This past weekend we took a trip to Stuart Island in the San Juan Islands. This is our second time to the island as we stopped over two years back as part of a hop around with the yacht club. We decided to try Prevost Harbor since previously we had stayed at Reid. We were watching the weather window, both for Port Angeles and the crossing at the strait as well as the weather up in the islands. It looked like we might get a small weather window, especially if we managed to get through the strait on Friday so I took an extra day off work and we left on Friday with the tide, fully expecting to deal with high winds and gusts - there was a small craft advisory in effect.
We put one reef in the main and only unfurled a small jib. We had 18-20 knots or so in PA Harbor and under one reef in the main it was pretty comfortable, rounding the entrance buoy and heading across the strait it remained pretty comfortable for about another half hour and then as we got about ¼ of the way across we were really riding the rail and the weather helm was making the boat hard to handle with water coming across the bow and at times into the cockpit with the swell. We decided to add another reef in the main and that made a significant difference. The wind was a consistent 25 with gusts and with the swell it was pretty exhilarating! As we exited the strait of San Juan de Fuca and entered into Haro Strait the seas flattened but the wind held. We maintained the same tack riding right along the edge of the shipping lane and then cracking off to go right by the Q tower marking the reef in the strait and held course all the way up and past the lighthouse at Turn Point. A quick gybe and the wind shut down at the north end of the island so we turned the engine on and , dropped sails and headed into Prevost Harbor, a first for us.
On the way over we determined that our depth sounder that had been hit and miss for a while was a total fail so we took a cautious slow approach into the new anchorage. Just in front of us was a small 30 ft sailboat and we followed behind them for a bit before they headed off to a small anchorage on the Port side entrance of the channel and we headed further down the main channel. We took it slow and scoped it out and I was very very grateful we did. Turns out the other boat took a left turn too soon and hit the rock outcropping. Keith saw them come to a halt and then they threw it in reverse and got out of there pretty quickly. We on the other hand happened to find a free mooring and decided to grab it. Especially after watching the other sailboat hit bottom and knowing that we drafted twice what they did.
So mooring is always interesting. Depending on the type of mooring, some you can pull the loop through the middle and up to your deck to loop your line through. Others are more stationary and you need to get your line down to the hook. On Steadfast, these were very annoying and I would find myself hanging off the dolphin striker on the bow to reach it. The ones in Prevost were stationary. Generally it’s not an issue as we always seem to have an extra body and a kayak or dinghy so we tend to throw someone overboard and have them sit right next to the mooring while we hand down the line. It should be simple. It would be simple if the person in the kayak was an adult and the person on the bow was an adult but communication between teens and adults (at least in our household) is lacking. Maybe it’s hormones. You say go left and they go right. Simple directions like “loop that through twice” are met with half a job and an argument. Needless to say, we prevailed and settled in for the night.
A fascinating lesson learned this time out, the person who cooks and prepares meals (and that is me!) should be the person who shops and stocks the boat. Right now I’m putting in very long work days and that leaves very little time to do much of anything let alone prep for a trip so what I tried this time, given the fact we had a weather window to make, was put together my meal prep and shopping list….but I didn’t finish it and it was only listing out items to purchase not items that needed to get pulled from home. So Keith went shopping and grabbed everything I asked for then took it all down to the boat and got her loaded on Thursday afternoon. I didn’t get down to the boat until Friday morning and started to organize what we had and became a little worried, noticing a few gaps of items I would normally pack. When I tried to actually make something after we had settled in on the mooring it became evident that we had serious gaps. For example, I had planned sandwiches on our arrival. We had yummy focaccia bread, cheese, sprouts, tomatoes but no condiments. Those were still home in the fridge. Also, that was the only bread we had packed where generally I would always pack a full loaf of wheat bread and also tortillas which I can make cheese sandwiches or burritos out of. Belly filling fuel food for growing teen boys which goes with the beans and soup I always keep stocked on the boat. So lesson learned, if I cannot do the provisioning end to end on my own then I need to make my shopping list and I have to make an additional packing list to ensure we get everything we need.
Tucked in as far as we were it was very well protected, I slept soundly, from sunset to morning’s first light. The next morning we kicked the teens off the boat to kayak and use the SUP around the anchorage. They got a dozen yards from the boat then sat there for an hour yapping. I didn’t argue, it meant I could sip my coffee in quiet bliss watching boats come and go through the anchorage. Keith and I waved the kids back and then took off just the two of us to check out the reef that the other sailboat hit, which was fully exposed, several feet above the water line at low tide. I again was very glad that we were ultra cautious and went for the main channel. In the distance we also saw S/V Sonata from our home dock in PA and we paddled over to chat with them for a bit. They have a great deal of experience in the area and it is always fun chatting with them. Keith and I headed back to our boat for a quick lunch and then a hike out to the lighthouse.
