Posts Tagged With: sea

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.

3

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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Anchoring, Book Seeding, and Near Disaster.

I’m not gonna lie or try to candy coat this last weekend. It was part wonderfully successful and part near disaster. I think it’s important though, in this case to discuss and focus on the near disaster portion of our trip. I’m not really going to make excuses for the incidents either so my only hope is to explain what went on while we were out giving books away to the kids at all of the amazing events that were occurring over the weekend in San Francisco.

Anchoring
Over the weekend we anchored in Aquatic Park with two other very small boats. We arrived very early in the morning and we tied ourselves together and dropped and set our Bruce anchor. We used at least 75 feet of solid heavy chain which we measured for the first 70 feet by taking the chain from the bow of the boat to the stern on a 35 foot boat. As a precaution and because I was nervous about the wind and current that day I put out quite a bit more chain after that (nearly 25 feet). We had decided on at least 75 foot length because the depth of the water at Aquatic Park is only 15 feet at mean low (someone correct me if I’m wrong). That would mean we had at least a 5 to 1 ratio at high tide and should have been enough. As a safety precaution, one of the smaller boats dropped one of their smaller anchors, although admittedly, this probably wouldn’t have saved us too much, instead intended to slow down any problems.

Everything seemed fine and we made breakfast and hung out for a couple of hours with no problems. We’ve dropped anchor at Aquatic Park twice before without any incident. Once, we stayed on a smaller boat and once we stayed on two bigger boats so we really didn’t expect much to happen this day. In fact, we had a discussion about how many boats showed up at Aquatic Park throughout the day and how little chain they were putting out. Some boats didn’t even bother to set their anchors! I watched as more than one boat simply dropped an anchor straight down, stopped at the first sign of slack, and then left their boats immediately without checking anything. Because of all of this, I was sure we had more than enough down to hold us firm and be safe. Apparently, I might have been wrong.

Book Seeding
So, this is what we came out to do. We had about 150 children’s books to give away throughout all the day’s festivities in San Francisco. In case you don’t know, there were a very large number of events going on and we wanted to get books into the hands of kids as much as we could. In fact, one of the things we did while we made breakfast and made sure our anchors were holding was to label our books. When this was all done, we had an amazing day giving out books to kids at the America’s Cup event and the Hardly Strictly Music Festival. At least this part of the trip was a huge success! Our joy was short lived…

The Near Disaster
When we were walking over the hill from the America’s Cup racing to the park we realized to our horror that we weren’t at all in the same place as we left! Our boat was much further than where we had left it and we ran as fast as we could to get back to our boats to see what was happening. Of course, we were much too late to do anything about it except hear about it from the other boats who had witnessed the incident and the efforts by the National Park Service to correct it. We could only go by what they said to us (much of which I can’t print, and rightly so) but we heard some pretty horrifying stories.

It seems like everything was said about the incident. We were told the boat was on one side of the park near Balclutha, to being told we were drifting to the other side towards the sea wall, to being told our anchor was dragging, to being told someone had knocked us loose, to being told we put out too little chain, and other people having the opinion that we put out too much chain and didn’t drag but swung wide!

What has been most interesting is the differing number of opinions. So many have been in favor of one or something completely opposite. In fact, there were so many that I was originally going to write a post about all of the different opinions about the speculated scenarios and what might and might not have happened. But if there is one thing I’ve learned while sailing it’s that everyone has an opinion and they’re entitled to them so I’ll just listen and learn from them all. I’m all ears. Really though, I think the most important thing is this…

Apologies and gratitude
No matter what happened, we’d like to say a big thank you to NPS and of course apologize to all the other boats in the marina who would be full in their rights to call us any number of names and even apologize to some of them who very rightly have called us names for giving them a scare. In fact, I can’t approve some of the comments on this blog for the language used (we flew a Story Sailboat flag so everyone knew who the trouble was coming from). There were other boaters who helped us in a couple of different ways to sort out what happened so we can avoid any mistakes later and I’d like to thank you as well. There have also been people who, when we told them story, related the time they had an anchor drag. While that makes us feel better, it still can’t make up for the scare we must have given the fine sailing community. We learned a lot on this trip and don’t plan on making these mistakes again. Sailing is a good way to stay humble.

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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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Help us Fund Our Literacy and Advocacy Project on IndieGoGo!

I’m super excited to announce my Literacy and Library Advocacy Campaign on indiegogo.com! I was originally planning on releasing this project on Kickstarter but they don’t allow advocacy or awareness campaigns. Check out the description of the project below and help us advocate for literacy by giving money on the project home page.

Who Are We?

