Rigging? Check. Testsail? Check. Survey?

Now we wait. Tuesday the rigging survey went well. The rigger will make some recommendations, but nothing earth shattering. Yesterday was the test sail and I thought the gods were smiling on us as we had good enough wind, and it was warm and sunny. If you do not live in the Pacific Northwest, it’s hard for you to know exactly what this means to us. But believe me when I say this is a huge deal.

Raising the main with an archaic system, and a winch handle that is too short to offer much leverage. This would have to go.

Raising the main with an archaic system, and a winch handle that is too short to offer much leverage. This would have to go.

On board were the owner and his friend, our yacht broker, Lee, the surveyor Tony Allport (who is completely awesome, by the way) and both of us. This boat is so big that even with this number of people, it did not feel crowded.

Leaving the dock was a bit of fun because of the wind and the fact that this boat had to back out of a long, narrow passage with boats on either side. I can say this: Lee did not die. He may have had to leap across a gap as wide as he was tall in order to get aboard, grab the toe rail and pull himself up, but he accomplished this feat in a manly way that implied excellent upper body strength. It took 4 people to get this boat off the dock safely. It would be awhile before Mike and I would be able to do it alone without having heart palpitations. Let’s not even talk about the shenanigans that were required to get this boat docked at the haul out yard, and how many trials it took to get accomplished. Hints: No bow thruster. Big boat. Wind.

Mike and Tony talk about that windlass. It works! That was a good thing.

Mike and Tony talk about that windlass. It works! That was a good thing.

Lake Union is just beautiful. It might not be the best place to test sail this boat, however, because by the time you get all the many variable sails up and ready you are almost at the other end of the lake. We decided to tack across a couple of times. Just at the point where Flying Gull is getting into her groove, it’s time to tack again. And she doesn’t enjoy tacking into the wind at slow speeds when her sails are not really set well. In fact, she is quite stubborn about that, making one have to jibe and go around the long way in order to try again. Twice. I’m pretty sure that’s not the fault of the boat. I’m almost completely positive that Sparkman and Stephens designed boats better than that.

So I have to rely on the maybe 2 minutes of excellent sailing we got under our belts, at a nice angle of heel. It didn’t last long, but long enough to know that she could do it, and it felt nice.

One of the things that needs to change about the sail handling. Yes, there are ways to address this.

One of  the things that needs to change about the sail handling. Yes, there are ways to address this.

The haulout was not as traumatic as we thought it would be. Frankly, I thought when she was hauled I would consider her to be about the size of a pod of whales. But I did not. She has a long shallow keel that keeps her from looking quite as big as her sisters with the deeper keels. Anyway, Tony took his little hammer and tap tap tapped his way on every part of that hull, marking a few places and making notes.

Standing back from her in her huge slings, Mike and I commented, with sighs all around, that she really is a beautiful boat. She really, truly is. It’s one thing to think so ourselves, but it’s another to see the slack-jawed looks on the faces of the young men who work at the boat yard. They were almost reverent. If we buy her, we have to go back there and take them out on the boat.

Is it any wonder people get slack-jawed when they see her like this?

Is it any wonder people get slack-jawed when they see her like this?

But I am telling you about the love of the beauty of the vessel. And we all know that beauty is only skin deep. At this point it is all about Tony’s survey, so we are extremely relieved that two years ago Mike saw something he wrote in 48 North and chose him to be the surveyor of whatever boat we bought next. Yep. Two years ago. We have complete faith that he understands our plans for the future and will tell us what would need to happen in order to make Flying Gull the boat of those plans. It is so wonderful to have an objective, learned expert to talk to about these things. We all know that hearts rule where boats are concerned. So having someone remind us about the ”head’ part of these decisions is worth its weight in sovereigns.

And there are issues with the boat and with its being the right one for our plans. It would be excellent if we simply wanted to live aboard, or if we just wanted to take her to some restaurant dock and have dinner. It would be excellent for going up to the Gulf Islands, or even further into British Columbia. If those were our only plans, we would buy her without any hesitation. But we know already that there are some valid concerns about how complicated her systems are. We know that the sail handling is cumbersome, that there are too many booms on deck, that, in short, this rig needs to be redesigned for us to be able to handle it with ease. These things we know can be addressed. We know that there are some issues with rot. We just don’t yet know how much.

