Boat run.

We are pet sitting this week – our niece, Julie’s, dog, and Doray & Tom’s parrot.   Because of that, we have been sticking close to home.  But, today we took the opportunity on this beautiful day to take a drive.

We stopped by several vantage points around the lake.  With the emergency flooding situation behind us, Lake Travis is dropping about 1.5 feet a day now, currently at 695′ above mean sea level.   The butterflies were thick today, which makes me very happy – so much of what humans do have hurt their populations over the years.  It’s nice to see them out there despite us.

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I believe these are Queen butterflies, on blue mistflower.  I think I’ll plant some of this in my yard!

We also stopped by the marina to check on our boat.  Our marina’s staff has been doing a wonderful job keeping all the docks floating and clear of obstacles.  They are running a shuttle to the docks for boat owners, since the lake is still flooded, and the water level is still about 15 feet above the parking lot.  Everything looks fine.  Our batteries are doing well (electricity has been off to the docks for 12 days, so far).

I brought my completed propane bag out to the boat and hung it.  It works great, and I found the perfect spot for it.

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Lazy, hazy weekend.

It’s hard to believe that 2018 is half-lived already, this first day of July.

The Saharan dust has arrived, making the Hill Country very hazy, this is one view from FM 620 looking out over Steiner Ranch.

And it is HOT! Lake Travis water temp is 83 degrees F, and the air temp is 20 degrees hotter. The only way to beat the heat is to get out on and in the water.

We enjoyed a fun weekend on the lake. Saturday, we floated and visited with Sue, Marty, Kurt, Gordon, and Margaret, and slept on the boat. This morning we gathered below to watch Spain’s loss to Russia in the knock-out round of the World Cup, and then went for a sail in nice winds.

We’re back home and worn out. I’m looking forward to more Fourth of July lake fun next week.

Messing about.

We took a boatload of people out on the lake yesterday. We enjoyed a nice long sail down the lake and back, then anchored for a couple hours. We even had a few floaters, though I’m waiting a couple more weeks for the lake to warm up a tad. The sun was out, wind was up. Another great day on the lake!

Lake fatigue.

We had a great weekend on the lake! We are now back home and I am wiped out. I think it’s the heat, the sun, the fun that takes it out of me. This was the first raft-up of the year. I clearly need to get my party muscles in shape.

There was little to no wind today. We motored over to Cow Creek to give Michael and Amber a glimpse at one of our favorite spots on the lake.

Then we turned back downriver towards our marina. We passed the racers. It was going to be a very long day for them with these light winds.

Back to Turnback.

The annual Turnback Canyon Regatta is this weekend; a two day race up to around mile marker 30 and back. We’re not racing. In fact we motor sailed a couple of the legs yesterday since the wind was on our nose. But it’s a fun way to spend a weekend on the lake.

We got anchored in time to watch the bigger sloops finish day 1.

Amber and Michael brought tasty nibblies.

We grilled dinner on the boat and listened to Asleep at the Wheel play on-shore as we watched the sun set.

A good day.

Back on the water.

There were good winds today, pretty steady at 20 knots, so we headed to the lake. We washed a thick layer of pollen off the boat and then we were good to go. We sailed for a couple hours and then picked up Michael and Amber for more sailing and then enjoyed sunset back in the slip.

A good day…

Clean!

I spent the day at the marina cleaning. It was waaaay overdue, but it’s SO nice to have a clean boat. High five!

Cockpit and decks:

Foredeck:

Stove:

Fridge (you had to see it BEFORE!):

Rehung the art gallery (the sticky tabs last exactly one year in the heat here in central Texas):

Fixed some broken drawer hardware:

That’s a wrap. 

We raced in Friday night’s beercan regatta with Kurt.  We came in 2nd!  And it was a 3 boat race, at that.  Light winds but a lovely sunset. 

Goodnight!

Boat repair.

A week or so ago, we were at anchor and rafted-up in a cove with another boat when we experienced the largest boat wake we have ever seen on Lake Travis, courtesy of a motorhead who is ignorant of the damage that his wake causes other boats and docks along the lake.  We never saw him, but his wake caused our two boats to smash into eachother, resulting in our port-side gate stanchion breaking.

The next day I got on the phone with Catalina Direct and ordered a replacement.  That was the easy part.  The fun-part remained:  figuring out how to access the nuts & bolts below deck to make the repair.  Suffice to say that it was not a Catalina 320 design point to make access to the stanchion bolts easy or straightforward.  The Catalina 320 owners’ association discussion forum was a helpful resource, with some threads describing the repair.  I decided to document our experience, along with some photos, in the event it helps another sailor down the line.   This is a two-person job, as screwing and unscrewing the nuts requires one person above deck, and one person below.  Oh, and the below deck person needs to be small enough and able to contort his/herself in a very confined space for the duration.  This repair took about 4 hours.   While this post documents replacement of a port-side gate stanchion, I imagine it would be a similar experience for replacing any other stanchion, but the location will dictate a different set of steps to gain access.

In the photo below (new part on the left, broken part on the right)  you can see that the threaded rod of the port-side gate stanchion’s aft leg was broken off at the deck.  It’s actually a great design, in my opinion, because even though the stanchion was bent significantly enough inboard to pop the weld on the threaded rod, there are no outboard through-deck bolts to damage the deck by being pulled out when the damage occurs.  Another thing worth noting is the width of the “h” on the new stanchion was about an inch less than the old one.  You can kind of see that in the photo.  But we were able to remedy that by a gentle, but firm, pull on the legs to spread them enough to make the bolt holes line up with those on deck.   Don’t forget to order the new nuts/bolts/washers that are recommended in the listing for the stanchion on the Catalina Direct website.  They have to be ordered separately.  Our old bolts were bent pretty good, and the washers were cupped a bit.

