The Bell Street Rendezvous – 2014

The Bell Street Rendezvous is the biggest show of the year put on by the Classic Yacht Association (CYA), Pacific NorthWest Fleet , our old-boat group. It occurs every year over Father’s Day Weekend at the Bell Street Marina in downtown Seattle, at the foot of the Pike Street Market. There are usually around 50 wooden classics at the show. And we never get to go.

Almost every year, our pathology meeting (which we pretty much have to attend) falls over the same weekend as the Bell Street Rendezvous. We have only been able to go once in the 6 years we have owned wooden boats. But this year the scheduling gods smiled upon us and separated the two events so that we could go to Bell Street. Which was great, since many of the CYA members had not seen the Gyr since our “before” party over a year ago. This Bell Street Rendezvous would be the Gyrfalcon’s coming out party.

After we got back from the Pt. Townsend haul-out, there were many  last-minute things we wanted to do before Bell Street. I built a set of wooden steps for our permanent dock, so that we could get on and off the boat with a little more security than with the step ladder we had been using at Port Townsend. The steps started a little rickety, but after the addition of numerous lag-bolts, carriage bolts and steel tie-downs, I think we can withstand a tsunami.

Of course, by the time I was done, the steps can’t be moved from the dock, so Nancy did some on-line research and found a set of bright yellow plastic steps designed for stocking warehouse shelves that are just the right height, fairly inexpensive, and light enough that we can use the crane to put them on the upper deck when they aren’t in use.

Oh wait, all that means is that they weigh less than 9 tons.  Actually, they are quite light—about the weight of a plastic kayak.

Speaking of kayaks (note the nifty transition), we bought two in preparation for our summer cruise to the San Juan Islands. They are light, and bright (one in lime green, the other firecracker red).

They fit nicely on the upper deck. One of our guests at Bell Street pointed out that they were reversed., since the red boat was on the right (starboard) side. OK. It’s a boat joke. The starboard side navigation light is green, and the port side light is red.

Before the Rendezvous, we had several inside projects on the Gyr.  One of the most time consuming was cosmetic:  the passageway from the galley forward and the pilot house were the only remaining walls that had not been painted. Nancy took on this project – cleaning, sanding, masking, then priming, then epoxying, sanding, spot priming, then finish painting – a few hours each night after work and each morning before work.



The pilothouse prepped for painting

Pilothouse painting

Painting the passageway

Passageway after painting

Mountains of tape after the paint had dried

She completed the project just a day before we were leaving for Bell Street. (As with most of the painting projects, I was out of town for most of the time. Did I mention that I built the steps)?

Once the paint had dried, we were able to remove the sheets of luan that had been protecting the new marmoleum floor since it was installed last winter. We had almost forgotten how good the red floor looked.

Passageway after painting

We also asked the boys at LUBR to make us a flagstaff to fly the CYA burgee from the bow of the Gyrfalcon. They turned a beautiful piece of mahogany into a 4 foot flagpole that fit the stanchion perfectly. Now we were official.

Flagstaff and burgee in the shop

In the final couple of days before the Rendezvous, I completed the wiring in the guest staterooms – putting both an AC outlet and a DC LED light fixture in each stateroom. I finished up the morning that we were leaving the dock.

We had been asked if we could play host to several CYA members from Portland, who wanted to come to Bell Street, but were not bringing their boats. Since all of the guest staterooms were finished, we said we could accommodate three couples. John and Jane Lebens and David Wisdom offered to come up on Thursday morning to help us through the locks. We gladly accepted.

Going through the locks in the Gyrfalcon can be a challenge. If we go through the small locks, it is not too bad, since we are the only boat in the locks, and the floating walls make line tying easy (the bollards are right at chest level).  The large locks are more challenging since it is often a bit of a rodeo to get the boat near the lock wall and keep it there, and depending on the currents, the bow seems to want to pull away. Of course,  most of the time, we end up in the large locks We had planned to leave for Bell Street on Thursday afternoon, to give us plenty of time to get situated before the majority of the boats arrived on Friday and to be able to enter Bell Street Marina at high tide. Our guests arrived, along with Captain Rick Etsell, who was acting captain. We were really happy to have Rick along, since he has taken the Olympus into Bell Street multiple times. It is a tight turn at the head of the marina, and we figured if Rick could take the 92 foot Olympus in, the 88 foot Gyrfalcon should be a piece of cake.

Of course, we went through the large locks (one does not have a choice in which lock to use, the lock attendants decide). Nancy took the boat through the locks, with extensive coaching from Rick. We got through fine, and I learned an important lesson: you cannot move 165 tons of boat against a taut line. You have to wait until the boat moves and the line slacks a bit – then you can pull in the line.

We had a nice cruise around West Point to the Bell Street Marina. The turn at the head of the marina is a 90 degree left hand turn. Rick came in, turned the bow to the right, and backed the Gyr onto a long linear dock that had been reserved for us. Special thanks to Tom Brayton for the great shots he got of the Gyrfalcon at Bell Street.

