Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Merry Christmas from Jolly Jep

Well, it seems Jolly ol' Saint Jep has a few things in store for the 2011 season. Most notably, Jep is getting a new main sail!

Deciding on which sail maker to go with was a learning experience. My first inclination was to go straight to the North Sails loft here in Milwaukee. While that would be the most convenient, there are a few reasons I opted to stay away.

First, without mentioning any names, my first encounter with the North Sails staff left me with a bad taste in my mouth. Two years ago, I sent my current main in for repair and improvement and it took over 4 months for them to return the sail. Even worse, I had to hunt my sail down by finally calling the Chicago loft. What a headache.

Second, after talking with numerous sailors and smaller local sail makers, it became apparent that the North Dacron sails are not up to par with other sails. The North 4800 Dacron tends to lose it's shape faster as the Dacron sail cloth is lower quality than the cloth used by UK or Doyle. It's also noteworthy that North makes all of it's own sail cloth while the others go to 3rd party vendors.

With North out of the race, so to speak, I requested quotes from UK-Halsey, Doyle, and Nielson Sailmakers. Both UK and Doyle lofts are located in Chicago while Nielson is a "local" loft in Racine. All three lofts had very knowledgeable staff and excellent customer service.

After doing all of my homework, I decided to go with a Doyle 2+2 XC Race Dacron main sail. I'm definitely looking forward to the performance improvement with the new sail! Below is the brochure created by the folks at Doyle Sailmakers for the main I will be ordering. The sail in the brochure has 2 reef points while the sail I ordered has one. I am also having draft stripes put on.

Update 12/22/2010: The sail has been ordered! I should take delivery in late January or early February.

Friday, July 16, 2010

8.3 Knots

Jep actually hit it on the GPS!

Monday, June 21, 2010

MAST Poker Run

This past Saturday was, I think, the first annual MAST Poker Run. It was also the first time Jeff and Molly came to Milwaukee for a visit (well, Jeff has been here but Molly has not)! Anyway, for those confused on the whole "poker run" deal, a poker run is an event where you visit 5 pre-determined destinations and pick up a poker card. There is an official start time and finish time and you must have your cards in to a specific destination in order to qualify. Once everyone has turned in their hand, there is an awards ceremony where prizes are given to boats with the highest hand!

Since sailboats are not lightning fast, the 5 stops were in fairly close proximity in Milwaukee Harbor. You are not required to visit each stop in any particular order, so I'll go through the stops in the order in which we sailed.

First stop was at the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center (MCSC). This is where I picked up my registration (which was free) and my first card. There was also a pancake breakfast going on that benefited the sailing center. We actually drove my trusty Trailblazer to register as we were a little late getting the provisions. The morning was beautiful and it gave me an opportunity to introduce Jeff and Molly to some of the superb people I have met due to this wonderful sport.

We stopped to pick up some breakfast sandwiches and beer before heading down to the slip. Once the boat was loaded with crew and provisions, we were off!

We cast off from the slip around 11:30. The crew consisted of myself, JY3, Drew, Jeff, and Molly (Unfortunately Steph had to work and then serve wine at a charity event. Boo!). We had enough beer to get a small village intoxicated and enough sun to change color within a matter of hours!

Our second stop was at Rip Tide, a seafood restaurant and bar at the mouth of the Milwaukee River. After we pulled our card, it was time for a "wake up" shot of soco-lime. It was, after all, 12:00! What else would we be doing?! Back on topic...

As we came back outside, I quickly realized that the wind was blowing like hell! We had a good 17-20 knots coming straight out of the west. We casted off from Rip Tide and motored out of the main gap and headed south to our third destination, South Shore Yacht Club (SSYC).

It didn't take us all that long to get there as we were on a beam reach with plenty of wind. Upon arrival at SSYC, we went over to s/v Blue Pearls empty slip to show Jeff and Molly where I spend every Friday evening. As we were milling around, we bumped into LT's dad (JY3's girlfriends father). Tom owns s/v Senta which is a few slips down from Pearl on B dock. We stopped and visited for a few minutes, grabbed some brats and burgers, maybe another beer, and were off! Oh, and we also got our card!

The next stop was the most unique and fun. We had to find s/v Wild Thing, a big (34'?) catamaran with an obnoxious (in a good way) amount of flags and fun crew! It didn't take us long to see a number of sailboats heading directly towards a floating monstrosity! We set our heading and made our way over. After a few tacks and quick analysis of what other boats were doing, we sailed right by as the crew of s/v Wild Thing held our card on a 20ft (approx) pole! It was a tricky maneuver to get the card, but we got it on the first pass! We were also obligated to dance to the song "Wild Thing" as we picked up the card. By this point in the day we had already been dancing to a certain extent...did I mention I love sailing?

