The Lunacy Report

MAINE COAST CRUISE: Mouth of the Sheepscot River

Wing-and-wing

With children fortuitously exiled in sleep-away summer activities, my bride Clare and I had a chance last week to venture out on Lunacy for several days on our own. We originally thought we might visit the Damariscotta River, but heading out from Portland last Monday we were plagued by light air and had no reasonable hope of its increasing considerably in the days ahead. This is a problem that often confronts the cruising sailor: when the wind lapses do you simply switch on the motor and go where you wanted to go anyway, or do you sail more slowly and go someplace you hadn't thought of?

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SERVICING WINCHES: A Necessary Chore

Winch service prep

I spent some time last year installing new "disc springs" on the two Andersen primary winches in Lunacy's cockpit. At that time I knew I should have also taken the trouble to clean and grease those winches, but I have exceptional procrastination skills and so managed to talk myself out of it. This season, however, the winches were screaming so loudly every time I turned them, I knew I could no longer forestall the inevitable.

Servicing winches is definitely a chore and can be a bit time-consuming if you do it properly. But it is also a pleasant job, so long as you do it carefully and deliberately and don't rush through it.

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AUTOPILOT FAILURE: Back Across the Gulf of Maine

Self-steering options

I knew this day would come. I recently discussed having to make up new wood-chip "fuses" for the "electric vane" rig on Lunacy, and in the whole time I've owned the boat, about eight years now, this has been the only repair I've had to do to keep my autopilot system going. But the small tiller-pilot that is the brains of the operation is very old, and I did expect it would fail eventually. Which is what happened when Mr. Lassen and I were scuttling home from Nova Scotia a few days ago.

It wasn't a big deal at the time, as I have two back-up systems and immediately deployed both, per the photo up top. There is another tiller-pilot, a larger one, that connects directly to the tiller in the conventional fashion, rather than the windvane head, and this can steer the boat when motoring or in light sailing conditions. Also, of course, the wind paddle can be installed on the vane head, so the windvane can be used in the regular way, with the wind instead of the little tiller-pilot providing course data. In the photo here I've locked the vane head and dropped the paddle, as the big tiller-pilot is actually doing the steering.

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NOVA SCOTIA CRUISE: Fog With Everything

Lunacy in Lockeport

I am writing this in the obscure, once prosperous fishing port of Lockeport, not too many miles north of Cape Sable on Nova Scotia's so-called Southwest Coast, which actually faces east. It is not foggy now, though it was when we came in here just before sunset yesterday. So thick we couldn't see more than 30 yards and had to do a might bit of groping with chartplotter and iPad before we found the docks of the White Gull Marina (see photo up top), where we settled in for the night alongside a big turquoise Novi-style lobster boat named Newfie Kids.

We've been out eight days now and barring some unforeseen disaster while recrossing the Gulf of Maine, I can say this little voyage has been an unmitigated success. Even with the fog. And in part because of it.

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MODERN MARINE ELECTRONICS: My Obsolete Chartplotter

Plotter screen

I've been hustling a bit to get ready for this jaunt to Nova Scotia, which starts Monday. As noted earlier, I've been fretting about the charts. Thanks to Landfall Navigation, I now have all my paper charts in hand, plus tide tables and a 2014 Nautical Alamanac, just in case the world as we know it comes to an end and I have to exercise my sextant. But the really hard part, it turned out, was getting electronic charts for my 7-year-old Raymarine A65 chartplotter.

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MAINE COAST CRUISE: To Thomaston and Back

Phil on Lunacy

This wasn't so much a cruise as a delivery to nowhere, as the goal was to get Lunacy from Portland to Rockland, get her measured for new sails by Doug Pope, and then get her back to Portland again as quickly as possible. The scheduled window for accomplishing this was Tuesday through Friday of last week. Coming along for the ride was my old partner-in-crime, Phil "Snakewake" Cavanaugh (see photo up top), who in his dotage has taken to wearing country-western garb while sailing.

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FATHER-DAUGHTER CRUISE: On Father's Day, No Less

Lucy aloft

This is the second time Lucy and I have done this, but the first time we've done it on Father's Day. We both thought it a good a idea, though Lucy, inevitably, wanted to know why there isn't a Daughter's Day, so we could go out then, too. Of course, we all know the answer to that. Last time, you may recall, Lucy was very focussed on climbing rocks and trees. This time it was the mast. We arrived at the Goslings quite late Sunday afternoon, having slashed through a sporty 20-knot breeze on a close reach to get there, and she had me haul her up the mast in the bosun's chair five times after we got settled in. And yes, she did almost make it to the masthead a couple of times.

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SPLASHED: In Early May! First Time Ever

Lunacy launched

Lunacy got launched and rigged at Maine Yacht Center on Monday. I was up there yesterday and managed to get all the sails on before the rain squalls started up. As you can see from the photo up top, I've scored some new canvas, courtesy of Richard Hallett: a replacement purple dodger, a new bright red sail cover, and a new bright blue sunshield on the headsail. At last this is close to the canvas-color configuration I envisioned when I first got the boat, lo these many years ago. (Please note: the canvas multi colors match those of the name graphic, the logic of which I've explained before.)

Every spring I've launched a cruising sailboat in New England, I always swear I'll be afloat as early as possible in May. But something always happens--endless varnishing projects (back when I had boats with brightwork), or some awful unforeseen time-consuming repair (most commonly), or simple mission creep (stuff taking much longer than expected)--and usually I'm lucky if the damn boat is in by mid-June. So I'm feeling pretty pleased about this. Apprehensive, too. As predicted in my last post on this subject, the blizzard should be hitting any day now!

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RUDDER SKEG REPAIR: Getting Ready for Spring

Lunacy hull

IT'S HERE! Spring, I mean. Though there is still snow in the forecast up here in New England, and even in Annapolis, from which I returned last night after holding forth at the World Cruising Club Ocean Sailing Seminar over the weekend. I have an awful feeling I will actually succeed (for once!) in getting Lunacy launched in early to mid-May this year... and there will then be a HUGE BLIZZARD the day after she splashes.

We are forging ahead regardless, so I stopped by Maine Yacht Center last week to see how the old girl's rudder-skeg repair is coming along.

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