We were not sure how far the hike was out to the point. We heard some conflicting reports about exactly how long but knew it was several hours and we wanted to give ourselves plenty of time. Getting to shore was fun as we had left the dinghy at home and just brought the kayak and the SUP so we doubled up on these and headed to shore where we put them on the high ground and locked them together with our lifejackets and paddles and headed off into the woods. We motivated the boys with enticements of swinging on the swing near the school which Loren had enjoyed the last time we were on the island. Unfortunately, as we approached there was a large family enjoying the swing and we didn’t want to share any COVID germs so we kept on trekking and advised the boys we would check on the way back. After several miles of meandering down “county road” we made it to the lighthouse and enjoyed the beautiful view. As expected everything was shut up tight but they provided a pamphlet and walking tour to describe the buildings and their use. We hung out for a bit on the lawn and enjoyed a snack and water (and rested our weary legs) before heading back down the road towards ‘home’. The boys took off and left us in the dust, to the point where we were a little nervous that we didn’t see them even in the distance but I trusted their motivations...the swing...and indeed found them there. Elliot was sitting on the side of the road trying to recover his stomach as he had spun himself silly. We collected the boys, finished the trek, including the 127 steps back up towards the campground...and yes, we counted them! We gathered the boats and paddled back to Resa for a quick meal, a short game of cards and bed as we knew we had an early start the next morning to catch the tide.
Sunday we were up at dawn and off the mooring around 6am eager to catch the favorable tide home. It was very cool and there was a slight breeze so we hoisted the main, namely for stability, turned on the autohelm and motored on back through Haro Strait. The boys stayed below in the warmth and played cards, while Keith and traded watches ensuring we stayed clear of shipping traffic which was out and about so early. We set our course to cut around Discovery Island and back home towards Port Angeles ahead of the weather change coming in the next day. We had gone a few miles past the island when in the distance we saw a boat heading towards us, and as it got closer we saw lights on it. The Canadian border patrol stopped us for a chat about the fact that the Canada border was closed. We knew this, but it had totally slipped our mind when we set our course to head home and crossed from US to Canadian waters. They were very kind and admitted that normally they don’t worry about boats “cutting the corner” but with restrictions in place they were being very tight. We provided our details and they called them in and then sent us on our way. A few hours later we pulled into Port Angeles Harbor where the local US Customs & Border Protection boat paced us from the entrance to the harbor to the marina entrance ensuring we tucked in where we were supposed to no doubt. A fun story to share with our dock neighbors about our quick trip to the island.
After a snow filled winter I am very excited to see green grass, blossoms on the cherry trees and sun shining down on me....and Resa. We have been working on a number of projects over the winter, including fixing the stern rail, adding an antennae for the radar, and replacing the lifelines. Not to mention the constant project of replacing deck plugs and filling the rabbet joints with new teak filler.
The stern rail has been an issue since we purchased Resa. It rubbed against the backstay so much that when we purchased her, there was a hole worn in the metal of the hydraulic backstay. (Above: A shot of Resa from the stern.) We knew it needed to be modified so it didn't wear into the new backstay adjuster but more critical was the fact that with this configuration we are unable to use the emergency tiller as it would against the stanchion post and you cannot possibly steer. We figured, no big deal, we pull it off the boat and have it modified.
And that is where the challenge began, the rail was completely fused to the stanchion base and no amount of coercion was going to get it to release. So ultimately we had to drill out the stainless steel screws to get the base and the rail off as one unit. This we did and got it off to the shop (Port Angeles Machine Works is amazing!!) to modify based on our specs. Within a week or so we had the modified rail back and were able to get it mounted back onto Resa.
The updated stern rail seen here, with the Olympics as a backdrop, works perfect now and no more concerns of rubbing.
Other projects included cleaning and remarking the anchor in preparation for this years adventures.
The constant challenge of working on the teak. The issue with Resa is that the deck is work down in some areas so much so that there isn't much of the rabbet joint left so I found a nifty tool to create a deeper track for the teak sealant. Super excited to find this solution...but it will be a long arduous process of fixing the areas most needed. Everytime I turn around a new bung has popped out, worn through or or a new seal pulled up. Sigh.
The good news is, tomorrow we head out for a week long break with fellow yacht club members. All the work pays off to get away from the slip!
I’ve been a successful Project Manager (PM) for going on two decades now and during some of that time I worked remotely from my sailboat while continuing to lead large virtual global teams to successful launches. I get asked by team members to participate on my teams again in the future, which is probably the ultimate compliment. I’ve been asked to mentor other PM’s and run discussion forums. Recently I was asked to run a boot camp on how I run projects that succeed in spite of the many challenges we tend to encounter, and this got me to thinking about why I’m successful. I feel like my sailing and boating experience directly correlates to my success.
