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.

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.


  1. OK! for a moment you had me worried and I thought you'd crossed to the dark side of the force but the last paragraph reassures me - you are still a 'Jedi'!

    I'm VERY green with envy

  2. Wait just a minute, Steve! Dark side indeed. Even the peace loving Yoda could rise to the action when required.

    And Joel, your video reminds me - a racing boat will never be competitive with an unstayed roller furling jib.

    I see the whole racing thing as an exercise in honing skills. A Jedi is not born, but made.


    1. Fortunately for me, I don't need skills or exercise to enjoy exploring, relaxing, and just enjoying sailing in general.

  3. Hey, at least you got to sail! I take any excuse.