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The life lines on our 320 connect forward at the bow pulpit.   Easy enough to remove for the repair.

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Now for the fun part.  On a 320, the bolts for the aft leg of the gate stanchion are located behind the aft galley cabinet.  The bolts for the forward leg are behind the middle galley cabinet, where the microwave sits.  You’ll want to open both of them up to gain access.   I recommend taking the divider wall between the two cabinets out as well to make maneuvering a little easier.  There is a molded fiberglass cable chase/run behind the wood trim inside the cabinets.  You will need to cut away part of that to access all the bolts.  A previous owner of our boat had cut some of it away for some other repair or installation.img_1147

When I first opened things up to see what I could see, this is what I saw in the aft cabinet.   Some of the fiberglass panel had been cut away already, but not enough for this repair.

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I used a Dremel tool to cut away another 4 inches or so.   BE CAREFUL to not damage the cabling behind the fiberglass panel!  Also, take precautions to not work around live electric cables, to avoid damage/death to yourself.     I also recommend eye protection and wearing a mask to protect yourself from breathing in the dust while making the cut.   And, beware, that cut fiberglass edge is sharp.img_1142

This is an upclose view of the 3 bolts for the aft leg of the gate stanchion.   The big one is the broken outboard threaded rod.  The 2 inboard ones are the smaller through-deck bolts for the aft leg.  I had to lower the cabling that was fastened below deck to get access to the bolts.  I found that there was no clearance below the threaded rod to allow me to use a socket of any kind.  So I had to use a wrench to turn the nut, little by little.  As I did, the top of the broken-off rod rose slowly above the deck, eventually enough to be able to put a vicegrips on it above deck, to keep it from turning as I removed the nut the rest of the way.   I also will note that the recommended bolt/nut/washer kit that we ordered contained new stainless bolts for the inboard holes of the aft leg that are about an inch longer than the old ones.  That might make using a socket difficult, if you don’t have a deep enough one.

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This picture shows all 5 bolts – the 3 of the aft leg, and the 2 of the forward leg.  It also shows how nice it is to not have the dividing wall between the cabinets there.  It made reaching through with tools easier.img_1143

We first removed the inboard bolts of the aft leg.   Monte unscrewed the bolt above deck, while I held the nut below.

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This is a shot of the deck with all the bolts removed, and the old adhesive scraped away.   We used fresh marine adhesive, liberally covering the area of each foot.  All that remained was to install with the new hardware.

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Voila!  repair complete.

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Ohmigosh, 2015 already!?!

I want to wish you a most happy New Year and all the best to you and yours in 2015!  I have been away a while.  Partly due to distractions.  But also partly due to the fact that I had run out of online storage space for my blog @ wordpress, and I wanted time to think about how and or whether to upgrade the options for my blog.

In the end I decided to simply buy a storage upgrade (to add an additional 10G to the default 3G limit).   When my domain options are up for renewal next year, I might consider upgrading to Premium on wordpress, which includes the increased storage, but I bought myself some time.

I think last we crossed paths out here in the blogosphere I was headed home from a long visit in Seattle, back to Austin.   Suffice to say I have not been idle.

The day after coming home, we left for a fantastic week in Paris – a trip we took with little pre-planning; celebrating a birthday in a place we both love.  And since then:  Thanksgiving, family visiting, Julie graduated and left Austin to take the next step in her life’s path (sniffle), Christmas & New Year’s, and we have spent some fun times with friends.

Somewhere in there 2014 slipped away.  Today I find myself on the second day of a new year — a few weeks delinquent in blog posts but looking forward instead of behind.

Here are just a few picks to fill in since last I posted:

Bon Anniversaire!

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Post-Thanksgiving Day sail:

IMG_7228 A day trip through the Hill Country and a hike to the top of Enchanted Rock on a clear December day with my sister & brother-in-law:IMG_7275

Christmas Eve:

IMG_7336And New Year’s Eve:IMG_7363

I can’t wait to see how 2015 unfolds….

Saturday sunset.

A three day weekend!  Yep, you guessed it, we headed to the lake.   Lori and Dave anchored out with us.    Here’s our favorite spot at sunset, the view off the starboard side of Nirvana.
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We layed on the deck and played ipod wars ’til we couldn’t keep our eyes open.  The breezes were light all night, so we rigged the windscoop for the first time, and it worked great.  We were very comfortable in the v-berth up front.
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Goodbye, August!

Fair breezes.

We enjoyed a fun raft-up last night.   It’s been a long time since we’ve had 5 boats rafted up overnight.   Last night it was Monte and I on Nirvana.  Nick, Isabel, Lorene and Dimitri on Kalliopi.   Wally, Kurt and Kevin on Zen.   Kirk and Lilly on La Cima del Cielo.   And Brent and Lawrence on a Catalina 27 that came in under the veil of darkness before the near-full moon rose, so I didn’t catch their boat’s name.   We played ipod wars into the wee hours.    This morning we lounged around on deck and floated behind the boats till after noon.   Then Nirvana and Kalliopi sailed down to Carlos & Charlie’s, and then turned around to make way back up to our slips.    Isabel sent us this shot that they took on our way back to the marina.

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Back at the marina we checked out the boat to make sure everything was ship-shape, since our docks are now offshore by nearly a mile.   We will allegedly have power hooked up in a few weeks.  We shall see.   The lake is at about 621′.   Terribly low.   It’s no longer a lake.  It’s just a windy river with lots of new hazards around every corner.  I’m starting to think it will never rise again.

Joe came out visit with us on Nirvana for the afternoon.   It was really nice to get a visit in with him.