Galley Wench Tales

Exploring the world through the people we meet
and the food they eat.

Serendipity at Portland Rowing Club’s docks in Sellwood, a stone’s throw from the Sellwood Bridge, Portland Oregon.
She’s the Puget Trawler, the last one on the dock, with the blue canvas on her windows.

Portland gave us a hale and hearty wet welcome home. It was cold, and gray, and raining. In the 50s in the day, 40s at night temps were about 20 degrees below normal for typical spring weather. After leaving Florida in 90 degree weather two weeks earlier, it was a little depressing.

At least Serendipity was still afloat! We breathed a sigh of relief. We were home.

We had a Prius-worth of stuff in the car to bring aboard. It’s amazing just how much a Prius can hold! It’s a little overwhelming, initially, to figure out where it goes…. Serendipity’s about 350 feet of living space, including storage, and we try to keep her relatively uncluttered.

Serendipity’s brightwork, Wayne’s project last summer, still looked good.
She was still heavily tarped to make up for not sitting in a covered moorage slip.

And what would she look like inside? We expected at least some leaks….

First, we checked the basics….

The water worked. Yay!

Seeing all the standing water on our portside rail was disconcerting. However, it wasn’t
a source for leaks. A few leaves cleared away and the drains were back in biz.

The head worked. Hmmm. No pump-out at the marina so we weren’t too sure how full of s— they were (we found out before too long, fuller than we expected)….

We’re not entirely sure how we ended up with a science experiment in the ‘fridge, but that was easy to fix, and the fridge still was in good working order.

The electricity sort of worked. Sort of. Initially. The batteries were nearly dead. Even plugged into dock power, they were weak. Then our power cable shorted out. Somehow it got so stressed, the head of the power cable separated from the covered part of the cord. The wires in between were exposed and shorted out, exuding a horrible electrical burning smell.

We had a backup cable, which we squeaked by on. Wayne patched up what he could and promptly looked into battery replacements. He also replaced our entire “house bank,*” of six 12-volt batteries, to the tune of $1076. Ouch! Batteries are awkwardly heavy! We’re grateful to my friend Connie’s son, Marty, for helping heft the dead ones out and into the car and the new ones down into the engine room.

*The house bank does everything electrical except support the engine start.

Wayne sussing out what was required to fix Serendipity’s fried smart plug. It stunk.

Wayne’s hard work last summer successfully eliminated a longtime leak over our bed.

However, the area that held our spare boat parts was completely soaked, as was the shelf where we set a blanket and the drawers where I normally stored my clothes. The drawers were empty so nothing was lost there. We were much less fortunate with most of our spare parts. The blanket was tossed, too.

Wayne traced the leak to the window caulking just above the area. Once he replaced the caulking, the leak stopped.

The area still needed to be dry before it could be used. A few days of running the heater — doable on dock power — took care of that.

About 750 pounds worth of stuff, dropped off at Greyhound’s depot — a gas station — in Melbourne Florida. 

We also needed to connect with about 750 pounds of stuff from Florida moved by Greyhound. Those 14 boxes were supposed to have been delivered to a friend’s garage nearby. Instead it took phone calls,  a visit to the Portland depot and still more phone calls before it was finally delivered. It sat in the Portland Greyhound depot for a week and a half prior to delivery. I managed to get all of it in two Prius runs. Some was brought aboard. The remainder needed to go into a storage area.  I spent a couple days finding one. It’s hard to find a small storage area! Mine is 5′ x 5′ — the smallest I could find.

My goal is to eliminate the need for the storage area and find a temporary home only for a few pieces of artwork.

Goslings! And these Canadian geese babies cute? They were also marina “residents.”

There were some lighter moments…. When we lived aboard during the Canadian geese mating season in spring of 2018, we cursed the raucous geese . By arriving in June, we bypassed that and got to enjoy the byproduct of all that f—ing ruckus — goslings!

Spring, however, was still in full bloom this June. The Pacific Northwest puts on one heckuva a show.

The flowers were loving the cool, wet weather. Nigella blossoming in Portland’s adjacent Sellwood neighborhood.

Ultimately, within a week, everything came together “enough.”

We were able to cast our lines off and go a few days before our desired deadline.

We’re grateful to the generosity of friends who let us store our boat in their slip for free.

If we had it to do over, what would we do differently?

Because we weren’t sure if we’d be gone eight months or a year and eight months, covered storage was a bit outside our budget. While the boat was well tarped, we would go with dry storage instead. Or if we couldn’t do that, we’d at least  pay a competent boat expert to look in on the boat monthly, start the engine, check the electrical, check for leaks and report in.

Larry, Serendipity’s former owner, if he’s reading this, is shaking his head, thinking if not also saying “I told you so!”

Meanwhile, we’re making up for it in boat repairs, maintenance and improvements. Serendipity and her batteries like her brand two new solar panels, and we’re picking up a generator for her this week. Wayne’s still sorting out the best way to handle our teak decks. Larry, we promise to make you proud. Serendipity’s still raking in the compliments from the work Wayne did last summer.

Work aside, we’re enjoying life on the river together this summer, watching ospreys and bald eagles soar past, chasing away itinerant racoons, taking in the sunshine when she shines, alternately thanking and cursing the winds and the currents….

Stay tuned for more about our adventures and learn from our oopsies. Much as we learn, we find there’s still new mistakes to be made. Guaranteed, we can make you envious of this life, appreciative of your creature comforts, and give you some good laughs along the way.

Regardless of mishaps and sacrifices, life on the water is strangely addictive. For us, home is still where the boat is.

Location Location
At the moment, we’re awaiting the moonrise off Coon Island, Multnomah Channel. It’s in between St. Helens and Sauvies Island, West of Portland Oregon, N45 46.097 W122 48.974.

At the moment, we’re tied off at the dock of Coon Island, in the Multnomah Channel, Oregon.