Posted by: Blue Lou Logan | April 4, 2011

Toe Rails


Toe raila very low wood or metal strip that runs around the edge of the deck of a boat between the bow and the stern.

I arrived at the Center well short of 10:00, which is when it technically “opens” on a weekend.  I was the first to run the communal, much-storied coffee pot.  Yet Martin was already at work on the Betsy D.  We had already sanded.  Now it was time to paint.  First we had to mask off, so it was foot after foot of blue tape, for which I would like to offer thanks to the inventor as it makes so much more obvious where one has applied white paint and where one has not.  Martin showed me how to get marine paint the proper consistency, then we got on the gloves and got busy.  For me, painting was very relaxed, focused activity, and Martin was able to very calmly coach this newbie on how to make more out of less paint and smooth the whole thing out.  We did toe rails, we did gunwales, and we did hatches.  The weather held.  Then I used this homemade device that spins the paintbrush in the thinner to get it clean.  In spite of this clever technology, my pants still got splattered.

Meanwhile, I had unofficially been assigned to crew the Admirable for the Sunday Public Sail.  This boat is seriously over 100 years old–built in San Francisco and then hauled up to the intense waters of Bristol Bay, Alaska, to fish for salmon before being restored by the CWB.  It is hard for me to imagine this 28-foot wooden vessel loaded with three tons of salmon on some of the roughest waters known to man.

I helped rig the vessel with its big-canvas, single-sail sprit configuration in time for the 2:00 sail, but there were too many passengers on the list for me me to get aboard the first voyage.  I got a cup of coffee and some ciabatta and wrote in my journal back in the boathouse.  The dock was buzzing with Blanchard Juniors out for rent, and though two people were trying to manage the livery I still ended up helping.  At 3:00, skipper John got me on the next trip.  Eric was already the First Mate.  I started out as little more than a passenger but ended up manning the heavy sheet.  Before I had gone out I had seen the strong southerly to westerly winds.  As we made our way to Gasworks Park and back, the wind only picked up; we topped at maybe fifteen knots, which is when the livery is supposed to shut down.  For me this now became an exercise in not only learning how to leverage heavy rope through tack and jibe through a cleat but also how to remain steady against both decent heeling and sudden gusts.  In other words, it was a lot of fun.  Four accursed Ducks struggled against the lake, and expensive boats worthy of blue water sat idly in marinas, making me wonder if they ever saw the broad ocean they deserved.  The Admirable has toe rails, too, which made skipper John curious as one is never actually supposed to put one’s feet on them.

It was a full, satisfying day.  At home, I helped Zanne make hummus and watched Nathan “Cap’n Mal Reynolds” Fillion deal with spirits in White Noise 2 as I drank Seven Tiki rum and ginger ale.

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