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January 2006
Dear Friends:

September sailing in the Pacific Northwest is beautiful. The colors seem to become bolder as the sun scurries ever southward, the waters smoother and anchorages less crowded as summer holiday makers return to their homes. The cooler, longer nights also drive any last mosquitoes out of our sailing life and ashore, trees begin show their autumn colors, though never in a match for the stunning shows of the eastern seaboard of the USA. Even though we had a schedule to meet, with our promise of having Taleisin at the boatshow in Lake Union, we were unhurried as we had allowed three weeks to get us from Friday Harbour to Seattle, a distance of only 60 miles. Since Port Townsend and a dozen other inviting anchorages lay along that route, we knew we could easily fill the time.

Whenever we are at our New Zealand home during November, our friends have come to expect an American Thanksgiving dinner. This year was no exception. We expected about 22 guests, but at the last moment another 6 showed up. The weather was horrible, storm force winds and rain so we all jammed in to the front room of my 600 square foot cottage and devoured two 18-pound turkeys. Couldn't have been more fun.

We did learn a few things along the way; for instance, commercial traffic heading south towards Seattle, Tacoma and the ports around them can set up a tremendous wake. When the daily breeze faded away just as the tide began to flow against us an hour before dark, we decided to work inshore and anchor in 4 fathoms just offshore of the eastern shore of Whidbey Island. After a comfortable dinner hour, we turned in and ignored the occasional wakes that sent Taleisin rocking and rolling as big ships passed about a mile away. Then the tide went out completely and we had only about a fathom of water under our keel, the shore - which had been almost half mile away from us at high tide, dried out and now lay only 100 yards away. The wakes of passing ships began to break heavily on this shore and send a backwash that turned the rolling into bucking and prancing. Not dangerous but darned uncomfortable. As soon as daylight came we got under way and vowed to make sure our next anchorage had protection from ships wakes.

Craig and Kay had, with permission from Ernie the laid back chocolate lab who is their constant companion, invited us to sail alongside their dock on Bainbridge Island on our way to Seattle. What a treat. Taleisin was going to be front and center at the show and we wanted her to look sweet. With lots of fresh water, a wide clear dock space alongside, encouragement and cool drinks from Kay and Craig, and under the ever seeing eyes of Ernie, I put some fresh varnish on hatches, Larry painted the bulwarks and inspected the sails for any chafe. (It may be a cliché but as far as sails go, a stitch in time saves nine.) An interesting aside here, we decided to try testing different types of varnish. Since all the top professionals seemed to rave about Epithanes, I put some on one cabinside. I then used Captains (at about half the price) on the other. After four months there was just a bit of crazing on the Epithanes, the other two seemed to have no change at all. Remember this is not a true test, just one experience. I do know I had to add brushing thinner to get the Epithanes to lay on somewhat smoothly so that may have caused the difference. So I decided I'll stick to my old affordable friend Captains. (I figure I have used over 75 gallons of that stuff in my life - should be getting some sort of rebate by now.)


 

Craig and Kay made it their job to introduce us to their island haunts, and to the special work they both do. Craig designs and builds wooden furniture with the eye of an artist. In fact the workshop he built for himself is almost too beautiful for the job and the view through is windows could slow down production in a less determined soul. Kay is an architect and responsible for mind boggling projects such as the Seattle Federal Court House. Both love sailing and arranged a great treat for the weekend when we had to sail in to Seattle. As members of the Seattle Yacht Club they registered all of us for the cruise and race regatta, but with a difference. Since their boat is a Bristol Channel Cutter and of very similar design and only 1'6" shorter than Taleisin, the club agreed that we could sail Little Wing on Saturday from Seattle to the Bainbridge Island Outstation, then sail Taleisin back on Sunday. The winds were great, the sailing excellent the company just right. (See October Newsletter for sailing photos)

Had I known how many bridges and locks there were between the Puget Sound and Lake Union and how much current flowed out through them, I might not have been so eager to go to the boatshow. But Craig set to work solving the problem of getting Taleisin safely locked up. His friends from the Seattle Yacht Club escorted us, with the club launch secured alongside acting as our motor, four boats from the club acting as protective fenders as we locked up, Taleisin arrived in Lake Union in style. We then spent an hour sailing around Lake Union enjoying the views before securing to our assigned place at the show.

