Here you will find tales of voyages past and present on our trusty Pacific Seacraft Dana 24, "Sockdolager," from Port Townsend, Washington, USA. In 2009 we sailed north from Puget Sound up the west coast of Vancouver Island to the Queen Charlotte Islands (now called Haida Gwaii.) In 2010 we went back to the west coast of Vancouver Island. In July 2011 we left the Northwest, and in March 2012 we crossed the Pacific to French Polynesia, then on to the Cooks, Niue and Tonga. We spent several months in New Zealand, and in May 2013 loaded the boat (and ourselves) on a container ship for San Francisco. In June and July 2013 we sailed north along the California, Oregon and Washington coasts, and in August we arrived home. In October 2016 Sockdolager found new owners, and we are now enjoying Raven, a unique wooden 29' powerboat. Plans are to head north. We hope you enjoy reading about our adventures as much as we enjoy having them. (And there will be more.)

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Preparations for the Life of Reilly

Several requests have come in asking what we’re doing these days to get ready to cast off for the Big Bodacious Voyage. “Geez,” they say when we start ticking off items on the To-Do list, “You’ve got lots of time!”

This causes the following immediate reaction: I freeze. Jim freezes. We look at each other. He dials up his iPhone’s “Number of Days Left Countdown” app. Cue the jangly music from the sand-running-out-of-the-hourglass scene in the Wizard of Oz where the Wicked Witch of the West cackles "Mwahh-Ha-Ha!" at wide-eyed Dorothy and her little dog, too. Jim announces how many days we have left. I can see the panic in his eyes. We both get that deer in the headlights look. This photo shows us practicing being cheerful castaways in our teensy but very well-constructed Winslow life raft. As part of the repack/inspection, we bought a couple hours of consultation time. One can never be too prepared--and time keeps on slipping, slipping, slipping...

Here’s a partial To-Do list. Most of these things have been done already, but enough of them remain to keep life these days anything but Reilly-like. Besides boat prep we’ve got a daunting list of house projects to get through to make it really nice for whoever rents it. Which reminds me, I need to go to the hardware store because I’ve run out of thinset for the tile backsplash…

To-Do List, or... What Some People Will Go Through Just to Act Like a Couple of Lazy Bums. Or... Who the heck was Reilly, Anyway?

Sails & Rigging

Standing and running rigging—replace all, including sheaves where worn; convert boat to cutter rig with removable forestay, new mast tangs and running backstays.

Make sure all sheet/halyard leads are fair; re-rig roller furling with new blocks.

Rig reefing gear and boom vangs for maximum strength and ease of use.

Internalize jib halyard, add 2 extra external halyards as spares.

Install strongtrack, storm trysail track, spinnaker pole track extension.

Rig boat for extensive downwind sailing and prevention of sail & line chafe.

Have sails (made in 2005) inspected/repaired as needed--mainsail, genoa, staysail, cruising spinnaker, storm trysail, storm staysail.) All made by Carol Hasse’s Port Townsend Sails. One more needed, a light air drifter.

Replace 23 year-old stainless chainplates with custom bronze ones.

Tune rig. Replace old uncomfortable bosun’s chair.


Life raft—have it inspected and repacked. Organize ditch bags.
Ground tackle—overhaul entire system. Get old fire hose for chafe gear.
Replace lifelines. Get new EPIRB.
Rebuild bilge pumps & buy spare parts.
Waterproof seals & positive locks for cockpit lockers.
Have at least three independent handheld GPS.
Have sextant, tables and know how to use them.
Install Cape Horn wind vane self-steering gear.
Replace old aluminum fuel tank.
Install lee cloths on bunks.
Secure boat for knockdowns; stove, bookshelves, floorboards, galley, etc.
Emergency water supplies: handheld watermaker and spare gallon jugs.


Install 175-watt solar panel on stainless arch.
Install 110-volt inverter and electrical monitoring system.
Re-wire boat. Convert all lighting to LED.
Install new Single Sideband/Ham radio, get Ham licenses.
Buy and install AIS/VHF radio.
New stereo with iPod dock. Record all CDs onto iPod.
Get tillerpilot in good working order.
Engine survey & oil analysis.
Kindles, iPads and ship’s library: get ebooks.


Replace rigid dinghy, which is too large to carry on deck, with inflatable dinghy & 2-hp outboard.
New spray dodger, mainsail cover.
New cockpit awning.
Storage pouches for cockpit.
New interior cushions.
New cookstove.
Build wooden drawers inside hanging locker; create chart stowage space on sides.
Raise the waterline (see photo.)
Give internal teak a coat of beeswax finish.
Get ship’s papers in order.
Passports, drivers licenses up to date.
Wilderness medical kit.
Learn French. Brush up on Spanish.
Get the house ready to rent (another huge list; cue groans.)

We're still figuring out how to make the comments section easier for readers to do, but just discovered that an automatically-generated album of all the blog photos exists on Picasa, here.


  1. Holy Cow! That is some list you've got there. Get all that done and you'll have about the best-equipped boat in the entire cruising community as far as I can see. You'll be surprised to see some of the boats that have made it down here to Mexico. But all the stuff you're doing will give you great piece of mind when you're being tossed around off the Washington and Oregon coasts.


  2. Hi guys!
    You may be right about the best equipped boat around, at least it feels that way when we look at our bank account. We can hardly wait to go cruising, and will look for you in Mexico (or perhaps the South Pacific?) We are actually going to get most if not all of this stuff done fairly soon, and that feels good.

    The Spring Symposium was fabulous. I'll try to make my presentation available online, will notify via the blog if it works.

    Pacific here we come!

    PS--we are still figuring out this comments thingy, and will try to figure out a way to get notified sooner when someone posts. Meanwhile, if any reader wants to be notified when we post, either do the Follow thing, the updates at sea RSS feed, or, when we're near a wi fi connection we can send you an email if you want to be added to our email list.