Category Archives: Crew News

Diesel’s First Sail

We had had Diesel for about 4 weeks when we decided it was high time to take him sailing. We had run the engine a few times in the intervening weeks and he had reacted well to the noise. In fact, he completely ignored the engine.

We wanted to take Diesel sailing sooner rather than later in order to acclimatize him to the concept while he was still young. We got our first cat, Oreo, when he was 10 weeks old, but since it was late fall, and we did no winter sailing that year, he was nine months old before we ventured onto the water with him, and he never got completely accustomed to his home moving.

Diesel’s first voyage was a crossing of the Georgia Strait to get to Montague Harbour on Galiano Island. This is a fairly long trip. All the cat behaviour books advise gradual introduction of a cat to the voyaging life, and a short daysail might have been a better choice for Diesel’s first crew duty. However, he had already shown himself to be a good traveler when he spent six hours in his carry case when we brought him back from California, and in this instance, he would have access to his litter box and water.

The weather conditions were ideal for calming kitty fears: flat calm and sunny. We initially left Diesel below to see how he chose to handle the boat’s motion. He installed himself in the pullman berth in a snug little corner and whenever we checked on him, he seemed comfortable and alert. Unlike Oreo, who used to flatten himself in one spot as soon as the VHF was turned on and not budge until the engine was turned off at arrival, Diesel would actually come out from his perch and walk around.

We put him in his harness, tied him to a leash and brought him on deck when he began to look a little queasy due to some sloppy swell. He was quite happy playing under the dodger, but we eventually put him back down below when we needed to keep our attention on the boat itself.

We arrived at Montague after about seven hours of motoring with Diesel none the worse for wear. Since it was a long weekend, we spent two nights in the harbour at the Bluewater Cruising Association’s rendez-vous, before heading back on the Monday morning.

We initially took the same approach as before and left Diesel below. However, when we approached Active Pass, he began to mewl pathetically from the top companionway step. Apparently we’re good company and he just wanted to be outside with us. However, with ferry traffic and other boats to keep track of, we did not want Diesel underfoot during a busy time. We decided to put him in his carry case and leave the case underneath the dodger canopy.

This turned out to be an excellent idea and will likely be Diesel’s preferred mode of sailing for the next little while. He was able to see out of three sides of the bag, was comfortable and secure, and could not suddenly get in the way during vital manoeuvres. We took him down below for litter and water breaks on a regular basis.

This time, we managed to do some sailing, although with very little wind, we just ghosted along with little heel; also a good situation for kitty’s first time seeing those great white sails.

Overall, we seem to have a cat who travels well by plane, car or boat. We are very lucky and are looking forward to more adventures with our furry friend.

More Witman Manor Kittens

Here are kittens from two separate litters from the Witman Manor Maine Coon Cattery. The red/cameo litter is 5 weeks old. The silver litter is about 3 weeks old. This is Diesel’s litter.

Here are the red kittens and cameo kittens.

Here’s a closer look at the silver kittens.

Here’s a litter of brown kittens. They are two days old.

Witman Manor Kittens

Here are kittens from two separate litters from the Witman Manor Maine Coon Cattery. The red/cameo litter is two and a half weeks old. The silver litter is about 6 days old.

Here are the red kittens and two kittens that are reserved by one of my colleagues.

Here’s a closer look at the silver kittens and their mother, Tessa.

Here’s Mozart, a silver classic tabby at Witman Manor. He’s not the daddy of anybody above.

And here’s a cat named Ashti

California Move

In May 2001, we moved from Vancouver, BC to the Bay Area in California.

Click on any of the animated gifs below to restart the animations.

Leaving False Creek and view astern of Spanish Banks (animated)

We decided to truck the boat down, since May is not the best time to do the West Coast run.  We sailed across the border to Blaine, WA and decommissioned the boat there.

All deck hardware had to be removed due to height restrictions during transport.

Stripping the boat of its deck hardware (animated)

The yard in Blaine seemed to not be used to dealing with large sailboats, and we were on a time schedule due to tides for the mast removal and haulout. We were less than happy with the cleanliness of the facilities, and the manner in which the mast was unstepped. Only one sling point attachment was used below the first set of spreaders. This was not correct given the balance point and the mast promptly went horizontal as soon as it was removed, submitting it (and us) to unnecessary stress.

How not to remove the mast (animated). Note the unpleasant banana-like effect

The boat arrived at the Keefe Kaplan Maritime yard in Richmond, CA on May 14, 2001. There was some minor damage to the mast. It had slipped off its bracket during transport and the gooseneck had gouged a groove through the truck’s fender and destroyed one of the tires. There was plenty of goopy rubber mess left on the gooseneck, but this was easily cleaned and there appeared to be no serious damage. As well, the masthead suffered some wear because we did not pack it correctly.

Loading the boat onto the truck (animated)

Safe arrival outside Keefe Kaplan Maritime in Richmond, CA

Minor transport damage to gooseneck and masthead (animated)

The KKMI yard was very clean and let us live on the hard there for almost a month while we redid our bottom paint and boot stripe, recommissioned the boat, stripped our cap and rub rail varnish, and had the yard do some needed repairs identified at survey time.

Restepping the mast. Note proper technique this time (animated)

Boat goes back in the water (animated)

We put the boat back in the water in June and moved into Richmond’s Marina Bay.This was the only marina at which we were able to find legal liveaboard accomodation.  I worked at Pixar Animation Studios in Emeryville and Guy set up his offices at the Ballena Bay Marina in Alameda, where we had hoped to eventually move. Alameda is sunnier and more sheltered from the prevailing winds than Marina Bay, which sits in the path of what’s known as “The Slot”. The Slot is the opening into San Francisco Bay under the Golden Gate Bridge. From late May, early June, until late August, early September, 20 to 30 knot winds blow through The Slot, sweeping the ever present fog bank in with them. We were cold.

Richmond Marina Bay where we lived (animated)

Ballena Bay Marina in Alameda, where Guy's office was located, and view of San Francisco therefrom (animated)