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Archive for the ‘Lessons Learned’ Category

I’ve been drawing a lot of attention on the dock in Anacortes, Wash., lately. Who wouldn’t while they’re stripping down to bareness in preparation for a healthy dousing of oil? Whoa! What?

You heard me right. Sundown’s varnish, especially on the cap rails, bulwarks and bowsprit, needs some serious attention to keep her close to bristol. We began sanding those areas readying to add more layers of shiny finish, but have changed our minds. We don’t want to be brightwork slaves, constantly taking time away from sailing and other adventures to keep up with varnishing, nor can we afford to hire anyone to do it for us. So, we’ve decided to strip off all the varnish and go with an oil finish”—Penofin Marine Exterior Oil Wood Finish, to be exact. It will need to be applied often for the first few months and then annually after that, but there’s no sanding between coats and the application process isn’t picky like varnish. Also, if we change our minds again and just can’t live without gleaming teak, we can always reapply layers upon layers of glossy glaze.

 

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Protecting the ocean

However, I must admit, after stripping Sundown bare while in the Colorado prairie dog field, I was lulled into believing that it was a one-and-done job. Never did I imagine I’d be stripping on the dock. But after trying to keep up with varnish for almost three years, an oil finish seems to make sense. We hope this switch pays off in more sailing time in the long run.

Stripping the underside of the rail

Fall 2011 – Stripping Sundown in the prairie dog field

How does all this fit into our summer cruising plans? Well, I’ll be cruising the streets of town on two wheels more than sailing. (By the way, I have a new-to-me Specialized Dolce named Sug—short for Sugar. My Diamond Back Ascent, Alice, was functional, but Sug allows me to travel farther faster and more efficiently.) Clay will be sailing or rowing Lil’ John, the new 9′ nesting punt he built. When we do go out on Sundown for short jaunts, we’ll be sticking to the Puget Sound, San Juan Islands and maybe up to Vancouver and the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia (B.C.). Our scaled-back cruising plans for this summer aren’t all due to Sundown needing attention, however.

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When the wind dies, stroke…stroke.

My job duties are changing a bit (expanding) which will require me to travel back and forth to Fort Collins, Colo., once a month. I can’t be deep in the remote B.C. wilderness during this transition phase. And the company Clay works for, Anacortes Marine Group, just landed a huge (really huge, like the biggest!) job all reliant on his expert woodworking skills. He’ll be transforming a 65-foot Nordland to look and feel like a classic wooden yacht. He’s really excited about this project and feels it will be a signature piece of work.

So, while we won’t be traveling thousands of miles this summer, we’ll still be enjoying life afloat.

 

 

 

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He says: So…I saw a flyer down by the dock about a couple of clowns from Belgium who are looking for a ride south on a boat.

She says: Yea, I saw the same flyer in the laundry mat. What do you want for dinner? I’m hungry.

He says: I met and talked with them for about 40 seconds. What do you think?

She says: I think a salad would taste good.

He says: No. About giving them a ride.

She says: What? Are you serious? That would be kind of CRAZY! We don’t know these people. They could be drug addicts or worse. And the boat is small. What about everyone’s hygiene habits and needs?

He says: Yea and we couldn’t exactly kick them off the boat if it doesn’t work out; we’ll be in the middle of nowhere for days. 

She says: Well…God knows we have enough food aboard; we won’t run out of that.

He says: And this could be another opportunity to share what God’s blessed us with.

She says: Okay, at the very least, let’s buy these kids dinner and get to know them a bit.

Thus began the latest leg of our adventure with two clowns aboard Sundown. (more…)

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A: I got to have both in one day!

 

Little did we know our trip to Anacortes to help friends work on and clean up their new-to-them boat would lead to so many exciting things! But first, let me backtrack.

When we returned from our July trip to Colorado, we didn’t know where we would head next or where we’d spend the coming winter, but we had faith our intended path would become clear just like it has throughout this whole adventure so far. Alas, we haven’t been disappointed.

That’s what friends are for

The first place we headed after working on Sundown in the Seaview North boatyard in Bellingham was Anacortes, Wash. We went there to help our friends Bob and Sandy work on their new-to-them Roughwater motor yacht.  It’s a 1983 and needed a lot of cleaning, painting, varnishing and repairs. We’ve been happy to help!

 

We also connected up with some friends from Fort Collins! Mary Carraher, Will Moore, Diane Westervelt and Jeff Pape. They were vacationing on Lopez Island and we sailed over there to meet them. Sunset beverages and tapas were enjoyed by all!

Gotta float the boat

When we returned to Anacortes from Lopez via Bellingham where we picked up our new solar panels which are now installed, Clay had the opportunity to interview for a job at a local boatyard, Marine Servicenter. They hired him on the spot (NO surprise given his amazing skills, work ethic and experience). So far, he’s built out their office with a new multi-desk area; laying a new teak deck on the owner’s boat may be next. It’s as much of a job as he’d like it to be—part time, full time, whatever. But we can’t anchor out in Fidalgo Bay when the weather turns bad, so we put ourselves on three waiting lists for a slip. Ancortes Marina, which is located right next to Clay’s job spot, came through in record time. Clay’s boss introducing him to the management didn’t hurt, but I believe prayer for the right spot trumped that connection. We’ll be moving into our slip by Friday, Sept. 9. Don’t think we’ll be tied to it permanently, though. We plan to cruise the San Juans and back up to Canada for fishing as much as possible.