When living aboard and traveling, whether it is a long passage or a short one, it requires forethought. We plan the route we are taking, we plan the weather window, we provision the boat with the correct food items needed based on weather and destination. Once we set the plan, we then monitor it closely to ensure we can stick to it. Is the weather window closing or are the tides/currents going to conflict? All of this is very similar to what we do the in the PM world where we spend time discovering what we are going to do and put an initial plan in place knowing that no plan every stays stagnate, constantly needing to review and adjust based on factors that come up.
Issues always come up, no matter how well we plan, something generally goes wrong and you just hope it’s a minor issue versus a major item. The key is to plan for the unexpected and not to let the challenges consume you. Looking at the risks for a project helps you plan for how to address them if they arise. On a boat, the same is true. For engine related items, we carry spare parts like oil filters, fuel filters, and belts and now we even carry a spare prop! (Read my blog post on our recent adventure where our prop came off our boat!) Nearly everything has a solution and it’s just a matter of wrapping your head around what needs to get done and how. Negative talk really doesn’t help us get to the finish line faster, it tends to suck the energy out of the room and leads to negative consequences. Instead I like to focus on what’s attainable in my boat projects and in my work projects. Planning and perseverance is crucial.
To the inexperienced it may seem that once the sails are up, we are good to go. That’s not true and in order to maximize speed our sails require constant trimming, tuning and tweaking. Whether it’s pulling the main and jib in to take advantage of a wind puff or letting them out to adjust for wind direction changes, constant monitoring is pretty critical to efficient sailing. This is not unlike any project where a PM needs to regularly monitor the plan and tune it based on the activities and tasks that are occurring. I can’t tell you how many times we are in the thick of the work and a technical lead will mention a task that wasn’t included in the plan. Rather than freak out or worse, belittle he team member, we add it and adjust for the item...tuning the plan to support the additional new task item.
Lastly, one of the areas that tends to get forgotten is to breath, relax, enjoy the ride and have FUN. Most projects I support these days are a year or two in duration. There is always a fun way to get work done versus a grumpy way. Humor helps alleviate the stress that is ever present and helping your team find the humor, even in the crappiest of situations, can help them move forward and through the challenges. A humorous analogy, a story of overcoming obstacles during other projects or even a funny cartoon can help break the chain of stress. Additionally, taking time to step away for a bit can go a long ways towards a fresh look at the overall project and the team members. Everyone needs a little time away and it’s important to find it, even if it’s a few hours. Personally, a few hours sailing is the best rejuvenation. As we head away from shore and cell phone connectivity I can physically feel my shoulders start to settle and my body start to relax. The sun, the wind, the rhythm of the boat helps eliminate the stress that has built up.
Sailing for me is a lifelong love, just like project management is. I love leading teams to be an amazing, cohesive, working units that can complete a project against, what seems at times to be, insurmountable odds. Planning, mitigating, adjusting and perseverance mixed with a fun attitude carries me through both.
The past few weeks have been a test, in fact, I think Resa is ensuring we are really committed to her in some bizarre fashion. People laugh when I say that boats have personalities but we've had enough of them in my life to believe it is true. Our first boat and I did not see eye to eye and I was very glad to see the stern of her when we sold it. Our second boat was love at first sight until the day we sold her, interestingly enough the very first day with the new owners she lost her impeller. We had not had a lick of issue with her over the several years of ownership. Our last boat didn't seem to care for Keith that much and we ended up sinking a ridiculous amount of money into things like transmissions but overall we toughed it out together and came to an agreement. Now Resa is going through that same cycle of testing. The most recent adventure was losing the prop.
Yes, you heard me right. We went to go sailing the other day, had a full crew onboard, untied the dock lines, put Resa in gear and went nowhere. At first I thought someone had left a dock line tied, then there was a brief panic thinking we had a transmission issue, finally Keith put his cell phone underwater and spotted that the prop was totally gone! Which is bad, but not as bad (i.e. costly!) as it could be and if it was going to happen, what better place then in the slip?!? Just the day previous I had spent a few hours changing the oil and had run the engine to warm it up, it must have come off at that point because we we went sailing the day before without issue.
