Sailing, Biking, and Newton’s First Law of Motion

Well after more than two months, I’m finally updating my blog. My laptop got salt water on it one day when sailing and ever since then it would not start up. So I finally got a chance to take it to a repair shop and they fixed it so I can post again.

But to be honest I have not felt like writing. I was feeling unhealthy and lazy. I recalled that Newton’s First law of Motion states that an object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion. As I sat on my boat all day doing very little I found it difficult to get up and do stuff unless I absolutely had to. For example, I bought a kayak to explore my surroundings when at anchor. But when the time came I just couldn’t force myself to get up and put the thing in the water. It was just easier to make another cup of tea and sit back and enjoy the view. For someone who is normally quite active, this sedentary lifestyle was unnatural. So I made plans back in January to put the boat in dry dock, buy a new bicycle, and head out back on the road.

But first let’s catch up. One big problem I had was my motor which raised the anchor and chain suddenly quit working. So I had to haul up everything by hand which is quite a workout. The anchor is 35# plus 100 ft of 5/16 chain. So I had a couple weeks just waiting for spare parts to show up. After replacing 2 components with no results I studied the wiring schematic again closely and found a wire that was not hooked up correctly. I moved the wire and viola, it worked. But not before I spent $300 in parts. Well at least now I have spares. I’ve learned redundancy is a good thing on a boat.

That brings up a good point which I did not realize before I bought the boat: a skipper must be a jack of all trades unless you are rich and can pay someone to fix all the problems. Specifically you need to be able to troubleshoot and repair:

  • Sails and the furling mechanism, and climbing the mast
  • Electrical systems, including batteries, wiring and the dozens of electrical equipment such as motors, pumps, navigation, etc.
  • Plumbing systems
  • Engine issues, including cooling system, starter, lubrication, gearbox, and propeller. I change the engine oil and filter about every 200 hours, the gearbox oil every 400 hours, the fuel water separator every 400 hours, and the fuel filter every 400 hours.
  • Steering system, including autopilot, rudder, cables
  • Dinghy inflation, care and motor issues
  • Anchor system, including windlass, anchor loads, sizing, setting and retrieving the anchor
  • In addition you need to be able to navigate, read the weather, handle rough seas, shallow seas, other marine traffic, and docking
  • Use of AIS to avoid collisions
  • Knowing what to do in emergencies, use of VHF radio, PLB, use of flares, etc.
  • How to trim the sails to maximize speed and safety
  • Being a good cook doesn’t hurt either

One day I tried to go to the Florida keys again, but I saw white smoke coming from the engine, which I figured was an overheating problem. I found a loose v belt to the cooling water pump but could not tighten it. I realized the belt was too big. I have 2 spare belts but they were the wrong size DUH! So I motored back to Hollywood on the damaged v belt. I made it OK but had to wait around for the the correct size belts to be shipped in. Meanwhile I got this nice sunset photo of the Miami skyline.

I finally got the new v belts and in May I started to make the trip from Miami to Jacksonville, where the boatyard was located. I had some good sailing days but mostly it was just motoring up the Intercoastal waterway. As summer is approaching there was lots of boat traffic. One evening I got to an anchorage but there were several boats there already. It was a tight squeeze. I poked around, trying to find a spot but hit a shoal suddenly. The depth went from 7 feet to 4.5 feet in a couple seconds. I was stuck for a few minutes before the wind blew me back off the shoal. Finding a good anchorage is a challenge in crowded places like the ICW.

But I made it to Jacksonville without incident and they hauled my boat out and put it in the dry dock. Here she is in the storage yard.

So the plan is to keep the boat there for the next six months while I bicycle around the country for a bit. I am currently in Golden, CO at my sister’s house preparing for my trip. My new bike is called a gravel bike, which, as the name implies, is designed for gravel roads. So it has low gears, thick knobby tires, and is rugged but lightweight. It is a totally different style of touring than I have done before: mostly gravel roads if possible. Here’s the bike with my old panniers and equipment.

In July and August I plan on riding north to Montana and just explore eastern Montana for a bit. I’m hoping the exercise will get me in shape and I’ll feel healthier. I need to lose about 40#. I’m excited to be off the boat after 1 1/2 years and am really looking forward to this trip. Stay tuned.