BeBop Around The World

Even though the trip has been called off, I'm leaving this site up to read for anybody interesting in refitting a boat or sailing in general.

Sunday, November 19, 2006

BeBop has been sold......

I know a good many people followed the auction I had on Ebay to sell BeBop. I just accepted a offline offer that I felt was very reasonable. After the 10% down payment was verified, I have ended the auction early. Working under the assumption that he is a honorable man, I will transfer the title to him in the near future after full payment has been made.

In the next week or two, assuming all goes as planned, my part of this story ends and with a bit of luck the new owner.....who wants to take her on a trans-pacific voyage....just might put up more entries and continue posting about BeBop here at this site. He seems to like the idea of continuing the story. I know you guys and gals would love to follow what happens with her even though the part I played in the story is comming to a close. Perhaps if you give him some words of encouragement, we can get him to continue writing about the voyages of BeBop.

Personally, I still feel like I just sold off a vital part of me. I spent a year of my life rebuilding her, but at least it seems at the moment she'll carry on without me, under the care of a new captain that has more sailing experience than I do. I will never forget her and all that has happened.

It might take until the beginning of the new year before more information is forthcoming about the new owner and what he wishes to do with BeBop, so have some patience, and we'll all see what happens next in the story. Another up date will follow.

Until next time...Fair Winds......

Sunday, October 22, 2006

The BeBop Finale......

Sorry for the long delay in getting my next post up, all will be explained. Lets start with the planned 3 to 4 day trip that Rich and I took.

Thursday after spending the better part of the morning getting gear ready and moving it onboard BeBop we slipped the lines about 2pm and started the 2 hour trek down the intercoastal waterway to the gulf with the tide. The wind was blowing a nice, 15 knots or so. No big deal and it was decided if the Gulf looked too ruff to go out we would just anchor behind Shell Island hang out with the live aboards there and check things out in the morning. As it turned out the Gulf looked real nice (waves under a foot) so I decided to head out anyway.

It took another hour to clear the last channel marker and we started heading NW about 5pm. Here's a picture of it. If you look close you can see the last channel markers, engine in the up position and Half Note being towed while we are making about 3.8 knots. She was a little close and about 15 minutes after this was taken we let some more tow line out.

Before I forget here is a nifty idea for mounting your depth sounder if you don't want to cut a hole in your bulkhead. It's a mini washboard that I made out of spare lexan. ^_^ If you ever buy more instruments it can be modified to add them easily too. Store when not needed. Ok getting back on track...

As the afternoon turned into evening and the sun began to set, the seas and wind were picking up. The plan was to get 20 or 30 miles offshore then come in the next day pretending that we had to find the pass (Hurricane Pass) out of sight of land but during daylight. Well, as the wind picked up around 20 knots or so and the seas built to 5 feet after dark, I decided to take a more northerly course that would parallel the coast between 8 and 10 miles....far enough that you can see taller buildings but not the beach and should make for a better night as the weather report was 7+ foot seas. Nothing BeBop can't handle but why beat yourself up right? So I reefed down the main while the deck was easy to see just to be safer. Still banged my wrist pretty good though.

About this point Rich is getting very very sea sick. Like here's the bucket and go lie down sea sick. Effectively from this point on in the story assume I'm singlehanding unless I mention otherwise cause he's lying down and throwing up every hour or two. I was fine, even took time out to make some ramen with the autopilot holding course.

Another hour and the winds picked up a little more now to about 25knots and time to reef down the big 150 to working jib size. This is how I ran for the next 6 hours, under reefed main and jib in 5 foot seas. Little Half Note was bouncing around behind us but hanged tuff without issue. Should of put her on deck before we left but I wanted to make the tide. Lesson learned. So with food in me, Rich being sick down below and not much to look at with no other boats being around at night, I myself curled up in the cockpit horizontal to the companionway and cat napped for a couple hours getting up every 15mins or so and taking a look around. I felt totally safe the entire time (I did have my vest on with a line attached to the boat) and very little water was coming into the cockpit over the bow thanks in large part to her design and the dodger. The GPS said we were making great time (for a Nomad) doing about 4 knots on a beam reach.

