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.)

Friday, December 20, 2013

Home for the Holidays

Christmas 2013 at home.

A Poem for Christmas in Port Townsend

Light blue, a wet wind
hustles heavy clouds in from the Pacific.
The sun cracks a smile,
            washes our house in gold,
            yellow for the neighbors,
            a rainbow for everyone.

Tumbling merrily, a vagabond cloud
brushes waving cedars on the ridge.
It looks like rain,
            it looks like sun,
            it looks like Spring,
            like everything all at once.

White-winged, a common gull
perches on a red brick chimney atop a black roof.
The clouds sweep by,
            leap riverlike from North Beach
            to cross the Strait
            all the way to Victoria.

Smiling sleepily, you yawn
ask from the kitchen, “Where’s the sugar?”
Pour milk over Cheerios,
            pour me another cup of coffee,
            pour your love over me,
            all through the days and nights.

Awash in light this morning,
pouring over that gull, our house, this town,
Life cracks a smile,
            gives us this Christmas,
            gives us this home,
            gives us each other.

All this color, this Christmas, this time.

Christmas 2012 in North Cove, Kawau Island NZ.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Sockdolager in the Movies, Part 3!

Click HERE or on the image above to see the video.

Part 3 of the 3-part video series by, called “Outfitting a Small Cruiser for Voyaging,” is now available. This part takes you belowdecks for a tour of the cabin. We hope you enjoy it, and the ten other videos (including Parts 1 and 2 if you missed them) that you can get access to for free, by filling in the form on the landing page. Off Center Harbor also made a film about our friend and shipwright Leif Knutson, whose own video-tour of Raven, the boat he built, is a real jaw-dropper.

Sockdolager underway on a fall cruise in Puget Sound
Warm weather has departed these latitudes, and barefoot days have long been replaced by something we’ve both missed: the change of seasons and winter’s chill. But really, winter’s okay. For now.  

A favorite memory.
Sockdolager is snug in her winter berth, we're back in our cottage, the Christmas tree is up, and the utter joy of a hot shower every day is still waaaay too intense for landlubbers to understand. We look forward to a winter cruise, which will be fun because so few boats are out and we’ll have our pick of the best spots to anchor.

Our cruising friends in New Zealand and Australia are wearing jandals and shorts and enjoying a fine summer, so maybe it’s time to get nostalgic with a few items in a “best of” series. We will start with New Zealand, but will occasionally be plucking images from the many thousands of photos we took over the past two years. Here's the best beach we found on the whole trip. (Surprise, it’s not tropical.)

Wharariki Beach, near Cape Farewell west of Nelson, NZ. It faces west into the Tasman Sea.
Our road trip gave us some terrific images. Going straight to the good stuff, here is the best chocolate stash we’ve ever seen. I mean, you’d never have to go to the grocery store again if you could figure out how to store this baby in the garage.

Best tower of chocolate. Dunedin, NZ.
Best road signs include one that we really should consider adopting here in the US.

And the fire department’s no slouch with their messages, either.

These bits of punctuation are strategically placed around the country. Come on, ya drivers, let’s show a little more enthusiasm out there!

There are also a lot of warnings about wind socks. If one got loose and wrapped around your windshield it could be very bad.

Best license plate on a campervan ever. No ambiguity here.

Best match ever, of a paint job on a campervan with the look of its six young sleeping occupants.

Best literary town name, though it might have been better as “Middle Earth.” For locals, the painted thing on the road says "50." But if you're not used to driving in NZ it says, "SO," leaving you to fill in, "are we on the right side of the road?"

Middlemarch. We looked for George Eliot and Mrs. Dollop, but it was mostly a wide spot in the road.
Best. Phone booth. Ever. On Stewart Island. 

As everyone knows, the ozone hole over the Antarctic has had issues, and the intensity of sun in NZ can be even more than in the tropics. Dark glasses in summer are a must. NZ has six gazillion sheep. Do the math.

Finally, after a search over ten thousand miles, Jim found the best caption for his portrait.

We’ve saved the best for last. The rainbows in Milford Sound don’t all just hang in the sky, some of them slide down waterfalls. Literally, shimmering curtains of color fall one after the other down to the water. Now that’s a rainbow.

