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.