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.

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Moral responsibility

“I am free, no matter what rules surround me. If I find them tolerable, I tolerate them; if I find them too obnoxious, I break them. I am free because I know that I alone am morally responsible for everything I do.” ~ Robert A. Heinlein

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Simple Lessons I've Learned

By Kerry Christianson

So last week we got away from our home dock and went wandering a bit.  We stayed on a friend's mooring buoy one night, but otherwise chose to stay in marinas, including Bell Harbor, Port Ludlow, and Blake Island.  We had great experiences in all three, but as I watched other boaters coming and going around us, I realized I have learned lessons that seem obvious to me now, but somehow aren't always practiced by others.

When I was on my trip a couple of years ago with Linda Lewis from Blind Channel to Anacortes on her 45 foot trawler, she taught me many things about safe practices arriving at and leaving from a dock.  One thing she taught is that the person handling the lines should never have to "jump" off the boat.  The person at the helm should be able to get the boat close enough for the line handler to step off the boat safely.  Then, once I'm off, I can starting tying up the boat based on wind, current, etc., as the Skipper and I have discussed beforehand.  It can be fun to experiment with tying down lines in such a way that allows the skipper to use the line(s) to snug the boat into the slip.  Then once you're secured well enough, you both can adjust and add lines as needed to get fully settled in.

Last Sunday, as I made my way back from the shower in Port Ludlow, I noticed a large powerboat had its engine on and the Skipper was taking his place at the helm.  As I passed their finger pier, I noticed the bow line was off and thrown up onto the boat, and two women were still on the dock.  One was starting to climb aboard, and the other was finishing up by removing the remaining two dock lines from the cleats.  Meanwhile the Skipper shouts that everyone should be aboard, once, twice, and three times before she was able to actually get on board.  The wind was blowing the boat (gently) off the dock and she just about tripped on a cleat as she headed for the boat ladder to climb aboard.  Internally I just shook my head.  This is such an easy thing to avoid.

When preparing to leave the dock, remove all additional dock lines that aren't needed to hold the boat steady for the last few minutes while you prepare to depart.  Then the two (or three) lines that are still attached (usually bow and stern) should be run from the boat, down to the dock cleat or bull rail and *back* to the boat.  This allows for all crew to be on board the boat before leaving.  Now the Skipper and crew will determine which line to release first, based on current and wind conditions.  Once that line has been pulled back into the boat, proceed to the final line to bring it aboard also.  No one needs to be standing on the dock to release the lines!  Easy, huh?  After that I stand at the ready with a boat hook, just in case.  Once we're safely out of the dock area, I start putting away fenders and lines.  I wish more people would think through these things - it makes it all safer and easier for everyone.  Thank you Linda, for being my teacher - hopefully I'll be able to pass along a few pearls of your wisdom.

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Slow the Fuck Down

There are times in your life when you just get in a groove, follow a path, chasing that goddamn ball to the exclusion of anything less important. I've been doing that ball chasing since February, working on a new novel and working on Brigadoon. I've made great progress in both arenas, with an additional benefit along the way; just slowing the fuck down.

Much of my work/life has been about performing -- and that meant agility and speed. As I progressed in my career I saw the speed tended to produce a lot of energy and a lot of 'fast failure' on a random track to success. People got hurt, either physically, emotionally, mentally or financially. Success, true success was rare, with mediocre accomplishments being touted as great things indeed. After that, it's time to rush off to the next initiative, burn up a lot of energy and time, and hope for the best. As I got older I started seeing more places for caution, maybe consideration before action, in a world surrounded by people who fix a mistake by doing the same thing again -- only faster, harder, and with more self promotion.

The last few months have really driven the lesson home of the work I can actually accomplish when I slow the fuck down. It's given me the time to think and consider the best use of my time. The projects don't move at a breakneck pace but, I'm finding I'm accomplishing much.

So far, I've completed the first draft of a 50,000 word novel. The next process is copy editing, design and self-publishing. We hope to have it out soon. Right behind that is another writing project - a collection of motorcycle articles I wrote between 2001 and 2005. There are three other writing projects behind that one.

I've also made progress in Brigadoon (pictures and more details coming soon):

  • Reconditioned the teak decks, leveling all calk and scrubbing well.
  • Stripped and reconditioned the teak on the cap rails, teak topsides, anchor platform, traveler arch, cockpit combing and cockpit sides. 
  • Managed a 2nd haul out, including bottom paint and new zincs
  • Managed an insurance-mandated valuation survey during the haul out.
  • Wrecked out the remains of the old head system, including the holding tank and all remaining hose.
  • Installed an ultra-sonic hull cleaning system, which included the head unit, installing four transducers to the hull and wiring back to the unit through countless bulkheads.
  • Cleaned the damn bilge.
  • Repaired a cooling system leak -- tracing it to chafed heat exchange hoses with the old water heater, which was leaking fresh water...
  • Removed and replaced the 6gal water heater, which included redesigning the water manifold to make it easier to flush and isolate parts of the system.
  • Removed the old teak deck box, designed a new one, ordered the parts and started assembly.
  • Removed and inspected both primary and secondary ground tackle.
  • Re-bed all chain plates and covers to solve deck leaks.
  • Re-painting the gold leaf scroll work and cove stripe.
  • and more
There is a lot more to do in the next six months as we prepare to leave Tacoma and head for Pt. Townsend in December. 