No matter where you are, we hope you're enjoying the holiday season.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Sockdolager in the Movies! Part 2

Click HERE to see Part 2
Part 2 of what has become a 3-part series called “Outfitting a Small Cruiser for Voyaging,” is ready for you to view on a special page created just for our blog readers by the Maine-based maritime film documentary group called Off Center Harbor. They’ve been wonderful (and at times hilarious) to work with, and we highly recommend joining, for access to more than a hundred videos on subjects ranging from boat building to sail repair to cruising under sail to tours and histories of beautiful and fascinating classic yachts and work boats, and more.  They’re cranking out several new videos each month, so there's lots of variety. 

For more information on outfitting a small boat for extended cruising, this 3-part series can be augmented by viewing our side page called "Fiddly Bits." 

So go have a look at Part 2 and sign up on that page for 10 more free videos that include Part 1, if you missed it. Part 2 will be replaced by Part 3 on the special page in a few weeks, and we’ll let you know when it’s ready for viewing.

Meanwhile, for our sailing friends in the sunny, summery Southern Hemisphere, here is the Next Big Thing. You heard it here first. 

Friday, October 18, 2013

Sockdolager in the Movies!

Click here for this video.
Dreams vs budgets:  that's a new category of video at Off Center Harbor, the Maine-based, exceptionally talented marine documentary group who just made a film starring Sockdolager (!!) and called it "Outfitting a Small Cruiser for Voyaging, Part 1." You can see it by clicking on the title or photo caption above.  Filmmaker Steve Stone put us right at ease and made the filming part feel effortless and fun, the extent of which you'll be able to gauge by the amount of giggling coming from yours truly (K).

But! Hang on to your hats! Steve also made us our very own Off Center Harbor web page for our friends, family and blog readers!  Can you beat that!  AND!  This video, which is part 1 of 2 parts, has been paired with an article written by Karen Larson of Good Old Boat magazine, that appeared in 2010 and featured my former Dana 24, Minstrel.  You can find it by clicking here.  I didn't know they were going to do that, and okay, I'm blushing now.

**NB, November 19, 2013: Part 2 has now replaced Part 1. And Part 3 will be replacing Part 2 in a few weeks. You'll be able to see all 3 parts by signing up for the 10 free videos in the box on the right side of the special page the links take you to.

Click here to see OCH's highlight video and 10 others.

Off Center Harbor is a subscription-based video service, and so far we've been unable to plumb their fathomless depths because they have so many cool videos to choose from.  I found myself sitting back and saying "Ahhh!" a lot.  In addition to films about voyage preparation, their topics cover seamanship, boatbuilding, tools of the trade, tours of historic boats, and instructional videos for kids, plus links to many blogs. Sailing is a small world, so I'm delighted to be seeing a lot of people I either know or have heard of.

So, enjoy Part 1 and its accompanying article and other videos, and we'll let you know when Part 2 is ready (or Off Center Harbor will if you decide to subscribe.)

Finally, for those of you in the northern hemisphere who are getting ready to put your boats to bed for the winter, or, for that matter, for those of you in the southern hemisphere where it's Spring and time to do something for the boat, here's a simplified maintenance flow chart. You're welcome.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Voyage Statistics

Jim here.  I have been  doing the math and putting statistics together from our voyage.  I also figured out how to load a GPS track into Google Earth.

GPS Track to New Zealand
The voyage lasted for two years and 25 days (755 days).  July 9, 2011 to Aug 2, 2013.

A nautical mile is 1.15 "regular"/statute miles and is abbreviated as "nm". Nautical miles per hour are abbreviated as "knots".  Statute miles per hour are abbreviated as "mph".  And if we just say "miles" it means statute miles.

We sailed 10768 nm.  For you land lubbers that is 12,383 miles.  In metric it is 19,931 kilometers.  For those of a biblical persuasion it is 43,588,160 cubits.  This includes the distance from Port Townsend, WA to Tauranga, New Zealand and from San Francisco to Port Townsend, but not the miles from New Zealand to San Francisco on the container ship.

Of the 755 days away we were "under way" for 122 days.  That includes all the time the boat was actually moving even if it was just for an hour or two.

Of the 122 days we under way, 103 were "at sea" in which we sailed through the night.

While at sea one of us was always on watch.  We used a watch schedule of four hours on and four hours off.  So in the 103 days at sea 1236 hours was spent on watch for each person.  Almost all of that time was outside in the cockpit. About 40% of the time was at night.

Our average speed for the 122 days underway was 3.7 knots (4.25 mph).

The average distanced we traveled in 24 hours while at sea was 83 nm (95 miles).

