07/31/2011, Tomahawk Bay Marina
So I Hired Two Strippers ...
We augmented our crew this past weekend. On Friday, our friend Linda came into town and she and Kathleen spent the afternoon stripping, stripping and sanding varnish that is. Wilparina has a good amount of bright work - in this case, teak strips and rails - and such stuff needs regular maintenance. Most of the varnish work is old, chipped and failing. Once the varnish starts to fail, you generally have to start from scratch and remove every bit of the old vanish, carefully clean the bare wood, and then patiently add coat after coat of new varnish. This takes a long time. But once you get it under control, it isn't that difficult to maintain, as long as you occasional apply a new coat of varnish to keep it from weathering.
We all went back to the boat on Saturday and Kathleen and Linda continued with their stripping project. We added one more stripper as our friend Connie also dropped by to help. The dust was flying topsides. I spent most of the day lying on my side on the dock, repainting the name on the starboard side of the hull, and adding the home port - Portland, OR - underneath the name. I also did a little marline spike seamanship and spliced ½ inch nylon line onto our four new fenders. We now have matching fenders - in "Cranberry" - that complement Wilparina's color scheme.
Earlier today, we all met for breakfast, including Carey and Christopher this time, and then went out for a short sail on the Columbia. The wind was steady out of the west, so we ran downwind, upriver on the Genoa alone. The entire time we were on the same tack. That was pretty relaxed sailing. But even with Genoa alone, we were keeping up with all the other sailboats running downwind. Wilparina is heavy, but she isn't slow!
07/24/2011, Columbia River, Portland, Oregon
Sunday, July 24, 2011
We crossed some significant milestones this week with Wilparina. My buddy Dave from British Columbia was visiting this weekend. Dave and I were crewmates on Coyote2, a Beneteau 40.7 First that crossed the Atlantic in 2009. On that two-week passage, we became friends and now we get together occasionally for new sailing adventures.
Dave arrived on Friday afternoon. I skipped out of the office a little early and we went out to the marina. Dave really wanted to see the boat, and he was interested in all the details. So we went through most of the systems, and opened the bilge and inspected everything. It was great to have another set of eyes to look at the boat. Dave owns a Catalina 32 and a Santana 25, so he has a lot of experience with maintaining boats. His insight was extremely helpful.
We rigged up the staysail for the first time since the rigging was repaired. There is still some work to do there. The gooseneck needs some adjustments, and I need to figure out how to properly attach the tack of the sail to the forestay; there's a piece missing from this puzzle. But the sail went up on the new halyard, and looks mighty fine - in spite of the unfortunate, ugly stain in an area about halfway up the luff of the sail.
We also got the radar working. Not sure what we did to fix it - probably just connected the cable correctly. Regardless, it's a nice surprise, and a wonderful item to check of the "fix this" list. It's an older black and white Raymarine unit, but seems to work just fine.
Yesterday, Kathleen, Dave and I arrived at the boat about noon. We rigged Wilparina for sea - or should I say rigged for "river." The GPS that had been working so well the day before ceased to function. (That was weird). But we didn't need this for an afternoon sail on the Columbia. We had a depth sounder, and our eyes, and a crummy chart, so we were good to go. And, we had our card for Captain Ron and his towboat, just in case.
The engine runs like a champ, and we motored out into the 3 knot current of the Columbia. There's a shallow area just outside the marina entrance. The water level has come down about six or eight feet from the late spring. As the water continues to recede, it might get to be a little dicey getting in and out of the marina.
We had about 8 to 10 knots of wind. It was a beautiful, sunny day; it was one of the first "warm summer days" that we've had all year. Plenty of other boats were out taking advantage of the weather. Mount Hood was shining bright crystal clear to the east.
We raised the main and unfurled the jib. Wilparina sailed like it was the most natural thing. At about 19,000 lbs, and with a deep, semi-full six-foot deep keel, Wilparina is a substantial boat. But in spite of her stout build, she sails responsively. Not slow, we were easily keeping pace with the other sailboats.
But the Columbia doesn't give one much of a chance just to take a break and relax. There's a ton of traffic; it was thick with weekend boaters and the occasional tug and barge to watch for. There are the shallow spots to watch for, and of course the "Green Monster" bridges looming downriver, ready to chew up any hapless sailboat that gets too close to its girders. And of course, the river isn't that wide, so there was a lot of constant tacking and gibing. Two people can sail Wilparina, but having a third hand was nice because there's a lot of work to do. All three of us kept busy.
