Here you will find tales of voyages past and present on our trusty Pacific Seacraft Dana 24, "Sockdolager," and 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 Sockdolager (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 began cruising on Raven, a unique wooden 29' powerboat. In 2018 we cruised up to Glacier Bay, Alaska, and back. But in 2024 we had the chance to buy Sockdolager back (we missed her), so we sold Raven. We hope you enjoy reading about our adventures as much as we enjoy having them. (And there will be more.)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

A Tsunami of Questions

Minstrel is sold and Sockdolager sports lots of improvements as we ready her for cruising. This was taken by Hasse sailmakers off Port Townsend.

A Good Old Boater. Karen here: Good Old Boat Editor Karen Larson’s 4-page article with photos in the May-June issue features Moi, with a few details about the boat—a slight departure for a sailing magazine, but it has been fun. I’ve been getting some great emails from near-flung and far-flung places. This email, from a medium-flung place, is a favorite:

“That I don't know where to start! I read Good Old Boat, you sail my favorite boat! Mrs. Larson mentions your ditch bag, but there was no mention of what items (she said you have the best equipped ditch bag around), I was wondering if a pro would be willing to share? List essentials for the ditch bag, for cruising onboard items, etc? And where can I get more info and boat pics from Dana 24s? What other boats did you consider, or was it love at first sight? What about your first mate? What else did he consider or was there no comparison (boat-wise - I'm sure few women compare to you)? Any hints about changes or updates or additions that should be made to the Dana 24 prior to cruising? How about cold weather cruising (tropical born and raised here and interested in heading north at the end of plan, or should I say beginning?), any tips? Same for your partner since you share the boats, is it fit for two? I've yet to find my first mate, but one should leave options opened by having some room on the boat, right? Spread some of that wisdom - I'm working on a 20 year plan and then I read an article about you doing exactly what I hope to do, you guys even picked the same boat I have my heart set on!
Signed, Jealous”

Dear Jealous,
Well, sheeyoot! Would someone get me a bigger hat? Let’s take these questions in illogical order. First, where to learn everything about the kind of boat we sail, a Pacific Seacraft Dana 24. Go straight to
for Dana info or to for Flicka (Dana’s little sister) info. You’ll find a large group of enthusiastic owners of these boats happily sharing an encyclopedic amount of information and hundreds of photos on them.

Next, join the Northwest Pacific Seacraft Owners Association, which is the fun-loving group in Puget Sound now chaired by…Ta-Daaaaa! Jim Heumann! We have 4 rendezvous per year in different locations around Puget Sound, and you are welcome even if you don’t have a Dana or other Pacific Seacraft or don’t live in the northwest, but want one or want to see one, or couldn’t sail there but can drive there. Yes, join us. And if you’re looking for a new or used Dana, Tom and Max at Seacraft Yacht Sales in Seattle do a fine job. They’re also now the builders of the new Dana 24. There's a new video tour of the new Dana on the Seacraft site. If you’re around Port Townsend from August 6-8, they are also hosting the Pacific Seacraft national rendezvous here, which promises to be mucho fun. Contact them via their web site if you decide to come.

Sockdolager's new dodger and stainless arch, which supports her new solar panel.

Next question: is the boat big enough for two and does it have enough room? Well heck, a double kayak is big enough for two. It’s a state of mind: how well do you get along, are you both roughly equal in skill and confidence, or is one of you over-challenged? We find the Dana to be just big enough to cruise seriously in and still take all the food, water, wine, beer and books we need, yet small enough to fit almost anywhere and very, very fun to sail. If it was a smidge bigger we’d like it, but it’s enough. A lot of people think they need much larger boats so they buy too much boat and then the sheer size of the maintenance and sail handling scares and defeats them. Lin and Larry Pardey's advice still stands after all these years: Go simple. Go small. Go now. I'd add Go quality. Simple is in the eye of the owner, but small means lower dockage and haulout fees, smaller sails, engine, everything. But cheaply built boats are never cheap. Well-built small boats with proper seagoing design can take you anywhere.

Who's the captain? Well, neither of us is the first mate-- we feel equal in skill and knowledge, which means at sea, we trust each other with our lives. And we share responsibilities equally, except for a few areas in which one tends to excel. For example, when it comes to mechanical or electrical there’s very little Jim can’t fix or figure out—he’s fearless. So I’m happy that he has the lead there. Thrilled, in fact. I’ve done celestial navigation and am probably more comfortable with piloting than he is. He’s happy that we have that kind of backup to GPS. I’ve taken meteorology and navigation courses, and he’s taken sail repair and rigging courses. I thought I was pretty good at tying knots, but Jim has long surpassed me. I’ve had more offshore experience than him, so that was helpful in setting up watchkeeping duties. Trusting your lives to each other is no small thing, but you can get there with practice and diligence and alertness. And patience. Lots of patience. Good Old Boat will be publishing a comedy piece by me on the subject of gender communications on a small boat in November.

