Shakedown Cruise 2002

Spring of 2002 was much different than any I've experienced before. Pelago didn't splash until mid-June. The delay in splashing was due to a dispute with my local boatyard.

Jackie and I had to attend a wedding on Saturday, so we didn't arrive in Galesville until late afternoon. Pelago is still a bit of a disaster area inside from this Spring's projects, so we spent some time getting organized, putting on the sails, and taking care of a few other minor projects. We finished early enough to relax for a while. There was a huge raftup in the river and somewhere in the midst of it they had a live band playing. Just a little different than the Columbia raftups I've attended. ;-)

We got breakfast Sunday morning at the Galesville market, did a few small projects and were ready for Pelago's shakedown cruise. It was a warm, sunny day and the wind was picking up a little as the temperature rose. We eased out of the slip, cruised past the end of the dock, found a heading into the wind and raised the mainsail - to the spreaders. I had my sails gone over during the winter and the loft replaced a few of the slides on the mainsail. Most they replaced with stamped metal slides like the ones already on the sail, but the top one they replaced with a cast one. I assume it's stronger. Unfortunately the cast slide is just a little narrower than the stamped ones. It hung on a spot where the track had been bent and not quite completely straightened.

We dropped the sail and as we motored back to the slip I again wondered if we would ever sail this year. It seemed there was no end to the problems. Everything I had paid someone to do over the winter to make things better had in one way made them worse. It's a good thing I don't have a lot of money to spend on the labor of others. ;-)

I had the old slide and considered putting it back on the sail. That meant taking the sail off, cutting off the new, improved slide, and stitching on the old one. It just didn't seem like a good plan. The alternative was to fix the track on the mast - up by the spreaders. I had some blocks with a 4:1 purchase, a bosun's chair, and some misc. implements of destruction, so I gave it a try.

I hoisted one end of the tackle with the mainsheet. It reached just above the spreader. I hooked the other end of the tackle to the bosun's chair. Then I hooked the end of the spinnaker halyard to the chair as a safety line. I hoisted myself using the tackle and Jackie took up on the spinnaker halyard being careful to keep it snubbed around a cleat. When I reached the spreaders Jackie cleated the spinnaker halyard and then cleated the running end of the tackle, so both the primary and safety lines were mechanically fixed.

The mast track is stamped metal and something had flattened it a little at the point where the slide was binding and that made it wider from edge to edge. I didn't think I could bend it back and keep it smooth, so I filed the edges until the track measured the correct amount from edge to edge. I lowered myself back down and tested the mainsail. The slide went past the problem spot with no binding at all.


We stowed the gear and headed back out. This time the sail went up fine - almost to the top of the mast. Sometimes the all-wire halyard gets a little lumpy on the winch and binds as the sail reaches the top and it takes some extra umph to lift the boom during the last foot or so of sail travel, too, so the extra effort didn't seem to abnormal. I stopped a bit short because I didn't want to force anything. We rolled out the jib and Pelago drove forward, free in her element after far too long. Finally we were sailing.

It was a glorious day. Sunny, mid-upper 70s with water temps in the low 70s. The wind was South between 11 and 14 all day according to the readings at Thomas Point Light. The waves were a foot or two with occasional whitecaps, so except for random powerboat wakes, the ride was smooth and fast. 6-7 knots all day with no effort whatsoever.

There was a lot of traffic as we headed back into the river and the wind was enough to the South that we had to tack to make the last 200 yards, but it was fun. We fired the engine, rolled the jib, and Jackie took the wheel while I dropped the main. I should say "attempted to drop the main" - it stuck hard at about the second reef point. We were running out of space in the river, so I tied in the reef to keep the sail under control and we started to circle. The wind was blowing into the slip, so docking with the sail up wasn't a good option. We decided to drop the hook.

Anchoring went easily enough and I began to weigh my options. The sail had passed this point easily when hoisted and the halyard looked tight between the sail and the top of the mast and slack between the winch and the masthead. It seemed like this time the halyard was jammed. I didn't relish going to the top of the mast while anchored in the river with all the boats heading past on their way home. In what I expected to be a futile gesture, I tried the sail again and it came down easily. I still don't know why it stuck, but I was just glad it came down.

We restarted the engine and Jackie handled the helm while I raised the hook. I didn't have the anchor holder/roller on the boat yet so the chain gouged the freshly refinished toe rail. Oh well.

The docking maneuver was in keeping with the rest of the day. The wind was over the aft starboard quarter and I came in a bit too slow for good control. Luckily I never miss dropping my safety line over the winch - except for today. Some throttle in reverse kept us from ramming the dock, but now we were playing aquatic pinball off the leeward pilings. Eventually we got Pelago settled properly in her slip.

Thus ended our 2002 shakedown cruise.

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