Saturday, September 5, 2015

Down But Not Out

News travels fast so many of you already know, Belle Starr went on the rocks. That sounds a bit like one of my sly jokes, but it's not.

A winter force gale swept through the Pacific Northwest the last hours of August, leaving thousands of homes without power. Belle Starr rode high and secure through the first heavy gusts but chaffed her solitary anchor line as the storm crested.

Two hours after we'd made a positive visual check on her position from shore, the Coast Guard called and said she was on the beach. At an extreme low tide, that's where I found her, in sand pocked with barnacle encrusted rocks and only a couple boat lengths from a rip-rap jetty.

After watching the tide come back and the surf rise while assessing all options, I called Vessel Assist. In most cases I would much prefer a self-rescue but it was clear I didn't have the resources this time.

Vessel Assist at first told me the seas were too high and they couldn't approach the wreck. We must wait for the wind to die down, possibly another six hours according to predictions. But barely had I digested this news than their boat appeared just 100 yards off shore. They deployed an inflatable and a diver swam a hawser in-shore. With the boat leaping in the surf, the diver lassoed the bow bits and Belle was towed carefully off the beach. I'd been told she was breached, though she made a mighty effort to float, so soon she lowered herself in thirty five feet of water to spend the night on the calm sand below.

The salvage crew told me that while they were working, gusts had been clocked on their boat at 80mph.

Break of dawn the following morning in a calm, flat sea, divers wrapped Belle in a cocoon of air bags until her cabin deck was above water and she was towed to the travel-lift in the boatyard.

She's on her trailer now. My very good friend, the superlative shipwright Paul Miller from Cowichan Bay, BC,  drove south Wednesday to help me cut away the damaged portions of Belle and prep for repairs. He's started a thread on his favorite social media, lumberjocks:

Paul is having way too much fun.

Belle Starr now looks like a cut-away view of herself. There is a very good chance she will be back together and weather tight in a month.

Please stay tuned..........

Friday, August 21, 2015

Family Boatbuilding

For the third year running, The Toledo, Oregon, Wooden Boat Show hosted a kayak build for it's family boatbuilding event. I was there to mentor the builders and what a great group we had. None of the participants had ever built a boat before, though they must have had transferable skills because all of the kayaks turned out very nice.

This design by Leo Newberg is simple yet elegant. We do not provide kits for this build so the entrants learn basic skills such as spiling off a mold and fairing a plank. The lofting and building jig are done before-hand so the builders can start early Friday before the show. We constructed four kayaks this year, down from the overwhelming six we turned out last year. This allowed Gus Loomis, Rick Johnson and me to provide more in depth instruction to a very receptive group.

In a video interview with the local high school, I was asked why I'm involved with this volunteer effort. Over the past forty years as a boat builder, I have had the good fortune to learn from some truly amazing artists, a process that continues to this day. I think of an opportunity such as this as a chance to give back to the community of builders and designers that have given me so much.

Perhaps some of the participants will take away a new passion along with fresh skills.

Rick and Gus are exemplary boat builders who share my love of building. It's a joy to work with two such talented artisans. Thanks to them and the Port of Toledo for inviting me to participate in this event.

Next to us was a group of kids along with their parents building Phil Bolger's Elegant Punt, from Dynamite Payson's book, Instant Boats. I've often admired the simple utility of these tenders.

Waiting for the first launch.

A neighboring paper mill produces waterproof packing cardboard and sponsors a design/build contest and race. My favorite was an entry from local ribs and burgers restaurant, Pig Feathers.

Pig Boat swims!
Photo by Ralph Grutzmacher.

My good friend Darrell touts himself as a ship's carver. This year I bought a carving of a seahorse to add to my collection from this eclectic artist.

Next, I'd like to own this beautiful rendition of a sea turtle. Darrell has studied with Northwest First Nation carvers for inspiration in his work. Saving up my pennies for this one!

More photos of this event can be found at Andy Linn's Toledo Community Boathouse.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

The Spirit Scow

Do you remember the scow built with hand tools of antiquity by the Crystal River Boat Builders? The USS WARTAPPO was used by the East Gulf Coast Blockading Squadron along the Crystal River shore of Florida during the US Civil War.

Dave Lucas and Bill Whalen sent us an update to this story along with a video. The soundtrack is a song written for the scow by a band calling themselves "7 lbs of Bacon". Even if you're not impressed by sea chanties, you'll have to admit this big scow (36 feet) moves along nicely.

The CRBB have named their scow Spirit and that's what the song is about. Be sure to follow the link above for the back-story.

Happy sailing, SV Spirit!  Thanks to Dave, Bill and the Crystal River Boat Builders for the photos and video.
And thanks to 7 lbs of Bacon. Too much fun!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Belewe Moon, the Betrayer

Tonight's full moon is the second full moon of July, and whenever two full moons occur in the same month, the second one is considered "blue." The event is pretty rare; there are 29.53 days between each full moon, and only 365.24 days in the year. That means there are 12.37 full moons each year. That extra .37 adds up over time, so every two to three years, you get 13 full moons in one year. The last blue moon happened in August 2012, and the next one won't happen until January 2018.

