United States Maritime Academy 
U.S. Coast Guard Approved

USCG Captain’s License Course
Masters & OUPV (Six Pack) 100 Tons

Sailing & Commercial Assistance Towing Endorsements Classes

A special thank you to Captain Jeff Sanders for his experience and leadership, Captain Jennifer Sarthou for her attention to administrative detail, Captain Rip Knot for his technical and moral support and Lucas for being a leader’s Little Brother.

Also, thank you to the Center For Wooden Boats in South Lake Union for hosting the venue.

I found the class to be engaging, informative, worthwhile and am very happy to have taken it. I appreciate the USMA’s commitments and acknowledgment of my efforts. If you are considering applying for your USCG Captain’s License, I would recommend this course to begin the process.

U.S. Maritime Academy

Class of SeaF18 on the stern of the Virginia V

Virginia V

Graduation and Dinner on the Virginia V

Flicka 20

The Black Hat Sails Again.

During this picture:

No one was hurt, I knew where I was, and the boat stayed afloat.

True Voyaging Means Deep Concentration







If you are interested in more information about the Pacific Seacraft Flicka 20 sailboat beyond what this blog has to offer, check out the following links. There are some great pictures, specs, reviews, articles, newsletters and more.


Tom Davison and Dennis Pratt have published a newsletter called Flicka Friends since 1995 that provides a plethora of information about Flickas and their travels.


Tom was gracious enough to reproduce my “June on the Hook 2017 ” series from this blog as part of his Flicka Friends Newsletter. I very much appreciate his enthusiasm.

Flicka Friends

Canoe with a Downwind Sail

One spring day, having just hand launched your old Grumman canoe on Lake Washington from the Stan Sayres Boat Launch, you look over your shoulder to see a car and trailer combination preparing to launch a sailboat from the same ramp. You are curious, so you decide to watch. The first thing you notice is the sailboat’s size. You guess it is about 30 feet long, which seems large for a trailered boat and the car towing it. There are two people involved in the operation. A man is driving the car, and a woman is standing on the dock adjacent to the ramp. The car and tow reverse to the launch ramp and the trailer begins its descent. As it does, the angle between the two becomes more pronounced, with it being the greatest when the rear hitch on the car reaches the top of the ramp. The trailer is still a few feet from the water. At this moment, the angle, weight, and balance of the tow are such that the trailer’s tongue lifts off the ball hitch on the car and rolls down the ramp, into the water.  The boat, which has already been unstrapped, floats off the trailer and the momentum is enough for it to drift away, leaving the couple wide-eyed and drop-jawed. Fortunately for them, humiliation aside, you are close by and watching from your canoe. It is also fortunate that it’s a windless day. You paddle to the bow and are able to push the boat back enough for the couple to grab the dock line on the stern. Together, you are able to get the boat back to the dock.

Once Joe can see the couple has the situation under control, he continues on with his own paddling plan. The couple appears to be relieved he was there to help but also still adjusting to the shock of the situation. Joe doesn’t feel it necessary to make it worse with conversation. Joe, and hopefully the couple, learn a valuable lesson about trailering and launching a boat. The weight of the tow vehicle and the trailer/boat should be of proper proportion.  Be situationally aware, and have a good understanding of balance. Make sure the trailer is securely attached to the ball hitch of the tow vehicle, they are same sized and use safety chains too.

I connected with an old friend from New York and he sent me these photos from 2008. We were out on New York Harbor in a Charles Whitholtz Departure 35 named Naima on a sunny October afternoon. Thank you, Bob.New York Harbor

New York Harbor

Oh, Joe, everyone needs a tow sometime! Engine failure is the most common reason for needing a tow. It’s happened to you, it’s happened to your friends, and you hear about it while monitoring VHF channel 16. It is never convenient and the saying, “it is better to give than receive,” usually applies. There are tow companies available, but unless you have the insurance, it is an expensive service. Also, depending on the location of the tow company, it is not the fastest or easiest solution to a breakdown. Sometimes, the most practical remedy is a passing boater who maybe has been in a similar circumstance, who doesn’t mind taking a line and making life a little bit easier for someone. It’s good boater karma. Who doesn’t need that?

Joe, you have been enjoying an afternoon sail in the Sound, working the sea breeze along the coast. As the evening progresses, the wind fades, and you call it a day, heading up Shilshole Channel to the Ballard Locks. You arrive at the locks just as the gates open and outbound boats are exiting. Great, this means you should be able to head right in without a wait, or so you hope. You circle, awaiting the green light to enter the locks. Finally, the last boat exits but seems to be drifting rather than under power. Then…..the gates close. Ugh. Checking the time, you see it’s just before 9pm. OK, this means the locks close for 15 minutes while the attendants corral the visitors from the park. Though the Ballard Locks operate 24 hours a day, the public space around them closes at 9pm. So be it.

