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Anke and I live aboard WAYWARD, and wrote about it's design and construction at

Access to the net comes and goes, so I'll be writing in fits and spurts.Please feel free to browse the archives, leave comments where you will and write... I'll respond as I can.

Fair winds!

Dave and Anke
triloboats swirly gmail daughter com

Thursday, January 18, 2024

Wall Hangin'


A Wall-Flower's View

I was pretty far gone, but not so far gone that I thought anyone with half a toehold in reality would think what we were doing was a good idea.

-- Meg Rosoff

Wall Hangin'

For years we would scurry for shelter at day's end. Weather can come up from flat calm no matter the forecast, and we were afraid of the dark.

Over the years, though, we slowly got used to night sailing. Getting caught out gave us plenty of opportunities. With experience, anxieties ebbed. We learned that we could almost always see silhouettes and learned to navigate by them, the lead and echolocation. Anxiety slipped away.

We began to notice that exposed anchorings -- we call them wall hangs -- have their own attractions.

First of all, they're at hand. When the wind dies, we can most often get a hook or two down within fifty yards of shoreline. Often while it's still light and we can enjoy sunset and the last of the day.

And the view! One-eighty degrees of vistas open far and wide, unveiled by the close embrace of  cove or creek. 

The full palette of the boreal maritime rain-country waxes and wanes in intensity from distance muted greens, grays and blues to sunshot opalescences of vermilion and golds against bands of brilliant azures. Illuminated gulls like white fire against the sky, or their fuligin counterparts -- the crows and ravens -- like animated rents in the tapestry to the black, underlying void. Then dimming back to the more somber and twilit purples, perforated by stars uncounted as full dark descends.

Most nights the moon, crescent or gibbous, sails above us, illuminating cloud and fog to shades of ghostly pearl. 

And around us, the wider seaways come alive with bioluminescent script, eloquent of all that move within it; fish and kelp and wave and stone. Porpoise surging along in sprays of light, or the great whales fluking dazzlement in their wake.

We're not yet to the point that we sleep as well while wall hangin'. We doze with one ear cocked for the first ripple of wind. Best to be anchors-up and sailing before the wind comes on to blow.

But we're well compensated for these wakeful nights!


A couple of observations...

  • Much of our coastline is steep-to, falling quickly off to unreachable depths. But for reasons unknown to me, there is often a ledge running along before the drop-off at around 2 to 10 fathoms. Kelp fringes tend to holdfast, along here, giving some indication of a spot to prospect at our preferred depths (about 7ftm max). Where the lead finds decent bottom, we have a contender.

  • Beware of rocks and reefs in this stretch, which are poorly charted, if at all... consider tapping around with the lead from the tender after getting a toe-hold, to confirm a clear spot.

  • Because this ledge is most often narrow, we often put out two anchors to limit swing inshore and along the ledge.

  • Consider setting a loose watch to check position occasionally... holding is unreported and likely to be marginal. We prepare to sail at the first breeze, though once awake and ready, may pause for breakfast at anchor if conditions stay light.

Wednesday, January 10, 2024

How We Got Started


Dave’s first ‘berth’ at 6 months

Begin as you mean to go on.

-- British Saying

How We Got Started, OR, Down to the Sea in Slips

My first sail, at fourteen, was with fellow teens in a flotilla of rafts and canoes faring from Hoonah -- in Southeast Alaska -- to Tenakee Springs and back, involving two inlets separated by a high-tide portage. 

This all went about as you might expect… passion and drama, high times and low.

One glorious, fair wind day we rafted our seven slim vessels together, erected a lattice of spruce boughs festooned with tarp and poncho, and sailed a sunny thirty miles!

Sailing!! Oh, it was wondrous, lazing along without a stroke, pushed by the kindly flow of the world! I'd had zero exposure to real-life sailing craft, and had somehow acquired the misimpression that such were nowadays yachts; toys of the very rich. Now this experience planted a seed of another species.

On to college. Strange financial terms meant that whatever I earned in summer came off my aid package. Summer overheads, in other words, translated directly to debt. What to do? Well. I hadn't seen much of the 'Lower 48'. Hitch-hiking was an obvious solution. Which I loved.

