Winter Has Come (and thankfully is going!)

Rob looking toward the Straight of Juan De Fuca

Here we are half way through April and I’m sure some of you are wondering what is going on with life on the boat. The short answer is that we are trying very hard to finish up all the boat projects we’ve been working on over the winter and starting to gear up to start cruising again. Yay!

The long answer is that we have spent the long, dark, cold, wet winter in Point Hudson Marina in Port Townsend, Washington and come May 1st we have to leave. They throw out all the “winter moorage” tenants to make room for all the transient summer travelers. We won’t be ready to leave Port Townsend by then so we will relocate to the other marina in town—Boat Haven—until we are ready to launch probably mid-May.

The best part about this winter is that we have accomplished a lot on the boat and learned a lot about sailing.

The worst part of this winter is that we spent all our time working on the boat and learning about sailing.

As a result we haven’t done much site-seeing or hiking or exploring the Olympic National Park and surrounding National Forest. Partly because of the dark, cold, wet days, partly because of my foot injury, and partly because the boat just had so many needs. However, we have learned the hard way that all work and no play makes for boring (albeit productive) days and stressful relationships. So here we are in mid-April feeling accomplished but also frustrated and bored. Every day of the week is the same—eat, exercise, work on the boat, sleep, repeat.

The weather is mostly the same too…rain, rain, rain. Let me tell you that when the sun comes out everyone in town walks a little taller and smile a little easier. It’s like an instant happy pill. Or, for our friends in Colorado, it’s like a powder day.

Rob has born the brunt of the physical boat work while I kept daily needs met (food, doctor appointments, paperwork, bills, budgets, etc). We have managed to get out into the community and make some fun connections through the Port Townsend Athletic Club, Port Townsend Yacht Club, Urban Sketchers, Rover dog walking, West Marine, Mountain View Pool, Northwest Maritime Center, and a local bike shop (more on all that later).

Honestly we’ve made enough connections that now, as we start to get ready to cruise again, I am feeling sad to leave new friends, favorite shops, and local parks. And I’m not looking forward to life without a car again. Getting supplies is just so much harder without a car.

And, I gotta say, in winter the boat feels so small…really it’s just three living areas—bedroom, kitchen, and salon. In the summer you have the topsides as well as everything below which doubles the living space. So, if we hole up again for another winter here (or anywhere else) we want to do things differently. For instance, we will have scheduled work days and play days—even if that means projects will take longer. We will rent a space off the boat (like a 1-room office space) where we can go and simply be off the boat and be in private. I have grown bone weary of public spaces: libraries, coffee shops, and cafes are fine but they do not offer any privacy. And, I think we would both get jobs as a way of meeting people, learning about the area, and earning some money.

Anyway, what exactly have we accomplished?

  • Adding a salt water wash down

  • Installing a composting toilet

  • Rewiring the fuse panel so like items are together

  • Installing solar panels

  • Installing a radar dome

  • Installing a chart plotting system (navigation and instruments all in one place)

  • Manufacturing a wheel on wheel

  • Designing and manufacturing an adjustable helm seat

  • Painting the cockpit

  • Installing a new VHF radio (and a AM/FM radio too)

  • Rebedded all the windows to stop leaks

  • Installed a wifi amplifier and cell service receiver for increased ability to get online while cruising

  • Replacing some plexiglass windows of the cockpit enclosure (we contracted this one out)

  • Create and install curtains (I did this one)

CUE montage of fun images and smiling faces:

We have also attended a LOT of classes and done our best to absorb a ton of information including:

  • 8 Days of classes at the Seattle Boat Show

  • Predicting Weather

  • First Aid at Sea

  • Safety at Sea

  • Hand Sewing Sail Repair

  • Radar and Night Navigation

  • Rigging Your Own Boat

  • Navigation and Piloting

And we still want to do the following before we leave Port Townsend:

  • Clean the bilge (maybe this project will help with the "boat smell")

  • Install lazy jacks for the main sail

  • Install jack lines for safety

  • Install a Lifesling man overboard rescue system and practice using it

  • Install rope clutches

  • Purchase a spare anchor

In addition to all those boat related things we’ve also joined the local Port Townsend Yacht Club where we’ve met fascinating people—many of whom have sailed worldwide. Rob volunteered to build two boat racks for storing opti sailing dinghies at the Northwest Maritime Center 's Wooden Boat Foundation Boat Shop as a way of trading out time so he could work on some of our projects in their shop. They were so pleased that they decided to honor him with a "volunteer highlight" in their blog. Read the whole article by clicking HERE. They took a great photo and got most of the information in the article right. ;-)

Rob standing with one of the racks he built

And Rob found a bike he really wanted so he’s been trading out his time at the ReCyclery bike shop building shelves and staircases to earn money towards that bike. He just got the bike today--yay!

Rob with his new bike!

Back in February I took an art class (thank you Marilyn!) which inspired me to draw / sketch / paint something almost every day. I also joined a group of artists called the Port Townsend Urban Sketchers who meet twice a month and sketch around town. Through that group I’ve met several really interesting people who are also wonderful artists and am grateful for the support they have shown me. Apparently Urban Sketchers are worldwide with clubs in most major cities and artistic towns—who knew? Anyway, I plan on looking for them wherever we travel.

I’ve also been substitute teaching for a dance fitness class so I’ve been able to keep up with my dancing and I’ve started dog and house sitting thanks to a website called Rover which has been a great way to meet people and see different parts of the area. Plus it gives me some good dog time which I miss greatly. Onboard we have a stuffed dog and a stuffed cat which serve as our replacement pets for the ones we let go but snuggling with them just isn’t the same.

At this point we are both holding onto the promise of a fun summer cruising and exploring. We have family visiting in May which we are really looking forward to, and then come June we will head north into Canada.

People ask us all the time how far north we will go and my answer is as far as the sun shines.

After this grey and wet winter I want some fun in the sun. So, depending on the weather, who knows how far we will go. Many people talk about going to Alaska but those who have been also talk about how cloudy, cold and rainy the summers can be so that is not calling me. Still, Mother Nature is full of surprises so time will tell. If all goes well though I do think we’ll get up to the Broughton Archipelago and maybe visit the island of Haida Gwaii (prounounced hide-a ga-wy) which is a National Heritage Site. It all comes down to the sun.

So please, please, keep your fingers crossed for a warm and sunny summer!!! That way we’ll have better stories to share with you! ;-)