Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Ready for the Water!

We've been in Hammond, Oregon, for two weeks now, most of that time sitting atop a big trailer in a parking lot. The good news is– we are ready to go back into the water! We shout "hurray" with some sadness at having to leave this friendly place. It has truly been a wonderful experience. One might think we'd be terribly frustrated at being stalled so long, but isn't serendipity and the camaraderie of nice folks what constitutes the joy of cruising? We have met some very nice folks, many of whom have been instrumental in affecting the repair of Rikki-tikki-tavi. We thank everyone wholeheartedly. Velma and Jim started it all. They walked all the way out to the end of the Guest Moorage in Ilwaco to see Rikki. Of course we all got to talking and, upon hearing our trouble and without a moment's hesitation, they offered to drive us around to locate a place to haul the boat. We already knew that none of the area yards could accommodate our 26-1/2' width. Without Velma & Jim, we probably would not have found Rogers Marine & Free Willy Bait & Tackle at Hammond Boat Basin and the big trailer "out back". So we took Rikki-tikki to Hammond, which is, by the way, the marina featured in the movie, "Free Willy". When we arrived, Keith, the harbormaster of the City of Warrenton gave us free rein to use any discarded scrap materials from the yard adjacent to Rogers Marine. Clark spent two days building a structure on the big trailer to carry Rikki-tikki under his akas, strong enough to support him. Then, on the rising tide of Friday, July 15th, Kasey Rogers backed down the launch ramp with our customized trailer. Clark, wearing his drysuit, orchestrated the loading and blocked the proper spots with carpeted pads, the carpet having been donated by a local flooring supplier. Once parked, the Rogers family began hands-on help– Kasey got out the power-washer, cleaning Rikki's bottom of his green beard and barnacles. Dan brought out the equipment to attempt the bending of the prop strut to its original vertical position and, when it broke off completely, Kasey drove us into Astoria to order a new strut. Took a day off on Sunday (the strut wouldn't arrive 'til at least Tuesday and it still hasn't!) to ride the free Lewis & Clark shuttle bus over to Long Beach where there was supposed to be a big sand sculpture festival going on. The mile of wide beach we walked held no evidence that anyone in the near past had built anything higher than a molehill! Some random wet buckets of sand had been overturned by a few small children, but that was all. We were disappointed so we hopped the next bus back to Astoria and trudged to the Sunday street market that several locals said was outstanding. It was hot (for here) and there were no vegetables to buy, but lots of fruits, sweets, flowers and artsy trinkets. We were looking for veggies. We went to the brewery and had a pint of stout. Then we caught the next bus heading in the direction of Hammond. Had to make another trip to Fort Clatsop to transfer, stop & make a quick run into Fred Meyer & Costco for veggies, then grab the next bus on the route to the marina. We quickly rinsed off the day in our shower, when some folks showed up to look at Rikki-tikki. We hadn't even gotten our veggies completely stowed. We do stand out in a crowd, especially raised up high on the trailer, and attract attention. Apparently, fishermen from the boats frequenting the marina, people just cycling by, couples walking their dogs– saw the big green trimaran on its trailer and spread the word, because we became somewhat of a local attraction. We noticed cars driving by in the evenings, slowing down to take a look, some folks parking alongside and walking around to inspect our sailboat-on-wheels. The word was passed throughout Hammond. We like that we meet a lot of people this way. It's rather like owning a dog... We aren't exactly sure who told whom, but on Monday there were some talented men with expertise in engineering, fabrication, welding, machining, all commiserating on the repair of the now-broken strut. Turns out, these craftsmen know their business! There was Ted who has a little dog that wears a spiked collar, who told Dennis, a retired machinist & fabricator, to come see the trimaran. Upon seeing the problem, Dennis said he thought the strut could be welded back together and called Rick Litton, the most respected welder around these parts (which was verified by everyone). Rick came by and said, sure, I can do that! So he did, making the strut whole again, reinforcing it even. Everyone agreed that the design of our strut, in the first place, lacked robustness. The discussion of how to alleviate this lead Dennis to design and manufacture an unmatched pair (because our shaft is offset) of stainless steel side supports. They are a work of art– not bulky but streamlined, strong yet shapely. The new strut we ordered has still not arrived but we don't need it!

Dennis has a good friend (and former associate machinist) who lives a block away. Pat said he could drill and tap a couple of additional screw holes in our windvane trimtab. He did this with precision while his wife, Rose (who'd driven me to the store the day before) made us all coffee. Clark discovered that our spare prop was sized for a shaft of 1-1/8" diameter (it was an eBay purchase, one of only a very few that turned out to be not exactly as claimed). Our shaft is 1-1/4"– West Coast Prop rebored and rekeyed it to fit at a reasonable cost.

