Restore a Sailboat - July 2019

WelcomeThe boat is getting into really good shape, not quite finished, but there's no excuse not to sail her a ton.  And that's the plan for the rest of the summer.

With the Chicago Bridges uncooperative, our first race of June 8 was abandoned since we were moving the boat to the lakefront instead.  June 12 we sailed the first "beer can race" and won.  June 19 the next "beer can race" was fogged out. June 22, we race from Chicago to Waukegan earning a 2nd place. The next day we planned to race to Milwaukee, however we were getting water in through the rudder post, we figured we should hunker down and let the local shipyard in Waukegan repair it. That is until we found that week they were booked and couldn't take us. So we moved the boat to Milwaukee for the Queen's Cup race (Milwaukee, WI to St. Joseph, MI) scheduled for June 28.

Well, that trip to Milwaukee was tough, the engine kept dying. A mechanic hired in Milwaukee replaced the electrics - spark plugs, spark plug wires, condenser, rotor, distributor cap, ignition coil and she runs like a charm again.

Sadly my father-in-law passed, I was headed to Minnesota for the funeral missing the Queen's Cup. However, crew were driving up to Milwaukee on that Friday to get trapped in traffic in a construction zone that had a major crash up ahead with no way out, eventually getting to side roads only to arrive at the harbor after the start of the race had occurred. No race. They weren't the only boat. This also meant the race Sunday from St. Joseph, MI to Chicago was out as well. So the crew sailed the boat back to Waukegan with the rudder work scheduled for that next week.

The shipyard made only 1 of the 5 repairs to the rudder requested, when we headed out to bring the boat back to Chicago, I could see the water was still coming in the rudder shaft.  I told my Dad we should U-turn and give the boat back to them.  Instead I called, they said it "was the best they could do" so we continued to Chicago.

The race scheduled for July 8 was canceled due to a lack of entries (one). So we did a crew practice in a fairly strong breeze sailing from downtown Chicago under spinnaker only to the Calumet River in no time at all, then the long upwind beat back in big splashing waves, stopping for fuel and emptying the head tank in preparation for the following weekend.

July 13 is the start of the Chicago Mackinac Race.  The boat is ready and we have a good crew lined up.  The weather cooperates, we are the slowest boat entered in the race, and after racing non-stop for 61 hours, 47 minutes, and 22 seconds we cross the finish line. We end up 2nd in our section, and 7th overall.  This being my 43rd race, this is my best overall finish, with my best a 9th overall before.

mac2ndphotoIn the picture from left to right: Phil Grebaulet-Vanasse, Gene McCarthy, Jack Rickard, Gail McCarthy Turluck, Glenn McCarthy, Matt Farrington.  A little side story, this was my father's 65th Chicago Mackinac Race. A fellow from Muskegon, MI, John Nedeau, did 66 Chicago Mackinac Races before retiring to heaven. My Dad would like to tie Nedeau's record, then take it year by year from there.

We even got some "internet ink" on the experience on the biggest sailing website in the world - Sailing Anarchy.

How did the boat perform? Incredibly well.  Not once did I have to open the toolbox to fix anything. Living on it, using it for many days has it under a microscope and I add 8 really minor projects to the list.  One example - the igniter on the stove doesn't spark.  I'm sure all it needs is a new battery, but considering how long it must have been since last replaced, I'm sure there is some corrosion to deal with as well.

In about 5 weeks, the boat has sailed 3 races, and had one crew practice. This isn't quite what I was expecting when I said the plan was to sail her a ton.

My daughter and I take the first five days cruising the boat from Mackinac Island down Lake Michigan to Chicago.  Day 1 we make it to Charlevoix motoring the whole way without much wind and smooth water. Day 2 we are motoring once again, when after two hours the engine makes a loud banging noise like three chunks of metal clanging one another. We shut the engine down immediately and sail to Northport our intended destination. With threats of storms, and a really small harbor opening, we take all precautions.  We layout the anchor and line on deck, set up a tow line, contact a nearby sailboat that agrees to tow us in if the engine won't cooperate, sail up to the harbor and drop sails.  I try the engine, it clatters again loudly when turning it over without running and I turn the key off.  The friendly fellow sailor takes our tow line and we safely get to the dock.

