November Projects

vee berth vinyl
The vee berth with its new vinyl installed.
vee berth shelf
New shelf in the port vee berth locker. It originally had a shelf which got taken out when we installed a holding tank in the locker. When we switched over to the AirHead, our composting toilet, the holding tank was no longer needed. This space will get a little bondo filling to smooth the fiberglass seams, everything will get sanded and painted once it’s all smooth.
vee berth shelf 2
Starting to bondo. This killed off the gallon can of filler. It took two tries to get it to kick. It looks a mess, but it will be fine once a lot of sanding is done.


sail cover
Old faded sail cover tied in place to protect the new sail until the new cover arrived.
sail cover 2
New sail cover!  The Sunbrella color is called Parchment.  The old red sail cover had turned pink over time so red was no longer a color option.  The new one is sewn with a UV impervious thread, Tenara, so Nina should not have to resew the cover together every other year.
sail cover 1
View from the fore deck.  We chose a stack pack cover over the traditional sail cover.  The lines holding the cover up will help corral the sail when it’s dropped.  The new sail is very stiff and is a challenge to get flaked neatly over the boom but once it’s been used, it will drop nicely into the cover without being blown all over the deck first.
port locker fore sides
Engine covers in place and engine blower fan hose installed. The handle makes is easier to remove the panels to access the engine. This is what Bill was working on while Nina was working on the port vee berth locker.
Espar exhaust
Furnace ducting installed. This is the same locker as the engine blower hose, just facing the aft direction. Bill spent a lot of time on his back in the locker reaching up to install various and sundry parts.
port locker aft sides
Port locker looking aft. Bill added lights in the lockers and led strip lighting in the engine compartment. The furnace ducting is finished. When we turned it on, it worked!
instrument cover
Galley wiring cover painted and reinstalled. At the top left is the Maxwell anchor windlass control and on the right a Blue Seas breaker panel for the engine blower fan and engine lights.  Someday we’ll find a better place to store paper towels than on the stove…
head covers
Wiring cover installed in the head. It has a switch for a red night light.
CO detector and smoke detector installed in the hallway outside the head.

That’s it for November.

Summer Is Over

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.

tillerglue up

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.

overhead strips

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.

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.

Image may contain: sky, ocean, boat, cloud, outdoor and water
Jamie measuring Gypsy’s sails. Photo credit Behan Gifford.
main sail
Bill is installing the strong track hardware on the luff of the sail.
The battens came rolled up in a wheel. It was securely taped and tied and took Nina quite a while to get them all unwrapped.

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.

sail cover
The sail cover is lashed on to the boom. A new cover has been ordered.

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.

The new genoa. The cover is Parchment, which is the color we choose for the sun cover and the main sail 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.

main sail on mast
The new main. The black strip on the back of the mast is the Strong Track that we added.

Other projects include finishing off the cabin insulation and painting the cockpit locker floors and sides. The locker panels look much better painted.

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.

fuel stick

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.

Nina note

Barkely Sound, part 4 Cool Rocks -Dempster Island

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.

low clouds
Looking west, a small island in the Broken Group and low clouds.
islands and clouds
Looking east at the mountains behind Barkley Sound.
islands and sun
The sun is starting to break through. It must be getting close to lunch time.
Nina knitting
While I do the hard work of telling the autopilot where to steer, Nina knits.
Dempster Island.

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.

Colorful Gypsy at anchor.
Francis Barkley
The next morning we saw the Frances Barkley. The Frances Barkley and the Lady Rose carry passengers and supplies down the Alberni Inlet and Barkley Sound.

Barkley Sound, part 3 Turtle Bay

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.

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.

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.

Bill dinghy
Bill sailing the dinghy around the anchorage at Turtle Island.  Bill went sailing.  Nina made brownies.

After a relaxing night at anchor, we headed back to Ucluelet for groceries and laundry.

Gypsy in Barkley Sound, part two

We wanted to anchor between the west side of Turret Island and two small islands. This is a sheltered anchorage and it was close to some good beachcombing. When we got close to the anchorage we saw another boat from Rose City Yacht Club, Nepenthe, a Cascade 42. Nepenthe invited us to raft up with them and we had a sociable evening. We got several suggestions of places to visit also.

