Latest Logs


Logs ( 102 )

Village Girl

A balanced lug…

Ugly Bob progresses. We hoisted the sail yesterday just to check that the rig works as intended. He’d be pretty except for the big crease in the sail – needs more tension along the gaff, I think.However, a Consultation occurred and Medicinal Compound was prescribed and administered. Thanks to Dutch Bob for the photos. Today, the ugly one gets turned over again to finish glassing his centerboard case and to have his bottom painted. Sadly, I think a sail around Sledge Island will be an island too far this time but he’ll be just about ready to go when I leave. Virus-free. www.avg.com <#DAB4FAD8-2DD7-40BB-A1B8-4E2AA1F9FDF2>



Village Girl

Other lives part 2

There are 2 cruise ships in town, small by comparison with some of the beheviathans that we see in Sydney. In the photo, ‘The World’ anchored offshore on the left, ‘Roald Amundsen’ on the right, alongside in the harbour and a gaggle of passengers looking at sled dogs lower left. A supply barge out on the far horizon. Perhaps 1500 passengers all told and Nome is busy with yellow school buses ferrying them around and guided tours of the old gold mining sites and Iditarod dogs and souvenirs. There is some lovely carved walrus ivory in town, but I think the souvenirs are mostly made in China. There ya go. Not a big source of income for the town either, as most of the money stays with the cruise companies, but Alaska Airlines lays on extra flights to keep the ships full. ‘The World’ has an entry port low down near the waterline and it must be an interesting transfer to the modified lifeboat that ferrries people ashore. Through the binoculars I can see the lifeboat riding the 5ft swell alongside and it’s a bumpy ride from there to the inner harbour. The Amundsen seems to have an ice strengthened hull and is on its maiden cruise. Nome is a small town and all low level. I went for a run yesterday on a loop that took me about 4 miles north of town and looking back, ‘The World’ completely dominated the skyline, a huge squat apartment block much higher than the church steeple at Old St. Joe’s. I know people for whom cruise ships are a way of life. For others, a cruise is a lifetime dream. I’m privileged to have been able to sail here.

Village Girl

Other lives

Beside a remote bit of road on the way out to Cape Nome, there are two faded wooden grave markers. They are the only signs that people once lived out there. It’s bleak and windswept and, in winter, unsurvivable. Their story has died along with the people who knew them. Above them, silhouetted against the sky high on a ridge, there are five weather-beaten wooden crosses. They mark the repatriated remains of people who lived on Sledge Island and in other native villages and whose remains were collected and exhibited for the supposedly civilised curious to study and to stare at in the Smithsonian and other museums. Their descendants have brought them back and tried to give them peace. From their graves on a clear day there’s a magnificent view along the coast to Sledge Island and Cape Rodney 30 miles away. And for the geocachers, there’s a geocache up on the ridge not far away. Peace is a relative concept. Nearby, musk ox live on the tundra – shaggy survivors with dense layered furry pelts that protect them in the icy winters. They shed some of it in summer and it is collected and spun and woven into warm gloves and hats by the local people. It is called qiviut. Along the Nome waterfront, there’s a massive breakwater made from huge granite boulders blasted from Cape Nome. There are homeless people living under plastic sheets in the spaces between the rocks. In winter, when the sea is frozen, there’s a shelter and food for them overnight in town but they are out in the cold during the day. Grim existence.





Village Girl

Ugly Bob

About 3 years ago Megan started building a Welsford Houdini dinghy in Nome. For reasons related to the level of profanity during his early gestation and construction, he became male and was named Ugly Bob. Life, the Universe and Everything intervened and he sat in a shed until a week or so ago when we drug him out and I started to apply acres of fibreglass. Yesterday, Pat and I built a mast. It is square section, made from old growth red cedar planks that were probably part of a tree when the Bering Strait was still a land bridge and Yetis abounded. Red cedar is light and flexible but soft so needs care in use. The section is designed to keep its tensile strength and it will support my weight in the middle when propped at each end. I think it will weigh less than the aluminium tube in the plan. We will rout the edges tomorrow and taper the top and Bobsyer. Maybe! It is intended to be self supporting but we will allow for runners just in case things get a bit pearshaped. Brian Shilland made the sail 3 years ago and the goal is to circumnavigate Sledge Island before I leave for Oz. Ambitious, I think but hey!



Village Girl

11 years ago today

We set off from Nome in Berrimilla for the Bering Strait and the Northwest Passage. We had heard that the ice was breaking up at Point Barrow and it seemed time to leave. This is what it looks like along the breakwater today. Interesting day for a sail. I doubt we’d have sailed in this stuff in 2008. Virus-free. www.avg.com <#m_5911423379156649913_m_6883909018885569200_DAB4FAD8-2DD7-40BB-A1B8-4E2AA1F9FDF2>

Village Girl

Safety – and science? – on Sunday

Two hypotheses – The Safety Roadhouse, 20 miles east of Nome, stocks proper medicinal compounds – or it doesn’t. We drove out there to test them last Sunday – can this be science? – and found the place closed so they remain untested. And passed two lost chihuahuahs out on the tundra on the way back without knowing they were there. Yep, really! One was found, and we were asked later to help look for the other one – it has now been out there in the rain for more than 24 hours. And now it’s Thursday – Still chihuahuahless but after testing hypotheses. H2 turned out to be correct – It doesn’t but it has an excellent line in Bloody Marys. The chihuahhuah hunt involved about 20 big pickup trucks, several cars and about 7500 pounds of human biomass all looking for a few ounces of tiny dog. Sadly, I think little Fancy is lost and gone for ever. Virus-free. www.avg.com <#m_4219440222959856200_DAB4FAD8-2DD7-40BB-A1B8-4E2AA1F9FDF2>

Village Girl

Juan de Fuca

Was probably a Greek sailor working for the King of Spain who might have sailed into the Strait named after him – by an Englishman, based on the journal of another Englishman. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Juan_de_Fuca And the Examiner seems to like the place too. It drains the waters of the Salish Sea into the Pacific and it has some interesting tidal and meteorological quirks. Shipping lanes everywhere and big ships doing 25 knots. We’ve crossed it twice in each direction, each time with attendant drama. The first 3 are buried in the back reaches of this blog but the last one was yesterday. 0445 departure from Friday Harbour captured in the webcam screenshot, courtesy of one of our friends – at about half what had been a huge tide tide on the ebb, glassy calm and we still had the fenders over the port side. Masthead light and what I think is the GPS screen clearly visible, Lopez Island middle distance across San Juan Channel and Blakely, Cypress and Guemes islands just poking up over Lopez and possibly Mount Vernon about 35 miles away in the far distance. Small fishing boat in the channel. Out through Cattle Pass on the last of the ebb with attendant whirlpools and sluices and off towards Smith Island. Grey, cold and drizzly, cloudbase 500 feet or so and no wind on a lumpy sea. Mota pottering at half revs, misty visibility all the way across to Whidbey Island and Port Townsend. Enter the Examiner with her leathers and test kit. Mota Lisa making about 3 kts in the lumps and rolls so very slow uncomfortable progress and as we got to Smith, the cloudbase dropped to water level and we were in fog – ok to start with and visibility a couple of miles but it really socked in as we approached Partridge Point on Whidbey. Slow progress put us in maximum ebb current in Admiralty Inlet. The tide was flowing at 4.5 knots so it became a looong ferry glide across to Point Wilson – perhaps 4.5 hours to cover 4 miles with about 40 degrees of drift. Assuming Mota Lisa was giving us 5 knots at her best revs, that’s about 22 miles through the water. As an ancient aviator, drift is easy as long as there are visual reference points – I’m not much good at it in fog. The GPS lubber line is too insensitive for me to pick the early signs of wander and we did not have the big compass set up. Silly old fart didn’t think of it. So we wandered all over the place. Fog gradually lifted so we were able to see and avoid a big container ship and a tug with a long line towing a huge barge and a couple of ferries we knew were there via the Marine Traffic app. Tangled masses of very long kelp in the current swirls. Finally into PT and up to friend’s mooring at Port Hadluck.(thanks you two:)) We shared the very last dose of the Dublin doctor’s prescribed medication. About 10 hours of fun for her in the leathers. Life, the Universe and our towels. Virus-free. www.avg.com <#DAB4FAD8-2DD7-40BB-A1B8-4E2AA1F9FDF2>

Village Girl

Full circ!e

Well, sort of. We’re back in Friday Harbour, after Mota’ing across from Sidney a couple of days ago, almost exactly a year since we were last here and where we found VG looking sad and lonely and decided she’d be a friend. And so it all growed and we’re back. Sadly, perhaps, we would rather have been in Ketchikan but not to be. Last year, we celebrated July 4th at the Yacht Club but this time we plan to leave at about half ebb tomorrow and out through Cattle Pass into the Strait of Juan de Fuca if it’s not foggy…Then across to Port Townsend and we’ll try to find somewhere to park VG till next year.

Village Girl

Narrow Dodds and other stuff

More Mota-ing. Without her, we’d still be in Comox but we wouldn’t have buzzy feet. 12 hours of the little darling is a bit of a trial. Here we are in Sidney – last stop before the US border and the TSA. We plan to cross and into Friday Harbour tomorrow if they will let us in. Yesterday, we got to Dodd Narrows about half an hour before slack and stuck VG’s delicate nose into the current and decided to bale. Current running at about 5 kts and with some attitude. Again about 15 min later, same result but current slowing. Both times we were spewed out at over 7 kts. Third time lucky and we crept through at about 2 kts with Mota Lisa at warp revs. Old Fart ready to leap for the oars if Mota hiccupped but all went well and grey knuckles gradually returned to normal. Then to our friendly jetty in Trincomali Channel just south of Porlier Pass for the night, where the old fart had a missunderstanding with our obliging rubber bucket. Off again at 0500 to here. Flat calm. Photos show Dodd Narrows playtime and Megan’s new friend Lila, a cuddly local fluffball, who visited us on the jetty.

