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.”

11 thoughts on “Simplicity

  1. Meant to comment when I saw the new pic of the boat with the foresails and just the mizzen. Beautiful. Great pic to from your friends … of Elsa. You may find that you like that combination of sail a lot … we use it at night when sudden increases in wind are more than a little inconvenient … main down and just a mizzen and par of the furlered genoa … very controllable from the cockpit … so no one has to go forward and trim sail or reef in the dark. Carolyn prefers that set up because it requires less strength and still knocks out 5.5 knots in a moderate wind. The main sometimes added to the rest can overpower the boat …. sounds like a great day sailing.

    • Great to hear it works so well for you and crew. Michael imagined it would work well but good to get actual experience talking!
      Hope you are well!

      • Hi there – ok this might be a few years out of date … do you still sail elsa? … I’m buying a boat for circumnavigating – and calling her Elsa … (dont laugh) … it means “Enjoying Life Sailing Around” … i’ve just bought the website (dont ask me why as I’m clueless at web thingying) … but figured i’d keep a blog website page type thing .. and lo and behold .. you’ve done it already?!? … anyways, it says 2015 (March 8 – one day before my birthday) so it might be a little out of date? … but hopefully not – DK x

      • Hi Derek! We definitely still have a sailboat named Elsa. Just let the blogging go by the wayside. Good luck with your new boat and new adventures!

        Our boat came with her name, and we just kept it. We heard the original owner named her after a family member so that’s all we know.

        What kind of boat did you get?

        Kristin and Michael

      • Hahaha brilliant to hear from you … its like 01:21 Tuesday morn here – i did a bit more digging and im not sure if you’re some professor in IT / Society … if yes then you’ve a weird email in you .edu inbox – but i got an out-of-office about a sabbatical writing a book … good luck with that … but if thats not you then (cue twilight zone music) … you have a doppelgänger 😂

        Took me all of a day in starbucks and a dozen or so lattès to come up with the acronym/name … im looking (not yet handed over £££) at getting the new Seawind 1370 … im planning on blue water circumnavigation and (covid aside) doing my RYA yachtmaster offshore training … my goal is something like “civilisation, see ya later” … its going to be an epic adventure

        … anyway glad to make your acquaintance and super chuffed you’re still sailing her!

        Fair winds and lots of rum – derek

      • Hi Derek,
        I am definitely not in IT, nor am I writing a book on sabbatical, but always fun to think there’s a doppelgänger out there. My husband and I live in Tacoma, in Washington state in USA. Elsa is my husband’s dream come true, and he would love to get out in the big blue water but alas, for the time being, life intervenes. Hope you find the right boat for your adventures!


      • This is surreal… to get the mood right im writing this reply with alexa playing the tune to the twilight zone in the background… the other Kristin (a university professor no less) has replied to clarify … all good … i think its marvellous that we can connect the dots from so many thousands of miles apart in just a few minutes … anyways its proper 💤 time for me so goodnight, get out on the water and enjoy – dk

  2. I think I figured out how to follow your blog finally. So now just have to make sure you show up in the ‘reader’ app on my phone!

  3. Oh my goodness! I can’t believe I didn’t see this post until now. Hubby saw it and sent me the link. Thank you for the kind mention. I’m following your blog but I didn’t get notified of this one so I guess I can’t always rely on that email coming in! 🙂 This is our last week! We’ll be back to the boat next weekend and are pretty excited for the next six months! Hope we can meet up soon.

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