Friday, May 28, 2010


So I'm here in Seattle working on my boat, making plans for trips with a choice of thousands of miles of beautiful coastline.  I'm planning a 10 day trip in June and then a six week vacation in August/Sept.  There are lots of choices - the difficulty is what to leave out, not searching for something that I want to see.

The same would be true in most areas of the world.  Coastline is beautiful and teeming with life.  Its also fragile.

Watching what's happening in the Gulf right now is pretty sad.  Its also making me angry.  There seem to be plenty of mistakes happening and the costs of the mistakes may be paid for years and years.  I'm not an expert on anything oil related, but there are people who are experts.  Relying on one company to stop and fix this thing seems naive - its not their Gulf, its all of ours.

If you're not angry about what's happening down there yet, here's a video which might help you along that path.  Caution, it contains foul language.

If you still aren't angry, here are two more related stories.

BP blocking journalists from spill sites

3 million feet of boom in Gulf, but does it help?

Monday, May 17, 2010

A single handed weekend

I'm back from a beautiful weekend of sailing.  Blue skies, fairly warm, and even a little bit of wind thrown in there.

I left early friday evening for Blakeley Harbor to anchor out.  There was a nice wind on friday, 5-10 knots from the north so I had an easy downwind sail.  Blue skies, easy sailing, things were pretty nice.  I've sailed single handed before so nothing really new so far, more good practice though.  Anchoring single handed went pretty well.  There are times when having more people aboard would be very handy - but I'm trying to develop these skills and the only way I can see myself learning this stuff is by doing it.  When there are others aboard things just happen and you aren't forced to think through how you would do it if you were sailing by yourself.  Anyway, friday ended well, safely at anchor, clear skies, lots of stars.

Saturday morning I had to figure out raising the anchor while staying safe in the anchorage.  There was a little over 5 knots of breeze blowing through so it wasn't a huge challenge and it went well in these conditions.  I like to spray down the chain as it comes up to keep mud out of the anchor locker, so I was on the bow spraying, raising the anchor, stopping to walk back to the helm to maneuver the boat, back to the bow to raise more chain, down below to spread the chain around as it castled, back to the helm, back to the bow...  It was pretty smooth.  It it had been blowing 20 knots or more it would have been more of a challenge.

I got out to Puget sound with the idea of heading south to Quartermaster harbor...but there was no wind.  I'm pretty patient so I waited for four hours with the sails up bobbing around while I drifted first north and then south with the current, watching the current go from an ebb to a flood.  Finally I'd had enough and motored back to Blakeley for a repeat.  This time I lowered the chain from the windlass remote rather than being at the bow and unleashing the chain from the windlass clutch.  When using the clutch I can lower chain very quickly - it can just rip out of the locker.  That could be handy, but I'm not at the helm when doing it.  Using the remote the Lighthouse lowers chain much more slowly, but its controllable as I can maneuver at the same time.  I'll try both of these approaches again, it might be that I use them in different circumstances.  When I finished anchoring it was still early so I waxed the topsides for a while, cleaned things up, read, enjoyed the sun, had dinner and just generally enjoyed being out.

Sunday morning I had a small inspiration for making raising the anchor easier.  I fastened the hose nozzle to the bow of the boat pointing down at the chain.  I was then able to use the windlass remote to raise the whole rode, stopping once to reflake the chain below - but this was done while the anchor was still on the ground so I wasn't moving anywhere.  It was pretty smooth.  As the anchor tore free I was able to get it to the bow and then head very slowly forward with the autopilot on while I moved around cleaning things up and getting ready for a sail.  I'll work on making the hose nozzle/bow connection easier and try it some more.  If only I could see the chain rode at the bow from the helm, that would make placing the boat as the chain came up easier.   Maybe some sort of mirror setup would help with that?

Getting back out to the sound there was again no wind.  I motored slowly toward Shilshole and after about 1/2 hour a few knots of wind arrived.  I let the genoa out and started sailing at about a knot north!  The wind slowly filled in to between 10 and 15 N, which is more than enough to drive the boat at hull speed.  Sweet!

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Another project done

The sound deadening in the engine compartment is done.

I ripped out all the old material from the engine compartment which was disintegrating and causing a god awful mess.  Then came the tedious cleaning to get back to plain wood or gel coat, removing all the old adhesive.

The new sound deadening panels are from Sailors Solutions and come in 1 foot x 1 foot panels, with adhesive on one side and heavy silver film on the other.  Installing the panels was a breeze compared to some of the things I've done this winter!  Running the engine with the new panels in place is much better - the high frequency annoying noises are gone.  I can still hear the lower frequency thrumming - I've got a 4 cylinder diesel engine in the boat, its not exactly going to go away.  But I no longer have blood dripping from my ears after running it for a while.

Looking at my list of projects now is pretty satisfying.  There just isn't that much left on it that is major.  I need to varnish the cabin sole.  Someday.  Maybe next winter.  I need to varnish the exterior teak where the old varnish is flaking off.  But maybe I can hire someone to do that with me.  Then there are a bunch of smaller things, like getting the equipment for climbing the mast together and figuring out a good jibe preventer setup, etc, etc.  When I start getting setup for offshore sailing my list will grow again, but that can wait for a while.  I'll be doing coastal sailing this summer, and the boat is setup for that.

Time to sail more!  If it was a 80/20 rule before, with 80% of the time spent doing projects and 20% sailing, it should be something more like a 60/40 rule now, with 60% going sailing.

Finally!  Its a sailboat not a project.  Lets go sailing!