Dalton W. Williams
Summer In Hampton Virginia
Upon arriving at Hampton City Dock I met with Ralph & Gaston who were the rigger's who performed the rigging inspections for the previous Caribbean 1500' s and I had met during the rigging inspections for the Bermuda Cruising Cup. I was anxious to move on towards New England for the summer and wanted to get this behind me. When Ralph and Gaston arrived, I was armed with the information that I was certain the rig was in good shape as both the survey and the rigging inspection that was done at Summerfield Boat Works in Florida had assured me that the rig was in good condition for off shore sailing.
Almost immediately Ralph found a broken strand on the port aft lower and corrosion on the staysail rigging. Not a good sign... Then while inspecting the upper rigging he found two additional single strand failures in the rigging. So much for the assurances from the surveyor and Summerfield had supposedly changed out the staysail rigging (at least they charged me for new staysail rigging) before certifying the rig as ok for off shore sailing. That evening I got on the phone with the previous owners of Quietly (Brian and Terry) to ask if they had changed out any of the rigging in their five years of sailing Quietly in the Caribbean. They said they had changed out the turnbuckles but not any of the rigging. They had relied on the original owners statement that he had changed the rigging. But Brian went on to say that he and Terry had never found any documentation of the rigging being changed. It was looking like New England was going to have to wait a few weeks, especially since that trip entailed another 500 mile off shore leg between Hampton and Block Island south of Rhode Island.
Later that evening I found the original typed rigging list for Quietly among the ship's papers and the following day Ralph reviewed it with me while re-checking the rigging. Quietly's rig was clearly the original 20 year old rig except for the turnbuckles which Brian and Terry had changed out! If I had known that at the time of purchase, I would have negotiated a lower price for Quietly knowing that the rigging must be replaced. Oh, well... Just a few more Boat Units out of the cruising kitty... Ouch!
After re-checking my invoices from Summerfield Boat Works on the staysail rigging and confirming that they reported doing the work, I started checking some of their other work. They had also charged me for correcting the bend in the alternator mounting but on checking, the alternator was not mounted correctly. They had left out the spacer on the bottom mounting of the alternator causing damage to the engine mount!
Changing out the rigging was going to take a "a week to 10 days" which was going to be expensive staying at Hampton City Dock at $75.00 per day. Gaston said he had a friend with a private dock just down Sunset Creek who rented a slip on his dock and did wood work on boats as his retirement business. Perhaps there was some work he could do on the boat as well. Gaston would check with his friend that evening to see if I could tie to his dock as it would certainly be less expensive.
The next morning Ralph and Gaston arrived with the news that there was space on their friend's dock and helped me move Quietly to Pete's dock. Pete and his wife Lee were to be come good friends and I must say that Pete is one of the absolute nicest men I have had the pleasure of knowing in my life.
Pete was out on the end of his pier as we approached the slip in the morning and help get Quietly secure in the slip. I am not sure what Ralph and Gaston had told him but he seamed to know that I was going to be there longer than 10 days. But then he knew Ralph... There is more to that story but this is not the time. Pete said he would like to get one months slip rent in advance. The amount was $105.00 for the whole month, less than two days at Hampton City Marina! Not only was this inexpensive, it included water, electricity, and a beautiful view down Sunset Creek across to beautiful homes, the Hampton Yacht Club, and Hampton University. Just a few blocks up the street was a shopping center with a coin laundry, grocery, and several local restaurants. I have often been lucky in my life, but this was over the top!
The plan was to pull two shrouds at a time and since my plans are to circumnavigate replace them with one size larger wire and Norsemen fittings rather than swage fittings. These are preferred by cruising boats both for their strength, but also their maintainability. We also decided to simplify the terminal fittings by using Norsemen fittings that screwed directly into the turnbuckles and everything in the rigging would be 316 Stainless Steel.
