We've spent three years cruising to the Bahamas on Pegu Club, our Bristol 29.9. Time to switch it up a bit and head to Southern California for the winter, tent camping our way across the United States.
I like to think that our season lasts until mid-October, but I’m slowly having to admit that it’s not necessarily the case. Last year we hauled out Pegu Club in August so we could get to work on her, but I remember in 2014 we were able to get very few sails in after Labor Day. Typically as temperatures get cooler a series of northerlies start to drop down. Throw in an occasional hurricane threat and nor’easter, and it seems like more often than not we end up not heading down to the boat at all.
This year between work obligations, a lingering head cold for poor Jeff, the threat of Hurricane Matthew, and some ill-timed northerlies and general rainy weather, we ended up with a repeat of 2014. We’re going to have to do some thinking about our haul-out date next year. If we haul out early we may miss some good sailing. If we haul out late, we might get lucky and have a few good weekends but we’ll have no choice but to work on Pegu Club when it’s cold. Maybe the solution is to simply to permanently untie the lines next fall! Ha! I wish.
So the last post left off with the weekend of September 24th and our skill building sail. On the weekend of October 1st, it was raining on Saturday, and we both had to work on Sunday, so unfortunately it was a no-go for the boat.
The weekend of the 8th (Columbus Day weekend) had us hoping to spend the long weekend in Essex. Hurricane Matthew gave us some gray hairs until he decided to change his track, but Mother Nature still didn’t cooperate. As of Friday night things looked great, so we packed our bags. Just before leaving the house on Saturday morning I did a last-minute weather check. Good thing I did. Now we were going to get rain beginning in the middle of the afternoon straight through until Sunday night, followed by a small craft advisory for Monday. Sigh. However, we were really missing Pegu Club, so we decided to drive down on Saturday anyway to hang out until the rain started.
Saturday, September 10th saw us driving down to the boat with my parents who were visiting from Southern California. They had been sailing on Little Bristol a few years back, but this was going to be their first time meeting the new Pegu Club and sailing on her.
The weather forecast was decent – sunny skies turning to cloudy, winds of approximately 10 knots, and temps in the upper 70’s. Jeff and I hadn’t been back to Pegu Club since we had prepped her for Hermione the previous weekend, so we needed to put her back together before we could have some fun. We left my parents to hang out on the beach house porch so we could have a 15 minute head start, and then we got to work.
As Charlie dropped us off on the launch, we were very pleased to see that Pegu Club looked just fine. The boat next to us had a torn bimini and the mooring ball on the boat behind us was underwater for some reason, but other than that everyone’s boat didn’t seem any worse for the wear. By the time we had reinstalled the anchor, the Magma grill, the outboard, and had taken the jib up to the foredeck, Charlie was pulling up with the ‘rents.
The week leading up to the weekend of August 13th was hot and humid. Temps were in the 90’s and it was thick-air-like-breathing-through-a-wet-blanket humid. At one point I did a comparison of the temps and dew points between West Hartford and Sarasota, FL, and they were the same. I’ll take it over winter any day, but with no air conditioning in the house I was looking forward to heading to the boat. Unfortunately, work was interfering so heading down on Friday evening was out, but I went to work at 6:30 a.m. on Saturday in the hopes of salvaging some of the weekend, and by mid-afternoon we were driving to Shenny.
This past weekend marked our fourth annual sailing trip to Block Island. We had spent the prior windless Saturday installing our solar panel (the subject of a future post), and Sunday was mostly windless so we continued doing small projects and getting the boat ready for our mini-vacation. We were psyched because the weather forecast for the holiday weekend looked great and we were going to be hosting our friends Vanessa and Kurt for two nights – our first overnight guests of the season!
Since I was able to take a few mornings off from work, Wednesday the 4th and Thursday the 5th found us at Shenny bright and early to try to finish up some final tasks. Priority number one was to put two coats of bottom paint under the poppets. The weather had made it difficult so it was down to the wire, but by 11:00 a.m. on Wednesday we had crossed it off of the list. Everything else from that point on would be gravy.
We were so busy that everything is pretty much a blur, but I do remember that we were finally able to get Pegu-teeny in the water on Thursday:
We were scheduled to launch at 8:00 a.m. on Friday the 6th, and I was hoping for three things: the weather would be decent, the winds would be light, and Pegu Club would be placed in the water with her bow facing out so we wouldn’t have to back out of the slip. We went zero for three.
A dinghy is a cruiser’s car. It’s used for sightseeing, for going to get groceries and supplies, to get to other people’s boats, to kedge off if possible when the motherboat runs aground. Dinghies aren’t just for cruisers, however. Those of us who aren’t yet out there full-time also need them unless they want to rely exclusively on launches.
Probably 99% of boaters use inflatables. Their advantages include stability, the ability to deflate it and store it below, and the fact that it’s quiet when it bumps up against the mothership. However, they also puncture, they row terribly, and they eventually deteriorate in the sun which requires a person to purchase another one. Prices can vary from $600 or $700 to $10,000 plus.
Since most boaters have inflatables and we didn’t know any better, we bought one for our first dinghy. Admittedly it was a bottom-of-the-line inflatable and we had to pump it up once or twice during the season, but it worked well enough until we stored it in the garage over the winter. An unidentified critter chewed on it at the seams, rendering it unrepairable. After that experience we decided that inflatables weren’t for us. With the right hard dinghy we could purchase it once and never have to buy another. Of course this decision put us squarely in the minority, but we’re used to that.
Since the demise of our inflatable was discovered on the brink of the sailing season, we didn’t have time to do much research. We decided to go with something relatively inexpensive so we could find out for sure if a hard dinghy was the right choice for us. After a fruitless search on Craig’s List, we went to West Marine and bought the ugliest dinghy on Fishers Island Sound – a WaterTender 9.4 – on sale for $500. It was indestructible. We also discovered it was unsinkable after I PT-109’d it once with Little Bristol when we were trying to catch our mooring. Jeff watched in horror as hundreds of gallons of water flowed into it (he was concerned that the outboard would submerge) yet that dink kept floating. It was still going strong after two seasons, but we knew it wouldn’t work for us when we go cruising full-time. For that, we wanted a Fatty Knees dinghy.