Ah, what a weekend! Today was sunny and very warm for us, 82 degrees.  It was one of those days that came together just like clockwork. After Mike’s hard work all week, he really needed a break and this was our only opportunity to get one before we leave for the long vacation. How is it that we need a break from preparing for our vacation? That just sounds weird, and yet it’s true.

Thursday I met Mike down at Moonrise to help him install the final piece of the autopilot. He drilled holes, I passed wires and retrieved tools, and before we knew it, he had completed the job. Next was the commissioning and sea trial of the unit.


Mike, puddling around. Isn’t she cute?

At the same time that Mike was working on the autopilot, I had been thinking about the dinghy situation. Several years ago Mike built our dinghy, Puddler, and she has been a great little boat. She has ridden the waves behind Moonrise on every trip. We like her. But she is, in a word, heavy. She was Mike’s first pass at building a plywood boat and he used,    um, plenty of fiberglass. You know how they say those fiberglass boats of the ’70s were ‘overbuilt’. Enough said.

Mike really wanted a tender that could be easily brought up on deck during rough passages and Puddler does not fit that bill. In addition, she needs some minor repairs that may turn into major repairs if we take her through rough water. And we just don’t have time to get to those right now.  Barkley Sound isn’t exactly the end of the earth, but it’s wild enough that one wants a dinghy that is easy to maneuver and stow.

No, it was time to try something else so I turned to Craigslist. I had been looking every day this week and had found a few possibilities, but they were not anywhere close to home and I really wanted to find one that could be outfitted with a sail. So when I pulled up Craigslist last night and saw that the very first dinghy listed was an 8 foot Walker Bay with a set of really nice, adjustable oars with good looking stainless steel oarlocks, my heart started beating faster. The price was about 1/3 what that set would cost new, and it was in good condition. There is a place for a mast, a centerboard, and a rudder. The clincher was that it was sitting on the dock by the guy’s boat in Gig Harbor, right across the water from us. I emailed him. Could we sail across this morning and take a look? We could!

Hey, Moonrise! What's that up on deck? The dinghy can actually lay flat when we pull it forward a bit.

Hey, Moonrise! What’s that up on deck? The dinghy can actually lay flat when we pull it forward a bit.

So we got off the dock around 9:00 this morning and sailed over to Gig Harbor, bought the dinghy and oars, and then tied up at the dock at The Tides tavern for lunch, right behind a really cool Coast Guard boat. The Tides has great dockside service this time of year and is a very popular spot for local boaters. It’s so popular that you might not be able to leave when you want to if people raft up to you, but the show is free and the weather is fine, so who cares? I love those kind of days.

These Coast Guard boats are pretty cool, when their engines start. Unfortunately, this one didn't.

These Coast Guard boats are pretty cool, when their engines start. Unfortunately, this one didn’t. We were sorry for the Coasties. 

After lunch we spent time commissioning our newest crew member, Stella. She is going to be an awesome addition to the boat. We don’t know how we lived this long without her! For her first test, she took us directly to our favorite anchorage off Vashon Island where we dropped the hook for a few hours.  With this heat, and all the activity, we were both in need of a nap.

Mike with our new crew member, Stella. We love her already.

Mike with our new crew member, Stella. We love her already. 

The boat is pretty much ready to go now except for fuel and water. I still have some grocery shopping to do and we need to pack clothing and take my kayak down to the marina. But the end of preparations is in sight.  Four days and counting!

13 thoughts on “All….Most….There….

    • We don’t have the sailing kit yet, but we will probably get it in the future. We’ll be keeping this dinghy if we like it on this trip. We also have a small outboard motor that will work for it. I hear you about the front hatch. We will only be keeping her on deck when necessary but she does impinge on the front hatch. However, if she is on deck it will most likely be during times we’d have that hatch closed anyhow. The beauty of this dinghy is how easy she is to put back in the water and lift out.

  1. We felt pretty lucky. It’s very nice, and the oars are perfect because they are adjustable for us short armed folks.

  2. WOW, great deal! I know very well how frustrating it is to have a dinghy you can’t easily manage. We ditched the old inflatable and got the portabote just for that reason :D. Have a GREAT time on your trip.

    • There was a Portabote on Craigslist at a second hand marine store but it was too far away to get to easily. I think it needed some repair as well, but for about 200$ someone will get a nice deal if that’s what they are looking for.

  3. Welcome to the wonderful world of Walker Bay 8s. Being able to launch it and retrieve it easily as well as being able to very easily haul it well above the high tide line when ashore are all qualities that we are really enjoying. The fact that she sits so nicely on our cabintop is also great. Unfortunately, it does definitely block the forward hatch when it’s tied on the cabin top. But, our boat being as small as it is, I cannot envision a scenario in which the forward hatch was the only means we’d have of escape. Our companionway and forward hatch are only about 8′ apart.

    Besides, there’s nowhere else to stow it.

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