The Story Sailboat is a independent bookmobile on the water that will set sail around the San Francisco Bay area and Sacramento Delta in the summer of 2012 setting a course that promotes literacy and libraries. Our goal is to give out 1,000 books and install 100 small, easily accessible libraries through our Guerrilla Library and Book Seeding Campaigns. We want to remind people that reading is one of the most fundamental influences on in a person’s life and we will do this through promoting reading and libraries.

Why Literacy?

Did you know that it’s estimated that 30 million people who are over 16 in the United States can’t read past an elementary school level? Literacy is absolutely essential for an individual to understand information in the information age. Without basic literacy skills a person will have trouble with fully comprehending math, technology, science, and other basic subjects. A person can’t apply for a job, full out an application, or use computers to further their careers. If we are to eradicate poverty at home, it begins with our workforce having a grasp on literacy skills. We want to remind people that Literacy and our library system that supports adult and child literacy is intensely important to the success of our country and improvement of ourselves.

What Is a Guerrilla Library?

A Guerrilla library is part social service and part street art installation. It can be any repurposed box, shelf space, nook, or cranny that holds books for the public to take and enjoy – for free. Discovering a library in an unexpected or repurposed space adds to excitement. There have been many versions of this in quite a few cities across the country and the world. We want to bring as many of these installations to the San Francisco Bay Area and Sacramento Delta as we can.

What is Book Seeding?

Bookseeding involves placing books in widely populated or highly trafficked areas – like subways, bus stops, coffee shops and parks. Within these books we’ve placed information about the importance of literacy and libraries. Not only will people find something to read and inspire them, but they will also learn about why reading is important. Book Seeding and Guerrilla Libraries let people serendipitously find something that inspires them, encouraging them to re-engage with their love of reading and libraries.

Why do it by Sailboat?

Sailing is the world’s oldest green energy powered transportation. The entire Bay Area and Sacramento Delta are accessible by our little 22 foot Sailboat and the majority of the population in this area lives within a few miles of the coastline.Our boat has taken us all over the bay and has allowed us to access some otherwise hard to reach coastal communities. Our boat has taken us all over the bay and through some fairly heavy wind and weather without any trouble. In the same way, we believe that reading and literacy can help everyone weather life’s tempests and come out on top.

You Can Follow Us Along the Journey

We invite you to follow along and see where we drop the books and install the Guerrilla libraries. We have a website that describes everything that we are doing on our journey. Follow us on this journey as we rebuild our larger ocean going boat called Surprise Me II, or follow our long-term goal of journeys across the ocean to spread literacy to coastal communities around the world.

We Need New Sails!

This is the reason we’re here. While we already have more books than we can handle and all the supplies we need to get the book seeding and libraries up and running, we’re still just a couple of folks who are paying for all of this out of our own pocket. We desperately need new sails to reach out to communities who are further away and to more safely navigate the Bay.

We spent the winter shaking down our boat and sailing it all over the bay and now our over 20 year old mainsail (the triangle sail on the mast) is too blown out of shape for us to safely use anymore. It’s also summer sailing on the bay which means that there’s no wind in the morning and in the afternoon there can regularly be wind well over 25 knots! The problem is that right now we have three Jib Sails (the big sails on the front of the boat) of different sizes instead of rolling furling. So, when the wind starts to blow, we have to send someone to the front of the boat to take a large sail down and put up a small one. This can be pretty dangerous! With a Roller Furling system and sail we can change the size of the sail with a pull of a line from the relative safety of the cockpit.

What Your Money Goes to

1 Main Sail ~$500

1 Roller Furling Jib ~$500

1 Roller Furling System ~$500

Other Miscellaneous bits, pieces, shackles, lines and of course… IndieGoGo’s cut – $500

If We Go Over Our Goal

The worst and best thing about owning a boat is that there’s always something to fix or improve and a day spent messing around on boats is a day well spent. So, what we can do depends on how much money we get. Some of our outstanding projects on the Story Sailboat are:

New Lines

New Anchor Chain

New Outboard

New Standing Rigging

New Paint

New Self Steering

New Solar Panels

New Navigation and GPS Devices

New Electrical Systems

How about a new boat altogether?!

But really, all we’re really looking to do is get some new sails to extend our reach and make it safer for us to sail our little boat to all of those hard to reach communities.

If We Don’t Meet Our Goal

Well, lets be honest… We can still sail! But only on days when we’re sure that the wind will be good for the whole time we’re out. This rarely happens on the Bay, especially in the summer, so we’d be hugely limited to where and when we can sail and how far we can reach with our advocacy for literacy and libraries. Basically, we won’t be able to take trips that span multiple days or go long distances from our home port in Redwood City. You can help us reach more people and make a bigger impact all over the bay. Of course, if we don’t make our goal, some kids may never learn to read and they will most surely be led astray into a life of crime and drugs.

