Well, it’s been a little while since I posted anything about my progress on the boat. That’s because progress on boat projects is sometimes measured in increments that make the person who’s doing it jump up and down for joy, but which probably would not impress most people, because they wouldn’t notice anything different.

Such is the situation of the boat owner, to labor in relative obscurity with only their own feeling of accomplishment to keep them warm. But I’m OK with that.

In that vein, the gelcoat that I waxed poetic about in previous posts – that project is done. Passage now has a relatively shiny hull. Ta-da! Many happy dances have been done by yours truly over this some what cosmetic step. But it was important that she look a bit spruced up so she could hold her head up high when we are out and about. We are both getting older and like to look our best when we can.

I think she looks awfully good for a 50 year old boat that has sat in the barn for 15 years and was neglected a bit before that. She doesn’t look new, but that’s not my goal. My goal is to make her a well loved, and well cared for boat that is safe. She’s already well loved by me, and the rest I am working on.

Right now I am focusing on getting the mast ready to put in the boat, referred to as “stepping” the mast in boating circles. To assess it, I washed the mast and boom and all her fittings, shrouds and stays, and looked them over carefully for signs of wear. Lucky for me, it seems, she was sailed very little for years and has been in a barn for more. So her rigging seems to be in good shape.

I am about to lubricate the mast track, various pulleys, and the slot for the main sail. To explain, there is a long slot that runs the entire length of the after end of the mast. The mainsail has a series of slugs attached to its forward edge, which is called the luff. Those slugs go in that track and slide up and down, at least in theory.

The idea is to be able to raise the sail without a lot of grief (This may be overly optimistic, since almost every sailboat I have ever sailed on has had trouble with this, but I am trying to plan ahead.). So I am lubricating that slot in what may be a vain attempt to eclipse nightmares on the water in which I either can’t get the main up or down. This usually happens in a howling wind. But that’s later.

The very good news is that I still have a hefty outline of things I still need to do with Passage before I’d call her seaworthy, but the list is dwindling.

In the meantime, there’s something weighing on my mind that is symptomatic of the times, I think. But it’s worth discussing here because probably other people here will have to deal with this dilemma with their own boats: where to put Passage when I launch her.

The choices for boat slips here might seem ample: there are marinas in Astoria, Warrenton, and Hammond. What I am discovering is that getting an open spot in any of them is proving to be a real challenge. I’m already on a waiting list with the Port of Astoria, but that’s unlikely to yield any openings till spring, if even then. I’m checking with Warrenton/Hammond but as of the summer they were full. So I may have to get on a waiting list there too. Ilwaco might be an option, but it’s pretty close to the Columbia River Bar. And as someone who will be learning the ropes on a boat I’ve never sailed before, I’d like a little more leeway between me and the Graveyard of the Pacific until I feel more confident.

I have a spot reserved in Cathlamet, which seems like a lovely location. The only nagging feeling I have about it is the long drive to get there from Astoria. She’d be almost an hour away from me if there’s no traffic.

And since she hasn’t been in the water in years, I’d want to check on her daily once she’s in the water, to make sure nothing is leaking, broken, something I missed, etc. And to bask in what I will have done to get her to that point. And just to sit in the cockpit, or fire up the woodstove and read a book in her cozy cabin. I want her nearby, if I can manage it.

These are first-world issues, I know. But in the realm of what I’m trying to accomplish here, issues they are. However, I decided something that’s rare for me, since I tend to be a bit of a “fretter.”

Instead of worrying (after worrying a bit anyway), I’ve decided to offer the whole thing up to the Universe for guidance and resolution. I’ve done all I can for now, and where Passage ends up will ultimately be decided by forces I can’t control at this point. The cosmic dice are rolling and I’ll have to see where they land, and be grateful for the opportunity. And if it’s Cathlamet, I’ll figure it out and enjoy being in what seems like a beautiful spot, despite the distance. The people there in the marina office did seem really nice.

In the meantime, as that situation sorts itself out, I’m going to keep “working on the boat,” as we used to say in my family. Not much else to be done, and if the truth be told, I enjoy it. But if you know anyone who has a boat slip nearby that they’d rent me, I’m all ears.

Till next time…