We Don’t Have A Plan, and We’re Stickin’ To It

Early last summer, Hugh decided to devote all his time to KATIE MACK. He  reinstalled the foredeck hardware (windlass), started painting the galley, fabricated and installed the soapstone base for the Shipmate wood/cookstove, added new insulation around the Shipmate, prepped the cabinets for countertop installation, painted the inside of the galley cabinets, back-painted the planks of the hull in the saloon, installed stovepipe, cut the hole for the new copper sink, back-painted the lazarette, painted the first coat of the master stateroom bunk, backpainted the storage area along the passageway, built the support for the batteries, cleaned up and back-painted the engine room and started the reinstall of the bunk in the utility room. Son Bobby was East from Tahoe for a few weeks and helped Hugh with the plumbing.

In addition to Hugh’s work, Chip and Scott, with the help of Ryan, Kevin, Brandon, Jim the painter, Mark the diesel mechanic and Tim, the marine electrician, finished fairing the hull, installed through-hull fittings, reinstalled the cap rail and the handrail, installed an iroko countertop, replaced the aft bulkhead in the saloon, installed the propeller shaft and stainless steel rudder, framed in the refrigerator and microwave (adding a door, so we don’t have to look at it), put in the fittings and tank for the fuel polisher, installed a manual shift, installed the alternator, rebuilt the berths in the saloon for easier access to storage underneath, primed and caulked the entire hull, squished in seam compound below the waterline, and got half of the wiring properly installed.

As we got closer to to July 1st and then August 1st, things were humming right along, but we realized there was still enough to be done that we wouldn’t have time for sea trials to safely head South into unknown waters in the fall.  It didn’t even make sense to continue to push the guys just to get KATIE MACK in the water for a couple of weeks in September or October before hauling her out for the winter.

“The best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men/ Gang aft agley” — or so wrote Robert Burns in his 1786 poem, To a Mouse.  In our case, finish-work, including painting the hull, slowed once we passed our “go/no go” date of August 1.  Not only was there more to be done to finish KATIE MACK, but also our house had not yet sold. We really didn’t want to leave it unoccupied through the winter.  Instead, we took time off for family —

hiking, sailing, and enjoying our niece’s wedding, among other things, and are readjusting our “plans”, such as they are. For now, I continue to enjoy working at L L Bean’s flagship store in Freeport. Hugh is back to working per diem several days a week for his previous employer, while at the same time exploring the possibilities offered by companies which specialize in locum tenens opportunities for Family Physicians.  He is in the process of credentialing with a couple of them, so that when we ARE under way, and find a place we’d like to stay for a while, he can also fill the “cruising kitty” by filling in for a vacationing family doctor.

So we have spent another winter in Maine, not the worst place to be, that’s for sure!  The alpacas were all sold by July, the house is fairly empty since the estate sale, and we have started to get into a “simplify” lifestyle that we will be bringing to KATIE MACK next spring/summer. Delayed perhaps, but no less excited at the prospect!

What Do We Do With All This Stuff?

Part of “Let’s sell everything and move aboard a boat” involves selling everything — well perhaps not everything, as someday we expect to move back  on the dirt, but ‘most everything.  Our biggest quandary was what do we do with the house?  Yes, the alpacas and all the farm equipment need to go, but the house?


We built this house in 1989, and it is where we raised our two sons.  We have put our hearts and souls into it, but 2,400 square feet and 25 acres are simply more than we need, and a lot to take care of.  Personally, I couldn’t imagine renting our home to people who would not care for it and love it as we have, and the thought of coming home to find it in disrepair was unbearable.  I also didn’t want to be a landlord, dealing with crises while we are cruising.  Eventually we agreed we would put the house on the market in January and hope that it didn’t sell before KATIE MACK was ready.  Hugh has this feeling we are going to end up with 16 alpacas in a Motel 6.  They take pets, don’t they?

