If you're lucky enough to live to 100, the years between 50 & 75 are your third quarter. That segment in life could be the waning of your physically agile years, so it's a good idea to stay active. It's also a good time to challenge your brain to keep things limber up there - by mastering something new. We decided to go sailing, and this is a chronicle of our journey.


Boat Safety: Overboard & Lifesling

July 1988 s/v Heiress Beaufort, SC with my step dad TC and two friends

Learning how to sail feels overwhelming at times. The location, function & maintenance of every part on a boat, the nomenclature, the ability to read & interpret currents, weather patterns, charts and COLREG rules, etc. - all together - it feels akin to learning 4 new languages at the same time. All of that is fine (and fun), but sailing also has some inherent dangers, and I suspect that's the roughest part most newbies have to tame; the fear of not knowing what to do if a situation turns bad.

When I sailed with my step dad TC and two friends in 1988 in Chesapeake Bay (photo above), I was oblivious of danger, as well as sailing in general. I was a student at the time, so I must have thought TC's Cape Dory 31 was my Spring-Break-in-Daytona-Beach, minus the sand. I did a lot of reading, lounging, and cooked an occasional meal. The ships log on day two of our sailing adventure reads "Belinda painted her toenails today - true sign of a vacation... everyone kicked back & reading." If I ever raised the mainsail or tacked, I don't recall, if I hadn't seen photos of myself at the helm, I wouldn't have believed I did anything to help sail the boat. I remember swimming, sunning and lounging. I think wistfully about how much I'd try to learn if I did it all over again. But, I'm on-it now, and having a blast challenging my much-older brain to absorb & recall. Neural aerobics.

I learn best by watching first, and then doing - repeatedly. I'm grateful to live at a time when I can watch clips about the best boating safety practices online for free. This week, I've been looking at Lifesling. The cover for ours on Florian needed replacing, which got me thinking about how it works. There are Man Overboard [MOB] diagrams on the front and back, but I wasn't sure about hoisting someone back onto the boat with a spare halyard, so I looked for and found some videos online.

Man Overboard Rescue demo - pulled aboard in six minutes: video

West Marine video about the contents & use of a Lifesling
This video (two and a half minutes), posted by West Marine, is a great overview of what's in the Lifesling bag, with a brief review of how it's attached to your boat, and a verbal description of how to use it in a man-overboard situation. I'll go out on a limb here and bet that most people put these on their boats because they're supposed to, and likely don't give them a second thought. Kinda like changing the batteries in your smoke detector every 6 months – lots of people think its a good idea but statistically most people don't.
No one ever plans to fall overboard
This video (eleven minutes) published by the Sailing Foundation - the folks that developed Lifesling over 30 years ago - is great because they actually use the Lifesling on a sail boat - sailing upwind, and then downwind - and again in a powerboat. If you're a visual learner, these videos are excellent to review as the summer season begins. (While watching, I couldn't help but feel sorry or the folks that "fell" overboard for the demo because, based on the gray skies and all the pulled-up collars on jackets, it looked like a really cold day to be jumping into the water. Brrr.)

The Lifesling cover on Florian when she arrived

Sea water and sunshine sure does a number on pretty much everything exposed to it.

Time to get a new cover.

Lifesling replacement covers run between $35 (vinyl) and $160 (fiberglass).
We stayed with vinyl.

New Lifesling Cover on s/v Florian. 
If I get warm enough to swim in our chilly Pacific, I'll be practicing drills with our Lifesling to help develop muscle memory, and sail boat manuevering. Barring warmer weather and water, I'll practice by tossing a life ring overboard, to get my boat maneuvering skills sharp. I sure don't want to figure it out in a panic when someone has fallen off the boat. :)

Have you ever used a Lifesling, as practice, or in a real scenario?


Re-naming your Boat: a Ceremony

s/v Florian with her new name on her transom in Maine
Re-naming your boat isn't required when ownership changes hands, but as Don explained in this post, after lots of consideration, discussion, and thought, we felt pretty strongly that we wanted to change our boat's name to Florian (the Patron Saint of Firefighters).  
Don waving an empty champagne bottle after dousing
Florian's bow with celebratory bubbly
Some folks say re-naming your boat is bad luck, and others insist it's no big deal. Boating and ocean-lore are full of superstitions and ritualistic remedies, so most of the seasoned & salty sailors we spoke to thought it was best to be safe rather than sorry. As is required by tradition, we removed all evidence of her previous name, and took her out on a beautiful sunny Saturday, packed with a bottle of champagne, and John Vigor's denaming text. After reading the entreaty to the Gods of Sea & Wind for safe passages, fair winds and following seas, Don went forward, shook the champagne, and gave Florian's bow sprit, anchor and foredeck a shower of ticklish bubbly.
Sailing Florian off the coast of Ventura, California
We enjoy tradition, and this observance felt like one more coat of wrap-around love to make Florian truly ours.  Did you re-name your boat, and if so, did you have a ceremony?


Sailboat Bling: s/v Florian's First Beautification Project

After taking delivery of s/v Florian in mid-April, Don and I were eager to get better acquainted with her via some polish & shine projects we documented with our iphone cameras - especially the fast and easy stuff that doesn't require a Master Electrician's license. If you're a long-term boater, you might read our excitement with shaking heads - chuckling sarcastically at our enthusiasm - since boat stewardship is a never ending, widely meandering and at times bumpy ride of repairs, replacements, and mysteries. Our excitement over "projects" marks us as newbies, right? Perhaps, but take heart; we've been duly warned. And, over the years, we've listened, watched, and at times, participated in some of the maintenance of other boats, but that's a different story for another post.
s/v Florian 30 minutes into her first dip in the Pacific
after a cross country truck ride from Maine.
Florian's Dorade vents/cowls were removed for her transport over land.  We saw them tucked into the v-berth when she arrived in Ventura, and noticed they could use a new coat of paint, since the existing layers were pocked along the edges of the vent rim, and floating in curved chips like leaves inside the cowls.

