Ocean Hermit – sailing, solitude and stories

My plans to retrace Captain Cook's unfinished voyage have been postponed a year while I work on the next Marine Diesel Basics book and get my new boat SV Oceandrifter ready for sea.

* The Joys of Dinghy Sailing and Varnish Work

Dinghy sailing at sunset in Toronto on Lake Ontario. Dinghies are much less forgiving than sailboats with a keel. a moment'as inattention; one puff of wind, over she goes and you're in the water.

My thanks to sailing buddy Arash for sending me this photo of myself and fellow student Len dinghy sailing in the Toronto Outer Harbour in July.  All of us were members of a White Sails III class (Canadian Yachting Association) taught by Anderson, Alex and Oliver at the fun and very sociable Westwood Sailing Club in downtown Toronto.

With “Kuan Yin” out of the water this summer for refitting, I decided this would be a good opportunity to learn to sail a dinghy.  And I’ve learned a lot! With a centreboard but no keel, dinghies are much more “tippy” than keelboats.  So the challenges are different.  Reactions must be much faster in a dinghy — a puff of wind can capsize the boat if you’re not paying attention and adjust balance and sail trim quickly enough.  Excellent training!  For fun and a challenge, I can recommend it.  My thanks to our excellent teachers, the club and my class mates.

The Joys of Varnish

The forward hatch was in such bad shape - peeling varnish, greying teak, it leaked and the underlying plywood was rotting - it had to be dismantled to be repaired.

Meanwhile, refitting of  “Kuan Yin” continues.  One job leads to another on a boat and I now have most of the interior dismantled — which was not the original plan.  But when I discovered that under a layer of red stain most of the trim was actually red mahogany,  I could not resist taking as much of it out of the boat, throwing away the slot screws!, and sanding and six coats of varnish. The results are worth it.

Success. It doesn't leak! The rebuilt hatch received a total of 12 coats of varnish.

This was also the opportunity the brighten the ceiling by a) removing all the beams to sand and varnish and b) removing all the brown planking to paint off-white.  The effect will be to lift the roof and increase the sense of space and airiness in the cabin.  All the planks have been labelled, sanded, repaired where necessary and two coats of primer applied.  After another sanding and two coats of the off-white, the planks will be ready to be reinstalled.

And while the interior of the boat is out, I also decided to remove the hideous stainless steel tubing that served as handholds – something to hold on to when the boat heels.  The tubing also carried the boat’s electrical circuits.  The wiring was non-tinned and some circuits had some poorly made connections which could be unreliable.  So another job has been added – re-wiring the entire boat with tinned wiring (the copper strands are covered in tin which serves as an anti-corrosion in salty air) and replacing the fuses with circuit breakers.  Fortunately, I’ve got the winter to draw out the electrical plans and won’t begin that work until next spring.

All this is part of the preparations  for the 1000 mile voyage down the St. Lawrence River from Toronto, on Lake Ontario, to Newfoundland and then north to Labrador.  This journey, departing Toronto in June 2009, is in preparation of a planned 1500-mile voyage along the coast of Labrador in 2010 to retrace the journey made by an Inuit sea captain with his family and two Moravian missionaries in 1811.

(originaly posted August 2008)
© 2008 Dennison Berwick.  This article may be republished for noncommercial purposes, with full copyright attribution and notification to the author. Any other use is a violation of copyright.

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This entry was posted on January 3, 2010 by in Kuan Yin, Sailing and tagged , , , , , .
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