Here you will find tales of voyages past and present on our trusty Pacific Seacraft Dana 24, "Sockdolager," and more recently, our Bigfoot29 powerboat, "Raven," 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, sailed to Mexico, 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. We are currently cruising in the Pacific Northwest, and hope you enjoy reading about our adventures as much as we enjoy having them. (And there will be more.)

Friday, September 2, 2011

San Francisco Bay Odyssey, Part 2

The hills of Berkeley have amazing views. That's the Golden Gate Bridge behind the tree growing out of Jim's head.

We liked this sculpture, a nifty protest-music-old age combo.

And kites? Oh yes, fabulous. These are giant shivering ground crabs.

And this is an inflatable dog.

Everyone loves to fly a kite.

Wordplay:  Before we left Port Townsend, a friend wrote, “…keep us posted, and while you’re at it, could you think of a better word than blog?”  Hmmm, what it is about that undignified word for this egalitarian form of journaling or opining, or even, in some cases, actual journalism?  

Jim, hard at work on the blog.

The word has a swampy feel, and it also rhymes well.  You can almost hear the imagery:  frogs bellowing in bogs, or, at sea, a basso-profundo horn telling you the obvious:  Fooooooooog.  There’s an exploratory, groping-in-the-dark quality to this humble word, which can, if a blogger isn’t careful, aptly describe the feel of the writing: squishy, inexact, and confusing, an oobleck... nay, a clog of verbiage for readers to slog through.  Like the sentence you just read.

Karen, upon hearing Jim awaken and stretch:  Good morning!  Coffee’s made.  I’m blogging.

Jim:  Then you must be a bloglodyte.

Karen:  AAAAAA!

Alameda's houseboats are every bit as colorful and cool as Sausalito's.

Which brings us to the reason for this little tangent:  we post on this blog only when we have enough material to tell a good story.  Or to explain some aspect of seamanship we’re working through.  And occasionally, to express an opinion.  Our blog posts are mostly distillations of experiences, with a little hindsight thrown in if we have it.  That’s also why the phrase “a peppy periodical on a peripatetic perambulation under sail” appears under the title.  It’s a buoyancy cushion for that soggy, bloggy word.  But thank you for the lovely emails encouraging us to post more often (disguised as “Where ARRRRRE you?”)  It feels good to get such positive feedback and messages from friends and family.  Having surprisingly unreliable and intermittent internet connections has contributed to the sporadic-ness (and length) of posts, too.  Just so you know, Karen's keyboard is all raked off now.

Below is our friend Dai aboard his Morgan 32, Summersalt.  He's sailing for Hawaii soon.

A Wide Swath in the Bay:  After Sausalito and Berkeley, we went to Clipper Cove, then Alameda, and now we’re back in Clipper Cove.  The hospitality of fellow sailors knows no better example than what we’ve experienced all around San Francisco Bay.  Sockdolager with all her salty fittings must be like catnip at the dock.  For example, within half an hour of tie-up at Berkeley, we were hosting five guests, including a young Russian sailor named Sergei, whom Jim blithely asked, “So, were you with the Russian Mafia?”  Good thing Sergei had a sense of humor; he replied archly, “You don’t leave a job with the Russian Mafia.” 

Catamaran sailors Mark and Nina Montgomery from our Emergency Offshore Medicine class in Denver last March were in Berkeley when we arrived, so we had a hilarious reunion aboard Sockdolager and their boat, the Woofie.  

Dana owners Chris Humann (watch his sailing kite-cam on Youtube here) and his partner Justine (both of the Dana 24, Carroll E) treated us to dinner and an excellent tour of Berkeley.  Here's Chris on the boat, which he has sailed in several singlehanded TransPac races to Hawaii.

Here's Jim in his chauffeur-driven limo (just kidding, that's Justine, our excellent Berkeley tour guide and fellow Dana sailor.)

Lawrence Boag and his wife Barbara (of the Dana Graceful Exit-see video here) also treated us to dinner and a tour of Alameda.  

We visited with Jay Bowden from the Dana Little Lara, and with Brian Cline, proud new owner of the Dana, Maris (ex-Cami). 

Little Lara in Clipper Cove.

 You wouldn't know it by the relaxed look of him, but Brian just finished putting the rudder back on Maris and was less than an hour from launch.  It’ll be fun seeing Brian down the road (he leaves the Bay in November for Mexico.)   We also met rigger Guy Stevens and his wife Melissa of the Ericson 46 Aiki, for a wonderful evening of Stromboli and music, and Livia and Carol of the Estrellita, a Wauquiez 35. 

Sockdolager and Estrellita share the anchorage at Clipper Cove.

Livia runs the Interview With a Cruiser project, which is great reading for sailors at all levels. 

And now you know why it’s been awhile since we’ve posted!

