This lovely drawing says it all. Thanks to Dave McDermott, who drew the picture, and to Chris Shelton, whose white pickup truck, with a little artistic license, is being shown. If all goes well, Chris and the boat will set out on May 6.

Boat transport related projects:

– Chris has gotten an electric brakes controller installed in his pickup truck.
– The boat trailer now has new tires, load range E, which is up a level from the previous set.
– Suzanne dug out the paperwork from when the boat and trailer went on truck scales a few years ago, and I was delighted to see that I had inverted the addition and subtraction for the weight of the empty trailer, in my memory, which means that the full load, boat and trailer, is actually around 4800 pounds. With the new tires, we are now well within a comfortable safety margin for the trailer load (the trailer is rated for 6000 pounds).
– Chris is planning to get new tires for his truck when he gets to Maine. He is also planning to drive up from MISSOURI to do this crazy trek… That’s some serious adventure spirit!

Still to go, for the trailer:
– squeezing lots of marine lithium wheel bearing grease through the special fittings on the hubs (bearings were inspected and repacked last year, and have only traveled about 20 miles since then)
– replacing the trailer’s electric brakes breakaway box. This activates the trailer brakes, if somehow the trailer disconnects from the tow vehicle while underway. That little box and its battery have been underwater one too many times during launches and retrieval, and have finally quit. The new box is going to have all its electrical surfaces coated with liquid electrical tape, holes drilled in the bottom of the box for drainage, and sealant put around the edges of the lid when it goes on. Theoretically, water will not go up into those holes, because of the trapped air. If nothing else, we might get one or two more dunkings out of it than the last one. Because of the tongue extension, and how deeply the trailer goes into the water, the submersion itself appears to be unavoidable.
– Doubling up the board we use across the bow to support the forward tiedown strap.

Boat projects:

Note: the rudder stock is actually completely vertical, and perpendicular to the deck – I have a mental block about getting good photos of this thing!

The lower part of the rudder stop, with the three dark screws, prevents the rudder from turning far enough to jam on the bottom of the hull, and has now been replaced – actually for the second time since the original got cracked during launching last year. Thank you Chipper Daley, for doing the wood shaping and drilling for this fussy part! In honor of the r2ak we redid the replacement version out of two layers of laminated marine ply, which thanks to Suzanne is now epoxy coated, painted, and reinstalled with dolfinite underneath. I was worried about the somewhat sharper corners on the latest version, and my toes in that rather constricted space, so we now have a foam cushion rounding off the edges. [Photo: Suzanne Jean]

For more about the rudder stop, see this post from 2014:

– organizer bag for emergency gear
and for safety harness and tether. [Photo: Suzanne Jean]
These were a winter sewing project, and we’re happy to see them in place.

The story behind the safety harness/tether bag is that I do not habitually wear those – I tried doing it that way, but found that I “lost my edge” as far as caution about falling off the boat. So now I just use a tether during weather that means that even when one is attentive one might get tossed. But often when that kind of weather arises the equipment is inside the boat and unreachable with everything going on. Now it can be retrieved from the cockpit. I’m quite happy about this – I thank the r2ak for providing the inspiration for taking care of a number of these sorts of boat improvement projects.

– “Snag preventer” across the top of cabin cleats and the winch. Hopefully I’ll be adding a photo of this soon. It’s basically done: two eyestraps installed near the back corners of the cabin, and a piece of 2 inch webbing with clips on the ends and a buckle in the middle for tensioning, stretched over the offending snaggers, across from one side of the cabintop to the other. When in place, this will prevent lines from the mainsail being caught when the sail goes across the top of the cabin. This generally only happens when the wind and the waves are just so – usually tacking upwind in a short, boisterous chop. But when it does it’s not only annoying, requiring more energy and attention to hop up and prevent problems, but in a tight spot it can be a hazard, disrupting a smooth tack when it really matters, or hanging things up when gybing. Thanks again, r2ak – I’ve been meaning to do this for ages!

– anchor regalvanized (thank you Luke Tanner :-) [Photo: Luke Tanner]

– The depth sounder installation is a work in progress, being a task with several parts. The transponder is now mounted on the transom, and its long wire is threaded into the boat, across and through a ridiculously convoluted passage inside the stern, that involved a stiff piece of wire and both frustration and eventual celebration, and then a trip through the port cockpit locker, also involving challenges. The tricky thing about boat wiring is that you really must secure those wires. The picture below is the passage through the port cockpit locker, fastening onto existing wires, with a bonus view of drogue storage and its underway access.
This requirement for fastening includes when the wires pass through places that are not particularly accessible. (The odd plastic thing that shows in a couple of the photos below is the bilge pump, with its hose.) [Photo: Suzanne Jean] The heavy black coil is the excess transponder wire, which cannot be cut to length because of the custom connector on the end.

There is one more hole to drill for this task, and to coat with epoxy, but the worst of threading the transponder wire is done. The meter end is also now caulked in place, ready for wiring. That involved a 2 inch hole, and more epoxy.

All I can say is that I had better go sailing in this boat, after all this work!

Still to be done:
– tie down masts and sail bundle
– short anchor chain extension to be attached with C connector. The primary anchor rode on AUKLET, for the last several years, has been made up of 60 feet of 3/16″ chain, followed by 250 feet of 7/16″ “Brait” eight strand braided nylon. 3/16″ chain is not ordinarily used for anchors in this country; doing this is a French sailors’ trick, which I learned from my Alaskan friends, who picked it up from their friend from France. The theory is that 3/16″ chain is plenty strong enough for a moderate size boat, and if you have 60 feet of that lighter chain, it weighs as much as the ordinarily shorter length of 1/4″ (or 5/16″). But if you spread that weight over 60 feet, and you are only anchored in 20 feet of water, then you have a lot less weight to haul up all at once. Rather, you are collecting the first 40 feet of chain while only holding the weight of 20 feet at any given moment, which represents a major difference in hauling effort. To have adequate scope, you almost always let out the full 60 feet of chain, so you have the benefit of that weight for your anchoring, but much less work to pull it back up.

