Our travels over week #1 to Desolation Sound

We realized that some of you might like to see our route as we headed north towards Desolation Sound.  This post is an accompaniment to Week 1.

First part of trip

Day 1, from Seattle, stopping at Pt Townsend (east of Pt Wilson) and heading north…

Second part of trip

Heading north across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, to the San Juans, through Mosquito Pass, and ending up at Reid Harbor, Stuart Island.  Following an overnight at Reid Harbor, we continued on to Bedwell for Canadian Customs, and then on…

third part

Leaving Bedwell, heading up to Clam Bay, where we spent the night before going through Porlier Pass and into the Strait of Georgia.

to copelands

Up the Strait of Georgia, to the east of Texada Island, to our anchorage in the Copeland Islands.

copeland to squirrel

From the Copelands, we headed north and spent a few days in Squirrel Cove, then headed over to Teakerne Arm, for our last anchorage of the first week.

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Week 1: Summer Cruise to Desolation Sound

Our long summer trip for 2015 was to Desolation Sound in July.  We had 3 sets of guests, each for a week.  Week 1 was Jacqueline, her daughter Emily, and Tom and Jessica.  Week 2 was Susan and David.  Week 3 was Randy and Peggy.  We had never been to Desolation Sound, so we spent a lot of time talking to boat friends about where to go and what to see.  Some of the best advice was from Dave and Tami, owners of Summer Wind.  We ended up making a PPT with charts and information about where to anchor or stern tie.  It was invaluable.

Photos were taken by Jacqueline Kirchner, Tom and Jessica Freeman, David and Susan Wisdom, and Peter Mann and Nancy Everds.

Saturday, June 27–Seattle to Stuart Island, Reid Harbor. We left Ewing Street Moorings at 6:30 am, and went through the small locks.


Threading the needle: Entering the small locks


The Gyr pretty much fills up the small locks.

We steamed to the north side of Marrowstone Island to a prearranged rendezvous point for provisioning. Chris and Esther and several of their friends motored out in their speedboat and delivered pork chops, bacon, pork roast, one dozen eggs (no poultry in Canada), garlic, greens and several dozen oysters from Island Fresh.


The crew from Island Fresh, Marrowstone

As we left Marrowstone, we heard a great conversation over the radio.  A tug captain was towing a barge south in the shipping lanes, and was talking to a cabin cruiser that was slowly motoring off of Marrowstone Point.  After some discussion about intentions and planned courses, the tug captain indicated that the pleasure boat should take a different route because, in his words:  “I don’t see myself altering course in the near future.”

We headed north (it was calm across the Strait of Juan de Fuca), and briefly saw 2 Orcas off Lime Kiln Point. We went through Mosquito Pass, through Roche Harbor, and anchored in Reid Harbor on Stuart Island.  We put kayaks and the GFB out for evening recreation.


Peter and Tom anchoring in Reid Harbor


Getting Emily in a kayak

 Sunday, June 28–Stuart Island to Clam Bay. We left Reid Harbor at Stuart Island in the late morning. We cleared customs at Bedwell – excellent docking by Captain Nancy. We started to head towards Ladysmith, but realized we would not make it by dark, so instead we went to Clam Bay – between Thetis and Pennlauket (which used to be Kuper) Islands.  It was our first time there, and it was lovely.  We had raw and grilled oysters for dinner – fantastic.  There were eagles on the shore, and a beautiful sunset.


Evening in Clam Bay

Monday, June 29Clam Bay to Copeland Islands. We left Clam Bay early in order to hit Porlier Pass at slack. We were a bit confused as to the proper time for slack tide. The electronic charts said slack was at 9 am, while the Canada Tides book said 8 am. We decided to trust the book. We went through around 8 am, and there was still several knots of current against us, but that was not enough to cause a problem. Later that day, we discovered that the times in the book were for standard time, not daylight, so 9 am was really slack. Crossing the Strait of Georgia was like glass – no waves, no wind.  We experienced the weird NW mirages.  At one point, there was a small boat that looked about 3 stories tall.  We told Jacqueline that the big white thing on the horizon was really a little speedboat, but ever the scientist, she did not believe what she could not see.  When the boat split into 2, I think she was convinced that it was a mirage.  We went up the mainland coast, and stuck our heads in at Secret Cove and Pender Harbor to look for possible future anchorages. Peter drove the boat in and out of both – first time for him using the props and rudders to steer and pirouette (if you can call turning an 88 ft boat pirouetting).  We anchored in a cove in the Copeland Islands, and did some kayaking.


Our anchorage in the Copeland Islands was in the bay north of the largest island


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Emily and Jacqueline kayaking

We were visited by a small boatfull of very drunk Canadians, who told us how beautiful the Gyr was.


We think she’s pretty too.

Tuesday, June 30 Copeland Islands to Squirrel Cove. We discovered that the  Garmin Chartplotter on the GFB had no data for Canada. We found out how important that was as we took the GFB to Savary Island for clams. We didn’t find any clams, but we realized as we were heading away from the island how shallow it was.  On the southeast side, there were lots of very large submerged rocks. Jessica and Nancy hung over the bow searching for rocks, and directed Peter to avoid them in a very slow trip back out to deep water.  That trip convinced us that we needed to get a new Chartplotter with a transducer.  Later, back on the Gyrfalcon, we steamed around Sarah Point, revealing our first view of Desolation Sound and the mountains on the mainland. Incredible. We went into Squirrel Cove on Cortez Island.

