Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Thanks, Dad, for teaching me to sail.

When I was nine or ten years old, my father taught me how to sail. It was a hot summer day. The water was warm.

The first thing we did was get the smallest little sailing dingy out of the boat shed (I forget what it is today) and learn to rig it.

We sat there on the grass, at the Navy yacht club in Florida, putting it together and taking it apart a few times until I could do it myself. There would be a pile of parts at one point and, after mounting mast, boom, hanking on the sail, running the sheets; instant sailboat in about 30 minutes,

After that we took it down to the dock and put it in the water. It sat there floating beside the dock. Just as I was asking what we were going to do next, my dad picked me up and threw me in the water next to the boat. I came to the surface to find him laughing -- at me.

"Climb in," he said.

I did. It took a few tries as he held the bowline so the little dingy didn't float away, but I made it into the boat. It was kinda fun, actually.

Then he jumped in the water with me (it was only about four feet deep there) and knocked the boat down so the mast was in the water and the sail held the boat down.

"This is how you right it," he said as he showed me how.

Then he knocked the boat down again and said, "you do it."

And I did -- a few times.

"Now you aren't scared of dumping your sailboat. Why don't you bail it out and now I will teach you to sail," he said, tossing a cut open bleach bottle at me.

With the boat bailed out, dad climbed in and we took off for a bit. Dad showed me where to sit (windward). He showed me how handle the main sheet while he handled the tiller. He had me handle the tiller while he handled the main sheet. He showed me how to point up or release the mainsheet to depower the boat and keep it on it's feet. Then he handed me both controls and had me sail towards the dock. We practiced pulling up to the dock without crashing into it. Once we were there, Dad hopped out and said, "take off that way, I'll be right behind you."

He climbed into a larger dingy and followed me out. We had a great time putting around in the bay, him giving me pointers, and me learning the boat.

So, that day I learned to rig a boat, how to climb back in one, how to right one, how to sail and how to dock. Yes, in one day. May dad was a great teacher.

Years later, as I sailed other smaller boats I can honestly say I never capsized one but I wasn't afraid if I did. Oh, I came close sometimes but, the confidence he gave me that day, the way he impressed upon me how to not let a boat get out from under me, really made a difference in my sailing and taught me not to be afraid of the boat.

The fourth anniversary of his passing is today. 

Thanks for teaching me to sail, Dad.  I sure do miss you.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How to avoid drowning -- stay on the damn boat.

When we last left our intrepid sailors, they had come to the realization that planned improvements to boat safety should be completed earlier than anticipated.  The First Mate, watching the Captain struggle with stowing the mainsail on top of the pilot house, while Brigadoon plowed into five foot waves, was not a comfortable site.

The boat needed jack lines.  Jack lines ensure we have something to our safety line equipped PFDs to in heavy weather, or at night, when we are leaving the cockpit.  So, an initiative was started to get the supplies ordered, then design and install the jack lines for Brigadoon.

Three hundred feet of 1" diameter nylon climbing webbing, some stainless steel shackles, and a safety line later, we were ready to go.

This is the design for jack lines on Brigadoon. It has to take into account the fact that the deck is not expansive and level.  The pilot house is in the way, and the lines cannot lay flat on the deck.  They need to be easy to stow when not in use, and adjust when they are.  They should be able to be reached before you leave the cockpit.

The webbing has a 4000lb breaking strength and is commonly used for climbing.

The lines attach to two strong pad eyes on the ends of the traveler support.  The shackles are 4000+lb breaking strength stainless steel.

Here is more of a side view.  As you can see, the lines do not interfere with the mainsheet, nor do they rub on the top of the cabin house. These should prove useful when standing on the pilot house.

As you can see, you can just reach these while still standing in the cockpit.

As you can see, the lines then move forward to the mast where they are fed through the bottom of the vang bail.  This keeps the lines closer to the centerline and provides additional support at mid-span. The jack lines do not interfere with the operation or swing of the vang. Note the safety line attached to the port side jackline.

Here, the lines move forward, staying at the centerline of the boat.  As you can see, the safety line can be attached to one, or both, of the jacklines.

