Note: We left Westward heading south down the Pacific Coast, bound for Mexico, on December 28th, 2015. I am interrupting her voyage to catch-up on recent events. We will be back aboard somewhere off Washington with the next post.
It has been an interesting couple of weeks.
Westward attended the Victoria Classic Boat Festival in Victoria in early September, where she was humbled to accept awards for the BEST ENGINE ROOM (!) and for being the oldest power boat in attendance.
After a quick visit to Bellingham to spend some treasured time with family, we made a couple of stops among the San Juan Islands to collect crew, and then headed for Port Townsend and the Wooden Boat Festival.
After being swamped with visitors in Victoria we decided we needed an actual plan for what we expected would be an even larger crowd in Port Townsend. Thank goodness we had Audrey and Don along to help. They had been with us in Victoria and were looking forward to the Port Townsend show, where they hoped to attend some of the instructional seminars that are offered around the small harbor.
We assigned stations to ourselves; mine was in the engine room where I would start the engine every couple of hours, Audrey was on the back deck along with a number of the photo books she has produced after each of her trips, Tracie was in the salon, keeping the fireplace stoked, Don was down in the guest staterooms keeping things moving and keeping the kids off of the bunks. We were privileged to have as our boarding gate greeter Cathy, whose father owned Westward in the 50s and 60s and who sailed aboard her as a child.
On all three days the guests began lining up before the official opening at 09:00, and we were inundated as soon as we opened the railing and began welcoming visitors aboard. Since I was in the engine room I couldn’t really see what was happening on deck or on the dock, but I sure helped a lot of people down the ladder and explained the basic workings of the engine and other engine room systems. Every couple of hours, or upon special request, I would start the engine. This resulted in a bit of a migration, with every motor nerd within earshot of the slowly idling Atlas Imperial diesel (which was the entire venue at Port Hudson) pushing their way along the crowded docks in an attempt to get into the engine room to see the engine running. Because Westward’s engine is one that you can really see running. The valve lifters and rockers are exposed, so you can see how an engine works, and the 115 RPM idle speed makes it easy to figure out what part performs which function and when.
Of course, after a few minutes in the engine room, the noise, heat and crowd (up to 15 people a few times! I counted them while planning my route to the ladder when my claustrophobia began screaming at me) those in the engine room began making their way to the ladder to climb out, as more visitors were lining up to climb down! At about this point I began screaming (internally) and running in place (mentally) as I saw my exit hopelessly cut off. So, I made my way over to the work bench where I had a small fan injecting outside air through an open porthole. Calm returned as I sat there answering questions. Phew!
The first day we were utterly unprepared for what was to come, and I finally had to leave the engine room after seven hours to find a glass of water and use the head. Everyone else was in the same situation, it was like a cheerful EST meeting! No water. No food. No bathroom breaks. But the visitors were universally enthusiastic supporters of what we were doing; keeping a classic yacht with a remarkable history alive. And not just getting by, actually out there in the big ocean having adventures and covering about 15,000 sea miles each year.
Both shows were wonderful, and we certainly hope to attend both again next year. This time with more helpers, more business cards and brochures, and a plan that lets us all see something of the show.
Sincere thanks to our on-board crew, and to the hundreds of visitors who came aboard and shared their stories and enthusiasm for our fine old boat!