Neil Young's 1913 Baltic Trading Schooner

Schooner W N Ragland

Welcome Aboard the W N Ragland and Welcome Home...


Sorry to leave you hanging

To answer the questions of those who have been asking, We left the Ragland in December as as of that time, nothing had been done to the rig. We are no longer involved and do not know the current status. Sorry to dissapoint. Perhaps when the website comes back up, there will be a contact person. Last time I checked it was not running. If I do have any more information about the (hopefully) upcoming rebuild, I will pass it along.





Monday October 8th 2012

Location: A random coffee shop, Sausalito, CA

Whew! We made it. Motored under the Golden Gate Bride at 10:00 on Sunday Morning. We spent Saturday night anchored in Drake’s Bay off of Point Reyes as to not have to navigate through the busy shipping channels and find dockage at night. Especially with our emergency, pseudo nab light situation we have going on the bow. (our anchor light lashed to the sampson post with reg and green plastic taped on the front two sides…. 😉

All is well and we are so very jubilant and grateful to be on dry land. The remainder of our trip was extremely smooth “sailing.” The engine chugged along and the seas and wind died down to an absolute dead calm, which I always find quite erie. It made motoring for 3 days bearable, though.  It was frustrating to be in perfect sailing conditions and look up and see nothing but stumps. Lots and Lots of porpoise visits to keep us cheered up and delicious dinners cooked and eaten in a calm galley.

Turns out is is fleet week in San Francisco and we could not find dockage in the city, so we thought we’d try out luck in Saulsalito. Turns out it is just as difficult to find dockage in Saulsalito, so we moored temporarily (and possibly illegally) at the Army Core of Engineers dock just long enough to unload crew and take on water. After everyone showered Saturday night, we were left with not enough water to pressurize the tanks to wash dishes or flush the heads. Yikes!! lots of buckets and not a happy feeling about being out of water.

Our good friend and “Port Engineer,” Kimo, met us on the dock with cold beers and a mini van. Ah, land. Pretty much all the crew has dissapeared in to the city and tomorrow we will sit down and deal with insurance and paper work and hopefully find a dock .

This certainly puts a significant delay on our travel plans for Mexico and Central America this winter, but one day at a time, we will figure everything out and soon the Ragland will we sailing again with a brand new rig, better than ever!!

The show must go on

Saturday October 6th 2012


It’s 0400 and I just got off watch but am unable to sleep because I drank too much hot chocolate. Oops. But we made it with coconut milk, and it was just so good.

We are still motoring along nicely, the pur of the Cat (caterpillar engine) our new guiding force. We are being extra vigilant with engine checks. Tonight the wind is calm and the seas are flat, all is at peace in the world. (At least our little world we’ve created here at sea) The sky is overcast, but we don’t mind because all night long schools of porpoises have come by to join us and play in the glowing wake of our ship. The bioluminescence are stunning and there is nothing quite so magical as phosphorescent dolphins darting under your boat like synchronized shooting stars underwater.

After an extremely somber 24 hours spent in recollection and disbelief, the crew of the W N Ragland is back in good form.

We woke on Thursday morning to find it was not all just a horrible dream. We talked and talked about what happened, what we saw, how we felt, and what we learned. Most of all we are all just extremely grateful to be alive and well. Its been said on board more than once, that there could not have been a more fantastically executed horrible f*ing disaster. Simply miraculous. The mast was tired and ready to go. Nothing we could have done would have prevented the loss. Especially looking at the condition of the wood inside the 12ft jagged splinters left jutting out of the deck as a reminder.It simply couldn’t make another offshore voyage. Things happen for a reason and we await the realization of the doors that have been opened by our temporary misfortune.

Once again the universe has proven that life is short and unpredictable. We must live every moment to the fullest. The whole reason why we began this voyage in the first place. If anything these traumatic events have served to solidify our understanding of living in and for the present.

We are still absolutely 100% in love with the Ragland. She has proven herself once again a worthy and phenomenal ocean going vessel. Even sitting broad side, a complete victim to the swells as we worked to free the rig, very little water was shipped on deck. Her motion without a 100ft of spruce to stabilize the rocking, is not unruly in the slightest. And throughout the whole situation, we never took on water. The bilges remained at their constant level of nearly dry. Incredible. The chain plates are bent out of shape a bit and she is missing a few patches of paint, but it is simply remarkable what fantastic shape the hull and entirety of the rest of the vessel is in considering we were dismasted Wednesday night.



Thursday October 4th, 2012

Postion: 43*11.2 N 126*12.1 W

I am sad to report that at 2045 last night we were dismasted. Miraculously all aboard are alive, well, and relatively unscathed.

Shortly after sundown we notice an opening in a seem going up the length of the foremast. We call “all hands” to douse the fore course.  We are sailing along with just the foresl’e, broad reaching in 20kts of breeze and 6-8ft swell. Not 5 minutes later, with the fore boom prevented over, we suffer a partial crash jibe which spits the foremast open. It totally delaminates. We fire up the engine and once again call “all hands” to drop the foresl’e. We wrestle the sail down, but not in time to save the mast, the hoops of the sail and gaff saddle are the only thing holding the mast together. As soon as we have tension off the sail, like a slow motion lightning strike. “CRrrrrrrACK” the 100ft foremast comes crashing down. Everyone runs for cover. We barely have to time to realize what has happened and mutter “Holy Shit” when again with that ear-peircing, gut wrenching CRACK! The main-mast followed suit, simply not able to hold itself up with the weight of the foremast pulling it down. And just like that, the Schooner W N Ragland was dismasted.