At the bow, the jacklines pass around either side of the stays' furler to a stainless steel shackle.  The lines are about mid-thigh on the foredeck, which makes stepping over them easy and helps them clear the #2 anchor locker.  I am not concerned about chafe as the lines pass alongside the stays'l fittings as they are not sharp.  I may, in the future, provide some additional anti-chafe at this point.

And finally, the adjustment line.  This is a temporary setup, utilizing an adjustable feed called a trucker's hitch.  It allows adjustment of the tension of the lines, along with easy removal.  The line terminates on a stainless shackle attached at the bowsprit.  The single line will work, but I expect to improve it as some in the future.

This design also allows me to stay tied in with the short 3' tether when working on the bow.

In summary, I think I have a good initial design.  It doesn't interfere with the operation of the rig, the hatches or the ground tackle.  It was inexpensive (less than $200.00 total).  I still have 200' of webbing left over, of which I will use for things like sail ties.  I was also able to make, from scratch, a safety harness for Kerry out of the webbing too; it's strong enough, even when knotted.

So now we have greatly reduced our chance of drowning at sea by ensuring we, in the words of another sailing friend, "Stay on the goddamn boat!"

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Locks, Salt Water, Storms and Blakeley Harbour

"Stay on the damn boat, Donn," I say to myself as I struggle with the sail ties.

I'm crouched on top of the pilot house.  The four to five foot waves that Brigadoon is currently plowing into are at least seven feet below my boots.  My left arm is around the mast as I wrestle the mainsail onto the boom and get the sail ties on.  Behind me, my trusty First Mate, Kerry, is keeping Brigadoon into the wind. I don't know it at the time, but she is pretty scared that I'm going to go flying into the Sound and she won't be able to get me back on the boat.  As I get another sail tie around the main, I look forward, just in time to see the entire bowsprit of Brigadoon disappear beneath an oncoming wave.  Water crashes over the fore deck.

This is stupid.

"Stay on the damn boat," I remind myself. I finish up and get down to the relative safety of the main cabin house and finally the main deck.  As I return to the cockpit, Kerry looks a little shaken but seems to be standing firm.  Seeing that she needs a break I suggest, "Why don't we go into the pilot house and drive from there?  I bet it will be more comfortable."

She agrees.  Soon we are driving Brigadoon from the pilot house, plunging along, with four to five foot swells off our starboard beam, as we motor south of Blakeley Rock on course for Blakeley Harbor.  Have I mentioned before how important that pilot house was to us and how much I love it?  So, how did we get here?

The day had started off early and hectic, with us getting some final housekeeping done before leaving our dock.  Finishing laundry, we checked the weather (50% chance of rain, winds out of the north 10-15kts), and prepared Brigadoon to leave the dock.  The plan was to take our first trip through the Hiram M. Chittenden locks, enter Puget Sound at Shilshole, head south to Blakeley Harbor on Bainbridge Island, and spend the night on the hook in salt water. The route looks like this.

By the time we left the dock we had been working steadily for about three hours.  I was already somewhat tired and harried, not making the best decisions nor moving as I should.  I felt clumsy.  I noted this and reminded myself to slow down.  This is not a rush.  We are not in a hurry.  It's a nice day.  Enjoy the adventure with my trusty and beautiful First Mate.

It took us about an hour to transit the Fremont and Ballard bridges and get to the small locks.  It was our first time in.  Things were a little wonky (line handling wise) but nothing was too difficult.  We got through rather easily only to have to wait for the Burlington Northern bridge to raise too.   Soon, however, we were out the channel and into the sound, just off Shilshole.  Apparently, there was a sailboat race.

The winds were good and solid, at 10-15 from the north.  The waves were a good three feet and coming on brisk.  Kerry took the wheel and I busied myself getting the mainsail up.  

First lesson -- rig the whole boat ready for sail at the dock, Donn.  Don't wait until you are out in waves to do things you could have done at the dock.  After a bit of a struggle on the decks and at the mast, the main was up, we shut down the trusty Yanmar and headed across the shipping lane and towards Bainbridge.

