April 2, Shilshole Bay: When I lived in Hawaii I used to sometimes put a mini weather report at the end of my emails to people in the mainland. You know, the usual Hawaii weather report - 80, sunny, trades. Here in Seattle it's a little different - 40, rain, gales...
I read in a local paper a while back "You can't talk about Seattle without talking about the weather... makes everyone here a little crazy." This is a place where fast moving cold fronts charging up the Strait of Juan de Fuca or down from Alaska can turn a (relatively) warm, sunny afternoon into something that would send Sir Ernest Shackleton hurrying for shelter in a matter of minutes. Optimistic weather reports mention the likelihood of "Sun breaks" even in high summer. Nonetheless, it looks like we will be staying here yet another few months.
As friend Captain Wendell Brunk says "Murphy loves boaters" and we are feeling the love; or maybe it's the hangover, from St Patrick's day. That is OK. We will be better prepared and have more confidence in our engine and electronics when we ultimately do cast off.
One of the interesting benefits of living as we do is how intimately we are now connected with weather patterns. Not just locally and not just today but projecting to future destinations, routes and seasons. We still want to cruise SE Alaska but leaving here for there at the end of July or later is out of the question. Equally out of the question is the proposition that we should stay here through another winter. Prevailing weather patterns dictate our course: South after August first, waiting to set out across the Pacific to Hawaii until after the hurricane season. Then we will run with the trades to the islands for the winter, and north to Alaska in the spring.
Do you think Clausewitz knows Murphy?
March 21, 2010. Seaview Marine docks at Shilshole Bay
Waiting for a tow from Captain Wendell and his Vessel Assist boat.
We hauled out on Tuesday after pulling the engine and delivering it to the Yanmar Mechanic. I will spare you the gory details but the upshot is that the engine has been disassembled and sent off to the machine shop and will be finished in about ten days.
Our scheduled haul-out was to include fresh bottom paint and replacement of the through-hull and seacock for the galley sink drain and the removal and capping off of the sea water intake for the forward sink. Added to the list were removing and replacing fuel and raw water filters, removing and (Properly) reinstalling the entire exhaust system and cleaning and re-painting the engine compartment.
The now defunct Ala Wai Marine strikes again. Not that I can blame them too much. The engine was installed in 1994, after all, and has been relatively trouble free until now especially considering my rather laissez faire attitude toward engine maintenance.
The yard put us back in the water late yesterday. Laura went off to work this morning and now I am just cleaning up and waiting to be towed back to our slip at the far end of the marina.
We do not know yet what the bill will be but it will be close to erasing the margin of safety we require before setting off on our next cruise. We now have to consider staying a few more months to replenish our cruising fund. If we delay our departure until August or September it would be far easier to winter in Mexico or Hawaii and ride the prevailing winds north to Alaska in late spring or early summer. We will revisit the plan after the engine is reinstalled and the bill is paid.
What we have learned so far about planning: You can plan all you want but stuff happens anyway and if your plans involve a boat, keep a sharp eye on the weather.
February 18th, Shilshole Bay:
We have begun to take our trip planning and preparation seriously now. I rode my bike to The Armchair Sailor on Westlake in Seattle and picked up the NOAA Catalog of Charts and Publications #3 - Alaska and the Canadian Nautical Charts and Publications Catalog #2 - West Coast. We need charts of SE Alaska of course, and all the other periodically updated publications relating to navigation. It was disappointing to learn that Reed's Almanac will not be published this year. I will have to find a substitute. Current sight reduction tables will be required just in case I decide to try my hand with the sextant or all four of our GPS units fail. I am not sure which is more likely.
We have some new electronics to install: A new VHF radio transceiver with an integrated AIS receiver, and a new stereo. The stereo is a big improvement. Unfortunately, it is much smaller than the hole left by the old one. We will deal with it. The new radio is also a big improvement and much less of a mounting challenge. Our old unit, which works perfectly, is a simple VHF marine radio. The new one has a lot of features that will, in theory, enhance safety. The main thing though is that it is a really cool electrical gadget that has a moving display that shows icons for all the ships within range. The AIS (Automatic Identification System) receiver picks up transponder signals from ships and allows you to identify and contact, by name, any vessel on the display. Commercial vessels must be equipped with an AIS transponder. It is not a replacement for radar, but at least it will tell you where the big boys are and how fast and in what direction they are moving, and it will allow you to contact them easily and with positive ID. A ship is less likely to ignore a call directed at them by name or transponder code than a general hail. It also included a GPS receiver (That means we now have 5 GPS receivers on board - just in ca...) so we can transmit our location with the press of a button.
I need to take the mast down and replace the combination light. The top half broke off and fell away somewhere between Friday Harbor and Port Townsend. We bought a replacement LED unit; much smaller than the old one and reputedly much brighter. We will let you know. That leaves only the stern light as the last original incandescent navigation light on the boat. We will be replacing it with an LED unit before we depart...probably.
That leaves only selling the dingy, stowing the bicycles and one last trip to the grocery store.
January 7th 2010 - Shilshole Bay - Facing Future
I hope everyone had a satisfying and renewing solstice and holiday season. Leaving political correctness aside for moment; as Christians and Americans, we celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas with Laura's family in the traditional ways. On New Year's eve laura and I had dinner with friends and retired early. We were sound asleep by 10:30, grateful that we are not in Honolulu where fireworks are the traditional way to bring in the new year. We don't do New Year resolutions but we do set goals and make plans. For instance: We will leave the Pacific Northwest, wind and sea permitting, on about May 1st. We will spend next winter South of latitude 30. Looking forward to 2010 I have been going over charts and using Google Earth to plan our next major voyage. We intend to sail out the Straight of Juan de Fuca, offshore and Northwest, around the outside of Vancouver Island, to Southeast Alaska; our first destination - Sitka. We want to explore the southern part of the 49th state for a month or six weeks before we attend the 10th annual Pacific Northwest VEGAtarian Rendezvous to be held at Port Browning, North Pender Island, BC. The Rendezvous will be July 24th. After the Rendezvous we will be leaving the Pacific Northwest for lower latitudes. Our plans from this point forward are less specific. I have long wanted to visit Monterey Bay, having lived in Monterey before moving to Hawaii in the mid-nineteen seventies. Laura's Mom is now in San Diego and I have family and many friends in Southern California so a stop there is mandatory. We have discussed going back to Hawaii for a few months so we can take the time to properly cruise the Sandwich Islands. 18th and 19th century explorers and whalers often sailed north to Alaskan waters in search of whales or the fabled Northwest passage and South to Hawaii or what is now French Polynesia for the winter. As I wrote in my letter of resignation, I have long dreamed sailing in the wake of Cook and Vancouver. Vancouver, however, did not have to contend with idiots in Bayliners or the wake from the Victoria Clipper, nor did he have to clear customs at Friday Harbor on the American side or Bedwell when entering Canadian waters. Similarly, I doubt James Cook had to put his cat through quarantine in Honolulu. On the plus side, we need not be concerned about the menu at the barbeque in Kealakekua.
November 15th 2009, Shilshole Bay: The Gales of November
didn't make it to Friday Harbor. Our trip to Port Townsend was
uneventful. Light South Winds were not enough for us to sail, the
Northward current pushing us faster than the wind. We had a quick trip
under power to Point Hudson Marina where Bree and I stayed with the
boat while Laura attended her "Team Building" activity ashore. By
Wednesday Laura's meeting was over but the weather was closing in. With
gale warnings predicted for the next several days we decided to retreat
to Shilshole Bay rather than continue North. It turned out to be the
right choice. Had we decided to continue to Friday Harbor, we might
still be there waiting for favorable conditions. As it was, we had to
fight increasing winds from the South to get back to Seattle.
we have mere "Small craft advisories" in effect here in Puget Sound
while full gales are blowing just a few miles North in Admiralty Inlet,
the Strait of Juan de Fuca and up into the islands. These conditions
are expected to persist well into next week. I'm glad we are in a snug
harbor with no pressure to go anywhere.
November 16th - PIcking up where I left off... Full
gales now here in Puget Sound. We are pinned in our slip, but
comfortably; Laura is making soup and Bree is curled up in her favorite
spot opposite the heater. We just uploaded Laura's photo slide show of
the Vega Rendezvous to YouTube and expect to spend the afternoon
working on more videos.
