Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Planes, Trains, and Automobiles (Bikes and Sailboats Too)

Sunday we went up to the lake to work on Bluesette.

It was a cloudy, hazy, humid sort of late rainy season day and there was practically no wind. All the better to keep our minds on the work and not be tempted to put it off and go sail.

The first thing on the agenda was to put my new bicycle in working order. The bike will be used to commute between Hinuma station and the yacht harbor and to run errands. I bought a very inexpensive ($150) six speed which is insured 80% against theft by the store, just in case it goes missing. And of course, a good lock.

As musicians say, just your basic "B flat" bicycle

I've not had a problem leaving my other bikes for a day at our local train stations or bus terminal, but I've not left one for several days in a row. We'll see, but there isn't much at risk and the convenience of having a bike up there makes it worth a try. One plus is that there is a business in the ground floor of the little station, so there are always people around, at least during the day. The bike fit into the Honda Insight - which has a split fold down rear seat - with just the removal of the front wheel, left pedal, and loosening of the handlebars. I put it back together at the train station and gave it a test ride, meeting K at the yacht harbor.

One boat had to be towed in due to lack of wind. Later, a couple of FJ class boats were trying to race, but going nowhere fast. You can see some smoke on the far side of the lake, meandering straight up. The FJ is about the same length as Bluesette, but other dimensions are quite different. They are lighter and have less sail area.

We had a list of things to get accomplished. First, I installed some suction cups. Yep. Suction cups. I have found that they are very handy for holding things in place on the boat, such as our tool kit and first aid kit. I found some at a Hyaku en shop ($1 store) in two sizes, 4 cm and 6 cm, that work great. They were just 100 yen - about a dollar - for 2 or 4 of them depending on size. They will hold a surprising load and stay fixed on the smooth gelcoat of the boat until released, which is easily done by pulling up a tab near the outer edge. In this case, I used large ones, 6 cm diameter (2.36 inches), to stow the paddle and my new paint roller-cum-grappling hook against the sides of the seats. This keeps them off the floor and out of the way, yet readily available. The suction cups have a nipple in the center with a hole through it. For some applications I run a line through the hole. In this case, I found some 1 cm wide "velcro" strips, which make lashing or un-lashing these items a snap.

It's not as sharp as it looks, but perhaps I'll find a little cap for the end.

Then, some measurements.

Although I'd been told that Lido 14s are sailed with the standing rigging very loose (particularly when racing), I didn't know just how loose, and it seemed to me that the shrouds were too long. Not having any other examples in Japan to look at, it was hard to know what they should be like. So we measured them. They are exactly to specification. Not a problem. Next...

I crawled under the boat to inspect the centerboard and make sure it was operating properly. I usually don't like crawling under things, and laying on my back under the boat with a center board hanging over my head like a lengthwise guillotine was no exception. K ran it up and down with me holding the end and making sure everything was working smoothly. It was. It just doesn't want to retract all the way into the trunk. But since just a few centimeters stick out (about an inch and a half) I'm satisfied. I've read an article from one of the top Lido 14 racers that stated that was common and OK, so I'll go with that.

K took some pictures of the damage on the bow - which I won't post - and I cleaned it up a bit so that I could plan on how best to fix it.

We had received a strap from WD Schock to attach to the boom to hold the main sheet and keep it from sagging. Installation was straight forward - drill a hole in the top of the boom and attach the strap with a screw.

The new mainsheet strap. The red line is the mainsheet, the blue one is the main outhaul, which is used to adjust the tightness of the foot of the sail. The latter is always taut, so doesn't need the strap.

Some time in all this, we took a lunch break and went to Mama's Kitchen, which was busy. I tried spaghetti with karashi mentaiko - spicey marinated pollock roe - topped with squid rings. Karashi mentaiko is a specialty of Fukuoka City in western Japan. Although hot spice isn't my thing, this was very good. K had a teishoku (set meal) with pork, miso soup, nishimei (a veggie favorite of mine) rice pickled veggies, and tofu. Mine came with a small cheesecake dessert which we split. Again, the damage was to my waste line, not the budget. On the way out, the chef gave K a mini loaf of sourdough bread.

