Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Nirvana Sails Again!

Since arriving home from Puerto Rico, we finally made Nirvana a full sailboat again. For the first time in over 6 years .. we went sailing with both sails up! When we removed our sails sometime around 2013, we had no idea it would be so long before we raised them again. We did sail with the main sail for the first time almost a year ago, when we tried out our new sail pack & lazy jacks. It was shortly after that when we had our head stay replaced. Since we had to replace the head stay, we went ahead and raised the roller furler drum in order to have a better view looking forward. Again, we had no idea that it would be almost a year before the head sail was raised .. we were distracted by Puerto Rico!

Shortly after installing our auto-pilot, we took Nirvana out for a sail. However, there wasn't much wind and we didn't move a whole lot, but it was sure nice to see both sails up again (see first photos)! A couple of weeks later we decided to sail to the quaint little town of Mandeville and stay overnight. We'd sailed to Mandeville years before, and thought it would be a great way to get re-acquainted with Nirvana. 

Before raising our sails we needed to pass through the Hwy. 11 Bridge, which has been closed for construction for several months. We had tried on two previous occasions to pass through the bridge, but nobody would answer the VHF! We were determined that this 3rd attempt would work, and luckily someone finally answered us this time around. We had to hail the bridge several times, and then wait about 30 minutes for the bridge to be opened .. but we got through! While we finally had them on the radio, we asked if we'd be able to get through again the next day. The dispatcher said that they had to open the bridge upon request, but they had up to 2 hours to do so. With our previous experience trying to hail the dispatcher, we were nervous going through the bridge. What if we couldn't get back through the next day?! Screw it .. we were going through!

Once we passed through the bridge, the wind died and we had to motor to Mandeville. However, the auto-pilot worked great and it was fun to be on the water. 

Mandeville provides a free place to dock for the night, so we tied up for the night and hoped for better wind the next day. 

The Mandeville lakefront is beautiful, with plenty of live oak trees & huge Southern homes. There's also several restaurants and bars within walking distance .. and a playground with a water fountain to cool off in next to the dock. This fountain was just what we needed to get refreshed before walking to a local restaurant for $1 tacos and live music!

The walk along the lakefront was beautiful!

The dock also provides free electricity (thanks to the city of Mandeville), but as luck would have it .. the electricity was out and the city office had just closed for the night when we arrived! It was hot as hell, and we weren't able to plug in our a/c .. ugh! Oh well, it was time to pull out our mosquito nets, open the hatches, run our four 12v fans, and see how our batteries held up!

It took a while to fall asleep in the heat, but we slept pretty well and our batteries were still pretty full. The next morning we had better wind and were able to raise our sails. We were able to sail for half of the trip (about 2 hours) before the wind died. Those two hours were so much fun, and we can't wait to sail again. It truly had been way too long since we sailed Nirvana for any length of time. We're getting our confidence back!

As you can see in the photo below, raising our roller furler drum was a great decision .. we can see ahead of us now!

Here's a close-up of the two new tangs we had fabricated by our boat neighbor. How lucky were we to have him make these for free?! We were very appreciative and made it up to him.

After waiting a while for the wind to pick up, we reluctantly lowered Nirvana's sails and motored the rest of the way back home. We started hailing the bridge dispatcher about 30 minutes before getting close .. no response. As we approached the bridge with no contact, we started getting nervous about getting stuck on the wrong side of the lake. After about 20 minutes of floating near the bridge and trying to get a response, we saw a barge making its way towards the bridge. Hallelujah .. the bridge certainly couldn't ignore the barge! Luckily, we were correct and we were able to follow the barge through the bridge after waiting about an hour. We made it home!

As we approached our slip, it occurred to me that we've pulled Nirvana into our slip several times since that first time in 2017. We're getting better and haven't bumped the dock since then. It's always a good feeling to tie up with no "excitement".

While we look forward to sailing soon, we've got some more projects to tackle .. our solar panels arrived! We're excited to be working with Renogy Solar, and if you order from them use the code: MidLifeCruising to get an extra 5% off (excluding batteries). We'll be writing about our installation and thoughts, so stay tuned!

Hasta luego ... until then. Mid-Life Cruising!


Emily said...

Yay! SO glad you're finally sailing again! This is the kind of thing we loved to do when we had our C30, just a short little overnight trip to check out a slightly different area. So much fun! We both hated having to talk on the radio, though.

Ken n Cheryl said...

Thanks Emily .. as you know, it's been a long journey!

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