Around 3am we had made a lot more northerly progress than I had planned on because we didn't go as far offshore as I wanted to. So with Rich still very very seasick, I made the decision to make for Hurricane Pass in the dark. This wasn't done lightly as the pass is not lit at night and is very narrow. Leave the pass, smack a sandbar on one side the beach on the other. The pass runs that close to shore. Easy right? Well I booted up the laptop to use since it had the charts on it, furled the jib, doused the main (banging my wrist some more on a now bucking deck) and headed straight into the wind under engine power making 5 knots for the pass at full throttle. Remember the part in the movie "The Hunt for Red October" where they went though that underwater pass? That's what was going on in my head since you really really don't wanna miss this channel. I got lucky and the charts were accurate and we got in safely. (good thing as I can't see well at night) As we made the pass and boat quit rocking around Rich the zombie turned back into Rich the sailor and was able to help me drop anchor just off the channel in about 4 feet of water. There we went to sleep until about 9am.

After some needed sleep and morning coffee we upped anchor and got underway. With Rich still not doing so great, it was either go through drawbridge after drawbridge down the intercoastal back to port or go back into the Gulf with it being faster. I chose the Gulf but we stayed a lot closer to shore since the seas would be better. Rich still found that too much to take and ended up lying down for the entire trip until we got back into the intercoastal again, poor guy. Going back the wind all but died and I basically motored all the way back to port with not enough wind to move BeBop at more than a knot.

Now, for the not so great stuff.

Lets start with Rich, who had his own plans to buy a boat and go sailing. Well, 3 times out 3 times seasick each time in nothing more than one foot seas and he's calling it quits. Didn't used to be that way but he's got medical problems that seem to be the issue. He used to go offshore with his family and their boat all the time a couple of years back. Crazy guy once took a Hobie 16 into the Gulf during 10 foot seas cause he wanted to go sailing so bad. I know the details of his medical issues and I can't blame him. I'd do the same.

Now for me...

This is for all intents and purposes the end of what's become known to everybody simply as the "BeBop Project."

I've been depressed about it for the past two weeks and not just my normal melancholy with the pointless of life and everything.

It's a devastating realization after having two years of unusual clarity as to the direction I wanted my life to go.

The last two times I took BeBop out, the boat was a lot tuffer than I was. In fact is tuffer than me by a good margin. For my long time readers you will probably recall about every other entry I ended it about being in pain of some sort or another. Neck, Wrist etc. I never gave it much thought cause after working on BeBop I could clean up, walk into the house, pour drink after drink until the pain went away. Not a option when your bouncing around offshore, your stuck with it day after day and perhaps in my excitement to get her finished and floating it never crossed my mind. It did for my friend Brolly (who has seen my xrays) but I wouldn't hear of it and pushed on with the project being excited about it.

It's like this. I have this love affair with motorcycles and I've wrecked 3 of them because of it. The last one nearly killed me and the thought crossed my mind as I left the road and went 300 feet down the cliff that I was a dead man. I woke in the ER with two broken wrists, a shoulder, knee, nose, a concussion, 5 broken teeth that had to be extracted and neck and back trauma even though I had full gear on. I thought I would recover just like I would from the first two accidents but would take a little bit longer. 1 year on disability, pins in my wrists and daily pain told me otherwise. 4 years later it's still something I deal with. What you don't know is for the past 2 years whenever I'm in front of a computer I wear a brace on my right wrist. More recently it's gotten worse and I wear it about half the time now no matter what I do. Doctors say the pins looks great and the pain and loss of motion is just something I have to deal with.

But I have to be honest with myself, it's not something I can push through everyday for the years it takes to sail a small boat around the world. You can't just pull over and stop like you can during a road trip if things get bad.

I waited too long to live the dream and it's passed me up. I should of done it years ago like I wanted, but I was too stupid to realize you didn't need a million bucks with a new boat with the XYZ wonder part complete with kung fu grip. Heh, I try and be funny and to pick up my mood but it falls flat doesn't it? As they say it's "not the years, it's the mileage."

Now, BeBop is complete, best I could make her, with all the heart I have. Best Nomad in all of north america if I say so myself. Ready for the trip around the world. But sadly her Captain isn't.

I can't afford the crazy costs associated with keeping a boat in a slip for a long time. Perhaps if I could afford the $1,000 a month for 10 minute gulf access I would keep her but obviously I can't. So much as it breaks my heart, I'm listing her up for sale, effective immediately for $9,500. Complete with all her gear, the nesting dinghy half note, solar panels etc...all of it ready to take someone on a dream trip.

Perhaps after I lift my chin back up and feel like facing the world again I'll build a little boat to play with, a Birdwatcher II or something that I can put in and out of the water easily on a trailer. But not for now, it would be too painful. If your interested in taking over where I left off, email me at She's so ready all you'd have to do is show up with your personal effects, food and leave. Makes me sick to my stomach, but I've had two weeks to think about it.

