Before leaving Bellingham at the end of May – literally, the day before – we finally got our solar install finished on Meriwether. It took so long as we waited to have a frame built for the panels to be mounted on to. It was something that I was originally going to do myself, but once I started dropping a few brain cells on the task I realized it would be a waste. Not only would it not be as good as if the pros did the job, we would end up having the pros do it soon after anyway because of my shoddy work. Kerri and I agreed, why spend the money twice – right?
Only a few miles away from our marina in Bellingham is Lummi Island. On Lummi is a small anchorage – Inati Bay – that Kerri and I have wanted to explore for weeks. I’ve mentioned it a few times in previous posts, but we had yet to get out there. This time we were going to do it no matter what, even with the wind giving us the one-finger salute – coming in at depressing 2-4 knots. So we relied on the old Perkins motor with Tim (son, not father) piloting us to there.
My son (also a Tim) flew out from Colorado the week leading up to Memorial Day weekend. He and I spent much of the week a few hours south, visiting with my Mother while Kerri stayed on Meriwether by herself. I am not sure what she does in her alone-time but I think it has something to do with cocktails while binge-listening to NPR. It was only the final two days that Tim and I returned to Bellingham to take a day-sail on his final full day in town – which happened to fall on Memorial Day.
In our land based travels we did all that we could to stay away from established RV parks and their crowded and over priced lifestyle. Marinas are the equivalent in the boating world, so obviously we hope to spend most of our time outside of them. What is known as “boondocking” on land is referred to as “gunkholing” on the water. To gunkhole, we need to be able to secure our boat in a fixed location in the water. This, of course, is where anchoring comes into play.
Following our third ever sail of Meriwether, and nailing the docking that day, our confidence the following weekend was high enough to attempt a late afternoon sail with an evening anchoring to watch the sun set while on the water. With the boat packed up and our checklist complete, we pulled out of our slip and started motoring out of the marina. Things can be very different outside the break walls of a marina where the winds are free to do their own thing, like wild horses running the plains of the West.
It has been six weeks since arriving in Bellingham. Six weeks is an extremely long time for us to be stationary – matching the longest time in our four years together; six weeks during the van rebuild back in late 2017. During these weeks neither of us have taken any time off – just hammering through as much work as we can do before our departure date (which now stands at June 1st). Literally, every single day we go to bed with muscles that are too sore to continue.
Wake the following morning with muscles that are still too sore, but we get out of bed anyway to start another day crawling into tiny compartments to install the next project. I complain, but the reality is that we now have a fridge. We now have completed the 12 volt and inverter wiring. We now have many a rebuilt vital components, both on the boat and on the motor. It has been productive at least.
Following last week’s rough docking we really needed a confidence booster, so we took Meriwether out once again – getting back on the horse and all. I had rebuilt the winch that was not working properly during our last sail and were both anxious to try it out as well. Our route was basically the same triangle path with a reverse variant depending on the wind, once we got out on the water. We would either explore Chuckanut Bay or a small anchorage on Lummi Island. The weather was going to be nearly identical, but this time we were planning ahead for the afternoon increase in wind. For those in the know, we would reef the sail down one point once the winds exceeded 15 knots. In layman’s terms – we would reduce some of the sail so there is less sail area and in turn the boat leans over less.
The legend goes that if you change the name of your boat, you risk angering the sea and wind gods, and your boat will take on bad luck if you don’t appease them. There’s a big long name-changing ceremony meant to purge those salty records from the depths that has about as many versions as there are boaters, but all of them involve incantations and throwing booze into the water (and into the mouths of yourself and guests. Because boaters.) I’m not a superstitious person, but I’m on the side of tradition (and “just in case”).
Kerri and I were able to get back out on the water this past weekend, for only our second time on our own boat. I had an eighteen nautical mile sail planned for the day which would take us to an anchorage just to our South and to Lummi Island where we wanted to take a peak at another anchorage. This really just came down to that these are the two things to see in our immediate waters, so we wanted to see them – the nomads that we are. Weather was advertised to be sunny with a calm breeze just under 10 knots from the North West, which worked perfectly with the plan. Easy-peasy!
We hadn’t sailed since the last day of our sailing lessons back in January. We desperately wanted to get out on the water, partly to remember (hopefully) some of the things we learned and partly to give the boat a shakedown run. I wasn’t even 100% confident I had the sails rigged properly after re-installing them the past week, so this was all about finding the issues not necessarily about going out for a proper sail.