Chip Ford's 1974 Catalina 22 Restoration Project
Sail #3282  l  Marblehead, Massachusetts

The never-ending project to fill my hole in the ocean while bailing it out

Sailing Season 10 has arrived
A Drying-Out and Rescue Day

Click thumbnails for a larger picture


The weather forecast yesterday (Jul 10) called for strong to severe thunderstorms in the early afternoon, so I decided not to take Chip Ahoy out sailing. Sure enough, at about 2:30 pm the nasty clouds rolled in from the west, followed by a deluge, two-and-a-half inches of pounding rain in ninety minutes that caused much flash flooding locally.

Today the weather was beautiful: Sunny, in the high-80s, with a brisk breeze out of the north when I arrived aboard Chip Ahoy. My plan was simple: Get the boat ready and out into Salem Sound for a day of great sailing.

As soon as I got aboard, I opened the forward hatch to get some air flowing while I stuck on the new LED lights on the cabin's starboard side overhead. Done with that, I began making the boat ready; removed the main sail cover, lowered the outboard and rudder, got out the tiller pilot, GPS, chart, and everything else I'd need ...  (Jul. 11, 2010)

Kicking off my boat shoes, I stepped on the towel covering the companionway step, and found it soaked. I opened the hatch beneath and found about half an inch of water collected within, sponged it out. I checked the aft-starboard seat cushion and found it too soaked. Uh oh.

As I tossed wet things out into the cockpit to dry, I kept finding more -- a soaked roll of paper towels, the forward-starboard seat cushion and its hatch cover ...

Oh well, it wasn't noon yet and this stuff needed to be dried out before mildew and mold began forming; my plan was to give it a couple hours out in the cockpit, under the strong sun, before moving the boat. The best part of the day was still ahead.

In the photo to the right is a plaque that came with the boat, installed by a previous owner. Though worn and faded, I've left it in place -- it's always seemed like almost bad luck to remove it! (I wonder if I can get it refinished?)

With the forward hatch and other hatches aboard wide open, there was great air circulation; I expected things to dry relatively quickly. Meanwhile, I began looking for the leak -- hoping it wasn't from the new cabin windows job; it was that aft-starboard window leak that launched the entire windows resealing project last fall. I don't think that was the culprit; I think the leak is in the cracked fiberglass that's been there since I bought the boat -- that a previous owner attempted, I now believe unsuccessfully, to repair. Looks like my projects aren't done yet -- a new one for next year has appeared.

To use the down-time productively at least, I pulled out the laptop; bungied the 5-Mile-WiFi antenna to the stern pulpit and tested the wifi system again. As I was doing this, the two ladies aboard "Ali Shay" returned to their nearby mooring -- and immediately tangled the mooring pennant with their prop and shaft. I watched as they struggled with it, then shouted over advice to stab the outboard from neutral into reverse and back. Nothing worked, Ali Shay was hanging backward on its mooring despite their best efforts.

I told them someone was going to have to get wet, asked if they had a diving mask aboard. They didn't -- I did, but had never used it, and couldn't get it to them without getting wet myself, in that cold water. Oh well, seemed like a challenge; it was time to test things I might need one day.

I pulled out the snorkeling equipment bag, adjusted the mask and fins, unclipped the stern lifeline and lowered the swim ladder (I've never personally used it either), emptied my pockets but for my knife and lowered myself into Salem Harbor. Amazing -- the water was quite comfortable (The TV weatherman this morning had said the local water temperature was 68 -- it's not going to get any warmer hereabouts.)

With a short swim over and a few minutes of effort, I had their line unwrapped from the prop shaft and was back aboard Chip Ahoy -- with more things now to dry. I switched into fresh shorts, clothespinned the wet ones over a lifeline to dry, and decided today was not for sailing. At least I discovered that the snorkeling equipment works (had to adjust the fins in the water after almost losing them!) as does the swim ladder -- and the water's warmer than I'd expected; the first time I've been in it in 15-20 years! I got back to the laptop where I'd left off, tested its connection to my home/office computer (some of this page was done from aboard), took a short nap, and was rewarded with a spectacular sunset. After dark I tested all the boat's lighting (works perfectly) before calling for the launch.

It's never-ending ... but Sailing Season '10 has arrived!

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