Notes from the Net Rail


posted Oct 10, 2018, 2:01 PM by PacificNorthWest MultihullAssoc

Seriously.  I have no idea why I never stern tied before.  Habit?  It is true that I grew up in a monohull swinging from a single hook with the right amount of scope in a sensible amount of water.  I mean... I knew about stern tying (and the "med moor") but it never really crossed my mind to do it.  It was a technique for people who did not get up early enough to get to the next cove in time to snag a spot before everyone else did.  

Enter the NWMA.  I had heard folks talk about stern tying in shallow areas where only multihulls dare tread.  This year it sank in because among the awesome collective data that is NWMA  there were a few little tidbits of info that changed my anchoring strategy forever.  One secret spot in the Gulf Islands and my cruising life was transformed.  Not much wider than the boat and long enough to shelter it from cross winds it was the most beautiful, snug and private anchorage I have ever been in.  Holding was good, the beach was close and best of all, had we needed to anchor or pick up a buoy in the crowded bay around the point there would have been stress (of course, this is cruising in the NW so this is a relative stress level).  It was chock full of boats.  

The cherry on the summer stern tie experience was the run up to Port Townsend for the Wooden Boat Festival.   A buddy and I left Vashon Island at 7pm.  It rained hard from 9 to 10:30.  We made it under the Marrowstone Island bridge by 1:30am and once under it we were working our way through the fog towards our nighttime navigational aid... the the Siren Tavern blue balcony light.  We could not see it but knew we were getting close when big schooners started to appear and disappear in the fog like apparitions.  The place seemed positively lousy with the things.  More boats, big boats, unidentifiable boats... and suddenly a gigantic 20' floating unicorn poked its muzzle across our bow.  Shocking... it seriously had us mumbling about sleep deprivation and checking the level in the rum bottle.  Anyone who has tried to anchor during the festival knows how packed the mooring field can be... and several runs through did not come up with much.  At 2am we called it quits, dropping the anchor between boats that were far enough away only in the most lucky of circumstances and at that, only if they would not have all been monohulls.  Bumpers were deployed and we hit the bunks.  Shortly thereafter we got the expected 6am walkup call... "Hey, Ruf Duck... you are almost touching my boat!!".  As a lot of you know, in addition to hunting at anchor, multis tend to be more affected by wind and monos affected more by current. The wind and current were in just the right amounts to make us look like southbound car in a north bound lane of I-5.  We did the gracious thing and immediately raised anchor and started looking for a better spot.  Of course, the situation had not improved between 2am and 6am and there was absolutely no space available on the south side of the eel grass exclusion zone (no anchoring permitted) in any depth of water that we could reach with our rhode.  The solution?  Stern tie!  It was low tide, so we knew there was nowhere to go but up.  The anchor was dropped well past the eel grass zone and we backed the boat to within 10' of a street end beach in just under three feet of water and tied the stern off to some riprap.  It was like a back stage pass... a weekday helicopter commute to downtown Seattle... finding a parking spot on Capitol Hill... it was the shortest dingy ride to the show I had ever taken.

Have a great October!

Your Commodore

Jeff Oaklief


posted Aug 27, 2018, 3:28 PM by PacificNorthWest MultihullAssoc

See everyone when we reconvene at the September meeting!

Your Commodore,

Jeff Oaklief

July Notes from the Net Rail

posted Jul 2, 2018, 7:59 PM by PacificNorthWest MultihullAssoc   [ updated Jul 2, 2018, 8:00 PM ]

   I suppose it was a cruel joke to announce at the May meeting that it would be our last. 

It did get a satisfying number of raised eyebrows... before someone chimed in that it was the last UNTIL FALL and that club would be in full cruising mode for the summer.  Yep, NWMA takes a break from indoor activities and gets out on the water... and to celebrate the start of cruising season we will be having our June "meeting" in the back of Liberty Bay in Poulsbo to watch their 3rd of July fireworks.  Yep.  The 3rd.  Kind of hard to explain that to folks who are not from here and frankly I have no idea how the untraditional tradition got started.  Its unusual... different.  Kind of like us.  If you want to participate we will be rafted up out from the park gazebo.  After the fireworks and a good nights sleep the lot of us will sail to the south side of Blake Island and anchor out for a beach potluck on the 4th.  Note that there is usually a good show of local fireworks from Manchester just across the water from Blake Island.    As always, keep your eye on the website and google groups forum for details.

