The “boats” of Newport.

I’s Monday here in Newport and we are enjoying a peaceful morning aboard Pandora.  The harbor is already busy with the constant coming and going of small craft as they ply the harbor buzzing from here to there.  The ever present harbor patrol just passed looking official with his black and aluminum inflatable.   With this many boats I expect that absent the harbormaster things would be pretty chaotic.  Today he’s towing a large log around behind his boat.  Better to get it out of the water than to be hit by some unsuspecting powerboat.  Yesterday he and one of his other “official” friends came to the rescue of two boats that had tangled their anchors near us, a common theme in this busy harbor. 

Brenda and I had out own “patrol” last evening as we took a “cocktail cruise” on our way to dinner at a nice little Italian spot downtown. For nearly an hour we slowly “putted” around enjoying the sights, and plenty of sights there were.

There is a marina in the harbor that caters to the “superyachts” and there are plenty in attendance.  To us it looked like business is very good as there wasn’t a single open slip in the place.  And, there were plenty to compete for the title of “my yacht is bigger and more opulent than yours”.   This one actually had a sign on it with the details.  She’s 90’ long and was just launched in 2013.  How about that for a varnish job?This gives a good feel for how massive these yachts are.  Plenty of room for “toys” inside of the stern of this baby.If you are into speed and multi-hulls, this should tickle your fancy.  Hard to say how long she is but the mast is tall enough to trigger a nose bleed.  I’ll bet she rips along.This view gives a feel for the variety.  How about this for a “clipper bow”?  And a great contrast to the motor yachts beside her.I was particularly struck by the contrast between this traditional sailing yacht on a mooring out in the harbor and her “mate” a ultra-modern go-fast racer.  It’s not uncommon to see two yachts rafted together.  Often it’s a huge motoryacht and a racing sailboat.  “heavens Roy, you can’t expect me to sleep aboard that little sailboat.  She can’t be an inch over  50’.  Reeaally!!!”  It seems that there is a trend among the “uberwealthy” to have multiple yachts.  But of course, Buffy wouldn’t have it any other way.Newport is also the home of IYRS, the International Yacht Restoration School.  IYRS takes students who want to learn yacht restoration and teaches them the skills to work on old classics.  It’s a terrific program and has turned out some great graduates that now work on some of the most iconic yachts.  In particular, Coronet, the last surviving yachts from the Victorian era is undergoing restoration.  She is being bankrolled by a wealthy benefactor who is footing the bill on this massive undertaking.  Coronet is over 100 years old and has been around the world several times.  She is 130’ long and just massive. This photo is of a poster depicting her in all her glory.  Quite a sight.Her interior was painstakingly removed years ago when she arrived here and is in storage.    The plan is to restore the hull and then put all the interior pieces back in place.  It is a massively expensive undertaking and it’s hard to imagine how one person can fund such a restoration.   It will be years until she is back in the water. 

Look at the massive timbers.  They are about 10” each. The stern is lovely and a LOT bigger than it looks here. For those with pockets that, you might say are “shallower”, IYRS also restores Beetle Cats, the iconic catboats loved by many.   They always have a few for sale.  The deal is that you can donate your old boat and then buy it back after it’s restored by the students.   They look great.They even have a good supply of boats that have been donated and are ready for a willing buyer to foot the cash for a rebuild.  A very appealing concept, in my book.  Hmm… pick one.  It’s just sooooo hard to choose…Anyway, thinking about wooden boats isn’t getting our day underway.  Perhaps we’ll take a tour of an equally unattainable restored mansion.     As the NY Lottery once said, “all you need is a dollar and a dream”.   Perhaps a few dozen million lottery tickets is more like it.

Well, I’ll just sail into the sunset on my little Pandora.  Yes, I’ll dream about that instead.

Visiting the Wizard. In Bristol, RI that is.

It’s Sunday morning and we are anchored in Newport harbor where we will be for the next few days.  Yesterday we motored down from Bristol into a light SW breeze, an easy run of about 10 miles.   It was remarkable to see how many boats were out on a perfect Saturday afternoon for a sail. I would guess that there were literally hundreds of white sails dotting the water.  And, the boats that weren’t out on the bay were motoring around the harbor.  What a busy place. However, in spite of the crowded harbor, we were able to find a place to drop the hook for the night. 

Along the way we were passed by the sole remaining member of the NY 50 class, Spartan, built by the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company, a boat builder from Bristol that dominated the yachting scene from the mid 1800s through the 1930s.  Spartan, was rebuilt over several years in a no expense spared restoration.  I had seen her at the Wooden Boat Show at Mystic several years ago when she was fresh from her rebuild.  Yesterday she sailed by us with topsail flying.  Imagine a 70+ foot long daysailer.   Yes, she has some bunks down below but it’s not a big boat inside.  What a sight to see the huge sails billowing in the light wind. It was fitting that we should see Spartan as we left Bristol where we had been the prior day with the Essex Yacht Club cruise as we had visited the yard where she was built, the Herreshoff company closed in the 40s and now lives on as a museum dedicated to the many yachts that the yard turned out.  The museum has an impressive collection of boats built there.  In particular, they display the half models of nearly every design that the yard developed, some built and some just ideas of yachts he’d have liked to build.  Nat Herreshoff the dominant force at the yard for many years and a brilliant designer, was dubbed the “Wizard of Bristol” and was sought after by many yachtsmen of great wealth to have him design and build yachts for them.  The yard was a dominant force in the early America’s Cup yachts turning out many winners.

Nat’s designs were done first as half models which he carved out of wood and then they were measured  and the lines taken off so that a proper set of builder’s plans could be drawn and it was from these plans that the actual yachts were built.   The museum has a remarkable set of these half models on display.  There are a lot of them representing every yacht that the yard turned out throughout their rich history.  The walls were just covered by them. The tour was particularly interesting as we had an expert guiding us and giving us interesting anecdotes along the way.  They even did some work for the US government during the two world wars including the hulls design and construction of some flying boats.  In particular, the NC4 which was the first plane to fly across the Atlantic, albeit with stops for fuel along the way.  This is a particularly nice model of the design, if a bit blurry.And, it appears that the Navy did this short movie of the historic flight. I haven’t watched it though as I don’t want to burn up bandwidth.  I hope it’s good.

They also designed fast torpedo boats for the Navy including a design that is noted for being the first to launch a motorized torpedo at speed.

They have a remarkable collection of Herreshoff built boats on display, many of which are in perfect, like new, condition.It’s a wonderful museum worth visiting.   Check their site out. 

Now we will be in Newport for a few days prior to heading to Fisher’s Island for the wrap up event of the Essex Yacht Club cruise.

Today we will head ashore for a bit of exploring in Newport, a busy but fun place to visit.

Perhaps I should call it a “wrap”, put this post up, make some coffee and get on with my day.  Yes, a good idea and it’s a beautiful one at that.

 

 

 

 

 

Wickford RI, old friends and new babies.

It’s Friday morning and was a chilly 63 degrees in the cabin when I got up.  I mention this as I wasn’t expecting to be “chilly” as I had recently installed a new Espar diesel heater to replace the old one that had given up the ghost and the plan was to turn on the heater at such times and enjoy the warm air.  How simple…

However, it’s never as simple as it should be with boats and as is so often the case, and getting things right has turned out to be a long drawn out process.  First, getting the parts took FOREVER to order as the dealer was busy, it would seem, with “bigger fish”.  I wanted to order it from a location that was fairly close to home and chose a dealer in New Haven.  Anyway, it is sufficient to report that it has taken a few months go get all the parts in place and FINALLY get the unit installed.

