Falling through fall

Well, Heather is buttoned up and hopefully safe from bad weather and rodents in the barn, I’m buttoned up and safe from fun and adventures with soggy snow outside the window. The definition of an armchair sailor, although I actually don’t even get an armchair, just a super comfy couch. It’s a hard life.

The sailing season wrapped up early this year, hauling Heather in late August due to time constraints. A summer of sailing her, especially in the notoriously choppy and kinda scary Columbia river bar area, was a great way to learn the ins and outs. A few things that I’ve learned:

-On port tack, the outboard goes almost entirely under water

-On starboard tack the outboard doesn’t touch the water

-The current goes up to 5 knots, which is faster than heather

-Ships move super fast

-Jib sheets will bind in the cheap genoa leads I bought

-And, sailing is super fun!

Best of all, Heather sails beautifully, just as Chuck Paine promises on his website (although I haven’t seen a design where he doesn’t promise that). With the summer gone and the fall busy, I hope to have some time this winter to dig into a few minor additional projects. The biggest of these is drilling and adding three keel bolts- preventitive maint since she hasn’t had any keel bolt attention since launched in 1982. I have no idea what condition the old ones are in, but Chuck Paine’s advice was to add additional given that the old ones were poured into the lead keel and would be impossible to replace even if I could inspect them.

The plan is to drill the holes from inside using a very long bit and bit jig. I can access the bottoms of 2 of them to countersink the nuts on the bottom end, but the third will require a very carefully measured and cut window, measured off of the preceding bolts. Sounds stressful and I haven’t even started working on it.

Other minor stuff is to get the water system working, re-paint the bilge, caulk the heck out of the mast step (after removing the old caulk), reinforce the sliding hatch, install the dodger, and sew some nice bunk bags and sail covers. Lots of varnish and some deck paint. Another coat of antifouling before she goes in. And, a new mainsail if it ever comes! Wait, that isn’t such a tiny list. Good thing she is beautiful, that makes doing all of the work so much more enjoyable.

Having spent the fall in Boston, cooped up in an apartment with unlimited internet access, I have to admit to some boat oogling. Wouldn’t a 39′ round bilged aluminum Koopmans from Netherlands be sweet for cruising far north? Hmmmm. I better get back to sailing and boat work before this gets out of hand.

Anyways, some boat pictures from the fall haul out, as well as a short video that I made this fall about locations of sawmill infrastructure. If you want to talk about sawmills, wood, carbon, climate change, or infrastructure, hit me up ūüôā

Morning of the haulout- pretty as usual.
I don’t know if you could make a boat with a nicer shape.
Aren’t we missing something? Like a boom? Hope the engine doesn’t crap out this time. That damn thing.
Always impressed by the marina guys- super nice and organized. And they wear their lifejackets.
Back to the barn. Oh shoot, the mast is too high to fit through the door.
Hmmm, I don’t remember it being this tight of a fit last time.
Scooted the mast to the side and she fits. If only we had a cement floor.
And settled in with her buddies, Prospero the whitehall and the Blue Rowboat for the winter

Short interlude- I was determined this time to keep the (#*$&$(# (#*#* @*@#* rodents out. They had just gotten into the cabin down the hill where I live, which was driving me nuts, and I just couldn’t have them on the boat. I determined all possible points of entry- mast, ladder, rudder, thru hulls, parachuting down from the rafters, power cord. I could get rid of all of these except the power cord, which keeps a small dehumidifier running inside. So, I super strategically dangled myself from a rafter to string the cord. So far it has a 10′ vertical run, thoroughly coated in silicon gel (slippery). It then loops over a glue trap on the rafter, and then loops back down to the boat. There are still mouse feces on the boat but my theory is that they are falling from the rafters above. At least that’s what I keep telling myself.

Found some cool boats on a bike ride.
And a great cartoon that explains why we all do what we do (BS)
It got pretty windy.
No wood shells here, just badass 70 year old women- HOCR
And some guys dressed as Waldo.
Not boat related, but I did get to build a pretty sweet map out of a tree round.
Back home for some hottub time.

And the mapping video:

What a summer!

Feels like just yesterday, yet, hard to believe, it’s December already. I guess I missed the whole posting pictures during the summer thing. Busy I guess. Well, it was a wonderful summer of sailing on Heather, keeping her moored in Astoria, OR. Pictures and some notes below (not sure what happened to the picture size part way through, sorry).