We found ourselves headed south soon, running along the island and directly before the wind.  I'm still leaning how the boat handles running under main and jib but, Brigadoon did fine. She kept about 5 knots due south on the main and a sometimes pulling sometimes limp staysail.  I'm not comfortable running that deep in shifting breezes.  An accidental gybe can damage the rug, so I had to keep a close eye on the main and the wind.  Fortunately we sit well below the boom, so the danger from being struck and killed by a gybe is greatly reduced.

Note to self -- design and rig a gybe preventer for the next trip.

The run downwind was pretty smooth, aside from the following seas and the associated rolling of the boat.  Kerry sat below, watching our progress on our PC navigation software as I played at the helm, one hand on the wheel and one on the mainsheet.  I felt like someone should have taken a picture of that.

During that sail, I saw just over 7 knots on the GPS.  This is not really a slow boat.

Soon, we were east of Blakeley Rock and it was time to get the main down.  The plan was to drop sails in the Sound, then motor into the Blakeley Harbor.  In retrospect, it was not the best of decisions, considering that the waves had grown, along with the wind.  Hence, that's how we find our stupid hero, struggling with the main, on top of the pilot house, in close to five foot seas, with a concerned Kerry at the helm.  A better plan would have been to start the engine and motor/sail into the harbor, then drop sails in the wind shadow of the surrounding hills. Instead, after the battle with the sail on top of the pilot house and trying to gather it all up and get it stowed, we were in the pilot house, finally.  We were also exhausted.

Did I mention that, though I was wearing a good suit, and a nice PFD, that I was not tied in to the boat?  We had not rigged jack lines yet.  I didn't think them necessary right now.  They were.

Note to self -- install jack lines before out next trip out.  The 4000lb nylon climbing webbing arrived yesterday.  I expect the shackles today or tomorrow.  I get the mounting hardware for the mast and bow pulpit on Saturday.

Another note to self -- get the lazy jacks operating properly so dropping the main is much neater and safer.

After wallowing our way through beam seas under power and giving Kerry time to recover from driving the boat in such conditions, we finally made it into Blakeley Harbor.  It was pretty quiet there and, after motoring around a bit, we found a good spot in from of my friend's house.  

Kim lives on the shores of the bay.  He had recommended a good spot to drop the hook.  Finding it acceptable, I did.  That is his house and boat in the background.  He said he'd try to come out and visit if he could. Unfortunately his home was dark the whole time we were there.  Perhaps, next time.

So, how to make my First Mate happy after she had slogged through heaving seas on a cold and rainy day with me?  First off, start the Dickenson stove and get the boat warm.Then, cook her a nice, hot, vegetable curry noodle dinner, along with a nice hot cup of tea.  

We sat there, in our cozy cabin, floating in the middle of the bay, filling ourselves with a good hot meal.  After the trip here, it was heaven.  

All that was left was to enjoy the evening, settle down, get good and warm and enjoy our time together.  However, I could not settle down so...

With my Kerry happy and cozy, I decided to take a little rowboat tour around the bay.  This was also necessary because I had inadvertently tossed the beautiful turned teak wooden cover to our chain hawsepipe overboard.  It was floating slowly to the west, into the cove.  I got the dingy into the water, and did try to find it, but to no avail.  I did get a walk on the beach, a good row and some good pictures of Brigadoon at anchor though.

my kerry standing watch

Seattle, in the background, across the Sound

Brigadoon, looking sleek and fast at this angle

We had a quiet evening, only having to do some depth checking and some minor adjustments of our anchor position once before going to bed.

In the morning, you keep your crew happy by making a hot breakfast, so I played ships cook once again.  It was a cheese and spinach omelet and hot tea before we started our day.  The tide was pretty low and getting lower and, being in the shallower part of the bay, we decided to head out and get a good start on the day.

Now it's up to the business end of the boat to lift about 200' of chain and a 35lb anchor with a manual windlass.  It takes about 25 minutes of rowing on a large handle to get the chain up, and my back paid for it later for doing it wrong, but it's a simple system and it works.  