However, getting the unit operational didn’t work out as well as I had hoped.  The mistake I made was to try and use the old wire harness from the old “mort” heater and just match up the individual wires on a junction board instead of snaking all the new wires through the bilge.  My brilliant idea was to avoid ripping up the floor a project that I have done one too many times and didn’t want to repeat.  How simple, I surmised, to just label the wires, color for color, and note that the “new” red with white stripe wire in the new harness matched with the “old” brown with green stripe wire.  Simple, right?  NOT!!!

Here’s what the new-to-old wiring looks like.  An impressive mix of new and old.  It looks tidy enough to work…Besides, the heater looks great all snug in it’s new home, working or not.  Speaking of snug, working under the cockpit is really tight. It’s like wriggling in a cave, and a very small one at that.Anyway, when I installed the unit, before leaving on our trip, I came up short on a single plug for the fuel pump and had to wait till I was here in Wickford RI for it to be finally delivered. You’d think that the dealer would have provided a plug to go with the pump as the harness didn’t come with one in the first place. I guess that’s asking too much.  So, yesterday the part finally arrived and I decided to spend a little time getting everything in order.   Mistake…

After a few hours, I had plugged everything in and the heater wouldn’t start.  I called the tech support folks in Canada multiple times and finally figured out that it was the little red wire, one of many wires, that wasn’t working right.  I won’t bore you with the details except to say that I ended ripped up the floor anyway, which took a few more hours;  the very thing I had hoped to avoid by using the old wires.   That was clearly not a good decision at all.

So, after blowing the day messing with everything, I finally gave up and decided that I would just wait till I was back home where I will just rip all the old wire out and put in the wire supplied with the unit; something that I should have done in the first place. I’ll bet that my brother Bill, who’s good with such things, wouldn’t have taken such a shortcut.  I’d like to say “live and learn” but I fear that the future will show that while I have “lived”, I likely didn’t “learn” and will make such stupid mistakes again and again…

So, no heat this morning, and that’s why I am mentioning this at all.  Besides, it’s August and it’s supposed to be HOT.  Where’s global warming when you need it?

As you can imagine, Brenda wasn’t too pleased with me frittering away a beautiful day yesterday but happily, she has forgiven me and, as they say, “today is another day”.

For the last few days we have been on a dock at Pleasant Street Wharf,  our favorite spot here in Wickford.  It’s a favorite as it’s home to our great friends Eric and Sandy, old time friends, with the emphasis on the “friends” as opposed to “old” from our catboating days.  Sappho, a catboat and our second boat, which we sold to Eric over 20 years ago, is still here and in great shape, perhaps better than when we sold her so long ago.  Pretty amazing.   We had a great dinner with Eric and Sandy the other night.  It was fun to reconnect.  We hope that they will visit us in CT.  

While it’s not Sappho, our old catboat, there are plenty of these little yachts here in Wickford. Here’s one that sailed by the other evening.  It’s easy to see how catboats remain so popular.We also visited with our friends Teri, Mike and their daughter Julie who now has two children.  It doesn’t seem like very many years ago that Brenda braided Julie’s hair in the cockpit of Sappho when we were out cruising together.  However, if the truth were told, that was way back in 1990, 24 .lyears ago.  Time sure flys and it was so sweet to see her with her two boys.

We also visited my cousin Pat and her husband Bob who just built an amazing home overlooking the bay nearby.  I think that their garage is nearly as big as our home.    What a spot.

So, here I am, sitting in Pandora’s cockpit typing away thinking about our years past aboard and somehow everyone has grown up.  As my mother likes to say, “how is it that you have gotten so old when I am still so young”.  Me?  I really don’t feel like I am in my “upper mid 50s”.

The view from Pandora’s cockpit is lovely. Life is good… And, we are here yet again in Wickford among friends.

Today we head up to Bristol for another day with our Essex YC friends.   Last night we had a fabulous dinner with the group at the Wickford YC.   I ate too much.  It was a seafood extravaganza, prepared by our own EYC chef Michael.  We had quite a group. 

While many came by boat, some arrived via the “Tabernacle Choir Bus” from Essex, owned by one of our members.  It seems that the “church bus” is actually a party bus in drag.  The “tabernacle choir” is completely fictitious, made up by our member in a jolly moment.  I don’t expect that he will be stopped by the “Constabulary any time soon.   How about this shot of the “sacred” spot framed by a rainbow.  Perhaps they do have someone looking over them.  

I guess Brenda and I do too.   What a great day here in Wickford.

 

 

Pandora making tracks. Happy to be aboard.

It’s Sunday morning and we are motoring into a light breeze on our way to Stonington CT and the first night of the Essex Yacht Club cruise.   It’s been years since we have joined a club cruise and as relatively new members of EYC, we are looking forward to spending time with everyone.

It’s been hectic getting ready to make this run as we have had non-stop guests for about the last week.  Don’t get me wrong, I love having visitors, especially if it’s family and to have our son Christopher and his friend visit for a few days was a great treat.  However, it’s remarkable to see how quickly the fridge empties only to be refilled to bursting and empty again.   And getting everyone on their way and preparing to leave for a few weeks is pretty intense.

On top that, Brenda hosted a group of lace makers, or “tatters”, twelve of them, for a day of, you guessed it, tatting.    If you don’t know what that is, you can always “Google that”.  My contribution for the day was to stay out of the way and to make well timed appearances to do the dishes when required.  That, combined with running out between the raindrops to get Pandora ready kept me pretty busy yesterday.   To see all those women of a certain age sitting around our dining table made me feel pretty estrogen deficient.   I didn’t quite have the nerve to say it out loud but I was thinking that the group should rename themselves “tits for tat”.   Perhaps better to keep those thoughts to myself.  Actually, Brenda corrected me that they actually did “bobbin lace”.  However, the joke wouldn’t work so I prefer tatting.

Alas, as usual, I digress…

So, here we are, underway and nearly to Stonington.   We had to get going very early today as the tide was going to turn against us later in the morning and I didn’t particularly feel like motoring into both the wind and current.

Over the last few days, as I was struggling to get everything aboard for our two weeks and accepting the reality that we were going to motor the entire way and likely do so in the rain, I couldn’t help but wonder what I was thinking as I signed up for a series of club cruise events, prepaid of course, knowing that I’d have to “get there or else” regardless of the weather.  As they say, “the most dangerous pieces of equipment aboard a boat are the clock and calendar”.  When you “just have to be there”, well, that’s when you get into trouble.  Add to that the loss of power at our home an hour before we were scheduled to leave for our trip that certainly complicated things.

So, here we were making last minute preparations, washing dishes and a bit of ironing (yes ironing), when the power shut off.  Out came the flashlight, digging into the depths of the fridge deciding what to bring.  Well, we did pretty well and only forgot a few items.  We’ll see what lurks in the dark recesses of the fridge when we return.  Perhaps the next time I open the fridge I’ll have to arm myself with a hammer, or worse.

It will be also be interesting to see what lights are burning after two weeks.  Who knows what was on, or off, when the power quit.

However, today, not a lot of trouble as it’s very calm.  However, I was stressing about the “have to leave today and be sure and make that first thing or else” deal and wouldn’t you know, it was raining steadily as we shoved off at 07:30 this morning.

