Posts Tagged With: sailing

The Four Grossest Projects of 2012

The awesomeness of owning an older sailboat is surpassed only by its affordability. Boats made in the ‘70s are the reason we get to sail as much as we do. The comparable new boat would cost roughly three years of my school tuition. However, with affordability comes its … oldness. And oldness means that there’s always something to do. Unlike newer boats where the constant work is routine maintenance, with older boats the constant work tends to be larger, occasionally grosser undertakings.

In the grand tradition of yearlong retrospectives, here is our 2012 list of the four grossest sailboat projects:

4. Finding and cleaning mold off the underside of a memory foam mattress.
Be it condensation, the lack of a dehumidifier or bad luck, the underside of the memory foam mattress lacked circulation and gathered moisture which resulted in mold in the v-berth of our Columbia 34. There were a few different varieties as well as a distinct smell. A myriad of steps were taken to remove the mold, and our new boat has both a dehumidifier and a rubber mat under the mattress to improve air circulation so that we don’t have that experience again.


Patrick tries to figure out the wiring ...

Patrick tries to figure out the wiring …

The holding tank after its all been done ...

The holding tank after its all been done …

. Feeding new wire for a set of cabin lights through areas newly found to be `ridden with old raccoon poop.

I wanted more cabin lights. I wanted lights in the kitchen and lights in the bathroom. And not AC powered desk lamps that fall over and take up space. I wanted overhead LED lights. Patrick wanted safe wiring. So when we went to install the new lights, we found out that previous owners had made a complete mess of the wiring. There was absolutely no consistency in the wiring type or color. In an effort to create a safe circuit where all the lights are connected using marine-grade wiring, we had to feed the wires through bulkheads along the ceiling – where we found poop. We both remembered back to the original meeting with the person we bought the boat from. He had mentioned raccoons being on the boat, but just in the cockpit area – not inside. Oh well, now its time to clean raccoon poop.

2. Using a wet-vac to remove pee from a holding tank because the pump out pipe was clogged.
Yep. Pee. Thirty gallons of pee removed two gallons at a time by my home depot wet/dry vacuum. Each bucket had to be hand carried and properly disposed of. At least it was mostly my pee.

1.Clearing a pipe clogged with old man poo from at least two years ago.
When I bought my Catalina 27, I was told that the toilet didn’t work. And that it hadn’t worked for years. Boys, apparently, will pee down the sink if need be in the middle of the night. I, however, will not. Anyway, I promptly bought a toilet and installed it. It worked great and a couple months later, Patrick drove the boat down to the pump out station but the pipe was clogged. We bought a drain snake to no avail so, after drilling a hole in the holding tank and pumping out the pee (see previous gross job) we had to clear the pipe, which we found was clogged with corroded ancient poop. Patrick was a champ and cleaned it out, scrubbed the pipe and reattached it to the holding tank. He even sealed the hole we had to drill in the tank. But his hand covered in poo was the grossest thing of 2012.

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What We’ve Been Up To

The Story Sailboat has been busy this winter so here’s an update on some things we’ve been up to:

1. We’re working on our incorporation and 501c3 application. Once we have this status, we’ll be able to do fundraisers and allow for donors to write off their contributions.

2. We’re fine-tuning our mission statement to include working on literacy and library advocacy.

3. We sailed with friends and supporters in a lighted boat parade around the Peninsula for the holidays.

4. Joey got her tips on moving aboard published by Sail Magazine.

5. Patrick was elected Rear Commodore of the Peninsula Yacht Club.

6. Patrick fixed a couple small leaks we found in the first big storm of December – and bought a nice new dehumidifier to keep the boat nice and dry.

7. We’re actively planning a few fun events for 2013 – stay tuned!

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Best Olympic Commentary OF ALL TIME!!

As you can guess, we really loved sailing at the Olympics. In fact, we really love the Olympics all together. In spirit of our wishing the 2012 olympics were still going on, I bring you this gem that is probably a bit old at this point, but we can’t help it. Everytime we watch it, we giggle even though we knows its fake. I think what’s really funny about it is that if you are new to the sport, this is just about what your own commentary of olympic sailing would be like.

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The Story Sailboat is Just… Library and Literacy Advocacy?

One of my friends asked me why we were giving books out in places Like Pier 39 or more affluent places in San Francisco. In case anyone has any of the same questions, let me explain.

