Sailing for My Birthday.

I still hate that motor.

It’s been a while since the last post, but the Buena Vista was not done for the year. The day after my birthday (December 18th) we were able to take her out for a quick “sail” to celebrate both my day of birth and what will probably be the last outing of the year. This time the crew consisted of me, Krsiten, Grant, and his better half Alice.

Yes, they are matching and we did make fun of them.
First, it needs to be pointed out that the guys at Sail Harbor must have felt bad for us because they finally moved our spot from deep within the bowels of the docks to a great spot near the open water. I guess they wanted to minimize their risks and insurance claims, but who cares. Now that we have the better spot we were able to make it to open water without any issues and start sailing, but the only thing was that where was NO wind. By “NO” I mean zero/nada/<1, so we were stuck to motoring.

At least we can look like we’re sailing

We stayed out for a while watching birds, getting extremely close to dolphins (Grant wanted to try and ram them), and stalking the ever popular Paula Deen house (For fun, Paula Deen Riding Things -> www.pauladeenridingthings.com). Once we had our fill it was time to give up on sailing and head back into port for the day.


She at least looks like we’re sailing.
Overall it was just great to be back on the water and I could not have asked for a better end to a birthday weekend. For now the Buena Vista is still in the water, but with the cold weather coming I don’t know for how long.

Good Times,

Short Sailing with Dolphins & the Forester's

The Forester's

One the day before Halloween we took the Buena Vista out for a cool, windy sail with our friends Evan and Morgan Forester. We pushed off the dock around 12:30 PM and only had about an hour to play until they had to make the looooooonnggg drive back to Atlanta. If you’ve even driven on I-16 in Georgia you know what I mean, it’s nothing but trees for miles.

Once in the open river Kristen and Evan got the main up pretty quickly. Due to the high winds we only put the main up which was more than enough canvas to get us moving. I would like to point out that Kristen is getting quite comfortable on the ol’ boat and that’s making me a very happy guy.

Once underway and everyone got comfortable the fun began. You need to know that Morgan and Evan keep up a blog of their own (http://www.evanforester.com/) and to help with the blog they got a VERY nice camera and learned how to use it. After digging in his bag of tricks Evan started a photo shoot on the decks of the Buena Vista. While trying to keep the boat from heeling too far, I would look up and see the girls posing while Evan in some ever changing, awkward position snapping photos. The things you will see on a boat…

The ladies.
By the time the photo shoot started to wind down, we were sailing downriver toward the old, rundown condos that would be a perfect setting for a horror movie. About that time the dolphins showed up, and by “showed up” I mean that they were everywhere. I think they were feeding as the tide was pushing the bait out of the river, but it was awesome. They were on all sides of the boat and as close as 10-15 yards. The water loving mammals put on a great show and everyone loved it. I guess I’m running a dolphin tour boat now?? (“That will be $29.50 per ticket please.”)To make it more entertaining Kristen was given the camera and she took pictures of EVERYTHING like Dolphins, me, Morgan, Evan, the boat, Paula’s house, the sky, birds, blah, blah, blah…

A pro
After all of that excitement it was time to head back so the Forester’s could make the trip back before too late. I hope to get some of the pictures from their camera because once I got home I discovered that I forgot to chance the settings on my camera and all of the pictures were off color (Irony?).

Overall it was a fun trip, but short. This was a cold and windy October day, it helped to set the reality that the 2011 sailing season is almost over, but not yet!


What was in that Champagne? Rocket Fuel? Pixy Dust?


(Image courtesy of Kristen in the Media Relations Department)

After doing some research on the internets and given our recent streak of bad luck I decided that we need to do something drastic to appease Mother Ocean. We had to officially christen the Buena Vista by the proper, age old tradition of giving a blood sacrifice (or the next best thing).

