Monthly Archives: December 2014

Bob & Brenda’s nearly 8 year SAGA saga, drawing to a close…

It seems like yesterday when Brenda and I first laid eyes on Pandora, then Spirit, in Annapolis back in 2006.  After years of sailing on our Tartan 37 Elektra, we were used to a 70s design and to step aboard on a SAGA 43 we felt like we had stepped onto a “real yacht”.  She was so bright down below with her varnished cherry woodwork, so different from the dark teak paneling so popular with earlier boats and she was SO BIG.

We knew right a way that a SAGA 43 was the boat for us.  Pandora wasn’t a particularly well equipped boat and it was clear that I had a long process to get her in shape for extended cruising.  However we needed a “proper yacht” to achieve our plans to begin in a few short years when I would retire.  While our initial “3 year plan” to “cast off the lines” was extended by a year or so, compliments of the “great recession”, we did eventually begin cruising three years ago and have sailed for months at a time together between New England and the Bahamas.

I have written extensively about the benifits of Bob Perry’s design of the SAGA 43 so I won’t repeat it here.  However, if you are interested in why we chose this particular design, follow this link to “Why a SAGA 43“.  We just love this boat and found her to be a huge upgrade in comfort and speed from our Tartan 37.

She’s really fast and I have made the run from the Bahamas back to Essex twice and have done so in less than a week each time.  The design is amazing in the speed department and I did a run from Marsh Harbor Bahamas to Sandy Hook in only 5 days.  That’s an average speed of over 7kts.

When we decided to upgrade to Pandora, it was a big leap for us financially and to have a boat that measured in at some 46′ overall was a lot bigger than we had every hoped to have.  There was lots to do to get her just the way we wanted and we had big plans that would require many upgrades to the boat.  So, over the next 5 or so years I upgraded the systems to include many extras that would make her more comfortable and even more seaworthy.

Folks that know us are aware that Brenda is a reluctant sailor and always says that her favorite part of sailing is “being anchored”.   As a result, we often joke that our life together has been “40 years of desperate moves by Bob to help Brenda enjoy her time on the boat”.   No, Brenda doesn’t count the days till we jump aboard again but she has been sailing with me for over 40 years so I guess I have done a pretty good job at helping her feel at home afloat.  After over 7 years it’s pretty clear that when we purchased Pandora it was perhaps the most important “upgrade” ever to our lives afloat.

So, where am I going with all this?  As I have been putting together the brokerage listing this morning to put Pandora on the market, I am finding myself more than a little bit nostalgic for the years we have owned her.   Until we learned that Ariel, the Aerodyne 47 that we are buying, was coming on the market, a boat that originally caught our eye some six years ago, we really expected to be sailing Pandora until we were too old to enjoy time on the water and sold her for a paddleboat or some other depressing vessel down the road.

However, circumstances have changed and I can’t believe that Pandora will be leaving us, perhaps soon.

Over the years I have poured myself, along with plenty of cash into Pandora, to make her as perfect as I could.  As recently as this year, I put in a new Espar heater, a new Autoprop (which I love, love, love) plus many other small improvements too numerous to mention here, with the certain knowledge that we’d be sailing Pandora for another decade.

Well, all of that changed when….  Well, I guess that’s what life is about.  Change.

So, here I am, and it’s December 28th and two days from now we will get a rental car to begin our trek down to join Pandora in GA.   Along the way we’ll spend some time with our two boys, Rob and Christopher along with Rob’s new fiance Kandice.    After we enjoy the New Year’s celebration with them in MD, we’ll head to Miami when Ariel is surveyed in anticipation of our purchase in April.

After that, it’s back to Pandora, in the water and sailing for the winter.

If you’d told me a month ago that I’d be preparing a brokerage listing for Pandora now, I’d say you were nuts.  However, here I sit doing just that. It just shows that you just never know what’s waiting around the corner.  I guess that makes the point of why it’s a good idea to wear a seat belt.   Perhaps I should have held off on some of those recent upgrades.  Oh well. Who knew?

The broker asked me yesterday what I would do if he got an offer on Pandora in February, given all of our cruising plans.  Well, that’s a good question.  I guess we’ll have to cut things short.  That would be just about a perfect example of “I have good new and I have bad news”.

It has indeed been a saga owning Pandora and what a great ride it’s been.   But wait, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.  It’s not over yet with an entire winter of sailing ahead of us in warm tropical waters.  I hope.

It’s grey outside here but this awaits us soon, very soon.