Tony, hammer in one hand, ice pick and chalk in another. He sails an Albin 30.

Tony, hammer in one hand, ice pick and chalk in another. He sails an Albin 30.

So, we wait for the results of the survey, and then we see where we stand.

15 thoughts on “Rigging? Check. Testsail? Check. Survey?

  1. I have been holding my breath and obsessively checking my email and your blog for news. Good gravy Marie but she is a beautiful, beautiful boat. Fingers crossed that the items on the survey are fairly straight forward to address. Sincerely wishing all 3 of you-Mike, Melissa and Flying Gull the best.

    • Well, I’ll tell you, yes, she is pretty. We are just holding our breath for the survey, and in spite of the money spent, etc, we are still willing to part ways with her now rather than make a huge mistake and be sorry later. That said, we wouldn’t have taken it this far without wanting this boat so it would be a huge disappointment to us. There was an issue with the steering that was simply unacceptable. It was chalked up to her being big and us going slow, but that was not the issue I’m sure. Mike is sure, too. If this boat wasn’t so pretty, and if we didn’t really trust the Sparkman and Stephens design, we would have walked away yesterday after the test sail and not bothered to haul her out. It’s a testiment to how much we are hoping this will work that we went ahead with the whole thing. I am going to contact the owner of the ‘sister’ ship and ask how his boat steers. It may have been that way for a long time and so the current owner may think that’s just how the boat steers. But if that’s the case, it’s not the boat for us.

        • There are two wheels, inside and out. Both are hard to steer. The setup under the ‘dash’ is straight forward, original to the boat. Like you, I’m pretty sure S&S didn’t get it wrong. But it may need repair. Every time we start trying to dig further into it, we just step back and say ‘wait for the survey’. Yes, we don’t mind spending the money up front to make sure we know what we are getting. It’s money well spent, for sure.

          • Well if it all goes pear shaped do not be disheartened. If it is a boat with character you want, I happen to fellow close to you who specializes in older boat restorations. He always has interesting boats for sale and.or gets the first heads up on boats coming in to be refitted prior to going on the market. Time is definitely on your side.

    • Oh sure! That’s just what you need to go with your other boat! LOL!
      But love that boarding ladder you have. Very safe and nice.

  2. Just for the fun of it:
    http://www.yachtworld.de/core/listing/boatMergedDetails.jsp?boat_id=2564383&ybw=&units=Meters&currency=EUR&access=Public&listing_id=1877&url=

    my wife and i have looked at this boat in Whangarei NZ 2007. The owner spent a zillion dollars on it, rendering it so odd, that nobody wants it now. He might even sell it for 100k. It is a turn key, go anywhere affair, and since it once was a swan 47, it is still beautiful. Best regards, a secret admirer

    • Hmm, that’s a very nice looking boat, for sure. Thanks for posting that link. We are still in love with the Gull, but if it falls through, after we lick our proverbial wounds and cry a lot, we might give that a look.
      Wow! A secret admirer? Blush!

  3. Wow how unbelievable- somehow I have been thinking about this boat. It’s a childhood icon in my memory bank. It was docked like 5 slips down from our little J-24 back in Rochester, NY (RYC). I believe the last time I would have seen the boat was around 1991 or 1992. I’ve never forgot her and have always wondered about her fate. Though I was young it seems that the owner had just restored her and soon after had passed on. I do know that they were returning to port once from a good jaunt out the St Lawrence- so he definitely had her out after the restoration. What a beautiful boat. I don’t sail much now in NW Montana, though I have crewed for a few races on Flathead Lake. Nothing to the like of sailing on the Great Lakes though. Not sure whether you ended up purchasing her or not- but I’m sure glad that you wrote about your interest and had some photos too. Was she sailed to Seattle do you know?

    • Hi Jim, We’ve been out sailing for a few weeks so only just saw your comment today. She is an incredible boat. So glad you remember her. I believe she was trucked to Seattle and then the new owner got ill and had to sell her. We, very unfortunately, did not get to buy her as there was more wood rot than we felt comfortable with (being new to the wooden boat world and having little knowledge). The rot was due to neglect, I fear. Someone else was looking at her recently, but I think they, too passed on her. Last I heard she was taken off the market but I haven’t checked lately.

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