The longest distance we traveled in one 24 period was 130 nm (150 miles) at an average speed of 5.4 knots.  The shortest distance was 17 nm, backwards (while becalmed near the equator).

A "passage" is a multi day trip between two points of land.  Our longest passage, from the tip of Baja California in Mexico to Fatu Hiva in the Marquesas Islands in French Polynesia took 37 days. The total distance traveled was 2,802 nm (3,222 miles) .  The average speed for the passage was 3.14 knots (3.6 mph).  For the first 17 days we averaged 4.2 knots but then got stuck in the doldrums and averaged only 2.23 knots for the next 20 days. During this passage we used about 40 gallons of water and 19 gallons of diesel fuel.  

The next longest passage, 1142 nm, was from Tonga to New Zealand at an average speed of 4.0 knots and it took 12 days.

Other passages included: three passages of seven days each, two five day passages, one three day passage, six two day passages, and eight one day passages.

For our 122 days underway, 70% were under sail and 30% were motoring.

While motoring we used about 325 gallons of diesel fuel at an estimated cost of $2000.

Of the 633 days NOT at sea, about half were spent at marinas and half were at anchor or on a mooring. Estimated marina costs were around $5000.  We kept the boat at marinas in New Zealand while we lived ashore and toured the South Island, a period of about ten weeks. There were very few marinas on the route between Mexico and New Zealand. On that stretch of eight months we spent two weeks in a marina.

Saturday, September 14, 2013


We’ve been home for several weeks, and the transition from seafaring back to life on land with all its reconnecting has been, shall we say, “interesting.” 

The transition from southern summer weather to North Pacific conditions was, as you already knew, kind of wet.

Dirty weather in the North Pacific.

Atypical wind direction but typical wind speed forecast for the coast.
But when the weather’s decent up here in the Pacific Northwest, it’s not just good, it’s glorious. 

Siren's pub on a fine day.
Coming home to Port Townsend, with its camaraderie, its forests of wooden masts, and its people who love to sail (and share with visitors) beauties like the venerable, engineless, 110 year-old Ziska, was exactly what we wanted to do.

Ziska's interior with new owner Gabriel Sky.
Seeing beautiful schooners like the lovely Alcyone under sail is also not unusual around here.  It’s good to be home.  

For transitioning sailors, Port Townsend is a good place, because it’s expected that sailors come and go.  Transitions are no biggie, because that’s how we live.  Plus, what other town do you know of where the local police hand out flying pig pins?

Still, despite the excellent homecoming, the first two weeks were rather strange.  First there was what I call “reconnecting syndrome.”  Fascinating things, these electronic gizmos.

Then there was “still on watch syndrome.” Each night I’d wake up around 2:00 am and think, huh?  Where… oh, that’s right, we’re not at sea.  Great, I’m wide awake, NOW what do I do?  The saltwater half of my mind would start the nightly litany:  Okay, up and at ‘em!  Gotta get the navigation done for the next leg, gotta check the forecast, we don’t want to miss the weather window, gotta write in the log and get ready to go to on watch! 

This was, of course, ironic, because normally by 2:00 am, my watch would be half over, and waking up into such irony meant an hour or two of pondering the tug-of-war nattering on between the landlubber and seafarer halves of my mind.  It should be obvious that you’re home, I would tell myself.  Oh sure, like that worked.

So, to while away the time I’d drowsily search for traces of guilt for having overslept 2 hours of my watch while Jim was also soundly asleep.  Guilt, ah yes… wait, WHAT?  We’re BOTH asleep?  Who’s on watch?  OMIGOD!  What’s happening out there?  A couple of times I actually got up and went to look out the window.  No whales were seen in the street.  The surface of the road was unruffled by wind.  If we’d had a house log, I would’ve written in it.

Then the landlubbing half of my mind would say:  Ha ha, very funny!  The house isn’t dragging, you’re not gonna get run down by a bigger house, and best of all, the bed is steady and still!  How d’ya like them apples? 

The seafaring half would reply:  Not much.  Then again, it’s actually pretty nice. 

The landlubbing half would say:  Well, I like it here.  A LOT.  And we’re staying for awhile, if you don’t mind.

The seafaring half merely harrumphed.  But slowly, slowly, the seafaring half retreated from its nightly vigil, until a full night’s sleep became possible. 