Squirrel cove

Our anchorage in Squirrel Cove was just south of the anchor symbol northwest of Protection Island.

We tried several anchoring sites in the cove – first was too close to a sailboat, second was taken by a boat as we approached, third was just right.  From our anchorage, we looked out through the pass between Protection and Cortez Islands. We went looking for a trail to a lake, but realized we were thinking of another island, instead, there was a trail to another inlet. But we got good practice with our new Anchor Buddy system on the GFB. We found rapids that went into a large lagoon. Jacqueline bodysurfed the rapids and managed not to get chewed up too much.  We watched 2 young guys trying to pull their dinghy from the lagoon back into the bay against the inflow of water.  We watched an older couple just sit it out, and wait for the tide to turn.  We put our crab pots out and did a little swimming in the bay.


Wednesday, July 1 Squirrel Cove.  We got 3 Dungeness crabs and several red crabs in the pots.


Tom and Peter crabbing

We went to the Squirrel Cove store – some by kayak, some in the GFB.

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Jessica kayaking

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Tom kayaking

We got supplies and gas for the GFB; it’s a nicely stocked store. You can only get gas at the dock at high tide – at low tide thedock is out of the water.  The store had a PC with an internet connection–we used it to order a new GPS/charts unit for the GFB, to be delivered to the hotel in Seattle where the Wisdoms would spend the night prior to their float plane trip to Desolation Sound.   Jacqueline and Nancy did a lot of kayaking. They found a small lagoon on the northeast side of Protection Island that remained full of saltwater but inaccessible at low tide due to rocks.  At high tide, it was possible to kayak into the lagoon.  The sandy bottom was covered with black sand dollars.




Jacqueline entering the black sand dollar lagoon at high tide


Black sand dollars


R&R for the captain


Nancy and Peter free floating


Thursday, July 2, 2015 – Squirrel Cove to Teakerne Arm.  We had a short crossing to Teakerne Arm.   There’s a provincial park there with a great waterfall.

Teakarne Arm

The park is at the top of the chart, near the 137 foot mark.  Bad Sex Cove and Great Sex Cove are on the eastern bay, east of the 25 foot mark.

Dave and Tami had told us about anchoring with a stern tie in Great Sex Cove, so we went looking for it, and found it around the corner from the waterfall.   We did our first stern tie – double line through an iron eye on the shore, near the head of the cove. We took the GFB out and dropped crab pots and discovered that we were anchored not in Great Sex Cove, but in one cove to the west (we saw the sign in the real GSC). We renamed our cove Bad Sex Cove.

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While all this was going on, we had noticed that the GFB was losing air (not a good sign).  However, the leak in GFB turned out to be in one of the air valves – fixed by putting on the cap.  We did lots of kayaking in Teakarne Arm on both days.  Nancy saw an oystercatcher actually catching an oyster.

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The oystercatcher, looking for an elusive oyster

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Hard at work breaking open a captive oyster

It uses its beak to work at the shell and hinge, and eventually pries it open.  She might have named them oysteropeners rather than oystercatchers, as the catching is not the difficult part.

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Lots of seals around our anchorage in Teakerne Arm


Friday, July 3, 2015 – Teakerne Arm. We were spending another night at Teakerne Arm, so we decided to reset the stern tie in the morning. We had some trouble with wind and current and could not get far enough back in the cove – Nancy was afraid of hitting rocks on either side. We ended up tying a single stern line. Bad idea. Our stern line is Amsteel. Once a knot is tied and under tension, it is difficult to untie. So we cut the lines both on the Gyr and on the shore, and moved to the real Great Sex Cove.

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Jacqueline single tied around 2 old iron eyes.  However, they turned out to be rusted, so we had to redo the line, which meant cutting it again.  Our final tie was around a tree.  For some reason, we didn’t learn–we still used a knot, and thought we would probably have to cut it.  The line was getting shorter–now around 250 feet.  The whole process of moving the lines took about 4 hours.  We’ll need to get better at stern ties.


After the stern-tying extravaganza, we went to Cassell Lake.  We took the GFB to the Provincial Park dock, climbed up the trail next to the Falls, hiked back through the woods, and jumped in the water.  It was refreshing and beautiful.


Looking down at Teakerne Arm from above the falls



The falls at Teakerne Arm Provincial Park



Jessica diving off rocks into Cassel Lake




Peter standing on logs at the outflow of Cassel Lake



Jessica, Tom, Nancy, and Peter at the falls

Saturday, July 4, 2015Teakerne Arm. Peter pulled crab pots with Tom and Jessica –no crabs.



Jessica, Tom, and Peter pulling up prawn traps


Not a prawn

For all the work pulling up prawn pots we got only 3 prawns and lots of little lobster-like things that were too small to keep. At 10:30, we got the Week 1 gang on the GFB (no easy task–like herding feral cats!) and motored to Refuge Cove.




Leaving the Gyrfalcon for Refuge Cove


Refuge Cove

David and Susan Wisdom arrived on Kenmore Air at 11:30 am.


