Your loyal correspondent, left, and daughter pause to model our moonsuits as we roll fresh bottom paint on the ark-like hull of our dear old Westsail 32.
YOU’VE HEARD A LOT, DEAR READER, about WeLike, our restored 1957 Skagit Express Cruiser. But I’ve neglected to update you about my nautical first love, Sogni d’Oro, the Westsail 32 sailboat that’s been a big part of my family’s life — including, often, our home — for 30 years.
Yes, I’m a two-boat skipper — and painter, scrubber, polisher, oil-changer and general fix-it man. It’s probably one of the first tests for insanity.
Sogni d’Oro (the name is the Italian version of “sweet dreams”) is the full-keeled, ocean-steady cutter that we acquired in 1989, raised our daughter on, and took to Mexico and back in the mid-1990s. She was the vessel aboard which, every summer for 20 years, we obsessively explored the San Juan Islands, where we now make our home.
When we moved to the islands last year, our 27-year-old daughter, Lillian, moved back aboard the sailboat at Seattle’s Shilshole Marina and made it her cozy home again.
This past week, Lil and I bonded again in one of the more intense physical and psychological tests of boat stewardship: the boatyard haulout.
Lillian aboard Sogni d’Oro as we transited the Ballard Locks on the way to our haulout. For a few minutes, you and your boat get to be a tourist attraction.
For Sogni d’Oro, it’s been an every-three-years event, honed to a busy four days. After guiding the boat through the Ballard Locks and causing two bridges to rise with toots from my shiny brass cornet (“That’s awesome,” a passing skipper shouted, rather gratifyingly), we watched with hearts in our throat as the boat was hoisted out of the water on a Travelift, a square-framed contraption with heavy canvas slings in which our 10-ton ark gently swung like one of those pirate-ship rides at the Puyallup Fair. But the folks at Canal Boatyard once again took good care of us.
Then it was a marathon of power-washing, scraping barnacles, sanding, rolling on two new coats of marine bottom paint, and any other chores we could manage to cross off our wish list. As long as I’ve owned boats, I’ve done the work myself when possible. This was the first time Lillian has stepped in as chief helper. She was an eager and willing trouper.
Among our company on the Lake Washington Ship Canal this past week: the state ferry Elwha passes through the Ballard Bridge on the way to Lake Union for maintenance.
Lil gets special kudos for taking on one of those wish-list items, singlehandedly sanding and repainting the wide green stripe that runs the length of the boat just beneath the teak caprails. One tough decision we faced: the choice of a new paint, since the “medium green” Z-Spar enamel we’d used for years was no longer available. We settled on the forest green color from Bainbridge Island-based Marshall’s Cove Paints. The stripe now gleams with the color of the Northwest woods.
All freshly painted and polished, Sogni d’Oro rides the Travelift back toward the water on Monday.
Big thanks to my sister-in-law, Lillian’s Auntie Julie, who welcomed us sweaty, paint-flecked guests into her home when it came time to collapse (after a hot shower) at each day’s end.
Monday afternoon, Sogni d’Oro splashed back into the Lake Washington Ship Canal and we made our way back through the locks and tied up to her home slip on M Dock at Shilshole once again, with our sweet dream of a boat looking all clean and shiny once again.
I may be crazy, but I think that’s worth blowing my horn.
“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing — absolutely nothing — half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats. Simply messing — about — in — boats… or with boats.”
— The Water Rat to the Mole, in Kenneth Grahame’s “The Wind in the Willows”