Hope to see you all on the water!

June 2018

posted Jun 8, 2018, 5:15 PM by A Rice

Ahhh.... Sunny and dry.  All that patience over the winter rewarded with days that do not require generating your own body heat to stay warm.  Seems kind of like someone threw a switch though... suddenly appearing in bold highlight are all the things that I want to get done before the boat goes into its slip for the summer.  The resulting small flurry of activity on my end is seemingly repeated infinitely across the waterfront.  Both pleasure boats and fish boats trying to get ready for the season.  Bags of stuff migrating to the boat, other bags of debris and work leftovers migrating away from the boat.  Smells slowly changing from resin to paint... paint to provisions.  An exciting time for sure, and if you think you need more of that kind of environment in a more concentrated format you should show up in Port Townsend a day or so before the start of the R2AK.  Yep... lots of frantic will be happening as teams make final preparations... and in some cases finish (or start) building their boat.  Some of our members are all to aware of this since a hand full are participating in the race this year.  Team Wright Yachts, Team Mknottkrazee and Team Waterworld Impending will all be up there being imbibed with pre-race jitters... among other things.  I encourage you to check it out!

Speaking of racing... NWMA had a presence at Swiftsure this year, bolstering a turnout that had a near record number of multihulls entering the event.  Good job on showing the colors!

On the Club inner workings side of things I am happy to announce that we have a new volunteer on the NWMA Digital Team and after what seems like six months of planning we are getting a glimmer of good things to come.  Over the remainder of the year we will slowly be updating the look, function and possibly the entire format of the NWMA website.  Of course, we will be strengthening the connections to our three core activities of Cruise Race and Build.  We are hoping to increase functionality by adding a members only communication section, create a repository for our collective knowledge, tool library for our building assets and among other things, create a touchstone for multihull enthusiasts in the Puget Sound Region.

Happy June!

Your Commodore,
Jeff Oaklief 

May 2018

posted May 1, 2018, 12:36 PM by PacificNorthWest MultihullAssoc   [ updated May 1, 2018, 12:37 PM ]

For those of you who have been trapped indoors by bone penetrating damp, or those who have been buried under mounds of cloth, resin and various boat projects, SPRING IS HERE AND IT IS TIME TO GET OUT ON THE WATER!

Of course, there are those of us that can't resist a good boat project and warm weather just makes resistance more futile.  We can't help it... the smell of cut wood, the feel of tools in hand and (for you sickos) the smell of solvents, resin and fresh paint... we will inevitably spend some of our nice days on the hard.

Fortunately for those of us with peripatetic tendencies and an affinity for creation, this is the place we belong.  While most yachting organizations limit their activities to social and racing scenes and maybe some maintenance, the NWMA celebrates the skills and activities of those who are drawn to the creative/creation exercise of boat building.

I have heard it said that these days no one in Seattle knows how to manipulate their physical environment.   That they can not use a tool or create what your typical home owner from the 50's could crank out without a second thought.  When you look at our members who build, you know that whoever said this should probably get out more.  Our club was founded by folks who build their own boats.  From simple to complex.  From inexpensive and quickly built  to the highest levels of quality and complexity of build.  NWMA is showing folks that you do not have to settle for something off a shelf and that you can taylor the boat you want to your individual goals and fancy.  Even better, club members get the benefit of this vast building knowledge base.  Try it sometime... I challenge you to find a question about building or fixing a boat that can not be answered by someone in this club.

I encourage you all to take a stroll through our Build Page.  From boats currently under construction to boats straight from the shed or to previous builds currently plying northwest waters.  Better yet... come to a meeting and meet a builder in person.  The things folks here have accomplished are truly impressive.


Your Commodore,

Jeff Oaklief

April 2018

posted Apr 4, 2018, 8:53 PM by A Rice

Sailing really is everything.  It is funny all the indirect things it can teach me and there is very little in life that I can not compare to some aspect of sailing.  

Sailing has taught me a lot and given me plenty of analogies.  Weather is a typical one... from rough weather adversity to "smooth sailing".  Lately though, as I lay on my back under Ruf Duck's  tandem axle trailer I am thinking about sailboat puzzles, the mysteries of cause and effect and how one small part can be the key to success or failure of a system or event.

