Monthly Archives: October 2020

Three days, three classics and Pandora’s headed to the hard.

Recently I wrote of Brenda’s and my last cruise but something that I didn’t mention is that we saw a beautiful classic schooner as well as two beautiful old Trumpy yachts, all within three days, three for three.

As we headed down the CT river on our way to Sag Harbor, the beautiful Trumpy, Enticer, launched in 1935, one of the three “sightings”, passed us heading up the river.   I wish I had taken a photo of her.   She is a familiar site as we have passed her when underway many times over the years, when on the Intra Coastal Waterway, and once as we headed to Key Largo in the Hawk Channel, south of Miami.  It’s always a real treat to see such a beautiful boat in top shape.

In 2009 Brenda and I were able to tour Enticer.    Unfortunately, we weren’t “official” guests, as she was on display and open to visitors at the Wooden Boat Show at Mystic Seaport.   At that time, I wrote about our time aboard, not knowing that sometime later, years later, I’d again be aboard her, and this time as an official guest for “sundowners”.

Being aboard Enticer as a guest was amazing while I was on the NY Yacht Club cruise last summer, a visit that even included “valet parking” for my dink.  I was included as Pandora was invited to join the cruise as “tender” to a member’s boat that was participating as a racer.    I wrote about that visit in a post.  She’s a beautiful boat and was being chartered by several NYYC members and came complete with a 12 meter that was tied up along side.  Nice package deal…In 2015 she underwent yet another major restoration, although she looked pretty amazing when Brenda and I saw her years before that.  Now she is better than ever.  She has been “restored” a number of times, as is the case with all well maintained classic wooden yachts.  Her prior restoration, in 2002 was done at the Brooklin Boat Yard in Maine, known for doing some of the most magnificent rebuilds of classics as well as new builds in wood composite construction.

Her glamor shot after emerging from the shop shop in Brooklin. Hankering to get out on her yourself?  She is part of a program where, you can own a share as part of a fractional ownership plan.  Wouldn’t it be fun to put your feet up in the salon after a long day on the water?  “Garson, please fetch me a dram of rum.”  No, no, that’s not up to snuf.  “Garson, a Pims, if you will, and be snappy about it.”Too nice to stay inside?  Not to worry, you can enjoy your Pims on the aft deck.  And, it’s a nice place, trust me.  Been there, done that.  Although, for me, a G&T if I recall. Not up to your standards?  How about Enticer’s sister ship, Freedom?  A fractional program is available for her too for $350,000.   And for that fee, you will bask in the glow of 5% ownership and 10 days of annual usage.  Want to use her for a single day?  That will set you back $4,800 plus provisions, fuel and crew gratuity.

We saw Freedom when we were in Sag Harbor.   What a sight passing by at sunset. As you can imagine, buying, crewing and maintaining such a yacht is not for the faint of heart and a lot goes into keeping her up to snuff.  However, with fractional ownership, you will never have to pick up a varnish brush.

It takes a massive amount of work to keep a boat like Freedom in proper shape.  Check out this video on her restoration.  The video is about 5 minutes long and gives some very interesting history and what went into getting her where she is today.  Now, in the foreground of the image above of Freedom is a lovely schooner, number three on our three-sightings weekend.   Yes, she’s in the photo above, but she deserves a shot of her own.  Meet Kelpie, a 1928 schooner built at the Harvey Gamage yard in Maine.  This video shows her underway and in a race win in Falmouth, UK, shortly after her recent rebuild before making her way “across the pond” to Sag Harbor.  The video includes some shots of other really spectacular yachts, some of which I have seen in Antigua over the years.  As they set various sails, you really get a feel for just how big everything is on a yacht of this scale.
In order to own such a boat, her owner must have a long attention span and a very healthy checkbook.  Her current owner. Breakfast is ready…  Well,almost. Now Kelpie is under new management and ownership and is being actively chartered out of Sag Harbor.  She was still in the neighborhood when Brenda and I were there last weekend.  I wonder where she will be this winter.  It would be a shame to see her out of the water for the winter.  Kelpie?  Looking for a delivery crew?  I’d work for food.

