepping:

  • Replace intermediate shrouds.  I have the wire and Sta-Loks, so now I just have to cut and terminate the shrouds.  I should have this done this weekend.
  • Replace spreader lifts.  Spreader lifts are like little “mini” shrouds that provide vertical support to the spreaders, so that I can stand on them.  They’re not entirely necessary, but it would be really nice to have.
  • Replace the bobstay fitting. This one is a biggie.

BOBSTAYThe bobstay fitting is a heavy metal fixture on the lower bow, just above the waterline, which connects bobstay to the bow of the boat.   The bobstay is a wire or chain that connects the fitting to the end of the bowsprit, providing counteracting support to the headstay.  In layman’s terms, this is one of the most structurally important places on the boat, and due to corrosion, Lorilee’s bobstay fitting looks like Swiss Cheese.  It must be replaced.

The Westsail 32 was built with two styles of this fitting – an internal fitting that was bonded and fiberglassed to the inside of the hull, and an external fitting bolted on from the outside.  Lorilee has the internal-style fitting.  I don’t know what I was thinking, but I thought replacing the fitting would be a pretty straightforward job.  I couldn’t have been more wrong.  When I got to the boat this last weekend, I took one look at the location of that fitting and immediately regretted my decision.   To cut the original fitting out would necessitate the removal of the Samson posts and a large section of the forward bulkhead, all before I even make the first cut!  Since time is nipping at my heels, I have opted to convert the arrangement to the bolt-on external fitting.  It’s more expensive, but will be a much easier installation.


Lorilee’s bobstay fitting. The corrosion is pretty bad. :(

I’d also like to add that I’ve decided to sell the Furuno radar system that I bought from my friend.  I won’t get into my thought process on this decision (as it was weeks of indecision), but I’ll just say that the Minimalist Sailor’s philosophy prevailed. :)

After the mast goes up, I turn my focus to the hull.  I have lots of little blisters to fill and fair, then I get to slap on the paint.  Oh how I can’t wait to pull off that masking tape!

Last weekend I helped my friend Bobby move his boat from the shipyard to a slip nearby.  He got to the yard the same weekend I did back in early February, and to see him launch his boat has really lit the fire in me.  I have only sailed my boat once, and that was the day before I bought her. It’s time to get it done.

– Ryan

Published in Ryan Bradfield
Updated: May 28, 2015 — 09:00
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