Thursday, October 30, 2008

The new and improved Sailing For SOS

I am extremely proud to announce that the new permanent home of Sailing For SOS has gone live! You can view the new website at Please add it to your favorites as I will no longer be updating this blog. Blogger has served me well over the past few years, but as the scope and reality of the project have grown I’ve developed a new site to support the long term travel I’ll be undertaking.

Thanks Blogger. You’ve been great. Please stay with me as we make the transition to The latest blog highlights some of the new features of my new site. I hope you like it.

Lee Winters
Skype: (281) 336-0855
Satellite Phone: 8816-316-59853

Sunday, October 26, 2008

Climbing the mast and time.

Heights have never really bothered me, but I still get a little nervous climbing the mast on this boat.  When I am doing it solo I rig two safeties.  One is called an ascender and can be picked up from any store with rock climbing gear like an REI.  It has a spring loaded cam in it with teeth pointing in one direction.  It allows you to feed the line through the cam and slide it up.  As soon as any weight is put on the ascender the teeth bite into the line and prevent downward motion.  It forces you to open the cam and slide it down step by step on the way back down.  The second safety is much more low tech.  It is a simple piece of nylon webbing with two carabiners.  One is clipped into my climbing harness and the other is clipped either into the mast steps as I climb or around the mast itself once I reach the height I will be working at.


I just finished replacing every bulb and two complete housings for my running lights, tricolor, anchor, and spreader lights.  I tried plugging in some LED lights for the nav lights, but I didn’t like them at all.  They are not bright enough in all directions and you really have to be careful with the colors.  For instance, do not put the “white” bulb in your green bow light.  It turns it a distinctive shade of blue.  I am sure you could use a green light, but I think I am going to stick with the standard bulbs for the running lights.


I keep thinking about time.  I think I can be ready by the 10th as long as I keep my head down, shut out all interactions with people, and basically turn into a boat maintenance hermit.  Sound like fun?  I haven’t spent any time with my family since last Thanksgiving and this trip will most likely keep me away for several holidays over the next few years.  I’d like to be able to take my time with a few more projects and also spend some time with my good friends and family.  If I look at the next full moon in December it will really take the pressure off to rush projects and get home before I leave.  I keep thinking I have to be through the Panama Canal by April to make the Pacific cruising season, but who says so?  I don’t really know how long I’ll want to explore the Central American coast so why put a time limit on it?


Lee Winters
Skype: (281) 336-0855
Satellite Phone: 8816-316-59853


Friday, October 24, 2008

One great big step.

I’ve been stressing really bad all week.  The time had come for me to send in my resignation to my company, Thermo Fisher.  I’ve been working with them for over three years and it is in large part due to my success there that I have the funds to take a few years off to go sailing.  My boss and I still need to sort out some details, but he was initially very supportive.  My fear was that it would be taken badly as I’ve seen too many people get let go in a manner you wouldn’t believe.  However, since I am not going to a competitor, or even into a related market, all is well.


Lately I’ve been thinking about all the deadlines I’ve been driven by as well.  Even the countdown timer is a deadline that I’ve artificially imposed on myself.  Odds are I’ll be leaving in November, but it doesn’t really matter if it’s November 10th or December 10th.  What I suddenly have is a lot of time.  That is the exact opposite of where I’ve been for the last six years.  This evening will be spent unwinding a bit with two of my best friends from my days up in Washington State.  Here is to learning to relax and marking major milestones.  For the first time in my life I’ve chosen the route of greatest fulfillment instead of greatest financial benefit.  Let’s see where this goes….


Lee Winters
Skype: (281) 336-0855
Satellite Phone: 8816-316-59853


Thursday, October 23, 2008

Slow Going

Plugging away at projects with my friend, but it is slow going.  We got all the chain plate caps rebidded and spent the day working on my navigation lights.  Had to replace two fixtures which took the better part of the day.  Bigger news coming.


Lee Winters
Skype: (281) 336-0855
Satellite Phone: 8816-316-59853


Monday, October 20, 2008

Updated Punch List

There are about two dozen projects not on this list, but these were the most critical at the start of last week.  Not bad progress.  Lots to go.


