Working hard to get back on the boat, but having fun

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The sign above hangs in our friend’s bathroom and every day that we housesit here provides a reminder about what we’re doing to get back aboard Yahtzee.

For us, there certainly is a lot of truth to it, and while “better” is a relative term in this case, different might be more apt. Living on land while we work on Yahtzee is just different, and not what we’re used to. In my last post I laid out why living and cruising the way we do works well for us, and the sense of fulfillment and purpose we find with our nomadic life has only increased as work progresses on Yahtzee. 

So what’s going on with Yahtzee?

The boat basically has two major areas that are being worked on: the rudder and the skeg. In order to work on the skeg, we had to completely drop the rudder from the bottom of the boat, which was fairly straightforward if time consuming. Once it was out, I was moving it and heard water sloshing around so I drilled a hole in the bottom and a large puddle of water proceeded to pour out. Not good.

Water pours out of our rudder and pools on the ground.
Water pours out of our rudder and pools on the ground.

In assessing the cost of rebuilding the rudder here in Seattle versus shipping it to Florida to have a new one made, it became obvious that new was the way to go. And our decision was confirmed when it got to Florida and they opened it up to find it hollow, very wet and unrepairable. Rudders shouldn’t be hollow. Or wet inside. Had we gone the route of trying to repair it here by ourselves, it would have wound up being a massive waste of time and money — neither of which we have — so we’re glad we went ahead and sent it to professionals that specialize in making rudders. They’re working on it now and we hope to have the new one in the next two weeks.

A look inside our hollow rudder. What the....?
A look inside our hollow rudder. What the….?

As for the skeg, this is where we found the primary source for the water that was leaking into the boat. The several layers of fiberglass that were delaminating were allowing water to find its way in through a void at the trailing edge of the skeg just forward of where the rudder stock enters the hull. We wouldn’t have found it, though, if we (our awesome fiberglass guy, Ethan) hadn’t peeled back the many layers of fiberglass that were adding strength to the skeg itself.

Literally prying off sheets of bad fiberglass from around the skeg.
Literally prying off sheets of bad fiberglass from around the skeg.
When Ethan peeled back the fiberglass from the starboard side of the skeg he found a wet mess and a hole. There's the cause of the leak!
When Ethan peeled back the fiberglass from the starboard side of the skeg he found a wet mess and a hole. There’s the source of the leak!
Once this hole was filled we could move on with cleaning everything up around it and then putting on new fiberglass.
Once this hole was filled we could move on with cleaning everything up around it and then putting on new fiberglass.

With all the fiberglass removed, we dried out the hull with heat lamps over the course of several days and then filled the void with about a pint of hardened epoxy. Once everything was done, Ethan went to work laying up new fiberglass around the skeg and to the hull.

The skeg looks a lot better after one of the first layups of fiberglass.
The skeg looks a lot better after one of the first layups of fiberglass.

There have been several layups of glass done in order to build the area back up and to make it 10 times stronger than before, and Ethan is diligently working to get that accomplished. A text from him yesterday read: “Here it is all glassed up. Beautiful layup, went perfectly. Super beefy, came out really closed to fair, too. I’m quite pleased with it.”

Templates for the various layers of fiberglass.
Templates for the various layers of fiberglass.
Getting close, looking great!
Getting close, looking great!

That’s what we love to hear. And soon we can move on with the final stage of glassing and grinding before fairing it out and finishing it up with bottom paint. I honestly can’t believe we’re getting this close and I’m very impressed with how it’s turned out: better than new.

Lovely Land Life

Meanwhile during our extended time off the boat in Seattle, we’ve been fortunate to land three housesitting gigs from friends who’ve been traveling both abroad and domestically. I guess it’s a right place, right time thing, but it has allowed us to keep some semblance of normalcy as a family while we get everything right with Yahtzee. There have been a few upsides, too.

At our first stop of about 10 days, we really got to know Naima, who is a fellow at EarthCorps in Seattle and is doing her homestay at our friends Darren and Erin’s house in Ballard. Hailing from Kenya, she puts long hours in everyday learning and working in the Pacific Northwest and we were happy to be her “family” while our friends were out of town. She was also very sweet to the boys and earned hugs in a short amount of time. And being that we lived in Ethiopia (a neighbor of Kenya), we were able to share experiences and relate to her in a way that we otherwise wouldn’t have.

Jill, Porter and Naima hard at work baking a cake.
Jill, Porter and Naima hard at work baking a cake.

Our next stop was at Leif and Kate’s apartment in Seattle’s Eastlake neighborhood where we took care of their golden retriever, Penny. She’s an incredibly well tempered dog who is so docile that even Magnus can walk her. And with a park less than a block away, we had many opportunities to get her and the boys out for some exercise. Also, Porter reveled in being able to ride the balance bike all over the place — including down many hills.

Magnus cuddling up with Penny.
Magnus cuddling up with Penny.

A video posted by Andy Cross (@sailorandyc) on

Even though we’ve been living on land, we did manage to get out sailing with our friends Ryan and Autumn aboard their boat Velella for one of our favorite racing events of the year, Race Your House. It was a warm, sunny and beautiful day on the water and even though we didn’t have a ton of wind, we did manage to take home second in class and second overall. Good times, great crew!

The intrepid crew aboard Velella for Race Your House: Ryan, Autumn, Andy, Jill, Porter, Magnus and John. (Photo courtesy of Mark Aberle.)
The intrepid crew aboard Velella for Race Your House: Ryan, Autumn, Andy, Jill, Porter, Magnus and John. (Photo courtesy of Mark Aberle.)

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While all of this time apart from the boat has been fun in its own way, and we’re certainly making the best of it, it is also difficult to be away from our normal routines and doing what we love most — cruising on Yahtzee. While reading the book Amos & Boris the other night to the boys — which is about the friendship between a seafaring mouse and a whale — one quote summed up our feelings perfectly:

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“You have to be out of the sea to know how good it is to be in it.”

5 thoughts on “Working hard to get back on the boat, but having fun

  1. Andy, loved your article. Sounds like you are making progress on your boat and soon be living back on it. Love to you, Jill and the boys. GMA

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