Meanwhile, some folks who'd spotted us in Ilwaco as they sailed their Hans Christian Mk II there for the weekend heard we were in Hammond. They came by one evening as we were preparing dinner. Phil knew immediately that Rikki-tikki-tavi was a John Marples Constant Camber design, so Clark dropped what he was doing and invited Phil, Sandra, and son Danny aboard. Next morning they drove in with two cars, handed us the key to hers saying, "Keep it all long as you like." The kindness of the people we've met is overwhelming.

I used the car for laundry and grocery shopping, then we took a quick drive to the famous Astoria Column, high on a hill above the town. It affords a panoramic view of the river and mountains beyond Astoria. We were told that we could not visit Astoria and not visit the column! Well, we didn't climb up it but we have photos to prove we were there. We also stopped at a local bike shop and bought some decent seats for our new bikes (helmets too).

One of the biking couples who came upon Rikki-tikki offered us tickets to the Maritime Museum. Barry and Sally picked us up on Sunday afternoon, dropped us off at the museum, later picked up us and took us home with them for martinis and homemade pizza. They are wonderful, interesting folks who have involved themselves in their adopted community with concerned activism. They also included us in their Tuesday go-to-town foray and we found some provisions at "steal-me" prices at a store recommended by Sally. We wish we had more time to spend here but the summer is waning.

The day Rick welded the strut, I noticed a young woman arriving at the launch ramp in a red kayak. She climbed out and began attaching wheels to her kayak and what looked like a tow-hitch to the bow. What was this all about, I wondered. So I walked down and said, "It looks like you're going someplace serious!" She responded, "Yes, I'm going to San Diego." Well, what an understatement! Renata Chlumska is going all the way around America in her kayak, and she's just begun. This Swedish adventurer left Seattle, paddled around Cape Flattery, then headed south along the coast. Knowing the Columbia River entrance to be treacherous, she decided to go across The Peninsula to Ilwaco, then across the river to Hammond, where she would strap on her inline skates and tow her kayak overland back to the coast at Seaside. (editor's note: you can see Nina and Clark's entry into Renata's guestbook at http://www.renatachlumska.com/ on July 23, also, the 'perfect welcome' in Oregon that Renata mentions in her journal must have been Nina because she says she was the only one at the docks to meet her!)

She was wearing a red Helly Hansen ballcap. Clark was wearing a tan Helly Hansen ballcap. Her major sponsor is Helly Hansen– perfect. I invited her to meet Clark and see Rikki-tikki-tavi. She toured, signed our guestbook, posed with me and promised to contact us when she returned to Seattle in sixteen months upon the completion of her singular circumnavigation of the US perimeter. We promised to take her sailing. She has set out on a tremendous endeavor and we wish her good will and safe travels. It was inspiring and wonderful to meet you, Renata.

We enjoyed a sumptuous barbequed salmon dinner with Karen and her parents, Gerty and Roy, longtime Astoria residents. Karen is connected to us by family ties, somewhat distant and unknown to us until we came to stop here, but we are so glad we came to know all three! We thank them for their hospitality and Roy's famous salmon!

I invited two of the Rogers daughters aboard Rikki-tikki-tavi for a tea party because they kept wanting to climb up into the boat while we were busy assessing the situation, just having made it to dry land safely. They were hovering like bumblebees, buzzing and chattering with questions. I scheduled it for 11 a.m. the next morning, baked cookies and rang our brass bell when it was time. Clark made a formal invite to make sure it was okay with mom and invited her too. Here is a photo of Holly (the youngest is only 18 months and didn't attend) showing her arm where she'd written the time in ink. Actually, she and Ashley, the eldest, were up before 7 a.m., so excited, both peering into Rikki-tikki from the highest vantage point they could climb to, which was the gunwales of a little boat on a trailer next to the shop. Heavens! They did have fun jumping back and forth over the aft bunk to the fore bunk! They begged to have a sleepover. I gave them a copy of Kipling's Rikki-tikki-tavi story in booklet form that we have printed up. Very cute girls, curious and full of fun– wish we could have a parcel of their energy!

We don't know how to thank everyone sufficiently for their friendliness and generous assistance. Thank You. We will remember each one of you fondly and treasure our time in Hammond.

By Wednesday evening we'll be floating again...

Best wishes to everyone,

Clark & Nina s/v Rikki-tikki-tavi

(Rikki-tikki's motto, and that of all mongooses, is "Run and find out.")