David and Susan arrive, complete with GPS from Amazon.com

We all had lunch together at the snack bar, and the Wisdoms/Everds-Manns bought food, liquor and block ice for week 2.  The Freemans and Kirchner-Connolly were the only passengers going back from Refuge Cove on the float plane – with a stop at Mink Island and Bliss Point for 1 additional passenger at each.


Our departing guests: Emily, Jacqueline, Jessica, and Tom

After seeing the Week 1 crew off, we came back to Gyr anchored on the Teakerne. When we were grocery shopping at Refuge Cove for the upcoming week, we mentioned to David and Susan that we had accumulated quite a few leftovers from the week before. They said, “That’s great. We love leftovers.” We ate leftovers for dinner.

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Press Release from the Gyrfalcon

TFI Charters is pleased to announce that Captain Nancy Everds has recently earned her 100 Ton license from the US Coast Guard. This means that Captain Nancy is now fully qualified to run the Gyrfalcon, and that we can now offer full charter services.

Here is a photo of Captain Nancy showing off her new license

Captain Nancy with her 100 ton license

Captain Nancy with her 100 ton license

Meanwhile, Chief Engineer and Bottle-washer, Peter, will remain belowdecks, where (some would say) he belongs.

Please join us is congratulating Captain Nancy on this achievement.

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Life on the Gyrfalcon:  A Poop Story

Life is never dull on a boat.

Our friends Andy, Joellen and Katie Hathaway have been staying on the Gyr while their boat, Twin Isles is on the hard in Port Townsend.

Before they arrived, we arranged to have the holding tank for the guest head pumped. For those of you who live on the land, the waste from all three heads goes into holding tanks (also called black water tanks).When the levels of waste rise, we call Pump-Me-Out, and they come by and pump all the waste into the tanks on their boat, and then properly dispose of it. It is a floating sewage system, and part of living on the water.

The last time Pump-Me-Out had been by, they left us a note that the vent on the guest holding tank was blocked, and they were not able to pump it out. However, since there was an indicator in the guest head, and it indicated that the tank was almost empty, I put unclogging the vent low on my to-do list.

Of course, that was when the poop hit the fan.

First the head quit working. We have a vacuum system. There is an electric pump that pulls a vacuum in a large accumulator tank. When one flushes the head, the vacuum pulls the waste through the accumulator,  then through the pump, and then pushed it into the holding tank.

The pump was running, but was not pulling a vacuum in the accumulator. After discussions with the gang at LUBR, we determined the most likely culprit was the pump. So I crawled into the space next to the head, and pulled out the pump. I took it into LUBR and we tested it – it ran fine and pumped a strong stream of water.

Further discussions determined that if the pump was good, and there were no obvious leaks in the system, the accumulator must be plugged. Last night Andy and I removed the accumulator, and discovered that it was indeed plugged , but mostly with a small amount of toilet paper. Which seemed odd to us, since we thought that the vacuum and the pump were powerful enough that they should have pulled that amount through with no trouble.

In any case, we put everything back together, and the head flushed fine. We were pleased but still puzzled.

This morning, Chris M from LUBR was coming aboard to check several items on the Gyr. I asked him to check out our work on the accumulator. He discovered that although what we had done was fine, there was back pressure in the system originating in the holding tank. He went down to the tank itself, and discovered that it was totally full (so full that the plastic tank was bulging outwards).

Remember the light on the gauge that said the tank was empty?  – It lied.

At that point I got serious about unclogging the vent – which was the reason that the tank had not been pumped earlier. Where the vent line enters the boat, there was what looked like a spiders nest with organic material and eggs, which was totally blocking the vent line.

So to review: A spider blocked the vent line, which meant that the tank was not pumped, so the tank filled and filled, even though the indicator said it was empty, and the back pressure prevented the pump from pushing the waste into the tank, and the accumulator clogged and the head would not flush, and the tank got fuller and fuller.

Chris thought that either the indicator light or the float mechanism had failed. Which was OK with me, since he had installed them, and we could all blame him. After the tank was pumped – no problem once the vent line had been cleared of spider condos – Chris came back and discovered that the problem was that the float balls in the tank were gummed up – probably because that tank does not get used unless we have guests, so over time, things dried up and stuck the floats. So now I can’t blame Chris, so I guess it was entirely the fault of the Spider (It’s never the Engineer’s fault!)

I know that people like to see lots of photographs on the blog, but I thought that we would not include any for this blog entry – besides smell was the predominant sense here.



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The Year of Delignification, Part 2

Water in the forward bilges

We have 14 bilge pumps on the Gyrfalcon. In each of the largest compartments, there are 2 pumps deep in the bilge and a larger emergency pump above them in case the primary pumps are overwhelmed. Last winter, we noticed that the pump in the forward bilge was working quite a bit when there was a bit of chop, we were shipping water somewhere. We discussed it with the brain trust at Haven, and they decided that it was most likely on the port side of the bow where the most forward planks met the anchor guard. We decided to open the can of worms, since they felt it would not be a major repair. One should always be careful of what one wishes for. It turned out that the bow end of six planks were rotten.