Dolphins playing at our bow.Perfect white sandy beaches. Dramatic cloud displays.Magnificent tropical flowers.
Tan piggies on Brenda.  Love the toe ring. Amazing sunsets that go on and on…And give way to serene moon rises.Yes, Brenda and I are blessed to be “living the dream”, in more ways than one.  I guess it’s time to start dreaming about the good times to come on our new boat as our SAGA saga draws to a close.

Sounds like fun.

It’s cold here, but Pandora’s there, where it’s warm.

It’s Saturday morning and two weeks since my last post.   The problem is that there’s just not that much to write about when Pandora’s in storage and I am home in CT “on the hard”.

It’s a busy time with the holidays upon us and Christmas just around the corner. One thing for sure is that it’s a fun time of year and we are certainly busy. Yesterday was a particularly big day for Brenda as she had her gall bladder out after several months of discomfort.  The surgeon felt that with our time aboard and the fact that we are often a long way from emergency help, that it was a good idea for her to just have it out and not risk infection or worse.   The procedure went well and I am sure that she will be back on her feet very soon.   It’s amazing that such an invasive procedure, even though they call it “minimally invasive surgery” can be done on an outpatient basis and in and out in the same day.

Yes, I can’t believe that Christmas is only five days away.  Where did the year go?   A few days after Christmas, when we will head to Baltimore to visit our son Rob in Baltimore with his fiance Kandice, we’ll be heading down to South Beach Miami for a survey on Ariel, soon to be our new boat.  I wrote about this in my last post 

Even though we won’t be actually buying the boat until April, we are having her checked out now and will recheck things in April prior to final taking delivery. Unfortunately, I’ll own two boats for a while, hopefully not too long, as I won’t really be putting Pandora on the market till we end our winter cruising in late April.   As much as I don’t want to own two boats, the idea of not sailing this winter is even less appealing to me.  The logistics for the delivery of our new boat and getting Pandora where she will listed for sale are still being worked out but I am sure that we will find a way to get it all done.

For next summer, I have arranged for a mooring in Wickford RI, in the inner harbor for a few months which will give us a terrific spot to sail our new boat from to enjoy Narraganset Bay and Newport.  

It also looks like we will be taking our new boat, name to be determined, south to the Caribbean next fall which will be a big step for us.  I will likely do the Salty Dawg rally which leaves from Hampton VA around November 1st .  However, the older, and more established, rally is the Caribbean 1500 is an option and the two events leave at about the same time from the same harbor.   Actually, I am not totally clear on the differences between these two rallies but will learn more soon.  

One way or the other, it looks like we’ll be spending time in the Caribbean the winter of 15/16.  More to come.  I am very much looking forward to that. 

With regards to this winter, our plans are coming together with the twist of having the new boat surveyed prior to relaunching Pandora in GA.  Wherever we end up, the Keys or the Bahamas, it will certainly be nice to leave this cold weather for the warmth of the tropics.

We are pretty excited about the new boat and are thinking hard about a proper name.  Yes, I know that it’s bad luck to rename a boat but then it is said that it’s good luck to pick a name with seven letters too.  I wonder if they cancel each other out?

Brenda was a classics major in college so all of our boats, pets and almost our children have had names from the classics.   Our oldest Rob would have been horrified if Brenda had had her way and we had named him Paris.   That’s almost as good as some of the kids of Hollywood Stars.  I recall Sonny and Cher named their son Chastity.  For inquiring minds… He’s now transgender and changed his name to Chas.  To be clear, it’s not clear if he changed to a she, or he to she.  Anyway, we decided that Rob was a safer name for our first born.   It was a good fight but I prevailed after all.  You’re welcome Rob.

Back to boat names.   So, if you accept the idea of a name with classical roots as a good idea that’s what we plan.  With the exception of our first which we didn’t change, our boats have been Sappho, Artemis, Electra and most recently Pandora.  Brenda’s favorite from this list for our new boat is Sappho. 

Sappho was a Greek poet who lived on the island of Lesbos and wrote love poems about women and girls in particular.   I won’t go into a lot of detail, but given the view that boats are considered feminine, there is a certain symmetry to this name.   There’s one vote for Brenda. Oh yeah, it only has six letters.  Oops, not good luck, I guess.

My favorite is Artemis.  First off, it’s seven letters and she was a Greek goddess, born a twin, and was so ready to go that when she she was born she helped deliver her twin brother Apollo.  Now that’s a pretty self sufficient girl. She’s also associated with hunting, the wilderness and the natural world and especially the moon.   So, there, tides, the natural world and child birth.  I did publish an Ob/Gyn physician journal for years.  She’s also known for chastity (there’s that name again), and never married.  However, I’m not a fan on that particular point so let’s not dwell any more on chastity for the moment.

Anyway, there’s a vote for Artemis from Moi.  So, the debate goes on.  I expect that we will work through this by April and pick a name before we take delivery. More to come on that. 

