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Captain Log ID: 90
Title: Spinnaker Trials @ Cow Bay
Boat Name(Id): Kowloon Jade ( 8)
Sailor Name(Id): Oliver Cobb ( 32)
Geo Region: Vancouver Island
Date of Occurance: 2001-09-26
Latitude: N 48º   46.2'
Longitude: W 123º   39'
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Earlier log from "Kowloon Jade":  89
Newer log from "Kowloon Jade":  104
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A quick recce on foot in Cow Bay and we had the town sussed. There is a waterfront comprised of a couple of dozen businesses, many of them closed for the season. Remaining open were two restaurants: the Bluenose which was upscale, and the Rock Cod which was down and delicious. A post office, a convenience store, a video rental place, a marine ways (the Cowichan Shipyard, in an old clapboard building with many small-paned windows and an air of decrepitude) an ice cream shop, a gift shop and coffee bar with good lattes, a bike rental place, and up at the eastern end of town, the government dock backstopped by an enormously ugly four story concrete hotel, complete with pub, cold beer and wine store, and underground parking. Something of an anomaly in a place like Cowichan Bay, which is decidedly rural. The single main street, fronting the water, is backed by steeply rising land, and little home- made wooden trash receptacles are spotted strategically in homage to littering sensitivity. The first place we docked was some sort of private marina owned by a guy who introduced himself as Don Robinson. We asked if it was okay to leave the boat while we looked around and he said sure, so he directed us to the laundromat /public shower, but when we got there we found a handwritten sign on the door stating that the premises were “closed to the general public.” However, the guy next door in the bike shop told us to go see Jean in the float house with the blue roof, so we went back down the dock and presented ourselves to a very pleasant-looking woman, Jean, who graciously gave us the key to the shower room in return for a five dollar bill. “Lock up and bring the key back when you’re through,” she said, and we rushed away with ill-concealed haste. The shower room was at the back of a narrow hallway that contained a couple of commercial washers and dryers. It didn’t smell all that great, but the shower itself was bliss-- a large modern shower stall with great water pressure and lots of hot water--utter bliss. We took the key back, then walked up to the government dock. A tiny portable trailer looking like it should be filled with compressors, motor oil and maybe a tangle of crab traps contained instead the most elaborately coiffed, made up and dressed woman I’ve ever found on a waterfront. Loretta, as she introduced herself, extending one immaculately manicured hand, each articicial nail bearing a sheen of opalescent mauve polish, looked more like an Avon representative than a wharfinger. But when I inquired about space for the night she whipped out a battered form and ran one long nail down the left hand column, purring, “How long is the boat?” I told her 32 feet and she said, “$18.50 a night.” “We’ll take it.” Since that was a little less than the $20 quoted by Mr. Robinson. The Government Dock, largely given over to commercial fish boats, was enclosed by a big wooden breakwater. We motored in and maneuvered into a vacant space between two smaller boats. As we approached, a thin, tall guy with reddish gold hair and glasses hailed me: “Hi Oliver!” It was Fred Feige, the guy who owned my boat, then called Nobito, from 1979 to 1994. A master electrician and heating contractor, Fred is the man most responsible for maintaining and improving KJ. Among the changes he made are the hollow ash mast, the oversized standing rigging, the re-wiring, better transmission linkage, the exhaust and fresh-water cooling system, and interior mods too numerous to mention. Fred took a dock line, and as he made it fast, I asked him, “Are you shocked?” “At what?” he asked. I tapped the starboard nameboard with one finger. “This.” “Nope,” he said briskly. “I was always going to rename her. Nobito-- I thought it was kinda weird.” As Fred had told me on the occasion of our only previous meeting, John Reynell, the original owner, and his business partner, Tommy Qwan, had pulled off some kind of a coup in the Far East, taking the mickey out of a couple of other businessmen in some crazy deal-- The profit they realised they had put into having Cheoy Lee build the boat, and to thumb their noses at their rivals they had come up with a combination of the two guy’s names-- maybe Novak and Kasabito--- who knows. Anyway, I was relieved that Fred was not offended at the name change-- I knew that he had a daughter named Jade so I think that maybe helped. I had to tell him that Jade was not only a mineral highly prized by the Chinese, but a term for a disreputable or flirtatious woman. That intrigued him. We invited him aboard and Mare fixed us lunch of clam chowder, garden tomatoes, crackers and cheese, etc. While we ate Fred talked. He obliquely suggested that some beer might be nice, so I sent Mare off to the liquior store just up the dock, and she returned with a 6 pack of Beck’s-- Fred’s favorite. He is definitely in tune with the physical world, and his recall of the boat was extraordinary. Bottle in hand, he shifted from topic to topic, interspersing hard-core technical data and advisories with recollections of his cruising days. From the Queen Charlottes to the eastern seaboard and the Caribbean and back to B.C.