One of our Delignified (Rotten) Planks – looked good from the outside

Although the outside of the planks appeared solid, the insides had – you guessed it – delignified. Because the boat is so long, the individual planks are long as well. But that’s OK because…

We buy lumber by the tree

It is hard to get good fir planks. After Mount St. Helens erupted, there was a lot of fir from downed trees available. A lot went into planking for wooden boats. Unfortunately (and for reasons that no one seems entirely clear about), this fir was substandard, and, when used for planking on boats, rotted out after just a few years, causing major headaches for owners and shipyards alike. Because of this debacle, many folks in the Puget Sound area no longer trust fir.

But I guess it depends on where your fir originates. I got a call from Stephen Gale of Haven sometime last year. He said, “Peter, I am up here in Canada with my sawyer, and he just took down a really nice fir tree. I think we should buy it for the Gyrfalcon. It is long enough that we can get some good planks out of it. I’m sure we will use it.” He was right. The problem we have getting planks is not the thickness of the boards, but rather the length. We have very long planks on the boat, and there aren’t too many really long fir trees available. Besides, there is something classy (although frightening) about being able to say, “We don’t buy boards; we buy lumber by the tree.” We used most of our tree this spring on the various projects on the Gyrfalcon.

Our tree

Our tree, before it was converted into planks for the 2015 projects


Some of the planks ready to be shaped and put on the Gyr

Once we made the decision to open the area, we had no choice but to continue until all the bad planks had been replaced. Here are a few pictures of this project


Starboard bow: After the anchor guard and the six bad planks were removed

The original planks were attached (in 1941) with Monel Steel spikes. Monel is a vey hard grade of steel. Unfortunately, one is no longer avaliable

Original Monel spiked

Original Monel spikes

We tried to save as many of the original spikes as possible, but sometimes they became distorted and unusable during the removal process

A bucket

A bucket of Monel spikes removed with the old planks

When we couldn’t re-use the original spikes, we substituted large bronze screws. At $9.00 a screw, we tried to salvage as many of the Monel spikes as we could.


Bronze screw replacement

Here is a shot of the new planks in place with a fresh coat of bottom paint


New planks in place

Soft spot in a plank on the port side

Last year when we were painting the hull before the Gryfalcon went back in the water, we noticed there was a large soft spot in one of the planks between two portlights in the aft section of the port side. Although it did not appear to be a significant problem at the time, it was not good thing, so we had planned to have it repaired this year. It was a fairly straight-forward repair – only one plank was affected, the underlying frames were solid, and there were no unexpected findings. A new plank was fitted and painted, and we are good to go.


Plank between the portlights removed


New plank after painting


The sponson is the long piece that projects out from the hull of the boat between the deck and the waterline that protects the boat from contact with other objects. It is also called the rub-rail. In our case, the sponson originally consisted of two laminated pieces of fir which were capped by a solid piece of ironwood. Over the years, our sponson on the port side had suffered damage. Last year a piece about 6 foot long fell off the boat. It had been repaired once before, and the repair did not last.

We knew that the sponson had to be replaced at some point – it was no longer functional where the chunk was missing, there was probably water getting into the boat in the damaged area, and it was aesthetically unpleasing.  Replacing an 88 ft sponson was no easy task.  The end result is a piece of art.

First, the old sponson had to be removed. In addition, the shearstrake – the planking under the sponson that connects the hull to the deck was also bad in places, so it was removed as well


Old sponson and shearstrake removed the entire length of the boat


Supporting frames and timbers under the shearstrake

As they removed the old sponson and shearstrake, they made a pattern at each frame member, so that the new sponson and shearstrake would fit exactly


Pattern placed over planks for the new shearstrake

The planks for the shearstrake were laminated from two pieces of fir, while the sponson was purpleheart (the same wood that was used for th horntimber).


Caulking the new shearstrake – 2 fir planks


Sponson (purpleheart) over the laminated shearstrake (fir)

Putting the new shearstrake and sponson on the boat was a team effort. Since our May 15 launch date was rapidly approaching, Haven threw a big crew at the project.


Installing a portion of the shearstrake


Members of the Haven team working on the shearstrake

View from above

View from above as the sponson is attached to the shearstrake

Relaunch in mid-May

After 5 1/2 months, we were ready to be launched again.  Two friends, Ken and Sarah, came over with us to Port Townsend as crew.  The moment a wooden boat goes back in the water is a scary one–until the boards swell, the boat takes on lots of water.  Since the Gyrfalcon had been out for so long, we sat in the slings awhile until everyone felt comfortable about setting us free.  The boys from Haven brought over a large auxiliary pump, but it was not needed. We stayed at the dock on Friday night, and were visited by friends Chris and Es of Island Fresh.  By the evening, the influx of water had slowed to a trickle.  We were off the next morning for Seattle.  It was an uneventful trip back.  As soon as we arrived back at our home dock in Seattle, we hopped into our 20 foot zodiac (the Go-fast-Boat) and headed back across the Sound to Port Townsend to pick up our car. The weather was so calm that we were able to go 35 mile an hour on the trip over – we got there in an hour and 45 minutes – the trip to Settle  in the Gryfalcon took six hours! Nancy piloted the Go-fast-Boat back to Seattle by herself, and Peter drove the car back. While Peter was waiting in line at the Kingston Ferry, he got a call from Nancy that she was safely home.  After we arrived back in Seattle, we started preparations for a big summer trip.

