The 2014 MacGregor/Tattoo Owner’s Rendezvous at Anacortes

Southern Star at the 2015 MacGregor RendezvousWhat a fun weekend!  All of the folks who have bought boats from Blue Water Yachts over the years (well, a bunch of them anyway) get together every summer at the MacGregor/Tattoo Rendezvous.  I think this year’s was one of the best yet!  So I want to begin by telling Todd and Cheryl how much we appreciated all they did to arrange the rendezvous.  I know it’s not a trivial thing to get this many people together and keep them entertained and fed for three days!  So THANK YOU!!!

What was funny to Stella and I was that this year’s Rendezvous was held at the Cap Sante Marina, where we now keep Southern Star.  So, while many folks had to trailer or motor, or gasp! even sail their boats to Anacortes, we basically moved from one slip to another.  So when people asked us where we came from, we just pointed over towards the K dock and said “oh, about 200 yards that-a-way.”

Crew of the TootSeaOf course, the best thing about an event like this is just catching up on friendships that were established in previous years. It’s unfortunate that we see so few of you in between these annual get-togethers, but a few of you we’re starting to see more often around the Sound. So here is to our growing list of friends on such awesomely named boats like TootSea and Dawn Treader. We sure hope to see you out-and-about! It was also great to make completely new acquaintances with owners of brand new boats – which reminds me – welcome to the family, Tattoo!  Roger MacGregor retired and his kids picked up the business, renaming the boats “Tattoo”.  They’re basically identical to the most recent MacGregor 26Ms, but have a fresher interior design aesthetic.  Sgt SchultzWe even got to participate in the naming ceremony for one of the Tattoos that joined our group this year – Knorke (kan-or’-ka), which means “cool” or “awesome” in a Berlin specific German slang, from what I understand.  Of course, the bulk of my understanding of German comes from Sgt. Schultz, so don’t take my word for it!

Another highlight every year are the seminars where we learn more about our boats and boating from Todd and Cheryl and other guests.  The two standouts this year (in my mind) were, first of all, the session that began with someone standing up and saying “My name is ‘Jim’, and I’m a MacGregor owner”, like he was joining a 12-step addiction recovery program.  Of course, few of us disagreed with his assessment that he didn’t know how to drink until we got a Mac!  The second was the Crabbing/Shrimping seminar by one of the managers of the local West Marine store. If I remember correctly, his name was Mike. Mike’s tale of suspense and intrigue where he caught the crab poacher with 328 stolen crabs, including those from Mike’s traps that were still onboard the poacher’s boat, was hilarious! He knocked the poacher out with (he claimed) one punch, called up 911 and told the operator that the culprit was ‘resting comfortably.’ He likely wasn’t so comfortable during his three year incarceration and very hefty fines!  Of course, what Mike did was unbelievably reckless as the poacher could have been armed.  But we’re all young and stupid once, and Mike at least came out of his young-and-stupid phase with a great story to tell!

Entrance to the Farmer's MarketStella and I also enjoy going over to the Farmer’s Market whenever we’re in Anacortes on the right days. It’s a nice one, with a bit more crafts and prepared foods than real farm produce for sale, but it’s always an enjoyable visit. It was also our first chance to try out the automatic parallel parking feature on our new Ford Fusion.  It’s amazing – you just pull along side the car in front of the spot you want, and push a button.  Then the car basically parks itself!  You control the speed, basically by putting it in reverse and controlling the brake, but the car does all the rest.  It did a perfect job!  Absolutely amazing!

We had some great meals!  One evening we had a good pot-luck dinner.  Apparently, there was a run on Safeway’s salad section that afternoon!  We also had an excellent barbeque the final evening with burgers and dogs.

For me, of course, if you’ve read my blog at all, the real highlight was visiting all the other boats to find out what kinds of ideas I could get for improving Southern Star and making her a real home-away-from-home.  A bunch of folks stopped by Southern Star to see my modifications, and it was very gratifying to hear so many comments on how great they thought the pulleys were that I added to the dagger board and to the rudder lift lines – cutting the effort in half. Especially from the wives!  Of course, the guys thought my berth mounted HD TV and entertainment system was pretty cool.  As to new ideas, I got a few this time around, but not so many as in past years.  Maybe I’m getting to the point where I’ve done so much, there’s not much left to do…  nah, what am I saying?!?   This year I walked away with the following plans:

  • Add a PVC pipe to bow attached to the pulpit stanchion to hold the anchor. That will get it off the too-small anchor roller and stop the scratching of the bow when the anchor shifts around.
  • Add hatches to storage areas below the seats, especially where the seats are replaced by other things that are not easily moved – like the sink/stove, refrigerator, etc.  That will really open up access to more useful storage space.
  • A motor mount in the back for our dinghy motor so we don’t have to store it below.
  • Replacing the current porta-potty that has to be dumped with one that supports a pump-out fitting on the deck.  Hopefully, I’ve dumped my very last porta-potty tank!  That has got to be the most disgusting job ever.
  • A small portable ice-maker.  Granted, it will only work when we’re on shore power, but we want to use the dual-voltage cooler as primarily a refrigerator, and not a freezer.  And of course, we must have ice!

