Skip navigation

I suppose I’d better write down this trip before I forget it.

You know that old saying by Roseanne Roseannadanna’s uncle? The one that goes “If it’s not one thing, it’s another”?

These are the voyages of the SV Sovereign. Or alternatively, the life and times of a landlord.
As I write this , it’s about, oh, I dunno, 20 degrees F as the sun is coming up here in Tucson, AZ.
Pam, in her never-ending quest to save a few bucks, has the house at about 64 degrees. So between sips of hot coffee, I cradle the mug for a bit, then go back to the keyboard.

Been very busy with a “surprise” move-out (I hate those), ripping out old carpeting, tack strip and baseboard, preparing the place for tile throughout. I think there’s only one more place we haven’t tiled as of yet. So between that, a vicious little rhinovirus, and various and sundry other diversions, we’ve been somewhat busy.

But never mind about all that. Let me tell you about my latest sailing adventure.

Day 1-
I left Tucson late in the morning, heading up towards Phoenix to my usual winter sailing waters of Lake Pleasant. After stopping at a supermarket for some provisions, I got to the lake by about 1500 hrs. It’s gonna be tight, getting the boat rigged and transiting to an anchorage, the depths of which I’m currently unaware…

I set a new record for solo-rigging, 1.25 hours, and was assisted by a kind young man putting her in. Thanks again, Allen!
I set out towards Castle Creek, and by the time I was halfway there, the sun had set. Turning on my nav lights, this is technically my first night sail. Gliding downwind past the big ‘ol ramp near the mouth of the creek, past a couple of shoreline campers, I entered the protected waterway, fired up the outboard, and doused sails.
My keel was down but unlocked, just in case of a grounding. Good thing, too, because I ran into some pretty thin water about halfway up. I’m puttering along, fat, dumb and happy, when all of a sudden a crunching, a great slowing, and a loud wailing occur.

Whiskey Tango Foxtrot, what is that noise??? I don’t have a grounding alarm!

Turns out, the little airhorn I keep partially screwed together had gotten bumped just right, and let loose with a blast that just slowly faded away. Freaked the heck outta me!

Crank up the keel, check the depth around my propeller, and continue upstream. The last time I was here, I was able to
navigate clear up to the Castle Creek bridge, but now, I end up about a third of a mile South of there, looking at brush and rocky protrusions all around me. Dropping the anchor overboard, I came to about 15 feet of depth, and put out about 75 feet of rode. That should allow me to swing safely out of reach of the nearby shores. I also raised my rudder and motor, just in case.

Dinner was pasta and the last of that arrabiata sauce. With newfound GPS capability, I recorded my position as N33.55.368, W112.18.826. The little picture on the small Garmin unit showed me as being out of the water. Hmm.

Day 2-

36 degrees F, pressure 30.46 in/hg, and a light NNW breeze. My battery voltage- 12.68v, down from last night’s 12.85. I’m looking at LED lighting technology to lessen that drain on the battery.
I had also cobbled together a small solar charger from stuff I had lying around the shop. It puts out about 28-30 volts, but very low amperage, so it’s really only good for maintaining a fully charged battery.

Solar anchorage

And now, the less-talked about, more unglamorous side of life aboard ship.
The brand-new porta-potti I’d installed last summer got it’s first workout, and much to my dismay, when I lifted my lard-ass up off of the thing, I was horrified to find liquid seeping out onto the sole of the head. That means the “floor of the bathroom” to you landlubbers. Crikey!
A few minutes of mopping and rinsing, followed by an inspection, revealed a loose fitting O ring between the upper and lower parts of the unit, and if I didn’t fill the bowl with flushing water, it wouldn’t leak like that. Still, how frustrating to find a problem like this on a brand-new, unused bit of kit. Well, that’s why I’m pushing the boat’s systems, in preparation for the Sea of Cortez expedition.
Thank goodness for the lake’s administrators, for putting a couple of floating loos out there.

At the loo

You can see that my spinnaker got a little use that morning. I was able to sail from my anchorage right to the floating bathroom, engineless.
It was empowering.
I spent the rest of the day exploring the Northern edges of the lake, settling on Cole’s Wash for that night’s anchorage. The powers that be hadn’t yet marked any hazards up in the wash, so I played it safe, sailing upstream under foresail alone, keeping a close eye on the water for tell-tale changes in color and contour. Reaching the limits of the wash’s navigable portion, I dropped the Manson overboard.
Dinner consisted of a couple of hot dogs, with plenty of onion and mustard.

My cell phone rang, and I wondered who would be calling me. Was it Pam, with a rental problem needing attention? No, thank goodness, it’s Bob, from Phoenix. He’d trailered his MacGregor Venture 25 up to the lake that afternoon, and was staying aboard on dry land that night in the parking lot. He had wondered if I was at the marina, and I told him I was up a creek, literally. We made plans to rendezvous the next morning.
My position was N33.55.747, W112.16.960, with winds 3-5 kts SSW.

