First Voyage and beyond

Satori had her first voyage in perhaps a decade or more on Sunday. It was a very busy couple of days for me as well. I hauled up pretty much everything I needed for my upcoming vacation tour around the San Juans and Gulf Islands aside from food and some remaining galley needs. It took me about 4 hours to get the new spreader end caps, sails and running rigging all back in order as well as getting the deck and cabin prepared for departure. Pulling away from the slip presented to be a pretty daunting task as there really wasn’t enough space to back out and move forward. Once underway I had the previous owner at the tiller while I raised and trimmed each sail while in irons. I learned my first thing about Satori’s sails at that particular moment. It’s nearly impossible to rails any of the sails without being in the irons as there is simply too much torque on the halyard. Once the sails were up we were moving by the wind albeit pretty slow. There was very little wind in the Semiahmoo harbor and quite a bit of drag from the hull not being cleaned.

First sail in Semiahmoo Bay in a decade
First sail in Semiahmoo Bay in a decade

Once we headed back to harbor the winds died completely and so I put the canvas back on the sails. A thing to note about the canvas is that when I first dropped off the sails to be serviced by Schattauer, his canvas company refused to do any cleaning or work on the old canvas. I didn’t have enough time this summer to have new ones made up so I did the best I could to get them back in order. Although they are somewhat discolored from the old algae covered version I saw when I first laid eyes on the boat, they were repaired enough to get them usable once again for long enough to buy plenty of time to get new ones made.

Heading back to Semiahmoo Marina after her first sail in over a decade.
Heading back to Semiahmoo Marina after her first sail in over a decade.

Once we were back into the marina, I decided that I did not want to risk collision the next day while  single handing her to Blaine to be hauled out so I opted to park her on the fuel dock overnight pointing right out of the marina. I took my first hand at motor controlled steering and was surprised at how little response she had but also managed to park without issue. That night I hauled everything from my car down to the boat and got it stowed and organized. I also managed to install a new VHF radio as the old one was ancient. I chose a Standard Horizon Matrix AIS+ GX2150 and tested it with my handheld. It was an easy installation as there was already a hanging mount and CB clip so I just snipped the old wired from the other radio and plugged them into the terminals I already had setup on the new unit. The antennae took a little work but that worked fine as well. I simply entered my MMSI number and I was up and running with getting AIS capable vessels showing up on the display. I also did a radio check with the automated radio check service in Friday Harbor and got a response back, which is more than 35 miles away so that felt reassuring for added safety. Once everything was hauled to the boat, I hung my new hammock and took a little breather before finishing the organization. Then I finally laid to rest in the pilot birth for the night.

 

The next morning I went up to the marina, had some breakfast and then started to install the mounting brackets for the Aries autopilot. I wasn’t able to get the last bracket mounted as it seemed to be too narrow to clear the alloy blocks so I will need to come up with a better plan to get this working on Thursday when I will finally need the autopilot installed. Around 10am the surveyor showed up to give Satori a full inspection for getting insurance. After an introduction, he spent the next 4 hours looking over the boat and asking questions about everything about Satori and her equipment. David Jackson was the inspector from Pacific Rim Marine Surveyors in Anacortes.

Satori at Semiahmoo before heading to Blaine for haulout
Satori at Semiahmoo before heading to Blaine for haulout

After the initial inspection, we shuttled his car to Walsh Marine in Blaine where Satori is hauled out and being painted at the moment. Then we took a lunch break and learned about our connections through music. It turns out that we are in the same music community and know quite a bit of the same people. He mentioned the Gipsy Gyppo String Band which was a legendary Seattle folk dance band back in the late 60’s and 70’s. Jack Link was a good friend of mine and I had the fortune of meeting Sandy Bradley and Warren Argo years ago. I was fortunate that David was generous enough to offer to help me not only motor to Blaine but also drive me back to my car after the haul out. We motored over to Blaine and backed into the crane slip and then the dock guys began bringing her up while I made sure Satori was centered and cleared the dock.

My first haul out
My first haul out

After getting Satori out of the water the guys from Walsh Marine spent the next couple of hours cleaning the hull from barnacles and seagrass. I was impressed with how much was shed from the hull and not surprised considering how slow she sailed the day before.

Getting Pressure washed and barnacles scraped off
Getting Pressure washed and barnacles scraped off
Wrapping up inspection and pressure wash before putting Satori on the hard for painting
Wrapping up inspection and pressure wash before putting Satori on the hard for painting

This evening before writing this entry, I got an email from David with a complete survey report. His turnaround was slightly more than 24 hours from when he dropped me off to emailing me the report. I was very impressed with this kind of service and thoroughness. The price was reasonable and I came out knowing everything that should be a concern moving forward. The report exposed some vulnerable parts of Satori and will allow me to make a plan to get them sorted out before setting off onto bigger waters. For now, Satori will sail just fine around the straights of the PNW and in a couple of days she will be back in the water and ready to take me around the San Juans and Gulf Islands for a couple of weeks. Looking forward to it!

 

 

Some thoughts on mast climbing safety

I’ve been running up and down the mast quite a bit lately, having replaced all of the standing rigging on Satori. When I first climbed to the mast top I didn’t know that there was a Mast-mate on board and used prussiks to ascend. After switching to climbing up the Mast-mate, it has become very easy to go up and down the mast. Most sailors are not accustomed to hanging from a leash off of a harness and so I thought it would be cool to explain in detail my setup for tethering and securing myself while working on the mast.

