The good news about Orion Jr
when we returned to her was that most everything was as we left it. Most
systems: engine, electrical, solar panels, sails, refrigeration – started back up or were re-mounted with out a hiccup. After a few hours pulling everything we had stowed below back up on deck (boom, dinghy, dinghy motor, canvas, solar panel, anchors, etc.) and “fogging” the boat just in case there were any little pests on the boat, Cathy began methodically cleaning all the surfaces to remove any dirt, mildew, etc and restoring the interior to order. As the sun began to
set on our first day, we had canvas covering the cockpit, ice beginning to freeze in the freezer, water that we could use to clean with (but not yet drink) and a bed to sleep in.
However, everything wasn't completely rosy either. There was evidence of water in the main saloon from a leak in the starboard aft portlight. We knew about the leak but had hoped we had sealed it enough to get through the summer. Not so. The solar vent in the forward hatch was no longer working. Shortly after our return, the water faucet stopped working, although Dave was able to confirm that the pump was working fine. The inverter started spewing out white smoke when we turned it on for the first time, so it was toast. The dinghy motor's fuel line had a leak in it and needed replacing. Three of the wooden blocks that we had epoxied in place to hold brackets to support the dinghy seats and one which held a bracket for the water tank strap had fallen off, presumably due to the heat of the Florida summer. Another impact of the heat was the melting of the gaskets on the alcohol stove, which prevent the alcohol from evaporating. The anchor locker was wet and the lines
in it wet and mildewed as a result. Although how the water got inside is still a puzzle. We had several dock lines that were partially in the water, which were now filthy and smelly. And, last but not least, the boat was DIRTY. Green streaks along the foredeck, black soot all over the deck, pink residue from standing water in the cockpit that had evaporated, and spider webs throughout the rigging.
epoxied the blocks back in place, this time carefully sanding and cleaning both the bottom of the block and the hull where each would be attached. Dave made up a thicker epoxy with some mat in it to make a better bond with the hull. All but one seemed to hold after the first try. It took 3 tries for the last one, but it is now holding. After a quick check of the internet, we found an inexpensive and effective replacement for the alcohol stove gaskets at the dollar store --- rubber sink drains. Cathy just cut off the nub at the top and a perfectly sized gasket was formed. Dave hauled the anchors out of the anchor locker and opened it up for several days to dry out. As for the dirty dock lines, we soaked them for several days in water and boat soap, which helped loosen the dirt, but didn't really remove it (or lessen the smell.) So, we finally took them up to the marina office, where we had access to running water and started scrubbing them inch by inch. For 2 of the lines, this worked well enough to get them clean. For the third line, we declared it beyond hope and tossed it. Next year, we'll make sure the lines stay out of the water. Then there was the matter of cleaning the outside of the boat. With no water on the dock, we decided to use the water in the tank for cleaning and thereby drain the tank. We would haul water for drinking from the fuel dock at the marina office in the other basin. Cathy made a first pass, which removed the more obvious green streaks and black dirt on the foredeck. Dave did the same in the cockpit. However, more needed to be done. We finally got our chance at our first night out of the marina, on the dock at Franklin Lock. Cathy scrubbed every inch of the deck for a couple of hours, and the boat looked much better.
Over the summer, Dave had been considering adding lazy jacks to our main sail on Jr. (Lazy jacks are lines that surround the main sail to keep it contained as it comes down after a sail.) However, a couple of weeks before leaving Hampton, he expanded on this idea, suggesting we (i.e., Cathy) build a stack pack to hold the sail as it came down. (A stack pack is like a big cloth cradle that contains the sail as it lays down. Once the sail is down you simply zip up the stack pack and the sail is stowed.) Since a stack pack is so big, it would require a big space to lay it out. So, Cathy arranged to work on it after hours at the canvas shop. It was a godsend.