So all in all, it was a GREAT rendezvous! Thanks again to Todd and Cheryl for putting it on.  We really hope to see many of our fellow MacGregor and Tattoo owners out on the water this summer!

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The boating weekend that did not happen

Well, we intended to go up to visit Southern Star last weekend for a long Memorial Day weekend, but it didn’t happen.  We simply didn’t have the heart to go, because only the day before we lost our canine companion of 13 years.  Belka was an awesome dog that we’ll never forget.  She did have a very long life (for her breed), but a cancerous tumor in her leg just got too far along, and we didn’t want her to suffer one bit. The vet we took her to was awesome, and made the process as easy as was possible.  They even sent us flowers the next day and a very nice card arrived exactly one week later.  I would HIGHLY recommend the VCA Redmond Animal Hospital for any of you in the Redmond area.  They’ve always taken great care of our pets and the way they handled this final visit was just extraordinary.  So please give them your veterinary business, and let them know Belka sent you!

Belka never got to ride on Southern Star – she was just too big for such a small boat, but we wanted to share a few pictures of her anyway.  We’ll be back on board Southern Star in a weekend coming up, and our normal narrative will resume then.

Belka was named after the second dog in space.  The dog we had before her was named Laika. You guessed it – the first dog in space.

The first picture is Belka stretched out in the sun, followed by her and Stella at the Redmond off-leash dog park, and finally sitting up in a chair like she’s People. 🙂

Belka stretching in the sunAt the Redmond Off-leash Dog ParkThinking she's People

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And the construction continues…

Well, another weekend spent working on Southern Star.  And as frustrating as last weekend was, with so much started and so little completed, this weekend was much better – so many things got done!

I finished the addition of the new electrical panel to give us the upgraded circuit capacity, we now have 6 more individually switched circuits available, though I’m tying up three of them right away.

The new electrical panel to the right of its older brother.

The original panel and the battery monitor I installed last year, along side the new panel on the right.

First was the “galley extension”.   We installed a Dometic refrigerator that runs on both 110VAC for when we’re tied up to a dock with shore power, and also automatically switches to 12VDC when we pull away from our slip.  Next to it is the “pantry”, which is several plastic storage drawers all stacked and connected together, and then permanently fixed in place. I also added a bungee cord strap to ensure the drawers stay closed under way. Can’t have all our goodies spilling all over the place when we hit a swell!

The new dual-voltage refrigerator and the "pantry" with it's bungee cord stay-close.

The new dual-voltage refrigerator and the “pantry” with it’s bungee cord stay-close.

The next modification was a relatively easy one to do, but one that will benefit us tremendously every time we go out!  I replaced the dagger board lift line with a brand new line that includes a pulley. Now we can raise the board using half the effort that it used to take. To do this, I lifted the top of the board clear of the hull so that I could access the line’s fastening to the top of the board.  The line goes in a small hole on the top edge of the board. Then, about 2 inches down, there is a 1 inch hole cut in the side of the board that intersects with the vertical whole.

The upgraded line that enables raising the dagger board with half the effort that it used to!

The upgraded line that enables raising the dagger board with half the effort that it used to!

The rope was knotted in this hole and then a cap sealed it all up.  I popped the cap, untied the know, removed the old line, and threaded a brand new (and slightly more colorful) line through. Putting the board back into its regular spot, I then ran the line through its normal path.  But instead of coming the whole way back to its clutch, I terminated it with a pulley.  I ensured that when the board is in the full up position, that the pulley is very close to clutch. I then ran a second line from a nearby cleat through the pulley and then back to through the original clutch. It gives a 50% pull advantage – you have to draw in twice as much rope, but it takes 50% less effort than it used to.

Finally, I also mostly finished up the really big project – the Raymarine EV-1 Autopilot.

The Raymarine EV-200 course computer, with all the cables now run neatly behind the bulkheads.

The Raymarine EV-200 course computer, with all the cables now run neatly behind the bulkheads.

The course computer is mounted down below in the cabin in the little “cubbyhole” over the starboard side rear berth. Lots of cables had to be run to it, beginning with power from its circuit on the new power panel. In addition, three lines had to be routed to the steering pedestal and fished up through a 2″ hole in the ceiling of the berth area into the base of the pedestal, and up through the myriad wires and steering cables that were already there.  What fun THAT was!  I also had to make some modifications to the face of the pedestal, moving the existing AM/FM radio remote control (to the port side of the pedestal), installing the new P70R control panel, adding the SportDrive motor to the steering shaft under the wheel, and then pulling a cable through the top that connects my Garmin GPS unit to the system, and sealing it all back up again. The new P70R control panel for the Autopilot. Finally, I had to install the EV-1 sensor unit with all the gyros that sense the boat’s movement on the boat’s centerline.  I put it right under the stairs above the rear berths.  Nicely out of the way

. It was a real thrill when I finally had all the cables run and neatly hidden wherever possible to throw the power switch and not see anything blow up or burst into flames!  Even better was when I went up to the cockpit, push the “Auto” button, and then turned the knob and saw the wheel turn!  Woohoo!   The last step, which I haven’t gotten to yet, is the installation of a sensor that lets the computer know the current position of the rudder.  That one’s a bit tricky, since it requires me to build a small shelf near the rudder control arms in the equipment area at the far aft of the cabin area where I can install the sensor and tie it into the rudder system.

