Thursday, November 13, 2008

The McGee's Go Sailing

We squeezed in one last casual sail in the remaining days of pleasant fall weather when Jason McGee and his lovely wife Chris came to visit. The batteries didn't have water in them so the engine wouldn't start. I borrowed and returned a battery I found on another boat to give us a jump start and we were on our way. We decided to take it easy and head out to Lake Washington instead of Puget Sound. There are a couple of draw bridges along the way. So we pulled out our air horn to signal them to open and "bppphhissssssss". It was empty. After about 15 minutes of trying to hail the bridge over radio someone else opened it and off we went.

There wasn't really any wind at all on the lake but spirits remained high anyway. We drank rum and cooked brats on the grill that hangs over the railing. I got a chance to know Chris a little better and as much as I love my old friend Jason I frankly don't know how he landed this gal. :) Smart, comfortable with herself, confident, fun, easy going, and beautiful. Fine work Jason. I apologize for those 8 years after high school where I questioned your sexuality.

After plenty of new and old stories we headed back. Of course the motor wouldn't start again so Deetz spent about 15 minutes leaning off the back of the boat trying to pull start the motor. I should note that the motor doesn't have a rip chord. Deetz used some reef lines (rope) to wrap around this emergency pull start ring on the top of the motor. After plenty of yanking the rope and then re-wrapping it the damn thing started. We actually got a little wind and enjoyed a broad reach for about 30 minutes. It was a good day and it's fun to sail even with no wind with the right company.

Thursday, September 25, 2008

Treasure at Smugglers Island

In the last weeks of summer Deetz, Delicate Dan, and I sailed to Smugglers Island. Well, these days it’s called Blake Island but back during prohibition it was a hideout for rum runners. It was all down wind and it was cool to pass across the Seattle skyline wing and wing (e.g. cool, optimized, risky, sail configuration) in the warm summer air.

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Our goal was to learn how to anchor securely so we could go to sleep on the boat without being in a marina. Any dope can throw an anchor overboard but it gets more complicated when you have changing tides, currents, and wind direction. As we came around the corner of the island we saw about a dozen other sailboats anchored with their crew hanging out on the beach around fires. What a great gig these people had and now we got to take our place in the same scene. Suddenly the water next to us exploded into white thrashing! A giant seal had surfaced and was ripping a salmon apart by tossing it side to side violently in the air. He was only 15 feet off starboard and he barely stopped to look us over and then went back to work. They are HUGE! Seeing wildlife up close is a cool perk of not using a motor.

From Sail to Smugglers Island

We tested our anchor as best as we knew how and then pulled out “the dinghy”. It occurred to us that maybe we should have tested it before we needed it. Our dinghy was really just a very cheap blow up raft hardly big enough for two men. It was covered with 4 years of mold which was pretty disgusting to clean off. We tied ropes to it and went over one by one to shore. That night we drank rum and gin, ate well, and played a ton of guitar. Every boat within ½ mile was serenaded, like it or not, to Robert Earl Keen and other Texas folk music.

From Sail to Smugglers Island

The anchor held. I woke up looking at a blue sky as we gently tossed in the waves. We sobered up by diving into the cold clear water off the sailboat and then had some breakfast. Then we made another trip to shore to bury our treasure:
· 200 paces north along the beach
· Climb the shoreline
· Notice a leaning tree marked with a shovel several times
· When you come to the first large madrona tree you’ll find a landing about 10 ft by 10 ft.
· The treasure is in the center of the landing about 4 feet down.

Where do you start? Well, that’s a secret.

From Sail to Smugglers Island

The sail back home was a tough one; six hours or more beating directly up wind as best as we could. Delicate Dan bowed out ¼ way through and retired to the cabin to powder his vagina. It is tiring holding a course in strong winds for that many sustained hours. The boat is keeled over, your legs are constantly braced, and the bow is crashing through the waves. We took a slight diversion off our course to get as close to a big red buoy where two seals were lounging. I can’t imagine how those fat bastards jump 5 feet out of the water to land on that slippery bobbing surface but I guess it’s easy for them. They barely tilted their heads to watch us as we slipped silently by only 20 feet away.

From Sail to Smugglers Island

That was the last sail of the summer. Now we look forward to putting on some foul weather gear and taking on a winter storm at sea. Arrgggghh!!! Drink up me hardies yo ho!