We actually had a backup prop and cone so we started to plan on getting the boat over to the yard to haul her out and thought we'd check around the boat to see if we could possible see the prop. On low tide we went down to the dock and looked around behind the boat and were a little discouraged to not see it...though not totally surprised. Then as we walked back to the boat and glanced under it...there it was...sitting bright as day right under the boat and we could also see the cone that was suppose to hold it on not a foot away from it! We tried retrieving with hooks and made a few calls to divers who were not available immediately before our neighbor popped out and offered his services....for the nominal price of a six pack of beer. So we were able to recover our hardware and still have a backup prop and cone which we will keep with us on the boat now at all times. I popped over to the yard and chatted with them about a good time to haul Resa late in the day so we could keep her in the sling overnight to put the prop back on, this time with Red Locktite which is what Volvo and the FB Sweden Yachts group both recommended. This is the permanent Locktite and seems counter-intuitive because we have to take the prop off the boat to replace the zinc and the red Locktite is going to make that extremely difficult! Regardless, we had a plan and we were able to get it to the yard with help from yacht club friends and a very talented husband towing with the little Boston Whaler. We hauled her and got the prop back on....and that's where it should have had a happy ending.
In the morning we received a call from the yard saying they need to drop Resa back in early so at 8:30 we were there dropping her back into the water and as she splashes, still in the slings we start the engine up ready to back her down and back into the slip when one of the yard guys says "I don't see any water coming out". I quickly go below and double check that I did in fact open the thru hull...which I had....so we turned the engine off and began to see if there was another easy answer. (insert hysterical laugh). After some 10 minutes of dorking around and not identifying a quick solution, the yard guys decided to push Resa over to a side tie so they can keep hauling and dropping boats while we started to dig into what was going on with our Volvo.
Keith and I started at the intake, checking hoses and everything looked fine, checked the vented loop and the new valve we'd installed, we checked the impeller and it looked and turned over with the engine running, the water was going into the heat exchanger fine so we looked to the last step where water goes through the exhaust elbow and out the back of the boat. Low and behold it was totally blocked where the water is suppose to go through. There was also some carbon build up but not a total blockage. So we at least had an idea of the root cause of the issue. and we know we need to replace it but since we live pretty far removed from a supply of these and we had a trip scheduled to Sequim to buddy boat with the Sea Scouts that night, we opted to clean the part as best we could and see how it goes. At worst we would at least be able to get the boat back to the slip hopefully and at best it would be fine for awhile until we could get a new elbow shipped to us. Turns out, the cleaning of it helped significantly and water was flushing through at a decent volume so not only were we able to get Resa back in her slip a bit before Noon but I also had time enough to provision and gear up for a fun trip to Sequim for the weekend.
When we purchased Resa we knew that the rudder bearings would need maintenance or replacement. It was an known issue that had shown up in the survey and was highlighted to us by the broker. We knew before we purchased and hence we negotiated on the price based on the time, cost, labor that we expected to need to deal with it. Turns out it was a bit more then we anticipated in all three factors.
We hauled Resa into the Port Angeles Boat Haven yard on July 17th and I actually asked the yard guy to just keep it in the sling so that we could drop the rudder. After about 30 minutes we quickly realized that we were in a bit over our heads and we had him set it up on the stands for the long haul.
Keith started immediately with trying to loosen and remove the rudder bearings but even with the screws loose the shaft would not drop. And so began the saga of trying to figure out how the rudder was even built and supported. Unfortunately for me I did not find the Sweden Yachts Facebook group until the very end of this adventure or else I would have had a modicum of information by which to navigate. Instead we were left to investigate on our own, trial and error and talking to oodles of people.
The first part of the adventure was just getting the bearings off, just removing the set screws didn't work so we knew there was some corrosion that was holding it up. Keith hammered on it for several days without breaking the seal. People suggested heat - so he spent a long time heating then hammering without movement. Finally we called in our friend Jared and asked for his input. He suggested higher and longer amounts of heat but he said it might come down to cutting them off. He works at a professional yard and had seen this happen many times in the past. We decided to give Keith another week to try other approaches and then if we didn't make progress we'd go the messy route, cutting off the old bearings.
Keith didn't even give it a full week - quickly noting that no matter what he did it wasn't working so he began cutting at the lower bearing unit mid week. Jared met him on Saturday and between the two of them they completely cut off both bearings and with the boot removed we were able to drop the rudder to the ground.
I spent weeks looking for a replacement bearing. I was able to find a duplicate, made with cast iron, but I figured if we were going through all this time and money I wanted to do this right so I began to hunt for a full stainless bearing. Luckily the guys at Applied Industrial Technologies in Everett (near Seattle) were super helpful and went on a hunt on my behalf. They found exactly what I was looking for but they would not ship to my house due to the cost and so I spent a day driving back and forth to Seattle to pick them up. They were super shiny!!!
When it came time to put the rudder all back together we needed additional help to lift the rudder, support it, spot it, align it, set the bearings, nuts on the shoes etc etc. Luckily we had plenty of volunteers and with a dynamic team of boat lovers we managed to get the rudder in place and back on the boat. That left Keith, Jared and I doing the final tunings and that's when we figured out that even with the new bearings there was still a minor vibration in the rudder that we determined was due to irregularities in the bronze shoe where it wrapped around the rudder. Most likely just due to years of wear. Our option was to take it all apart (yah not!) or live with it and maybe in the future take it apart and have the shoe rebuilt by a shop. For now we put some Teflon tape in between and it's smooth and solid. We splashed Resa back in the water on August 17th, exactly one month on the hard.
