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.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival 2012, day 3

Final day of the festival.

Without a doubt, the hit of this year's festival has to be James McMullen's "Bar Tender" dinghy.

I caught a glimpse of James towing his keg laden dinghy on the way into the festival on Thursday, then gladly accepted a brew after we had set up, but it wasn't until now that I had a chance to fully appreciate it in all its glory.  Beauty, brilliance, utility, usefulness, hops, barley.  It's got it all.  Well done James!

Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival 2012, day 2

Saturday, the busiest day of the Festival.

I headed over to sign up for a rowing/sailing trip aboard the longboats. These longboats are replicas of the longboats used by Captain George Vancouver to explore the Puget Sound region in 1792. I've been wanting to take a tour on them for years, but haven't been able to until now because they were either full or there were too many other things to see and do. There are so many things to do at the festival there is no way to do them all.

These 26' replica longboats are used by the Northwest Maritime Center School Programs. They are each equipped with 8 rowing stations and 3 dipping lug sails.  They are used to teach youth teambuilding, problem solving, and maritime skills.  Teenagers attend intensive 2-5 day programs of discovery and exploration where they learn to row, sail, learn navigation, compass use, knots, marine biology, history and more.  They are also used in the Pacific Challenge.

Fortunately, we had several of these teenage students aboard to help us learn to row in sync and teach us how to tack the three sails on our dipping lug rig.

The first lesson we learned was "Crab!".  "Crab!" is what you yell out when the rowers get out of sync and get their oars all tangled up, which usually brings all four rowers on that side to a halt.

To prevent Crabs, one rower is designated as the pace setter.  From the rower's point of view, it's the rower on their right and all the way up front. The rowers are all facing aft of course, so that would make him the aft-most port-side rower.  Anyway, the rower to his immediate left is supposed to row in sync with him.  The rest of the rowers are all supposed to keep in sync with the rower seated immediately in front of them.  Sounds simple, right?  We had lots of Crabs.  All it takes to create a Crab is for one rower to lose focus for a second or two.

Tacking the dipping lug rig involved a complex sequence of  tacking the halyard, the sail tack, tacking the sheets, lowering the sail and dipping the yard, that I still don't fully understand.  It was unlike anything I'd ever done before and required about 3 or 4 people on each sail.  I loved it!  I wish I were a teenager so I could sign up for these programs.  I also have a new found respect for the crew of these longboats. After only a half hour of rowing, my hands were numb and my back started to ache.  Vancouver's explorers often rowed for hours upon hours exploring and charting the miles of coastlines here.  Here's a bit of video.  It's not very good.  These are working boats.  You're always rowing or sailing, or trying to stay out of the way of other boats.  There is very little opportunity for filming.

More to come.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival 2012, day 1

Friday morning. Let the Festival begin!

There were lots of interesting boats this year, including some Welsford designs new to the festival.
The Oregon Coots brought two Welsford Mollyhawks named Salt and Pepper, built at the Port of Toledo Community Boathouse.

This is Humu, Arlie Blankenship's family built Scamp #74 which will feature a lateen type sail  and an auxiliary electric motor with AGM batteries for ballast.  Humu's name, color scheme, and choice of sail depict the Hawaiian state fish, the humuhumunukunukuapuaʻa, aka reef triggerfish.  I love it when a boat has a theme.

Need bronze hardware? Top quality hand tools? This is the place to go.

A few of the festival boats.  Doryman has done a far better job than I of photographing the many beautiful festival boats.  See his slideshow here.


Hang onto your socks, but this year I decided to enter the 26' and under wooden sailboat race.  Yes, me, the guy who's never raced anything in his life. The guy who has no trace of the racing gene in his DNA decided to become a sailboat racer for the first time.  Well, sorta.  After I attended the pre-race skipper's meeting I quickly realized that I was utterly clueless so I invited Doryman to come along for my own protection.  Mike is an experienced racer.  I needed him badly.  Thank goodness he accepted.

We headed out about a half hour before the race was due to start so we could locate the markers and check out the boat.  Mike confirmed what John Welsford told me last year; that my jibsheet fairleads need to move aft about foot.  I still haven't moved them.  I have no excuses.

The race started at 2:30 but we got off to a very late start after we tangled with another boat that didn't yield the right of way to us.  To make matters worse, the winds were light and the currents were strong, plus the wind shifted direction making it difficult for us as one of the smallest boats in the race.  Still, we gave a Beetle Cat a run for its money, and passed a Goat Island Skiff for a while.  Many of the smaller boats were unable to complete the course before the two hour time limit expired so they dropped out.  But Mike and I were determined to finish the race, no matter what, even if the finish line was no longer there. We completed the course about 5 minutes after the time limit expired.  Victory!

So, what's it like, I've been asking myself, to be a sailboat racer? I'll probably get in trouble for saying this but I must confess it didn't do a lot for me.  Don't get me wrong, I have the utmost respect for skilled sailboat racers, and I mean no disrespect to anyone, but I'm afraid going around in circles as fast as you can just doesn't stir anything within me.  I'm sorry.  I really am.  My DNA has no racing gene.  It's not my fault!  I think I'll just cross Sailboat Racing off my bucket list and go back to exploring, relaxing, and just generally enjoying myself when out sailing.  Please forgive me.

Monday, September 10, 2012

Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival 2012, pre-festival setup

The 36th annual Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival was magnificent.  Port Townsend's Wooden Boat Festival is the most education-packed and inspiring wooden boat event in the world. Featuring more than 300 wooden vessels, dozens of indoor and outdoor presentations and demonstrations, a who's who of wooden boat experts and thousands of wooden boat enthusiasts, there's something to do, someone to meet, or a boat to board at every turn. Expanded a little each year, the festival honors its traditions while inviting energetic debate and demonstration about the latest innovations in boatbuilding, equipment, skills, and adventures.

On Thursday, the busy setup day before Friday's start of the festival, I met Jay Thorpe and family with their lovely Pathfinder Gunvor at the boat launch at Boat Haven marina. Jay brought Gunvor up from Klamath Falls, Oregon, where he sails her on Klamath lake.

After launching, we sailed together for a few hours while awaiting our turn to enter the festival marina. The idyllic sailing conditions gave me a perfect opportunity to capture how majestic she looks under sail.

After we eventually tied up at our assigned slips, I ran into "Doryman" Mike Bogoger and we took a closer look at Gunvor.
Jay Thorpe and "Doryman" Mike Bogoger discussing Gunvor

Jay let me climb aboard. Very roomy

 Next up:  The festival begins