Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Off to the Islands...

We left off in Port Townsend, preparing to cross the Strait of Juan de Fuca and go gallivanting around the San Juan Islands.  We attempted to cross on Sunday, the 18th, but the winds were too light, and the current was opposing and quite strong, so we couldn't make any headway to exit Admiralty Inlet.  So, we headed back to Port Townsend, and did some studying and planning.    
Study Materials. 

Unfortunately, the weather took a turn for the worse while we did our planning, so we had to amuse ourselves otherwise- crabbing..  (mostly unsuccessfully....)

Baking bread, cooking meals..  (Quite successfully!)  
We also met a new friend, Andy Freeman, who sailed with my sister on the Bainbridge High Sailing Team.  He's been following the blog, and recognized Rabannah while working on a tug boat in the Port Townsend boat yard.  He gave us a tour of the tug- and we gave him a tour of Rabannah.  Always fun to meet other sailors!  

Sunset in Mystery Bay

We were anchored in a spot that was fairly exposed to the Southeast- which wasn't a problem for a few days, but the weather called for strong SE winds one night, so we weighed anchor and headed across the bay to Marrowstone Island and Mystery Bay- much more protected.  And a nice change of scenery.  We had hoped to leave early the next morning to cross the Strait, to take advantage of the favorable tide and some wind that was forecast, but when the alarm went off at 5am, it was pouring outside.  The unanimous decision from the v-berth was that we would try again tomorrow.  

The next day, we woke early again, and headed out.  The winds were light, but the currents were strong, and we drifted our way across, all the way to Aleck Bay on Lopez Island.  We sailed 28 miles in about 11 hours- no speed records here- but we did it almost entirely under sail.  Mystery bay has a long and narrow channel, surrounded by shoals, that we motored through.  

Aleck Bay was picturesque, with steep, rocky shorelines on one side, and a sandy, curving beach along the other.  The water was crystal clear, and stayed calm during our visit.  

We rowed over to a neat little cove, sandy and nearly hidden.  Some minor trespassing (we think.  There weren't any signs...) led us to an beautiful little beach.  

This beach faces the Strait- you can see how foggy it was this morning!  We could hear the big ships honking away out there all day.  


We also found these mushrooms!  They're called Chicken Mushrooms, and our little mushroom guide says they're a "choice edible."  We cross checked our guide with the internet, and they are edible, but I don't know about "choice."  Maybe these ones had grown too large, but they weren't very tender.  They did have a chicken-like flavor though!  

There was one small dock in Aleck Bay, which had been empty when we arrived.  But the next day, a float plane pulled up to the dock!  We met the owners of the plane and the neat little cabin on shore.  Derek and Becca were kayaking around the bay one morning, and came by to see the boat.  We chatted with them for a while- Derek was once the Captain of the Atalanta, a 73 foot ketch, and also a highly competetive laser sailor, so he had lots of sailing and regional wisdom to impart.  His wife Becca was great too- showing us all around their off-the-grid property and serving us lunch.  We waved to them as we left Aleck Bay, and they took some nice photos of us under sail.

  Photo: Leaving Aleck Bay Lopez
Leaving Aleck Bay. 

It was slow, light wind sailing as we rounded the southern point of Lopez.  We just barely made it through Lopez Pass, a narrow channel, before the tide shifted at 7pm.  The weather was beautiful, though, and the views of Mt. Baker were spectacular.  We also saw several Humpback whales surfacing and raising their flukes as they dove.  We stayed that night in Hunter bay, only a few miles from Aleck, as the crow flies, but about 8 miles away by sea.  

Cody spent the next morning at Hunter Bay working on the Seagull.  It had been growing less and less reliable, less willing to start, and with the currents as strong as they are, the passes as narrow, and the winds as light as they have been, and typically are in the San Juans, we feel that having an engine is the prudent thing to do.  When sailing through a narrow cut, with a strong current, in light air- if the wind were to die, you're at the mercy of the current, and often, you cannot steer.  Not a situation we'd like to find ourselves in.  
Cody had no luck with the Seagull- he couldn't find anything wrong!  And yet, it won't run.  So, we're now in the market for a new motor.  We're thinking electric?  We'll see.  