A long boring tale of rudder woes - days that are now behind us but I'm noting here for sometime in my future when I forget what a royal pain the buttocks this project really was. On the bright side, I had plenty of time to do a full bottom job on the boat. We replaced two thru hulls that were no longer working, cleaned up the speed transducer and fixed the blisters on the rudder that were also noted on the survey. All told, a pretty successful month!
Next stop on our first adventure to the San Juan Islands was Reid Harbor. When looking at how to exit Roche and head towards Stuart Island just north of us where Reid Harbor was located, we noted there were two exit points from Roche. In looking at the charts, and chatting with others, we were advised that really the route was to take the West side of Pearl Island as it was wider and deeper. So after pumping out at the dock, topping off our water tanks, and grabbing a six pack of beer from the store we took off to our next destination.
We headed through the narrow passage past the island and then I paused while Keith went down below to double check the charts and I scoped out the area looking for navigational markers. When we looked at the chart we knew there were several dangerous areas to cross in a sailboat, with a draft of nearly 7 and a half feet, places where a small powerboat might be able to cross, so just following what others were doing would quickly get us in trouble. In addition, we were hand navigating because our tablet required internet (that wasn’t available) and we haven’t upgraded our onboard navigation yet. So we pulled out the binoculars and started searching for the buoys – one green over red and one all green. Once we spotted these we were able to determine we had plenty of room to play around and we unfurled the sails for some light air sailing.
Looking around we saw friends aboard the powerboat Rebecca Rose off in the distance and headed off that direction but as we were making no more than 3 knots and they were chugging along at 5 or so, they left us in the dust fairly quickly. After a bit we tacked over and started to watch for the entrance to the harbor and the small islands on the right side of the entrance. We had Loren on the bow with binoculars looking around, partially to keep him entertained but also to spot for logs in the water. We kept seeing very large ones (half the length of a telephone pole) floating around and didn’t want to encounter one directly. As we passed by the entrance to scope it out, we were excited to see fellow member Steve coming out of John’s Pass. He had headed out earlier then everyone from Roche to enjoy some sailing and it was a fun to be syncing up with him once more as we headed into the harbor entrance. Once within we could see that there was one primary float off to the side and several mooring balls that were available. The majority of the other club members were on the free float but there were a few folks who had grabbed mooring balls as well. Keith and I opted to do that since the dock was full.
Putting Resa on a mooring is 1000 times easier than the Spindrift was with a lower freeboard and more ability to back straight with a fin keel vs a full keel, plus no dolphin striker to get in the way…it was seriously easy and helped me appreciate the boat even more. Once on the mooring we quickly threw the kayak overboard and Loren was off again exploring the area, the beach and visiting with the other members from the club. Keith and I meanwhile made some lunch and were soon joined by Steve who offered a ride over to shore to pay our overnight fee. I went off to shore to do that while Keith straightened up the boat. Once the necessities were done we headed back and hung out in the cockpit in the warm sun and enjoyed a beer chatting and sharing stories. We had decided to go for a hike on the island, with Steve and fellow member Bill, to check out the islands schoolhouse which we were advised was really interesting. So around 4 when the heat of the day had died down a bit we headed back to shore, picking up Bill and collecting Loren from the float and set off into the woods for a short mile or so trek up the island.
The walk was pretty straight forward, navigating the trail and steps over to a county road on the island that went straight to the schoolhouse. Loren was absolutely fascinated with all the old cars parked near the beach at the end of the road, likely used by locals to get supplies from boats to homes as there are no services on the island at all. When nearly to the school, we found a swing that Loren enjoyed and refused to leave, so we continued our trek to the school house while he remained to swing. Once we arrived at the schoolhouse we found that the school is now actually shuttered, there are no more school age children on the island. We did enjoy perusing the library, which was open for anyone to check out books and also the one room schoolhouse that was setup with a bunch of historical displays of the island, the families that grew up there, the teachers in the past who had taught there, etc. It was a fascinating display and reminded us how rugged and challenging it would have been to be an early explorer of the area and even more so a female during that time. Most women had families of 5 or 6 children, and spent all their time providing for their families from dawn to dusk. We purchased a history of Stuart Island book from the library, affording us more opportunity to read about the island when time allowed and then we headed back to the boat. After the lengthy trek we all decided that calling it an early night was the best course of action so we said goodnight to Bill at and our taxi driver Steve and I whipped up some food for dinner before crawling into bed with my new book to read.
