S/V Short Sail


ShortSail was a good boat for us, and I hope she’ll be good to her new owners. If you see her out on San Diego Bay, give a wave for us.

Meet The Officers of the Ex-S/V Short Sail

Harbor Freight Solar Panel Review

CaptSteve : August 25, 2016 8:07 pm : exShortSail

Years ago when we bought ShortSail we needed a solar system. The boat was going to be parked on a mooring without any kind of shore power to keep the batteries up. Not that it mattered a whole lot though, ShortSail had its AC system ripped out years ago leaving just the DC system around the boat. So even if we’d have had shore power, there was nothing to hook it up to. So DC charging and solar it was going to have to be.

You kids today with your solar might not remember just how expensive those panels, charge controllers, and other equipment used to be. The price has come down a lot since 2012. #ThanksObama I guess. At the time we ended up buying a 45 watt kit from Harbor Freight. I don’t know if we ever reviewed it, so I’ll take a moment to do that now.

Review of the Harbor Freight 45watt Solar Kit: It produces electricity. That’s about the only good thing I have to say for it. Oh, and in 2012 it was pretty inexpensive for a whole system. It came with three long thin panels rated at 15w a piece, a charge controller, and some other garbage light bulbs and stuff that I don’t think anyone has ever used. When you plugged the three panels together and plugged them into the charge controller, it would read a voltage. When we used to come down to the boat the batteries would be charged, the radios would work, and the lights came on. So that was good.

Panels on Short Sail... Must have been hot.

Panels on Short Sail… Must have been hot.

I guess the charge controller that comes with the Harbor Freight kit is actually pretty terrible. At night, it doesn’t stop the batteries from trying to power up the panels. I didn’t even know such a thing was possible until years later when I was looking at possible wind power. All this thing did was allow voltage to pass through. So during the day, when the panels were in the sun light they charged the battery. The panels had higher voltages than the battery so the electrons flowed panel -> battery. But at night, when the panels were shaded by the Earth, the electrons flowed out of the battery and into the panels. Not ideal for what we were using them for. You can buy a diode to put in line with the battery that will stop the back flow, but I never did it. I’ve got 100 of them sitting in my electrical box though if you want some. Just let me know.

A better charge controller is sold at Harbor Freight that is compatible with the system. It gives you a green light for charged, a yellow light for charging, and a red light for open circuit. We used that one for years. Again, the battery was always charged, so we didn’t think much of it.

After we divested ourselves of ShortSail we took the panels home and mounted them on the roof of the house. We purchased a better charge controller that told the current that the panels were producing. When I first mounted them in April of last year the (now) 4 panels that I had would produce close to 3 amps of current. This year, they produce 2 amps of current. If we do the math, that’s like what, 20 watts? Not so good. The panels did sit in a salt water environment for years, and then have been on my roof for another year, but 20 watts out of a nominal 60 isn’t very good.

Panels on the Roof

Panels on the Roof

Time for some new panels.

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Remember when Steve broke his face?

CaptJim : November 3, 2015 5:36 pm : exShortSail, Quick Tips, Repairs

Thanks to Google Photos for the fine memories of the day Steve broke his face. Forget about that? Oh yeah, well, we went out on the SV Short Sail for a lovely afternoon sailing with Steve’s mother-in-law Ronette.

Upon returning to the Coast Guard dock to drop everyone off in a smooth fashion, Steve leapt from the Short Sail and missed the dock completely except for his chin.

Aside from the embarrassment and a few stitches, our gallant hero was none the worse for wear. Let that be a lesson to all those future shanty sailors out there, that the coast guard dock is nothing to mess around with. Talk down about the Coast Guard Auxiliary enough and the dock will fight back. Simple matter of pride.

Jesus, though, was that really two years ago? How time does fly.

If you want to keep up on our shanty antics, don’t forget to follow Capt. Steve on twitter @shantyyc. no Twitter with current id

Until next time, may you have fair weather and following seas.

