Thoreau: “Simplify, simplify.”

Emerson: “One ‘simplify’ would suffice.”

March, at last. We managed to get out once during the last weekend in February and once again the first day of March, which barely qualifies as winter sailing. This year in the Northwest hardly counts as winter compared to the rest of the continental US. Mid-fifties and sunny is a good problem to have while much of the country is under three feet of snow and the Great Lakes are frozen over.

Oozing gratitude for a working transmission, we spent much of the first day out feeling out the new headsail arrangement – new headstay, furler and genoa is a lot of change for the old girl. She is, after all, of a certain age.

After some tweaking of the backstays and time to allow a simmering confidence to grow, we were able to relax and enjoy some very nice rides.  We gradually unfurled the jenny as we checked and re-checked the rigging. The Genoa is nominally 110% – but looks much larger compared to the old jib. Fifteen knots of wind was enough to make our first day out interesting, and compared to its hanked-on forebears, oh-so-easy to sail. I fess to being a complete wuss when it comes to new rigging elements – I’d rather slowly test the bejeezus out of ’em than find myself looking over the side at our mast.

The best news is that the new gearbox worked flawlessly. The ol’ Volvo fired instantly, and the transmission transmitted just like in the movies.  So simple!

Kristin conspired with our friends on Galapagos to look for one another Commencement Bay last Saturday. Our slow start – (Another tranny oil change, really?) and weakling handheld VHF meant we only got a single pass at the soon-to-be-departing vessel. If you haven’t read Michael and Melissa’s blog, – it’s a great read.


As luck would have it, Wings of the Morning was also out on Commencement Bay and her Mistress, Sherlene had turned her lens our way.  We obviously hadn’t gained full confidence in our rig by that time, but the shot is especially cool because it shows Old Town in the background – one of our favorite places in the Tacoma. We’re looking at homes in the area. (Photo courtesy of Sherlene Eicher.)

Being a lousy leeward side photographer – I missed the chance to get a great shot of Galapagos, but look forward to making it up on future encounters.  Note-to-self:  shoot photos from the windward side.

Finally, finally we are able to jump on the boat and go. The roller furling makes set-up a breeze, and we are anxiously awaiting a clean, repaired Mainsail and addition of Strong Track on the main mast. It’ll be a huge help getting a 47-foot tall, 8.5oz main into position. The Strong Track is a bit of a luxury, but with a 500+ SF headsail and over 1,000 SF overall, Elsa being over-canvassed is an under-statement for a 38′ boat.  We will want to be able to reduce sail quickly, and without protracted negotiations. Lazy-jacks are next.

The electrical system is also under construction – and we’re that much closer to being a fully functional vessel. Who’d a thunk it? We’re rapidly approaching the minimalist sailboat. The defining moment is only a matter of taste.

Einstein:  “Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”