One of the summer’s first sailing outings.
same sail- you can tell it isn’t summer yet with that gray sky.
It’s hard to beat the port quarterberth for a nap. Unless there are giant ships bearing down on you, which is almost always the case on the mighty Columbia. Heck, I’ve started checking AIS before heading out through the breakwater to make sure I don’t get run over.
First night on the hook- super rolly, blowing 25+, it was miserable. But my little anchor held well.
They weren’t rolling at anchor
The lamps worked, my new lights all worked, yippeee. The stove never worked (even with 2 new burners, an entire extra stove for parts, grrrr) and the sink only started working when I hauled her out.
Wonderful brisk sailing- heaven. She is perfectly balanced with 1 reef in and a bit easier to manage single-handed. Doesn’t get much better than this.
And onto the other tack- nothing but horizon ahead, until the next tack. Oh ya, and that freighter about to run you over. And the pilot boat. And fish boats.
And a wonderful reach back to the marina.
Finally found some people for whom a Carol has standing headroom- now just don’t get any bigger, or eat that silicon caulk I left in the sink. Whoops. I also usually don’t leave a colossal mess of jib in the forepeak.
A rare sighting of us- taken by my wonderful sister on a little day sail adventure. Skin color tells you a little something about who got to sail more this summer.
And we passed my friend Mike out for a sail on his beautiful Cheoy Lee. We still haven’t raced them against each other- I think they rate about the same though. Hmmmm.
Barreling into Astoria- sorry for the vertical video. Amateur social media move.

And I got to do lots more sailing, unfortunately all within about 15 miles of Astoria. It turns out that a big river mouth with one of the most dangerous shipping lanes in the world and 3-5 knot tidal currents isn’t the greatest place to sail, although it is good for getting you in “oh shit, gotta figure this out” situations to build skill and test systems. At least that is what I kept telling myself. But, I did go on some other adventures, often with wood boats, so am including them here. More Heather stuff in the next post.

We’re just like those other trucks, right?
Three wood boats and 8 Waldos this year at the Waldo Lake Waldathalon
Drift boat dinner on Wallowa Lake
Hand falling enormous dead cedar trees. For scale, that is a pretty danged big saw with a 32″ bar.
Drove across the country in 3 days.
Cut some firewood.
And went on some river trips- this one in the rain.


It’s hard to describe the joy of the first time you turn the outboard off and a boat sails off, silently. Or the terror when your 15ish year old outboard overheats and cuts out as you’re entering the marina. These were both experiences of the past 2 weeks.

An uneventful drive to the coast was a wonderful thing with a 6,000ish lb trailer chasing me along the highway. The only scary stretch was where the road heaved before Seaside. I remedied that with a pecan sticky roll and second cup of coffee at the Pacific Way Cafe in Gearhart (see photo evidence below).

Loaded and ready to go- quite a bit of tongue weight but it wasn’t as bad as it looks in this picture.¬†

early morning coffee stop. 

The drive continued uneventfully up the coast. I got to the yard 2 hours early to get everything ready but the guys were raring to go, so up went the mast and in went the boat! Photos below:

Lifting off the trailer. 

Up up and away! 

Down we go- should I check for leaks yet???

Phew! Not a single drop!!! And doesn’t she look pretty?¬†

Let the outboard motor trials and tribulation begin…¬†

So, from the boat yard it’s about a half mile motor around to the marina. No big deal. First I couldn’t get the outboard out of gear in order to start it (turns out it has to be cranked above the starting line on the throttle to shift from forward to neutral). Then it would idle but die. Then I realized that the cooling system wasn’t peeing like it should. Then I realized that a big troller was coming in to haul out (moved real quick). Then I saw that the tide was about to turn. Then the wind started to come up.

The motor seemed to run if pretty much at full throttle, so “what the hell” thought I and off came the dock lines. I jumped aboard, started her up, jammed it in forward, and off we went at about 5 knots. I¬†almost made it.

The outboard cut out just as I was coming in through the breakwaters at the marina. I had a little bit of a following wind and knew roughly where my slip was. Some creative sculling with the rudder and we made a graceful landing at the dock. Tied her up stern-in and a nice neighbor helped me yank that almost useless chunk of metal off the stern. Kinda wish we’d dropped it in the drink. I kept thinking of Steinbeck’s experience with an unnamed brand of outboard in the Log of the Sea of Cortez.

Old outboard went up to a nice shop locally to get running again and a smaller, more appropriate ultra long shaft outboard was procured from a nice shop in Seattle. In the meantime, I got to watch opening day races and the boat parade. The UW band plays on three boats abreast in the Montlake cut with the conductor on another boat about 200′ ahead.

I didn’t get to sail until I had the new outboard, but come the weekend I lured my parents down for a first sail (they had actually sailed her quite a bit early on, and blog readers may recall that they sailed a near sister ship across the Pacific).

