Thursday, July 24, 2014

Sucia Small Boat Rendezvous 2014 Day 1

My son Tim and I just got back from one of our favorite annual events - the Sucia Small Boat Rendezvous at Sucia Island State Park.

Like the last two years, we launched at Sandy Point Shores marina

The entrance to Sandy Point always makes me a bit apprehensive. The narrow and shallow entrance goes through a blind S-curve, which then opens to a shallow area with a 270 degree exposure to the vast Straight of Georgia.  During an ebb, the tidal current rushes through this S-curve like a river.  At low tide, there is barely enough room for one boat at a time to fit through the entrance.  You have to approach slowly and peek around the corner to see if there are any oncoming boats, then zip through if the coast is clear.

High tide was 8.9ft at 3:18 am
Low tide was -2.4ft at 11:02 am

We launched at 10:30am.  The worst possible time.  Near the end of a minus tide with a swift outgoing current due to an 11.3' tidal change.

We should be Ok, I figured.  After all, Navigator only draws about 6" of water.  In the back of my mind, I wondered if that was still true when fully loaded with two people and a week's worth of camping gear.

As we approached the entrance, I idled the motor, double checked that the centerboard and rudder were fully up, and cautiously peered around the corner as I slowly crept toward the entrance.

The swift current immediately grabbed Ellie and swept us into the narrow channel. I instantly realized that the current was so strong that there would be no turning back. I'd be using the motor to try to stay in the middle of the narrow channel and not much else. I shot a quick glance for oncoming boats, fortunately there were none, thank goodness. The channel looked too narrow for two boats to pass and there was no room to maneuver.  We were going through, no two ways about it.  Along both shorelines we could see about a dozen spectators, waiting to watch the next fool to try and shoot the rapids.  Up ahead the water looked "funny".  Ripply.  What'd that mean?  Shallow?  Must be shallow.  How shallow?  I glanced over the side.  Gravel!  Crunch!

We were aground in the middle of the narrow channel with a swift current all around us.

Ok, now what?  Think.  Tide's going out. We gotta get out of here or we'll be stuck here for hours, or until the next boat comes along and hits us.  Should I get out and push her off?  Probably a real bad idea.  The strong current would most likely rip the boat from my hands.

I looked over the stern.  The prop was still above ground.  "Ok, Tim, we're gonna try and back our way out of this.  Hope it works".

I turned the motor around and gave it half throttle.  Nothing.  Gave it full throttle.  Our mighty 2hp outboard was giving it everything it had, but still nothing.  Still stuck.

"Tim, let's try shifting our weight around".  Ellie slowly started to move, then broke free!  We backed a safe distance away from the gravel bar and took a couple minutes to regain our composure and assess the situation.

Looking more closely at the water, we could see that it was shallow and ripply on the right, but on the left, closer to the opposite shore, it was clearly deeper.  But then it shot directly into a rocky breakwater.  "I think we can make it, Tim.  We'll have to hug the left shore, then quickly zip over to the right at the last second to clear the rocks, then we're home free".  Tim agreed, it looked doable.

So we checked again for oncoming boats, then cranked up the Honda to half throttle (full speed for Ellie) and rocketed through the channel.

Whew.  Made it!  Next time, we vowed, we'll pay closer attention to the tides.




After that ordeal, we were rewarded with many hours of  absolutely perfect sailing conditions.  We saw lots of dolphins.  One surfaced less than 20' from the boat.

We arrived at Sucia and set up camp.  This was our first opportunity to try out my new Anchor Buddy - a Father's Day gift from my daughter Heather.  Thanks, Heather!  It works great.
That's Cameron I'm talking to.  Cameron and his son take a month off every summer and stop by Sucia for the rendezvous.  They sail a beautiful Wayfarer.

Jamie Orr, organizer of the event, always brings along a set of bagpipes, which he uses to greet arrivals, wish them farewell, or summon the group to various get-togethers like wine and cheese night, campfire gatherings, and the around the island race.  Boaters all around the island applaud using their horns.  In this video clip is Bob Ennenberg (Scram Pram "Duck"), Jamie Orr (Chebacco "Wayward Lass"), Paul Miller (Benford Friendship sloop "Friendship") and Dan Rogers (Balboa 16' "Ladybug").  Dan is organizing an 8-day Movable Messabout in Eastern Washington and Idaho that I am looking forward to attending.
Here, Jamie is summoning the group to celebrate the 11th anniversary of this Rendezvous, with a fine bottle of single malt scotch.

There is so much more to write about, but it is getting late.  I will write some more soon.  In the meantime, I hope you enjoy this most beautiful sunset.

