Saturday, December 28, 2013

#10 !!!!!!!

Sail number 10 today. This has us down to $50 per sail so far and there are 4 months still to go.  I think we may soon be entering a period when the water gets to cold and hard (ice) to sail thru, but today was great.  I didn't even wear a hat.
49'f and steady winds WSW
Taken by Tom Ersk on his Pearson Wanderer "TnT".
Thanks Tom.
She looks like a long 21 feet to me!?
I did have to motor thru some ice pancakes in order to get out of my berth.  My berth was clear of ice but just a boat length or so away it was about a quarter to a half an inch thick.  The hull shape had us push up on top of the ice and then the weight of the boat would break thru.  The little motor had a little bit more work to do but nothing significant.  Maybe I got some of the bottom scraped clean in the process!!!

At my return I went to the marina office and made arrangements to shift to a new slip as many others were closer to the marina entrance and had an ice free path out.  Now I walk a little further to get to the boat but I have to motor less to get out passed the breakwater and I might be able to get out a few more days when I might have been frozen in at the previous berth.

With the working jib and a reef in the main we had the lee rail in the water when the wind was strongest, but mostly it was just easy peasy lemon squeezy!

▶ 2013 sail #10 - YouTube

I am more and more impressed with this boat each time I sail her.  Today with the working jib and reefed main the helm was pretty close to balanced but the thing that is impressive is how quick she seems.  I think that all my time sailing full keeled displacement hulls was led me to be surprised by the lighter planing hulls and their quickness.

Well if I don't get out again for a while I can look back fondly on a good season thus far.  Averaging one sail a week is just fine for me.  I am hopeful that at the end of the spring time I will get more time out each week but considering that most boats have been put up for the season I feel pretty fortunate.  I will say that I was not alone out there today.  It was with great pleasure that I saw 3 other sail boats out, 2 under sail and one just drifting and motoring but enjoying the warmth the day offered.

It is a good way to end the year, and begin the new one.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

more OCH wisdom

Off Center Harbor is one of my latest and favorite internet finds.  It is a web site dedicated to things boats, not all things, just the best things.
Each time the home page comes up a different quote is presented.  Sometimes I just reload the page to read another quote.  Here is todays:

The cabin of a small yacht is a truly wonderful thing; not only will it shelter you from the tempest, but from the other troubles in life, it is a safe retreat.
- LF Herreshoff

It is sometimes just the right way to start the day, I check the world news, check the weather, then read a quote on my favorite topic.

Monday, December 23, 2013

Rainy day sail work

Heavy rains today so I decided to replace the plastic twisty hanks on the staysail jib with piston hanks.  I have spares that are a size to big maybe, but that won't hurt anything and it's no money out of pocket.  The hanks I have are maybe #1 and I need size #0.  The only down side is that if I want to use the jib as a staysail and fly it by it's luff wire, rather than setting a stay The hanks are heavy and large and might deform the sail, but I don't really plan on setting it as a staysail anytime soon.
I had to sew eyelets on the sail as the plastic hanks didn't need them because they have a large surface area that contacts the sail and a screw joins the two sides of the hank to grab the sail and the wire on the luff.
The eyelets I made were small but should work just fine.
1 of 5 hanks on this jib
Hand work on sails has become something standard for me.  I enjoy the time spent making my boat a little better with such simple and tested methods and tools.  I don't need any high tech equipment and that adds to the level of return on enjoyment from boats.
It is suppose to get cold again as of tonight so it might be a while till I get out again, we'll see.  I am glad to have had that last sail, it was a good one.

"All is Lost" Movies with boats.

Since learning of the upcoming movie, a few months ago, I have been looking forward to the chance to see it someday.  I saw a trailer for the movie on the internet and was less intrigued, but after reading a review in the BBC online news I am interested again.  BBC News - Why Robert Redford lost his voice in All is Lost
I mean really, how bad can it be, with and hour and a half of sailboat on film and one of the best popular actors of our time?

The trailer I saw made me worry that the movie would not get the sailing details correct or realistic.  I am good in the agreement between an artist and the audience in playing my part in the suspension of disbelief, but some times the artists can ask a bit much.  I was also concerned that the movie might just be a vehicle for Mr. Redford to be on screen.  Actually that was less of a concern because I don't really know of any roles he has played that I haven't enjoyed watching.  He and Paul Newman, his on screen partner a few times, have aged in roles and on screen more elegantly than most and retained their charm and charism thru out.  I miss Paul.

The article gives a description of the movie that contains this quote from it's director, and it is what has won me over again and got me looking forward to seeing the movie when I can:

"The thing that drove me to write this is that it's a meditation on mortality," he says.
"If you don't embrace that every day is a gift, you can find yourself a 75-year-old not quite having felt like you've lived every day."
This is a sentiment that has deep roots in my mind and is fed almost daily by the actions and directions of most men.  Not only do I think we need to better embrace each day as a gift, but we also need to embrace our own death, and that of others, as fact, real, but as the filter by which we are allowed to realize the beauty of this life.
All is not lost.  Remember, where ever your at, that's where you are.

Still have my doubts about the sailing aspect of the movie but I guess that I will just have to wait and see.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Some days

All the potential for a great sail including snow capped cliffs along the shore
Oh well.
Getting aboard a sail boat is not something to be done without real consideration.  Once aboard and the lines have been thrown off it is not as simple as pulling over to get off the boat, should the experience go badly.

I have been at sea, off shore, and been in the situation such that all I could think about was getting off ship.  In that case, when the vessel touched the dock, I had my seabag on my shoulder and I was off as soon as lines were tied and the boat safe, my commitment complete, I was gone.  Sadly, years latter, that boat was latter lost at sea, fortunately the crew was rescued.

Bad situations like that one are usually not about the sea, the boat, or sailing.  In my case, they have always been about people and the different attitudes we have about what it is to go sailing and what it is to do it responsibly.  Even a large boat can seem very small if people are at odds.

I like to sail, love to sail.  I don't care for a motor and just find it a required tool in todays society. Because marina's are so crowded and those crowds are usually in a hurry and think of boats responding and handling like their cars I use a motor to get me out of the marina and then shut it down as soon as I can.  I also hate the noise of an engine, and the smell too.  Sailing starts almost immediately with this method.

