Saturday, December 17, 2011

Boat show week ...

After our Thanksgiving cruise, I stayed on Alizee for the next week.  Originally, I had hoped that Jeff Grant would have finished stripping and sanding the exterior teak so I could start varnishing, but he had not, so I figured I might do some of the stripping along with other boat chores.  The Thanksgiving sail provided me with my first boat chore: rebuilding the head.  This accomplished within hours of Penelope and her sister Pat leaving for home after our cruise.

Sunday, I arose to do a bit of housework ... cleaning all the port lights, running our little vacuum, stripping the bed and gathering up laundry.  I saw Jeff on the dock and borrowed a spanner wrench with which I opened and cleaned out the AC sea strainer, fixing that little problem.  After breakfast at the cafe, a chat with Penelope on the phone and spending an hour editing an article for ICON: The Journal of the International Committee for the History of Technology, for which I have just assumed the job of editor, I turned next to getting the shower sump discharge lines cleaned out from all the lime residue that I chipped and washed out of the head pumping mechanism.  That took disassembling the plumbing and thoroughly cleaning the lines and the strainer which was a two-hour job.  Then it was laundry time and finally I cooked up half the left-over spaghetti and meatballs from our Thanksgiving dinner.  I'm so glad Pat left it for me, and it provided yet another meal for me later in the week.

A cold front pushed through on Monday, and around 1300 the rain started, lasting until evening.  I should have done my out-of-the-boat chores in the morning, but instead I worked again on the editing project.  I also spent quite a bit of time coming up with a list of items to be repaired and/or inspected on Alizee.  She's in her eleventh year, and things are beginning to need attention: a crease in the boom from whacking against shrouds during a couple of bad jibes, which means the boom needs to be replaced; replacing smelly sanitation lines and worn-out fresh water lines; reseating starboard chainplates that have started letting water seep into the boat after colliding with a marker post on the ICW; repairing the inverter; putting new bearings in the KISS wind generator.  These and a lot of little things need attention, so I set out in the afternoon rain to interview a couple of nearby boat yards.   After a long conversation with the yard manager at Sailor's Wharf and a good look at their facilities, I decided to set up an appointment with them to take Alizee in on 14 December and leave her their for a month, assuming they don't charge me a docking fee at the yard while they're closed ... I'm awaiting an answer on that.  After a swing by the grocery store for a couple of things to fill out the pantry, I returned to dry out and do more editing.

Next morning the front had passed through and the sun came out.  By 0900 Jeff Grant and his helper (also Jeff) were starting work on stripping the rest of the Cetol off Alizee's exterior teak.  Since two of them were at it, I confined my efforts to removing the hardware on some of the teak in the cockpit and getting it ready for their heat guns.  I enjoy varnishing.  There's a sort of Zen quality to applying varnish and seeing the teak sparkle through.  But the prep work is really tedious work, and I will avoid it if I can.  Wednesday saw the completion of Cetol stripping, while I edited a second article submission for ICON.  Jeff and I agreed to hold off sanding until Alizee is back from the boat yard in January.

It really turned cold, and I warmed up the boat by cooking dinner.  But early in the morning, I got up and turned the diesel heater on to take the chill away before I got up.  I discovered yet a third article for the journal awaiting me on line, which gave me an unexpected editing chore for the day.  But Thursday was filled up with other chores as well: remeasuring the space for the teak wine storage case I'm constructing, removing the cockpit table and cup holder from the pedestal to take home for sanding and varnishing, going to West Marine for a couple of items as well as shopping for some groceries.  The cold front lifted and temperatures climbed into the 70s, and I finished the day off barbecuing a small steak and baking a potato for dinner.

Penelope arrived Friday after lunch, and we went to the boat show followed by David's dinner party in Clearwater.  The next day we returned to the boat show and attended a couple of seminars as well as saw exhibitors we'd missed on Friday.  The St. Pete "Strictly Sail" boat show is a pretty small affair compared to its San Francisco Bay Area counterpart, or for that matter the ones in Chicago and Miami.  This was our second year, and it was pretty clear the economy reduced attendance and made this show seem just a bit less exciting.  A seminar on winter fishing the Tampa Bay area was interesting, as was one on heavy-weather sailing, but a third we attended on weather was deadly.  The presenter had an wealth of experience and knowledge, but he did not have a clue as to how to present complex information in an understandable and engaging fashion.  Alas, that's probably the way of too many of these show seminars.

But the most disappointing aspect of the boat show is that it didn't live up to the "Strictly Sail" reputation.  In order to attract gulf coast folks, the show organizers brought in more power boats, runabouts, and fishing skiffs than sail boats and cruising trawlers combined.  Moreover, the sail boats were all familiar to anyone whose been around boats lately: Hunters, Catalinas, Jeanneaus, Beneteaus, Island Packets, and a used Tartan and Choy Lee.  Hake Yachts, a Florida builder of very shallow draft boats did represent something different, with their 26, 32 and 46 foot models, all which have retractable keels and rudders and can sail in 15, 20 and 30 inches of water respectfully.  They do very well in Florida waters and as coastal cruising boats.  And, Com-Pac had its little 23 foot pilothouse on display on its trailer ashore, which is very cute but seemed a bit impractical to us.

We are already planning a road trip north for the United States Sailboat Show in Annapolis next October.  After that, I'm not sure we'll ever go to a boat show again.  We'll see.


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