Friday, July 15, 2005

Photo Update

On the spur of the moment (and a great sale price), we bought a couple of aluminum-frame bikes at the Fred Meyer store in Warrenton after taking the bus there Ð what a long ride back to the Hammond Marina it was!! We had a very large & heavy backpack loaded with stuff from Costco, but Clark managed it. He couldn't turn around to see where I was because it would throw him off balance. He got so far ahead that I lost sight of him and began to think I was heading in the wrong direction, though the sun looked to be in the proper place in the sky. I also had a big shopping bag with stuff- I put my arms through the loops and wore it like a backpack, though it hung down past my rear end. I haven't ridden in decades, have never used brakes that are mounted on the handlebars or a bike with more than one speed (now I had twenty-one, three on the left grip, seven on the right grip). It was very challenging. We found walking to places we want to go takes too long but after that initial bike ride, I thought I wouldn't even be able to walk for three days! There is a very good bus system here (though they don't accommodate bikes- what's with that?!), unlike some stops we've made where there is no public transit. We took the Lewis & Clark Shuttle to Fort Clatsop for the tour so we could get to Fred Meyer and Costco for free, though the Fort cost $5 each. Included in the admission, though, was a three-day bus pass and Astoria Waterfront Trolley ride, so it was worth it. We saw a muzzle-loader demo and the tiny fort (reconstructed 50 years ago from Lewis' notes and drawings with dimensions) where the Corps spent that miserable winter. It would be nice to take the Shuttle back over to the Peninsula for the Long Beach sand sculpture festival this weekend. Sun's finally out and we hope it shines for awhile! Clark is hard at work modifying the trailer for carrying Rikki-tikki up the ramp soon. He has such a green crop on his bottom, my job will be scrubbing, I am very sure. The temperature is a very pleasant 71û F, the wind is blowing WNW, so the Rutland 913 windmill is spinning away as Rikki is pushed snuggly against the dock. We need the weather to hold so we can work outdoors once the boat is up on the lawn.

This is the fish carcass dumpster at Newport, Oregon. There is so much edible food here, some of the best parts of the fish are being thrown away, much to our distress. Just think of all the fish stew, fish broth, sashimi, fish cakes- the possibilities are endless. It's such a shame. This can only happen in America.

This is the day we left the Noyo River, we had the jib up and were making knots motorsailing toward Shelter Cove. The day later clouded over and we had gray skies with little wind. Sunset was lovely and the nearly full moon came out around 2 AM as I sat in the cockpit listening to Peter Jenkins' "Looking for Alaska" on my iPod.

This is a view of Rikki-tikki-tavi's wake from as close as Clark's tether will allow. You can see the tether attached to the inner shroud in the previous photo of Nina in the cockpit steering.

The headlands are swathed in fog as we enter Shelter Cove that evening, the only boat to anchor for the night. The west swells kept Rikki-tikki rocking and the halyards and wires inside the mast banged out their response to the motion.

Rikki-tikki-tavi rests at anchor in Shelter Cove as the seaward skies begin clearing revealing a beautiful sunset and smooth waters. Our Northill anchor grabbed in and held us tight through a night of incoming ocean swells.

Dawn at Newport, Oregon, minutes before our departure. We sampled some beer at the Rogue Brewery, which is located at the south end of the marina- Dead Guy and Shakespeare Stout, proclaimed to be "America's best stout".

Nina sending email on our iBook while huddled beneath a black umbrella to cut the glare and protect the computer from the misty rain. The Ilwaco drive-thru java joint, Kickstand Koffee, had free wireless on an outdoor patio- not at all a good place for an internet café, but all there was! We told them they should rent bikes too with a name like that. The visiting cruisers would appreciate it!

This is Rikki-tikki's end of the Guest Dock at the Port of Ilwaco. The wind was blowing 15 knots on our beam, away from the dock of course, as we came in to tie up. Nobody to help us, we had a gay time threading the docklines through the little rings (see one in the foreground?) fast enough to keep him from being blown away!

Our on-the-water view of Hammond Boat Basin with the large yellow pilot vessel and one of two boats that go in and out a lot. They take water samples when the big dredge is working in the Columbia River.

Clark has started fixing up this old trailer so we can haul Rikki-tikki out for repair using the Hammond boat ramp. Rikki is waiting patiently out in the harbor. You can see him just above the tongue of the trailer in the upper left corner.

Monday, July 11, 2005

Repairs and Relaxations

Greetings All!

We are making progress on figuring out how to get Rikki-tikki out of the water in order to fix the strut and whatever other problems have occurred as a result of the encounter with the unknown object out there. Some nice folks came down the dock when we arrived (and we are a very long way out at the very end all by ourselves!) and we got to talking. He is a sailor, she is not, they are just friends. They are both in their seventies, we think. He singlehanded back from Mexico recently, taking 24 days offshore, out and back in at the Columbia River. Coasties had to help him in at the end- it was a rough trip. Anyway, they said they'd be happy to drive us around to find a place to haul and work on the boat, so we took them up on their kind offer. Velma drove us over to Astoria on the Oregon side and all around the docks and shoreline following leads we'd pick up from folks we'd talk to.