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Amazing Video of the History of Ocean Travel

The above video shows a century’s worth of history. It has been condensed into one easy to watch minute. The video was created by Graduate student Ben Schmidt and it shows an animated map of Spanish, Dutch, and English journeys across the ocean from 1750 to 1850.

The video reveals fantastic amounts of historic information about the travel by ship during America’s colonial days and many of the years years afterwards. Each of the countries have dedicated routes, and naval traffic can be seen changing each month and I find it interested what routes where chosen each month throughout the history of sailing. We still plan many voyages on the dates that were used then.

There is a longer 12 minute video that was created by Schmidt that shows a lot more data a lot more clearly. If you watch closely, the video shows a number of historic events. For example, you can see a definite change in trade in the United States around the Declaration of Independence. Further, you can see the 1796 Battle of Saldanha Bay between the Dutch and the British, and Captain James Cook’s voyage through the South Pacific from 1772 to 1775.

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CA Governor is proposing to eliminate the Department of Boating and Waterways

The Department of Boating and Waterways (DBW) is critical to the future of boating in California. DBW funds launch ramp construction, loans for marina construction, construction of boating safety centers, boating safety and law enforcement programs, abandoned vessel removal, public outreach programs, and even weed control in boating areas!

If we are going to save DBW, it will take all of us letting the right people know that this is a department worth saving. How can you help? We need you to contact the Assembly Budget Subcommittee #3 on Resources and Transportation BEFORE March 28th, which is when the committee will be hearing this proposal. Here is a link that provides the contact information for the members of the committee.

Use the information below to write a letter or send an email to everyone you might know! You can also use the draft letter at the end of this document, but remember the more personalized the letter the better.

(Use this information for your emails and letters. We have attached a form letter below, but the more personalized the letter the better!)

    * DBW is completely self-funded by boater’s dollars. DBW does not rely on the State General Fund for one penny to pay for the many construction projects, programs, staff or any of its operating expenses. Eliminating the Department WILL NOT help with the State’s financial problems.
    * Boating is an economic powerhouse: Recreational boating contributes approximately $16.5 billion to the gross state product, which represents about 1.2 percent of the State’s economy and generates about $1.6 billion in state and local taxes. There are more than 8,500 recreational boating-related businesses. Recreational boating also creates over 284,000 direct and indirect jobs. DBW’s efforts are dedicated to promoting boating and are critical to ensuring the future economic health of California.
    * DBW is the primary funding source for boating infrastructure construction. Each year DBW provides millions of dollars in the form of grants and loans for private enterprises and public agencies for boating infrastructure projects. Without the availability of these grants and loans, boating infrastructure improvements and repairs will be severely hampered, along with the much-needed jobs these projects create.
    * DBW loans money that is paid back with interest. These loans generate approximately $20 million dollars in revenue each year for the Department through the repayment of principal and interest on these loans. DBW makes money for the State!
    * DBW’s safety programs save lives. Boating accidents are the second-largest type of transportation accident in the nation, exceeded only by automobile accidents, and California ranks second nationally in the number of boating accidents and fatalities. DBW has an aggressive safety outreach program, including direct financial support for law enforcement in high boating counties, that is critical to saving lives on the water.

In short, the Department of Boating and Waterways does an excellent job that has many direct and indirect financial and other benefits to the State, all without the help of the General Fund. To allow this Department to be eliminated will have a serious impact on the economy and the safe enjoyment of boating.

DRAFT LETTER

Date

Insert Name/Address

Subject: I Oppose Elimination of the Department of Boating and Waterways!

Dear __________:

I am writing to express my strong opposition to the Governor’s proposal to eliminate the Department of Boating and Waterways (DBW).

The Department builds much of the states boating infrastructure, promotes boating safety, and through its various other programs ensures that the State maintains a vibrant boating environment.

Boating is a very large part of state’s economic activity and keeping DBW in place is critical to ensuring that this import piece of the economy continues to do its part to provide jobs, pay taxes, and an opportunity for families to recreate.

Please keep boating strong by saving the Department of Boating and Waterways!

Sincerely,

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I Guess You Can’t Always Predict the Wind

-PC Sweeney

The Story Sailboat had an amazing shakedown three day cruise aboard our Santana 22 named Sailboat Jerry. The wind was perfect almost everyday for some kind of sailing. Our route took us all over the South Bay, into San Francisco Bay and back down to Redwood City. We saw just about all of the sights that we wanted to see, ate amazing food, and met wonderful people, and the boat couldn’t have performed better. With all of these experiences, I’ve been trying to figure out which story to tell. After I thought about it for a while, I decided I wanted to the story of the completely inaccurate wind forecasts we got on Monday morning.