October 31st, Shilshole Bay: Halloween
craft advisories in effect for Puget Sound(Seattle) until noon today -
South wind 20 to 30 knots, wind waves 2 to 4 feet. Admiralty
Inlet(Port Townsend) - Yesterday's Gale warning canceled; Weather for
tomorrow is expected to moderate. Current forecast for tomorrow is for
SSW winds 6 to 11 knots and wind waves 1 foot. With no warnings
pending and conditions expected to improve we are planning to take the
boat to Port Townsend Sunday. Laura has a business meeting for West
Marine there on Monday and Tuesday and will be taking some comp time
afterward so we are planning to go to Friday Harbor next week, weather
We have been getting out a bit. We are not much for
just taking the boat out to sail up and down in front of the marina
though. We prefer destination oriented sailing so when Laura had a
couple of days off early in October we took the opportunity to sail
around the point into Seattle's main commercial harbor and the tiny
yacht basin at Bell Harbor Marina. Located in the heart of the Seattle
waterfront district; that is, the developed and spiffed up for tourists
part (featuring expensive restaurants, bistros and boutiques) as
opposed to the working waterfront crowded with, and smelling like,
commercial fishing boats and the businesses that serve them and their
crews. You will find the latter in Ballard, just a short walk from our
mooring in Shilshole Bay. Unlike at Anthony's Restaurant, the Cutter
or Pike's Place market in Bell Harbor, you won't see any business suits
or families with baby strollers at the Salmon Bay Cafe, the Maritime
Brewing Co.'s "Jolly Roger" pub or Mike's Chili Parlor in Ballard.
Photos below. First Bell Harbor, then Ballard. Sharp eyed fans of "Deadliest Catch" may notice a familiar boat in the background of one shot at the Ballard shipyards.
September 21 2009, Shilshole Bay: Cruising Plans
Summer is over. Although it is bright and sunny, there is a definite Autumn nip in the air and the shadows are getting long as the sun's arc no longer crosses the top of the sky. Laura is coming down off the frenetic pace as business slows at the end of the season and we are looking forward to spending more time together as West Marine adopts shorter hours for the Winter.
Meanwhile we have been taking full advantage of the Ballard Farmers Market, every Sunday loading up on fresh locally produced fruits, veggies, bread, cheeses and fresh and smoked salmon (Yummm!) I make two trips on my bicycle, loading my backpack full on each trip.
Our cruising plan is firming up. In November we are hoping to get back to Friday Harbor for a visit with friends there with stops along the way for fish and chips at CJ's in Port Townsend and a breakfast at Fisherman Bay on Lopez Island. Anchorages and harbors that were crowded in July are deserted after Labor Day and offer prime cruising destinations (And lower rates) for those willing to brave the colder weather. We intend to take full advantage of the opportunity.
We have begun planning for our departure from Seattle next Summer. Cruising plans are always fluid so we expect ours to change as circumstances develop. For now, however, we expect to leave Seattle in May for the San Juans, the Canadian Gulf Islands and Alaska via the Inside Passage. By next September we will be heading South and expect to stop in Monterey, possibly Avalon, Long beach and San Diego(Other stops along the coast will be dictated by whim, weather or necessity). From there we will either proceed to Mexico or maybe stop in Hawaii for a visit before we continue to French Polynesia.
August 27th 2009, Shilshole Bay: Puget Sound Weather Update
So much for promises.
I have learned one thing during our sojourn here in the Pacific Northwest: To always take full advantage of good weather, Or, as the old saying goes "Make hay while the sun shines". Anyway, that is my excuse for neglecting my correspondence, my blog, the web site, all internet forums and our video series. Who knew that Northwest Washington would actually have a summer (Of sorts) this year?
I am being a bit facetious, of course, but only a little. In truth, we have been enjoying several weeks of pretty good weather here. Still, there is no denying that the cold rains for which this area is famous are sure to return. Meanwhile, I am making an effort to catch up some (The sun is shining but the temperature is in the fifties). I have posted three more videos in the "Across the Pacific" series this week and hope to find time to do a few more soon. We also have new video from our recent sailing adventures in the North Puget Sound area and the San Juan Islands plus another series we are working on. Progress will depend on how quickly the weather deteriorates. Soon enough I will be cabin bound and have plenty of time for the computer while Laura is at work.
Speaking of the lovely and talented Laura; she has been working very hard and has accumulated quite a lot of comp time so we are planning some off-season cruising after the summer crowds have dissipated. Next summer we expect to be on our way again. First, North to Alaska then South into the zone of endless summer d;^)
July 31st 2009, Shilshole Bay: Catching up
I solemnly promise to try to be more diligent about posting blog entries. Hereon I will do my best to post an entry at least once a week, if possible.
Laura finally took some time off work so we could go to the 9th Annual Pacific Northwest VEGAtarian Rendezvous at Friday Harbor. On Tuesday evening we got the boat ready and early Wednesday morning we cast of and motored up the Sound to Admiralty Inlet and Port Townsend. We caught the current just right and arrived at Point Hudson at 10:AM. Too early. There were no slips available so we decided to go to the Port Townsend Boat Haven for fuel. While there we decided to get a slip at the Boat Haven so we could enjoy a lunch of fish and chips and a shake at CJ's and do some grocery shopping at the Safeway across the street. We took a walk around the familiar boatyard and found that the boat that had been on stands next to Lealea when we hauled out two years ago was still there! Laura took some pictures and I went to the PT Brewing Company for a couple of pints and some cool Jazz in the Beer Garden.
Next Morning we planned to get underway at 6:00AM so we could transit the sometimes tricky Cattle Pass at slack water but the thick fog convinced us to wait until it cleared at 10:00. Crossing the Straight of Juan de Fuca was uneventful and we arrived at Cattle pass with the current running North at about 4 knots which made for an interesting but not difficult exercise in seamanship. After we got through the pass I noticed a familiar looking boat a mile or so behind us that turned out to be Sin Tacha, Peter and Ulla Jacobs.
Peter set his course closer in than we did and was about half a mile behind when when he set his jib. As we neared Brown Island we circled around to get some video and photos of Sin Tacha under sail. Sin Tacha sailed for the main entrance to Friday Harbor while we took the South entrance to head directly to the fuel dock where we danced with the heavy traffic jockeying for position at the pumps.
After topping off with diesel Laura called in our arrival to the Harbor Master and got our slip assignment on H dock next to Sin Tacha. The other revelers arrived the next day and, just before sunset, we toasted each boat in turn. Fortunately, only six boats came this year: Simply Super (Not a Vega) Lealea, Sin Tacha, Katia Sophia and Wren. Howard and Sheila, former owners of Shiva, V1707, came in their new boat. Not all the partyers arrived by boat. Mitzi and Bear (Ex-City Zoo) of course live on San Juan Island and only had to drive down to the Port. That night we were Bear and MItzi's guests at the Yacht Club for dinner and cocktails.
Catherine Noonan with her daughter, Alex, and Alex' boyfriend, TJ, came by ferry and there were a few others who showed up just to look at the boats and meet the crews because they were planning to become VEGAtarians. We answered a lot of questions and Laura made her Cranberry-Walnut pancakes for everyone on Saturday morning.
The weather for the event could not have been more perfect, including the thunderstorm and lightning show at sunset during our potluck party on Saturday. The thunder and lightning with the crimson backdrop of the sunset was nothing short of spectacular. Sometime during the party the Canadian contingent, who will host Rendezvous X next year, decided on Fulford Harbour on Saltspring Island British Columbia for the venue. Date TBA.
Sunday morning the Rendezvous broke up and we all headed our seperate ways. Laura and I headed for Cap Sante marina in Anacortes and did some more shopping. Next morning we went to La Connor on the Swinomish channel and on Tuesday, we started on the final leg back to Shilshole Bay.
On Wednesday, Laura had to return to work and I performed recovery operations on Lealea, stripping off the sails (Which we had not set once during our entire seven day trip) and putting up the awnings.
Now I have to get cracking on video editing.
June 5th 2009, Shilshole Bay
The weather has been pretty nice the past week or so; almost like Hawaii in the dead of winter. But today we appear to be back to normal - cloudy, cool and wet. A good thing, I judge, as most of the locals have been complaining about the heat (Mid-80's maximum) and attributing it to Global Warming, or as I prefer to call it - "Spring".
Laura has been working far too many hours and attracting the wrong kind of attention from upper management - the kind of attention that gets you promoted. As usual she is making lots of friends. I have been keeping busy with the web site and two YouTube channels, writing, recording, editing and producing videos. Of course with Laura working so much, I have taken charge of the housekeeping chores, laundry and grocery shopping.