So, there you go, three for three.  Three days and three beautiful classic yachts and it’s a wrap for this season.

It’s worth noting that that Pandora’s season ran from last fall when she went back in the water and headed south to Antigua, to South Florida, the Chesapeake and back home to New England where she will be hauled for the long New England winter.

Pandora covered nearly 5,00o miles over the last year and was commissioned for 13 months since her last layup.   In all honesty, with the whole virus thing and the months of lockdown in the Caribbean Brenda and I had to endure, it wasn’t all that idyllic a season.  However, I’m counting on next fall and winter being terrific so there is something to look forward to.   Given how terribly the virus has been managed here in the US, experts are now predicting that things won’t be under control until mid 2023, which would be horrible and put’s next season’s cruising plans at risk for us.

What a nice way to end the season, three for three.  Three days and three classics.  Check, check and time to haul.

So, here we will be, stuck in the frozen north this winter.  I sure hope that we will at least be to snow and lots of it so it will feel like a real winter.

I guess it’s time to begin working on that winterizing list and beginning to tackle the many projects planned to make sure she is in top form come spring.

I’ll be looking forward to a nice sundowner aboard Pandora next summer and winter.  Unlike these three beautiful yachts, Enticer, Freedom and Kelpie, I guess I’ll have to serve myself.

At least the view will be nice.Yes, it feels like winter, cold and rainy.  Time to put on a sweater.

Brenda likes sweaters.

A Coronavirus Winter.

Winter is on it’s way and a few days ago I moved Pandora to the yard in Deep River CT where she will be hauled.  It pains me to have her out of commission for the “season” but that’s how it will be.

As I ran her up the river, it was a beautiful fall afternoon and I couldn’t resist and asked Brenda if she would be willing to head out one more time for a short run  to Sag Harbor.  She agreed so I put off the haul date a bit and here we are again in Sag Harbor, where I write this.

We had an easy run here yesterday and were able to sail at least part of the way, a nice way to end the season.  We will head back to the marina in Deep River tomorrow where I will prepare her for being hauled.  It’s nice to have at least one more outing before the season is officially over.

The harbor here is much more empty than when we were here only a few short weeks ago with all but two of the big yachts gone for the season.

As Brenda and I sat in the cockpit last evening enjoying a G&T we were treated to the view of Patriot, a beautifully maintained classic Trumpy yacht steaming by.  It  seems that she is for sale and at $350k, if you are interested.  And, at that price, she won’t break the bank.

However, anyone who knows what it costs to maintain a classic yacht, will realize that the purchase price is only the beginning as I expect that it’s a multi six figure yearly commitment to keep her going which would surely break our bank.  It’s expensive enough to maintain Pandora and I can only imagine the complexities keeping a near 100 year old yacht in proper trim.

And, maintenance is only the beginning and assumes that no major work needs attention.  She was built in 1926 and has been heavily rebuilt over the years, most recently over a 5 year period ending in 2009.   I expect that she’s ready for yet another round of major work about now.   One way or the other, what a sight as she passed by a lovely schooner in the waning light.   The schooner is Kelpie, built in 1928 in Maine.  She too underwent a major rebuild, as is the case with all older yachts, in Maine in 2014 so she is in terrific condition.  She now calls Sag Harbor her home and is available for charter.  I wonder if she will be here over the winter.   Want to go sailing on a classic schooner?  Check out her website here.

Anyway, with the season at an end I continue to think about what life is going to be like here in New England this winter, wondering how bad things will get as people move indoors and tire of coping with the seeming never-ending restrictions required to stay safe.

On a daily basis experts are making predictions of what will happen in the coming months.  It’s hard to know what to believe when reports from medical experts suggest that the worse is yet to come, and others suggesting that the worse is behind us and that the virus will just magically fade away.