We spent some time studying other designs on the internet, opting for some features we liked and rejecting others. We had most of the relevant measurements from Jr, but we had to make a few guesses. We needed the height of the sail as it sat on the boom. After briefly considering a call to our neighbor in LaBelle to take an actual measurement, we quickly abandoned that idea when we remembered that the boom was down below. Next, we tried to estimate the height by finding a similar boat in our marina in Hampton and
measuring its sail. Another key consideration was how the main attached to the boom. Was it via slides or a rope that slid along the length of the boom. After some back and forth, we decided it had slides. With an overall concept and measurements in hand, Cathy laid out a design on paper and made a list of supplies needed to build it. We had some of the supplies on Jr and some on Orion. All others we would buy from Cathy's work.
to take advantage of our idle time during Sandy's fury to begin. On Monday
during the storm, Cathy didn't have to work, but, knowing the store was open, we decided to go there and escape the cold and wet by beginning the stackpack. With Dave's help, Cathy measured and laid out the design on a long piece of sunbrella. Once we had double-checked the measurements a few times, we cut the material and Cathy began sewing. One of the bigger question marks was where and how to attach the lazy jacks to the stack pack. We considered a number of options and finally decided on webbing strips attached to the pocket that would hold the poles that support the stack pack. But where to put them? Since this would be impossible to assess without actually raising the sail, we decided to add webbing strips about every foot along the length of each side of the stack pack. Once it was installed, Dave could try different locations to see which would work best for the lazy jacks. To prevent chafe between the lines and the webbing, Dave would run the lazy jack lines through clear tubing.
While Cathy sewed, Dave helped by cutting webbing lengths, burning the ends and preparing other components. It was all going together pretty well, and we were almost done with the work we
could do before returning to the little boat. All we had to do was install the 2nd half of the long top zipper. That's when Cathy discovered a big ooops. She had laid out the starboard side of the stack pack on the wrong side of the material. So, after a night of picking out stitches and another day re-sewing what she'd done before, she finally sewed in the zipper half and the two halves went together well. Perfect. All we had to do now was fit it on Orion Jr.
Having studied (and assisted with) the installation of lazy jack lines on other boats, such as Steve's Bay Dreamer, Dave had some idea of the pitfalls of rigging them on Orion Jr. Some initial decisions to be made were the number of attachment points to the stackpack and the rigging attachment point. For a 26ft boat, such as Jr, most standard designs call for only 2 attachment points on the boom. He had heard from Steve, that he would have at least one more on Bay Dreamer. And, since ours would be doing double-duty –containing the sail and holding up the stack pack-- and since it is especially difficult to reach over the bimini toward the middle of the boom, Dave opted to have 4 attachment points.
Before arriving in LaBelle, Dave had purchased the few materials he needed to rig the lines: 3/16" diameter line, 6 stainless steel rings, and 2 small blocks. With the supplies and the stackpack in place, he began taking a stab at rigging the lines. After each attempt, we raised and lowered the main, looking for places where the battens got stuck or there was potential chafe on the main. In addition to these considerations, he wanted to make sure the rigging was parallel and looked symmetrical as well.
Now, all we have to do is actually use the main sail.
So, by now, only the die-hard boaters are still reading, but we did actually do a few more boat projects beyond the lazy jacks and stack pack. A fellow boater at Joy's Marina was selling his marine stereo system and speakers before moving back north and we bought it, just assuming we would find a place for it. As usual, it took some trial and error to find a spot, but we managed to fit the receiver into the Main Saloon just above the freezer. We installed the speakers on the support for the rigid solar panel, just above the stern rail on the port and starboard corners of the cockpit. Then, after mentioning our desire for small bookshelf speakers to put inside the cabin, our neighbor, Robert, fished out 2 speakers that were just the right size to fit in the galley just outside the opening to go forward to the V-berth. Now we have music wherever we go.
We didn't spend much time socializing over the 2 weeks we were working on the little boat. However, we really enjoyed a dinner with Robert (our neighbor) and his dad at the local Log Cabin BBQ restaurant. This is a wonderful little place, with good food and great service (you are offered free soup and free dessert or something equivalent) and listening to Robert and his dad tell tales of their adventures was a treat. Both are experienced welders and his dad is currently helping to build a huge alligator head that will be mounted on a huge sculpture in Biscayne Bay (similar to Christo's surrounding the islands with pink years ago) that is to be put in place next year.
We made one last trip across the state to drop off the car for Rick and Carla, which gave us a chance to stop by a roadside stand and buy the first of this seasons' fresh citrus. It is early, but it is still so good!. (On the way into LaBelle, we had stopped at Florida Natural's visitor center on the way south
from Orlando. If you ever go by there you should stop. It is a neat place, and yes they have free samples.) Fully loaded with fruit and other essentials, we prepared to drop the lines, which we successfully did the next morning, making our way west to some new and some familiar ports of call.