And so it goes...

by Chuck September 18, 2005

Here's the summary of the 2005 sailing season. The whole sailing season.

In June I went out with my family on a blustery, cold, rough day. They didn't want to go out again.

In September I went out with Rich and his son Geoff. We had a grand time on a great day for sailing.

And that's it for 2005.



Once more into the boat show

by Chuck January 16, 2005

Father-in-law Ron and I headed in to the Seattle boat show again this year. I tried to get him to take someone else, 'cause we gave him tickets to the show for Christmas and I felt bad having him use his extra ticket on me, but he insisted, so...

Just inside the North entrance was the highlight of the show for us. A 28-foot Stancraft wooden runabout built in Post Falls, Idaho. Man that was beautiful. No price listed, but I guess if you have to ask, you can't afford the upkeep on a boat like that.

In the sailboat corner (much larger this year), I liked the new Hunter 27 quite a bit. Nice size for our family, not too big to afford the moorage, and pretty to boot. Now if only I had a spare $80,000 to spend. I also spent a good 15 minutes crawling over the West Wight Potter 19 they had on display. Every book and Web site about trailerable sailboats sings the praises of the Potter, and I'd never seen one. Pretty little boat, and quite reasonable in price (for the base price, anyway). The one they had on display was quite dolled up I must say.

Had an intersting conversation witht he folks at Nexxus Marine. Instead of the usual $250,000 24-foot dream boat they usually show, they had a 16-foot dory that started at $5,700. Nancy said they were interested in building boats for "real people" again, and David said the people that buy the expensive boats "treat them like the kitchen help." I can't imagine treating a craftsman like David like kitchen help, but then I can't afford a $250,000 boat, either.

Only spent a little money this year. Bought another dock line from TopKnot. Bought a pair of gloves from Popeye's. Spent some time complaining to Cap't Jack's that they aren't printing their tide book.

And of course we ogled lots of boats. Big boats. Little boats. Wood boats, aluminum boats, plastic boats. Boats. Boats. Boats...

Sorry. Have to go lie down now...



Catching crabs

by Chuck August 1, 2004

Ron and Sue spent the last part of their vacation on Salty Lady at Cap Sante Marina in Anacortes. At night they would sit at the dock and play cards, during the day they would head out to the channel east of Guemas Island and crab.

We spent the day with them, throwing the crab rings overboard and then pulling them up 10 minutes later. We'd check for keepers, then, most often, throw them all back and try again.

By the end of the day, Joe was pulling a crab ring all by himself, hauling it in and then throwing it back out again. Katie kept a running total of the crab we caught, the final tally was 11 keepers, 183 thrown back.



Lake sailing

by Chuck June 19, 2004

We decided to go somewhere different for our first sail of the year, since we splurged on a new trailer over the winter expressly so we could go to different places. For this trip, we decided to sail in Lake Washington, launching at Sandpoint in Magnusen Park.

The new trailer towed like a dream, occasionally I would look into my rear-view mirror and be surprised that I had a boat tagging along behind me. Having a trailer that tows so nice turned out to be a good thing, since I got a little lost heading to the park and ended up pulling the boat through the narrow streets of a Lake City neighborhood.

Once I found park I took the time to walk from the prep area to the launch to make sure there were no low hanging wires or tree limbs that would interfere with the mast while we moved. Once I was sure there was anything between us and the water, Dana and I made pretty short work of rigging the boat for launch.

Once we got the boat in, we headed out into the lake to hunt up some wind. There wasn't much to be found, so we decided to head across the lake to Kirkland so the kids could get out of the boat and swim. The crossing was OK, but quite rough considering there was very little wind to pick up the waves.

We found an opening at the end of the Kirkland public dock and did a touch and go, stopping long enough to drop off the Dana and the kids. I took Odyssey and headed off the dock a quarter of a mile or so, then waited for Dana to call me when the kids were done swimming.

While I was heading out, I noticed that I'd lost one of my fenders over the side. I turned around and went back in, where I saw the fender floating in the lake with a couple of boats circling around. One boat, a bow rider with three kids in the front picked up the float, and then the dad threw it over to me. He threw it like a football, and made a perfect toss to Odyssey's cockpit.

I spent an uncomfortable hour bobbing about in Odyssey while the kids swam. The lake was rough, and other boaters seemed oblivious to their wakes as they sped past, sometimes only yards away. I was only too happy to head in and pick up Dana and the kids and get away from the Kirkland waterfront.

The wind finally came up after the family was back on board, and we spent an enjoyable couple of hours chasing the fluky breezes around. At one point we sat with our sails slatting while 50 yards away a Catalina 22 rolled past with her sails full. Later, we managed to find a breeze and sailed past a J-24 on the opposite tack with no wind in her sails.