You may be wondering why Clay got a job. Here’s why: while my income floats the boat, I don’t make enough for extras like trips back home and boat upgrades (e.g., solar panels). Having Clay contribute to our income will be nice. After all, he’s been goofing off for a year; it’s time to pay the piper! Also, it’s always been our plan to work a bit and then cruise a bit, at least till we’re old enough to draw from our pensions, so Anacortes is our first pit stop for the work part.

Bikes are back

Since we’re staying here at least through the winter, acquiring some ground transportation seemed reasonable and there’s NO better kind than bicycles! Clay found potential options on Craigslist and this morning those potentials became ours! Clay has a Norco (Canadian made) 2 X 6 (12 speed) and I have a circa 1980s Diamondback Ascent 3 X  6 (18 speed). They both needed a little lovin’ so we went to the Bikespot during today’s Open Streets event (Yes! This town just hosted its 3rd annual open streets event!) and got hooked up with fenders, bike racks to accommodate our panniers, and new tires and tubes. Thank you, Nick and Carolyn (Bikespot’s owners)! For $300.00 TOTAL, Clay and are are back on two wheels!

 

 

While cruising down the street, we also met the woman who coordinates Safe Routes to School programming for Skagit County, as well as the guy who chairs the area’s bike/ped commission. He and I are having coffee in a couple of weeks. (I’m trying to contain my excitement here!)

 

 

So, it seems we’re meant to be in Anacortes and we can’t wait to see what the next few months hold in store and how we get to help this wonderful town become an even more robust bike friendly place! I’m actually feeling rather giddy…like a little kid at Christmas!

 

The lesson here is that if you prayerfully leave yourself open to possibilities rather trying to script every move you make, wonderful opportunities show themselves. Thank you, God, for giving us this new twist in our adventure! Oh yea, and thanks for the chance to wash my hair today! It’s the little things…

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I learned two valuable lessons today. Well, was reminded of two things I already know: (more…)

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I have to confess that I have some misgivings about this trip to Alaska. The scenery gets more breath taking, but the resources get more scarce. The farther north we go, the more I think I’m developing a case of fuel insecurity…as in diesel for the boat and food for us. (more…)

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When you begin your day deep in crap, it can only get better, right? That wasn’t exactly our recent experience, but things could have turned out worse.

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Dodd Narrows, a .2-mile-wide slot through which the current flows more than 8 knots. You must transit at slack tide unless you’re in a white-water raft or kayak!

But first, know we’ve made it through Dodd Narrows, spent a couple days anchored in Mark Bay near Nanaimo, sailed over to Jedediah Island and anchored in the beautiful little Deep Bay and explored that island, sailed to Garden Bay in Pender Harbour back over on the coast of British Columbia and then left there planning to travel the 24 miles  to Sturt Bay on the northeast end of Texada. That plan evaporated when the 10-15 knots of wind forecast for Malaspina Strait was more like 20-25 straight on our nose. The sea was big and not necessarily comfortable, even with one reef in the main and the staysail up for stabilization. So, we executed our Plan B and went into Blind Bay for a couple of nights till the strait settled down.

The first night we anchored in Ballet Bay. It’s beautiful, but surrounded by private property so you can’t go ashore to hike, which lowers it down several notches on our rating scale. It did offer reasonable cell connectivity, though, so I could work…or so I thought. The next morning, the good connectivity was gone and I had work to do. My patience wore thin and blood pressure rose as I fought to keep connected…I just wanted to finish my work! As I was cursing the magical cell coverage gods who seem to get enjoyment from being whimsical with their consistency, Clay went below for his morning constitutional. Next thing I know, he’s digging plumbing tools out of their storage spot. The head was clogged. I didn’t even go down to look. After a bit, everything came out alright, but I still needed better reception, so we decided to move to another spot within Blind Bay–Musket Island Provincial Park and its Dol Cove.

When we dropped anchor, it wouldn’t grab. I watched and heard it skip over rocks. Then, as we were moving slowly in reverse to try to get it to set, Clay killed the engine, which was weird. His reason? Lightfoot’s “floating” painter (the rope that secures the dinghy to the boat when we’re in transport) got fouled in Sundown’s propeller. NOT good. The outcomes could have been a bent prop or shaft, transmission failure, a hole in the boat and losing our dinghy as it got sucked under. None of those things happened, however, due to Clay’s quick responses and the D ring getting pulled off the front of Lightfoot. Clay detangled the line from the propeller using the boat hook and then we hauled the dingy onto the deck to reattached the D ring. Whew!

This mishap feels like a greenhorn mistake and is a bit embarrassing to admit. We really are very diligent to make sure we’re doing everything just right. Actually, we often overthink things, thanks to my Type A personality. This time, though, our trouble stemmed from  becoming a little complacent believing a floating line would never give us trouble of this kind. WRONG! Lesson learned: ALWAYS tie the dinghy up tight before you begin tight maneuvers or operate in reverse regardless of the type of line you use to secure it to the boat.

On the bright side, the cell coverage was awesome and I finished my work! There is that…

 

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liveonceWe often hear from friends and everyone seems to want to know the same things. What do we like most? What do we like least? What do we miss the most? What don’t we miss? So, because inquiring minds want to know… (more…)

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