Down wind, beam reach, or close hauled it is all sailing to me and part of the joy of the thing is getting the boat and the wind and tide to take me where I want to go, no matter what their state.  Setting up a vessel so that it can handle most all conditions and get us out and then back is an interesting challenge to me.  It is a never ending puzzle, or game, and always can use some refinement.

Some people want only to sail off the wind, no tacking, as little healing as possible.  Wouldn't want to spill their beer!  Those points of sail are fine, but motoring to get to wind that suits a point of sail, for recreation especially, is not my idea of fine or fun.  One of the greatest things about sail boats is how "clean" it is.  By that I mean that once the boat is built it doesn't really have to pollute thru waste or noise or even by leaving a trail in the water, yet it has more accommodation than any land or air based transport.

The bow cuts into a wave and spray flies thru the air, over the coach roof and into the cockpit.  Water runs along the deck and out the scuppers to mix with the gurgling wave that closes up after the boat leaves it and in moments the sea looks as if we were never there.

The wind shapes the surface of the water, makes the waves.  It pushes on the sails and runs over their surface.  In the rigging it sounds like a violin or harp and accompanies the percussion sounds of the hardware and the creaking of the hull or the shifting of gear down below.  Once the wind is past the boat it is just as strong as it was before it touched her sails, undiminished.

Even I am little taxed by the work the boat does.  I mind the tiller but can set it and walk about or sit and ponder the sea and sky, all the while the little boat travels on carrying my bed, my stove, my books, most all the comforts I could need.  Even under oars or a pole a boat can make the power of a single man move otherwise impossible loads and suspend them above the ocean floor.

I sometimes need to remind myself of why I don't invite just anybody aboard my boat and why I don't accept offers to sail on most other boats.  We are all different in our wants, priorities and comfort levels.  We all sail for different reasons.  It isn't really a bad thing, but rather, a thing to be given honest consideration so that each sailor can get what he wants from his sail, can go where he wants, and the way he wants, and in a happy ship.

Sail #9, #9,#9.....

Crazy warm weather.  It's December 22 and it's 70'F!!!
Rain, Wind clouds
Note the tiller lashed with bungee cord to keep
course while I walk forward!  Love that.
I decided to get out before the strong weather came in and hoped that I could have a nice sail.  I had a great sail.
The sun cutting thru the clouds occasionally made the rain seem friendly and the warm air made me think of Adisto Island in South Carolina last year.
The wind was strong enough to fly just the small stay sail, on the forestay as  I don't have a staysail stay rigged.  The boat had the slightest bit of lee helm but mostly it was balanced.  What ever the wind force was we were doing anywhere from 3 to 5 knots, I'd guess.
I tried flying the main but it wasn't much fun and the gusts had us rail under even with the reef in.

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Milder weather

We have a batch of warm weather for a few days and I hope to make some good use of it.  Today I went to the boat and installed the new table.  It is completed but for the varnish and I am just going to wait to do that.  For now it is in and I can use it and find out how well it works
completed table.
Folds up for use of bunk.
I took a few minutes to shovel the snow off the decks in hopes of a sail in the next few days.  I made the hinge that connects the legs to the table from some wood and some bronze spikes and roves.  The hinge that attaches the 2 legs to each other is a brass hinge that was handy.  The hole rig can be lifted up and kept out of the way should the bunk below be needed for sleeping, or what ever.  Out board of the table I made a tray to hold what ever needs holding.  Right now it keeps a battery powered led tea light.
The cabin is a long way from being inviting but it is a start and I am in no rush.

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Better than most

If a man is to be obsessed with something, I suppose a boat is as good as anything, perhaps a bit better than most.
- E.B. White

Saturday, December 7, 2013

#8-Great Sail!

Sail number 8 for the season.  That gets us down to under $70/sail.  Still a bit much but today's sail was worth much more.

When I set out the temps were in the low 30's f, but got up to the high 30's by the end.  I have great gear so I was warm and dry.  Highly recommend Patagonia's foul weather sailing gear. Even though the company really specializes in climbing and hiking and skiing gear, they do great job with these "foulies".  I have worn them on deliveries in the Atlantic in early December and they kept me comfortable.  The designers at Patagonia know how to cut a jacket so that it keeps the elements out but allows one to move about freely.  I dread the day that they wear out and I have to replace them because I don't think I could afford them any longer.

The wind was force 4 or 5 and against the current for most of the sail.  Made for nice white caps and bumpy water.

I decided to try flying only the jib, as my friend who used to own a Venture said he did most often.  This made the helm much more balanced and sailing down wind was surprisingly easy.

Sailing to windward in the short choppy seas the boat got pushed over in the gusts so that the rail was usually awash and occasionally the leeward seats in the cockpit were filled with water.  The first time it happened it was concerning then I realized that the boat hardened up and didn't want to go any further over than that.  I found that pinching into the wind I could lessen the amount of pounding we did when we bounced off the tops of waves.  From the cockpit I could see hull down in the cabin flexing each time we jumped off a wave top.  This boat is not made like my Bristol!  Still, it did just fine and didn't get pushed of the waves, but rather sailed thru them.

I found that if I sailed thru the first wave we came off it fast but not with a thump.  It was the second wave that we'd drop off of and shake the whole boat and watch the hull flex.  So on the second wave I would head up into the wind just a bit so as to stand the boat up as the wind got on the leeward side of the jib.  This had the affect of bringing the boat down on the centerline, or the V of the hull and that was a much softer entry than landing flat on the port or starboard flat of the boats bottom.  In this way we made a little serpentine coarse that still made our coarse heading, and very quickly.

I know that I enjoy sailing a boat in a way that most recreational sailors don't seem to.  I enjoy the "heavy weather" feeling when the boat is heeled and I have to duck waves that come all the way down the boat from the bow into the cockpit.  I like that water is sloshing around in the cockpit.  I like being able to hear a change in the wind strength in the rigging.  It must be a disease.

