Category Archives: Ariel CD36

Some sailing

I stole away for a few hours the other evening to do a little solo sailing, and Jake and I headed out last night for an hour or so before an approaching storm chased us back to harbor. Life is good – although the season is getting short.

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What’s been happening?

Once Ariel was in the water, I had a few other tasks to complete. I rewired a secondary bilge pump that had packed it in over the winter due to faulty connections, and I wired quick connectors for the masthead instrument. Additionally, the cabin needed to be cleaned and organized.

Unrelated to Ariel, I wrapped up a mainsail project for an Ericson 29 and bent on Ariel’s new staysail. The new staysail needs a longer pendant at the head to get the tack closer to the drum, but otherwise it looks great. Perhaps I’ll make a main Ariel over winter so she’ll have a new suit of sails for 2016.

Pictures of the Ericson mainsail construction:

The press is of my own design, but it works perfectly – and for a lot less money than one sold specifically for the purpose. I installed six Rutgerson Super Rings without issue.

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This mainsail has three rows of reef points, so there are eight hefty patch assemblies, including the tack and clew.

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Ariel’s new staysail. I actually constructed this staysail last season, but for one reason or another never got it bent on. It is constructed of 8oz Dacron since it is our heavy-weather sail once Ariel is double reefed on the main. As you can see in the picture, the tack is too far away from the drum – not that it really matters, it’s purely aesthetic. (If Ariel were going to sea, I’d actually prefer the tack to be as high as it is so that the sail wouldn’t be as likely to catch water.) If I have the energy, I’ll bring the sail home and sew a longer pendant.

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Launch and prep

Ariel splashed Thursday, June 4, after a couple of busy days cleaning, polishing, waxing, painting, and taking care of other pre-launch items. The boys pitched in in a big way this year – working diligently and carefully – scrubbing and cleaning decks, and painting most of the bottom by themselves.

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It wasn’t all work, however. We managed to include the REALLY important to-do’s like enjoying our time together…

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Fishing…

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And relaxing after an exhausting day’s work…

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And then it was launch day!

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A few items that I took care of before Ariel went in: service all of the seacocks, replace the shaft stuffing, and polish and wax the hull. And my does she get her shine on when the hull is polished and waxed:

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Summer 2009 Slideshow

I stumbled upon this slideshow of our 2009 summer cruise on my dad’s YouTube channel. I’d forgotten he put it together.

Winter Diversions

Contrary to the predictions, this winter hasn’t been as bad as last year. I’d heard that we were in for either more snow than last year or less snow but colder temps. I’d say it’s been warmer (for the most part) with a lot less snow. Last winter the majority of the Great Lakes was covered in ice. This year we’ve had far less ice coverage, which makes me a little sad because a lot of ice coverage means a lot less evaporation during the winter months. And that, of course, means more water during the summer months!

Here’s something a little interesting. I visited the Great Lakes Water Level Dashboard to see what Huron/Michigan are doing. Things are looking good! The last time Lake Michigan reached this level was in 1998.

The red portion indicates forecasted water levels advanced six months.

The red portion indicates forecasted water levels advanced six months.

And here’s all of the Great Lakes’ levels:

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So what’s happening on the boat front? Not much. I removed Ariel’s two forestays (and furlers) in preparation for replacing some of the rigging. The plan is to replace the bobstay, headstay, staysail stay, backstay, and cap shrouds. Then next winter I guess we’ll replace the lowers and intermediates, since replacing all of it at once is just too expensive.

Anyway, that’s the big project for this season. Fortunately, she’s looking good and just about ready to go. She’s got a newer jib and a brand spanking new staysail. Her main is hanging in there, but might be replaced in the next year or so.

Like a lot of northern sailors (I suspect), I sail vicariously during the winter months through a few blogs and YouTube channels. Here are two blogs: A couple sailing their Westsail 32 out of Louisiana for points south (Sundowner Sails Again), and another couple sailing their Cape Dory 30 (Sea Changes). Check them out – you might be glad you did.

Summer 2008 Sailing Video

I have several sailing videos on my YouTube channel, but I’ve never shared them here. In 2008 we sailed north to Charlevoix. This video documents part of that trip.

Fast-Forward Fall Frolic

Two hours of fall sailing compressed into a few minutes. The cold hasn’t really hit yet, and already I’m dreaming of spring. I shot this video Fall of 2013.

Ariel’s Famous (sort of…not really)

Ariel and her crew made the local paper back during her haul out in October. I guess it must have been an extremely slow day for the Herald-Palladium because a photographer stopped by the marina to shoot a few pictures around the yard. My dad and I just happened to be “supervising” Ariel’s haul out at the time. I answered a few questions which, naturally, got slightly distorted between my mouth and the printing. Never did I say we’ve visited nearly every port on Lake Michigan. Rather, I said we’ve visited nearly every port on Lake Michigan’s eastern shore. But whatever. Perhaps it illustrates why that was the first time I ever bought an issue of the Herald-Palladium.

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To Grand Haven and Back

One of the best things about sailing Lake Michigan’s eastern shore is the many great harbors every 20-40nm. And one of the best ways to get that getting-away-from-it-all feeling is to sail to a different Lake Michigan destination. It may be a 20-minute drive by car, but when you get there by a six-hour sail, it really feels like an accomplishment – and a different place. I compare the feeling of arriving in port to the feeling I’ve had walking down a quaint cobblestone street in Toledo, Spain, or some other equally foreign town: everything looks and feels different. And you don’t have to go far to feel far away from home.

