It Had to Happen!
It Had to Happen!Report Abuse
It Had to Happen! August 21-23, 2009
We've had such a great sailing season so far, this weekend had to happen. Unfortunately, it was Val's first time on Kelly IV.
Val Schwarzmeuller is our latest addition to the Kelly IV Crew. Val spent his early years in the German Navy and Merchant Marine, married an American girl and has been enjoying the USA life for the past 20 years, including his serving as a sailing instructor with our local Moraine Sailing Club on Lake Arthur. Val, Ollie Browne and Guy Stewart joined Kelly & me for a weekend of storms, dead batteries and only a brief sail. The great news is that we all still had a very fun weekend! Ollie continues to become more skilled and comfortable sailing Kelly IV and Guy is his typical fix-it personality. We found ourselves enjoying a newly restored Kelly IV as she was just returned to the water after 3 weeks of being repaired on the hard. The damage from our Put-in-Bay mooring experience was finally repaired and Kelly looked shiny and beautiful again. Our spring waxing and buffing crew would be proud of the work as the yard crew matched their work on the hull. Kelly's blue topsides once again reflected beautifully on the observers, the stainless pulpit and ladder were again shiny, straight and in their original positions.
Ollie, Val & I had an easy, relaxing drive on Friday evening as we prepared for sailing on Saturday. In the morning, Ollie fired up the new bottle for the propane stove, as Kelly now sports a backup bottle. No french toast on the barbecue, Bill Paviol! With that, Ollie prepared a delicious and filling eggs and bacon breakfast on board Saturday. A last minute check on the NOAA internet site revealed an 8am warning of thunderstorms and waterspouts across the Erie Islands until about Noon. This prompted me to look to the north where the clouds were already billowing into the tall cumulus threats that soon became black and ominous. Fortunately, the weather stayed north of Sandusky Bay as it clobbered the islands. In fact, it gave us the time to bend on the genoa and mainsail as they had been removed for the repair work done these past 3 weeks at the marina shop on shore.
It also meant we did not try to start the engine until almost noon. At that point we discovered that the charger was never turned on, so the batteries were almost dead after 3 weeks of use without any recharging. Of course, we immediately commenced charging of the batteries (or so we thought). Val, Ollie and I found other activities to occupy our time as we waited for the batteries to recharge. When we tried to start the motor after a reasonable time for charging, the starter motor turned the engine as if there was no profit in the effort. In other words, nothing happened. Val has some serious experience with diesel engines so he suggested trying to start things manually. Without his suggestion, I would never have thought about the large crank buried in the lower port storage compartment. A mechanic had told me that the crank was there for manually starting the iron genny, but I had hoped it would never be needed. After Val broke into a substantial sweat resulting from his vigorous efforts to crank the high compression engine, he asked about a way to relieve the compression until he had the RPMs up to a respectable level. That request sparked another revelation as I recalled our Canadian mechanic in Leamington showing me how to ease the compressions for easy turning of the motor. Now Val and I worked as a team, Val doing the heavy labor of rapidly cranking the engine, then I would flip the compression on. Unfortunately, the motor merely stopped, instead of kicking back to life. Val lost 5 pounds as he performed this high-test manual labor. But to no avail. We kept checking the batteries, but the charging seemed to be very minimal, so the starter just never had the juice to work properly. This activity, though non-productive, occupied us all afternoon.
(Trumpet fanfare here!)
Guy Stewart arrives at the marina, calmly assesses the info we shared with him, checks the battery charger and cables, identifies the loose terminal connections and corroded charger clips, and describes the needed remedies. Yes, in less than 15 minutes, Guy solves our weak battery issue and illuminates the end of our tunnel. After some wingnut tightening and soldering of wires and clips, our charger is now performing at its top level. Of course, this was all too late for us to go sailing Saturday evening, so we made plans for dinner and left the charger to do its work.
Since our initial goal was to go to the islands, we decided to grab the Marblehead ferry and enjoy a dinner on Kelley's Island. After a fun dinner enjoying the tunes and tiger-swim suited clientele at "The Casino", we grabbed a nightcap and Steeler game across the street at the "Captain's Corner". Aside from a few jibes traded with Brownie fans (their team won, our Steelers lost - hey, it's only pre-season), the big fun was the conversation with some young crew from a Bristol 28 that raced to Kelley's that day from Lorain, OH. The told their stories of waterspouts and 2 place finish, while we retold our ancient history of FJ and 470 races in college and at the Moraine Sailing Club. We wrapped up the evening with a late night ride on the last ferry back to Marblehead.
Sunday morning was a bit cool, rainy and blustery, so we had a hot breakfast at the "Better Half", well known to most crew of Kelly IV. Then we decided to throw on our foul weather gear, brave the wet and cool weather, ignore the warnings for more waterspouts, and motor out of the marina. The exit from the marina proved to be a challenge as the bow blew around differently than I expected. Thanks to encouragement from nearby skippers and handy boathook handling by our intrepid crew, I finally maneuvered Kelly IV into the bay. Thanks to the blustery breeze, we immediately set sail with the second reef and deeply furled jib and sailed out of the bay. Soon we had partly sunny skies, with no rain at all. Val collected a good bit of video as we bashed through the wakes of the consistently inconsiderate trawler captains as they "blessed” us with washing machine wakes 2 - 4 feet high. Once free of the bay confines, Val sailed us north on a close reach keeping Kelley's Island to our port. Later Ollie took his hand steering us back to the Bay's entrance. As our return sail took less time than anticipated, we had some time to sail in the bay, north and east of the marina. Val took the wheel for a final hour of sailing in the 8 to 12 foot shallows. Thankfully, the moderate breeze and flat water on both the lake and bay made for very enjoyable sailing to make up for the lost Saturday, fiddling with the battery and manual engine starting effort. Guy pulled us into the slip with our trusty spring line and we discovered that the company of a terrific crew made for a fun weekend, despite less than perfect weather and a reluctant battery charger.
To round things out, our Great Lakes Cruising Club (GLCC) friends, Chuck and Joanne Mead of "Blue Horizon", returned from their 7 week cruise of the St. Lawrence Seaway's 30,000 islands, east of Lake Ontario. We had a chance to chat, help them move their dinghy from deck to water, and discuss anchors, windlasses, and old ketch designs.
It turns out that when you have a great crew like Val, Ollie and Guy, even a weekend that most would describe as "bad" turns out to be a lot of fun! I have been most fortunate, that everyone on Kelly's crew has proved to be great company!