The EV-1 is mounted under and behind the ladder from the cockpit down into the cabin.

The EV-1 is mounted under and behind the ladder from the cockpit down into the cabin.

In just less than two weeks is opening day.  We have an appointment at a service shop near our marina early that morning to get the outboard motor serviced and made all ready for the season.  Then we’ll be putting her into the water at Cap Sante Marina in Anacortes and staying on board over the weekend to get her stocked and provisioned for the season.  I can’t wait to take her out on the water to test out all her new equipment!   Come on, May 2nd!

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A Beautiful Saturday at Alderbrook

WP_20130720_001We started late this morning after sleeping in a lot longer than we expected. After a quick breakfast, we hit the water again. Only there wasn’t a lot of water to hit. The entrance to Pleasant Harbor is not particularly deep, and we were leaving at low tide. It was VERY low. At one point we only had about a foot of clearance beneath our keel. We made it out without grounding though, and started our trip further south in Hood Canal. Just a bit later, we found ourselves in another minefield of crab trap buoys, and I heard Stella say something very unexpected in the Pacific Northwest: “Flamingo at 11 o’clock”. Sure enough, one clever crab trapper had a unique way to distinguish and find his traps from all the others. I’m sure he has no problem finding his own!

WP_20130720_002It was a couple hour trip to Alderbrook, and even though we were in a canal with no turnings that takes us straight south to the resort, Stella was dutifully checking the charts. With her navigating so faithfully, of course we found it with no problems.

When we arrived, we discovered that the reputation of the Alderbrook resort is deserved. It is a tremendous place.  Gorgeous view of the Olympic mountains to the west, forest all around, and a wonderfully built-to-complement-nature lodge building and cabins.  They have a very ingenious system for keeping the young ones from running wild, as you can see in the next picture.WP_20130720_007

There were five different weddings going on all over the resort property, so you couldn’t swing a dead cat without hitting a bride or a groom.  We enjoyed several great meals.  Dave had an excellent massage while Stella walked around the property and after getting back together we enjoyed the pool and hot tub for a while.WP_20130720_009 Tomorrow we’ll head out of Hood Canal and head towards Kingston. No, not Jamaica, we only have one more night, so the one a short ways south of the entrance to the canal will have to do. That will ensure that we only have a few hours remaining on Monday for the last leg of this trip back to our home port.

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Final day for this trip is in Poulsbo

WP_20130602_003Well, we come to the last day of this extended weekend.  We left Bremerton and motored on over to the quaint little town of Poulsbo.  What a striking town – founded by a Norwegian immigrant, and clearly fiercely proud of its Scandinavian heritage. We ate an absolutely delicious lunch at JJ’s Fish House which backs right up to the marina. I don’t I’ve ever had a better fish and chips. We wandered around the many shops for most of the afternoon, and enjoyed some baked goods from one of the bakeries there.  Stella is still talking about the cinnamon roll with cream cheese icing.  I suspect we’ll have to make another trip here sometime in the near future just to get another one of those for her.

We came back to the boat to rest up before dinner, and instead found ourselves facing the biggest adventure of the day, indeed the entire trip.  We were sitting in the cockpit reading, when I noticed a large sailboat backing into a slip at a rather odd angle, and definitely coming back too fast. It hit the dock with such a thump that I knew something was seriously wrong.  Sitting up and looking more closely I saw a head bobbing in the water – someone had fallen off the boat and was in danger of being crushed between the boat and the dock.  Stella and I ran down there and arrived about the same time as several others from surrounding boats.  It was an elderly couple, and the lady was stepping down from the boat to the dock as her husband backed the boat in when she slipped on the step fender and fell in, dislocating her hip in the process.  She couldn’t get out of the water on her own.  So several of us held her up while one lady called 911 and another gentleman ran back to his boat and brought back a triangular tarp.  We managed to slip under her, then grabbed the edges of it and hauled her out.  The paramedics arrived shortly afterwards and took her and her husband off to the hospital.  Another gentleman and myself ensured that the boat was tied up securely and hooked to shore power.  I turned everything off except for the refrigerator and the master light switch so that they could turn on the lights easily enough if they came back aboard after dark.

WP_20130603_001Later that afternoon, our excellent friends Mark and Dorothy came over via the Ferry to visit with us and have dinner.  We ate at the Loft, also right near the marina, and in fact on a 2nd level patio overlooking it. What a find way to end a trip – with fine conversation and an excellent meal with great friends.

The next morning we had a good breakfast and, as Stella would say, we “tootled on home”.  Time to look forward to the next trip!WP_20130602_004

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