Friday, March 10, 2017


Just dropping by for a quick update. I'll be posting more when I have time. 

Since Jan 18, we have completed all hull related stuff like:
  • Re-engineered and rebuilt rudder shaft.
  • Pulled, inspected and replaced perfectly good propshaft, with the proclamation from the prop guy that the yanmar was perfectly aligned. 
  • New bronze chainplates and re-engineered G-10 bases and covers over butyl.
  • New glass in the port holes, which included sandblasting the ports, installing the glass wrong, taking it all apart, installing the glass and seals right -- Kerry was also a trooper on this job. She did all the cleaning and prep and it was awful, including the second time.
  • New padeyes in the forward deck -- bedded to raised G-10 pads to get clear of the teak.
  • Rebuilt the anchor windlass (cleaned it and lubed it, basically) saving us the cost of a new one.
  • Cleaned water tanks (awful job -- Kerry handled it like a pro)
  • Divided the anchor locker and installed new spurling pipe from PT Foundry.
  • Solar is ready to go now that the mounts are complete.
  • Hydrovane unit is installed and aligned. We still need to sea trial.
  • Honda generator is on line.
  • Watermaker purchased and here.
  • Iridium go purchased and here.
  • AIS purchased -- still needs install.
  • Honda outboard on Monday.
  • Anchor chain goes all new both rodes on Monday.
  • Oh yeah, fix the Dickenson stovepipe.
  • and more.
Mostly though, after all that was done, there was still the rig. The 30 year old spar was looking pretty rough. Should I paint it? Do we have the time and money. No, aluminum is pretty tough. If you isolate it from other metals correctly, its outer layer of aluminum oxide will protect it better than any paint. Bare mast it is then.

After six hours of sanding, one side.

So I spent the last 40-50 hours sanding 55 feet of mast, turning a faded white, scuffed spar into a nice shiny spar. This included welded aluminum bodywork and everything. It looks awesome. I never want to sand a mast again but, this was so worth it for the finished product.

This was halfway though the process.
Polished and waxed.

And today, after weeks of taking stuff off the mast, I finally put something *on*. I punched the first rivet for the electrical race and the last rivet of the SS sail track that supports our strongtrack.

The last rivets for the sail track.

It was so satisfying, walking away from that mast at the end of the day, knowing the race is done, the sail track is done and we are ready to pull wire and build the standing rigging.

More to do and three weeks to go. My faith in this boat grows every day.

It's the Knowing. That's what all this is about. 


Saturday, March 4, 2017

Competence as a Travel Partner

Refitting Brigadoon over the last two months has become a whirlwind of plans, discoveries, revisions, and shifting priorities. We are on the last month with just weeks to go. The marching days keep our attention and intent forward – always forward. Every time we turn around, there’s something we haven’t expected, even though we expected a lot.

Our days have been filled with sanding, cleaning, generators, impact drivers, electric calking guns, anchor chains, outboards, wind vanes, tiller pilots, sand blasting, spreader lights, water makers, solar installation, bilge pumps, bedding port lights, sealing windows, cleaning water tanks, masthead lights, and more...

Rudder inspection became a complete reengineering of our rudder and quadrants. Chain plate inspections ended up being after the fact, as we decided that replacement chain plates were just the right thing to do. Reengineering the chain plate covers meant a sometimes-torturous learning process in how best to cut and shape epoxy-fiber materials. A curiosity about our anchor windlass encouraged us to take a chance and try the old “clean it and grease it and see if it works now” trick that I’ve used many times on old machinery over the years – it worked, saving us an easy grand. I spent days sanding and polishing a 30 year old mast so we could build it right. 

On an almost daily basis, I’ve dredged into my past, pulling up old skills, applying what I know, however I can, to solve the latest challenge and get us there. Thankfully, my personal toolkit is varied and broad; that’s been by design. I’ve never wanted to be the expert at one thing, instead content and satisfied to be good at many. Good, in this case, means competent. Eighty percent mastery is good enough, if it’s in enough disciplines. With it comes a surety, a knowing that problems are solvable. 


My whole life’s experience has brought me here, to this place and time, where the kid who loved science, art and adventure, who collected experiences instead of things, can grow up to do this.

As I told Kerry the other night, “This is the happiest I’ve ever been. I don’t belong anywhere else or with anyone else. I belong here, with you.”

Friday, January 13, 2017

Into the Breach

Hello from rather cold and cloudy Port Townsend. 

I've been away and pretty busy in preparation.

Having left Tacoma, in early December, we made way and arrived in Port Townsend safe and sound, if a little cold.

