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.)

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Nature's Bowling Alley

Pacific Crossing, Day 31: Well, what an interesting 24 hours it's been. Mother Nature bowled a perfect game with thirteen squalls striking us, another dozen or so near-misses, and no gutterballs. A quick 360 degree sweep of the sky shows about a dozen squalls all around as I write this in early afternoon, with flat calms or 5 knots of wind in between them. It's Bowling for Sockdolager! You'd think Mother Nature would be getting a little bored by now with all this toying around, because we're south of 5 degrees south latitude, where this stuff shouldn't be happening. But noooo...

Here are some possible strategies for dealing with it:

1. Cuss at the weather gods.
2. Rig the boat for the higher winds you'll get in squalls (25 knots) and go absolutely nowhere the rest of the time because it's not enough sail area.
3. Unreef the sails and let 'em fly, hoping you can get them reefed in time for the next squall (in the dark, of course.) Even with no reefs in the sails, the top speed in the little zephyrs is 2.5, maybe 3. Oh, and the penalty is waking the off-watch for the reefing fire drill.
4. Heave to, take a nap, and then get moving when the wind steadies out a little more.
5. Have the first discussion on whether to turn on the motor when the calms plague us.
6. Drop all sail so Jim can dive under the boat to see if the goose barnacles have fouled the hull so badly they're slowing us down. (They haven't.)
7. Keep sailing and hand steering, hoping for wind.

We've tried all 7. #1 made me feel better, #2 works better at night, #3 resulted in a fire drill, and we loved #4 best, but it got us nowhere. The last three are what we're presently doing.

You must be getting weary of all this weather angst, and if I wasn't so dadgum tired I'd make something up. Like how in the night we rolled so hard we scooped a small Portuguese Man O'War onto the side deck. Really. We did. Jim eased it back into the water with a paper towel.

Squall #14 is hitting us now.

Sent via Ham radio


  1. You guys rock! ... slowly in a rolling sorta way. Jim, I've followed (in a nice way) you since you left Boulder/IBM (you weren't as interesting when you were here :) to pursue Life Phase X. Karen, I've never met you, but I can't imagine not liking the source of such wonderful, and optimistic, blog; not to mention the mainsheet mat! Jim, think back about 8 years to a Froggie, Catherine Connor, at IBM. I'm the other half. We took the kids out of school to sail for awhile, perhaps after you knew Cath. I'm working on my butterfly effect here in Boulder to help you guys out w/ the wx. Strike up a dialog when you have more bandwidth. Bon courage!

  2. I was irked yesterday when my calendar informed me of your arrival in the Marquesas... :(