From Sail to Smugglers Island

Monday, September 8, 2008

Mickey Goes Sailing

Mickey and Allison came to visit over Labor Day Weekend. It was a short 2-day visit and one of the things we all wanted to do was some sailing. Knowing that Mickey is used to the safe and solid surroundings of his downtown Austin loft I didn't want venture out into the Sound where situations can become unpredictable fast. Lake Union is a great place for an easy, casual sail right in the middle of the city. However, the opportunity to catch Dungeness Crab was too tempting for Mickey and so to sea we went. As we sat in the locks Mickey told us of how his father, Salty Papy, had a long history of seamanship. And so with my sailing gloves on he relayed old family stories and recited vocabulary he thought he knew about the sailboat, "Hoist the jibe spinnaker!" It was all laughs and bullshitting until we got out of the protected channel and found it to be the windiest day I've ever sailed.

The first chore was to rig the crab traps on the bow. It was a challenge just to hold on. I think Mickey was still having fun as he tossed them to see. $700 a year in designer protein shakes gave Mickey the added edge to really launch those traps into the water.

From a sitting position, for balance, Mickey's creotene fed muscles pulled the main sail up in record time. And so we set sail on a beam reach (perpendicular to the wind). We didn't raise the genoa as we had enough wind for this crew. I look forward to the day when Deetz and I can get into some weather like that, but that day it was more than we were looking for. Water was crashing over the bow and the girls let out controlled screams when we keeled over from time to time.

After about 45 minutes we decided to head in as the crew wasn't having much fun and Mickey said he wasn't feeling that well. We motored to the first crab trap and Mickey did a truely stellar job balancing and grabbing the floating buoy as the bow rose and fell 5 feet with each wave. I left him there while I went back to slow down the motor so he could pull in the trap. When I turned around I found him sitting with one hand on the trap rope, one hand holding onto the boat, and leaning over slightly. BAGGLHHSHHHHEWWWW!!!!!!!! Projectile vomit of a yellow and multi-colored chunky consistency spewed into the water. This went on for awhile. The poor guy forgot what is old Salty Papy always told him, "never puke directly into the wind." Disgusting half digested salmon omelettes covered his $175 slightly stretchable jeans and Calvin Klein sneakers. The dire situation was fueled by the fact that for breakfast he had ordered TWO full orders to feed THE MACHINE. After he finished chumming I sent him back to the cockpit and I pulled up both traps which were both completely empty. 

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Longest Sail Yet - Seattle to Port Townsend

How far can we make it in a weekend? We answered that question this weekend as 6 of us sailed from Seattle to Port Townsend and back.

Crew: Steven Bryant, Dylan Peterson, Kate Tonnessen, Vesla Tonnessen, Chris Kazimer, and Joe Brown.

We got a late start getting out of the locks in Seattle which forced us to sail/motor into Kingston in the pitch dark. We could see the lights of the ferry terminal and we had a full moon so we were in pretty good shape. That said, we noticed a GIANT BARGE (like takes a mile to stop, intercontinental type barge) a little to late for comfort. It was in the blind spot created by the genoa sail. It was weird too because some optical illusion and the dark made me think it was going one way when it was really on a collision course. We missed it by a long shot but had it been in the blind spot for another 5 minutes it might had been another story. Too close. Note to self: pay extra attention when crossing the shipping channel.

We picked up Joe Brown in Kingston. That night was pretty cool. We motored back out into the bay and dropped off two crab traps. Then amongst the moored boats and the light of the full moon we putted around, played guitar, and generally cut-up. Good times.

The next morning we scored 4 crab in our traps, put them on ice, and headed out. The wind was lousy for the first two hours, but then it picked up and we started making good time. In fact, we reefed the sails just in time to keep us out of trouble (foresight, we're learning!). Most of this time we were going up wind or on a beam reach (perpendicular to wind). We stopped in at Port Hadlock for a little break. Year's ago Kate spent two years creating amazing pieces of art at this boutique hotel at the marina. It was great for everyone to see it finally. Huge 6 x 6 windows with multiple layers depicting scenes and nostalgia reminiscent of the ocean and the northwest. She is so amazing. I can hardly wait to see her next piece. Soon we all got motivated by some circular peer pressure and all jumped in the ocean. It wasn't as cold as we thought and the air was warm. Deetz, for extra credit, jumped in naked for all the yacht club to enjoy.

We were beating up wind towards Port Townsend. Kate took the tiller for a little bit while I worked on something. The waves were higher than they'd been all day. She lost her balance and the tiller broke off! We should have replaced it from the start. Clearly the bottom was rotted and it was just an accident waiting to happen. She recovered from her face plant into the bottom of the cockpit and I grabbed the "nub" of a tiller that was left. We dropped the sails super-fast and motored in the remaining 30 minutes. It was all I could do to steer. We didn't really want this sort of adventure after 9 hours at sea. At this point the toilet also quit working and we could smell our filth. Disgusting. We made it to Boat Haven, pumped the septic, and docked the boat an hour before dusk. Phew. We walked into town, had dinner, played some pool, and tried to rally. No luck. But it was great to be back in Port Townsend. What a great place. Beaten we soon retreated back to the boat and played Texas Hold 'em until 2:30am and then passed out.

