Monday, September 29, 2014

That Time, Once Again

In some parts of North America, yachts get hauled out of the water for the winter... because the water freezes.  And in other places the temperature is just now coming down enough to make being on the water a pleasant experience.  The Pacific Northwest is in between those two extremes.

But we were surprised in Anacortes this spring when we saw large amounts of seaside land devoted to hauled out, shrink-wrapped boats.  And these were not small boats - the large majority were over 40 feet.  The water does not freeze here...  and it is not significantly colder in Anacortes than Seattle (where the practice does not exist).  Further, prepping a boat for a winter haulout is a much larger job than keeping it from freezing at the dock in 50° water.  It is a mystery.

As in all past years, we will not do a winter haulout.  But getting ready for winter storms does take a little preparation.  First, we hang another four fenders on the boat, to better cushion it against the dock when the big winds blow.  Next, we double all the dock lines.  This is a precaution - the extra lines are secondaries, there in case one of the primaries chafes thru when we are asleep or away.

And this year we have a special treat that we have never had before.  Like in Seattle, in Anacortes the winter storms come from the south.  When we came to Anacortes, we had the good fortune to be able to choose a south-facing slip, which means that for the first time, Eolian will be facing into the storm winds.  We could have had this in Seattle by backing into our slip for the winter (which we did, a few times), but the bigger problem in storm winds is that it is not really possible to keep the boat from surging back against the dock when you only have tie points on one side of the boat.

Because we will face into the wind in Anacortes, we get to use another cleat to tie off the bow.  (Tho our slips in Seattle were also equipped with this cleat, it was useless to us because it was downwind of the boat in every case.)  With this second cleat, the boat will essentially "hang" downwind from the two bow cleats, rather than swinging back against the dock.


Monday, September 15, 2014

Two Projects at Anchor

We have found that many projects can be completed at anchor, rather than tied to the dock.  As long as you have the necessary tools, fasteners, paint, varnish, etc. aboard, there is no reason at all to not do the work in a more congenial atmosphere than the marina.  

So, while we were at anchor in Blind Bay on Shaw Island, we completed these two projects:

Project 1:  Replace the zippers in the aft section of the cockpit canvas

There are four zippers here, and four sections of canvas that needed to be taken below.  I used a seam-ripper to remove the old zippers, but removing the old thread was a much bigger chore.  Because the thread on the exterior was rotted to the point where it had no strength at all, almost every single loop had to be laboriously picked out by hand.  But our monster sewing machine (a Sailrite LSZ-1) had no difficulty sewing thru 4-6 layers of sunbrella and the vinyl window material.  Given what canvas work costs these days, this machine has paid for itself twice over already.  And thank heavens for a large battery bank and a good inverter!

Project 2: Replace a leaking 36 year old fixed port

The new port

The new port gives great ventilation
while at anchor!
This port was installed by the factory 36 years ago.  It was ugly, but I didn't want to mess with a sleeping dog...  as long as it didn't leak.  But when the leaking started, time to kick that dog off the boat - I ordered a new one.  The replacement is an opening port, which provides us some delightful cross ventilation when at anchor, but it is somewhat larger than the old fixed port.  That meant that I had to use a saber saw to enlarge the opening (there's that inverter again...).  Because of the tight clearances, it was not possible to leave the guide/table on the saw when cutting, so I had to hand-hold it...  a recipe for breaking blades, and yes I broke a bunch, but I got the hole enlarged.  Then I coated the exposed foam core of the deck with polysulphide to prevent wicking of moisture, should any get by the seal with the deckhouse.  Finally, I installed the window with a dozen #10 stainless pan head screws.

Bonus:  The window is exquisitely clear, giving more light below!

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Nothing stays the same

Me, in the office in 1997
I can't describe it in any other way.

For sixteen and a half years, we had Eolian moored in Seattle.  Because I worked in Seattle, she was our Seattle home (as it said until only recently over there on the right).

