Pandora’s on the hard but it could be a lot worse.

I always find time “on the hard” to be tough in the post department.  While there’s an endless number of things to write about when I am aboard Pandora, somehow, well, it’s not that easy when I am looking out the window at dirt without a drop of water in sight.

I say that but today there’s plenty of water to look at as it’s raining steadily.  That’s good as the lawn and trees need water from time to time.

I should also note that, as I write this, the power is out, something that never happens aboard Pandora, being “off the grid” and all.  Where’s battery power and a trusty inverter when you need one?

And, speaking of being “on the hard”, Pandora was hauled a few days ago and is in a nearby boat yard where she will be for the next few months while I focus on our “dirt home”.

However, I do have to keep “nautical” so here’s a shot of Pandora in the slings. I had cleaned her bottom in Tortola before I left in mid May  and I know that she didn’t have a bit of nasty on her hull.  However, after a month in Hampton it seems that she got a lot of slime growth.  It’s amazing how quickly it builds up.

The running gear was covered with barnacles too.   No wonder her speed under power was a bit down. However, in spite of all that, we still went pretty well on our way north and kept up a good turn of speed.   However, I did notice that we fell short of the kind of performance I am used to from Pandora.

It’s funny that after all the long sea passages that I have made somehow the 350 mile from Hampton to CT, it just didn’t seem worth hiring a diver to clean her bottom when my run home was a “short” 350 mile run.   It wasn’t too long ago when a trip from Norwalk to Maine, 250 miles seemed like a major ocean passage to me.   I guess times and perspectives change.   One thing for sure, my runs, even the long ones, seem like a mere day sail to someone who has sailed around the world.  I almost said “across the pond” but that’s only about twice as far as I go so even that seems to me that it might be attainable these days.   Yes, it’s all about perspective.

Don’t lament that Pandora is on the hard and that this post is somehow going to awkwardly segue into a gardening post or perhaps a series of photos of our granddaughter Tori as I visited the Wooden Boat Show in Mystic last week and saw some remarkable boats.  What follows is in no way intended to cover the amazing breadth of what was on display but here goes.

Perhaps the best place to start is with a photo of a catboat and a Beetle Catboat in particular.  These lovely boats are still being built as they have for nearly 100 years.   The company, from New Bedford, once home to the largest whaling fleet in the world, was known for making whale boats, the sort known for giving “Nantucket Sleighrides” back in the days that ships roamed the world hunting whales.  After oil was discovered in Oil Creek Pennsylvania in 1859 whale oil was no longer needed.  Good for the whales as I don’t think that they would have lasted much longer with all the relentless hunting of them for their oil.

Anyway, as the market for whale boats dried up Beetle turned its’ attention to the then infant, recreational boating market and started making lovely little catboats.

The year was 1921 and they began making these iconic little 12′ yachts that would endure for a century.  I say that as the 100th anniversary of these wonderful little boats is coming up in , you guessed it,  2021.  2021?  I can’t believe that I am writing about that year as bring right around the corner.  I can vividly recall a time when Orwell’s book, 1984 seemed like an impossibly long way off in the future.  Newly built wooden catboats and 2021?  Back in the 50’s everyone was thinking flying cars by now, not little wooden catboats.    Anyway, they were “contemporary” in 1921 and they still are.One of the decisions I made two boats and about 10 years ago is that I would not own a boat with any exterior varnish but I still think that there’s nothing that compares to a well maintained beautiful wooden boat.  What a sweet transom and lines. The attention to detail on this lovely sloop is something to behold.A great cockpit to enjoy a lazy summer afternoon sail. The detail is wonderful on Mystic Seaport’s schooner Brilliant too.  From the tip of her bowsprit….To the lovely varnished cabin.  However, unless you have the coin to get someone to do the varnishing for you, you may find yourself spending much of the boating season getting everything just right.   Brilliant is wonderfully maintained by the shipwrights at Mystic Seaport.  (copyright Mystic Seaport, for sure)

She was a gift to the seaport from Briggs Cunningham,  an important figure in the sports car racing in the 1950s.  Beyond the race car circuit, he also was a skipper in the America’s Cup in 1958 aboard Columbia and is the inventor of the “cunningham” used for trimming the luff of a mainsail.  He loved racing in many forms and spent time aboard Brilliant before donating her to Mystic Seaport in 1953.  I understand that he also provided for her future upkeep which The Seaport has done wonderfully for the 65 years that she has sailed under the seaport flag.