On to the last card! Our last stop was the Milwaukee Yacht Club (MYC). We debated stopping for a visit but decided we'd rather get our card and head back to my slip, so that's exactly what we did! We got Jep all buttoned up by about 3 and headed over to MCSC to drop off our hand and join the post Poker Run party! What a day!

Of course, the post Poker Run party was filled with food, beer, sailors, live music, and prizes for the winners of the Poker Run.

We ended up finishing with 2 pair and I won a very nice Motorola Blue Tooth headset for my Blackberry!

What a GREAT weekend!

Genoa Track Installed

I'm finally (almost) done with my summer installations! On Friday I took advantage of our summer hours program at work to complete the final project on Jep. Jeff and Molly were also coming in from Grand Rapids so there was some additional motivation to leave work early!

The week before I went to the National Ace Hardware to pick up 20 stainless 1/4" x 1.5" screws, nylon nuts, and washers. I inherited the genoa track from Glyn "Obi-Wan Kenobi" Livermore. Glyn accompanied us on the Queens Cup last year and taught me more about sailing that I had learned in the past 15 years.

Anyway, since Steph doesn't have to work on Friday's, she came over to help with the install. I always get a little nervous cutting holes into my deck but since I just installed the deck organizers and cam cleat I was more comfortable.

Both tracks went pretty quick. The biggest pain is cutting a hole in the carpet liner below deck for the screws. Popping a hole in the deck and tightening bolts is a piece of cake. Of course, I siliconed the crap out of the bottom of the track to keep the deck water tight!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

New Deck Organizers and Cam Cleat

Today with an ominous weather forecast, I decided to risk it and drill some holes in my deck to install my new cam cleat and deck organizers.

First I installed the Spinlock PXR cam cleat. Steph bought this for me for my birthday and I've been dying to install it since December. According to the product description from Spinlock, "designed for precision control, these cleats feature an adjustable release spring that allows you to control how easy the cam cleat is to release—an industry first. The incorporated three-stage release spring can be pre-set for the prevailing conditions and application. Select lighter settings for continuously trimmed sheets, traveller controls, vangs and similar controls. Harder settings for halyards and occasionally adjusted lines. While sailing, the roller action of the PXR keeps the release effort easy, even as the wind strength increases."

I used #10 stainless hardware. The cleat required 2 bolts: a 1" and a 1.5". I used nylon locking nuts and large washers to distribute load. I also siliconed the hell out of the holes to keep my deck water tight!

Once I completed the cam cleat, I moved onto my Ronstan Series 40 deck organizers. The point behind this piece of hardware is to allow your control lines to route into the cockpit. So far, I only have my 2 halyards (main and jib) and boom topping lift running into the cockpit. I am planning on running a reef point back to the cockpit later this season.

Each organizer required 4 holes to be drilled into the deck. Again, I used #10 stainless 2" bolts. Once I completed the port side organizer, it began to sprinkle. Since the second time around installing is always a touch easier, I decided to risk it (ha) and do the starboard side. Right as Steph and I were tightening the nuts, the rain came down! Again, I siliconed the hell out of each hole so there shouldn't be any water issues.

Next up is the genoa track!

Friday, May 14, 2010

Merry Launchmas!

The launch went off without a hitch! I was able to burn a half day at work to pick up the boat so I could get Jep rigged for the 4 o'clock launch. I chose to launch at the Milwaukee Community Sailing Center (MCSC) as their launch fee includes stepping the mast. When I haul the boat out in the fall, their fee includes de-masting and power washing the hull! It's a great deal.

After routing my new halyards, boom topping lift, Lazy Jeps, flag halyard, and a few other miscellaneous items, we got Jep in the slings. The slings were not exactly centered on the boat, but it allowed Pete to use his air gun to finish painting the swing keel and other areas of the bottom. I was unable to change the keel control line. I'll make another attempt at the end of the season.

Both Mike and LT came down to help, so of course, we had a celebration beer once the mast was in place.

Mike and I motored out of McKinley, through the harbor and up the river to my slip. The wind was blowing about 20 knots straight out of the west. Unfortunately, where my slip is on the Milwaukee River, the river runs east/west. I have never in my short time here in Milwaukee seen the current of the river so strong! Mike and I did a bit of a crash landing, but she was in! Let the post-launch projects begin!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Jep Is Ready For Launch

Today Chad and I put the final touches on Jep before the launch this week.

