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Westward’s Big Boatyard Adventures Part V

a boat on the water

As of mid-November, 2015 the planking was finished, the seams were being corked and puttied and the interior decking was installed, sanded and finished. By late-November we finally began building bulkheads and finishing the plumbing rough-in. Our engineer Randy Good is, among other things, a very accomplished furniture builder, and had accepted responsibility to build all of the interior doors, drawers, trim and moldings, and had planned to spend a couple of weeks after Thanksgiving getting a start on installing all of his beautiful cherry wood work. However, when he arrived in Port Townsend we had barely begun building bulkheads, so there was no place to put the doors and cabinets. Randy turned to working on all of the “little” projects that kill the schedule on jobs like ours; he built the liners for the new portholes we had installed for the new head compartments, worked on some of the non-central bulkheads, chased deck leaks and provided an infusion of much needed energy. However, when he returned to his home in Vermont for Christmas, all of his carefully packaged wood work was still in its boxes and crates, and we still weren’t finished with bulkheads!
By early December winter had arrived in earnest, and wind, rain and sleet were slowing work on the exterior. As soon as the hull was ready to paint staging was set up and we began sanding and priming the new planks. The seam putty wouldn’t cure in the cold and wet, so we just painted over it gently, trying not to drag it out of the seams with our brushes. We were certainly in the frame of mind to be satisfied with just getting the right colors more or less in the right places with one decent coat. Given where we had been a few months before each brush load of paint was a cause for celebration, but we were too tired, cold and concerned to do any more than keep brushing.

I had delegated fairing our new foremast to an outside painter, who ended up being too busy at his day job to get to our little project, but didn’t want to tell us, so he just dropped off the radar. Finally, when we had scheduled, cancelled and rescheduled the launch for probably the sixth time, a date was set, and we had to step the new mast before the launch, so Shane, my second engineer and I decided to sand and fair the mast for 4 hours and then choose to be happy with the result. It looked pretty good in the shed, but not so good out in the light, but there was no time to do anything else except paint it and get it rigged to step.

Through all of this, chef Tracie Triolo, who had sacrificed her fall break to stay and feed all of us, thus saving us hundreds of dollars and man-weeks’ worth of time, also worked sanding, painting, hauling, stowing and in general, being an essential and tireless member of the crew.

Finally, just before Christmas 2015, with the somewhat lumpy mast stepped, the blotchy paint dry-ish and the bottom painted and zincs installed, the travel lift arrived and carried Westward to the launching slip.

There, with no fanfare and a small group of interested observers (there no doubt to protect their investment in the betting pool centered on whether she would need to spend a night or two in the slings), Westward became a boat again.

She floated well off of her old painted lines, with over a foot of red paint showing at the bow. Some of this was due to her having her original sheer restored, and some was because her anchors and 450’ of 1” chain was still on the ground where it had been dropped to remove the hawse pipes. Anxious eyes looked into dry bilges anticipating the reasonable ingress of sea water through new plank seams. But the bilges stayed dry, and the betting pool observers found a place to wait out of the rain.

Over the next few days we loaded the anchors, all 750 pounds of them, and the 450’ of 1” chain, which lowered the bow about 4”. Westward still seemed a bit aloof, with her nose in the air. Fueling would help bring down her bow, as would filling the water tanks. But even when she was loaded, fueled and watered she still had, and has, about 9” of bottom paint showing forward. Something we’ll correct at her next haul out.

I had been watching the west coast weather since Thanksgiving, trying to get a sense of the season’s rhythm, and the pattern was depressingly consistent. Four days of high winds and rain 19interspersed with one day of reasonably calm weather. I wanted a forecast for at least five days of winds under 25 knots that extended at least to Crescent City, California. Finally, on December 27th, such a window began to creak open, and we made plans to get underway.

We spent twelve hours moving boxes and crates of finished furniture parts from the shop into the boat, trying and failing to distribute it so that we could still work while we ran south, and yet have the parts, especially those that were unfinished, protected. We filled the stateroom spaces with pieces and parts, tied doors to the stair rails in the salon, stacked mattresses on unfinished bunks and then put flat stock on top of them. Filled the future linen lockers with pre-cut parts for the remaining bulkheads and filled future staterooms with tools and miscellaneous pieces. We had two mattresses laid out more or less where they would eventually go so we could lie down when off watch. There were four new marine heads tied to the railings on the back deck, along with several pieces of plywood too large to fit down the ladder into the lower deck.

In that condition, and after a thirty minute sea trial into the bay in front of the shipyard, we sailed for San Diego on December 28th, in the fourth hour of the evening ebb.