Steve Breaking his Face

Steve Breaking his Face

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#FreedomFriday – Or What I’d Rather Be Doing Today

CaptSteve : March 20, 2015 4:43 pm : Cool Stuff, exShortSail

So I’m sitting here grading papers and packing boxes for our move out to Lakeside. Yay… but here’s what I’d rather be doing. A post from the old Shortsail.co website of our first trip to Mission Bay.

May 2013

Whoa, I waited almost two weeks to get this post going. A combination of fatigue, and a lot of work (something I don’t handle well), had delayed the write up of our trip to Mission Bay. Well, long story short, we made it there and back, and I think we had a pretty good time doing it. At least most of the time.

The route, and the shakedown route.

I thought it would be a good idea to head out early given the generally slow pace Short Sailmakes. So everyone got up early, and headed down to the boat. Actually, we got up before dawn, and headed on down there. I’m not sure Jim, Kate, and Zach were totally thrilled with my timing. But oh well. That’s on me. Lindsay couldn’t make the sail north, but she was great enough to help me get the boat ready and cast off for the Coast Guard dock. While Jim and Kate were loading material, and LIndsay was heading out, I pumped out the toilet in preparation for our trip. I’m pretty convinced that the pump-able head is just about the best invention for the boat ever. I know its our best addition thus far.

Early, early, start.

Once we were cleared out and loaded, we motored out towards Point Loma. Zach called and wanted to be picked up at Bali Hai. That worked out well. Zach had a cooler of beer and food, so our stores were in pretty good shape at this point. I think we had something like 3 quarts of liquor, 48 beers, and 6 bottles of wine. We were pretty sure that we had enough to at least make it to Mission Bay, about 16 miles away.

On the advice of the Reddit crew, we headed south for a good long while in an effort to avoid the kelp beds off Point Loma. Our goal was to round San Diego Buoy 1. Um, we didn’t quite make it that far south. We’d been motoring for about two hours. Jim didn’t feel well, and was laying inside, and the rest of us had already had a few beers by about 10am. Well, we made it to SD 3, and turned west. I didn’t see any Kelp even there, so I think we can probably make that our new turn west.

The problem with motoring out so early is that there was zero wind until about 10:30. So, at 10:00, we rounded the buoy and headed west. Without wind, we were still motoring, but really we were just bobbing in the swell. With only that outboard on the back end, we were in kind of a bit of trouble. Each time we rode over a swell the aft end of the boat would rise and the prop would start to slip, if not come out of the water entirely. That can’t be good for the motor. So, we killed the motor to give it a rest and wait on wind. The bobbing obviously got worse, and I thought we might be able to pull the boat with the dingy. So, I jumped in the dingy and started rowing. That was not a great plan. Guess what? I’m not a great rower, and this wasn’t a whale boat. Too much Master and Commander I think.

Fortunately, I got tired quickly, and the wind came up about the same time. Not much mind you. The wind probably never got over 5 knots out of the west all day. That was enough though to motor sail north. So we did. We hugged the coast going north far more than I thought we would. In fact, a couple of times we ended up having to tack out because I found us in the kelp. Eventually Jim felt better and took over steering for awhile. Actually, though we never got a good “watch schedule” going, we did trade off fairly nicely.

Jim and Kate somewhere west of Point Loma.

Short Sail being so slow gave us a good opportunity to enjoy the trip northward. We discussed the kind of animal crackers that Zach had brought. I tried to fly a kite with kind of bad results (not enough wind). Zach ended up taking a nap after lunch.

Nap time.

And of course, we ate lunch. The icebox worked fairly well for us. We had frozen a half gallon of water, and Zach had brought some extra ice. Kept the drinks cold, and the food cold.

After lunch we saw some dolphins jumping and playing in the swell. We’re pretty sure they were spinners. I tried to get some pictures, but they didn’t really come out that well.

Spinners on the Mission Bay Trip

More of the Dolphins Playing

About 3pm, we were well within sight of the Roller Coaster in Mission Bay, and about parallel with the Mission Bay channel. So, we turned east, and motor sailed into the bay. That went fairly well. I even managed to post a note on facebook about our entry (side note, we had texting and internet with T-Mobile the entire trip). It took about 25 minutes to get around to Mariner’s Basin. Another 10 minutes to decide on a place to anchor. We chose a place on the south side, but then a really large boat left from the middle, so we took his spot. I dropped the anchor, and chain, which was probably too much, and it seemed to hold well.

