Name Change – Sort of…

Documented!!

 

During the survey
Years ago, when we first saw Scat, we really didn’t like her name. We figured that if we ever bought her, that would be the first thing to go (turns out the first thing to go would be the marine toilet, but that’s another story).  By the time we actually got her, the name had kind of grown on us, but we still asked friends and family if they could think of a better one for a cat-rigged boat. There were some good suggestions, but we had to make a decision quickly since we were documenting her with the United States Coast Guard instead of the California Department of Motor Vehicles and ended up sticking with Scat.

The Coast Guard has some fairly strict requirements for the name on a boat: The name and hailing port for a recreational vessel must be displayed together on a clearly visible exterior part to the boat (for a commercial vessel, they must be on the stern, with the name again on each side of the bow unless the vessel is square hulled – it gets quite complicated).  All letters in the name must be at least 4 inches tall and the letters of the hailing port must be at least three inches. Once the Coast Guard processes the application, they assign the vessel a unique number which remains with the boat for the rest of it’s “life” no matter how it is registered by future owners.

§ 67.121 Official number marking requirement.  The official number of the vessel, preceded by the abbreviation “NO.” must be marked in block-type Arabic numerals not less than three inches in height on some clearly visible interior structural part of the hull. The number must be permanently affixed to the vessel so that alteration, removal, or replacement would be obvious. If the official number is on a separate plate, the plate must be fastened in such a manner that its removal would normally cause some scarring of or damage to the surrounding hull area.

Although we applied as soon as we bought Scat (before we even moved her from Alameda in September), we didn’t get the official documentation until January.  Bob tracked the progress for months.  Finding a “clearly visible interior structural part of the hull” that allowed for a fairly long number “not less than three inches in height” was not as easy as you might think on a 26 foot boat.  We settled on an area just behind our companionway steps in front of the engine.

Bob wanted to get stencils, but I insisted my printing would be good enough. He seemed dubious. I lay on my stomach and printed with an erasable pen, measuring to ensure each character was three inches. Then it was Bob’s turn to lie on his stomach and trace my lettering with a dremel drill. Then I got back down and filled it in with a sharpie. Not bad, if I do say so myself! We make a pretty good team.

Next came new lettering on the transom. We had designed and ordered the decals from BoatU.S. back in September, but it had either been raining or we had had other boat projects (there are ALWAYS boat projects) while we were there, so we didn’t actually get to it until a couple of weeks ago.

Removing old lettering
We found that a plastic razor blade and a carefully used heat gun work well for old decal removal without harming the gelcoat finish.  The heat gun has actually been one of the most used tools on the boat.  We’ve also used it when we replaced the toilet and to heat-shrink quite a few electrical connections.  Removing the bolted-on transom ladder steps involved me becoming a bilge rat while Bob tried not to drop them as they came off.  Once we got the old letters off, we washed, buffed, polished, and rewashed the entire transom.

Getting closer
When we filled out the documentation paperwork, we didn’t know where we would be keeping Scat!, so we put our hailing port as Placerville.  We decided her name needed some pizazz so we added an exclamation point.

Unfortunately, you can still see the shadow of the previous lettering even with all the buffing.  If you look really really really closely, you can still see the shadow of her original name – Catbernet.  We reinstalled the ladder rungs and took a look.  At this point she was finally completely legal.  She just needed one more thing.  Actually 9 more things.

And closer
Done!

Basic Keelboat (ASA 101)

Sailing the San Joaquin!

Although we’ve both sailed before, we decided that we needed a bit more experience to sail confidently along the coast, so we looked into taking the American Sailing Association (ASA) Beginning Coastal Cruising class.  To do this we had to take the prerequisite – Basic Keelboat.  We did some research and settled on the Delta Sailing School located in…the Sacramento-San Joaquin Delta (the second link is to a post in my other mostly defunct blog, Chimaera Contemplations – which includes a photo of the now infamous Oroville Dam, which will never look like that again).

The class was two adjacent weekends, and a half hour closer from Scat than Placerville, so we left after work on Friday and drove down to the Vallejo Marina.  We had to get up bright and early the next morning and head into the Delta.  The farther into the Delta we got, the worse the roads got and we eventually turned onto one that was mostly patches and potholes.  At the end of it, we drove up onto the levee holding back the waters from Seven Mile Slough and the San Joaquin River.  The school turned out to be a tiny floating one-room schoolhouse in a slip in a marina.  It was the perfect size for an instructor and four students.  There we met George and Tomás, the other students, and Alan the owner/instructor.

After an hour or so of instruction,  we went out and started getting acquainted with Hog Wild, the Capri 22 that we would be sailing for the next two weekends.  Bob and I kept being distracted by the huge flocks of snow and Ross geese and smaller flocks of brant and Canada geese that were noisily landing and taking off from Twitchell Island across the slough.  We practiced motoring and docking the boat until lunch.  After lunch, we motored out of Seven Mile Slough and hoisted the sails.  It was a fairly windy day, and we had quite a bit of fun zipping around in the San Joaquin River.

Keeping track of our ASA classes
The next day we arrived to gusty winds and torrential rain.  We held off sailing and spent the morning in the classroom.  The wind and rain died down by the afternoon, so we went out to practice more spirited sailing. George tried to kill us all weekend – he kept narrowly avoiding accidental jibes because he would turn the tiller the wrong way, and at one point he had Hog Wild’s rail so far under the water that Alan’s seat got soaked. 

The next weekend was the complete opposite.  Light winds, sunny and warm.  For much of the weekend we floated around carried more by the current than by the wind.  We did occasionally have enough wind to practice man overboard drills.  If you ever come sailing with us and fall overboard, stay calm and don’t worry as the boat sails away into the distance.  We will come around and get you eventually.  Probably…

We did it!
One of the other things we learned is that Bob is a knot savant.  Actually, I think Bob already knew this. Being an ex-Girl Scout, I was also fairly familiar with knots, so we were both able to help the less knot-savvy Tomás and George.  Among the many other things we went over in class were navigational rules, navigational aids, and points of sail.  All in all it was a very informative and fun class!  We’re really looking forward to the Basic Coastal Cruising class in May!