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The Year of Delignification, Part 1

Note: This is a long post about our extended time on the hard in Port Townsend from January to May 2015. We have divided it into two parts.

If you hang around wooden boats long enough, you get to learn a lot of new terminology. This year’s major new word was Delignification, defined as “removal of lignin from woody tissue (as by natural enzymatic or industrial chemical processes)”. Pretty clear, right?  Lignin is “an organic substance binding the cells, fibers and vessels which constitute wood and the lignified elements of plants “ So, lignin is what holds wooden boards together, and when you delignify, the boards crumble – usually from the inside out.

So how does this happen? My understanding is that when you have a combination of certain metals, wood and salt water, there is the potential to generate a small electrical current, which causes corrosion, which forms basic alkalis, which are responsible for the actual delignification. In order to prevent this, the metal pieces of boats which are below the water line, and thus exposed to the salts in sea water, are fitted with sacrificial zinc anodes. The idea is that the zinc is more attractive to the salts than the through hulls, and the zincs corrode rather than the through-hulls. For a number of years, it was assumed that one zinc: good, many zincs: better. This is not true, and the correct amount of zinc can be measured. We are assuming that we have been overzinced in the past, and this is largely responsible for the number of delignified planks on the boat.

I’m sure that this Baby Physics Lesson has left many of you with glazed eyes: Just remember the words of Stephen Gale at Haven Boatworks, “the boards have the consistency of cat puke.”

A [lank from the Gyrfalcon - rotted from the inside out - the missing portion has been delignified

A plank from the Gyrfalcon – rotted from the inside out – the missing portion has been delignified

Another visit to Port Townsend

All of this delignifiction menat another extended visit to Haven Boatworks in Port Townsend for some major work. We left Seattle on January 2, 2015, with our neighbors Andy and JoEllen Hathaway as crew.

Gyrfalcon leaves Settle for Port Townsend (Thanks to Jacqueline Kirchner)

Gyrfalcon leaves Settle for Port Townsend (Thanks to Jacqueline Kirchner)

When we arrived in Port Townsend, we realized that no matter how bad our problems – there is always a boat in worse condition. Here are a few shots of The Western Flyer – the boat where John Steinbeck wrote The Log of the Sea of Cortez.  After many years of service, she spent the last several years on the bottom, and has been rescued for restoration.


The Western Flyer


Just a few cosmetic repairs

The Horn Timber

Another new term. The horn timber is the fore-and-aft structural member of the hull sloping up and backwards from the keel to support the counter, which is the part of the stern above the waterline that extends beyond the rudder stock to the back of the fantail.

Bluprint of horntimber -

Blueprint of horntimber, outlined in red

The rudder runs through the center of the horn timber, and all the planks in the aft of the boat are tied to the horn timber. It is, to say the least, an essential part of the boat. And on the Gyrfalcon, the horn timber was delignified.

Last year, when we left Port Townsend, Stephen told us that the boat was good as long as we stayed in inland waters, but that we could get into trouble if we had strong following seas (the waves hitting the aft of the boat could play havoc with the weakened horn timber. Therefore replacing the horn timber was the Number One priority for the 2015 haul out.

The horn timber on the Gyr is massive (like everything else on the boat). The plan was to remove the old horn timber, and then fabricate a new one from several pieces of purpleheart (a very strong, dense, water-resistant wood). The plan called for replacing the current one piece horn timber with several pieces.  Using several pieces meant that the planks that ended at the horn timber did not have to be removed.  By using several pieces to form a huge laminate, the shipwrights would be able to maneuver the pieces in place and then bolt them together.

In preparation for taking out the old horn timber, the rudder was removed, both props and prop shafts were removed, and the sole (floor) of the lazarette had to be ripped out as well. The lazarette is the rear locker under the deck of the fantail. It is also referred to as the paint locker. Interestingly enough, the word is also used to designate a boat that is a quarantine station, or a hospital for lepers. We found lots of interesting things when the sole was cut out, but no lepers.

The shafts have been removed again - it seems like a yearly event

The shafts have been removed again – it seems like a yearly event


Forklift supporting the rudder post after removal of rudder

Rudder after removal from Gyr

Rudder after removal from Gyr

The first issue was to figure out how far forward the horn timber ran. If there was enough solid horn timber forward of the rotten portion, it would be possible to scarf (overlap joints) them together. Unfortunately, the Gyrfalcon is so heavily built, it was not possible to see the forward end of the horn timber – it was covered by massive frames – without removing most of the planks at the aft of the boat, which would have been extremely expensive, even in Gyrfalcon terms.

Nancy and I had heard that HC Hanson, the naval architect who designed the Gyrfalcon, had donated all of his blueprints and plans to the Whatcom County Museum in Bellingham. It so happened that we were in Pt. Townsend when the discussions about the exact layout of the horn timber were going on, so we took the ferry back to the mainland, and headed to the Museum Archives.

The Hanson papers were not indexed – just box after box of blueprints and other papers. The Archivist was great. He kept bringing us new boxes while we searched for the one blueprint of the Gyrfalcon that would show the exact placement and dimensions of the horn timber. It took about 3 hours. We found lots of cool blueprints of the Gyrfalcon, and finally came upon the exact one that we needed. We took photographs and sent them back to Haven, where they used them to determine the extent of the project. Fortunately for everyone, there was enough good wood to allow a scarf that would be strong and permanent.


