Thursday, September 28, 2017

Some New Upgrades

M/V Rhapsody has some new features, and we're celebrating the changes. Capt.Ron has long been a master of gentle docking, using cross-control maneuvering that makes our approaches and departures appear effortless to shoreside observers. My role has been line tender, securing the short lines on stern and midship when we first touch the dock, then placing longer stern, spring, and bow lines while Ron used engines and bow thruster to keep the boat positioned. Crutches have slowed me down lately, but now he can do it all, singlehanding the ship with the assistance of the new stern thruster and a walk-around wifi controller. 

I've always been comfortable running the boat while we cruise, but not so much when maneuvering in tight spaces close to other vessels. Will the new equipment tempt me to captain the boat while docking? maybe... maybe not.
Most boat projects begin with a stack of sketches and notes, rough ideas at first leading to more detailed drawings. No doubt it's due to the Capt's engineering gene. 

Below is the shiny new thruster minus its blades; deceptively simple in appearance, it required some creative bottom redesign, fiberglass work, and some new hydraulic and electrical wiring runs. 

Here's Rhapsody in the Travelift, just after haulout and waiting for a powerwash to clean the bottom. The bottom paint still looked good. 

Blue tape marks off the work area for the new thruster installation. A wedge or 'shingle' will be added to the bottom to position the stern thruster at an appropriate underwater depth for optimal effect. (Without a wedge it would just blow a lot of bubbles.)

This green tube, fiberglassed in place, will house the new thruster.

Project completed, the new stern thruster is ready for action.

Shown below, Rhapsody is ready for relaunch and in-the-water testing. 

Success! We should have done this years ago. 

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Small Boat, Big Adventure – S/V Teleport

 S/V Teleport

Why the name 'Teleport'?
Teleportation is defined as "When an object disappears from one place, and reappears in another" - and that, in a nutshell, is what sailing is all about...
We met Chris Bray and Jess Taunton in July when the s/v Teleport tied up across the dock from us at Baranof Warm Springs. The boat's unusual rigging and friendly, outgoing crew invited queries and conversation, so we popped over for a meet and greet with our new dock neighbors.

After a bit we traded boat tours and spent several hours visiting and swapping cruising stories. Oh my, did they have a unique cruising tale! The couple were completing the final legs of an awe-inspiring journey, their 2012-2013 transit of the Northwest Passage in that compact, 29-foot, junk-rig sailboat. I guarantee you'll enjoy browsing their website archives at to read the journal posts about their extensive preparation and progress across the top of the continent. 

Western explorers had searched for a northern passage since the 15th century, repeatedly meeting with failure and occasionally disaster in their hunt for a shorter route from Europe to the Orient. Finally in 1903-06 Roald Amundsen took three years to make the first successful crossing. Others eventually followed, but it was another forty years until Sgt. Henry A. Larsen, an RCMP officer, sailed through in a schooner in 1944 for the first single-season transit. Since then ever increasing numbers of commercial vessels, small cruise ships and recreational boats have transited the passage. A large cruise ship plans to run the passage in 2016 (link)... really? a large cruise ship?! Recent changes in the ice pack as well as improved charting, equipment, icebreaker support and satellite imagery have all contributed to the growing number of successful passages, but it still remains a major challenge.
To reach the Northwest Passage from the Atlantic requires a hazardous voyage through a stream of about 50,000 giant icebergs, up to 300 feet (90 m) in height, constantly drifting south between Greenland and Baffin Island. The exit to the Pacific is equally formidable, because the polar ice cap presses down on Alaska’s shallow north coast much of the year and funnels masses of ice into the Bering Strait, between Alaska and Siberia.(link)

Armchair explorers can relive the challenges of the NWP by reading the several online journals that describe the challenges of travel, and by viewing the photographs of scenery and Arctic wildlife. I'm not tempted to make the trip and actually cruise the Northwest Passage, but I do love the photos of Arctic scenery and wildlife.

Ah yes, the images, those all-important visual memories of any good journey, which takes me back to Chris and Jess and their well-traveled s/v Teleport. Spend some time viewing their photographs and marvel at the scope of this undertaking. These adventurous Australians, professional wildlife photographers, also offer photo classes and lead wildlife photo safaris throughout the world… when they aren’t out sailing. (link)

A guided photo adventure sounds very tempting... some time when we're not out cruising in SE Alaska.

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Bear,Bear, Not Quite Everywhere!

We... Love... Bear..., can you tell? Sleek and glossy black bear. Shaggy-coated brown bear. Big old fat bear, energetic young bear, round and fluffy bear cubs, even the rowdy young adults – we can’t get enough of these intriguing creatures. Bear watching was off to a slow start this season. After weeks, no it seemed more like months, of wondering where most of the grizzlies might be hiding, we finally found plenty of brown bear along Chatham Strait. The fish runs were weeks late this year, so the bear had little incentive to hang around the stream mouths. Every year I carry on about the Baranof Island bears, and this year is no different. Here are just a few of this month's favorite grizzlies.   

Now I'm ready for more bear, please.