Aye, but when I think of a Blue Moon, it looks like this:

Catherine MacMillan's graceful Katie & Ginny 
 Thomas Gillmer gaff cutter, Blue Moon

Thursday, July 30, 2015

By Their Ropes Ye Shall Know the Measure of the Sailor

As an on-going project here on DoryMan, I've tried to mitigate some of the confusion about nautical terms with the glossary found at the top of the sidebar to your right - spent much of today filling in new entries. In fact, until I'm dazed and confused myself. If you find any mistakes, let me know.

How often have I seen that glazed look on the face of a passenger or crew, the blank stare of one who hasn't understood a single word uttered? In mutual desperation, I have even found myself lately referring to the right or left side of the boat and "that green rope near your right hand". (incidentally, Belle Starr has color-coordinated lines to facilitate communication. I'm trying, really am.)

Like I said, this is a project with no end. Every new entry begs another. Not one definition is self-explanatory. A lexicographer must be a very special species indeed. Please, if you have something you'd like to contribute, don't hesitate. For now we'll stick to English, though nautical language the world over is a beautiful flower, music of the sea.

Your friend, Michael
mbogoger (at) gmail

Tuesday, July 14, 2015

Sucia Island Rendezvous, 2015

July 10-13 was yet another great gathering of small gunkholing boats in Fossil Bay, Sucia Island, one of the wonderful Washington State marine parks in the San Juan Islands. It's hard to beat the camaraderie of good friends in a beautiful spot aboard some of the most seaworthy small vessels around.

This year there were nine boats carrying eleven sailors. A small but tenacious group, all with credentials as able seamen and women.

Jamie came from Victoria BC in his Phil Bolger Chebacco, Wayward Lass, fresh from the R2AK, where he made it to Johnstone Strait before succumbing to intense headwinds.
This is the view we usually have of Jamie.

Bob sailed Sally Forth, his beloved Drascome Longboat. It's easy to see why he loves this boat so much. He uses a very well designed cockpit tent for sleeping aboard. Additional photos can be found on the Doryman Flickr site.

Paul navigated from Cowichan Bay, Vancouver Island, in his Jay Benford Friendship. He recently upgraded his rigging by moving the headstay to the masthead and installing a roller furling genoa. Sadly the winds were very light, so he couldn't show us how pleased he is with his new wings.

Claire and John came from Whidbey Island in their new Night Bird. A lot of boat in a compact package. Please note the pop-top deck.

Joel and his son Tim winged from Edmonds in their John Welsford Navigator, Ellie. Navigator Joel employs a tidy clothesline anchoring system to keep Ellie close to camp.

Randy arrived in his new Belhaven 19, Clementine. I sailed with Randy in our annual "race" around Sucia. The winds and currents are fickle around this island of many faces and we have yet to complete a single race, in many years of trying. This year may have been the shortest race of all.

Joe trailered from Texas with his wood runabout. He didn't know he came to see us, it was serendipity. I met Joe four years ago while cruising around the Canadian Gulf Islands after this same rendezvous. It was good to see him again, he's a sailor's sailor, with a fruitful life and many interesting stories to tell.

Ron motored in with his efficient outboard driven catamaran, Just Enuf, a plywood EcoCat from Bernard Kohler. Ron really gets around with this little cat. You may have seen his distinctive vessel around the Salish Sea.

I sailed the forty five nautical miles from Port Townsend in Belle Starr. That's her in the photo near the top of the post. She always gets me there and back, safely and in style.

A small but fun group. The Sucia Island Rendezvous was lovely as ever, a tradition well worth keeping.

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Gilded Lily

In June we talked a bit about a junk rigged vessel anchored near Belle Starr, in Friday Harbor. She was a salty boat and caught my eye from a distance.

I've not had the pleasure of sailing a junk rigged cruiser, though they hold a fascination for me. In response to my inquiry in these pages, two friends informed me the mystery junker was Gilded Lily of Guemes Island, British Columbia.

Dave Z tells us that he has seen Gilded Lily in his cruising grounds of Alaska and Martin recently sent me some photos from Watmaugh Bay, Lopez Island, in the San Juan archipelago. Obviously she has sea legs.

We'll be on the lookout for Gilded Lily on our travels. Later this week, Belle Starr sets sail for Sucia Island, in search of camaraderie and more of the beauty found in the Salish Sea islands.
Please stay tuned.

Thank you Dave and Martin!

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Whidbey Island Circumnavigation

The Vancouver Expedition (1791–1795) was a four-and-a-half-year voyage of exploration and land acquisition (some may say piracy), commanded by Captain George Vancouver. The expedition circumnavigated the globe, touched five continents and changed the course of history for various indigenous nations and the burnishing British empire that subjugated them. The expedition at various times included between two and four vessels, and up to 153 men, all but six of whom returned home to aspiring careers.