 I was only able to shoot video during the downwind segment and that doesn't give any sense of what it was like sailing to windward but if you sail, you understand the difference.

Trying to return to the marina I realized that I couldn't sail into the basin because it was dead to windward and I didn't trust short tacking with just the jib up.  I started the outboard and I promptly got the rudder lift line caught in the prop!  The good news is that the prop just cut the line and spat it out.  No harm no foul.  I had been worried that this might happen since the first time I sailed the boat, but figured that it must work ok because it had been that way.  I should always trust my suspicions, they seemed to be mostly justified.

My other suspicions are about the rigging on this boat.  During the summer haul out and maintenance I plan to upgrade the rigging and chainplate attachments.  There are many nico pressed fittings and I just don't trust that they were done well.

It is amazing to me that such a great sailing day can be had when most of the boats have been put away for the season.  I know most people don't want to be out in the cold, and the truth is I don't want 'em out there anyway.  I feel like the river and these bays are all mine to use as I want.  That ain't so bad.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Simplicity afloat

One of the reasons that I think I chose to build the first three boats that I did was because of their simplicity.  That desire for simplicity was not just to accommodate my limited experience as a builder, but also, and more so, to get at the foundation of what building a boat was about.  The boats were simple in design.  The materials were simple and accessible, common, not exotic and not expensive, and mostly left over scrap or reclaimed, even the sail.

By limiting the complexity of the boats it became easier to see what the essentials of any boat was.  By some apparent law of nature it seems that the simpler and most basic brings the greater and longer lasting fulfillment.

The row in the marina basin just the other day reminded me of how pleasing that simple act can be.  I didn't want to get out of the little boat, but I didn't need to be doing much at all in it.  It was enough to just be in it, upon the water.

As I listen to, and watch people around me struggle and grumble with the complex systems of their boats, and their lives, I am reminded of why I have made the choices that I have about what boats, what systems on those boats, and how I keep them.  My goal, ultimately, is to be upon the water in a boat, being happy.  This can be attained by being in my largest boat, with all it's accommodations or in the smallest of my boats with all it's limitations and because none of my boats is so filled with complex and expensive systems I can manage to keep quite a few boats, each with it's own unique application and qualities.

"Simplicity afloat is the surest guarantee of happiness." L. Francis Herreshoff

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Folding Table for the Venture, sail # 7

Test fitted the table for the Venture 21 today.  My table is capable of folding up and out of the way so that the berth below it can be used, or it can be unbolted from the flange that is glassed into the hull.
salon table for Ventura.
It is yet to have the finish work done.
The angle of the table leg allows for more people leg room.

The leg is yet to receive it's locking brace, but I was just getting the final dimensions for it today.  The sea rails are glued in place with Gorilla Glue.  The box against the hull is glued too.

The table had an immediate affect on the feeling of the space down below.  It filled up the space in a good way and makes me eager to get the other details built for the cabin.  I am allowing myself to do the galley area shelf area this winter,but that will be it so that I can work on other boats.  This boat doesn't need any thing else and it's main priority is to be sailing as much as possible.

Today we went out for sail number 7 of the season.  Not much of a sail really as the wind was not to be felt.  It seemed to die off as I was getting out on to the river and the clouds came in from the west to join the sun as it set in that direction.
Still, I got to raise the genny for the first time, not that it filled much, and I got to test out the modifications on the upper most batten on the mainsail.  Even though the tidal current had us sailing backwards, down river, we were able to sail across the tide and out toward the channel.
Even with out much sailing it was good just to get out and work the boat.  It was a really warm day.

Tartlet goes for a ride

It's December and in the 50's f!  I had to get out on the water, but there was no wind.  So a row can be good.  I decided to take Tartlet out for a row in the marina basin.  The other water access points were iced up so Tartlet seemed to be the only boat I could easily carry thru the gates of the marina and down to the water.
After rowing around for a while I remembered how nice it is to have a good little rowing boat that is light weight and handy to put in and take out of the water.  I rediscovered how decent a rower this little boat is even though she is very narrow, and very short.
My oars tend to hit or touch each other at their inboard ends during each stroke, but that kind of adds to the rhythm of rowing.  I did not install braces for my feet to push against but as the boat is so light it is almost unnoticeable.
An added feature that I discovered is that Tartlet's diminutive size allows me to store her on the foredeck of Ventura, and thus leave her at the marina, ready to use.  Now I have 2 boats at the water, ready to use, one for sailing, one for rowing.

"Tartlet" onboard "Ventura"
This isn't an arrangement I'd think to use while sailing Ventura, but in this application it works just fine.  Tartlet could be towed behind Ventura just fine I am sure.
I rowed over to watch a friend working on his boat.  I shifted the oars and put my feet up on the transom of Tartlet and stretched out to take a nap in the bottom of the boat.  This is what I like about a rowing boat over most kayaks, the ability to lie down and stare at the sky or the inside of my eyelids.  I am sure I looked as if I was lying in a coffin I had made for myself, she is just about the right size and shape for that.
I may add a sculling notch to Tartlet at some point.  I am not sure why I didn't put one in to begin with.

Saturday, November 30, 2013


In finalizing the design of the salon table for the Venture I have decided not to use the wooden hinges I had hoped to use.  Using wooden hinges would require a larger hinge than is ideal for this application.  As the table and the boat are small and that space is at a premium I have decided to use a piano hinge that I had lying around.
The table leg will fold against the bottom of the table when the table is stowed.  The leg is a scrap piece of red oak and the "hinge ears" are cut offs from the table top.  The leg will be cut to size when the table is put in place.
the leg will go underneath the table.
The table top will be cut along a line six inches from the outboard end, which is about where the hinge sits in the picture.
All scrap wood and parts.
the sea rails are yellow pine.
The pieces at on the other side of the hinge will be a little box/shelf to hold things against the hull that might be a little bit tall, say maybe a cup or glass or condiments or binoculars or.......Inside the box are the holes that will take the bolts that secure the table to the hull flange that was glassed in at the factory I presume.  I chose not to put a back on the box to allow for access to these bolts, besides the hull will work as a back.