Selling the house means deciding what to bring aboard, what to put into storage, and what to sell, give away, or toss.  It means going through every drawer, cupboard, box, closet, and shelf — every nook and cranny.  I had hoped our sons would want some of our things, but other than a couple of prints, some books, the KitchenAid mixer (!) and stuff from their old rooms that was already in boxes, they are all set.  We rented a 22 yard dumpster and filled it — what a relief to clear out all that useless junk!

Hugh has sold quite a few things on eBay, but we have acquired so much STUFF over the past 35 years, that we realized we needed help.  At a boat show we met a dealer in old tools and made an appointment for him to come to the house.  When he left, I added $400 to the cruising kitty!  A marine consignment shop in Rockport sold an old windlass, an anchor, and some other equipment for us — unfortunately he closed the business before he was able to sell everything, but Hugh has since found buyers for the diesel stove and other gear.  I contacted a local auctioneer and antiques dealer who has grown up in the antiques business.  He came over one day and left with a pile of things that he thinks will have a market, but he readily admits the allure of antiques and collectibles is waning.  Someday prices may rebound as demand returns, but the reality right now is there isn’t much of a market except in the very high end.  We have to content ourselves with the thought that these “things” have given us their value in our enjoyment and use, and now it is time for them to do the same for someone else, while we add more funds to the cruising kitty.

One day Hugh was surfing the net as we were talking about continuing to “destash” — the thought of holding multiple yard sales didn’t sit well with him, and we were trying to figure out our next step.  He ran across a business in Biddeford, ME that specializes in holding estate sales, either to help folks like us looking to downsize or to liquidate complete estates.  Ellen Heath and Sandy Gnidziejko of Little River Antiques and Estate Sales met with us and explained how things could work.  In addition to their 35% of the gross, they charge a fee based on hours needed to set up and staff the actual 3-day sale.  Once we signed the contract and agreed on the dates, they came back and went over with us what we planned to keep and what we planned to sell in each room.

Next, they dropped off tables and cloths, and began setting up for the sale.


When the big weekend came, Hugh, Annie (our lab), and I drove over to the White Mountains in New Hampshire for some hiking.  Trust me, you do not want to be at a sale like this and watch your worldly possessions be driven off!  Sandy, Ellen, and their staff were terrific.  They priced, they negotiated, they haggled, and they sold a ton of stuff.  What remained was mostly the kind of thing that if a house burned down would never make it onto the insurance inventory.  A few things we decided to keep back, a few things will go on eBay, and the rest has been hauled away by a guy . . . .

It feels GREAT!

Finding the Little Things to Make KATIE MACK a Home

Although the original plan and budget were set to replace the floor timbers, several frames (many of which had already been sistered), and all planks below the waterline, Hugh’s father always said, “A job worth doing is worth doing right.” That goes along with a friend’s father’s telling her, “If you don’t have the time to do it right the first time, when are you going to have the time to fix it?”  This is the time to do it right.  KATIE MACK will be our home for who knows how long — we may as well start off knowing she is as sound as she can be.

The extra time needed to “do it right” has allowed Hugh to search high and low across the internet for period-appropriate “bits and bobs” (as I call them) of brass and bronze: a showerhead with curtain ring, 8″ portholes, searchlight, fastenings, gauges, hinges, latches, etc.  We are upgrading the electronics — all wiring is being re-done.  It’s amazing what has been cobbled together over the years, but we will be able to sleep well, knowing the wiring is all ABYC-compliant.  New safety features are being added after a great deal of research: automatic engine room fire extinguishing system; smoke, fire, CO, and propane fume detectors; engine coolant water flow alarm; high water alarm in bilge; GPS/AIS multifunction display (MFD) — no radar yet; PFD’s for dog and humans with alarm sensors in case one of us falls overboard, InReach Explorer by DeLorme, and much more.

“Bits and bobs” accumulating in the cellar

Hugh found a teak hatch cover from a Canadian minesweeper that will serve as the sole (floor) of the head.  Underneath is a copper pan for the shower drainage. The head now reminds us of the W.C.’s in London’s B & B’s which have a drain in the center of the tile floor, with no separate shower stall.  All plumbing will be new.