It all started on my way to the boat ramp a few weeks ago.  It was 6 am, coffee-less, misty and not fully light as I hooked the truck up to Ruf Duck and headed to Shilshole.  My neighborhood is sleepy.  Quiet.  The air is fresh.  It is also uphill from the main road headed south to Seattle and that is really the problem at this point.  Only one block from the house I  hit the brakes on the downhill grade.  Surge brakes compressed with a clank (normal it seems) followed by the loudest most god awful squealing you have ever heard in your life.  And smoke.  Lots of rubber smoke. For some reason I next defaulted to "that was weird, lets see if it still does it" mode.  More noise.  More smoke.  Not having had the foresight to bring tools for noise and smoke I opted to try to limp one block back to the house.  More noise.  More smoke.  The neighborhood is now fully awake.  Maybe they thought it was funny, with me looking a little like Austin Powers and his luggage-cart-three-point-turn except louder and smokier.  By the time I made it back to the driveway my neighbor was out of his house bent on tracking down what had to be an offending teenager.  We both looked at the trailer... the brakes... wiggled things around... hit things with hammers.  Miraculously the brake was suddenly working fine.  Sailing had taught me that unexplained fixes are a trick.  I frisked my neighbor for the suspected can of hidden WD40 that did not materialize.  I still think he gave the pads a quick squirt just to get me out of there and him back to sleep.  Indeed, on the way back from the regatta later that day brakes started hanging up again.  Not as bad but still something that needed to be looked into.  In the end, it was one small part that kept the brake on that wheel functioning at 100 percent.  One part of the puzzle once again contributing to the braking system and allowing my life to be enhanced by being on the Salish Sea.

NWMA, as I have come to learn from my freshman attempt at being a Commodore, is made up of lots of parts.  How they go together, and what parts come to bear, have a direct impact on the quality of the NWMA experience.  You and I are the parts and fortunately for us there are lots of brilliant hard working folks who make up our awesome club.  Still, "many hands make light work" and you can never have too much participation when it comes to an organization like ours.  I know that each of you has some kind of Super Power... that one skill that compliments other efforts and can be that essential single part that makes the whole entity sing.  Maybe you are a business person and know how to negotiate the best deal.  Maybe you are an artist and have a way with capturing what we all like to do in some artistic way.  Maybe you can write.  Maybe you have the gift to gab. Maybe you know things.  Maybe you know how to do things.  Maybe you want to put that Super Power to work so NWMA can enhance the sailing experience of yourself and others.  Yes, your Commodore is asking you to be a part... to take an active part... in making NWMA the best sailing club in the region.  Bring your ideas and talents to any of the NWMA officers.  We would love to hear from you!  Besides, being involved is just like sailing... as easy as a quick daysail to as complicated as a circumnavigation.

Happy April!

Your Commodore
Jeff Oaklief

March 2018

posted Feb 28, 2018, 8:35 PM by A Rice   [ updated Feb 28, 2018, 8:40 PM ]

As I sit at my desk writing this (in the tail end of February) I can see March. I think. Its on the other side of the week through all that pea size hail that is covering the lawn. Hard to see it very clearly because the stuff is coming down so hard at the moment. Must be payback for saying Cold was weak last month. Sheesh... no sense of humor. Still, boat work and sailing events continue on unabated!

The big news this month is that NWMA NOW HAS ANOTHER BENEFIT!

BALLARD SAILS now offers discounts to NWMA members on the purchase of new sails. On top of that, they also are offering a one time free PHRF measurement for one full suit of your racing sails (main, jib, screecher and spinnaker). Were you saying that there were too many barriers to joining the races this year? Not any more! Just moments ago it was hard to imagine that NWMA could take another step towards Net Dues Neutrality but thanks to your hard working Officer team and the generosity of the fine folks at Ballard Sails the dream is becoming reality!

Meanwhile, behind the scenes, the NWMA officers have also been hard at work connecting and reconnecting with other organizations and individuals around the region. The Seattle Boat Show was particularly good in that contact was made with the multihull dealers in the area. Wright Yachts, who is now the new Corsair dealer, was at the show with a Seawind, the Multihull Company was there with a big power cat and Signature Yachts, who now broker several multihull brands, was there with a Fountaine Pajot. All good folks who we hope to be working with as the year progresses.

