The First Year

Crew on the bowsprit
Crew on the bowsprit

Next week marks the one year anniversary for taking Satori home to Seattle. When I look back, I  can’t help but think about how my life has turned into a sailing life. Captain seems to be my preferred name around the office and even some friends are beginning to use it over my name. During the week I enjoy occasional two-hour sailing adventures just to get the motor tuned on and to stretch the sails, like a bird spreading her wings after days of nesting. Friends enjoy the trips and potlucks that ensue after watching the sunset right before heading into the marina. Paddle-boarding on warm days has become a regular pastime. This is a sailing life.

My old sails are still doing great after taking them out of retirement and I love the tanbark color that contrasts against the blue sky and while hull. The burgundy canvas also provides a coordination that is certainly eye catching. Unfortunately this will be the last season I will be using them. The good news is that Frank Schattauer has me on his schedule for a new set beginning in October. He came out and measured the boat to ensure proper lengths for all three sails. I have opted for a yankee roller furling headsail over the hanked-on working jib. This should make my life much easier when the winds pick up and enable me to run full yankee to increase her cruising speed.  I’m very excited for them to begin work on these sails as this is really one of the last major investments until it’s time to start cruising.

Schattauer Sails - sketch of the new sail plan with yankee
Schattauer Sails – sketch of the new sail plan with yankee

The only other project before the fall sets in is getting my diesel stove’s deck plate re-bedded and the stove’s water heating coil replaced. Once it’s raining, I’m stuck on interior only enhancements aside from some additional canvas. Speaking of canvas, I did order more for the weather cloths as well as new lifelines for the stern portion of the boat. Since the weather cloths need a tight wire to sit properly I’ve decided to get this completed so sailing in the rain isn’t too miserable. I’ve also discovered that the dodger is still a little challenging to see through while navigating in close quarters inside of the marina so I bought a universal joint for making a tiller extension so I can stand above the dodger and steer the boat for docking. After reaching out the the Westsail community for a wooden tiller extension, I was given the plans for something I think would look and perform well with the existing arrangement, yet keep with the classic teak motif. All of these projects are great additions for making life easier and more comfortable while sailing and living aboard. As I complete each project I will be sure to post photos of the completed work for others who might be inspired to make these kinds of enhancements for your own vessel.

Tiller Extension plans by Bruce Bingham from The Sailors Sketchbook
Tiller Extension plans by Bruce Bingham from The Sailors Sketchbook

One thing that I find difficult about living aboard is trying to avoid adding too many things to an already packed boat. There is still plenty of room but I find myself moving things around more often when I need to make space for guests and their own possessions. I also find that living in a house it’s easy to keep working on a project without putting anything away. I am sure many people can relate to the ‘project home’ where some things inside of a house are never completed because they are out of the way of your living space. On a sailboat living and project space are the same so if I need to work on something I must put it all away after I’m finished. Keeping the boat uncluttered is getting easier as I learn the best place to keep everything. There isn’t much on the outside of the boat and I like to keep Satori ready for sailing as much as possible. The only items that are really in the way are the guitar and the paddle board. I imagine during the fall and winter I will pack the paddle board away and put it in storage along with some of the other summertime recreational equipment.

One thing worth exploring is the capabilities of the galley since the fair weather brings a fair amount of crew. I’ve been hosting groups of people on sailing trips, followed by an evening dinner with barbecued meats and vegetables. For summertime this works excellent. We park the boat and secure the dock lines. Then we clear the cabin settee so there is enough room for the group and finally we swing the table leaf up so we’re able to load it with all of the food and beverages for the meal. I have enough dishes, glasses and silverware to effectively serve up to six people. There are seven life jackets on board so we’re also legal for USCG regulations. The only thing different about these kinds of sailing trips is how Satori is treated under sail. Because of the amount of lines in the cockpit and on deck, sometimes it’s better to just put up a little bit of foresail and move slowly under way. Perhaps a couple of knots maximum is all that is needed to keep her momentum and provide a pleasurable cruise. Since we have no real objective in mind other than being on the water, staying clear of the race course and commercial traffic provides the best perspective we need to feel like we’re sailing. It’s safer than putting all sails up because booms are not swinging through a tack and the crew can sit back and enjoy a safe ride. On the way back I recruit them to put the sails away and slip the canvas on her sails so the deck is cleared for docking. When coming up to the dock, I have them all on the port side to fend off the dock and other boat in case I make a mistake and it also gives me room to jump off on the starboard side and secure the dock lines once we’re stopped.

Handmade boat hook finished with Cetol
Handmade boat hook finished with Cetol

Indeed it’s summer and in just another month and we’ll start feeling the cool winds of fall. Gales will kick up and I will be back at foul weather tactics under shortened sail. Even without much time for projects, I’m still able to pull some time aside to keep working towards a better boat. I’m enjoying this lifestyle and so is my pup and many of my friends. It’s not uncommon for someone to stop by just to hang out on the water and maybe take the paddle board out for a bit. Life is good here. I just wish I had figured this out sooner but at least I have discovered it now. Time to make a fruit smoothie.

Sasha diving for the ball from the paddle board
Sasha diving for the ball from the paddle board

2 Replies to “The First Year”

  1. I saw your post on SA. So much of what is on SA is BS. Don’t get me wrong there is terrific info there too, it’s just there is no filter. I think you would be better off discussing with industry pros with some history rather than some Grandpa with a keyboard in Washtucna that hasn’t hoisted a sail since the Nixon administration. I liked your blog discussion on Dyneema and rings and comaprison with climbing. I can tell you my wife can adjust our backstay with a cascade of ball bearing blocks and when invited to sail on a competitors boat with rings she could not. If you want tickets to the Seattle Boat Show this winter let me know and enjoy the water…..Sasha looks like she is having fun,couch was a blessing THANKS!

    1. Andy,

      Thanks for the kind words! The internet is full of useful personalities but I’m always skeptical of opinions. Yet another similarity between climbers and sailors 🙂 I appreciate the insight to the running back-stays. I think the system for gaining the proper ratio for mechanical advantage needs to have at least one block at the highest load point to gain the minimum of 4:1. Allen discovered this issue when trying to obtain 8:1 ratios using only thimbles. It’s simply not possible.

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