Shakedown Cruise 2019

We took a short cruise north to the Gulf and San Juan Islands during August. It gave us a chance to try out new gear on Gypsy and to work on our rusty sailing skills. Gypsy did great and we found that we did better than expected.

side curtains-
One of the new side curtains. They will give us more wind and rain protection in the cockpit. Nina got a fancy snap tool . It has been a big help on canvas projects. It is much better than the budget rivet the snaps together with a hammer.

Nina made a cockpit shade, the side curtains and a companionway cover. They were big improvements in our comfort on the boat, protecting us from the sun, wind and rain if it had rained.

swim ladder-182850136
Our new swim ladder. Bill had a teak board that he had kept for years. Before we moved and sold the tools he made a new ladder from the teak.  When you are swimming the ladder folds down to make it easy to climb out. It is very solid. It mounts to the toe rail with webbing straps that fit through the holes and are held in place with a piece of pvc pipe. He got the idea for the mounting system from our friend Jerry on Drømen.


deck portside-

Looking forward, port side. The yellow line on the left is a jack line so we can attach ourselves to the boat when we have to go forward in the ocean. Our ocean life jackets have D rings to accommodate a tether so we are always attached to the boat or to a jack line.  Toward the center is the boarding ladder Bill built out of teak.  To the right of that is the dinghy seat, oars and sailing kit.  In the front of the boat is our nesting dingy.  In the foreground on the right is one of our three solar panels.

deck stbd side-073315512

Down the starboard, or right side, of the boat is another yellow jackline. The white canister is our life raft.

view underway-

This is the view out the dodger window. The gear on the deck blocks some of our view, so we also look over the dodger and around the side to get a complete view.

RR Bridge-133415795

The first obstacle going down river is the Vancouver railroad bridge. The bridge is too low for us to go under it. It swings open to let tall boats and ships through. Depending on train traffic it can be a slow or a fast wait. This time we got right through.

While everything on deck looks shipshape, we were still figuring out where things needed to be stowed down below.  Portland to Astoria is about 100 miles, and when you are traveling at about 6 knots it takes awhile.  We split the trip up into three legs.  Day one: Portland to Walker Island.   Day two: Walker Island to Cathlamet, Washington.  Day three: Cathlamet to Astoria West Basin.  At Walker Island we met up with Rose City folks heading home from the Lazy Days Cruise: Willow, Lady Louise, Honalee and Crystal Swan.  On the way to Cathlamet, Bill organized the head storage and tried to get our Open CPN and GPS to talk to one another. An email to the great folks at Rodgers Marine Electronics solved that problem. The charting program on the laptop now knew where we were.  We got to Cathlamet on farmers market day so we got some fresh blueberries and figs. The next morning we headed to Astoria. In Astoria we filled the fuel tank and worked on our offshore prep list. We made a trip to Englunds Marine for some last minute parts.

Astoria sights.

Day five we were ready to head across the bar. The tides determine when you cross. We left at 8:45 in the morning. It was cool with low clouds and light NW wind. We motored down river with the help from the ebbing (outgoing) tide. At 9:23 Nina lost her hat overboard. We did not rescue it and considered it a sacrifice to the gods of the deep. The ebbing tide had us going 11.5 knots over ground, so it must have worked. That is a five knot boost in boat speed. By 10:10 we past buoy 3 so we were across the bar and officially in the ocean. We started heading north. At 3:00 pm (1500 hours) we started doing watches.

When we are on a passage we take turns being on watch or sleeping. We have found that 3 hour watches work well for us. Nina has the watch from midnight to 3:00 am, Bill has 3:00-6:00 am, Nina 6:00-9:00 am, Bill 9:00-noon, Nina noon to 3:00 pm, Bill 3:00-6:00 pm, Nina 6:00-9:00 pm, Bill 9:00-midnight. While you are on watch you keep a lookout for other boats and ships, set the course and note important information in the log book. Log entries cover where you are, the weather and wind.

Off watch you sleep, if you get caught up on sleep you can read or work on a project or cook.

