It has been a while since we’ve done a progress update on the boat because, well, our team has been busy making progress on the boat. And working full time jobs. And taking care of our families. And aging parents. All the while being attentive and available for our significant others.
If you were to graph out our progress since last fall, you’d see a nice gentle upward sloping line, with each week bringing the boat nearer to completion for the start of the Race to Alaska on June 14. The critical problem now is the timeline to the race start has a much steeper sloping line. We’ll get there, but without a lot of comfort.
We did achieve a pivot point a few weeks ago when Mike declared the deck work complete. After what seemed like decades of sanding, we put a skim coat of epoxy on the decks, then sanded (just for good measure) the entire above the water portion of the hull and shot paint to both the hull and the topsides. The hull paint is a system three two part paint in a color that Sherwin Williams describes as ‘Reflection Pool’. The non-skid decks are ‘Vashon Gray’.
We eased the boat out of the shop up in Skykomish without mishap and Mike towed it down to Shilshole where it currently sits in the yard. Cliff Hennen from Evergreen Rigging dropped off the new standing rigging and Robby attached it to the rig. Robby and I threaded wires the length of the mast to support the masthead antenna, running lights and wind instrument while Leigh cleaned the interior.
Robby and I took one full Saturday and together sanded the entire hull. Arms weary from holding sanders above our heads all day, we pronounced the hull perfect and, with some degree of effort and pain, hoisted a beer late in the afternoon. The following day, Mike inspected our work. He winced slightly as he ran his hands along the hull and said “well, it’s a good start.”
One issue we came across in the boatyard was a slight crack in the keel where the keel joins the hull. It’s been pronounced cosmetic by a couple of experts and likely the results of slightly loosened keel bolts allowing a little flex, so those are being torqued this week and we’ve got a little repair work to do to fix the exploratory grinding.
Hopefully she’ll be ready to splash this week. The sails should be ready by then as should be the new custom made sea berths.
We did solve our winch problem. The winches were rebuilt and 4 days after West Marine’s annual ‘buy one get one free’ winch sale, we found out that one of our primary winches was beyond repair. Timing is everything. So we now have two new Harken 35’s as primary. Full price, I might add.
So much work is being done but much remains on our plates. The nitty gritty of the food and consumables for a week plus of racing looms. And there’s the pedal drive that has had far more thought (lots and lots of thought) than actual water time (none to date).
We have about 6 weeks to go before the gun goes off, and I’m struck by just how much effort and disruption this has been for the entire team. It’s not just a few guys working on a boat. We’ve dragged our families and close friends in on this thing and while all are incredibly supportive and have materially contributed to our efforts, it is humbling to ponder the sacrifices of all concerned. Race prep has precluded many other activities. The things we haven’t done could fill volumes.
Life is about choices and we’re happy with the choices we’ve made. We’re coming out of this with a pretty cool boat and we hope to give new life to her racing career beyond the R2AK. But we have to give a deep bow to our families and support network. You know who you are. And we are incredibly and deeply appreciative of both the support and the sacrifices involved.
Forty years ago I took a leaky old project boat to Alaska. The idea to do that hit me in my sophomore year of college and just wouldn’t leave my head. I recall all the work done over the winter of ’77 and spring of ’78. That idea crystalized again in ’15 when R2AK was created. This past winter of ’17 and now spring of ’18 have brought out the same passions and fears of a much earlier time. Only this time there are far more friends and family to share the endeavor with.
Six weeks. Tick tick tick. Time to stop writing and tackle another project….
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