Well, while it’s still overcast, at least it’s not raining.  That’s good and the next few days are going to be very nice, if a bit windless.   However, I am struck by the huge difference in cruising with a schedule verses the sort that we do all winter in the Bahamas, where we don’t go anywhere except when the wind is convenient.  Well, almost never.   Of course, there are always exceptions but that’s another story.

So, we’re off for two weeks and it will be fun to get to know others from Essex Yacht Club as we make our way, probably under power, from place to place.  It’s certainly way more organized than the sort of cruising that we are accustomed to but it will be a nice change of pace.

As I finish up this post, we are on a mooring in Stonington, home quite a few really nice boats.   Here’s a great little wooden powerboat near us.  I’d hate to pay for the varnish work each year. And, another great design by Bob Perry, who designed Pandora.   The Valiant 42 is considered one of the greatest cruising sailboats ever designed.  We have met quite a number of folks who own and love this design.  I think that they look particularly great in red.Of course, another classic is the Hinkley Bermuda 40.   This was, at one time, a best seller for Hinkley Yachts.  Alas, they stopped production a while back to focus on boats that were much larger.  I understand that this design is still being built, but by another builder that acquired the rights.Before I break, I should mention that Brenda and I particularly enjoy listening to names of boats that call each other on the radio. It’s pretty funny how often boats traveling together have names that somehow seem to go together.  We have heard some great combinations over the years and was reminded of this when I heard a boat on the radio today.  It was Liberty and they were calling Get Away.  How perfect, a boat “on liberty” calling one that wants nothing more than to “get away”.  Yes, that’s me and I am happy to be “getting away” for a few weeks.   

Yup, happy to be back aboard even if I was totally stressed getting ready to go.

Pandora, on the move, if only briefly

Well, it’s Wednesday morning, it’s a beautiful sunny day and I am on dry land.  Hmm…

At least I was aboard Pandora for a few days, even if it involved a lot of motoring as I returned to the CT River from New Bedford MA over the weekend.   It’s hard to get a favorable wind to head west when the prevailing winds are from the SW and about the only time that winds have an easterly component is when there’s a front coming through.  Unfortunately, that comes with rain and clouds.  A great sunny day rarely has winds from the east in these parts.  I guess a weather man/person might say “never”.   Me, I can only surmise.

So, after overstaying my welcome with my friend Patty in Fairhaven, using her mooring for a few weeks, I retrieved Pandora and she’s now back on the CT River, if only for a short time.

Anyway, she’s now in CT for a bit of upgrades and maintenance prior to me and Brenda heading out to RI on a club cruise for two weeks at the end of the month.

Returning to the CT River, we were blessed with one of an easterly wind combined with a fair tide that carried us from New Bedford all the way to Essex and we were able to make that 70 mile run in a single day.  Of course, it helps to have the help of the tide in keeping things moving in the right direction.

While the wind was pretty good, we were headed with it so I still had to run the engine much of the way, albeit at a low speed.  I was happy to put some hours on my new Autoprop, which performed very well.  I will be interested to see what sort of mileage I get with that prop verses the evil Max Prop that gave me so much trauma.   I do get the impression that the improvement in performance is certainly in the 10% range with regards to fuel efficiency.  We’ll see.  Before I get all excited about “good” mileage, even with an efficient prop, we are talking about 6-7mpg.  Pretty pathetic, actually.  Good thing that Pandora’s a sailboat.  With wind, pretty good mpg.  I guess that would make Pandora a true “hybrid”.  That’s wind and diesel.  Many powerboats count their mileage in gallons-per-mile.   A boat burning 4-5 gallons per mile, going say, 11kts, would be getting less than ONE mile per gallon.   Pathetic actually.

Anyway, enough detail.  It’s been a while since I have made the run down Buzzard’s Bay, through Block Island Sound and into Long Island Sound. Having spent so many summers moving my boats through these waters , over the last 30+ years, but not recently, it’s a real treat to do it again.   I enjoyed seeing one of my favorite island homes perched on what is more of a rocky hump than an island at the entrance to Buzzard’s Bay.  I love the wind generator and the “ancient” columns.  It’s a nice contrast of the old and new.  Pretty nice spot.There are plenty of great spots to look at in passing Watch Hill and Fisher’s Island.  The old Simmon’s mansion, built by the founder of the Simmon’s Mattress company.  I guess old man Simmons sold a lot of beds.  Pretty good digs.  I was hoping to find some information on the mansion, perhaps the biggest on an island with lots of big homes, but alas, not much there except that it was built in 1934.  I guess that the depression was good for the mattress business.  It makes sense.  You’re depressed so you just sleep.   Good for Mr.  Simmons it would seem.   Interestingly, after all these years, they still make a mattress branded “Fisher Island”.    How quaint.   Anyway, nice house.Another beautiful building is the Ocean House Hotel, high up on a bluff in Watch Hill, this beautiful hotel is built on the grounds of a hotel that was built in the early 1900s.  The original hotel was open for many years but ultimately closed in 2003 as it was really beyond repair, a victim of age and changing tastes.  This is a postcard of the old hotel.  Pretty nice. It was always a destination of the wealthy but now you really have to have money to visit, and be particularly willing to part with it as the rooms start at $725 per night.  Yikes!!!   The original Ocean House had 159 rooms with the new facility only boasting 49 rooms and an additional 15 suites.  I guess that modern taste tends toward bigger if more expensive accommodations.   The Ocean House clearly continues to cater to the elite but now I guess the 1% crowd is an even smaller group.   I checked the availability for a room and it seems that there are plenty of  1%rs visiting as there isn’t anything available till September.   While the new hotel is very different, they designed it in keeping with the original spirit of the place.  Interestingly, it has the same number of windows, 247 if you are wondering.  I’d say that they have done a nice job of keeping the feel, and exclusivity, of the place.  Actually, it looks a lot more like the old hotel than this shot would suggest.  

This photo from the water shows how much it looks like the old hotel.  And indeed, that’s a lot of F$%@&*$ windows to wash. And, the porch, what a great spot to read the NY Times.

Speaking of the 1% and where they wile away their time reading, the homes on the point are pretty impressive.  And, at least a few residents must be concerned about their homes sliding into the ocean.  How about the biggest retaining wall you have probably ever seen?  I can’t even imagine how much that wall must have cost.  ”Well Bob, if you have to ask you can’t afford it”.  Well put.A few years ago Brenda and I walked around on Watch Hill, near the hotel. Really nice homes.  Great gardens and wonderful views.   Nice neighborhood. While I had to motorsail the whole way from New Bedford to the CT River, it was very relaxing, even with the swell coming in from the east and even that mostly went away a few hours after the wind shifted from the east to the north.

I can’t even count the number of times I have passed through those waters in the 30+ years that I have been sailing between Cape Cod and Long Island Sound.  It was nice to do so again.

So, now it’s time to get serious about getting Pandora in order for running her south again in September.  The list is long.

However, first things first, and I have to cut the lawn.   “Get on it Bob!”

Sailing vicariously… for now.

It’s Thursday morning and I feel compelled to write something.   Especially since I woke up at 4:45.  Why, why, did I have to wake up that early?  It wasn’t even light yet.  Not a bird chirping.

Oh well, I am awake and I haven’t been aboard Pandora for a week.  And it will be at least another week till I return to New Bedford to head out again so anything I post will have to be about OPB (Other people’s boats).

So, what’s there to write about when I am just an “armchair sailor” for a few weeks?  I have to say that still feels a bit odd to me to be mostly landlocked during the summer these days after so many years of summer sailing with the boat “on the hard” for the winter.  However, life’s not too bad as I do spend nearly 6 months on Pandora these days, just not the summer part.

