Thursday, August 24, 2017

The Lady Anne

This summer has been a a pretty busy one, everything ended up going on hold. If you follow us on Facebook you'll remember that we tore out my bathroom. If you wondered why, here is the reason!

Help us welcome the S/V Lady Anne to the family! A hard won acquisition who is now floating in her own dock at a nearby marina.  She now has a new life, a new name, and a new family to enjoy her!

Below is my Husband's story on how she became ours. Enjoy! 


 Hello All!

So, my darling wife Megan has asked me to draft a post regarding our newest project…S/V Lady Anne.

As some of you might already know, I was, for a time, an officer in the Navy. While a midshipman at Annapolis, myself and two other friends devised a scheme to purchase a small sloop and live aboard her while going through flight school. Ultimately, this plan, though adventurous…proved illogical for three penniless young ensigns. Time passed, we went our separate ways, and sadly, in 2005, we lost one of our trio to a tragic aircraft incident.

Years went by, and I eventually returned from sea, settled in historic Harriman…and of course, met the love of my life.

About six months ago, I decided that the small fishing boat and motorcycle I never used had become monuments to vain attempts at combining my past with my present. What was needed was something epic…something that connected my love of the sea to the new adventure of marriage and fatherhood.
I had my crew…all I needed was the ship.

 After a lengthy search, I found a suitable Cal 2-25 sloop within my price range, called the owner, and set a meeting time to see the vessel. Unfortunately, it sold before I could arrive. However, the owner was gracious enough to assist me in continuing the search. The next craft I viewed was an older Catalina 22 at a private dock. Though a viable prospect, the owner wanted much more than it was worth, considering the amount of work that would’ve been required to restore it. Finally, one rainy day mid-summer, I drove to a marina on Watts Bar Lake to view a 36 foot boat being sold for the inconceivable sum of only $500…and found that to save it, would undoubtedly cost ten times that much.

Despairing, I had all but given up when an ad for a 1976 Chrysler Marine C22 appeared online. It had been “refitted” within the last five years, “dry” for at least one year, and according to the seller, was in tip-top condition. I drove into Knoxville and met what was soon to become my ship. We settled on a price, and I arranged to have the boat shipped to my marina…intending to launch within two weeks.

As any sailor can tell you…this is never, ever the case with older boats.

 Excited about my new acquisition, I offered Megan the honor of naming her. We originally opted for the Annie Laurie, after Megan’s famous Scottish ancestor…but soon found another boat was registered under the same name and still sailing in Halifax. I then suggested “Lady Anne” to honor both Lady Laurie, and our mutual love of Lucy Maude Montgomery. I also had fond memories of an old pirate film from the 1930’s where the hero’s (Randolph Scott) frigate was named “Lady Anne”.

Digging into my project, I discovered several series issues…including a fatal flaw hidden within the hardware supporting the 800 lb cast iron “swing keel”. The system involved metal plates that served as the only real load bearing for the keel, with two inch penetrations into the inner hull that once failed…would allow water to rush into the ship and ruin any good sailing day.

These plates were rusted away to the point of being unserviceable.

This repair, feared by many centerboard sailors, required a dry-dock, and fortunately for me, my father-in-law provided both the space and equipment (not to mention the expertise) to make the effort.

 The first step was removing the heavy keel itself, requiring that the boat be lifted onto stands we had to build to custom fit the hull. After several weeks, we lifted the boat onto her new temporary bed and set about lowering the monster hunk of iron. Ultimately, I had to saw through the stainless steel hinge pin…the keel dropping loudly into the cradle we had made for this express purpose.

 Once out, we could assess the true nature of the keel brackets…as you can see, they were virtually gone. Had I launched on these, there is every probability that we would have quickly taken on water.

Megan’s father had a friend who is a master of metal fabrication, and he was good enough to make the new parts in his shop (and teach a bit while he was at it).

We then began the task of re-fitting these to the boat. Since we opted for mild steel, I coated the parts in John Deer equipment paint before dry fitting for the new hardened stainless pin. Once seated with silicone, we raised the keel back into position (a frustrating four hour job) and were amazed when the pin slid home as planned. The hard part was done…

…or so we thought.

The next step was painting the boat. Now experts all have good advice, and one can easily spend several hundred dollars on the proper marine grade, anti-fouling paints. In general, this advice is mandatory, unless one wished to have problems later on (blistering, sea-life infestations, osmosis leaks, etc.). However, after doing some research, I determined that an alkyd enamel of industrial quality should be sufficient for use on a lake (baring zebra mussels) or at least if hauled out and cleaned at least once per year.

 I went with a fire engine red bottom, hunter green hull and gold racing stripe. This was to not only make the boat stand apart among a sea (no pun intended) of white and blue boats…but imitate colors of earlier wood hulled yachts.

The trouble was that a previous owner did follow the “advice”, and painted a hard ablative (translation…poisonous) bottom paint on. Prepping this surface required use of a full respirator, and again, I took the calculated risk of painting “hard over hard”, hoping that time and the elements wouldn’t remove my coat of enamel.