We came across a boat ramp in Hammond with a shop and marine store, very small, but you never know what kind of info you can get from talking to people hanging around boats. Turns out the guy in the shop had a big trailer out back just sitting in the weeds. He said that, if we thought we could make it work, we were free to modify it as we liked to carry Rikki-tikki. When we were ready, he'd use his diesel pickup to move the trailer and the boat up to a grassy area next to his shop where we could do the necessary repairs. Wow. He told us where to tie up at the little dock while we customized the trailer. This place, Hammond near Fort Clatsop, is only about 9 miles up the River. There is a prop shop close by and other marine services, plus a small Costco and a FredMeyer store.

We did find a second option, much more expensive and difficult to get to, up in Aberdeen on a river above Grays Harbor. It's about 75 miles away. We'd have to sail most of the way, though we are a sailboat. The channel across Grays Harbor is narrow and then we'd have to go up the river and have two bridges open for us. We've done bridges before, so no big deal. The place has a big marine railway system that can take us out for $600; they can do the work too. If our attempts at doing it ourselves fail, we can fall back on this option.

There is a local area shuttle bus that, on some legs, is free. Other routes are very low cost. We can get from Ilwaco to Astoria on the south side in Oregon for 50¢, even all the way north to Aberdeen from Hammond. The shuttle is free to go out to "the peninsula" where there is a Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center, the Cape Disappointment Lighthouse and the North Head Lighthouse, and on up to Long Beach. They claim to have the world's longest beach at 25 miles and one can drive along the sand. There will be a big sand sculpture contest held next weekend. In June, they host an international kite contest and are home to to the World Kite Museum. There is a lot of activity and preparation in the area for the big Lewis & Clark Bicentennial in November. Fort Clatsop is where the expedition spent the winter. The low-cost shuttle bus is part of the promotion.

This area reminds us of how Sausalito was back in the sixties when the fishing industry was failing apart and it became an artist colony. There are many art galleries and artist's residence/studios. Charter boat fishing seems healthy, though we were told there used to be 300 charter boats where there are now only about 60. They have a large sturgeon fishery along with salmon and what they call "bottom fish"- rockfish, halibut, ling cod. The WA Fish & Game haunt the docks daily measuring each fish as the boats come in, counting them and collecting any tags. The harbor is fairly busy with activity, though there are few sailboats. We enjoyed the summer Saturday Market along the waterfront. One of the galleries showcases photography by Bruce Peterson and Wendy Peterson. Their work is excellent and we purchased a small photograph of a stormy Cape Disappointment as a remembrance of our experience here.

For those of you who are wondering about how we came to choose "Rikki-tikki-tavi" for the name of our boat...

Rikki-tikki-tavi is a children's story written by Rudyard Kipling, The Jungle Book series. If you didn't read it as a child and would like to, just type Rikki-tikki-tavi into the Google search engine on the internet and, besides our website, many links to the text of the story will come up. The character of the mongoose, Rikki-tikki, is the inspiration for and the embodiment of the character of our boat. Darzee is a vociferous tailor-bird in the story who warns Rikki-tikki that the cobra, Nagaina, is looking for him. Darzee is what we named our dinghy. We find the story charming and have printed several copies as a booklet to give to those who are especially kind to us along the way. Because the mongoose, Rikki-tikki-tavi, was a male, we refer to our boat in the masculine instead of the traditional feminine. It fits him much better.

Rikki-tikki's motto, and that of all mongooses, is "Run and find out". And that's what we three are doing.

Clark & Nina aboard the sailing trimaran "Rikki-tikki-tavi"

Wednesday, July 06, 2005

Another Unscheduled Stop

A quick update... We are finally in Washington State, but are stopped unfortunately just around the corner from Cape Disappointment. It's our disappointment as well. We were on our way to Gray's Harbor hoping to turn into the Straits of Juan de Fuca by the end of this week when we hit something just south of the entrance to the Columbia River. It was something hard, not a crabpot. We decided to make a right turn to enter the River. Luckily it was a flood tide, winds 15 knots from the south, and we had the jib up. The engine was only vibrating a little abnormally but the couplings were getting too hot, so we powered down to 2800 RPMs. Made it without trouble past the USCG National Motor Lifeboat Training School into Ilwaco Harbor. Clark put on his drysuit and went down to look at the shaft, hoping to cut away a rope or net. The news is that our strut is bent and now our task is to find some way to haul the boat and get it repaired. We hope the shaft is not also a casualty also, but we'll be here awhile. The saga and adventure continues... Yours, Nina & Clark s/v Rikki-tikki-tavi


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