Next: What updates have been done? Jim will tell you all about that. But to put things in perspective, take the advice of long-term sailors Lin and Larry Pardey: 1) Keep the water out of the boat; 2) Keep yourselves ON the boat; and 3) Keep the boat moving. Cover those basics first: good maintenance, safety gear, ground tackle, and a sailboat’s “engines”--you need good sails in decent condition—this means storm sails (for offshore) as well as light air sails. A light air sail is not a luxury, it’s a necessity (see the upcoming July issue of Good Old Boat for reasons.) If I sound like I’m shilling for GOB it’s because they dish out loads of practical advice rather than shiny reviews of shiny boats no normal person can afford.

Cold-weather cruising: I had a Webasto diesel forced-air heater (about $1500) installed under the starboard coaming in Minstrel and loved it for Alaskan cruising, but in Sockdolager we have a portable propane heater and don’t intend to install a permanent one because we’re heading south next year.

One of Sockdolager's new Turkish rugs.

Other boats under consideration when buying the Dana included the Flicka; both Jim and I independently considered Flickas, but found them just a bit too small for what we wanted. I considered a Cape Dory 27 (nice, but not Va-Voom), and a Cape George 31 (gorgeous but too expensive.) I also love Bristol Channel Cutters, but felt that the long bowsprit might be a lonely place out in the Gulf of Alaska; also, they’re very expensive unless you get lucky. But I still love them. After Jim bought his Dana (now our Dana), he also noticed the Shannon 28 and the Baba 30, but was very satisfied with his choice. The Dana is to pocket cruisers what a little Mercedes is to cars. Every boat's a trade-off. For other “comparables,” a good starting point is marine architect Ted Brewer’s comparisons of similar boats to the Dana in the May-June issue of Good Old Boat. He goes into detail about stability and sailing characteristics. See, you’re just gonna hafta go get that magazine. West Marine and lots of marina stores sell them.

And finally, the ditch bags. Karen Larson has asked me to write an article for Good Old Boat on this, so you’ll have to wait. Except for Jealous, that is. I’ll send him photos and a writeup of the contents because he asked first.

We hosted a rendezvous in April. On the way to a used bookstore on Bainbridge Island, Karen and her friend Patti (co-owner of the Dana Tonic) let things get a little out of control at a Turkish rug shop. They never made it to the bookstore.

Karen is a sucker for a good Turkish rug.


  1. Karen and Jim - my husband and I will begin our south seas adventure from San Francisco via Mexico starting September 2014 in our Pacific Seacraft 31 "Cool Change" and we are just beginning to outfit her for that purpose. Right now she has nothing except a good autopilot. I have thoroghly reviewed your website but I haven't found any detailed accounts of your design and equipment solutions for a small boat. I know it would take some time, but I would be so grateful if you could give us some pointers on storage/equipment choices/design considerations you have used for your Dana, since a PS 31 is very similar. Some of the questions that come to mind are, where and how do you store your dinghy, life raft and extra sails? What kind of an awning over the cockpit design did u choose? What ground tackle/chain/windlass configuration did u choose and did u have to make any modifications for it? Why did u choose a cape hone windane? Did it have anything to do with fitting under your arch? How did you secure the sole for knockdowns? What are some example of your "ingenious solutions for small space living" ? Thanks so much for your help. Cindy Patrinellis

    1. Hi Cindy,
      To follow up on the email I sent you, I will update the "Fiddly Bits" page on this blog soon to include more of the customized things on Sockdolager, and to answer your other questions.

  2. Hi Karen and Jim,
    I'm wondering how you are finding the stainless steel arch on your Dana. Is it a reasonable compromise in terms of it's effect on sailing performance? Would you mount the radar there? Would you recommend it to other Dana owners? Thanks!

    1. Hi, Anonymous,
      The arch is far handier than we ever imagined, and though we worried that it might compromise sailing performance (especially with the solar panel perched on top,) no compromise is noticeable. Lots of people have mounted their radar units on an aft arch (we don't have radar) but if you do, be sure to put it high enough so that it's not at eye level with anyone on the foredeck. We designed the arch ourselves, and are happy with it. Another benefit is that the arch and its reinforcements act as a "cage" of sorts back aft, and you can stand up in the cockpit at sea to reach the boom and still have something to hold onto. We'd recommend it, especially for voyaging. -K&J