We have discussed installing an electric windlass and still may but, for now, this is doable and, besides, it's already on the boat.

With the engine running and Kerry at the helm, I finally got the anchor stowed and we left the glass smooth quiet of Blakeley Harbor.  We will be returning soon.

The Sound was great!  The wind was 10kts from the south.  I decided to experiment with the sails and try a different downwind tactic for our trip north to Shilshole.  I left the main alone.  I didn't even use it.  I just unfurled the foresail, which is the largest of the jibs on the boat.  Under just that jib alone we were soon cruising along at 3.5 kts, shifting between a starboard reach and a dead run from astern the whole way.  An interesting thing is that, even with a beam reach, and the only sail up being ahead of the mast, she had a very balanced helm.  I hardly had to touch her at all. This was an unexpected and delightful surprise. We had a wonderful, relaxing, sail north to Shilshole and the entrance to the ship canal.

The transit through the small lock again was great.  Kerry said that we felt like rock stars, with all the spectators. I saw them as witnesses to any screwups we did but, I'll accept her take on it.  

If you look closely, you will see Kerry is pointing behind me here.  It was for good reason.  It was at the trawler sharing the small lock with us.  They came in unprepared.

This guy had problems tying off to the wall, resulting in his pretty huge trawler drifting towards us.  Fortunately the lock staff was on top of it and got him sorted out pretty quick. The thought of Brigadoon smashed between that huge boat and the wall wasn't a good one.  

However, soon we were on our way back to our dock on Lake Union.  Raising the Ballard and Fremont bridges was a breeze this time.  The docking went OK (I came in a little fast -- keep tuning this, Donn) but, no harm, no scuff, no foul.

And we were home.  Actually, our home was in it's berth.  

Agenda for the following weeks?  No big adventures for a little while; well, maybe a daysail or two.

1) Get the jack lines built and installed so we can use them whenever we move ahead of the cockpit, especially if there is any weather and especially at night on single watch.
2) Get the lazy jacks working right so I don't have to struggle with a big bag o'sail when we drop the main.
3) Practice, practice, practice those overboard drills so Kerry and I are confident we can get each other back on the boat if the worst happens.

It was a great weekend, full of real challenges and some good lessons.  It was also ended with a great sail back to Lake Union.  I couldn't ask for a more trustworthy boat and a better First Mate and partner to have at the helm while I hang on to a boat in water like that.

And in closing, yes, I live on a boat with a woman.  This is a price of admission.  There are other benefits.

Fear and Sailing

This is an entry from, Kerry, the First Mate of Brigadoon.  It's regarding our last weekend out.  My own post will follow shortly.

Posted with her permission...

So..  I'm learning how to sail.  I figured that since I am now living on a sailboat, I should probably learn how to sail.  And Donn is hoping to take the boat out as much as possible, especially as the weather gets warmer, etc.

Last weekend we motored down to the south end of Lake Washington, spent the night and then had some fun sailing back part of the way.  

This weekend, we were determined to get out into the Sound.  And hopefully cross over to Blakely Harbor on Bainbridge Island and spend the night there.  The weather wasn't exactly optimal on Saturday morning, but it wasn't bad either - so we set out.  Two bridges, a pass by my Dad's marina while he took pictures of us from his dock, and we were at the locks.  I felt fairly prepared for this - we had visited as tourists a few times and Donn had talked me through what I needed to do up at the bow.  All went pretty smoothly in and out of the small lock.  Good.

As we cruise out past Shilshole and start figuring out our next course of action, I notice the waves aren't small (at least by my standards).  We head into the wind - Donn is planning to put up the main and the staysail.  I'm at the helm while he prepares to raise the main and I'm feeling a few things... cold, on task, and a little nervous.  He's up there getting stuff done,  the boat is bucking into the waves and it's sprinkling on us a bit.

We start to sail heading west - the boat hits 7 knots pretty easily with the wind from the north.  It was actually kind of exhilerating if it hadn't been so damn cold.  We have my laptop open on the nav table and can see it through the pilot house windows.  We have software that connects to our GPS and puts us on a chart so we can track our progress and set a course.  It's pretty cool and I'm keeping my eye on it.