A thundercloud forming in the late afternoon chased us, and apparently everybody else, off the lake. We circled for half an hour or so waiting for our chance to get to the launch and get out. Once we had our chance, the dock assistant and the other people waiting to launch hurried us to get onto the trailer and out of the way.

That's when I made my big mistake and allowed the pressure of getting out of the way to overcome my good sense. I pulled the boat out of the water with the rudder still down, and broke the rudder into three pieces when it dragged on the ground.

Dana and I quickly picked up the pieces and got out of Dodge so the people pointing and laughing weren't pointing and laughing at us anymore. We took the rig down and headed for home, where I started looking for a replacement for the rudder.



Boat show bargains

by Chuck January 18, 2004

My father-in-law, Ron, took me to the Seattle Boat Show today. Ron likes to look at the fishing boats, preferable aluminum boats that need next to no upkeep. I had three purchases in mind, and the boat show was the perfect place to look.

First, Odyssey needs a new trailer. The old one is rusted, bent, and falling apart. I started looking for one last year at the boat show, and decided on the one I wanted (RoadRunner 2500B). I saved up the money last fall, and so I ordered a new trailer right there at the show. It should come in sometime around the end of the month, and Odyssey will have a new resting place going into this year's boating season.

Next, I wanted to find some new dock lines. Last year I'd seen a place called TopKnot, and liked the look of their lines. But I didn't go back and buy the lines on my way out the door like I'd planned (fed-up wife, cranky kids) so I waited until this year. I bought two 20-foot 7/16-inch lines to replace the 5/8 three-strand lines that were jammed on Odyssey's cleats. If you'd like to take a look at TopKnot's products, they're on the web at

And last but not least, I wanted to get a tide and current book from Cap'n Jack's (see the description at their Web site). I used one of these when I went out with Arthur on his 38-footer a couple of years ago and really liked it. Knowing the current at any given time is essential when sailing a small sailboat like Odyssey. Planning a trip to take advantage of the currents can make a huge difference. Tidal currents in Puget Sound can be 3-4 knots. Getting the curents right in a boat that can only make 4.5 knots at hull speed and you double your speed over the ground. Get them wrong and you might as well throw out the anchor.

Unfortunately, the tide guide wasn't in yet. The guy I talked to said 3 weeks, so I'll call them at the beginning of February for an update.

And of course we saw boats. Lots and lots of boats. I particularly liked the Beneteau 311, and the cabin layout of the new Catalina 34 was nice. But mostly, I remember looking at beautiful boats that I will never be able to afford, but appreciating the people that build these beautiful boats.



Sailing away

by Chuck July 5, 2003

We picked a brilliant day to head out for what turned out to be the first sail of the year. Temperatures in the 70's, wind variable from calm to around 15 knots.

And the best part is we actually got away from the dock.



The sailing season (almost) begins

by Chuck June 20, 2003

Updated July 1, 2003

I finally got to start my sailing season on Father's Day (June 15th). Well, not really the sailing season...

Remember that old saying "A bad day on the water is better than a good day in the office"? I put that to the test on the 15th. I put Odyssey in the water, went nowhere, then pulled her out again.

On the plus side, we looked good. Dana and I remembered how to work together to put the mast up and rig the sails, the kids were actually helpful, and Duncan, our dog, seemed to enjoy his first trip on the boat.

On the minus side, the motor that I had tested only three days before, the motor that had started on the second pull after being in storage for 8 months, the motor that had never failed me before -- decided not to start. Even after a couple of hours of pulling on the cord, after re-gapping the plugs, drying them, choke, no choke, throttle, no throttle. Nothing.

And the worst part? If I could have made 100 yards I could have sailed. But considering the current and the traffic at the Everett boat dock there was no way I could scull, rock, or paddle that 100 yards without bouncing off another boat, or the dock, or both.

Sheepishly, I took Odyssey back home. The next Saturday I got the motor out, changed the plugs, changed the gas and tried again. Nothing. Went in a told Dana it looked like we needed to take the motor in to have it fixed.

Then, yesterday, my father-in-law Ron came by to have a look. He got the motor out, hooked it up to the hose and the gas, pulled the starter, and ... it started right up.

He told Dana, "Sorry."

Dana: "What happened?"

Ron: "It started."

Dana: "What did you do to it?"

Ron: "Nothing."

After I go home (a whole other fiasco involving my daughter, missed e-mails, getting out late from a meeting and the fact that a payphone call now costs $1.00, at least at the Target in Woodinville) I gave the ol' outboard a try. It fired right up.

So, with motor problems seemingly vanishing behind me, maybe this week Odyssey will get to go sailing. That is if I can convince her to be a motor boat first.


I posted this story on the SailNet Laguna list. Here's the response I got from Randy Urich:

Hey Chuck,

Sounds like you just got the motor loaded up--the two-stroke version of getting flooded. I worked on motorcycles for 25 years, so I have a lot of experience in this area.

