Tag Archives: Halman 20

Ebony Goes to Victoria – again

VID02381The wind for the next two days was forecast to be from the north. That made a difference because with the prevailing south-westerlies a trip up the shore to Victoria was more often than not a hard beat with the wind on the nose.  With a north wind there was a chance, and just a chance mind you, that it could be more of a reach both coming and going.  Victoria is a little port west on Northumberland Strait from Charlottetown and is generally a good day-sail in a Halman 20.  I had visited each year since I got the boat and gave the information about the port on these pages after my first trip.

This year I was fortunate to be able to press-gang a colleague who, through storm damage to his boat had been forced ashore for most of the summer and was suffering from a bad case a sea-fever.  Although he could not make the return trip he agreed to at least sail to Victoria and return by land.

We had a fine sail of it. Leaving port with wind astern and a favourable tide we crossed over the St. Peter’s spit and up along the Island turning to cross the reef just shy of the St. Peter’s buoy.  The wind had picked up and we tucked a reef in the main which gave us the same speed but with a more stable ride and less heel.  With a beam reach and an expert helmsman I was able to make hot coffee and snacks and got a few shots with my tiny video camera which I later edited into a short film of the trip.

Keeping well off Inman Rock the somewhat confusing entry to Victoria Harbour soon came into view.  Its confusing mainly because one expects more of a defined bay but the harbour is more of a dimple  in the shoreline.  The sands of Tryon Shoals are spilling into the channel from the west and there is a large sandy bank on the east side of the channel. The channel itself is well-marked but the large number of  buoys and an easily missed hard jog to the west as well as the narrowness and shallowness of the route require constant attention. We downed sails at the outer buoy and motored in. It would be a scary port to try to sail into under an unfavourable wind.

VID02382On my last trip I anchored off and this year I towed the dingy with us in anticipation of a lack of space at the wharf. There are still a number of working fishing boats still operating out of Victoria and a couple of resident power boats as well.   I don’t relish snuggling up to a high steel wharf with tide changing overnight and needing to shift lines. Luckily there was a spot at the floating wharf and with our shallow draft we could rest there without going aground. We had been less than 6 1/2 hours port to port.

After a drink in the pub it was time for my colleague to depart and I was left to re-explore the wonders of Victoria on my own. It is a very much a tourist town although the fabric of the village speaks to a prosperous past. My great-grandfather had a general store here which has since become a seasonal chocolate factory. Other former business have had a similar fate.  There are four restaurants in the Village but all close early.  The pub was closed by 7:00 (drinking apparently must be done in the privacy of one’s own home) and the last restaurant closed its doors at 8:00.  By that time the village was deserted  and the main entertainment was to sit at the end of the wharf and wait for the tiny red and green pricks of light on the buoys to start twinkling.

The next morning was flat calm but by the time I reached the outermost buoy the breeze had started and I was soon able to turn the helm over to Otto the pilot and read my book and listen to Radio Canada, punctuated by VHF calls to and from Sydney Coast Guard.  By the time I reached the St. Peter’s reef the wind had risen to near 20 knots. Otto had long since been sent below and I had switched to the working jib and a reefed main.  Turning near St. Peter’s buoy I began a  long hard slog directly into the wind which had whipped up waves against the opposing tide. Not an inch of progress was made without tacking to and fro and it was a relief to steal into the Harbour.  Even with the work of beating into the waves the high wind gave me good boat speed (well … good for the tubby little sloop that is the Halman) and the return trip took only about 9 hours. The tacking had added about 25% to the distance sailed and about 2 1/2 hours to the passage time.



Adding space to a pocket cruiser

In a 20-foot boat with 4 berths storage space is at a premium, especially if you want to do anything more than day-sail. While the Halman 20 is cleverly constructed with a fair amount of useful but awkwardly shaped space under the bunks and in the lazarette  it is not long before the food, clothes, bedding, and beverages for an extended sail start to overflow into the cabin and cockpit. Add to that the need for safety equipment, tools, spares and sails and any space gained is a bonus. I wasn’t going to be able to make the boat any longer so I had to find space within.