So. we left Hunter Bay, and sailed north through Lopez Sound toward Thatcher Pass.  Once again, the winds were extremely light, but this time we missed the window to have favorable current through the pass.  There was plenty of wind in the Pass, but the current was too strong for us to overcome.  So, we turned around, and stayed a night at Spencer Spit State Park- conveniently located just to the west of Thatcher Pass.     On our way there, we passed the Adventuress under sail.  She's a 100 foot gaff-rigged schooner, and is a real treat to watch sail.  It seems that most of the sailboats we've encountered out here have their sails furled away, sail covers on, and are cruising along at 8 kts under power.  Why bother own a sailboat?  Even when we sailed across Rosario Strait yesterday, just roaring along on a close reach (a fairly comfortable point of sail,) in plenty of wind, there were sailboats under motor. 

Anyway, now we're anchored in Fairhaven, Bellingham, looking for a motor!   (Oh.  oops.) The weather is fine, and I'm looking forward to replenishing our stores, eating a few meals out, doing laundry, and all the other shore-side stuff we've got to do before we can head back out to the Islands.  

Life is pretty good out here!  

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Whisker Poles, Rainbows, and Life Afloat

We had a great and productive stay in Eagle Harbor.  The weather continued to be lovely- so lovely that we took turns diving off the bowsprit!  We didn't linger in the water, but it felt great.  
 Chilly, but refreshing!  

Super-Sunset in Eagle Harbor...  I couldn't stop taking photos.  

If  you could turn away from the sunset, there was a double, reflected rainbow arching over Seattle and the ferry in the distance.  What a night!  

We met a fellow cruiser in Eagle Harbor- our new friend Roy, aboard Mabrouka.  He is participating in a cruiser's rally called the Coho-ho-ho, which runs from Seattle to San Francisco and on to San Diego.  He graciously invited us to the final rally seminar on weather in Seattle one night.  It was cool to get to meet like-minded people, and feel encouraged that it's not so scary to sail in the big bad ocean  (as long as proper preparations are made and safety precautions are taken).  

Roy was also a Naval Architect,  and didn't gasp in horror while we showed him around our boat, so that was reassuring.    

When we weren't goofing around, we built ourselves a whisker pole.  

 A whisker pole holds the forward sail out to the side of the boat, perfect for running wing and wing.  Here it is holding out the drifter...

And the Yankee.   These photos were taken while on our way from Apple Tree Cove in Kingston to Port Ludlow.  What a fantastic day of sailing!  Perfect wind, pods of dolphin, a few container ships to keep us on our toes...  

We spent a peaceful night in Port Ludlow yesterday, and explored the neat Inner Harbor there.  

Today, we're anchored in Port Townsend, and preparing to cross the Strait of Juan de Fuca on our way to the San Juan Islands.  Exciting stuff!  

The dream lives!  

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

From The Great Salt Lake to the Puget Sound

Once again, I apologize for the delay in posting!  We've been busy, as usual, but with really exciting projects- the best way to be busy.  Let's go back.  

We hauled the boat out of the water on June 16th.  We were the only boat coming out of the Lake that day, and it went pretty quick.  The folks at Wagstaff Crane have lifted our boat every time (in Utah, anyway,) and they're always friendly and efficient.  Once she was settled on the trailer, we moved her over to a campsite where we would stay and do some work for a week, to get her ready for cruising this summer.   

We sanded and painted the bottom, since there is actual marine growth in the Puget, and nothing at all in the GSL.  We didn't even bother with traditional bottom paint when we launched in November- just a super smooth coating of epoxy, mixed with powdered copper, which is a really excellent barrier coat.   I think I probably posted about that when we did it, so I'll try not to repeat myself...   

We also installed a new depth sounder, upgraded the rudder gudgeon and pintles, (the marine word for the two parts of a hinge), sanded and varnished the mast, boom, cabinsides and toerails, and  installed a new, beefier gooseneck fitting.  It was a lot of work to fit into a short time!  We let off some steam on Friday by going out to a nice lunch, and then to the local water park with our good friends PJ and Sarah.  Nothing like a good screaming ride down a steep water slide to take a break from hard, hot, dusty labor.  

