We were floating, but we weren’t gone yet. We had some last minute projects to do before we could depart from Port Angeles: installing heavy duty cleats for our Jordan Series Drogue, figuring out how to work our heater, and trouble-shooting our autopilot issues. Ace Sailmakers specifically says not to run your drogue to your primary winches for fear of tearing them out with the load, but we had no other strong points on the stern. We made some by installing cleats with huge backing plates.
On the big day, June 18, Seth and I arrived at Platypus Marine at 7am to find the ‘heavy lifting crew’ already stepping our mast. We scrambled up the ladder to help with guiding it in and attaching the stays. Stepping the mast had been delayed until the day of our launch because we’d found by a pretty minimal hammer hit that the old mast step on the keel was corroded into aluminum dust. We had a new one shipped overnight from Rhode Island (we were thrilled to find we could purchase one at all—the mast is no longer manufactured) and then had to affix it, being super careful to bed the stainless steel machine screws to prevent future corrosion. But all that was now behind us and we were actually stepping the mast!
The ten days following our hoped-for launch date of June 10 were dominated by installing equipment. Once all the paint and varnish had dried, Seth mounted and wired our new solar panels: two on the forward end of the cabin top, two aft where the old Dorade vent was, and one on a swivel mount on the stern pulpit. (There had been a large one there, but it didn’t seem to be producing much—if any—power, so we replaced it.) Meanwhile, I was hard at work back in our hotel room putting together our Jordan Series Drogue.
As most of you have already guessed from our posts about our Katadyn watermaker, our Rolls batteries, and other projects, we—and the guys at Platypus Marine—have been hard at work refitting Celeste for ocean voyaging in general and high latitudes in particular (one reason that these blog posts are so far behind reality!). Over the winter and spring, Platypus Marine did the most major projects, especially sheathing the hull in GRP and Kevlar, barrier coating and painting the whole hull, and installing our new diesel engine. Seth and I arrived in Port Angeles in May to finish the refitting by doing the finicky (and high labor cost!) projects ourselves.
On the recommendation of a trusted friend and shipwright, we placed Celeste with Platypus Marine in September 2013. We subsequently negotiated sponsorship with them. In short, we only work with companies whose products we would use regardless of sponsorship.
Celeste was beautifully constructed and designed when she was built: her cold-molded hull was meticulously laid up and saturated with epoxy; her decks, cabin trunk, keel, and rudder were all sturdily built; and everywhere is evidence of the skill and workmanship of both her designer Francis Kinney and her builder Bent Jespersen. Celeste was also maintained excellently by her previous owner. He especially took care to keep the bilges completely dry—we’ve found some spare pieces of wood he kept there that didn’t even have a drop of moisture stain! Nonetheless, all boats come due for a refit after about 20 years and Celeste’s has been particularly thorough in view of the waters we’re hoping to explore. Thanks to our boatyard in Port Angeles, Platypus Marine, we’re setting off with a classic-looking yet robust and technologically up-to-date vessel. Continue reading
In need of an emergency manual watermaker and wishing for a 12V one, we approached Katadyn for sponsorship. We only work with companies whose products we would use regardless of sponsorship.
After four years of hefting water in buckets from the shore (and sometimes rather bad tasting water at that) and after four years of knowing our life-raft was not fully equipped, we’re thrilled to have Katadyn watermakers on board. Their most energy-conserving watermaker—the PowerSurvivor40E, drawing only 4 amps—will allow us to be completely self-sufficient aboard Celeste. We’ll no longer have to depend solely on water from shore or on rain catchment, and we’ll still be able to generate the electricity we need with our solar panels. While preparing for the Arctic, Seth and I originally worried about our water solutions. On our circumnavigation we carried over 150 gallons aboard the heavy-displacement Heretic, which lasted us about 6 weeks without rationing. We never use potable water for anything other than drinking or cooking (and often use half seawater for cooking), but we drink a lot of water to stave off seasickness. Unlike Heretic, however, Celeste is a medium-displacement boat and weight makes more of a difference to her sailing and trim. So she only carries 100 gallons in her water tanks. This might be fine for some cruises, but water is scarce and expensive in the Arctic.
(NB: After careful research, we approached Rolls for sponsorship. We only work with companies whose products we would use regardless of sponsorship.)
We’re thrilled that Rolls Battery Engineering (Surrette Battery Co.) has agreed to sponsor our voyage! Ever since we first learned of the company, we’ve been drawn to both their reputation for long-lasting marine batteries and their consciousness of the environment. They’ve innovated a ‘closed loop’ recycling process whereby their old batteries become new ones: each Rolls battery is made of at least 60% recycled lead. Equally good for the planet (and great for customers!) is that a Rolls battery takes longer to be completely spent: the designers have created a unique ‘resistitox’ plate to guarantee one of the longest life expectancies in the industry. But why are batteries so important? Continue reading