Tuesday, May 29, 2012

In the V-Berth

Sailing in a Chinese restaurant (hehe)

Four days on the lake and no particular place to be. We were both anxious to get back on the water, so we were packed and ready to go right away after work on Friday. We arrived at Marshall Park by 5 pm and put the boat in the water. Rain clouds were looming, so we promptly tied Wrinkles up to the dock so we could start our sailing weekend off right - - by walking up the hill to the Chinese restaurant. As the rain came down we enjoyed a bottle of wine and an excellent meal. Then the laughing started. We don't know if it is just a midwestern custom or not, but when we read our fortunes found in our cookies, we always add "in bed' to the end. Being sailors, we decided we needed to add "in the v-berth" instead. Brenda read hers first and it was a ho-hum saying. Then Mike opened his and immediately started laughing. He could barely hand it over for Brenda to see. It read, "Take some time out for yourself". You add the ending. And that's how we started our weekend!

By the time we had finished dinner, the rain had subsided. After a leisurely walk back to the boat, we headed out on the water. It begain drizzling again, so up went the bimini and down went Brenda into the cabin. We were the only pleasure boat out on the lake. Of course, there were a few fishermen trying to cash in on the rain and the presumed better fishing. Can you imagine wanting to launch in the rain? We headed over to our anchorage spot while Brenda tried to organize the cabin. It's amazing how much stuff you load on to the boat each time - clothes, food, cooler, electronics. Add to that the general clutter that is associated with a launch, and you have a 20 minute project.

By the time we reached our anchorage it began raining in earnest. This gave us the perfect opportunity to see where the leaks were. We had brought along the port-hole gaskets that we had just received from Hutchins, so Mike put two in right away. He was sure the gaskets were the originals as they crumbled as he pried them out. We put the other four in later during the weekend. We lit the oil lantern to give us some light and dry out the boat. We went to sleep to the sounds of rain on the cabin roof and rumbles in the air.

Getting up a little late in the morning felt good as we were both tired out from a long week of work along with the gray skies through the portholes. A relaxed breakfast cooked on our little butane stove and it was time to become a sailboat again. We put a reef in the mainsail even though the winds looked to be pretty moderate. After rounding up on our last sail we were both ready to err on the safe side with too little sail up.

Within an an hour the winds were picking up just like the forecast predicted. 10 to 14 knot winds with some decent gusts gave us an opportunity to try different sail adjustments. Since we remembered to bring the boom vang this trip we put it to good use. Our sails are pretty old and tired which leads to bagged out sail shapes. The boom vang certainly helps to flatten the main out to handle the gusts better. We were glad we started with the main reefed as the winds continued to gain strength. We felt out of balance though as the full 110 headsail was out, so we took a few turns on the roller furler to match its pull with the reduced main. Brenda was a much happier sailor and felt much more comfortable at the tiller. (I'm always proud of her when she takes the tiller in rougher conditions and works on her sailing skills. - Mike)

The weather continued to worsen with a nasty weather cell approaching quickly from the southwest. We had planned on meeting our youngest son on State Street for supper, but between the chop in the water and the ugly skyline we cancelled our plans and sailed with just a partially furled headsail only toward a protected anchorage. We tucked into the farthest corner along with a couple of stinkpots to watch the scary lightning show. The whitecaps and rain just a few hundred yards from our anchorage didn't look at all inviting. Some hot soup, cheese and crackers along with a glass of wine in our cozy cabin made the evening worthwhile.

Storm cell as it passed to the north.  You should have seen the lightning!

Sunday brought some beautiful sunshine and calmer weather. We quickly ate our oatmeal and rolled out the sails. A few hours of nice 7 to 9 knot winds with very little gusting reminded us why we love sailing. We took turns at the tiller as usual and thoroughly enjoyed ourselves. We sailed into a few areas of the lake we don't get into very often and sailed casually along the bluffs looking at the lovely homes.

Much nicer sailing today!

Our son decided to join us for a few hours, so we sailed downwind to a sandy beach area and anchored Wrinkles up in 3 feet of water. Matt was able to wade out to the boat and we ended up joining him for a swim. At the same time some friends launched their power boat at the nearby ramp and joined us in the water. They took us for a ride around the lake which was a nice change of pace. By the time we returned to our sailboat the wind and chop had jumped back up. We took Matt out for a short sail, but it wasn't much fun as another front was coming in with switching winds and strong gusts. We headed toward shore to drop Matt off and Mike said it would be better to drop at the marina rather than sail into a lee shore in these conditions. Sounds reasonable doesn't it?