Village Girl

Buzzing feet and Mota Lisa

A 12 hour slog from Comox to Nanaimo a couple of days ago. Feet still abuzz from the vibration. Flat calm, lovely scenery down inside Denman Island and then open Strait of Georgia. We managed to time our passage over the new ferry cables in Baynes Sound – apparently the ferry runs on three of them and they are synthetic. But if not for Megan’s trek to collect Mota Lisa we’d still be in Comox. We will transit Dodd Narrows today and head for Sidney. It’s an easier world with a motor! The photo is the fishing boat harbour at Comox. Find tiny VG if you can

Village Girl

Comox! Old coal loading town…

We got I to Comox late on Thursday after a difficult beat down from Campbell River and around Cape Lazo. W weren’t sure whether we could cross the Comox bar but, as it turned out, the channel was well marked and relatively easy. Comox is a fishing town and fully touristy too. We are in the fishing boat harbour with industrial sized cleats and other fittings and we have our motor back! Yay. Megan left yesterday for the bus to Nanaimo, ferry to Van, bus to the airport and Alaska Air cargo Depot and collected it and arrived back with it’s big ass box this afternoon. She’d lugged its 70 pounds across Van and the ferry with an overnight in Nanaimo and the final bus and was knackered. We cured that with appropriate medical draughts and we are now waiting for a favourable wind for Nanaimo. Looks like another day here. We’ll need the motor, I think, as we will probably need to avoid a military practice zone on the way. Meantime, Comox has an appropriate dispensary for an excellent prescription from the Doctor in Dublin.

Village Girl

Tugboat bookends

We were almost pinned into Browns Bay again as the wind inconveniently rose and blew directly into the entrance at 25 kts or so right on the start of our Narrows window. Luckily, Rodney the tugboat man was going out at the right time and he towed us out of the harbour. Thanks heaps – again, Rodney!. Unrolled headsail and an exhilarating sail down through the Narrows eddie’s – all very gentle at almost slack but we could feel the power. So could VG! We’d arranged for Rob the Campbell River towboat man to pick us up just north of the CR harbour entrance and so it came to pass. It was lucky we did – no way we could have heathfarted across the wind and against the current around the cruise ship piles and dolphins and into the entrance. Might just have made it under full sail but I doubt it. Rob was at full power ferry gliding us in. So here we are – it’s still blowing a hooley from the NW and would not be much fun out in the Strait of Georgia. We look like being here till Saturday and a predicted wind change. Then, we hope, to Nanaimo perhaps over 2 days and Megan will catch the ferry to Vancouver to collect our motor. One of our friends said the motor would look good when we see it and I said it would outdo the Mona Lisa in sheer beauty, so Mona Lisa the motor will be. Yay! The photo is looking north at the northern end of the Narrows a few minutes after slack water. It changes fast!

Latest Logs

It’s the waiting

Aargh Narrows half a mile to the right of the photo… On Wed, Jun 19, 2019, 09:48 Alex Whitworth <alex1whit@gmail.com > wrote: > The old proverb that a coward dies a thousand times while the brave die > once has always seemed to me to be back to front. Apart from the fact that > cowardice is an outdated concept, courage is about knowing it’s going to be > nasty but doing it anyway. I’ve been sitting here pondering this silliness > as we wait for our moment of furious activity getting out of here and > thinking about everything that can go wrong. Catastrophising madly and > watching every tiny change in wind direction and strength and the turmoil > of waters a quarter of a mile out. It usually helps to have thought through > foreseeable disasters but it doesn’t alleviate the slightly corrosive > dread that comes with the anticipation of possible nastiness. Anyways, > we’re all poised to heathfart wildly into whatever the Examiner chucks into > the harbour entrance at about 1230. So far, it looks a bit better than > yesterday and we’ve turned VG around to the other side of our jetty so she > doesn’t get pinned like yesterday. Our Narrows window opens at about 1300 > which is, in theory, slack water but we’ve noticed some deviation from the > current predictions we are able to access. We’ll see. In the photo VGs > roller furler is just visible against the buildings far left and there are > a couple of tugs pulling a huge log raft towards the Narrows in the > distance. Narrows entrance is half a mile to the left of the photo >

Village Girl

It’s the waiting

The old proverb that a coward dies a thousand times while the brave die once has always seemed to me to be back to front. Apart from the fact that cowardice is an outdated concept, courage is about knowing it’s going to be nasty but doing it anyway. I’ve been sitting here pondering this silliness as we wait for our moment of furious activity getting out of here and thinking about everything that can go wrong. Catastrophising madly and watching every tiny change in wind direction and strength and the turmoil of waters a quarter of a mile out. It usually helps to have thought through foreseeable disasters but it doesn’t alleviate the slightly corrosive dread that comes with the anticipation of possible nastiness. Anyways, we’re all poised to heathfart wildly into whatever the Examiner chucks into the harbour entrance at about 1230. So far, it looks a bit better than yesterday and we’ve turned VG around to the other side of our jetty so she doesn’t get pinned like yesterday. Our Narrows window opens at about 1300 which is, in theory, slack water but we’ve noticed some deviation from the current predictions we are able to access. We’ll see. In the photo VGs roller furler is just visible against the buildings far left and there are a couple of tugs pulling a huge log raft towards the Narrows in the distance. Narrows entrance is half a mile to the left of the photo

Village Girl

Another day, another jetty

The Examiner is about 40 points to our zero right now. We have a one hour window in daylight to get out of Browns Bay and into the Narrows – it opened at midday today and it depends on the time of low water slack tide in the Narrows. Without a motor, we must go through at the very beginning of the flood to avoid the nastiness. Today the wind pinned us against our jetty and even if we could have got off it, it was waay too strong to heathfart directly into it to get out of the harbour safely. One of the benefits of not racing is that it doesn’t matter. We will try again tomorrow. Fish and chips preceeded by a dose of The Compound in an hour or so.

Village Girl

A gap filler

It’s all a bit of a blur. We left our uncomfortable pontoon in full heathfart middayish yesterday aiming for Browns Bay and hooning down on the current. Wind and sail. The last point to be rounded before Browns looked rather nasty on Navionics current predictions and we needed to wait for slack high water to round it. Sailed into a tiny bay and anchored within a boatlength of rocky beach, trees and singing birds. Lovely spot. We tried to time our departure to get us to the point at slack but clearly left too early and we’re in danger of being swept past the very tricky entrance. Luckily a little tugboat came up and we asked for a tow. One man crew, fully in charge of his vessel and he idled his massive engine into Browns and he lobbed us gently onto an empty jetty where we now sit. Exquisitely skilful. Thank you Mr Lundqvist! Not sure how the photos will post but there’s an otter at the end of the discharge pipe on or pontoon, Angry Beaver in the far distance heading south with lovely mountain backdrop, our yellow mooring buoy in Menzies Bay, Megan fully relaxed and our little bay and the tugboat Broughton Warrior. Also a resend from Christelle and Kristian, two friendly canoists we met just before Porlier a few days ago. Thanks, you two! There’s a webcam at Browns Bay but it just misses VG…






Village Girl

Commiserations

Sad to hear about Holopuni and You do Stuff and glad they are all safe. I know what it feels like. From his position when we passed him yesterday, I suspect YDS got into the same standing waves that we did the day before. I hope both boats were retrieved.

Village Girl

The Examiner’s revenge

Messy!

Village Girl

The Grim Sweeper

Just a quickie. We’ve re-read the race packet and there’s now no way we can beat the Grim Sweeper to Ketchikan so we’ve officially retired to relieve the organisers of responsibility for our safety aznd we’ll go cruising back to PT. We’re sad. ————————————————- 

Village Girl

on the efficacy of snubbers and other stuff

We are tied on the inside of a little floating pontoon by the grace of the owners. It seemed safe enough when we arrived yesterday but it is completely open to any waves and swell coming from the north. It’s 0200ish now and for some of the last couple of hours we have been grey knuckled trying to save the boat from bashing herself to bits on the pontoon. Dangerous and unfunny. There has been a series of big waves coming across the channel and VG and the pontoon have been violently out of phase and our puny fenders have barely coped. By a bit of inspired luck, I brought a pair of heavy mooring line snubbers from Oz and we have them woven into our bow and stern lines and I think they saved the boat tonight. So far…They are rubber cylinders that absorb the impact load when the boat and the pontoon move in opposite directions. VG weighs about 2 tons and without the snubbers would for sure have broken free and ended up on the rocks a few metres away. The snubbers and our springs. But my knuckles are still grey and the night isnt over yet. Watch this space. And you might be wondering why we don’t just anchor when things get pearshaped. VG’s anchor rode is about 200 feet of chain and rope. That means we can safely anchor in about 50 ft of water if the current isn’t too fierce. In these channels, the sides are rocky, sometimes cliffs, and they plunge sometimes almost vertically to more that 300 ft in places. We have to find sheltered shallow water to anchor and that’s why we are being very careful about not getting caught by a reversal of a 5 knot current with nowhere to go. We can only heathfart at about 2 knots and only sustain that for a couple of hours. Is, could you please confirm that these silly ramblings are actually reaching the blog?

Village Girl

Warp speed - not

Still the wrong side of a strong wind warning, with 20 – 30 forecast for tonight. Right over our ebb tide, so we stayed put. We can see the channel boiling away half a mile out and we don’t need a repeat of this morning. Even here in our sheltered bay we’re rolling all over the place. We saw R2Ache go past and into a bay we thought about this morning. Might have been a good choice, in retrospect. It may have taken them past the funnel effect that seems to be our lot and I think they may be on their way by now. I hope so – they done good to get this far. The forecast for tomorrow is no better – we’ll go look early in the morning. Apologies for the dismal progress. At the moment, we are looking in danger of the Grim Sweeper. My estimate is at least 18 more days to Ketchikan. ————————————————-

Village Girl

A bit more on this morning's excursion

We’ve been finding a bit of evidence about how violent those rolls were. Big standing waves, VG hitting them at 8ish knots and rolling about 80 degrees. We found things that had jumped off shelves with 4 inch high netting and lodged across the boat just below the shelves on the other side. We almost filled the cockpit a couple of times. Nothing I could do – 2 reefs and about a quarter headsail. VG needs a third reef and we’ll get that done when we can. We probably hit the worst point of wind and current – science is about observation, hypothesis and testing. Coming back here was also interesting – same standing waves, wind dead astern, incipient gybe all the time and making about a knot. Lowest I saw was 0,2 knots. We kept as close inshore as seemed safe – the current marginally less but violent rips in places. Fun, but also a bit scary. I was able to sail alongside the dock un der fully sheeted main with a margin of speed just in case. Bit of a bumpy but safe arrival. We’re now happily tied up to the private dock and we’ll stay here at least till this evening’s forecast. Lesson from playtime is that anything over 20 kots on the nose and against the stream is likely to be too much for VG. The owner’s representative visited us and gave us tacit permission to hang about. Apparently, they built the dock 6 months ago and we are the third boat to use it. Yay. We have a resident otter who has left us half a biggish fish and will no doubt be back to claim it. Packet soup is way too salty. Medicinal compounds soon to alleviate dehydration. ————————————————-

Village Girl

Shades of the S2H

I remember several Sydney Hobarts over the years when we’ve been off NE Tasmania still heading south and being passed by the line honors winner going north to start toe Gold Coast race. We’ve just been passed by Angry Beaver going south. Almost double the S2H margin. More on the equation – this race is about headbangery and resilience and skill but at some point prudence and seamanship start to influence things. Do we wait here for as long as it takes to get through to Knox Bay – basically, until the wind changes, I think – or do we pull the plug and go have fun elsewhere. We will listen to tne next medium term forecast, maybe have another go on this evening’s flood (when the forecast says 30kt so iffy at best)and then decide. This isn’t much fun – and, of course, wasn’t meant to be – and we throw away weeks of effort if we do pull out, so it’s a big decision. We can hang around for a week if we decide to so that’s where we’re at. This morning’s effort was clenchmaking of the nethers in the extreme and silly to repeat. ————————————————- 

Village Girl

The Examiner again.