Monday, July 7, 2014

A Sleeping Platform for Navigator

Here is another project I've been working on lately.  It's a sleeping platform for my Navigator.  It's still a work in progress, so check back here later on for updates.  I hope to try it out for the first time this weekend at Sucia.

There is plenty of room in Navigator's cockpit to sleep one or two full sized adults, especially if you fill in the footwell area.  Without this filler, the seats are too narrow for comfortable sleeping, at least not for an adult my size.  But add this filler and one or two sleeping pads plus a boom tent, and you're all set for a blissful night at anchor.

This sleeping platform is strong enough to sit, lay or walk on.  It fits flush with the seat tops.  There are no edges poking you in the back to interrupt your beauty rest.  Mine is built in two halves to accommodate one sleepy sailor or two, but you can build it as one piece if you prefer. When not in use, it stores away on the cockpit floor under your feet where it requires essentially no additional storage space.  All you need to build this platform is one sheet of plywood.  I used 1/4" ply but you can use 3/8" if you want yours to be extra tough.



Sailing solo?  Then just set up one side.  You'll have plenty of room not only for sleeping, but also to sit, get dressed and undressed, or anything else.

This platform is sturdy. The secret to its sturdiness are its supports, which use ingenious "sliding slot" interlocking technology.  There are three supports per side.  When not in use, the supports slide apart for easy storage.  No glue, fasteners, hardware or tools are required.

When finished using the platform, disassemble the supports, lay them on the cockpit floor, and then lay the platform halves over them.  Or, if you'd rather not have them underfoot, store them elsewhere, like on your front thwart.


Building the platform is easy.  Start by cutting a piece of plywood oversized, lay it over your footwell and trace the outline of the footwell onto the plywood from below.  Cut out the pieces.
To build the supports, rip several strips of plywood 12" wide.  Because the footwell is deeper at the front than the back, the three supports need to be different lengths.  Stand the plywood strip in the footwell and trace the seat top onto it. Offset that line by one plywood thickness and cut out the part.  Make three more copies of it.  The bottom of the supports will have square corners but the top edges will be at a slight angle, with the taller side facing forward. Cut slots in the center of the support, halfway down from the top on one piece and halfway up from the bottom on the other. Make the slots the same width as your plywood thickness.


Repeat the process for the middle and aft supports.  Sand and finish the platform as desired.  For quicker assembly, label where all the parts go with a sharpie.

Pleasant dreams!

Sunday, July 6, 2014

Boarding Straps

I finally got around to adding Boarding Straps to Ellie.  This was long overdue, and I fully admit that sailing around without them for the past 3 years was a serious act of negligence on my part.

Especially considering how easy they were to make, and how well they appear to work.

I made my boarding straps from 1" nylon webbing.  The same stuff that cargo tie-down straps use.  I have a big bag full of tie-down straps, way more than I ever need, so I recycled two of them.

After doing some research, I found that 20" below the waterline is where they work best.  I formed the webbing into a big loop, ran the ends through two holes that I have in bulkheads 5 and 6, and tied the ends together.  That's all there was to it.


I like the bright yellow color of the webbing.  I think it will be easy to see under water and in an emergency.  I will simply bunch the webbing under the side deck.  In the event of a capsize, the webbing will spill out onto the seat tops and should be easy to find.

I added one on each side of the boat.  I tested them in my driveway and was very pleased with how they worked.  It was much easier to get on board the boat than I thought, after only one attempt.  Here's a video.  Try not to laugh.  This is serious business.


I will do an on-the-water test, but I already feel relieved.

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Navigator Capsize and Recovery

I'd like to extend a big Thank You to Paul Rickett, for posting the following YouTube video of the capsize and recovery test of Peter Kovesi's cat-catch rigged Navigator Whimbrel.  The video clearly shows how high Navigator floats on her side, doesn't turn turtle (with floating masts), how easily she is to right, and how she can still be sailed, even when swamped.


And another big Congratulations to Paul for making the cover of Small Craft Advisor magazine  with this magnificent photo of his Navigator Matthew Flinders!  This issue features a great review of  Navigator.  Thanks to everyone who participated in the review.

Issue #87 May/Jun 2014 Features Welsford Navigator Review (Instant Download PDF)

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Pull and be Damned

The Pull and be Damned messabout in Anacortes was fantastic.

I am a member of several small boating clubs.  The Coots, the TSCA, the Pocket Yachters.  They all have a slightly different focus, ranging from inexpensive and experimental boats to honoring authentic traditional craft.  From production trailerable cruisers to homebuilts. From power to sail.

