Friday, February 26, 2010

Winter in Port Townsend

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Now that we’ve been home in Port Townsend, with Tamara 1,500 miles away in Cordova harbor, it probably seems that we’ve had little to do with voyaging for a few months. That is not at all the case. While we have in fact been busy doing house maintenance neglected while we were sailing, the winter has largely been devoted to planning the next cruises, as well as the necessary major re-fit for the well traveled Tamara. In addition we have been working hard producing a slide and video presentation of our voyages, and a couple of new magazine pieces.

It’s not much different now than it was each winter when the task was planning and assembling bits of equipment for the annual preparation for fishing season. There is just as much work to be done, similar in many ways to the numerous seasons before, with the obvious difference that today’s work is not likely to produce any income!! Now the work is strictly a labor of love—I loved the fishing seasons too, but they also earned me a living. Instead, now it’s the other way round---now we pay for the privilege of doing the work.

There are many tasks on the work list for this spring, from re-conditioning Tamara’s diesel engine, installing a new generator, routine paint touch-up, to replacing much of the running rigging and sail repair. And of course, as Tamara is a great distance away, all of the planning and ordering and shipping of things must be done carefully and well in advance. But this is what we always did every year for many years, so the problems presented are familiar.

In many ways we are quite lucky, however. There could be few places better than Cordova for doing much of the planned work. Although a very small town, the importance of the fishing industry to Cordova has put in place an infrastructure designed to facilitate working on boats. Ease of shipping equipment in and out, expert technicians and mechanics, and even good opportunity for relaxation—from a small ski area, to an excellent library and swimming pool, make the annual spring re-fit quite feasible.

Once the re-building and re-fitting have been accomplished, we will cruise for a few months, and only a few thousand miles, in what in some ways will be an extended shake down cruise. The plan is to have fun, visit some areas we’ve not been able to go before, and prove up all the systems that we will need to rely upon next year when we plan a much more ambitious cruise well north into the Bering Sea.

Additionally, we have been in consultation with a career mariner, long known by Mark, who is descended from a couple of regionally famous Arctic maritime fur-traders and explorers. These men owned and sailed boats only slightly larger than Tamara, covering thousands of miles of the western Canadian Arctic. One was based for many years in Cordova. 2013 is the one hundredth anniversary of the famous Canadian Arctic Expedition, the expedition in which the Karluk was lost in the ice, and the great Newfoundland ice master Robert Bartlett lead the surviving crew to safety. There is growing interest in revisiting the accomplishments of the CAE, particularly some of the less famous participants of the Southern party, including these schooner-men, who did extensive mapping and ethnology along the western reaches of the North West Passage and the Mackenzie River Delta. Who knows---perhaps Tamara might play a role in celebrating the accomplishments of those whom he has revered for many years.

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