We've been here for the last couple weeks, stripping Brigadoon in prep for her last refit before we leave. 

This weekend we take Brigadoon to the dock and work float. There we will pull her mast and put her in the shed at Port Townsend Shipwrights Co-Op. Our PM is one of the Owner/Partners, Jeff Galey.

We will (off the top of my head):

1) Install our Hydrovane Self Steering system.

2) Replace the entire rig (all wire and mechanical fittings, replacing the check-stays with running backs). Paint the mast. Replace all fittings as necessary.

3) Pull and replace all chainplates and converting to bronze. The chainplates are Port Townsend Foundry made and are up-sized to match wire and fittings. 

4) Pull, inspect, and reinstall the rudder.

5) Pull, inspect, and reinstall the prop, shaft, stuffing box and coupler.

6) Divide the anchor locker so I can install a second spurling pipe (on order from Port Townsend Foundry). This allows me to keep both rodes in the locker, freeing up the deck box.

7) Rebuild all chain plate entrances with G-10 plates to ensure full seal of the new plates and covers.

8) Go to boat show and buy:
a) Honda 2.3 outboard.
b) Rainman Watermaker with pressure washer attachment.
c) Honda 2000i generator.
d) The latest Spinlock deck vest model with harness.

9) Pick up our sails from Port Townsend Sails, where they are in for inspection and replacement of the UV panels on the genoa and staysl.

10) Install new stack on Dickenson heater to improve performance.

11) Finish that Deck Box project.

12) Install AIS

13) Perfect my design for infinitely adjustable solar panel mounts.

...all by April 1, (no foolin) where we plan on heading north, to the San Juans, Canada, Alaska, before returning here for a short stay before going back out the strait and turning left forever.

And we have a Facebook Page thanks to my lovely 1st Mate: 

I've opened my own account at Admiralty Supply (I think that's the name).

Cover me.

I'm goin in.

The Ups and Downs of Limbo

We've been in Port Townsend for four weeks.  Amazing how time flies...enjoying the comforts of my parents' home, emptying the boat of all our belongings in preparation for the work we're doing; setting up various vendors and appointments to make everything happen the way we want before we depart for real in April.

Here are some observations:

1) Living on land again is interesting, if a bit weird.  I'm definitely enjoying the luxuries of a full kitchen, showers and laundry in house, and of course being with family.  But I also kind of miss our little home on the water and being rocked to sleep at night.  I cannot express how grateful we are to have the opportunity to live with my parents while we do this work - it's making a lot of this process SO much easier on a lot of levels.

2) All of our personal belongings fit within the footprint of a single car space in a garage.

The pile of stuff.

3) We've so far had amazing interactions with the shipyard (Port Townsend Shipwrights Co-op) we'll be working with and the vendors we are using, including Port Townsend Foundry.   Our mast is getting pulled on Monday, and the boat will haul out on Wednesday.  We're scheduled to be inside their shed for about three weeks - during which they will do some contracted work for us.  We'll also take advantage of being out of the weather to get some work done ourselves while she's inside.  (More about this to-do list in a later post)

4) Port Townsend is a charming town - we've had to get used to the low speed limits, which pretty much everyone observes, and some odd driving habits here and there - but the restaurants, the people, the deer, and the scenery around here are all pretty wonderful.  My mom has even talked me into joining the local community choir for the Winter/Spring concert season, which concludes right in time for us to leave.

5) My transition from working 7-4 at a real job has been mostly smooth.  Obviously it's been lovely to sleep as long as I want most nights and not have to answer to anyone else other than myself and Donn for what I do all day.  But it hasn't been all about laying around and reading or playing on my phone - we go to the boat just about every single day and get *something* done.  Whether it's cleaning, prepping for mast removal/haulout, or wrapping our heads around the extensive list of stuff we want to get done in the next two months - we've been working steadily since we've been here and it's only going to get busier starting next week.  I struggle a bit with some anxiety around all this, hoping I'm able to do my part even though I will be learning how/what to do every step of the way.  

I'm embedded in this odd limbo world - we've left our old life, but not yet started the journey.  Lots of work between now and then.  But I keep reminding myself - it's like any other project I've ever taken on - be it theater or day job.  One step at at time.  The goal is just there, on the horizon, within reach.  

Friday, December 23, 2016

Weapons as Security

Written by: Donn

I have written about security and firearms before.

There are no firearms aboard Brigadoon, nor are there any plans for them in the future.

“Well,” the internet forum user responds, “I’d rather be judged by 12 than carried by six.”

