Shakedown Cruise, Part II

(Part I of Further‘s Memorial Day (mis)adventures is right here.)

Sunday Kinda Love and Further rafted up together in Sue Creek. Further’s portholes (more on them later) are visible in the white line running along her hull.

It was sunny when I woke Sunday morning so after a nice, big breakfast I set about doing a variety of chores on the boat: securing the solar panel that had been jarred loose when the powerboat bumped it, laying out the asymmetrical spinnaker to run its lines, reflaking and covering the mainsail on the boom.

And in an effort to increase the air flow through Further’s cabin, I opened a porthole in both the forward cabin (mine) and the aft cabin (where Meghan slept). The portholes are stiff, solid windows in the hull of the boat that are held in place when closed by screw-down plastic handles. They’re made that secure because by being built into the hull (as opposed to the cabintop) they are frequently awash when Further is heeled over while sailing. If a porthole were to open while at sea, it would be a bad thing. The previous owner had some screens that were sized for the portholes and held in place by Velcro. The Velcro on the portholes was long gone but I could still wedge the screens into the windows to keep the bugs out. And the resulting breeze blowing through the cabin was delightful.

Kathy returned to our raft-up in her own dinghy and after hanging out for a while asked me to run her into the Baltimore Yacht Club for a meeting. Doing so would enable me to bring the dinghy back and have it handy if we wanted to go anywhere — which I planned to do later on when I went ashore to use the yacht club’s showers.

Not long thereafter, however, the western horizon started to darken. Like: a lot. And when it started to rain, it rained HARD. Like: Florida hard. The rain drops were big and pelted the boats with a ferocity that made me a little nervous, to be honest, so much so the yacht club buildings were just silhouettes seen through a curtain. Lightning crackled all around Sue Creek and thunder rumbled in a steady cadence.

The five of us piled onto Sunday Kinda Love, whose cockpit Renee had outfitted with a full canvas-and-isinglass enclosure that kept us dry and comfortable while we talked and enjoyed the weather show outside.

(We were fortunate. Not far away, in Ellicott City, Maryland, severe flooding was decimating people’s lives.)

At one point, I went back aboard Further to check on her starboard cabintop window, which I had rebedded and recaulked on Friday in an effort to stop some leaks. It was the third time I’d tried to fix the damned window and I was cautiously optimistic that Friday’s hot temperatures had enabled the two-sided rubber tape between the plexiglass window and the cabin to really stick. Likewise, I was also hopeful that the caulking had filled the gaps and formed a waterproof barrier around the window.

Nope. In fact, the leaks were worse than before. Sigh. So I quickly set about placing towels beneath the drips and I covered the outside of the window with a tarp. I’ve had problems with the windows (and also the two forward hatches) leaking during normal rainstorms in the past, and under this tropical-caliber rainstorm the dripping was constant and fairly strong.

But the leaks weren’t the biggest problem. When I first went aboard to check the windows I realized that I’d left the portholes open.

The forward cabin was fine: the angle of the hull created an overhang so there was no rain coming in the window. But the aft cabin had a lifeline stanchion right above it that acted as a dam and forced the rain running down the deck to cascade overboard — straight into the aft-cabin porthole.

Thankfully, most of Meghan’s stuff was stashed away from the waterfall coming into the cabin, and after shutting and securing the porthole I piled her stuff in the galley. Her sheets were wet; they got hung over some doors. And the mattress below the port was soaked; I pulled it out and set it in the main cabin to dry. And then I spent most of the afternoon and evening cleaning up the mess.

So for the second day in a row, what could have been just a semi-normal event — running aground Saturday, dealing with the window leaks Sunday — turned into a stress-inducing semi-emergency. Unlike Saturday’s line in the prop, the porthole situation wasn’t a threat. But it sure felt like yet another event was going against me in my quest to be a successful and happy boat owner.

Fortunately, Renee and her crew were kind enough to share the dinner they’d made so I didn’t have to deal with that. Which was a good thing since Further’s cabin and galley had wet stuff strewn all around drying. And that paid off: by the time we all called it a night, the mattress had dried sufficiently that Meghan could use the aft cabin. In fact, she was still asleep when I woke up Monday morning and started moving about the cabin.

Motoring back to Annapolis on a gray Memorial Day.

Monday morning was gray and damp, with mist and fog filtering down from a low overcast. After breakfast, and after securing everything in the cabin, we disengaged from Sunday Kinda Love and let the light breeze push Further off. We motored out of Sue Creek, rounded the point in front of the yacht club (keeping to the correct gap so there was plenty of water) and started down the Middle River toward the open Chesapeake.

After rounding the buoy that marked deeper water off Hart-Miller Island’s northern point, we turned south and tried the headsail. There wasn’t enough wind so we rolled it back up and kept on motoring. The tide was going out so we got a really nice lift on the way back to Annapolis: we did nine-plus knots most of the way home and made it in four hours. I didn’t do a great job getting Further back into her slip but eventually succeeded, and after securing all her lines, Further’s first expedition was completed.

So what was the final tally? Well, I got some experiences that will help me in the future. I endured some strong inconveniences that were a pain in the ass. And I enjoyed Further’s first outing as the vehicle to take me out on the waters of the Earth in search of new places, new friends and minor adventures. Motoring down the Middle River on Monday morning summed it up for me: I was out in the middle of a gray, wet mist. The views were nothing special and there weren’t many boats around. The vast majority of people around the region were warm and dry in their homes (or stuck in traffic on the Bay Bridge) but I was outside getting damp.

And I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I enjoy being out in it, so to speak. I’ve always been happiest when I’ve been out there, be it in the mountains of Utah, on the rivers of Alaska or somewhere on the Atlantic Ocean. And in recent years (decades?) I’ve become complacent, settled, lazy. Yes, I faced some inconveniences on this excursion, some that could have caused profound problems, but I dealt with them. And in fact, they turned out to be experiences that contribute to me living the life I want. The journey continues.

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