These are some pictures of where we anchored. The tide is down so you can see some of the rocks that are covered at high water. You can click on a picture to get a larger image.

The next morning we wanted to row over to Trickett and Lovett Islands. At low tide those two islands and the two small islands in between form one land mass. It is a good place to go beachcombing.

This is the chart of the area we are in. It is a Canadian Chart so the depths are in meters. the white area is deeper water. Blue is shallower water and tan is dry land. The asterisks and plus signs represent rocks. I have added a red A where Gypsy anchored. The green B is where we landed the dinghy to go beachcombing. It is about a mile from A to B. The purple T is where the big tree is.
beachcombing 1
When we landed the tide was coming back in. When we returned about 90 minutes later the water was up past where Bill is standing. Yes, the dinghy was anchored.


We landed on the sheltered side of the islands. We did our beachcombing on the more exposed side.

We had to do a bit of wading to get back across a low spot that now had about a foot of water over it. You do have to watch the tides. We launched the dinghy and rowed back towards Gypsy. We kept on rowing and landed in a small cove on Turret Island that has some very big old trees. There is a path through the woods to the trees. The woods were very calm and quiet, a peaceful retreat from the wind and waves.

After a late lunch we headed off to our next stop at Turtle Bay.

Gypsy’s trip north, part one

It was time to leave the dock. All of our preparations were as complete as they were going to be. The engine enclosure, watermaker and windvane were ready. Gypsy was loaded with provisions, we filled the water tank and cast off. Our goal was to sail up to the west Coast of Vancouver Island and see Barkley and Clayoquot Sound. The first step was to sail down the Columbia River.

empty freighter
Freighter being docked at the Port of Vancouver Washington. The tug is helping to push the freighter into position. The freighter is empty, you can tell by all the red bottom paint showing.
old freighter
Old freighter at anchor. It has seen better days. It is also empty.
tug car carrier
Tug pushing a gravel barge up river. The blue and white freighter behind is a car carrier. Portland is a major import and export port for cars.

We like seeing all of the commercial shipping activity on the river. When there are freighters near us, we stay out of the main channel, so we stay out of the path of the freighters.

freighter dredge
Near St. Helens, Oregon. The freighter is fully loaded and floating on its lines. You can see the hailing port on its transom. This ship is registered in Hong Kong. The smaller ship is a dredge. It is clearing sand from the river channel. The freighters on the Columbia River are 650 to 750 feet long and about 100 feet wide.
fuel barge
This is a fuel barge. The tug fits into a bay in the stern to push the barge.
This has become a common sight on the Columbia River. It is an osprey nest. The osprey like to build nests on the top of navigation markers.
On the way to Cathlamet the wind created some chop. We are about to pass another car carrier.
This very pristine Piper Cub float plane was at the dock in Cathlamet. It took off later in the afternoon.
dredge 2
This is one of the big dredges that work on the Columbia River. It was working just below Harrington Point, where the river widens out before it gets to Astoria.
Gypsy Astoria
We spent a couple of days in Astoria doing projects on Gypsy to get her ready for the trip up the coast. We were waiting for a good weather window for our trip.  It was much cooler temperature-wise in Astoria than in Portland, which was having a major heat wave.
Astoria water front, two Coast Guard cutters and the Lady Washington moored in front of the Columbia River Maritime Museum. Freighters at anchor in the distance.
Columbia bar
Crossing the bar, we left on a Friday and we had bananas on board. So much for following traditional superstitions. It may explain why we both felt queasy. The grey skys were a reliable constant on the trip. We made it to Ucluelet, BC Saturday evening. Cleared customs and went out for pizza.
Barkley fog 1
Sunday morning we left Ucluelet and headed for Pipestem Inlet on Barkley Sound. The morning was foggy.
sun brerak
The sun did start to break through late in the morning.
monitor steering
While sailing up to Pipestem Inlet we rigged up the Monitor windvane. It is steering Gypsy.


near Pipestem
Near Pipestem Inlet, by Bazett Island.
near pipestem 3
Cove behind Bazett Island.

near Pipestem 2

We anchored in a small cove behind Bazett Island. There was not much swing room for Gypsy. We decided to run a couple of lines to shore to keep Gypsy away from the rocks. While we were getting the dinghy ready we heard something crashing through the brush on shore. A black bear walked out on the beach. We waited until we were sure it had moved on to row ashore and tie our lines to a couple of trees.

