Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Our first weekend on the boat was a great one.

Kris and I flew out to Kemah this past weekend to get to know our new boat, Romance. We woke up early on Saturday to the sound of the wind early howling through the rigging at about 30 mph. We were both a little concerned about going out that day, but went ahead getting the boat rigged and ready for a day on the water. This is nothing like the charter boats we’ve handled to date. All the rigging is older and the ketch rig means that the cockpit is cluttered with standing rigging, dingy davits, and of course that mizzen mast right in the middle of the cockpit. Regardless, after going through the systems the night before and all the running rigging that morning we were sure we could handle her as long as we could get out of the slip without holing her on the dock.

Pulling out of the slip turned out to be a simple matter. We let the wind take the bow and came around almost 270 degrees right into the fairway and headed for the channel. While we were prepping I remembered one of the comments that J.D. had made during the sea trial. He hadn’t put diesel in the tank in almost three years. That comment combined with no fuel gage and a home made dipstick that didn’t inspire confidence meant we had a date with the fuel dock in high winds. We found a place on the way out and a young hand on the dock who gave us a hand getting secured. I came in a little hot trying to maintain steerage against the wind. It took another 15 minutes prying on the deck fill cap that was betraying just how long it really had been since that port had been used. We dropped in 30 gallons of fresh diesel and headed out to the Galveston Bay.

Once clear of the bridge we decided against the main and rolled out the big 140% Genoa Headsail and went “jib and jigger” with the mizzen. She was well balanced and sailed at a steady 6.5 – 7 knots in ~15 – 20 knots of wind. Not bad for having half the sail area resting comfortably on the boom. Under sail we realized that the autopilot worked, but only when activated by the hand remote that necessitated running a cord from the interior companionway across the cockpit to the helmsman. Not the best of scenarios. Next I Kris realized just how much fun it was to use a 30 year old #26 Barient Winch on 140 Genoa in a good breeze. I though she was making it harder that it really was until I took my turn. All of sudden we are both seriously considering the upgrade to self tailing winches. I may give these at least one shot at a rebuild, but for short handed sailors self tailing winches make a pretty strong argument. Overall, I think all of us, Kris, myself, and the boat did fantastic for our first day on the water.

On our way back in we headed to our new slip in Waterford Harbor Marina on Pier 13. I don’t even thing we had the bow cleat on before we heard the neighbor yell, “Hey, new neighbors!” About 10 minutes later there were beers in hand and K and I were being introduced up and down the dock. Waterford Harbor is about as far from a remote cruising anchorage as you can get, but the welcome we received really made it feel like we had already started our trip. Pier 13 is full of great people, some live aboards like the Razorback’s in the slip next door and some are weekend warriors taking full advantage of the friendly docs to ring in the weekends. Kris and I have landed in a great spot and already seem to have made some pretty good friends.

Sunday found us tearing the boat apart. Well, at least taking a seam ripper to the hearts sewn onto the Sail Canvas. Once Kris had those off she immediately started taking down random bits of coral that had been glued to the walls of the boat with lots of little fish magnets. Pretty cheesy and the interior looks incredibly better. The whole pride of ownership has kicked in and although she is still a pretty boat, I want to bring Romance back to a much more presentable state. In that vein our neighbors pointed me towards someone who can compound wax the hull and a couple of ladies who do wonders for the bright work. She should be looking good in no time. Now if I can just earn the money needed to start the functional refit.

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