Cancel Slip – 30 Day Notice

Install flexible holding tank

Trace Alternator/Tach Problem

Change Engine impeller and spairs

Dremmel lip off the drop leaf bar

Oven security bar

Helm Mount the command mic (almost done)

Softwood plugs at through hulls

Pick up shackles for parell beads – Kemah Hardware?

Recaulk Chain Plates         (stripping old caulk)

Rebed rusty stanchions

Plumb the water tank deck plate

Replace lazy jack boom cleat

Hang lifeline netting

Install Exhaust Elbow and Prop Lock (at fab)

Install new opening ports (on order)

Get Windlass cover made

Put new 100% on the furler (on order)

Install cockpit speakers (on order)

Design foux potty spot for dog (have grommet kit and turf)

Order/design Ditch Bag – Landfall

Change compression washer and lube furler

Grease winches

Fix plug and anchor chain holder for windlass

Get gas, water, and diesel cans x2 each


Lee Winters
Skype: (281) 336-0855
Satellite Phone: 8816-316-59853


Reinforcements are on the way.

Saturday was a hard day.  Yesterday was better.  Today is even better yet.  I am way behind on boat projects, but am steadily chipping away at them day after day.  I hardly answer my phone right now.  The storm jib is ready to fly, the water tank is plumbed, the holding tank is in and finished, the mount is ready for the VHF remote at the helm, and I am steadily pulling and cleaning all the chain plate caps for rebidding.


Two of my best friends, Jason and Center, are in town this week starting tomorrow.  I was a little worried at first that this would throw me even further behind schedule, but I am putting Jason to work with me during the days while Center is in class.  Jason rebuilt a Jeep and sailed with me to South Padre over New Years.  I know he can take on a few projects of his own this week without much input from me.  Plus it will make it much easier to pull the stanchion bases for rebidding and go aloft to change all the navigation light bulbs and mount the fixed radar reflectors.  Holy crap I’ve got a lot to do.


Lee Winters
Skype: (281) 336-0855
Satellite Phone: 8816-316-59853


Sunday, October 19, 2008

Not the best of days.

I woke up early this morning ready to start knocking out projects with a vengeance.  It’s now 5:30 and I’ve only managed to plumb the fresh water deck plate to the fresh water holding tank.  This should have been a 2 hour job, tops.  After getting all the parts I needed I got the hoses run without a hitch.  I then went to drill the hole for the new fresh water fill fitting and that’s when it all went bad.  I don’t know what kind of aluminum they used, but this stuff is impossible to drill.  I attacked with a dremel diamond bit, rigid hole saw, and finally a knock out bit.  In the end I ruined both bits and my drill getting the whole cut.  Not to mention an extra hour trying to clean up all the metal shavings in the bottom of my water tank.  I am worried they might shred the fresh water pump.  I’ll be adding a couple of extra spares.  I taped a bag under the hole in the tank, but the shavings were so hot they melted through and fell to the bottom of the tank anyway. 


Rarely, very rarely, I am surprised at how quickly some projects go.  More often, like today, what I estimate at a two hour project turns into a full day fiasco.  I am going to back off for the rest of the day and hope tomorrow brings better boat karma.  My boat looks like a prison cell that just got tossed.  What a mess.


Lee Winters
Skype: (281) 336-0855
Satellite Phone: 8816-316-59853


Friday, October 17, 2008

Shopping List

I’ve got to go get a bunch of random small parts to clean up a bunch of random small projects.  Here is the list of parts and associated poject I am going out for this morning.


1.       Galvanized carabiners – used to hank the storm jib over the furled headsail

2.       23 ¼ inch long x 1.5 or 2 inch stainless steel tubing and flat end caps – making a security bar at the stove

3.       3M 4000 sealant – for the chainplate caps and stanchion rebidding projects

4.       Teflon tape – I just always run out of this stuff.  Immediate need for engine zinc replacement

5.       Engine zincs – these are sacrificial anodes that wear away instead of eating up the engine

6.       Plumbing parts for water tank and hose – I can’t believe the deck plate isn’t plumbed to the water tank.  It just dead ends in mid air.