Mike lined our sailboat up perfectly between the red and green entrance buoys and planned a touch-n-go drop at one of the piers. Great plan Skipper! Well, since the boat came to a complete stop just as the bouys passed our stern, the good ship Wrinkles had obviously had her first grounding. How can a boat launch have an entrance that a shoal draft sailboat can't navigate? Send all crew to the bow, outboard in full reverse, nothing! Ok Skipper, swallow your pride and get in the water. With Brenda running the outboard and you know who in the water pushing on the hull, we sheepishly got out of trouble and hightailed it away from there. Another lesson learned.

After the full day of fun and stress we decided that instead of tacking hard for 4 miles straight into the headwind and chop that using the gas powered sail sounded pretty good. The Yamaha 8 HP - 2 stroke purred along and brought us to the calm waters of the southern shore right outside the UW-Wisconsin Memorial Union. Brenda crawled happily into the V-berth for a power nap as Mike rested in the cockpit quietly going over the grounding mess in his head with two cold Spotted Cow beers to heal his pride.

Wrinkles quietly waiting for our return.

The wind died out so we put our little dinghy Squint to work and rowed into shore to find a well deserved meal. Tutto Pasta was the restaurant of choice this time as they serve a really good Sangria along with great pasta dinners at their outdoor tables. The waitress actually remembered us from our previous visit last fall. We can't even remember if there is still milk in the fridge. A nice row back to our comfy sailboat ended a very busy day.

Brenda got out of bed before Mike (Say what!) and checked on the weather forecast for this Memorial day. She reported that the winds were going to be good for a couple of hours and then start cranking up again. OK, new plan. We skipped breakfast and quickly sailed off our anchor. We ghosted around and through the mooring field heading out into the lake. A sailor on a classy moored boat hailed us, "Pretty boat. Is that a Com-Pac 23?". That guy knows his boats as our 23 doesn't have any identifying marks on it at all right now.

The view from our cockpit

We enjoyed a great beam reach the entire way back to the launch. Having learned a little more about what sail combos work well in moderate winds sure made it a relaxed sail. A perfect kind of sail to end the weekend.

Once we got back to the ramp we executed a perfect landing and quickly put Wrinkles on her trailer. Having skipped breakfast we decided to leave Wrinkles on her trailer in the lot until we had walked down to a local restaurant for a hearty meal. We walked back hand in hand looking at the houses along this shoreline. When we arrived back at the boat we were met by a man who knew our names as well as our boat's. It turns out that Roy had come across our name in the Com-Pac Yacht Owners Association website and had been following us on this blog. Neat! We chatted with Roy as we slowly (and we mean slowly) started putting Wrinkles to bed. Roy was particularly interested in seeing the mast raising system used in person. He had just purchased a Com-Pac 23/3 and was planning on using the system as well. It is fun to chat with fellow sailors as they are always really nice people. We hope to sail with Roy and his 23 some time.

Geez, this is a long post. But what can we say - it was a jam-packed weekend. 

Happy Memorial Day and our personal thanks to all the men and women who have served our country.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Emptying the Empty Nest

We have been busy at home trying to empty out all the stuff that has accumulated in our home over the past 16 years.  When we built the house we brought all the stuff from our previous 5 years along with us, so we have over 21 years worth of trash and treasure.  Now that we have the house to ourselves (except during the summers when our final college kid comes back) we have come to realize just how much stuff piles up when you raise three rambunctious kids AND have a wife who comes from a family of pack rats.  We didn't put the sailboat on the water last weekend so we could concentrate on hauling all that stuff out of our house and into the big garage for a monster garage sale. 

Tonka trucks, Easy Bake Ovens, books galore, furniture, old hobbies, decorations, and you name it all came out.  It took us 10 minutes just to haul all the old golf club sets down from the garage attic.  Where did all this stuff come from? 

Well it feels good to eliminate so much clutter from our lives and it is a big step toward getting the house ready for sale next year.  We hope to have the house in order and put it on the market next summer with the goal of moving to our condo in Orange Beach / Gulf Shores soon thereafter. 