In the middle of the night, the wind came up and we had to pop on deck to tie down a few flapping lines, and halyards but otherwise it was a quiet night. In the morning, with a free spot on the float we dropped our mooring line and headed over to say goodbye to the crew from the club. They were going to continue on to Deer Harbor and then Friday Harbor before they headed back to PA while we were heading home to get Loren back to school and me back to work after a short hiatus. Plus, we’d left Mason in charge of Elliot back at the home front and we knew there was a limit to how long they would hold out.
After saying our goodbyes – we headed out about 10AM in the morning knowing we were going up against a small tide but still making good time, averaging between 5-6knots while we headed back towards Discovery Island. With little wind we were relegated to motoring along until we passed the island and cleared the primary shipping lane. The wind came up just enough where Keith and I determined a little light air sailing (and a reprieve from the noise of the engine) would be enjoyable. So we sailed along at bout 3-4knots and I read aloud from the books we had purchased on our trip, one about Stuart Island and one about the San Juan Islands. I read through the history of Roche Harbor and we enjoyed the sun, the light air and the escape from reality. Soon the wind, as Keith had anticipated, turned off completely and we furled the jib and motored the remaining way home pulling into our slip at 5PM. Wrapping up a fun three days and our first excursion on Resa.
Our PAYC Commodore Chris knew our departure and grabbed some fun footage of us taking off on our maiden voyage aboard Resa. And yes, that stupid white bumper drives me crazy in this footage, it's the only white one and I didn't see it even though I knew it was there. Grrrr. :). On the fun side, the folks on the big yacht on the fuel dock were trying to figure out why there was a drone buzzing around us during our departure, looking at us then the drone and back. Probably wondering if we were somebody worthy of following. Little did they know we just had an awesome Commodore who cared enough to come down at the crack of dawn to capture the footage.
This past week we took off on our first adventure on Resa. It's a culmination of a plan we've been working on for the last few years. First part was to move away from land locked Colorado so that our sailing options opened up, next we needed to sell the Spindrift 43 as she didn’t meet the needs of our family anymore, last we needed to buy a boat up here and start sailing this area that so many have touted as the best cruising grounds. We finally made it and I don’t know what positive karma we scored but somehow we ended up traveling during the most beautiful weather days we've had in six months. The weather was equal to what we see during the late summer. As we headed away from shore and looked back on the snowy peaks of the Olympics it reminded me how fortunate we were with our weather window.
We motored across about half way to Victoria and then the breeze filled in so Keith and I unfurled the sails and turned off the engine for our first offshore sail in the boat. The wind was blowing about 10-12 knots and the water was flat with little chop, Resa flew towards Victoria at a modest 7 knots. I was comfortable sitting on the rail and driving as she sliced through the waves effortlessly. The wind built to 18-20 and she continued to charge on without any more effort and continued to handle the challenge beautifully. Keith meanwhile was running around the deck, adjusting the stays, adjusting the running backstays, adjusting the hydraulic backstays….so many opportunities to tweak and tune…but me I was in sailing bliss. We were getting headed away from our lay line but we didn’t really care because the wind and the weather was just too pleasant to pass up.
Soon we got close enough to shore to see the skyscrapers of Victoria and determined we needed to tack over towards Discovery Island. The tack was smooth and we continued on until we reach Discovery Pass where we turned on the engine and tootled our way through the channel that spit us out into Haro Straight and the shipping lane that we needed to carefully cross to get to San Juan Island. We easily tucked in behind one tanker and then noticed another off to Starboard just coming around Discovery Island. Noticing it was bearing down on us at nearly 3 times our speed we opted for a direct line across the straight to get out of their path and then trudged our way up the West side of the island to Mosquito pass which was a fun little straight made up of day markers and channel markers. I understand that at times, if the tide is running against you it can be quite impossible to get through the channel. This time, we had a ½ knot current on our nose, not much to worry about. About halfway through Keith managed to drop his shoe in the water and amazingly they floated so we took the opportunity to go through a man overboard drill – with Loren spotting, me driving and Keith retrieving.
Soon we rounded the final bend and looked upon Roche Harbor where friends from the Port Angeles Yacht Club were standing by with a slip and many hands to help tie Resa off to her very first destination. Loren quickly got the kayak off the boat and was off exploring the marina and the nearby beach creating many shaved sticks which he planned to catch fish with. We took off to register and explore the area guided by Randy who showed us what a quiet Roche looked like and tried to help us envision the Disneyland type mayhem that summertime brings. Our evening wrapped up with a lovely gathering of friends from the yacht club for happy hour and a home cooked meal from Kurt and Donna….yum!