The two lower aft shrouds were pulled and laid out for measuring and I went to work pulling the cover plates from around the chain plates to carefully dig out and replace the chain plate bedding. As I worked on the first chain plate I carefully worked out the rubber like black caulking finding some rot in the teak deck which was to be expected with a 20 year old boat. As I dug deeper I found some dry cotton wadding (Ocre) under the caulking where the chain plates went through the fiberglass and wood core decking. Carefully working out the cotton fiber I found that the wood core between the layers of the fiberglass deck was soft and had water damage. Cleaning further I discovered that the chain plate its self had extensive corrosion in this area. Ralph and Gaston looked at what I had found and sent me in to get Pete for his advice as well. With their guidance I worked further cleaning out around the chain plate. Once thoroughly exposed we could see significant cracks in the chain plate and that the corrosion had eaten away a significant amount of the chain plate material.
This was not good! The chain plate would have to be replaced and as the weekend was upon us, I taped the hole around the chain plate closed to keep out any rain we might have. Saturday morning I cleaned out around the second chain plate and had Pete look at it with me. Pete knew immediately that both of the chain plates I had cleaned the caulking from would have to come out and the probability was that so would all of the rest. We started looking at how that would have to be done.
One thing about Quietly is the beautiful teak cabinet work inside the cabin. Most of the chain plates are hidden behind this gorgeous teak work which would now have to be disassembled. I am extremely lucky that Pete's first love is building boat interiors and his garage a fully equipped cabinet shop. I seem to be the lucky when it comes to things like this... In the right place at the right time.
This project was going to take weeks, not days as we thought we could only pull two chain plates at a time. When we pulled two of the lower shrouds, they matched exactly so we had all four lower chain plates custom manufactured out of 316 Stainless Steel at the same time. This process took two weeks during which time Pete and I carefully cleaned out the holes in the deck, applying epoxy sealer where necessary to preserve and repair the damaged wood in the deck core.
Living on Quietly was like living in a construction zone. Several ceiling panels were out as were wall panels. Cabinets were disassembled and stacked in the floor, tools were in tool boxes and between it all was a small path leading between the head forward, galley amid ships and my bunk in the aft cabin. The lower chain plates came back and went in, now it was time to pull the upper and cap shroud chain plates. We pulled one from each side and again manufactured the ones for the opposite side based on the knowledge that they were matched pairs.
As we pulled each chain plate and examined them, each had extensive corrosion and cracking, but when we pulled the starboard cap shroud chain plate and found a hole completely corroded through it and was able to bend the other one on the opposite side with our hands, I was thanking my lucky stars that we had found all of this!
As we installed the new chain plates, each one was waxed with mold release wax, a temporary dam was built under it in the cabin with modeling clay, and epoxy was poured to the level of the fiberglass deck to completely seal and reinforce the deck. Then after curing, LifeCaulk was applied up to the level of the teak decking which was then covered by new oversized 316 Stainless Steel cover plates to seal the deck, I must admit that the amount of work to do this was not easy, but now Quietly is ready for another 20 years.
With all of this going on we also started working on a project to lead all of the main sail lines and reefing lines to the cockpit. This involved moving a wench from the mast to the cabin top over my bunk. Now I had fiber glass shavings in my bunk as well! It was time to get a way for a few days to let the work progress without my trying to live on the boat.
Roy, you remember Roy who helped me bring Quietly up from Florida and who I crewed for to Bermuda and back, ask me to help him deliver a boat from Florida to Annapolis. It was a great opportunity for more off shore sailing experience and to get away from the construction zone. For two weeks we ferried a broken and doing down hill fast Beneteau from Fort Pierce, Florida to Annapolis, Maryland, It was a true learning experience! Little worked and what did broke. We had the autopilot fail and Roy took it apart to fix it, the throttle quadrant broke so we had to jury rig a throttle where I could stand in the hatch to hear Roy at the helm and pull or push a small wire through a hole to control the engine speed.
One very nice stop we made was at a small marina we stopped at just north of Beauford North Carolina along the ICW. It is owned and run by a family that lives on the second floor of their beautiful marina building. We enjoyed a leisurely swim in the pool before taking a car they have for their guest into town for dinner.
