Sailing Zodiac 2018
6 years ago I did a lifetime challenge and did a 4 day tall sailing adventure aboard the 100 year old 130 foot schooner Zodiac, out of Bellingham Washington. Since then I have met and married my life partner, pretty much finished up my professional career, and taken on Kayaking as a major sport. Still and all, I remembered that time as a great adventure and have been wanting to take my Partner along with me to see how she might like it.
Read about my last trip if you want details on sailing Zodiac. Seems like I got the details just fine in that telling. However, what happened this time..
|Zodiac at her Home Port.|
|These are river Otters. Stealing Crab Bait.|
Being aboard the Zodiac on a blowing rainy morning is a bit different that one might desire. It is cold and wet up on deck. The blowing gray is refreshing and has a stark beauty, but doesn't induce you to long hours sitting on the deck lockers and enjoying nature. Perhaps a few minutes of soggy beauty and then you are driven back below. And as chilly as it is on deck, below deck is warm and dry. So first you loose a few layers, put your coat up to dry, and then you can conduct some rainy morning indoor activity. Some people are reading, or perhaps studying about the area from books in the ship library. Others are making idle conversation in the kitchen or playing cribbage in the parlor. An unsettling number are playing electronic games on handheld devices. Some are even attempting to blog on their little portable electronics (Hey, I brought a keyboard).
|No Mainsail on this day.|
|The Bow Corridor|
Speaking of which, a trip topside finds us sailing across the top of the American San Juan islands on a broad reach under foresail, staysail and jib. We didn't raise the main today, a little too much wind (or perhaps too much rain) and the skipper thinks we are making great time to our destination (Roche Harbor) under just the smaller fore sails. We are leaning a bit with the wind. Not quite enough to knock over your deck of cards sitting on the table during the cribbage game, but enough that you can feel it. Enough that you can tell that you are sailing. The Zodiac is big enough, and perhaps the San Juans are small enough, that there isn't a lot of boat movement in the seas we have seen. So no one is feeling queasy or anything even when you are below decks. In fact, when we left dock I was below and I couldn't even tell that we had started moving. We were a few hundred yards off of the dock before I happened to go on deck and notice. The scenery topside changes slowly on a sailboat, so if you go up on deck every half hour or so you can still see how things are going.
Some people, or course, are actively sailing the ship and that is the part that I like. I would love to have my hands on the wheel when we have wind like this. I had my turn yesterday, when we were crossing the shipping channels, It was good fun, and we did have the mainsail up, but we didn't have near the wind that we are having today.
I am amazed by all of the fancy woodwork that one finds all over the Schooner. Certainly not the kind of thing that she must have been equipped with if she really started her life as a Fishing boat in the Gloucester fleet. Today there is teak and fine carving work at every turn. Both above deck and below. (Ok, History check here. It turns out that though the Zodiac is based on the Gloucester shipping fleet vessels, she started her life as a rich families pleasure yacht. She originally was built for and belonged to the Johnsons, of the Johnson and Johnson family. They used to sail and race her up and down the East coast and even did at least one transatlantic crossing with her.)
|Galley, stairs to chart house|
|Galley seating area|
|Our State Room. There is a sink in there too|
|Scroll work above the rooms|
|Aft Deck entry to Salon|
|Library in Salon. Note water tight door|
|coffe cups on the overhead over the coffee|
|Your Cup has Your bunk number on it.|
|What are these called? They let light and air into the belowdecks|
|That one is over the galley.|
|Reefing The Main. That is me in the red hat.|
The other beautiful piece of woodwork is the wheel. Zodiac has a large magnificent helm. I once got to steer a Navy Minesweeper that my dad was commanding (I was 9) and though it was a much larger ship than Zodiac (She was called the USS Direct, MSO-430) her wheel, though wood, was Tiny. Smaller than a car steering wheel. Or course, on the Zodiac, you need the large wheel to provide additional mechanical advantage as your are controlling the rudder using straight Human power. They had a model of the steering mechanism on display in the salon. I think the model was 3D printed. It turns out to be a couple of large threaded screws that screw into opposing plates as the wheel turns. as these plates are pulled around, they move the rudder. This mechanism is housed in the wooden box just aft of the wheel. You have to turn the wheel a lot to completely turn the rudder, this gives you the mechanical advantage you need to such that one person can steer the ship even when it is being pushed upon by the heavy forces of the moving sea and wind.