During the afternoon we saw two different bears. The next morning the smaller bear was back. it spent about 45 minutes looking for its breakfast on the beach. It would roll over the rocks on the beach and eat the little crabs that live under the rocks.

bear 1

bear 2

bear 3
To make sure the bears were gone when we untied our stern lines, we rowed ashore loudly singing “the bear went over the mountain, oh I feel so silly.”  It must have scared them off because we didn’t see or hear them again.
relaxing at anchor
Nina reading at anchor.  Mmmm, what to cook next?
Pipestem 2
The next morning we went up Pipestem Inlet. It was a sunny day.
Lucky Creek
We then stopped at Lucky Creek and saw the falls. There are several falls and pools.  Go in at high tide and wear swim suits and climbing shoes so you can work your way up the pools.
fog from sea
As we sailed to our next anchorage, by Turrett Island the fog started rolling in.
fog from sea 2
Fogging in.
rocky shore
Rock shores on one of the islands. Most of the islands are very rocky.  They are fun to row around.  The sea stars are coming back and we saw a number of edible sized rock crabs around the shorelines.

Watermaker, Monitor and Misc Covers

First off, we have a new site:  Same great, scintillating content, now with no more pesky ads.   The old wordpress address will still work, should you choose.

We’ve been working on getting things shipshape, so to speak.  The watermaker is installed and successfully makes water!  We did a test run in the Columbia and it came out clear and clean.  No small task, given how much silt runs down the river.  Here’s what it looks like with everything in place.  We have easy access to the sink for test or sample water and runoff.  Everything is accessible and we still have storage room in the quarterberth.

watermaker test
The final installation for the watermaker utilizing space in the quarterberth.
instrument cover 1
All the wiring for the instruments comes in over the sink in the galley. 
instrument cover 2
The cover for the instrument wiring. The wires in the upper left are for the backup anchor windlass switch. It will have a small Blue Seas panel to its right that will run the engine fan blower, engine room lights and deck light. We had a piece of mirrored plexi left over from the head mirrors, so that got hung on the cover as well.  We will need to round the edges and corners of the box as Nina discovered the cover can be a head hazard when rummaging in the pantry.
engine cover
Also getting covered is the engine. Nina stuffed down the starboard locker screwing in supports for the panels. The more stuff we add the smaller the space gets. Lucky for Bill, he really doesn’t fit in there anymore.  We glued on lead lined foam insulation on the engine side of the panels.  With all the panels in place, the engine noise is significantly dampened.  
monitor 2
Every good backside needs some direction. After rebuilding the Monitor windvane, it still fit on the boat and looks like some beautiful boat bling that will actually work.
monitor 1
Here it is without the model.
monitor steering
Steering lines run from the Monitor to the tiller. When we were in the shop, one of the design features in the new cockpit comings was a set of holes to run the windvane lines through with blocks leading the lines on the outside of the cockpit. There is too much curve on the coming for this to work without serious chafing and the alignment to the tiller was all wrong so Bill added a block on each side to run them through inside the cockpit. To minimize the places to trip over lines, we’ll add another pair behind the openings in the cockpit sides.
New bling on the other end of the boat. It’s a 45-pound Mantus and besides looking serious it fits on the bow roller better than the old Delta.  We do need to come up with a more sophisticated tie down system, but this one will work for now.
dinghy bag
With all the new bling, we needed an accessory bag as well. Custom design for holding dinghy chocks and lines.  The dinghy plug even fits in it.  And then we hide it all away in a locker.