Tag Archives: saga 43

It’s really hot. So, let’s go to Block Island

Yikes, it’s hot.  Really hot.  Today it was in the 90s and really humid.    Here’s an idea!  I’ll head out to Block Island where it’s cooler.  Yes, that’s what I will do and will do so with my good friend Craig is headed up to Mystic on Friday morning to meet me for three days aboard Pandora.  While the weather is supposed to cool down a bit here in Essex, it looks like Block will be considerably cooler, in the mid 80s.  I am counting on it.

Speaking of time aboard Pandora (I thought that you would never ask) Brenda and I had a nice couple of days aboard last weekend when we headed out to Watch Hill and Fisher’s Island for a short but nice cruise.

On Monday we lunched at the Ocean House, a great spot that I wrote about in my last post.   What a pretty place.   And yes, Muffy and all her pals were very much in evidence enjoying lunch prior to a rousing game of bridge.  I do know that bridge is a very popular game but I haven’t a clue as to what it is all about.  In any event, the bridge set at Ocean House looked pretty well healed and fresh into town from Boca, if you must know.

Speaking of proper togs, to stretch the point a bit further, one of my boys gave me this great ensign for Christmas last year.  It’s nearly 6′ long.  Don’t look too hard at my stainless flag staff.  Besides, it’s the flag that’s worth noting.  Don’t you just hate the wimpy flags that you see on some boats?  Speaking of a properly fitted yacht.  I spied this cruiser next to us in the anchorage at Watch Hill.  They are out of Mystic.  What great lines.  Very nice in a world of top-heavy Tupperware cruisers.  

We went for a walk along the water and out to the coast guard station.  I can’t tell you how magnificent the homes with this view are.  Hard to believe that most are only occupied for a few months, or less, a year.  Yes, firmly ensconced in the .0001%.

And, just to prove that we were there, Brenda took a picture of me taking a picture of her taking a picture of me… Well, you get the idea. The light house is very picturesque.  So nice in fact, that I have to include a close up just to be sure that it’s as nice as it looks from a distance.   Yes, just as nice. After leaving Watch Hill we headed over the Fisher’s Island.  Fisher’s is probably one of the most expensive place to live on the east coast.  And that’s for a summer home.  Catch a look at this pad.  What is it that they say about people who live in glass houses?   Also, how do they get the trees to grown square?   Is that what they call a box wood?   Hmm…

I’ll probably get in trouble for putting in this shot of my friend’s anchor windlass, lass.   I had a pair of these once but they went off to college.  Now this is dedication from our friend, who will remain nameless.  

And this is the same windlass in high gear.  Now, that’s teamwork.  if she is the windlass does that make him a windlad? 
Perhaps I had better change the subject right quick.  How about this shot of Brenda looking just fetching in a great hat, if you are looking for a similar hat, click to view right here.  I just love her in hats.  And, what a fab wind blown look.  Bummer about that “fear of hat hair” that keeps her from wearing them more often. You can see the selection at Cap Wholesalers here.

Pandora launched at last, free at last and a visit to Watch Hill

Finally, after delays for reasons, some good and some not so good, Pandora finally hit the water (gently) last week in Norwalk CT.  For reasons of economy, I have kept her in a yard that is a bit off the beaten path (RE: on the other side of the 95 bridge in Norwalk) for a number of years now.  That doesn’t sound like a big deal except that the bridge has a vertical clearance of 61′ at high water while Pandora’s mast is 63′ plus gear, antennas and the like.  Yes, not a big difference but that two plus feet makes a smashing lot of difference if we were to hit the bridge.

Well, the answer is to pass under the bridge at low tide. Duhh…  With 7′ of tide in Western LI Sound, that’s not a biggie, it just takes a bit of planning.   And, there are two other bridges that must open prior to even getting to the “short” bridge.  HOWEVER, the day prior to the launch, the yard owner stopped by to tell me that there was work being done on the 95 highway bridge and that there was a scaffolding under the mid span, where I needed to pass under, that restricted the vertical height to 62′ at LOW TIDE.  Not good.

After much back and forth, the 95-bridge-worker-men agreed that they would pull up the cables that were in the way at mid span to be sure that there would be enough vertical height for me to pass under.  Well, that sounded reasonable, at the 11th hour,  so it seemed that we were ready.

Before getting back to the bridge issue, let me digress to mention a bit about the unconventional crane that launched Pandora.  It’s an 80 ton capacity behemoth, painted a lovely color of red.  To me it seemed better suited to be the main character in a children’s book than the workhorse in a boat yard.  And, I have to say that watching her be picked up gave me a pause.   Yikes, it looked precarious.