Meanwhile, the last exiting boat, an 18-foot daysailer with one teenager, one young child about age 10 and one adult onboard appears to be adrift in the channel where the outbound current runs a good knot or so. They don’t have their motor on, they don’t have their sails up, and there aren’t any paddles to be seen. You then hear a Mayday call on VHF channel 16, loud and clear. Huh? Oh, it’s the daysailer. You’re not sure this should be a Mayday situation, but it is a clue that the people on board lack experience. They shout over to you “We don’t have any power, the motor won’t start.” You have to wait for the locks anyway, there is a child on board, and their incompetence is pathetic, so you ask, “Where are you going?” “Shilshole Marina,” they say. “Would you like me to give you a tow?” you ask. “Yes, that would be great.”

It appears to be the teenager’s boat. The adult could be the father, but he mostly defers to the teenager. The child is very excited and continuously talking. As they pass you the line for the tow, the child asks in amazement, “Are you the only one on that boat?” After securing the tow line to the stern cleat, you suggest the teenager cancel the Mayday call. You also follow up on channel 16, announcing you have the vessel in tow and there is not an emergency.

Shilshole Marina is a half mile away, and they are going to C dock, which is on the closest end to the locks. The teenager appears to have been given a slip assignment but does not have any familiarity with where he needs to go. Fortunately, you do, and approaching the slip, explain to them you will cast off the line and momentum should carry them in. There is no wind, and you suggest if they have a paddle, it would be a good time to have it ready. They ease into the slip safely. The child, who is still talking, asks, “do we owe you anything?” Your answer is “no,” and you head back to the locks.

This is the first tow Joe has ever given. While inconvenient, at his own expense of time and fuel, it was the good samaritan thing to do. It has given him a new boating experience. He could sympathize as he needed a tow several years back and could just as likely need one in the future. Still, he can’t help but shake his head. He did not have the full story, but it appears the boat was new to them and the motor, an unknown. Having a child on board was not the most responsible thing to do. They, at least, had a working radio on board, even if they didn’t know the proper way to use it. Since they claimed to have a paddle on board, why wasn’t it used to get the boat over to the waiting pier outside of the locks? There, they could have secured the boat to collect their thoughts and devise a plan. Why hadn’t the teenager done some reconnaissance at the marina beforehand, to know precisely where he needed to go?

Joe hopes the experience has taught the teenager a thing or two. The teenager can be excused, while the adult, less so. They were very fortunate that Joe was there and the circumstance could not have played out any more convenient for them. It seems unlikely they had tow insurance, and if they required Vessel Assist to give them a tow, the bill would have exceeded $600, and taken much longer. Of course, that might have better taught them a lesson!

There is some great footage of Hot Springs Cove in their latest episode. This was the last place we encountered each other during our travels. Their visit coincides with my brief excerpt:

Hot Springs Cove….Again

Click the link for more about Tiffany and Lyndon’s story. They in their Niagara 35, and me in my Flicka 20, tag-teamed down the West Coast of Vancouver Island for 11 days in June 2018. They are very nice and generous people, and I enjoyed their company. The Walde’s documentation of the trip is superior to my own, with their digital movie camera and their four hands to my two. (It’s funny how it is called single handing.) Sampaguita and I get some “film extra” time and some audio referencing. Is this proof I actually circumnavigated?


There is another YouTube video from Walde Sailing. The episode shows some awesome panoramic video of Dixie Cove Provincial Park in Kyuquot Sound. It coincides with my blog post:

Wonderful Cove and Wonderful People

In hindsight, this was my favorite anchorage of the 2018 Vancouver Island circumnavigation. It was very protected with good holding. Without VHF reception and a weather forecast, it felt the most isolated.  No other boats were heard or seen. The narrow entrances gave a sense of seclusion and cloud cover meeting the mountains added to the other-worldliness and peace.

Click the link for more about Tiffany and Lyndon’s story. They in their Niagara 35, and me in my Flicka 20, tag-teamed down the West Coast of Vancouver Island for 11 days in June 2018. They are very nice and generous people, and I enjoyed their company. The Walde’s documentation of the trip is superior to my own, with their digital movie camera and their four hands to my two. (It’s funny how it is called single handing.) Sampaguita and I get some “film extra” time and some audio referencing. Is this proof I actually circumnavigated?