But this weekend was my first opportunity to spend a weekend with the Old Anacortes Rowing and Sailing Society OARSS.  The beauty of their boats and their seamanship skills left me awestruck. From deftly launching their craft by crane, to sailing in reverse to make a perfect mooring at a dock, camp cruising, clothesline anchoring, traveling anywhere and everywhere by sail and oar only.  They even rescued a stranded aircraft once.  With just a glance at the sea, they knew how the tides and currents would swirl around the myriad islands that day.  I had nothing I could offer as I spent the weekend in humble admiration of their seamanship skills.

It was also a weekend of many other firsts for my son Tim and I.  The first first (ugh) was Ellie's launching by crane, deftly done by James McMullen (in the red vest) while I nervously tried to assist and learn anyway I could.

(btw, these are all hi-def videos. Click the [ ] in the lower right corner to make them fullscreen)
Relieved at not making a big splash, I headed over and tied up to Small Boat Dock, where the messabout was to be held.  There was my second first (ugh).  I had to rig Ellie on the water.  It took about twice as long as usual, but was a success.  Fortunately there was flat water and no wind.

One by one the remaining boats arrived.  The messabout officially began at 10:00.  Several boats were available for anyone to borrow.  My third first was testing one of the Gentry skin on frame whitehalls. Here are some videos of the event:

The James led a group aboard Island Star, a 4-oared racing gig.  A replica of the worlds fastest boat in 1824.

After the messabout, most of the group headed over to nearby Saddlebag Island for an overnighter.  I've never been to Saddlebag.  Another first!

And yet another first. While there, I got to try out my new Kelly Kettle.  The Kelly Kettle is a cookstove that uses sticks, twigs, and dried leaves for fuel.  It will boil water and heat food at the same time, very quickly.  It also fries and has a BBQ grill.  I used it twice and love it already.

The next morning, the sail and oarsmen set out early for a circumnavigation of Guemes Island.  Simeon Baldwin, with his SCAMP Noddy and I decided to spend the day sailing together instead.
 
And the end portion of this video is really pretty.
This also gave me an opportunity to fully test my tiller locking device.  It works perfectly.
We spent many thoroughly enjoyable hours sailing side by side in the warm sunshine and gentle breeze.  After a while we took a break and hiked over to my favorite bar and grill, The Rockfish, for lunch. The sail and oar group returned from their circumnavigation so it was time to head back to the crane.  Once again, The James came to my rescue, expertly extracting Ellie safely from the water.  Here is a video of Noddy taking flight.

There are some really nice photos of the event over on the Woodenboat Forum.
A fantastic weekend.  Simply fantastic.


Tuesday, May 13, 2014

Pull and be Damned Small Boat Messabout

This weekend's messabout is one that I've been looking forward to for quite some time.  I'm really excited.  It's called Pull and be Damned and it will be held at Seafarer's Memorial Park in Anacortes, WA.


Looking over the posts on the Woodenboat forum, it looks like there will be an impressive selection of drop-dead gorgeous sail and oar boats to drool over.  There will be a potluck bar-b-que, and an optional overnight campout on nearby Saddlebag island.

The event is organized by legendary sail and oarsman James McMullen.  I'm looking forward to hearing firsthand about his recent epic capsize off Port Townsend.

Hopefully the weather will hold out because I plan on taking lots of photos and videos!

Saturday, April 12, 2014

A New Navigator in Germany

Congratulations to Dietmar Edelmann of Viernheim, Germany, on the sucessful completion of his beautiful new Navigator.

The project took 18 months to complete, which seems to be about the average timeframe for the typical family guy with a day job.

Dietmar built his Navigator in a small, single car garage measuring only 18' x 9' (5.5 x 2.7 meters).  Building a Navigator in a small shop like this has been done many times before, but I still find it remarkable every time I see it.

How'd he do it?  Look closely at Dietmar's building jig and you can see how his clever use of locking casters enable him to roll the project out to his driveway for some relaxing and fulfilling woodworking in the fresh air and sunshine.  And adjust the height of the jig too.







Dietmar purchased his sails and rigging from Duckworks, and he says he found my rigging examples helpful.


Dietmar spends his holidays at Lakes Chiemsee, Bodensee and Ostsee in Germany.  Beautiful sailing destinations to be sure.

Sailing a modern classic like Navigator is but one of this electrical machine builder's notable interests.  When he's not sailing you may find him and his wife enjoying themselves in this Western Cub.


Or you may find him enjoying his other modern classics.  These are his 18th and 19th century replicas of old American rifles.  He builds and shoots them himself.


Well done, Dietmar!  I wish you many, many years of smooth sailing aboard your beautiful new Navigator.