|The Wheel, with the steering mechanism under that green tarp|
|A bad picture of the windlass raising the anchor chain. |
Well, you can sort of see the chain
There is another mechanism for raising sail if you don't have a bunch of paying customers to pull on the halyards. There is a lever and racket mechanism mounted to the main mast that can be used to (very slowly) raise the main. Man, that would take a long time.
|The Forsail Sheet running out to the right. Center is the ratchet system that with a long lever (pole) could be used|
to raise the main (if you were really desperate)
Though we stopped every night and anchored in a state park bay, during the afternoon of the second day we made a stop at a quaint little ex-mining town of Roche Harbor. This place got its start as a lumber and lime kiln factory town. But now it is a sort of boarding house for multi-billionaires super expensive boats. I mean, these boats are larger than your house. Hell, these boats have support vessels that are larger than your house. The biggest boat, that was out on the farthest dock, had a heliport with a helicopter sitting on it that seats 7 people. Holy Shit. This particular boat was owned by the founder of Bayliner. I wonder how long all of those expensive boats have been out there. I get this feeling that the rich are getting richer faster and faster and so their showing of their wealth, like in expensive yachts and such, is getting more and more visible. Taking up more and more of the space that us poor dweebs used to sail through in our little tiny 130 foot schooners.
|That Helicopter seats 7|
|Those are the historic homes for the Original Lime Kiln workers.|
There isn't much at Roche harbor. There are more super-yachts then there are buildings. There are a few places to stay or to eat, and the historic lime kiln workers sheds are still there and can be rented. But not a lot of shopping or tourism, as such. I mean, the super rich must just fly in (a lot of float-plane traffic and small planes at the little airport) get on their yachts and... I don' know, travel the 2 miles over to the nice big anchorage at Stuart Island? Sail around the San Juans? We were there on a beautiful Saturday Afternoon and I didn't see ANYONE on the expensive yachts. You think you would see people sitting out back having cocktails or something.
There is this strange sculpture garden that you can walk to, just up the road by the little airport. This place is a couple of acres of pond and blackberry patch that has been mowed down and implanted with all sort of different sculptures and such by various artists. I think all of it is for sale. Wandering through this art display is a poetry path featuring the poetry of some guy. I suspect it is the guy that built and owns the sculpture garden.
|The big Field-O-Art|
One piece of art I sort of liked was this 30 foot in diameter sort of stone henge made out of logs. The logs had all been brutally defaced with graffiti. At least I thought it was defacing until my partner pointed out the mailbox with the electric cord coming out of it. Attached to the electric cord was a tool for engraving your own message in the wood sculpture. It was Graffiti art.
The other thing I liked was the Losers Circle. I think it had a french name that translated as "Losers Circle". In it was all of the sculptures that had been deemed Not good enough to go in the real garden.
Did I mention that our trip ashore was facilitated by a ride in one of the inflatable boats that the Zodiac tows along for just this sort of thing (well, and man overboard drills). Funny, they can't call the boats Zodiacs because, you know, the schooner is called the Zodiac. So they call them "fast attack" and "shark attack". Passengers must wear Class A life vests while using the small boats.
|A ride back to the Zodiac in Shark Attack. |
That is the Zodiac behind the blue hat of the anonymous passenger
And that is my story.
Not a lot of good sailing on this trip. Wind is always a hit or miss sort of thing and on this trip the only wind we had was well mixed with rain and I think it would have been a bit dicey to have the passengers raising the big sail in the slippery rain.
I plan to spend some time this winter doing some volunteer maintenance work on the Zodiac. I am pretty sure I can remember which side of the sandpaper goes toward the boat. People that do volunteer work get to build up Volunteer hours which can be used to be Crew on the boat during regular sails. A possible new adventure...