According to my in depth research (a quick Google search), to change the name of a boat you need to christen it to let the Gods know that the ship’s old name will no longer be on the water and that they need to keep watch over the vessel under the new name. In order to do this, a captain gathers anyone and everyone that will come in contact with the boat and does the following…
  1. He appeals to all of the Gods he can think of that deal with water (God, Poseidon, Neptune, Jimmy Buffett, etc.) and lets them know the boat has changed names.
  2. In the old days he would give a blood sacrifice offered to the Gods and poured onto the bow of the ship, (we’re not that into the "traditional" so we went with the modern method of using red wine/cheap champagne)
  3. Everyone in attendance toasts to the ship, the Gods, and overall good weather.
  4. The captain takes the boat out immediately for the inaugural voyage.
Now that the traditions were out of the way it was time to hit the seas. It was a full crew today with me, Kristen, Grant, Sean, and Courtney on board. Once we were on the river the wind was in our favor and blowing out toward the ocean. We had the wind to our backs and we quickly got the sails up.

Why yes, these shades are awesome.
Now we were sailing and it seemed like everything was working in our favor today. Maybe the christening really worked?!? With both the sails up we quickly gained some knots and were sailing in the desired direction. At this point we were able to do something that has never been seen before on the Buena Vista…relaxing/chilling/taking it easy.

Is this what sail in supposed to look like?

By this point we already made it further downriver than ever before and were headed toward the open ocean. But all good things must come to an end because we had plans for that afternoon so it was time to come about and motor back (or so we thought). Once we got the sails down and the motor fired up another sailor started gaining on us from behind. About that time the entire crew looked at me and the race was on…

Workin’ like a well oiled machine.

We hoisted the sails and caught the wind off of the port rail. After double checking we were holding our on with the other sailor and were actually moving FASTER than our speed with the motor. We were sailing somewhat into the wind to boot. What was in that champagne? Rocket Fuel? Pixy Dust? I don’t know but whatever it was it was working. Everything was going so well that it even gave Sean some time to enjoy his new hobby of spying on people with binoculars and scanning the Coast Guard channels on the radio.

Creeper.

Once the wind died down and the sailor was out of range we decided it was time to fire up the motor once more. With many hands on board we got the sails down and covered in a flash so we could enjoy the cruse back into port. Sean even got to take the tiller for a while to test out his skills at the helm.

Don’t get too excited Sean

Overall I was a great day for the Buena Vista and crew. Following the christening everything seemed to work in our favor. We had the wind at our backs, the ability to go where we wanted to go, perfect weather, and the beloved motor actually ran when asked. The only thing we had to worry about was our sunglasses tan.


Third Times a Charm (Almost)

Check out the sweet, sweet new headpiece.
Trip nĂºmero three started and ended a LOT better than the one before, but we still have a long way to go. Everything started fine and we got out of the marina without any surprises with me, Kristen, and first-mate Grant onboard.


As planned we motored upwind (still lame, I know, I know) and once in open water I noticed that the motor (while running) was not idling as it should. "Eh... I'll check it when we get back," I said. After a while and many pirate jokes later we made it far enough upriver and killed the engine (AKA it died when idling) and we raised the sails. The sails went up rather quickly and we even looked like we knew what we were doing. But that sense of pride was quickly lost when we compared our skills to the regatta taking place downriver. Stupid regatta stealing our thunder.


With Grant working the jib sheets, Kris trimming the sails, and me at the tiller we started making way. While still not able to sail downriver (the desired direction and upwind) we were able to successfully able to sail with the wind on our port side and downwind, I still can't figure out why we can't go with the wind coming over the starboard rail. Maybe the Buena Visa has the Anti-NASCAR curse? It can only make right turns. After a while we notice a storm cloud forming inshore so we decided to head in for the day. Fun's over. 


Grant in all his glory taking us in.
 

Once back at the marina the fun began. As soon as we got close to other, more expensive boats the motor started to act up. Have I mentioned recently how great this motor is? (If not refer to the previous posting for details) After restarting we were able to quickly regroup thanks to my superhuman motor skills, but as soon as we reached the point of no return the motor died/croaked/stopped/ceased to work. At this point Kristen was on the bow holding onto another boat and the stern was quickly turning away from the dock as I was trying to get the motor started again. I hated that stupid motor with every ounce of my being at that point. About that time Mick poked his head out of his boat and asked if we needed a hand. Yes. He came around the dock as we tossed a dock line to him to pull the stern into the slip. Within a few minutes it was all over and we were back safe without having to call TowBoat U.S. Success!