Boat maintenance has been minimal but I did install another 12 volt active vent in the forepeak to help with the condensation problem. The cockpit hatches I refinished last year in Friday Harbor have warped and split so I will have to find a way to fix that. I would like to replace them with Starboard (tm), a white plastic material, but Laura is having none of it. She likes the varnished teak look.
We are looking forward to sailing back to Friday Harbor for the Vega Rendezvous next month. The Rendezvous is always fun and we really need to get back out on the water again. We will probably take two or three days to get there and expect to take lots of video and photographs for the web site and YouTube.
April 29th 2009, Shilshole Bay
Yes, last week we had two of those days that Seattlites brag about. The kind of day that brings out crowds of bicyclists, joggers, shoppers crowding Market Street and boaters swarming the docks. As soon as the temperature edges above fifty degrees they are out in shorts and tee shirts with dreamy smiles on their faces. It was a startlingly beautiful day...by Seattle standards; the kind of day that would have my Hawaiian friends huddled around electric heaters and wrapped in blankets. But here the locals were frantically flocking to the beach parks and stripping off their clothes to absorb as much sunlight as possible before the cold rains returned.
When the happy coincidence of Laura's day off, temperatures warm enough for sealant to cure and no rain coincided we installed two of the four polycarbonate portlights I had fabricated in Dave's workshop on San Juan Island back in November. We are hoping that the stars and sun align again and give us another day like that before the Vega Rendezvous in July so we can install the other two.
That will complete the replacement of the original glass windows held by rubber gaskets, automotive style, with through-bolted three-eighths inch polycarbonate. The replacement of the windows was the last major upgrade we had planned. Vega owners are aware of the weakness of the large main cabin windows that can be knocked in by the force of a sea striking the side of the boat. This solution makes the windows stronger than the cabin itself and eliminates the annoying black smudges that come from the oxidized rubber gaskets. We had replaced the two large main cabin windows in Port Townsend with the help of the Shipwright's Co-Op. After going through it with them, I had the confidence to make the small ones for the forward cabin myself.
April 4th 2009, Shilshole Bay Soggy in Seattle: It has been raining and snowing constantly for what seems like weeks but the sun peeked out about an hour ago and the forecast is for clear weather for the next few days. Hope springs eternal...
I spilled a glass of wine on the laptop and fried the motherboard and processor so I had to order a new computer. That took a week and when the new one arrived the hard drive was bad. Dell sent me a new hard drive which turned out to be an easy replacement and now I have a smokin' hot new computer with four times the RAM, five times the hard drive capacity and a processor that runs four times as fast as the old one for a third of the price. I had subscribed to Carbonite on-line back up service back in October so recreating my data was easy as pie. Nothing lost but about ten days of productivity and electronic entertainment. You have to love modern technology.
Speaking of modern technology; I am in the process, as I write this, of copying my CD music library to the computer. We will later load it all on an iPod and get rid of the 500 od CDs we've been lugging around in a binder. Welcome to the 21st century. (CDs are so 1990) We need a new stereo any way. The old one ate my favorite Beach Boys CD and finally died completely a few months ago but we have been listening to streaming radio over the internet so it was no big deal (Until I destroyed the computer).
You may have wondered hw we access the internet on the boat, or maybe not. We subscribe to a service called Broadband Express The rate is reasonable and wireless service is widely available here in the Pacific Northwest. We have used it in every marina we have visited so far. When we are not in a marina the computer is in a waterproof case.
The loss of the computer slowed down my video production but now I'm getting rolling again. We now have 16 clips with a total of 4500 views on YouTube and 20 subscribers. I am trying to produce one video every three days from material we have already recorded in addition to writing 1000 words a day. I'm falling a little short but its good to have goals March 2nd 2009, Shilshole Bay
month has been pretty uneventful.Laura
is working long hours and I have been spending my time editing our video
recordings and working on the American Vega Association web site.That is not to say that it has been boring
though.Sundays Ballard Ave. is given
over to a "Farmer's market" where we usually pick up some treats: Smoked Alaska
salmon, boutique breads, goat cheese, ginger cookies... The street fair setting
is entertaining.Now I know where all
the Hippies went.
helped our young friend Nick bring his recently acquired San Juan 24 down to ShilsholeBay from Everett.He had picked up the engineless and neglected boat for a song and
borrowed a small outboard motor which proved adequate to the task.Although neglected, the boat is in pretty
good shape and really only needs a good cleaning and a little paint or varnish
to make it a really nice little yacht.The sails could be in better shape but they still work and although the
wind was light we got in a couple of hours of pure sailing during the six hour
trip.Nick brought along two boxes of
Girl Scout cookies and a six pack of Coke, I brought a thermos bottle of tea
and some apples and we had a great day on the water.
February 4th, ShilsholeBay
I got the bikes out of the locker and assembled soon after we got here and have
been riding around town exploring.I
went to the Seattle Boat Show last week. Never saw so much shiny fiberglass and
polished stainless steel in one place before in my life! Amazing, really.It was a lot like one of the Dealer Meetings
I used to go to but bigger.I met Margo
Woods, of Charlie's Charts, and we had a nice chat.I also ran into our old friends from Port
Townsend, Dan and Lisa from Port Townsend Rigging.
has been pretty nice the last couple of days; I've had the heater off and the
hatches open during the daytime but the temperature is hovering
around fifty degrees at best.Pleasant
though compared to the past few weeks.
been digging into her job at the store and finished the month of January up 70%
over the corporate-set goal.That's My
Honey!I have been busy editing our
video logs and posting them on YouTube
. So far we've posted eight videos and plan to put up one every two or three
days until we get caught up.We have
about sixty video logs altogether so far covering the trip from Hawaii and our sailing trips up here in
Northwest.Rather than me sending out an email to
everyone every time I post a new video, those of you who are interested can subscribe
to our YouTube channel by
clicking the yellow "Subscribe" button.You will then get an email notice when we post a new video.If you decide to check them out, please take
the time to rate them by clicking the stars icon and feel free to leave
and one day after our arrival we left FridayHarbor with the South bound current at on the 12th. As we
approached Cattle Pass at the Southern tip of San Juan Island the engine
started to surge, unable to maintain a steady rate of RPM and threatening to
die and leave us without steerage way. The current carried us through the
pass at over ten knots and the engine, luckily, kept running until we were well
clear. When the engine died we drifted in open water in the Strait of Juan de Fuca for twenty minutes while we bled
the fuel system. That did the trick and the engine gave us no more
The first leg of the trip, to Port Townsend, took just over six hours thanks to
a boost from the South flowing current. At about we passed Nathan, Laura's
replacement at the Friday Harbor West Marine, in his Catalina 30 going the
other way and hailed him on the radio. At () we arrived at Point Hudson Marina
in Port Townsend where we stayed two nights, had dinner with friends and did
some shopping. Of course I had a pint at the Port Townsend Brewing Co.
We departed Point Hudson 08:05 on Wednesday taking the main ship channel on the
east side of Harrow Island, down Admiralty Inlet to Puget Sound. It was
not possible to plan this leg of the trip to take full advantage of the current
and still travel during daylight hours so progress was reduced to 3 knots
during the first few hours of the Southward leg but the current turned a few
hours into the trip and we made better progress once we cleared Point No
Point. We stayed to the right edge of the ship channel and were passed by
several large container ships, one large Navy tug, one nuclear submarine on the
surface with its Coast Guard escorts, the US Aircraft Carrier Abraham Lincoln
and a couple of motor yachts. We arrived at the North Entrance to
Shilshole Bay Marina at and were tied up in our assigned
slip by . We went to the office and were welcomed cordially,
given our keys and paperwork to complete and told where the best place nearby
for supper could be found.
On the morning of the 15th Laura went to work at the Shilshole Bay
West Marine store and I began putting things away and cleaning up the
boat. At we met for lunch and afterward I set off on foot to explore
Historic Ballard. No shortage of bars and restaurants here. I
couldn't resist having a schooner at "The Sloop". Today I hope to get
our bicycles out and assembled so I can ride to the nearest market to do some
grocery shopping. Unfortunately, the temperature is just below freezing
and there is a fog rolling in.
January 9th 2009, Friday Harbor
expect to be leaving for Seattle in a few days. Laura has been asked to
take over management of the West Marine store at Shilshole Bay Marina.