And, to add to uncertainty, the questions about vaccines in development and a growing fear that many will not trust them as safe or even protect us from infection.  One way or the other, it’s going to be a long winter.

And, speaking of winter and our missed run south, I have been working hard to arrange plans to celebrate the arrival of the Salty Dawg fleet in Antigua.  Unlike here in New England, it is fairly easy to stay “safe” as just about everything you might want to do in Antigua will be outdoors and with a fresh breeze to further minimize risk.

Last year we had nearly 40 boats make the run to Antigua in the rally and in spite of the world being in the clutches of the Pandemic, it looks like we will have a similar number of boats, perhaps a few more than last year, making the run this year.  Interestingly, two thirds of the fleet this year are first-timers, about double the fraction of what the rally sees in a “normal” year, suggesting that “veterans” either left their boats in the Caribbean last summer or have opted to sit the season out, given all of the uncertainty.

One question is if it will be safer in the Caribbean than here at home, and I find it very distressing that here in the US, we have the highest death rate of any industrialized nation at nearly 70 per 100,000.  On the other hand, the death rate per 100,000 in Antigua is a fraction of that at 3.  These are sobering numbers with our death rate more than 20x worse.  So, who’s the third world country?  As Trump would say “sad”.

Earlier in the week, Brenda and I went out for lunch, on a patio overlooking the CT River.  It was a beautiful day and really brought home just how different it will be here in a month when we are no longer able to sit outside to enjoy a meal.  It’s going to be very different and I can say with certainty that there is no way that I will be comfortable dining indoors, social distancing or not, once it’s cold, as there is ample evidence that being inside, in a public place, social distancing or not, as it is much more risky.

While we have more hospital beds here in the US, the to care for us if we get sick, the government of Antigua has been taking a very aggressive approach in keeping the virus at bay by having forced quarantine in government facilities.

They realize that if things get out of control, they just won’t be able to cope.  Or, to put it another way, “In God we trust, all positives go into quarantine where we can keep an eye on you!”.  I doubt that would fly here in the US, land of “don’t tread on my liberties”.  So, where would we be safer?  In the US with 20x the infection rate and lots of hospital beds or in Antigua with minimal healthcare risk but less risk of infection?  It’s a tough call.

One of the best parts of visiting Antigua is the availability of other islands to visit only a short sail away.  However, this year there are still a lot of questions about what will be involved in moving from island to island, with the likely need to take  a PCR test at $100 per person, just to move to another island.   That could really add up over the course of a season where a cruiser might visit as many as 10 countries over the course of the season.

Some of the islands, basically the non-French islands, have formed a sort of “bubble”.   The idea is that residents of those islands can move more freely between their home and others in the group with a minimum of effort.  However, for cruisers, non-nationals, it’s not all that clear with evidence seeming to suggest that cruisers will need to show a negative test, in or outside of the bubble islands.  At this writing, those wishing to travel within the “bubble” will still have to provide proof of a negative PCR test, regardless of where they are traveling from.

There is indeed a lot of question as to how things will evolve in the coming months and if it will be better to remain close to medical care here in the US or to bail for warmer climes.  I guess only time will tell which approach proves to be correct.

On a brighter note, recently our son Chris and his partner Melody, who have moved in with us for the winter (and yes, it’s going very well, thankyou) were aboard for an evening cruise and were witness to an amazing spectacle,  the swarming of swallows over the marsh.  What begins, as the sun sets, as hundreds of black specks…Turns into swirling clouds of hundreds of thousands…They swoop and dive in elegant sweeping clouds before diving down into the marsh for the night.  Soon they will head south and in spite of all of the uncertainty about what the coming winter will bring, seeing this natural wonder offers hope that as time marches on seasons will come and go and we too will eventually find a new beginning with life returning to some sort of normal.

Yes, time will tell but for the time being, tropical or frozen, it’s going to indeed be a Coronavirus winter.

God help us.