After breakfast we headed out for another day of sun and sailing. This time the wind was strong almost all day and it was ALWAYS at our backs. Man, what a difference that makes. We took this opportunity to throw up the spinnaker (big parachute like sail used only for going down wind). I've never done this before and putting up a spinnaker is a process. I pulled out my laptop while under sail, connected via my cell card, and literally looked up "how to put up a spinnaker". Based on a few pictures and our intuition we went to work. It wasn't pretty, sometimes it was scary, but it got up. Boy did we move. There were white caps out and they all played in our favor. We made a huge wake and were easily going twice as fast as we've ever gone before. Not to mention it was super cool to have the giant colorful sail up in front of us which pulled us over waves like we were surfing them eternally.

Reading this blog I see that I'm painting a pretty picture and it is of course hard to get everything across. I should say that it wasn't all fun and games. Nine hours or so a day in close quarters with 6 people is trying. We got on each others nerves, there were arguments, tears, and several people were pretty mean at times. So I learned a few things. A full weekend sail may be fine for those passionate about the mechanics of sailing. However, it may be too much for a boat mainly full of passengers. The Puget Sound is very protected and the waves don't get very big. There aren't the rollers like at sea. Even so the environment on the boat can get pretty rough and desparate in a hurry. It's thrilling, but can be scary too. This is especially true with green horns like Deetz and I in command half buzzed on gin.

Approximate Path - zoom in ... follow loop clockwise ... click on pin points

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Hanging Out Under Sail

Everyone Act Natural

Vesla Relaxing on the Bow

First Raise of Spinnaker ... ever!

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Brett's Visit - July 7th, 2008

We finished off Brett's visit properly with a short sail in the sound. The wind was just right and kept us keeled over from time to time. The genoa is definitely going to be too much sail for even moderately strong winds. The sun was out, the music was good, and I'm pretty sure Brett had a good time at the helm.

After the short sail we met up with Kate, Deetz, and Ken at Fisherman's Wharf for dinner. Kate made some delicious sides that went well with the salmon and last week's catch of crab.

Crabbing - July 2nd, 2008

We strapped 3 crab traps to the bow of the boat on opening day of crab season. Deetz, Kate, Ken, and myself onboard. The wind died as soon as we finished dropping the traps. It was eerie watching a regata in the distance as the boats floated almost motionless. A weird storm didn't bring any wind and dropped warm showers on us as we sat and drank and waited for the crab to fill our traps. We probably pulled up 15 or more crab but could only keep 3 of them. One of them was the largest red rock I have ever seen and one of the Dungeness was as big as they get as well.

We learned a hard lesson as we approached the locks in the dark. We didn't give enough room to a barge that came out and the massive amount of water it displaced threw us uncontrollably into a barrier around a bridge post. I couldn't get to the bow in time but the pulpit didn't break like I expected. Deetz was able to push off the stern enough to keep the grill from being smashed. So we got away unscathed except from an insult yelled by some hecklers on a tug boat nearby, "fucking idiots!". Kate yelled back at them pretty good, but Deetz and I couldn't deny that they were right.

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

First Trip Across the Sound - Brownsville to Seattle - July 28th, 2008

After our first experience last weekend we were all on guard and amped up for another intense series of events on this weekend's trip. We had to make it from the Brownsville Marina to Fisherman's Wharf near Seattle. Since this meant waking up at 5am to hit the tides right most of the potential crew mates Deetz invited turned us down, but the ever faithful Delicate Dan signed up without hesitation. Somehow we kept Deetz from drinking all the whiskey on the boat and we got to bed early. Dan forgot to bring blankets so we let him sleep inside this time and wrapped him up in the sail bag, some seat covers, and other assorted items. We all slept poorly and woke up confused and tired.

There was no wind at 5am as the sun came up so we were forced to motor north out of the bay, through the narrow Agate Pass, and into the sound. Once on th sound there was an easy breeze and we were able to make it to the entrance to the locks on a beam reach (90 degrees to wind) on the same tack (no need to change direction and adjust sails). It was super easy and mellow; a strong contrast to the madness from the prior trip. Seals came by to check us out from time to time and we saw a school of porpoises. Mt. Ranier was enormous in the distance next to the Seattle skyline and Mt. Baker to the north was easy to see all white with the cover of glaciers. Puget Sound is a uniquely beautiful place to sail. Deetz ordered swigs from the flask at about 8:30am. I thought this to be a little abnormal but who am I to question the captain!