Now for some thank you's.....

Rich, I couldn't of done it without your help. Sanding on the hull, helping install the ports, figuring out the wiring issues and providing motivation on those days when things weren't going right. You set new standards to what friendship means.

Hawkeye, for all the wisdom you gave me, for being so funny, how to do things on a sailboat, and the gear you gave me to outfit BeBop with. It's staying with her where ever she might roam.

Brolly, for taking time off from work to help put her in the water, putting up the mast and taking her to port the first time

Geert, from Belgium for being a funny guy and another Nomad owner just beginning his refit, I'll be happy to give any advice I can to you..all you need do is ask.

Gator, just fun talking to you back and forth via email this past year and allowing me to bounce ideas off you. I'm sure you'll go far with whatever boat you end up buying. Still like to meet you in person one day.

Everybody else, and there are a lot of you, I would like to say thank you. Thanks to the gentleman who gave a small donation, thanks to the guy from Brazil just for saying hi, the woman in the cubicle for taking time out of her life to read my website. All of you, you know who you are, Thank you and I'm sorry that I find myself unable to continue.

As for the website, I plan on keeping it up for now working on the assumption it doesn't get slammed with negative comments. I feel it would be a nice pool of knowledge to pull from about how to refit a boat on the cheap, Nomad or otherwise. I don't consider any of this a waste of time. I learned so much, from knowing nothing about fiberglass to being a expert with the stuff all the way to my writing skills. I look at the early posts and just sorta cringe.

As for me, well....seems since I'm not going anywhere, I'll be looking to cause chaos in the ranks of the corporate slave masters since I'm a computer guy. Something I'm not happy about. But one does what one has to do. I'd rather get a job doing something beneficial to mankind, save the animals or environment or something, but that doesn't seem to pay the bills even if it makes you feel good about yourself. Just living day by day right now, like you, doing the best I can in this matrix of life.

One last picture to share in closing, with tears in my eyes, a beautiful sunset over the Gulf of Mexico from the deck of my tuff little BeBop.

Thank you all, where ever you might be around our small blue world and of course Fair Winds.....

Sunday, October 01, 2006

The BeBop Electric Light Company......

It's been a great week here working on BeBop. All the bits and pieces I needed to install the solar panels and charge controller arrived one box at a time and work began early Friday. By Sunday it was all installed and working fantastic. It's a weird feeling being essentially your own electric company. Yessire, I now have 86 watts of solar powered goodness to recharge my twin deep cycle batteries with a total capacity of 180 amps. In a emergency I have a additional unmounted 5 watt panel and the outboard can recharge a tiny bit too. I just might have the smallest electric company in all the world eh? ^_^

First thing Friday was to fabricate the additional aluminum framework so that I had something to attach the universal stainless steel mounting brackets to. I picked up 2 pieces of square aluminum from Lowe's for this. Looking back at it I should of tried the marine salvage yard first and I might of been able to save some needed money but I knew they had what I needed. Anyway, I used a chopsaw to cut them to the proper length and hand filed the ends clean. A drill press was used to make the holes and the hardware used is stainless. I coated the hardware with anti seize compound to help prevent galvanic corrosion because we are mixing metals here. Here is a picture of the front of one panel and the fabrication work on the back of the 2nd completed. It took about 5 hours to complete both of them. I'm pretty proud of this work, you can't tell it didn't come out of the box this way. You can also see I was trying to charge the panel on the left with the camera flash. I was unsuccessful in getting Rich to hold both the positive and negative terminals on his tongue to see what would happen lol.

This next one is a close up of the box located on the under side of the panel(s). Normally I wouldn't show such a thing but Rich commented on the fact he was unable to locate a picture like this while investigating the mysteries of solar goodness. Therefore I'm putting it up in case anybody wants to see what it looks like. You can see the positive and negative connections, 10 gauge wire was used and zip ties fastened around them so you can't yank them out. 3M 5200 was used to seal the box where the wires come out. Ah reminds me....Lowes...the blood suckers...wanted .40 cents a foot for 10 gauge wire. Rich being quite clever, remembered that the jumper cables that the ghetto marine mean Big Lots sells is 10 gauge with heavy insulation and they sell for 5 bucks each. I know it's not marine grade but I figure this is the next best thing and it should last at least a couple of years before I have to rewire it and it's still better than the stuff Lowes was trying to push off at highway robbery prices.