Long about midnight, the wind picked up to 12-15 kts NNE, swinging my boat around 180 degrees. I noticed the anchor rode had what looked like a much shorter scope than I’d put out, indicating it was caught on an underwater snag of some sort. I wasn’t too worried, but made sure the anchor drag alarm on the little GPS unit was functioning, and set out a spare anchor in the cockpit, just in case.

My VHF radio seemed to be going on the fritz, as the NOAA weather channels were either silent or the reception broken. I suspected a bad antenna connection, because when the boat rocked, it’d go on and off. Chalk up another thing to figure out.
Better here than on the Sea of Cortez.

Day 3-

The next morning, after breakfast, I proceeded to haul in on my anchor, and immediately confirmed last night’s suspicions regarding the snag. I had put out about 120 feet of rode, but could only haul in about 50 feet before the line went vertical. I cleated it off, and let the boat’s action do it’s work.
And it wasn’t working.
Aye-yi-yi, that’s an expensive anchor down there!
Uncleating the rode, I let out the 50 feet I’d hauled in, re-cleated and started up the outboard motor. Driving forward, the boat came to a screeching halt. Reversing, same thing. No, no, no! It reminded me of trying to get out of a snowbank while 4-wheeling offroad many years ago in Michigan. Forward, reverse, forward, etc..
Letting out even more half-inch three-strand, I was wondering what would let loose first, the snag, or my deck cleat? Power up, and a screeching halt again!
I seriously considered diving on the snag, to get some idea of what I was dealing with. But then I figured, even if I could diagnose the issue, I most likely couldn’t pull the boat enough from underwater to slacken the rode and free it up. I needed a pilot aboard, maneuvering the boat while I untangled the mess below, or I could attach a float and line to the rode behind the snag, cut the rode, and then haul up my expensive anchor. The air temperature was about 40 degrees, and I thought about hypothermia…Okay, forget getting wet.

More rode was let out, more momentum achieved, and finally, it broke free! Surfacing about 50 yards away was the snag. It was a small tree, complete with trunk and vestigial root structure, about 10-12 feet long.
I had just saved my $250.00 anchor, and all my rode. I sailed happily away, leaving the tree adrift.

Heading South, the morning winds died, but I was able to maintain headway with both sails catching what little breeze remained.
Hey, there’s another sailboat downlake, and squinting through the spyglass, I recognized another MacGregor with a mainsail marked “V25”.
Hi, Bob!

Frog Lady3

Frog Lady4

Along with him were his son and grandson, James and Robert. James was below for this photo.

Bobs aboard

He seemed to be making good time heading upwind, considering the shape of his sails. When we finally intercepted each other, I noticed his outboard was doing most of the work.
It seems that a masthead sheave was giving him problems, causing difficulties in raising his main properly. It looked as if his luff’s boltrope had shrunk. Something with his foresail was acting up, too.

Frog Lady2

Oh, well, at least you’re out enjoying the boat, eh?

As it was coming up on noontime, I suggested we check out the restaurant at Scorpion Bay Marina. We lunched on pulled chicken BBQ sandwiches, home fries and light beer, and a big ‘ol fried chicken sandwich and root beer for young Robert.

After lunch, we inspected each other’s boats, and then set out onto the lake again. The boys wanted to do some fishin’.

I neglected to get a shot of the “Black Scorpion” that was gracing the dock there at the restaurant. Looked like a 30-plus foot pirate ship, with a skeletal helmsman. It had eight cannons sticking their muzzles out, four per beam. Next time.

We both meandered uplake, Bob sticking to the Western shoreline, while I tacked across the lake. He was planning on anchoring out that evening, who knows where. Myself, I was figuring on Cole’s Wash again. I mean, what are the chances that I’d snag another tree?

Back up the wash, I anchored a little deeper upstream, fixed my dinner and kept an eye out for Bob and crew to join me for the night, but they were a no-show.
With the winds doing crazy stuff long about midnight again, I thought “What about Bob?” He only had one anchor, a slip-ring Danforth-type. It reminded me of my first time anchoring out on Lake Pleasant, and that memory is not a very pleasant one. Wind shifts and Danforths just don’t seem to get along very well, IMO.
Turns out, he had spent a sleepless night somewhere up the Agua Fria river.
I got two words for ya’, Bob. Manson Supreme. It’s the best money I’ve spent on a good night’s sleep aboard a boat. I’ll not enjoy the time I might have to cut it away, someday.

Day 4-

As I sailed back down the lake towards the ramp, about halfway there the winds turned limp. I was wondering what Phoenix traffic would be like, seeing as I would be hitting it about late afternoon. Not the best time, but “it is what it is”. Haul-out and tear-down, and hit the road by about 1500 hours.
Yep, not the best time at all.

Back in Tucson, the extreme cold spell we’ve had for the last few days, and the renovation of a rental, have prevented me from installing my latest improvements to the boat.

tiller pilot

That’s the Raymarine ST2000 tiller pilot, and like the anchor, a bit too big for my boat.

But likely not too small for my next boat…


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: