BRAESAIL’S FIRST VOYAGE

Every Holy Week and Easter, the Irish saint, Brendan (c. 484 – c. 577), is said to have returned with his monks in their small sailboat (a coracle) to an island called Braesail before departing once more on their evangelistic journeys that supposedly took them as far as North America. The precise identity of this place has never been confirmed, but, because our 27-ft. sailboat is named Sagres after the Portuguese port from which Henry the Navigator set sail on HIS explorations, we named its dinghy “Prince Hal” (Henry’s nickname), and its autopilot is called “Henry the Navigator,” we decided to rename our 46-ft. sailboat Braesail, its dinghy, ”Coracle,” and its excellent autopilot “St. Brendan.” Walt considers the 17-day, 1100-mile trip that he, Martin, and several others (Hans Johnson, Paul Blintzer, Ken Knowles, and Walt Dreschler, who joined and left the expedition at various times and places) made from the boat’s home port in Marina del Rey, CA, to Anacortes, WA, a “boat delivery” and not a “voyage,” and thus the journey herein described is Braesail’s first real excursion.

GETTING READY TO GO: Saturday, July 23, and Sunday, July 24

The month-long installation of a complex heating system for water and for the boat’s various spaces (“saloon” or “living room,” three cabins and two heads, AND the cockpit) finally ended on July 21, the day on which his 91-year-old mother, Joy, arrived in Seattle from Sacramento, her previous-day’s flight having been cancelled due to a Southwest Airlines computer crash. Walt brought the boat from dry-dock in Anacortes to Bellingham over the course of several hours on Friday, the 22nd, but his departure was delayed because of a sizeable oil spill in the engine room which had to be cleaned up. Walt spent Friday night on the boat and Joy and I spent it in our Everett condo and drove to Bellingham on Saturday afternoon after we’d packed food and supplies. All three of us then drove in the Prius, over the course of a little over an hour, to Anacortes so that Walt could pick up the Miata he’d left at the marina on Friday and drive it to the condo, while Joy and I drove the Prius back to Bellingham. We bought provisions for our trip, stored them on the boat, and began the long job of putting things away and cleaning up around the boat after it had been under construction for weeks. Walt spent Saturday evening practicing the organ for his service as substitute organist at St. Peter’s Episcopal Church in Seattle on Sunday morning.
Joy and I enjoyed the worship at St. Paul’s Episcopal Church in Bellingham that morning, and I requested special prayers that our travels might be safe. Before and after church, we worked very hard on the boat at cleanup and bed-making: it took me an hour to make up each of three beds with mattress cover, bottom sheet, top sheet, blanket, and comforter because the bunk beds are not easily accessible and the mattresses fit SO tightly into their frames. (Next time, I’ll remove the mattresses from the frames, “dress” them, and return them to the frames!) In mid-afternoon, Walt phoned to tell us that a slip for Braesail in the Everett Marina had suddenly and unexpectedly become available, and he had been signing the necessary paperwork! This was not supposed to happen for several months, and thus was quite a surprise—we’d planned to leave the boat in Blaine, just below the US/Canadian border, upon our return from our travels! So Joy and I drove the Prius from the Bellingham Yacht Club dock where Walt had tied up the boat to the Everett condo, getting trapped on the way in awful traffic due to construction and then to an accident, as well as being further delayed by a COSTCO stop in Burlington where the lines were long and the pump slow. It took us nearly two hours to make the trip, which usually entails travel time of about 45 minutes. We tidied the condo and then drove to the marina to arrange to leave the Miata in the parking area for three weeks, and then we three went out for a tasty Mexican dinner before driving back to Bellingham AGAIN and buying yet MORE supplies. We were all rather tired by Sunday night, but the boat was ready to go (we hoped!), and we spent a quiet night at the dock.

 

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