Hmm. That was one of the hairier bits of sailing I can remember. 25kts wind against a 5.5kt current and short steep 5 ft wind waves breaking with a wavelength about half of VG so about 15 ft. Easy to exaggerate this stuff, so I could be wrong but we were almost out of control moving north at nearly 8 knots and rolling wildly. Wind and sea increasing and again nowhere to go if we needed to hide. I called it off after a particularly nasty roll thar nearly flooded the cockpit and we then had the reverse problem but at least under control. We crept into a private jetty owned by a fish hatchery and sailed alongside where we now sit waiting for the next tide. The equation gets complicated – we clearly can’t make headway in the prevailing conditions – we’ve tried both with and against the current – and there seems to be no break for at least a few days. And we just got passed by R2ache. We’ll watch and see how they go. And there is a deer on shore close by. ————————————————- 

Village Girl

Well, that was interesting

And frustrating. We went out to have a look, assuming the current was with us. It wasn’t, spectacularly. My mistake. The tracker will show how we went- but it doesnt show the huge upwellings and whirlpools around Rock point, where the waters meet the land in a grand and frightening maelstrom. It started about as we arrived and we had nowhere t0o go except into it. VG was tossed and twirled with a lot of force. We out out of that, but could not make serious progress into what was about a 5 knot flow southward and there’s nowhere to duck into before Knox bay if things got really pearshaped so we did the prudent thing and came back here. Again. Meh! We will try again tomorrow at 0600ish. and GRIB weather is useless here. I think the processing delay may be the problem. ———————————————–

Village Girl

Otter Cove

We got here yesterday evening – not easy getting into the bay heathfarting – against the wind but on the last of the ebb. The tracker may have enough detail to show out meanderings. Uncomfortable anchorage – we picked the main wind tunnel across the bay and had a difficult night swinging on the anchor line in the gusts. We moved 100 metres in a lull today for a bit more shelter. Loverly bay otherwise – surrounded by conifers and we can hear the birds singing when the wind isn’t blasting. A family of 16 Canada geese visited us this morning. I think we are stuck here for a few days – the westerly winds are just too much for little VG at the moment and there aren’t enough bolt holes to escape if we need to bail. ———————————-

Village Girl

Where waters collide

Towards the end of our miserable wet night getting to Campbell River,we passed a small rocky island which we’d been looking at since dawn’s grey crack. I was off my game – I’d been meaning to find out where Middlemarch Island was and that was it. A wildlife reserve but more relevant for us, the point where tides change from northerly ebb to southerly. We found out the hard way as the tracker shows. A vast coiling roiling thrashing of water where two huge currents meet and we went backwards completely out of control till I got my act together and got the oars out. We ferry glided across the maelstrom until we reached the calmer north flowing tide on the west side. Interesting and a much more vicious big daddy of the meeting of the south flowing East Australian and the colder waters flowing out of Bass Strait off the SR corner of Australia. Luckily and completely by chance we timed it right. Must have been Carla’s corralling of the Examiner. We don’t have a water thermometer on VG but in Australia there’s a 3 deg change in temperature across the very obvious line where the waters meet. It happens in a boat length. Ain’t it a wonderful world! —————————————–

Village Girl

What a place to put a cruise ship terminal

As we sat fixing Heath’s balls and other stuff, we idly planned our departure for this morning. And then realised with a jerk that it wasn’t going to be so squeezy froody. We’d planned to leave at 0500 to get to Menzies Bay and anchor to wait for the high tide slack at 1400ish to go through the Narrows. That’s maximum north flowing ebb and just what we needed. Except that there’s a massive line of very inhospitable piles and walkways about 600 ft NE of the harbour exit. VG flat out in Heathfart can just about make 2.5 kts – not enough to get us aqround the thing safely as we flowed sideways at 5.5 knots in the tide. So we left in the dark at 0315ish into a 15 kt northerly winded and half blinded by the shore lights. Safe but uncomfortable. Once we were clear and into the full force of wind over tide, VG becdame impossible to control, wanting to sit sideways to the current and drift towards the shore. And lumpy. Meh! We unfurled the headsail and regained control and arrived at Race Point in a hiccup. Tacked around it and through the race – scary in the semi dark – and the wind dropped right out. Back to heathfarting for about 3 miles into the big lumber port that is Menzies Bay. We are attached to a huge yellow mooring buoy, as big as VG as the industrial world grinds and snorts around us. A lot ov very bir diesels driving a lot of machinery and the smell of peeled pinebark. I’ve had a sleep and Megan’s having one, with the GPS anchor alarm set. Here we will sit until about 1300 when we will set off for the Narrows and high tide slack at 1400ish. ———————————

Village Girl

Gale and stuff

Seems we may be here for a couple of days. There’s a gale warning for Johnstone Strait just around the corner. To pass the time, I will copy the 2 emails I have waiting on my android tablet which will connect happily to Irtidium but won’t send the emails. Meh. The Examiner has subtle ways to harass us. —————————–

Village Girl

Quick update via iridium

We think we heard a strong wind warning for johnstone strait. VHF weather is intermittent at best. if we can comfirm tomorrow or by grib, we’ll hang out here in Otter cove till it blows out. We have out towels and medicinal compounds and the scenery is wonderful.

Village Girl

Where waters collide

Towards the end of out miserable wet night getting into Campbell River we passed a small rocky island which we’d been looking at since dawn’s grey crack. I was off my game – I’d been meaning to find out where Middlemarch Island was and that was it. A wildlife reserve, but more relevantly for us, the point where the tides change from northerly ebb to southerly. We found out the hard way, as the tracker shows. A vast coiling roiling thrashing of water where two huge currents meet and we went backwards completely out of control till I got my act together and the oars out. We ferry glided across the maelstrom until we reached the calmer north following tide on the west side. Interesting and a much more vicious big daddy of the meeting of the south flowing East Coast Current and the colder waters flowing out of Bass Strait off the SE corner of Australia. Luckily and completely by chance, we timed it right. Must have been Carla’s corralling of the Examiner. We don’t have a water thermometer on VG but in Australia there’s a 3 degree change in temperature across the very obvious line where the waters meet. It happens in a boat length. Ain’t it a wonderful world!

Village Girl

A year ago.

This gig is not about instart gratification – unless you like whales breeching, dazzling sunlight on the snowy peaks along the track, wonderfully kind and interested people met along the way or that first medicinal dose of The Compound in the Campbell River pub after a hell of a difficult night in the rain getting here. Both in survival suits to stay warm. The Examiner was in the offing but behaved. Thanks Carla! Heathfarting, drifting, wimping out of crossing the Comox bar for the first time at night, kite flying, ( if you are reading this Brian, perfect little kite, thanks!) soggy cold naps in the cockpit and hallucinations. It’s been quite a project. A year ago on the way back from Nanaimo with Bobbles, I saw VG in a slip in Friday harbour with a sad for sale sign drooping in her rig but – big but – an outboard well in the cockpit. Perfect for a pedal drive, I thought and next year’s boat. And so it came to pass. Huge effort, lots of modifications, lots of frustrations, Heath cobbled together brilliantly by Megan and we’re here. Yesterday we passed the point where poor Bobbles broke her rudder just out if Nanaimo. We waved in respect. Heath is losing his balls, poor lad. To be precise, he seems to be chewing up his bearings and Megan will lay hands upon him tomorrow. We will stay here tomorrow to make some other simple fixes and leave for Seymour Narrows on Wednesday. The photo shows VG waiting for low tide in Porlier Passage on a little public dock half a mile from the passage. We timed it well but still interesting. Nice to get out into Georgia Strait. To the kind lo gcanoeists who sent us a photo from there, thanks but in my tiredness I seem to have lost it. Could you please send it again?

Village Girl

Why? Written over 2 days

I expect you are all wondering why we seem to be wasting hours of good tide and parking for the night. It’s all about taking no risks at this point of the race. This evening the wind dropped to about 3 kts and we had a big tidal flow and nowhere easy to get to if things got pearshaped later so again we compromised. VG is way harder to move than Bobbles by Heath and old fart – henceforth Heathfart – we are now working out the limits and I think we can sustain about 2 knots for a couple of hours but that doesn’t necessarily get us out of trouble. Tomorrow looks uncool and un froody too. Tides, winds and current make for an interesting bit of calculation.The equation – do we hang about for the favourable tide in the afternoon or get out and try to Heathfart to Porlier pass and park for the outflowing tide? Lots of variables. Or do we just Heathfart towards Dodd Narrows and try to get through in the evening? VG is a lot harder to control and local advice from the owner of the boat we are tied up to says don’t even try in VG. I think I agree. And now it’s Saturday and we have a plan. The current reverses at low water in Porlier Passage at about 1430 and that’s the time to go for it. We are 6 miles away, with a slightly adverse tide so we’ll get heathfarting in an hour or so. Glassy calm outside our little cove. Watch this space and keep ‘em crossed. Carla, go find the Examiner and corrall her for 12 hours or so please.

Village Girl

Warp drive would be noice…

Not the most auspicious beginning to a 700 mi!e race but hey. This is a big marina packed with squillion dollar boats, all meticulously maintained – polished till they shine – by a local company. Some look as if they get used, most don’t. There isn’t anything nearly as small or scruffy as VG but she does at least go places, when the tide let’s her. We have a long wait for said tide – but I don’t think we have much choice. 5 knots of breeze is not nearly enough for VG to punch into the ebb and the flood starts in 5 hoursish. There’s no way we could do it with Heath and the old fart engaged in human power either. We can make about about 2.5 knots for an hour or so but that won’t cut it. When the tide changes we have about 11 hours to make some distance north. I think this may become the pattern of our race. We will keep our towels handy and not panic.

Village Girl

Meh! The Examiner at play.