Hanson blueprint, showing horntimber from above

It took 2 shipwrights just over 4 months to take out the old horn timber, fabricate new pieces, install the new purpleheart horn timber, repair the lazarette, and put all the running gear back in the boat. Unfortunately, we could not put more than two people on the project because of the small spaces involved – anymore and they would be tripping over one another. The following pictures will, hopefully, give a sense of the enormity of the project


Stern after removal of planks to gain access to the horntimber


Nancy inspects the horntimber


Leland in the lazarette, removing the old horntimber


Blaze and Leland discussing the project


Leland working on one of the new pieces in the shop

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One piece after final shaping


All the pieces of the new horntimber fabricated and primed ready for installation

After all of the piece were manufactured, they were carefully inserted into the lazarette using the fork lift


One of the pieces being put in place


Horntimber and struts in place in the lazarette


Sideview, midway through the project. Most of the new horntimber has been installed; planks still need to be replaced


Largest piece of new horntimber in place

To be continued……

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Labor Day Cruise to San Juans, Gulfs, and Victoria BC-Part 2

Note:  This blog is written by Nancy, with help from Jessica’s timeline.  Pictures are by Tom, Jessica, David, Susan, Peter, and Nancy.  Commentary in italics is by Peter. 

Day 3 (Monday, Aug 25th): Mid-morning

After paddling over the the Adventuress, Jessica and I returned to the Gyrfalcon.  Jessica demonstrated the most elegant kayak exit yet–she easily stepped out of the kayak and into the Gyrfalcon.  Pictures below for Peter and Dennis W. to take note:

Jessica demonstrating an alternative to the Beached Whale technique of Nancy and the Drowned Rat technique of Peter and Dennis (see last trip)

Jessica demonstrating an alternative to the Beached Whale technique of Nancy and the Drowned Rat technique of Peter and Dennis (see last trip)

Note--Jessica did not go swimming.

Note–Jessica did not go swimming.

We got underway a little before noon, and headed via Boundary Pass over to Bedwell Harbor on Pender Island to clear Canadian Customs.  On our way into the harbor, we saw a small zodiac with a man and his granddaughter heading on a collision course with our bow.  He was looking the other way, and somehow didn’t see us.  Peter sounded the airhorn when it became clear that he didn’t see us.  His eyes got as big as saucers as he rapidly adjusted his course.

At the customs dock, there was a bit of a current pushing us off.  I tried a couple times to maneuver up to the dock, but was unsuccessful.  On the final try, it looked to me like I’d finally figured how to dock this boat in current, but just then a customs official came out and said to just call in to Ottawa.  I was a little disappointed, but not so much that I insisted on trying again.  After customs, we headed over to Swanson Channel.

Our next stop was Glenthorne Passage, with is the body of water between Secret and Prevost Islands.  Every year Curt and Marsha Erickson throw a big bash at their place in Secret Island.  We had never been to the event, but had heard rave reviews, and were excited to be invited this year.  We entered the narrow passage, and, with the help of Rick Etsell, dropped our anchor, backed against the anchor rode, and stern-tied to Teal (see previous blog–we had met up with Teal at Roche Harbor).

Stern-tied to Teal in Glenthorne Passage

Stern-tied to Teal in Glenthorne Passage

Teal was rafted to Deerleap on her starboard side and tied to a substantial buoy.  On the other side of the buoy, Olympus was stern-tied and was anchored at her bow.  It was quite a sight!  There were also several other CYA boats nearby.  We went ashore and had a wonderful time.  Curt and Marsha are gracious hosts and we all enjoyed ourselves tremendously.

Teal and Deerleap at Glenthorne Passage

Teal and Deerleap at Glenthorne Passage

A gaggle of fantails at Glenthorne Passage

A gaggle of fantails at Glenthorne Passage

Days 4 and 5 (Tuesday, Aug 26th and Wednesday, Aug 27th)

On Tuesday, boats headed out of Glenthorne Passage.  We hugged the coastline, went back through Swanson Channel to Satellite Channel (around the Saanich Peninsula) and into Saanich Inlet to Brentwood Bay Marina.

One of the challenges of cruising in the Gulf Islands is the large number of BC ferries going every which way.  It was challenging to try to figure out where the ferries were going, and which way to go to avoid them.

BC Ferry

BC Ferry

Deerleap got to Brentwood Bay before us, so we just pulled in right behind them.  It was my first solo docking.  Exciting!!!

At the dock at Brentwood Bay

At the dock at Brentwood Bay

After we were docked, Peter turned on the hydraulics and started operating the crane.  Due to a combination of equipment and operator malfunction, we managed to crack a hydraulic fitting.  Rescue Tape (every abode and vehicle should have a roll or two) once again was the miracle it is advertized as .  With the crane decommissioned, we used people power to lift the steps on and off the dock.  It was doable, but not fun.

Comment from Peter: Nancy is being kind. Total Operator Error on my part. Thanks to the crew for the incredible cleanup effort.