Once we finally had the trailer kitted out with lights, and ensured the brakes on the truck were fully functional, we prepared to hit the road.  We actually left on Monday evening, and just drove for an hour or so to ensure everything was in working order.  Cody drove the truck while I followed in my car.  It was an exciting and nerve-wracking ride for both of us, but everything went smoothly.  We stayed that night in a truck stop near Ogden.   
 Rabannah on the road!  Here we are just leaving the marina. 

 Rolling into Ogden for the evening. 

 Somewhere on Idaho's Highway 84, getting passed by a log truck.  
Wood is Good!  

 Getting closer!  Somewhere in Oregon....  
In Eastern Washington...  I loved seeing Rabannah's shadow on the side of the road. 

We got up at 4am the next morning and hit the road.  Rabannah regulated our speed, which was about 60mph for most of the way.  We had to stop and fill the truck with diesel almost every time we passed a station, but my car, which also runs on diesel, was making incredible mileage.  When I finally did fill up, in western Washington, we figured I had averaged 58 mpg, which made the truck's 8-9 mpg sting a little bit less.   We were just getting over Stevens Pass when we saw signs for a road closure- they were doing some blasting up ahead.  The sign said:  "Road will close at 8pm, for 1+ hours."  It was about 8:30, so we pulled off at a truck stop and waited for a bit, eating some Rainier Cherries I had picked up in Thorpe.  We wanted to get all the way to North Bend, so we didn't have far to go to make it into the city the next day.  Around 9:15, we decided to give it a go, and see if the road had opened.  We rumbled off, but the sign now said- "Road Closed until 11pm."  We were quite glad to find an exit so we could turn around!  Back to the truck stop, where we climbed up into the boat and into bed.       

We hit the road again around 4am, so we would avoid any traffic headed into the city.  Let me tell you- following your 5 ton pride and joy through the Mount Baker Tunnel, into downtown Seattle, through some small, narrow city streets and into Ballard was thrilling- in the way a thriller movie is thrilling. I was gripped. But all was well.  We had made it.    

 We had planned to launch at a boat ramp in Seattle.  Normally, large boats like ours are not launched at a ramp, because you would have to sink the truck in order to get the trailer deep enough to float the boat.  We had borrowed a cable winch to lower the trailer down the ramp, and had parked at the 14th street boat launch in Ballard, to suss out the situation there.  Luckily, a local guy on his bike let us know that the ramp drops off steeply at about 20 feet under water.  It would have been quite a feat to retrieve our borrowed trailer from the depths of Lake Union, so we thanked him and went about formulating a new plan.  

I headed out to find some breakfast, and on my way back, missed the turn.  Just a block past where we were parked was a sandwich board sign, reading "Haulouts up to 55 tons!" pointing me to the Canal Boatyard.  I drove down the street and got their number.  They still weren't open, as it was only 7am, so I headed back to Cody for some breakfast.  We called when they opened, and they could haul us out today, at a reasonable rate, "No Problems," said the nice Russian man on the phone.  So, off we went.  They used a contraption called a "Travel lift" which is specifically designed for boats, and Rabannah was off the trailer and into the water in about 15 minutes.    Cody hooked up the outboard, and motored just across the way to the Fisherman's Terminal, while I drove the car across the bridge to meet him there.  We tied up in a guest slip, where we stayed for a few days.  

Cody actually left that evening, right at 5pm.  We were pretty tired, and neither of us realized the time when he was leaving.  Seattle has some pretty gnarly traffic, it turns out, and poor Cody was in the midst of it, in a Ford F350 pulling a 20' long boat trailer.  Oh, and he was nearly out of gas.  He finally made it to a truck stop outside the city and stayed the night there.  Then onward to SLC, where he returned the trailer to the lake, and the truck to our friend.  He flew back the next day.  