The batteries mounted overtop of the tiny little bilge located under the cockpit wired in parallel using the same 10 gauge jumper cable wire. The autoparts store wanted something crazy like 15 bucks for two feet of the stuff. The battery box tops are off for the photos and I will have them secured in the next day or two too.

The new bus box that everything runs through. It used to be wired directly to the batteries which was such a pain to deal with. I know it still looks like a wild nest of cables but this is a incredible improvement over how it used to work. I'll clean this up with some zip ties soon too.

This is the newly mounted charge controller next to the main switch panel. Yeah I know I need to label all the switches again and make it neater but if you look real close you can read the face on the controller and it's charging the batteries at about 2amps. (the sun was not at a optimal angle around 5pm.....maximum charge rate is about 4.9amps/hr) This baby is great. It will tell you how much power the panels are putting out, how much the battery is taking as a charge, the total amps input into the batteries over their lifetime, the power in amps currently being used onboard, the voltage of the batteries, the % of current charge and it has a built in diode to prevent the panels from discharging the batteries at night. I'm sure I'm forgetting some other things it does but it stops just short of making breakfast so I would say I'm rather impressed with it. Thumbs up from me.

Here is one of the two panels mounted on the stern push pit. I used the nylon line to add support to the single mounting point and it helps stabilize the panels nicely. I want to dig up some extra framing material used to build bimini's at Don's Salvage and add a 2nd support if I can come up with the extra cash. What I've done here works but stainless don't chafe through in heavy weather ya know. You can see how I routed the wired down the push pit. What you can't see is where I drilled a hole going into the cockpit locker and another leading into the bilge, two for each side. They were all sealed up tight using 5200 the next day after everything checked out ok. I will replace the nylon zip ties with riggers tape when I get some more as I ran out the day before, but I needed something to secure the wire with in the meantime while the 5200 sets.

We moved Bebop into a bow in position at the slip so we could keep the panels deployed (I can fold them down or even disconnect them in heavy weather) and the batteries charged. They would of hit the dock otherwise and I rather like it better this way since when your sitting in the cockpit your facing the water not the underside of the dock. You can see the finished lifelines now and the modified boom tent with broomsticks. It ain't that pretty to look at but it's working real nice now and it cost under 10 bucks total! I had a hard time getting a good overall picture of both panels mounted on the stern but you can see them. They look hardcore along with the safety netting and it drew a lot of comments from other people on the dock. I'm proud of how it all came together. I really need to add a big thanks here to Rich for doing the wiring work since it's something he's better at than I am. I must say that I learned a lot though.

I can't really describe just how cool it is to have the panels mounted and working perfectly. Before everytime I turned on a fan or a light all I could think of was how much quicker I was going to have to remove the batteries and charge them at the house again. Now the sun does it for me when I can't even be there. Plus when the batteries are at 100% like today, I can run the VHF (I like to monitor, might just learn something) and the fan directly off what the panels are kicking out without discharging the batteries at all. It's really like having your own electric company without the bill each month....sans the high installation fees. Think I'm going to call it a night now, kinda wrenched my neck drilling the holes in the cockpit lockers so I wanna go rest now.

Next week will be the first overnight offshore (learning) trip....exciting isn't it? ^_^ Until next time Fair Winds......

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Still Outfitting BeBop......

Update Sept 26, 8:54pm......

Like to put in a thank you to Tom for the donation. I used it to purchase a used book titled "Self-Steering for Sailing Craft" by John S. Letcher Jr. I'm hoping it will give me some good instruction on how to get BeBop to steer herself without a expensive wind vane or my power hungry autopilot.

As you can see from the new picture above I'm still working hard on getting BeBop ready to go. Much as I would of liked to get out and get some sailing in, due to circumstances, I haven't yet. :-/ Next week the plan is to get out for a 3 to 6 day sail and actually go somewhere, stay on the boat overnight, cook all meals onboard, use the pram to get back and forth to shore and so on. A full scale test of everything so to speak. Sorry guys, I know your expecting that I got out this weekend but now that I'm in the ranks of the unemployed, I'm on what I call "boat time" and things happen more slowly. ^_^

Moving on, here is the complete list of what's been done in the past two weeks since my last post.....

