Crossing the Sound

The big moment had finally come. We were going to take the Gyr across Puget Sound for her haul out in Port Townsend.

A bit of background, for those who may not know the history. When we bought the Gyrfalcon, we pulled her out of the water for a couple of days in Seattle for a pre-purchase inspection. At time we found out that three of the four cutless bearings (the large bearings that support the prop shafts outside the hull but forward of the propellers) were bad. We hoped that we would be able to limp over to Port Townsend (around 40 miles) if we went slowly and had a fairly calm day. During the year of renovations, we also had one of the thru hulls go bad. These thru hulls are large (4 inch) openings in the side of the hull (thus the name) that are used to bring cooling water in for the diesel engines. The thru hulls are metal, and over time in salt water, there can be enough electrolysis to soften the wood near the thru hull. Anyway, during installation of the new boiler, one of thru hulls gave way – water began to pour into the engine room bilge, and a diver was called to make an emergency patch. By the time we heard about the breach later in the day, the excitement was over. The patch had held for 8 months, but it was one more thing to worry about on the trip over.

We had planned on going to Port Townsend for a number of reasons. First, the haul out and storage fees were less than in Seattle. Second, there is a yard, Haven Boatworks, which does a lot of work on old wooden boats, and which has a very good reputation. (Our friend Dianne Lander had all the work done on the Olympus after her unfortunate grounding several years ago). It meant that we would not have anywhere to live in the interim, but our friend Ken Meyer offered Nancy his houseboat on Lake Union for a month, and it turned out that I was going to be on the road for business for most of that time, so things were looking pretty good.

I believe in omens (at least good ones) and they were starting to pile up. In January we had gone to the Boat Show, and Nancy won a free haul out at Port Townsend just when we needed it (see the Feb 13, 2014 post). We had places to stay. The weather during the few days before our trip was good. Everything seemed to be falling into place.

We were scheduled to go over on Thursday, with the haul out scheduled for first thing Friday morning.

On Wednesday, I took the car over to Port Townsend so that we would have a way to get back after we left the Gyr in Port Townsend.  It’s a 2 hour drive with a ferry ride from Edmonds to Kingston. I got to Pt. Townsend in time for lunch, visited with Stephen and Julia who own Haven Boatworks, and then caught the bus for home. One bus to Pouslbo, a second bus to Winslow, ferry back to Seattle, and a final bus ride back to Ballard for a final night on the Gyr. With my senior discounts, the whole trip cost $3.75. What a deal. I was home by 7:00 pm – a long day.

We had planned to leave the dock at 7 am, so that we would have the entire day to make the crossing. As I was returning to Seattle the night before, I got a phone call from Captain Ralph. He had just been notified that he had to fill in for someone on the Kitsap ferry where he was a fill-in captain. He had to work all night and then drive up from Kitsap, so we couldn’t leave at 7 as planned. It all worked out, because there was some fog on the sound in the morning, so leaving a little later turned out to be a good idea.

On the LUBR dock, before we weighed anchor - 8 am

On the LUBR dock, before we weighed anchor – 8 am

We knew that we had issues with the outer shaft bearings (the cutless bearings). When we had taken the boat out for its test drive before we purchased it (our only trip in the Gyr so far), several of the shaft bearings inside the boat had started to get warm as well. In preparation for the trip,  we had packed all the bearings with Teflon grease. After we had greased the bearings, we ran the boat with the engines in gear for several hours. The boat was tied to dock, and we ran one engine in forward and one in reverse, so the boat wouldn’t go anywhere. After an hour, the bearings had started to warm up, but were not yet dangerously hot, so we figured we had a good chance of making it to Pt. Townsend.

We decided to bring our big Zodiac with us as an emergency vehicle, in case of a disaster. Nancy bought a length of strong floating line, and we pulled the Zodiac behind us.