This past summer Jake and I traveled with my parents (and their dogs) up to Grand Haven and back. Departing St. Joseph – the wind light to non-existent – we kept the engine on a motored in the fog toward South Haven for our first stop. Jake, lulled by the rhythm of the water and the thrum of the diesel, feel asleep almost immediately. We arrived in South Haven about six hours later, tied up in a slip, and watched as an impressive system rolled through.

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South Haven is an attractive port on the Black River. The municipal marina has slips on the north and south side of the river, although the slips on the south side make it an easy walk to town. We spent a day or two lazing about on the boat, strolling into town occasionally for a meal, as we waited for the weather to improve. We also visited the Michigan Maritime Museum, which has a pretty cool collection for a such a small town.

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Jake poses in front of a lifeboat that is part of the museum’s life-saving exhibit.

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Friends Good Will, a replica of a Great Lakes tall ship, is available for tours or charters.

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Ariel tied up at the municipal marina.

We sailed north past Saugatuck and Holland, the next two ports beyond South Haven, and tied up along the seawall in Grand Haven. Admittedly, I’m not a big fan of the Grand Haven – or its seawall – for a few reasons: 1) the river is dirty and leaves a nasty mess on Ariel’s topsides; 2) the river traffic bounces the boat around, so I’m constantly worried about a fender popping out of place and the hull rubbing against the steel seawall (not good!) – as it was, there was enough motion that even the smooth fender rubbed the topsides enough to dull the gelcoat; 3) the path along the seawall is busy with bikers and pedestrians, so there’s little privacy. On the flip side, the musical fountain is a real treat…for the kids (again, I’m not too jazzed about it, either). There are some great restaurants and coffee shops, however. And if you’re into shopping, there are several boutiques, etc. Jake, my mom, and I found a nearby miniature golf place and spent an hour or so humiliating ourselves chasing golf balls.

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Entering Grand Haven channel.

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Tied up on the seawall. Local traffic heading in.

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The musical fountain is located on the hill just under the sun.

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Tying the dinghy alongside Ariel and putting out fenders to keep her from banging into the boat.

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You’re never too old for a selfie.

Although my parents had said that they planned to head farther north, the combination of fog and dogs prompted them to make Grand Haven their northernmost port. We sailed out of Grand Haven bound for South Haven and, ultimately, St. Joseph. Once out of the Grand Haven channel, I put the fishing line in the water – as we always do – hopeful we’d hook a salmon. Sure enough, we hooked a beauty – exactly what we were eager to catch before the trip was over.

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The rest of the trip home was a lazy sail under drifter in a light fog.

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And here’s a brief video of the drifter in action.

What we did last summer – Part I

So, let’s see…where to begin? It’s been a while. Last season started with this:

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That’s the water heater that used to reside in the starboard cockpit locker. Unfortunately, the batteries also reside in the same locker and we wanted to increase our house bank by two, so the eviction notice had been served. In all the years we’ve owned Ariel, we’ve never used the water heater’s AC system. And though we have enjoyed the engine-heat generated hot water for doing dishes, we figured we’d try living without it for a year to see if we missed it. (We didn’t).

It was nice to get the heater out of there and give the locker a bit of cleaning.

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That’s obviously before the cleaning.

So out with the heater and in with four Duracell EGC2 six-volt batteries and a Blue Seas Automatic Charging Relay with Starting Isolation.

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Once the ACR and batteries were in place, I came up with better placement and a way to secure them:

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The system more than met our summer cruise electrical needs. Additionally, we now have valuable fuse protection that was not part of the old battery bank.

Ariel splashed in early May (or was it late April?), and I finished up my end-of-year teaching responsibilities. Here’s a pre-launch glamor shot.

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And a pic of me at graduation with one of my students – ok, two pics 😉

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Then there were the little projects and details that took place once Ariel was in the water. Some of them more important than others:

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The boys (well, admittedly, I too) got hooked on fishing at the start of the season. And for good reason: they had some incredible luck!

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The boys’ luck was so good that I had to drop what I was doing aboard Ariel about every 15 minutes and scramble out of the cabin and up on the dock, then run in the direction of the excited yells of “Daddy! Daddy! I got another one!” More than once, I had just returned to the boat, picked up a tool when I’d hear another shriek of excitement. Really, though, I was just as excited as the boys (and I think they knew that). To save the battery on my phone, I eventually quit taking trophy pictures of their catch.

Somewhere along the way, I scraped the ablative bottom paint off of the Trinka 10 and covered it with VC17. Then it was off to the marina.

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And because I’m a child at heart, the first order of business was more work having some fun. I dumped the dinghy in the water and introduced my boys to rowing a little boat, one of the many cool things I got to do as a kid.

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That last picture is of me in my 7′ Fatty Knees sailing dinghy. I was about the same age as Jake!

And no rowing trip is complete without admiring your own yacht from the water.

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Looking back on it, we crammed in a lot of living and fun well before summer even started! Life is good!

Part II to follow (eventually).

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