Sunday, December 27, 2009

Missing Britannia

It's been too long since our last post. That's because it's been too long since we've been out sailing. We've continued pressing forward with our boat projects, ripping into the electrical work and contracting out canvas and sail work. As such, we are without a headsail and a dodger and the cabin is a disaster. We are hoping to be back on the bay in a few weeks when my mom and sister Jessica get into town.
Hoping you all enjoyed your Christmas and have a great New Year's!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

First time through the Golden Gate

A forecast of wind and rain wasn't enough to keep us from making our way under the Golden Gate Bridge for the first time - and a good thing too, as we awoke to pretty perfect (albeit slightly chilly) sailing weather. 15 to 20 knots and intermittent clouds and sunshine. Amanda and I invited Rick (since he'd done such a great job last time in 50+ knots of breeze and could officially call himself a sailor now) and Nick who'd helped me sail the boat over to the slip for the very first time from the broker's dock (Amanda was in Minnesota). Between the four of us, we were feeling pretty confident, and ready to leave the safety of the flat seas in the bay to venture out into the open expanse of the Pacific for the first time.

Because the currents under the bridge can be pretty intense (sometimes literally barring entry or exit via sailboat), we made sure to time things perfectly. However between a run to Starbucks (Starbucks and yachting? Who are these people...?) and the standard (though somehow never foreseen) delays, we missed our ebb tide which would have sucked us out under the bridge with ease. Instead, we hit the gate with 2 knots of current (and a stiff breeze) directly in our path. This actually turned out to be something of a blessing in disguise though, as it allowed us to perfect the finer points of sail trim, scraping for each tenth of a knot. The downside was that by the time we got out, we pretty much had to head straight back again to avoid the opposite problem, as the tide shifted again sweeping everything out to sea.

We threw up the spinnaker, as we rocketed at max hull speed back down wind. We ended up getting home in about two hours whereas we'd taken more than 5 to get out.

Literally within minutes of pulling back into the slip, the rain started - all in all a fairly perfect end to a great day of sailing.

Looking back east after leaving the gate.

On our way back in

Sailing buddies

Nick looking confident with the spinnaker up.

Saturday, December 5, 2009

A day on the Bay: Saturday November 29th

When the Britannia, with all sails furled, blew sideways upon casting off from the dock-- slapping into the opposite pier, sliding toward the harbor's rock shore-- most sailors would have forgone a day on the Bay in wild winds. But not the Captain and crew of the Britannia. When you're good you're good.
When the anometer pegged at 52 knots, which is 60 miles an hour, which is pretty wildly wild-- waves breaking over the bow, spume racing horizontally off cresting swells, sails as taut as marble sculpture-- the only reaction was, "Yes!" Hardcore is hardcore.

The other boats on the Bay were... docked. But the Britannia handled the conditions like the round-the-world pro she is. Though her main sail did rip. Not badly. Not dangerously. But the truth was revealed that both major sails-- the main and the jib-- were so old they need to be replaced. This discovery was actually a blessing before getting into the middle of the South Pacific. But the replacement cost of $11,000 is not a good discovery. How this unexpected cost will be met is not clear.
But the clarity of the Bay's wind-blown sky and the ringing brass sun postponed economic worries. Beauty will do that. For a day. After sailing downwind, quickly, beneath the Bay Bridge and learning how well the boat sails on a beam reach, it seemed like a good idea to enter an estuary and drop anchor for lunch. The winds slowed. The sun was as warm and inviting as the homemade wine Curt brought. Curt is a friend who has been sailing for 30 years, a helpful voice in extreme conditions: "You guys are doing fine."
By the afternoon, back on the open water, the winds simply stopped (The San Francisco Bay will do that) and the sunset colors began. "Pacific" means peaceful. In fact. The second-in-command (Krister) decided that it was not an option to head back. No one disagreed. As the last magenta/vermillion/indigo radiance faded west, the almost-full moon rose. A silver moon coruscating across wine-dark seas is as close to Heaven as sailors get. Of equivalent wonder was slipping into the slip under full sail, a graceful bit of sailing. All in all.

Written by guest author Richard Leo, seen here at the helm. It was a pleasure to have him aboard last Saturday- Thanks and much love!

