How Will We Prepare – Boat Readiness

The boat must be tougher than we are.  It must sail when we’re exhausted and weather storms that force us to huddle below.  When something breaks, there must be something aboard that can fix or replace the broken item. Way back, when we lived on and adored a boat named “Sovereign Nation”, we built a website for that boat.  We went into lavish detail about the systems aboard.  That ketch inspired pride and excitement in us, until it tried to kill us.  Between the gorgeousness of our appearance when leaving Point Roberts, WA, and the avalanche of problems that we sailed into the San Francisco Bay, we learned a lot about what worked and what didn’t, Okay, enough history.  Here are the types of systems on the boat and how we’re making sure they are up to the trip. Major Structure – Go Running and Standing Rigging – Go Steering – Go Ground Tackle – No Go Engine – Go Plumbing – No Go Electricity – Go Safety – No Go Major Structure – Go The hull is solid FRP, strengthened by longitudinal stringers and two internal bulkheads.  Ballast is a bolt-on keel that made me uncomfortable at first but now seems to have its good points.  Hitting icebergs won’t be a good idea, but that would be true with internal ballast as well. The decks are in good shape structurally, though there are extra deck fittings that are unused and could go away.  We need to remove deck fittings, prep and paint the deck, and replace all the fittings before leaving.  It’s not a no-go thing, but we’ll have an easier time of customs and immigration visits if we look better. Plus, there are some places where the paint has lifted and it’s not good to leave fiberglass bare[…]

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How Will We Prepare?

I’ve been telling a lot of people about our plans for next year. The most common, casual-conversation version goes something like this: At the end of May, we’re sailing to Scotland via Newfoundland, Greenland, and Iceland. This is fun to contemplate and fun to talk about.  My shift at the West Marine in Canton is enlivened by talking about sailing adventures, past and future.  Sometimes the person with whom I am speaking knows the score; sometimes the person doesn’t. By the score, I mean the scores of considerations involved in planning an oceanic voyage of this sort. Though they are in fact legion, I can break them down into types. Boat readiness Crew readiness Weather windows Finances To be more precise, these represent contingencies rather than mere considerations.  Our trip will happen or not based on how those four factors stand when we’re looking at each other, wanting so badly to take off. We’re re-watching the mini-series “From the Earth to the Moon” and I thrill at the NASA command scenes.  One person after another, each at the top of their respective fields, giving the word.  Go or no-go. We have to think in the same way about those four categories.  Each one will get considered every single time we go sailing, but ocean voyaging requires that we think in terms of weeks rather than hours.  The specific areas we will cover require us to think in terms of handling heavy weather rather than avoiding it. As I talk to non-sailors or sailors who’ve never planned a major voyage, I feel tentative in sharing our plans.  I feel that I am setting up expectations in the people around me and will be seen to have “failed” if we don’t reach Scotland next year or don’t get off the dock by[…]

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