Not the best of days. Out of the harbour into a big hole in the wind with everyone disappearing into the distance and even Ziska overtook us. Awful frustration. We rowed and pedalled towards all the little wind ruffles and eventually found a puff that built into a really sparkling run up towards James Island. Then it died and backed almost 180 degrees and dropped to about 5 kts as we approached Sidney. Lots of tide with us but it seemed better to compromise at this stage of the race and wait for the next tide tomorrow rather than risk getting caught going backwards without a safe anchorage. So here we are, in a marina a bit further ahead of Bobbles’ attempt last year year but way behind where we had hoped to be. The good news is that Megan’s wonderful Heath Robinson pedal drive really works. He’s now called Heath, and is distantly related to Kevvo by some odd bits of DNA that seem to play in metal gizmos that work from the back of the boat. He complains and whinges more than Kevvo did but he is a collection of bits and pieces of scrap cobbled together so he’s entitled to the collywobbles. The next tide is not till late morning tomorrow so we will catch up on all the fixes on the list. And some interesting idiosyncrasies with our main GPS. More on this if it grows legs. Onward. This tired old fart will now fall into his bunk.

Village Girl

Apprehension by the shovelful

It’s really just a longish Sydney Hobart but with much better scenery and a very different intellectual challenge but that doesn’t really alleviate the nerves and the Examiner hasn’t had a good crack at us yet. The older I get the more nervous I get – doesn’t do to know too much! The noon start will be mayhem. We have to get off the jetty early to let the headbangers in the big fast boats out from inside us and then we can settle down to rowing and pedalling to get out of the harbour. Reasonable forecast for the first couple of days but, unlike last year, there should be wind. Right now it’s blowing 20 kts and we’re all rocking. We must now rely on all our preparations and hope for just enough luck to get us to Ketchikan. Best estimate 18 days or so. 3 elapsed Sydney Hobarts. I’ll try to post daily using our iridium Go and Berrimilla’s old faithful Toughbook but don’t fuss if you don’t hear from us. It’s a lot harder in Village Girl. We are Team Wingnuts on the tracker. Onya to any of the rusted on fans still out there.




Village Girl

Marvin and the parking lot

We bought Village Girl in Friday Harbour last year and sailed her to Port Townsend where she sat in the old boat graveyard on-land parking spot all winter. She was moved to the work area on April 15 and Megan set to work sanding and antifouling – massive job and finished when I arrived from Oz a couple of weeks later. Since then, we have rebuilt the mast, made new hatches, rewired the electrical system, installed a DSC VHF radio linked to the GPS, built the rowing station and done the million trivial things that are essential to make her seaworthy. Megan got her amazing pedal drive system working properly but we have yet to test it. She is now building a crate to send the outboard to Ketchikan in… It’s been a huge, exhausting process but VG was relaunched a few days agocourtesy of Marvin and we went sailing a couple of days ago. It all seems to work, but really no confidence until we can get her out in some heavy weather. Lots of little things yet to do – fitting jacklines, tossing everything off that we dont need, passing the safety inspection on Friday…keep them crossed please – the Examiner is lurking. And we visited a basking sea lion…Huge thanks to PTR riggers and all the other p.eople who have helped Virus-free. www.avg.com <#m_-1817043855539821457_DAB4FAD8-2DD7-40BB-A1B8-4E2AA1F9FDF2>





Village Girl

If you grip the twig for long enough…

the competitors get a bit thin on the ground. Today was the Port Townsend Rhody run – final event in the Spring Festival. Megan, our friends Martin and Ingrid and I all ran it. Brutal, hilly 12k or in local terms 7.3 miles. Ugly, it was and I had to walk a lot of it but hey! 3rd and a medal. There were 987 finishers. Megan beat me by nearly 12 minutes which, I think, is the beginning of the end. The economists’ supply/demand graph comes to mind and that crossover point. Supply is running down.

Village Girl

Col. regs. Rule 33

Yesterday evening we went for a walk along the inner marina wall to get over the day and I noticed a masthead light flashing across on the other side of the marina. A jerk of recognition – something I’ve never seen for real, only in practice but a genuine SOS. We were standing next to the coastguard complex and Megan phoned the duty number, to be told that they did not have the resources to check and would we? They did give us their Seattle HQ number. Yay! We hurried round the 10 minute walk, working out what to do if…someone injured? Hostage situation? Boat on fire? Stupid joke? Silly mistake? We checked in with a man in another boat on the jetty as we approached and he said he’d seen the crew leaving 2 hours earlier. We discovered that it was another R2ak boat which we both knew about but we approached with some caution to find the boat open, lights on below and apparently nobody aboard. We left them a note and our phone number and Megan got a thank you text this morning. All’s well etc. but could have been a bit tricky. We weren’t a ship at sea but reg. 33 is a basic rule for us all.

Village Girl

Red hot spikes and other stuff

What a week! It’s been Sydney hot and we have no usable shade so dehydration is a hazard to be respected. The Examiner nearly got us both yesterday. The little boat is in great nick for her age – I wonder how you compare boat ages to human. I seem to remember that dogs get about 14 years for their four score years and ten but boats? VG has been in Australia about as long as I have – she was built in 1967 ish by East Coast Seacraft, so she’s already 52 but apart from the usual battle scars she’s better that a lot of today’s production boats. Heavier, no internal volume so very cramped for 2 people but structurally she’s got another 50 years with TLC. I’ve spent the last 3 days rebuilding the mast — a new half inch PVC tube (called a case here) for the wiring, new nav lights, coax fittings for the VHF antenna and putting it all together. Rivetting the case to the inside of the mast was interesting – careful measurement, pairs of holes drilled through the mast every 2 metres or so and then a red hot spike through the drill holes and into the plastic to make holes first for holding screws and then rivets. A very hot long day’s work with much walking from one end to the other and not a little frustration. But it happened. PTR rigging have been wonderful, lending us their tools and workshop and lots of advice and they will run the halyards next week. There will, of course, be a bill but hey! Meanwhile Megan melded 2 cast off hatch covers we found in a dumpster into one, removed the sliding hatch and built a parapet around the sliding hatch coamings and fitted a new and very different opening hatch. We think that it will work well with a little dodger. Huge job. Cross ‘em! We need to have it all sorted in the next week or so.


Village Girl

Sphinctorial musings.

VG progresses. Decrepit Old Fart seems at last to have head in gear. Started this note about a week ago but the butterfly’s wing in Paraguay must be beating so hard that the turbulence distorts The Plan, such as it is. In in a project like this, there are so many trivial details that must be dealt with as their heads appear above the muddy surface else they will give the Examiner stuff to play with later. The list changes by the hour sometimes and is never short of attitude. We are on the skinniest of tight budgets and most of what we are using is very second hand. Recycle, fudge and bodge is the go. And logistics – I’m trying to organise an affordable Iridium Go contract so’s we can post during and after the race while out of mobile range. And how do we get the outboard to Ketchikan? And meh! We lifted the mast yesterday and that’s a job all of its own…photos tomorrow perhaps. For the initiated, Cakebob has his own list and his own universe. He may get antifouled. I’m slowly getting used to what is euphemistically known as the bathroom here. That curvy bit of porcelain is not something I’d care to bathe in but there ya go. I have a dissertation in mind about the Fundamental Processes associated with said porcelain and occasional lack of same. Gravity, length of flight, the characteristics of streamlined bodies and water entry, splash avoidance, consistency and elasticity of extrusion and all things turdular. PPP, El Pinko and Eeyore are supervising the works. Eeyore doesn’t think we’ll find VGs tail.

Village Girl

Press here to restart…

Back in Port Townsend with Village Girl on crutches in the yard. Megan has spent 2 weeks sanding, priming, antifouling and generally fixing and it’s happening. Huge to-do list and a month to get it all working. Pedal drive being put together by The Cyclist and rowing station by the Decrepit Old Rower. The mast comes out next week and we’ll be on survival gruel once we get the bill for that but it has to be done. The yard is flat out launching boats and our launch date is May 22nd officially, but I’m sure we’ll get a slot before that once we are ready. Then it really begins. Sporadic internet so more as it happens.

Village Girl

Sylvie

Village Girl

Howl.

Sylvie Branton, the lovely talented wonderful person who created this website died this morning in Grenada. I’m devastated but I rejoice for her life and our friendship. Love and hugs to her family and a bunch of flowers in the teleport for her. Her creativity will live on.

Village Girl

Wingnuts and Village Girl

https://r2ak.com/2019-teams-full-race/team-wingnuts/?fbclid=IwAR0tIqgz0zEBEuokxl2eNEYM8X2K9AQ3hvgsN1WyMtaB2nas2wsPwSSuxdc So here we go again, back to do it properly this time. Village Girl is a step up from Bobbles but getting to Ketchikan is by no means a done deed. Why Wingnuts do I hear you ask? It has a few meanings – big ears and no brains, perhaps, or perceived as odd, eccentric and extreme, both of which seem to fit the bill. It’s also a derogatory term for an extremely conservative politician, so add irony by the spadeful. We will rendezvous in Port Townsend in April to get VG sorted and this time, we will try to break anything that’s going to break in time to fix it before the start. We’ll crank up this blog as we go.

Village Girl

A trilogy in umpteen parts.

We have a new boat! Or at least a new old boat. Long story but she was looking forlorn with long kelpy weed and barnacles in Friday Harbour with a faded “For Sale” notice drooping from her rig. We noticed that she has an outboard motor well in the cockpit – perfect for a pedal drive unit…Coincidentally, the owner saw us and offered her to us for the outstanding marina fees – we borrowed wetsuits and dived and looked and she’s now ours. Woody, the owner, had owned her for 27 years and she has some robust repairs – WYSIWYG – and he told us all he knew about her faults. We sailed her to Anacortes, then to Port Townsend, back to Anacortes and she’s now sitting in the dry storage yard in Port Townsend waiting for Megan to arrive in April in her best fibreglassing overalls to fix a couple of patches and launch her for R2AK 2019. Then we’ll go and finish the thing and perhaps sail her further than Ketchikan. Wishful thinking but a nice maybe project. She’s a South Coast Seacraft 23 – perhaps better known as an Alberg 23 – if you google either of them you should get to this http://sailboatdata.com/viewrecord.asp?class_id=304 An old design but seaworthy and from the days when fibreglass boats were rather better built than today. Carl Alberg designed a lot of similar boats and they are all good boats. She’s called Village Girl. She’s tiny, but bigger than Bobbles and a bit more suitable for The Project. Bobbles is in Portland and the plan is to get her to Homer to sail on Katchemak Bay and then maybe back to Portland in a few years as a sail trainer for a couple of kids we know. more as it happens

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And so it ends

Until next year. We are trailing Bobbles back to Portland today where she will dry out had get a new coat of fibreglass and a couple of gussets around her new daggerboard case and maybe a sail up to the Columbia Gorge for a bit of a frolic to test the new bits. We are making plans for next year. It’s been interesting. All our modifications to Bobbles worked as intended. I was concerned about the rudder and the centreboard as we had no opportunity to test them in more than very light winds. It was blowing around 22 kts gusting higher with short steep seas when it broke and, having looked at the way it was built, I’m not surprised. That’s why we also decided to replace the centreboard. When we removed it, we discovered that it was waterlogged and delaminated so a good move.The rudder broke at its weakest point but I had not considered it as a risk and we just adjusted the blade in its cheeks before the race. Egg on face and an expensive exercise cut short almost as it started. I think rowing most of the way to Nanaimo doesn’t really count. We are looking at options for next year – neither of us like !eaving things unfinished or wasting all that useful experience. Meanwhile, some local wildlife. It had compressed itself from about twice as long before I got the camera going.