Bottom line: Wilparina is meant to roam the open Ocean. Wilparina is a Tayana sailboat, and was built in the TaYang yard in Taiwan in 1984. TaYang means "big ocean" in Chinese. When an "a" is substituted for the last letter of a word, it denotes the possessive sense. Thus Tayana means "belongs to the big ocean." (From the Tayana Owners Group web site. http://www.tognews.com/history.php) Wilparina's name actually means, "Go with the Wind." Put these two names together, and there's no doubt about what the boat is destined for.
I'm sure that we'll have a lot of fun with Wilparina on the river; but after yesterday's sail, I'm thinking, this boat belongs out in the blue water. And with the way she performed yesterday, she really isn't that far away from being ready to go. Perhaps that first passage from Astoria to the San Juan Islands isn't two years away after all; maybe it's only one?
We came in after about three hours. Motoring back into the marina is interesting as you have to "crab" sideways against the current to work your way into calm water inside the breakwater. I pulled her into her slip, like a hand into a glove (always a nice feeling for the skipper). After another hour of reinstalling canvas covers, zippering up bimini tops and re-stowing gear, the happy crew headed home.
Dave left early this morning for his return to B.C., but he vowed to return and help crew on her first passage north. Wilparina passed her first major "sea"-trial. There's still some more work to do, but it's realistic to see we'll be ready next year.
07/17/2011, Portland, Oregon
It was Sunday morning. All I wanted to do was come out and clean up Wilparina, and the weather was crappy - rain in July. The boat needed attention. Kathleen and I had been gone for two weeks, and she was in a state of shameful neglect. She was covered in dirt and smut from her time in the boatyard, and those crappy birds, and a general lack of tending. Plus, our esteemed friend, Captain Dave, will be arriving later this week to visit and see the new boat. She needs to be looking her best.
But in spite of the gloomy weather, I made it out to the marina by 11 am. Cleaning her up - inside and out - felt good. I went through the lockers. I crawled through the engine room and bilge. I went through several drawers and lockers and found junk that should simply be removed.
Many of the mysteries of my boat are buried in dark recesses that surround the engine and extend into the bilge. I spent a good amount of time working my way into these recesses and sitting in awkward positions. Critical components of some of a boat's most vital systems are located in the dark nooks and crannies of the boat. You look into these dark little abysses, and you wonder, will I have to go in there, enduring pitching seas of a major storm and try to fix something? As I'm lying in the hull, peering with a flashlight into the bilges and recesses of the boat, with my spine twisted around in a way that only a Chiropractor could love, I start thinking: whatever we equip this boat with, it should be with ease of maintenance in mind. If you can't reach it, you can't fix it.
After we bought Wilparina, our first priority was to have her mechanical systems brought up to standards. There had been a lot of deferred maintenance on Wilparina over the past few years. We found Adam, the head mechanic on this job. He's tended to this project well. While the budget expanded along the way, it was always with good cause. The final result is that the 33HP Yanmar 3 cylinder diesel looks great. Nice new coat of silver paint. A clean drip pan. All the belts, filters, hoses, mounting brackets, fuel lines, fuel tank, are new and in great condition right now. The shaft, coupling, bearings, stuffing box, screw, have all been replaced and/or repaired.
The next major budgetary item was the rigging. The standing rigging was original when we bought her. The boat was launched in March of 1984 in Taiwan. All the rigging was well past its prime. We want to go offshore in a few years, so it made sense to replace it all now. Carey at the North Sails loft helped us with this. We brought Wilparina over to the Danish Marine boatyard and hauled her, unstepped the mast. Adam also finished the mechanical while she was on the hard, replacing the shaft and bearings.
So now, the major work has been completed. For the first time since we've owned her, Wilparina is actually safe to operate, and ready to take passengers out upon the Columbia.
There are still many more repairs and fixes waiting, particularly with the electronic systems. But as we check off one item after another, it's helping us gain confidence as we look to that day when we head out over the bar for the first time. This stout little cutter will be ready and able to stand up to a mighty good blow.
07/16/2011, Portland, Oregon
It seems like keeping a blog about our adventures with Wilparina is a good idea. But most of the adventures in these first few months have to do with motoring her back and forth to the boat yard. It's important to remember that this is part of a much bigger adventure that has already begun.
Wilparina is a 1984 Tayana 37 Cutter. We found her in Portland early in 2011, but there was a sale pending, and so we kept looking. But the classic, flowing lines of the Tayana, and the warm feeling of the lush woodwork below, certainly caught my attention. We were specifically looking for a full-keel boat that could eventually do some long distance cruising. The pending sale fell through; the broker called us and we said, "yes."
She's had several owners in her long life. And while her hull and deck are in solid condition, her systems are a bit messy. And thus, our first adventure is mostly about catching up on a lot of deferred maintenance, and replacing old electronics.
This can feel a bit overwhelming at times. One step at a time. It's important to remember that we don't leave for Mexico for another four and a half years.