I arrived at the barn in East Troy around 9 this morning. Two weeks ago, I applied oxidation remover to the starboard side of the boat so today I completed the port side. Oxidation remover does exactly what it says - removes any oxidation from the surface of your fiberglass. Oxidation creates a dull, hazy finish on the surface of gel coat.

After the oxidation remover was applied and buffed off, Chad and I secured the shore power inlet. When we originally started the shore power project, we were unable to completely secure the shore power inlet to the boat because the holes in the back plate (for added strength and security) were misaligned. Today we drilled through the back plate to give us some "wiggle room" and bolted the inlet to the boat.

The next project was to attach the halyard organizer plate to the deck. To complete this project, we had to remove the mast step plate as a template so we could drill the necessary holes in the organizer plate to attach to the deck. After destroying a couple screws, we finally got everything put back together.

We then took the mast off of the boat and laid it out on the grass. This allowed me to rig the topping lift for the boom and install the main lines for the Lazy Jeps.

Once we got the mast back on the boat, the barn owner pulled the boat out of the barn with his tractor. We applied a coat of wax, attached the rest of the exterior bright work (wood) and filled a couple areas with marine silicone! DONE! I'm hoping to be in the water by Friday!

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Jep Has a New Bottom

This weekend I completed my bottom painting project. The process started 6 months ago when Chad and I stripped the my bottom using 80 grit sandpaper and a wide variety of foul language. With that part of the equation complete, the boat went into winter hibernation.

Three weeks ago I began the blister repair. According to BoatSafe.com, "water being absorbed through the gelcoat and fiberglass laminates in the hull causes blisters. Once thought impervious to water, it has been discovered that constant contact with water can cause it to be absorbed through the gelcoat from the outside and through the exposed laminate on the inside of the vessel (from standing bilge water). The water absorbed causes changes in the physical makeup of the hull and reacts with the resins, which build up residues and finally raise blisters by increased pressure on voids between the laminate and the gelcoat. This is what you see on the hull. This phenomena usually starts occurring, although it may occur earlier, from the fifth to tenth year after the manufacture of the boat. It occurs when boats are left in the water for long periods of time and happens more frequently in fresh water."

Luckily I only had a few blisters and 3 of them actually began to de-laminate the fiberglass. I sanded the gelcoat completely down to the fiberglass and used Marine-TEX epoxy putty to fill the blister.

The next weekend, Drew and I came back to barrier coat the boat. After we did a once over on the hull and sanded down the blister patches and any other imperfections, we mixed up the epoxy-paint and began to roll. I used Interlux 2000E barrier coat. This stuff has the viscosity of pancake batter but is very easy to work with. I found that mixing the paint and hardener in a milk jug and pouring into the paint tray as needed worked very well. We applied 4 very thick coats and let it cure for a week.

Yesterday was time for the Interlux VC17m Extra bottom paint. The paint combines copper and Teflon to create a super hard, smooth finish perfect for racing sailboats. It also prevents slim and other marine growth from growing on the bottom as Jep sits in the river all summer. It's noteworthy that VC17 drys in 15-20 minutes!

To get the paint ready for application, you mix a bag of copper powder (provided) with the paint. Again, we mixed the two components in a ketchup bottle. I was told the best way to apply the VC17 was to squirt the paint from a ketchup or mustard bottle directly onto the roller and apply. I would love to see someone make this work because we definitely could NOT! We decided to use the paint tray and only squirt in as much as could soak into the roller. The paint will literally evaporate before your eyes, so this method of application allows for as little waste as possible.

Painting the bottom of a boat with practically zero experience proved to be a challenge. Here are a few lessons learned from the endeavor:

1. Sanding the entire bottom of a boat is about as fun as smashing your head into the corner of a hard object
2. Wait for bottom paint to go on sale at West Marine (I did and saved a boat load - no pun)
3. Don't forget to bring beer
4. Applying barrier coat isn't much more fun than lesson 1 above
5. Apply VC using THICK coats
6. When applying VC with the roller, roll in 1 direction (not back and forth)
7. Apply VC using THICK coats

Here are a few before and after shots. You can click on them to get an enlarged image.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Lazy Jeps

Various sailing hardware companies such as Harken, Lewmar, Schaefer, etc. produce Lazy Jack kits that sell for $200 to $300 (Lazy Jacks make "flaking" or folding your main sail easier as you drop the sail). Once you have been around and used Lazy Jacks, you realize that there is absolutely NOTHING to them. So why on earth would anyone pay an inordinate amount of money for something you can make yourself for about $40?

