11 Apr

Surveys 2: At sea

The Sea Trial

I flew into Vancouver on the morning of the 9th. Dave of R Shack Island fame picked me up at the airport and delivered me to Granville Island. We introduced ourselves to the broker and he walked us down to the boat. She was huge. I always feel that way the first time I see a boat I might be sailing. They get smaller as soon as your heart rate calms down. And the Granville Island marina is no help with its tight slips and narrow fingers. We chatted for a bit and Dave soon headed off to his next appointment while the broker headed back to the office to “make some calls.” I suspect he just wanted to leave me alone with the boat for a few minutes.

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My first glimpse

I started poking around. The owner had left me lots of goodies from custom bedding to a hand held GPS. Dishes, cutlery, pots and placemats were all there as well as utensils and even a dishrack. From a galley point of view she was a turn-key boat.

Up on deck I discovered that the ‘full enclosure’ was unfortunately not so full. The top portion, instead of being clear lexan or acrylic was instead mesh bug screens. On the one had this was great, but on the other it wouldn’t do us much could during the cold months. So there was something we would have to remedy. Not a flaw in the boat though. Other than that there were lots of little perks like canvas winch covers, seat cushions, Alpine stereo speakers in the cockpit and a motor lift for the outboard.

A little bit later the broker showed up and he fired up the engine. Now I am usually a nervous wreck for the first couple of hours on a boat until I acclimate. The damn things look so huge all stuffed into the  marinas and if you’ve ever been to Granville Island’s docks you know they are worse than most. On top of that I wasn’t sure who was the captain of this thing, although I was pretty sure I didn’t want it to be me. So when I popped up out of the companionway to see the broker on the dock with the bow and stern dock lines in his hand walking the boat out of the slip, I was a both relieved and intimidated. He calmly finished swinging her stern out of the tight slip and hopped aboard.  Then we were pointed up the channel to False Creek and he turned the wheel over to me. I motored under the Burrard Bridge and out into English Bay while he made a few calls. Again I suspect he was just giving me a few moments to myself.

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It was a beautiful day and I had my doubts that there would be any sailing but the broker gestured to the flags and smiled. Once out into the bay the difference in experience and confidence between him and I became painfully apparent. Each and every time I had been out in English Bay I had been armed with charts and binoculars and GPS and been nervous as hell. He on the other hand finally got around to turning the instruments on and was busily chatting away about features and benefits  of Hunters in general and this boat in particular whilst barely “paying attention” to his surroundings. While I was still trying to figure out where the wind was coming from, he had already pulled out the sails, all the while explaining the benefits of the Selden furling system and soon had us cruising on autopilot on a nice beam reach. At least I think it was a beam reach, because I was still looking at the windex, listening to the broker’s analysis of in mast furling systems and looking out for all the huge cargo ships moored in the Bay. Anyway, before I knew it we were doing 5.5 knots in 11 or 12 knots of wind.

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On a side note, we were sailing right by a cargo ship that had apparently been leaking oil. It wasn’t until much later I found out how big a deal that was.

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So we sailed back and forth on a couple of different headings while we crawled over the fore deck examining the sails and rigging. There were some worn lines, primarily the traveler sheets and some stitching that needed to be looked at sometime this season. Nothing that was immediately a problem. We took off a few of the enclosure panels and opened up the cockpit space. The sightlines were perfect for me and I wouldn’t have to peak over the dodger or duck to see through it.

The B&R rig was pretty cool and the stays were not continuous from deck to mast meaning you could suffer a partial failure without losing the whole mast. The B&R rig seems to be a bit of a contentious point amongst the old salts, but for beginners like us I think it’s going to be perfect. What it does is provide three attachment points for the mast, each 120° apart, instead of the the traditional 4 points each 90° apart. This eliminates the back stay, removing clutter from the cockpit. The down side is that the spreaders  will prevent you from letting the main out all  he way when running down wind and, given the lack of a back stay, you can’t tune the rig in the same way. So we might lose a few races.

We also fired up the electronics and checked out the radar and I got a quick Radar 101. Everything on the binnacle worked except the the test switch for the engine alarm, although we had both heard the alarm earlier so we knew it worked. Oh and the speed gauge read 0 knots but even I knew that was likely the sender was gummed up (turns out it was barnacles in the paddle). The autopilot seemed to be fully functional, taking us through a tack, the remote mic worked splendidly and the chart plotter had all sorts of bells and whistles.

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The broker snapped a picture of me at the helm, although it was a bit staged because no had actually been steering — or paying much attention to — the boat up to this point. I don’t think we even turned the auto pilot off for the pic. Now I don’t mean to imply we were being careless. I certainly tried to maintain awareness of our surroundings but the broker obviously knew these waters and had no need to consult charts or depths and so didn’t need to do much but avoid hitting the boats in the bay — which was pretty easy since there was no one else out sailing and the big ones weren’t moving.

But we had a noon haulout scheduled so it was very quickly time to head back. We (I actually helped a bit this time) fired up the engine and pulled in the sails and then I motored her back toward the marina. As we approached the slip, the broker took back the wheel and confidently spun her around to back into the dock by the boat lift. The sea trial was over and the bottom inspection was up next.

 

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