Our southern neighbor at anchor. I don't know that he was thrilled with us.

Basically, it took us from 6:30am casting off to 3:30pm to anchor in Mission Bay. It also took us 3 gallons of gas.

Once we were tied up we got on to celebrating. At this point the story gets a bit hazy. I know Jim and I were drinking vodka and some awful pink powder. Zach I think had switched to whiskey, but maybe not yet. Hard to say. Jim, Kate, and Zach headed off into Mission Bay to meet up with Dan and Evan. I stayed on the boat and watched Master and Commander. I was feeling nautical. I think I kept drinking too, because I don’t remember much of it… yeah, remember that think I said weeks ago about not allowing liquor on the watch? Yeah, that’s a good idea.

Jim and Kate heading to shore.

Jim and Kate came back later, and brought dinner. Yes. I do remember thinking that they brought back the best California Burrito I’d ever had (in the morning, it seemed pretty bland). So, we ate, drank some more (JIm had purchased wine coolers for some reason), and watched Top Gun. Eventually I passed out. Until about 11pm.

Jim had to pick Zach up. He didn’t have a phone. So Jim just hears him yelling from shore, and rows over. Somehow they found each other and rowed back. That was about 11:20 or so, and we all sat up on deck for a minute figuring out a night watch. Zach volunteered for the first watch, which was going to last until 2am. Jim set the anchor alarm (we’re not trying to be idiots), kicked the bumpers over, looked around and went to bed.

I'm told this hat is now a prisoner somewhere in MB.

That anchor alarm woke Zach and I up about 15 times during the night. I think Zach said he passed out about 10 minutes after his watch started… shameful. Of course, I never got up for one, so who am I to talk? Oh yeah, the skipper… Each time, we got up  and looked around. It never seemed like we were moving. Never any closer to the rocks, nor any closer to the other boats. So we turned the damn thing off each time it went off. In the morning we decided we had set it way too tight to account for the tidal swing. So, we’ll have to work on that.

Anyway, with the sleeping bags Jim bought, and the one Dan gave the boat, we’re good to go. We all sacked out until well in the morning, and except for a couple of brief times to go up on deck and throw up over the side (pink powder and Vodka is not recommended), we slept like rocks.

The hangover the next day, was, for me at least, a little bit epic….

That’s the next story of how we got back.

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Divesting ShortSail IV – Boat Angels

CaptSteve : December 5, 2014 9:55 pm : exShortSail

Now that December 1st has come and gone, we can finish up the story of how we have moved on from the Ex-ShortSail. All in all, it took a lot longer than I thought it would, and has been filled with some bitter sweet sentiments, but its also clearly been the right call.

If you’ll recall from Divesting ShortSail III, we used the charity Boat Angels to rid ourselves of a 32 foot sloop. Getting rid of a boat is actually pretty difficult. At least doing it the right way is. Without a boat yard, how are you supposed to cut it up? If you can’t give it away for free (something we eventually tried), what are you supposed to do? Well, Boat Angels is an organization that you can donate the boat to, and they will help facilitate the transfer of ownership.

So, that is basically what happened. It just took longer than I’d hoped.

Once I had sent the paperwork and pictures to Boat Angels digitally, they started the process of posting the old ShortSail to their ebay site. You can go there and check out some great boats that some people have had to get rid of.

Here’s a Pearson for $11… you see their dilema

Then they take bids, and the auction closes after a week like any other ebay listing.

Then comes the interesting part… you don’t hear from them for awhile. Days, or weeks…. then you call them, and they say its being reposted. Then this happens like four or five times while you continue to pay mooring fees until you explain that there is now a hard deadline.

See that’s the issue with this way of donating the boat. No one takes possession of it until the new owner does. So, if you’re storing this bad boy, get ready to continue to store it until they finally get someone to buy it.