A new-in-box Shipmate wood-fired cookstove from the 50’s is replacing the diesel stove in the galley, and the stainless steel surround has new insulation behind it.

Shipmate woodstove fit check
Shipmate woodstove fit check

We will be spending plenty of time in New England waters which get chilly, even in summer.  Wood is readily available as driftwood and in boatyards.  When we find ourselves in warmer climates, we have electric oven and propane stovetop options.

It’s these little things that will help make KATIE MACK a very special home.

Summer 2014 Aboard RESOLUTE

June – September 2014

Having had so much fun blasting around Casco Bay aboard KATIE MACK the previous summer, we couldn’t imagine not getting out on the water while she was on the hard undergoing her restoration.  The solution was to transport our 21′ wooden cutter, RESOLUTE, from Southwest Harbor.  Hey, after KATIE MACK’s 3,300 mile cross-country transport, this was nuthin’!

Preparing to step the mast and bend on the sails

We had talked about doing this for years, and once RESOLUTE was back in the water at Falmouth Town Landing, we sailed every chance we got.  At the end of August, we talked about how to transport her back to Southwest Harbor, and I said I thought we should sail to Bass Harbor over the course of 2-3 weekends.  We had always dreamed of sailing down east — this was our chance!  Hugh jokingly (sort of) asked if he could remind me that this was my idea.  In addition to fulfilling a dream, this would be a good opportunity to try out some of the gear and clothing we had purchased fro KATIE MACK.

Course plotted on the chart
Sunday morning — the storm front cleared out!

The night before we departed, we drove both vehicles to Port Clyde, left the truck there, and drove home in a WICKED thunderstorm.  So glad we postponed our departure by a day!  The next morning, Sunday, September 7th dawned bright and clear.  We slipped the mooring by 8 and off we sailed.

When the wind died, we fired up the Minn-Kota 2.5 hp electric motor, but soon realized it was not up to the task of getting us very far very fast.  Hugh lashed the dingy to the portside and it pushed RESOLUTE along like a tug.

Our inflatable dinghy as a tug
Love the new Mustang PFD’s.

We hadn’t spent ALL DAY together on a boat since our honeymoon aboard TUKEY in 1981, but oh, we had such fun on this trip.  I was the navigator, and Hugh taught me dead reckoning — we were exactly where we were supposed to be when we checked with the GPS.

The auto-inflate PFD’s proved to be terrific.  Easy to add and shed layers while wearing them — good to know!

For the first weekend leg, I had made reservations at B & B’s.  We spent our first night at Edgewater Farm B & B, after enjoying dinner at Sebasco Estates, where we moored RESOLUTE.  The next day we had very light winds in the morning and again at sunset, and needed the help of the dinghy-tug to get to New Harbor.  We didn’t arrive at the Gosnold Arms until well after dark, with the innkeeper flashing his light at the end of his dock. Luckily, Hugh had prepared for all eventualities, and we had portable running lights, even though we never expected to be sailing after dark!  Lesson learned: you can set a place, or you can set a time, but you cannot set both a place and a time, because the weather doesn’t always cooperate!

The seas were mostly 1-3 feet and the wind was 5-15 knots the next day.  We put a reef in and still we blasted along!  Glad I had my new-to-me Helly Hansen sailing coat and alpaca hat, gloves, vest, and socks!DowneastSailDay4.WarmWifeHappyWife09.14.14

The coast of Maine is well-known for the number and variety of its lighthouses which mark the jagged rocks — I can’t imagine sailing these waters without good charts, bouys and lighthouses in good weather, let alone in a gale!

Ram Island Lighthouse
Cuckolds Lighthouse
Franklin Light
Marshall Point Lighthouse at Port Clyde



Whitehead Island Lighthouse
Goose Rocks Light
Bass Harbor Head Lighthouse





Our first weekend ended as we came into Port Clyde and arranged with the PC Market to leave RESOLUTE on one of their moorings until the next week weekend.