Tomorow will be her last day on the schedule at the Friday Harbor store
and we will set sail (Or more likely fire up the engine) as soon as we
get favorable weather for the trip which we expect to take two or three
days depending on weather and route. To be sure, we will miss Friday
Harbor and all of our friends here but we are looking forward to making
new friends and visiting old ones in the Seattle area.
boat is in good shape after our stay here with new handrails, added
vents, new interior cushions and refinished hatches. We have also
serviced the engine and lightened the load somewhat. My most recent
project was to fabricate new portlights for the forward cabin. Now all
six of the boats "Windows" are of through-bolted three eighths inch
polycarbonate, replacing the original automotive style glass held by
rubber gaskets; much stronger and more seamanlike.
I have finally got around to editing my video log and begun publishing it on the web. I put the first episode, Day 29,
up today. Like George Lucas, I've begun in the middle. Now that I've
learned how easy it is I regret not doing it sooner. We have many hours
of video that I hope to be able to publish soon. Lots of boatyard stuff
and, of course 55 days of logs from our trip from Hawaii.
December in Friday Harbor
18th 2008, Friday Harbor
Snow."Winter Weather Alert" for the area.Temperatures are in the twenties with the
wind-chill below zero on the water but we are snug and cozy on the boat.This is the first time since I was a boy in Vermont that it has felt like Christmas to
me.But then, it is the first time since
I was little that I have been in a small town with snow on the ground this time
of year.I like it.I know that I have complained about the cold
weather here but I really do not mind cold weather in December.After all, it is supposed to be cold in December.It is cold weather in July that I find annoying.
Dave are spending Christmas with family so we are going to their house to take
care of Forrest and Luca for a week, a very nice setting for the holiday in a
small cottage in the evergreen forest and this weather makes it just perfect.
new year begins we will be moving to Shilshole bay Marina in Seattle.West Marine has asked Laura to take over management of a larger store at
Shilshole and she has decided to accept.We will be sad to leave San JuanIsland and our friends here but we are
excited about sailing to Seattle and Laura is looking forward to
taking on the new challenge.Besides, we
will be closer to Laura�s Grandmother and Aunt and other friends we have in
that city.We promised to stay at FridayHarbor for one year and that year ends
January 14th.We are, after
all, cruising and it would not do to sink roots too deeply in one place.Our timetable has been extended but the
overall plan remains intact.Weather
permitting, we will be making the two-day voyage to Seattle in a few weeks.We will stop in Port Townsend on the way to
do some shopping (And have a brew at the Port Townsend Brewing Co.).We expect to be settled in at Shilshole by
the end of January.
October 10th 2008, Friday Harbor:
had much to write about but we did take some time to cruise up to Maple Bay, BC for the annual VEGAtarian
Rendezvous.Laura managed to get away
from the store for five days so we rode the current North to BedwellHarbor where we checked in through
Canadian customs and spent the night at Poet�s Cove.Late next morning, with the tide and current
we cast off and navigated around the southern tip of PenderIsland and North through SansumNarrows.
SansumNarrows is narrow indeed, less than a third
of a mile at places, with swift currents, eddies and whirlpools between high
rocky cliffs.We arrived at the entrance
to the narrows at approximately slack water and rode the increasing northerly
current to MapleBay.At one point I got too close to a whirlpool and the boat quickly spun
ninety degrees.That was a thrill.No harm done though.Our Yanmar 2GM20 engine develops twice the
horsepower of the original Volvo engine our boat came from the factory with and
we easily powered through.
the next two days renewing old acquaintances and making new friends among the
Pacific Northwest Vega community, enjoying a potluck dinner on Wednesday night
followed by a moving party among the various boats.We drank beer and ate fish at the marina pub
and spend hours examining each others boats and comparing notes.Then it was time to head for home.
back to Bedwell and Poet�s Cove intending to make the trip home a two-day
journey but when it came time to leave with the tide on Friday Bree was nowhere
to be found.Tiny paw prints in the dew
on the deck indicated that she had been aboard in the morning but we couldn�t
find her when it was time to cast off.Enlisting the aid oftwo young
girls on a neighboring boat, we scoured the marina and after several hours,
long after the tide had turned against us, the errant kitty was found hiding on
a fishing boat a hundred feet down the dock.So we spent two nights at Poet�s Cove before returning to FridayHarbor.
A couple of
weeks ago we decided to go to Anacortes for a grocery run.Cap Sante Boat Haven in Anacortes is 23 miles
from FridayHarbor by boat, a pleasant four or five
hour trip.We took our time and sailed
as much of it as we could, motoring only while in the wind shadows of the
islands.We arrived at in the afternoon and were greeted
by the sound of squealing tires and the unmistakable roar of V-twin engines
through drag pipes backed by amplified rock & roll music and someone
yelling over a bullhorn.The annual
�Oyster Run� was in full swing and thousands of bikers had occupied the town
for the weekend.Who knew?
parking lot was given over to a large biker party (You know how those are), the
main street was blocked off with police cars, lights flashing, at each
intersection re-directing automobile traffic.Every hotel parking lot was full of motorcycles.The streets were lined with bikes and the
sidewalks crowded with those familiar black leather clad folks.D�j� vu.The marina, however, had plenty of open guest slips.
Laura and I
had planned to check out a Mexican restaurant recommended by a friend but the
long line of bikers outside caused us to opt for supper on the boat.Next morning we had breakfast at the Calico
Kitchen, in spite of the line, and walked over to Safeway for a load of
groceries at prices we could only dream of in the town of Friday Harbor.Laura was stowing the groceries as I was
guiding the boat out of the harbor.We
had a very nice sail back in a stiff northerly breeze and temperatures in the
sixties.We think we�ll be making the
trip to Anacortes for supplies on a regular basis as long as we are in FridayHarbor.We know that we will be here at least until January.
Master has moved us to our winter slip in the outer harbor and I no longer have
internet or email on the boat.I�ll have
to get a better antennae.Meanwhile I
have to take my laptop up the hill to a bookstore to check email etc.We will be house sitting again next week and
again for a month in November so I will have time to work on the web site and
for some more boat projects.I made new
teak handrails and a boat hook with a bronze tip and a varnished teak staff in
Dave�s workshop.I still have some more
small things I want to do: new portlights, refinish some wooden blocks and
fabricate some miscellaneous pieces of boat gear.When I�m done I�ll put photos and video on
the web site for you.
discovered that I have 75,000 miles in my United Mileage account, enough to get
two round-trip tickets to Vermont so we are working on planning a
trip back there to visit friends, renew acquaintances with our neighbors and
check on our property.I don�t really
want to go to Vermont in the dead of winter but there it
is.Maybe we can arrange it for this
July 24th, Friday Harbor:
this is summer. The temperature at is just 55 degrees
Fahrenheit. There have only been a few hours this month that I have found
warm enough to wear a short sleeve shirt but the locals seem to be fine
cavorting in shorts and tank tops with temperatures in the fifties and
sixties. On the plus side, it has been sunny and dry so I have been able
to empty the lockers and dry out the boat and all of our gear.
process of spiffing up the boat for the upcoming VEGAtarian Rendezvous, we
decided to re-finish the handrails. I thought I could do a better job if
I removed them from the boat. Wouldn't you know, I broke one of the
exterior rails in three pieces? Then I went to the Ale House to think
about my next move over a pint of their Royal Marines IPA.
there are no ready-made direct replacements available off the shelf so the
possible solutions are:
have new pieces custom made - very expensive
replace the originals with commercial off-the-shelf replacements that do not
match or fit properly - requiring filling and drilling and leaving scars on the
cabin top, or :
To make new ones myself.
Now, I am
no handyman. Make no mistake. So the idea of fabricating, from raw
lumber, new handrails for Lealea (Which would be subject to intense scrutiny by
my fellow Vega owners at the annual Rendezvous) was daunting to say the
least. But what choice did I have?
up all of the last bits of knowledge retained from my ninth grade wood shop
class I took measurements and made calculations then placed a call to Edensaw
Woods in Port Townsend. I was surprised at how helpful they were
considering that I was only ordering one piece of 1 1/4 inch teak, eight feet
by six inches. They even delivered it to FridayHarbor.
Cost: $175 (No charge for shipping). I knew I wouldn't want to make any
I took my
new lumber to friends David and Megan's house where David graciously lent a
hand and let me use his very well equipped workshop for the project. I
doubt I could have done it without his help. Laura took photos and video
while David and I turned the rough teak board into four handrails. I'll
be posting all the details in an article for the VORM soon. You will find
that, given the proper tools and sufficient patience, even a neophyte like me
can produce good results. You can too.