Spent a whole day hand sewing the main sail cover back together.
Hanked on the main and have the cover on now too. (see picture)
Finished sewing up the port locker netting and installed it.
Fabricated two lower battery mounts in the bilge area out of 2x4's.
Put up a poor man's boom tent
Purchased a small seat with a back support on it, makes a big difference.
Installed netting over the front hatch and companionway to keeps the bugs out.
Installed safety netting on the port side. Very salty looking.
Doing the starboard side this week but need another 2 yards of netting. (ordered)

You can also see in the new picture that I have a make shift boom tent up. The tarp was donated by the Captain of the sailboat next to BeBop, "Brick." It's working a lot better than the other hanging shade I was using. I want to add some wooden dowels or perhaps a couple of broom sticks to the tarp and that would change the pitch on it and give nice shade without coming down so far into the cockpit. The netting is a real pain to put on, but when I'm singlehanding I want as much as possible to grab if I slip. Screw the windage issue.

I got the trailer sold too, (woot!) so with that money I have been able to order up some needed additional gear......

2 matching 43 Watt Solar Panels
2 SS Mounting Brackets
10 amp Solar Charge Controller
Additional 90 amp Deep Cycle Battery
The much desired Handheld GPS!!
A single, fully waterproof chart of the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean
Courtesy flags for Mexico and Belize.
Still dreaming about that Wind Vane..but then I woke up.

To that I want to add a cruising guide to the Western Caribbean, and a cheap Davis Mark 3 sextant in case the GPS (and serial port backup) fails. I guess the flags gives away which direction I'm going to sail first. It's a logical choice, cold beer is cheaper in Mexico than the Bahamas lol. Really, it's because of the sailing characteristics of BeBop. It will be easier going west around Cuba than east on the thorny path. Should be a good deal cheaper too. I have my laptop with tons and tons of charts of nearly the entire Caribbean but getting the first physical chart and flags really gives the feeling of direction and a first goal. I was just thinking about it earlier today and there exists the possibility of Christmas in Mexico. Belize, is another very interesting country that most people have never heard of, where they speak English as a first language. I think there is a very good possibility for employment there as well, since Central America is about as far as my funds will allow me sail without stopping to work for a bit.

Like to add in here a big Thank You to the master sailor Hawkeye who again let me raid his sail locker and I came away with a couple of old sails including one very serviceable storm jib that fits BeBop perfect, a like new stainless steel camping cook set, 2 fishing rods and a tacklebox full of lures. Very very cool indeed and I thank you again!! For those of you interested in boat building please check out his blog and his boat, "Falcon." I must say I sanded this, painted that, fabricated a couple of things for BeBop and built a dinghy. Think I was being clever? He built a schooner from the hull up on the cheap. Humbling and I told him as much. Gotta respect that.

About those fishing rods, all I need now is somebody to show me how since I haven't done it since I was a kid. Hard to read a book and learn that stuff but sure it will all come together like everything else has.

In the last post comments there was a real nice discussion about another stove for BeBop. After doing some measurements, the hanging pail with a MSR Dragonfly idea still holds the most favor with me. Just have to find the money to buy the Dragonfly as they ain't cheap. I'll check the local used sporting good stores and see if they might have one. Might take a bit to get this project underway due to budget issues but I really need a back up to propane. I expect after I finish installing the solar panels this will be the next project.

Wish I had some more pictures for you guys but a lot of what I'm doing right now doesn't photograph well ya know. It's boring to me too in a way since I'd rather be sailing. My next entry should have the solar panels mounted and really, heh, honest this time, some sailing pictures. With the ability to recharge my batteries without taking them off the boat it gives me the ability to stay onboard overnight easily and get used to that.

Until next time.....Fair Winds.....

Monday, September 11, 2006

Outfitting BeBop......

It's been about 2 weeks now since I put BeBop back in the water and the process of getting her ready to go cruising is well underway. It's amazing how much stuff you can (and have to) cram onboard. It's moving along slowly as I'm stuck shoreside except for weekend outings until I get the trailer sold to get the solar panel and another battery. None the less, I go down and work on her for a couple of hours 3 or 4 times a week while trying to help Rich get the house ready to be sold so he can buy his own boat. (payback and I have tons of free time now) I've put everything I need onboard for cooking except for the pots and pans cause I don't have any spares, sewed up and installed some netting over the port side lockers, took the wind cover off the stove cause it was just getting in the way, purchased a adjustable seat with a backrest, put a wooden folding table down below for eating, messing with the the laptop etc, got a sleeping bag and pillow too. I'm skipping lots of little things that I've forgotten about I'm sure. All in all I guess from the readers point of view this is all quite boring compared to launching her last week. You guys will have to bear with me for awhile I continue to do the outfitting and test voyaging until I really get underway.