Because of our experience with arriving after dark to make our reservation at the Gosnold Arms, we decided to forgo reservations on the second leg.  As we were heading to Camden from Port Clyde, we reasoned that there would be PLENTY of places to stay this time of year.  What we didn’t anticipate was the wind direction — after beating up the Muscle Ridge Channel, where we passed the J & E Riggin under full sail, we realized we’d NEVER make it to Camden before dark, so we turned hard to starboard and made for North Haven.

J & E Riggin sails out of Rockland Harbor

While North Haven IS a year round community, there isn’t much open by mid-September.  We were lucky to find a room at the Nebo Lodge.  We called the number at the desk and spoke to the innkeeper.  She was having dinner at her in-laws but offered to come over to show us to our room.  Or, she said, we could go upstairs to Room 3 and we’d settle up in the morning.  THIS is Maine, the way life should be!

RESOLUTE under sail in Southwest Harbor
Richard Stanley’s new boatyard in Bass Harbor

Our last day was our best day.  The wind and seas were perfect, and we arrived in Bass Harbor in time for a late lunch.  Richard Stanley, who did most of the building of RESOLUTE, runs his own yard now with his wife, Lorraine. Richard Stanley Custom Boats is gearing up to build commercial or pleasure craft that feature wooden hulls, for their seakindliness, with fiberglass tops, for weather resistance and ease of maintenance.  We think he is on to something!

What did we learn from this adventure?  First and foremost, we have a great time together, even spending hours in cramped quarters!  It confirmed our desire to take this major step of spending our summers cruising the Maine coast.  Having back-ups for back up plans and systems takes a lot of angst out of any situation.

“On the Hard” at Six River Marine

Leaving Yankee Marina on Rt 88

October 2013 

After a fantastic cruising season on Casco Bay, it was time to return KATIE MACK to Yankee Marina to be hauled out and transported to Six River Marine in North Yarmouth.

Passing under I-295
Route 1 to East Main Street
Over the RR tracks on North Rd
Pulling into Six River Marine

Six River Marine, owned by Scott Conrad and Chip Miller, is in an old 15,000 s.f. chicken barn. We considered three bids to do the restoration, but agreed that Chip and Scott’s set-up and expertise most closely fit our budget and expectations.  What sealed the deal for me was seeing CHAUTAUQUA, a 38′ Lawley standard cruiser, originally built in 1926, which they restored in the late 90’s.  When we met her owners, the Lees, they were still as enthusiastic as ever about the work Chip and Scott had done: an extensive rebuild of the structural


framework below the waterline, the decks, trunk top, and canopy top — which they covered with Dynel cloth set in epoxy to retain the appearance of traditional canvas. They also put innew cabin and cockpit soles and all new exterior mahogany rails, hatches, and trim, reusing all original hardware throughout the restoration.

Initially, we expected to rebuild the keel, replace several frames and many   planks above and below the waterline, and rebuild the transom.  Scott and Chip estimated it would take 18 months, and offered to split the job in half so we could enjoy the 2014 cruising season.  We decided not to split the job.

And so the serious work began:  part of the keel needed rebuilding.  In the process, it was discovered that it had been altered at some point.

Rebuilding the keel

With advice from a marine surveyor and a marine architect, Hugh, Chip and Scott made the decision to bring the keel back to its original, more open, design.

Keel: new wood grafted to the old

All floor timbers, except those under the engine, needed to be replaced.  At one point, Hugh poked his finger through a plugged spot where a through-hull fitting had been.  It’s scary to think what could have happened if it had let go while we were out on the bay.  This hull restoration is definitely the right thing to do if we are thinking about extended cruising.

Saloon and galley







Rotted transom knee



The transom knee had far more rot than we expected, and in fact there was more rot to be found once tanks were removed and everything was opened up.

