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 off...like 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.