Not a moment was lost, nor a beat un kept, as the entire crew rallied in to action. We took a head and injury count. All accounted for. One bloody lip. Amazing! Flash lights, headlamps, knives, bolt cutters, wrenches, plyers, wire cutters, hack saws and anything else that seemed useful was pulled up on deck as the crew worked tirelessly to cut the rig free. Every single last shroud, stay, halyard, sheet, brace, and sail had to be cut. Everyone worked in unison. It took us two horrifying hours. I simply can’t describe the horror of seeing the jagged, splintered stalk of the foremast thrusting out of the water with every passing swell or the sound of the mainmast crashing again the hull each time the boat rolled.

When the task was done, not a trace of the masts to be found upon scanning the surrounding waters, and all lines on deck coiled and tidy so as to not wash over board and foul the propellor, our only mode of transport left to get us safely home, we put the engine in gear and began motoring south.

In silence, we convened. Some went straight to the liquor cabinet, others went straight to bed, 3 unfortunate few stayed up to take watch for the next four hours. Most importantly, we were all still there. And no one was hurt.

So we’ve plenty of diesel and a reliable Caterpillar engine. We’ll motor the rest of the way to San Francisco.

It is a true tragedy we have had to endure, but as Emyl so aptly put it… “some books need only begin with a tragedy.”


We’re sailing! We’re Sailing!

“Wind and sails were made for each other.”

Wednesday October 3rd, 2012

Position: 45*37.2 degrees N  126*27.5 degrees W

Winds North 15-20kts, Seas 6-8ft following swell

Yahoooooo!!!! Absolutely perfect sailing conditions! Amazing, beautiful, sunny day! Couldn’t ask for anything better. We are currently flying the foresl’e strapped in for stability, fore course (square sail) and both raffis, which are these amazing downwind sails flown above the square that just make the most perfect trade wind catcher you could ever imagine. And such a cool sail shape. (see photos for reference) The possibilities are truly endless with this boat. Everyone, including the Ragland are just loving it! Oh yeah, except the fact that 6 out of 9 crew are suffering from sea sickness. All day yesterday as we motor sailed out of Juan De Fuca and offshore as far as we could comfortably reach, the “rail watch” was going strong. I counted as many as 3 bodies at a time. Shame. Sea sickness is rough. I have suffered myself, but am fortunate enough to not be bothered in the slightest this time around. There is a reason why someone with little or no sea experience is called “green.” That is the color you immediately turn upon making acquaintance with ocean swells. The Ocean can be a fickle, hostile beast. She demands respect, passion, and love from all those who wish to cross her waters. I believe that is why it is a select few of us that get to explore her vast expanses.


A short wait for weather

Monday October 1st, 2012

Location: Neah Bay, WA

We are Anchored and delayed for 24 hours due to weather, but no one seems concerned. Everyone is in  excellent sprits. All the crew is getting to know each other and the vessel quite well. We have launched the row boat and kayaks for shore excursions and trying our hardest to figure out how to get to a surf spot 5 miles down the coast as our main reason for delay at this point is heavy swell. 1st obstacle, transportation. 2nd obstacle, none of us have winter suits and the water up here is cold!! Plan B: have a beer…. 🙂


Let the Journey begin

“Ships are the nearest things to dreams that hands have ever made, for somewhere deep in their oaken hearts the soul of a song is laid.” Robert N. Rose

Sunday September 30th, 2012

Location: motoring down the Straight de Juan de Fuca

Welcome Aboard the W N Ragland and Welcome home. If you are just hearing of our adventures, we are a young crew of artists and adventurers setting off on a voyage that will be the next chapter in our lives and in the life of this fine vessel we have the pleasure of care taking, The Schooner W  N Ragland.

We left Bainbridge Island Seattle, where this boat has been almost permanently berthed for the last several years, nearly 24 hours ago now. Man, does it feel good! On Board we have 9 crew. Our destination, San Francisco. “Master” Emyl and “Captain” Seychelle Hattingh, “Owner” Jeb Bjornrud, “Bosun” Bear Harding, “Cook” Kate Brennan, “Able-Bodied” Crew Clif Hart, Anders Berling, Chris … , and Bruce … Quotations in place because mainly we are all just friends. 🙂

Spirits and Energy are high as we depart together. Most of the crew arrived  Thursday for a mad push to get off the dock with the tide on Saturday. There is a lot that goes in to the preparations of a week-long, offshore sailing experience. Out preparations included replacing the bob stay, having the rig surveyed, installing AIS, inspecting and updating safety equipment including life raft, flares, harnesses and lights, stowing and or bending on extra sails and cruising gear from storage, and provisioning the boat for 9 people. It’s a lot of work, but it’s amazing what can be done with team work and positive energy.

We stopped last night in Port Angeles for diesel fuel and are currently headed to Neah Bay, the Northwestern most point on the continental US, to wait for our next weather window. There is a gale that has stalled right off the coast here that we are waiting to pass and ride on the tail of.