S/V Hello World's Travel Log

oh, the weather outside is...

... blowing 30 knots 40 knots (just checked at the West Point Buoy) out of the south. The boat is fetching up on her docklines every minute or two. And it's still an order of magnitude better than the last few weeks.

Seattle has been clobbered with Montana-esque winter weather. Snow. Ice. Cold. Snow. We've enjoyed the crap out of having snow but have learned the value of our Dickinson diesel heater. Combined with our electric oil radiator heater, our boat has been fairly toasty through it all.

Me surveying the snow.

Ice forming at the end of our slipway.

Inspired by Sarah Palin, our neighbors threw down a dock party, Wasilla style!

This was from our drive to Idaho for Christmas.

Standing outside of my mom's house in Idaho.

Mexico has been heavy on my mind, I don't mind tellin' ya.

kingston denied

Virtually every experience we have on the water is a learning experience. Two weekends ago was no exception.

My friend, Joan, was in town from Chicago so decided we'd take her sailing for the weekend. We had been planning for awhile to go sail for a weekend with Aaron and Nicole from s/v Bella Star. Since Aaron took apart Bella Star's windlass and is having some difficulty getting it back together, we decided a marina was the better answer. So we picked Kingston as the destination.

Saturday morning, we checked the weather forecast and they all seemed to agree on around 15 knots of wind coming out of the north. And, of course, Kingston is north. No worries, we'll have a brisk sail to weather and then nestle into the marina and enjoy some hot toddies and a good dinner.


If you've been reading this blog for any length of time, you'll have accurately predicted by now that our plans have very little to do with what actually happens. Christy was driving as we pulled out of Shilshole marina. I was on the bow cleaning up the docklines when we turned the corner around the south end of the breakwater. Our predicted 15 knots from the north, was actually a solid 25 knots gusting to 30 knots. They did get the direction right though - thanks NOAA. Along with the wind came 4 to 6 foot seas. Which meant me out on the foredeck moving up and down through about 10 feet of space every few seconds with a healthy dose of greenwater shipped over the bow every now and again. Ya know, for fun.

I got off the foredeck sharpish and back to the cockpit. Since we've never had her out in weather like this, we decided we'd go conservative and set a deeply reefed main along with the staysail. It turned out to be too conservative as we couldn't make enough speed against the seas to be able to tack the boat. And since our cat, Shithead, was cowering belowdecks convinced that the very universe was coming to an end, we decided against pulling out some of the jib to make a little more velocity. We turned the motor on and motor sailed at about 35° off the wind and bashed for an hour or so.

The longer we bashed into the wind, the greener we all became. Suddenly, that big breakfast of sour cream pancakes this morning and steins of beer the night prior started to look like a tactical error. We have a past history of mal de mar and it reared it's ugly head once again this day. Mostly, all over the fender covers and cockpit.

One of the things I'm learning about myself: I'm a boot and rally barfer. As soon as I throw up, I'm good to go. Refreshed and raring to get back at it, albeit with really bad breath. One of the things I learned about Joan - she's not. And one of the things I learned about Christy - she has an innate ability to suppress vomit. She looked rough the whole time out but even after hanging over the rail for a good 15 minutes, nary a drop of bile escaped her lips.

So we made the call to turn the boat around. Kingston would have to wait for another day. As soon as we got her turned around and pointed south, the world immediately settled down and we all became a little happier. The wind gave us a nice shove along with some lovely swells from the stern.

So - what did we learn this weekend?

  • A time machine is the only accurate weather forecasting tool. Don't rely on the forecast being accurate!

  • Get your PFD on before you leave the dock because there's too much business to attend to once the boat is in motion.

  • Being on the foredeck in four to six foot seas sans PFD isn't a great idea.

  • 25 knots is not enough wind to go under reefed main and staysail on our boat.

  • Why didn't we try to heave to in those conditions? [slaps forehead]

  • If you're prone to sea sickness, don't play with your iPhone.