However, being aboard full time when the weather turns nasty here in CT (That would be ALL winter in my book.) is great and I am already thinking about moving Pandora south this fall.

Speaking of south, it looks like I will be running Pandora to Georgia in late September after the fall Annapolis SSCA (Seven Seas Cruising Association) gam.  And, I’ll likely leave Pandora in Brunswick for a few months till I return to her in early January to run her down to Miami.   I say GA because we can’t put her south of the FL/GA border prior to November 1st due to insurance requirements.  The rub is that we are planning some travel from mid October to mid November so Pandora will have to be settled prior to the time that it’s ok to move her to FL.  Anyway, in GA she’ll be until I return in January to take her the rest of the way to Miami.  I  expect that the temps in GA in January will be a bit on the chilly side compared to south FL.    However, it should be better there than here in CT by that point. 

For now, I’ll just have to think about those folks that are sailing this summer while Pandora sits patiently on her mooring up in New Bedford.  Happy to have access to my friend Patty’s mooring there.  

I guess that I will have to satisfy my sailing needs vicariously for the moment and I know of no better way to do that then to do a bit of perusing of videos on YouTube.    Yes, that site has something for everybody.  No, make that thousands of somethings for everybody.  Well, at least for me.

So, what’s interesting?  How about mast walking?  Now there’s an idea.  I have been up Pandora’s mast plenty of times, most recently to check out a problem with the VHF radio antenna which needed to be replaced.  And I did it the old fashioned way, in a bosun’s chair.  Brenda pulled me up using the power winch.  I can tell you I was gripping the mast with my legs, plenty hard. Here’s what it looked like from deck.   However, it seems that there are other ways to get to the top of the mast, especially if you have a thirst for adventure.   How about this as a way to the top?The “walker” is Alex Thompson,  the skipper of Hugo Boss, a round the world racer.   This video has been viewed nearly 1.5 million times on YouTube.  Not a bad promo for the Hugo Boss fashion brand.  Besides, Alex looks quite natty in his suit, doesn’t he?

So, what about me as a mast walker?   Hmm…  My first thought… I like my of getting to the top better.  My second thought, and it only took a second? Brenda wouldn’t be on board EVER AGAIN if I pulled a stunt like that.  As my son Rob would say, “Dad, quit it with the CLMs with Mom”. (Career Limiting Moves) Well said. For a girl that likes “being anchored” as her favorite part of sailing, I am thinking that heeling Pandora over at 50-60 degrees would be low on her bucket list.  No, not her first choice, not at all.

Even though it’s old news, our buddy Alex walked on his keel a few years ago. Interesting yes, but not as neat as walking up a 100′ mast. This one has had 2.4M views. He looks a little younger in this video but that shouldn’t be a surprise as he’s sailed around the world on that boat since then and that sort of punishment would make anyone a bit grayer around the ears.

Speaking of things that make you look older.  Here’s an interesting piece about Alex and his competition in the Vendee Globe, a round the world nonstop solo race.   Imagine doing this sort of race for three months, without a break.  Not for the faint of heart.  Some, like Brenda, might say “not for the normal”.I guess that Hugo Boss is getting their money out of that relationship.

So, as Pandora sits quietly on her mooring up in New Bedford I’ll have to get my sailing in through videos on YouTube and there are plenty more where these came from.

I guess that’s about all for now.   Have to get on with my day.  Fortunately, the grass isn’t ready to be cut.  A few more days till I have to do that again.

Whew…

 

 

Dan Alonso and a remarkable sea rescue.

A few weeks ago we held a GAM for the SSCA, Seven Seas Sailing Association, in Essex.  We had a great attendance of over 60, up from about 35 in 2013, our first event.  This year  we had some terrific speakers and this post is about one in particular given by ocean sailor Dan Alonso.

Dan spoke to us about a remarkable at-sea rescue he accomplished in 2013 in the Bermuda 1-2, a race where you sail alone on the run from Newport RI to Bermuda and back with one additional crew.   Dan’s talk was remarkable and very moving.  Most “guys”, when telling a story about sailing tend to make light of any emotion, seeming to say “it was nothing, anyone could do it” and they act like they were just “doing their job”.  Not Dan; he spoke from the heart and it was clear to everyone that he was changed by the experience.  This is his remarkable story, in his own words.

Here’s Dan. And his boat Halcyon, his Hallberg Rassy 49. So, I have reprinted Dan’s words and photos as published in the online publication, Scuttlebutt Sailing News.  Dan told me that he wrote these words for his wife Kathy so he could help her better understand what happened and how he felt.  

Here, in Dan’s words…  The race was off. Day one the winds were enough to get Halcyon moving. The second day it shut down. Doldrums. Fortunately, it didn’t last. When the wind returned, it would change direction and make this a reaching race.

The router shows the wind will be around 18 knots out of the south for days. I’m hoping it’s enough but more would be better. I need it big enough to shut down the other boats, Halcyon can take it. Heading to the entry point in the Gulf Stream, the wind continues to build. Halcyon is starting to go.

Out in front of me are two boats, Bent (S2 9.1) and Kontradiction (C&C 110). Bent is in my class. They are far away but good targets. The wind is getting strong. I am nearly at full sail, just a small reef in the main. I can feel Halcyon pushing forward. The water is now a steady sound, a crushing wave being pushed off Halcyon’s bow. It is “go” time, and Halcyon is a raging bull just driving through the building sea. After a few years of trying to race this “north sea” cruiser and getting killed in light air, we finally have the race conditions Halcyon thrives in; big winds and nasty sea state.

Since entering the stream, Halcyon has not dropping below 11 knots over the bottom and often in the 12s. We had spent over $5,000 getting the auto pilot repaired just days before the race, but I’m now listening to the motor over working and I’m feeling sick. I’ve just sailed from Charleston to Bermuda and then Bermuda to Newport solo with a constantly failing auto pilot – 1,400 miles of offshore sailing without a pilot. I just can’t bear the emotional stress of a failing pilot again.

Halcyon is no longer keeping her course. It’s happening again, no pilot.

The backup plan for this summer of racing was to use the Hydrovane, “Hydi”, a wind driven autopilot that we installed just before the Charleston to Bermuda race. At the start of that race, and just a few hours before entering into the Gulf Stream, Hydi broke off the stern. I was barely able to wrestle it back aboard.

Hydi is now reinstalled but completely untested. I’m not sure if it’s big enough to steer the boat or if the seas will tear it off the stern again. Fortunately in this whole mess, the wind is on the nose and likely to remain a close reach for the entire race. If both pilots fail, I take comfort knowing I can lock the wheel and at least balance the helm and get close enough to hand steer into Bermuda.

There’s no stopping Halcyon. Pilot or not. She’s crushing the ocean. I feel like I’m standing on a freight train and we’re reeling in Bent and Kontradiction fast. I finally pass them and start looking for more. Who’s next? A day later, I’m hearing VHF transmission. It’s from boats in the first class. I thought they would be long gone. Am I doing that well? Maybe this could be my race. Neither pilot is able to steer the boat on their own so I’m using them together. Hydi takes the load off and the autopilot steers the rest. My pilots are a team. It’s working and if I can hold it for a few days, I’ll finally have my race.