Florian's dorade vents in the v-berth

First, Don used a power washer to pull the old paint off the vents.

<a href="http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000Z8C3PM/ref=as_li_ss_tl?ie=UTF8&tag=bedepefiar-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=390957&creativeASIN=B000Z8C3PM">Rust-Oleum Clean Metal Primer</a><img src="http://www.assoc-amazon.com/e/ir?t=bedepefiar-20&l=as2&o=1&a=B000Z8C3PM" width="1" height="1" border="0" alt="" style="border:none !important; margin:0px !important;" />

We used this primer on the dorades.

Blue painter's tape and paper towels as masks, and a sheet of cardboard as a base
Don placed a sheet of cardboard under the vents so he could spray the primer inside the cowels. Using small strips of blue painter's tape, he masked the arc of the vent rims, and secured paper towels around the back and neck exteriors to protect the bronze from overspray.

Don used a brush-on version of this enamel

After removing the tape and paper towels, we have shiny,  red vents!
Don removing the dorade caps to replace the newly painted vents.

Screwing the vents into place, and sealing the deal
that our first boat project was complete!
For all my excitement about our first project, you might have noticed that each line of this post started with 'Don cleaned...', and 'Don removed...', etc. The only part I played in this inaugural endeavor was the purchase of the supplies, and the snapshots of the install, because I was out of town. :(  But fear not! I have a loooong list of other projects - some of which are already under way, from nesting & comfy-enhancing improvements, to wood treatments and electrical mysteries, so stay tuned!


Receiving your boat after a Cross Country Delivery

Dave Perry & Don talking about Cape Dory & Robinhood boat history
When our Robinhood 36 arrived in Ventura, CA, we had the good fortune of hosting a few day's visit from Dave Perry, the broker who sold her to us in Maine. Dave has worked for Cape Dory - which became Robinhood - for decades, and he has a wealth of knowledge, not just about the details of these boats, but the history of Cape Dory too, which Don and I really enjoy. We thoroughly enjoyed his visit, and the avalanche of details about Florian that he shared with us. Thanks again, Dave!

Dave Perry showing us details of Florian's Furler
 and Mast at Ventura Harbor Marina & Yacht Yard
before she was re-commissioned.

Upon Dave's arrival in Southern California, we went directly from the airport at LAX to the boatyard, and Dave spent some time helping us get acquainted with details less visible when she was on the hard in Maine, as well as some of the work they did on Florian before she shipped West. (And I have to admit that my attention for this was a bit more focused in 65 degree weather, vs the low 40's cold on the day we went to look at her.)

Dave Perry in the starboard cockpit locker, showing us the
Escobar Heating system Robinhood installed for us before sending Florian West.

When cold weather region boats are winterized, antifreeze is added to all the water tanks.
First order of business was to empty the pink stuff, and flush everything with fresh water.
Robinhood 36 Hull #3
I learned a few things about taking receipt of a boat delivered via truck:
1) When a boat travels many miles via truck, it become a bug net. The hull, stanchions, winches and anything vertical enough to catch an insect did just that.  Be prepared to do some scrubbing when your boat arrives.
2) Even after a new bottom job, the friction of carpeted blocks on the hull for a long, bumpy road trip will wear new bottom paint off the hull, so be prepared to touch up with matching paint before she's put back in the water.
3) Know where your boat's fenders and dock lines are stored before she goes back in the water. And know where the companion way and starter keys are stashed.
4) If it can be helped, try not to send a truck carrying your newly purchased sail boat cross country in the middle of record breaking tornado season.
5) In the enthusiasm to learn everything there is to know about a new boat, don't take all the manuals home with you to read on the day she arrives. They contain important details specific to your boat (especially radar & various electronics, etc), and the boat yard may want to reference them in the re-commissioning process.

I sat in the V-berth as soon as she was in the water, just to absorb
her curves & lines: this beautiful boat was ours now.


s/v Florian travels East to West via Truck

The good folks at Robinhood Marina bid farewell to s/v Florian
as she's prepped for transport from Maine to California.
s/v Florian leaving Robinhood, where she was
built, and subsequently hauled out & stored over the winter every year.
Like expectant parents, we watched anxiously as a cluster of
tornadoes tore through the midwest as Florian was
making her way cross country.
I will admit to one (1) phone call to the transport company to confirm that
Florian wasn't in harm's way after watching footage of 18 wheelers
and train cars being hurled in the air like toys.
Florian arrives at the boat yard inVentura California, and spies her first palm trees.
They look like locals, standing in a curious cluster, waving hi to the new kid.
Getting ready to move Florian off the truck.
On the travel lift, making her way to the water.
Her keel touches the Pacific for the first time. 
She's moved gently to a working slip to spend a few days getting re-commissioned.
Doesn't she look so naked without her mast & rigging? 
We waved goodbye to her, and drove home on cloud nine, eagerly
anticipating the next few weeks.
We were so excited, we could have done
cart wheels across the parking lot of the boat yard.
That beauty right there? Yes, THAT one. She's our sail boat. Whoot!