Because I worked in Seattle, my work clothes were in the hanging locker on Eolian.  Because we attended church in Seattle, my fancy clothes were in that same hanging locker.  My good shoes, my rain shoes for the winter, my Tevas, my deck shoes were all aboard Eolian.

Yes, we had a log cabin up on Camano Island...  that we visited on weekends, sometimes.  My automotive tools were there, and there was a lot of lawn to mow.  But for all intents and purposes, the cabin was for us a fancy, expensive laundromat, 68 miles away from the marina.

And then I retired.

And then a slip opened up in Anacortes at the Cap Sante marina.

And we moved Eolian from Seattle to Anacortes.

That's a lot of changes.

The net result is kind of paradigm shattering for me...  we no longer class ourselves as liveaboards.  My good clothes are slowly migrating to the cabin.  And pretty soon the only shoes I'll have aboard are my deck shoes.  We leave the boat for a couple of weeks at a time.  And although we have never had a year when we were off the dock as many days as in 2014, there is... a strangeness.  Eolian no longer seems as much like home base.

As I sit here anchored in Blind Bay and typing this, the view from the office looking aft is the same as it was in 1997 when I started chronicling the changes we were making to Eolian.  But now, aside from those improvements, it is different, somehow.

Nothing stays the same forever - there is always change.

OK, I need to put something to rest.  After reading this Jane said, and the comments to this post indicate, that I managed to convey that I am feeling sadness.


But I am feeling a twinge of nostalgia - fall is a good time for that.  This last year on the boat has been the best one we've had.  I believe that we've done more actual sailing this year than in any of the past 16 years.  And we've been on the boat, away from the dock, 51 days this year so far...  not just short over-nighters to Port Madison, but living at anchor for weeks at a time (he said, typing while at anchor in Blind Bay).
While in the past we provisioned the boat and then set off, we now are staying away from the dock long enough to need to find provisioning while out here.  We are living out here in the San Juan Islands for weeks at a time, not just visiting.     

(Note that none of the above is meant to take away from our month-long trip to Desolation Sound, where we provisioned for and stayed off the dock for the whole month - that was a special circumstance, proving to ourselves, I guess, that both we and the boat had capacities for long-distance cruising.) 

So it is all good!


Monday, September 1, 2014

Ant Mode

August in the Pacific Northwest is a good time for boating... power boating that is.   Temperatures are warm and there is little wind.  It's a good time for a sailor to take advantage of the weather to get annual maintenance tasks done.  While we have been grasshoppers since spring, Now we must become ants.

I set myself four tasks to complete this fall, before the winter rains begin in earnest.  These are:
  1. Sand and varnish the caprails, eyebrow teak and the handrails.
    This task morphed into something much bigger - while Jane tackled the eyebrow and handrails, I ended up removing the 16-year accumulation of varnish from the starboard caprail, taking it all the way back to bare wood.   Then I dug out all the caulk between the caprail and the bulwark and reapplied new polysulphide.  Currently, the starboard caprail needs one more coat of varnish; the port side is complete.  We plan to re-mask and apply the final starboard coat while at anchor in Blind Bay. Since we have a wedding to attend next weekend, this probably won't happen until the week of Sept 8.
  2. Erect fencing around the young trees on our property.
    This is necessary because the young bucks destroy small trees as a territorial signal to each other.  I laboriously drove fence posts into the rock-hard soil and stretched chicken wire around 8 trees.  Task complete.
  3. Paint the front of our log cabin.
    This is the side facing southwest - the sun does its worst here.  Requiring about a hundred thousand trips up and down a 30' extension ladder, all I have left to do on this is some window trim - about another day's work.
  4. Repair Eolian's cockpit canvas.
    Several zippers need to be replaced due to the sun destroying the plastic teeth.  I had also planned to re-make two of the top Bimini pieces; I have the Sunbrella on hand...  we'll see if I have enough time before the rains start.
Anyway, we've certainly made good use of the August sailing lull.  But I confess that this blog has suffered some as a result. 

And so has my body.

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