This blog is devoted to my John Welsford designed 15' Navigator yawl Ellie. I built her in my garage over a period of 18 months and launched her in 2011. She sports a sliding gunter main, roller furled jib and sprit-boomed mizzen. Her construction is glued-lapstrake over permanent bulkheads and stringers. This blog is a record of her construction and her voyages here in the Puget Sound area and (hopefully) a useful resource for fellow Navigator builders.

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Eastern Washington Moveable Messabout: Day 2

Sept 10.  EWMM day 2.  We crawled out of our respective tents into the crisp morning air. There wasn't much time to spare before our 8am breakfast and crew meeting in Priest River Idaho.  Just enough time for a quick shower (who knows when the next opportunity will be?), to break camp and hit the road.

We crossed the border into Idaho and arrived at AJ's Cafe in Priest River, ID about 15 minutes later.
Now, for the moment of truth.  As is the case with many Messabouts, you never know for sure who's going to actually show up until the day of the event.  Our group consisted entirely of a group of hardy sailors.  When Dan first organized the event, he envisioned families, wives, maybe children, many in campers, coming and going for parts of the messabout.  Such was not the case.

Attending the event was (clockwise from the bottom) Dan Rogers from Diamond Lake WA, Mike Cox from Everett, WA, Kim Apel from San Clemente, CA, Dennis McFadden from Burnaby, BC Canada, Steve Lansdowne from Austin, TX, Tom Gale from Port Townsend WA, Joel Bergen (me) from Mukilteo, WA, and Thom Vetromile from Sagle, ID.
After breakfast, the caravan hit the road to our first destination, Blue Diamond Marina and Resort on Priest Lake, ID.
Launching the boats took several hours. Each boat had to be backed down a narrow dirt road, rigged, and launched one-by-one.
There was very little wind, but Dan cautioned us that the wind was forecast to blow later in the afternoon. Dan suggested that we should all sail to Indian Creek campground instead of Bartoo Island, for safety sake, to avoid getting trapped on a lee shore. Steve and I ghosted along in the warm, gentle breeze while the last few boats finished launching.  Sailing was rather dull, the skies were clear, and I scoffed at Dan's weather report.

With all boats launched, we set forth as a group towards Indian Creek.  Sailing was pleasant at first, but ahead, in the distance, I thought I saw whitecaps.  A few minutes later, the whitecaps appeared to be headed our way.  Fearing Dan might be right after all, I began to tie in a reef.  Halfway through tying in the reef, WHAM it hit us.
The lake churned like a washing machine.  It was so rough I couldn't finish tying in the reef.  I had a double reef on the forward end and a single at the back.  The sail was flogging. One of my battens flew out of the sail and sank to the bottom of the lake.  We got the boat under control and pressed on.  Steve, and my camera lens did a good job of blocking much of the spray, but Steve's foul weather gear was on one of the other boats.  He was wet and starting to shiver.  I looked behind us and saw that all the other boats had turned around and were headed back to the launch.
Steve and I abandoned our attempt, turned around and rejoined the group at the launch.  We waited for a while to see if the wind would die down, debating if we should try again or pull the boats and go somewhere else.  After an hour or so, conditions seemed to improve.  We decided to make a dash to Indian Creek campground, under motor, as quickly as possible.
We beached our boats on a beautiful sandy beach and set up camp.  The water looked tranquil in the little bay.  A while later, another sailor in a Lightning sailed into the bay.  He was headed to the North end of the lake but couldn't make it.  He said the conditions were too rough.

We named this windstorm "Hurricane Dan".

Eastern Washington Moveable Messabout: Day 1

“I just talked to a camper who came over from the other side of the island.", said Steve. "He said they saw a bear"
“Grizzly or black?”, I asked.
“They weren’t sure.”
Later that evening, just before crawling into my tent, I carefully packed away my food, eliminating anything with a scent.
At 2:30 am, I awoke with a start. Someone in camp was frantically blasting an air horn. Oh shit.

The Eastern Washington Moveable Messabout was Ellie’s grandest adventure to date.  Eleven boats, eleven sailors, seven days, 940 highway miles, two States, five campsites, hot days, freezing nights, fog, sunshine, gale force winds and dead calm.

