I set off in the truck with two goals, visit Lassen Volcanic Park and fight my way along the Ponderosa Way, renowned 4 wheel drive trail. I achieve neither.
These places are in Northern California.
The weather turns bad with rain and snow as I get higher into the hills. I finally get to Lassen Volcanic State park to find that the parking lot is the only place that is not under 15 foot of snow.
I head down the mountain to find a campsite. California does not disappoint as I find the most beautiful place right on a river.
I pours with rain all night but there is a great feeling of snugness and comfort inside the camper. Next morning the fill the river with trout man comes by.
I set off for the Ponderosa Way. It is steep and very muddy but worst of all there are multiple possible tracks all of which could be the one I should be on. After a while I realize I am lost. It is chucking it down and I dread getting stuck in the mud high in the mountains, miles from anywhere. So I turn around and head back to a real road.
I spend the rest of the day researching camp sites as I now dream of coming back in better weather and spending a couple of weeks fishing for trout. The scenery is so beautiful and there is nobody here.
I end up in a site called Cherry Hills. Again I camp right by the river. Again it pours with rain.
Lassen National Forest is the place to go camping. I will be back with a fly rod.
This is initially a serious race that slowly degenerates into a procession of colorful folks prancing around having drink taken. It goes from the Ferry Building – Bay- to Ocean Beach – Breakers. The race passes right in front of our house and I spend a remarkable morning just watching from the steps.
Suddenly two motorbikes with flashing lights appear closely followed by the leading athletes who are burning it up!
Real athletes go through, followed bunches of serious runners wearing costume.
The pace slows and Bay to Breakers becomes a gleeful procession of inanity .
A few details that have been overlooked due to the blazing light of the first sail.
The water pump in the galley had died after years of rubber withering heat and humility. It is a Whale pump, made in Northern Ireland. After much detective work I track one down to a boat shop on the mainland called Yuukomarine.
I send an email and get a reply in English from Colin. Hooray a boat chandler where they speak English. This will make my life much easier! It turns out that Colin knows Nick and Rika.
Anyway the new pump is hand delivered to my place at 9:30 on Sunday morning. No comment.
Harry gives me a small Indian made pressure cooker. I find this very exciting, as I dream of stews and stuff in exotic locations.
So, I started to restore a Norfolk Gypsy, which was more or less a wreck, just over a year ago. It has been a wonderful project during which I have been much helped by many kind and skilled people. Today was historic. I sailed her for the first time.
I have gone in baby steps since putting her in the water. First it was chugging around using the engine, then bits of sailing only with the jib. Today with Nick and Rika we raised all sail and had a glorious afternoon in brilliant sunshine.
The wind was blowing more or less straight offshore and we ran out to sea with the main and jib gull-winged.
Nick is a professional boat racer and it was great to have him tell me what to do!
We ran quite along way out, went on a broad reach up the coast for a bit and then beat our way back into the harbor.
Beating back to Okinawa has always been a lengthy business in my previous boats. This time it is completely different as the boat points much better into the wind but also because Nick really knows what is doing! He uses terminology that I have never heard before, “bump, lift, being in the channel” these all refer to how the boat is responding to the wind.
We come back in with 4 taught tacks, the last taking us straight through the harbor entrance, where we elegantly take down the sails and chug onto the mooring.
Hooray! I am so pleased! Everything worked and although I might make some tiny adjustments, the boat is ready to go. I look forward to a Summer of intense happiness and joy.
The day after tomorrow I go to San Francisco. I worry about the cockpit filling up with water and so flooding the engine compartment if there is intense rain while I am away. I have been fabricating a cockpit tent that should keep out the worst of the rain.
Harry comes down. It is Saturday, but apart from that it is a very un Okinawan day. It is spitting with rain, very grey, with high wind and an inexplicably broken sea. We take the boat out anyway as I am determined to set the sails.
We batter our way out with the Yanmar performing heroically. It goes, ” thunka,thunka,thunka,thunka.”
There are 1 meter waves which are strangely short pitched and broken. Wind is strong. We are too scared to haul up the mainsail, which we would probably have to put 2 reefs in. I want my first mainsail experience to be calm rather than frantic.
So we chicken out but do unfurl the jib, which is a very smooth procedure thanks to Nick’s tuning.
We sail her around on jib alone and it is very encouraging. We do not go very fast but we certainly make way. Another encouraging behaviour is that, as we crash into big waves, the hull pushes them away and no water comes onboard. She appears to be a very dry boat. Anyway I am delighted.
One step nearer the Full Monty. Unfortunately, despite very overcast weather I get a very sunburnt face. I left my wide brimmed hat at home and did not apply sunscreen. I will not do that again.
I work on the cockpit cover as I am going to San Francisco next week and I do not want her to fill up with rainwater. There is a punch that er punches a hole through the fabric so you can press in eyelets. This, I immediately drop in the water. This entails a trip to Make Man, famous Japanese DIY store, to buy a new punch.
The cover is not finished but I will have it done tomorrow. What fun!
Not what you are wrapped in for the last journey but the wire cable that braces the mast. My boat has two side shrouds and a front shroud, which is actually called a forestay. The correct setting of these shrouds has a major influence on the overall sailing performance of the boat. I have no idea of how to set them up properly. I am floundering.
Nick from New Zealand and Rika from Hokkaido are old friends from the early days of the restoration. They have been away for 6 months as Nick has been racing huge yachts in Thailand. Nick is the real thing. He and Rika sailed their Bristol Channel Cutter to Okinawa from New Zealand and he has been building and racing boats all his life. They arrived back in Ginowan yesterday. Their boat is about 4 boats down from mine. I am so pleased they are back, firstly because they are fun but also because Nick knows everything about sailing boats.
The shrouds are attached to the boat by rope lashings. Nick takes one look and says they have to go. He fetches lengths of Dyneema, ultra high tech rope, and sets to .
I stand by and watch as he puts beautiful Brummel Eye Slices on all the shroud fixing ropes.
I spend a glorious couple of hours watching Nick tuning all the rigging. The mast now has just the right aft tilt, the shrouds, forestay and bobstay are perfectly adjusted. I am so happy, Thanks Nick, thanks Rika!