Overall we did pretty well and we learned a lot even thought we only spent a few hours on the water. However, it is still depressing to be sitting still while we get overtaken by another sailing yacht like we're a beat up station wagon getting passed by a European sports car. One day....one day.


The following day I went back to the Buena Vista to work on my believed motor. My first thought was to make sure the plugs were not fouled. Nope. Next, I took off the carburetor to clean it out. Nope.



Somethings missing...
During this painstakingly non-simple project I managed to give Davy Jones my 5/16 wrench and I was still no closer to finding the problem. Great.



If found please return to the Buena Vista.
 
Once I got the carb back on (thanks to a spare wrench) I fired off the motor to find two things: 1- the motor still did not idle 2- the seal for the thermostat was leaking saltwater. Awesome. As usual, Mick popped his head out to save the day. He said, "de issue is tha ethanol. Everyone here swears that it screws with ya motor." Thanks Mick. Now with that with mystery hopefully solved I now had to deal with the leaking thermostat to prevent my beloved 7.5 from turning into an overheating lump of corrosion. Thankfully the designers of this part understood that it might have to be removed and I was able to see the issue quickly and clearly.



FYI, this should be one piece... Just so you know

After a lot of scrubbing, scraping, and leaning over the back of the boat I was able to clean the surface and prep the area for the replacement parts which were ordered today. Once they come in it's only three bolts to replace so should be an easy fix, I hope.


With that knocked out I wanted to run the 110 volt shopvac to remove that pesky water from the bilge due to the weeks rain storms. I fired her off and filled up the first bucket, then the second, and then the third. What's going on here?!?!?! Then I figured it out, we're taking on water...


The crack...
The bad news is that it's a crack in the hull below the waterline (that's bad) and the only good news is that it's small and seems to only let in about a half an inch of water at most. It still makes me nervous and I want it fixed. I want it fixed now. How in the world am I going to fix this one?

It seems like I've got my to-do list for the week...


Good Times,


- Jake

Day 2 - Dead in the Water


Day two started out well enough, we took her out early in the afternoon to see how we could do against the wind. Playing it safe (thank goodness!) we decided to motor further upriver to stay clear of shallow water and to give us more room to play just in case something happened. It did...


It's all fun and games, for now...


Once we got upriver we quickly got the main up and even successfully hoisted the jib (the actual jib this time). We were under way and doing great for a few minutes, heck we even got up to some decent speed and had the rails leaning a little. We were sailing!


After a few minutes we stopped to make some adjustments and noticed that we were creeping closer and closer to the bank. Playing it safe we fired off the trusty ol' motor that we've never had any issues with and that always fires right up. Have I told you how great the motor is? It's all kinds of awesome. After a second, she was running (as you guessed) but the boat was not moving away from the banks. No good, very NOT GOOD. About this time the depth sounder starts going crazy (which sounds something like a fire alarm near your ear) and things started to get progressively worse. Acting quickly (think ninja like reflexes) we got the sails down and hoisted the keel to be safe. The last thing I wanted was to run aground, please God don't let us run aground. But why is that motor not doing the job??? Is the wind/current that strong? Then the movement stopped, we were stuck. Crap.


Now we've done it, we needed to get unstuck ASAP before it got worse. With the motor going full speed we started throwing our anchors trying to pull ourselves free. This was a nasty, dirty, wet, and overall horrible experience that I never want to do again, but it seemed to be working. With every throw we moved but as soon as we pulled up the anchor for another throw we were back where we started. At this point I had lost a shoe, Kristen almost got knocked out by an anchor, and the ENTIRE boat was covered with thick, black, slippery bottom muck. What were we doing wrong? Then it hit me, is the motor even doing anything?!?!


The problem...

Upon inspection the motor had failed us. Somehow we sheared the prop pin and while the motor was running, the prop was not spinning. We were dead in the water and all of our work for the past hour (what seemed like days) was for nothing. Time to call for a tow and wait it out, but in the mean time we had to keep ourselves from getting pushed further into the marsh. Time for more anchor toss and pull, pull, pull.