Enter "Lazy Jeps."

First off, who the hell is Jack? I don't know Jack (no pun), I don't like Jack, and Jack is probably some tofu eating, PBR hating sissy that has no place on my boat.

I'm not sure where I was going with that. I'll try and stay on point going forward.

After being appalled at the prices of these kits, I hunted around the Internet and BINGO! Harken was nice enough to publish the manual to their small Lazy Jack kit (for 21' to 28' boats) which conveniently gave a parts inventory and directions on where to place the hardware on your boom and mast. I drew the fancy diagram using Paint one night when I was, um, not doing much. Here are the parts and approximate costs for MY Lazy Jep kit:

-100 Ft. of 1/4" braided nylon and polypropylene rope (Home Depot - $12)
-2 Harken Micro blocks (West Marine - $8 a piece)
-5 Stainless Bimini eye straps (Marinepartdepot.com - $10)
-1 cleat (Free - I had an extra)
-12 1/2" #10 sheet metal stainless screws (Home Depot - $3)

And that, Ladies and Gentlemen, is a "cost effective", do-it-yourself Lazy Jep kit!

Friday, April 2, 2010

Happy Easter!

I've got plenty of updates but they will have to wait. Tomorrow I'm going down to the boat to do some blister repair so we can paint the bottom in the next couple weeks. So...bottom paint and barrier coat are expensive! Holy @$%&!!!

Anyway, I arrived home today after work to a long, narrow box leaning against my front door. The return address was from Pentwater, MI, so I had no clue what it was. Turns out my folks sent me a little Easter present! Wipe your dirty feet before you step on my boat or your ass is walking the plank! Not really...but actually yeah...welcome aboard!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

New Neighbor?

In a story first reported on MLB.com, it appears that left fielder of the Milwaukee Brewers, Ryan Braun, is venturing into the restaurant industry. The name of his new establishment will be Ryan Braun's Waterfront Grill and will replace Fratello's Waterfront Restaurant, 102 N. Water St., in the Third Ward. This happens to be directly across the river from Jep. I'm not exactly sure what a left fielder knows about being a restaurateur, but if Brett Farve's Steakhouse in Milwaukee (which is now closed, by the way) is any indication of how well a professional athlete can manage in that industry, I'm not overly optimistic. Hopefully I'll be proven wrong.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

A Slip Patiently Waiting in the Cold

After running some errands on Saturday, I thought I'd stop by the slip and do a little day dreaming. Looking at the countdown clock on the blog, there's only 73ish days until the launch! This assumes the boat is launched on May 15th. If at all possible, I would like to get in the weekend before. We'll see. I couldn't hang around and day dream for long because it was too dang cold!

As you can see from the picture, the floating fingers of the dock have been removed. There are slips further down the river that are left in year round, which is surprising given the amount of ice that moves down the river in the winter months. As of now, I do not know my exact slip assignment. I'm hoping to be somewhere in the middle. Either way, it's a huge improvement over EZ Storage!

Friday, February 26, 2010

Readin' and Day Dreamin'

I can honestly read this over and over. The author of the article does a terrific job articulating the story about crossing Lake Michigan. Their trip over to Michigan sounded very similar to our crossing last year for the Queens Cup. It's tough to describe the feeling of being in the middle of Lake Michigan at 3 a.m. with calm seas and 10 knots of wind.

Every time I read this I can't help but imagine the quintessential moment of the Queens Cup. It was around 3:30 a.m. Half of the crew was below deck taking a cat nap while the rest of us were keeping our eyes on the wind and sails. I was sitting on the port side of the boat in the cockpit as we were on a port tack. It was about 50 degrees and dew was forming on my foulies. As my eyes were getting heavy, the song "Sailing" by Christopher Cross came on the radio. The timing was impeccable! The night was clear and the stars were amazing. I sat there and drank it all in - along with my PBR!

Crossing Lake Michigan

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Lake Effect Snow...Awesome...errrrr

This picture was taken in the EXACT same location as the picture in the post below, "Spring Planning Begins." The emotional roller coaster Mother Nature puts those of us in the Midwest through this time of year is like a Wile E. Coyote cartoon where he's walking through the desert and thinks he sees a pond and runs to take a big drink of water but ends up drinking sand! Today, without any warning we were hit with a lake-effect snow storm. Anyone feel like drinking sand? Beep Beep!

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Halyard Organizer Plate Has Arrived!