  • Christy and I have a veto rule. If one of us is ever uncomfortable in a situation, that person has the right to veto our way out of that situation. Period. We both played the veto card during this trip in different situations and it worked great.

  • After the boat is safely in port and everything calms down, we like to talk about what happened. This goes for trips that go smashingly well and trips that don't. This also worked great and is always a good learning tool for us.

(Update 2009.01.07: the author of the Insegrevious blog wrote a pretty thought provoking response to what we talked about in this post. Check it out.)

Joan driving us out of Shilshole the second time after we decided to duck back into the marina and rig the staysail rather than rig it in the swell.

Solid ground - woohoo! Sort of.

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47°44'50.65"N 122°24'41.15"W

blakely harbor

For only the second time since we've owned this boat, we went out and anchored, just Christy & I. Since winds were predicted to come out of the SW, we decided Manzanita Bay on the NW end of Bainbridge Island would be cool to check out. After lollygagging around all Saturday morning, we aimlessly pulled out the tide book and discovered that we totally missed the tide window which means battling a hefty current all the way through Agate Pass to get to Manzanita Bay.

So we decided that Manzanita Bay sucks (never been) and Blakely Harbor would be way better. And given the forecasted SW winds all weekend long (remember that, it will be important later), we figured we'd beat down south to Blakely and then get a nice sleigh ride back to Shilshole on Sunday. We had a fun upwind sail to Blakely. And by we, I mean everybody but the cat. The cat does not like close-hauled sailing. He barfed on our stateroom throw rug. Again. This rug spends more time being hosed down on the dock then it does inside our boat.

Blakely Harbor is a nice little harbor south of Eagle Harbor and the ferry traffic. It's primary attribute is that it looks straight east into downtown Seattle. Which makes for a nice view at night. It's secondary attribute is that it gets ferry wakes rolling through once or twice an hour. And you can hear the engine/props on the ferry from a long ways away.

We anchored in ~35' feet of water, rather than the shoaly south shore (where Sally sells seashells). Since I still don't sleep well at anchor, we paid out almost 200' of chain for a 5:1 scope. As winds kicked up that night straight out of the east, I was happy to have the chain out, especially during my many visits to the cockpit during the night just to doublecheck that we hadn't blown up on shore. There was only one other boat in the harbor so we had plenty of room and the chain doesn't help much sitting in the anchor locker.

Sunday we packed in more lollygagging before taking off around lunch time. We popped out into the Puget Sound only to find our SW winds were actually coming from the NW. So we had another upwind sail home. Lucky for the cat, the winds died and we motorsailed most of the way home.

The best weather you can ask for in December in the Puget Sound. Still better than the weather we had in August.

Shithead the cat, apres barf. "I hate you guys."

Lenticular cloud above Mt. Rainier.

Cool gaff-rigged ketch.

Our fair city.

We hauled up the anchor chain with a little extra weight.

Our fair city looking a bit less fair.

We got a little gust that "re-organized" our bookshelves for us.

Rest of the pics here.

47°35.755'N 122°30.690'W

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...the way to get things working, it to order a spare part and then not install it.

So the keyboard on our laptop went to shit and decided to stop typing in vowels. Awesome.

We ordered a new one and Jason finally brought it home last night after like a month of us dealing with no vowels (we have been using a desktop keyboard with the laptop to get around this vowel issue...oh yeah, that's fun). So today, I start typing and the keyboard works, so naturally, I figured Jason fixed it and installed the new keyboard.

Yup, you guessed it - he totally didn't. Freakin computer fixed itself.

Miracle computer, that's what I call it now.

I wonder if we have a miracle boat...

barient winches

We have them. Five of them to be exact. Barient went out of business. Awesome.

One of our cabin-top winches blew out a stripper ring which is the little plastic piece that sits behind the stainless steel line feed and prevents the line from jamming behind the line feed. Awesome-er.