In 1792, HMS Discovery's Ship's Master, Joseph Whidbey accompanied Lieutenant Peter Puget in small boats to explore what was later named Puget Sound. On June 2, the team discovered Deception Pass, establishing the insularity of the Sound's largest island which Vancouver named Whidbey Island.

Whidbey Island is approximately 55 miles (89 km) long (from the extreme north to extreme south, and varies between 1.5 to 12 miles (2.4 to 19.3 km) wide, comprising 168.67 square miles (436.9 km2).

My solo Whidbey Island circumnavigation came about because of the TSCA messabout at Hope Island near the northeast end of it's much larger neighbor, not far from Deception Pass.

This voyage began in Mystery Bay. The weather prediction was perfect for it, a convergence zone was due over the area, with southerlies on the Friday of departure, developing into northerlies for the rest of a week. I could ride the cool, rainy front north, expecting warmer, sunny weather to bring me back.

It sounds simple. Unfortunately for Doryman, the cool front moved through a full day early. Belle Starr was anxious to go, regardless. We headed south from Port Townsend with the developing high pressure behind us. All the way, through the "Cut" at the south end of Port Townsend Bay and across Admiralty Inlet, to the south end of Whidbey, it was downwind or a broad reach, with a push from a flood tide. Very pleasant. The wind shifted with us as we traveled west until the setting sun brought on a chill.

In a fit of complacency, I hoped the westerly would continue on the lee side of the island as we rounded north at Possession Point. To make this a comfortable three day trip, as planned, we still had at least ten miles to go. Twenty miles to a recognized anchorage. None of this was to be. The wind we found was directly on the nose of my worthy vessel, which was not up to the task of making much headway against a northeasterly growing in force. In the gloaming, two successive gusts struck Belle Starr to starboard, hard enough to bring waves over the cockpit coaming.

This had never happened to me before in my experience with the Stone Horse - Belle Starr being a very dry boat. She was floundering under the added weight, with scuppers underwater and no momentum or steerage. Flustered and tired, it took a few seconds to recognize the water was not draining and there was little else to do but try and bring the boat upright and disperse the intruding water. Most of the water escaped, but enough remained to dampen my enthusiasm. The last two paragraphs comprise four hours of man and boat against the sea, so exhausted and despite an exposed lee shore, we tacked in and set anchor for a restless night. The pile of wet gear in the cockpit would have to wait.

One lazarette had filled completely (something to put on the list...leaky lazarettes have sunk many boats.), thoroughly soaking sets of off-shore rain gear and boots. Although none of it absorbed water, anyone familiar with the Northwest climate will understand it took most of the next day, sailing with gear spread all over the cockpit, to dry everything enough to re-stow.

Well, sailing... figuratively. Saturday, with about fifty miles to reach Hope Island, the wind, still directly ahead, died to a whisper. I disdain the use of motors, as a principle and when I succumb to a rational argument with myself, it is with regret. Crank up the outboard and head for Oak Harbor to buy fuel, a great sin in the world of Doryman.
We reached the Hope Island messabout an hour before sundown. A quick transit around the island, looking for friends, revealed a lovely state park that is primarily a nature preserve. When I found the anchorage, I'd just missed a potluck supper on Night Bird, Claire and John's new Catalina 22, with Martin and his son Trevor, from Clover, Ed, his son and a friend who launched their Core Sound 17 at Coronet Bay, just east of Deception Pass. But I was just in time for an evening chat, watching a fresh new moon, attended by Venus and Jupiter, from the cockpit. Sublime.

Sunday dawned with that misty morning haze, the crown jewel of the summer maritime Pacific Northwest, when sea and sky blend together, like living inside an emerald. You know the day will be bright and warm. Inside the archipelago, the breezes will be light, but we were headed out into open water, with wind funneled directly off the ocean, through the Strait of Juan de Fuca. Deception Pass is a narrow opening in the rock between Whidbey Island and Fidalgo Island and should be transited at slack tide. To meet an ebb in Rosario Strait, we needed to meet the high slack after daybreak coffee.

The entire day was blessed with a steady westerly on the starboard beam. A sailor's dream. The hours flowed by in simple contemplation of good fortune until the Point Wilson light and Port Townsend Bay came into view. Sailing about 150 challenging and beautiful nautical miles in 50 hours. It doesn't get better than that.

Hitch hikers to nowhere.

Bald eagles.

Aboard Night Bird.

Raft-up at twilight.

Clover's dingy.

Clover in early morning repose.

Looking west through Deception Pass. You can see how it got it's name.

A lot of water funnels through that little opening.

Running free. The old girl could use a new mainsail...

Point Wilson, Port Townsend Bay at the end of the day.

Whidbey Island, by Ron Kerrigan.