In the meantime I went for a very nice row. My great grandfather hired the boatbuilder August Nelson to build this cedar on oak lapstrake rowboat for my grandfather and his siblings. She’s always been named “the blue rowboat” and never gets enough exercise. She isn’t very fast, but perfect for river rowing. After almost 90 year she barely leaks- not even enough to sponge out after a 3 hour row.

And then we went sailing.

Check out those barges of lumber! Kinda scary to imagine dragging them offshore.

And I got all of the electrical working, the autopilot works, and I spent my first night on the boat. The biggest electrical hickup was that the running light and anchor light were mislabeled, and the colors aren’t straight ahead on the running light. Fixable.¬†

I went sailing another time last week with the nice neighbor from the dock. It turns out that sailing on the Columbia with 3 knots of current and an outboard that barely reaches the water can be a bit dicey, especially for getting back through the breakwater. Hence, no pictures. More pictures and projects to come.

She’s pretty much perfect.

Long Overdue Update

With the passing of months, and lots of boat work, this blog got more than a bit neglected. We’re narrowing in on wrapping up a year and a half’s worth of boat work. The list is still there, but getting shorter, and more check marks are added by the day. I just got off the phone scheduling the travel lift for next Thursday. Not sure what I’ll do to keep myself busy once she’s in- go sailing I guess.¬† Recent projects include:

  • re-install port lights (thanks Molly and Chase)
  • hatch and skylight
  • paint and varnish hull, stripe, deck
  • re-install hardware
  • new genoa tracks and cars
  • new running rig (thanks mom)
  • bottom paint
  • new floor boards (x2, the first set broke as I was installing them so I started over with leftover teak parquet from another boat).
  • re-wire boat and install LED
  • install tiller pilot, depth sounder, and new compass
  • Re-install rudder, install tiller, all new hardware.
  • New sink drain with pump to get water from the sink overboard.
  • And lots of other little tasks here and there…

Photo evidence, with some non-boat stuff first.

Finished the sleeping porch – it’s quite nice and a prototype for the “Hyla Hut” project- simple pre-fab cabin kits entirely from FSC certified, local, happy, free range, hand hewn wood.¬†

Slight work interruption with a sea kayak trip to Isla Carmen near Loreto BCS. 

Warm water and beaches in Baja. 

Back to work- “gull grey” paint with non-skid on the decks and cockpit.

New to me wood stove when my parents replaced theirs. 

And after 4 hours of dealing with stovepipe issues, it’s working.¬†

New running rigging and genoa tracks- splicing thanks to my mom! 

Final paint and varnish on the hull and cockpit. The brightwork on the cabin was previously painted over, but is quite beautiful mahogany. 

Another view of the completed paint and varnish, prior to bottom paint. 

And about what she looks like today, although the bottom is now painted and the shop much cleaner. 


More to come soon, with her in the water!


Fall Firsts


First off, happy fall equinox!

It’s been a week of firsts. First rain of the season, first coat of the final paint color on the Carol, first fire in the shop stove, and the cabin, for the year, and first time (maybe) tensioning the drive belt on our mill- a true breakthrough!

Boat progress has been slow and steady, and as always, I’m uncovering more projects as I go. I purchased Chuck Paine’s e-book on boat designs, and through the emails asked him about keel bolts, which have been on my mind as of late. He agreed with me that simply adding a few won’t hurt, so another addition to the list. In measuring the mast I also discovered that it may be 1’6″ taller than designed, and that the boom fittings are severely corroded. The plan is to make up some composite fittings to keep corrosion at bay- a good winter project, and potentially add 2 shivs to the end of the boom to facilitate running reef lines inside the boom.

Finally, due to a cabin project, work, and the potential of other sailing, I’m leaning towards a summer 2019 launch, allowing me to slowly pick away at remaining projects and not launch her half baked or rush anything. We’ll see. It sure would be nice to get out and sail her. In the meantime, a few boat pictures (beginning and end) and a lot of tangents (mostly wood related).

First fire of the season in the shop stove- warming it up for the first coat of varnish on all surfaces (from rudder head to coamings and sheerstrake). 

Quick detour over the confluence of the Colorado and Little Colorado in the bottom of Grand Canyon. You can see some smoke on the north rim. The Alaska Air pilot flew right down the San Juan from Bluff UT all the way down the Colorado to Lake Mead. 

Cedar for the backrests in the cockpit. 

The final color- Interlux off-white with the varnished mahogany sheer strake. She’s starting to make the barn look a bit shabby.¬†

Only 7 more coats of varnish and 3 more coats of paint to go! Plus the bottom paint, boot stripe, decks, etc. 