Turns out, however, there's an Australian company out there called Hutton Winches that will provide spare parts for some of the Barient/Barlow winches. As luck would have it, they had our spare part, too. Awesome-est.

We ordered a couple extra since shipping from Australia = not cheap.


thanksgiving supernova

Since Christy and I are likely going to be gone for the next few Thanksgivings on our boat, my family decided to do a special Thanksgiving this year. We rented an Environmental Learning Center from Washington State Parks. Christy's family flew out from Connecticut, Maryland and Minnesota to join us. They are all silly, funny, warm and easy going. I instantly knew they'd get along well with my family. We also invited our boat family - Fisher and Kim to join in the mayhem. A stupid good time was had by all.

Here's some highlights of the four day weekend:

Best Place to Host a Huge Thanksgiving

Brooks Memorial State Park south of Yakima, WA. Renting this place is like renting your very own summer camp. But for cheap. For 25 people over 4 nights, we paid under $1000. Less than $10/person/night. There's one main lodge with a commercial kitchen and huge dining hall. You sleep in one of the 7 satellite cabins rocking the bunk beds.

This was our kitchen.

They had an amphitheater with a big fire pit which the rangers stocked with firewood.

This was our gathering place around the fire at one end of the great hall.

Our play field out front.

Best Activity Marathon

Thanksgiving day:

  • Kickball - 2 hours

  • Dodgeball - 1 hour

  • Sproutball (like dodgeball only without all the rules and restraint) - 1 hour

I still can't walk right.

Best Red-neck-ization of a Real Game

Hillbilly Bocce
Given our family roots in the wilds of Montana and Idaho, we turned a once respectable game of Bocce into a tromp through the forest - avoiding beaver dams, downed trees and cow poop.

Best Acoustic Rendition of Margaritaville

Matt Landgraf, ladies and gentlemen. McKenzie's (Christy's sister) boyfriend has buckets of talent strumming the gee-tahr and treated us to our private concert. We would just shout out songs and he'd play them. It was like having your own live MP3 player. An MP3 player powered by whiskey.

Best Food Ever (ever, I tells ya)

Scalloped Tomatoes
Every year, my sister Nikki and I fight over this bubbling concoction of cheese and tomatoes. This year, the battle was waged through three days of leftovers. She would hide them in the fridge. When she pulled them out to microwave them, I would tackle her.

Activity Most Likely to Rupture My Hamstring

As if I wasn't sore enough from kickball, dodgeball, sproutball, and capture the flag, we added football to the mix.

Darin about to go Deacon Jones on Jeff's ass.

Me about to overthrow my receiver.

Sadie hiking the ball to Dustin.

Danni toting the rock.

I'm gonna barf.

Rachel taking the snap.

Christy and Penny getting into it.

Penny being restrained while Danni throws some trash talk her way.

Danni and Gavin getting dangerously close to drawing an Excessive Celebration penalty.

Best Quote of the Weekend

Overheard whilst answering a Trivial Pursuit question: What did [some person] grow for a record 24 inches measured tip to tip?

Christy's mom, Anne: "I'll give you a hint: every man at this table has one."

My 19 year old niece, Jenna: [GASP!!!!]

(The real answer we were looking for was moustache. Why? What did you think she was talking about?)

Best Card Game Ever (ever, I tells ya)

My sisters, Nikki and Tammy, brother-in-law Jeff and Christy's dad, Carl, settled in for a long afternoon of pinochle. If any of you all play with us in the future, know this: we cheat.

Christy's dad Carl, my sister Nikki, my mom Flory, my sister Tammy and me.

Most Talented Dancer

How could you possibly choose? This was clearly a gifted group of white people.

We had such an incredible time this weekend. It was fantastic to watch our families mingle. Christy and I are so very grateful for the families we have. So to our families (including our boat family!), we say thank you. And we love you very much.

Photos uploaded here.

45°56'35.30"N 120°40'10.28"W

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