This week we have continued to haul stuff out, but we are also taking the time to work on Wrinkles for the upcoming 4 day sailing weekend.  Brenda has been tackling the cushion recovering project and has cut a new piece of memory foam to add to the V-berth area.  It is amazing how much more comfortable it is to sleep on the berth with this added padding.  We did this to our CP19 and it was wonderful! She purchased a new comforter and pillow cases to pretty things up as well.  Mike has been working on a couple of electrical issues, replacing port hole gaskets, replacing the V-berth cabin light, replacing the 12 Volt accessory outlet, modifying the trailer winch setup and installing a plastic battery box with cover. Farm and Fleet as well as West Marine love Mike.   We should have Wrinkles ready for the water tomorrow if we work hard at it tonight.

We'll post this weekend with pictures of the new V-berth setup and tell you a little more about our sailing fun.

Exhausted But Happy,

Mike and Brenda

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Slush Fund? Sailor's Lingo and Lore

We have all heard the term "Slush Fund" used, but do you know about its nautical origin? Maritime cooks and crew would boil off the beef and store the resulting fat in empty barrels. When they arrived at a port they would take them ashore and sell them. The cooks had their own little slush fund.


Thursday, May 17, 2012

It's All About the Shoes

When I was shopping for some shoes a while back at Kohl's, I came across these cute deck shoes. Even better...they were on sale. So I didn't really have a choice. I had to buy them. This weekend I finally had a chance to wear them on the boat. Now I know what the big deal is about deck shoes. Mind you, I am as likely as not to be barefoot on the boat, but when the weather is still chilly, it is nice to keep the toes warm. These keep the wind off your feet as well as providing a little grip as you climb around the deck. I'm sure I'll be back to bare feet as soon as it warms up. But until then, it's my new pink plaid deck shoes for me! After all, it is all about the shoes. Right ladies?

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Still learning how to sail!

B and I took out our Com-Pac 23/3 Wrinkles for an after work sail yesterday. The sun was shining and the winds were forecast to be 5 - 10 mph with no gusts listed. We motored out of Marshall Park and put up the main and 110 jib which is on a CDI FF2 roller furler. The winds were directly behind us and very light. We set our sails for a broad reach and jibed a couple times to move away from shore. We started discussing whether we should just rig her up for a downwind run to go out toward the middle of the lake as the winds seemed pretty steady at 6 - 8 mph. Just as we finished discussing the sails we were smacked by a strong gust of wind that lasted about 30 seconds which set our starboard rail under water and caused us to round up.  Water over the coaming is not what we had in mind for our sail today.

Lake sailing always seems to provide sailors with gusty conditions, but in six seasons this is only our second round up. I'm not particularly fond of these and the Admiral disapproves mightily.  She docks my pay severely for allowing them. I'd have to say that her, "MIKE, THAT IS FAR ENOUGH!" was one of her best to date. The next couple of hours of sailing we somewhat nervously experimented with reducing and increasing the amount of headsail in winds that stayed in the 8 - 10 mph range with just the usual 15 mph gusts. The next time we go out we will go back to starting out with a reefed main until we know for sure what Mother Nature has in mind for us.

George in our previous Com-Pac
Our old CP 19 performing well
One of the fun things about this sail was the opportunity to sail for a while in the company of George and his trusty sidekick Walter. Walter seemed to be a very contented sailing dog. We took some pictures and video of them sailing the Com-Pac 19 that he recently purchased from us. That was pretty neat. George looked so relaxed and comfortable as he single-handed the 19 skillfully about.

George and his sailing buddy Walter spilling

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Happy Mother's Day - To Me!

Today was a great Mother's Day.  We arranged to have Mike's mom and our son Matt (just home from college for the summer) join us on Wrinkles for a sail around the lake and lunch at anchor.  Grama had never been on a sailboat before, so this was a treat for her (after she took her Dramamine). 

Moms Gone Wild!
We didn't have much wind, so we spent most of the time motoring along the shoreline oogling the big bucks mansions along the way.  Lunch was my "famous" Tomato, Basil, Mozzarella Cheese in balsamic vinegar and a bottle of bubbly to celebrate the day.  Today was the first time it was warm enough to sit on the bow.  I love it!  It's big and flat and our cushion fits perfectly against the front of the cabin roof.  Matt and I spent some time up there relaxing and catching up.  Now we just need to find a way to get our other two out-of-state kids home for a ride!