I really should get rid of that outboard mount. 

And my main distraction- a little timber framed sitting spot. Structure forthcoming. 

Summer Slowtimes

One of my favorite boat info outlets, Off Center Harbor, seems to be pretty fixated on slowing down this summer. If you haven’t visited their site, you definitely should.

I’ve taken that to heart this summer. Hence, very few Carol pictures, and more pictures of other boats. It’s smoky here in Oregon, still hot, and I’m re-learning that boat work is about sanding, sanding, and then sanding some more.

Our bi-annual Waldathon only accepts pretty boats. This one is a cedar tripping canoe that I built in highschool with wood from our family business, Hyla Woods. 

And my sister in her Pygmy kayak on a beautiful glassy morning. Nice spruce oar in the foreground from Shaw and Tenney. 

Prospero, a glued lapstrake whitehall that our grandfather got in the 80s and rowed avidly until he passed. The boat on the left is a real gem, and probably worth a lot once the aluminum tarrifs go fully into effect ūüėȬ†

Late night in the barn. She looks a little pockmarked from sanding the second coat of primer. She’s nice and fair now though and ready for off-white topsides paint. The brightwork all got a first coat of varnish yesterday.¬†

And the best way to get rid of the last piece of hardware that I couldn’t get off. Cut it apart with the angle grinder. It turns out that the screws weren’t seized in the wood, but instead the stainless had seized to the aluminum cleat. No amount of heat, knocking, penetrating oil, etc, could get it loose.¬†

And a video that may or may not load, this is what the Waldathalon is all about:


Color Scheme

Progress has been slow and steady these last few weeks. Final sanding on the hull before another coat of primer, selection and purchasing of paints, picking up the rigging, fitting the backing plates for the thru hulls, and painting the interior. Most of all, lots of daydreaming about sailing, calm anchorages in British Columbia, will the outboard be functional? Should I just sell it and buy a new mainsail? Needless to say, a quick overnight backpacking trip got me thinking about these finer, and further in the future, details.

And for the colors, I decided against bianchi green, phew! She’ll have an off-white hull and a gull gray deck, with everything else finished bright.

But in the meantime, some photo updates:

Isn’t that varnish beautiful on the stripped and sanded main cabin hatch? Now just imagine it with a polished bronze deadlight.¬†

No need to imagine! And new plexiplass to boot.

Drilling holes in the hull shows a cool cross section of 3 layers of epoxies western red cedar. 

Hopefully the final coat of primer. 

Rudder finally removed- why didn’t I do that earlier?¬†

Before and after on the deadlights. 

A different kind of boat- ready for a few weeks off and about. I also finally decided not to paint the hull the same color of the Carol the same color as the deck of Wallowa! 

The greatest success of recent memory- I can’t think of the last time that all of the trailer lights worked, and particularly not the right turn signal. Countless hours with a multi-meter, re-attaching all the grounds, etc, no progress. Turned out that all they needed was a new plug. I guess I got new wiring out of the deal, and can merge right.¬†

And finally, a geriatric dream boat in Astoria. Let me know if I can borrow this thing when I’m 80. Must weight absolutely nothing based on the hull form.



A week or two of concerted work has made for some good progress. And a little local exploring as well with two neat boats, at opposite ends of the boat spectrum.  As follows:

Hull primer sanded and sheer strake taped off. 

And a coat of epoxy on the sheer strake. 

Isn’t that beautiful!¬†

Another shot of the epoxy and partially sanded rudder. 

Edges on the hatch plexiglass beveled and new ports cut out. 

Forehatch frame constructed and Buoy Beer drunk. The hatch will have the plexiglass applied to the top, overhanging the edges slightly, using 3M VHB tape and metal fasteners. Was going to go more traditional, but a traditional hatch with the inset light offers too many ways for water to intrude. 

The ever-important sitting spot for looking at the boat. Every shop needs a good sitting spot and comfy chairs (these ones are particularly comfy and cool though). 

And finally some tangents. First, a pretty sad looking Carol that I tracked down in a yard in North Portland. The hull looks like a mess, fiberglass with significant deformation. Very nice Merriman hardware though. The yard just got title to her and will sell in the next month, but they are unwilling to sell any of the sails, parts, etc. What a bummer. I’m almost tempted to buy her, salvage all the parts, and then cut up the hull.

And a very cool boat that came through Portland- very french, very aluminum. Tara expeditions.

That’s all for now!