Gizmology:  The Cape Horn wind vane that steers our boat at sea is utter magic.  I (K) can’t stop saying this: It steers way better than either of us could.  It makes me feel like bowing down before it on each watch.   That something so simple and elegant could perform such a difficult and important task is sublime.  The only analogy I can come up with for my feelings about it is the cartoon where cave men are standing around a TV wondering how all those teeny people got inside it.  I also can't figure out why the font in this blog goes up and down in size, but I refuse to bow down to a computer.


Jim cleans and re-uses our existing Hayne Hi-Mod mechanical wire terminals for the new backstay.  This is why we spent the extra bucks for reusable terminals.

Heave-to Re-do:  We replaced the backstay to accommodate a hanked-on sail that we can use for heaving-to.  All it took was one well-planned trip up the mast and twice as much time as Jim predicted.  But when we went out onto San Francisco Bay to test our new idea for heaving-to, we got a surprise.  As you might remember, heaving-to in a gale off the southern coast of Oregon was done with mixed results; the boat did fine and wasn’t damaged, but she did not “park” herself at the 45 degree angle to wind and wave that we wanted.  We’d flown our storm trysail without a headsail back then. 

Bringing the center of effort aft would solve the problem, we thought, which meant flying a sail off the backstay, which meant moving the backstay’s single sideband radio insulators to where they wouldn’t interfere with the sail.  Done.

Here's our storm staysail flying on the backstay.  It normally goes just behind the jib, nearer the bow.

We went out on a 25-knot day and tried different sheet leads and sail heights, ending with the sail flying as low as possible, but it didn’t matter.  The boat stayed mostly beam-on to wind and sea. After several different configurations we attached the tack of the staysail directly to the mainsheet, which we'd decoupled from the boom via a snap shackle.

The boom rested nicely on the stainless handle on the dodger, and was secured with lashings.  We may fashion a canvas "cradle" for lashing it in this position.

Disappointed in the results, we began discussing the addition of a bulky sea anchor to our gear.  We surmised that there must be a lot of other boats with this issue, considering that the Dana is by no means a radical design. 

Then, just to see what might happen, we flew a little scrap of genoa, normally and not back-winded, to find out if the boat could sail the way a yawl does, with “jib and jigger.”  She did, and then out of curiosity we pushed the tiller all the way to leeward, to see what she’d do.
PRESTO!   The boat stayed perfectly hove-to, 45 degrees off the wind, making less than a knot of leeway according to the GPS.  The little slick of calm water trailed out to windward at just the right angle, and we stared at each other, dumbfounded.  Neither of us can explain why this worked, and we don’t know if it will in higher winds, but that’s our story and we’re sticking to it.

Here's the clew of the backstaysail (facing forward) and attached to the boom vang, which goes to the base of the mast and also can be trimmed from the cockpit.  And there's that little scrap of genoa that made the boat heave-to perfectly.

We are going to experiment with various wind speeds for this setup, and also combinations of storm trysail and staysail.  You’ll be the first to know.

Jim went fishing.  Unfortunately, he didn’t go catching.  But just in case, we call this little gizmo The Decider.

The Great Clipper Caper:  We heard a voice saying, “Helloooo, we have a message for you.”  Karen went topside to see a Boston whaler with two jeans-and-T-shirt-clad guys in it, and became a bit worried that maybe someone we knew was in trouble.  The Casual Guy In Charge said, “You’re in violation of the law and we need to give you a citation.”  After ascertaining that the violation (of Police Code Section 1.1, a misdemeanor) was for not applying for a permit to anchor in Clipper Cove for more than 24 hours, Karen fixed the stinkeye on him and said, “We’re a cruising boat headed south, and we only plan to be here a few more days.”  But bureaucracy being what it is, we got this nice orange 9X12 notice (not plastered to the boat, thankfully, though they admitted with glee that the glue was really hard to get off) and called the number listed on it.  The Treasure Island Development Authority person was very nice, and in two long phone calls took down our document number and other info.  Evidently there had been a bunch of derelict boats in here at one time.  It’s a lovely peaceful anchorage now, though, and this sign of the times seems to be the price for it.

Finally, a bit of fun with boat names.  In Alameda there are some doozies.  Like Starfish Enterprise and Freudian Sloop.  But it was the way some boats were placed that got my attention.  Maybe the management has a sense of humor on where they put boats.  Maybe the dockmaster’s some wag named Willy Tippit.  Who knows.  But Midwife was three slips from Hot Flash.  Uncorked was mere staggering distance from Comfortably Numb.  Bad Boy was a discreet two docks away from Redeemed.  And Cock Robin was right next to My Mirage.  I don’t know about you, but something’s going on over there in Alameda.

Even if something funny isn’t going on in Alameda, we think this ship should be named the “NYK NYK Wise Guy.”

1 comment:

  1. Wow, action-packed! Sounds like you are having a blast - so happy for you guys!