The next day we walked over to the sculpture park which incorporated 19 acres of outdoor sculptures set in amongst grassy expanses, wooded pathways and a pond. It was peaceful and we enjoyed the meandering, the poetry and the amazing artwork. Loren spent a good deal of time in the kids area with Steve (his surrogate Grandpa for the trip) shaping his own artwork. On our way back through town we stopped off at the store and grabbed a few items we’d forgotten (like sunblock) before heading back to the boat to start packing for our next destination, Reid Harbor.
As many realize by now, we have purchased our next adventure. Her name is Resa and she is a Sweden 41, boy are we excited about adding her to the family! She is very different then the Spindrift 43 we sold at the start of 2017 but not dissimilar to a boat we had nearly two decades ago, a Cheoy Lee Pedrick 36. I absolutely loved to sail Kaishi so for me it's a little like coming back to my comfort zone. Unfortunately it is not exactly what Keith had in mind, which would have been a boat with a bit more pep and a lot less wood but she is quite comfortable below and I think exactly what we need to explore this beautiful area more fully.
Buying a boat in the middle of winter in the Pacific Northwest is probably not the smartest thing but it does have it's advantages, the first being the ability to negotiate. We went into boat shopping with eyes wide open and a willingness to not set our heart on any one boat. This would be true in home shopping or boat shopping both, you have to negotiate with your head not your heart and be willing to walk away. On this particular boat, we knew it had some issues (some came up in the survey and some Keith found on his own) and knew we needed to get in at a certain price point or we wouldn't be able to make it work. So we submitted our offer and when they didn't accept originally we had to make the choice to walk away. Fortunately for us, the sellers had a change of heart and came back a month later with an acceptance. Next came getting the boat to PA.
Keith was able to get the boat through the locks at Seattle's Lake Union, to Kingston and then Port Townsend and finally to Port Angeles just before the weather turned. Winter definitely has some unique challenges, not the least of which was the cold weather and chance of storms, but also the shorter days. With the sun not coming out till 8:30 or so and then going down around 4PM it makes for a short window of opportunity and while you can travel at night, the temperature drops pretty drastically and navigation lights was one item on the "must fix" list. Luckily the weather was perfect, blowing easterly, and with three sons to help on each leg he managed to the make the hops to town just before the weather turned nasty cold.
So while the ice is forming on the water in the harbor and the snow starts to fall, we are taking apart the inside and working on a game plan that will have her back on her feet and ready to sail sometime this summer. The project list prioritization has begun.
The first thing we took a look at, even before leaving Seattle was the Sail Drive. This is a different type of engine then we've had before and doesn't have a shaft and packing gland but sits through a hole in the bottom of the boat with a bladder. It's a bit unique and comes with a learning curve but the good news is that the previous owner appeared to take good care of her and used it very little. What we aren't 100% confident about is the zincs since she was essentially moved from fresh water to salt water for the first time in 18 years so we've attached a "fish" zinc to the engine to help with the electrolysis until we can haul her out and attach new zincs and paint to the underside that are appropriate for area. That will be are first priority.
The second item on our list was the rigging, and in particular we had noticed a strange bulge at the back of the transom and we knew the backstay had a hydraulic adjuster that had failed. We had a notable rigger come take a look at everything and they have suggested that we first have the glass inspected on the transom to ensure it is dry. If it's solid then we'll need to build out a more solid backing plate to carry the load, plus either replace or redesign the backstay. Lastly, the other area we took a look at was the inline chain plates for the side stays. It turns out they are actually I-Beams built into the decking structure, easy to get to and inspect and easy to see the corrosion that has occurred. The rigger didn't seem too daunted but it looks awfully ugly to me.
The good news is that the boat has a really excellent pedigree. Once we've tackled these key safety items we will feel confident in her ability to adventure for many years to come. It's just a matter of ensuring these are taken care of first. So now the fun begins and I actually do mean fun. Working on the boat with Keith is something I enjoy and something I think we do well together. Living just a few minutes away from her is fantastic and much better situation then the 3 states away that we had from Steadfast. So now we are peeling back the layers in the boat and strategizing our funding and our projects. More to come...
We managed to sell the Spindrift early in 2017 and it was a bit of a painful process. We, had put so much blood, sweat (Keith's) and tears (mine) into the boat that it was a hard enough decision only to be made more difficult by a few different buyers who were jerks through the selling process. I was literally at the point where I just wanted to give the process the bird and ship her up here to Washington State. Luckily a couple came in at the last minute and bought her and actually ended up shipping her to nearby Seattle. I keep wondering if we are going to see Steadfast show up sometime through the marina here. So currently we are a bit fancy free with no boat burdens, no slip rent, no maintenance costs....we are calling it our boat honeymoon which when you think about it is rather backwards. People would normally think the honeymoon is right after purchase but honestly, each and every time we buy we always feel sick with nerves. So for us, honeymoon comes with the sold sign.