The piston-cylinder-port system-crankcase of a two-stroke outboard acts as a pump, sucking in the gas-air mixture with every turn of the crankshaft. It goes into the crankcase first, then the piston coming down forces the mixture up thru the ports to the combustion chamber. Every turn of the crankshaft draws in another charge, and the excess tends to accumulate in the crankcase.

When the engine doesn't start after the first half-dozen pulls, it is likely getting loaded up. This is the point at which you should hold the throttle WIDE OPEN (choke open too, of course) while pulling the starter rope. If this doesn't get it started in the next 6-12 pulls, then you need to take the plugs out and dry them, crank the engine without the plugs to clear the excess gas, and just LET IT SIT with the plugs out for 10-15 minutes for some of the accumulated gas to evaporate.

When you try it next, if it doesn't start on the first or second pull, hold the throttle wide open again and leave it there till it starts.

Sometimes this routine may need to be repeated if it's really loaded up. The plugs continue to get wet.

Old gas especially will aggravate the situation, old plugs don't help. You having spark but wet plugs is the traditional symptom for a loaded up (flooded) engine. The excess coming out the exhaust confirms the situation.

I hope this helps. This proceedure is especially useful if it fails to start out on the water. Carry spare plugs.

Good luck,
the "!Oye Maricela!" '83 Laguna 22

Another Addendum

Patrick Wesley asked Randy if the note about loading up a two-stroke engine applied to four-stroke engines. Here's Randy's reply to that one:

Hi Patrick,

Not so much with 4-strokes, as the combustion mixture is confined to the cylinder amd combustion chamber. 4-strokes are pretty efficient at pushing the gas/air mixture out the exhaust valve, therefore not so prone to flooding.

However, the principle is the same: when the mixture in the combustion chamber doesn't ignite, the fuel tends to collect on the surfaces and the air gets expelled out the exhaust. This continues to upset the optimum 15:1 air to fuel ratio, and the richer it gets, the harder it is for the spark to ignite it. The plugs also get wet with the unburnt mixture, adding to the difficulty in igniting the charge.

The solution for both two- and four-strokes that are flooded or loaded up is to induce more air through the wide open carburator throttle bore. This also diminishes the venturi effect, thus sucking less fuel in with the air as it passes over the throttle jet.

Again, old gas is one of the worst culprits in both types of engines being difficult to start. Also, if left in the carb over the winter it can gum up the jets. Of course, this will cause the plugs to be dry when you inspect them.

Oh yeah, here's another tip: DON'T use gasolline with ethanol (alcohol) in it in 2-strokes, because it has a tendancy to cause the oil and gas to separate, AND it attracts water to the gasoline.

I hope this helps, good luck,



Tearing down for the winter

by Chuck October 4, 2002

Fall weather has arrived here on Puget Sound. Mornings are socked in fog, days are damp and rainy, and nights are cold and wet. I don't want to stop sailing, but it's time to put the gear away and plan for the winter's work.

I spent an hour throwing gear over the side of the boat then hauling it into the shop. I helped Dana clear off a gardening shelf so that I had a place to put the gear coming off the Odyssey.

Here's the things I hauled out:

  • Sails, sail bags, and sail covers.
  • Safety gear (life jackets, throwable float, safety harnesses, flares, horn, manual bilge pump, oar).
  • Galley gear (a plastic box of cups, plates, baby wipes, and towels).
  • Extra clothes, towels, hats.
  • The battery. (A 5Ah battery out of the horse trailer. I'm legal, but not for long.)
  • The boom, main sheet and blocks, and boom vang.
  • Main and jib halyard, topping lift.
  • The whisker pole.
  • Ground tackle (anchor, bent on rode, spare rode from under the seat).
  • Miscellaneous stuff (the garbage bucket, the earring for the mainsail, a cracker with cheese and salami stuck to it).

Now I just need to cover her up with a tarp and we're good for the winter.



Ice cream in Langley

by Chuck August 30, 2002

The kids keep saying that "we never go anywhere" when we're sailing. They're right, we just go 'round and 'round, usually getting around Hat Island is a good day trip for us. But Odyssey isn't a fast boat, and there aren't any short jaunts from the Everett boat launch.

When we go out with Ron and Sue on Salty Lady we sometimes head over to Langley, a "cute town" on Whidbey Island. It's about 7 nautical miles straight line from the mouth of the river to Langley, with a little jog around Hat Island. Not a bad little trip in a boat that does 15 knots like the Lady, but I wasn't sure we could make the trip in a reasonable amount of time on Odyssey.

I checked the forecast (winds southwest 10-15) and the tides (reasonable) and spent some time with the chart and figured that Langley was about 4 hours each way from Everett. With the promise of ice cream in front of them, the kids were eager to go, so we loaded up and headed for the boat launch.

