This is our new rallying cry. Things get rough: save the peonies! There’s a sailing tie-in? Nina is getting close to retiring, and of her colleagues (thank you, Windy!) gave her a beautiful bunch of peonies as a send off. They were put in a growler mason jar on Gypsy and we headed up to Government Island for the Memorial Day cruise. We ended up on the outside dock and occasionally things got pretty bouncy. The peonies made it through the weekend without mishap.
It was lovely to be out for a weekend cruise. The weather was iffy: it poured one afternoon, right about happy hour, but we did get some sunshine the next day. We turned the furnace on at one point to warm up and help cut the condensation that was building up in the cabin. Cooler weather and three adults aboard create a lot of damp air.
Meanwhile, between March and now, an amazing amount of life has been happening. Gypsy went to the Rocky Point Boatyard to get her bottom painted in March. Bill has been working on various boat projects. Nina still has a day job. We spent much of April and May getting our house ready to sell, looking for and finding a condo to downsize to, and we have temporarily moved aboard Gypsy.
Getting to Rocky Point is about a three hour trip. We started out and discovered that the autopilot was totally wonky so we hand steered the whole way down and back. Bill had added a rudder sensor so the autopilot would know where the rudder was. Because we have a tiller there was some slight confusion about how to set it – tiller direction or rudder direction? He later figured it out and now it works beautifully.
Another of Bill’s projects was replacing the laminate on the chart table. He made a two layer template out of masonite strips so it would be thick enough and strong enough to be a router guide, and the overlapped corners solved the how to make strong template corners. He did such a good job the template almost didn’t come out.
We’re now temporarily camped out on Gypsy while we wait for all the house selling and buying to finish up. Moving involves new routines and new neighbors. This is a new neighbor that we did not want.
This has been a cold winter and we have been trying to stay busy with projects that do not require glue or paint. We also took time off to go to the Seattle Boat Show and to visit family in Minneapolis.
The boat show gave us a chance to visit with good friends, the crews of Dromen and Velic. We did order a life raft at the show and we got some neat new fids. We got Selma fids, they are lovely. Nina is happy. They are worth getting if you have any splicing to do.
Minneapolis was cold. We got off the plane and entered the polar vortex. There are reasons I moved away from Minneapolis and -15 degrees, (minus 30 with wind chill), is one of them. The weather did warm up and we left on a day that was a balmy 15 degrees and snowing.
The cold followed us to Portland. We made cardboard mock ups of the table and bookcase. It was too cold to do much else.
We also worked on the cleats for the shelving in the hanging lockers.
As I write this the weather is finally warming up. We have had two days in the low sixties. Gypsy is going to the boat yard tomorrow for a survey and bottom paint. The nice weather will be great. It also means that you will get to watch more paint dry in the next installment.
January’s ceilings led Bill to the Sistine Chapel. We have ceilings. We don’t have the art work. Nor, honestly, will we. We will have overhead panels. They will have vinyl glued to them shortly, but still no creation story memorialized overhead, only in the blog.
Nina and I had a fantastic time on Gypsy this summer. Our cruise to the west coast of Vancouver Island was great and instructive. The great part is easy, being off work, living on Gypsy, getting relaxed, seeing incredible scenery was just what we needed. The instructive part was a bit more humbling; being sea sick and having to relearn how to do things after our extended project time. It was also good, such as when we were drifting near the entrance to Pipestem Inlet while trouble shooting the starter motor and being able to fix it.
An important part of the trip was to do some real world testing to inform our decision process. Ever since we bought Gypsy 15 years ago, we knew we needed to replace the tiller. Before we made a new tiller we wanted to solve the auto pilot and wind vane issues. The auto pilot no longer connects to the tiller and the wind vane connections to the tiller worked, so now we could design a new tiller.
We brought the old tiller home and traced its shape on a sheet of 3/4″ plywood. We made some minor adjustments to the shape and screwed 2×4 blocks to the plywood. The mold was then covered in clear packing tape, which is a great mold release since epoxy does not stick to it. We then epoxied strips of wood and clamped them together and down to form the blank for the tiller.
In a world that is increasingly split and divisive, it is good to find ways to make friendship and community a part of our lives. The wood for the tiller came from a piece of Kalantas, a tropical hardwood, that our friends on Velic gave to us as they set off for the South Pacific. I was saving the wood for something special and it was just the right width for the tiller.
We also got some wood from our friends on JoySea, a wooden power boat. They gave us the off cuts from their mahogany planks and we turned them into cabin trim.
The trim strips for our overhead panels came from the hull planking leftovers.
We had a windy crossing of the Columbia River Bar as we returned to Oregon. We picked up a couple of rough weather lessons and we also discovered once we were back at West Basin in Astoria that our hard dinghy, which is stored on deck, had shifted in the crossing. We saw that we needed a better way to chock the dinghy in place. We had been using blocks of mini cell foam and we realized that this was not up to ocean readiness.