Don’t get me wrong. Its great. Its a charity. They were very polite. But it isn’t like donating a car to the local charity. No one is going to come get this thing until someone buys it. At least not with a boat in the water.

In the end, a gentleman from the midwest purchased ShortSail. His son called me, and he came by and signed the paperwork taking ownership. He then worked out where to store it with the SD Mooring company, and I made my last payment. SD Mooring has sent me my security deposit. So all is done.

The guys who bought it are very nice. They seem really into this thing, and know what they’re getting into with an older boat. I hope the old ShortSail serves them as well as it has served us.

We’ll miss her, but we’ve got other boats that need time, and other obligations that take it up these days.

But if you see a white Pearson 32 (not the 323 mind you) out there with an outboard hanging off the back (probably while passing it), take a look and it just might be ShortSail.

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Divesting Short Sail – Part III

me@jamesjgriffin.com : September 29, 2014 3:54 pm : Cool Stuff, exShortSail

Where the hell are parts I and II? I’ll get to those later.

Short Sail has always been a very special boat. We got it cheap. We put little to no actual investment in making it better. At least in the way boat people consider. She’s been totally functional. But boats are just about being functional are they? If they were, they would be made entirely out of plastic. Teak is a burden. Stainless steel? Expensive. Are either necessary? Probably not. Not in most instances anyway. But if you don’t use stainless you end up with rust streaks. If you don’t care for that teak, it looks like shit. Which leaves us with Short Sail.

Talking to some guys I met the other day I learned how boats used to be disposed of back in the old days. You’d go out to some deep water. Send out a distress call that your boat was sinking. Cut the hoses on the through hulls, and then gracefully step into your dingy like Jack Sparrow onto the dock in the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie. If you had a poor dingy, you’d just wait to be picked up by whatever local authority was closest.

I didn’t make this… I googled it.

Needless to say, such practices are frowned upon today.

Cruise over to the California DMV website, and they have a whole beautiful page on how to get rid of a boat you no longer want. Many of the options don’t apply to San Diego. A lot of the recyclers, charities, and yards they suggest are in the major yacht harbors of California. Got an old boat in Dana Point? No problem. San Diego… eh… okay.

Part I was trying to sell her on Craigslist. I’ll write that up later, but what a waste of time. Especially if you’re selling from a mooring ball. There is nothing casual or easy about that.

Part II was the gear grab. If I’m going to divest myself of the boat, I’m not divesting myself of my new motor and solar system. That shit’s going with me.

Part III. Boat Angels.

Boat Angels is a charity out of Arizona that facilitates the auction of older, underused boats. The idea is that the owner takes a bunch of pictures, they set up an ebay style auction (in fact, I think they use ebay motors), someone buys the boat for $20, and they spend the money on charities. The new owner comes and signs for it, and gets that boat a moving off my mooring ball. That’s the plan anyway. Its an ongoing process.

Part II lost me my dingy. Casualty of war, so to speak. But I have picked up an inflatable kayak from Walmart so I could get to The Answer just off of Shelter Island. So I figured if I needed to take a bunch of pictures, I’d just try that out.

So here are a couple of the pictures.


She’s looking good right?

Beamy as ever

Looks good right?

Well, to get that second picture I had to paddle out pretty far. You can see the Coast Guard station way, way back there in the background.

As I’m clicking away, I feel my butt get pretty wet. *crap* Here I am, in the middle of the bay, on what is essentially a pool toy. This is not really where I want to be. So I hustled back to the boat and tied up my raft/kayak to the side. I went aboard, got the pictures I needed, and headed back up on deck.

There, about 25 feet away, was the kayak drifting back to shore. *shit* Think fast dummy. Part II has left you with very little equipment to fix this problem.

So, with my waterproof camera around my neck, my shoes and paddle in my hand, and my shorts already wet, off the side I went.


Go catch up with the raft, haul myself onboard, and paddle back to the dock…

What a great way to start my Sunday.

Oh well, the pictures are sent in, the form filled out, and now I guess I just wait to hear back from Boat Angels.

God Damn it Walmart

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