Boatbuilding Blog

February 2, 2015

Four-Day Trip to Gig Harbor

Filed under: Longer Trips — tomlarkin @ 1:24 pm

This was a pleasant little trip in late January. The weather was reasonable – foggy and cool each morning, then calm and partly sunny in the afternoons. The boat worked fine – no issues at all. The motor now has 1100 hours on it and is overdue for a tune-up. I spent two nights at anchor, and one night tied up at the free public dock in Gig Harbor. I made a clockwise circumnavigation of Vashon Island. I burned about 14 gallons of gas.

Leaving Kenmore.

I like having one monitor showing the local detail and one showing the overview of where I’m going.
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Stopped at Bell Harbor Marina to let the fog near Blake Island burn off. The nice lady in the office let me park for free.  I bought apples for the trip at Pike Place Market. (Street View)WP_20150127_15_11_41_Pro

There’s a Longshoreman strike or slowdown going on, so there are many big carriers anchored in Elliott Bay and behind Blake Island. I drove too close to some of them to take pictures.


I spent the first night anchored off of Blake Island. It’s always cozy down below with the fireplace on.

Blake Island sunrise.


I followed this guy from bright sunshine into the fog bank heading down towards Tacoma.

The Talequah ferry from Ruston. I tied up at the boat launch dock and walked around Ruston for a couple hours.  (Street View)

Point Defiance boathouse still rents little fishing boats. It must be about the last place around that still does.


I spent a nice evening at the Tides Tavern in Gig Harbor and bought a new hat.

Sunrise from anchor.

More Gig Harbor sunrise.

Ghost geese throwing reflections.

Gravel barge moving north with the current up Dalco Passage.



Approaching the locks on the trip home.

Local color on the Ship Canal.


Montlake Cut. (Street View)

Koos No. 6


I spent one whole day riding my bike from Gig Harbor to downtown Tacoma over the  Tacoma Narrows Bridge.  There are bike trails almost all the way. These are from the bike ride.

Crossing the bridge. It’s a long way down! (Street View)


Wright Park and Arboretum.

Seymore Botanical Conservatory. It was nice and warm inside on this chilly day. (Street View)

Tetris Broken windows.

North Tacoma is starting to be very tourist-friendly, with nice cafes and coffee shops, and fewer empty buildings like the one above. This is a lemon tart at Corina Bakery.


Washington State Historical Society with Stadium High School in the background. This was designed as a fancy French-style hotel, but it’s been a high school for over 100 years. (Street View)

January 11, 2015

Bainbridge Island Winter Loop

Filed under: Longer Trips — tomlarkin @ 6:10 am

This was a solo trip over three nights and four days. A slow meander clockwise around Bainbridge Island, anchoring out each night. Weather was reasonable; foggy mornings and some clearing in the afternoon. Low 40’s in the day, upper 30’s at night. Nothing exciting happened. No mechanical issues. I saw lots of winter birds, and had my good camera so I took pictures of some of them. About 80 miles total distance travelled, 30 of which were in fresh water getting back and forth on Lake Washington and the Ship Canal.


Trip Map


Some winter birds:






It was a foggy trip across the Sound to Blake Island, which was kind of scary. I used the AIS and hugged the shoreline where i could to stay out of traffic. I anchored off the west-side campground and rowed to shore and found a big plank that I salvaged to make a bench from when I got home. The park rangers came by at dusk and seemed disappointed that I was anchored and they couldn’t charge me for using a buoy.



Fun with my cell phone camera photo editor:

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The next morning I walked all around Blake, then motored over to the Bremerton marina. I wandered around town, stopping for a beer at the Bremerton Bar and Grill, then went up Port Washington Narrows into Dyes Inlet, and then way back south into Oyster Bay where I anchored in 20 foot of water. I rowed to shore and walked down Kitsap Way to a nice pub called Brother John’s, and listened to live music for a while, then back to the boat to watch a movie before bed. In the morning I went north up Port Orchard passage to Poulsbo, stopping at Illahee State Park for lunch:



I arrived in Poulsbo pretty early so I walked for a couple of hours and ate a mediocre dinner at Tizley’s EuroPub. I picked up an excellent apple fritter at Sluy’s Bakery to eat in the dinghy on the row back. I saw these guys during the row, eating a seagull.




In the morning I woke up to heavy fog, so I lazed around the boat until I could see where the shore was, then rowed in for coffee and pastries at the Poulsbohemian coffee shop before heading on my last leg home. I ran the propane heater a lot during the trip.




Caught the tide through Agate Passage:



Coming into the locks on the way home – this seagull really wanted the fish the cormorant had caught. The cormorant escaped with his prize. I think this is a Starry Flounder.