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Gastronomics and shrivel

There is a 5 day season for catching Dungeness crab in Port Townsend. Probably why we had to avoid hundreds of crab pot lines getting here yesterday. This is day 3. We were given a bagful this morning and I can confirm that, mixed with leftover Cuban black bean rice from a dried backpacker meal and fried the result is exceptional. Yay! Stupid old fart had to swim 50 metres for the dinghy this afternoon after failing to secure it properly to Bobbles. We swam in colder water as kids in England but still a tad shrivelling for the appendages and the metabolism. Tricky water exit back into Bobbles and some lessons learned.

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10 years ago

I took the first photo on July 4th 2008 at about 0300 as we approached Nome for the first time. It’s Sledge Island and I now have a folder of photos from much the same spot but all of them taken standing on the sea ice. Odd feeling being out there where the boat was but isn’t… Later that day I watched my first July 4th parade and was given the best ever roast brisket in the Breakers bar.10 years later, my second parade in Friday Harbour. I wonder whether there’ll be another in 2028….We were reunited with our outboard in Sidney after it had been on a tourist drive to a car park in Prince Rupert and met Marvin, still parking cars. We were infinitely improbably privileged to hang out in a real Heart of Gold in Friday Harbour. My absolute favorite boat which also circumnavigated at rather less than warp speed back in the 90s. It’s been cheesecake since – we motored across from Sidney to Friday Harbour and stayed for the parade there and the next day motored down to the anchorage in Griffin Bay just inside Cattle Pass and anchored for the night. 0500 start to get through the Pass and into the Strait of Juan de Fuca on the end of the ebb tide – did I mention anywhere that the currents here have attitude? There was 5 knots and some interesting eddie’s flowing out of the pass and big tide rips for the first couple of miles into the Strait. Glassy calm otherwise and the little Honda took us the 20 miles or so to Point Wilson at the entrance to Port Townsend in 5 hours on about a gallon of gas. More rips getting into the Harbour but we’re perhaps foolishly rather gung ho these days and we keep our towels handy. Still a bit gulp inducing though – Bobbles really is tiny and she does get her knickers a bit twisted sometimes. Now she’s parked on a kind friend’s mooring at Port Hadluck and we’re working out the logistics of the next move. We do need to fix the rather hasty repairs we did to the centreboard case in Nanaimo. The fibreglass is letting in water – in no way a showstopper but aggravating. We think we must have relaunched Bobbles before it had dried properly. Notes to self!



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Midnight in Sidney

Apologies for the long gap. It’s been busy and tiring for old farts. We rowed most of the way from Nanaimo to here a couple of days ago with a tide stop overnight in a tiny anchorage in Long Harbour. The rowing hands and the nethers are getting back into form. Now tucked into the very tightly packed and busy marina at Canoe Cove, almost under the huge travel lift in a spot that nearly dries at low water, so ideal for Bobbles. We bounced the new daggerboard and rudder on some rocks on approach which caused som lack of dignity but they survived. Their next serious test will be the strait of Juan de Fuca in a day or so. It’s been raining and really uncomfortable but we have our towels. Both sleeping in bear suits in preparation for a 0400 start, heading for Friday Harbour and customs clearance back into the USA. Maybe a small consultation with Sue and Jim, the Sailmail Wizards. There’s a bit of wind forecast for Sunday so we may hang out till Monday before heading into the last leg to Port Townsend. Just like when I first looked at Nome on the internet, I never thought I’d ever get to Friday Harbour. Yet to happen, of course, but I live in hope. Thanks to some inspired guesswork by the boys from Buckeye, we have our engine back after a day on the ferries for Megan and I may not need to row. Huge thanks to JT and Robbie and we hope you got back to your boat safely. Shaky wifi so no photos but any FBook friends with Megan will have seen hers.

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Pearshaped in Nanaimo

Life, the Universe…right now I’m in my sleeping bag more or less under the table in the photo. The rain is hammering on the tin roof and Bobbles is hanging in the travel lift slings outside. A kind friend gave us access to his shed. The daggerboard is glassed (the white bit is filler) but we can’t finish the boat until the rain stops. The deadline for getting to Ketchikan is around July 10, so things are marginal at best, given that we’re unlikely to average more that 2 knots.

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Appendages!

It seems to be happening. Big glassing and grinding job around the centreboard case yesterday with Megan emerging from the depths like some troglodytic Yeti all covered in glass powder. The daggerboard in final stages of sanding and then it too will be glassed and we’ll watch the grass growing as it dries. Cedar isn’t the best for a daggerboard but it’s all we could get and the glass will make it at least semi bulletproof. With a bit of luck, back in the water tonight or early tomorrow and we’ll see if she’s waterproof. The plan is North to Alaska if it all seems to have worked, but we’ll do it in test stages with the first reappraisal in Campbell River if we make it that far. We’ve missed a few days of perfect winds and I’ll bet the lady with the whip has plans to laugh at us a lot as we go. We’ll see. In the photos, the board has about another 6 inches to go down and the rudder is not quite reassembled. We also shortened the boom and rearranged the reefing system. Was a big day and another in progress.

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Next?

Another big day yesterday. Wayne took us to the plastics shop for fibreglass materials and Megan ground, filled and glassed the centreboard case crack and I made a daggerboard which we will glass and seal today. We will make the trunk inside the centreboard case to support it and fill all the remaining voids with foam and that should be a much stronger arrangement as well as having better sailing characteristics than the original dangly board. The photos show our very sexy new rudder, suitably inscribed by Tom; the daggerboard emerging from rough cut cedar with the old board posing together, and Megan filling some cool wormholes in the new board. With due deference to Herself with the whip and leathers, we could be back in the water tomorrow. We shall see. ….Then we have to get Bobbles to Homer. The options are to continue north to Prince Rupert where there is road access and where the motor and our other kit is waiting for us and either trail from there or put her on a fishing boat if there’s one going the right way, or to return to Port Townsend and bring the trailer up from Portland. North is clearly the more interesting version. Watch this space…


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Of skill and Savlon.

We have a new rudder already. Tom at Newcastle Marina made it for us from a single piece of yellow cedar, 10 board feet of it, in about 2 hours. Wonderful to watch a real craftsman at work and the rudder is truly sexy. It doesn’t lift like the original and will be heaps stronger. (Bill L., I’ll email you with details when it’s done). We are hoping to persuade him to make us a daggerboard but as he put in a special effort for us yesterday, I think that’s unlikely. We have been offered tools by a local friend who has done the race himself about 3 times and we can make one ourselves. Instead of the current centreboard arrangement which is inherently weak and ineffective, we will make a trunk through the double centreboard casing which we can easily waterproof with expanding foam and the daggerboard will slot down through it and be supported by the double casing instead of hanging on a single quarter inch pin and flapping in the surge with the full force of Bobbles’ weight on it like the current one. Bobbles will sail again soon, stronger and wiser and with her dignity intact. Meantime, I’m treating my rather sore rowing nethers with the local Savlon equivalent and working to grow proper rowing calluses on my hands again, just like when I used to do it seriously. Last time I held a pair of sculls in anger was at Melbourne University in about 1971 and before that at school in the early ‘60s. Luckily, the skill seems to have stuck.

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SFPB

When you try to do big stuff on a tiny budget, it sometimes goes pearshaped. Instead of a Big Mac in Campbell River, I’m drinking coffee at midnight in a motel room in Nanaimo with a friendly octopus and boat bits all over the floor. Bobbles is 200 metres away en deshabille. We set off on this gig without having a chance to sail her in heavy weather, else we might have found the problems earlier. I was concerned about both the rudder and the centreboard but never got to test them and here we are. We had intended to shorten the boom as well and that would have helped with reefing but my original reefing arrangements also need modification – really easy now we have tried things in anger. It wasn’t too bad out there, and Bobbles was romping north, even with a lot of water in her bilge. Wonderful sailing in robust conditions until the Examiner cracked her whip against her boots and took over. The plan now is to fix what we can, modify the centreboard arrangement by making a daggerboard which will be much stronger and then, depending on how long that takes, keep going north or have a picnic sail south with a boat full of medicinal compound instead of water. Consultations along the way in some of the World’s best cruising grounds. Watch this space and thanks to all y’all who checked in with commiserations. It happens – just a pimple on an elephant’s bum in the great tapestry of Life, the Universe and Everything. We have our towels.

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Bummer

We were sailing so well! …until. We’d just put in a reef and Alex commented that we need to tighten the supporting cheeks on the rudder because it felt loose. There was no sound when it broke, but a definite realization that something was amiss. Alex tried steering with an oar and we tried steering with the storm sail with no luck. We called Daniel Evans, the R2AK race boss and reported. He told us to call the Canadian coast guard and alert them of our status. Within a few minutes the coasties sent out a general alert and several private, commercial, and a naval vessel responded. We were able to contact a private towing vessel via cell phone while a private fishing vessel circled nearby. A naval ship arrived about the same time as the tow boat. It was a pretty wild ride back to shore. 20+ knot winds and 2-3 foot breaking waves. We were prepared which made the difference: phone numbers programmed into phone, wet weather gear, life jackets, and tethers on, fully charged VHF radio, and storm jib set. We were expecting good winds and we were doing pretty well until then. Twenty+ knots is manageable in Bobbles. We’ll beef up the components and perhaps try again next year. M

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What’s with the nethers?

Those of you familiar with these chronicles may remember discussions about bum bones and the grinding effect of a hard cockpit seat over time in a heavy sea. Same for rowing all day.. Savlon on the the nethers is semi effective in preventing the worst afflictions but it ain’t fun. The pic shows my other remedy …mine is the black one made from foam that once wrapped a Beneteau mast which I think I made in Falmouth, Megan has pointier bones it seems. This place is uncannily reminiscent of Falmouth….and similar circumstances.