Port Townsend Foundry

I attended and volunteered at The Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival, hosted by the Northwest Maritime Center, on September 8th and 9th, 2018. My motive is to share some positive encounters I had over the weekend. Highlights of my festival experience were Joni Blanchard’s Varnishing Tips and Tricks presentation, meeting Kaci Cronkite, Steve Wystrach’s film on Robert Manry, and Maria Coryell-Martin’s Adventure Sketching workshop. My experience was centered on my volunteer commitments as the Boatyard Stage Manager and wandering the docks. While my personal scope of the festival is narrow, it is intended to highlight how to participate and spectate on an individual level. I do not have a personal or professional connection with these presenters and the first and last time I have met them, was at the festival.

Joni Blanchard’s presentation, “Varnishing Tips and Tricks,” held on Saturday afternoon at the Boatyard Stage, was both entertaining and informative. She clearly knows her subject well and is not only knowledgeable and thoughtful but also has an apparent level of artistry that transcends technique. She presents with a great smile, a down-to-earth manner and is clearly passionate about her craft.

Joni gave thorough and experience-based advice on products, methods, and myths. She brought many visual props to her presentation outlining the varnishing process from beginning to end. These included tapes, cleaners, varnishes, brushes, and umbrellas, to name just a few. Joni not only offered which products and techniques she used, but explained advantages and disadvantages, the when and the why, possible variabilities, common misunderstandings, and the “tips and tricks” only someone with an immense amount of experience can convey. She answered audience questions sincerely and honestly, and if an inquiry was beyond her knowledge, she said so. She wrapped up her workshop with a live demonstration of rolling and tipping.

Whether you are a novice or a professional, I suggest there is something to learn from attending one of Joni’s “Varnishing Tips and Tricks” presentations. Joni also has a book, Tricks, Cheating & Chingaderos: A Collection of Knowledge and Tips for Varnishing/Painting Wooden Boats. While the book is outside of my personal festival experience, based on Joni Blanchard’s presentation, I would suggest it is likely a good acquisition for someone interested in the craft of varnishing.

Saturday evening I was walking the docks with my friend Bob, perusing the wooden boats on hand. We happened to be admiring a 1936 28’ Danish double-ender named PAX, when the owner, Kaci Cronkhite, returned to her boat. She asked if we would like to come aboard. Like any curious boat enthusiasts, we said, “Yes.” We spent the next 10 minutes chatting with Kaci about PAX’s history and getting a “teaser” synopsis of her book, Finding Pax.  She made references to Erskine Childers’, The Riddle in the Sands, a classic I have read and enjoyed, and Finding Pax certainly piqued my interest. When my friend asked for clarification on whether the boat was at one time stolen in California and taken to Canada, Kaci’s reply was, “You’ll have to read the book.” I found Kaci to be an intense personality. A steadfast promoter that is charming, intelligent, inspirational, and with a flare of mystique.

The one event I had planned on attending at the festival was Steve Wystrach’s documentary film, Manry at Sea: In the Wake of a Dream, showing Saturday at 7 pm in the Northwest Maritime Center. This would be the Northwest premiere of the film, and I was advised to arrive early for a good seat. This advice turned out to be sound. In 2007 I was loaned Robert Manry’s book, Tinkerbelle. Tinkerbelle is Robert’s inspirational story about crossing the Atlantic Ocean in a 14-foot boat in 1965, from Falmouth, Massachusetts to Falmouth, England. Big adventure in a small boat is always intriguing to me, so when I heard there was now a film, naturally I was interested.

Steve, influenced by the story of Tinkerbelle, and with experience in the film industry, recognized that Robert had a 16-mm movie camera in his list of gear for Tinkerbelle. He wondered what happened to the footage. Inspired, Steve eventually made contact with Manry’s family who still had that footage and more, and 21 years later, the film is complete.

The documentary did not disappoint. Steve put into a film much of what Robert put into words. Steve highlighted more of Robert’s personality, great smile, and personal history. There is video taken by Robert while at sea and media coverage of the hype. There are also recent interviews with family, acquaintances, and experts.

If you are a non-sailor, Steve’s film will give you all you may want to know about Robert’s story. If you are a sailor, you will want to read the book in addition to the movie. It is a terrific account of an incredible voyage.

Last, but not least, Maria Coryell-Martin presented Adventure Sketching at the Boatyard Stage on Sunday at noon. I was uncertain what and who to expect, and the Sunday weather turned a little rainy and a lot windy. However, Maria was not intimidated by such elements and showed the skill of improvisation as we adjusted the Stage to contend with the weather conditions.

Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival

Maria’s presentation was maritime focused and designed for the person who wished to capture a scene on paper, regardless of skill and experience. Her delivery was fun, animated and energetic. She projected her voice well, and every member of the mostly adult audience was engaged. Maria discussed various techniques and approaches to sketching. For one, observing the subject matter by squinting to simplify it. Another was interpreting and drawing lines by using broad strokes or in contrast, by using continuous lines. She emphasized the importance of contrasting shades and gave ideas for conveying these. She reviewed materials for journaling and traveling and always reminded people that this was meant to be fun and there was no “wrong.” She provided plenty of paper and pencils for the audience and followed every technical suggestion with an exercise for the audience. This was a key to her audiences engagement.

Maria is a very talented artist and an excellent teacher. Her ability to captivate the audience, young and old, is exceptional and her skills, apparent. I would recommend her workshops to anyone interested in sketching. Whether you are a dabbling novice or a more seasoned artist, I suspect you will find her energy is exhilarating and your time spent, worthwhile.

While I missed many great presentations and events at The Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival, I did not miss having a great experience. To give an accurate and detailed account of the entire festival would be exhausting and frankly, impossible. The success of the festival depends on hundreds of dedicated staff, faculty, and volunteers and is the city’s biggest weekend. I focused on how an individual can make a contribution to the whole and enhance their own experience. If you have been thinking of attending the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival, I recommend it. If you have an opportunity to volunteer, your efforts will be appreciated and shape your experience. It took me eight years to attend the annual festival and glad I finally did.

There is another YouTube video from Walde Sailing. This episode shows some really great video of black bears in the wild! It also coincides with my blog post:

I’d Rather be Anchoring


Vancouver Island Wildlife

Click the link for more about Tiffany and Lyndon’s story. They in their Niagara 35, and me in my Flicka 20, tag-teamed down the West Coast of Vancouver Island for 11 days in June 2018. They are very nice and generous people, and I enjoyed their company. The Walde’s documentation of the trip is superior to my own, with their digital movie camera and their four hands to my two. (It’s funny how it is called single handing.) Sampaguita and I get some “film extra” time and some audio referencing. Is this proof I actually circumnavigated?




There is another YouTube video from Walde Sailing. Click the link for more about Tiffany and Lyndon’s story. They in their Niagara 35, and me in my Flicka 20, tag-teamed down the West Coast of Vancouver Island for 11 days in June 2018. They are very nice and generous people, and I enjoyed their company. The Walde’s documentation of the trip is superior to my own, with their digital movie camera and their four hands to my two. (It’s funny how it is called single handing.) Sampaguita and I get some “film extra” time and some audio referencing. Is this proof I actually circumnavigated? The Chicken Alfredo was delicious, the Cinnamon Rolls were even better, and we did not have any trouble finishing the bottle of homemade Blueberry Wine. Check out Walde Sailing’s latest YouTube video.

Rounding Cape Scott

I departed Bull Harbor with a destination of Quatsino Sound on June 9th, 2018. While I left before the Walde’s, they soon passed me as I hung back and waited for slack water over the Nahwitti Bar. Published information suggests transiting the bar at the high ‘stand of the tide’ and, reconsider, with heavy wind or ocean swell. On this day, I crossed at the recommended time, and it was a non-event.

Rounding Cape Scott

Nahwitti Bar

I continued on under sail, which meant slow and less consistent speeds. A series of squall lines from the south passed over, each giving me a boost, and at one point, hailstones pelted the boat. I was riding an ebb tide, the south wind continued to build on the bow, and chop began to develop. I calculated the distance I needed to travel and determined a need to move faster. It was a necessity to round Cape Scott before the tide reversed to flood, so I started the outboard motor to make better time. On the way, I encountered the humpback whales the Walde’s caught on camera, though the Walde’s were far ahead of me by that time. (Did you watch the video?)

Cape Scott

The wind and chop continued to build, though the squall lines had passed, and the sun was shining. My strategy was to round the Cape with the last of the ebb tide to mitigate what I expected to be turbulent waters. If I could not get around before the flood set in, it would be a very slow and uncomfortable rounding. I just did not have time for this and may have even needed to return to Bull Harbor, 18 miles away. I was happy for some prior ocean experience in Sampaguita when I sailed up the West Coast of Vancouver Island in 2016. Though the swell and chop made for uncomfortable seas, often coming together in pyramids of water, I was not intimidated and beyond my experience.