I had to use a scraper to take off the finish on the table top.  I think it was a wax stain.  It just gummed up the sandpaper as I tried to use it, the scraper seemed to be the best way to remove the wax and it was quicker.
A neighbor got the scraper for me at an antiques shop.  In truth, when he brought it to me I wasn't sure I'd find a use for it, but now that I know how to use it, and when, I find that I am really happy to have it.  As he said, it is what they used before sand paper.
I have found good satisfaction from using human powered tools in the shop.  The whir of electric motors, to say nothing of the noise of gas engines, is offensive to me and keeps me from hearing the music I have playing or the thoughts running thru my own head.  The trade for the extra work it takes me is not a cost at all to me as it keeps me active and using my body that would otherwise go soft and lazy or injured easily.

Version 1 of a sculling oar notch
to go on the transom.
Made from a scrap piece off a pallet. 
In my continuous search for redundancy and sensible things, I have started to fashion this sculling notch to be bolted onto the transom of the boat.  The oar I have onboard already is about 9 and 1/2 feet long and in my test of how it would work should propel the boat just fine.  This is a first attempt at the notch and I think I may try again with a more rounded notch rather than this one with such hard corners.  The thought was to capture the oar to some degree but I thing this can be done well enough, even better with a round notch.  The piece is cut at an angle to match, to some degree the angle of the oar shaft as it passes the transom.

The sculling oar will be a big benefit if the engine is either out of gas or fails to perform.  With the cold weather it also allows me not to run the engine and have the possibility of it freezing up in the impeller after it is run.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Wooden hinges

One of the winter building projects I am allowing myself to do on Ventura is a folding table for eating/writing at.  The original design had a table and there is still a fiberglassed flange along the hull where it went.  As is my custom, I picked up a table top that was lying in a trash pile, some time ago.  It is going to be the table for the boat.
The thing that is challenging for this project is that I'd like to make the hinges for the table out of wood.  I saw a guy on Youtube build a cabinet door with hinges of wood and now I am wanting to do it myself.
  ▶ Making wooden hinges - YouTube 

I am concerned that a table will have more stress than a small door and will try to make adjustments for that.
Even if I do not have success with the wooden hinges I can still make the hinge out of used and reclaimed parts, as I have a few spare parts to choose from.

I don't have a drill press, well not really.  I have this thing a friend gave me that adapts a hand drill to a drill press.  I am spending a bit of time trying to get it set up to run plum and square.

I did the hinges by eye and free hand with a power drill, we shall see how that turns out.

I love the idea of making many of the new parts out of wood, as there seems to be a lot of it available to me, and I know that the world operated on that level of technology for a long time.  I like mixing the modern fiberglass (but used or reclaimed) boat with wooden and older or simpler parts to fix or replace broken things onboard.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Sailing past the Bouy

Out for a quick afternoon sail today.  The temps were just around the freezing mark, though I thought it didn't feel that cold.  The wind was light.  The local weather stations weren't getting any readings on their anemometers.  The  smoke and steam rising from the power plants and factories was going straight up, slowly.  Still, at the waters surface wind could be seen rifling across the surface and the little boat made way.  Actually we moved right along and even had a few gusts to contend with.  We sailed south a few miles down to the next channel marker buoy and then back.  Beam reach on both tacks.

So far this season we've been in the water six weeks and we've sailed six times.  Right on target.  We have a batch of nasty weather coming up so we may ruin our average soon.  We'll see.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Skiff wind

We were treated to a warm sunny saturday morning, the first saturday I've had to myself in a long while, so of course, I wanted to go sailing.  The wind was forecast to be light to calm so I thought I'd settle for a row on the river.  Wanting to spend time with my girls, my wife and my dog, I thought the skiff would be ideal for this endeavor.

launching into the marsh
at the kayak launch.
I pulled the boat into the back of the truck.  It took more time to pull the truck up the the boat shed than it took to load and tie down the boat.  I was again amazed at how easy and quick it is to be ready to start an adventure with this boat.

We have never all been in the boat at once and we were a little concerned for how we'd fit.  The dog is not the most willing sailor and fidgets most of the time, straining to see and smell what land based interests she is missing by being in a small boat.  With 2 adults, a dog, a bag with snacks and the sailing rig lying in the boat we set off.  It actually fit us just fine.  Though narrow, the cockpit is long, 7'-6" and flat.  Because I can remove any and all of the thwarts we can have clear floor space, which is just what an old dog likes.

After rowing out from the marsh and under two bridges we decided to raise the mast and see if the light air would pull the boat.
I was also concerned about how this would work with the boat being so crowded but there was no need as it all went quite smoothly.  Because I had got in the bows to row, that was where I was going to stay.  It seemed a bit much to try and swap positions fore and aft in such a skinny boat.  So with the dog amidships, she was deemed the commander, the wife in the stern she took the steering oar and I trimmed the mainsheet which was led all the way forward after it found it's block on the after deck.  This arrangement actually worked out fine.

It turned out that there was enough wind to sail and we made our way up river to the light house on the point on one tack before we attempted our return.  The return was a bit closer to the wind so it took two tacks, but we did sail our way back.  The distance from the launch to the point couldn't be more than 3 miles so a 5 or 6 mile trip took us about 3 hours.  The tide was against us on the return but not by much.  The rate of travel wasn't as important as the fact that we were able to make way in our chosen direction, with no centerboard and steering with an oar, and a pretty good load in the boat.  The fact that it took as long as it did was a bonus in that it allowed us all to spend some time together soaking up the sun and feeling very happy to be where we were.

A dog, a boat, my wife and
a warm fall day.
We saw a few power boats moving up and down the river and one sail boat under power headed down river, but we saw no other boats under sail nor did we see and kayaks or row boats.  We had the place mostly to ourselves and that was just fine

Friday, November 15, 2013

Show me the Money!

Just for giggles I am going to keep track of what my winter sailing season is costing me and post it.  With each sail the cost goes down.

At 4 weeks in the water, and 5 sails so far each sail is costing about $125 a week, or, $100 a sail.

Now I was to charter a boat for myself to sail for a day, on my own, I'd be beating the rates already, best guess, because, I don't know of any sailboat rentals in the area.