Then the call comes. Halcyon being hailed. Someone’s requesting assistance. He’s got an accent. I think it’s Kontradiction. Are you kidding me? This is my time, and the race I’ve been hoping for. I’m sick for getting beat in light winds. I’ve got no dependable auto pilot but it’s working and I have to stop? I’m pretty sure I’m the only boat in my class doing 9+ knots in this crap.

I think, “Assistance? What does that mean? ” We’re 250 miles from Bermuda in the middle of the ocean. There is another boat on it’s the way, but I’m closer. The sun will set shortly. He wants to know if I can help. The other boat is at the back of his class. He can’t win. Why stop my race? I’m thinking why me? I can win, Halcyon’s killing it. Why me? He’s 17 miles away and I’m 5. What’s the big deal?

And then it takes a moment, but it settles in. Assistance! This guy is leaving his boat! You don’t give assistance in this crap. It’s blowing and the seas are big. It’s freaking bad out here. This is an abandon ship. He needs to leave his boat. Something bad has happened and he’s leaving his boat. My race is done. This guy needs help

I douse the genoa and put away the main. I hail Mike Schum from Kontradiction. He had a strong accent and sounded just like the guy asking for assistance. I was sure this assistance call was Mike. Kontradiction hails back saying he’s fine. He doesn’t know what I’m talking about.

I was just talking to this guy. He told me he’s losing his keel and needs help, he’s abandoning ship. I quit the race and he’s fine? What the f#ck? Am I losing my mind? Did I imagine that? What’s going on here? I hail back to the distressed boat. He responds. The vessel’s name is “Solid Air”, it’s not Kontradiction. It’s real and this was a glimpse of my potentially fragile emotional state. I actually thought I may have imagined it. No kidding, questioning my mind.

Solid Air communicates his lat/lon. Just writing it down is a task. Every time I leave the helm to communicate or work the plotter, Halcyon breaches, leaning over a good 30-40 degrees. Without the pilot and in these seas, everything is crazy hard and now I’m breaching every fifth wave. I finally create a waypoint and get going. He’s downwind and it looks like it will take about 45 minute to get there. I’ve got to hand steer. I’m sailing with our small wheel and the steering is stiff, just turning the wheel is a workout. I’ve got the auxiliary on and just the storm sail up. The seas are about 8-12 feet. I’m running with the wind and seeing 30-35 mph.

Halcyon is surfing down each wave. It’s hard to keep her straight. She wants to veer off. How the hell am I going to get his guy aboard? I know the life sling drill, but really? In this sh#t? After about 20 minutes I hail the skipper to work out our plan. He’s thinking of putting out a few fenders. Right! I hail back, “Skipper, you’re going to get wet.”

The tension is building. I know I’ve got to get him but I’ve got no pilot, can’t steer the boat worth a crap and it’s really really awful out. I’m getting closer so I call to update his lat/lon. He now gives me coordinates that are different. I’m not talking drifting a half mile different. He’s 8 miles upwind, where I just came from.

The sun’s going down, 8 miles upwind an hour a half ride and you’re where? What the f#ck? Where are you? Kontradiction is listening and also takes the lat/lon. Mike, skipper of Kontradiction, is a comforting voice and another mind working on this feels good. I’m terrified of wasting more time motoring to new positions where he is not. Dousing the storm jib, I realize it’s windy, really windy. The sail lifts me off the deck with ease.

The drive upwind was nuts. The waves were now pushing 15 feet. The bow was launching into the sky. Things that had never fallen in the cabin after years of storm sailing were now flying about. With no canvas and a big sea state, Halcyon is pitch poling, badly, in all directions. Steering is far beyond difficult, nearly impossible.

I start thinking it was beyond me. I can’t do it. After years of being proud as “Mr. Bad-Ass-Ocean-Storm-Sailor”, I can’t do this. I just can’t do this. It’s too much. What do I do? I still don’t know where he is. What if this new location is also wrong? The sun’s on the horizon now and I’m an hour and a half downwind. Are you kidding me? I’m broken. This should be for helicopters but we’re too far offshore. What do I do? I can’t do this.

As a wrestler, you could break my arm and I wouldn’t quit, but this is too much. Just steering is a monumental task. It takes all my focus and energy. Mike had offered help and I had turned it down. How is that going to help? Two boats? More boats to crash into each other. I’m suddenly overwhelmed with the consideration that I simply will not be able to find him. Here I am terrified of the pickup and I can’t find him. I ask Mike to stick around. Two sets of eyes are better than one. I request a flare. I’m hoping for something visual. Solid Air feels we’re too far apart to see the flare and wants to wait. It makes sense, so we wait.

In Mike’s effort to join the rescue, he loses his jib while dousing and wraps a jib sheet in his prop. I’m already being pushed. Pushed beyond what I’m able to handle and now I’m thinking, is this going to turn into two rescues? Solid Air hails. He’s using AIS to try to get a heading. He tells me I need to head 135 degrees. This makes no sense. This is not in the right direction. It’s a least 100 degrees off. Where is he? I’m just sick, getting my ass kicked heading upwind, the sun’s down and I still don’t know where he is.

While Mike is trying to recover, Solid Air fires a flare. I see it. Thank God , I see it. What a beautiful thing. A SOLAS rocket flare hanging in the sky. I look at the compass. It’s about 180 degrees. I realize that I need to turn on the compass light for the next flare. It’s too dark to read it. When I leave the helm, the boat falls off and is slammed by a wave. More crap flying around the cabin.

I’m cold, soaked and struggle to climb the companion way to get the boat back up wind. Another flare. This one is closer and now at 220 degrees. I request he put all lights on so he’d be easier to see. As I approach, I finally get visual contact. I need to get near enough to evaluate this carefully. This could be really bad if we collide.

I come around and approach from upwind. I didn’t want him getting blown down on me and foul our rigs. I’m really close, 200 feet. Each wave is a pitch poling nightmare. All of a sudden he’s gone. He was just right in front of me and now he’s gone. Lost in the dark.

I climb out of the cockpick to try and see him. Having left the helm, Halcyon is veering out of control again. I’m about to hit him. He’s right here somewhere and I can’t see him. The seas are huge and Halcyon will crush him if we collide. I know I’m only seconds from impact. I can’t see him. Maybe he turned down wind and his lights are faced away. I finally see him and climb back to the helm. With all my might, I’m straining to keep him in sight. I can’t lose him now.

I later learned from Jan that he had put the boat away, turned off the lights and secured the cabin at my approach.

Solid Air is leaning funny. Her stern to the wind. And she’s lurching strangely. Halcyon is wanting to surf each wave. It’s just too much. Docking a 27 ton boat, healing 35 degrees while surfing at 10 knots. This is just insane.

I had decided earlier to use the sling on a spin sheet. I wanted the heavier line for winching and more mass to throw. The line that comes with the sling floats and the spin sheet does not. I’m risking a prop wrap if I miss and that just CAN NOT happen. The line is now carefully coiled, short and sitting on the stern quarter. It’s time.

I head to Solid Air. Halcyon is charging at her stern quarter. At about 40 feet from collision, I turn the helm to port. I know she would fall off like a breach and as she does, I run for the sling. I’m now about 20 feet away from him but heading away. I throw the sling and it hits him in the chest. I scurry back to the helm to back down on the auxiliary and ditch as much speed as I can. Halcyon’s breaching.

Jan, skipper of Solid Air has his arm through the sling. I run the line to the winch and with a power drill begin hauling. Halcyon’s momentum launches him from his stern and he’s skipping across the water.

I got him.

Thank God I got him.