Rebuilding the transom


Summer Cruising on Casco Bay

As soon as KATIE MACK was shipshape following her long haul from Everett, WA, we moved her to her mooring off the town landing Falmouth.  I was off doing something with the alpacas, so our neighbor, Brian, agreed to help Hugh “thread the needle” of the very narrow Royal River,


out past Littlejohn and Cousins Islands to the mooring field.  Hugh had already arranged to have a much heavier mooring set to replace the one where we used to keep our 14′ North Haven sailing dinghy.


Every chance we got, we spent aboard KATIE MACK, cruising around Casco Bay, joined by friends and family.

07.13.13KatieHarrison 08.25.13.CharlieKyle 08.27.13BobHugh 07.21.13AnniesSpot


With all the lobster pots to avoid, this is harder than it looks, but I am determined to learn how to safely handle KATIE MACK in all conditions and eventually earn my captain’s license.


Casco Bay is so different from the water! This is Fort Gorges, a former US military fort built on Hog Island Ledge in Casco Bay. A bit of history: it was built from 1858 to 1864.  No battles were fought and no troops were stationed there. Advancing military technology, including iron clad ships and long range guns, made the fort obsolete before it could be used. The fort is now a park, accessible only by boat.

09.09.13.FirstDinner 09.09.13.EatingFirstDinner

Our first dinner aboard.


And our first overnight.  Hugh is washing up the dinner dishes, while Annie looks on hopefully.  The next morning, Hugh caught (and released) a mackerel on his fourth cast.


Later that morning we joined several friends for lunch at the Chebeague Inn.


On many different occasions, we enjoyed the view from the deck of the Cockeyed Gull, a restaurant on Peak’s Island,


as well as trips out to Eagle Island, the former home of Admiral Peary.  It is now a park, and well worth a trip out.


Coast-to-coast Transport

With the purchase of KATIE MACK completed, it was time to move her from Washington to Maine.  Jack, the seller, recommended a boat transport company that he had used to transport her from Southern California.

KM.06.09.13Trailer KATIE MACK was loaded onto the transporter and  headed East on June 9, 2013.  The driver called us with regular updates of his progress.  He had easy driving the first three days until he crossed the Mississippi River– at which point the State regulations for wide loads became more cumbersome:  no travel allowed through this state on these days or at these hours, and no travel through that state on those days and hours.

06.18.13TransportMap It took another 6 days to finally arrive in Yarmouth, ME on June 18th.  The driver said everywhere he stopped, KATIE MACK drew lots of attention and he could have sold her a dozen times.  He did an awesome job — the only damage sustained over the 3,300 mile trip was to part of the portside navigation light foot and a little “road rash” on the pilothouse caused by low branches along the streets leading to the marina.


We are fortunate that the closest marina to us, Yankee Marina, also has a four-sling travel-lift.  It is owned and managed by a friend of ours, Deborah Delp.  A nice feature of the marina is a webcam that allows viewers to point the camera to see their vessels tied up at the slips!

The Search

Once we decided to look for an old wooden powerboat, our search began in March 2013 on the internet at Yachtworld.com and Wooden Boat Magazine’s classifieds to give us an idea of what was “out there”.

Hugh ran across the listing for KATIE MACK before we looked at our first boat — there was something about her that grabbed our attention, and we found ourselves comparing everything else to her.

While attending a medical conference in Washington, DC, we took a side trip to Annapolis to check out TEMMA, a “Maine Cruiser” built in 1928.


Locally, we looked at BURMA, a 57′ R.O. Davis-designed motorsailer built in 1950,


WITCH, a 1929 Elco 50, beautifully restored by the Shannon Boatyard in Bristol, RI;


and PROMISE, a 1930 William Hand-designed motorsailer currently undergoing a full restoration at the Shannon Boatyard;


By May, we were ready to fly out to Tacoma, WA to see KATIE MACK.  The broker, Jill Heslin of Capital City Yacht Sales in Olympia, WA was very helpful throughout.  We scheduled a sea trial which included an engine inspection and hot oil test by Tacoma Diesel & Equipment.  The 6-71 Detroit Diesel passed with flying colors.  In fact, the young man stated that this engine will probably outlive us all, as the 6-71’s were used on landing craft during World War II, and were designed to be easily maintained by Iowa farm boys.