A site for sore eyes and backs and arms and hands

Once help was on the scene things got a lot better and morale improved greatly on board. The good news is that the captain assured us that we were doing all of the right things for our situation, but once the motor died all was lost (this made me feel a lot less like a moron). Heck, he even said we did a good job keeping her from going deeper into the marsh. Within minutes of hooking to us we were headed back into the marina
at the side of the tow. About that time Mickey (a neighbor from the marina who had come out looking for us) pulled up alongside on his skiff and commenced to shouting congratulations on our fine adventure.


Once we got back safe at the marina, we were secured, and I had finished the paperwork it was time for our real work begin much to the amusement of the rest of Sail Harbor. I can only imagine what everyone else thought, but we were a mess and the boat was still covered in blackness, but as soon as we started cleaning the help began arriving in droves. Micky came over with another friend to ask all about our adventure and then he started helping to spray off the gunk. Looking back at it, I am pretty sure that he was truly jealous of us for having a "proper adventure" as he like to put it. By now, Brian (another dock regular) came out with his own water hose and started on the other end without even saying a word. It did not take long for news of our exploits to spread and at least 10-15 people came over to introduce themselves, to hear our story, and to offer whatever help they could. Even Kristen's friend Jill rode down to the marina to help.


With all of the extra hands we were able to get the Buena Vista back into respectable condition before dark and we were no worse off than when we started. Overall we fared out well with only the loss of a shoe, some hurt pride, and a broken pin. I already have the motor at home and I'm plan on fixing it over the week. If all goes well we will be back on the water by the weekend for round three.


At the end of the day it's good to know we're surrounded by good people at Sail Harbor and everyone assured us that we would look back and laugh one day. Honestly, I think we already are..


The Maiden Voyage - Floating with Style






On September 10th, 2011 the Buena Vista cast off for the first time. The crew was myself, Kristen, and our coach Courtney.


Things started out well enough, at the docks someone decided that it would be fun to wedge the Buena Vista between two very large (and expensive) looking yachts. All we could think about was not causing any damages which would quickly put an end to or fun. Once clear of the docks, boats, crab traps, sand bars, and everything else hazardous to our well being we made it to a safe area to kill the engines and start some "sailing."


Headed out...



The Buena Vista was and is in great shape. We got the main up in no time and started trying to catch the wind which is where my expertise goes down to zero/nada/none. The wind was blowing almost directly upriver so we had a tough time getting the much desired forward movement in the direction we wanted to go (which Kristen determined was Paula Deen's house). After some playing around with the trimming of the sails, some iPhone research, and some cursing of the wind we were still not moving forward, but at least we were floating with style! Haven given up on trying to go into the wind via tacking (nautical term = sweet) we did successfully sail downwind and via other points of sail.


This is awesome, I am Captain Ron...




After sailing downwind for a while we started to get concerned about the depth so we motored (lame, I know) back up river. This is when we got the great idea to try to attach the jib and see what she could really do. The good news is that we got the "jib" up. The bad news is that instead of being a jib, the sail we housed was not a jib at all and the jury is still out on exactly what type of sail it is. Once we got this "thing" hauled back in we did find the correct jib only to discover that the clips were too corroded to work. Great, there's another trip to West Marine.
 


Yeah, that's not gonna to work.


By now is was getting a little later in the afternoon and we all had another place to be so it was time to head back into the marina. Kristen took us most of the way back in and I just happen to have a cool photo of her in action at the tiller.




I'm a lucky guy!


Overall the day was a great success, we learned a lot about sailing (or floating in our case) and we all had a blast. The ol' gal held up well and we only need a few parts/replacements to be back in business which is better than I expected considering she has not be in the water in ages. I'll be at West Marine when they open in the morning so we can go at it again.


As far as sailing, I'm hooked. I can't wait to go back out for round two with the wind tomorrow.


Good Times,

- Jake

Pre-Sail Inspection & Rigging

Yesterday was a big day for the Buena Vista, she in now fully rigged and ready to sail!

That's a beautiful view itself...

The first order of business was to find someone who actually knows what they are doing when it comes to the rigging, sails, and being awesome. That's where our friend (and now coach) Courtney comes in to play. She has been sailing her entire life and has taken enough pity on us to help get us started in the sport.