As we continued on, our problems with the boat continued to multiply. When leaving the marina in Deltaville, Va. one morning, we could not get the engine to start after stopping for the night. We tried everything we knew and finally called in a diesel mechanic who never could find anything wrong but after three hours got it to start. After this we were not going to stop again so despite a cold pouring rain we continued to sail all night up the Chesapeake with out a dodger into Annapolis. We were both very glad to be rid of "Easy Goer".
I returned home to Quietly expecting great progress and most of the work to be completed... well, little if anything had been done. Pete was frustrated because he had not been able to get the interior back together because Ralph had not been there to finish up the chain plates or work on routing the main sail lines back to the cockpit. The "10 day project" was now into it's third month and the end was no where in site!
As progress once again started but slowly, the last of the chain plates were in place and Pete was finishing up re assembling the cabinets, reinstalling the teak cabin walls and fixing a broken hinge that had damaged the wood on the forward hatch. I was cleaning out the dust and dirt from the shower when I pushed a dull dinner knife through the wood around the base of the shower as I cleaned. I showed it to Pete and as we dug further, we found that the wood support for one side of the shower had rotted during the years of showers. Yet another project! It took Pete days to carefully disassemble the shower and then almost two weeks to make a totally new floor in the shower. I want you to know, that if there is a nuclear explosion, the safest place may just be crouched on the shower floor! Pete did a marvelous job of fitting new teak timbers in and refinishing. No one would ever know and I can promise you, it is built to the same high standards as the rest of the boat.
By this time we are making progress at routing all of the main sail lines to the cockpit when Ralph comes to me with the statement; "There is no reason to route single line or even double line reefing to the cockpit for the third reef." I said something like; "WHAT?? #%^#&". He explained that to put the third reef in, I would have to get out of the cockpit and go up to the mast anyway to pull sail out of the sail track so that the third reef could be taken. Now... The whole purpose of all of this was to eliminate the need to go up and work at the mast in bad weather. And when do you ever need a third reef? When the weather is all read bad and getting worse! I was angry that we had spent a month and lots of money on this project and just now I find out that it is all useless just when you needed t most... I was not a happy camper!
All of the work I have done on Quietly from the get go has been to make Quietly easily sailed by a single person. Either me along or myself and a sailing partner if one of us was to be sick or injured. Being able to control all of the sails from the cockpit with out having to go forward to the mast is a critical part of that desire. I had been looking at the Schaefer Boom Furling system for over a year and had been twice talked out of it by first Summerfield Boat Works in Florida and earlier in the summer by Ralph. I had done extensive research on the subject and felt it was the best solution, but more knowledgeable people were not sure. Now I was not going to take no for an answer from people who had not seen one work. I sent e-mails and got on the phone to people who had the Schaefer system on their boats. We talked at length about how the system was installed, how it worked, what they liked and did not like after installing it.
Everyone confirmed my research. Being the last company to market a boom furling system, Schaefer had been able to see the problems of the other systems and engineer them out of the Schaefer system. They had done this years before when the started making their head sail furling systems which are the number one rated, best in the world head sail furling systems today, hands down. So I got on the phone and started talking to Steve at Schaefer. He recommended several dealers to me to sell and install the system but each one was too booked to do it before the date for the Caribbean 1500 Rally I was registered to sail in the first week in November.
I was really giving Schafer the sales pitch of how I really wanted their system on my boat and what a good opportunity it would be for them with me in the Caribbean 1500 to show off their system. Dave Andersen, VP of Sales at Schaeffer flew down to meet me, look over Quietly, and talk with Ralph and Gaston to see he was confident that we could install the Schaefer Boom Furling system. He left convinced and entered my order for the system. We had only four weeks before the start of the Caribbean 1500 to get the system manufactured, installed, and tested.