 

One of the important reasons for coming to this show was to work with Bob Ewing and his sailing friends from Footloose. This is one of three Sailors with Disabilities groups we enjoy helping raise their profile and some funds. I was reminded of the importance of a sense of humor when the first members of this group sailed alongside Taleisin in one of their specially adapted boats. Larry and I took their lines then I said, "Can I give you a hand," as I noticed one sailor working hard to get out of the cockpit. "How about taking mine instead," he said handing over his prosthesis. If you happen to be anywhere near the Footloose Base, or in Oakland, CA near BADDS, or in the Chesapeake where CRAB have a base, go in and meet some of these folks, these are real tough sailors and if you like to get out on the water and don't have your own boat, they'll get you sailing in exchange for a few hours of volunteer work.

 

I enjoyed the hustle bustle of the days we spent at the boatshow. I really liked the local fish restaurant but best of all was the almost constant stream of friends who showed up. We reconnected with folks we hadn't seen in ten, fifteen years, folks we'd met in ports on the far side of the world, even old school chums. By the time we cleaned up after the last day of the show and Craig came to help us lock down, both of us were tired from 15 hour days of talk, laugh, eat and talk some more. Unfortunately, as we sailed back towards Craig's home it became clear Larry was tired from the limp that had become more noticeable over the past weeks and the pain he was feeling in his hip that, unlike other pains of leading an active life, was not going away. A few days of rest didn't solve the whole problem and, though autumn sailing would have felt great, we decided to put Taleisin away for the winter and fly to our home base in New Zealand.

This is Christopher Miller - an American cruising sailor and computer whiz who happened to sail in to North Cove 6 years ago. He and Catherine came to dinner and met some folks from New Zealand's Americas Cup program. He and Catherine bought a home in this cove. He is now Team New Zealand's computer genius - watch scuttlebutt for more about what is called Millervision. We are honorary grandparents to his lovely daughter Lexi.

Long and short of it is, Larry's left hip needed urgent repairs. We had the choice of a hip replacement or the newer sports version - a hip resurfacing. Larry choose the resurfacing which is almost impossible to dislocate (compared to a 1 in 20 chance with normal hip replacement.) Now, only four weeks after surgery he is pain free and walking without crutches and today is down on the jetty removing part of Thelma's hatch combing so she will look even nicer for the Mahurangi Regatta in two weeks. Thank God for modern Medicine - appears Larry damaged his hip either skiing or boatbuilding. An aside for those of you thinking of cruising; we made a choice many years ago to save money by not carrying medical insurance as we cruised. Our medical expenses during those 38 years were far less than the cost of medical insurance. Then when I turned 60 we decided we should reconsider the situation, as medical problems that could overburden our savings and earnings, would be more likely to occur. We decided to buy hospital and specialist insurance to cover major costs. You can see a discussion of the choice we made under cruising tips 2002, Health Insurance and 2003 Medical Insurance.

Though Larry could not get around in the boatyard very well before his surgery in early December, at Thanksgiving he was still able to hold his own against Christopher and other challengers at the downstairs pool table after everyone else was slowed up by lots of wine, turkey and fine conversations.

 

So today I am trying to decide what wonderful things we should do to celebrate the southern summer, which regattas to join and how to keep the new edition of Care and feeding of Sailing Crew on track so it is ready by June. Larry is working through the Thelma list, Taleisin is damp and cold but well cared for in her winter berth and we hope all of you are enjoying the first of your new years resolutions.

Smooth sailing,

Lin and Larry

 





New Zealand

New Zealand birds and the view just north of our island home base.





















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