It all began on Sept 9, 2014.  Joining Ellie and I was Steve Lansdowne from Austin, TX.  Steve, who manages the Events Calendar for Duckworks Magazine, was here to visit friends and relatives, attend the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival, join me as a crew member for this messabout, and then return home for Sail Oklahoma.  Quite the schedule!
We packed the back of the truck with a weeks' provisions and set off for Newport, WA.  We decided to take the scenic route, Highway 2 instead of Interstate 90.  This added an hour to the trip but was well worth it for the scenery.
No trip to Eastern Wa on Hwy 2 is complete without a stop in Leavenworth, a charming Bavarian village in the Cascade Mountain foothills.  Our lunch stop included some outstanding brats and beer, along with some sightseeing.  Leavenworth is gorgeous in the winter, and of course it's the place to be during Octoberfest.
We arrived at our destination, Little Diamond campground, and were soon joined by Tom Gale from Port Townsend with his Bolger Old Shoe.  We set up camp, as it was getting late and it gets dark quickly in this remote area of Eastern Washington.  Next stop: the 8:00 am crew meeting at AJ's cafe in Priest River, Idaho.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival 2014

The Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival was fantastic.  My wife and I had a terrific time seeing all our old friends again and meeting so many new ones this year.  Here is a short video compilation that I made with just a few of the many sights I was able to capture when I was able to sneak away from displaying Ellie.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Headin' Out

We're all packed and ready to go - to The Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival!  Ellie will be on display again this year.  We missed going last year because my daughter had her wedding that weekend (I know, what was she thinking LOL!).  Needless to day, I'm excited now that it's been two years since I've attended.  If you're going to be there, please drop by and say hello.

After the festival, Ellie and I are headed to Idaho and Eastern Washington for the EWMM.  Joining us will be our special guest and crewmember Steve Lansdowne.  Steve manages the Events Calendar for  Duckworks magazine.  He has also been selected to be our bear coordinator.  :-D

There will be lots to write about when we return.  I hope you're all having a great summer.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Race to Alaska

Can you row, sail or paddle 750 miles from Port Townsend, WA to Ketchican, Alaska in 3 weeks? With no motors?  No support?  No supply drops? No safety net?

Are you unafraid of Grizzly bears, freighters, 20 mph currents, open water, squalls and Killer whales?

Do you think of Raids like the Everglades Challenge and Texas 200 as pleasure cruises?

Are you tough enough, strong enough, and brave enough to claim the $10,000 first prize?

Then this may be the event for you.  Port Townsend.  June 4, 2015.   Click here for more info.

Thursday, July 31, 2014

Upcoming Event - The North Idaho/Eastern Washington Movable Messabout

This is going to be an awesome messabout.  Join us if you can! 

North Idaho/Eastern Washington movable messabout
  10-17 September 2014

The 2014 Eastern Washington Moveable Messabout will be held Sept. 10 - 17 starting in Idaho and moving to eastern Washington. This is an 8-day event which includes several locations in Idaho and Washington which we visit in sequence to camp and sail/motor/paddle/row. The general plan is to offer a spread of places and types of “accommodations”. Each launch ramp will have a regular state or private campground handy for people who either don’t want to spend every night on the ground or who may be traveling with somebody who would rather stay behind. There are overnight beach camping spots at each location, with either “destination/turn around” spots or stops-of-opportunity for folks who choose to go less far by boat that particular day. More specific information is available at