At the end of my half a year of slip rental it will have cost me under $20 a week to keep the boat in the water.  Not bad, I think.  But I think one has to consider how many of those weeks will be suitable for sailing and how many of them will I actually get out.  So I will keep a running total going.

It is kind of silly I know, but I want to show how attainable the whole thing can be if one is willing to throw off convention and have some fun.
The yacht that came with the $800 trailer and outboard motor that I bought.
"Bottom paint, We don't need no stinking bottom paint!"
In the cold water growth on the bottom of the boat is much less, almost none.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

CYC, 55'f wind wsw, 12-15 w/gusts....

November, sure it is.  Sure most of the boats are on the hard and wrapped in blue plastic.  Sure it was sunny and breezy and warm in the sun and a great day to go sailing!
With the reef row complete and set in we had a pretty good run around the bay.  I had to change down to the smallest jib and even then the gusts had us healing over pretty well and made the tiller strain.  All great fun.

I do have a concern about this boat.  It seems to have very strong weather helm.  Even with the main flogging and only the jib drawing the gusts can have the boat rounding up into the wind.  I haven't tried sailing with just the jib, which I will do next time out to see if she still seems to have weather helm.  Don't know what I'd do if she does.
On the positive side though she does round up when the wind is overpowering, rather than being knocked down or running away down wind.

The only other challenging thing about this boat is that the tiller is hard to get away from for a moment.  Today I tried using a bungee cord stretched across the cockpit and wrapped around the tiller.  This is easy to adjust or over power if I need to and actually allowed me to go forward long enough to shoot this video.
By the time I returned to the marina boats I had seen in slips were now sitting on land, banished from the water for the season.

Not so many years ago I was pushing the sailing season too.  One night, during the dark,  the river iced over and my boat got caught out in it.  It took a week before the ice was clear enough to get to the boat, and by that time the boat and it's 300lb. mooring anchor had dragged quite a ways up river and towards the shore.  In truth, nothing bad happened to the boat and a few weeks later when the river ice flow was clear enough I got to sail down closer to the ocean and the salty water that wasn't frozen solid.  The trip down was great and adventurous and I had 2 good friends on board to share the excitement with.  We took turns at the bow calling out ice hazards.  It was an experience that I wouldn't trade, not even all the worry about loosing my boat as I watched it heel over and ground every low tide, all the time worrying that the ice would consume it.  I learned a lot about my boat, ice, and my attachment to things.

I don't want to have any drama this winter, but I do want to have fun sailing, adventure sailing, and even a chance to learn more about my boat, the water, and myself.
The entire CYC membership.

CYC, Contrarians Yacht Club!

The Flying Dutchman, 1896
Albert Pinkham Ryder, 1847-1917

In true contrarian form the CYC is not really a yacht club, as it does not have an actual physical club house or own any land or special rights to the water, and it doesn't have a membership other than myself!

I find that I almost always end up doing things contrary to convention, outside of  the normative way and therefore, often on my own.  It is not with a purpose other than to do what seems to me the most logical and effective and enjoyable way of going about something, but even so, I end up having to go against the tide, as it were.

So with my new found joy at having started my sailing season as most all of the other boats in the area have been hauled out, pressure washed, had engines winterized, as well as water systems, and then wrapped up in plastic to keep that put away damp perfume in them until springtime, when all that plastic that covers the plastic boats will be removed and thrown into a landfill, I have decided to initiate the CYC, The Contrarians Yacht Club.  It's membership, should anybody else be so perverse as to want to take part in this, will exist where it does and in no central location, but being that all the waters of the earth are connected, even the fresh water lakes thru condensation and rain, snow this way we are all connected.

Club logo and burgee design yet to be determined!  For that matter, the club charter is yet to be determined too, but in contrarian fashion, maybe we shall have no charter!  I would like a burgee though.

The motto of the club is "Simply Messing about with Convention, in boats", or something to that affect.  Really the idea is to get on the water when ever possible and to enjoy it.  The look of the vessel you choose to get out in is not as important as the fun & adventure it can provide.

Quotes from Famous former members of the CYC:

'Desperate affairs require desperate measures.'
Lord Nelson

'There is no way of dealing with the Frenchman  the establishment & wealthy Yachtsman but to knock him down – to be civil to them is to be laughed at. Why they are enemies!'
11 Jan 1798, Lord Nelson

Audre Lorde was not actually a sailor, as far as I know, but in contrarian fashion, she gets remembered here anyway because what she says makes sense!  Joshua Slocum might just be the best example of a CYC member.  Lord Horatio Nelson was very strong on duty to his nation, but he gets a place in the CYC for not being a wimp and not giving in.
I found this on the internet. Might be hard to read so this is what it says
"Wow, Look at that boat!"
"she's a racing machine"
"I'd sure like o have a boat like that"
"Wonder what the owner is doing today"
Another supreme example of a CYC member.
"A ship is safe in harbor, but that is not what ships are for"
John Shedd, 1859-1928
“I am continuing non-stop because I am happy at sea, and perhaps because I want to save my soul.”
Bernard Moitessier, about resigning from the Sunday Times Golden Globe race.
So, I am embracing my seemingly constant tendency to sail to windward, go against the tide, wear unfashionable shoes, choose other peoples discards for my treasures,  row rather than motor, sail rather than motor, walk rather than motor, motor rather than fly, write rather than text, choose an alternate tuning........The Contrarian's Yacht Club is born!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Adding a Reef

Today I sewed in some reefing points for my mainsail on the Venture.  I hand stitched the patches and hammered in the grommets.  I then put a seizing on the grommets too.
reef grommet on the luff

I also made patches and sewed them on for the reef points and gaskets.  Outside the shop it was breezy and a few showers rained down.  This all made for a good time to be sewing.  The patches all came from and old sail off of another boat.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Snug in a the cabin

Small craft warning out on the ocean and the sound.  Here we have big gusts that heel the boat in it's slip, with no sails on because I have pulled the mainsail off to add the reef point.  I watch a wind vane turbine on another boat whir and sound as if it is going to take off, then it goes still and spins.  The dark grey clouds that are rolling in from the west are dropping tiny bits of moisture, some frozen.
watching a few flurries come down!
I brought the mainsail down to set it and finalize the mark for the reef point on the luff, but it is too windy to try to even put the sail back on the boom and mast.  So I snug in below and watch the sky roll by, listen to the clanking of the halyards on distant boats, and feel the boat come up on it's mooring lines as the wind pushes around the slip.  It's cold out but I am snug down in the cabin.  This is the thing that makes a boat for me, the cabin to retreat to.  Most of my sailing time is spent above decks and it sometimes seems silly to care at all about a cabin, but when it becomes important, it means everything in a way.