7.       Boom cleat for Lazy Jack line – Old plastic one broke

8.       Heavy Duty zip ties – A must have, like duct tape.  Need them for cleaning up the electrical harness and hanging my lifeline netting

9.       1/8 or 3/16 piece of teak – Have to make a mounting plate for a remote radio speaker and microphone for the VHF.  Can’t hear it in the cockpit.

10.   Teflon Grease to lube the FaMet Roller Furling compression washer.


Busy day, but the progress feels good.


Lee Winters
Skype: (281) 336-0855
Satellite Phone: 8816-316-59853


Thursday, October 16, 2008


It was kind of a cloudy, rainy, miserable day and I didn’t get as much done as I wanted to.  I did manage to pull and replace the old raw water pump impeller, get an impeller puller for next time, and add two spare impellers to the inventory.  After that I went after my Racor 500 fuel filters since my tank was empty.  I only have to run the engine for a few hours and the collection bowls fill up with sludge from the diesel tank.  Hopefully now that they have been cleaned and scrubbed this won’t be an issue anymore.


Cheers to not letting your engine die due to clogged fuel filters!




Lee Winters
Skype: (281) 336-0855
Satellite Phone: 8816-316-59853


Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Punch List


1.     Get 130 and Windlass cover to a canvas shop.

2.    Pull Opening ports and get replacements ordered

3.    Pull and replace exhaust elbow and prop-lock

4.    Measure and order cockpit speakers

5.    Order or buy binoks

a.    Nikon Action 7x50 EX Extreme ATB Binocular

6.    Cancel Slip – 30 Day Notice

7.    Recaulk Chain Plates       

8.    Rebed rusty stanchions

9.    Hang lifeline netting

10.           Trace Alternator/RPM Problem

11.           Get Glenn to clean fuel tank



Lee Winters
Skype: (281) 336-0855
Satellite Phone: 8816-316-59853


Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The things I think about.

I pulled four different quotes for headsails yesterday.  I wish I could provide you an apples to apples comparison of the various lofts prices, but no one designer would ever give me quite what I was asking for.  Even worse, they often had their own ideas about what I needed and varied wildly from the quotes I was requesting.


Jargo came with two headsails, a great big 150% genoa and a 90% jib.  Neither sail was really designed for a furler and both have quite a bit of age on them.  I was planning on using the 150% as my primary and as such took it down to get a couple of patches put on and have the sun cover replaced.  While it was in the shop I flew the 90% jib and used this sail all the way down to South Padre Island and back.  What I found surprised me.


It’s no secret I single hand a lot.  Smaller sails are easier to handle.  I finally put the big 150% back on after Ike and went sailing this weekend.  What a pain in the ass.  As a result, I’ve decided to replace the 90% with a true, brand new, 100% jib with a high clew and use this new sail as my primary.  I might lose a little bit of speed in lighter airs, but not wearing myself out should more than make up for it.  Of the sail lofts I’ve spoken to Cameron Sails seemed to understand best what I was about and the owner should be on the boat shortly to take measurements for the new jib.


Jargo is after all a sailboat.  If I am going cruising don’t you think I ought to put at least one brand spanking new sail on her?


Lee Winters
Skype: (281) 336-0855
Satellite Phone: 8816-316-59853


Sunday, October 12, 2008

Great Morning – Anchored Out

7:30 a.m. – Rise and shine. Dog needs to go out. Lift her off the transom and convince her she can make the step from the swim ladder to the dingy. After landing on Red Fish Island and letting the dog do her business it’s back to the boat. Convince the dog, again, she can make the step.

8:00 – Coffee time. Start the pot and let it percolate. Good time to clean up the dishes from the spaghetti dinner the night before. Dishes done, I want strong coffee so I let it continue and go to the cockpit to raise the dingy on the davits. Done, boat can sail once I weigh anchor.

8:30 – Enjoying a strong cup of Community Dark Roast coffee. Looking around and soaking in the water, island, sunrise, birds, breeze, and sounds of my boat. Taking a moment to revel in the work done and contemplate the work to come.

