Monthly Archives: November 2009

>Another blog and a SAGA 43 posting

>It’s amazing how quickly a post shows up on Google when new content is put on the Web.  I did a search today and was surprised to see this blog post pop up after only having been put up on Tuesday of this week.   This blog, on adventure cruising, has lots of info on boat design, gear and “what works” in cruising boats.  I have not had time to check out the blog yet, having just discovered it, but it seems like a good one to get info on cruising distances in sailboats.   Their November 23rd post is about the SAGA 43, a boat just like mine.  They are complimentary of the design and generally had nice things to say about performance of the boat.  One thing that they mentioned, that I agree with, is that the early shoal draft keel was not good and made the boat too tender.   My boat, Pandora, hull #10, was indeed tender but after adding an additional 1,200lbs to her keel she is just fine.  The design isn’t one that will stand up like some of the very wide boats being built now but the sea motion is much kinder to all on board when things get nasty.   Check out their blog Attainable Adventure Cruising-What’s new.  They have a nice shot from head-on of a SAGA 43 that shows how narrow they are, which contributes to their speed.  Yes, they are right, this photo does make the boat look a bit narrower than she is but not by mutch. 

Note that this photo is credited to John Harries, one of two authors of the adventure blog.  John and Phyllis are big into high latitude sailing and have a really impressive website that’s worth checking out.  John is also a professional photographer and his portfolio features his wonderful work.    Click on this to see John and Phyllis’s bio.  Their site, to which their blog is attached is at and is worth looking at.  It’s more like a how-to book on the web of adventure cruising.  They also have an RSS feed that can keep you up on their latest musings. I plan on subscribing too. 

It seems that their boat Morgan’s Cloud is spending the winter at Billings Boat Works in Stonington Maine, a place that Brenda and I pass by each summer when we are in Maine.    It’s indeed a small world. 

>Where do you plan to go on your boat?

>Yesterday I attended, as emcee, the 75th anniversary meeting of The Corinthians.  We met at the home club of our Master, Beach Point Yacht Club in Mamaroneck NY.

It’s an old fashioned, magnificent club with a commanding view of Long Island Sound.  It was a beautiful sunny Fall day with lunch in the main dining room with a 270 degree view of the water.  I have been the shore activities chair for the group for years now and it’s always a thrill for me to see that so many come, about 100, to enjoy an event that I helped plan.  To stand in front of a big group and see them all looking at me is just great fun.

At the meeting Brenda and I met a very interesting guy, Bob, who was a guest of the Master and is interested in joining the group.  In the course of conversation he mentioned that he and his wife had taken their 60+’ boat to the Med and spent four seasons sailing there before sailing back over to the US.  I asked him what part of the Med he had enjoyed most and, without hesitation, he said Turkey. It’s interesting that the other couple near Annapolis in November that we met said the same thing.  Bob mentioned that on their first visit they had chartered a local style of boat called the Gulet.  This local wooden boat type seems to be the same sort of business in Turkey as the Maine Schooners have that take out groups of people on a large wooden boat for coastal cruising.  However, this style of boat is clearly a lot different than what you see in Maine, and based on what I have seen on the Web there are a lot more of them than schooners in Maine.  You can join one of the Gulets with others as part of a somewhat random group or just charter one on your own with some friends.  Sounds like fun. 

With both couples that Brenda and I have met, what was planned as a one season visit to the Med turned out to be many years as they loved it so much.   Like the couple that we met on Alcid, a SAGA 43 that had done the same trip and kept their boat there for 7 seasons, Bob and his wife couldn’t get enough of the Med and Turkey in particular.

I guess that’s just one more place that I have to sail to.  Brenda gave me a cruising guide to the Mediterranean for Christmas last year which has given me a lot to think about.
Speaking of sailing far and wide, Jessica Watson, the young girl sailing around the world from Australia crossed the equator this week and will be soon turning south again to head for Cape Horn.  This photo montage was posted by her family on YouTube this week and is worth looking at and very touching even if it makes you wonder how such a young girl will do when she is in the Southern Ocean.    Her blog is fun to follow as she makes her way around.  Her website has a Google Earth tracker to keep tabs on where she is.