Then we start heading south towards Bainbridge.  The wind is mostly behind us and we're "running" which means Donn has to pay a lot more attention to possible jibes, which can be scary if they happen unplanned.  We're chopping through some pretty rough water and I'm thinking to myself, "well - this is just a small taste of what it would be like on the open ocean...  am I up for this?"   I told myself I was fine, cold, but fine and tried to sit up in the cockpit with Donn and much as I could.  When I got too cold, I'd head inside to the pilothouse.

I was starting to feel the motion of the boat as we were getting closer to Blakely.  We were in 3-4 foot waves at this point and the boat was reacting appropriately.   We were getting lots of spray, and some splashing over the boat now and then as well.  I was starting to feel stressed for some reason.  I knew the boat was solid - it wasn't really about that.  It was about my ability to deal with that much motion, hold on and get things done when and if I needed to - without falling down or even worse, falling overboard.  

Then it was time to lower the main and things got really scary for me.  Donn had me take the wheel and we pointed north up into the wind again.  This meant that we were headed staight into these big waves and the boat was crashing up and over and down again.  Meanwhile Donn was going FORWARD in the middle of all of this, to lower the main and batten it down as best he could until we got into quieter waters.  I held the course, prayed that he could do what he needed to do, while holding on, and that the boat wouldn't buck him off.  I had no idea what I would do if he went in the water.... I mean yes, I would circle and come around to him, and call for help if I needed to - but getting him back in the boat in that kind of wind and water?  I was having trouble with that idea.  So - I kept doing what I'd been told - kept the boat pointed in the wind and watched Donn as the bow came up and crashed down with large waves washing the deck up front.  Donn, thank god, held on and got it all done.  He came back, rolled up the staysail and we went inside to drive from there.  

All of a sudden the feelings I'd been feeling started rising up the surface.  I felt overwhelmed and afraid - and part of me was ashamed for feeling that way.  I wanted Donn to trust me as a first mate and know that I'd be there for him.  But all I wanted to do was sit there and cry.  He looked over at me and asked how I was doing and I couldn't answer, but the tears started coming out.  He got us into the much quieter harbor safely and we put out the anchor and settled in for the night.  He said he had no problem with me getting stressed out and emotional.  This had been our choppiest experience yet on Brigadoon and our first time out in Puget Sound.   

Our ride home this morning was much mellower and even a little sunny, although still cold.  We had a chance to talk more about yesterday and I realized that it's not bad that I feel these fears and work through them.  I'm not going to stop sailing and I'm going to keep learning.  Fear on this level is a rare thing for me - it's not often I put myself in a situation that could be lethal if something goes wrong.  Weather is something we can't control.  We can only avoid it (when possible) or move through it and with it as skillfully as we can when it's encountered.

I'm left with a feeling of accompishment that I made it through the sail yesterday.  And I'm no longer ashamed at my emotional release as we were heading in the harbor.  Crying has always been my form of release and I sure needed it after that ride.  Brigadoon is an incredibly solid boat - and we continue to learn about her and how she reacts to certain conditions and sail trims.  It's good.  We're all learning together.  One sail at a time.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

It's one of those days...

Where you want to be home. Where you want to be out there, instead of in here, in this office, at this computer, working because you have to, not because you want to.

Then you realize why you sit there, at that computer, at that job, dealing with mostly good people, some not as good; because it's a J.O.B.  That job, is why you have a picture of yourself sitting on the prow of your very rare Baba 35 "Flying Duchman" Pilot House Cutter, at your million dollar view of Seattle, on the north shore of Lake Union.

It's why you got to go out last weekend, among the water and the birds, your beautiful and talented first mate aboard.  It's why you will be able to go out this coming weekend, on Puget Sound, over salt water; a taste of what may be to come in your future.

It's why you have plans to pay down that debt and, if things go right, you can make the Freedom part of the Freedom Project real.  It's money, but it's not that much money.  It's do-able, possible, something within your reach.

It's on one of these days that you are grateful to be healthy, to have the beautiful and reliable Kerry and Brigadoon in your life.

