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Archive for the ‘Lessons Learned’ Category

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Practical Sailor (PS) is a great publication that “takes the guesswork out of boat & gear buying with its bold, independent, product-test reports just for serious sailors.” Clay contacted PS to tell them about our experience getting our Webasto heater registered for warranty. They ran our story in December. It’s a tale of woe and how great customer service turned that around. Enjoy!

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weatherSailors for all history have taken advantage of the ebb and flow of the tide. Here in the Pacific Northwest, and in particular the San Juan Islands, the currents created by the tide have a profound effect on your movement by water. Depending on the time of day and location within the islands, there can be plus or minus two or more knots for or against you. In light winds, that means the currents could cause you to sail backwards! (more…)

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IMG_0029I lived in Colorado the majority of my life, since the age of 7. It’s all I know—till now. Colorado lies in a High Desert climate zone and is basically bone dry. As a result, I am familiar with ailments like lizard skin that I would remedy by slathering on almond oil before ever stepping out of the shower. Or cracked, bleeding fingers from fall till spring that Super Glue would temporarily fix. I used a saline nasal spray to keep my nasal passages moist. A whole-house humidifier would kick on whenever the furnace ran to try to add a bit of soothing moisture to my home’s inside air.

IMG_2762Living on a boat in the Pacific Northwest is a whole different reality. (more…)

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The past week has been filled with more adventures, lessons, friends and fun.

Halloween proved to be a trick and a treat. Despite a less than favorable forecast, we left our safe anchorage in Blind Bay off Shaw Island to head for Anacortes. (more…)

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So, it has been awhile since I wrote a blog post. To say the least, Kim and I have been busy…still.

While Kim went to Colorado to take care of business and go to Molly and Matt’s wedding (which I am so sorry I missed, Molly and Matt!)cockpit I kept making forward progress on Sundown. The paint job on the mast and booms was finished and all the hardware needed to be put back on. We replaced all the wiring, lights and halyards. We also inspected and replaced all the standing rigging. New radar, anometer and antennae were installed.

The morning Kim came home from Colorado, the boatyard guys and I stepped the mast. It was a pretty emotional morning for me. I was so anxious! Not only was this the second time I was Sundown’s helm, but Kim wasn’t to help or witness this moment. The whole thing went smooth as silk, however. Seaview North Boatyard and its crew don’t step masts like Mark Grindle and I did in the mid 80s, but their process worked.

It was great to have Kim back after being gone for so long! She and I put the sails on and hoisted them one at a time to work out the bugs in attachment and sheeting. We then did a pre-sail check, pulled the dock lines and left.

It’s hard to describe how you feel after four years of working on a project like Sundown in a prairie dog field in Randy and Andrea’s storage yard in Fort Collins (A Unique Storage…it certainly was while Sundown was there), to motoring out of port with no schedule or exact place to be. We knew where we were going, however, because we had been there before–Sucia Island. Setting off to Sucia gave us confidence and we felt a little more secure because we had sailed there twice before. It was familiar and an easy first stop. We picked up a mooring and enjoyed our amazing boat. Rather than getting the outboard out and attached to Lightfoot (our dinghy), we chose to row it to go and pay our state park fee on the island.

There were two boats in the harbor near us, both from Utah! One of them was a Tayana 37, a very nice blue water boat like ours with very common roots (thanks Bob Perry!).

So the journey has begun. We are roughing it every day. Heater, propane stove, teak furniture, marble counter tops and beautiful ports of call.

The other night as we were anchored in Friday Harbor and snuggled up in bed watching a DVD–The Blind Side with Sandra Bullock–we determined that the wind and the way it was blowing Sundown required us to move our anchorage. Hmmm, never had to do this with the land house, but you gotta do what you gotta do. At 11pm we hoisted anchor and moved a tad farther from shore in the rain and wind. The task taught us some lessons and we are already using the information at our current anchorage in Deer Harbor where we’re still roughing it.

Kim is making chile rellanos and Spanish rice for dinner. We’re listening to Alison Krauss (thanks for the introduction to her, Daryl and Karen Lawyer). Tomorrow we go sailing!

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sundown-echobay

Sundown in Echo Bay

Yep. Kim’s writing this. I admit there have been times during our first few days of sailing that I’ve felt shaky. Land sickness has struck (meaning when I get to land, it’s moving all over the place), and I’ve felt less than competent and scared too much of the time. (more…)

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Electromaxx partsAll the systems on a boat need to be working properly for a vessel to be ship shape and safe. If you have a sailboat, of course the first means of propulsion ideally are your sails, powered by the wind. Having a fuel-powered auxiliary motor also is necessary for a boat the size of Sundown. (more…)

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As we settle into Sundown, she’s becoming quite comfy. Sure, there are daily projects in the mission-critical, boat building category that must happen for her to be safe and sea worthy. That’s what Clay very good at; I help as much as possible and am learning a lot as we go along. What I contribute, however, is a keen sense of ship-shape organization (to those who know me, I hear you laughing!) and homey touches. (more…)

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Sundown was built in 1982, but never equipped with more than an ice box to keep perishable food cold. It wasn’t a bad ice box at 8.5 cubic feet with good insulation, a molded interior and nice teak shelf. Given Sundown will become our year-round residence soon, however, it’s time for refrigeration.

When it is time to upgrade, replace or install a new refrigeration system there are basic questions to be answered. (more…)

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mess1

Where in the world is the galley?

When people ask, “How’s the boat renovation progressing?,” I cower and feebly mumble something I think will appease their curiosity like, “Oh, you know, it’s a big project” or “It’s coming along.” If they say they want to see it, I cringe and politely change the subject or pray my phone rings so I can feign annoyance that we’ve been interrupted and will have to set a viewing date another time.

I react this way because s/v Sundown is a mess (view more photos in the gallery). There’s crap everywhere. It’s dusty, dirty and greatly disturbs the sense of order I need to feel balanced. But I’m reading a book that’s giving me a new appreciation for the boat’s disheveled, nasty state (more…)

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