This is a very different view of sailing but the Southern Ocean is the same body of water regardless of what sort of boat you are on. Here’s a video from the Volvo Ocean Race last year.   Of course, they picked the worst to show how it can get but Cape Horn doesn’t have the reputation that it has for nothing.     This video shows just how fast the Open 60s go.  Very fast and certainly would pull away from Pandora without much sweat.  I don’t know how I would do under such conditions.  I do know for sure that Brenda wouldn’t like it at all.

Well, signing off for now as yard work awaits.  Lot’s to think about however as we plan our sailing for the coming season.

>You can’t pull the mast in a gale?

>This weekend I moved Pandora from her slip to the yard in Back Creek Annapolis where she will spend the winter.  The big project is to paint the mast.  On Thursday evening I headed from New York ,where I had meetings for the day, to head south.  It was raining steadily when I got to the boat around 10pm all I could think about was getting the boat over to Port Annapolis Marina the next morning.  The bad news is that there was a gale forecast for all day Friday.  At 8:30 on Friday morning a friend helped me back out of the slip and I headed out into the bay.  It was indeed “blowing a gale” with steady winds of 30kts.   Not a nice day at all.

I headed into Back Creek, called the marina and learned that they wanted me to put my lines and fenders on the starboard side to tie up at the dock.  That’s a simple request but I was on board alone and with the wind blowing like stink it took me about 4 passes going by the marina while I scrambled up on deck to put out each of the lines and fenders.   By this time there were 4 guys waiting on the lift dock to catch me as I came in.  With 20+ kts on the port beam I lined up to make the shot into the dock area and headed in.   I expected to be set hard to starboard as I came up to the dock with the wind blowing so hard so I lined Pandora up about 10′ off of the dock, put the boat in reverse to stop the boat and get her lined up where I wanted to meet the dock.  With my heart pumping a bit harder than usual I headed in, and held my breath.

Amazingly, the maneuver worked and I stopped just where I was supposed to, Pandora quickly drifted to starboard toward the dock and into the welcoming hands of the marina guys.   The wind pinned Pandora hard against the dock and it took everyone pushing against the wind to hold her off while I rigged fenders to keep the boat from hitting the pilings.  It was now 10am and I was securely tied up.  What to do next?  Unfortunately I had not pulled off the sails when I had left the boat a few weeks ago and now that I was being pinned to the dock by 20+kt winds there was no getting them off now.   With that realization, I came to grips with the fact that Pandora wasn’t leaving the water today.  Bummer to that.

Besides, with winds of that strength, there was no way that the rigger was going to attempt to pull out the mast, perhaps damaging something in the process.  Actually, that turned out to be for the best as I couldn’t have gotten the radar mount off of the back stay, loosened all of the stays and shrouds, removed the boom and all of the many things that had to be done in advance of pulling the mast in the rain and wind anyway.

Given the considerable cost of pulling the mast and getting it painted, I plan on addressing some rigging issues at the same time.  I am interested in setting up the boat so that she can handle conditions with wind of 30+ kts, conditions that are too strong for her now even when she is double reefed with the jib out.  Going to windward under such conditions are too much like work so something needed to be done.

The rigger suggested that I install an inner forestay, or in this case an inner, inner forestay since Pandora already has two fixed forestays, one for the jib and the outer and most forward one for the genoa.   The plan will be to put a third fitting on the mast to handle a shorter stay that will connect to a fitting on the deck about two or three feet behind the inner fixed stay.  By using the jib sheet on the storm jib attached to the inner stay I will be able to hank on a very small jib and sheet it in using the jib track, a really nice and simple option.  When the stay isn’t being used I will clip it to a small pad eye on the deck to the side of the mast.  I am also going to put a foam luff into the jib which will make it possible to roll that sail up a bit without compromising the sail’s shape.   When you roll up a sail on a furler, it’s necessarily to add bulk the fabric in the middle portion of the leading edge or luff of the sail or luff so that it doesn’t bag and holds it’s shape when partially rolled up.

I will also have a third reef put into the main so that sail can also be made even smaller when the wind is over 30kts or so.  Between the genoa, jib, storm jib and three reefs I should be able to handle most wind conditions up to 40kts or so and even more if needed.  I don’t particularly want to be out in such conditions but it’s nice to know that I will be able to prepare the boat properly in the event that I find myself in a situation where the conditions require substantially reduced sail. 

