Some Don’t Like It Hot

Seattlites are known for being heat wimps, and with another heatwave coming through this weekend I didn’t know how I was going to manage.  By rights I have no good excuse for my intolerance having grown up in the deep south where temperatures routinely reach 100 F with heat indexes above that. But when someone reminds me of this fact, and they always do, I remind them that I left for a reason.  So when you read about the people in Seattle being so distressed they may rent a hotel room just to get air conditioning, you should remember that it’s a population of Scandinavian heritage, and people who moved here to get out of the heat (excluding all the techies that moved here because they had to).



Just before the first wave hit in late June I had purchased a thermometer that measures the temperature inside (with humidity) as well as outside from a remote sensor.  I was really thinking of winter and some winterizing projects to keep the boat warmer and I wanted that proof that my efforts were not in vain.  However, the thermometer has become something different to me now – an index of how miserable I am. I’ve watched it creep up to 90 or 95 outside and well into the 80s inside as I sit and work on a computer screen.  The hatches are open, the fans are on, and Logan has spread himself as thin as his 17.5 pounds will spread onto the wood floor seeking a cool spot. We are roasting.

Over the Fourth of July weekend, I finally gave up and jumped into the mid-fifties water in Eagle Harbor. I stayed until my fingers and toes were numb. According to my crew, my disposition I proved noticeably. I can’t argue, it was heavenly.

Winter, when Logan stayed under the electric blanket all day rather than hanging with me, seems like ages ago. If he wasn’t under the blanket he was by the heater with his front legs stretched under it to warm his toes. When he discovered the diesel heater he was in love, so I moved his basket there. I keep trying to remember those days. You can always put on another layer, but you can only take off so much.

I'm Just Going To Stay Here

I’m Just Going To Stay Here

Race to the Strait – Novices, Borrowed Boats and Spinnakers

As seen in ThreeSheetsNW, and thank you Don Sarin.

One day in late April I received an email from Micah saying “wanna do Race to the Strait?”   I’m not really a racer, but it was a free weekend.

“Sure, who are we going with?”.

“Just you and I”.   At the time we were both in a sailing club that didn’t allow boats to enter races and neither of us owned a boat, so this was a very curious statement. I went online and discovered I had just agreed to a two day, doubled handed race, 5 days from now.

“Um, so how and on what boat?”.


“OK, so where is Don, and how do we have his boat?”.

“He’s loaning it to us”.

It is impossible to detect intonation via text, but this seemed a bit nonchalant for the situation.  We had raced with Don a total of maybe twice each.  I could raise a spinnaker (barely) and Micah could fly it (mostly), and this was going to be the two of us, in a borrowed boat, on a two day race. It seemed a bit ambitious, but I didn’t have anything else to do and it looked like a good challenge.

“Exactly how did THAT happen?” I said.

“I asked him”.  Hmmm.


Zap is a dry dock boat and although Don’s wife’s birthday was that weekend, he graciously met us at the dock the morning of the race and helped us crane the boat into the water.   I had been sailing inboard diesels with wheels for the most part and was pretty rusty on the tiller and outboard, but that turned out to be my job. Don was pretty stoic as I clumsily maneuvered his boat from the splash dock to the launching dock, narrowly avoiding running into another boat as I remembered how to use a tiller at a time of morning I wasn’t usually awake.  This was not a great beginning and I felt sorry for him in advance.RTTS learning mode

We three rigged the spinnaker sheets (my mind saying ‘this is not a good idea’), and went over any particulars about the boat. Don waved us off the dock and looked calm while I was thinking of all the reasons this was a really bad plan.  I wonder in retrospect if he was hoping for insurance money.

Fortunately, for this race each boat had it’s own starting time, so there wasn’t a crowded start line.  Neither of us had any experience with helming in a start – we were strictly crew in previous races.  We were heading north to Port Townsend and the wind was from the south on a beautiful May morning. This was going to happen.

Shortly after clearing the start I went forward to raise the spinnaker.  I slowly and methodically went through what I remembered from a year before, a time when I still would not be considered fluent in ‘the kite’.   It went up without a hassle which was a miracle in my mind and had only happened once or twice before. I was elated!  Seconds after the fist bump I got a text from Don…”9 minutes”.   It had taken us/me 9 minutes to raise the spinnaker from our start, and big brother was watching our turtle-like pace.

Still, we were feeling pretty stoked about getting off the start mark and raising the spinnaker without incident. Around that time, we realized that although I could put the kite up and take it down, and she could fly it, neither of us had EVER been at the helm during a race and neither knew how to drive to the kite. This was going to be an interesting day.

