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

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Navigator Tacking angles

On the JWBuilders forum, Robert asked a very good question about tacking angles.  More specifically, do the 120 degree tacking angles that he measured with his compass coincide with those experienced by other Navigator yawl owners.

I've often wondered the same thing.  It is widely accepted that yawls do not point quite as high as sloops, but make up for it on other points of sail.  So I uploaded the tracks stored in my Garmin GPS to have a closer look.

Looking at the tracks I quickly realized that I spend very little time tacking upwind.  This time of year the wind tends to come from the N or NW.  When I have a Northerly, I like to take a lap around Hat Island.  When I have a Northwesterly, I enjoy a reach down to Mukilteo and back rather than sail upwind to Hat.

But on closer inspection, I did find some good examples of Ellie tacking.  Here we're tacking North inside  Jetty Island back to the boat ramp.  The wind is from the NNW.
 And here's a bit of tacking into a Northwesterly.

And finally, tacking into a Northerly, while fighting a little bit of counter current from the outgoing tide.

I don't know what the tacking angles are in these examples.  I'll let you be the judge.  I know that if I try to pinch Ellie any tighter than the angles you see, her speed drops off dramatically.

I hope this helps answer your question Rob. Comments are always greatly appreciated.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Well, that's more like it.

Sunday's daysail was much more relaxing. The winds started out very light, so I figured this would be a good time to try the classic Gaff Cam trick. The trickiest part is guessing what angle to aim the camera at. After a couple attempts, the afternoon sea breeze started to kick in so I mounted the camera on other parts of the boat.  The breeze built to the point where I eventually went to one reef in the main, then it died off a bit. No Jib and Mizzen this time!  I ended up taking a trip around the north end of Jetty Island to check out the ospreys that nest atop the pilings there.

Here's a video of the day's sail, set to more of my favorite Blue Man Group music.  Hope you enjoy.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Another Jib & Mizzen affair

I seem to be doing more than my fair share of jib and mizzen sailing lately.

After three days of having no wind at Sucia, we awoke to a very nice 15kt southeasterly wind for the return trip on monday.  Perfect!  A welcome sight after having motored over 40 miles during the previous three days.

Bob and I set sail for Sandy Point marina together, Bob in his Jim Michalak designed Scram Pram "Duck" and I in Ellie, having dropped off my son Tim at school in Bellingham the day before.

The wind and seas gradually increased during the voyage.  About halfway there I started to get hit with some spray.  Reefing early is always a good idea and it's something that I always do.  Besides, I was in no hurry to get home!  So we hove-to and went straight to jib and mizzen.  It was a good decision as the seas continued to build and I still got sprayed on despite being heavily reefed.  Here, enjoy this one in slow-motion.
I was very impressed with Bob's Scram Pram. It's fast!  Really fast.  And dry too.  Bob can pilot the boat from inside it's warm, dry cabin without sacrificing his view of his beautiful surroundings. My next sail was last weekend.  The forecast was for 10 mph winds.  Excellent!  I could do with a nice relaxing sail. Ellie and I set out for our typical daysail - a lap around Hat (Gedney) island.  It started out with a pleasant breeze, just as forecast, but then a squall quickly rolled in, churning up the bay.  There have been frequent thunderstorms here lately, so I decided that it would be an excellent time to high-tail it home.
The more times I do it, the more I appreciate using Ellie's mizzen to heave-to.  When the conditions get rough, I simply sheet the mizzen in tight, lash the tiller, furl the jib and drop the main.  Ellie points into the wind and stays there, giving me ample time to reef, collect my thoughts, take a break, or whatever.  If you look closely at the following video, you'll notice she doesn't point directly upwind, as you might expect.  She settles in at about a 45 degree angle to the wind and travels in reverse.  Note how the waves are hitting the starboard bow.

Heaving-to like this only takes seconds when you have all the controls led back to the cockpit.  Even lashing down the tiller is quick.  I use a bit of line with three loops in it.  One in the center and one on each end.  I slip the center loop over the tiller and the end loops over the stern cleats and that's all there is to it.

Still, I am looking forward to a relaxing sail next time out!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Fossil expedition and Patos exploration

80 million years ago, near what is now Baja California, an Ammonite met an unfortunate end.  Life in the late Cretaceous was tough. Dinosaurs like the duck bills, the ankylosaurs, and horned dinosaurs were enjoying a period of great success. Tyrannosaurs were the dominant large predator. Birds were becoming increasingly common and diverse, replacing the pterosaurs.  Even primitive placental mammals were becoming common.  In the seas, modern sharks appeared and elasmosaurs diversified.  But perhaps it was the sudden appearance of the mosasaurs and their spectacular evolutionary radiation that contributed to the decline and eventual extinction of our unfortunate ammonite.