Friday, because of the wind and rain, was sort of a bust.  In spite of that I was able to get the engine oil changed and winterized as well as spray it with an oil to keep it from rusting over the winter.

The next morning, Saturday my friend Denise showed up to help me pull off the sails at 8:30am.  The wind had dropped to less than 10kts, which was good, but it was still raining lightly.   With a deadline of needing to get everything in order prior to leaving town I decided to pull the sails off anyway, wet or not, stuff them in their bags and take them off to the sail maker.   When the jib and genoa came off I was stunned to see that algae had grown all over them from all the rain this summer. In spite of using the boat a lot the roller furler had allowed the sails to stay wet and become a bit of a swamp.  The genoa is made of a mylar layer covered on both sides with a dacron fabric so it’s not very porous and needs to be treated on alternate years to avoid mildew.   It’s clearly time for another treatment.  Fortunately, the sailmaker can send them out to be laundered and get them treated again which should solve the algae problem. 

After Denise left mid morning, my friend Ken showed up to help me prepare the mast for removeal. We loosened all of the stays holding up the mast, removed the boom and secured everything to be sure that taking out the mast would be as quick as possible.  The cost of getting the mast out and back in can really add up so it’s important to do whatever you can to be sure that the boat is ready to go before the “big guns” show up ready to run up a big tab.

After getting the rig ready I turned my attention to winterizing the water system.  With two heads, a cockpit shower and lots of hoses running around inside the boat it’s critical that antifreeze be put in the system and circulated fully so nothing will freeze and break when it gets cold.  I have always had a tough time getting the fluid to cirulate efficiently in the system and came up with the idea of putting in a fitting between the water tanks and the pressure pump.  By turning off the tank valves I can pull in antifreeze from a convenient funnel and minimize the wasted fluid.  I actually don’t know if I thought this up myself or if someone told me but it works very well. See these two photos of the fitting I installed. 

This shows the “T” fitting between the valves to the water tanks and the pressure pump. It is a very simple solution.
By using a funnel and hose to the fitting I can feed in the “pink stuff” easily with little waste.
It’s critical to take photos to be sure that the myriad lines end up back in the same place when Pandora is put back together again.  Fingers crossed!!!
After everything is done the boat really looks like a mess and it’s hard to believe that she will ever look like a proper little ship any time soon.
Pandora looking quite nasty but ready to haul. 
In a few weeks I will head back down to Annapolis to get the cover back on so that she is protected from the weather.  Still lots to do and so few months until March when she goes back in.

>Everyone’s headed south but me!

>It’s killing me to be preparing to pull Pandora next weekend as hardly a week goes by that I don’t hear from one of my friends that’s headed south for the winter.   For now I can live vicariously through them for now and make my plans to head there “when I grow up” and work on getting Pandora ready to make the trip. 

As I think about all of this it keeps me sane by reading other blogs such as Jessica Watson’s as she attempts to sail around the world from Australia and become the youngest person to make that journey.  While I am rooting for her I am also wondering if she will make it given the dangers of the Southern Ocean given the trials ahead of her and the inescapable fact that she is just so young. If you haven’t checked out her blog do so, as she has been posting each day, sometimes with photos.  It’s quite interesting to read the comments on her blog each day as clearly she is developing a large following.  Most days show over 300 comments to her most recent musings. 

Fortunately, someone is reviewing, and approving or not, the comments to keep the wackos from saying something inappropriate.  I hope that things continue to go well for her.

This photo taken of Jessica prior to her departure certainly show just how young she is.  She looks to me more like someone who would be more in her element at the mall with her friends than 2,000 miles from home headed past Figi.  Time will tell.

I guess it’s back to Pandora and thinking about the future.  There remains lots for me to do so that Pandora is ready for headed south.  I have to raise the waterline to respond to the 1,200lb increase in keel weight that I added when I purchased her as well as to address the constant addition of weight that goes along with getting a boat ready for extended cruising.  As I noted in a recent post, I will be getting the mast painted this winter to address some peeling problems and intend to chronicle that exercise in some future postings.

I also have to replace a punky head holding tank that was constructed out of some too-thin aluminum with a longer lasting plastic one.  The list goes on and on. 

With my mid-March launch date so early in the season, I will have to hustle in getting everything done in time.