I knew this had to fly first shot. A second try would be in total darkness; he would be impossible to find. As he approaches the rail, the battery quits. I try to lift him but it is not going to happen. I go to the winch and start to crank by hand. It’s taking too long. He is being slammed under the Halcyon’s hull with each wave. We can hear each other. He is being battered under the hull but is okay.

I suddenly think of the boarding ladder. I quickly dig it out and put it on the rail. It is still too high. I continue to winch. Just a little higher. He is finally able to reach it. I lean over and together with a last effort, he is aboard.

Halcyon is still bare poled and out of control. I raise the storm jib and put out some mainsail. With Halcyon’s helm balanced, I can lock the wheel and get us under control. I am back under way but hardly a racing clip. I have no idea what had just happened. I am wet and miserable. Jan calls the race committee to update them while I shower. How nuts. Still in a storm, just completed a rescue and I want to be showered and dry. Needing to wash off this trauma.

Jan showers next. I give him dry clothes. We eat paella I had made the day before. I put him to bed and turn Halcyon back towards Bermuda. Pulling an email from the Sat phone, I discover that Aggressive, the leading boat, is in front of me. I want to race but I’m struggling. I’m struggling to find the drive, the courage to sail aggressively. I have smaller sails up.

Balancing the helm with bigger sail area and autopilot issues is too much; not now. I’m still freaked out and feeling timid. Before the rescue, Halcyon was cranking along at 9.5 knots in what was approaching gale conditions. We were now comfortable and going 6.5 so I set my alarms and sleep.

Waking, I find that Bent is in front of me and beatable. Jan explains to me that I would be given back the lost time from rescue. So once again, it’s “go” time. I tell Halcyon “Bent’s in front of you”. Like an excited puppy, she lights up as we start chasing him down. I pop the Genoa, unfurl the main and she is powered up again. At 9.5 knots she is quickly closing the gap. I know the dream of winning first in class is not likely. I just want to cross the line ahead of Bent. I need to find the racer in me, something stronger than the broken rescuer.

It looks like I’m going to roll Bent again. The winds are blowing 28 and Halcyon’s loving it but there’s a problem. Without a pilot I can’t come off the wind. I need another 30 degrees to avoid hitting the reefs. It’s still too far to hand steer. I’m catching up quickly but I’m going the wrong way. If I reef, I may be able to come off wind and get my heading but I’ll lose boat speed. With only a few miles to go I reef. Halcyon loses speed, and I know it’s done. With a few tacks the race is over. My battle with Bent is done and it’s time to just stop.

Arriving in Customs, I am greeted by Jan’s wife. She is crying, hysterical. Barely able to make words, crying “thank you,” calling me a hero. “Thank you for saving my husband.”

I don’t even understand. I am so blown away by her. This moment is a powerful shift. It cracks open my emotions. This was more than picking up another racer. In the harbor, alone again, anchor finally down, I lie on the fore deck and just lose it. Just cry and cry.

Everything had gone fine, and I’m just emotionally destroyed. The guy just needed assistance. Right! What is assistance 500 miles offshore? It’s not bringing a guy a fan belt. It’s one scary thing that leaves you depleted, damaged and grateful to have pushed through when you thought you could not.

On corrected time, Halcyon finished 2nd in class and 4th in fleet… with a little detour.

As you can imagine, Dan didn’t have any “PowerPoint slides” and yet he told his story in a way that you could almost hear the wind and feel the waves, his words were so vivid.  Having been offshore in rough conditions a number of times, I have always had crew aboard and to attempt, and accomplish, a rescue such as he described alone, and with no autopilot, is hard for me to imagine.

In recognition of his achievement, Dan was awarded the Seamanship Award by the Ocean Cruising Club in 2013.

Me, I was moved and will surely think about Dan’s experience the next time I take Pandora offshore.

Charles W. Morgan, in fine sailing trim in New Bedford

It’s Thursday and I am back home after a short trip to New Bedford MA for a few days.  My friend Burt and I sailed Pandora from the CT River to Stonington and then on to New Bedford.

Happily, we were able to sail much of the way with good winds and covered a lot of distance in just a few days.   Interestingly, as we passed Newport RI, home to lots of mega-yachts, we were passed by the yacht Marie, a 181′ Vitters built beauty, on her way to Booth Bay Maine.   Vitters builds world class megayachts and mega,mega yachts.  Check out their site for a “sight” of some of their projects.   These yachts are “toys for really big boys”.  I know this boat through Dr. Bosarge, the guy who I wrote about in my blog last summer.  And it was that post that led to our being invited to his Bahamas island, Over Yonder Cay.

It seems that Brenda and I will be sailing on the yacht Marie this summer as we have been invited to sail on Marie and visit Dr. Bosarge’s home in Booth Bay.  Now, that should be a fun time. He wasn’t at Over Yonder Cay when we visited there so it will be fun to actually meet him in person.

Here’s link to a series of photos of Marie.  What a boat.

Speaking of sailing yachts, we left Stonington CT at 05:30 on Sunday with very light wind and as we headed east toward  New Bedford, we spied this lovely schooner.  She was, no doubt, headed home from the Wooden Boat Show that had been held in Mystic Seaport over the prior weekend.  Very pretty lines. Seeing her was getting me in the mood for seeing the Morgan in New Bedford, following her refit at the seaport.

So, as we headed east the wind piped up and as we entered Buzzard’s Bay and were into the final stretch, the wind was gusting into the low 20s.  It was a brisk ride.  Along the way we ended up sailing on company with an Oyster 59, a much bigger boat than Pandora.  I was thrilled that she wasn’t able to pass Pandora in spite of being a dozen feet longer.   No, it wasn’t a “race” but any time two or more sailboats are near each other, IT’S A RACE.  You know how it goes, try to make the boat go as fast as possible while looking like you aren’t trying at all.  ”Oh, that boat.  I didn’t see her…”

Anyway, we made covered over 50 miles under sail on our way from Stonington to New Bedford at a nice clip and picked my friend Patty’s mooring for our visit.   The next day we headed ashore to see the Charles W. Morgan, who had her “homecoming” to the harbor for the first time since she was an active whaling ship a century ago.

New Bedford harbor is an amazing place with what seems like hundreds of fishing boats tied up at docks in every corner of the harbor.    This shot, from on top of the Whaling Museum, gives you a good feeling for how many there are. You can see the lightship Nantucket, in her distinctive red paint,  in the distance.    The Nantucket, has been around since the 50s and was only retired by the coast guard from her station off of Nantucket, in the mid 80s.  She was anchored off of the SE corner of Nantucket for many years warning ships of the shoaling waters that run 30 miles out to sea that have claimed hundreds of ships over the years.   And, about the Nantucket, if you have an hankering to have a lightship of your own, she’s been recently refitted as a yacht and is for sale.

As if that’s not enough, you’ll never have a problem finding a place to drop the hook as she carries her own 7,000 lb mooring on her bow. How about that for self sufficiency?  And to be sure you are seen, there’s even a locomotive headlight on her bow. Who needs AIS, or radar for that matter, when you have a gazillion candlepower light to let everyone know where you are.