Need more excitement? How about R2AK? The news is apparently out that multihulls are R2AK winners... and NWMA members are excellent resources for tips and tricks. If you came to the February meeting you met Duane and Chuck Emnott from Team Mknotkrazee. They will be running the 2018 R2AK in last years Nacra Inter 20... yep, the Team Ketch Me If You Can boat... the ones that took Northwest Maritime Center up on the 10k buyback program. NWMA is also giving insider info to team Wright Yachts/NW Yachting, who are planning on doing the race in a new Corsair 970 Sport. While they wait for their boat to arrive from the factory, NWMA members will be getting them on similar boats so they can start honing their crew work.
 Lots of stuff going on!
Your Commodore Jeff

February 2018

posted Jan 29, 2018, 5:00 PM by A Rice

Yep... still raining.  And cold. 

A physical form of my favorite element... I like rain, but it is too young to be of much use to me.  I like it better after it has migrated, matured and settled down.  An old salt among other old salts; my favorite playground.

Cold is altogether different.  Sneaky and good at mind games it waits outside until you have been on the couch in a warm living room for a while.  When the time is right it sends a quick draft from the window to trick you into thinking that it is REALLY cold... somehow urging the blanket out of the hall closet and power to the TV.  Cold seems to want you to be still and not move. 

Fortunately, Cold in our neighborhood is WEAK and can not stand in the face of a good cup of coffee, proper clothing and getting... OUT THERE!  

This is my favorite time of year to scurry around getting ready for the summer; doing any number of small tasks that should not be left until they interfere with my summer sailing plans!  In addition to that, there are Multihull things to do!
  • If you are reading this in early February, there is still a chance to hit the boat show.  This year NWMA members will be meeting up with the local Hobie fleet at the Hobie booth for an informal get-together and participate in the wine tasting event.  It will also be a good chance to get some information or provide some input on the upcoming Round Mercer Island race this April.  The Hobie fleet has invited NWMA members to bring their boats and chase them (or be chased by them) around the island.  A good chance to showcase the NWMA and have some early spring fun.
  • The NWMA auction at our February meeting is a good way to lighten up the boat a little, or find some stuff you really can not live without (and weigh it back down again).  I have a "to find" list of my own and will also be bringing a few items that no longer fit the Ruf Duck "program".
  • Toliva Shoal Race is this month... for those that know of cold's weakness and need to scratch that sailing itch.  It sounds like one of our South Sound family is helping organize that race and will be participating.  I hope to be meeting them down there.
I am sure this is only a partial list... feel free to fill in any blanks!

I am always surprised how less cold it seems once I get started and how overly warm the house feels when I get back inside.  

Happy February!

January 2018

posted Jan 1, 2018, 2:01 PM by PacificNorthWest MultihullAssoc

Hey! Its a beautiful New Year in the Pacific Northwest!

I am not normally a big New Years Resolution type person, but this year seems a bit different now that I have a new goal... and that is to add my efforts to yours in order to help continue NWMA's place in the Northwest sailing scene.  To that end, I'm going take a minute to reflect on why I am a member of such an awesome club!

I suppose the question comes down to "Why join any club?".  Surely I could sail without a club.  I could probably build/repair my boat without a club  I could even reap the benefits of membership by riding the coat tails of others who are actual members of a club... and you will not hear any preaching from me as I think there is certainly a place and time for this last one.  As a young man I spent the years during and after college learning to race and honing my sailing skills on other peoples boats. looking back, this was an experience essentially created and given to me by folks who were card carrying members of a club.  They paid the club dues; they paid the race dues; they provided the boat.  Now here I am, completely blissed out on a mountain of sailing knowledge and skill.  What those folks were doing, unbeknownst to me at the time, was a kind of "Paying it Forward".  They did their part to guaranteeing that sailing in the Northwest would continue to be enjoyed by all those who cared to partake.  Now that I am older I can see and understand what they did.

All this makes joining a club sound very altruistic... and maybe that is a part of it for some folks but I think the NWMA has a little something for everyone.

