The Lunacy Report

CHASING BOAT LEAKS: A Noble (if Frustrating) Obsession

Edward Gorey drawing

They went to sea in a Sieve, they did,

In a Sieve they went to sea:

In spite of all their friends could say,

On a winter's morn, on a stormy day,

In a Sieve they went to sea!

--from The Jumblies, by Edward Lear/Drawing by Edward Gorey

ONE THING I'VE NEGLECTED TO MENTION is that Lunacy has been plagued with a mild leak this past summer. I'd noticed that a small amount of water was constantly appearing in the bilge sump, and just as constantly I kept mopping it out with a sponge. Gradually the small amount got larger, until I grew steadily more worried about it.

Fortunately, I stumbled upon the source. While putting the boat away after an overnight a couple of weeks ago, I noticed that the toilet's inlet hose was weeping where it is clamped onto a sea-chest fitting atop the boat's one and only raw-water through-hull inlet. Upon close inspection, I could see that one of the two clamps securing the hose had cut right through it.

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CASCO BAY CRUISE: Chebeague Island Inn

Anchorage at Chebeague Island Inn

Our Labor Day weekend family cruise aboard Lunacy had been long anticipated, but somehow this anticipation did not translate into a prompt departure for the boat last Friday. As it was, we didn't have all our crew and gear aboard, ready to cast off, until nearly 4 pm. During the depths of the summer this would leave four hours or more to sail to some choice anchorage to inhabit for the night, but now, in the more compressed days of early September, it really only leaves two.

In fact, I had no idea where we were going when we dropped the pennant to Lunacy's mooring at Portland Yacht Services. First I thought we might go east, so started motoring into the southeast breeze toward Peaks Island with an eye toward squeezing into open water through Whitehead Passage. But daughter Lucy, bless her soul, soon complained about the noise of the engine and urgently suggested we shut it down and start sailing.

So I stifled the motor, unrolled the new screecher, and sailed north through Diamond Island Pass toward the upper reaches of western Casco Bay. By the time the sun was starting to lower itself into the horizon, we had reached the narrow choke point off the Division Point bar between Littlejohn and Great Chebeague Island (see chartlet above), and I still had no clear idea where we would spend the night.

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TEST SAIL: New Screecher in Action

Headsails furled

Operation Fetch and Test My New Sail (OFTMNS) officially began this past Sunday evening, when I hooked up with my old pal Loric Weymouth in Portland. He agreed at the last minute to join me as crew on Lunacy for an overnight sail to Rockland, taking the place of Scott Alexander, of Selden Mast, who had agreed several weeks ago to join me, but kicked me to the curb at the last minute in favor of some racing gig. Scott's betrayal was prescient, as the ride to Rockland was no picnic. For the first few miles we did well enough, reaching along at 7 knots in a moderate southerly, but soon the wind died and we spent the rest of the night motoring through a fierce beam sea.

By sunrise we were just west of Monhegan Island. The highlight of the passage came soon after, when we saved two lobstermen from starving in Muscle Ridge Channel. Their boat had broken down, and th ey'd been anchored all night waiting for a tow. We passed them a garbage bag full of beer, bagels, fruit, and smoked fish in homage to the Pot Warp Gods, who had refrained from wrapping themselves round our propeller as we ran blind all through the night.

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NEW BATTERY MONITOR: Mastervolt BTM-III

Master Link BTM-III battery monitor

Some of you may be wondering what happened with that battery problem I was having.  As I mentioned briefly, I was hoping the crazy readings I was getting from my battery monitor were the result of a bad connection or some corrosion somewhere.

Back in the 1990s when I was cruising full time and living aboard Crazy Horse, my electrical system was dirt simple. I had two 100-AH wet-cell batteries, a battery selector switch, and a 30-watt flexible solar panel to help keep them topped up. When I wanted to know how the batteries were doing, I whipped out my multimeter and put the leads on the battery terminals to read the surface voltage. For more sophisticated analysis, I used a big eye-dropper hydrometer to test the specific gravity of the electrolyte solution in the battery cells.

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WEEKEND CRUISE: Cundy's Harbor

An afternoon sail on Casco Bay

I thought I might simulate a mishap or two while out and about on Lunacy this past weekend, just to maintain the theme that has developed here of late, but I was enjoying myself too much to bother. The boat and its systems (thankfully) performed flawlessly, and the weather was fabulous. We enjoyed a nice light-air reach across the breadth of Casco Bay on Saturday afternoon, then pulled into Cundy's Harbor and picked up a mooring for the night.

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NEW HEADSAIL: Code 0 or a Jibtop or a Screecher?

Sailing in the fog

We had a fine July 4th weekend aboard Lunacy, and sailed from Portland over to Popham Beach, at the mouth of the Kennebec River, to visit friends. Conditions, however, were pretty light. Sailing both west and then east back and forth across Casco Bay, we ended up mostly close-reaching in less than 10 knots of wind. These were perfect conditions for the new headsail I want to fly from Lunacy's new bowsprit. Except, of course, said sail does not exist yet. Fortunately, I had already scheduled a meeting with sailmaker Doug Pope to see about remedying this situation.

I met with Doug aboard Lunacy yesterday and together we scoped out the new sail's particulars. At least I know what I want: a large flat-cut lightweight headsail that furls on its own luff and can fly at apparent wind angles between 45 to 130 degrees. What I don't know is exactly what to call such a sail.

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DOWNWIND ADVANTAGE: The New Nose in Action

A-sail tacked to bowsprit

The bride and I spent a night and a day aboard Lunacy this past weekend, sans offspring, and (thankfully) sans mishaps. The wind Sunday, after the fog finally lifted, was light, but steady, so I was anxious to try flying our asymmetric cruising spinnaker from the new bowsprit. Previously, we'd always flown this sail with the tack held to the forestay with an ATN Tacker (essentially a plastic collar that fits around a furled headsail). With the tack four feet forward of the bow at the end of the sprit, we had a distinct advantage sailing deep angles downwind.

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VARIOUS MISHAPS: First Sail of the Season

Lunacy at Maine Yacht Center June 2011

After several delays the crew at Maine Yacht Center finally splashed Lunacy last Thursday. I then spent much of Friday and Saturday getting her ready to sail. Of course, I was very curious to see how she looks afloat with her new nose and was struck by how the angle of the deck's sheer line and that of the sprit seem a bit incongruent. When the boat was out of the water the sheer and sprit seemed to run on a single line, with the former flowing smoothly into the latter.

A minor aesthetic quibble, to be sure. On the whole I was pleased. I was also anxious to go sailing, which was accomplished Sunday, with all the family in tow.

In retrospect I can only laugh at all that went wrong:

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