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Thumb twiddling in the tropical North

Real Medicinal Compound in a pretend Irish bar in Nanaimo while the rest of the fleet seems to be parked. We came in to lift the boat and hang her in the slings for an hour while we transmogrify the centreboard system but it ain’t going to happen easily and not a showstopper so onwards with the tide very early tomorrow. Lots of small mods to the mighty Bobbles as a result of experience so far and she rocks. My hands haven’t rowed 60 odd miles for a long time and incipiently blistered so giving them lots of TLC while I can. Rowing through Dodd Narrows was interesting. The tide tables need a PhD in babelspeak to interpret and we were about an hour adrift. Examiner permitting, we’ll try 24/7 for a day or 2 to catch up and do some experimentation with reality. Meantime, assume we’re hove to for another 15 hours or so and cross ‘em please. Bobbles looking tiny on the marina in the photo. Updates if and when…

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Posted by Megan with A’s technology

In Nanaimo for a day. No wind and tired rowers.

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Megan in drag, Mt Rainier to the left of the island

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Live From The Field

Huge iridescent dragonflies all around. About 5 hours to wait for the flood tide but it will be a big one. 5kt N wind at the mo

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Quick update from a lot of nothing happening

Long, but gorgeous windless day yesterday and the tracker will show us anchored in a little bay on James Island which is privately owned. An 8 hour row to get here and we are waiting out the tide and intend to leave on the flood at about 1300. Proper consultations took place at the appropriate hour in perfect conditions. Glassy calm water, seals, water birds and, on the way up, big mats of knobbly bobbly kelp about as thick as my arm with globular ends as big as a baseball. Exquisite sunset yesterday and the sun now just rising over the trees to the east. We were with Buckeye and Reliance for most of the day. They went off NE as we were looking for somewhere to anchor. So we’re on the way, but a very small step.

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Live From The Field

Alex making morning tea and coffee a few hours before the start.

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Preparations

We were both pretty tired. Megan recovered and went to find appropriate compounds. She has 28 cans for future consultations.

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B4B2 update

A bit of a plod to get over here. Not a lot of wind for the first half and some quite interesting tide races with big short spaced overfalls. Bobbles behaved beautifully. We missed the tide off Victoria and had to headbang against it for a couple of hours to get around the breakwater. 5 knots through the water and about a knot over the ground. Tedious. We were looking at a massive cruise ship for about half the way. .Bit of a leak which we hope we’ve fixed. ..Now there are 3 cruise ships and the place has perhaps 15000 tourists in gaggles and throngs. Victoria, I’m sure is a lovely city but the downtown area where we’re at is wall to wall blocks of gift shops, souvenir shops, twee restaurants and bars and a single scoop of ice cream costs $AUD about 7.00. I spent several hours in expanding concentric circles trying to buy eggs, bacon and veggies and came back with a pallid and droopy set of spuds and onions and apples from the one shop in Chinatown that sells the stuff. Eggs from the Korean shop way up the road but no bacon. Megan set off in the opposite direction later and found some. And a case of proper Medicinal Compound for out 6pm consultations. Yay! I’ll post some pics later. Tomorrow it all starts again. Seems that there are videos and stuff on Facebook. Go find…

B4B2

Apprehension

About to !eave the Boat Haven for the Maritime Centre. The silliness begins. I’m told the press will be there and we’ll be part of the freak show. I’ve been apprehensive about this race for months now – horror stories about storms and massive tides and sea monsters – I grew up with enough of that stuff to know better but I think apprehension is a healthy emotion and we’ll get it done. Might be the final post for a bit – may have WiFi at the Maritime Centre , and should have when we get to Victoria. The weather forecast looks reasonable, but then it did last year as well. We’ll see.

B4B2

Yikes

Time to panic. This time in 2 days we’ll be an hour into the race, probably just sticking our noses into the Strait. The tracker should be running from 0500 on the 14th. Work that in your own timezones. We will leave the boat haven later today and sail down to slip 10 at Point Hudson. My first sail in Bobbles and the first test for the new rowing station. Safety inspection and a bunch of pre-race meetings tomorrow. Some serious towel hugging. I think it’s unlikely we will manage more that 1 post a day once we’re racing and then only while we have a cell phone signal. Appendages, all y’all!!

B4B2

The Examiner again

The photo dropped off foam and substance

B4B2

Proper deference where it’s due

In Hualien last week, we visited the Temple of the Goddess of the sea and safe passages. She is a splendidly gilded deity with a rather lovely temple and we paid our respects and made offerings of incense. We also contributed for a small token to remind Bobbles that even the Examiner has to defer to She Who Is Really In Charge and that Bobbles had better behave or else…

B4B2

Foam and substance

Our last full day to fix stuff. A biggie – with Martin’s help, we modified the solar panel and fitted it to a rather delicate bracket on the outboard motor mount. It’s more or less horizontal and not adjustable so will not be optimally efficient but it does pump amps into the battery. Then Megan and I got down and messy moving the rowing station about a metre forward – a non trivial task involving moving both the slide position and the rowlocks and drilling holes and getting deep into the bowels with makeshift spanner to tighten the rowlock pin holding nuts. To do this, Megan drew the short straw and did the burrowing and had to chop out yet more foam beore we could move the rowlocks but it seems to have worked. A sweaty business! Tomorrow we move Bobbles down to the Maritime Centre and it all begins for real. Safety inspection on Wednesday…

B4B2

New faces

One of those special days! Jim Love and his family trekked over the mountains to visit – Jim has a Bobbles clone which he’s modifying like Bobbles so lots of excited comparisons and a new friendship. He was a submariner, so a brave man! He’s the little guy in the photos :) And Sue and Jim Corenman too. They run the wonderful Sailmail network that made so much possible for our Berrimilla 2 circumnavigations. I’ve been in touch with them since 2005, sometimes when things got a bit pearshaped and I needed more than just my towel and it was a special moment when I finally got to meet them. Sailmail is the only software I can remember that has been completely reliable first time and I love it. Sadly, no HF radio in Bobbles but we can still use Sailmail via Iridium if we run out of other options. And it begins – tomorrow we move down to the Maritime centre for safety checks and some sort of party and I need to find my towel…


B4B2

The Examiner, my ipad and a trip to a wedding

This should have been posted from Taipei a week or so ago but the ipad and the website won’t communicate… A half mile walk from Bobbles to the bus station in Port Townsend, 2 x 40 min bus rides, the Bainbridge Island ferry (huge car ferry from the island to downtown Seattle), 10 minute walk to light rail station, 25 min in the train to SeaTac airport, car to Carla`s and back (thanks Carla, yet again) United to SFO, then to Taipei and here i am (well, was, really) about 44 hours later. Big celebrations 2 days later, Hi to Bianca (for the initiated:) ) and then the whole thing in reverse to be back in PT, Examiner permitting, on the 8th (yesterday, as it happened, with 4 days to panic). Megan and friend Martin have flight tested Bobbles and I still have to have my first sail…And, for the rusted on Berri fans, Sue and Jim Corenman are coming to visit tomorrow, along with Jim Love who owns a Bobbles clone. Sue and Jim C. are based in Friday Harbour and run the wonderful worldwide Sailmail network that we relied on during the circumnavigations. Shouuld be quite a meeting and I expect we’ll need a proper Consultation. Watch this space and i’ll try to post photos.

B4B2

Bigger than my hand

The Taroko rain forest is pure magic

B4B2

Port Townsend!

Pat towed us north last week(huge thanks, Pat!) and we’ve been in hectic mode ever since – mostly dealing with the amount of stuff we have and getting enough sleep. Port Townsend rocks! It has a big wooden boat industry and the place is full of wrinkled old sailors and their boats. and the r2ak racers are just beginning to arrive. It’s Memorial day weekend so tomorrow’s a holiday. Our solar panel and battery and the other electrical bits arrived on Friday evening, too late for us to collect them so we don’t get them till Tuesday. Today a local friend is going to take our mountain of stuff from tiny Bobbles and store it in his shed so we can go sailing. Could be interesting! The first job will be to test the repairs on the oar we broke in Portland. If it works, phew! If it doesn’t there’s a previous racer with a pair for sale – a bit bigger than ours and a major budget buster but we’ll make them work. Everyone is wonderfully helpful. I expect it’s mostly out of pity for what we are about to try…We are beginning to get a feel for just how much of a headbang it is likely to be. Bobbles really is tiny and we think we will be limited to our basic survival gear – TPS survival suits, normal wet weather gear, thermals, bear suits and lots of dry socks. Food, cooking fuel, water and medicinal compound, lifejackets, handheld VHF, satphone, smart phones and ipad with Navionics, Garmin chartplotter,…and very limited power generation to keep them all fed with wiggly amps. Handheld, battery operated GPS for emergency backup. Ain’t going to be no breeze!





B4B2

…whether ’tis best…

and poor Yorick didn’t know either. This decrepit old fart is feeling a bit vulnerable. I’ve been wondering about how people get themselves mentally prepared for big things that are potentially scary and dangerous and need resilience and determination. Once, in ignorance and enthusiasm, I’d have set off (and occasionally did) and dealt with stuff as it happened – the bulletproof syndrome, can’t happen to me. Now, ageing and a lot more experienced, I know it’s potentially a trainwreck waiting to happen and I catastrophise down to the last nanodot on the tiniest T so I’m as aware as I think I can be of the risks and bear traps inherent in the venture and, while it is exciting in its way to be part of a big gig, there’s always that corrosive doubt down there in the bowel – what have I missed? What if…have we got enough stuff…what would we do if…why are we doing this anyway? Isn’t it better to sit at home and watch televised pap and set not sail upon a sea?…Do we have enough Medicinal Compound for the duration?…I think we’re as ready as we can be, with a now very short list of things still to do and getting past the waiting is the hard bit. And, always, trying to out think the Examiner.

B4B2

random points on a long journey

Bobbles’ first taste of the authentic Medicinal Compound. She seemed to get the message so we didn’t waste any… and trying to pack three bags each for a different initial destination but all to be combined somewhere up the track…Elgin’s VW van has been our faithful store house all these months and we had to camp in it last night as the house is full of visitors also camped on various bits of floor

B4B2

Bobbly Mc…

First launch a week or so ago – tested the centreboard and the hiking straps and the engine which is sliding seat and oars. It all worked but the centreboard hinge leaked…back to the woodyard…On the second launch, leak seems to be fixed but we broke an oar which I think I have fixed with glue and a series of hose clamps – we shall see! Pat arrived late yesterday and we hope to tow north on Tuesday but we are still waiting for delivery of the electrics. The Examiner is thwacking her boots with her whip and quivering a bit. Would we get anything done without her?