We approached the locks and waited by a sea wall for our turn to go through. "All boats, north wall, port side. Have your 50 ft lines ready," came blasting over the loud speaker. This is when we all realized that we had no clue about the procedure to go through the locks. As Deetz steered us towards the locks we frantically started tying together lengths of 10 ft dock lines to get as close as possible to what they needed. It ended up being no big deal, they helped us through it all as we fumbled around with bumpers and lines and such. Actually, I was suprised at how friendly they were. "Beginning flood," they announced as the giant doors shut behind us and fresh water rushed in lifting us and two other boats to the level of the channel and lake.

We docked at Fisherman's Wharf north of Ballard at around 10:15am and went and got some breakfast. After a short nap we headed down the channel farther east to meet up with a friend of Steven's. As usual, someone stranded with motor problems needed Super Deetz to save the day. Along the way we got to use our air horn twice to signal (one short and one long) the draw bridge to open. It was fun being the jerks in the sailboat for a change causing thousands of people in cars above to suddenly deal with horrible traffic problems. After Deetz fixed the diesel engine on the yacht and the group of 12 or so finished applauding him we met up and tied off near the University of Washington. Kate, Kris, and Vesla met up with us later and we finished the day swimming and lounging in the sun.


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Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Pre-Sail: June 28th, 2008 - Brownsville Marina to Seattle

The lease on the slip at the Brownsville Marina is over at the end of the month. We have to get it out of there this weekend and into some marina to be determined in Seattle. We learned the hard way that you can't get out of the bay near Brownsville if the current is coming in. It just so happens that in order to make it out with the current on Saturday we will have to start sailing at about 5am and be out of the bay no later than 7:40am or it is game over. We'll head north and through a small channel. Use the map below to scroll over and see Seattle. Ideally we will head up the locks and into Lake Union or Lake Washington for a fresh water moorage.

I'm hoping we have a 3rd crewman with us. Last week's adventure showed me that it will be tough in rough weather to manage the boat with just two people. This is especially true if something goes wrong like the jib ripping to shreds.

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Monday, June 23, 2008

Inaugaral Sail

Our first sailing trip was pretty intense. It began around noon on a Saturday, Summer Solstice., starting at the Brownsville Marina and exploring the bay. We were actually trying to get out into the main part of the sound but could not make it due to currents (something a guy should pay attention to I guess). At one point it was really calm and we were considering using the motor to get to a more windy open area. About 15 minutes later we were kind of in over our heads keeled over. Delicate Dan was at the tiller and made a small error which set off a chain reaction and we ended up doing a 360 before I could get everything back under control. About 15 minutes after that Deetz' jib sail ripped to shreds and we had to deal with that. We fought up wind for another hour or so and then headed back for port downwind. We got there about 5 times as fast. Twice, along the way we had to strap Deetz to a rope and hoist him half way up the mast. Good to have a guy like that around. The sun came out over the Olympics, it was warm, and we still had some gin left so we kept going downwind. Eventually we were forced to head back before dark. But we went too far and the wind picked up dramatically. So now we're tacking up wind in white caps. Water is flying over the bow. We reefed the mainsail (e.g. make it smaller so you don't keel over so much). It took alot to get back. It's now dark and we have our headlamps on to see the sails or anything else. We get near the marina, drop the sails, and put them away. The engine starts ... and then dies. Deetz got it going again soon enough and we make it to port. Finish the rest of the gin, rum, and make a dent in the whiskey. We grilled a couple of thick steaks on the stailess steel charcoal grill that hangs off the back of the boat. It was a damn good time. The next day I felt like absolute shit as we scrubbed the deck and re-did the teak trim.



Inaugaral Sail

About the Endeavor

  • 27 ft Catalina sailboat
  • built in 1978
  • standard configuration
  • orginally moored in Brownsville, WA (south of Poulsbo)

Steven "Deetz" Bryant purchased this boat in June 2008 for $5750. I, Dylan Peterson, threw in $1000 as a loan to make the purchase easier. It is hopefully the beginning of a whole new set of adventures.

I should also point out that I had taken some pretty serious sailing lessons ... over 4 years ago. I've been on a boat maybe two or three times since then. Steven had been on a sailboat twice for some beginner lessons. Delicate Dan had never sailed. Also, the boat itself had not been sailed for over 4 years. The previous owners could not tell us about the state of the equipment since all he did was motor around clueless. And so we headed out ...