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, 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.