The Carol

The Carol is a fairly unique boat, very similar to the Frances, but a bit smaller with flatter deadrise, and typically build flush decked. As far as I know, they were also all custom built and are all cold molded. Franceses, the bigger sister, were primarily built by Morris Yachts in Maine, the builders of very expensive and fancy boats, like this one:

Image result for morris yachts

Image from Morris yachts website. 

and this one:

Image result for morris yachts

While their modern boats are very nice, and all in the 6-7 figure range, they originally built a line of small cruising boats all designed by Chuck Paine. The Frances, the smallest of these commercially built designs, was also built by Victoria Yachts in England with an extended trunk cabin, although there are not many of these and they haven’t held up as well as the excellent Morris boats. This is a tangent, but I was lucky enough to grow up on this great boat:

Lissome, the Frances that I grew up on, reaching along, I think in Australia in the mid 80s with my mom on the foredeck. 

And at anchor somewhere in BC or SE Alaska, with netting on the life lines to keep little me from falling overboard. 

So, those were professionally built boats with hand laid fiberglass hulls. They were built exceptionally well, but were really built for cruising in the relatively protected waters of Maine or the Pacific NW. A few people, like my parents, went a bit nuts and they have since been cruised all over the world. They did have some issues, like flexing bulkheads and the trunk cabin coming loose from the deck. Overall though, they are incredibly tough and well designed little boats from a unique and thoughtful designer, Chuck Paine. Most of the Frances’ had small trunk cabins, however a good number were built flush decked. I don’t know that I could tell a flush decked Frances from a Carol if I just saw it at the marina. A handful of Frances’ were custom built either out of flexible fiberglass panels or cold molded in cedar, like our Carol.

Chuck Paine is still around and has a great blog where you can see his paintings, and read his musings on selling million dollar boats to wall street schmucks.


The Carol was never commercially built, so I assume they were all cold molded, although some weird molding took place with fiberglass in the 80s. If you went out to build one of these boats today it would be prohibitively expensive, between labor, materials, and yard space. Most people wouldn’t bother with it, but apparently the 70s and 80s were a bit different. She’s a bit like glorified camping, with hunched headroom and a small cockpit. Two quarterberths and a cramped v-berth round out the accommodations.

The Carol arrangment from Chuck Paine’s website:¬†https://www.chuckpaine.com/boats/24-double-ended-voyager-carol/

And her sailplan, with the genoa and yankee jib drawn in. We had a yankee made to these dimensions. He also drew in the sculling oar, which is on the want to-do list. Also with credit to Chuck Paine’s website:¬†https://www.chuckpaine.com/boats/24-double-ended-voyager-carol/

To do:

I was much better at keeping to-do lists on the last few projects, but am getting there with this one.

There are the must to-dos, and the want to-dos. The musts are as follow:

  • re-finish, paint, varnish all surfaces.
  • build new fore-hatch
  • cut and install plexiglass ports and skylight
  • re-install all hardware, etc.
  • get new standing rigging (it’s done, just need to pick up)
  • re-do all running rigging
  • get outboard up and running again
  • install thru-hulls
  • install depth sounder transducer

the wants to-dos:

  • build beautiful cedar back rests, like on Jeanette (the sistership in the NW)
  • wire up snazzy LED system
  • Figure out stand up rowing or yuloh sculling system as backup or primary non-sail propulsion
  • get a new mainsail, the jib from Banks looks great.
  • figure out a way to move the chain aft to center weight in the boat.
  • plumb in water tank
  • find perfect bucket for sink since it no longer has a drain (replaced with depth sounder).
  • get depth sounder working

And the final to-do: go sailing!

A few pictures:

currently the hull has a first coat of primer as does the deck. The interior is half painted, and all of the epoxy / fiberglass work is pretty much done. 

Some inspiration from the Carol sistership Jeannette- I particularly like the back rests and plan to make myself a set. I also plan to copy the forehatch, and may need to make myself a new mainsail cover. I already made a new tiller, since the old one was warped about 6″ over it’s 4′ length.¬†

A little bit more inspiration, I’m ready to be here! I don’t know who owns Jeannette, but she sold just a year or two ago in southern BC.¬†

And the final inspiration- what I’m reading right now. What a complete nut, but a truly articulate fellow who’s musings are a joy to work through. If you haven’t been following, it is worth both checking out the Golden Globe Race, which started 3 days ago. It is a re-creation of the famous 1968 Golden Globe race, a non-stop around the world singlehanded sailing race. The current race seeks to harken back to those days of remarkable single handed sailing:¬†http://goldengloberace.com/

And, if you don’t know about it, go check out the R2AK. Timber OR is also a small frontier town filled with bears…