As I consider where we might head this coming summer, I find myself thinking a lot about the Bay of Fundy and the St. John River.    It’s quite a bit farther east than we have ever headed during our cruises to Maine so far but sounds like a great place to visit.

These photos of the falls are a bit tough to see but the top one seems to be taken at low tide so the waterfall can be seen just above the bridge.  At high tide you can cross over just at slack high tide when the current isn’t moving much and the “cliff” is covered with water.  It sounds a bit hairy to me. 
This is what the water below the bridge and falls looks like at high tide.  Note the rock just showing in the water at the right of the bridge.
This is a shot of the same place at low tide.  Look at that water racing by.  Clearly, this isn’t a place to go when the tide is running, in or out.
I’d be ok heading in to make the jump over the falls at high tide if the water looked like this.  It doesn’t look too daunting.  Right?

I have heard from a number off friends who have made the trip that it’s quite an amazing place to visit by boat.  With tidal ranges growing ever greater as you head east from Penobscot Bay, where we have sailed each summer for the last decade, they become really daunting as the ranges approach 40′ and more, the highest in the world, with currents to match.  In Penobscot Bay the range is large, more than 10′ but still managable for anchoring.  Personally, I don’t like to anchor in more than 25′ of water at high tide.   With 5/1 scope (that’s 5′ of chain for each foot of water depth at high tide) on the anchor line that’s nearly 150′ of chain and most of what I have on my big bruce anchor, the one that I use most of the time.  It’s hard to imagine what it would be like to cope with such tides.   I am told that you really don’t anchor in those areas but pick up moorings instead. 

Once you get farther east than Bar Harbor you are headed into an area “down east” that’s quite wild and not a place where it’s easy to get services for yachts.  It’s mostly populated by fisherman and is considered a place for the more experienced to venture.

There are so many places to go and think about.  Back to reality now as it’s getting on late morning Saturday and I have to help Brenda get the gardens ready for winter and rake some leaves.

Thanks for checking in.  Leave a comment so I can see what you think of my ramblings. 

>Getting ready for winter projects and summer 2010.

>Now that the season is over for sailing for those of us that are unfortunate enough not to be able to head south for the colder months, it’s time to begin getting serious about working on winter projects.  As Pandora will be splashed again in mid March,the earliest that I have ever had my boat in the water, there really isn’t time to waste in order to be sure that I am ready to go when the time comes on Monday, March 22nd. I have already lined up a spot for Pandora in March, right back where she is now waiting to be hauled.   These photos are from the Annapolis slip where Pandora has spent the last month and will spend March through the end of May next spring.

It’s quite different when you head south of the New England waters that I am used to sailing in as private slips are not just for the wealthy, but quite abundant and attached to nearly every waterfront home.   On top of that, it seems that almost everyone on the water has at least one extra slip.  In this case, the owner that I rent from has 14 in his back yard.  And, he doesn’t even have a boat of his own.

What a great view from the boat on our last evening prior to heading home last week.

How would you like to have this view from your back deck?

Or, how about this one? Not bad at all.
I head back to Annapolis in two weeks to move Pandora over to Port Annapolis Marina where her mast will be pulled so I can strip all the hardware off to prepare the mast to be painted.  It’s peeling badly so what a difference it will make to how the boat looks. It will also be good to have the rig inspected as the boat is 10 years old now and I don’t know how long it’s been since the mast was last pulled and really gone over carefully.
I also plan on replacing the aft holding tank as the one that’s there now is not in good shape at all.
I should also note that I am following a new blog by young circumnavigator Jessica Watson. She left from her home in New Zealand with the goal of being the youngest person to sail around the world unassisted and non stop.  She has a nice site and a fun blog.  Check her out at  Her trip has created a good amount of contravercy as she is so young.  It seems that she is planning to put up a blog entry each day and they are fun to read.  Amazingly, within a few hours there are 300 comments on each new post, quite a large number.  I am jealous.
I should also note that our plans for sailing next summer are beginning to shape up.  Following our visit to the Chesapeake through May we will move Pandora to Mystic for June, on to Wickford again for the month of July and on to Maine and perhaps even a visit to the St. John River in the Bay of Fundy in Canada in August.    Lot’s to think about and all the planning and boat projects will hopefully make the winter go quickly.