With regards to whether it’s Sappho or Artemis, one unique feature of the boat is that she’s composite construction, made of some pretty high-tech space-age materials, something normally associated with custom made one of a kind yachts,  and I have been reading up on some of those construction techniques.

It’s worth noting that the three Aerodyne 47s made (I was wrong as I thought that there were four) are just about the only “production” cruising boats that I have been able to find that are composite construction.  This method of manufacturing is known for very high strength as well as producing a very light structure.  The main reason that this form of construction is so unusual for cruising boats, is that it costs a great deal more than regular fiberglass building. I won’t go into much detail here but if you are interested, you can follow this link for some narrative on how it’s done.

Compared to Pandora a SAGA 43 and actually a very light boat by normal standards, the Aerodyne 47 only weighs 24,000lbs verses Pandora’s 22,000. That’s pretty amazing as the Aerodyne is 4′ longer and nearly 2 1/2′ wider at 14.5′.    I have friends with boats that are of a similar size to the Aerodyne that weigh in at over 40,000 pounds. As a result, the relative lightness of the Aerodyne makes her a pretty fast boat.

The current owner, Miles, sent me a photo the other day of his speedo showing a speed of over 14kts.  That’s pretty fast and he claims he’s done better.  We’ll see but I am encouraged.  Having sailed in company with him many times, I am painfully aware that’s she’s faster than Pandora.  And that’s saying something as Pandora can generally outrun most anything in her size range and some much larger, pretty easily.

Here’s the shot Miles sent me. Speaking of composite boats, the Volvo Ocean Race, billed as the toughest yacht race in the world, just arrived in Abu Dhabi after rounding the Cape of Good Hope, at southern Africa.   The boats in this race are all composite construction, similar, if a bit more extreme than the Aerodyne, and are very fast and certainly much faster than 14 plus knots.   The designer of the Aerodyne line is Roger Martin who is more known for high-tech race boats.

The Volvo race boats are pretty amazing stripped out racing machines. They are quite a sight at speed.  However, this boat in particular made a navigation error and ended up on a reef in the Indian Ocean a few weeks ago.  Oops.  Happily, everyone is OK, even if the boat is trashed.  Kevlar, composite construction is pretty strong but no match for a coral reef.This video offers some amazing footage of the yacht at the point of impact as well as some commentary about what happened.Well, composite or not, it’s best to stay away from the hard stuff.   Yes, that’s a good idea.  Happily, events like these are quite rare as most boat accidents involve smaller boats being operated by folks that don’t know what they are doing.

Well, back to reality and it’s almost Christmas with just five days to go.  And, while Pandora’s way down there in sunny GA, we’ll soon be aboard for a nice and toasty winter in warmer climes.

Hmm… Looking forward to warm.  Yes, indeed.


Where’s Pandora…going? Well, the answer is a bit complicated.

It’s Saturday morning and less than three weeks until Christmas.  Yikes!  Where did the time go?  Last I looked, it was May and I was bringing Pandora north from the Bahamas.  Anyway, now it’s December and on top of that, it’s been a while since my last post.  So, here goes.

I have wanted to write about something that has been brewing for a few weeks. The news is that we will be selling Pandora and buying another boat.  

Selling Pandora?  Yes, amazingly, that’s the plan.   In truth, we have been lusting over a particular boat, Ariel, an Aerodyne 47 owned by our friends Miles and Loreen for some time now.  They had their boat built in Finland in 2006 and took delivery in spring of 2007 when she was lowered from the deck of a freighter in, I think, Newport.  Here’s a shot of a sistership, one of a total of only four built of this design, hitting the water in Finland.  So, after spending years touting how great the SAGA 43 design is and Pandora in particular, we will be buying another boat.  Yes, this is a very big deal for us and something that I never thought would happen.  To be completely candid, we would not be doing this it it wasn’t for the fact that Ariel became available.  

We had discussed this possibility with Miles and Loreen last winter when we were sailing together in the Bahamas but I can’t say that I really thought that they would take the plunge.  The “plunge” being going over to the “dark side”. Yes, they are buying a POWER BOAT.  I won’t say anything more except that it’s GIANT 50ft+ “ship”, at least a ship by the standards of “little people”, like us. I guess it’s safe to say that their “carbon footprint” will be increasing.  Perhaps they can buy some “offsets” from Al Gore.  

When we purchased Pandora back in 2007, we assumed that she’d be the last boat we’d own.  As recently as this summer, when I put on a brand new Autoprop and the new Espar heater, I expected that we’d be using them for years.  However, all that changed when Miles contacted me a few weeks ago saying that Ariel was for sale. 