Before we could really go sailing,  we had to step the mast, rig the boat, and register the boat.  I worked on registration while Cody was returning to Salt Lake.  When you register a home-built boat, you have no previous paperwork, so they ask you to bring reciepts to prove the boat's value.  We had failed to keep all our reciepts over the 2 plus years we'd spent building, but we had dedicated a credit card to the project, so I printed off our annual reports, with the totals, to vouch for the value.  When I brought this into the DOL, the guy took the total and applied Sales Tax to it- and the total was staggering.  Washington use/sales tax is 9.8%.  Of course, the total he had used to calculate what we owed in Sales tax already included Utah Sales tax- we just needed a way to prove that to the DOL before they would title and register Rabannah.  We went down several different avenues, and gathered up as many reciepts from  as many companies as we could, but in the end, we created an excel document, in which we entered every transaction from our credit card receipts, and with those totals, figured what we paid in sales tax in Utah.  It was a long and boring job, but it did the trick.  The next morning, we were Official, with a sticker and all!  

Still to do was to step the mast, which is to simply set it upright again.  The Fisherman's Terminal has some small cranes that we could use for this purpose, and while they looked a little short, we thought they would just make it.  Unfortunately, we were wrong- they were just short enough that they wouldn't work easily.  The trouble was that once the mast had gone into the hole in the cabin roof, it cammed against the bulkhead that separates the head from the main cabin.  It was stuck- we couldn't back out and go find a taller crane, so we did what we had to, and pressed on.  The mast scraped and squealed and the bulkhead crunched and snapped all the way in.  We flagged down two strangers to come help us weight the port rail, to tip the boat, to help the mast go in more easily, and eventually it did, but the bulkhead was almost completely detached along one side.  We said some bad words, and then set to work, sanding and epoxying to repair the damage.  

Finally, Rabannah was registered.   Her mast was vertical, her rig was in place, her crew had had enough sleep, and the day was here!  It was the 4th of July!  My Grandma lives on the water on Sandy Hook Road in Poulsbo. We had said, for a long time, that we would be anchored outside her house on the 4th; she hosts a big barbecue there every year.  We were still in Lake Union on the 3rd, so early on the morning of the 4th, we headed out toward the Locks, which connect the lake to the Sound.  We shared the small lock with a small powerboat, and were through!  We motored on- can't sail through the locks!- and were coming up on a railroad bridge- one that is almost always open.  It wasn't open this morning- and as we got close, we realized it might not be tall enough for us to get under.  We frantically did cookies in the water between the locks and the bridge while I called them on the radio until they opened for us.  We breathed a huge sigh of relief once we were free and clear, in the open water between Ballard and Bainbridge.  

Cody at the helm.  

We arrived at my Grandmas house around 12, and helped her get ready for the party.  It was such fun to show off the boat, and to be home for the 4th- something I haven't done since high school.  

 Bainbridge Island to starboard! 

 Beautiful, hot, sunny weather, making a course for Mt. Rainier. 

We stayed the night of the fourth on a buoy off Sandy Hook, then we headed into Poulsbo, just a few miles away, the next day.  We tied up to the public dock, and had many visitors.  It was much easier to get aboard from the dock than it was from the dinghy!  

While we were tied to the dock, we also took the opportunity to stock up!  We filled our lockers with non-perishables, so hopefully we don't have to do much shopping- other than for fresh foods, for a while. 

I kept a log of what we have and where it all went, so I have a chance at finding it again.

(I swear I'm not topless- just in a bikini top!)
  The weather has been so hot and sunny- really fantastic.  The prime season in the Northwest.  

We set sail again yesterday, from Liberty Bay to Eagle Harbor, where the boat is currently anchored.  We'll be here for a few more days, while we enjoy the weather, the company of my family, and, of course, do a bit of work on the boat....  

**ps.  For more photos of the boat and these times-  please check out my instagram feed!  We had some issues with Cody's phone and lost some photos- and I couldn't figure out how to get the instagram ones to show up here.  But, that's also a good spot to follow the boat project- they're like mini blog posts...  But don't worry!  I'll keep up the blog too- when and where we can find a good connection!