I’ll start with an equipment list:

Really you could probably get by with less but I like having about 4 different ‘leashes’, which is what the wire gate carabiners and slings are for. The daisy chains are great because you can shorten and lengthen the distance from your belay loop to where you are anchored off, be it the ascender or a rung of the mast ladder. If you’re bringing tools up, you can tape a loop to the end of a pair of pliers and clip them to your daisy chain. A crescent wrench already has a loop so a simple square joining knot and carabiner attached to the daisy prevents tools from getting dropped. Extra locking carabiners allow you to clip one to a ladder rung, lock it in place and then easily clip another locker attached to your daisy chain. If you are climbing to the same spot a few times (say on the spreaders or masthead) then leave a locker or two there on a couple of different ladder rungs.

Another word about safety is about always having two anchor points at all times that are not dependent on each other. If you haul the Mast-mate up with your main halyard, don’t clip the ascender to the other end unless you’re cool with the potential risk of it failing with no backup. You can use the jib halyard as your backup but you’ll end up unclipping and re-clipping to pass the spreaders (jib halyard is on the other side). You can eliminate this problem by securely tying off both ends of the jib halyard and using the bitter end side to ascend. Make sure the bitter end runs straight down the mast and nothing is in the way of you running an ascender leashed to your harness all the way up the mast. Secure both ends of both halyards so you can use either side as an anchor. Some people lash themselves similar to loggers would to climb a tree using a pole belt. I tried this technique but it was rather slow and cumbersome compared to using an ascender, daisy chains and clipping to a ladder rung. I was able to get up the mast without stopping and once I made it to where I wanted to be I simply hung off of the ascender, set the daisy length and clipped to one of the ladder rungs or the ‘D’ ring at the top of the Mast-mate.

Using a daisy chain clipped to a mastmate rung I can lean out away from the mast
Using a daisy chain clipped to a mastmate rung I can lean out away from the mast

A final word on comfort. If you don’t like hanging from a harness it’s pretty easy to made a bosuns chair out of a piece of board and some nylon line, webbing or whatever. I personally didn’t need to sit because I would simply stand in the ladder rungs clipped off to something and sat back. The longer the daisy, the less force was applied to the harness when I needed to reach outward to the ends of the spreaders. Most other work involved on the mast is directly on the mast so no need to use a long daisy.

Using another daisy chain I can tether tools to my harness to prevent accidental dropping
Using another daisy chain I can tether tools to my harness to prevent accidental dropping

If you have an extra track on your mast, get a Mast-mate. If not, get an extra track. I don’t understand why anyone would want foldable mast rungs permanently attached to their mast. I would also hate to have to prussik up the mast (speaking from experience here). It’s probably the slowest way up and a simple task of going up and back down again could take upwards of 20-30 minutes compared to just climbing up and down the Mast-mate. Not only that but I can see other potential problems with mast steps like weight aloft, lots of holes in the mast, windage and their small area to hold on to.

A few more weeks away

On the mast removing the fore and aft stays
On the mast removing the fore and aft stays

This last weekend I spent some time on Satori getting the new shrouds and forestay installed and removed the fore and aft stays. I’ve learned quite a bit recently about installing and tuning rigging. I thought the entire endeavor was going to be much more difficult yet the fore and aft stays are getting replaced this coming weekend. It’s great peace of mind to know that the mast is held up by brand new steel cables and now I can rest assured that it is highly unlikely that the mast would ever fall over. When I get Satori to Seattle I will also replace all of the stays that are attached to the hull and inspect the chainplates as well to make sure nothing is rusted beyond use.

Right now the only things left before I can take Satori out to sea are getting the sails back from being repaired, getting the running rigging all strung up again and finally getting the hull painted and seacocks lubed and checked for integrity. I was planning on spending a few days with some friends doing all of the hull work myself but the timing wasn’t quite on my side. I’d like to invite some of my friends in Seattle to join in on the maiden voyage but the only extended time off is right when I would be painting it during Labor Day weekend. After checking with Welch Marine in Blaine, it looks like the price is reasonable for painting and through-hull services so I am employing them to do the work. They are located about an eighth of a mile from Semiahmoo, right across the harbor and it would be convenient to get it done before the holiday weekend and then meet everyone in Anacortes to start the San Juan Island tour.

I leaned something about the bureaucratic world of boat ownership regarding boat insurance today. Once the title was signed into my name, Satori was no longer insured. Not only that but to get her insured again I must have her surveyed and some arbitrary amount of boat ownership and skippering under my belt. Boat insurance is not required by law but in order to moor in Seattle I will need liability insurance and possibly up to $500,000 of coverage. Personally I have very little skippering experience on live-aboard sailboats. Mainly because of my lack of experience with sailing but also because this is a new endeavor. Am I capable of sailing Satori and capable of keeping her from running into other boats? No less than the ‘experienced’ sailor. First of all, I’ve been cruising around the Puget Sound area for all of my life. I’ve operated vessels of all kinds with motors, sails and oars but never kept track of when and which ones. Why would I? So in effect the only folks I need to prove my experience to is the insurance company who elects to insure me. I think it’s a scam. I own a car that cost $10k more than the boat and yet no one ever ‘inspected’ the car. You can get a drivers license at the age of 16 and operate a truck larger than my boat (much larger if you include a trailer). You can also wreck it and by another but still be insured. What is this all about anyways? I suspect that boat owners are far more negligent than drivers and way more accidents happen in the water. So having never owned a boat to owning a world cruiser isn’t that simple. The federal, state and insurance bureaucracy prevents any sort of simple process.

It’s possible that I won’t have a place to moor Satori by the time I leave Blaine. If I’m required to show proof of insurance at the time I sign the mooring contract I’ll be screwed. I will schedule a survey while she is out of the water but that’s not until the end of the month. They may make an offer in less than a week and I might lose my chance to keep her in Ballard. I suppose I could just call around when I eventually get insurance and pick some other place but seriously this is bullshit.