M/V Cloud Nine

M/V Cloud Nine
A 1973 North Sea 38' pilothouse Trawler, made in Osaka, Japan by Kita Trading Co. Ltd.

Friday, August 19, 2011


Agreeing on a price to buy CLOUD NINE was just the start.  She had to be surveyed before the sale would go through.  We needed to drive her from Sequim to Port Townsend for the survey.  

Rounding Point Wilson

My worries kicked in a little at the prospect of driving a boat we knew almost nothing about the 4 hours to Port Townsend.  Jerry's experience was what I had to depend upon and I trusted his knowledge to get us, and CLOUD NINE, safely there.  Weather was overcast, but seas fairly calm and we made the passage in less than 4 hours thanks to an incoming tide.  (NOTE:  Respect all the warnings in all of the books about the rips and tides at Point Wilson.  While this passage was uneventful, we found ourselves  in dangerous waters a couple of months later.)

Once in Port Townsend, she was hauled out and put on the hard.  NOTE:  The crew at the Port Townsend Boat Yard know their stuff, were professional, and always willing to answer the silly questions we asked.  

We met the surveyor who started his inspection on the bottom of the boat.  He met with us after finishing the bottom and had some discouraging news.  She had some rotten planks that would need to be replaced, along with some other issues he was concerned about and felt should be looked at.  Let's say we were glad with who we had chosen to survey the boat.  Not only was he familiar with the boat, as he had surveyed it for the previous owner, but he was also familiar with Steven, one of the owners of Haven Boat Works, who had done work on the boat previously.  We contacted Steven, who was gracious and came over to the boat to talk with our surveyor and us about what had been done in the past on the bottom and what work was needed to be completed at this time.  The initial work on her bottom we COULD afford, if her price came down.  Our surveyor suggested in excess of $60,000 would be needed to do all of the other cosmetic repairs on her, but that was based on a boat yard doing the work.  Being handy, Jerry was convinced we could do the work ourselves, keeping our costs to maybe one-third of the estimated cost.  If Cloud Nine had had more severe problems, outside our scope of experience to fix, the overall cost would have pushed her price into an area where buying a newer boat would have been a smarter move.  However, we contacted the seller, renegotiating the price downward, and a few days later, agreed on a price for the boat we felt was more reasonable now that we knew what needed to be accomplished.
CLOUD NINE was now officially ours, and we were hoping the surveyor had found the worse.  He finished surveying the remainder of the boat, and then the boat was transferred over to the crew at Haven Boat Works. We were impressed with their knowledge of wooden boats.  They got right to work pulling and replacing planks on her bottom and replacing some thru holes.

New planks on the hull with what they delicately called bear scat between the planks, a mixture of tar and cement.

 Haven Boat Works employee, Brad, did most of the work on the hull, along with camera-shy Miguel.

While CLOUD NINE was in Haven Boat Works yard, Jerry was allowed to work  on the boat scraping the loose paint off her hull, working on the opposite side from the crew. 
                                                                     Every weekend I joined him
                                                                     in Port Townsend where we 
                                                                     spent our days scraping 
                                                                     and sanding the hull. 

The crew took 3 weeks to get everything done and then the race was on to get her bottom painted and as far up her sides as we could before she had to go back into the water.

We got two coats of bottom paint on her and then started working up her hull, changing her color from white to sandstone.

We got one coat of the sandstone on her, up to her cap rails, before our date with the Port Townsend boat yard crew to put her back in the water.

A rep from the Boat Haven yard was with us as CLOUD NINE was placed back in the water.  The boat yard crew slowly lowered her back into the water, keeping her in the slings, ready to pull her back up should she sprout a leak.  A little water seeped in through her bottom, but nothing alarming.  She was back in the water and we would have to continue the renovation work once she was back in Sequim.  On our return trip to Sequim, we hit a fog bank just outside Port Townsend, and had to quickly get the radar and the GPS up and running.  With no more than 15-20 yards visibility, we slowed the boat's speed down to a crawl and I was on radar watch, pointing out all dots on the radar screen and the outlines of small boats in the fog.  I was surprised how many people were out fishing in a fog bank so thick.  We crawled along, depending on our radar and GPS to get us back to Sequim.  We stayed close to land and could see the top of the cliff and a little blue sky occasionally to our south (over land) but out in the water, our route back home was well socked in.  

Coming into the entrance of Sequim Bay is tricky and there is no forgiveness if you are not in the channel.  I was outside the pilothouse looking down into the water commenting on how close the bottom was, while also looking for the buoy that marks the channel.  It was not showing up on our radar and our GPS chose to stop working shortly before then.  As the bottom continued creeping closer, we spotted the buoy off our starboard side and we quickly made a 90 degree turn to get to the other side.  We were out of the channel and lucky we turned when we did.  The fog lifted a little further along and we saw the sand bar standing proudly in the center of the entrance--where we would have hit if we had not turned when we did.  At this point, my nerves were a little raw and I wondered how much luck has to do with traveling by boat.  After getting back to our permanent moorage (at least for the foreseeable future), I was determined to make sure all of our navigational equipment was in good working order before our next voyage; for the sake of my nerves, if nothing else.  Jerry just smiles at me and tells me "I'm cute" when I get this way.  He can be so annoying at times!  ;-)