AUKLET’s chain had been getting a little rusty, and the anchor line in the first 40 feet or so was starting to show a bit of wear. If I had known that Luke was going to have this perfect galvanizing opportunity, I would have sent that chain to get regalvanized. As it is, an alternative solution last fall was to turn the anchor rode end-for-end, keeping the old chain generally unused, because it is now the very last bit of a long rode. A new 60 feet of chain was then spliced to the other end of the anchor line which was nice and fresh, and that new chain will be connected to the anchor.

I’m quite happy about this arrangement, because the anchoring depths in British Columbia and Alaska can be considerably more than here in New England. Now, there is not only 370 feet of rode, but the last section to go in the water is chain, which is a good place to put some additional weight, especially if one is anchoring in the kind of depths that might make all that length necessary. Last fall when we did this, we also replaced the basket under the chain pipe with a bigger one, so the whole business no longer overflows when the now larger pile of line and chain is fed down below deck. Swapping out those baskets sounds pretty insignificant, from a project perspective, but it was actually quite an undertaking because of the “cozy” location far inside that locker.

Meanwhile, I have had some concern about the small links of that 3/16″ chain where the anchor swivel attaches to it. I’ve wanted something more substantial for when the last chain link might be pulled sideways against the jaws of the swivel connection, especially when the anchor is dug in hard, and the wind or current changes. Unfortunately, a simple shackle connection between the anchor and chain jams up on the anchor roller, which means that the tapered swivel is a necessity, more for its shape than for the actual swiveling.

So this is our one more project about the anchor: to attach a short, 1 foot length of 5/16″ chain, to serve as a connector between the anchor swivel and the 60 feet of 3/16″ chain that does the bulk of the work. Again because it’s the Race to ALASKA, all of this has been getting attention. The only task left to go, for getting the anchor rode in order, is attaching that additional short length of chain. The anchor will be stowed separately for the trip across the country, but it’s a small matter to put it back on, once we are reunited in Port Townsend.

The boat also has another anchor the same size as this one, also with a substantial chain and line rode, carried both for additional anchoring during storms, as well as in case the first one is lost. Then there’s another lighter anchor with 200 feet of line and a shorter chain for more routine two anchor arrangements. Fortunately, those are not on the task list, but they seem worth mentioning so nobody thinks that we are setting out with only one!

Other Preparations

Janine, the other onboard member of Team AUKLET, came for a lovely visit last week. Decked out for projects!

Though we have been meeting by video call to make plans for the trip, we had not met in person, so this was a special treat. Along with plenty of really good conversation, we also sorted out clothing, got the masts positioned on the top of the boat, and actually had some time on the water. This visit coincided with the ideal high tide for moving the float from its winter to its summer position, and it was wonderful to have Janine’s help. Joanne came over from Belfast (Maine) for the fun, which it was. The float-moving process involves a substantial amount of time sitting around waiting for the tide between stages – perfect for enjoying good company! [Photo: Suzanne Jean] [Photo: Joanne Moesswilde]
[Photo: Suzanne Jean]

Luke came over that same afternoon with the anchor, and Phil Brown, and Brenda and their granddaughter Ellie, also showed up, with Luke and Phil going after rocks out by the float. The rocks have nothing whatsoever to do with the r2ak – more to come on that, when we are not completely r2ak focused!

Other preparation odds and ends are also progressing:
– organizing food and beginning to pack
– turning the minivan into a camper for the cross-country trip. This is a substantial project, involving far more time and production than is properly represented by that one little line. [Photo: Suzanne Jean]

– I got a tetanus shot for the first time in decades, in honor of this event and its remote location… I’m not necessarily happy about having chosen to do that, but it sure did make things relaxing when I got an ugly scrape the other day!
– charts are finally actually ordered
– foul weather gear upgrade, in honor of sailing in the rain forest. Many thanks to Fisheries Supply, in Seattle, for their generous racer discount, and to the r2ak organizers for setting that up. [Photo: Suzanne Jean]

The plan:

Everybody’s enthusiasm (and participation!) is making such a difference in this project, and I am enormously grateful to all. For a couple of reasons it is still somewhat up in the air about whether this will go forward, but we have all chosen to carry on with preparations in hopes that it will work. A go/no go decision is scheduled for May 1, which is coming up fast! If all goes well, Chris will set out with the boat/trailer first, and a few days later Suzanne and I will follow. Suzanne decided that making the whole drive across the country is something she feels like doing (Tim, I heard that!) So Janine will meet us in Port Townsend, before Suzanne catches a plane home. All the moving parts are a bit daunting, but it does seem to be coming together.

I will keep everybody posted… We have a Team AUKLET Facebook page, and Janine is looking at setting up a Team AUKLET Instagram for photos once everything gets going; I’ll post that last once we have it. In the meantime, here’s the FB link:

Thanks so much to everybody who is part of making this possible – it’s a tremendous team effort! I am so touched.


This has been declared our team song, with many thanks to Judith-Kate Friedman, who lives in Port Townsend, and Aimée Ringle, Judith-Kate Friedman, Kate Copeland and Abakis – = Sirens Sing.
Judith-Kate’s YouTube page has more of her lovely work – it can be found by clicking on that tiny picture of her in the upper left corner of the video image.


Whatever you can do
or dream you can
Begin it
Just begin it
Boldness has genius
Power and magic in it
Boldness has genius
Power and magic in it

~ Composed by Venice Manley, based on quote from Goethe
(attribution from https: //