Once painted, the boat was now ready to be turned back into a sailing vessel. I had planned on doing very little with the mast…after all, it looked in good shape. However, the stock mast stepping (raising) system consisted of a rather sketchy broken aluminum wedge that did nothing more than level the mast as the shrouds were used to support it. This system, while common for the time, also makes raising or lowering the mast quite a hazardous enterprise. The common solution is installment of a “mast hinge”; essentially a giant hinge that allows the mast to pivot fully supported.

Again, I was fortunate to have fabrication support.

Fitting this hinge, aligning it and getting the mast up proved to be perhaps the hardest and most frustrating part of the entire project…but we eventually did it.

Now, we were ready to launch, right?


 It took another week of re-rigging the mainsheet, boom-vang, halyards and outhaul…going through the electrical system, installing a bilge pump and navigational instruments.

Even then, we were still some ways off from launching.

The 3,000 lb boat had to be replaced on her trailer, the outboard installed, and then transported nearly a hundred miles before launch.

The first “catch” was the ’93 Nissan 8 hp outboard that refused to even “crank”, let alone “fire”. After several days of troubleshooting, I took the block apart and found it to be full of sand.

Scratch one outboard.

 I ended up buying a (much too large) 15 hp short shaft (much too short) motor, we mounted it…and that would be our powerplant for launch.

The last touch was to place the handmade wood stern plate on.

Lady Anne was officially ready for the water.

On the appointed day, my father-in-law, father and close friend Matt all arrived to help. My mother-in-law and lovely bride (as well as “powder monkey” Edmund) rounded out the crew. After a couple of hours of mast raising, re-rigging and final adjustments, we judged it time, and I climbed into the cockpit.

Our marina is fabulous, and they have a boat ramp off the key, only about a quarter mile from my slip. Therefore, I was expecting a very easy transit to home berth. However, as per usual, “Murphy” showed up.

 First, the “new” outboard refused to start. After several test runs at home in the drum stand…she wouldn’t sputter to life. Frustrated, we tried everything until I finally got it to come to life, reluctantly. My father-in-law and Matt joined me onboard, and we glided out into the channel without any trouble.

At this point, I should share a word or two about my concerns at this moment.

For starters, though I have been a sailor for some time, it had been five years since my last sailboat…a much smaller, simpler 12 foot racer. It had been nearly twenty years since my last experience in a forty foot sloop. The vast majority of my experience had been on the bridge of large amphibious transport ships with a team of eight managing all of the tasks of shiphandling.

To say the least…I was concerned.

One of the first things they teach you about being at the helm of any vessel is that boats do not “steer” like a car. Over-steering can create oscillations in movement that can quickly lead to loss of control. Speed, which is vital for maintaining effective rudder control is easily bled off…particularly on vessels that are by necessity, underpowered…as is the case with a mid-size sloop. Without room to tack, raising the sails was an unlikely prospect, and provided I could make it to the pier…not pranging into it (or another boat) was a key consideration.

Lastly, I was concerned about depth under the keel.

The Chrysler 22, owing to its variable geometry centerboard, can float in extremely shallow water. However, I had charted some dangerous shoal water on several points of the short transit, and installed a Lowrance Hook 4X system to manage it.

Naturally, the Lowrance decided not to work this day.

All of these challenges aside, we made it around the peninsula and lined up for an approach to our slip on the leeward side of the finger piers. There was another sailboat tied up outboard of the pier, and a relatively new 26 foot boat opposite my slip. Because of these factors, I came in wide, slow, and ultimately…too wide, and too slow.

The boat lost steerageway and started to slip with wind and current.

 Now in these situations, power is your friend…again, the outboard decided to take a vacation.

Fighting the motor, and drifting ever closer to the sunken logs on the far end of the inlet; I finally got it to fire and pulled away from the water hazards. At this point, the logical step was to drive straight for the pier, bow on. However, I found that even at full throttle, I couldn’t get the bow over fast enough to thread the needle between what is called “advance and transfer”…nautical terms that essentially mean calculating your actual track over water. In short, if the boat is moving forward quickly under power, but laterally due to wind or current, you will not drive in a “straight” line.

In order to put my line of travel onto the slip, I needed to get the bow far over to starboard before slamming into the other finger pier only about 200 yards ahead…it simply wasn’t happening.

At that point, I decided to “prop walk” at slow speed. The propeller blades, turning clockwise, were slowly “pulling” the boat to starboard, and the boat was advancing slower in the forward direction. In this manner, I hoped to “hop” to the pier…slowly.

Ultimately, I found that the reverse gear (powered by 15 horses) was sufficient to “back” into the pier, close enough to get a line over.

We were there…it was done.

Over the next week, I de-bugged the electrical, fixed a few items that didn’t meet my approval, and was ready for the “maiden voyage”, solo, the following Saturday.

Again…that troublesome motor refused to start.

 I decided that after so much effort, a new outboard was worth the cost. I sourced a brand new, 6 hp, Tohatsu “Sail Pro” 4-stroke.

We’ll see this weekend, if newly powered, S/V Lady Anne will finally get under way…

…this time with my “First Mate” and best friend onboard.

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