A mechanic comes over and declares that it is serious, but he won't have time to look at how serious until April 2020 (no joke, they are really busy).  My father is working his way to Chicago in his car having left Mackinac Island this morning, and is at Traverse City.  I tell him it's time he take his boat back!  Upon arrival he starts making calls to a shipyard back in Charlevoix, they said they could have a re-manufactured engine installed in the boat in less than 2 weeks.  We sleep on the boat overnight, at 6:30am leave the harbor under sail and sail back to Charlevoix arriving at noon time.  We clear our gear from the boat, and head back to Chicago in a car on the 3rd day of our planned cruise.

The shipyard doesn't do any work the first week it is there. Begins to check the engine during the second week, and the diagnosis ends up not being good. It wasn't something simple, the engine locked up and a replacement engine ordered at the start of the 3rd week.  Each day I am on standby to hear she is ready to go, and make the 280 mile sail to Chicago.

It looks like the end of the 10th week the boat is in the Lake we may get it back and available to use again.

Sail her a ton?

I'm not sure how to feel after two years of restoration and using the boat so little:

  • Should I scream?
  • Throw things?
  • Get angry?
  • Buy golf clubs?

In preparation for the Chicago Mackinac Race, I completed a bunch of small projects that really are not part of the "big ones" that I track:

1. Put caulk in the three holes that hold the solar fan in the hatch over the table.
2. Replaced drain hose that sprouted leaks.
3. Replaced frayed wire on alternator that mechanic in Milwaukee found.
4. Removed auto-pilot for Mac.
5. Topped off engine oil.
6. Washed topsides, touched up red paint.
7. Drilled hole and put a cotter pin in the paper towel holder so it doesn't fall apart every time you take a towel.  Tied some red yard on the pin, just pull it out, take the rod out, install a new paper towel roll, put the pin back in.
8. Bleached the fridge, then lacquer thinned the fridge, then soft scrubbed the fridge.  Sparkling shiny new and clean!
9. Purged the water tank 5 times - 2 fresh water - 2 with bleach - 1 with fresh water.  Water from tank tastes great.  Put in enough water for washing hands, brushing teeth, after pots and dishes washed in sea, can be final rinsed in galley sink with clean water.
10. The gasket material for the hatches, sticks like glue on the surface that shouldn't stick.  As with the windows in my house they recommend using silicone, I wiped silicone on the gaskets on both hatches.
11. Recalibrated wind instrument.
12. Removed remaining varnish in cockpit that could not be reached over the winter.
13. Had to re-set the kingpin on the steering wheel after shipyard did the one project to the rudder.
14. We have lifted the handrails up and put caulk under them before and tightened them down and they leak again.  Put caulk around the base of six handrails bases.
15. Added a tell tale to the spin pole.
16. Sewed crotch straps on 7 inflatable PFDs.
17. Speedo at wheel calibrated with GPS to MPH (not knots).
18. There were cut off wires in the boat when we got it, I wanted to trace out behind the switch panel.  I had the time to kill, traced them out and they were 1.5' long.  Removed them and tossed them - all of that weight gone!
19. Washed the floor below, never looked better.
20. Filled the ships batteries with water.
21. Rebagged 1.5 spin and relabled edges for velcro (rubber band replacements).  Also bag only had 2 velcros - one for the head and both clews nailed to the other.  Added a third velcro so now each clew has its own and is less confusing to less experienced people.
22. Added label under battery switch, "Engine Charging Batteries to Both"
23. Put shrink tubing on short lifeline at gate and outhaul rope.
24. Futzed with panel wiring trying to get tachometer working, no go yet.
25. Starboard forward winch binding, added grease, cleaned one piece of gummed up grease, seems smooth again.
26. Made lasagna.
27. Washed deck.
28. Fitted new #4, marked three corners on it, verified it has telltales.
29. Installed 2nd reef line.
30. Temporary fix to lock pulley system for lazarette.
31. Shammy'ed varnish, windows, stainless and chrome.
She was clean and shiny ready for the start of the Chicago Mackinac Race.


The next owner is really going to enjoy this boat.

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