And it makes one of those days at the J.O.B. not so bad after all.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

First Overnight

We have been planning this for a couple weeks; our first overnight trip on Brigadoon. We have been living aboard for just over five months and have not been able to spend the night on her anywhere else but at our dock on Lake Union.

So we planned a trip westward, out the raising the Fremont Bridge, the Ballard Bridge, through the locks and into the salt water sound.  We were going to sail around a bit, then spend the night at Shilshole, returning through the ship canal to our slip on Sunday.

Well, that wasn't to be.  The weather forecast called for Saturday being crappy,with scattered crappiness, increasing to steady crappy at 11:00 PM, dawning Sunday to increased chance of crappy.

I made a captains decision that handling the locks, for our first time, in pouring rain, would not be a good idea.  So...what to do...what to do?

I decided that only two bridges would be better and, since we have not exercised our ground tackle yet or passed south of the 520 bridge, we would head east then south to Andrews Bay near Seward Park and spend the night on the hook.

The route is almost 19 miles.

We took off around noon on Saturday and headed for the fuel dock, for our first refueling in five months.  I had to repair the fuel filler because the previous one was frozen shut.  So, after taking on 10 gallons of diesel we headed for the University Bridge.  As we approached, I grabbed our horn and, after yelling, "Horn!", pushed the button.

Nothing.  Not even a peep.  It was supposed to make a very loud noise.  I sent Kerry below to fetch the spare charge for the horn I had recently purchased for just such and emergency.  She had to dig deep but soon poked her face out with a smile of victory and a canister in her hand.  I set Brigadoon motoring in circles as I swapped canisters and, with a few mistaken "Whoop!" here and there as I handled the thing, we were all set.

A long blast and a short and we were on our way under the University Bridge and headed for the Montlake Bridge.  Up that one went and we were out into Lake Washington on the north side of 520.

I had checked the charts multiple times, consulted web sites, talked to other Captains, just to assure myself that my 54+ (call it 55) foot mast would clear the east span of the bridge.  The charts say 57 feet high it is.  Kerry was a little anxious about that.  However, I remember the bridge being clearly marked and higher on one side.  I also suspected they mark the charts for the lowest point of the pass under at mean high water.  I thought we were ok.

We were.  As we approached the bridge under motor, we spotted two helpful things.  The first was the 64 foot height on the eastern part of the channel.  The second was the clear markings on the footings of the bridge showing the vertical clearance for various levels of water.  The numbers go down as the lake level goes up.  The 64 foot clearance meant we would be passing under about 62-63 foot high bridge with our 55 foot past.  That meant about seven feet of clearance.

I will tell you that, from the cockpit of Brigadoon, seven feet never looked so small or invisible.  But, clearance it was and soon we passed under and were on our way past the famous "I have so much money I don't know what to do with it" mansion of Bill Gates.  Waving to the tour boat (yes there was one), we motored south under slightly cloudy skies and little wind.

Brigadoon made a good 4kts under power at 2400 rpm.  Steadily, we motored south, towards and under the 70 foot clearance of the I-90 bridge on the east side of Mercer Island.  Crossing under and moving south, we made out way to the south end.

Kerry went below and left me at the helm.  While she snoozed in the forward cabin, I let the stereo blare as I motored along some of the most expensive real estate in the Puget Sound.

I call this one the "I have too much money" house. I mean, really...

Oh, it might have been the Mercer Island community center but, really, I doubt it.

Then again, I'm speaking from the viewpoint of wanting less, of living on a boat that has less square footage than one of their walk in closets.  I looked on with some sense of not wanting that, not even if I had the money.  I was happy where I was, motoring along in my modest home, with my beautiful girl snoozing in the front cabin.

Soon Kerry was awake and we were motoring along the east side of Seward Park.  A turn around the north end and we entered Andrews Bay.  There wasn't another boat there.  Not one.  

Kerry and I motored around, surveying the depth and deciding where to drop the hook.  Contrary to most cruising couples I went forward to handle the 35lb anchor, the hundreds of pounds of chain and parts that can tear your hands off.  I always thought it really stupid of "captains" that never leave their helms; instead sending their spouses forward to deal with the heavy tackle while they drive their boats and yell.