We went for
a walk around the guest docks last evening and saw a Vega: Mahina.
Yes, the Mahina of "Log of the Mahina" by John Neal. We
spoke with Jim Berglund who's father bought Mahina from John Neal. Jim
said he grew up sailing her and now his children are growing up sailing with
him just as he did with his father. We invited Jim and his family to the
Rendezvous and gave him a flyer.
we'll be house sitting for Megan and David for the next few days (They travel a
lot) so I'll use the opportunity to get several good coats of varnish on the
new handrails. I have just a few more small boat projects to complete
before the Rendezvous: Install the new handrails, repair the starboard running
light (The ground wire broke inside the pulpit) and install a new through deck
connector for the solar panels; then a good cleaning.
3 2008Friday Harbor:
It has now been a full year since we left Hawaii. I miss the
weather. Today features fog and rain with a projected high temperature of 58.
No “Sun breaks” today.
FridayHarbor is a
pretty nice place to visit but we don’t want to stay here too long. The people
are friendly, the island and town are pretty and the fresh fruits, vegetables
and fish are great. The harbor itself is the best we’ve been in so far.
Unfortunately, it is expensive to live here, even compared to Honolulu, and the
weather just plain sucks. Some of our friends have asked if we have changed our
plans and now intend to stay in the Pacific Northwest. Not a chance. We may
stay longer than we had originally intended but as soon as possible we will be
heading back out into the Pacific to continue our voyage.
we are house and pet sitting again for our friends Megan and David whom we met
while out on the 800 row in the Ala Wai boat harbor. They have abandoned their
cruising plans, sold their boat and bought a house on San JuanIsland; a very
nice place on five acres with a guest house and a very well equipped wood shop
which I am taking full advantage of to continue some unfinished boat projects.
At the moment I am waiting for varnish to dry out in the heated shop and
enjoying a cup of excellent Pacific Northwest coffee (Watching the
drizzle and fog through the window).
22, 2008Friday Harbor:
grief! Have I really not added to this page for four months? In my defense all
I can offer is that nothing much has happened. FridayHarbor is a very
quiet town in winter. Now that the weather has begun to warm up (A little)
things have changed. Every weekend the harbor fills with visiting boats.
Rendezvous, yacht club party cruises and individuals begin arriving on Thursday
and the town comes alive. Ferries, cruise ships and float planes bring foot
traffic and local businesses catering to the visitors rake in the profits while
they can. Local and visiting boaters are keeping Laura busy at West Marine
getting their boats in shape for the summer boating season and picking up things
they forgot at their home port in their haste to get out on the water as the
thermometer approaches something resembling summer temperatures.
all a little strange to me, the seasonal thing, after thirty years in Hawaii. You see,
one cannot simply relax and enjoy the warm sunshine. No. You have to make the
most of every minute of it while it lasts because all too soon the docks will
be coated with ice again and it will be to cold to handle a screwdriver and too
wet to use an electric drill outdoors; too cold for paint to dry and too wet
(And cold) to varnish. As the temperatures approach 60 degrees Fahrenheit,
(Extreme winter overnight low in Honolulu) people are
out in shorts and Hawaiian shirts, slathered in sunscreen (While carrying
backpacks filled with sweaters and rain gear. After all, they are acclimated,
not stupid) I’m still wearing long johns.
was supposed to be partly sunny and (Relatively) warm today and I had planned
to go to Shipyard Cove to do some work on “City Zoo” for Bear and Mitzi but it
turned cold and is threatening to rain. It may clear up this afternoon but you
never know. I think that’s what I don’t like about the weather here. More than
the cold and wet, it’s the inconsistence. It may be warm and sunny now but if
you go out you had better take along a sweater and rain gear.
that we haven’t had any nice weather. We have. There have been a couple of days
that featured a few hours of sunshine and last Saturday, the thermometer rose
to over 70. Still, one business owner confided in me that “If this summer isn’t
any warmer than last summer we’re moving to Hawaii.” I’m used
to weather forecasts that predict “Scattered showers”. Since we came to this
neck of the woods I’ve learned a new term: “Sun Breaks”. The more optimistic weather
forecasts feature “Occasional sun breaks”. The first time I heard it I sprayed
beer out of my nose (Port Townsend Brewing Co. Boatyard Bitters).
ducked out of Port Townsend on the 11th when the gale warnings in Admiralty inlet and the Strait of Georgia were cancelled. We cast off at Port
Townsend at 07:37 so as to pass Point Wilson at slack water and motored across
the Strait of Juan de Fuca without incident in calm air and moderate seas,
although there was some chop from wakes of a couple of large ships. Bree got
seasick but I was OK. We timed our departure and speed to arrive at CattlePass between San Juan and LopezIsland at slack water but arrived a bit
early so we entered the pass against a slight current, perhaps 2.5 knots.
A few miles
up the San Juan Channel a customs launch with four black-clad officers aboard,
complete with goggles and balaclavas, flew past in the opposite direction out
into the strait. Twenty minutes later they came up close astern and hailed us
asking where we were headed, where we had come from and if we were really from Honolulu as it says on our transom. I told
them our story, briefly. They bid us welcome and sped away.
rounded BrownIsland I contacted the Harbor Master at
the Port of Friday Harbor on the VHF and was directed to a slip on the guest
dock. We tied up at , just over seven hours after
casting off in Port Townsend.
The Port of
Friday Harbor is a beautiful, well maintained marina. The staff seems friendly,
courteous and efficient. They made us feel welcome, seemed genuinely concerned
about our welfare and were eager to help us get settled and find our way around
their town. We were shocked. What a contrast from the harbor management in Honolulu and Port Townsend. Don’t get me
wrong. Port Townsend was a very friendly place and the shipwrights and yard
workers were great. We wish we could say the same about the staff in the harbor
Once we got
checked in we contacted our friends Megan and Dave whom we had met in Honolulu. They were our neighbors in the Ala
Wai while we were temporarily on the 800 row by the breakwater and we had
originally planned to meet in Tahiti for Christmas. You all know what
happened to us. Megan and Dave had a rigging failure south of the BigIsland (Hawaii) and were forced to return for
repairs. The short version is that they wound up here in FridayHarbor where they bought a house after
Dave single-handed their boat, “Mystery” across the Pacific. “Mystery”,
coincidentally is now moored two slips down the dock from “Lealea”.
We went for
a walk the day after we arrived and spotted “City Zoo” moored in Shipyard Cove
and I called Mitzi and Bear Johnson, VEGAtarians we have known since that first
Rendezvous at Port Browning in 2001. They had been expecting us and introduced
us to the San Juan YC and the local community theater where we attended a Bluegrass concert.
(“Flyaway”) emailed me and said he may sail over for a visit, as did Chuck
Wilson, Laura’s shipmate on
“Spike Africa” who lives on OrcasIsland so you can see we will not be
the local health club to resume our fitness programs and discovered that the
per-diem cost of the annual membership is about the same as we would pay for
the coin operated showers in the marina so the health club works out to be a
very good deal.
started work at West Marine here on the Monday after we arrived and has already
met John Neal (Log
of the Mahina, A tale of the South Pacific) and his wife. We have now discovered all of
the book stores and most of the restaurants in town. I’m going to miss the Port
Townsend Brewing Co. though.
January 4th, 2008 Port Townsend
We put the mast up last Friday and discovered, much to my chagrin, that the
rigging shop had cut the backstay two feet too short. I used a piece of line to
connect the upper backstay to the lowers and went to the rigging shop to tell
them of the problem. Dan came over to the boat and immediately said they would
take care of it. The rigging crew would not be back at work until after New
Years day and we were scheduled to go back in the water on New Years eve so Dan
told us to have the travel lift crew put us at the rigger's dock and his crew
would take care of the backstay on Wednesday. The riggers showed up at the boat
about and had the backstay replaced in a few minutes. But I had
parceled and served a six inch section and siezed on a block for a flag halyard
and when Dan saw this he insisted that his people would come back and take the
stay down so I could put a block on the new stay. I told him that it was not
necessary but he insisted and that they did this morning, just completing the
job before a gale blew in off Admiralty Inlet. Dan has offered to let us moor a the rigger's dock,
free of charge, until we depart for FridayHarbor on Monday. From the day we arrived
here in Port Townsend back in August, Dan and Lisa of Port Townsend Rigging
have gone out of their way to help us even though we only bought the wire and
wedges required for me to re-rig Lealea and ordered new masthead sheaves from
them,a total of less than $500. This is customer service above and beyond the
The weather forecast is for gales in the inlet and the Strait of Juan de Fuca for today and tomorrow. We are
hoping it will clear so we can cross the strait to FridayHarbor Monday or Tuesday. December 12th, Port Townsend
Amazingly, we are still on
stands in the Port Townsend Boat Haven yard. The rigging job went fairly
quickly with just a few days delay while the new masthead sheaves were
fabricated. We removed and re-bedded all deck hardware including the sheet
block tracks, in the process discovering that the wooden sheet cleats on the
coaming were split and required replacing. What has taken so much time is
repairs to the interior. For more details and photos of the work we've added a NEW PAGE.