She agreed to meet me at the marina yesterday to help go over the rigging and help put up the sails. After some looking around on board, checking checklists, and general kicking of the tires it was time for the fun stuff. We inspected the sails on the dock and once she approved them (she actually sail they looked great, FYI) we started putting them on the mast. This seemed a lot less challenging that I thought it should, but Courtney assured me that it was just because I was a natural sailor.

Here's a picture of Courtney doing some inspecting...


Once we got the sails up and covered it was time to work on the rigging for the boom. This turned out to be a little tougher than advanced trigonometry. After fiddling around with rope, blocks, and shackles for a while we resorted to the age ol' solution of checking out how other boats looked around the marina. This got us moving forward and then our marina neighbor came over (after watching us struggle for a while) and helped us finish up the job.

One more thing to note is that the Buena Vista has gained somewhat of a fan club around the marina. I guess it's from me working down there almost daily for the past two weeks, but I've got a growing list of well-wishers and supporters ready to hear how it goes on the water.

For now all of the prep work is done, now I just have to wait until Saturday to cast off. Needless to say I feel just a little kid on Christmas Eve.

This is going to be the longest 24 hours ever....

What's in a Name - The Buena Vista

We all knew this would come up sooner or later. It's the question, "how did you come up with the name Buena Vista?" Well, here's your answer...


You see, Buena Vista is a real place! If you take a quick peak at the map below you will find that it's right in the middle of Lyons, GA (where my parents live) and Montgomery, AL (where my grandparents live).


 

While the location is not important for any reason it has become some what of a running joke within the family. Since the town is in the absolute middle of nowhere it has become common place (for some unknown reason) to call when you're passing through like you were passing a major landmark.


What it feels like you're passing...







What you're really passing...


 
I know, I know. You're asking what all of this has to do with the boat. It all got tied together when we were just finishing putting the mast up the first day as the sun was setting over the marshes of Coastal Georgia. In that moment someone said it was beautiful and out came the phrase "Buena Vista."


It was a perfect fit.







Good Times,


- Jake


Boats are a lot of Work

Even tough I'm still recovering from almost becoming a zombie, I still want to be on the boat.

I've driven all of my friends crazy (and my wife) taking about sailing. Being limited to what I can do, I've been keeping busy researching everything I can on sailing, defending against pirates, Catalina's, and anything else remotely close to the ocean. I even downloaded The Oldman and the Sea.

The first step was to get organized, one morning my mind would not let me sleep anymore due to this in my head...







The biggest thing on the list was to take inventory of what we do and don't have onboard. Needless to say there is a lot in the "do not have" column. After spending another small fortune at West Marine (the guy there knows me by name now which is not good) we were looking better and I had my hands full.
That's my style of organization. Lists clearly show what needs to be done now, what needs to be done, needed items now, wanted items, and everything else. I am my father's son.

So this is where all of my money goes now...

Now that we had of the needed parts, tools, and knowhow it was time to get to work. I spent the week organizing everything (only to reorganize it again) and keeping busy doing little things to get us ready. I've fixed the bent/broken parts from the mast hoisting escapade, filled holes, installed parts, cleaned (it never ends?), and I've stated to feel right at home on the little boat. The biggest push was from my friend Grant coming down to help for a while, he's quickly taking the lead in the competition to become first mate onboard.

Here's a pick of Grant being awesome on another boating adventure for you to enjoy.

For now it's back to work for the week. She still has not left the dock, but soon she will hit the open sea. For now I'm staying busy keeping the rains (or monsoons) from sinking her from underneath me.

I think I'm going to need more silicone, there's another West Marine trip...

Good Times,

- Jake

Location:Sail Harbor Marina - Savannah, GA






Get Her to the Ocean




It took more than five years for this day to come, but before she made it to the water she had to face a broken impeller, a hurricane, the truck breaking down, a juvenile launching crew, and a near death illness.


The first hurdle we had to overcome was a broken impeller in the kicker motor. Thanks to a quick phone call from Dad and a rapid response time from Kristen we were able to get the little chunk of black, day-saving plastic before the shop closed. We put the little motor back together and "VROOM" we were running and that wonderful little stream of cooling water was flowing out of the engine. We had propulsion again, but we lost the day and thus the weekend. She would have to wait.