The morning of the trip dawned bright and calm. It took us several hours to get everything ready – so it was good that we didn’t try to start at 7 am. Ralph arrived around 8:30, and we pushed off the dock. We were in the locks by 9:00 am. The crew consisted of Nancy, Peter, Captain Ralph, and Ben Harry and Jim Martindale from Lake Union Boat Repair. Our friend Ken came out in his rowing skiff and took a number of pictures of the Gyr going through the locks. Thanks, Ken

The Gyr has left the dock (Ken Meyer photo)


For our first trip through the locks, we were behind a big fishing boat, so we went into the large locks. We tied to the wall behind the fishing boat. A smaller pleasure craft tied up to us. The locking went smoothly, and we were out in the sound.

The Gyrfalcon enters the locks (Ken Meyer photo)

In the large locks, with a small pleasure boat rafted to us

In the large locks

Leaving the locks, on the way to PT

The trip across was uneventful. The sound was smooth, the sun was shining and we were cruising. Finally. I had a huge grin on my face the whole trip over. We kept the speed slow – around 6 knots.

Nancy at the wheel

Crossing the Sound, Zodiac in tow

Jim and I kept an eye of the bearings, using infrared thermometers. One of the bearings continued to warm up, so after a few hours, we rigged up a water hose to drip on the bearing. That worked beautifully – we now had a water-cooled bearing.

Infrared thermometers for checking the bearings

Makeshift water-cooled bearings, using a hose running across the stateroom floor

For the entire crossing, we had a following wind and a following tide.  At one point, Ben and I pulled out the Adirondack chairs on the cabin roof for a little relaxation in the sun.

Discussions on the foredeck

Our crew, hard at work

Arriving at PT

After 6 hours, we made it into Pt. Townsend. The folks from Haven came and helped us tie up along the linear dock. Nancy drove Jim Martindale to Kingston so that he could catch a ferry home. I made dinner for the rest of the crew. Nancy returned several hours later and we ate and drank until at least 9:00.

The next morning we were up early. We registered with the Port and filled out the paperwork for the haul out.  The Port had hauled our sister ship, the Summer Wind, a number of times, and they eventually found the notes they had, so they knew where to put the straps for our boat.

Captain Ralph piloted the boat up to big Travel Lift, and they put the Gyr in the straps and lifted her out.

Ralph piloting the Gyrfalcon into the lift


A precision lift always has a few inches to spare

It is something to see 330,000 pounds (that’s 165 tons as measured by the scale in the Travel Lift) dangling in the air. Especially, when the 330,000 pounds represents your home and life. Needless to say, we were a lot happier when the Travel Lift brought the Gyr to Haven Boat works, and the supports and struts were in place. But it is still very odd to see a boat that large out of the water. It just does not look natural.

Supporting the Gyr out of water

The Gyr travels to its new homeThere will be another post soon regarding the repairs, but here are some pictures of the bottom of the boat. You can see how there were no bearings left at all in the affected cutless bearings.  You can also see the patch that was put in over the leaking thru hull.

Bad cutless bearing

Bad cutless bearing – after prop was removed. Note how off center the shaft is. KM photo

Thru hull patch. Rubber membrane, plywood and lots of screws. Probably it is better we didn’t know what it looked like!


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5 Responses to Crossing the Sound

  1. Diane Lander says:

    Wow – a great story! So glad that you made it. I am heading up to PT on Monday to see your big girl out of the water. Can’t wait to see her. How about the stem? Any plan there yet? Keep up the good stories. I love reading about it – and love it even more that you are paying the bill and not me LOL. All the best, Diane Lander MV Olympus and Marian II.

    • Diane, I was in PT at Baird (Haven) Boatworks with a friend who was having work done and saw the Olympus with her bow split open and a HUGE hunk of purple heart hanging in position ready to be fitted. They do great work don’t they. — Gary Shinn WANDER

      • Diane Lander says:

        Yes that new stem many years ago was a huge project. The lead carpenter was Stephen Gale – he is the owner of Haven now. Hope to see you on the water this summer. Diane

  2. John Molter says:

    Congratulations! I can relate to your experience, just not quite on your scale. Thanks for keeping us posted.
    John & Caroline

  3. Diane Lander says:

    Yes that new stem many years ago was a huge project. The lead carpenter was Stephen Gale – he is the owner of Haven now. Hope to see you on the water this summer. Diane

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