Something about the story of the tortoise and the hare rings clear and true right about now. 

Thursday, February 25, 2016

We have bungee!

The great thing about bungees is now useful they are in managing slapping halyards, shock cording tarps, and securing gear. The bad thing about bungees is their life, which is rather short, especially if they are left outside for any length of time. Bungees do not like UV as it eats the stuff up in short order.

It doesn't eat the hooks though.

Now, one can just buy new bungees. That is the West Marine way.

One can buy bungee chord, the hog clips and hog pliers and make your own.

What if the hogs you bought were too small and you don't have the pliers?

This is how they want you to do it. The hog clip holds the bungee down.

But wait, if this can hold sails together...

Simple palm whipping ought to do it.

And done. 

Total time spent: about ten minutes.

Total cost saved: I never have to buy hog clips or hog pliers.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

The Last

This is our last year, and a coming year of last things.

We have been living aboard for five years. Our original plan was to commit to five years, then decide what to do next. Over those five years, we developed a new plan, called The Freedom project. We realized, one day, that we can take our blue water capable boat into blue water. I think it was about two years in. For the last three years we have been actively planning, adjusting plans, re-imagining plans, and executing plans to sail around the world. 

In those preliminary years we have made the following changes/improvements to Brigadoon:
  • Purchased new sails from Carol Hasse at Pt. Townsend Sails.
  • Replaced all the running rigging.
  • Replaced galley stove.
  • Replaced all the interior upholstery and cushions. 
  • Replaced the berth cushions with a custom memory foam mattress.
  • Replaced and upgraded our propane system, from tanks to range.
  • Replaced our battery bank, doubling our capacity.
  • Installed a NMEA 2000 network on Brigadoon.
  • Installed brand new Garmin instrumentation, including GMI 10 data displays.
  • Purchased Coastal Explorer charting software (we do not own a chart plotter).
  • Purchased a Portland Pudgy dinghy/lifeboat, active rescue system (we will not own a life raft).
  • Upgraded the engine diesel fuel filtration system to a dual Parker/Racor system.
  • Replaced our head with a Nature's Head composting head, and with great results.
  • Upgraded our 45lb CQR anchor to an 46lb Ultra
  • Purchased an Ultra stern reel with 400' of polypro floating line.
  • Purchased barely used Asymmetrical Spinnaker, with sock.
  • Replaced all lifelines with Dyneema.
  • Installed jacklines on centerline of boat.
  • Designed and installed dyneema lazy jacks to greatly improve mainsail dousing.
  • Purchased Ultra-SoniTec Untrasonic anti-fouling system to reduce the need for haul outs and bottom paint.
  • Scraped off much of the old varnish, replacing it with Teak Oil, which mildewed, which had to be removed. Now the teak is going as bare and gray as I can keep it now. 
  • Sewed fender covers with our nice new Sailrite machine.
  • Installed new clock/barometer/lamp combo in cabin.
  • Got our Dickenson diesel stove running in top shape.
  • Designed and installed bimini.
None of this includes regular repairs or maintenance things like, oil changes, impeller changes, belt changes, battery maintenance, sanding teak, fixing stanchion leaks, repairing shower sump pumps, replacing horrific wiring for our bulge pump, scraping varnish, scrubbing decks, hauling for bottom painting, and scrubbing and cleaning and polishing and scraping and sanding and and and...not that I'm complaining. 

There is still much to do:
  • Purchase Portland Pudgy lifeboat kit for dinghy.
  • Purchase autopilot (still investigating options).
  • Pull mast and replace all standing rigging, including some minor redesign with the help of Brion Toss.
  • Inspect chainplates and replace if necessary.
  • Replace or reinforce Brigadoon's pilot house windows.
  • Purchase Rainman watermaker.
  • Purchase Honda EU2000i generator.
  • Purchase outboard for dinghy.
  • Haul and bottom paint.
  • Remove old holding tank.
  • And much much more that will pop up before we have leave.

We have one year left.

One year until Kerry resigns, we move to Pt. Townsend to do the second list, and prepare ourselves for a trip to Alaska, for just the summer, or an entire year. Kerry wants to see bears. We might go to Kodiak island, but I digress.

After that, it's points south and then the world. All of it.

But first, much to do. Much to do in our year of lasts.

We will see Kerry's last day at work, our last day in Tacoma, our last day in Pt. Townsend, in Washington, in the US, in North America, in the Pacific, the Indian Ocean....

I can't wait.