Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Yep, It's Jep has a home for the 2010 season!

I put a deposit down today for my slip on the Milwaukee River in the Third Ward! Jep will be located in the slips between the Water St. and Broadway St. bridges, as seen in the maps "birds eye" view snapshot. I'll also be a chip-shot from the Ale House (a Jep favorite), Water Buffalo, Moct, Cafe Luna + Lounge, Rustico, and directly across from Fratello's.

The slips are managed by Performance Yacht Services. I will have the slip for the "season" which is May 15 to October 15. This is very typical of boat slips in the North due to the winter ice. Also, as floating docks are used, they need to be taken out in the winter or run the risk of being destroyed by big chunks of moving Of the river slips on the Milwaukee River, Performance Yacht Services offers by far the best value at the lowest price. As a major bonus, since the slip is so close to my place, I'll be able to ride my super-sweet Target mountain bike to the boat in the summer!

Is it May 15, 2010 yet?

Monday, September 14, 2009

A Sad, Sad Sunday

The mast came down Sunday. It seems like just a few weeks ago I was fabricating a mount for my solar panel and getting the boat all cleaned up for our first sail of the season. I'm currently putting together my end of season "to-do" list. The list keeps getting longer! Oh well.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Last voyage of the 2009 season?

As much as I hate to say it, today could have been my last sail on Jep for the season. As I look at my calendar, it's hard for me to imagine when I'll be able to get out again. Depressing.

Today is Steph's birthday, so we went for breakfast with her sister before an afternoon sail. Since Steph had to go to her parents for a bbq at 2:30, I offered to pick them up at McKinley Marina so they would have a car at close access. The boat launch at McKinley is a stones throw from the north gap of the breakers, so it worked out quite well.

Chad, Wendy, and her sister Patti helped me launch this morning. Once in the water, we motored through the Menomonee and Milwaukee Rivers to get out to the lake. The weather man was calling for an east wind but I quickly figured out it was more a northeast wind. We raised the jib and motor sailed over to McKinley to pick up Steph and her room mate Jess.

Once we had a full crew, we casted off from the fuel dock at McKinley and motored through the mooring "field". During this time, Chad lit a candle on a cupcake he and Wendy brought for Steph and we sang "happy birthday" as we approached the north gap. Happy Birthday babe!

Shortly after we exited the north gap, we raised the main and did some of that sailing, um, stuff. With a crew of 6 (including myself), we easily averaged around 5 knots. Six people on Jep isn't bad when you have a boat full of sailors, but with only Chad and I knowing what to do, we were both a little uneasy about tacking. I shifted people around the deck and had Chad man the soon-to-be active winch while Steph "broke" the sheet as we came about. Much to our surprise, we tacked quite well and headed back to McKinley. We probably got a couple miles off shore before we turned around.

On the trip back, we were on a close reach, so the boat started to heel about 15 degrees. I had very little weather helm. The boat felt great. With 4 on the rail and Chad and I in the cockpit, we clipped back around 5.5 knots.

When we got back to the fuel dock at McKinley, I lost all of my crew except Chad. Chad and I decided to sail jib only back to the river. Amazingly, with my working jib flying, we maintained about 3.3 knots. The sail was quite relaxing. We had cold leftover beer from the Buffett concert along with Kenny and Buffett filling the air. Not a bad way to end the afternoon.

We made one tack and I shot right up the mouth of the river. I finally had to use that noisy thing once we got close to Riverwalk Pizza as the wind gets pretty weird on the river. I also think it may be illegal to sail on the river. Not sure about that one.

Chad and I docked at the Ale House and got some chicken tenders and mott sticks. We ran into a group of dudes we met earlier in the summer when we partied all night at the Ale House and ended up sleeping on the boat. I'll get into that one in future posts. By about 5, both of us were pretty cashed so we decided to call it a day.

Hopefully I'll get one more sail this season, but if I have to end on this note, I'm happy.

Sunday, September 6, 2009

What a weekend (and it isn't even over)!

I'm sitting here inside on a beautiful Sunday. It's currently 75 and sunny outside. However, I'm nursing a pretty nasty whiskey cold, so none of that interests me whatsoever at this point.

Last night was my cousin Chris's wedding. Chris and Cathy got married at St. Sebastian's in Wauwatosa. It was a beautiful ceremony. More importantly, their reception was at Hotel Metro which is in downtown Milwaukee. Not surprisingly, by about 10, they had exceeded their "budgeted" bar tab limit. As expected, Chris and Cathy threw their booze "budget" out the window and allowed the guests to continue their merry ways.

The wedding was here in Milwaukee and we had the rehearsal dinner on Friday, so my folks came in on Thursday evening. I took Friday off so we could do some sailing before we had to attend the rehearsal dinner for the wedding on Friday evening.