We are really, really small. No, I mean SMALL! Our current boat is just 22 feet and we can only take about 300 books at a time at the maximum to advocate for libraries. We are also really busy. While I’m captain of the Story Sailboat, I’m also a full library Branch Manager of a library and while Joey is crew and education specialist, she is also a full time PHD student. Because of all of this, we have to choose a focus. For now, while we are growing and working towards some other goals, our goal is simply to advocate for libraries and literacy.

That means, that right now, we are just an Advocacy Campaign. Our goal isn’t to teach people to read (at this point), it’s to remind people that libraries and literacy are one of the most important components of a free and fair democracy. We want people to know about what kinds of things a library does to promote literacy in a community. We want to remind our communities that the library is there to serve them, to teach them, to help create literate communities. I probably don’t need to explain how important libraries are to most of you reading this blog so I’ll stop there.

We also want to go where the money and voters are. We want to focus our advocacy on people who might not have visited a library recently. We want to convince the people who might have the money to buy all the books and literacy materials they need from Amazon that libraries and literacy are important and go hand in hand in a community. We are excited about getting those people re-engaged in their libraries and to understand all of the benefits that would be lost with the loss of libraries.

If you’d like to help us out in anyway, feel free to contact us on our Facebook Page or following either (or both) of us on our twitter pages. We are always looking for crew and book seeders, book donations, and of course… Money.

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Expanding the Project: w00t for Guerilla Storytimes!

While we are excited about all of the book seeding that we’ve been doing the last couple of weeks, we’d love to expand a bit into some Guerrilla Storytimes. I think that we could do this as a kind of fundraiser for the whole project if we wanted to go that route. I don’t know if that kind of fundraising is really something that I want to do though. Before I start thinking about all of that, let me explain my idea more.

I attribute the idea of Guerrilla Storytimes to one of the crew members of the Story Sailboat, Katie Brothers, who has been my friend since highschool and is now an aspiring librarian! For the last couple of years, Katie has been volunteering as a storyteller at Roseville Public Library. In fact, I’ve seen her give her storytime and she’s pretty good. So, I thought about how we could combine her love of doing storytimes with the project itself. We talked about it for a while and she said she could give storytimes in parks or other places out in the community.

To be fair, I’ve also thought about doing storytimes in the community. Here’s the problem. I’m a man. Can you imagine what would happen if I showed up at your kid’s park and started gathering children for a storytime? Only slightly creepy. It’s a sad bias in our country, but that’s ok, I’m over it. Katie is going to do the storytime and I’ll get to help out and supply the boat.

If you’ve been following this blog or project, you know that we typically sail into Pier 39 in San Francisco as the port for the distribution of books in San Francisco. What’s great about this area is that there is so much going on that there are literally hundreds or thousands of people walking around the area. There are a ton of street entertainers and other people out there already. Why not hold our storytimes there? In fact, if we wanted to raise some money, we could just put out a hat!

So, hopefully, the next time we sail up to San Francisco we’ll be hosting our very own storytimes as well as books seeding around the area. If you see us, stop by and say hey. We’d love to give you a book!

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Labor Day Sail

Ok, I know it’s really late to be writing about this, but so much has been going on that I didn’t get the chance to post earlier (more on that later). Over the Labor Day weekend, I took out a couple of my friends to help me crew the Story Sailboat to give out a bunch of books at Pier 39 in San Francisco. In fact, this was one of the better book seeding experiences yet as we got a great response from everyone who found the books.

In case you don’t know the geography of the San Francisco Bay, let me describe the route to you a little bit. We sailed from the Story Sailboat’s home port of Redwood City. Redwood City is pretty far south in the lower part of the bay and it takes about 8 hours of motoring to get to San Francisco because the wind comes from the North. Typically when we do a project we leave on Friday night and just sail to a place called Coyote Point about three hours north. In the morning we motor the rest of the way to San Francisco and Pier 39.

Once we got to San Francisco we started labeling books with our stickers and labels and packed up a couple of bags. This time, we had a whole bunch of children’s books that had been donated and not many adult books but it turned out to work in our favor. As we walked around Pier 39 and placed the books on the benches and different places we watched as parents sat down with their kids and just started reading to them! It was really amazing to watch this serendipitous parent/child storytime occurring amidst the commotion of a touristy area like Pier 39. Needless to say we had a lot of fun watching people interact with the books. This is why we do this.

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The Story Sailboat in the News!

In case you’re wondering what we’ve been up to since we’ve been so quiet lately, let me fill you in. Basically, Joey and I have been working every weekend and that has seriously cut in to our sailing time. But otherwise its been a whole bunch of great news!

