sailing "wing and wing" in our new boat

The blog’s been quiet recently because I’ve been busy with my new hobby: sailing (I’ve also been busy at work).

About 6 weeks ago Christine and I bought a 1984 Catalina 25 sailboat.  Since then I’ve been spending a lot of time down at the dock doing repairs, cleaning (which seemed to be neglected for the last few years), upgrades, and of course, sailing.

1984 Catalina 25 with a tall mast and fin keel. We've named her "Lutra". The boat isn't a brown as it looks in this photo, it was just taken close to dusk.

I’ve always been intrigued by sailing since having a few day introduction to it in high school from a family friend.  I’m excited about the possibilities for slow and low impact travel (like cycling and kayaking), but with a bit more of the creature comforts of home.  We hope to take it up to the San Juans this summer, and farther north the following summer.  We both started with close to zero experience, so before buying a boat we took sailing classes at The Center for Wooden Boats.  Our instructor was great, the boats that they teach on were great, and the setting (Lake Union in downtown Seattle), was also great.

Christine completing her checkout sail at The Center for Wooden Boats. That's on a 20' Blanchard Knockabout, not our boat.

We picked this boat because it’s small enough for us to handle comfortably, but large enough for us to sleep on.  The interior has a main cabin with a little dinette and galley (kitchen), a tiny little head (bathroom), and then a front vee-berth that we can both fit in comfortably.  There is another second 1.5 person bed in the back called the quarterberth that we use for storage.  The cabin isn’t big (headroom is around 5′6″), but it’s cozy and much larger than any tent that we’ve camped in.  We liked this particular boat because it was in good condition (although dirty), the right price, has a reasonably good reputation, there is great support for it, and it was affordable.  There were about 6000 of this model made, an online store that specializes in parts for it (so I could get a replacement rudder in a week instead of making a custom one), and a great online forum with lots of helpful archives and members.  It’s not big, fast, or fancy (I think of it as the Ford Focus of sailboats), but it seems like it’ll suit our needs well.

Our boat's cockpit. I've refinished a good chunk of the teak, but there is a bit left to go.

Looking down into the interior of the boat from the cockpit. We had replacement cushions made.

The dinette (which reminds me of a fast food restaurant booth), the galley, and the quarterberth area that we use for storage (my folding bike even fits back there). The dinette turns into another small bed when the table is lowered.

The galley has a sink (we need to clean out the water tank though), and a little two burner alcohol stove, and a built in cooler in the corner of the counter. We also have a grill that sets up on the back of the boat.

Our cozy little "vee berth". It's about the size of a double bed with the front corners cut off.

We keep it on a small private marina that is on the northeast side of Lake Union. There are only about 15 boats kept here, but everyone that we've met there has been great.

We’ve named her Lutra after Christine’s favorite water critter, the otter.  We haven’t put the name on the boat yet.  She was previously named the great surprise, and before that appears to have been named Lwellyn.  Once we’re done cleaning it up well enough to remove the old names we’ll put on the new one.


Travel Gifford on a "Gravel Grinder" group ride. Those are the awesome Compass 26x1.75" tires and I think the bags are from Epic Designs.

For those who have no interest in boats, but come here for bikes, here is a minor update on the Travel Gifford.  It’s been painted pumpkin orange (an homage to the Bridgestone XO-1 and because I’ve never had an orange bike) and my friend Scott has taken it to Australia for a couple of weeks.  He’s putting it to great use and has been hanging out with the crowd from “Commuter Cycles” in Melbourne.  This bike is going to be very well travelled.

Scott and the Travel Gifford, in Melbourne Australia


  1. Scott Gamble says:

    I really like the layout of the Lutra – lots of usable space. This was one of my major gripes with the BUBIA when I was Liveaboard. I also very much like the new name you”ve chosen.

    The bags pictured are in fact Epic Designs – now Revelate Designs. Can”t say enough good things about them.

    The Viscacha saddle bag

    and the Mountain Feed Bag

    Frame bag is some generic Jandd thing.

    The bike performed very well – better than I in fact. :) If you care to see my whole set of photos, it’’s here

    and includes a video of us riding through a herd of kangaroos! Here’’s Blakey’’s photos (the organizer and fellow Tarcker)

    And lastly – the obligatory link to the Melbourne Gravel Grinders website

    Bike has attracted a great deal of attention and admiration from both casual observers and the experienced. It’’s been absolutely fantastic to have – I can”t imagine doing a trip like this without it.

  2. Antisthenes says:

    Isn”t it bad luck to rename a boat or such? If you”re concerned, ”Lwellyn” is not a bad name, if you pronounce it with your tongue in rictus like the Welsh.

    Cool boat, and hope you got a great price. My father had a Tanzer 22 in the 80s: just about the same kind of boat and vintage. Great boats for the price. Cozy, but you go any bigger and you start getting into the prices for condominiums (boats probably depreciate no worse…).


  3. Alex Wetmore says:

    It is considered bad luck, but I figure our boat has already been through it since it’’s had two names. There is a proper procedure for a renaming that we may do. I actually really liked the name Lwellyn, it sounds very nautical to me, but Christine wasn”t a fan of it.

    The boat was pretty inexpensive. The real costs have been in the work that we”ve been doing to it, and the ongoing cost of moorage.

  4. Joe Broach says:

    Wow! Your blog name is definitely accurate. The boat is fascinating. One thing I”ve enjoyed since starting to kayak is checking out the sailboats that find their way up the Willamette. It definitely seems like a special way to travel. Lutra looks like a sweet setup. Travel Gifford looks great, too. I can”t wait to hear more about it once you put it through its paces. Thanks for the update–lots of fun things to think about!

  5. clay smith says:

    It is indeed true. “Alex Wetmore IS always busy with something!” (I see Joe had the same thought) On ship renaming, I found this fairly informative ;)

  6. Jimmy says:

    Looking good! If you were out on Sunday we may have passed you in our canoe. I”m not sure which marina you”re in exactly -and Emily and I were plenty busy keeping upright as Roscoe would shift from gunwale to gunwale looking at ducks, the water, cats on docks, etc.

  7. cathy says:

    could u sail that boat around the world? that would be a fun adventure.

  8. andrew says:

    Alex –

    You”ve helped me out in the past with some .83 wrench party stuff on internal geared hub projects in your workshop, and given some of the newer frame work you”ve been posting – I”m wondering if you are up for some low-budget frame rescue. I”m happy to pay, but Davidson wanted several hundred bucks to run with my idea.

    Short story: Stuck seatpost, Baron steel frame. Thinking about cutting off the top of the post, brazing on some extra seat tube and making it an integrated cap style frame. I”ll deal with the paint later.

    Email me if that’’s something you”d be interested in talking about – I”m hoping to rescue my rain bike.


  9. [...] the previous one which made it a more comfortable size for this trip. The time that we had with the first boat really helped me learn what I’d want in the second one. I’m glad that we’ve owned [...]