Jessica making temporary repair on crane

Jessica making temporary repair on crane

Jessica had several moments of enlightenment at Brentwood Bay.  She took a long ride in the go-fast-boat and saw her dream house on its own peninsula with its own boat house and breakwater.  She also discovered that she loves Tillamook yogurt (one of my everyday staples).

Jessica's dream house

Jessica’s dream house

The crew re-provisioned the boat by hiking up the hill to a small store.  It turns out that Dr. Pepper was a staple on this trip.  It always is for Peter and me, but our guests seemed to be quite fond of it as well–we needed several restocking trips.  The fondness for Dr. P made sense when I realized that it’s a crew of predominantly southern origins (David–New Orleans; Tom-Florida; Jessica–Knoxville; Peter–Texas).  For once, we didn’t need to reprovision the liquor cabinet..

Comment from Peter: Not to suggest that we drank Dr. Pepper instead of alcohol, – we just had plenty of booze on board. Every night on this cruise was greeted by a round of gin and tonics for everyone (except Nancy who can’t stand the taste) before dinner.  Tom had made sure that there was plenty of gin on board before we left, and the only time I saw him begin to worry was in when we got to Victoria and the gin was a getting low – he headed straight for the liquor store to rectify the situation. It turned out that the Wisdoms enjoyed a Sundowner as well, so what could I do but join in. None of us was in danger of developing scurvy or malaria.

We spent two nights moored at Brentwood Bay.  We took trips around the harbor in the GFB and generally relaxed.  The common denominator of relaxation seems to be G&Ts, except for me…I stuck to beer or wine.

David and Susan relaxing

David and Susan relaxing

Jessica and Tom

Jessica and Tom relaxing


Peter relaxing

Capt Nancy relaxing

Capt Nancy relaxing

Dinner one night was a Canadian CYA hosted potluck planned by Donnell O’Donnell from Merva.

Donnell, our host at Brentwood Bay

Donnell, our host at Brentwood Bay

With the gang at Brentwood Bay (D. Hutchhausen photo)

With the gang at Brentwood Bay (D. Hutchhausen photo)

We ate on the patio overlooking the harbor.  The next night, we all decided that there were enough leftovers to have Potluck #2 on the Gyrfalcon.

Potluck on the Gyrfalcon with CYA friends

Potluck on the Gyrfalcon with CYA friends

Potluck on the Gyrfalcon with CYA friends

Potluck on the Gyrfalcon with CYA friends

Potluck on the Gyrfalcon with CYA friends

Potluck on the Gyrfalcon with CYA friends

Day 6 (Thurs, Aug 27th)

We left Brentwood Bay at 0630 in order to arrive at Victoria by noon, and followed Deerleap up the channel.  We were glad to have the Deerleap leading the way (Slim and Peter Riess) since we had never gone in some of the channels.  A few were pretty narrow with lots of current.  Our course was as follows:  Satellite Passage to Colburn Passage, and then John Passage between Goudge and Coal Islands.

Sunrise at Brentwood Bay

Sunrise at Brentwood Bay

On our way to Victoria BC

On our way to Victoria BC

Nancy at the helm

Nancy at the helm

We then went through Sidney Channel and Baynes Channel (this was the rough one) into Haro Strait.  After that, it was an easy ride on the outside of Trial Island into Victoria Harbor.  There was lots of radio chatter with other old wooden boat people–we had fun listening in.  We got to Victoria harbor at about 1115, so had to wait about 1/2 hour to go in until the docks were clear of plastic boats.


Then docking.  This was the moment that had kept me up at night (for many nights).  Our slip assignment in Victoria was at the land end of a 200 ft linear dock, bow out, which meant I had to turn around in the harbor and back, stern first, down the dock  for almost the length of a football field.  And maybe that doesn’t seem that far to you either, but it did to me.  Think of backing a semitruck down a narrow alley.  I’d never backed this boat in close quarters and didn’t know how she would behave, so I was worried.  I had consulted with several experienced captains prior to going into Victoria, but it was still pretty nerve-wracking.  I didn’t lack for on-site advisors–there were lots of people on the dock trying to be helpful.  The hardest part was to get lined up correctly in order to start in reverse (Once you get the stern in the slip, it gets much easier.).  My first attempt was a bit off…I let the wind/current push the stern too near to the dock.  About when I decided that I needed to realign before entering the slip, I heard 2 loud shouts.  One said: “You’re doing great, come on back”, and the other said “Abort!”  I realigned and tried again, and this time my angle was good and I got into the slip.

Victoria Harbor, with Gyrfalcon next to Deerleap

Victoria Harbor, with Gyrfalcon next to Deerleap



Since our Victoria trip, I’ve had the occasion to back up about 400 ft along the fuel dock in Ballard.  What I found is that the Gyrfalcon tracks beautifully in reverse.  It’s fairly easy to course correct and she holds a course very well.  Next time when I back into a slip, I’ll have more confidence in both me and the Gyr.

Days 7, 8, and 9 (Fri, Aug 29th to Sun Aug 31st): The Annual Victoria Classic Boat Festival

We had a wonderful time at the 37th Annual Victoria Classic Boat Festival for the weekend.  We were docked right opposite Deerleap.