On the Road, I discovered the Tao -- that Watercourse Way – and Drift, a pace that suits me. To me the phrase, "sails full and by the wind's whim", are heart and soul of the drifting, dreaming Tao.

I considered hitching on; but the glow of the '60s was fading, and the Road was becoming dark and strange. I considered a 'hippie' bus; but a motor vehicle is no improvement on a motor boat. How to be free and footloose in a world of pistons, cogs and oil?

Musing, I returned to Sitka and signed aboard a salmon troller for a couple of seasons and worked the shoreside fish plants.

And then. And then! Rummaging through a box of Library cast-offs I came across. Sailing the Farm! A Survival Guide to Homesteading on the Ocean!! Independence on Thirty Feet!!! Ken Neumeyer, I exalt your name!

My torch was finally well and truly lit.

But to build or to buy? That was the question! Didn't help that I soon fell head-over-heels with the Pardeys and SERRAFYN/Lyle Hess! Good people; good boats - but well out of present reach.

I more-or-less wasted a few years in research, dither and scheme.


Anke learned to swim before she could walk.

She grew up shoreside along the river Rhein in Duisburg, Germany; the world's largest inland port. Shipping, boats and barges were a constant backdrop. Riverside parks stretch for miles along the banks, and bridges criss-cross the river.

In Schleswig, on the Baltic coast, a family friend would sometimes take her along to join his children in working the nets.

But Europe is crowded. She was drawn to the wide wildernesses of boreal forest. She signed on for a cultural exchange, which took her to Sitka at the dawn of her adult life.

She soon found employment at Patterson Bay, a wilderness research station studying salmon hatchery. Lots of water-work, there, both fresh and salt, ashore and afloat.

And she loved cold water. There were rumors of mermaid sightings.


It was love at first sight.

I was watching a small (live-aboard) sailboat for a friend who'd urged me to take it out. To my concerns that I was a pre-beginner, he tut-tutted. "If anything breaks, you'll fix her, and we'll both be the better for it."

So Anke and I headed off, on the first adventure of our new life together. All book-larnin' and no experience.

We scared ourselves, of course. Despite small, bite-sized steps we occasionally encountered a puff of wind or send of swell. Our first real ‘voyage’ had us up sailing and worrying all night, resisting the motor we had forsworn, the sooner to learn what it takes to go without.

We finally put anchor down, fell into one another's arms, and slept.

Hooked for life.


In those days small, inexpensive wooden sailboats were scarce. In vain, we scoured the Seattle waterfront, looking for a small, sailing liveaboard that we could afford, yet was only moderately challenged (we wanted to learn marine carpentry, but not rebuild!). It also required that certain je n’sais pas quois.

I, of course, had my hopes set on a boat far above our means. Deep draft, ocean capable, classic! Anke pragmatically suggested that I wake from fruitess dreamboating and follow the Pardey's advice that we 'go small, go simple, go now.' Accordingly, our horizons expanded.

We found just what we were looking for in BRAMBLE (formerly TERRAPIN), a salty, gaff-rigged, lifeboat conversion from 1942. Bronze-fastened, larch-on-oak. 26ft on deck by 8ft beam by about 2½ft draft (this was our first taste of shoal draft - both serendipitous and portentous!).

The owner accepted rent-sized installments after an initial down-payment. I took a job flipping pizza, while Anke worked at a small winery. After eight months, we owned our own home, free and clear.

Our first port - while working off our debt - was in the late, great live-aboard community at Eagle Harbor, Bainbridge Island, across from Seattle. It has since succumbed to predatory Bureaucracy, but at that time was truly Magic Harbor. There, many gracious friends patiently mentored us onto the water.

Despite our (or at least my) slow and stuttering start, Anke and I now live aboard among the islands of SE Alaska's Alexander Archipelago. Since BRAMBLE, we've designed, built and sailed a series of vessels.

We sail on a shoe-string, engine-free, and are learning to subsist ever more on local forage.

Goin' on a while, now.