Fortunately the course was South to North, and so was the wind so we had a pretty simple job.  We wobbled through learning how to steer with the spinnaker up, and how to take a bathroom break in a boat with no head while doing so.  The “Little John” has a “Lady J” adapter, and there is always the “Go Girl”, and we learned how they worked.

When we got to the south end of Whidbey Island and had to jibe within a cluster of boats, we may have made up a sailing move that would not have been approved by any racing authorities, but were pretty happy with the results. It became “the move”. I can’t describe it now because I still don’t understand it, but was in all ways incorrect. We were at the back of the pack…no big surprise in a 27’ boat with two amateurs, but we were just happy to be there trying.

After rounding the mid point, we texted our time to the committee boat, but there were only a few of us left in sight when the wind died.  After a while it was clear that there was no way we could make the final mark within the time limit, so we called in and said we were motor sailing, as did our fellow stragglers.

Don had two extra gas cans in the cabin for the outboard.  We had thought we would be frugal and rough it by sleeping there with therma-rests and sleeping bags, but after a minor gasoline spill, the fumes made it was clear that wasn’t going to happen.  Finally, almost 8 hours after the start, we approached the committee boat at Point Hudson…the last little ugly duckling. This wouldn’t be the first time we were last.

We whooped and laughed at our last status while crossing the finish line and telling the commodore via text that no one was behind us and they could go to the party.  Simultaneously, the moment we dropped the mainsail, a gust of wind appeared, and the engine died.  No longer able to stay in irons, the mainsail blew off in a heap to one side, and we began to be blown toward the breakwater.  I ran to the cabin and grabbed a can as Micah opened the cap on the gas tank as if we had actually practiced the move. Within a minute, still with a sloppy mainsail and no steerage, the outboard was transfused and started, and we got our ducks in a row.

We turned to look at the committee boat, and our beloved commodore gave us the two thumbs up and a hearty cheer. Yes, we were the circus act in this race, but we did our best, and he was just happy we tried. Don’s boat was intact, and I texted him that we were safe. We checked into the hotel next to Boat Haven (the fast boats had filled Point Hudson Marina), walked to the party, drank our share of wine, returned, and slept the sleep of the dead.RTTS-So Tired


The following morning we tried to get up, but already being disqualified was dampening our competitive spirit, as was the wine from the previous night.  Looking out the hotel window and seeing all the boats sitting in dead wind with limp sails lifted our spirits and we had a hearty breakfast in the hotel dining room.  So much for hard core. As we finally cast off our lines, many of those boats still lingered at Marrowstone Point an hour after we had first spotted them.

Although we knew we weren’t competitors, it was a gorgeous day, and the wind was now coming from the North, meaning another spinnaker day.  It went up without a hitch again, another pinnacle for me. We actually caught and passed a few boats, and at one point found a current that let us go 9kts. We were giddy with speed we had not expected.RTTS - We Passed Someone!

Yes, we were last.  Yes, we were exhausted. Yes, the committee boat waited for us and gave us the horn when we crossed.  Don said via text we could just leave the boat on the launch dock and he would crane it up the next day (an entirely sensible idea).

We buttoned it up in the best style we could, coiling and hanging the lines inside.  As we cleared the boat, Micah tossed an inflatable PFD to the dock, but it caught the life line and spun a half circle in what looked like slow motion, before going into the drink and inflating noisily.  My PFD had just become an additional fender for Zap, and caught the attention of all the other small boats waiting for the crane.  At this point, there was nothing left to embarrass us, so we opened a bottle of wine and two bottles of water, and laughed while our fellow racers heckled us and stopped by to talk about the race.

Borrowing someone’s boat is a stressful endeavor. We tried very hard to make sure everything was ship shape before leaving, checking and double checking. The following day I emailed Don asking if everything was OK when he craned the boat to the trailer. His response was not what I expected.

“I thought I had been robbed”.

“WHAT??!!!!”  The worst possible things were going through my mind. I had even contributed a combination lock to the hatch.

“The lines were all put away so neatly I thought at first they had been stolen, then I found them coiled below”.

“OH, ok.” I smiled and sighed with relief.   That was one of the best compliments I have ever received.



Logan’s Run…..This Cat Is Trying to Kill Me

For anyone that is a new reader, Logan is a cat that lives with me on my 32′ sailboat.  We haven’t decided who owns who, but I will give you one guess who pays the bills. When thinking of a name with a 12 week old impish kitten, I liked the name Logan from the old TV series Logan’s Run, and this has come back to bite me in the ass.



Logan has decided he has a wanderlust that I had never seen in him before this spring. When he was a kitten I tried to take him outside on a leash and he would have none of it. Apparently his views have changed. Things would be much simpler if:

1. He wasn’t diabetic

2. I didn’t like to cruise all the time.

Logan Assessed the Marina

Logan Assessing the Marina

The first minor stray was for an hour.  The second walk about was for a day and a half. That one called out the troops and ended with a very hot mess of an owner, and a cat that came back on his own while three of us were out looking in the wee hours of the morning. I have some really great friends (Thank you Sundee and Trey).