Cape Scott

I was towing my inflatable kayak, which was a calculated decision. In the boating community, there could be significant controversy around this choice. First, my decision was based on the kayak causing very little drag. Second, I have a long tow rope. Third, as a Flicka 20 has limited storage and deck space, there is not a life raft (more controversy.) The inflatable kayak would double as my life raft if needed, but only if it was already inflated. Once inflated, it neither fits in or on the boat. If it untethered, which is the argument against towing a dinghy in such seas, it would likely be lost to me forever. I had the towing rope uncoiled to its full length, which was about 40 feet. This would keep it at least one wavelength back and limit the snapping force of the line becoming suddenly taut. In the steep chop and pyramid seas, the kayak would sometimes launch off of the waves. Once I was committed to the towing decision and rounding the Cape, there was no making a different choice.

Cape Scott

Cape Scott

The outboard motor ventilated twice. This was caused by the propeller lifting out of the water when short, steep waves raised the stern. The reduced resistance caused the engine to quickly over-rev. When the stern plunged down into the trough, it submerged the over-revved propeller and bogged the motor down. This is terrible for the motor’s health. To minimize this, I tacked through Scott Channel. This meant I was taking the waves at a 45-degree angle rather than straight on. I would travel a greater distance and take more time, but this choice seemed far better than damaging the motor when I needed it most.

Alas, I made it around the Cape and away from the clutches of the flooding tide. I recalled from my previous ocean experience (yes, I had forgotten) that swells and chop reduced my motive power by about 26%. Instead of a top speed of 5.7 knots, it was more like 4.2 knots. This equates to 36% more fuel AND 36% more time used when traveling on the ocean.

Example: 10 hours @ 5.7 knots = 57 NM –then— 57 NM / 4.2 knots = 13.57 hours

Since fuel on a boat is more accurately correlated to time traveled at any given rpm, rather than mileage or speed at that same rpm, we see how the math works out. Follow? These changes of efficiencies are caused by the energy being lost to pitching, rolling and traveling the extra distance added on by going up and down the swells. What you gain on the downhill, you lose on the uphill. Not only can you see this in your speed, but you can hear it in the laboring motor.

Sea otter Cove

Sea Otter Cove

As the Walde’s mention in their video, the Southerly swell and wind made a stopover at Sea Otter Cove, and any of the other coves along this section of the coast, out of the question. Southerlies run directly into these coves. While passing a mile or so off Sea Otter Cove, I could see the large swells breaking over the submerged reef just outside the entrance and to the northwest of Winifred Islands. The immense power was intimidating, and if caught in these breaking swells, complete annihilation could be expected. No joke. With no refuge, I was obliged to make it to Quatsino Sound. I also quickly realized I was in a race against the setting sun. Because I had to time the earlier crossing of the Nahwitti Bar for 10:10 am, I lost a few hours of navigable light in the morning. The race was on……at about 4.2 knots…..with hours still to go.

Quatsino Sound

Quatsino Sound

Forward Inlet

I approached Quatsino Sound as the sun was setting. I turned on the navigation lights and put on my headlamp, its red light for night vision. The paper chart in one hand, the tiller in the other, I rounded Quatsino Lighthouse on Kains Island. To avoid Robson Rock, invisible to me in the fading light, I stayed in close to Kains Island. Two fishing trawlers working in the area piloted around me as I made my way. It was a nerve-wracking experience, not knowing if they were dragging nets or lines. I accepted their right-of-way, but with the light dwindling, I pressed on. My destination was the North Harbour anchorage behind Matthews Island in Forward Inlet. I chose the shortest route, a narrow channel to the west of Hunt Islets and Matthews Island. With the deeper water of the high tide on my side and staying in the channel’s center by judging the shadows and silhouettes, I made it safely through. Almost there, I pulled out my searchlight in an effort to find the two red nuns indicated on the chart off the west side of Matthews Island. They were not to be found, so I just gave the area a wide berth. I could see the Walde’s Niagara 35 anchored in the harbor. I used them as a reference point to select my own spot, dropping my hook in about 30 feet of water.

I arrived in North Harbour as the last bit of twilight faded to black. After a long day, it was a relief to be at anchor. The day’s experience highlights two reasons I plan my expeditions for June. One, to take advantage of the longest days of the year. Another, there are fewer boats out traveling. What if I arrived and the anchorage was full? 14 hours and 31 minutes of travel, a distance of 58.19 NM, the anchor was down and secure at 11:05 pm. Exhausted, the next day was destined a rest day. I did the “putting the boat to bed” chores (well, most of them) and heated up a much needed can of chili. After my fill, I crawled into bed and quickly fell asleep. What a day!

North Harbour

The Walde’s at Anchor in North Harbour. I used them as a reference point while anchoring in the dark the night before.

Forward Inlet

Qauatsino Sound with a Van Gogh overlay 😉

Forward Inlet

Quatsino Sound with a Lauren Gandursky overlay 😉