My friends Hawkeye and Donny who are live aboards down in Sarasota dropped by to see BeBop in person for the first time yesterday too. I was nervous and excited at the same time. Eager to get a approval from people who have nearly as much time on the water as I have breathing air. With both of them in agreement that BeBop was ready to go cruising it really felt like it was really time to leave. The exception to this dramatic moment was Hawkeye's smart ass comment about having the smallest mast in the marina. (even if it's true) Everything else was cool. (it's ok man I forgive you lol ^_^) Least he didn't call my boat "cute" like the dockmaster did last week. (no respect, no respect at all I tell you)

Last weekend Rich and I took her out into the Gulf of Mexico for the first time. This is the drawbridge that I have to through to get out to the Gulf of back to my slip. This first picture with the bridge open we didn't get there in time to go through and had to wait another 15 mins for a opening. Doesn't sound like much until your 10th circle or so.

BeBop going through the bridge....all those cars stoppin' for little ol' us. ^_^ It's good to be me hehehehe.

Florida appears to be a little weird in how you call the bridge tenders and request a opening. Everything I ever read says you call the bridge by it's name....such as "Pasadena Blvd Drawbridge" or perhaps just "Pasadena Drawbridge." Wrong. They call them structures around here. So in my case this bridge is "Structure C." Stupid imho cause there are more than one "Structure C" within radio distance but only one "Pasadena Drawbridge" right? Anyway, after figuring that out cause it's not listed anywhere, you request a opening on VHF Channel 9 say right after you pass the last channel marker heading towards the bridge. Something like "Structure C, Structure C, this is sailing vessel BeBop approaching from the north requesting a bridge opening, over" Then they call back and let you know when they are going to open the bridge for you. I call back to let them know BeBop is clear and to thank them. Another person in the world you do not want to get on the bad side your cook or barber.

After getting through the bridge and out into the channel heading into the Gulf it was obvious the marine forecast was a bit..uh...."off." Instead of 1 to 2 foot seas we had 3 to 4 foot seas after passing the last channel marker and the wave interval was very very quick like 2 to 4 seconds so we got the crap beat outta us. Once we had the sails up, it was better but I don't think I would of like to try cooking down below while pounding into those seas. Larger seas with a greater wave interval would of made for a better day than short and choppy. Due to the seas and me still learning how she sails we didn't get much further out than about 3 or 4 miles for a couple of hours before we headed back into the channel and calmer waters. I really wanted to do more than that little bit out in the Gulf but it was too rough to have much fun. Also the wind was blowing directly out of the West onto the shore so it made getting out very hard. Going back to my slip this same wind that was so killer in the Gulf was great in the intercoastal waterway because it put us on a broad reach, so we motorsailed with the jib up. Sounds crazy but that was the best part of the whole day. On the positive side at no point did I ever worry about my safety. She's a tuff little boat. (notice I didn't say cute) Here is a picture of us coming back into the channel for the intercoastal, perhaps a mile offshore. Prior to this point it was too rough to get the camera out for photos.

This was calm by comparison to being out just a couple of more miles. Look at the compass to get the boat orientation. Now imagine bouncing from side to side like that and bow to stern for a couple of hours. A couple of hours was enough the first time out. The next day I had muscles aching that I didn't know I had.

That rough trip out into the gulf popped a rivet up on the spreaders that had to be repaired. I can't afford to buy a expensive boswains chair or self climber so I had to come up with a solution to get up the mast cheaply so I could repair the missing pop rivet. I got to thinking about the mast stairs system that you hoist up the mainsail track and how to build one. I ended up buying a 25 foot 4,000 pound test nylon tow strap, 20 feet of additional 4,000 pound test nylon and 10 3/8" sail slugs. The nylon cost about 15 bucks at harbor freight and the slugs $2.50 at masthead enterprises down the road. Rich did the totally tedious job of hand sewing it all together Saturday and Sunday and I swallowed my fear of heights late yesterday and up the mast I went to the spreaders to fix the rivet. I really didn't wanna have to climb the mast for another year or two as I just rigged the whole thing up. Here is the picture.

I was inserting the rivet into the gun during this picture. I was wearing a safety harness designed to keep me in the boat not for climbing but you go with what you got. We attached the spare haylard to it in case I slipped. Not likely since I was using my best death grip on the mast to avoid doing a "Stuka" onto the deck. Everytime Rich moved on the deck I was like "she's gonna roll over!! abandon ship, abandon ship!" lol. Rich still has to finish sewing on the rest of the foot straps for going higher than the spreader but that's not something I even wanna think about doing in the near future. I can see my career as a rigger over before it even started. I don't like heights at all. Strange for a person who loves aircraft, gliders and roller coasters eh?