For those of you that know us, Logan has been content for months on the boat and would not even look out the window.  Coming into the cockpit was a major accomplishment but seeing the water was enough deterrent for him to not to stay there very long.

….enter stage left…Nookie

They Call Him Nookie from Q dock

They Call Him Nookie from Q dock


Nookie is the quintessential marina cat. He is a Pixie Bob that trucks around P and Q dock like he owns the place, and maybe he does. He goes where he wants, when he wants. He sports a harness with a tag bearing his slip number on it, but I’m not sure you would normally get close enough to read it. He likes to hide behind dock boxes and stalk you at night. He also feels completely free to board any boat, at any time.  He’s like a furry coast guard.

Hey, Where's That Black Cat?

Hey, Where’s That Black Cat?

When Logan and I first arrived on Q dock in May, Nookie visited us every day for a week.  He would hop aboard and walk around the boat looking in each and every window at the two of us. He would stare in the open hatch causing strange sounds to eminate from Logan’s throat. One morning when the blinds were closed in the salon, I awoke to his face staring at me through the V Berth porthole.

Eventually, Nookie must have become bored because he stopped visiting. Logan, however, wanted to go for a stroll. Maybe he was looking for his friend, maybe he saw a kitty freedom he didn’t know existed.  After the day and a half absence with no insulin, and who knows if there was water, he looked bedraggled. He was exhausted, and I was sure he had learned his lesson. Nevertheless, we went in for vaccinations and a microchip. I measured him for a harness like Nookie’s.

Logan had other ideas and went on a Logan’s Run. This time it was for three days. Each morning and evening I walked the docks paying close attention to any boats that were covered and checking all the dinghies. I called his name and listened for a response – he usually answers. I had actually met Nookie’s mom at the Elks a few days before, and checked around their boat. No Logan. I was distraught. Why hadn’t I gotten a collar or harness yet and put his tags on?  At least I had the vet office put DIABETIC in his name for the microchip.

On the third day, I walked the docks again, checking under tarps and calling him. Just before the ramp, I looked into the cockpit of a boat I had checked daily, and there he was. The marina was power washing the next dock, creating a horrible noise, and he was petrified. I coaxed him out and he dug his nails into my shoulders as we walked back to the boat.  Clearly, this was the last time, right?

Found on Another Boat

Found on Another Boat

Within a few hours I caught him half off the boat!  It has been 90 degrees here and I can’t keep the hatches closed or we will bake in our own juices. I have ordered a tracking chip but it hasn’t arrived.  I find little Nookie prints on the boat sometimes, and I hear his thump when he jumps aboard. The temptation remains.

Given the lack of the tracking chip arrival, and a very strong will not to buy an expensive tracker ( I found one online that is REALLY cool…. real time tracking), I used what I had at hand.  Logan now has a bungee cord collar with his HOME AGAIN chip and rabies will stretch enough that I don’t worry about him being caught on it, and the home again tag has my number, his dock and “diabetic” on it.

Several days after Logan’s last return I met another live aboard named Nick on the dock and he asked if I was the one with the black cat with the white patch. OMG!!!!   “You SAW him???”  He said yes…once behind Paul’s dinghy “talking to” Nookie, and once near Nookie’s boat.  At least I know where to concentrate my efforts in the future.

Logan Chatting With Nookie from the Salon

Logan Chatting With Nookie from the Salon

We were off cruising for a few days, on a mooring ball with no where for Logan to go, so I could stop worrying for awhile. Now that we are back,  Nookie is back to the daily visits. I was serenaded a few nights ago by meowlings from our finger dock.  One morning I awoke to strange noises and looked up to see Nookie, directly over my head, peering in through my overhead hatch, and he hissed at me!  That bugger!  He and Logan were having a detailed conversation about something which ended abruptly.

Checking In

Checking In

Last night it continued. I saw a tiny boxing match. Nookie came aboard while I was below and I heard much chit chat I could not understand.  Logan is out….and roaming the topsides, but it seems after his long discourse with Nookie, he has decided to just wander the boat perimeter…maybe.

I’m glad he has a friend. I was worried that he would be bored on a small boat all day even if I do work from home.  The exercise is good for him (moth chasing now), it’s just his medical condition that keeps me wanting to shelter him. However, he’s not quite 8, and he has a lot of years left to go living on a boat. He should learn to be dock savvy like Nookie, and I need to learn to let go.

Nookie Checking On Us From the Cockpit

Nookie Checking On Us From the Cockpit