Interested?  Check out the for sale listing here.  She’s clearly a show stopper. I wonder what sort of mileage she gets. Brenda always says that her favorite part of boating is being anchored. Perhaps Nantucket would be the perfect boat for her.   Looking pretty smart in this “glamour shot”.   The interior isn’t too shabby either.  Setting aside the Nantucket, everywhere you look there are fishing boats.  I’d think that it has to be tough to make a living when your boat is tied up at the dock.  With the restrictive quotas imposed on fishing boats these days, It must be a very difficult way to make a living.  And, as my grandfather used to say “you can’t catch fish when you’re lure isn’t in the water”.  Or, perhaps more to the point, “you can’t catch fish if you aren’t fishing”, and given the number of boats in the harbor, they aren’t catching many fish right now.   In spite of this New Bedford still lands more seafood in total dollars than any other port in the US.  It seems that the success of the scallop fishery is one of the reasons that New Bedford is on top as a fishing port.

Here’s a tour of a modern scallop dragger.  What a machine.  And, if you’re interested, here’s a video of a scallop dragger from 1951. What a contrast.  Today’s boats are huge compared this.  I’d imagine that one of the reasons the modern boats are stuck at the dock is that they are just so efficient that to let them out every day would destroy the fishery in a few years.   So much for modern innovation.

So, heading back in time, the Charles W. Morgan, the last surviving whaling ship from another era and another fishery. She had her “homecoming” to New Bedford where she sailed from in the 1800s.  She’s been at Mystic Seaport since the 40s and has recently undergone her most extensive refit since she was launched in 1841.

Yes, I’ve seen the Morgan many times over the years, but always as a static museum ship.  And,to see her now, fit for sea, was a real treat.  Perhaps the most amazing thing of all was to see how much manila line she has on board.  The literally miles of cordage that comprises her rigging is a sight to behold.  To me her lines look like spun gold. Beautiful.  Here’s her mainmast splendidly draped with cordage. And, to look up to the sky.  Not sure I’d want to climb up there.  She looked lovely tied up the pier.  I guess that when you are talking about a ship, they are tied up to piers and not docks. Even the dock that I tied up my dink to had a great view.  How about this for contrast?  Whale boats and rubber boats, all nestled under the bowsprit of the Ernistina, an old fishing schooner.I liked this view even more.  However, don’t try to head out into the harbor in a 9′ boat when one of the “big boys” is getting underway. New Bedford has EVERYTHING.  And speaking of rubber boats, they even have a rubber whale. This would look so great in my front yard.  Perhaps it would cut down on the amount of lawn I’d have to mow.  That would be good.  Have I mentioned that I have a BIG lawn?  Thought so.  And, if you want to learn more about whales the New Bedford Whaling Museum is a must.  It’s been recently renovated and expanded.  And, of course, one of the original displays in the museum is a half scale model of the whaling ship Lagoda, some 65′ long, a successful whaling ship that sailed from New Bedford. The model was built in 1916 when the museum was founded.  I’ll bet that it’s the largest ship model in the world.  Is there a bigger one?  On a serious note, fishing offshore is a dangerous business and many mariners have lost their lives over the centuries while plying their trade.  And in New Bedford, there is a chapel, the Seaman’s Bethel, that has plaques recognizing the ultimate sacrifice that many have made when heading out to sea.  This sanctuary has a very unique pulpit shaped like the bow of a sailing ship.  It is said that Herman Melville drew his inspiration for Moby Dick from New Bedford and this chapel.    It sure looks the part to me.  The building has been beautifully restored.  Anyway, Pandora will be in New Bedford for a bit prior to my bringing her to Narraganset Bay for some cruising with Brenda. Perhaps we’ll take a few days to run back there to see the sights as New Bedford is indeed a wonderful port to visit.

Did I mention how big my lawn is?  Well, it’s big and the grass needs to be cut so I’d better sign off and get the mower out.

I’d rather be sailing, or visiting New Bedford…

Lazing around for the summer? Not!!!

It’s Sunday morning and I have done it again.  I have lapsed for weeks since my last post.   Yes, I have been bad.

Well, there’s been a whirlwind of stuff going on since we returned from the Bahamas.  How I long for the lazy days with not much to do.  I won’t talk about how big my lawn is but let’s say that it takes more than one bag of fertilizer to cover it with one application.  Enough said.

Anyway, since my last post we successfully had a great SSCA (Seven Seas Cruising Association) rendezvous with nearly 60 in attendance and some coming by boat from as far away as VA.  And, that’s not including folks like us that had spent their winter in the Bahamas and came to Essex on their way to Maine.    This event is one that we have been having annually and will continue doing here going forward.  We hope to have 100 attendees in June of 2015.  We had a number of terrific speakers over the three days of the event and I’ll be writing about one in particular, a sailor who performed an at-sea rescue last year in the Bermuda 1-2.  His talk was very moving and I expect to write about his amazing story soon.

Beyond spending time on this event and all that led up to it, I was also studying for my HAM radio Technicians exam, which I passed.  YEAH!   I have very much wanted to have a HAM license since getting my SSB radio a few years ago and it feels good to have passed it.  I read the book, a number of times, over the winter (during those not so busy days aboard) and studied like mad for a few weeks prior to the exam.  Now I’ll be studying for the next level.  I expect to take the next exam in Annapolis at the SSCA September Gam.   Wish me luck.

I also decided to GIVE UP on my MaxProp, which has given me fits for as long as I have owned Pandora and sprung for a new Autoprop.  My MaxProp has been rebuilt TWICE in just a few years and I was still getting vibration in the drivetrain.   Yes,  I have written, and whined, time after time about this so finally I said “ENOUGH” and purchased an AutoProp.

It’s a very odd looking propeller with three blades that each can spin 360 degrees on the hub.  For the life of me, I can’t imagine how it works.  Beyond that, I can’t fathom how someone even thought of the idea.   However, I have a few friends with one and now that it’s installed,  WOW!

It’s amazingly smooth under power and I have gained more than a 10% efficiency in speed.  That’s sort of like getting a 10% discount on fuel I guess.  Anyway,  I am also told that the pitch of the propeller adjusts automatically as the boat speed and sea-state changes.  I am very much looking forward to seeing how it works in various conditions.  I’ll find out soon as I am leaving for New Bedford today.  More about that soon, read on.

Anyway, here’s a  photo of the AutoProp installed and in “normal” operational mode.   Looks normal, right?And, when you stop the engine, the prop blades rotate a bit and go in line with the water going under the boat.  Normal again…However, the weirdest part of all is how the bladed can flop around at at random when the boat is sitting still.  Now that looks very odd.  It’s hard for me to imagine just how things line up and work when the blades can orient themselves any which way.  However, it works and the actual blade alignment changes based on the RPM of the engine and the pressure on the blades.  I guess it’s like a thermos keeping liquids hot or cold, “it just knows”.

However, the most amazing thing about this propeller is just how much it costs.  Without being crass and giving the exact amount, let’s just say that it cost nearly as much as my first new car.  Yes, that was a long time ago, but still…

Happily, the propeller vibration problems are now history and Pandora will surely be happier now when the engine is running.   Me too.

So, what’s next?  As I wrote about a few weeks ago, the Charles W. Morgan whaling ship is in New Bedford for a few weeks and I am going to head up there to see her.  It’s been nearly 100 years since she last called on that port, when she was an active whaling ship and it will be fun to visit.   This video is of her leaving Mystic Seaport where she’s been since the 1940s.

Here’s a video of her sailing for the first time in 90 years.    I expect that you will agree with Brenda that it’s about as exciting as watching grass grow.   Well, wait a minute, this surely isn’t something that you see every day.  Right?    But don’t fear, it’s only 1.5 minutes.  You can handle that I hope.My good friend Patty has a house on the water in New Bedford harbor and has offered for me to put Pandora on the mooring for a bit.  So, today my friend Burt and I will make the run from the CT River to New Bedford.

