Leak test

The big storm that passed over California and Arizona Thursday to Saturday affected the weather even down here in San Carlos. From Geary’s blog on Jan 23:

Yesterday morning we had a report of 57 knot winds just to the north of San Carlos. This morning I received an email from Don on All the Way in San Carlos that said they had 5 sailboats and 2 powerboats on the beach with only two being successfully taken off so far.

In the marina we did not suffer like the poor boats that ended on the beach, but we could not believe it would rain so much… We were really slow to wake up and start closing the ports. Result: one of our 2 small keyboard did not survive being filled with water :-(

We also discovered that 2 ports are now leaking (there were not during the hurricane, otherwise we would have seen water marks). Unfortunately, one of them is above the chart table: require a fix…

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We are in the water, and not sinking!
This is wonderful to feel that Plume is a boat again :-)

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Hola Mexico

After some stops in Phoenix and Tucson (delightfully hosted by some friends who are/were Norsea owners) we finally crossed the border January 6th. It took us 2 hours and several hundred pesos to declare some items (for whose who know, we got a “green” light) and get new visas. Pretty good for a first passage, but it delayed us enough that we arrived by night at San Carlos. But we had a night booked at Adlai and we grabbed a nice dinner at Rosa’s Cantina.

The next morning we discovered Plume at the boat yard with our own eyes for the first time after 5 months and one hurricane. Everything was impregnated with dust, but we found no serious damage.

From there, the hard days to convert Plune-storage to Plume-sailboat started. The boat had been totally reorganized to sustain the summer heat with almost all the gear stored inside. It is an interesting puzzle to restore the boat to a livable space. The first effort was put on the aft cabin, thus Kenzo recovered his own area with his toys and books! Now he does not want to leave Plume to go back to the hotel!

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Moving aboard

During three intense weeks we tried to make some progress on multiple projects while trying to “move-in” our small sailboat. We were growing more anxious each time we unloaded stuff from our pickup truck on the boat and were seeing the boat sinking more and more… Well, we are not fully loaded yet, but now we start to be accustomed to see the new super high waterline;-) This was a difficult period since mixing several projects with organizing our new live aboard was not easy. Alas, we completed some items of our list.

  • Installed a flat rope roller on the stern pulpit
  • Had some welding done to mount the liferaft on the stern pulpit
  • Had a stainless steel “faux” boom gallow made to attach a navigation awning [need picture]
  • Lot of sawing for various projects [more later]
  • Added a spinnaker and a pole to our sail-robe [not flown yet]
  • Re-redo the stuffing box (back to the basic, no more drip free packing)
  • Lowered the exhaust waterlift
  • Replaced the two 105Ah flooded batteries with 2×80 Ah AGM house batteries (GPL-24T) + 1x870CCA AGM starting battery (GPL-2400T) [switching for flooded batteries to AGM implied a series of other changes, but I knew that I did not want go cruising with moving acid in my boat]
  • Replaced the stock alternator with one high output externally regulated alternator (Balmar 60 Series)
  • Installed a new smart regulator (ARS-5)
  • Replaced the old battery combiner with a combiner with real charge profile (Duo-Charge)
  • Replaced the old 15A battery charger with a 20A – 3 stages battery charger (Protech 1220i)
  • Installed a 50W solar panel (Kyocera KC 50) on the stern pulpit [and moved the stern running light on the panel]
  • Installed a solar panel regulator (ProStar PS-15M)
Of course, our departure date has slipped a little, but even if our project list is still very long, we are starting to see the end of the tunnel. We actually even went for a short sail with some relatives today!
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We are back – splash!

Plume ready to be splashedWell, almost two years since our last line… Not that we stopped working on Plume or did not sail. Just that web presence went down on our priority list.

But now that we are going for more than a few day-sails, we ought to write something!

So let’s back up: A few months ago we made the decision to stop working for one year and go sailing. Since then, it has been dense days to advance some projects on Plume while remaining committed to our professional life. The plan is to go slowly to Mexico and farther if possible. We will start with some very gentle hops down the California coast to see how we can manage our 4 year old with our sailing…

  • August 1st 2008: First day of our 1 year “sabbatical”. Yeah! Now we have to rush to take advantage of this coming year: try not to stay stuck with our infinite list of projects and go sailing asap.
  • August 4th: We haul out Plume for bottom paint and some other work requiring to be out of the water (longer stuffing box hose, new raw water intake valve, new transducer, and we discovered new cutless bearing).
  • August 12th: Splashed with 3 new coats of Micron 66, and lighter bank account! Now we have to get going to avoid growth on our bottom!
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New Look

At dock with new colorsThis spring/summer we performed two major jobs (mostly cosmetic but practical as well) on Plume.

First, we finally varnished the cap rail and rub rail. We already had done the rub-rail one time before, but it had been a failure due to a bad varnish. So the teak wood had been left bare for most of Plume’s life. In fact we (specially Lorenzo!) like the appearance and touch of the grey teak, but we thought that the wood would resist longer with a proper protection. After many other experiments we finally found a system that works well for us and seems to last long without re-varnishing every six months. It is a dual process with 1 impregnation + 3 coats of epoxy (West System) followed by 3-5 + 1 final coats of a two part urethane (Bristol Finish). This is a considerable job but the benefit is less maintenance afterwards.

Secondly, we had the Plume’s topsides repainted by a boat yard. The original gelcoat was showing serious sign of oxidation. This is probably due to the fact the Plume’s hull is older than the rest of the boat, and certainly to a lack of maintenance from our part (our experience with a varnished plywood/epoxy hull made us thought
that fiberglass was maintenance free!). Anyway, it was time for a refresh and since we could choose any color we wanted, we decided to reverse Plume’s original colors. This was a tough decision because we loved our Blue Boat. However, we are hoping that a light color will last longer and generate less heat inside the boat if we go farther south. The boat yard did an excellent job and Plume has now beautiful “cream”? topsides with a “navy”? stripe. They used a linear polyurethane (AWLGRIP) that is supposed to last much longer than gelcoat and require less maintenance as well.

We are delighted with our fresh Plume, and even start to be accustomed to see her in her new dress!

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