On August 21st last year, Changabang and I met for the first time. It took many steps but then she was here. And now we’re D-50 from departure (that’s variable of course). Time flies; are we ready? Not yet …
Where is CaB now?
On 8/12 I left Half Moon Bay to sail to the Berkeley Marine Center (BMC). I left with no wind, and motored for several hours before hoisting the sails and enjoying a wonderful, soft, upwind ride up the coast. When we got into the Bay the wind had climbed up to 18-22 kts. BMC is located in the Berkeley Marina, which is in a shallow area. My plan was to wait until high tides around 5PM to make my entrance. But I was there early so I dropped all sails, and made my way slowly through the shallows, doing 3.5 kts with no engine and no sails, closely monitoring the depth. 3 feet, 2 feet, 1.5 feet. We were clearing the bottom just fine when we arrived at the marina entrance so I decided to go in. I moved about to get the fenders in place, and stopped watching the depth meter. And, of all place that could easily be dredged, I ran aground in the marina entrance, with rock jettys on both sides. Not exactly a great prospect. Tide was rising, so that was good.
I tried powering up the engine in reverse or forward, but all that did is get me stuck deeper. My friend Jacky was waiting to help with the docking, and also had mentioned having banana bread in her purse. Damn, so close but so far. I proceeded to tidy up things on deck (might as well put time to good use), until a fellow on his dinghy came along proposing to help. I declined as I didn’t think he could much. He was insistent and started pushing the bow. With some engine power we then managed to clear things out. And so, finally, we got into the fuel dock, where the water was deep enough.
Yet again in the lift
The original plan was to haul out the next day. But I was there, the BMC crew was there, so Cree, the owner, told everyone to haul us out a day ahead. In my little time with CaB, she’s been in the lifts more time than I thought reasonable! To get in the water in Frossay, to get on the quay in Antwerp, to get on the cargo ship in Antwerp, to get off the cargo ship in San Diego, and now to get the keel looked at and the bottom painted in Berkeley.
Things went well, and an hour later Changabang was resting in a keel pit. She attracted attention, being a racy boat and what not, which always leaves me uncomfortable, not being a racy skipper and what not, hitting above his weight, etc. (says the monkey on my back).
I slept on the boat that night, waiting morning to discuss work on the boat.
Keel no Achilles’ heel
Confirming that the keel was good to go for a circumnavigation was an essential reason for my visit to BMC. We could see that the crack that was repaired in France, was in fact still there. Whatever putty was applied didn’t seal anything; water could be seen at the edge of the cracks. So there was, as we knew, water in the keel well. I spent the better part of the day hammering two keel bolts. We found them in good standing for the most part, with one slightly corroded. Over the next few days lots of material was sanded out to expose the crack and see if anything else was brewing.
Cree of BMC says the keel is not going to fall, and PJ of CaB starts spending money again! There is still work to be done, for sure, as this picture shows but all in all, when we leave the boatyard, we should be in a better position than when we arrived.
A new sail
That first day on the yard, Sylvain of UK Sailmakers showed up to make measurements for the sail that will be funded by the Ocean Cruising Club. Sylvain has been very helpful in my early days with CaB; he’s even helped shorten the maxi spi hoist. I really look forward to hoisting a new sail on Changabang! It should be ready mid/late September.
A third auto-pilot
A few days later Brian of Pelagic autopilot showed up to discuss placement/installation of his autopilot. Brian is always so helpful. He helped me quite a bit with my preparation for the 2018 SHTP. Once this complete system will be in place, I’ll have 3 fully independent self steering solutions: the old (and trusty?) B&G, the new’ish NKE (which hasn’t (yet) really proven itself on long distance sailing, on CaB that is), and the Pelagic. I also have a spare hydraulic actuator, which can be used by all 3 autopilots. I hope this will be enough, but we shall see.
At sea boat repair kit
One thing I discussed with Cree was the need for a fiberglass/carbon/and more repair kit. “Chemical” Dave at BMC made a fantastic proposition, which he even took the time to demo. That was really great! I hope to never have to use the kit, but if I have to, it feels like it is something that even this two left hands boat project guy may be able to do!
All in all it’s been a good experience so far, with Ruben helping me with my questions as his day flies by.
An unbalanced balance sheet
Confirming that the keel would be good for the trip was a key turning point for my bank account. I submitted fees to the WSSRC for the record attempt (about $2,400). I bought loads of freeze dried food (about $4,000 as Backpacker’s Pantry back pedaled on their originally generous discount, settling down to only 20%), and more incidentals. Meanwhile the GoFundMe page saw a $65 donation, for which I’m grateful of course. If you have read this far, would you consider a small donation, please?
There is hope that Changabang will leave the yard end of next week, maybe a little later. On the way back to HMB, I’ll be testing the Pelagic auto-pilot. Once back in Pillar Point Harbor, it’ll be time to prepare Changabang for departure (cleaning, loading, and a few test sails with everything aboard). And then … setting sails for a little voyage!