May fifteenth

May fifteenth will be, from this day forward, a sailing holiday for the Lee family.

Even if we have jobs and school, we will cease our normal activities and go sailing for this day.

Because May fifteenth is the day that the Lee family finally returned to the sea.

Kinda' heavy duty verbiage coming from Julie, sittin' there eating cheese burgers in Jim's Cafe. A little local knowledge cafe in Alameda. We'd just gotten back from our first actual sail in about seven years. Granted it was kinda' an epic thing. And, well.. Nothing like adding another holiday to the calender. Specially if we get to go sailing on it every year. Taking all things into account my reply was along the lines of "Hear hear! Jolly good idea!" And it was settled. May fifteenth is the new Lee family sailing holiday.

Things actually started earlier than May 15. More like May 12 'cause that's when we motored the boat back to Nelson's Boat Yard to have the rig reinstalled. Of course I was hoping that they'd just drop it in and we'd be on our way.

Not likely!

The Spar yard. This is maybe a third of the spars at Nelson's. That is only counting the ones out of boats. Ours is the near white one. This spring Nelson's is busier than they have been in years. So getting anything scheduled is really tough.

The mast was scheduled to go in May 13. I dropped by in the morning to see how things were progressing and take the boat back when all was compete.

Glen Hansen, the rigger. Now, doesn't it make you wonder when a rigger showes up wearing a helmet? You'd think maybe he's a little worried about things fallin' outta' the sky on him wouldn't you? How well is all that stuff put together 50 feet or so up there?

Ok, he rode up on his scooter. But it was such a great shot, I couldn't resist.

Remember my fancy custom made spreader tips? Well.. Somewhere they were lost in the shuffle. I suspect that one day, when I'm old and retired, I'll clean the garage and they'll turn up. I was totally bummed out 'cause I was so proud of them things.

Not having anything to hold the rods to the spreaders was a show stopper. Glen told me; "We can't install the mast today. There's nothing to hold the rods."

Knowing how many masts were in line waiting for my spot on the crane, I was desperate. "Oh no, isn't there something we can do?"

"We don't have the parts."

Art saved the day on this one. I went over and chatted with him. "Can't we just make up some plates with holes and bolt 'em up?"

Art thought for a bit. "You know, I have an old discarded J/35 mast out back. Maybe..." And off we went. Sure enough the scrapped mast still had its spreader tips intact. Thank you Art!!

As for the spreader boot in the picture. What you see there is guaranteed 30 year whipping. Glen's crew promised that to me.

We'll see..

While things were getting lined up for the install, I busied myself fixin' whatever I could find. Things like main sheet blocks that were dropping ball bearings all over. Anything that could be done ahead of time.

Finally the install. "Cool, now I know the boat will be finished up today!" I got Bill, one of the boatyard guys, to give me a ride back after dropping off the truck at the marina.

When we came back they were still trying to get the mast into the boat. "Hmm.. takin' them some time to get this finished up." No matter, at least its getting done.

Pretty soon they were successful and it slipped in place. I guess the crane operator had them squirt some soapy water on the mast boot to make it slide better. Once it was in, the next step is attaching the rod rigging. They hooked up all the rods and.. Well.. It just didn't look right at all. The shrouds looked ok.. But the fore and back stay were way out. Like a two feet too long for the back stay. There was a lot of fuss about this as time passed. Glen and his entire crew were buried working on another boat so I waited.

At about 4:30 Glen lets me know that there's no way they can get to my boat that day. "Sigh.." Art is kind enough to give me a ride to the marina so I can get my truck and go home.

Friday May 14, Glen informs me that they are rigging my boat today. "Cool!" I'm in the truck and heading to Alameda. It turns into an all day job. Glen's crew pulls the fore and back stays and takes them to the shop to be chopped down to size. Once they are back and installed, I start mounting all the rest of the running rigging. Boom, boomvang, halyards. Glen told me that the main halyard was so bad that he replaced it. When I saw the jib halyards I wondered how bad the main one must have been . The jib ones look shot.

Sometime in the late afternoon I'd gotten the confused message from Glen (By Cell Phone to one of his crew) that I should just take the boat home. The rig hadn't been tuned. Heck not even completely pinned. The running backs were missing. I didn't like that idea at all. Also there was no one around to do the truck drop off with me. (The crew left when their jobs were finished.) It was past five PM. What to do?

Finally, in desperation, I decided to drive over to Glen's shop and see if he was there. Maybe pick up the running backs and tell him I didn't like the idea of sailing through the chop with the mast all kinda' floppy. No one was at the shop. "Arrgh!" I turned to go back, button up the boat and go home. Suddenly there's this car chasing me. It was one of Glen's crew. "Hey! I have your running backs in the car. Glen says do NOT take the boat home. He'll be there in 45 minutes."

"Cool! Back in business!"

Glen showed up as promised. He and his crew set up the mast and pinned everything. We installed the running backs and then his crew offered to take my truck over to the Marina for me.

Its about sunset by the time this is all going on. These guys were buried in work, they were completely bushed and still doing whatever they could to make me a happy customer. Well it worked, I'm happy! I cleaned up the boat fired up the motor, they pushed me off and delivered my truck to the marina. You can't ask for more than that!

So here I am motoring along. I'd hooked up the autopilot and was sitting in the cockpit smashing through the afternoon chop thinking. "Maybe I should try hoisting the main and sail this machine home." I looked around, rocks to the lee of me. "Hmm... maybe if I try to hoist the main, something will go wrong and I'll end up over there in them rocks? I'm not positive I rigged every thing right." Still looking around.. "Sure would be faster if I sailed.. But the cleanup.. No, better safe than sorry, I'll wait 'till I'm in more protected waters before testing the running rig." Just as I decided not to sail, the boat suddenly spun almost 180 degrees. "What the?" Looking back I saw that the tiller arm had fallen out of the tiller pilot! Totally out of control!

The rest of the trip was accented by reassembling the tiller pilot about every ten minutes. Almost got run down by a container ship going into the estuary. Here I was, like the dummy I am, looking down in the cockpit working on the pilot. I hadn't realized that one of the ships wasn't tied up like I thought. It was coming straight at me! I looked up and.. YAAA!!! Run away!!

So in the end it wasn't 'till May 15 that Juilie and I brought up kiddies and actually tried sailing. We only had about an hour or two before dark and there was very little wind. But the main went up, no problem and it sailed! Round and round in the estuary.

Lord! That was great!

Oh yeah. In all the hurry.. I forgot the digital camera. So the most important pictures for this entire writeup, just ain't.

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