From down below I look around and ponder the projects that I will get to eventually to make the boat more comfortable.  A table to write and eat at, a galley area that will keep cooking items contained and ready, cushions for a bunk and for a seat, an awning over the boom to keep out snow and rain.  All these things will make the little boat a little home, a turtle shell, a home to take with me where ever we go.

This boat is a few feet longer than I'd like it to be.  My first boat was a 19' Cape Dory Typhoon.  I started at a pretty high level of sail boat.  This is a real step down in some ways, but in others it is a step up.  For instance the Cape Dory, which I named Uncas, had a draft of 2'6".  You really don't want to beach a boat like that and it is just past the draft that trailering becomes an easy option.  Ventura on the other hand could beach easily enough and launches easy too.  The Typhoon was in really great shape and in truth I never really ever needed more boat than that little 19 footer.  I love my Bristol 27, mostly because it is a larger version of the very same hull and rig from the Typhoon.  I know how to sail those boats like they are a part of me.  This little Venture 21 will serve us well, I think.  It is a bit small down below, but big enough to have a galley, a table, berths and room for miscellaneous gear storage.  Any more room and that would mean more weight and complexity.

As most any boat owner does, I always turn and look back at my boat when I am leaving her.  Partly to give one last check to see she is sitting, tied up, and put away properly, but really just to admire her.  It is a bit of a challenge with this boat as she is in such sad shape, and not just from neglect.  Her lines are not very elegant.  Her stern ends abruptly after a mostly straight run of the sheer from midships and there is no rise up out of the water.  I will have to learn to love her look because of what it means practically.  The plum stern and out hung rudder means more room in the boat.  I would value that more if the boat was 17 foot LOA rather than 21'.   As I said, she is a little more than I need, but one shouldn't look a gift boat in the waterline.  That actually has a practical side in that berth's are charged by the foot.  Actually, I think I'd only save about $25 dollars for a 17 footer as the minimum rate is for a 20' boat length.

As I look at her I can imagine the wooden toe rails that will get added next summer and the paint to the hull.  The little bit of wood should improve her looks a bit as well as our footing on the foredeck.  Wood handrails on the coach roof will do much the same.  If I can find a cheap (free) option for a stern pulpit I'd like to add this as well.

Until til I get to these projects I am content to know that the view from the cockpit while under sail and the view thru the companionway up at the sky are just as nice as any other boat out there.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Solo sailing again

3rd time out in 3 weeks.  Single handing it today and though I have sailed this way the most, I have recently enjoyed the extra hands on board when I had them.  This boat is pretty easy to handle on my own but it's those things like dropping sail or raising them that is so much easier with somebody at the helm and somebody working the sails.

 Today I put seizing wire on the rigging turnbuckles.  I also brought a real anchor onboard today, with 15 feet of heavy chain and 100 feet of line for the rode.  So now there are 2 anchors on board.

The wind was up so after starting with full sail I decided to try sail with just the jib, since I don't have any reef points on the main sail.  This proved to be just fine.  An interesting thing about this boat is that the stern ends flush and in the water.  This creates quite a bit of "chuckle" from the wake, and I wonder about how this turbulence affects the speed of the boat.  As I understand it, this could be dragging or sucking down the stern of the boat in a way that a boat with a stern that is up out of the water would not.

It was a really nice sail and I shared a snack of muffins and an apple with the locals back at the slip.
My lunch mates today.
Excerpt from email to friend after my sail:
While I was sitting in the boat, after the sail I saw a guy meet up with a girl, walk down the dock to his 15 or 17 foot sloop that already had another girl on it, push it back out of the slip and then climb aboard and us his electric trolling motor auxiliary to slowly move out of the marina.  I really liked the boat, might have been a WWPotter, but it looked leaner, and I like the electric/cheap version of an auxiliary.  Also the guy gets points for, not only going out when everybody else was in, including me but I had just come back, but for having 2 girls on his boat as crew.  Stingy bastard!  Good on him.

Friday, October 25, 2013

Fabulous Fall

It's gotten a bit chilly out, but not down right cold yet.  The wind is good, gusty and there most all the time.  Today was my first time just being aboard Ventura doing not much of anything except enjoying the day, and sorting thru systems.  You might ask why I wasn't sailing if the wind was so good and I'd say that I almost was, but I hurt my back a few days ago and I am trying to recuperate.  Being that I am still sorting thru the boat I don't want to be in a compromised state if something goes wrong.
She looks worse for wear, but she'll clean up.
I put the yellow sail cover on the main today.  I don't like that color but it is the one it came with.  I brought it back home and need to improve the fastening system it has.  The one on it is to clumsy and piece made of plastic are broken.  I will replace it all with brass snaps that feed thru a grommet and then twist to lock.  It's what I have on my Bristol and works well enough.
It is impressive to me just how run down this boat looks.  The paint that was put on top of the gelcoat is stained, chipped, cracked, peeling and the masking was poor so it's splattered in places it shouldn't be.  The black waterline stripe is actually tape and is hiding a red stripe underneath.  The hull looks to have been damaged forward of the chainplates on the starboard side and the repair job is cracked.  Maybe they used polyester resin instead of epoxy.  What ever they did the top coat is flaking off.  You can see a big chip or two in the picture.  From the inside the hull looks good so I am not very worried.  It is nothing that can't be addressed next summer.
There are two sets of navigation lights on the boat.  The originals are small and in the deck while the aftermarket red/green is on the bow pulpit.  I pulled most of the wiring back and will re install it, better and neater, eventually.  There is an anchor light on the mast (score) as well as a steaming light,(extra points).  All yet to be rewired.

