Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Growth & Gratitude

Written by: Kerry

For those of you just joining us from home...  we are about three months into a pretty hefty refit (see previous posts) on our sailing yacht, Brigadoon.  The light burns bright at the end of this particular tunnel and I believe we'll be cutting the dock lines before April 15th and heading north.

When we came up with this idea/dream/goal of quitting our jobs and sailing off into the sunset, it was Fall of 2011, after living aboard for just about a year.  It's been five and a half years of waiting, planning, saving, waiting, wondering, and dreaming... and of course, more waiting.  Through all of that time, I would alternate between trying to think as realistically as possible about the hard parts, the potentially scary or challenging parts, and then on the flip side, day dreaming about the excitement or romance of it all. The realistic side of me knows some pretty strong truths about myself at this stage of my life:

1) I've never been an outdoorsy person.  Hiking?  No thanks.  Camping?  Maybe - if it's well organized and involves a car parked next to my campsite.  

2) I'm a bit of a princess.  I like my luxuries.  That being said, I'm not afraid to learn new/simpler ways of living - but I knew that this might be a stretch for me.

3) I've never felt confident in sports or working with my hands or tools.  Sailing involves many of these skills and abilities - I know this.

So with all of this in mind, I am well aware that my choice to set sail and explore the world means I've signed up for some serious growth opportunities.  My inner warrior (princess) says "hell yeah!" to this.  But sometimes, when faced with these moments of growth, the wall in front of me seems terrifying and huge.  My hope is that each time I encounter and work through one of these moments, they'll get a little easier.  I have faith.

Five of the port frames needing to be cleaned after putting them together wrong the first time.

Getting it right the second time.

So yeah, the last three months, there have been tears.  The day we realized that we had made some bad decisions around finishing our port window replacements and I had to literally take all nine of them apart and clean them again and start over - that was a tough day.  But then I dug in and did it and now they are done and installed (correctly even) and I feel pride every time I look at them.  There has been sulking, and even some anger and frustration.  But I've learned to do all KINDS of things I had no idea how to do before.  I've cleaned water tanks.  I've learned how to build new stays for our rig.  I've helped install mast steps.  I'm learning how to sew again as I work on designing and building our new ceiling panels.  I've even cooked a few times!  AND - I've learned how to be a better partner to Donn as we've worked together on various projects - I know names of tools and even how to use some of them!  My confidence level is gaining and that feels really good.

A glimpse of the ceiling panel process (thank you Trevor and Trish for all your great ideas!  I'm using a lot of them!)

The gratitude part?  Well, I am mostly grateful to my family for giving us a home, cooking amazing family dinners pretty much every night, providing a car to borrow, and offering a shoulder or hug whenever needed.  I'm grateful to Port Townsend Shipwrights Co-op for being incredible in their dedication to our success on this refit.  We couldn't be working with better people.  I'm so grateful to friends - those that have come out to Port Townsend to visit, or who have made time to see us when we come through Seattle or Tacoma on errands, new friends who have given us moral support through times of doubt and struggle, and a good friend who bought our car! And most of all, I'm so insanely grateful to my partner in this adventure, Donn, for listening to my fears, encouraging me every step of the way, pushing me when I need it, and loving me so thoroughly.  I'm one lucky, grateful woman right now.

The realistic side of me knows that I've only scratched the surface of all those "growth opportunities" waiting for me on this journey, but the dreamer and optimist within is happy to have come this far and can't wait to set sail in a few short weeks!

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.”