An interesting footnote is that my wife Brenda worked on Stewart McKinney’s congressional campaign back during the Reagan years and Stewart was married to Lucy Cunningham, daughter of Briggs.  Stewart has the unfortunate distinction of being the first member of the US Congress to die of AIDS but that’s a story for another day.

So, back to boats.  When we were in Antigua last winter I saw magnificent yachts with guys swarming all over them for weeks at a time doing nothing but varnishing and painting, all in preparation for a week of racing in the classic yacht regatta.  We weren’t there for the races this year but I hope to put it on my calendar for April 2018.  Stay tuned.

I say, varnish away.  This beautiful Elco just wouldn’t be the same in carbon fiber so bring out those brushes.If I had to downsize to a lake boat, varnish or not, I’d be tempted by something like this.She sports a properly sized ensign on her stern. A pet peeve of mine is yachts with wimpy flags. And speaking of “composite” construction, this Legnos 10-3 was built back in the 80s and has graced the Mystic waterfront for much of the time since then.   Peter Legnos, the designer and builder behind this boat built our first boat, a diminutive 20’ catboat a Mystic 20 and the first boat that Brenda and I owned, back in the late 70s.  I don’t have a photo of TAO handy so a shot of a painting of her done by my friend Christopher Blossom will have to suffice.  “Bob, Bob, you’re recycling pictures again.  We have seen this photo in at least two posts already!”  Glad to know you are paying attention.  I think that it’s a nice painting.  She was a wonderful boat but not very well suited for ocean sailing.

Brenda says that when we sell Pandora  we will get something to putt-putt around on with a glass of wine in hand.   This would be a good one, wicker chairs and all.
Or, perhaps white if natural color wicker doesn’t seem right. Another favorite of mine is the converted sardine carrier Grayling.  There’s no doubt that a beautifully varnished coach roof makes her particularly fetching. And speaking of cocktail cruises, this launch would be perfect.  Very classy with a straw hat on a summer evening.  Wicker here too.
However, all “yachtsmen” were not gentle souls so enter a real Viking Ship, the Draken Harald Hårfagre.  Now doesn’t that just roll off the tongue?   These guys, and I expect that most of them were guys.  Well, at least the “at sea” ones, were tough.  No “lily assed” creature comforts for them!I expect that the wouldn’t have been caught dead in this deck “enclosure”.   No way! They’d be out in the elements every time and all the time.   Seeing this prow come at you out of the fog would give pause for thought. This figurehead says “watch out!”.  I guess that this radar isn’t “vintage” but handy. She’s a “real” boat for “real” men.  This is shot is from the ship’s website. Impressive with their apt “blood red” sail. This video is if her sailing along in decidedly non tropical conditions which are, of course, what would have been preferred any self respecting Viking.   All I can say is Arrrggg….  Which I think is pirate speak for “we are having an awesome sail”.

Even though they have a decidedly un-viking dodger on board, Brenda would NOT have approved and it seems clear that some of the crew look like they felt about the same way.  “Lars… Are we there yet, I am frigging freezing”.  “Oh, just shut up or I’ll gore you with my horned helmet”Well, I guess that I have beaten this topic to death so perhaps I’ll call it quits for now and close with a shot of the stern of the Mayflower which is being rebuilt at Mystic Seaport.  Next time, when I am feeling a bit overwhelmed by all that I have to get ready aboard Pandora for next winter’s cruise in the Caribbean I’ll remember this photo and know that my to-do list could be a LOT WORSE.

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