While we sailed from Angel Island, around Alcatraz, and into Pier 39, we experienced some fantastic winds that were just enough for us to fly our 120 jib, and not reef our main. Our rail just kissed the waterline a handful of times and the boat screamed through the water. We got into Pier 39 just in time for the wind to really pick up and I’d venture to guess that throughout the evening the wind had gusts up to 40ish knots and the small boat was rocking pretty hard all night with an average wind speed of over 20-25 knots. The problem didn’t arise until the morning when we were getting ready to leave.

When we woke up, we looked at the flags all around Pier 39 and they were sticking straight out. Using the Beaufort Wind Scale, we were pretty nervous about taking such a small boat out in this much wind. So, I wanted t see if it would die down throughout the day and checked the Wind Forcasts on Sailflow for the bay area. Unfortunately, the forecasts weren’t great.

It was indicated that 30 knot winds with higher gusts would be screaming through the south bay for most of our trip. I’ve sailed in those conditions on a run many times in my Coronado 27 and it can get pretty scary. Especially since this was a boat that was new to me and Jo hadn’t had that experience yet. We decided to wait it out a bit.

Even this isn't right!

Finally, around noon, when the sky cleared a bit, we thought we’d risk the run since we had to get home anyway. We left the dock pretty nervous using only a reefed mainsail and our motor. When we got into the south bay where the biggest winds were expected, we found almost no wind at all! In fact, we had to motor the WHOLE WAY HOME!! We even shook out the reef and put up the jib going wing on wing on the run back to Redwood City. Oh well, I guess you can’t always predict the weather.

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About The Story Sailboat Blog and Us

The Story Sailboat is an epic project to travel the world by sailboat collecting the stories of coastal people and relaying them to the world while providing literacy training to the local people. This project is being put together by Patrick Sweeney (PC Sweeney) and Joey Lehnhard (Joey Elle). You can follow Patrick and Jo on various Social Media if you want to see what else we’re doing in life besides just this but let me tell you a little more about the two of us

Joey Elle
Joey is a teacher in East Palo Alto at the 49ers Academy where she teaches seventh and eight grade math and science. For two years before taking her job in EPA she was working as a Peace Corps Volunteer in the country of Lesotho (South Africa) as a primary teacher trainer. She also worked with African Library Project to establish libraries throughout the country. She has her undergraduate degree in molecular genetics and her masters in education.

Patrick Sweeney
Patrick works for San Mateo County Library and manages the East Palo Alto and Portola Valley Libraries. He has worked in libraries since 2005. He is also a councilor for the American Library Association, writes a library blog at http://www.pcsweeney.com, and is involved in a far too many library-related projects. He goes by the name pcsweeney online and just about all of his work can be found by Googling that name. He has a masters degree in library and information science and an undergraduate degree in philosophy. He is working towards getting his USCG captain’s license this year.

Our Boats
We live on a Columbia 34 named Surprise Me Too in Redwood city that we are rebuilding and preparing for some sailing. While this will probably not be our final boat, we are learning as much as we can about what we need to know about the maintenance and repair of a boat on it. It’s also the cheapest way to live in the Bay Area.

We sail a Santana 22 called Sailboat Jerry (named after Patrick’s favorite rum). This boat is strong, in great shape, and ready to take us all over the bay area. Patrick purchased it from Spinnaker sailing and it was one of their school fleet of boats meaning it has been well taken care over the years. If you learned to sail from Spinnaker Sailing then you might have sailed our boat!

Patrick used to live on Coronado 27 that was called Surprise Me (hence, the naming of the Columbia to Surprise Me Too). That boat took him and his friends on many adventures around the bay and was his first serious bay boat. It was traded for the Columbia because the owner of the Columbia wanted a smaller boat.

Before that, Patrick and Jo owned and sailed a string of various small sailing dinghies ranging from Snark (made by Cool) to a wonderfully fun Lido 14. We’ve also sailed a wide range of larger boats all over California.


The Journey Begins

We have a long way to go and many different things we need to do before we are actually ready to set sail for good on this journey. So, this blog is going to be about everything we have to do to get ready to go. We are going to review the boats we are sailing, document the work we put into our boats, the resources we use to get Patrick his Captain’s License, the sailing equipment we learn about, our trial runs at collecting great stories, and also our sailing adventures as they happen. There is so much to do and we’d love to take you on our journey with us so follow us here!

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