Couple of more pictures here, nothing fantastic. You can see I have the sunshade up here and the bow piece of Half Note on deck in front of the dodger. It fits!! Getting her in place or deployed and assembled is going to be challenging though. I'm thinking unless I'm anchored out like a mile from land or plan on being somewhere for more than a week, I'll keep Half Note on deck and just use a cheap Walmart inflatable cause it's be much easier to deal with. Still need to build something to attach it to too. The shade is ok. Not the best solution but it does help quite a lot during midday. I still really want to get a full boom tent money permitting. Then I could leave the main companion way open and not worry about rain in all but the worst of downpours.

The last picture I just happened to like. Typical Florida afternoon. The storm building in the background, palm trees swaying. Paradise at the dock right? Truth is I was very tired after climbing the mast and sweating like crazy while doing the final little details before heading to the house for a well deserved Gin and Tonic. Can't wait for it to cool off just a little bit. But the more time you spend outside the better you get acclimated to the heat also. I have first hand experience with that when I was in Haiti and this will be no different. You just have to know for the first month you will be totally hating life. Then it's the new normal and you don't think about it.

Last thing, somebody commented in the last post about gear than I don't have but need so I'll list some of the stuff I'd like to have but don't in case somebody is like...."yeah man I just happen to have a Bristol Channel Cutter out back of the house and it's yours cause you look needy." lol

1. Self Steering Vane. If somebody had a small one that fit BeBop and donated it I would be moved to tears since I can't afford one (ever) and could really really use one.
2. Anything involving shore power, BeBop has nothing atm. I have a 30amp cable that I need to buy some connectors for and rig up a system but I could really use anything.
3. A real marine kerosene stove like a Taylor. Using a propane coleman stove at the moment. Stateside it should work fine but overseas propane is quite rare and the fittings are different for each country....and Kero doesn't explode if your having a bad day.
4. A 6x7 boom tent. The sun just tears you up down here tan or not.
5. A (very) small storm trysail and jib
6. A small sea drouge
7 USB or Handheld GPS. Currently running off a ancient AAA battery powered serial port GPS that takes like 10 minutes to get a fix if your lucky...on a perfectly clear day.
8 Another Catalina 22 mainsail. They fit BeBop great and mine is a bit iffy. I'd like to have a spare.
9 A sextant
10. See number one. If I could only get one item out of all the above it would be that and totally grateful to be sure.

I'm not doing too bad gear wise in all the other departments or I made something that works good. Got great ground tackle, tons and tons of spare line donated by Hawkeye enough bumpers and so on. The rest of the stuff is hard to cut the corners on. You just need the cash to buy it or a sewing machine capable of making it. (and mine doesn't do sailcoth or sumbrella well at all)

Hoping next weekend to get out into the Gulf again, get offshore for a bit and improve upon my basic sailing technique....which is rusty right now. Just need more practice, practice, practice. Until next time.....Fair Winds.

Monday, August 28, 2006

Success! (or BeBop is Born)

Finally after 9 months of refit on the hard BeBop is floating peacefully at her slip. It's been a insane past 7 days and the next 3 are going to be a nail biter too with Hurricane Ernesto bearing down on Tampa Bay where I live. On Friday when I hauled in the storm was tracked 500 miles to the west of here. Go figure eh? We'll see if I still have a boat (and something to write about for that matter) in another 4 days.

Ok where to start...where to start....

Tuesday I was fired from my job of more than 2 years. I guess the best attendance in the dept and best performance record in the department don't mean squat when you refuse to kiss ass to your manager. It's no big deal and I totally saw it coming months ago. Being the contingency planner that you all know me to be.....I planned ahead hehehe. So for those of you still in the world of cubicle slavery, I'm doing just fine without the stress. I say quit and do what you want...It's very liberating. To my former manager whom will no doubt check my blog....Hey man!! Thanks for setting me free. ^_^ I'll still send you photos from all the cool places I travel to...While year after year you are still sitting in a windowless, colorless office working to make somebody else rich instead of enriching your own life.

After getting fired I spent the rest of the week doing the final preparation to launch BeBop. I tried to get Half Note ready for the trip but just didn't have quite enough time, so I decided to launch anyway without a dinghy available if need be. I'd have to swim to shore. Thursday all day was spent rigging up the mast and with Rich's help moving it onto BeBop into it's storage position for transport. I had the S$^& scared outta me too by a lighting strike that hit only one house away and set a palm tree on fire. It was so close that I felt the electricity pass through me. (wow) Lets do some before and after pictures.

