August 19, 2009

Up the Mast Without a...

I mentioned before that we still have stuff to do before we start our off-shore trip down to San Francisco then onward to Mexico in the next few weeks. This is pretty typical – most boats are a work in progress. And the cliché, that cruising is nothing more than fixing your boat in exotic places, is one that was no doubt penned by some puzzled inhabitant of a lovely South Seas Island who couldn’t understand why boaters would come into harbour, climb into their engine compartments, swear loudly for a while, zoom into shore to pick up parts flown in at great expense and then leave on the next tide – never seeing anything beyond the hardware store and the post office….
The thing is it isn't that much of a hardship, being anchored in a gorgeous cove while needing to, say, go up the mast to-
1) Install mast steps
2) Replace a broken windvane
3) Put a new light bulb in the masthead light
Sure, it would be nicer to lounge on the foredeck sipping a drink while reading a novel, or kayak to one of those little rocky islets that seems to whisper secrets and call to be explored. But in the scheme of things a little foray up the mast is better than many of the alternatives.
Unless you’re the guy going up the mast and I’m the person getting you there.
On little Ceilydh, a trip up the mast was accomplished the old fashioned way: One person volunteered to go up and see the view (I’ll skip that trip I'm good with seeing the photos, thanks!) another person cranked the winch and a 3rd helper kept an eye on the person going up while tailing (holding) the rope.
On new Ceilydh, Ev decided to simplify things and dispense with the need for a helper. The halyard now leads to the anchor windlass and with the flick of a button I can send him up the mast while tailing the line with my other hand.

The problem is I’m not good at multitasking and the button I need to flick is really easy to mess up when I'm looking upward. So I started Ev up, then in an effort to stop the windlass and check on him, I flicked the button to the to down position, then got flustered by my error and sent him back to up, then down, then stopped, then up and then the windlass (which has enough oomph to lift a large waterlogged log off the bottom) started to dispair at my indecision and popped a breaker.
Eventually I got him to the top. The very top. Which if you’ve ever been up a mast you’ll know was a bit beyond where he should be… And then he began the repairs.
1) Mast steps on
2) Light bulb turned out to be the wrong size for the fixture, which turned out to be made by a company that should have nothing to do with electronics.
3) Evan was now too queasy to install windvane.
We repeated the exercise the next morning and now have two out of three tasks complete and the knowledge that we have a couple more new ones to do.
Fortunately we’re in a beautiful calm anchorage and the end of a long fjord. So much better than a boatyard… Unless you’re Evan.


jmax said...

Wow. Amazing pix! I love the gloomy light in your fjord!

Diane, Evan, Maia and Charlie the cat said...

Thanks - easy subject though. It's gorgeous up there.