Library Journal
A couple of weeks ago I received a call from Library Journal about our Story Sailboat IndgieGoGo campaign that so many of you contributed too. The two of you who are not librarians who read this blog should know that Library Journal is a publication directed to librarians about all library related news. They interviewed me about the project and what we wanted to do and how we were going to do it and then a couple of days later they had a post about it on their blog. Well, yesterday Hillary Westgate sent me a tweet with a picture of a page in the magazine we were very surprised to see that we made it to the print issue too!

The Boat
Besides that good news, we’re also excited because the boat is really looking great and is almost set up to safely single-hand. The roller furling is working great, I’m installing a lazy jack, and running all the lines to the cockpit of the boat. That means that I can sail it on my own around the bay when I can’t find crew. This is going to be great over Labor Day weekend because it’s a three day and three night sail and strangely enough, not a lot of people want to stay on that small boat with me for that long so it looks like I’m on my own.

But of course, I’m always looking for crew to help me out and you can come sailing with me.

Future Plans
We are pretty excited about the potential of expanding this project into a full fledge non-profit kind of thing. Part of that is more marketing of what we do in order to get the social capital we need to ensure we can continue. So, next week and the following weekend we have a lot of publicity events planned just in time for the America’s Cup. If you’re going to be in SF for the cup events and at the Golden Gate Yacht Club, we’ll see you there.

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A Weekend of Work

The Story Sailboat has been trapped in the slip for the last two weeks for some repairs. It wasn’t anything too major, just some things that I thought needed to get done. It’s going to come out better on the other side. As you know, we were able to buy our new Jib and roller furling thanks to your help and we’ll be buying the new Mainsail soon! But, because it’s a boat there’s still a hundred little things that need to be done.

New mast support
One of the things that has been driving me crazy since I bought this boat about a year ago is the support that was under mast. Whoever had it before installed a kind of metal pole under the mast that blocked the easy access to the v-berth. The problem with that, is that the v-berth can be used for a bunch of stuff and I couldn’t get into it. Already we store the extra sails in there and it would be great to also be able to sleep in that area on the longer trips, or at least store more supplies up there to keep us going. So, last weekend I recruited some folks who helped me remove that post and install a better support system that allowed us to get into the v-berth easily.

Some of the crew!

Moving the Roller Furling Lines
When I originally installed the lines for the roller furling, I placed the blocks to far forward and when I was single-handing the boat I could never reach them. We took those blocks and line and moved them further aft and now I can single hand the boat much better. I won’t have to rely on finding crew for every campaign I try to do.

A Compass
The boat hasn’t had a compass on it this whole time. Not having a compass is typically fine because I can see just about everything I need to in the bay to keep up my point of reference when navigating. The problem is that I’m always worried about getting fogged in and lost because I can’t see anything. With a compass I can basically navigate blind.

New lines
Another problem has been that the lines were getting old and worn and while they probably wouldn’t have failed anytime soon, its best to replace them before they do. So, we spent the weekend replacing the Mainsheet, the Boom Vang Line, the docklines, and we’re about to replace the halyards. I’m excited about everything running so smoothly through the blocks.

At the end of the weekend of working on the boat in the perfect weather with good friends and cold beers, I have to say that the boat is looking fantastic and it’s almost like sailing a whole new vehicle! Now I all I need are more folks to crew it. Who wants in?!

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A Night Well Spent and You Can Too

Last night I went to the story sailboat to fix up our new lines for the new roller furling. The problem with the lines is that they didn’t have the whipping at the end. Basically, this means that the lines come undone and fray and unravel. Of course, because they’re brand new I didn’t want that to happen. Plus, it was a gorgeous night for sitting around and puttering about the boat. If you want to know how to whip the bitter end of the lines on your boat, there is a great video that shows you how to do it here-

The best thing about owning a boat though, is that after all that is done you can just go out and play. Because it was a perfectly cool summer night I decided to single hand the boat out into the channel for a little while. Once I got out there, the view was perfect for the sunset and the wind was just enough to move me with just a little bit of speed. It was extremely relaxing and wonderful. I really love this life.