--he regaled us with groundings and storms, marlin attacks, dockside brawls, flat calms and derisive exchanges with men who ply the seas in what L. Francis Herreschoff, Fred’s hero, calls “frozen snot-boats.” We relived it all for several hours, but finally Fred had to hurry off to take one of his two sons to soccer practice. He promised to return after dinner with at least one of his three children, and said that the next day he could come out with us and show me how to rig and deploy the spinnaker. So Fred left, and I took some notes on what he had said. Unadorned, this is what I wrote: 1. replace shackle on main sheet cam cleat with close-fitting one. 2. caulk outer seams on deck 3. main mast down haul for sail shape-- not the boom vang 4. no ballast in bilge-- remember the theory of center of gravity and center of buoyancy as far apart as possible to maximize righting moment 5. how to extract plugs-- screwdriver; use wooden plugs of same size to replace 6. straight legs on anchor shackles, curved on regular 7. lazy jacks facilitate reefing 8. quick release shackles for halyards 9. replace caulking in toe rail joints 10. tell tales on jib-- crucial for proper sail shape 11. smaller belt on Jabsco pump 12. note replaceable diodes on alternator 13. reef main under tension-- mark halyards 14.raise dorade spinner to avoid halyard chafe 15. move propane tanks inboard-- same reason 16. topping lift = spare main halyard-- wrap around backstay when not in use 17. raise spinnaker so head is about 1 foot from masthead sheave- adjust with downhaul. 18. coming about-- put helm over smooth & steady-- don’t slam over: it acts as a brake 19. autohelm: 1 = highest sensitivity, 2 less so, 3 = lowest. Uses little juice so just put it on 1. 20. 1/4 “ plywood on cabin roof-- replace 21. small motorcycle batt in wheelhouse for emergencies 22. put mainsl telltales between battens not on them-- they disturb airflow and give false readings 23. whiskerpole on eye of clew of jib, fasten sheets on with ganging (1/8 twine very strong). ATTACH other end of w.p. to mast track. 24. attach preventer midboom between slide, run line forward to prevent jibe. There was more, much more, dealing with the engine and the electrical system. but I will not bore you with the minutiae-- if you own a boat you know, as I do, that each vessel’s freighted with quirks and proclivities which only become apparent to the owner who spends time with her. Over the seasons one develops a rapport which can only be compared in scope and complexity with the ones we enjoy with our wives and sweethearts. A wooden boat is a living thing, and you ignore her moods and needs at your peril. When Fred left, Mare and I looked at each other and grinned-- it was as if we were in the eye of a storm, soon to return and buffet us anew. So to fortify the inner glutton we went up the road to the Rock Cod where we were served the most delicious meal it has been my pleasure to enjoy is some time. A gargantuan hamburger embellished with a multitude of toppings, and home made french fries was my lot, while Marion indulged in half a large crab with a complicated salad and unlimited quantities of drawn butter and blue cheese dressing. Plus garlic bread. We ate until we were groaning, and then I hurried back to the boat because I didn’t want to miss Fred, while Marion remained at the table, engaged in the serious business of extracting every last vestige of meat from the crab. She is not a girl who leaves any scraps when it comes to seafood-- I seriously believe that with a little prodding she would consume the shells themselves. I was anxious to put the interior of the boat to rights-- for it is amazing what a mess she can get into after a couple of days living aboard. Clothes festooned every berth, the stove needed cleaning, there were tools on the engine room sole and foul weather gear hanging in the saloon---I tidied up and was putting some water on for tea when I heard Fred out on the dock speaking to someone, saying, “Yeah, you must remember this boat-- you went sailing on her when you were two or three or so....” “No, Dad, “ a child’s voice replied-- I ‘ve never seen this boat. I don’t remember at all.” “You must!” pleaded Fred. “I don’t,” she repeated stubbornly. They came aboard, and Fred introduced me to Jade, a partly shy, partly sullen beauty of nine with long straight ash-blonde hair, an expressive mouth, and cucumber-pink sparkle nail polish on her toes. She wore a little rain jacket and jeans that had at least six different bands of fabric lovingly sewn around each cuff. I asked if she would like some tea and she gave a quick shrug of indifference. “Or,” I suggested, “maybe you’d like some juice. We have lots of different kinds. Another shrug. “Let’s see-- we’ve got grape, passion fruit, lemon tea or-- this is Marion’s favorite-- mango.” “Mango?” she perked up. “I’d like that.” Marion came back, so full she was barely able to waddle, and we sat around while Fred regaled us with further tales of heroism and skulduggery, but he was obliged to go pick up his son Ilya from soccer practice so they couldn’t come with us back to the Rock Cod for dessert. He was bursting with plans for the morrow though, and Jade said she would like to come sailing too. Fred allowed as how that might be a possibility, winking at me and telling me that she loved to go on his boat-- a 24 foot catamaran. “I remember this boat now from the smell,” Jade murmured as they left. “Oh-- what does it smell like?” I asked. “Like old wet boat,” she said with gravity. Spinnaker trials, Cow Bay