As I have mentioned in some prior posts, Brenda and I have been interested in their boat for years, since we first saw it in Block Island, I think around 2008 or so.  Since that time, we have spent time with them from Maine to the Bahamas and after sailing in company with them for hundreds of miles and eating countless meals aboard both Ariel and Pandora, here we are…  And, I won’t talk about the wine and rum consumed at those meals (Let’s just say that some might view them as a bad influence on us).

Well, our comfy position of owning Pandora, all fitted out and exactly as we want her, is going out the window.  Great, now I can focus on getting our next boat just right.

The good news is that Ariel is about right already and I’ll only need to make a few changes to personalize her for us.  Fortunately Miles and Loreen have taken a “money is no object” approach to keeping her in trim which should make it easier for us, down the road.  Well, easier at least until something breaks.  Hey, that’s boating…

So, the plan is for us to sail Pandora this winter in the FL Keys with perhaps a brief visit to the northern Bahamas, the Abacos,  in late winter and then back to the US in April in time to go to a wedding in SC.  Still lots of details to work out but we are very excited. With a decision to get a new boat in early December and the actual handover in late May or so, this is clearly not going to be a typical transaction.

Anyway, here’s a photo of Ariel I took in Newport RI a few years ago.  She’s still green but has been repainted since then.  Miles and Loreen, who live aboard, are very particular owners and keeping her in “as new” condition is a priority.  I sure hope she looks that way “behind the curtain” when we have her surveyed. Fingers crossed Perhaps better, is this one that I took in the Exumas last winter.  Yes, nice spot and a nice boat.The Aerodyne 47 was very limited production line of boats, with, I think, only four built.   In many ways she’s pretty high-tech when compared to Pandora, built of heat cured epoxy, fiberglass and kevlar.   Her interior is composite material including honeycomb core bulkheads and cabinetry and cored granite countertops, a construction approach that is used on luxury aircraft to keep strength high and weight to a minimum.   As a result, while she’s nearly 2.5′ wider than Pandora and 5′ longer, she only weighs about 2,000 lbs more.  This link will take you to some specs about the boat.

This is a shot of the main salon when she was launched.  I think the bottle of Champagne is gone.  No, I am sure it is.   But, the boat still looks very nice down below. The galley is quite well laid out with lots of room to work. Speaking of “work”, there’s even a small workshop aft of the galley. The designer, Rodger Martin, is known for designing some top ocean racing boats.  Part of the appeal to us is that the Aerodyne is very similar to Pandora, having a fairly fine entry, long waterline and flat run aft.  As a result, she’s very fast, especially on a reach where I believe that she’ll do 12kts+.   Pandora can get close to those speeds but being smaller, it takes a more pushing and heavy conditions.  Speeds like Pandora and Ariel are capable of are quite rare in cruising boats.  The pedigree of both designs are influenced by much more extreme ocean racers.  

Interestingly, Bob Perry, designer of Pandora wrote a review of the Aerodyne 47 back in 2002 when it was fresh off of Martin’s drawing board.  He had some nice words to say about the design.

Yes, Ariel is faster than Pandora, in part, because she’s bigger, Pandora’s no slouch in the speed department and I have kept up quite well with Ariel when we have sailed together.  However, the extra length does give her an edge, especially off the wind.

Making a decision to sell Pandora, the boat that we thought was to be our last, was a tough one.  We thought that we’d own Pandora until we were too decrepit to sail.  We expected our next step might be, horrors, a pontoon boat.

Now, wouldn’t this be a great “post sailing retirement boat” for us?  Actually, this is a really scary image.   I like the idea of Ariel as a next step much better.On the bright side, with a pontoon boat, there would be plenty of room for a Weber Grill, wheeled cooler and a slew of cup-holders.  Perhaps that would take some of the sting out of it?  Perhaps not…

“Bob, Bob, stick to the point”.  Sorry…

So, where’s Pandora going?  First, we’ll be aboard for the winter in our usual stomping grounds. And then, who knows.

And speaking of “what’s next”, it’s not too early to think about where we’ll be going next winter and I think it will be the Caribbean.  Yes, that would be great fun, and it’s only a bit more than 1,500 miles from Montauk.  It’s a good thing Ariel’s a bit faster than Pandora.  Perhaps she could cut off a day of the trip.  We’ll see.

Perhaps I am getting a bit ahead of myself as first I have to go sailing for the winter, buy a boat, sell one (no simple feat) and put out some Christmas decorations.  

Yes, Christmas decorations.  Brenda’s out today, my honey-do list is long and I’d better have made progress before Brenda gets home in a few hours.

Yes, I’d better get a move on.  First things first.