The boat was apparently rigged for racing with all the fairleads and cam cleats and labels for each line and cleat.  The hardware was not installed well but it's all paid for!!  I will remove most of it and simplify the rig for cruising/day sailing.  I don't have a spinnaker or pole anyway.
A good washing would do alot.
Sitting down below and watching the clouds scud past, I couldn't help but think the little bleak cabin cozy.  I should say that I couldn't help but think that it could be cozy, but even as barren as it was, it kept the wind and the cold that was just outside the companionway from spoiling the fun.  With one boat cushion to pad my back from the sharp edge of the "galley counter" I could recline and watch and hear the ducks, the crackling flags, the clanging halyards, and all the comings and goings of the marina.  I don't think anybody much noticed me.  This is not a boat people notice, or stop to look over.  I do though.  I walked down the dock to take a picture with my camera, and one with my mind to imagine what she might look like when she has had the makeover that happens with time to anything that is cared for.  I think all my boats start to look like "my boats", just as anybodies boat tends to reflect the person who is custodian to it.
Not very inviting is it?  Still,
it has potential.
I find it will be a challenge not to start in on the work to improve her right away.  I told myself that I must sail her for a time and then if we are a good match, I can go forward with the energy needed and the direction chosen for what she is to become.
I brought onboard a 10 foot long oar for sculling.  I will have to use it as an oar on onside until I get some kind of sculling notch set up on the stern.  I now have 2 pfd's on board and I have chosen not to bring home the main sail for a reef installation, yet.  A friend reminded me of the used sail market and this model should have some old sails out there somewhere.  I might even be able to trade the Buccaneer sail that came with the boat.
I will build a little table that folds up on the port side as well as a tray for the galley that will fit into the hole in the deck.  It can be a storage place for galley stuff and maybe even serve as a sink or stove place with some creative thinking.  I think a sleeping bag and a pad will do for overnight accommodations and a few solar charged flashlight/lanterns for cabin light, but maybe just a candle.
Even though I didn't sail today I did have a very good boating day, as the saying goes, simply messing about on a boat.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

I'm in Ventura

I am in Ventura (good fortune).  After my second daysail aboard Ventura I believe I was lucky in finding her, and more so for such getting her at such a reasonable price.  As a friend said to me, "you bought a trailer and got a sailboat in the deal."  That was actually a good part of my own thinking when I made the deal.

One of my favorite cruising sailor friends stopped by here on his annual migration south, for a visit and a sail.  He travelled south from his Vermont home in the woods, to Florida, via kayak!  (The kayak, is strapped to the top of his Audi station wagon).  In Florida his cruising sailboat is waiting for him and he will transfer the kayak from the station wagon roof top, to the boat's side deck, and make his way thru the Bahamas, maybe even down to Bonaire over the next 5 or 6 months.

He was a former Venture 21 owner and it was fun to see him experiencing "De Ja Vu, all over again", as he puts it.  We had a very nice sail and it being my second time out on the boat, it was another step in the learning process of this particular boat.  A forecast for light air couldn't keep the wind from blowing a good force 3 or 4 out on the river.  We had a very nice time.  We put the stanchions on in the water when we failed to release the main sheet soon enough in a gust, but other than that it was beam reaches and catching up while just messing about on boats.

We marveled at how much plastic and finance was tied up in the marina, while we were out enjoying a beautiful fall day sail in a boat that cost less than some of the annual maintenance costs on the boats who's owners were, at that moment, in at a job trying to pay for them.  Ventura is rough looking right now, with green moss still on the decks from a year of sitting.  The paint and gel coat are faded and chipped.  The bottom is almost barren of anti fouling paint. The wood, all 4 pieces of it, is grey.  But she doesn't leak, and the rig is standing and she is a great little magic carpet for me.  There is room below for me to sleep, and eat and read, and even room for company.

After the second sail, I like her twice as much.  That is a good trend and even if the trend goes no further it is enough for me to know that finding this boat was fortunate (Ventura) for me.

My friend helped me to realize that the main sail the boat came with is actually from a Buccaneer.  It is old and without reef points and a bit under sized so a new sail my be in our future, should one come our way!  We set the smallest foresail which was the jib that was supposed to be set on the inner stay, on the forestay, as I don't have an inner stay rigged.  It turned out to be just about right for the weather conditions and our attitude for the day.

It is lovely and unusual to have a hand on board.  It does make the whole experience that much better, especially when it is a good friend, and especially when it is a good friend who knows the ropes!

Thanks for the visit Dean and fair winds to you.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Veggie Freighter

Veggie Freighter, Ceres

I just learned of a boating venture going on on the Hudson River.  It is a purpose built freighter of Vermont Vegetables and produce that is making it's way down river toward NYC, stopping and selling along the way.  It is actually an idea I had, in a way, a while back.  My idea was more of a waterborne farm produce stand.

I found this very interesting:
Vermont Sail Freight Project: Maiden Voyage on Vimeo

The one thing about this I don't really agree with is that I think food should be produced and consumed as locally as possible, thus giving all people "food security" by having each local of sustaining itself.  An idea like the food freight one is really just a stunt, self admitted from what I have read, but it does get people looking in the right direction and thinking about proper things.  On the negative side, Transporting food from Vermont to New York by sailboat is kind of at the beginning of the current problem, isn't it?  I like the idea of delivering fresh(?) food by sailing freighter, but it seems a bit contrived and that it could lead to us all getting most of our goods and food from overseas, thousands of miles away, instead of just growing it locally and thus making each locale more secure and independent.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013


Today I launched Ventura, my Macgregor Venture 21 trailer sailer.  It is the first day of winter storage at the local marina so, as is my nature, I am launching as everyone else is pulling their boats out for the season or thinking about doing so.
October 15 and the season begins.  First time in getting
this boat floating for me.  I bought it Oct. 9, one year ago!