Ralph, Gaston and I went to work. The first thing we did was make careful measurements to get the order for the new Shafer Furling Boom exactly right. We marked the location of the new boom on the mast with blue tape and then removed the old main sail, lazy jacks, stack pack, and all of the old lines. Then we removed the old boom and took a sawsall to the old gooseneck fittings which were welded to the mast. We were now certainly beyond the point of no return. Quietly looked very different without the boom and all of the lines associated with the lazy jack and stack pack systems.
Next we carefully measured and marked where the new gooseneck would mount. The mounting would require cutting out a section of the old sail track to provide a flat mounting location. The tricky part of this was cutting just far enough to remove the sail track with out cutting any of the wiring which was running up the mast in the channel behind the sail track. We then mounted the new Schafer gooseneck fitting attaching it to both the back and sides of the mast.
At the same time that I ordered the new Schafer Furling Boom, I picked up the phone and called Carol Hasse of Port Townsend Sails in Friday Harbor, Washington. Carol has a world wide reputation for making the best sails for cruising boats as well as exceptional sails of all types. When talking with Carol I found out that she and Dave Andersen were friends and had actually consulted with Schafer in their design work on the boom furling system. Though she had her reservations about any boom furling system, she said that the Schaefer system was absolutely the best. She said she would like to make the sail for the Schafer system and as I was in a time crunch she could work their schedule to get it to me in a two weeks! A custom hand made sail in a week... Yes it really happened though it did take three days longer by the time it was shipped and got to Hampton. It arrived the day we finished installing the boom furling system. Quietly has a much cleaner look with the new boom.
Carol came down from the Annapolis Boat Show and joined Steve from Schaefer the following Saturday when we loaded the sail into the boom and went out for a test sail. It all worked perfectly! This is a real testament to two companies ability to work together under a killer drop dead deadline and do it perfectly.
While Carol was here, she looked over the condition of Quietly's head sails and suggested replacing the Jib as well and I took her offer to make the sail and get it to me in time for the Caribbean 1500 which was in just two weeks. The sail arrived on the day my crew was arriving and we hoisted the sail which fit just as perfectly as the main had. I just can not say enough about both Port Townsend Sails and Schaefer Marine.
Match.COM - Sailing Partner Wanted
Starting back at the end of 2000 I had posted a listing on www.match.com and www.matchmaker.com hoping to meet a nice lady to be a sailing partner. That posting along with some additional information can be seen by clicking on Crew Wanted to see the ad as it appeared before Gretchen joined me.
At the time I posted my listing on these sites I was living in Vail, Colorado. As you can imagine, there are not a lot of sailors in Colorado and not a lot of sailors who would search for a sailing partner who lived in Colorado! So to be candid, I had not had much success finding a sailing partner with my listing. Though I did meet Katherine who had lived aboard for 10 years in the Caribbean. She was working for HP just outside Denver. Though I was swept off my feet by her, she had met another fellow who swept her up and off to Australia as his bride. I saw Katherine and Lyle at the Seven Seas Cruising Association meeting during the Annapolis Boat Show and they are now back in the Chesapeake living aboard their new boat.
Now that I was in Hampton, I updated my profile on www.match.com to show my location as Hampton, Va. Finally I started to correspond with several ladies who were interested in sailing. Over the summer I met four ladies in person and became good corresponding friends with a two ladies who lived further away. One of the ladies who lived further away, actually just outside Washington DC, drove down to meet me one weekend and see Quietly. She had lots of sailing experience and was even interested in crewing on the Caribbean 1500. Gretchen volunteered to spend a few weekends helping me get Quietly ready. She drove down with her sewing machine in the trunk of her car and on the weekends we made lee cloths and custom fitted sheets for the bunks.
Caribbean 1500 - It's Time!
Now it was just a few days before the Caribbean 1500 and finally Quietly is ready. Well all most ready... now there is provisioning and stowing, welcoming and training the crew of friends, Caribbean 1500 meetings to attend, fueling, stowing more things, stowing still more things, and ,and ,and...
But on November 3rd, 2002 our crew of four set sail for Tortola, British Virgin Islands as part of the Caribbean 1500 and the real beginning of my circumnavigation...
Continued in the section "Caribbean 1500".