Now here is the part where you can come in and enjoy it too! If anyone wants to crew the Story Sailboat for a day or two, we’d love to hear from you. We typically sail to Coyote Point on Friday night from Redwood City at around 6:30pm and have drinks at the Yacht Club when we get there. On Saturday, it’s a trip up to SF, Berkeley, or Alameda. We get into the marina at around 2 or 3pm and then we start delivering the books. We drop them off everywhere we find a space and you can help with that part too. On Sunday, if we have time we drop off some more books in the morning. Then, around 9ish in the morning we start an almost always beautiful sail downwind to Redwood City. You can jump on for any leg of the journey! If you’re interested in joining us for this, you can like our Facebook Page and let me know. I’d love to take you sailing.

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Our First Real Book Seeding Sail and a Librarian Meetup

Since we reached our goal we got excited and ordered our new Jib Sail and our roller furling. Of course, we couldn’t wait to use it and really get this project started so we took off for the weekend on a two night and three day cruise out to Berkeley Marina for our first extended book seeding project. Here is the whole story that you made possible with your funding!

The first night of our sail is usually the most uneventful. That was not the case this time! We left Redwood City Marina at about 6:30 and we were really excited to get our sails up and cruise to Coyote Point Yacht Club where we get a free overnight berth about 2-3 hours away. Unfortunately the wind was around 20 knots (Nautical Miles per hour) with gusts up to 30 and it was coming directly from CPYC. Not only that, but the waves were huge. The boat went up some large waves and crashed down in the trough spraying us with water driven by the high winds. By the time we bashed our little boat all the way there under power of outboard engine we were drenched in salt water and ready for some hot food and a drink at the club.

Our three leg course to Berkeley and back

The next morning after drying out what we could we started the sail to Berkeley. But this time, instead of huge wind and waves, there was neither. We had to motor almost the entire way to the Bay Bridge and we were disgusted that we didn’t get to use our new Jib yet. But that was ok because it gave us the time to sticker all the books for the books seeding. Luckily, once we hit the bridge the wind picked up and we were able to put out our sail. It worked perfectly! The boat cruised along a hull speed (around 6 knots) and we sailed around some of the barges that blocked the way to Berkeley Marina. We thought it was going to be an easy sail in, but we were wrong.

If you aren’t familiar with the Bay Area, there is an old dilapidated Ferry Wharf that jets out from Berkeley about two miles and is seriously dangerous. I thought we made out far enough to go around, but once we rounded the last barge we realized that we had about 100 yards to go to get around it and the wind was not coming from a direction to help us out. In fact, just as we rounded the last barge we were about a half a mile away from running directly into the wharf and the wind suddenly jumped to MUCH MUCH more than our full sails could handle. This is where that roller furling comes in.

The waves grew and the wind picked up and we were able to safely take in the jib with the roller furling with just a few mishaps with only about 50 yards to spare before we ran into the wharf. We kicked in the motor just in time and bashed directly into the wind to make it around by just a couple yards. Our hearts were definitely racing and we made it past the wharf watching the waves crashing against it knowing we would have been tangled in the old cement pier if we were still using our old non-furling jib system. Thank you all for basically saving our lives with the indiegogo donations!

We made it into Berkeley at around 2:30 and we were exhausted so after checking in with the harbor master we made some sandwiches and took a quick nap before we began book seeding. When we woke up, I packed our bag with 25ish books and we headed for the laundry to dry out our clothes leaving a trail of books on park benches, tables, and the laundry room waiting area as we did. We were really excited that we actually saw people pick them up, read the stickers and take the books with them!

After we dried our clothes we were out of the books in the bag I had with me so we went back to the boat to refill the bag and head out to the Information Amateurs Social Club meetup at the bowling alley in San Francisco. Along the way we left another 25-30 books in the Bart areas and all along the walk from the Bart Station through the Mission District to the bowling alley and once again we were excited to see people picking them up and reading them. Of course the meetup was great, the bowling alley was amazing, we met some awesome folks, and hung out with a lot of great librarians!

That night we crashed early and slept through the night on the boat completely passed out and exhausted. We got an early start and had one of the best sails I’ve ever had back to Redwood City perfect wind conditions for our boat nearly the entire way. It took us just 5 hours to make it all the way home running with the wind and the waves coming from behind. When this happens the boat actually surfs down the waves and we can speed along very quickly with the sails completely out!

We haven’t planned our next trip but we’re really excited to see where else we can go now with the new sails. Next time though, we are definitely going to bring a whole lot more books, more coffee and caffeinated things and more foul weather gear for when we have to bash into the waves again. Other than that, all we really needed were those new sails to make the trip possible at all. Thanks again for everything!

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