These guys were coming out of the large locks as i was heading into the small ones:






I stopped in Ballard to have beef stew and a beer at The Market Arms British pub just a block up from the public dock. I always enjoy seeing the knick-knacks they collect at Pacific Fishermen Shipyard. They save signs and iconic stuff from businesses that close down:




I met Barry at his yacht club in Portage Bay, and we went back to Kenmore together as it got dark. It was a nice way to end a fun trip.

Costs: About 10 gallons of gas: $40, Dinner in Poulsbo and lunch in Ballard: $45, groceries: $30, beer and coffee in Bremerton and Poulsbo: $35. Total, about $150 for 4 days.

October 10, 2014

Victoria Cycle Trip Planning

Filed under: Uncategorized — tomlarkin @ 4:21 am
  • Home => Sequim => Port Angeles=> Victoria => Sidney => Friday Harbor => Anacortes => Arlington => Home
  • Take passport!
  • 194 miles total, 4 days, 3 nights


Day 1:Home => Sequim Bay State Park


Day 2: Sequim => Sidney

  • 50 miles total
  • Olympic Discovery Trail
  • Google Map – Sequim to Port Angeles – 22 miles/2 hours
  • Black Ball Ferry
    • Departs 2PM (arrive 3:30 PM)
    • (Other departure 8:20 AM)
    • Arrives 3:30 PM
    • Charge devices on trip
  • Google Map – Victoria => Sidney – 28 miles/2 hour
  • Unknown – where to spend the night

Day 3: Sidney => Centennial Trail

  • 36 miles total
  • Ferry Schedule
    • Departs 12:05 PM (Arrive 10:30 for customs)
    • Arrive Friday Harbor 1:55 PM
    • Arrive Anacortes 3 PM
  • Google Map – Ferry to Trailhead via La Conner – 36 miles/3 hours


Day 4: Anacortes =>  Home

  • 52 miles total
  • Google Map – Centennial Trail from trailhead to home via Snohomish- 52 miles/5 hours



  • Take 110 and 12V chargers
  • Phone and Nexus tablet
  • Passport

September 17, 2014

Minor Hull Patch

Filed under: Building - Painting — tomlarkin @ 1:57 pm

I pulled the Coot out last month to wash the bottom and touch up the bottom paint. Right at the waterline, back about four feet from the bow there was a half-inch divot gouged out, with bare plywood showing, and a crack a few inches long running aft of the hole. It looks like I hit something hard, maybe a bolt head mounted on something heavy. Water oozed out of the crack when I pressed on it.

While the boat was out, I took the dinghy home for sanding and varnishing.

Here’s the damage – hand for scale.

The plywood was very wet. To see the extent of the water intrusion, I figured the plywood would have swelled where it was wet, so I sanded the whole area with a longboard. The sanding took off the bottom paint wherever the wood was swelled. I’m kind of proud of this idea.

So I cut back the glass to the edges of the swelled area and dug down a few plys to see if there was damage below that level. It was damp but undamaged – no cracks or rot.

I sanded the paint off in a larger area, then mounted a heat lamp for a couple days. I kept it pretty hot, during some very hot dry days.
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When I decided the wood was dry, I soaked the bare wood with warm neat epoxy until it wouldn’t soak up any more, then laminated small pieces of 6 ounce fiberglass cloth to fill the depressed area flush. When that was firm, I smoothed the area with QuickFair, then sanded that nice and flat.

Finally, I laid a larger layer of glass over the whole area, smoothed with peel-ply to make it smooth and flat.WP_20140828_17_10_43_Pro

A little sanding, more QuickFair, and some bottom paint, and she’s done. Back in the water in time for the Port Townsend boat show.  The boat was out of the water for five days.

My only concern with this fix is that water may have leaked past the area I cleaned and dried, and now it’s locked inside, brewing dry rot. I kind of wished I’d soaked some penetrating epoxy in the area before filling it. I guess I’ll know in a few years if I should have done that. By the way, there’s a watertight compartment behind this area. I would not have sunk even if I’d been holed through.

September 11, 2013

Coot and Pacific Titan

Filed under: Longer Trips — tomlarkin @ 12:37 pm

I was heading out on my trip to Princess Louisa Inlet in early May, 2013 when they put me in the large locks with this guy.