9:00 – Firing up the laptop. Going to figure out how to post my first remote cruising blog. Problem with the sat phone installing on Windows Vista. Have to use my work computer for this one.

9:19 – That’s enough laptop time. Posting, unplugging, and enjoying the thought that there is nothing that I have to do today.

Friday, October 10, 2008

It's Alive!!!

I swear I heard angels singing in the heavens when I finally got it all put back together.1 Every hose has been replaced. The toilet was removed, bleached, and completely rebuilt. I never thought I’d have this much respect for my toilet. The only downer is that I am one 1.5 inch elbow joint short of being able to connect the head to the holding tank. Oh well, at least I know it all works.

Going sailing tomorrow. After the IKE, the non-skid project, and a head rebuild I think it’s time to enjoy the old girl. Spending the night out at Red Fish if anyone is headed out. Have a great weekend.

Lee Winters
Skype: (281) 336-0855
Satellite Phone: 8816-316-59853

Thursday, October 09, 2008

The Head Project & The Ike Spike

Tuesday morning I cleared the boat off and got her ready to leave the slip for the first time in awhile. After slipping the lines I motored over for a date with the pump out dock. For those not familiar with this particular boating joy, think of Mr. Slurpy from the dentist office only this one feeds off of the boats holding tank. Yes, where you flush. After emptying and backfilling the tank seven times I figured it was about as clean as it was going to get.

Wednesday found me pulling out the old holding tank and macerator. This was one of the single most disgusting jobs I’ve ever done, but the boat already smells better having it off. During removal I noticed that the 90 degree vent elbow on the flexible holding tank had broken. I am sure this is where the odor had been coming from for so long.

This morning, after tending a few emails, I started pulling and replacing every old sanitation hose on the boat. This stuff is like trying to bend steel tubing around small places with your bare hands. Unfortunately, I am no superman. What I thought would be relatively easy spiraled into a much bigger project as usual. Because the hose was so stiff I ended up removing the entire toilet and framing support for it from the head. It was the only way to get access to the hull where the hose needed to run.

Tomorrow I’ll tidy up the hoses, rebuild and clean the now removed toilet, and reinstall the whole lot. I’ll be happy to have this one behind me.

Before hurricane Ike around 250 unique visitors a month would check out the site. I was pretty happy with it. During and since Ike that number has shot up to almost 2100 unique visitors. I know many of them were one time visitors looking for info on the area, but there are many of you who have stuck around. I wanted to take a moment to say thanks to those who have continued reading and commenting during the more boring refit stage and welcome to those of you who may have recently found the site.

The clock is ticking and I hear it loudly. I started running again even though the days are long. I need all the extra energy I can muster to pull it all together. I am excited about the coming switch to the new site. Initial feedback has been resoundingly good.


Wednesday, October 08, 2008

If all else fails...

I am turning to pumpkin boat racing.

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Long time no blog.

The work continues. The non-skid project is all but done. I ran out of Kiwi-grip with every section completed except for the floor of the cockpit. Overall I am very happy with the way it came out. No complaints.

I spent some time today over at the pump out dock. I flushed and backfilled the holding tank seven times in anticipation of removing the old tank and all the old line. I also got a rebuild kit for the old Raritan PHII head and pump so I can renew everything before I go. I really don’t want to do this job, but I was once told that two systems eat up more cruisers time than any other, generators and heads. I should have both sorted before leaving.

It’s hard to find a fair balance of time these days. I still have a responsibility to perform my duties for my company as long as I am drawing a check. On top of that I’ve been seeing someone for a few weeks and enjoy spending time with her. Everything takes time away from boat prep, but it is getting done. It kind of seems like the fevered pitch of the election is tied to the pitch of my preparations.

I just got my new ships computer sorted with most of the software I’ll need for the trip. Next thing to do is test sending in blog updates from the SatPhone through the laptop. If this works I’ll do a little dance because I still don’t know how to use my HF Radio.

Sorry for the lack of updates more to come.