The northwest corner of Washington State is Cape Flattery. That is where we turned east to head down the Strait of Juan de Fuca.

cape flattery lighthouse-4930
The light house on Cape Flattery. It is 1:15 pm on day 6. Much of the weather up the coast looked like this – a lot of gray.
ships Juan de Fuca-164513709
A couple of freighters on the strait.  These are much bigger than the ones that ply the Columbia River.

It is a long way down the strait to Victoria. The wind from the west built over the afternoon and by evening was blowing strongly. We kept reefing the sails to keep the boat speed under control. It was well after dark by the time we got to Victoria. We did not want to enter Victoria Harbour at night so we sailed on to Oak Bay, a suburb, where you can also clear customs. We got there and tied up to the customs dock at 12:15 am. We cleared customs and waited until morning to get fuel and a slip in the marina.

Bon Voyage

One of the things we agreed on early in our boat ownership days was that projects were okay, but the boat had to be sailable.  That kind of got put on the hard so to speak for the past four or five years.  We now have most of the major projects done.  It’s time to go sailing.  We headed up to the the San Juan and Gulf Islands on Gypsy for a short three week shakedown cruise and to meet up with friends on Drømen.  There will be more about that soon.  Meanwhile, there’s a Bon Voyage party to invite you to before we head south. Hope you can make it.

Bon Voyage Party

Bill and Nina are sailing Gypsy to Mexico

Saturday, September 7 4:00-8:00 Rose City Yacht Club

Photo credit: Jerry and Joy, Drømen

It’s a potluck party, drop by and see Gypsy.

Please RSVP

Rose City Yacht Club, 3737 NE Marine Drive, Portland

Gate code: 572637# (Kramer on a phone keypad)

And you may have noticed we’ve changed the title of the blog.  We hope it reflects the direction our project is taking.

It is too late now, we’ve paid the entrance fee

It has been almost two months since our last post. A lot has been happening, but most of it is not about boats. We sold our house in NE Portland and bought a small condo in NE Portland. Thank you David, our super realtor and sailing friend. We moved off of Gypsy and into the condo June 21st. We then had to do those new house things, like empty boxes and buy a couch. Then just as we were starting to return our focus to Gypsy we had a trip to Minneapolis to see family over the fourth.

Since we got back we have been checking tasks off of the list. Gypsy has a new alternator and voltage regulator. The old ones are going to be our spares. We installed a single sideband marine short wave radio. This will let us get weather forecasts, send text emails and join boater nets.  We installed lots of wires and parts and managed to find spaces for them. We added an AIS transponder, which tells other ships near by that we are there too and lets us know who they are and how fast they are moving.  We installed three solar panels and a solar controller. Nina has been getting the overhead panels covered in white vinyl and reinstalled. The cabin looks much better. Our life raft is now installed on the deck. The cabin has a new bookcase and table and a galley storage cabinet.

knife block start-163704350
While we were living aboard we discovered that we really needed a knife block. Keeping the knives in a drawer was not working. This is how the block got its start, strips of wood with a knife blade slot got glued together. This then got sanded and finished.  Thank you, Randy for the wood.  It’s the same wood as the tiller.
galley box-113058000
The galley cabinet and knife block. The cabinet will give us storage for garbage on the bottom and thermoses on the top shelf. The trim is recycled from old Gypsy trim so it blends in. The door fronts are repurposed old drawer fronts that were on the boat when we bought her.  What’s really nice about the cupboard is we will no longer have a box of garbage kicking around the floor.
overhead 3-130734866
Nina has been getting the overhead panels installed. They hide the cabin insulation and light wiring. The vinyl also helps to deaden sound. The panels can be removed if we need to get to deck hardware or wiring.  But, since the lights and fan are all screwed through the panel and into blocks in the ceiling, we hope we don’t have to take them down too often.
overhead 4-183250282
The vee berth looks much better too.
You can see the life raft canister on deck in front of the dodger. You can also kind of see the SSB antenna going up the backstay.  New solar panels on the aft sides of the boat and one on the top of the dodger are now functional and are helping charge the new batteries.
The solar panels. The two aft panels on the stern pulpit can be adjusted to follow the sun. We left space on the dodger to stand on it when working on the main sail.
The table and bookcase. The table is the old table Bill made for Gypsy. It now folds up when not in use. It will be fantastic to have space for books. The wood slats in the middle of the shelves lift out to get at the books and to keep them from flying into the cabin if things get rough.