"Think of it as a raid, with the option of sleeping in your camper. A messabout, with a changing set of scenery. A race, where everybody finishes a winner. A cruise, with no trailer shuttling. A wilderness adventure, with close access to the freeway. Like that.
Somehow, the interior Pacific Northwest has been kinda' passed on by when it comes to organized small boat events. The TSCA folks and Pocket Yachters, over on what they call the Wet Side do an extraordinary job of bringing messers, builders, and armchair types together for some spectacular events. But between places the likes of Lake Pepin, Eufaula, Havasu, and Matagorda, and Puget Sound, there seems to be only Andy Linn's tour d'force on the lower Columbia and what his fellow COOTS offer up in and about northern Oregon. That leaves just about a bazillion cool places to put paddle to puddle, or just about any other boat-propulsion method you might care to bring.
A chance to meet new people.  Experience new scenery, and new places to take your boat.  The plan is to start in some of the most rugged and pristine country the Idaho panhandle has to offer...
... move on to the canyonlands and semi-arid country of the upper Columbia watershed...
... and wind up in the prairie-lakes amid some of the most productive grain fields any where on earth.  Our last stop will also be at the edge of the dramatic scab lands formed by the multiple pre-historic Lake Missoula floods that also scooped out topsoil from as far upstream as Montana, and left it piled up where the Columbia River meets the Pacific Ocean.
Think of it as just a sampler of what this part of the country has to offer small boat folks.
What I mean to tell you about is an idea for fun-on-the-water, with admittedly toned down heroics. Maybe, even balmy temps in the 70's or 80's. No crowds. Maybe, no people at all.
 I hope to see you in September, 2014."
-Dan Rogers

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Sucia Small Boat Rendezvous 2014 Day 2

Saturday morning, after sleeping in a bit late, I fired up the Kelly Kettle while Tim did some writing.  Our Kelly Kettle, by the way, was a big hit.  Just about everyone who saw it was impressed with the speed it could boil water.  Several said they were going to get one for themselves.
There was no reason to hurry because we weren't going anywhere.  This is what the perigee-syzygy  does to shallow Fossil Bay.
A -2.8 tide does provide an excellent opportunity to see parts of the island normally hidden from view.  Like Sucia's treacherous reefs for example.
"Boaters should use caution when in the waters around this park. The word "sucia" is Spanish, meaning foul or dirty in a nautical sense. It refers to the numerous rocks and reefs which surround the island. These rocks and reefs have grounded and sunk numerous boats since European explorers first named the island in the 1790s. Boaters should check their charts frequently and pay particular attention to Clements Reef on the north shore of Sucia, as well as the entrances to Ewing Cove, Fox Cove, and Shallow Bay. There is a long reef which extends to the west of Little Sucia Island. Reefs also extend outward from Ev Henry Point, North and South Finger islands, and the Cluster Islands".
A couple years earlier I discovered what remained of one unfortunate boater's yacht, claimed by the reef at the entrance to Fox Cove.  This morning's low tide would be a great opportunity to see if the shipwreck was still there.
As I was about to set out for some shipwreck and fossil exploration, James McMullen appeared, looking for someone interested in going for a hike.  I told him about my plans and he agreed to join me.

We found the rusted, barnacle encrusted remains of the engine block and the boat's windlass right where I remember seeing them years before.  They were straddled one on either side of the reef that obviously sank the boat.  We looked for evidence of exactly where the boat hit the reef but saw no obvious scratches or anything in the reef, but James found some other bits of metal nearby.

From there, we went on to explore the fossils on the southern cliffs of the point.  Every year they look a bit different as the cliffside slowly erodes away, replacing last year's fossils with newly exposed ones.  Fossilized clams are by far the most common.  We didn't see anything else this year, but James discovered an unusually large one.

Later that afternoon, when the tide came in, Tim and I finally had an opportunity to explore Little Sucia Island.  This is a completely undeveloped little island just outside of Fox Cove.  It is surrounded by reefs and swift currents.  There is only one small patch of beach suitable to land a boat. The little bay on the North side looks inviting, but it's a boulder field just below the surface. We anchored at the patch of beach and walked around the island.  The entire shoreline is covered with rocks and there are no trails, no campsites, and no indication that anyone has ever visited the island.  Quite nice, actually!
We returned to our campsite at Fossil Bay.  Tim went for another hike out to Ev Henry point.  As he came around a corner, he startled two bald eagles which took flight only a few feet from him. He said he could hear the wind whistling through their feathers and it scared the crap out of him!  Tim also came across a pile of white feathers, apparently the remains of a seagull eaten by something.  The park ranger we talked to later said it was probably a hawk.

Later that afternoon was Wine and Cheese night, a visit from my fishing buddy Ray, followed by an evening around the campfire with drinks and music.

Good times.