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.
It has been all about the todo list as of late. Just crushing out as many items as we can before our mid-May departure date… did I mention I had a departure date? For every item checked off the list, two more appear. Most are simple enough, but there are a few big tasks; like adding a full solar setup, or installing the wood stove. Since we are still awaiting parts for those bigger projects I got to tackle one that I enjoy…
We have been away from our boat for nearly four months, mainly to escape the brutal winter weather this far North. We certainly didn’t need to ride out freezing temperatures while living on the water for our first time ever, so we drove the van to the South West for those few months. It was nice to be nomadic again, and to see some of our nomad friends too, while staying mostly warm.
Yes, I’ve been very quiet in the past few weeks. I’m not much the kind of guy to give a play-by-play of each individual repair or upgrade I do, either on the van or the boat, so I have spared you all that tedium. Needless to say, I was working on final repairs on the boat with a December 10th deadline to get them all done. The 10th was the scheduled haul-out day so the professionals could accomplish a few repairs that could only be done with the boat out of the water. Leak prevention, sail removal, and wood preservation was the name of the game for two weeks.