OK, so back to the boat. We also installed a wind vane, which I purchased from WD Schock a while back, on the top of the mast. As you can see, it tilts forward ever so slightly. This is because we normally sail with the mast tilting aft a bit. It should be most useful in steering the boat when we're pointing into the wind. The vane is easily removed from the mast when we're not sailing.

I measured the sendai (dolly) that Bluesette sits on. I may be able to use one or both supports from the trailer and mount them on the sendai. That would be great since they are made from the hull mold and thus support the boat perfectly.

That was it for Sunday. We had a cool drink and then I rode the bike to the train station where K picked me up for the drive home. K, aka "Miss Hypermiler", got 27 kpl on the 35 mile trip - 63.5 mpg!


While K went to her job on Monday, I rode one of my bikes 10 minutes to our local train station (well, just a platform actually), catching the little one-car train for Hinuma.

looking south from Hinuma Station

It's beautiful 44 minute ride through farms, bamboo and cedar covered hills, along the north end of lake Kitaura and then on an elevated rail across rice fields. There are eight stops before reaching Hinuma.

A car on the Kashima Rinkai Oarai Line which runs between Kashima City and Mito City. When it's busy they add one more car. There's one about every 45 minutes, so it's very convenient.

Hinuma Station

From the platform, one gets just a peek at the lake between houses. The covered bicycle parking can be seen here.

As you can see from the pics, Monday was sunny - and hot. The bicycle was waiting there for me, unmolested. I noticed that some of the bikes there were not locked to the railing and a couple even had the key left in their wheel lock. Hopefully that's an indication of safety. Not that I'll ever fail to lock mine up well.

The ride to the yacht harbor takes me 8 minutes at a leisurely pace. This day I wanted to work on two things. One was the bow, which needs a bit of fiber glass patching under the rub rail at the nose. I was lucky when hitting the dock that the only the fiberglass which is covered by the rub rail was involved and not the deck or the hull itself. After patching, the rail will cover it and hopefully look good as new. I brought a repair kit with glass, resin and so on and went to work cleaning the area to be repaired - removing the rub rail cement and sanding the area for a good bond. After I got the glass resin on I went to work on item number two.

The second thing was to try to rub out some minor scratches in the gel coat here and there caused by the boom or mast unexpectedly hitting the boat while rigging it or when taking sails down on the water. We try to be careful about that and lay down cloths to set the boom on, but sometimes there is a mis-communication or the wind catches us off guard. The rubbing compound was too light though and an hour of rubbing made some progress, but I'm not satisfied yet. I did some trimming on the patch and left it to finish on another day, perhaps with a more aggressive compound. Gelcoat is a fairly thick color surface and the scratches should come out. I also cleaned the boat with a spray cleaner and microfiber cloths then waxed the deck before calling it a day.

Japan Air Self Defense Force F-4EJs

I did mention planes in the title, didn't I? That's because Hinuma is just 10 kilometers from Hyakuri Air Base, there were Mitsubishi F-15Js, Kawasaki T-4 trainers and some F-4EJ Phantoms going by from time to time.

I'll go again on Thursday and hopefully finish the repair work. I'm looking forward to sailing with K on the weekend.

Until next, sweet sailing.


HappySurfer said...

I didn't realise there is so much work involved. I have no doubt the pros outweigh the cons. Sweet sailing..

For some reason, the images are not showing up. I'll check back later for them lovely shots, I'm sure.

Pandabonium said...

Happy - really not a lot of work. Most of it is due to either wanting to improve something or having to fix something I caused by my own carelessness. :( Definitely worth it as we'll no doubt be enjoying Bluesette all summer without much further ado.

Don't know why you aren't getting the pics.

Anonymous said...

This is rapidly becoming one of my favourite blogs. Not to be nit-picking about spelling, but that rope looks "taut" - tight or completely stretched:
a taut rope
He kept his eyes on the road ahead, his face taut with concentration.

It is a verb we used at the Zen temple, as a way to describe how the belly should feel during meditation breathing practice ;)


Pandabonium said...

MF - yes, that is nit-picking. :o

Error corrected. I have taught the line to be taut.

Glad you enjoy the blog.