As we dismantled the obviously damaged portions, we uncovered more that,
although not completely ruined, would be best replaced while we had the boat
torn apart. We ended up removing and replacing all of the V berth and the
dinette on the port side of the main cabin. We removed and refinished the face
piece for the starboard settee and replaced the large plywood piece that serves
as the seat, adding two access hatches so we could reach the inside of that
locker from the top and more easily access the seacock for the salt water
intake for the water maker. As we removed major portions of the interior we
found rotted pieces in the bottom of lockers under and behind the stove and
behind the head. All were removed and replaced. During the process we cleaned
and Laura painted the overhead in the forepeak and the inside of the cabin
house in the saloon and I installed new insulation throughout.
Then, after we had it all back together and all but a few finishing touches to
complete we discovered that the new pieces under the V berth had begun to
delaminate, apparently due to condensation. This despite the fact that we had
sealed the supposedly marine grade plywood with Mar-X-Ite phenolic resin
sealer, four coats, and layed on two coats of marine paint. We weren't even
back in the water yet! We had consulted with the Port Townsend Shipwrights
Co-op, showed them our problem: interior woodwork delaminating due to prolonged
exposure to excessive moisture. They had recommended the products and
procedures and helped with the work. We were given a choice of materials from a
list of those deemed suitable and we chose the moderately expensive, sapele
veneer hard-wood marine grade plywood to best match the existing woodwork that
would be retained. We treated and finished it according to their instructions
with products they recommended. To their credit, when I showed the problem to
the man we had been working with he was shocked and took one of the hatch
covers with him to show the other members of the co-op. In a couple of hours he
came by the boat to tell me that the supplier of the lumber would replace the
materials with a higher grade, this time from Europe instead of Asia, at no
charge and that the co-op would perform their share of the labor, which was
basically cutting out the pieces of plywood to fit, also at no cost to us.
Since the pieces that had come apart were painted and, being under the mattress
in the V berth did not show, the replacement lumber being of a different type
is of no consequence but we are now faced with the matter of the beautifully
varnished pieces that now constitute most of the furniture in the main cabin.
While these have not shown any signs of delaminating yet we have no assurance
that they will not do so in the near future. Also we have the matter of time to
consider. It took us more than a week to seal and finish the original pieces in
the forepeak and that was in September with temperatures in the 60s and 70s (Farenheit).
Now it is December and the temperatures are in the 20s and 30s - too cold to
paint or varnish. Weather has also caused a delay in our receiving the
replacement materials which were not in stock at the local warehouse. Two weeks
have been lost just waiting for the materials to arrive and, of course, every
day Lealea remains on stands adds to our yard bill. August 27th 2007, Port Townsend
Getting to like Port Townsend but we are anxious to get back to sea and resume
our cruising. Progress on the boat has been slow but life here is pleasant.
Laura and I went for a walk along the LarryScottTrail, more of a road actually, gravel
surfaced and a good eight feet wide, leading away from the Southwest corner of
the boatyard last evening. An hour and a half of leisurely strolling along the
shoreline gave us purple stained fiingers and filled a two and a half quart
plastic pail with wild blackberries. On the way back we stopped by the Port
Townsend Brewery for a pint. We've been invited to the PTYC "Texas Barbeque
Night" this Friday night and we are looking forward to the Wooden Boat
Festival next weekend.
The riggers wouldn't let me cut my own wire but they aren't charging me either
so that's good enough I suppose. the wedges for the Sta Lok fittings had to be
ordered and won't arrive until Wednesday. After that the rigging job will go
pretty quickly as I have already removed, cleaned, polished and inspected all
of the fittings, tangs, toggles, turnbuckles, pins etc. as well as the masthead
sheaves. All good except for the sheaves for which the riggers are making new
bushings. the holes in the headstay fitting were elongated slightly so I
removed it and took it to the rigging shop. The rigger suggested I take it to a
metal fabricator in the yard who removed the triangle plate and replaced it
with one of 1/8 inch 316 SS stock. When he showed me the welds on the old piece
I was shocked. There was almost no metal holding the piece to the bracket and I
could easily see the dark rust where the metal should have been bright from his
cutting the piece away. The new piece looks much stronger.
Meanwhile, Laura has begun on the interior, removing much of the plywood in the
forward cabin. Our ceiling of varnished white oak loked like crap so she
removed it. NOTE: Use ash next time. Oak turns black when it gets wet.
We discovered that the bulkhead just abaft the water tank has come adrift and
will need to be re-glassed to the hull. Also, in removing the stanchion bases
we discovered some cracks that will need to be repaired. Almost all of the
screws holding the stanchion bases and the sheet block tracks were bent and
were very difficult to remove. In fact, we have yet to get all of them out. We
still have one screw in the port side track that has proven stubborn and we have
yet to try the stern rail mounting screws. I really should remove and inspect
the after chainplates too.
August 7th 2007,
The rigger came by the boat today to check on our progress. He took one look at
the wire I had removed and said that it was
defective. "A bad run" he called it and asked me where we had
purchased it. He explained that good 316 stainless wire should last much longer
than ten years and that the wire we had gotten may not have been 316 at all.
I'll take it to his shop later for him to test. We will also take all the
tangs, toggles etc to his shop where he said we can use his cleaning room to
clean, polish and inspect before deciding on replacing or re-using each piece.
Spent the rest of the day removing the fittings from the mast. Laura began
removing the interior woodwork from the forward cabin. The interior specialist
here in the boatyard has said we could bring the old pieces to his shop and he
would take me to his supplier and help me select new plywood for him to cut
using the original pieces for patterns. I will then install the new pieces in
the boat. Laura will do the painting and varnishing.
August 6th 2007,
Looks like we'll be in PT for a while. Now that we've emptied the boat out I've
found much of the plywood has delaminated and gotten mildewed from being wet so
long. I'll have to take it all apart and replace it. This job just keeps
getting bigger and more expensive every day. On the positive side, Lealea will
be like a new boat when we're done. Laura is talking about painting inside and
out. It's been ten years since we did a major refit, rigging and exterior
paint, but at that time we didn't do anything to the interior wood work. This
just serves to demonstrate the importance of preventive maintenance. Had I
re-caulked all the deck fittings and thoroughly inspected the rig before we
left Hawaii we would not be in this position now. On the other hand,
the facilities and craftsmen that are plentiful and first rate here in Port
Townsend are not available at all in Hawaii and I'm sure that the boat will
love us for lavishing all this TLC on her.
August 4th 2007,
Boatyard Blues: Hauled out on the 2nd, Thursday. Laura started working at West
Marine on Friday and called me about to tell me that Keith,one of her
customers from Honolulu had walked in and when she told him
what we were doing he offered to help me with the mast. Took the mast down with
Keith's help and discovered that the forestay had broken strands in six places.
The upper backstay had cracks or broken strands in five places. The shrouds
look OK but I will replace all the wire anyway. This is discouraging because
when I took down the original rigging ten years ago it looked fine. I only
replaced it then because it was old. The original rigging showed no
discoloration or any sign of fatigue or corrosion at all. But it was 24 years
old so I reasoned that the prudent thing to do would be to replace it. I bought
the best quality wire available - 3/16 inch 316 stainless steel; expensive
stuff. I used Sta-Lock end fittings as recommended by the riggers I consulted
and the books I read. This new wire has lasted less than half the time of the
original rigging and looks frightening. That's just the wire. The end fittings
look good. I'm having a rigger take a look at the tangs and chainplates on
Tuesday. Then I'll decide what to do. Lesson learned: Just because its old
doesn't mean its no good and new isn't always better.
