I moved the boat!

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A lot has happened since I last updated the blog. For instance right now I am writing this on Pelican, while anchored in Richardson Bay off Sausalito where I live on it.

In August I with the help of friends I was able to tow the boat down here the 60 miles from Bethel Island and have been living and working on the boat everyday. It is glorious.

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It went flawlessly, towed down at around 10 knots behind my biddies 400hp fishing boat, and after buying a huge 75lb CQR anchor, I am fairly certain that it is anchored well. I built a bridal system and it rides pretty well.


In April I got a job working in the North Sails loft here in Sausalito, and after a summer of commuting from the city, and out to the boat in the delta on the weekends, it is so great to be coming home to the boat and getting work done every night.

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Right now I am in a race against time to get the boat water proof and all of the crossbeams I removed this summer reinstalled before the winter and storms start.



But I am still taking time to have fun with friends and enjoy being in this beautiful place.


I will try and post more about the project as it goes!

Don’t put open cell foam in your boat

Im out at the boat more or less full time now, and getting a lot of work done. The first thing I need to do before I can safely pull the boat is address some rotted deck between the port bow and the cabin on the wing deck. I didn’t really know what this was going to entail, but decided to just go for it and replace whatever I had to.



I cut into the plywood, using a multi-tool, until there i felt like i had pulled off most of the rotted plywood. I found a crossbeam that had significant rot in it. Not a good sign. I also found some open cell foam, just sitting in this cavity, that i could not access from anywhere. Really not a good sign.


I started this process in December unfortunately and it started raining, a lot. So I had to tarp it and wait a few months for it to stop raining.


When I cam back out to it, now in march, the tarp had actually held up really well, and kept it dry for the most part. Normally I’m not a fan of duct tape as a solution, but this stuff i found on the boat has got to be the strongest duct tape on earth. It’s on a whole other level from even gorilla tape. I don’t know where it came from or what brand it is, but I love it.

Anyway, I started by cutting out whatever foam I could. I was hoping that it was just a layer of it for some reason, but it quickly became apparent that this stuff went all the way to the bottom of the wing deck. Great.


this cavity is accessible on the starboard side in the engine room, and on that side, it is not filled with foam. Its pretty clean, and there is no rot. After checking the rest of the boat, I can’t find anywhere else that isn’t accessible, and i can’t find any more foam, so Im guessing the guy who built in only put it in here as some sort of emergency buoyancy, too bad he didn’t use closed cell foam!


So I realized I was going to expand my work area in order to remove ALL of the foam. And decided to cut back the plywood further to expose more of the area.


This exposed the foam in the forward compartment along the leading edge of the wing deck. which unfortunately was also rotted, and also needed to come out.


During this process Ive also been sleeping on the boat for the first time. Im in the “guest” berth on the port side of the boat. I have the entire starboard hull quarantined off because of a lot of spilled building materials from the previous owner. The port side doesn’t run bow to stern like the starboard side, because of this gigantic ancient freezer in the galley that protrudes into the berth space. So to get around that there is a removable board that spans the port hull and give you almost a queen berth side to side. I say almost, because its about 3 inches too short for me to fully stretch out, but diagonal its fine. The cabin at night is very cozy and Im really starting to like the lay out of galley up, and windows higher.


Using basically just a sheet rock hand saw and a shop vac, I started pulling out what ended up being 7 contractor bags of rotted water logged foam. The second crossbeam, is gone, the ply that separated the two compartments is gone, and in a few places, the ply that made up the lower side of the wing deck, is completely rotted through. leaving only the fiberglass on the bottom of the wing deck to hold it in place. There is a lot of work to be done to replace these pieces, however a feel good knowing that I’ve found all of it, and there won’t be any surprises later on.



Now I plan on reinforcing the missing crossbeam with at least a 2×4 for compression during the haul out, but I feel confident that I can repair all of this. Its nice I can now access the chainplates from the inside as well.

Onward and upward!

Getting Some Experience

I recently had the opportunity to help a friend move his new catamaran from Mission Bay, San Diego to Oxnard Ca.

I’ve spent  most of my sailing career coastal racing and day sailing on SF bay. So this was a great opportunity to do some off shore sailing, route planning, and night time navigation.


My friend Jim sold me my boat, and then bought a 1997 37′ Fountaine Pajot, Tobago catamaran named “Aha”. Built in a factory in France, very solid boat, with similar qualities to my Spindrift, but more space in the hulls, and much nicer finishing throughout. Unlike the strange drive system in my boat, Aha has twin 18hp Myanmar diesels, as well as a modern chart plotter and generous electric system.

