Is the season beginning or ending?

It’s Friday morning and Pandora is heading from Wickford to Deep River to be hauled for a few weeks while I work on her to get ready to make the trip south. While most folks are just about ready to haul their boats for the winter, now that the iron doors of summer are about to close (this weekend is Labor Day), I am trying to get everything ready for our run south and a winter of sailing.

My list, and it’s a long one, includes painting her bottom and finishing up a lot of little details like adding more LED lights as well as trying to settle on the proper propeller.  The one that is on the boat is very nice if a bit over pitched for the engine.  That means that I can’t get a lot of RPM out of it when I am in a pinch.  Yes, it makes for good speed and fuel economy but I can’t get extra HP out of her when I need to.  Anyway, the boat once had an Autoprop but the previous owner took it off because he says that it damaged not one but two transmissions.  I put one on my last boat and was really happy with it so I’ll have to see what I can do.   Fortunately, the owner still has the Autoprop and agreed to send it to me.  Of course, I don’t want to risk a wrecked transmission but it’s something that needs to look into.   I should have the other prop soon and will consider what to do next.  The good news is that I can always take the Autoprop off and put the old one back on, if I decide that I don’t want it, even when the boat is in the water.  It’s not simple but can be done.  More to come on that.

I am also having the backstay split with isolators so that the stay can serve as an antenna for the SSB radio.  I am really looking forward to having the SSB back in service.  I miss hearing the weather router Chris Parker and also participating in the morning nets.

As I write this I am approaching PT Judith and will soon turn west toward the CT River and home.  The wind is from the NNE and blowing between 15-20kts so it will be behind me for the whole run and I should make good time.   The current at Watch Hill won’t be with me when I arrive there but at least I’ll be going fast and should still make decent time and get home today in time for dinner.

We are really making time and moving along at better than 8kts with just about 10kts apparent wind on a dead run, wing and wing with the main and jib, a good speed by any measure.   And that’s with a slimy bottom as things foul up pretty fast in August in Wickford with warm still water.

Yesterday I visited Rodger Martin, the designer of Pandora, at his office at Newport Shipyard and enjoyed hearing about some of his current projects.   He’s a very nice guy and clearly loves talking about boats.   I particularly loved hearing his South African accent. I was interested to learn that he designed the newest Outward Bound open boats that we have seen up in Maine.  They are open boats and clearly not comfortable like Pandora.  However, they serve the program well give the “find yourself” and “getting back to nature” focus of the Outward Bound programs.    It was fun to see a computer rendering of one of the boats on the wall in Rodger’s office.We talked a bit about the process of designing the Aerodne 47 and I was surprised to learn that it has the smallest sail to displacement ratio of any boat that he has designed.  In spite of having a modest sail plan, the boat is very fast and stable.  That’s good and particularly appealing to Brenda.

This launch has a gas turbine which weighs about 1/3 of a diesel of similar power.   That, combined with carbon fiber construction, makes for a very fast launch.  The bad news is that it sucks gas at a horrifying rate.  Well, if you have to ask, you can’t afford it.  And, as the launch is a tender to a big yacht, he’s probably not asking. Rodger has a passion for fast sailboats and has a long history of designing ocean crossing racing yachts.  This prototype, designed to show proof of concept for a larger version to challenge the clipper ship record from New York to San Francisco, sure looks like it can make tracks.  Look at the keel canted out to weather.  I wonder what happens if the wind suddenly shifts or dies?   With all that weight out on the end of that long keel, the result would surely get your attention.After my time with Rodger I couldn’t resist walking the docks at the shipyard to enjoy the view.    Bolero, the iconic ocean racer, is always a head turner.  What nice lines.  Pandora has at least one thing in common with her.  They both have inflatable dinks.
I asked Rodger why he felt that folks were moving away from sailing and into power boats.  His answer was interesting as he thinks that the designs today have moved away from boats that can sail well in light air so most find themselves motoring everywhere.  That’s an interesting perspective and I expect that there is some truth to that.  It’s clear that Pandora doesn’t suffer from that problem.   NIce design Rodger!

Speaking of fast, this sleek cold molded ocean racer, quite a contrast to Bolero, looks like it’s screaming along, even while she’s tied to the dock.  The carbon mast and boom are a deep burgundy.  Take a gander at the port holes cut out in patterns.  It’s like a floating piece of art.   However, Brenda would notice right away that there isn’t a dodger, a non-starter for her, self described “sailing cream puff” that she is. Love the open transom. I saw Crossbow sailing off of Newport the other day. This isn’t a boat for a casual afternoon sail.   I wonder where she will be headed when they finish fitting her out. Don’t loose your balance or you’ll slip right out of the open transom.The carbon bow sprit seems to be adjustable.  What a piece of engineering.A lot of hardware for the 1% folks moored here.To cap off a great day in Newport a friend treated me to lunch at the NYYC Harbor Court.  This was the long time home of the Brown family, of Brown University fame.

There are amazing gardens out back.  Love the lotus growing in the pond.   The flowers are as large as a basket ball. These water lilies have leaves that are about 2’-3’ across. Love the view from the reflecting pond to the club house.  Can you imagine living here when it was a private home?As I finish up this post, I have rounded Pt Judith, with 15-20kts on my beam and am moving along really well, at almost 10kts.  It’s pretty amazing and I don’t even have a reef in and the heel is only about 10 degrees.    At this rate, I should be to Watch Hill Passage in less than two hours.   Amazing.

Anyway, things are going to get very busy with Pandora on the hard for the next few weeks.  With the summer sailing season drawing to a close and winter just around the corner, there’s lots to do.

End of  the season or the beginning?  Sunny Caribbean, here I come.  Well, that’s if I can get everything done.

I think I can, I think I can…

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