The rents came over to my place around 0800 and Steph made breakfast. We finally got the boat in the water and casted off around 10:30 am Friday morning. The conditions were expected to be light - east winds around 5 knots with clear skies and seas of 1 foot or less. We had to make a quick stop at the Ale House to pick up Drew. It also gave me the opportunity to give the deck a quick scrub.

After the boat was cleaned up, we casted off from the Ale House and motored down the Milwaukee River through the Water St. and Broadway St. bridges. Once we exited the mouth of the river into the harbor, we were able to confirm the weatherman's forecast. The wind was straight out of the east, so we headed for the main gap. Drew jumped the main halyard while Steph tailed. With the main up, I fell off to a port tack and set my GPS way point for the Bell Buoy. Since the wind was so light, we were able to raise the jib while heading to our mark. My parents were quite delighted with the cruise out to the mark. The green bell buoy is about 4 miles off shore, so you get a terrific view of the city skyline from the water. About mid way to the mark, I handed the tiller over to my dad. This seemed like the perfect opportunity for a cold beer and some beef jerky.

It took about and hour or so to make the mark averaging 3.5 to 4 knots. The wind began to deteriorate the closer we got to the mark. After rounding the mark, we decided to head south to a gap in the breaker that is south of the "south gap". Unfortunately, the wind became so light, we were only able to average about 1.5 knots. I pulled my swing keel up to reduce drag. The head sail wanted to move windward, so Drew got my boat hook and I made it into a whisker pole so we could fly wing on wing. This actually helped our speed by a few tenths of a knot.

We encountered another sailboat on our approach to the smaller gap south of SSYC. Since I had never gone through this gap, I yelled over to ask the depth. They said the depth through the gap was approximately 8 feet, so there was no problem getting through as Jep only drafts 2 feet with the keel up.

We dropped the head sail and motor sailed passed SSYC. Since I bought my dad a SSYC burgee flag for his birthday, I figured he at least had to see the club. From there, we continued to motor sail back to the Ale House. What a day!

My sister and brother-in-law arrived Friday afternoon, so on Saturday we took the boat out again. Since the wedding was at 5 and I had to be at the church at 4:15, we didn't have a whole lot of time, so we motored over to Barnacle Buds for lunch.

While at Buds, they got to see the fork truck from Skipper Buds drop a power boat into the water. The boat was nice, but the captain appeared to be a complete sleaze. He was there with what appeared to be his teenage daughter and her friend. All of us agreed, something wasn't right about that situation. Very creepy.

After lunch, we casted off and motored out into the harbor so Maremy (Mary + Jeremy) could see the skyline from the water. As a side note, I saw captain sleaze and his crew blasting out of the river as we were coming back in. I felt bad we didn't get a chance to sail, but time was of the essence. The conditions were beautiful on Saturday too - sunny with light seas and east wind of about 10 knots. We motored back up the river and had the boat back on the trailer by 2:15.

After 2 action packed days, I don't feel too bad about being a complete pile of garbage today!

Also, congratulations to my cousin Chris and new cousin Cathy! The wedding was a blast! It was great to see everyone this weekend! My stomach finally stopped hurting from laughing at TJ!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

The end of summer looms...

In all honesty, it doesn't feel like summer has even started! For those of you who do not live directly on one of the Great Lakes, they have a tendency to drastically alter the temperature close to shore. Since I live downtown (and seldom leave the city limits unless it's out of the state all together), I, like my fellow neighbors, have had to deal with the harsh fact that during a cooler than normal summer, living by the lake doesn't help. It has struggled all summer to get out of the 70's by Lake Michigan! Hell, sometimes it even struggled to get INTO the 70's by the lake.

With all of this whining about the weather, you're probably expecting to hear that I'm a fair-weather sailor and failed to venture out unless the conditions were perfect. Wrong. I now have a strong appreciation for the show "Deadliest Catch." Stories to come.

I guess I'll also acknowledge that this is the first post I've done since I started working on my boat in the spring. While my lack of posting is clearly apparent, there is good reason: most of my free time is spent out sailing!

My intent is to spend the fall and winter months reflecting on a summer that, while it wasn't exactly warm, proved to be an enormous amount of fun! I've also come a long way in my knowledge of sail trim, rigging, and ability to duck a swinging boom during a jibe! More on that later.

The one major project I have to complete before Jep gets put away for the season is prepping the bottom for painting. Why would I do this might you ask? I'm finally sucking it up and slipping the boat next season. Again, details to follow.

I apologize to my loyal reader (note the singular "reader" is not a typo) for neglecting the blog. I'm really trying to do my best to stir interest in reading by ending my paragraphs with catchy phrases like "details to follow" or "Stories to come." Any of these tricky phrases working for you (asking in the Stewie Griffin voice)?

Anywho, stay posted! I'll be posting pictures and HUGE lies that make me look really cool and awesome.