Son and Mom catching up
I hope all you mom's reading this enjoyed your day also!


Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Wrinkles To-Do Projects

But first, are you ready for the "real" definition of baggywrinkle? A baggywrinkle is a scruffy-looking padding used on shrouds to prevent chafing.

Now here is the to-do list.

Since we brought our Com-Pac 23/3 home we have started some projects and have a to-do list that just keeps growing. Isn't that true of any new boat? We reported earlier that we were going to paint the hull blue and that project is underway but stalled due to the recent weather. Here is an overview of the other projects and their status.

This Suunto B-95 compass will keep us heading in the right direction
  • Electrical - we added a depth sensor, anchor light, replaced the steaming light, replaced the cabin light, put new wires in the mast. We still have to replace the bow and v-berth light. We purchased a used Suunto compass that needs to be installed and wired.
  • Cushions - We purchased material to recover the side berth cushions that we found on sale. This means taking the original cushion covers apart, making a pattern, and sewing it all back together. We would like to make a few end cushions and accent pillows to make it more comfortable and prettier.
  • V-berth - Although this bed is more comfortable than the 19 was, we would still like to add 1 1/2 inch memory foam and then sew custom-fit sheets from a set we already have.
  • Refinish all the exterior wood (later)
  • Foil the rudder (started)
  • Locker organizer for lines and anchor similar to the one Mike made for the 19 (later)
  • Replace both halyards - done
  • Refinish the tiller - done
  • Replace Velcro on jib and attachment straps on Bimini
New cushion material from JoAnn's Fabrics

Is this a long enough list? The idea was to buy a boat that was ready to sail. Well, it sails, and sails well, but there are always fun projects to pretty her up. Mike wouldn't be happy if he didn't have something to putz around on.

Mike is betting that he'll get everything on his list done before Brenda gets the cushions done.  What do you think?  Our bet, when building the house, was whether Mike would finish the house before Brenda finished painting the trim.  Let's just say there is still some trim that is in its natural state.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012


So, did you already know this one? In sailor's lingo it means a sailor who hasn't crossed the equator yet.


Could it be what Mike and Brenda's sails usually look like?

Those sagging eyes you see in the mirror after one of those nights?

Good Luck!

Mike and B


Sunday, May 6, 2012

I "missed her point"!

No, I'm not in trouble with Brenda. Well, not that I know of at least. In the wacky world of sailor's lingo missed her point means a boat that turned wider or closer than intended. The language of sailing has centuries of tradition which baffles and bewilders even the accomplished sailor. For someone just learning to sail it is just plain impossible. For example, sheets are not pieces of cloth. Instead they are lines used to control the sails. Go figure.

I love the tradition and lore that goes with sailing. The quirky language plays a fun role in this love, so I'd like to share some of the odd words and phrases on this site. I will pick one out and post it for you to try and figure out. I will give the definition or explanation for it when I post the next challenge word or phrase.


Is it a small furry critter? Maybe a dance from the 50's? Guess away. If you already know it, I am impressed.

Mike (still a polliwog)

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Cloudy weather won't stop us!

Sailing under main alone
The weather wasn't the best, but it was better than trying to sail when the water still has ice on top. We were more than anxious to get back on the boat, so despite the cloudy skies and cool temps, we set off from Marshall Park to run Wrinkles through her paces. The rigging went faster this time, which is always a good thing. We knew where everything went - well almost everything. It seems that we have misplaced the boom vang. Anyone seen where it is? Soon we were on the water facing 15 mph winds and two foot waves. We decided to reef the mainsail until we were sure how Wrinkles would perform in the wind. Probably wasn't necessary, but better safe than sorry.

We played around in the waves for a while and then headed over to our favorite anchoring spot at Picnic Point and a light supper. The Super Moon was just rising over the treetops. We had read on our Com-Pac forum that the Super Moon is when the moon passes closest to the earth giving us the biggest, brightest moon of the year. It was truly a beautiful sight. The pictures we took did not do it justice. So there we bobbed with a beautiful moon, the wonderful smell of a campfire from shore and a bottle of wine. It just doesn't get any better than this.