Meanwhile, I'm servicing the sheet winches that were so gummed up they quit
working halfway through our voyage. Laura is hanging out at the laundromat
washing all our clothes, blankets, linens, cushion covers, curtains and
everything else that can be washed. Still on the list: remove and re-bed all
deck fittings and hardware including the sheet block tracks and lifeline
stanchions. I'll make up new lifelines and install more cleats, an anchor
roller, windlass and hawsepipe. The boat is drying out in the very fine weather
we're having. I hope it holds. Laura plans to clean up the interior while I'm
working on the deck and rig. The more we look the more we find that needs
fixing. So much for our cruising plans for this Summer.
July 29 2007,
I failed to
mention in my previous entry that we ate very well during the voyage. Although
at times the weather was rough, Laura always managed to come up with a good
meal. I admit that in the early days of the trip I judged the food more by how
it came up than how it went down but, nevertheless, My Honey did a great job of
feeding us. The bill of fare included items like pasta with artichoke hearts,
sun dried tomatoes, sautéed Maui onions, pine nuts and salmon in a
pesto sauce and several varieties of curry over pasta, orzo or rice. Many
hearty soups and chili warmed us after a cold watch and we often began the day
with a breakfast of pancakes with real maple syrup. The eggs lasted until the
last week but our standby was hot and hearty oatmeal loaded with raisins,
cinnamon and walnuts or pine nuts and a tablespoon or two of peanut butter. We
had several varieties of spaghetti sauce in a jar which makes for a very good
quick meal over pasta when its cold out and the seas are getting up. Laura was
able to make cookies and muffins and cornbread too. We did run out of chocolate
though and the goodies were running pretty low by day fifty five but we still
had a month worth of staples on board when we arrived at NeahBay.
of NeahBay: They have the best fish and chips
we've ever had. Our British friends may question this but fresh salmon fish and
chips are something that must be experienced to be believed. NeahBay is an Indian reservation, home to
the Makah tribe and the harbor there primarily serves the local fishing fleet.
The tribe eschews development - no casinos there, and no alcoholic beverages
available. We bought some terrific freshly smoked white salmon that is simply
mouth watering and met some wonderful people while we rested for four days before
proceeding up the strait to Port Angeles.
Angeles was once a bustling logging harbor
and we were fortunate to meet Joe Hofrichter at the Fisherman's Wharf Cafe
where a group of retired gentlemen get together every morning and roll dice to
determine who buys the coffee (They made the mistake of inviting Laura to join
their game which resulted in them buying our coffee that morning). The
breakfast there, by the way, is what you might expect at a place that caters to
fishermen and loggers - plentiful, hearty and inexpensive. Joe took us on a
tour of the Port in his pick up truck, driving us out to the end of Ediz Hook
to show us where he had worked in the nineteen thirties and forties and told us
of the massive expanse of logs floated down the strait to Port Angeles to be
loaded on to freighters for shipment around the world. He showed us the remains
of the log booms and piers where he worked and told us the history of the
industry from the boom years to the decline and the eventual take-over of the
mills by Japanese companies. He told us how he loved Port Angeles and his work in the logging
business. Then he drove us the eight blocks to the nearest Laundromat so we
could wash some clothes. A live-aboard couple we met offered us their car to
use for grocery shopping and we received plenty of advice about negotiating the
local waters and where to go for services we would need to get the boat back in
shape from many local boaters and fishermen. We were able to catch up on our
email using various WiFi hotspots and at the Olympic internet cafe in the town
before leaving on the rising tide for Port Townsend at on July 27. We arrived at Port
Townsend Boat Haven at ; the tide pushing us along at 7.5
to 8.5 knots most of the way. WE hit 10.9 knots briefly off Point Wilson at the
entrance of Admiralty Inlet. Remember to go with the flow.
By the time
we checked in at the PT Boat Haven the yard was closed. We discovered, to our
surprise, that most all of the service providers at Port Townsend are closed on
Saturday and Sunday so we took the opportunity to explore this very beautiful
town with its many Victorian buildings which have been converted into bars,
antique shops, boutiques, art galleries and high priced tourist traps
generally. But we found the same kind of hospitality here as at Neah Bay and
Port Angeles at the Harbor and at the PT Yacht Club where we poked our heads in
just to say "Hello" and found ourselves invited to their
"Lasagna night" (With open bar). I gave a half-hour talk about our
voyage followed by another half hour of questions from the members. Again we
were offered the use of a car and invited into the home of one of the members.
The Commodore told us to call if we needed anything and invited us to their
next meeting. Everyone was welcoming and full of tips and advice about the best
places to eat, shop and get work done on the boat.
marina area we found a food co-op, which we joined, a brewery that serves a
decent pint (and offers pint, quart, half gallon, gallon and five gallon
containers to go as well as a tasting room and beer garden), a fish market,
laundromat and a cafe reputed to serve the best breakfast in town as well as
all of the services any boater could wish for: riggers, sailmakers, wood,
fiberglass and metal fabricators, chandlers and a marine exchange all within a
few steps of our slip in the boat haven.
Morning we went out for brunch to catch the last performances of the annual
Jazz festival. The Blues festival begins next week and the famous Wooden Boat
Festival begins, right here, the first week of September.
Hope we can
stay long enough for that.
installment I'll begin going over the rigging and other repairs and upgrades
we'll be doing on the boat in the next few weeks.
Lealea at Neah Bay
For four days!
Lealea at rest
July 26 2007, Port
Angeles My actual log
for the fifty five day crossing from Honolulu to Cape Flattery consists solely
of noon position, course and speed so I see no reason to record all the boring
details here except to note that we departed from our slip in the Ala Wai Boat
Harbor in Honolulu at 0640 hrs on May 26th and arrived at Makah Marina, Neah
Bay, Washington at 2130 hrs on July 19th. Laura's log is very detailed however
and a very interesting read. We should have it posted in the next few days.
I was more or less seasick for the first twenty one days which sort of took the
fun out of it. By the time I was recovered, I had lost an estimated 25 lbs.
My seasickness lasted until we were well North of the tropics and we were cold
wet and uncomfortable for the rest of the trip. For more than a week we
experienced very cold rain and dense fog with visibility less than 500 feet. We
thought we had fallen into a Stephen king novel when it seemed it would never
clear up. and we didn't see the sun for more than a few minutes for more than a
We had fair winds, though very light at times for the first three weeks until
we reached latitude 38 or so then I thought we had encountered the Westerlies
that would take us across the top of the North Pacific High, downwind to Cape
Flattery. No such luck. The Southwest wind we had encountered lasted only three
days then turned into a southerly gale followed by flat calm, then another gale
and so on. We were still approximately 1200 miles from Cape Flattery when we
noticed that the forestay had begun to unravel about eight or nine feet above
the deck. I decided not to risk setting a jib after that and so our progress
was dimished to less than fifty miles a day for the rest of the voyage. Gale
followed calm until our prayers were answered and the gales stopped about day
45. The rest of the voyage was characterized by light or little wind; we were
120 miles West of Vancouver island for four days, one day losing about two
miles until on the morning of July 19th we were 56 miles from the cape and I decided
to start the engine and motor in the rest of the way. I estimated we had enough
fuel left but I really wasn't certain.
We contacted Tofino Radio, the traffic control center for the entrance to the
straight when we were within VHF range and discovered that we had been reported
overdue. The had a lot of questions for us and required us to check in and
report our position every half hour until we reached Tatoosh Island and
reported to the US Coast Guard who had more questions and notified my brother in
Palm Springs and Laura's Mother in Gig Harbor.
Once inside the entrance to the Straight of Juan de Fuca Laura called Big
Salmon Resort on the VHF and asked for a mooring in the Makah Marina at NeahBay. We did not have enough fuel to go
anywhere else so we had no choice. The response from the lady at Big Salmon was
"Sorry, we're full up. We have no room for you." All this time, from
the outer buoy into the strait, local fishing vessels were coming alongside and
waving to us, smiling and yelling "Welcome! Good to see you!" and
such. We thought 'What a friendly place'. We were unaware that the USCG and
Canadian Coast Guard had been broadcasting PAN PAN alerts for us every few
hours on channel 16 for two weeks. We didn't know what we were going to do about
mooring but we knew we did not have enough fuel to go anywhere else besides
Neah Bay and we told the Coast Guard that and asked for their help.
Fortunately, Captain Roland Gagnon of the fishing trawler "Norn" from
NeahBay came alongside and hailed us. He said
he had overheard our radio call to Big Salmon and told us to follow him in and
he would show where to tie up. And so he did, in an empty slip next to his boat
in the commercial fishing harbor.