Good justification. I like the succinct quality. The brevity, almost lacking in foundation of thought…but I digress into criticism where the reasonable thing to do would be to offer my well-thought-out reasoning to support my position.

First, a little credentialism or, as reasonable people like to say, “establishing the context and the experience of the speaker.” Note that this is not speaking from authority. It’s the experiences I’ve gained that formed my decision, not the titles I held or the places I served.

I’m as experienced and comfortable with firearms as I need to be. I learned to hunt at thirteen years of age, maintained expert weapons qualifications scores in the military, scored at the top of my class in the police academy, shot expert in Army qualifications before being deployed to Iraq as a private security contractor, along with training private security in general and advanced defensive tactics.
So, former military, LEO, mercenary and instructor. This informs but part of my decision, along with the opinions and experience of my First Mate and partner, Kerry. She is also experienced and comfortable with firearms, having worked in armed security in the past. This is from where our opinions are formed.

So, while there have been in the past, there are no firearms aboard Brigadoon, nor are there any plans for them in the future.


We have come to the decision that the complications far outweigh the potential benefits.

If I chose to carry I’d have to:

·   Declare the firearms in every port, to every customs official. I’m smart but, foreign jails are full of people who thought they were smarter than local customs folks when they thought their hidden weapons/drugs wouldn’t be found.
·       Change my cruising plans, and miss perfectly safe destinations due to their laws.
·       Deal with each individual country’s views and laws for firearms, some of which may put me and my crew at legal risk. “Billy? Have you ever been in a Turkish prison?”
·       Ensure that the firearm is properly maintained in a salt water environment.
·       Ensure that the ammunition is properly stored for a salt water environment.
·       Ensure that the firearm is properly stored to protect it from theft.
·       Ensure that every single person on board who has access to the firearm is fully trained and competent in its use.
·       Understand and accept that the mere presence of the firearm means that it is there to be used, misused, lost, or stolen. Three of those four are unacceptable.
·       Understand and accept that it may become common knowledge that we have firearms aboard.  People do talk at ports ya know, especially if you check in with a nice semi-automatic or two, and have the port officials hold your weapon.
·       Understand and accept that our firearm may not necessarily protect us from people that want those firearms, our other possessions or us.
·       Understand and accept that, by the time one of us is pulling the trigger, and possibly taking the life of another, we better have taken countless steps in order not to get here – that is; shooting someone.

There are many steps we can take to mitigate risk to ourselves and our vessel.

A firearm does not need to be one of them.

More Reading if you are intersted:

Monday, December 12, 2016

Casting Off

I wanted to put this in here, to make it official.

We are both gainfully unemployed, have left our slip in Tacoma's Foss Harbor, and are headed north for Port Townsend.

In Port Townsend, we plan on a final refit (standing rigging, prop and rudder inspection, new wind vane and other incidentals) before the spring.

I will publish my first novel in February.

In April we head for the San Juans, then to Alaska. Kerry keeps talking about Kodiak Island and, if I can get her there, I will.

In August we return to Pt. Townsend for a final visit before we head west out the strait and make a left. That will have us bound for Mexico, the South Pacific and the rest of the world.

I had to get that all down because it sure seems this is actually happening.

Brigadoon ran great and here we sit, the first night out, snug at the dock on Blake Island, fending off nosy rangers and trash pandas.

Here we go.

Wednesday, October 19, 2016

All we have been doing...

This will give you an idea of boat work.

Rebuilt old shower sump, re-engineering system and relocating pump.

Added an ultra-sonic (Kerry calls it Super-Sonic) hull cleaning system. Yes, so far it seems to be working. Our hull is staying cleaner than our neighbors.

This included four transponders that were affixed to the hull with epoxy.

Rebuilt the Pilot House steering system.
Spent days chasing a coolant leak that basically amounted to a chafed heat exchange hose to the water heater.

Removed our old holding tank converting the usable space to sto

Scrubbed and cleaned the teak decks. I still think there is life in this deck.

Stripped all the moldy Teak Oil and blistered Cetol off the caprails, teak topsides and cockpit. This is Semco Teak Sealer in Gold Tone.

All the gold leaf is complete, including the cove stripe.

Upgraded the Bimini so...

We were able to add solar. This is a 200 Watt Renogy kit with controller.
Built a new deck box out of teak spa mats ordered from Amazon.
This was my beautiful overhead. Unfortunately, it hid a few small leaks.

Tore the entire head liner out so I could get to things.

Rebed the staysail tracks.