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Saturday, August 7, 2010

8/3 This really is my life.

Right now we are at anchor in the tiny boat basin on the Port Angeles water front. This is our second night here and the anchorage is rolly and windy. I am trying to recover from the bug I caught in Seattle. It brought with it three nights of fever, a cough that has now settled deep into my chest and a tiredness I don't really have time for right now. Plus my cough keeps Bill awake at night and makes him grumpy.

This morning the fog was so thick we opted to stay here and work towards getting the boat "ship shape" before we head out into open ocean in just a few days. Mostly that means making sure everything is tied down and wedged in. Everything. Our crew will sleep in the now vacant v-birth which until a few days ago looked like a storage locker. The other big job is finishing our sea anchor.

A sea anchor is a $1500 piece of equipment that we hope never to have to use. It is made of 300 feet of thick braided line with an attached bridle and 120 fabric "cones." Imagine an elongated coffee filter with six lines attached: three from the top and three from the bottom. Each of the six lines per cone is hand spliced to the heavy line at measured intervals. The idea is that in very bad weather you attach the bridled end to the back rail of your boat and throw it overboard behind you. The little fabric cones open and fill with water causing drag. Then as the boat moves back and forth on the monstrous waves they fill and spill,fill and spill helping to keep the boat steady on the waves instead of turning sideways to the seas which can cause the boat to roll.

We bought it in March before we left Seattle. In order to save $500 we purchased it as a kit which means we have to hand splice each cone onto the line. SO.....each cone requires 6 lines be spliced three for and three aft. The splices are done with a contraption a lot like a rug hook that is then followed by hand tying each end into a stopper knot. So lets see, each cone is six lines = six splices + pull six lines through plus tie six knots = 18 actions for each cone X 125 cones equals 2250 separate tasks to complete. It took me an hour to do 13! Since day before yesterday I have completed 84! We want/need to have it completed before we leave Neah Bay but we didn't start it until we arrived in Port Townsend 7/30. Too much time sitting and thinking while I work mindless knots.

I am having the oddest deja' vu kind of thinking going on. It feels like this is all just sort of a dream and that one day soon I will wake up and everything will be back to "normal." The oddest aspect of it all is being in a place where we are the ones with the knowledge and experience. For so many years we were like sponges in the boating world. So many people to learn from and so much to learn. Now standing here on the precipice of being full time cruisers the truth is we are part of the knowledgeable ones. We have sailed some 7000 miles on our boat in some pretty demanding places and we have chosen to seek out all the knowledge we could find.

Bill had a lot of prior experience but ask my family and you will know that in my previous life I couldn't have told you the difference between a wrench and a pair of pliers. The years leading to today have been filled. We have attended boat shows and classes,seminars and lessons. We've been up the inside and down the outside. We made it to Desolation our second summer. We spent three glorious weeks in Haida Gwai/ Queen Charlotte Islands in 2008. I joined a womans' boating group -NW Women of Boating - and attended classes on everything from boat sanitation to how a 12 volt system works.

We replaced our old Westerbeke deisel ourselves in the spring of 2009 with a 75 horse Yanmar turbo. Between February 1st of this year and when we left for Alaska May 1st we replaced three hatches, added an arch with solar panels, completely ripped out and replaced our entire refridgeration system from the hull up including new counter tops and fiddles and plumbed and wired a reverse osmosis water maker. We also added AIS and a new chart plotter along with a new autopilot system. Then with the help of a woodworker friend of ours we completely rebuilt the cockpits teak seating including TDS caulking and new grated floor, storm washboards and a cockpit table. Now you can see why we didn't manage to get the sea anchor finished!

I know I keep writing this in various words but it just really seems strange to finally be here- almost at the big left turn. There are so many ways that we could have been stopped along the way. We spent two nights in Port Townsend and after leaving there we heard a call out on the VHF for a boat that was fully engulfed in flames in the boat basin we had just left. The boat burned to the ground before being towed out to deeper water and sunk. We had been anchored only a few feet away. It just seems absurdly strange to be on the brink of this voyage. We are really, really going. I can hardly sleep at night.


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