We drove down to San Diego from the bay arriving late at night. Jim didn’t have a place to move the boat, the marina that housed it having leased out his slip already to a new owner, and we only had a few days left to move it before the new slip owners arrived.


I called every marina in Mission bay and San Diego bay, but being a catamaran, with a wide 19′ berth, it required more space than normal, and literally, NOTHING was available.

After a few hours of calling marinas, moving up the CA coast, I found a great endtie available in Channel Islands harbor in Oxnard Ca about 180 nautical miles from San Diego. We looked at the weather and decided to go for it.

I had brought along Brian Fagan’s The Cruising Guide to Central and Southern California: Golden Gate to Ensenada, Mexico, Including the Offshore Islands” which I highly recommend for coastal Ca cruising. It recommended that to go north along the coast, where the prevailing winds are from, you “harbor hop” but motoring at night and early morning, then wait out the afternoon winds. By motoring in calm conditions instead of sailing, you can get there 3 times faster, and not bash upwind against steep waves and high wind. Jim only had a few days, so unfortunately sailing was out.

We spent the day, provisioning and figuring out the systems onboard. Starting engines, checking electronics, checking rigging etc.


By 9pm the wind had dropped to only 10kts and we were ready to go.

Leaving the harbor at night, was my first time being on the water at night, and following the harbor lights out to the ocean was pretty exciting. After an hour of motoring into the chop and light wind, we were watching the lights of San Diego fall away in the darkness, and keeping an eye out for shipping and other traffic.


After motoring all night, pointed at Catalina island and dodging giant container ships we were greeted by a beautiful sunrise and the cliffs of the southern coast of Catalina.



By 7 am we had motored into Avalon harbor, greeted by the harbor master, and moored for an hour while we waited for the gas truck to arrive at the temporary fuel dock.




After gassing up we continued motoring up the east coast of Catalina, staying in the lee of the island. The water was glassy, with a small gentle swell. The sun was out, the island was incredibly green, after the last few months of rain, and above Los Angeles were snow covered peaks. It was rather picturesque.




As we left the protection of Catalina, the wind started to pick up, gusting to around 30 knots, the waves picked up to around 3-4′ and unfortunately it was still coming from directly where we were headed. But we were on a schedule, and only 75 or so miles away, so we continued to bash our way into the wind.

Our autopilot and chart plotter started going out. so we broke out the paper and iPhone charts to make sure we were on the right course, and started hand steering.


As the sun set over Santa Cruz island, we had spotted our destination. Referring to the cruising guide as well as the paper charts, we were able to distinguish the correct lights and bouys in the darkening conditions, and made out way into the new harbor in darkness.



Having successfully docked, we passed out after our 22 hour passage.

We woke to a new beautiful harbor. Its proximity to Anacapa and Santa Cruz islands make it a great place to day sail from, and I hope to get back down there soon to help Jim take his boat out.


Thanks again to Jim for the opportunity to go out on his boat, and to help move it up the coast. Great learning opportunity with both paper and electronic charts, navigating at night, and entering new harbors. Good times all around, big inspiration to get my boat fixed up.

The Plan

SV Pelican is a 1977 Spindrift 37 sailing catamaran designed by Lock Crowther. It is known for its high bridge deck clearance, wide beam, and general seaworthiness. It is a no-nonsense cruising cat that was designed ahead of its time. In contrast to most cruising cats of today, Pelican was designed for the sailor with minimal comforts and high performance in mind.

I bought SV Pelican in summer 2016 with plans to restore it and sail to adventure across the Pacific ocean. This Blog will serve to document that journey from initial repairs through hopefully sailing in paradise.

The boat is in pretty rough shape. Its been sitting neglected for at least 7 years. There are rotted parts in the deck, and I spent the first few months just pulling trash and materials out of it. I will need to replace almost everything on the boat.

However Pelican once proudly sailed the west coast of North America from Seattle to the Sea of Cortez, and with hard work and determination, She will again.

My plan is to completely refit the boat, using DIY techniques to make it as modern and safe as possible.  The major projects as they stand now are:

  • Replace rotted sections of the deck
  • No fossils fuels on the boat, repower with all electric motors and galley
  • Re-rig with modern sails and rigging
  • Update all electronics including autopilot

The restoration will be a long road, and I look forward to the journey.

I have already met so many helpful people along the way, if you are interested in my project, please do not hesitate to get in touch.