Saturday, February 20, 2016

Long Range Forecast Nails It -- Summer Time in the Middle of Winter!

February 16, 2016 

Several weeks ago I glanced at the long-range weather forecasts. Looking a month or so out, I saw a weather window of sun and warmth.  Remembering that the boat hadn’t been out of its slip since November, I targeted the good looking weekend of February 12-15 to get on the water, taking advantage of the President’s Day holiday. We got to the boat on Friday, quickly washed off the worst of it and took off for Benicia.  In short, the weather was terrific!  Bright sun, warm days, and no wind.  The evenings were almost balmy.   

I thought of this as a “Use It or Lose It” cruise knowing that boats can get a bit weird when not used. Happy Clown has lots of ”systems” --propulsion, generation, electrical, water, dinghy launch, anchoring, communication, navigation and no doubt some others that I can’t think of.  The idea was to run everything—to see if everything works. I started in the engine room, just checking things out. First problem I came up was with the lighting—one light fixture didn’t come on. I gave it a wack and all was well (first entry on the “to do in the spring list.)  All the fluids checked out ok. I took up a couple of turns on the packing glands and got that small leak addressed, now one drip per 20-30 seconds just like it should be.  Then I noticed dampness at the shaft log.  This may be semi-bad news but can wait till the next haul out (this became the first entry on that list.) Everything else down there checked out ok. 

We left on an out-going tide. On the long stretch after Pittsburg, I started going through more of the systems. Nav lights ok, horns ok, loud hailer, not. I spun the knob and got the fog horn going but got nothing but loud clicks instead of my voice out of the external speaker. Since I’ve never used this thing in the 25 years we’ve owned the boat, I put this on to the “to be done sometime” list.  We arrived at the Benicia Marina, knowing that Vallejo YC had cruised in before us, and were assigned to an empty slip out in the boonies so we launched the dinghy (all that rigging checked ok.)   The boat needed pumping which took a long time (air shrinks in the cold weather, I know, so no air leaks to put on a list.)   

We headed for the bar and were greeted by Bob and Phyllis Ritter (Bill Ritter and Sue keep their boat in Benicia and all the Ritter Crittters use it often.)  Headed back to the boat in the dark and wished that I had more than a flashlight (note to self—create a bungied-on dinghy nav light rig like Curt Hayes’.)  Dinner on board was quite good since the stove worked as it should.  Read my book to fall asleep happy that the overhead light worked, as do all the others on the boat--one needing a soft wack to light up now and then (no need for a fix-it note, just the occasional  heavy touch.) 
Saturday saw the temperature hit 78 degrees.  The various fans in the cabin all seemed to work as built. It was a lazy day with Bill Ritter and Sue dropping by for a beer (Bill) and hours of talk about all of the cars we once owned and the problems they gave us.  After the Ritter's departed, we dinghied around the harbor, me checking out each boat in way too much detail (said Jo Anne) and then headed out into the Carquinez Strait where there was no wind! Unheard of! Hardly a ripple on the water. 

Joel and Colette Curtis-Brown came by on Sunday to spend some time with us in town. That time consisted of first sitting at a bar and then at a sidewalk table watching the Valentine’s Day crowd line up for seating at Sailor Jack’s, the restaurant name of the aforementioned bar.  We caught up on all that has happened since the Down Bay Cruise and laughed again at the memory of Colette running over a seagull off the Berkeley Marina, sucking it into her Wave Runner’s intake and Joel having to pull feathers while hauled up on the Treasure Island’s Clipper Cove beach the following day.  As we were leaving, we bumped into a couple we know from our Berkeley days (he said he recognized my sharp profile, noting my nose; nice touch.)  More fun back at the boat.  

On Monday we expected to see Glenn and Marsha Peck-Fine for lunch but Marsha called to say that Glenn injured his back the day before roto-tilling or doing some kind of yard work. They missed a day of near 80 degree weather, still no wind. We took off in the afternoon for Pittsburg YC and a night on their guest docks. With no traffic on the VHF, I called on Ch 68 for a radio check, heard back from a woozy sounding guy who said his name was Seal (you can’t make this stuff up) and satisfied myself that that important system was working. I tried the loud hailer again and this time it worked.  Now I have something that works well but won’t be used for the next 25 years (fingers crossed.) We filled up with $2.69/gallon diesel, contacted Phil and Sue Calderoni (they live about a spit away) and hit the bar for happy hour. Lots of catch up on the Discovery Bay Valentine’s Day dance the night before well-attended we heard by some very well-attired CIYCers.  Phil mentioned a relatively new brew pub (EJ Phair Brewing) in town and we took off for dinner (and beer.)  It was a great day! 

Tuesday morning broke with a heavy tule fog which we waited out till departing for our Bethel Island berth. All in all, it was a great weekend and all the systems basically worked just fine. Stay tuned for an update on the next “Use It or Lose It” cruise which is generally planned for a March 9-15 window, where the long range forecast says we will be in another summer period in the middle of our El Nino winter.  

Ted Lyman 

Obviously retired....usually looking for stuff to do