We decided that we needed fixed, solid chocks. Bill made some teak chocks and then fitted them to Gypsy. The forward chocks were pretty straight forward, but the aft chocks took a bit more thought. He wanted the chocks to transfer vertical loads to the cabin top so the hand rails would not get bent. He also had to drill a hole for the pipe at a compound angle. The drilling ended up being a very MacGyvered process. He was thrilled that they fit and that he did not end up back at the emergency room for more stitches.
BIll fills the oversized holes with epoxy. Then they will get redrilled.will
Forward chocks with tie down points.
All four chocks for the dinghy.
We have known that Gypsy needed new sails before we take off for our cruise. Gypsy’s sails looked OK, but they were stretched out of shape. The last couple of years at the boat shows we have been talking to sailmakers and we have not found what we wanted. The sailmakers were focused on sails that would be fine for local conditions, but they did not offer a sail that was designed for extended cruising. Ocean cruising represents much more wear than day sailing and UV degradation becomes an important issue.
This spring a blog we read, Sailing Totem had another article on sails. Jamie, and his wife Behan have just completed a ten year circumnavigation with their family on Totem. Jamie is a sailmaker. He and his business partner Phil run Zoom sails. They specialize in long distance cruising sails. I started an email conversation with Jamie about our sail needs and decided that these sails would work well for Gypsy. Jamie’s son was starting college in Portland and I knew that they were back in the states for the summer, so I asked if when he was in Portland if he would come and measure Gypsy for new sails. It worked out and we got to meet Jamie and Behan A few weeks latter Gypsy got a new full baton main and genoa. We also added a Strong Track, which is a low friction track on the mast for the mainsail to slide up and down on.
We knew we needed to replace the mainsail cover. The old cover was red, but even Sunbrella red fades. It was now a dirty rose. We also knew it would not fit around the new sail.
We have ordered a new sail cover that will fit over the new sail. It will also have lazyjacks incorporated in it. The lazyjacks are ropes that run from the boom up to the mast to gather the main sail as it drops and keep it on the boom. Zoom sails also makes covers and since we were happy with the sails we also ordered a cover from them. Nina was going to sew a cover, but with all the projects we need to get done, she was happy to let someone else make the cover.
We did go for a test sail, but we were so busy enjoying the new sails that we did not get any pictures of them up and in use.
Other projects include finishing off the cabin insulation and painting the cockpit locker floors and sides. The locker panels look much better painted.
The foreward floor has a fiddle now to keep stuff away fom the bulkhead.
When Gypsy was in Tom Becker’s shop one of the things we did was to replace the fuel tank. The new tank was made to maximize the volume and it is not a rectangular shape. Bill had made a fuel stick to measure how many gallons it held and I tried to mark it as the tank got filled. The result was a bit off, so he measured the tank and drafted a drawing of it. From the drawing he was able to calculate the volumes at different heights and compare these with the marks on the fuel stick. The result was a new fuel stick based on the old fuel stick and the drawing. It will be accurate enough for us to figure out how much fuel we have.
If you ever wondered how we figure out how we are going to do something, well here is one of Nina’s notes. The pump handle was attached with brackets to the bottom of one of the companionway ladder steps. but the ball on the end was large enough that it needed a shim. The drawings on the bottom are measurements for a forehatch cover that she will sew up this fall.
We spent two days in Ucluelet. Groceries, propane, diesel, water and laundry were taken care of. We did get to go to the aquarium where we learned more about the sea life we had been looking at in tide pools and while rowing around islands.
We left Ucluelet early Saturday morning. We were heading to Jacques Island, which is in the south eastern corner of the Broken Group. We had been told of a good spot to anchor there. It was another overcast day with very low clouds and some fog.
We passed Dempster Island getting to Jacques Island. Dempster Island has very interesting rocky shores. We got to Jacques Island and anchored in a cove on the south side of the island, about a half mile from Dempster Island.
After lunch we launched the dinghy and rowed around Dempster Island. Click on the picture to get a larger image.
For all the islands in Barkley, there are only a few good anchorages. Turtle Island has one of them. But whether or not they provide a good spot to drop the hook, a fun thing about all those other islands is that they are close to where you can anchor and they are usually small enough to row around easily. Dodd Island is one of those islands just off Turtle Island.
Old First Nations fish trap at low tide.
Farther in the fish trap.
Pool of the fish trap.
Nina standing in front of the fish trap.
One of the amazing features of Dodd Island is an old First Nations fish trap. The edges are lined with rocks and it’s still easy to imagine how at high tide the fish would have been channeled into the pool at the end. Simple and brilliant at the same time.
Rocks and oysters.
Other fauna basking on the rocks. The best field guide we had onboard was the Audubon Field Guide to the Pacific Northwest. It’s a good, general guide but doesn’t go into much detail about different species. Best as we can tell, some kind of garter snake.
A knot of garter snakes basking.
After checking out the island, we got back in the dinghy and rowed around the island. The shore is pretty rocky and we saw lots of sea stars and quite a few crabs. It was exciting seeing bat stars, which we hadn’t seen before, and ochre and purple stars. A couple of years ago the sea stars were hit by a virus that almost wiped them out. It was good to see them coming back again. We also saw a sea cucumber.
After a relaxing night at anchor, we headed back to Ucluelet for groceries and laundry.