As we pulled in, two US Coast Guardsmen took our lines and one of them handed
Laura his cell phone and said "Call your Mother". They checked our
documents as a matter of course told us they were glad we had arrived in good
order, filled out the inspection form without boarding our boat and left. We went
off in search of a hot meal and, in the morning spoke with the Harbor Master
who told us to stay as long as we needed.
Four days later we departed for Port Angeles at 0915 under power and with the
current making 7.5 to 8.5 knots arriving at 1915 and tied up at the guest dock
in the PA Boat Haven.
May 24 2007, Honolulu
Final preparations. I am totally exhausted. Wind is supposed to turn favorable
today and we plan to cast off about sundown. Just finished breakfast and second
cup of coffee and thinking about prioritizing remaining tasks. What doesn't get
done by sunset doesn't get done.
Laura did our grocery shopping yesterday and now we are down to loading and
stowing. I still need to reeve new halyards and give the rig a final check,
flake out the anchor rodes and stow them and make a last run to the bank and
All of our friends have been wonderful helping where ever they can. When time
permits I'll go into more detail and thank them properly.
This will be the last entry until we reach Port Angeles.
May 17 2007, Honolulu
moment, I have the fellow who does fuel polishing rooting around in the bilge
trying to open the top of the fuel tank. For another $200 he'll fix the other
problem created when the water leaked in bringing the total bill for my
oversight to $600, four hundred for the batteries and two hundred for polishing
the fuel and cleaning the tank. An expensive lesson I'll not soon forget.
I installed the watermaker in the starboard cockpit locker on the forward
bulkhead with the pre-filter on the opposite side of the bulkhead in the ice
box compartment for easy access while at sea. Following the recommendation of
the manufacturer, I ran the hoses for the brine discharge and the freshwater
product to the sink where we keep our water day tank. the brine and reject
fresh water will simly go down the sink drain. the installaton was pretty
straight forward but there was not enough hose in the kit so I had to buy an
extra ten feet of reinforced 3/8" ID hose to complete the installation. I
bought enough that I can eventually run the brine drain back to one of the
scuppers if I ever find a tee fitting the right size. the tiller pilot was
easier because the installation did not require me crawing into cramped lockers
or fishing wires through the bilge but the tiny screws in the socket for the
power supply were maddening.
This afternoon, the electrician is coming by to check my work on the watermaker
and tiller pilot and to put three more circuit breakers on the panel so I can
hook them up along with an auxilliary DC outlet for our pocket inverter and
The boat is in a constant state of chaos. Every morning we get up, have a cup
of coffee and begin unloading tools and gear to clear away so we can work on
something. At night we have to put everything away then fall into bed
exhausted, only to wake up next morning and start all over again. The list is
getting shorter though and we are making visible progress. Laura is determined
to depart on time and amaze our friends and neighbors. Almost no one we know
has been able to make their departure on schedule. It seems there is always
more to do and it always takes more time than planned. I have worked harder in
my lifetime, but not in recent memory; certainly not in the last twenty six
years. Laura is amazing. she works just as hard as me and still finds time and
energy to train for the triathlon coming up this Sunday.
Still on my list: Install padeyes for jack lines and safety harness tethers,
install the new stern vents, anchor rollers, hawse pipes and cleats, replace
the lifelines and halyards and sort through and organize our ground tackle. I
also need to rig downhauls for our foresails and pick up the mainsail from the
sail maker who has put in reef points for slab reefing. I have seven days. May 13 2007, Honolulu
left. We hauled the boat out at Ala Wai Marine on May 1st, slapped on two coats
of Trinidad Blue, changed out three thru-hull fittings and two sea cocks (I
capped off the third one) and generally made a huge mess of the boat. I could
write a book about living aboard while hauled out in the boatyard. Perhaps I
will one day. We had intended to completely strip the bottom and apply an epoxy
barrier coat but the bottom looked so good when we hauled out that we decided
not to. That decision saved us nearly $1000. We were unable to get much more
done than changing the thru-hull fittings and sea cocks. I had to leave all of
the installations I had planned until we were back in the water.
Back in the water on May 7th, Laura woke me at 0400 "Honey, we're
sinking." Unbeknownst to me, a set screw on the engine intake thru-hull
fitting had pierced the skin of the hull and I had failed to put enough sealant
on. Water was coming in at a rate that required pumping the bilge hourly. I wasn't
looking reward to going back to the boatyard and paying another $400 to haul
the boat out again. One of Laura's co-workers at West Marine suggested that
maybe a diver could effect repairs with the boat in the water. We called on the
diver who has been cleaning and inspecting our bottom for the last several
years, Les Vasconcellos, who assured us that he could repair the leak quickly
and cheaply with under-water epoxy and so he did. Les arrived at 1430 and had
the leak repaired and his gear put away in less than twenty minutes. He charged
me twenty dollars and told me he would come back in a few days to inspect and
improve the repair if necessary. According to Les, the repair will last until
our next regular haul out in two or three years. The only downside was that our
batteries were flooded and had to be replaced. New AGM deep cycle marine
batteries from West Marine took care of that.
Laura’s last day at work was Friday and now we are busy sorting through our
belongings and getting rid of a lot of stuff. It is incredible how much junk
we’ve accumulated over the years, even living on the boat. I just can’t get
over how much stuff there is to dispose of.
I still have to install the water maker and tiller pilot and wire the solar
April 20 2007, Honolulu
Pacific Harley-Davidson after twenty six years is a little stressful but I'm
getting over it. It's been great and the retirement plan is making it possible
for me to retire before my 58th birthday. I have one more full week and the following
Monday to work; or rather, show up at the office for few hours. I don't really
have any responsibilities any more.
I will speak of it no more. Pau hana! As we say in Hawaii.
We began getting the boat squared away right after we made the decision to go
this year. The weather window and the date of the Rendezvous dictated the date
of my retirement; we have to be at sea no later than May 25th, by my reckoning,
in order to have a reasonable chance of making it to the Rendezvous at
Fisherman’s Bay by June 29th. Of course, I’ve been preparing for this for a
very long time but we still have some things to deal with.
The biggest problem is the same one facing all would be cruisers: Too much
stuff. I’ve talked about this on the Life in the Sticks page, even suggested
ways to beat it, but we still have too much stuff to go cruising with. We want
to get as close as possible to the ideal of having nothing in storage but we
have things that simply cannot go on the boat at all. My office is filled with
a 26 year accumulation of trophies, plaques, books and memorabilia. We both
have full motorcycle gear, leathers, helmets, boots, gloves etc. We have books,
framed art and photos, tools and just plain junk in our storage locker. We also
have far too many clothes because of the need to go to the office every day,
travel on business etc. that we will no longer need. What am I going to do with
an Armani suit?
We’ve sold the motorcycles and will sell the pickup truck just before we leave.
Our expensive motorcycle helmets have, fortunately, just about reached the end
of their useful life so they will be tossed. Much of our riding gear is nearly
worn out and will go in the dumpster as well. Our daily business clothes we
will donate to Goodwill. Difficult as it may be, I will leave all of the stuff,
all the plaques and awards and knick-knacks in my office for the next occupant
to deal with. Some of our things, particularly the framed prints and photos,
antique books and our files and records will have to go into storage though. We
haven’t quite worked that out yet because we aren’t coming back to Hawaii to live. We must either ship the
stuff to Vermont for storage or store it here and have it shipped later.
When we figure that out, we will let you know.
We have scheduled a haul-out for May 1st. We will have the yard workers strip
the bottom of thirty years accumulation of Trinidad Blue (That should lighten
the boat by a few hundred pounds) and apply an epoxy barrier coat before
slapping on two fresh coats of poison paint. The Trinidad has been lasting three years or
more between applications here in Hawaii so I’m going to stick with it. I
need to install the anchor rollers, fore and aft, new vents, a windlass and new
hawspipes and some more cleats. We are having storm shutters made from half
inch polycarbonate per Nick Coghlan’s recommendation and we have some
electrical bugs that need chasing down. The interior is not finished but that
is not critical. I need to make new lifelines too. We are making a whisker pole
and I mean to take the mainsail in to have reef points added. Laura is picking
up a new Porta-Pottie today and we need anchor rodes for two of our four large
anchors and a few other small things.
But we could leave today if we absolutely had to.
Meanwhile, I’ve drafted a letter to go out to friends and relatives, most of
them non-sailors, to let everyone know why they can’t reach us on the phone.
People I’ve worked with for all these years are coming from as far away as
Milwaukee to say goodbye and I feel a lot like I felt when, after fifteen years
in the Army, I left to ride a motorcycle across America.
Only this time I won’t have to stop to go back to work!