sailing homepage : trip reports : summer refit : steering cables & first sail!

Sep 16-18: Moving on-board, cushion installation, winch rebuilding, steering cable installation, and our first sail!

The weekend came way too fast. Everything turned out to be a blur, but one thing kept us going: we were going to go for our first test sail on Monday the 18th. All the work, the drama, the late nights and expensive stainless marine parts - they were all going to be worth it.

Saturday we were up early on a mission. As soon as we got to the boat we had to put the cushions down. The patterns we picked are great, the covers Sara's mother sewed for us are amazing, and you can barely see where we screwed up with the foam cutting! Everything looks just top notch.

Loading up the cushions


Sara installing the dri-deck

The V-berth cushions fit perfectly (phew!).

Perfect fit!


As comfy as it looks

The couch cushions and couch backboard also came out perfectly!

Installing the backboard


As comfy as it looks

Sara took off for her Bachelorette Party, and I attacked the remaining six winches with vigor. I love to rebuild winches now. I rule at winches. Except ones where there are no instructions. I suck at rebuilding those winches. Unfortunately, those are the ones we have.

Winch rebuild with lots of parts


How the hell do these parts go back together?




Sunday came early. My little batchelorette was back! While I had been spending all my time working on winches and other outside projects, I had absolutely neglected the interior. It was a complete and absolute disaster. We had a metric tonne of parts to put away somewhere. I have no idea where it all went. We may have thrown some of it away.

Crazy messy cabin


My beauty batchelorette

Sara and I worked all day on tons of different projects. We buttoned up the solar panel mounts and I started (but couldn't finish) the wiring. We did a lot of organizing and packing.

More moving boxes


Solar panel wiring

The anchor roller and the windlass were attached, for real, for the first time ever. It was a crying shame Mike wasn't here. When I winched up the anchor for the first time (off the dock, but still), I felt a tear come to my eye.

Anchor roller


Windlass is attached!

The windlass didn't go down perfectly, it was just cosmetic for the trial sail on Monday. Below is a picture showing the wooden backing plate for one bolt. The quarters were expensive plugs for filling previous holes with epoxy. The quarters were taped in place, then epoxy was poured into the holes in the deck. We wanted to get the quarters back, but I guess we didn't fully think it through.

Expensive hole-plugging scheme


Windlass, roller, chain, and anchor!

The last big job on Sunday was the steering system. We had commissioned Jesse from WM Sausalito to build us a new SS wire connection to the chain, and we just needed to install it. I had Sara help by feeding the lines down the binnacle, and we ran them back to the steering quadrant. We accidentally crossed the lines, and after we noticed our mistake, we took great care to run the lines straight back to the quadrant.

Binnacle top with steering cables


Steering cables and fairlead sheaves

After dark, we worked ourselves to sleep with more cabin repacking. It was exhausting - working every moment on ten or twenty different projects - but we had a goal: our Monday test sail with Synthia. It kept us going all weekend. It was the only thing we were looking forward to.

Monday came way too quickly. We finished up the cabin, threw everything unsorted into one big bag and hid it in a secure spot, and met Synthia at the gate. Well, not really, I was putting one final adjustment into the steering system when she arrived. Still, we finished JUST in time.

Clean interior cabin


Synthia installing the new mainsail

Synthia installed the main while we got everything else ready. Finally, after four months of planning, we were ready to sail Wanderlust for the second time. The first was during the purchase process, just before we bought her. It was an incredibly stressful and rewarding moment. Well, it WOULD have been rewarding...

We gathered all of our friends around the slip and started backing out. Keep in mind this was the first time we had run the engine in four months! We had just finished replacing the rusty water mix exhaust fitting. It was also the first time we had steered the boat with the new steering.

We carefully backed out and I turned the wheel over to turn us. Funny, but the boat turned the other way a bit. No problem, just more steering input and more throttle, right? Nope! We were not doing well. The 20,000lb boat was now moving quite quickly out of control. Everyone was looking at me like I was an idiot.

I leaned off the back of the boat and steered by the rudder. Everything was fine. We got back in the slip, and it took an honest-to-goodness minute before the stress and adrenaline wore off and I could understand what went wrong.

Sara and I had very carefully run the steering cables straight off the steering gear, down the binnacle, through the sheaves, and back to the steering quadrant. We ran the cables so carefully, so precisely, there was no way they could be crossed. This means that when you turn the wheel to the right, the cable gets pulled, and the quadrant turns to the right. Perfect!

Not really. Not perfect. Turning the quadrant to the right causes the rudder to turn to the right. This turns the boat to the left. We carefully had hooked up the steering backwards.

Synthia had to go. Tearing apart the locker and fixing the steering would have taken hours. I sat on the dock and cried. It sucked. So much work and effort, so much failure.

Sara tried to cheer me up, our dock friends tried, even Synthia gave me a pat on the back as she left. Nothing helped.

I tore into the locker a few hours later and everything was fixed just an hour after that. We backed in and out of the slip three or four times, we did some donuts at the end of our slip row in the marina. We had some fun, but it wasn't sailing! That wouldn't happen until next week.. but I'm getting ahead of myself.