Muffins before the crowds descend

Muffins before the crowds descend

We used the muffins that we had made for breakfast to stage the galley using our official US Coast and Geodetic Survey chinaware.  How cool is that!

US Coast and Geodetic Survey Place Setting

US Coast and Geodetic Survey Place Setting

We had about 2100 visitors over the 3 day event.  Our crew was stupendous at manning the decks and providing information to visitors.  Susan was greeter extraordinaire (she has a future at Walmart, if she wants it!) She and Peter Riess (gatekeeper on the Deerleap) had lively conversations.  David sounded like he had known about the boat forever, and Tom and Jessica mostly manned the fantail station, answering questions and keeping traffic moving.

The fantail docents

The fantail docents

Tom looking salty

Tom looking salty

Peter Riess greeting guests on the Deerleap

Peter Riess greeting guests on the Deerleap

For the Sunday morning sail-past, we joined Deerleap and had a great time.

Slim on Deerleap

Slim on Deerleap


Later, Tom and Jessica went up to the Thrifty behind the Parliament Building on Saturday to get more gin, tonic and limes.

Then David and I went back on Sunday to get salad fixings, dessert, and delicious BC cherries.  On Sunday evening, we attended the closing banquet at the Union Club.  We were all impressed with the quality of the food.  We expected rubber chicken but were astounded with by the deliciously moist, perfectly seasoned roast chicken breast.  We ended the perfect day back on the Gyrfalcon, probably with some more gin and tonics.

Day 10 (Mon, Sept 1st)

After great fun at the Victoria Boat Show, it was time to head back home.  We started the engines at about 0700, and headed over to Friday Harbor to clear US Customs.  There were lots of sea mammals this day–porpoises, sea lions, harbor seals, a few orcas (with the Olympics in the distance–beautiful), and a big whale that we maybe saw.  Or maybe it was our imagination.

Clearing Customs in Friday Harbor was fairly uneventful.  I had to do a lot of maneuvering since there was a boat taking up part of the customs dock.  But we got in, cleared customs, and went on our way.  Jessica almost got left on the dock as the Gyr seemed quite impatient to pull away from the dock once the bow line was released.

At the Customs Dock at Friday Harbor

At the Customs Dock at Friday Harbor

We saw two sea lions while cruising into and out of Friday Harbor.  We also saw Teal, returning from Victoria to her home port.

Teal coming into Friday Harbor, her home port

Teal coming into Friday Harbor, her home port

As we headed south we encountered a puffin.  Tom and Nancy maybe saw the back of what was reported to be a pilot whale.  We say porpoises right and left (or I guess I should say starboard and port) as we enjoyed very placid seas and sunny skies.

After crossing the placid Strait of Juan de Fuca, we traveled past Port Townsend and through the Port Townsend canal, into Oak Bay.  We continued on past the entrance to Matt Matts Bay and into Port Ludlow. One the way into the harbor, Jessica saw a few seals playing with what appeared to be a partially deflated yellow soccer ball.  They would skirmish, pull it under, then up it would pop a few seconds later to the giggles of seal laughter.  We spent the night at Port Ludlow.  We had never anchored there before, but it’s a nice anchorage that’s closer to Seattle than Port Townsend.  We had hors d’ouvres on the fantail and dinner in the pilot house.  It doesn’t get much better than this.

Hors d'ouvres on the fantail

Hors d’ouvres on the fantail

Hors d'ouvres on the fantail

Relaxing before dinner in Port Langley

Last night of the trip in Port Langley

Last night of the trip in Port Langley

Last night of the trip in Port Langley

Last night of the trip in Port Langley

Day 11 (Tuesday, Sept 2nd)

It was the last day of our trip.  We needed to get folks home and on their way, so we got the anchor up at 0720, and got on our way.  Jessica worked the winch, and David cleaned up the muck that the anchor pulled up.

Jessica working the winch

Jessica working the winch

David swabbing the deck

David swabbing the deck

Sunrise leaving Port Langley

Sunrise leaving Port Langley

We passed Point No Point, headed into a bit of morning fog, and caught our first glimpse of Seattle in the distance around 0845.  At about 1000, we heard Peter scream: ‘Holy fuck a field of Phalarope’ as we cruised by a flock of little shore birds.  We cruised around, got some photos, and Peter was in heaven.


We attempted to time our return to miss the majority of vacation boaters, but the locks were quite busy when we arrived around 1130.  But I must be getting better–I managed to lock through flawlessly, and the crew executed their duties expertly.  We were on an unexpected starboard tie in the large locks.  We had lots of company:  Daedalus, the 151 foot Boeing yacht, and a whole flotilla of other large cruisers watched as we motored in and out.

Along the wall in the large locks

Along the wall in the large locks

Manning the lines in the large locks

Manning the lines in the large locks

After the locks, it was back to the dock.  Peter invented a new way of getting on and off the boat–using the very large fenders as a step to get down on the dock.  It’s worked the best of anything we’ve tried.  One would think that there was a danger of the fender spinning around (think log-rolling), but the friction on the hull seems to keep the fender in place as long as he’s careful.

All in all, it was a fantastic cruise.  Great crew, great food, and wonderful scenery.  We can’t wait for the next extended cruise!

Our wonderful guests/crew

Our wonderful guests/crew

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