The Gyrfalcon arrives at Bell Street, with the city of Seattle in the background

Captain Rick and Peter ponder the dock

It turned out that the part of the dock was already occupied by another boat, and the remainder was not quite long enough for us.  That meant that our bow extended beyond the dock, and  we did not have enough electrical cord to reach the power outlet on the dock. Rick offered to loan us the cord from the Olympus, since it would not be needed that weekend. By now, David’s wife Susan and our final guests, Jim and Maila Cadd, had arrived, so I offered to stay on the boat, while Rick and Nancy went to get the cord. I had grilled some salmon (from our earlier trip to Alaska), and we invited the early arrivals to Bell Street for hors d’oeuvres and drinks

Around twenty minutes after they left, I noticed that Rick had left his keys in the pilot house of the Gyr.

They returned around an hour later – they had gotten as far as the Olympus when they discovered they didn’t have the keys to its boathouse, so they went to our dock and got our permanent shore power cord.

The good news was that they arrived back in time for our reception. A lot of people came over, and were amazed by how much we had accomplished in a year and half. I think the nicest thing we heard was from one captain, who said, “You know, last year there was a lot of discussion as to whether or not you could pull this off. A lot of people didn’t think you could do it. Well, you really have done a super job.”  I smiled, thanked him and thought, “Well, you obviously don’t know Nancy. No way was she going to let this defeat her.”  Thanks to Bob and Jetty Wheeler for the gin and to our guests for the great food and company!

The next day was spent getting the boat ready for the show. We found that we were short one set of stairs for our guests to reach their bunk, so Roger and Janet on Encore lent us theirs.  Our guests/crew really pitched in for getting the boat ready. First they cleaned the decks and washed all the windows.

David washing down the pilot house roof, He appears to be balancing the Great Wheel of Settle on his legs

John washes the pilothouse roof

Jim washing outside windows

Maila polishing inside windows

The louvered doors in the passageway had become covered with dust because of the sanding/painting, and Jane meticulously cleaned each one.


Jane – still smiling after cleaning all the louvered doors

After that, they decided that the brass rail that surrounded the steps down to our stateroom was too tarnished, so they spent several hours with polish and rags bringing it to a fine glow, as well as just making our boat shipshape These guests are welcome back anytime.

Susan (and an unidentified foot) polishing the brass rails to our stateroom

Friday night there was a winetasting on the dock, sponsored by CYA, which we followed with some additional winetasting aboard the Gyrfalcon.

Painting the pilothouse required taking down all wire clips and wires.  On Friday afternoon, wires were still hanging down, draped over the windows and chart tables.  We were putting back up with wires as the first guests were arriving on the boat

Saturday morning, the Show officially opened. In the past, whenever we went to a show, only a few people came on the Guillemot – she was cute, but she was little. Now that we have migrated from the second smallest active boat in the fleet to the second largest, we figured that more people would come on board. We were not disappointed. We decided to let people see the wheelhouse, the galley and salon, our stateroom and the outside and upper decks. We kept the guest staterooms and the engine room off limits (although I was glad to show the engine room to anyone who was really interested).

Stern of the Gyrfalcon at Bell Street (Tom Brayton photo)

Before the boat opened, we took a tour through with our guests and answered as many questions as we could, so that they could answer questions by the public. Then we divided up and waited for people to come through.

And come through they did. There must have been several hundred visitors on the boat over the two days of the show. They oohed and awed and commented: “It’s as big as our house. Look at that kitchen. That stove is massive. You live here?” We were like proud parents. And by the end of each day, we were exhausted.  Thanks to our guests for making a Mee Sum Pastry run for some hum bao for nourishment.

In addition to the general public, most of the CYA members came aboard as well, and many had nice things to say about the Gyrfalcon and our progress over the last two years. We all got to take breaks and check out some of the other classics as well. It was, as always, a great weekend.

One of the things that seem to elicit the most comments was our rudder. It is large, a good bit of it sticks out of the water, and the two pony rudders makes it seem huge.

Gyrfalcon rudder (Tom Brayton photo)

When David Wisdom had come up the dock on Thursday, Nancy and I did a double-take: he looked exactly like a young version of Bill Rehm, the husband of Nancy’s mom.  During the weekend, we continued to be amazed at the similarities.  Nancy showed David and Susan photos of Bill, and they too were amazed.  It was uncanny. We set up a Facetime call, and Mom, Bill, David, and Susan all chatted.  After the call, David said, “well, now I know what I’ll look like in 10 years.  The wonders of modern communication.

The end of each day was greeted by many of the boats blowing their horns and whistles. Our horn is loud, and garners attention and respect. Nancy got a kick out of letting little kids blow it during the day as well. They would pull the rope, and jump back in shock when the horn blasted.

On Sunday afternoon, we left Bell Street and went back through the locks (large locks again, but almost no waiting time). A number of other participants were in the locks with us. We went to Lake Union Boat Repair and left the boat there, because we were going to have radar installed before our next voyage in two weeks to the San Juan and Gulf Islands.

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One Response to The Bell Street Rendezvous – 2014

  1. Nikki says:

    I really enjoyed touring the Gyrfalcon at he Bell Street Rendezvous. You’ve done such a great job with her. Right now my husband and I have a 33ft CC Cavalier, Nui Loa, which we love, but we’ve talked about someday getting something bigger, preferably older, and living aboard. Seeing what you’ve done with the Gyrfalcon makes me think it may actually be possible…someday. Thanks! Nikki

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