Prepping supper
Super moon rising
Weems and Plath oil lamp making the cabin cozy and dry
Some would think that anchoring out for the first time on a new boat would be difficult. New sounds, new motions, different ground tackle all conspire to make sleeping difficult. We must be very comfortable with our new boat because we slept like rocks. In fact, we slept in later than we have in ages. When we finally got moving, we had our usual breakfast of oatmeal, coffee and tea. The morning was another ugly gray one, but the winds were good, so it was a sailing day. We were able to zip along on a beam reach and covered more ground than we ever remember doing on the 19.

Party in Madison!!
We sailed in next to the shore to get a closer look at the lake-side frat parties. Last weekend before finals and the stereos were pounding out some good tunes while frisbees and footballs were tossed around. We dropped the anchor over by the Memorial Union for lunch. From there we got to watch the big crane lifting deep-keel boats up and over a tree and into the water. After splashing, they putted out to their mooring balls. Sailing season begins! We heated up a can of soup and paired that with a gourmet PB &J sandwich. It is funny how a simple, inelegant lunch can be something special. The police raided the parties, shut down the music and kicked everyone out. Since we lost our entertainment, we hoisted sails and sailed off the anchor.

Sailing wing and wing
We decided that the weather looked worse for tomorrow, so we headed for home. For once the wind was pushing us directly where we wanted to go, so we set the sails for wing and wing and glided across the lake the five miles back to the ramp. For those non-sailing readers, wing and wing means that the sails are pushed out to opposite sides of the boat and you run with the wind directly behind you. Kind of fun!

Time to head home
Back to the ramp and pull-out. We had another picture perfect docking with no one to see it. Tear down went quickly and we were soon on the road back home. If tomorrow turns out to be sunny, we are going to be really mad.  What a great start to the 2012 sailing season.  Can't believe it is only May!

Friday, May 4, 2012

Learning to Sail

We have been working at learning the art of sailing a boat for a few years now. I've often heard that anyone can sail a sailboat within a couple of hours. It just takes the rest of your life to get good at it. Brenda's sister and her husband recently told us that they had booked sailing lessons in the Caribbean for this spring. How fun would that be! Sailing lessons on a beautiful yacht in the blue waters of the Caribbean. This got me thinking about the best way to learn how to sail. Should a person take a sailing lesson, join a sailing club, participate in local sailboat races or just do what we did and jump into a little dinghy and sink or swim?

My guess is that the best method really depends upon the individual. We each learn in a different way and with sailing there are no shortages of methods available. No matter how you start, you will become hooked on this sailing bug and you will immerse yourself in reading sailing books, taking lessons and pulling on the sheets and halyards of your own boat. Brenda and I haven't taken any classes yet, but we dream of a 7 - 10 day charter in the Caribbean with a captain who certifies us in the ASA classes. Maybe after we are done paying for our daughter's upcoming wedding we can make this dream a reality.

In the meantime, Brenda and I will continue to read everything we can lay our hands on about sailing while we continue our self-taught lessons aboard the good ship Wrinkles.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Tracks in the Sea Book Review

Tracks in the Sea, by Chester G. Hearn, chronicles the quest of Matthew Fontaine Maury to "shape the course on voyages as to make the most of winds and currents at sea," thereby perfecting the "navigators art."  The back cover of the book explains further that, "In a brilliant eighteen-year effort between 1842 and 1861 he transformed the oceans from trackless hazards into a network of highways marked by dependable winds and currents and showed shipmasters how to shave weeks and even months from voyages."

We both enjoyed this book for its wonderful mixture of science, geography, sailing, commerce, rivalry and ambitions with history written in a story format that we couldn't put down.   The book tells how careful observations and coordination of endless bits of data related to sea temps, depths, wind direction and speed, currents and general weather were gathered from observations made by many seafaring captains.  The author relates how Maury solicited the collection of this data from commercial and military ships and then synthesized the information into useable maps.  Maury's desire was to develop a mapping system that would be readily available and accurate for mariners' use. 

This is a nice book to add to any sailor's collection.  It will truly give you an appreciation for the origins of our modern maps.  Our fancy schmancy GPS's are amazing, but probably not nearly as monumental an accomplishment as these original maps of the seas.