Photos by Linda Evans (

Top photo links to a bigger version.
Coot and big tug


September 10, 2013

Port Townsend Wooden Boat Show 2013

Filed under: Longer Trips — tomlarkin @ 11:47 pm







Merrie Ellen








June 16, 2013

Dueling Tablets

Filed under: Longer Trips — tomlarkin @ 1:08 pm

While in Victoria I found a RAM mount, so I screwed it to the dash so I could put both tablets up at once. That’s a Microsoft Surface Pro on the left, running Coastal Explorer, and my iPad on the right running Navionics . Coastal Explorer has a lot more features, but is kind of complex to learn, and the touch-screen interface is poor. Navionics has Active Captain built in, which I like and use a lot. The two systems complement each other, but having too many screens is kind of distracting. The Surface Pro doesn’t have a 12 volt charger, so I needed to run my inverter most of the time, and doesn’t have a built-in GPS, so that’s another wire running on the dash. The iPad looks odd because it’s wrapped in an OtterBox case. I used the iPad for almost all my navigation on this trip, and wrote blog entries and watched movies on the Surface tablet. With a 12 volt charger and a Bluetooth GPS, the Pro would be a good choice for a single computer.


Home (Day 29-30)

Filed under: Uncategorized — tomlarkin @ 12:52 pm

I spent Wednesday night in Watmough Bay, on the South end of Lopez Island, and crossed the Straights in the morning. Calm and sunny in the middle, so I anchored in the lee of the sand bar off the end of Smith Island and watched the Cormorants and Rhinoceros Auklets for a couple of hours waiting for the tide to be favorable into Admiralty Inlet.
Watmough Bay

I tied up at the Port Townsend Marine Science Center dock to walk to town, but the sign said I’d need to pay $12, so I went on and anchored in front of town instead, rowed to shore and walked to uptown to buy groceries. Then I went on to Mats Mats bay for the night.Port Townsend Marine Science Center

I ran into one of my favorites at Port Townsend – the schooner Adventuress, out for a day sail.
schooner Adventuress

While in town I checked in at the Wooden Boat Center and found a bunch of people building Scamp sailboats. I’d like to make one some day. They are fine little ships.
Building Scamps

Here’s a panorama of Mats Mats bay. Despite all the boats anchored, I think I was the only person on board that night. This would be a great place to leave a boat if you had to go away for a week or two – completely protected and out of the way. You could walk to Port Ludlow and catch a bus to Seattle. Getting in is a little scary, but if you avoid Klas Rocks and follow the range markers on the way in, it’s not dangerous. At a medium tide I didn’t see any depths less than 14 feet. (Links to a very large picture.)Mats Mats

Coming into the small locks. I was home at my slip in Kenmore at 4 PM. I spent 30 days on the water on this trip.

My last track from the SPOT tracker.

June 12, 2013

Back to the US (Day 27 –28)

Filed under: Longer Trips — tomlarkin @ 3:34 am

I left Victoria early on Monday and crossed Haro Striaght on a nice calm day. I motored slowly up the south side of San Juan Island looking for Orcas, but no luck. Customs in Roche Harbor was uneventful. I had a nice lunch there and went to Jones Island where I anchored out for the night. I rowed around the point and beached the dinghy and walked the trails in the evening. Tuesday has been a lot of slow meandering around the Wasp Islands, gas in Deer harbor, and now a late lunch in the Orcas Hotel at the ferry dock, where I am now. They have Alaskan Amber and wifi – the two necessities for blogging.

Tonight I’ll anchor in Alex Bay on the rocky south end of Lopez Island and, if the weather holds,  cross the Straights of Juan De Fuca to Port Townsend in the morning. My trip is almost over.

Before crossing Haro Straight I stopped for coffee in Oak Bay, a suburb of Victoria, and found this nice garden. The beds of flowers are raised up so you don’t have to bend over too far to sniff them.

Surrounded by white plastic in Roche harbor.

Jones Island evening.

Orcas Hotel. The view from my seat as I type.

Victoria (Days 24 – 26)

Filed under: Longer Trips — tomlarkin @ 3:20 am

I was tired when I got to Victoria on Friday afternoon, so I bought moorage at the government wharf right in front of the Empress Hotel. I was going to anchor out in Esquimalt (esk-WEE-malt)  Harbor. I walked around West Victoria all Friday afternoon, and then Meryll showed up with her bicycle on the Coho (Black Ball) ferry on Saturday afternoon. We walked through Chinatown and had a nice Japanese dinner that evening. Sunday morning we biked all over the neighborhoods south of the inner harbor. Meryll dropped a Loonie into the hat of the Plaster Man, and he scared her by stepping down and giving her a hug. Then we took a dinghy ride around the harbor, and she caught the 7:30 sailing back to Port Angeles to go to work the next day. The weather was sunny and windy each day we were there.

Threading the usual chaos on the harbor on the way in.

A pretty decent parking spot.

Meryll bought me some cedar carvings for the Coot. We talked to the artist, Clarence David Charlie II. They are loons instead of Coots, but no one carves Coots.

Parliament buildings. Meryll took this picture.

Meryll looking cute with her parasol on the dinghy.

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