IMG_3027Both the Halman and her sister design the Nordica had room under the cockpit for a small inboard motor although most owners opted for the outboard model. That left a bit of a gaping hole behind the cabin steps, usually occupied by the battery and little else. Because it was open to the bilge at the rear and was the space for cockpit drains and the bilge pump it was seldom used effectively. Long thin things like the deck scrub brush could be jammed in alongside the cockpit sole supports but getting anything in and out of the space was a real pain.

IMG_3029Behind the battery was the Halman “Black Hole” where any water that came in through the open hatch ended up along with every dropped screw, nut, bolt, cotter pin that slipped from my fingers but wasn’t lost over the side during rigging and repairs.  Although my hull is perfectly sound and dry the bilge had become a bit of a rusty pool which I finally drained and dried last year leaving an unattractive void that I certainly didn’t want anything else falling into.  Here you can see my fairly useless boarding ladder creeping to the edge of the pit.

IMG_3033I had no desire to move the battery and wiring which seemed to be well placed for both access and balance so the solution was to build a platform above the battery and extending across the cabin and back to the cockpit supports.  I also brought it forward along the sides of the steps to give an area to set things down when the cabin table was not in place. With battens across the front and back to keep things from falling off I ended up with about 4 square feet of IMG_3039additional, accessible space without taking away any of the scarce area on the cabin floor.   Most things on the shelf can be removed without taking out the cabin steps but that is not a real barrier as I use the space for things I need to be accessible but which are not in constant use.  It is a perfect for my safety equipment box  with flares, first aid kit, fog horn etc.  It is a good spot if I have to direct passengers or crew to find it. The flare box was formerly buried in one of the lockers under the cabin cushions. I also have my tool bag in this location as I am rarely in need of it when underway. Another box holds some the miscellaneous bits which normally roll off the galley shelves as soon as the boat is heeled. and there is still space left for me to put down my coffee mug.


Vee-berth black hole looking from above toward stern.

The other area of unused storage is right in the bow of the boat under the vee-berth.  While not huge, what storage space is available is rendered useless owing to the danger of anything placed there falling into another narrow hole which extends back what seems like several feet as a sort of cave.  I suspect that his may have been designed as a chain locker but is completely inaccessible  owing to the placement of the water tank above it. I spent  a claustrophobic hour trying to retrieve a wrench I had dropped into the hole and discovered a trove of tools, fittings and toiletries which previous owners had abandoned to the hull gods over the years.

Vee-berth locker with black hole closed.

Vee-berth locker with black hole closed.

Here the solution was much simpler. Just deck the damn thing over.  By placing a floor in the locker I can now use it without the undue worry of items being sucked into the void.  I don’t want to put too much weight this far forward  so I use the space for bulky items  such as spare life jackets.  It is somewhat awkward to reach as one has to remove the vee-berth cushions to get access to the space but it probably results in about three cubic feet I couldn’t use before.

Neither one of these fixes are permanent as I suspect there may still be occasions when I need to get into the spaces. But they have reduced the pressure to simply stuff things into the corners of the cabin.  As you can see they are somewhat rough carpentry but before fitting out next year I may have the opportunity to fine tune the placement and stain or paint the wood for protection.





Unwrapping Summer

Last weekend I paid another visit to Ebony in her winter quarters along side Clive Pickles’ Dragon at his farm in  Alexandra.  Although I has snuck aboard several times over the winter it was always with a layer of snow on the tarp and everything within was frozen solid.  This time the spring winds had been blowing and without their burden of snow the tarps had been flapping in the breeze having broken their grommets and snapped a few of the lines lacing them to the trailer. The stanchions had also punched through the cheap  woven plastic tarp. (Reminder to self – collect a few used tennis balls to mount on the stanchions to serve as reinforcement next year.)

It was time to shrug off the winter overcoat. The only damage was some marks where the grommets had rubbed on the hull. Looks worse than it is and I know that the marks will disappear with a good polish. In the interior, which I had completely stripped and emptied over the winter  all seems well with the not-unexpected 2 inches of water in the locker under the sink which has somehow snuck in through an as yet un-discovered deck leak.  Sponged out without problems.  The only issue standing between Alexandra and the Yacht Club is the little matter of a flat tire on the trailer which I hope will respond to an air pig when the time comes.