You may not realize that your dues "do" something other than just pay for a club activity or two.  There is, of course, the joint buying power of the NWMA.  The most visible under this heading is the discount our members currently receive at Fisheries Supply.  A wise man told me when I first joined that I would save far more than my NWMA dues in discounts earned.  He was right by a substantial margin.  Some may not know that a mission of the NWMA is to enable bulk purchase materials supplies and gear.  This option is still available to members.  Another benefit is access to grant money.  Many folks are not aware that membership in the NWMA gives access to grants (through PIYA) to championship regatta events.  This can help cover things like travel and regatta entry fees.  These are a few things that NWMA can do for you.  

Not to worry.  NWMA is not just self serving.  We also help you do for others through education, outreach and support for youth sailing 

We help educate the public through our monthly presenter series.  These speakers are based on our members interests and help sharpen our skills and increase our knowledge.  The great thing is that the presentations are open to the public and they expose our wider community to our club and the fun of multihull sailing.  There are upcoming on-the-water safety workshops and of course, the ever present freely shared knowledge base of our members. Outreach is a core mission of the NWMA and as the new year unfolds there are many joint events with other clubs and community organizations for us to participate in.  Participating in the greater sailing community not only strengthens our club through cross-pollination (who can resist a multihull once exposed) but also helps support the regional sailing and boating community at large.  Some of you may not know that we support youth sailing through PIYA and also through donations to organizations such as Sail Sand Point to which we supplied Hobie Waves.

Sounds like too much effort?  Not really.  The best part of belonging to NWMA are opportunities and events that enable you to kick back and hang out with like minded folks.  

Find your niche within the club, whether it be building, cruising, racing or social.  Share (or take in) a few sailing stories.  Seek out and gather information that you are interested in.  Teach your skills to others.  Meet new people.   I am not aware of many other clubs who's meetings begin with a potluck before the official meeting starts.  What a spectacular way to create a sense of community... and such a good way to sample the conversations around the room!  I think it is a good indicator of how folks feel about the club by the distance they are willing to travel to participate in this; some coming from as far as Vancouver BC or the South Sound.  A good group of folks connected by the power of common interest.

So many good reasons to join the Northwest Multihull Association!  

In the end, the main reason I am a member of the Northwest Multihull Association is that I get all the above and more... all while having fun doing something that is one of the deepest parts of me.  Kind of hard to explain, but my guess is that a lot of you know what I am talking about.


December 2017

posted Dec 8, 2017, 10:10 AM by A Rice   [ updated Dec 8, 2017, 10:28 AM ]

Where do you sail your boat from? 

Not geographically, but physically.  

Personally, I think one of the coolest things about multihulls is that you to get a different perspective while sailing than you do on a more typical boat.  Don't get me wrong, on a cold day I like a cockpit dodger or an inside steering station as much as the next person but my favorite spots are far away from the cockpit or cabin.  The bow is a good hangout but the sprit is better.  The kids have figured out that it's big adventure to shinny out to the pointy end as soon as they see a freighter wake headed our way; wanting-but-not-wanting to get dunked.  Wish I could sail it from there!  Since I have not figured that out (yet) the all time favorite helm position for me is standing on the net rail with one hand on the hiking stick and the other on a cap shroud.  Floating above the water on a magic carpet.  Sailing upwind with breeze in the hair, an unobstructed view of the surroundings and maybe a small feeling that they should have cast your self instead of Kevin Kostner.  Magic in a way but more like a combination of wizardry and sentient animal.  Magic and magnetism.  

People like you and I are drawn to our type of craft and you have probably seen the effect yourself.  Tied to the dock you get random folks going way out of their way to see the boat.  Motoring through an anchorage they come with a sudden swerve like a lodestone to magnetic north.  One time a young man yelled at me from the Fremont Bridge while I was waiting for an opening.  Two minutes later he had run to the end of the bridge, through six feet of laurel hedge, down thirty feet of mud bank, across the bike path and out onto the rocks to get a closer look.  

You'll know your fellow multihull enthusiests when you see them and when you do, tell them about the NWMA.  Invite them to come along... to a meeting, to an event, on a sail.  Introduce them to the shared interests, diverse knowledge and fun that is the Northwest Multihull Association!

I look forward to meeting our new friends!

Your NWMA Commodore

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