God is my... 
That’s when the second stage of transitioning to life on land began.  The sense that, while a full night’s snorefest was to be expected, any sense of permanence was neither believable nor trustworthy.  The house was surely temporary, right?  We’d be moving back to the boat soon, uh-huh.  This was solved in a few days by the reappearance into the house, of familiar furniture and belongings.  That stage was brief. 

Sand castle at Ilwaco.
But the oddest and longest transition phase came from the sense that after being at sea, where sensory input is somewhat limited and controlled compared to land, we were now in a gigantic, frenetic candy shop of distraction, where everyone was running around happy as puppies on a big sugar buzz. 

Land-life is so full of distractions—things to see and do, comings and goings, people to meet and talk to—that for about two weeks my head turned so often it felt like I was getting whiplash, and my mind was barely able to summon the attention span of even a gnat. 

Crikey!  Even the dinghies have dinghies!
And then the seafaring half of my brain came roaring back, because we went to that annual three-day high called the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival, where 200 gorgeous varnished painted beauties lined the docks, and happiness wafted through the air, and really, who could worry about short attention spans in a setting like that?  Certainly not us.  Shanties were sung, pirate cannons were fired, hearty shouts rang, friends were met, and boats were admired.  To see some spectacular images of the festival and the boats under sail, check out photographer Jeff Eichen’s web site here.  Sockdolager is in photo #54 of 72. 

On Wednesday and Thursday, Jim helped deliver the 99 year-old wooden motorboat Glory Be from Seattle to Port Townsend, where she took her place in the show.  She has an amazing history.

The 99 year-old Glory Be.

On Friday, the first festival day, we attended lectures, toured boats and had more joyful reunions.

The Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival

On Saturday we crewed aboard the lovely schooner Grail, to race with the gracious and hilarious Smith family against other floating wooden acres of gaff and staysail perfection.  We didn’t win, but who cares? 

Schooner Grail, racing.  That's Jim at the bow and me sitting on the taffrail.  Photo credit:  Jeff Eichen.
That evening was spent aboard the 1909 Arts and Crafts-era MV Lotus, a 92-foot Edwardian cruiser where tea parties are given every Sunday and you can enjoy a nightcap at the tiled fireplace on chilly evenings before heading for your own private stateroom.  While aboard Lotus we were introduced to Steve Stone, a filmmaker from Off Center Harbor in Maine.  Well, that turned into something mucho fun!  Steve decided on the spot to make a film about us and Sockdolager, and what we’d done to get her ready for the voyage.  Woah!  More on this shortly.

On Sunday we took Bill and Cath Connor from Boulder, Colorado (old friends of Jim’s) out to sail in the Festival’s final event:  the Sunday afternoon Sail-By.  Imagine a river of sails—from 130-foot schooners to catboats, ketches, cutters, yawls and lug-sail dinghies—probably a couple hundred of them, flowing around and around the bay in a big circle, in a light breeze, on a bluebird day.  Our flags flapped gaily and we could not stop grinning.  Crews shouted greetings across the water, a friend on another boat played her bagpipes, and laughter rang from shore to shore.  

The lovely La Boheme.
Kaci Cronkhite sailing her storied Danish spidsgatter, Pax. 
Then, as if by invisible signal, crews waved farewell and boats began to scatter to the four winds. It was magic. Pure, happy magic.  You can watch a homemade video of it filmed from another boat here
Sockdolager is visible at 20 seconds, 2 minutes and about 4.5 minutes. Look for the flags a-flyin'. 

On Monday and Tuesday we were stars.  Steve came down to the boat and filmed her from stem to stern, on deck and below, while Jim and I took turns talking about the custom improvements, the preparations for sea, and a few things we’ve learned.  Steve was so intrigued about our retired shipwright friend Leif Knutsen, who’d helped us “upside down-proof” the boat and create ingenious storage solutions (see “Fiddly Bits”) that he went over and made a movie about Leif, too.  Steve got so much material from us that he said it may take two fifteen-minute films to cover it all.  We don’t know when the first film will be ready, but we’ll announce it on this blog. 

Schooner Zodiac sails close by.
And now the seafaring half of my mind is happy, as is the landlubberly half.  I am well into the book project about our voyage, and though it’s great fun to write, I’m still going to take the proper time and not rush it.  Jim, who will soon be posting a statistical summary of the voyage, is also beginning our garage conversion project, where he’ll build a workshop for himself and a writing studio for me.  We’ve been sailing three times in five days, and out on the water even more.  I guess that’s not too bad for a transition.

Popeye and Olive Oil in the pilothouse of a fishing boat.