Nine months ago the day I bought her.

This past Friday. Lot's of blood, sweat and tears.

The big launch day. You guys are going to have to forgive me now as I don't have nearly the number of photos that I wanted to due to the weather. Lack of a dinghy means no exterior pictures outside the ones taken from her slip. But it's will give me some more pictures to post in the future.

Friday early, Brolly a friend of Rich and I and long time follower of my blog volunteered to help launch BeBop. He came over at about 8:45 am and off we went to N.O.A. by the Gandy Bridge where I scheduled the haul in. At 6 bucks a foot it was cheaper by 50% than what I paid at Brunswick Landing Marina in Georgia to get her out. All was going well until they had just lifted BeBop off the trailer and a storm squall hit and left her on the travel lift for 15 minutes until it stopped. Sorry no pictures here..the camera was onboard the boat safe and dry. After hauling in when the rain slowed down to a drizzle we hopped onboard, checked the through hulls and once it was apparent we didn't have any leaks we motored about a mile down the channel and anchored in about 5 feet of water close to shore. There we spend the next 2 hours raising the mast while at anchor, tighting down the standing rigging and setting up the running rigging. Off in the distance we could see the next squall line comming in. We thought that we would have to sit it out inside but it remained calm long enough to get it up.

About noon we upped anchor and got underway via the kicker until we pasted the main channel marker for Tampa Bay and raised the Mainsail. No more than 5 minutes after that the storm squall hit us with 25 knot very gusty winds and lots of rain. The seas were pretty calm for the wind but one accidental jibe later it was apparent that sailing a monohull is way different than the hobie cats I'm used to. Brolly and Rich took turns going down below while I manned the helm. Here is a good picture of Brolly and I in the cockpit during the squall. Notice he's smiling while I'm trying like hell not to have another accidental jibe, run into something, balance the boat, hold a course and adjust the mainsail lol. It was raining very hard and we all got soaking wet. Take a note...foul weather gear is a very important piece of gear to have onboard.

After the squall passed and we could see where we were going again, Rich took the helm for a bit as well as Brolly and we made ok time through Tampa Bay with only one incident of a near accidental grounding. Tampa Bay is pretty big but shallow and even a mile or more from shore it can be less than 2 feet deep so even BeBop can't go into all areas around here. That was a minor scare with misreading the chart and in less than 5 minutes we found deep water again and continued on our way.

Rich at the helm.

Brolly at the bow.

After passing under a secondary span of the Sunshine Skyway Bridge which had a vertical clearance of 65 feet, we approached the first of two drawbridges that we had to go through on the way to BeBop's slip. On the approach I called on Channel 9 to the bridge tender with no answer twice on the VHF. As I started to do a ring around the rosie maneuver and signal with the horn, I throttled back the outboard to idle speed and it quit running! It was quickly apparent that there was about a 6 knot current dragging us towards the bridge and BeBop's doom. I quickly told Rich to deploy the dansforth on the bow while I tried like hell to get the engine to start again. Rich got the anchor deployed just as we were about to smash into the bridge pilings. As soon as he felt the anchor dig in he started yanking on the anchor rode trying to keep BeBop from hitting. We just caught the outboard which was knocked sideways by the piling. Another inch and the engine and mount would of been gone. Close, too close. It later turned out that my VHF handheld couldn't transmit and the main VHF couldn't receive. The outboard was also later discovered to not idle while in gear. How messed up is all that? Using one radio to transmit and the other to receive we navigated the second drawbridge without incident and arrived at BeBop's new slip about 50 miles, 1 storm, 1 near grounding, 1 near sinking (and heart attack) later. Here is a before and after shot. The first is just before haul out in Georgia 9 months ago.

At her slip Saturday afternoon.

Another shot.

As you can see it's been a rather exicting week here. I'm falling asleep as I'm writing this so I hope it all makes some sense. I'd like to say once again sorry for the lack of pictures like going through a drawbridge etc but me and the crew were just too busy to get to it. No worries there will be plenty of pictures to come in the future.

This about wraps up Phase I of the project. Starting with the next entry I'll be into Phase II which includes getting the trailer sold so I can put something resembling a power grid onboard, learning how to sail a monohull vs a hobie cat and some overnight voyages to get used to her underway and develop some new skills. Stick around. Still plenty to do. Until next time...Fair Winds....