Jack, the seller (above), took her north to Everett, WA to be hauled out for an all-day survey by Roger G. Morris of Seattle.  The yard in the Port of Everett is the only one nearby with a four-sling travel-lift which offers far more support for an old wooden boat than the more usual two-sling models.


The survey found more rot than Jack had expected, and there would likely be more in the places Roger couldn’t access with his awl.

As long as we were out on the west coast and planning to visit family in California, we arranged to see two Stephens Brothers tri-cabin cruisers.NORTH STAR II was built in 1928 and ALLURE was built in 1931.NorthStarII  Allure

Lovely vessels all, but none fit as many of our needs and wants as did KATIE MACK.  We knew in our hearts this was the vessel for us, and the negotiations began.  We made an offer, conditional on the final results of the survey.


How It All Began

Saturday, March 16, 2013 — Hugh came home from the Maine Boatbuilders Show with a funny look on his face and a crazy, wonderful idea:  “What if we sold
everything — the house, the alpacas, EVERYTHING — and moved aboard a boat?”

He had found himself drawn repeatedly to the booth of boatbuilder Doug Hylan and showed me a photograph of DELIVERANCE. deliverance

Doug Hylan built her for the man who once owned GRAYLING, a sardine carrier built in 1918 that Hylan had restored and converted for cruising.grayling_under_way_orig

Hugh grew up summering in Southwest Harbor, ME and always admired the sardine carriers there. He was thinking of modeling the JOYCE MARIE, joycemarieone of the few remaining carriers, and we had spent a foggy day aboard her in Boothbay Harbor the previous fall
taking pictures and measurements.

When he saw the photographs of DELIVERANCE at the Boatbuilders show, something “clicked”.

I think I caught him completely off guard when I replied, “I could do that.”

All of a sudden our conversations were filled with looking forward to all kinds of possibilities.  While the alpacas have been “my thing”, and Hugh’s medical practice has been “his thing”, this will be “our thing”.  We agreed to look for a wooden boat — we’ve only owned wooden sailboats, and Hugh spent his childhood sailing a Herreschoff 12, a 1920’s catboat (the PUSHEEN GRA), and most memorably, TYCHE, a 1922 Alden schooner.  Our first boat, TUKEY, was a 1932 Vineyard Sound Interclub.  We spent two years sailing, sanding, and caulking, and then spent our honeymoon sailing around Buzzards Bay.


Our next sailboat, BOB, was built by the Apprenticeshop in Bath.  She is a 14′ gaff-rigged North Haven dinghy.


In 1996, Ralph Stanley designed RESOLUTE for us.  His son, Richard, did most of the building of this gaff-rigged cutter.  We know what is involved in maintaining an old wooden boat.

My only stipulation: I wanted a powerboat, not a sailboat.  Why?  Because I didn’t want to live down below in a “cave”, I didn’t want a big mast coming through the middle of our living space, I didn’t want our living space to be canted at 45 degrees as we moved from place to place, and powerboats tend to have 30+% more living and storage space than sailboats.  Though he is an inveterate sailor, Hugh agreed that a powerboat made more sense for us as we were looking at living aboard in our 60’s and possibly well into our 70’s!

Welcome to Katie Mack Adventure!

As much as we think we will never forget any part of this fabulous transition from family doc and alpaca breeder to liveaboard cruisers, we know the reality. Details are forgotten, documents and pictures are filed away.  With this blog, we wish to encourage and inspire others to take a leap of faith and consider a move aboard an old wooden boat.   Follow us as we continue on this adventure.

~ Pam and Hugh Harwood

“We don’t have a plan, and we’re stickin’ to it!”