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About Our First Boat
A Morgan 24 – Points Unknown
2004
Launching Points Unknown
~ Launching Points Unknown ~
Points Unknown Icon
Sandusky Harbor Splash
Launching a Dream
Points Unknown was fairly utilitarian, but we loved her nonetheless. Below decks, she was sort of like a cheap RV, with exposed raw fiberglass, fake paneling, and thin wood trim. The overall decor reeked of the 60s – an era not known for high style. But she was dry on the inside, easy to handle, and her simplicity meant less time spent maintaining systems, and more time spent sailing.

We scheduled to have her launched on May 8th, the Saturday after we took possession. Being first time boat owners, we were fascinated to watch the big splash (which, if all goes well, is more of a dip than a splash). The machinery involved in this process, called a travel lift, is a big 'U' shaped frame on wheels. Two slings hang from the upper frame and can be independently raised, lowered, or moved forward and back. Each of their straps can also be disconnected just above midpoint.

The operator drives the lift over to surround the boat in the 'U' and the straps are then hooked under the hull. Very carefully, the operator raises the slings, being sure the vessel stays balanced and centered. Once she is safely lifted, the operator drives over to the well, which is another 'U' shaped pad with water in the middle, and the boat is slowly lowered down. When she's floating on her own, the straps are disconnected and drawn out of the way. Voila!

Morgan 24 Layout
~ Morgan 24 Layout ~
Getting to Know You
We motored over to slip B-81 near the end of a very, very, long dock, and immediately started to make our little boat more homey. We both had other commitments that prevented us from permanently moving onboard. Besides, those Alberta Clippers that scream across the water during the winter, and drop the temperatures to snot-freezing levels made Lake Erie a less than ideal place to live-aboard year round.

But our companies offered flexible schedules, so there would be lots of long weekends, summer vacations, and patriotic holidays in store. We wanted to be able to get to Sandusky Harbor Marina at a moments notice, so the boat remained fully furnished to minimize any delay for packing; a cooler full of food, a few clothes and we were on our way!

The Dinette
~ The Dinette ~
Galley and Quarter Berth
~ Galley and Quarter Berth ~
The Boat Bistro
Immediately to portLeft side of a ship when facing forward., the dinette consisted of two bench seats with a table between. The area could seat 4, though the only place with comfortable headroom was amidships. But Don's girls were small enough to tuck inside, and the table knocked down to become a double bed that was a perfect place to tuck them in at night.

We added a stereo next to the VHF radio that hung behind the aft bench, above a nice deep shelf that was perfect for our chart book. Next to that was a closed cubby that held our music CDs, and some of the valuables we didn't want left out in the open. Thin shelves lined the cabin walls, and net storage hammocks hung below the gunwales. Some storage was also available under the benches, so we were always able to keep our gear well stowed.

The floor below the table was covered in a gauche indoor/outdoor carpeting that we quickly replaced. The long, fixed vertical ports, as well as the companionway hatch let in plenty of light by day. Ellen, the previous First Mate had sewn some nice nautical curtains that we were happy to keep in place. At night, we relied on a single overhead dome light, and a brass lantern we'd hung on the bulkhead.

What's for Dinner?
The galley, which laid directly to starboardRight side of a ship when facing forward., couldn't have been more basic. A big, green two-burner Coleman camp stove that dated from the 80s came with the boat. Its ugliness took up the entire cabin.

On EBay, I won a sleek, stainless Kenyon marine stove that used pressurized alcohol, and freed up a bit of space on that tiny counter. I was able to negate its price by later selling the Coleman on that same website for nearly the same price! One person's junk…right?!

There was one stainless sink with a hand pump that brought raw water in from the lake. That, and the pitcher of fresh water we kept behind the sink worked fine for washing dishes. A large, collapsible jug stored on the quarter berth just aft of the galley worked well for our drinking water, and we kept an insulated pump jug full of heated water in case it was needed.

The Galley Slave
~ The Galley Slave ~

The last galley gizmo was a deep icebox, just forward of the sink. It was accessed only from the top, which meant cool air couldn't escape, so it worked pretty well. Before each adventure, I'd freeze a big block of ice at home, and it'd last us through a long weekend. And the built in drain sent the melt water overboard. No muss, no fuss!

Ultimately though, I'd bring items that were frozen solid to begin with, and plan meals that didn't necessarily depend on much refrigeration. And of course, if we sailed to some destination, we'd have to sample the local fare. But I never let the tricky environment, meager appliances, or sparse counter space intimidate me! I rose to the challenge and whipped up some fine delicacies. Besides, Don always offered to do the dishes!

Getting Some 'Vvvvvs'
We hung a curtain to separate the forward compartment, where a porta-potty, a hanging locker, and the V-berth were located. It was a snug use of space, but really provided all we needed. The porta-potty sat on a platform to port, raised up high enough for comfort. We installed shelves in the hanging locker, because our boat clothing would be limited to cotton tees, shorts, jeans – never anything that might be marred by a wrinkle.

Climbing into the V-berth was a challenge for Don and me, but we figured we'd get better with practice. Climbing out, however, was never going to go gracefully. We topped the entire area with some fine cushy linens, and once our butts were out of each other's face, it was pretty comfy.

But the best feature about the V-berth was the big hatch right over head. It opened wide, allowed the evening breezes to pour in, and let us drift off to sleep under falling stars and moonlight.

New Bow Rail and Netting
~ New Bow Rail and Netting ~
Top-Side Treatment
The only major boat project that we wanted to get done was installing a bow rail, and stretching netting along the lifelines. On several weekends we'd have two toddlers with us, and we wanted to do all we could to keep them as safe as possible on our adventures.

I was able to purchase an inexpensive, prefabbed rail online, oddly enough, and had it shipped directly to the marina. Fortunately, it fit! So we used it as a template to mark where the fasteners needed set. Don checked and re-checked for what seemed like an eternity – rightly hesitant to drill holes in to our boat. Eventually, he found his nerve and the fiberglass started to fly.

Phew! All the holes managed to miss the hull with room for backing! A good, solid bead of caulk would keep the water out of our bed below, but make it extra tricky to line up all the holes when setting the awkward tangle of steel tubing. After getting a good layer spread all over our hands, I was sent to the V-berth to hold the socket wrench while Don tightened each of the bolts above. All in all it went smoothly, but I was pretty alarmed by what I saw when I came back up on deck.

Relaxing at the Dock
~ Relaxing at the Dock ~
Rain, Rain, Go Away
Don had been so focused looking down at the bow, that he failed to notice the ominous black storm clouds roiling up above. We were able to clean up all our tools just as the first pelting drops of rain blasted from the sky. For the first time, we weathered a storm in our little 24 foot boat. And with hefty hail, high winds, and tornado touchdowns reported, it was one of the most severe storms of the season! But not a single drip slid past our newly installed bolts!

The bow rail and netting really made our little boat look proper nautical. All our other odd jobs and sundry projects were soon complete. We found a place for everything, and kept it well stowed below. The mainsail was rigged, and the jib lay at the ready. All we needed was one nice summer weekend and we were set to sail off. Just one…nice…weekend.

There's a riddle Ohioans often share with out-of-towners. It goes like this:

Question: What comes after two days of pouring rain?

Answer: Monday!

Then May slipped into June…

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