Monday, November 16, 2009

A boaty weekend

On Friday Suzy came to visit. We walked around the marina and had a hot game of boggle before heading out for lunch. This was one of the best boggle rolls I've ever experienced!
Grandma Dee and her friend Lauren made it over on Sunday and we took the boat out for the first time since replacing the shrouds and forestay. I wish I could say the wind put the standing rigging to the test, but it was a very calm day. Sunny and warm with 5 knots of wind made for a nice float on the bay (I'm not sure what we did could be considered sailing). I was glad to have our guest on board to entertain us.
This was about as windy as it got yesterday. But check out those beefy shrouds.
Shiny turnbuckles too!
Saturday Krister put the final touches on out sanitation system by pulling out the holding tank and replacing the last of the hoses.
Good bye stinking poop hose!
Meanwhile I laid out all the chain rode and anchor on deck for inspection and marking out depths. Two-hundred feet of chain and 175 feet of rope rode should take care of us in at least 90% of anchoring situations.
With our holding tank leak and smell free and our anchor rode marked, we are ready to spend our first over night on the hook. Maybe next weekend?

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Boat Projects and Cleaning

Although Britannia is well suited for off shore passage making, there's still a list of projects we'd like to finish before taking off. Some are simple, others difficult, and still others just a stinky mess. We try to spend three nights a week on the boat so the first order of business was taking care of the boat smell: that mixture of head and diesel oil. (For non-boat people the head is the bathroom.)
Our boat has one head and a system of sanitation hoses that allows us to pump waste into a holding tank or over board. (Boats must be three miles off shore to pump over board). Many of the hoses were cracked and smelly and the clamps holding them on were rusty. Krister spent a weekend replacing the whole system: which meant multiple trips to West Marine (the Home Depot for boats) and too much time near moldy poop.

We had replaced one cracked portlight (window) in late summer which made us realize how dingy and yellow the old ones were. Although it wasn't in our budget to replace them all with new ones, we had the good fortune of finding our exact portlights in great condition for sale on Craigslist. What a deal! Lots of sunshine, but now we need curtains.

The last thing we needed to do to banish the boat smell was to scrub the bilge. Sounds easy enough right? Except that all the 25 year old screws had to be taken out to remove the floor boards. Krister relished the fact that he would have to buy tools to do the job. I believe he had way too much fun using his new extraction driver. Krister scrubbed and oiled all the floor boards, while I washed years of dirt and grim away and wiped the bilge completely dry. Amazing!

As luck would have it, our upper shrouds did not withstand the previous weekend's 45 knot blow with Joe and began to fray badly. Britannia has been at the rigger all week to have all the standing rigging replaced. I miss our boat, but we should have her back tomorrow- just in time for a weekend sail and more projects.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Emery Cove and Sailing the Bay

We keep Britannia in Emeryville. Although the channel is very shallow, it allows us to get out into the middle of the bay quickly. Joe visited in October and help replace a few lights at the top of the mast while getting these great shots.
Beautiful day on the Bay. Plenty of wind and plenty of sun!

Britannia from the top of the mast
Our home in Emery Cove
Photos by Joe Kluberton

Test Sail and Haul Out

Amanda relaxing on deck
Amanda, Krister and previous owner Larry
Haul out for survey

The Beginning

Who knows how it started? It's even hard to say when the idea came to us... For some time Krister and I had been itching to move on to the next thing. But not knowing what that thing was, we were stuck in limbo. We yearned for adventure, an alternative to the 9-5 grind, and an enjoyable, challenging activity to share.
Then out of nowhere the idea came to us- we should buy a boat and sail away! Last spring we began taking sailing courses at Tradewinds Sailing School and Club and searching for our boat. Between us, we had completed four American Sailing Association (ASA) certified courses. At that point Krister was checking boat listings on Craigslist and Yacht World constantly. Finally, with the help of John Kouny at Cruising Yachts we found Britannia. She's a 1984 bluewater ready 36 foot Canadian Sailcraft.
Understandably friends and family have shown concern for our safety, interest in what we're doing and in our adventures to come. We will post photos and information here to calm nerves and satisfy curiosity. Enjoy!