Get Your Motor Runnin'

In 2012 I was able to go for my first motorcycle ride of the year on April 10. For 2013 it happened on March 14. On March 8, 2014, however, the motorcycle was locked in snow and ice inside the bike shed. The waters from a January thaw had accumulated inside the structure, and a couple inches of ice formed when the temperatures dropped again. I wasn't going to break any early season riding records this year.

March 8, 2014

By April 4 the temperatures were improving, and there were signs of melting some days inside the bike shed. There was still a lot of ice in there, and a lot of snow packed around the building, so I started clearing that away. My bicycle was able to be pulled free.

April 4, 2014

On April 16 enough of the ice had melted to pull the cover away from the motorcycle, and roll it outside. It needed the seats reattached, tire pressures checked, and the oil changed before and serious riding could be done, but it was now mobile.

April 16, 2014

There were also many things still encased in ice inside the shed, so there was work to do in there. The best I could do was give the bike a quick wash, before putting it away again.

April 16, 2014

Good Friday, April 18, was not the warmest of days, at less than 10ÂșC, but pleasant enough for working outside. I decided it was a good time to change the oil. The bike was moved outside to a location mostly out of the breeze, and in the sun. Going through my inventory in the shed, I found the 4L of motorcycle oil and the filter. These items were purchased while on sale last summer and set aside until they are needed.

The filter box was damp, but so was most everything else stored there. Upon removing it, however, I discovered that it must have been under water at some point, as there was definitely a sloshing liquid sound coming from inside it. I decided that it was not a good idea to use it, so the oil change would have to wait until I could pick up another one.

The tires still needed air. I could have gotten out a pump or compressor and done that at home, but it was too nice a day. A gasbar just up the road was where I often went to top up tires, and it was an excuse for a ride.

The first time driving the bike after a few months away from it, I like to do on the streets close to home. This is a safe way to practice changing gears, signalling, braking counter-steering, and so on. I also wanted to go by my buddy Peter's house to see if his bike was in the driveway, it wasn't.

Arriving back home, I made sure I had a tire gauge, before venturing off on Main Street. The gasbar was on my left, so I went up as far as the mall at the south end of town to turn around. After topping up the tires, I turned right, and made my way to the marina to see how the expansion was coming along. The lot was rough and muddy, so I didn't explore very much. Turning right again I toured some streets on the north end of town.

Back on Main Street again, I stopped for a few minutes to visit my friend Byron. He doesn't have his motorcycle on the road yet, but is getting anxious to be riding again too. From there I went along a few more side streets and eventually back home again. Getting that air took over an hour, and I didn't see any other motorcycles on the road. Practising "the wave" will have to be done another time.

I should have taken a picture to commerate the first ride of the year, but since I didn't, you'll have to settle for this blog post about it, and remember that it took place on April 18, 2014.


Alcan Petrel 951 Sailing Dinghy

The Lewisporte Yacht Club is in possession of 3 boats from the now defunct junior sailing program. These boats have been in storage for a few years, and in 2013 it was decided by the club's executive to make them ready to sail again. As a member of the LYC executive, this became primarily my job.
Brochure Photo

One of the boats is an inflatable dinghy which was used by the instructor to follow the kids, and tow the sailboats in and out of the marina. That one I did not have time to look at. The smallest training boat is an Optimist. They are very common and popular for introducing young children to sailing. Being too small for me, this one also did not receive much attention. The third boat, and the one that took up most of my time, was so unique, that I had to do some research on it. Information was scarce, so that is one of the reasons for this blog post.

It is a metal sailboat designed for The Aluminum Company of Canada, also known as Alcan, in 1966. Apparently, they commissioned a lot of boats in the 1960s and 1970s, and this model is called Petrel, of which over 1400 (2000?) were built. In the U.S., they can be found under the name AeroCraft, a company in Michigan. The club has boat #951.

Designed by Phillip Rhodes (#794), it is roughly 12' long and 5' wide, with a 20' mast and 100 square feet of sail. The sails measured as follows - Jib: Luff 138", Leech 145.5", Foot 85" - Main: Luff 185", Leech 202", Foot 85".

The planing hull, mast, boom, rudder and centerboard are made of aluminum. Cavities are foam filled, so the boat is unsinkable, and will not turn turtle if capsized. Weight is about 225 lbs.

The Petrel on its sledge.
This particular boat had been modified at some point. The main sheet attached to an eye on the centerboard trunk instead of a stern traveller, and the jib sheet cleats were turned around so that they would not hold the line. This made sailing solo difficult, so I put them back the way they should be.

The forestay was attached with an old piece of string, so I replaced that with a small turnbuckle. The jib tack was also attached with string, and that was replaced with a shackle. The halyards were in reasonable shape, but I replaced the one for the main sail anyway, and used that as a spring line when docked.

A set of oars were donated to row the boat when winds were not favourable, but I didn't have time to come up with a reasonable way to mount the horns. I'm now thinking that perhaps they would be better used for sculling the two dinghies.

Not being all that experienced with dinghies, I only took it out on days with light winds of under 10 knots. Once I had the jib cleats corrected, I could use both sails, and the dinghy moved along quite nicely. Getting in and out of the marina was always a challenge, however, and I learned not to try that with both sails up.

The Petrel is in pretty good shape now, and can be used with very little more work from now on. It could use a cockpit cover of some sort. A lot of time was spent bailing it out after each and every rainfall. Eventually, I'll have to take it to a pond or lake for capsize practice. Too much chance of hypothermia doing that in the harbour.

A look at the sails after launching.

Tacking out of the marina on August 5, 2013 for a test sail.

                                   Petrel photos gathered off the internet.                                   

Petrel Photo Album