As I alluded in my previous post, one of the projects planned for the spring is to install a halyard organizer plate. The main reason to install this piece of hardware is to allow additional blocks to attach to the base of the mast so that all control lines can route back to the cockpit. Currently, only the main and jib halyards run back to the cockpit. There is a bolt that runs through the base of the mast / mast step plate to ensure the mast doesn't bounce around while under sail. There are 2 blocks ghetto-rigged to this bolt that allow the halyards to come back to my cam cleats. The halyard organizer plate will go UNDER the mast step plate and bolt to the deck. This will give me the ability to attach more blocks than Jep could ever use at the base of the mast!

I purchased the halyard organizer plate through Garhauer Marine. It's top quality, high-polished 316 stainless steel. The only drawback is that I'll have to drill 4 holes at the base to attach this sucker to the deck (under the mast step plate). Drilling through stainless isn't exactly like drilling through wood, aluminum, or even regular steel. Luckily I have some very resourceful friends! Don't worry, if you cannot visualize I'll be sure to post pictures once the install is complete.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Spring Planning Begins

The weather last week has got me thinking of the endless spring projects I have to complete on the boat. For the first time in God-knows-how-long, mother nature gave us a couple days of sun last week! While I have to walk 40 feet to actually see outside at the ol' ore-i-fice, I do have a direct line to a window when I have to print out spreadsheets or make copies. During the summer, the view can be painful!

When I first started authoring this post, I had Bill O'Reilly on in the background. The subject matter was quite intriguing. However, it just didn't feel right posting to my blog and not have Kenny Chesney, Zac Brown Band, or Jimmy Buffett cranking on the Dell! It took 30 seconds after turning on Kenny before I made a b-line to the fridge and got a Leiny Sunset Wheat!

Enough about that.

It's a harsh reality realizing you're a loser. Stay with me. A few nights ago I opened the Excel spreadsheet I use to keep track of all boat additions and their related costs. The workbook contains detailed information such as a description of the item or hardware, total cost, where purchased, date purchased, etc. After reading down the list it became apparent that, like my blog, I had not updated my improvement log in quite some time. With boxes of boat crap and receipts in my large, walk in closet, I began to reconcile the list. Only a total loser would do what I did next. Looking at my improvement log, which is quite long, I thought, "Huh, wonder what my total spend is by retail location?" So, what would a Senior Finance Analyst do in this situation to quickly and accurately compile the data? Create a pivot table and pie chart, of course! Possibly the worst part of all, I actually enjoyed it and started screwing with the cell formats as if I were at work presenting some important financial data to my boss. Turns out 44% of the money I've spent on my boat has gone to West Marine. Lousy crooks!

Along with reconciling my boat improvement log, I also started a list of projects that need to be completed. While my mast is down, I am going to complete the following:

1. Install shore power
2. Barrier coat and bottom paint
3. Install and rig lazy jacks
4. Install halyard organizer plate
5. Rig new halyards and boom topping lift

Mast up:

1. Rewire the DC electrical system (will be quite easy, actually)
2. Repair coax VHF radio connection
3. Lay genoa track
4. Install deck organizers
5. Install new Spinlock cam-cleat

That's a pretty aggressive project list. The 2 main and most difficult projects will be the shore power and bottom paint. All of the other stuff I can do with a can of PBR once the boat in resting peacefully in her slip! Too bad I can't speed up that countdown clock!

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Happy New Year!

Okay, so I'm a little late on the New Year front. I hope everyone had a safe and eventful holiday season!

Well, I had a hunch, but have confirmed beyond a reasonable doubt that Santa is a sailor! I mean, how else would he know to get me all of the terrific boat hardware that I definitely did not email my parents that I wanted...errr... Anyway, Jep got some great new stuff for Christmas, including Ronstan genoa track slides, Ronstan 2 sheave Series 40 deck organizers, new dock line, and everything I need to complete the shore power install. Spring is going to be quite busy!

In the spirit of the season, I decided to finally have t-shirts made for the boat. They made fantastic Christmas gifts! I had the shirts done at Rick's T-Shirts Southside. Rick is an ornery guy, but he did great work and was on time with the order. His prices were also more reasonable than the other shops in town where I received quotes. Check, check, and check! Don't worry, Rick is not paying me to praise his business! I had the shirts done in royal blue (same color as the canvas on the boat) with white ink. Unfortunately I gave all of the shirts away, but if I get enough interest, I'll put in another order.

I'll have to show off my new duds at this weeks O Dock party, hosted my the Captain of Corvus!