It will be good to put Pandora back in commission and sailing again.

So, I hope that you are convinced that I am not a slug lounging around in my lawn chair and shirking my “blog post duties”.   I have been busy, indeed.  Now it’s time to do a bit of sailing.

Perhaps I’ll close with some historic footage of the Morgan back in 1926, surely a simpler time.  

Here’s to fair winds.  More to come and soon…

 

Camden, a “Maine” favorite for Pandora and a bit of whining.

It’s Thursday morning here in CT and it’s cloudy, again.  After a winter of SUN in the Bahamas, I am amazed with how cloudy it’s been here in the last few weeks. We have been trying to find a few days to head north to Vermont to celebrate our 37th wedding anniversary (Yes, I know, we look like two kids just playing house.   37 years?  I wish we looked more the part too.)   Anyway, the weather has been cloudy more often than not.  We’ll give it another try early next week.  Who wants to head out on a “mini-vacation” for a few days in the rain?  Not I, no make that Not We.  Well, wish us good luck and a few sunny days.

However, June is nearly half over and I am NOWHERE toward getting Pandora in shape to do a bit of cruising this summer.  As I have moaned about to anyone who would listen over the last year or so, I have been frustrated by an ongoing vibration problem in the running gear on Pandora.  It seems that we have vibration that comes and goes and I am about out of ideas as to how to  correct the problem.  

Last summer I sent out the Max Prop for rebuild, it’s second visit to the manufacturer, because of vibration problems.  Unfortunately, this did not solve the problem and after getting the engine aligned and having the prop shaft tweaked a bit, the problem just won’t go away.  No, make that, the problem won’t stop and sometimes happens and as quickly goes away as the vibration is intermittent.  In any event, I decided “enough is enough” and ordered another type of propeller, this time an Autoprop.

First, here’s a video of the Max Prop (the one that has been giving me fits), an elegant piece of machinery if there ever was one.  Don’t worry, the video is only about 30 seconds.  However, be warned that the “speaker” isn’t going to get an Oscar for his delivery.  In concept, this prop is a wonderful piece of equipment.  However, it needs a fair amount of ongoing maintenance as it has to be filled with grease three or four times a year.  And, unless you are an occasional cruiser that hauls their boat at least once a year and doesn’t put many miles on it,  this means swimming down under the boat with a grease gun to get the job done.  And, if all was well and the prop ran smoothly, I’d be ok with that. However, after years of frustration, Max is Min for me so it’s time for a change.

So, what to do? A number of fellow SAGA 43 owners have spoken highly of the Autoprop and after fussing with my current prop for several years, I have ordered one of these.  The reason I waited as long as I did is that these puppies are pretty pricey and spending that amount of money for something that I can’t even see has kept me focused on trying to make my Max right.  However, after a winter of nursing it some 4,000 miles I decided “enough already, it’s time to make a change”.  Just for fun, here’s a video of how the Autoprop works. It’s a very odd looking beast.

I can’t imagine how someone came up with this concept. Oddly, it’s actually “self pitching”, meaning that it adjusts to the right pitch to get the maximum power out of your engine, depending on sea conditions.   How does it know?  I guess it’s sort of like a thermos keeping things hot or cold.  It just knows. Hmm…
I sure do hope that the effort, and cost, of pulling Pandora out of the water to make the switch proves to be a good decision. For sure, it’s an expensive one. Fingers crossed that I am not just swapping one set of problems for another.

Ok, enough about “what doesn’t work”.  How about I talk about where I want to be? Yes, that’s good.

How about Camden Maine? Yes, that’s a good spot.

Camden Maine is located in the heart of what is referred to as “Mid Coast Maine”, on the western shore of Penobscot Bay.  This body of water is one of the nicest cruising areas in Maine and a great jumping off point to explore other ports, all within an easy day sail.

Whenever we head to Maine our visits always include a stop in Camden where we enjoy taking a “harbor float” within the “inner harbor”.  The main harbor is very nice but it’s somewhat exposed to the prevailing SW winds so any boat in the harbor is subjected to what is known locally as the “Camden Roll”.  Unfortunately, there is nearly always a bit of swell finding it’s way into the harbor so enjoying a quiet evening aboard isn’t always as quiet as it should be.  Fortunately, there’s a way to avoid that and that’s to tie up to one of the small floats in the tiny inner harbor.

We generally take one of these floats from the Camden Yacht Club as they charge a bit less than the commercial yard that owns the bulk of the floats, Wayfarer Marine.   Both operations are very friendly and when all of the CYC floats are in use, we just go with one from Wayfarer.   One way or the other, being in the tiny inner harbor is a great spot.  Actually, it looks bigger from up high than it seems when you are there.

As you can see, the harbor is filled with small docks all moored in a line. It’s a great way to pack a lot of boats into a small harbor and very orderly.  Here’s a view of the harbor from high up on the nearby Camden Hills.   You owe it to yourself to take the hike up to the summit to see this view for yourself.  As if the view from the top isn’t enough?  The view from Pandora, just as nice. What a spot. Just to our stern in the shot above is a dock used by some of the local schooners who take folks out for a week of sailing.  Going out on a “dude schooner” would be a real treat?  Want to learn more?  Visit the schooner association website.  These majestic beauties are one of the real treats of a visit to Maine and Camden. To see these boats sail into a harbor at the end of the day is breathtaking. And they have to sail as they have no motors.  It’s a good thing that the captain and crew are well seasoned on sailing in close quarters.  Pretty impressive boat handling.  Me, I prefer to anchor under power.  Ok, call me a wimp, I can take it.   “Bob, you’re a wimp”.   See, I didn’t even flinch.  Well, only a little.   And if you are one of the 1% you might want to have one of these.  Not into varnish and old wood?  Perhaps this beauty is more your style.  And yes, 1% club member, for sure.However, if you are carry a AMEX Black card and are a member of the .0001% club you can have a boat like Bystander.   Bystander was built in 2007 and was designed to look like a classic steamship from the 30s. This article will give you a feel for what she’s like.  Now, that’s real money.This spectacular ship is privately owned and acts as a “tender” to a magnificent classic “J” yacht Velsheda, once a contender for the America’s Cup trophy.   This classic sailing yacht has been “rescued” several times from near death to be rebuilt. She has an interesting history chronicled here.   She is now in fit condition, probably better than new, a perfect example of what an open, and unlimited, checkbook can accomplish.  To own a classic “J” is not for just anyone.  However, he’s not alone as there’s a “bakers dozen” of these beauties around now, more than were sailing in their heyday.  Check out the “club site” for an overview of all of the current Js.  Talk about an exclusive group.

It’s amazing that one person can own a classic J along with a remarkable power yacht like Bystander.

Well, these are just a few examples of what you can find in Camden.  Even if your bank account isn’t up to owing a multi-million dollar yacht, you can always go ashore and drown your sorrows in a bowl of ice cream.  Yes, that works for me. Besides, what visit to this lovely town would be complete without a stroll down the main street, another reason that Camden is indeed one of Pandora’s favorites. Warm summer days, cool nights, beautiful views, a chance to watch the folks with “giga-money” having fun and ice cream.  What’s not to like?

Perhaps if I finish this post I can get dressed and get to work on Pandora so we can go sailing again.  Now that’s a plan.

Oh yeah.  Thanks for listening to my whining.  I feel better now too.