B4B2

Phew!

And OOooof! Apologies for the long gap in transmission. The Examiner has been hovering and it’s been one long headbang but I think we now have a much modified and perhaps seaworthy Bayliner 18. She even has her name and registration number…Blue Origin stickers and pre flight pin removal yet to come, for the initiated….. I hope that getting to the start line will be the hardest part of this gig. Modifications so far – lots of access holes in the cockpit to inaccessible spaces, after chopping out masses of foam, replacement of internal bulkhead, new floor and cushions forward, new cockpit drains, new mast support beam, bilge pump and throwing line, hiking straps, fittings for compass and GPS, electrical switches and sockets, cutting and sewing new sails from discarded B2 and B3 kite and jibs, making stowage bags for any tiny available space and hanging canvas ‘shelves’ in the forepeak, new grab rails on and under foredeck, new anchor cleat on foredeck, fitting 12v plugs to GPS, compass and masthead light, conversion to masthead rig with lots of modifications to the mast and the addition of an all round tricolour, masses of fun with my splicing kit and dyneema making stays and strops and reefing and knitting lines, Megan’s yellow box with cooking gear, 2 new anchors and ground tackle, a leaky centreboard hinge fixed (we hope!), a broken oar clamped and maybe fixed, installation of oarlocks and a second set of sheet cars, new mainsheet and hawse, new halyards and vang, 2 educative trial launches, both with their own incidents, Probably lots more – lots of steps forward with subsequent retreats as new problems surface… what have I forgotten??…. we are awaiting delivery of the electrical kit – solar panel, controller, battery and charger and this should be the last biggie. May have to be done in Port Townsend. Pat is coming down from Nome tonight to tow us north. The original plan was to launch in Olympia and sail the last 100 miles but prudence dictated that a better idea would be to tow all the way to PT to buy us time if needed. The trailer has seen better days too, so plan B is not without its own risk. We hope to leave on tuesday and may then be off line for a bit until we find free wifi in PT. All in all, an interesting few weeks and huge thanks to Megan’s family and their cat, whose bed we have usurped for putting up with us. More as it happens – I’ll try to post photos later.

B4B2

Test from laptop.

Just checking links. The Iridium go does not seem to be posting to the website.

B4B2

Madmens’ woodyard

Bits of boat everywhere, all on a carpet of pink petals.

B4B2

Yellow box and decoys…

One of those days when things move forward just a bit but a huge barrier is negotiated. We’ve been wimping about stepping the mast with Bobbles in her present parking lot as opposed to marina berth because any serious loss of control might have put the masthead dangerously close to power lines. Lots of careful planning about what goes where, what could go wrong, double checking all the shrouds correctly attached and a series of choreographed moves today and up it went. Yayy!! We tried various combinations of sails and discovered that the old mainsail, with minimal scissoring and some needlework will probably work as a crude assymetric kite and B3’s old #5 jib will fly as a heavy weather sail and as a working jib in a combination cutter imitation. The guesswork modified jib that I brought from Oz is about 6″ too long in the luff, so a fail there but everything else seems to be workable. Amongst all the kerfuff with the mast, Megan made a yellow box for the cooking stove and eating spanners and we are working on a configuration for the hiking straps Rowlocks (oarlocks here in local rowspeak) to fit tomorrow and some little fixes plus some shopping but…. With appendages firmly crossed and decoys everywhere to distract the Examiner, we could be sailing in a couple of days. The photos are the new mainsail with the original technicolour jib and the original technicolour main flying as an assymetric outside the #5.

B4B2

Snowy Hydro tunnels they ain’t

But I hope they will shift a lot of water.

B4B2

An agitated neuron and other stuff

The Red Admiral has emerged and -oh joy – it’s not raining in Portland which, of course, means that it will be soon. Portland is in wonderful springtime display. Huge cherry trees dropping petals like pink snowflakes, rhododendrons gorgeously spectacular and an interesting and blossom lathered tree with delicate almost magenta rosettes. Coool! Bobbles seems to have survived her chrysalis stage. We unwrapped her and she’s waking up – sadly, minus her outboard which must have been stolen under the cover of rain and darkness since we were last here. As a charitable soul, I hope it karks on the new owners when they are way downstream on the Columbia and they have to row home… The to-do list is shrinking. Yesterday we sorted one of the bigger jobs which I’ve been dreading. Bobbles is about 2/3rds open cockpit with the cockpit floor about a foot above the outer hull and she had two half inch drains awkwardly placed to take water through the interior and out through the transom. If this gig turns out the way we plan, there will be a lot of open water, much of it potentially quite rough and my catastrophising neuron advised, rather loudly, that half inch drains were a tad puny for the amount of water that might be sloshing around. After a bit of careful thought and planning, lots of Sikaflex, turpentine, boiling water and some severe contortions she now has two inch-and-a-half drains which might work a bit better. Today’s job will be fitting the rowlocks and hiking strap anchors. More contortions. The big unknown is the centreboard hinge. It has been reinforced at some time in the past and we don’t know why. The reinforcement may be structural or to prevent leakage. We haven’t launched her yet and lowered the board so this may be the next biggie. There will be a launching real soon now. Watch this space. If that all works, we must raise the mast and try my redesigned rig. Because of other demands, we have a month to get it all sorted and Bobbles to Port Townsend… photos to follow later today.

B4B2

Pupation

A caterpillar she wasn’t but she has new innards and is now Bobblewrapped for the winter. She will emerge from her chrysalis as a Red Admiral and migrate north.


B4B2

Finger trouble

Live from the field it wasn’t – I posted the previous photo in a fit of finger trouble trying to move it somewhere else. It’s a nice photo taken last year from Homer looking across Cook Inlet to Mt Illiamna. Cook inlet has some interesting tidal effects

B4B2

Live From The Field

B4B2

Progress

Bobbles has some new holes for access to otherwise unusable spaces – 7 of them – and a new rib to replace the rotten original. The centreboard purchase is bolted back on to it. There are signs that the beam supporting the mast was flexing in a past life and Megan has added a laminated strengthener which will eventually have pillars transferring the load down to the new rib. Handholds for the foredeckie. Battery boxes either side of the centreboard to come and a new floor for the cabin. And I’m watching all this from Sydney…



B4B2

Bobble for short and Bobbles for even shorter

Carla, one of B2’s fans came down to Portland from Seattle where she’s designing and building huge rocket engines for Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin. She cast her engineer’s eye over the little boat and approved but dubbed her Berribob instead of the rather clumsy B4B2. We modified this to Bobble for short and she’s now mostly Bobbles for even shorter. We have some cool rocket engine and Space stickers for her when she’s ready to launch. And a box of dried meals. Thanks Carla!

B4B2

Engine room!

We have a removable sliding seat – elegant, simple and it folds away, thanks to Pat. Half the necessary bits for rowing. The sculls and pins and oarlocks, the other half, are here too, to be fitted in the next couple of days, as Megan gets a wodge of fibreglassing done. And a new bulkead to replace the rotted out mess that we started with. We are also cutting holes for circular access hatches to all the otherwise unusable spaces. Yay! B4B2 rocks. Still digging out foam in inaccessible places, which is the lot of the unskilled smelly old geezer who hangs around the place…We’re aiming for a preliminary test launch before aforesaid USOG leave next Wednesday. <#m_5762953916973542236_DAB4FAD8-2DD7-40BB-A1B8-4E2AA1F9FDF2>

B4B2

Building a new boat around the tiller?

Thanks Malcom! And the tiller is one of the few bits that we won’t be touching till we launch her. We’ve discovered that the boat was made in 2 halves (quite obvious) and that all the deck fittings were installed before the deck moulding was attached to the hull. Extra kool because all the fittings are through bolted even in the most inaccessible places The problem, though, is that the builder sprayed about a foot of foam into all the spaces that we want to use under the deck and we have to chop it all out Tedious, bruising and bad for the knuckles. Here’s a pic of Megan in disguise. And the new space. <#m_8874467181148939233_m_7209944372373705991_DAB4FAD8-2DD7-40BB-A1B8-4E2AA1F9FDF2>

B4B2

Wow!

Queen Elizabeth the First is supposed to have said as she died “All my possessions for one more moment in time” I think that if I had another life, I’d like to spend it making beautiful things out of wood. After every Hobart race, I’d go and drool a lot in my friend John Sutherland’s sheds in Tasmania where he made lovely furniture and had all the gear to do it. And now, half a world away preparing for another sailing race. my drool is becoming indecent. Elgin’s Dad has been a woodworker all his life. He makes musical instruments, mostly mirimbas and xylophones, and he has the best workshop in all the world. His basement is packed floor to ceiling with tools – old hand tools, ancient, massive cast iron presses and bandsaws, modern electric cutters and sanders and shapers, lathes, saws and little tuning machines. And clamps. Clamps in battalions, in rows and ranks and tiers – hanging from wherever there is space. Timber! – stacks of wood from everywhere, some of it many years old. And it smells like a woodworking shop would smell in your dreams. We went to visit him to borrow some clamps and to make a wooden pad for the masthead tricolor. Not just any wooden pad but one made from padauk, a lovely deep orangey red timber that is hard and durable and perfect for the job.More on clamps later. The photos show Elgin cutting the pad with a band saw and the masthead with the pad and the light fitted. Cooool. <#m_-8102130588265121752_m_-302413698171978082_DAB4FAD8-2DD7-40BB-A1B8-4E2AA1F9FDF2>

B4B2

The buzz that grows with a project

Imagination is a wonderful driver. The Podunker sent us an idea, there was the right boat in a photo and here we are with a tent over a rather nice piece of shaped fibreglass in a muddy driveway in the rain with a lot of work to do and my head a little universe of whizzing catherine wheel ideas that whirl away and spark off each other and into the to-do list. A big messy inanimate object in serious undress but with the Inside Passage and the Gulf of Alaska – in summer sunshine – out there as the reason for it all. We’ve ordered the sculls and fittings to row it and they should arrive at about the same time as Pat comes down from Nome to help put it all together. I think she’ll row just fine and she’d better because there could be a lot of rowing. I’m making some temporary rigging out of 4mm dyneema and adding reefing hardware and a topping lift and the mast will be usable…B4B2 is really just a big dinghy and everything is manageable. The photos – more centreboard and new backstay with autumn leaves <#m_3790988700484270538_DAB4FAD8-2DD7-40BB-A1B8-4E2AA1F9FDF2>