After checking that the hull was sound, no leaks, we got the boat rigged and motored out into the river.  As always, the worries and stress seemed to go away a bit as I killed the outboard and raised sail.  The wind was light and that was just fine as I had no idea what she would sail like, how tender she was, nor do I feel so sure about the state of the rigging, but even in light winds she had steerage and moved along quite fine.
A lovely Fall day.
In getting her up the river to her winter slip/in the water storage I got to take her for about a 2 1/2 hour sail.  The wind came up nicely, about 12 knots, and I could just take long tacks across the river and back.  I tried "heaving to" just to make sure she would and that worked just fine.  I took the time hove to to eat a snack and watch another boat tacking down river.
Not really the prettiest boat, but,
it floats and sails and is
in the water!  My current magic carpet.
I decided to see just how well we were getting along and sailed her into the marina basin, tacked and sailed past all those big plastic motor yachts.  It felt pretty good go be the only boat sailing while amongst so many boats whose purchase price was so much more than the price of my boat.  In fact, most of there slip fees are many times over the purchase price and the winter slip fee for my boat!!!

I don't think she is the prettiest boat going, but she does seemed to sail well.  She feels comfortable and as though she would take care of me, up to a point.  While sailing along and looking down into the cramped cabin I suddenly found it spacious and was ready to toss in a sleeping bag and camp stove.  If I'd had them with me I might still be out there tonight.  That reminds me, I gotta get better ground tackle for her.  The anchor she came with is to light for my tastes.  I don't plan to do much in the way of improvements to this boat until next spring or summer.  For now I'd just like to sail it.
Hurray, I've got a boat back in the water again!!!!!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Gettin' wet

We piled the pram and the new boat into the back of the truck and headed for the lake.
like pancakes.
 Perfect weather for a first time out in a new boat.
Liz and her new boat.
The boat is small and with that size comes some definite limitations.  Liz seems to like it.  It seemed very tender.  She didn't complain.  It also seemed squirrelly.  I think that I will add a skeg to the underbody to help it track better.
First time out
The boat doesn't seem as small when she is in it.  With her in it the boat draws about 2 inches, maybe 3.  She has to be very aware of where she sits to trim the boat a tiny bit down in the stern seems to make it track better.
The micro canoe.
I got in and tried her out.  Very tender, not a trait I appreciate in any boat.  Otherwise it seems to be about what I expected.  I think I could have increased the beam a bit and decreased the freeboard to get that extra bottom width.  I think that the pram has much more stability because of this added 6 inches on the beam, and carrying the width farther out to the ends.
The boat will do what it was made to do just fine.  It will be an easy way to get on the pond.  Liz portaged the boat just fine.
Happy girl in a boat built for her.

My little boats stirred a friends memory of this.

"Wynken, Blynken, and Nod"

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe —
Sailed on a river of crystal light,
Into a sea of dew.
"Where are you going, and what do you wish?"
The old moon asked the three.
"We have come to fish for the herring fish
That live in this beautiful sea;
Nets of silver and gold have we!"
Said Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.

The old moon laughed and sang a song,
As they rocked in the wooden shoe,
And the wind that sped them all night long
Ruffled the waves of dew.
The little stars were the herring fish
That lived in that beautiful sea —
"Now cast your nets wherever you wish —
Never afeard are we";
So cried the stars to the fishermen three:
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.

All night long their nets they threw
To the stars in the twinkling foam —
Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe,
Bringing the fishermen home;
'Twas all so pretty a sail it seemed
As if it could not be,
And some folks thought 'twas a dream they'd dreamed
Of sailing that beautiful sea —
But I shall name you the fishermen three:
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.

Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,
And Nod is a little head,
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies
Is a wee one's trundle-bed.
So shut your eyes while mother sings
Of wonderful sights that be,
And you shall see the beautiful things
As you rock in the misty sea,
Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three:
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod

written by American writer and poet Eugene Field and published on March 9, 1889. The original title was Dutch Lullaby.

Maxfield Parrish

His and Hers

So Liz's boat is finished.  I really like it.  All the wood and varnish make it look special.  I am eager to see her in it and on the water.

I decided to change the rowing situation on the pram for the 4th time, I think.  Brought it up to the shop and worked on it then took the opportunity to see both boats together.
His & hers.
In some ways the boats are very similar and in others so very different.  I have enjoyed watching the evolution of my building style and methods.  I suppose I am giving myself a education that moves in baby steps over a long period of time.  I have built 3 boats over a year and a half, all of similar type, but each different in the particulars and the intended use.
Pram & Double paddle canoe
I took off the red oak oar locks that were on the pram for 2 reasons.  First, the red oak just looked out of place on the boat overall.  Second,  If I was to use the double paddle option then they would be in the way.  I had always intended for the oar locks to be removable so that either rowing or paddling could be chosen.  Now I have a 1-1/2" x 3/4" x 12" thole pin that bolts to the frame with a bolt and wing nut for easy removal.

My fleet is growing.  Seems a bit crazy at times to have so many boats, but I am sure they said the same thing about Imelda Marcos and her shoes, and we know she was as sane as any of us, right?  I think that building boats is like any addiction, "Hi, my name is Richard and I am a boat-aholic".  Actually it feels more like a therapy, the way painting a canvas or throwing a clay pot, or playing guitar, are therapeutic as well as artistic.
I think I am ready for the next phase of my apprenticeship.  I am not sure what that is but it feels like I have done the "One sheet of plywood, flat bottom boat" and of my own dimensions and could move on.  Maybe a multi chined boat, maybe a stitch & glue, definitely a longer boat.
I like that these boats are inexpensive to build, really cheap, and use very little "milled" purchased wood.  The plywood is a guilt trip for me to some degree.  It takes a bit of manufacturing and shipping and cutting to make a sheet of plywood, as well as some chemicals that aren't so nice.  I think these boats already have a limited life span because of the type of plywood, glue and finish I am using, so I go ahead and use the Plywood.  If I could build a traditional planked boat, or dug out, all with found materials I would, but then again, I don't know that I could build the type of boats I would use with that method, so then why build at all?  I have built 3 boats and used 5 sheets of plywood.  I think that's OK.  I don't feel too badly about it.
I think about building for other people but I don't know that anybody would want one of my boats.  They are easy enough to build and I think people should just build their own if they want won.