Let's hope our friend didn't fall prey to this Mosasaur

The shell of our Ammonite friend settled in a clam bed of a shallow marine sea.  Over millions of years, sedimentary layers were laid down upon him. Collision of the oceanic and north American continental plates caused the region to inch its way 1500 miles north, one earthquake jolt at a time. It also caused the seabed to fold into a U-shape, tilt, and uplift forming Sucia island, which geologists call a classic example of a "plunging marine syncline". Wind and wave erosion has continually eaten away Sucia's shoreline exposing the fossils buried there.

Including that of our Ammonite friend, the shape of which seems oddly familiar.

The fossilized remains of an Ammonite

Fossils riddle the cliff face

After my early morning fossil expedition it was time for Tim and I to explore Patos Island.  I've been to the San Juans many times, but I've never been to Patos. Sailing to, and exploring a place for the first time is something we enjoy immensely.

The seas were like glass, so we had to motor the 6 miles from Sucia's Fossil Bay to Active Cove on Patos.
We had some difficulty setting anchor in Active cove.  The bay is rocky and full of dense seaweed. After several attempts we were able to find a small patch of sand and drop the anchor on it.

Patos is a beautiful island.  The campsites at Active Cove have stunning, sweeping views of Boundary Pass.  I was always under the impression that Patos was a wild, undeveloped place, so I was quite surprised to find a sidewalk leading from the Cove to the lighthouse.  Tim and I walked out to the Patos lighthouse, which is similar, but larger than our Mukilteo lighthouse.  We bought some souvenirs.  Tim got a coffee mug with nice photos of the lighthouse and I bought the 50th anniversary of the book The Light on the Island.
We returned to Ellie and continued our circumnavigaton of Patos.  We spotted about 30 seals on the rocky beaches on the North East point of the island.
Time to head back to Fossil Bay.  We didn't want to miss out on the traditional "Wine and Cheese" night.
Good times!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Sucia 2012 Day 1

After what seemed like an interminably wet Spring, the weather finally broke just in time for this year's Sucia Small Boat Rendezvous.  My Son and I met up with Marty Loken at Sandy Point marina early Friday morning, arriving almost simultaneously.  After rigging, launching, and puttering a rather long way through Sandy Point, we finally reached the Strait of Georgia, or the "Salish Sea" which some people now call it, but most of us don't, only to discover ... No Wind.  Drats!

Marty rowed his beautiful Whilly Boat for a while.  We motored for a bit.

Then we towed Marty for another bit until finally, we started to feel a breeze.

The breeze steadily increased until whitecaps began forming, so we stopped to put in a reef.

Shortly after we tied in the reef, naturally the breeze started to die off again, so we shook out the reefs. Argh!

Then, up ahead, we saw three Pelicans! I don't think I've ever seen pelicans around here before, so this was a real treat for us. I even managed to capture them on video as they flew away.

The wind was now almost completely calm, so we started up the outboard again. Then we saw dolphins!  I believe these are Harbor Porpoises.  We spotted them frequently over the course of the weekend.
When we arrived at Fossil Bay we faced this little problem. I had to wait for the tide to come in so I could move Ellie close enough to the beach to set up my clothesline anchor. Note the seaweed.  This is the nasty stuff that nearly killed my outboard motor last year.  The motor sucked some of it into the cooling intake, plugging it, which caused the motor to overheat.  The engine block got so hot it melted the insulation on the wire to the kill switch, grounding it and shutting off the motor. If that hadn't happened, the motor would have surely seized up.
While waiting for the tide to come in, some of the other boats began to arrive.  This gorgeous boat is a Connecticut River Shad boat.  After talking to the owners for a while, I finally realized that they weren't a part of our Rendezvous.  They lived on Orcas Island and were just there for the day.  I told them about our yearly Rendezvous and they said maybe they would join us next year.
Others continued to arrive. Directly behind Ellie you can see Doryman Mike standing in his Valgerda and fellow Shopsmith owner and master woodworker Paul Miller in his Friendship.
Is this tide ever gonna finish coming in??? It did (finally).
We set up camp, did a little hiking, planned our next day's trip to Patos Island, and enjoyed this beautiful sunset.
We retired, looking forward to tomorrow's Fossil expedition and trip to Patos.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Happy Birthday Ellie

It was one year ago today when Ellie was launched. What followed was a magnificent year full of adventures, like Ellie's four day adventure camp cruising to Sucia, a mere week after her first launch. Winning a trophy. Her exhibition at the Port Townsend wooden boat festival.  Sailing with her designer, John Welsford.  Wonderful daysails to favorite places like Blake Island, Cama Beachoyster feeds, paloozas and nowhere in particular.

