Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Merry Christmas!

Our little nativity scene on our starboard deadlight is both lovely and space efficient. It has the added advantage of staying put when 50-knot gusts rock the boat.
Merry Christmas everyone. We are having a wonderful holiday both on and off the boat this year. Hope everyone else is too.

Brandon and Virginia

A Seafarer’s Christmas Poem

by Robert Louis Stevenson

First published in the Scots Observer in 1888

The sheets were frozen hard, and they cut the naked hand;
The decks were like a slide, where a seaman scarce could stand;
The wind was a nor’wester, blowing squally off the sea;
And cliffs and spouting breakers were the only things a-lee.

They heard the surf a-roaring before the break of day;
But ’twas only with the peep of light we saw how ill we lay.
We tumbled every hand on deck instanter, with a shout,
And we gave her the maintops’l, and stood by to go about.

All day we tacked and tacked between the South Head and the North;
All day we hauled the frozen sheets, and got no further forth;
All day as cold as charity, in bitter pain and dread,
For very life and nature we tacked from head to head.

We gave the South a wider berth, for there the tide-race roared;
But every tack we made we brought the North Head close aboard:
So’s we saw the cliffs and houses, and the breakers running high,
And the coastguard in his garden, with his glass against his eye.

The frost was on the village roofs as white as ocean foam;
The good red fires were burning bright in every ‘longshore home;
The windows sparkled clear, and the chimneys volleyed out;
And I vow we sniffed the victuals as the vessel went about.

The bells upon the church were rung with a mighty jovial cheer;
For it’s just that I should tell you how (of all days in the year)
This day of our adversity was blessed Christmas morn,
And the house above the coastguard’s was the house where I was born.

O well I saw the pleasant room, the pleasant faces there,
My mother’s silver spectacles, my father’s silver hair;
And well I saw the firelight, like a flight of homely elves,
Go dancing round the china-plates that stand upon the shelves.

And well I knew the talk they had, the talk that was of me,
Of the shadow on the household and the son that went to sea;
And O the wicked fool I seemed, in every kind of way,
To be here and hauling frozen ropes on blessed Christmas Day.

They lit the high sea-light, and the dark began to fall.
‘All hands to loose topgallant sails,’ I heard the captain call.
‘By the Lord, she’ll never stand it,’ our first mate, Jackson, cried. . . .
‘It’s the one way or the other, Mr. Jackson,’ he replied.

She staggered to her bearings, but the sails were new and good,
And the ship smelt up to windward just as though she understood.
As the winter’s day was ending, in the entry of the night,
We cleared the weary headland, and passed below the light.

And they heaved a mighty breath, every soul on board but me,
As they saw her nose again pointing handsome out to sea;
But all that I could think of, in the darkness and the cold,
Was just that I was leaving home and my folks were growing old.

(Thanks to John Kohnen, the King Coot of the Western Oregon Messabouts, for reminding me of this great Christmas poem from my favorite author.)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Settling in for a winter aboard

The new cockpit enclosure will make living aboard much nicer this winter.
Life aboard Oceanus is good. We continue to check projects off of our to-do list. (I will post more on that later.) One huge project Virginia completed was to sew not one, but two enclosures for Oceanus's 10-foot cockpit.

While we were hauled out in Toledo and securely in the paint tent, Virginia took advantage of no wind and scaffolding to make patterns for the enclosure. While we were at the dock in South Beach she was constantly frustrated in her efforts to pattern the side panels for the enclosure by the northwest winds that blow all day every day during July, August and September.

The plan was to make the enclosure out of Sunbrella View, a shade product. This is pretty neat stuff. It keeps out most of the sun, insects and even a lot of the wind and provides privacy: when it's sunny, you can see out, but people can't see in. We first learned about the fabric when we watched a series of videos about the makeover of a 43-foot Hans Christian sailboat named Galetea in Olympia, Wash. Sunbrella made the videos featuring professional dodger and boat-canvas makers. We thought an enclosure with side panels made of View would be just the ticket for Oceanus.
The Sunbrella View fabric enclosure provides privacy as well as wind and sun protection.
Several months ago when Virginia tried to buy Sunbrella View from Sailrite, she found that it was no longer available. She quickly searched the internet and found an outdoor fabric store that had 20 yards available in our toast color and she bought it all.

As soon as we got the boat back to her slip in South Beach she went to work on it. First, she modified the connector piece that joins the aft end of the dodger with the forward part of the bimini. By making it more hourglass shaped, she was able to make it tighter and flap less in the wind. She then sewed the five side panels out of the View fabric. She figured they would  make a good pattern for the more expensive vinyl enclosure. It took her about a day to make each panel.
The View through the enclosure.
The enclosed View cockpit was wonderful! It kept the wind out, but still breathed and gave us privacy. When it rained, the View fabric kept most of the rain on the outside. But when the wind blew during a rainstorm, it drove water through the fabric. So Virginia replaced one panel at a time with a vinyl one. Now we have two enclosures: one for our cold, wet Northwest winters and one for summer and warm, sunny climates.

The clear vinyl enclosure makes life aboard much more pleasant, especially when it rains. Things in the cockpit stay dry and when you come in from the rain you can strip out of your wet gear before going below. It is also much brighter than the View enclosure.
Inside the new enclosure it's dry and warm.
 This will go a long way toward making this winter bearable. As I write this rain is coming down in sheets and the wind is gusting to 50 knots, in other words, it's a typical winter day on the Oregon coast. Inside the cockpit enclosure it is dry, except for a little rainwater that trickles down the backstay.

Friends of ours who spent the winter aboard last year turned their boat so it pointed north giving a southern exposure to their vinyl enclosure. They lounged in the solar-heated sun room in t-shirts even on cold winter days.