Commissioning and The Wind

Winter is over. If we’re going to move Red Ranger, she’s got to be ready to go.

There’s the weather issue, of course. Sunday midnight-ish the wind hit us with a vengeance. Like a tornado. But that’s getting ahead of things.

Also. This is handy:

Keep this in mind: Laundry Bleach: 1.5 qt per 100 gal. This is important because it’s about provisioning Red Ranger for a trip.

There’s nothing so energizing as provisioning. It’s wonderful.

The picture shows a whole pile of not ready to go. Those are sail bags hanging in the mail saloon and stuff randomly stacked everywhere. This is all pretty will unacceptable.

The list looked like this:

  1. Clean the strainer and open the through-hull. For winter decommissioning, we fill the sea chest with antifreeze and pump it through the raw water system. Opening the sea cock lets creek water in.
  2. Top off distilled water in the batteries. Since we have solar panels, the batteries are charged — heavily — every sunny day. This tends to heat them up and drive off water. I’d estimate at least 5 quarts spread among the the four large house-bank batteries.
  3. Change the oil. This means starting the engine and letting it warm up. Mr. Lehman wants 8 quarts of 30 weight, a NAPA 1515 filter, plus about ½ quart of oil in the injection pump.
  4. Bend on the sails. This requires light wind: otherwise we can get hurt hoisting the headsails in any kind of breeze. It was raining, but otherwise calm on Saturday. Sunday was another story.
  5. Be sure the electronics work. 
  6. Change batteries in things with batteries; mostly flashlights and headlamps. The ship’s batteries a good for one or two more years. The CO detector is still iffy. 
  7. Pump out the holding tank. This is only possible when the marina has the pump-out working. They didn’t. There’s not much in the tank other than antifreeze we pumped through the system at the start of Winter. So. We can wait.
  8. Clean and organize the interior. Get the sails up on deck is a big part of this. We need to get Scout (the dinghy) up on deck, too. She's staying below. We took the bicycles out of the V-berth, and stowed them in the car for now. If we’re going to have crew, we don’t need the folding bicycles. We need the V-berth.
  9. Find any biology experiments in the heads or galley. CA did throw away a cutting board which had developed a colorful mold infection. Everything else looked (and smelled) good.
  10. Bring back anything laundry we’d taken to our apartment in Tyson’s Corner for washing. 
  11. Paper work. Our renewed documentation, insurance cover, and our “It’s okay to board me” decal from DHS.

Those were the easy ones. Check them off. Done.

These are the hard ones:

  1. Fix the damn bang-rail. I forgot to take a picture. This is nasty because there’s a piece of steel sticking out an an awkward angle from the hull.
  2. Top off the fuel. This is awkward because the marina fuel dock is closed for the weekend. What do to? We have a 90 mile trip planned.
  3. Top off the water. About that. There was no water running at the marina. And. Well. It gets worse.

Nothing good is ever easy, is it?

The Wind

Sunday at about midnight, the breeze had picked up a little. CA was listening to noises on deck mentally cataloging them. There’s a mizzen sheet creak. And some little tapping from the line that holds down the broom. 


A wall of wind. Let’s say — conservatively — the first gust was 40 kt. Red Ranger just reared back in the slip and heeled over as far as the docklines would let her.

We had maybe four hours of insane winds. CA turned on the wind instruments to see what was going on up there. 

The temperature dropped into the 40’s. I was running around on deck rearranging fenders in my flannel pajamas. It was cold. And the wind was so stiff that it was dangerous to try and go forward of the cockpit.

The starboard spring stretched so far that we could — when twisting in the slip — just touch the boarding ladder to the electrical pylon on the dock. I thought about hauling in just a few inches of the spring to get us a little further from the dock. 


It was a raucous night. 

Bang Rail

There’s a rail around the hull that is design to hit docks and pilings. It’s in bad shape in some places. It’s in great shape in other places. Last year, we had a carpenter insert “dutchmen” (repair pieces) on the starboard side. The port side is pretty bad, and needs similar care.

On the port side, a little abaft of midships, the metal cap on the bang rail had popped a number of screws. The wood is old. The screws pull out. Slowly but eventually. 

And banging into the dock in 50 kt gusts didn’t help it any. A large portion of the wood is “checked”. The teak shattered in a few places.

Here is what I did to get the metal strip under some control.

I found some ¼” doweling. I tapped out the screw holes to a full ¼”. I dipped the dowel in wood glue and jammed it as far into the hole as I could. I took a chisel and chopped it off clean.

Once the glue set, I tapped a small pilot hole into the dowel and put in new screws. There were at least four places I could do this. I could only get it to work for two. But. The metal cap is on the bang rail well enough to get out of the slip.


Since we’ve got a 90 mile journey coming up, we’ll need about 15 gallons of fuel. Gauge shows 18 gallons. A little too close for comfort. 

The marina was effectively closed for the weekend.  How to get fuel?

Jerry jugs. We bought 20 gallons at the gas station. We ferried the fuel around in the trunk of the car.

The full jugs are now lashed to the rails. If we can’t get fuel at the last minute, we’ll siphon the jugs into the tank.


This was kind of an “ick”. We thought we’d mostly drained the water. Turns out, we hadn’t. CA looked into the starboard tank and it was fuzzy. Okay. Breathe. Remain Calm. 

Ideally, we’d pump the tank dry. Wash it. Fill it.

Sadly, dock water is off. So, that’s not workable. We bought several 3-gallon water jugs at the store, plus some additional 1-gallon jugs. We’ll use bottled water for the trip to Annapolis.

Then we’re going to have to “shock” the system. From the above link — 1.5 quarts to 100 gallons — we compute 38 ounces per 80 gallon water tank. We can probably call it 32 ounces (one quart) and it’s close enough. The article says to let it sit 12-24 hours, then run it though the system by opening taps until you smell chlorine. Let is sit another 12-24 hours. It appears that you can expect the smell to dissipate over time. 

Okay then. That sounds like a plan. We can pick up two quarts and throw them in on one day. Run the water on the next day. And let it sit.

The chlorine interacts with the exposed aluminum to create Aluminum Chloride (AlCl3) crystals. These are better than fuzzy growths in the water.

We think we’re just about ready to go. We have everything we need on board except for food. Stand by for about four weeks and we’ll see what happens.

  © Steven Lott 2020