How do you top a wonderful year like that? Maybe you can't.  But sometimes you can repeat it.
The agenda this year will be every bit as wonderful as last year.  Once again, my Son and I are headed to Sucia for the Sucia Small Boat Rendezvous.  It's less than two weeks away! If you have a small boat, any sort of small boat, join us! Check in at the Sucia yahoo group for details.

Ellie will be on display at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival again this fall. And her designer John Welsford will be at the festival again this year too.  I'm looking forward to seeing a Welsford Pathfinder "Gunvor" which will be on display at the festival.

Here's to you, Ellie. I've owned many, many boats over the years, but I've never enjoyed a boat as much as you.

Happy Birthday Ellie!

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Pocket Yacht Palooza

Yesterday we had a great time at the first ever Pocket Yacht Palooza.  The Palooza was a one-day show celebrating smaller rowing and sailing boats, co-sponsored by the Port Townsend Pocket Yachters, the Small Craft Skills Academy and Northwest Maritime Center. I'd like to extend a special thanks to Marty Loken for organizing this event.

With over 50 boats signed up, there was quite a variety to see.  Here are some examples. My apologies for the brief descriptions and for all the ones I neglected to include.

This is  Roger's restoration project, the 16' Nooka Rose featuring a 55 sq ft sprit rig. A work in progress aquired 3 years ago, Roger's objective is to simply catch up on 15 years or so of deferred maintenance, then replace the rub rails and breasthook. The boat features an experimental and interesting Cullar inspired rudder fashioned from a salvaged door, but Roger hung on to the original higher aspect rudder just in case.

This is Bob's boat "Duck", a Jim Michalak designed Scram Pram, featuring 300 pounds of water ballast in 3 tanks which makes it very stiff in a breeze. The birdwatcher style cabin keeps the crew dry in a chop and makes the boat self righting.

Next is Michael's Iain Oughtred designed 14'-6" Whilly Boat "L' Hirondelle"

Tom's 15'-8" Jonesport Peapod has a 65 sq ft spritsail and gets its lines from Am. Small Sailing Craft. The original of this Peapod was built in 1975 in cold-molded cedar. This boat came from a mold of the original.

This is Roger's 11'-2" Joel White designed dinghy built by Roger in 2010.

This 11' 150 lb Rich Kolin designed Heidi Skiff was built by the Northwest School of Wooden Boatbuilding.

This is Richard's "SASe", a 12' B&B yacht Amanda.  SASe stands for Solar Assisted Sail and Electric. The bimini top is actually two Solar panels that provide 45watts at 44 volts to power two torqeedo outboards and charge three 680 watt lithium ion batteries giving the boat unlimited range possibilities. The boat is also equipped with sail and oars.

A coolidge centerboard daysailor built and for sale by the NW School of Wooden Boatbuilding.

Nik & Elizabeth's Ian Oughtred designed caledonia yawl "Sutil" built by Grapeview Point Boat Works in 2009. Glued lapstrake construction, sapele plywood, spruce spars, white oak floors and sales, Alaska yellow cedar floorboards and benches. Powered by oar, sail and Torqeedo electric outboard.

Chelcie's charming 11'-1" dinghy "Puff", inspired by George Holmes' 1888 Ethel from Sail and Oar, scaled down to make her a shorter and lighter boat.

Randy's Core Sound 17 should be familiar to many of you by now. Built by Jan Nikolaisen and featured in Small Craft Advisor magazine 2007-2008, issues 47, 49, 51-53.

Beautiful community-built Redfish Kayak (for sale - $5900)

John built this 17'-6" adirondack guideboat in 2009, extended from the usual 15'-16' for racing.  Strip built from patterns of a design that was built by William McCaffery, a hunting guide and hotel owner during the early 1900's in the Adirondack region of upstate New York.

Happy Scampers!

Andrew's Bolger designed Bobcat "Bob's Cat", converted to a cruiser with a cabin and other modifications, recently purchased from Bob by Andrew to learn to sail.

Several others were on display on the beach and there for the Small Craft Skills Academy.

James McMullen demonstrating his new boom tent for Rowan

The first ever Pocket Yacht Palooza was a great success and I'm sure it will become an annual event!

Update:  Many more nice photos from the Palooza can be found here.