Constellation Gets Attention and a New Film

Sailing on your own all the time isn’t easy. Nor is finding the motivation to work alone on your own boat, especially when you’re not going anywhere soon. Working alone, can be characterised as a series of events related to figuring out how things are attached to the vessel, and more importantly, how to un-attach things from the vessel. All screws are usually through-bolted on the other side, leaving you to run into the boat, put a pair of vice grips on the nut, run back out, and through great patience take something apart.

So when Mari offered to help me, I was overjoyed. When he told me he was an electrical engineer, and I glanced at my switchbox, I did a little dance inside my head. It feels like just yesterday when I had that box wide open, manually shorting wires to try and get my nav lights working again. I never did, and ghosting into Greenport with the cabin lights as a poor substitute, it wouldn’t be until several months down the track, that I’d realise that the North Fork of Long Island were not going to let me leave again without a completely seaworthy boat.

So Mari dropped by, and asked what needed to be fixed – it was difficult trying to explain that everything needed to be fixed. I didn’t want to scare him off, but I had to be honest: Constellation was built in 1972, and I had kept things barely working through lack of money, proper tools, and a second person to help me make real repairs. The Austrians are meticulous, the Australians are adaptive. I had adapted to a boat that had so many ‘quirks’, each individual system required special knowledge just to make it function, or knowledge of where the breakages were so as to be extra careful. Nevertheless, Constellation is an incredibly well built and seaworthy boat, straight off the rack. So while I may have been less than savvy from a number of different angles, my decision on her as the boat that could do it, was sound.

We carefully took each leaky window out, drove back to Mari’s workshop, cleaned, straightened, drilled and sealed each window, before mounting them back and marveling at the possibility of a dry interior. Of course, it wasn’t as simple as that, taking several days of somewhat irritating and gooey labour. In the meantime, Mari either didn’t sleep, or had engineered several more hours of daylight onto the average day, and rebuilt my electrical panel. It now sports new switches, an LCD panel, displaying voltage & current, both in and out (ie. charge from the solar panels), and even has descriptive labels! Not so long ago, the ‘EMG/NAV’ switch could have turned on any number of things, depending on what state of mind I’d been in at the last at-sea re-wiring exercise.

While all this was underway, the amazingly generous Mike Acebo of the Brewer Yacht Yard in Greenport, put two people on the job of sanding and antifouling the bottom with Interlux Micron 66. Mike has been instrumental in helping me out here in Greenport, yet I’ll dedicate an entire post to his generosity at a later date.

As the antifoul dried, Mark from Doyle Sails dropped by with my foresails recut to suit a furler, and a new sail cover. Mark was disappointed to hear I was trucking the boat, thinking I wasn’t a purest; he had a change of heart when told of my intentions to cycle, and so I was forgiven to contemplating the use of land to transport a boat.

There are still many jobs to complete, yet at last things are feeling more upbeat. When Constellation came out of the water, I knew it was going to take such an enormous effort to get her back in. My friend Walter and I put together a list of things ‘to do’ one rainy night, and the next day I looked at it with an air of depression. Yet now things are coming together, and slowly Constellation will return to a state of seagoing glory.

Thank you so much to Mari, Mike, Nino, Rick, Walter and Mark for everything: not only for the assistance, but also for the morale boost it provides. The wheels of this whole thing are still churning forward, even when at times it all seems ridiculous and even laughable!

And on the topic of ridiculous, I’ve put together a new video about my trip from the Caribbean to New York. It somehow blew out to 33 minutes in length, and I apologise profusely for even thinking I could entertain you for that long, while I gawk and moan at the camera for 28 days.

Solo from the Caribbean to New York in 28 days from nickj on Vimeo .