We also signed up for the Baja HaHa. It is a 150 boat regatta from San Diego to Cabo San Lucas. It gives a date to leave for Mexico and it may help us get more social. It leaves San Diego November 4th. We are working on a date for a Bon Voyage party in Portland before we leave. We will let you know once the date is set.


Save the Peonies!

flowers 1This 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.

Sling location
Gypsy getting hauled out. It took a couple of trial hoists to get the slings in the correct place. Forward of the keel we need to avoid the transducer for the knot meter. Aft of the keel, the strap needs to avoid the refrigerator keel cooler plate and the prop shaft.

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.

New tiller, varnished and installed. Bill added the plastic shims under the tiller straps to prevent the straps from wearing out the aluminum tiller cap.


tiller cover
New tiller cover.


template makingAnother 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.

template making 2
Weighing down the pattern.
new formica_
New laminate on the chart table epoxied in place. The fit is perfect. All the countertops in Gypsy now match – no more 1970s butcher block Formica.
more like a boat
Gypsy with all her cushions back in place. Nina recut the back cushions so they would fit better. Sailrite how-to videos are really useful, but she discovered that sometimes they don’t explain the obvious. For instance, add 1/2 inch to the overall length of the cushions to help hold them in place. This works well if you have a single cushion. If you have three cushions spanning the length, don’t add that 1/2 inch to each. Trimmed down and the covers resewn, they now fit without bowing out.
bookcase gluing
The last of the big projects. This is the bookcase that the table will hang from. The other piece of cabinetry that Bill has been working on is a small cupboard that will go in the galley to hold thermoses and a small garbage receptacle. We have a couple of more weeks of having access to the garage and tools before the house closes.

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.

Eurasian Collared dove, an invasive species. A pair of them decided that our radar mount would be an ideal location for a nest. We managed to scare them away. It is pretty amazing how loud they are when they have a mast amplifying their coos. Thank you to Nina’s colleague Tom for telling us what kind of birds they were.
Oh, someday the storage locker will look like this again.

Invierno, it sounds so much better than winter

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.

MSP snow
Not the view you want while waiting for your plane. The deicing was cool, but it added an hour to an already delayed flight.
Mt Hood
Mount Hood out the window, we are almost home.

The cold followed us to Portland. We made cardboard mock ups of the table and bookcase. It was too cold to do much else.

table cardboard1

table cardboard2

We also worked on the cleats for the shelving in the hanging lockers.


The shelves will get a front trim pieces. The shelves and lockers will get painted, and doors made. Clothes and linens will be stored here.
happy day
Oh happy day! Bill now has more time for the boat.
Remember that chunk of wood that got laminated up in November? Well, Bill’s first retired project was to head back to Tom’s shop to get it shaped into a new tiller. Those bits to the side are some of the wood that got trimmed off. The tiller is almost ready. Seven coats of varnish later and it’s ready to be installed on Gypsy.
vee berth overhead
Trim strips in the vee berth.
l trim
L shaped trim for the cabin sides getting fitted.

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.


Sistine Chapel Here We Come

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.

overhead strips framed
Ceiling over the galley. The small circles are where bolts come through from the luggage rack and the line organizer on the deck.  On the right, the first door skin panel is in with battens holding it in place.
marking holes in panels
We made patterns out of brown paper. Bill is cutting a hole for the dorade vent on the starboard side.  The boat is back in construction mode with a temporary table set up for the miter saw and/or saber saw.


panels main cabin
After more work, panels in place looking forward. It took a couple of weekends to get this far.  The short pieces of batten held in place with blue tape are where we have aluminum blocks for the hand rails so we can’t just screw the battens into cleat stock. Once the vinyl is glued onto the panels, these short battens will be attached with dummy screws to continue the batten line and dress up the panel seams.
bin cleats for shelves
One of our other projects is installing cleats in place for shelves in lockers. We split up the hanging locker across from the head into a hanging space and a space for shelves. The shelves are spaced six inches apart and will add more usable storage space.
And what would we do without friends? A confectionery celebration from our wine group. We’re hoping they will join us when they can (but wow, they need better photos to work with…).

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.