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 21, 2011

You know you’ve been working too hard when...

1. You wake up at oh-dark-thirty in the middle of processing a long list of things to do, that in daylight seemed rather minor, but at three o'clock in the morning have morphed into MAJOR jobs with HORRENDOUS consequences if you forget a single one of them.

2. You can’t go back to sleep and you’re too lazy to get up and write it all down, so you juggle the list in your head, an endless loop of fear of forgetting whatever it was that seemed so... zzzzzzz. Yawn. Sound of robins chirping. OMIGOD! It’s eight AM and you’ve forgotten everything!

3. You throw a cup of coffee down your gullet, hoping nothing like that will ever happen again to disturb your precious sleep. Time to get to work.

4. Eight hours later you can cross ONE thing off the list... well, it’s not actually finished, so you can’t cross it off unless you want to cheat. Rats. What’d I get done today? Is the sun over the yardarm yet?

5. You pour a glass of wine, wondering how you got so tired without crossing anything off the list. The wine relaxes you. Suddenly you think of a brand-new thing that needs doing, and add it to the dadgum list.

6. The clock in your head says "Six weeks left! Tick-tock, tick-tock..."

7. You make a new rule: When the list of stuff to do gets to the bottom of the paper, throw the paper away and start a new list.

8. Ahhh, bed. Feels so good to lay down after a hard day’s work, gonna sleep goo... zzzzzzz. BOING! 3:00 AM. Wide awake. OMIGOD! Why haven't I done THAT yet? Don't forget, don't forget, don't... zzzzzzz.

Welcome to Ground Hog Day.

Headless Chicken Days: Okay, you’re probably looking forward to the last of these voyage prep posts as much as we are... no, wait, that would be impossible. The good news is the boat’s all but ready and so are we, but there are still a few... okay, make that LOADS of projects to finish on our 110 year-old house, including moving completely out so that we can rent it. In other words, it's Headless Chicken Days. You'd recognize the signs. Things like: You go to repair a wall in the laundry room that had to come partially out for some plumbing work awhile back, but you realize the flooring is too crappy for renters, so you tear out the whole danged thing, right down to the 110 year-old cement slab, which by the wavy looks of it was evidently poured during some great drunken cement party. Standing back, you look at each other through the settling dust and gasp, "What the hell have we done?" But a few trips to the hardware store, a few beers to fuel the planning, and you're back on track--just a few days behind where you were supposed to be, that's all.

Hoo boy, and don't forget to add "Check all the smoke detectors and change the batteries" to the list. Short cuts are tempting. (Just kidding, that's not our house.)

We had our first Ham contact via our new radio! It's exciting to press the transmit button and know your voice is going out over the airwaves to who knows where. Jim went first, trying to suavely sound like he'd done this a million times, all the while desperately trying to recall that string of senseless letters and numbers that make up his call sign.

Jim, pressing the transmit button, freezes: Ummm...

Karen: You just said Um over the radio. You're not supposed to do that.

Jim: I was trying to remember my call sign.

Karen writes it down: KF7OWV.

Jim tries again: Ah, um, this is Kilo Fixtrot, uh, Oxnard...

Karen: No wonder nobody's answering!

We write it out phonetically so we don't trip ourselves up and this time transmit successfully, but still nobody answers. Hmmm. Eventually we call a Ham friend on the telephone and ask him to answer our radio call. Being a Ham, he gets really excited, races to his ham shack, and warms up his radio. Over the crackle and wheeze of frequency noise, we enjoy our first Ham contact.

But in spite of such pleasant diversions, all that remains to be done makes talk about destinations such as gorgeous tropical isles start to sound like the sound track from a Bill Murray movie.

Jim: I dreamed about the Tuamotus last night.
(note: The Tuamotus are gorgeous tropical isles.)

Karen: That’s good. What was it about, swimming and beachcombing?

Jim: I forget. Do the Tuamotus have ballet?

Karen: Huh? Ballet? I dunno, why?

Jim: Because then they’d have Tuamotu tutus.

Karen: I need another coffee.

Jim: Isn’t there a song about the Chatanooga Choo-choo?

Karen: Oh yeah!

Both: Pardon me there, is that a Tuamotu tutuuuuuu!

It's clear even to the most casual observer that this pair needed a break, so off we went in the boat, to busta wave and host the Spring rendezvous of the Northwest Pacific Seacraft Owners Association. It was cold. How cold? See previous post. A peaceful anchorage was the goal for the first night out, so we nosed Sockdolager between the rocks at the narrow entrance to Mats Mats Bay, dropped the hook in the lagoon, said "Ahhhhh, peace at last," and settled in for a nice... hail storm. We kid you not. It sounds like gravel hitting the water. We enjoyed the incongruous pleasure of throwing iceballs into the water and watching puzzled gulls dive on them, then Jim gathered up enough hail to make three snowballs and put them in the fridge for drinks later. "Want some hail in that gin and tonic?" is a fun phrase to drop on friends.

Jim throws an iceball.

Next day was perfect sailing except for the small detail of having the wind smack on the nose. While tacking to and fro, we tested our new wind vane self-steering gear, shown in the next two photos.

It's called a Cape Horn, and is made in Quebec by a very skilled, friendly and helpful sailor named Yves. It works by cocking the upper vane into the wind until it stays vertical; then you hook up the steering lines to the tiller. The lightweight vane moves the powerful servo-pendulum rudder, which in turn pulls the steering lines attached to the tiller. It's so well made that it worked even when we installed the upper vane backwards! This will be the silent workhorse that does most of the steering on long voyages. Jim built the cross-brace for strength, and Leif Knudsen, the shipwright, made it into a pin rail for attaching various lines.

The second photo, looking over the boat's transom, shows the powerful servo-pendulum at work, swaying side to side and pulling on the steering lines. Atop the stainless frame there was enough room for Leif to make us a teak platform on which to store small jerrycans of gas for the outboard.

The rendezvous in Kingston was a delight, and over way too fast. So good to see our friends again. In this photo, Ben Alexander of Puffin (Dana 24) Patty Kirby of Tonic (Dana 24) Karen, and John Hazen of Windward Pilgrim (Flicka) swap yarns aboard Tonic.

This is a 55-foot bridge, but when you're on a boat with a 34-foot mast, it sure doesn't look that tall. We realized that this bridge (in the Port Townsend Canal) may be the last one we go under until the Golden Gate in San Francisco!

For another fun break, Karen sang with her trio The Jazz Gals and a marvelous combo including piano, guitar, bass, drums and trombone, in a concert in mid-May. What a thrill to sing numbers like "Mack the Knife" in front of a wailin' band and a cheering audience, then calm it all down with "Stardust." Are there any jazz players out there who also happen to be cruising sailors? We hope so.

And finally, Jim loves to geek out with iPhone apps. This one's called "Pano" and he took this photo of Sockdolager's cabin with it. The cabin sports some of Leif's new fiddly bits that make it more enjoyable and add storage capacity, which we will show you more of later. The photo makes the cabin look palatial (click to enlarge), but still, a Dana 24 is a boat that thinks it's a lot bigger than it is.