Stupid Hurricane



The next weekend was almost ruined by a hurricane that was predicted to slam right into Savannah the day she was to be launched. Thank goodness Irene moved up the coast, but we were still planning on getting our boat into the water come hell or very high (hurricane) induced water.





On the hour and a half trek from Lyons, GA to the coast we ran into some more issues. About 30 minutes from the coast the towing truck started to skip. We had to ask the stupid question, "what else could go wrong." We got her pulled into a Lowe's parking lot and went to work. The good news is that we knew where we were doing this time, but we were slowed by having to pick up some spare parts. Also, it's good to note that more people seem to stop and ask if you need help when you're towing a 22' sailboat (FYI).




Almost there...



Finally she was ready to hit the water. She was launched late in the afternoon on August 27th, 2011 from Hogan's Marina on Wilmington Island, GA. I feel confident that the staff there was an average of 14 years old and that they all thought we were crazy, but they got her into the water. At that point she could have sank to the bottom and Dad would have still been proud of her. The short motor from the launch to Sail Harbor Marina (home port) lasted less than 10 minutes, but we all felt like we were Poseidon himself, rulers of the seas.






This is how we felt put into pictures...


Once we hit the dock is started to rain (again). To paint the scene for you, here's four brand new sailors trying to put the mast up for the first time, in the rain, and with darkness closing in. It took a while, some "intense" conversation, bending some parts (there's another West Marine trip), and losing a custom built mast hoist to Davie Jones before we were done but by God that mast was up and the boat is in the salt water again for the first time in who knows how many years.







Here's part of the crew in the rain. A lot of not fun.





Remember how we asked, "what else could go wrong?"



Well, on the day the boat was launched I started hearing a ringing in my left ear, by that evening I was having dizzy spells, and that night I almost died. I did not know it at the time, but earlier that week I had been infected with a version of Staff. Long story short and infection went crazy on my face, in my inner ear, and somewhat my brain. I still can't hear anything in my left ear which may or may not come back. They told me that if I had not been treated on Sunday morning I would 100% have been in the hospital for a week and I might have had brain issues (AKA - zombie). Thanks to some quick action by Kristen and my being awesome I pulled my brain from the clutches of the infection. Moral to the story, never utter the stupid words, "what else could go wrong."


It also helped that my doctor looked just like this guy....






"Whoa, you're one sick dude."  
Good Times,


- Jake

The Back Story - Time, Money, and Skill

Who knows where this ol' boat came from maybe heaven, maybe hell, or maybe somewhere in between.

 
We ran into her years and years ago when my brother (Charlie) bought it from a guy who let her get very run down. He worked on her off and on for a while and we all thought that she would hit the water under him, but that's not what the boat had in mind. After sometime my father (Mike) got the boat from my brother and she sat in the yard providing shade for dogs to nap. We all had a feeling she would rot there. On a faithful day he started working on her, his plan was to get her into the water by the end of the year or donate the whole thing to charity.


He lived up to our family motto which is,"to undertake and preserve."


 
After working more man hours than it took to build the pyramids and spending what seemed like more than I make in a year at West Marine, Catalina Direct, Wal-Mart, Bass Pro, and Food Lion (you get hungry) we were almost ready to get her to the water. To his credit, my father is extremely gifted with his hands because the boat looks and feels wonderful. It also helps that he keeps a nuclear power plan running for a job, so "overkill" is NOT in this man's dictionary. I'm pretty sure this boat could outlast China's newest aircraft carrier if needed. Good work Pop.
 

Here's a picture of him on a popsicle break...


 
This list is too long to host on this site, but here's an idea of what she's had done. I wish I had some pictures, but no dice.
  • New bottom paint
  • New top paint
  • New side striping/paint
  • Fully rewired (I mean FULLY)
  • All of the teak has been sanded, refinished, and polished
  • Keel restoration (taken down, sanded, refilled, and painted)
  • All of the cushions have been replaced and recovered
  • All new lines and rigging (except the sails for now)
  • Kicker motor rebuild and tuned
  • Cleaned and waxed

 
Good Times,

 
- Jake

 
Location:Lyons, Ga