BUILD­ING AMA

Passage Maker - - Electronics -

The boat-build­ing and fit­ting-out years were some of the best—a fas­ci­nat­ing, once-in-a-life­time joy. I was for­tu­nate to be able to make a cou­ple of ex­tended trips a month up to Port Had­lock to tackle ques­tions and is­sues in per­son, and to lend my hands to aspects of the ac­tual build­ing of Ama over the next two years. One ex­am­ple is when I “got shafted,” by be­ing asked to drill the prop shaft through the dead­wood—mul­ti­ple lengthy passes with grad­u­ally larger bits.

Start­ing with the lines trans­ferred onto the shop’s floor, when Ama’s di­men­sions seemed im­pos­si­bly im­mense, she took shape lit­er­ally piece by piece. When her struc­tural frame was com­pleted and the hull shape fully vis­i­ble for the first time, my wife and I were ren­dered breath­less. Old-time sailors at­trib­uted souls to their boats, and Ama’s soul seemed to come into her at this point.

When­ever pos­si­ble on th­ese vis­its, I took the boat­builders out af­ter their phys­i­cal days of school/work for Ma­son jars full of Port Townsend Brew­ery’s Boat­yard Bit­ter ale. Af­ter Ama’s hull was par­tially planked, I be­gan sleep­ing aboard when I was there. Cozy in­side my thick down bag, in spite of the chilly win­ter winds that blew through and un­der the large build­ing tent, I co­cooned deeply in the fore­peak and be­fore long in a mostly fin­ished dou­ble berth.

a mis-spec­i­fied sen­sor left us quite con­cerned be­fore ev­ery­thing was fully re­solved a cou­ple of weeks later.

Ama’s time in the school and at Point Hud­son were fol­lowed by roughly 18 months of fit­ting out and rig­ging the boat, both of which in­volved a huge learn­ing curve for me. We kept her mostly in Ta­coma where I trav­eled by train and then walked from the sta­tion to the dock, with a loaded fold­ing cart of parts and tools. In that first year, I fin­ished wiring the lights, in­stalled the plumb­ing, and then the rig­ging, sails, stoves, chart plot­ter, radar, and later an au­topi­lot. Ev­ery­thing re­quired in­stal­la­tion, setup, and re­peated test­ing. Hav­ing done all th­ese things my­self means that I know ev­ery com­po­nent well, and have ev­ery man­ual and war­ranty aboard in case some­thing goes wrong.

Top: A strong sail­ing back­ground has more than served the au­thor while run­ning his beloved mo­tor­sailer. Bot­tom: Brid­get pre­par­ing din­ner be­lowdecks in Ama Natura’s gal­ley.

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