B4B2

Progress in Blobs

or in Stits and Farts, as the Rev. Spooner probably never said. Lots happening but it’s never instantaneous. For instance, we took the rainbow mainsail to the sailmakers yesterday to have a second set of reef points and full batten pockets fitted and ended up ordering a new one – the difference in price was relatively small and it seemed sensible The new one will be made in Sri Lanka and won’t be ready till January. The sailmaker is also making the standing rigging but that’s in sporadic mode too and a week or two away because he has to order the parts…we hope to raise the mast with the old stuff in the next few days. We erected a tent over the boat to keep the rain out – tied down to old car wheels and sandbags to stop it doing a Mary Poppins but the Portland dank and dismould is now at least at tent’s length and we can work under it on a dry boat. There’s a small but vital bulkhead inside that has rotted and Megan will crank up the angle grinder and cut it out and make a new one and glass it in. There’s some benefit in months of work in Hobart doing just that. Next big job is to roll the hull over to one side and extend the centreboard to check its structural integrity. The photo shows the purchase for raising the board – buried deep in the most inaccessible part of the hull. And so it goes…. . Virus-free. www.avg.com <#DAB4FAD8-2DD7-40BB-A1B8-4E2AA1F9FDF2>

Latest Logs

Bob

For the record, here’s Bob on his way into hibernation in that cold shed out at Cape Nome. He’s a John Welsford Houdini design from NZ . http://jwboatdesigns.co.nz/plans/houdini/ One day he will emerge from his shed and he might even sail south to do his own R2ak. Meantime, he’s iced in till the summer. Virus-free. www.avg.com <#DAB4FAD8-2DD7-40BB-A1B8-4E2AA1F9FDF2>

B4B2

B4B2

And you know most of this story. B4 for Berrimilla 4, B2 for Bob 2 Silly really but a sort of tangled continuation that joins the two boats. Bob is Megan’s almost finished 16 ft. sailing boat now waiting for her in a cold shed at Cape Nome. I was asked today by a very distinguished ex B2 sailor that as my boats seem to be getting smaller as I get more wrinkly, what did I think I’d cross in to whatever there may be on the other side, Images of burning Viking ships come to mind, but nothing so heroic. I’m going to hang around till the boats shrink to soapdish size and cross the Styx in a soapdish lid…Charon, Cerberus and The Examiner permitting…. Virus-free. www.avg.com <#m_7836309755713587823_DAB4FAD8-2DD7-40BB-A1B8-4E2AA1F9FDF2>

B3

B3

At about the same time as I sold B2, I was given an M26 Folkboat – for those who know, more or less the same as a Contessa 26. A nice, seaworthy design with some serious pedigree She had been sitting on her mooring for about 7 years gradually deteriorating and getting bashed by passing hoons. Externally, she looked to be derelict, but I was rather hsppily surprised to find her mostly fixable. Her topsides paint was originally gorgeous deep blue with gold lettering but it was badly scratched and otherwise mangled and also unstable, so it all had to come off to expose the original gel coat. The photos show a progression over several months, She has a small solar panel trickle charging the battery and – astonishingly – when I tried to start her engine, it fired immediately. yay! The anchor locker had a solid block of about 50 metres of rusted chain and the anchor, all of which we had to cut out with an angle grinder. I think she’s more or less ok now to cross oceans – or at least the Tasman Sea.. Watch this space. Virus-free. www.avg.com <#m_-2460531383510620457_DAB4FAD8-2DD7-40BB-A1B8-4E2AA1F9FDF2>

B3

What's all this about B2/B3/B4B2...

It’s middle of the night dark and dismold here in Oregon, a bit like writing these in Berrimilla 2 except that the floor isn’t moving. And I’m warm and dry. I’m being chastised unmercifully by She Who Graces This Website With Her Magic and by The Examiner in an especially foul mood for not having written this post before all this r2ak silliness started, so here goes. This installment is for B2. I sold Berrimilla 2 last year. A very sad decision for me but a necessary one for Berri. The old barge was sitting forlorn on her mooring covered in seagull poo and not being sailed. I’d lost all motivation to sail around the Harbour and out to the Heads, even up and down the coast – very much ‘been there, why do it all again’. Old men need projects or they fade away. She’s now owned by a young couple sort of from Switzerland, but this isn’t the place to tell their story. They are quite capable of doing that themselves if they want to. I think, though, that they will take the old barge back across oceans in their own good time – maybe in a year or two. Meanwhile, they are clearing out the mould of 2 circumnavigations and all that inactivity. I wish them happiness, the caress of providence and all the wonderful times B2 gave me and the many friends who sailed with us. B3’s installment to follow in daylight tomorrow when I can find some photos. Virus-free. www.avg.com <#DAB4FAD8-2DD7-40BB-A1B8-4E2AA1F9FDF2>

B4B2

Blind date

Qantas seems to have got all the gubbins most of the way to Portland and Alaskan did the rest. We were introduced to B4B2 at midnight on Friday in wet and dismold Oregon autumn conditions – a proper blind date. We liked eachother and I’m sure we’ll click – she’s a nice little boat and will certainly go the distance if we look after her. Lots of stuff to do in the next 3 weeks while I’m here and more for Megan perhaps later. I’ll post some boring detail when it’s happening. Today we just cleaned her out and Megan’s making a new companionway hatch to keep the rain out. Virus-free. www.avg.com <#DAB4FAD8-2DD7-40BB-A1B8-4E2AA1F9FDF2>


B4B2

When you need to know where your your towel is...

The r2ak organisers asked whether we have dry suits. We have. And socks, it seems. These suits are probably a bit OTT but they will serve the purpose. Megan is wearing Pete’s Berrimilla 2 TP&S dry suit the same as the Round the World shorthanded racers use. It’s designed to be worked in on deck in southern ocean storms in small boats and this one was last out of its bag somewhere between the Kerguelen Islands and Australia at about 50 south. Suck it and it’s salty. If things get beyond the pear shaped, the suit provides full buoyancy and survival warmth in cold water. Mine is still in its post Kerguelen bag and I hope it won’t need to come out but it’s nice to have. Virus-free. www.avg.com <#DAB4FAD8-2DD7-40BB-A1B8-4E2AA1F9FDF2>

B4B2

And so it begins.

Departure time This is the heap we hope Qantas will carry to SFO today. Then Alaska Air to Portland. It’s the first shipment of gear we’ll need in June for the race. Dry suits, sails, boom tent, wet weather gear, all the little gizmos like VHF, PLBs and satphone, plus arctic sleeping bags and survival gear. Even some warm clothes, but they are squeezed in last – we’re going to raid the Portland thrift shops when we get there. B2’s old faithful Panasonic Toughbook laptop will be along for the ride too but we may have a problem cobbling together a power supply for that and there are a couple of GPS handhelds just in case. Hard copy charts and tide tables when we get closer to the start party. In keeping with Berrimilla tradition, we’ll be keeping a low profile. We will try to keep these updates bland, factual and bereft of BS. No faffing about how pretty we look in our daggy wet weather gear, just boring stuff about what works and what doesn’t. If we make it to Ketchikan and onwards to Homer, then maybe we can faff just a bit. But probably not.

B4B2

An update – r2ak on a shoestring

Neither of us has seen B4B2 yet and all may change once we get to meet her. Berrimilla 2 she ain’t but I think she’s perfect for this gig. We’ll know whether she is if we actually get to Ketchikan. I’ll keep updating progress here. Meantime, The Examiner is downloading all her data on the inside passage and greasing her leathers in anticipation. A bit of detail. Megan and I will be in Portland next week to start getting B4B2 ready to operate a full time Consultancy next year. Minimalism, but we do have to get her to Ketchikan and then onwards to Homer. In summary, a stubby bowsprit and an outer forestay plus a pair of running backstays to allow a more flexible headsail arrangement. 3 reefing points in the mainsail and full battens. Solar panels, batteries, nav lights, Iridium Go, hiking straps, VHF plus life jackets, dry suits, PLB’s and the other gubbins that the race requires. A rather special wind indicator – maybe more on that later. We think perhaps a small cage to tow and cool suitable Medicinal Compounds in the cold waters of the Inside Passage to support a proper Consultative Surgery. And we’ll set her up to be rowed in the soft bits. It’s interesting up there. If you’re all bored, google Seymour Narrows…here’s a taste Photos to follow…

B4B2

Is anyone still out there?

Something completely different – or where the Woozle might be going…

A couple of years or so ago, a Berrimilla Blog fan from Podunk, (the Colorado one) suggested that the Race to Alaska (r2ak.com) might be a cool way to grow older and greyer. Seemed like a good idea. Megan Hahn was building a wooden sailing boat in her Dad’s workshop in Nome. which also seemed like the right sort of boat for the job. It’s name became Bob, almost by accident. but, for a bunch of reasons mostly to do with serious winter cold in Nome, Bob didn’t quite get finished in time to do this year’s race and he’s now awaiting further TLC in a very cold shed at Cape Nome. Somewhere, there are photos of all this and I’ll try to post them.

Meantime, Megan came out to Australia for a year on a work visa.

The R2AK idea bobbled along out in the dimmer reaches of the back burner until I was again prodded by the Podunker that there’s another race starting on June 14th next year. In the fullness of serendipity, I looked at the boats for sale in North West USA that day and found an ad for what seemed to be exactly what we needed and at a crazily affordable price. We bought it from the photo below and Megan’s sister collected it and it’s now in her back yard in Portland, Oregon about 300k from the r2ak start line in Port Townsend.

At about the same time, I applied for entry to the 2018 r2ak and we were accepted. Here’s the link https://r2ak.com/2018-teams-full-race/team-b4b2/ A bit over the top but hey – we’re in!

There are some stories amongst that lot but maybe later. The boat has become B4B2 for the duration and there is a plan to modify her by adding a sliding seat, sculling oars and some extra rigging. We’re going up to work on all that in a few days. More as it happens. There’s a facebook page here for the 2018 race https://www.facebook.com/racetoalaska/
Scroll down a bit and we’re there somewhere.

These are the specs for B4B2. http://sailboatdata.com/viewrecord.asp?class_id=4858 Click on the Buccaneer link at the bottom for a deck plan.

I’ll try to keep this going as we get things organised and during the race – some of Berri’s old Iridium gear might be useful in the remoter bits of the Inside Passage. We’ll see. If we make it as far as Ketchikan, the idea is to keep going north west around the top of the Gulf of Alaska, through the Aleutians and into Homer where Megan lives. If we make it that far, B4B2 has a new home. Meantime, we’re patching our towels…