Oh, there was a little yelling because Kerry and I were 35 feet apart.  She did a great job of managing the engine while I got the CQR anchor into the bay and on the bottom.  I will tell you, when a hundred feet of 3/8" chain starts flying out of the hawse pipe and into the water, you do not reach for it to slow it down.  Soon, we were at anchor, or, at least, I thought we were.  

The chain is marked in depths an I thought I had 175 feet of chain out.  For the 30 foot depth of the bay at that point, that should be plenty (over 6/1 scope).  However, Brigadoon kept swinging oddly in the wind, back and forth, like a drunken windvane.  It wasn't supposed to do that.  I finally went ahead and let out more chain and was horrified to see the 100 ' marker come up.

A moment of fearful stupidity hit me as I realized that what I thought was the 175' marker was only the 75' marker.  We had a scope of 2/1 out.  That is not optimum and was a perfect recipe for a dragging anchor in the middle of the night, as a possible running aground.  After playing around I decided to go for a real 175' of chain.  As I hit that mark, it switched over to the heavy duty 5/8" rode.   Now I was set.  I got the boat, started the engine and really backed down on the anchor.  Finally we were set.  I'd be able to sleep.

This is what Andrews Bay looks like when Seafair isn't happening and the fair weather boaters are all staying home.

We did end up with company.  One boat sat quietly off our port quarter all night.  We never heard a sound from them as we fired up the Dickeson diesel heater, made dinner on the stove, played some music and turned in for a good night's 'rest'. 

And except for it getting pretty cold (we should have pulled another comforter out of ships stores, we had a great first night on anchor.  We woke to a quiet and calm bay.  

 Of course, it was too cold for my Princess, so I played Lancelot and got the diesel heater going again while I made coffee, tea, and breakfast, on the hook, in the middle of Andrew's Bay, in my home.

Finally, she was up and about so we started talking about getting going.  It took us both about 30 minutes of hauling on the manual windlass to pull all 200' of rode and chain to the boat but, after working in shifts, we finally had the engine started and were motoring out of the bay while Kerry had the rest of her breakfast.

While she munched we headed southward towards Rainer Beach, where Kerry used to live.  We cruised by there while I readied Brigadoon for sail.  The wind was up, I had a reef in the sail for practice so we got the sails up in short order and...6 knots under one reef and the yankee (the big headsail).  We worked that east and north, alternating between broad reaching and running (some wing and wing) and sailed right under the I-90 bridge.  

Once past that, we ended up motoring back under 520, then east through the ship canal, under the two bridges and back to our slip to a familiar gusty south wind.

It was a great trip.  I couldn't have a better boat or First Mate.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Her Bones are Good

It's been quiet of late, with all the lousy weather, and other plans afoot.  One of the plans we have been working on is getting Brion Toss to come out and complete a rigging survey on Brigadoon.  Brion is a well known and respected rigger, who we saw speak at the Seattle Boat Show.  I have also read his book "The Riggers Apprentice" years ago.  Brion is a wealth of information wrapped up in a pragmatic and jovial presentation.

The tough part about this is that I invited an expert in yacht rigging to tell me about the condition of the rig.  The news would be the news and, on a 30 year old boat, I had to be prepared for anything.  Basically, he could have told me my rig was bad, that I could/should not sail her.  I had to be prepared for that.

He arrived late yesterday.  Brion was more than welcome to have me along as he inspected the running and standing rigging on Brigadoon. This is crucial, because, the regular survey, as good as it was, did not really cover the rigging.

Aside from Brion inspecting the rigging and providing me feedback on her condition, he also offered up quite a few suggestions how to improve various aspects of the rig, in order to make it more effective and make my life easier.

I'm looking forward to his detailed report in a week or so.  It will be a useful tool approach improvements on Brigadoon.

The one thing he said, when all was said and done, was good.  As Brion stood there, looking up at her, he turned to me and said, "Her bones are good.  You've got a good boat."

That couldn't have made me happier.