Everything went great until we hoisted the sails. We left the house at 11:00, left the dock at 12:30, and hoisted the sails at 12:45. And then -- nothing. The wind, forecast 10-15 knots, never showed up. We ghosted along for about a mile and when I looked at my watch I realized I was never going to make it to Langley at this rate.

Ah, but you see I'd planned for this. I realized we might need to motor more than usual, so I'd filled up the gas tank on the way to the boat launch, and what's more, I'd brought along an extra 3 gallons of gas in a spare tank. We struck the genoa, left the main up as a riding sail, fired up the outboard and headed off northwest.

It was a lovely trip across. Joey sat on the foredeck. "I'm the lookout," he said, and look out he did, though with the water flat calm and few boats out with us there wasn't much to look out for. Katie flitted from the foredeck to the cabin to the cockpit, took a trick or two on the tiller when I needed her, and generally played about the boat. Dana took the radio with the Cougar football game into the cabin and took a nap. I just drove, watched the scenery go by, and enjoyed a beautiful day on the water.

As we got closer to Langley we were passed by a double-ended motor lifeboat, a cabin cruiser, two runabouts, and a 36-foot sailboat motoring. I bring this up because the next part of the trip was somewhat frustrating. When we got to Langley all of those boats got slips, but there wasn't anything left for me. The dockmaster helped us find a bouy to tie up to and ferried us to the dock. Success. And it was only 4:00 p.m.

We spent about an hour in Langley. The kids got their ice cream, Dana got to look in a few cute shops, and I got to transfer gas from the backup tank to the primary. Actually, that's not fair. Katie transferred a lot of the gas while I ate a sandwich and drank a Pepsi.

The trip home took about 2 hours dock to dock because we didn't even pretend to sail. I fired up the outboard, took a heading on the compass, and held it. Joe was lookout again, Katie took a nap, and Dana and I talked.

Not a lot of sailing, but it was a great day on the water. And that's one of the things I like about a sailboat. If we need it, Odyssey can be a motor boat, but unlike Salty Lady, she doesn't have to be.



Greeting the (phantom) tall ships

by Chuck August 23, 2002

The morning papers show up (we subscribe to two; Dana and I were both journalism majors in college, we're still news junkies) and both are full of pictures of the tall ships that will be sailing into Everett on Wednesday afternoon. The small ones start arriving around 4:00, the fleet should be docked at the Everett Marina by 8:30. We check the tides (high at 10:30, low at 4:00, high again at 10:00) and the wind forcast (15 to 20 knots). We decide. Leave the house at 2:00, be in the water by 3:30, meet the big ships out on Possession Sound.

The first part of the plan worked great. We were loaded and ready to go on time, and with only one short delay to fill the horse's water trough, on the road. The trip to the boat launch was uneventful, even traffic through the construction zone on Hwy 2 was smooth.

We made a detour to the Everett marina to pick up a roll of film (200ASA, 36 exposure. The only roll of film on the Everett waterfront) and to stop by West Marine. Two cupholders, a flag, and a flag staff later we were back to the Odyssey and getting her ready to launch. The launch went smoothly, we bent on the sails and hung the rudder, and we were off down the river at 3:45.

Other than being on the water, that's the last thing that went as planned. The wind, rather than blowing 15 - 20 knots, was about 0 - 5 knots. We motored for a while hunting up a breeze, then found a northwest breeze blowing between Hat Island and Camano Head. We beat into it for a while, then reached across to the south tip of Hat Island. By now it was about 5:30, so we hove to in the lee of Hat Island and ate dinner. Still no tall ships, but a lovely little sail.

By the time we finished eating the wind had died to nothing and we motored east toward Jetty Island where we could see wind ruffs and some sailboats with full sails. We motored across until the new flag started fluttering, then turned off the motor and reached back and forth across the wind for a while.

About 6:30ish I saw one of the smaller ships coming down Saratoga Passage. Finally, about 7:30 North Star, one of the smaller ships in the fleet motored by. Way off down Saratoga Passage I could see another coming our way under sail, but there was no way we were waiting for another 2 hours for her to show up.

At 7:45 we doused the sails (important note: Take the genoa down first. Otherwise the genoa halyard ends up inside the main cover) and motored back to the boat launch.

Docking wasn't quite as pretty as it usually is, the current swept us away from the dock we chose instead of into it, but a little extra motor got the bow near the dock and Dana pulled the stern close enough for me to step off.

We left the boat launch about 9:10, and got home at 9:45. I flushed the motor and parked the boat and got into the house about 10:15.

The next day the papers had pictures of the people waiting for the ships to come in. According to the Herald, the main fleet was in Everett by 9:30. Where they came from, I'll never know.



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