It was always our intention to get another boat, one perhaps a little smaller that doesn't need all the space the Spindrift did because, honestly, our kids are getting older and some don't have any interest in hanging out with us right now...especially aboard. So we have been on the hunt for the next boat and that is a bit where our adventure begins because trying to align my wish list with Keith's wish list has become a challenge.
If we had a limitless budget there would be no conflict, but as we live in reality versus la la land this is a key factor and, as with all things impacting two people, it's a process of compromise where both parties give and get.. One of our agreed upon goals is to downsize to something nearer to 36 ft. but where we differ is in regards to down below and the amenities. I still want my creature comforts and a nice galley. For the Pacific Northwest and the exploring we plan to do here, I require a heater. Keith on the other hand would like things simpler because he is done trying to contort himself into crazy spaces to work on boat repairs. In his mind an Express 37 with all glass interior and all everything showing and easily accessible is perfect. So you see we obviously have to come to some sort of middle ground. This seems to be the story of our life, always compromising on what we each want.
Winter has come again and we are believing this may be the best time to buy as people start to get anxious about sitting on a boat through another winter. We've done some traveling up to Vancouver Island, over to Bellingham and round to Seattle checking out potential ideas and trying to find a boat we both can agree on. As of yet...the hunt continues.
This past weekend we decided to head out to Santa Cruz Island, we'd been watching the weather all week and were a bit concerned about the hurricane brewing off the coast of Mexico. The local weather stations were making all kinds of dramatic predictions about surf conditions and flash floods and Keith and I were a little worried about having to deal with too much weather. At the marina where we keep the boat, they were hosting their annual rendezvous and many folks had declared they weren't going due to the weather. Keith and I kept monitoring daily and decided to go for it, our biggest concern being sick kiddos since the wind prediction was near zero. We had Mason's buddy Tyler on board and all six of us, along with Molly, headed out early on Saturday morning expecting to motor sail a good portion of the way. The wind didn't show up at all and we pulled into Prisoners Harbor well before noon. The anchorage was pretty full, with many boats already packed into the "prime" spots for traditional NW weather. Fortunately we were dealing with nothing close to normal, the hurricane and swell pushing in from the south meant that almost anyplace was a good spot to anchor. We settled in about 40 feet of water between two other boats of comparable size and kicked back on deck.
With the teens still asleep below we debated heading on shore but decided to just chill on anchor a bit. Loren and Elliot were busting to get off the boat and explore so we suited them up in wetsuits and dropped them off at the beach to snorkel on their own. The weather was moist and sticky and eventually Mason and Tyler woke and were ready to get off the boat themselves. They set off to check out the beach - in the opposite direction from the younger ones! Eventually the little guys got bored with the beach and waved to come back on the boat so we scooped them up and they had fun for awhile jumping off the side of the boat, playing catch in the water with the football and just hang'n out. After a bit we collected the teens and watched the clouds form as folks who had gone to shore for the rendezvous potluck started streaming back to their boats a little earlier then the planned finish time of 4pm. Both Keith and I looked at the clock and shrugged it off then decided to head to shore and explore on our own, chatting briefly with a local Navy guy who was wondering if we were going to weigh anchor and head out too. Keith and I debated heading back, wondering what weather we might be missing but opted to keep heading down the beach just as a crack of thunder was heard overhead. I looked out on the water and saw rain heading our way so we quickly headed back to the boat to shut all the wide open hatches and listen to the weather on the radio. The weather station said there was a lot of activity expected on the mainland but nothing too much where we were at and we decided that sailing INTO a storm didn't hold much appeal. The sky continued it's deluge, with intermittent cracks of thunder off in the distance as we hunkered down on board and ate an early dinner.
Soon enough the sky overhead cleared as it moved inland and we headed off for a hike up the hill to the Nature Conservancy permit only side of the island where we got some great photos overlooking the cove and the kids all got to see the Island Fox. That night we played games before packing it in early for another early wake up to head further up the coast to check out The Painted Cave.
Six thirty in the morning and we weighed anchor on an ocean smoother then many lakes I've sailed on. We made good time heading the additional 10+ miles up the coast to see the famous Painted Cave. As we got within a few minutes we again woke the teens and they waited while Keith took Loren and Elliot into the cave in the dinghy - they weren't gone very long and it wasn't until I went into the cave myself that I realized why. Dark, stinky and spooky sounds are the stuff of nightmares. Even Molly, who went with Keith and I, tried to bury under Keith's jacket to hide from all the spookiness! Everyone seemed to enjoy and yet be a little freaked out by the cave, overall a fun stop over before heading back to the mainland.
The trip back was uneventful. Zero wind and flat water saw us motoring at near 8 knots to get into the harbor in the early afternoon.
I'm the wife of the captain, a mother of three boys and a PM in the corporate world. This blog is my view of life and activities related to our boat.