B4B2


Logs ( 55 )

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…

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

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

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

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>


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

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>

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>

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

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

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

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

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

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

Live From The Field

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

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

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

Snowy Hydro tunnels they ain’t

But I hope they will shift a lot of water.

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

Madmens’ woodyard

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

B4B2

Test from laptop.

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

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

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

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

…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

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

Bigger than my hand

The Taroko rain forest is pure magic

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

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

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

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…

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The Examiner again

The photo dropped off foam and substance

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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

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

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

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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Live From The Field

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

B4B2

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

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

B4B2

Posted by Megan with A’s technology

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

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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…

B4B2

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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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

B4B2

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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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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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…


B4B2

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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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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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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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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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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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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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