Whew!!!  So far, so good.  

In the water and without a scratch.  Oh yea, I should mention that at low tide, this area is just a mud flat so she had to go in at the tippy top of high tide.

Anyway, Pandora ended up in the water without incident and on Friday morning, to coincide with  dead low we were off.  Oh yea, we almost weren’t off as Pandora was hard aground in the mud.  It wasn’t until after much back and forth along with enthusiastic pushing from three yard guys that we were able to power off.  Never a dull moment.   So off to the bridge we went.

As we approached the bridge we could see that some of the cables were not pulled up fully so my helper/crew gesticulated wildly for me to head more to the left where the cables seemed a bit higher.   Indeed, it was VERY, VERY CLOSE as the VHF antenna, the highest part of gear on the top of the mast, plinked from cable to cable as we passed under the bridge ever-soo-slooowly.  My heart was just pounding, as I had visions of all my gear being sheared off of the top of the mast, but we made it.  After that fun was over we passed through two more bridges, a Metro North train bridge that required an appointment with dispatch and eight guys to open it.  I have to believe that moving through that bridge cost over $1,000 in labor.  Amazing!  After those two bridges calling the Norwalk bridge tender to get the third bridge to open was a piece of cake.  No issues there.  Finally, out in the harbor and on our way.

There’s no doubt that we will have plenty of practice with bridges as we head down the ICW this fall.  More to come on that.  Perhaps I should drop a tape from the top of the mast to confirm exactly how tall the rig is.  Yea, a good idea.

Our run from Norwalk took us up to Mystic where Pandora will be for about a month prior to moving her to Wickford RI and on to Maine.   The weekend also included a wonderful rendezvous with fellow Corinthians at the Watch Hill Yacht Club.  What a great way to start the season aboard Pandora.  And, yes, we even were able to sail for a few hours.  It was a picture perfect day out on LI Sound.

After a night in Mystic aboard  we headed to Watch Hill and our rendezvous at the Watch Hill Yacht Club.  The yacht club has a great view of the harbor to the west.  Here’s the entrance.  The entire clubhouse is out on pilings, above the water.   Access to this wonderful place is just another reason that being a member of The Corinthians is a good idea.

On Sunday morning, I stopped at the Ocean House, a wonderful resort up on the hill overlooking the ocean and harbor, for coffee and a leisurely read of the NY Times.  How decadent.

What a grand entrance.   The Ocean House was designed to look very much like the grand structure that it replaced.  A wonderful piece of work.  Brenda and I will be visiting for lunch in a few weeks.   Dinner would be terrific, I am sure, but it’s a bit out of our price range.  We can also afford to indulge in a cup of coffee on the veranda.

Can you imagine a more serene spot to have coffee while listening to the surf?  Not me.

Oh Muffy, you must join us for a round of croquet out on the lawn. Some of the locals, you know, Muffy and her pals,  have money to spend and the taste to do it with style.  How about this beauty?

Watch Hill is surely one of our favorite places and will be on the list again in a week or so.   Life is good.

Sights, if not sounds, in Nassau

I had a great day yesterday wandering around Nassau from our marina to tourist area where the cruise ships dock as well as an area where the locals hang out to play checkers and dominoes.    Nassau is an area of great contrast from the run down to the glitzy.  First, this is a much better shot of The Abby.  What a nice boat.  Very powerful machine.

As I walked the two or so miles into town I passed Potters Cove where locals have put up shacks to serve food and sell conch.  The area, locals and their wares are very colorful.

The small shacks are lined up cheek to jowl accompanied by the din of small generators humming away to keep the lights on.  Quite a sight and plenty aromatic.

They aren’t too concerned about putting fenders out to keep their boats from bumping into each other.
A favorite pastime is dominoes which is more of a contact sport given the way that they slap the tiles down. They are very enthusiastic.
Conch are everywhere, stacked up on counters waiting to be carved up into dinner.

Some vendors clean up the empty ones and they are very nice. I need to get one of these to take home.  They are bigger than they look, with some measuring a foot across.

Some of the “items” for sale are not quite as appetizing though, like these land crabs. Imagine that they are nearly a foot across. They would be a great prop for an Indiana Jones movie.  Imagine yourself in a cave, in the dark, claws clicking away… You get the picture.

I tried hard to imagine what sort of recipe these would go into.   Cook’s Illustrated, help!!!For dinner we had grouper and picked it up at a road side stand where local fisherman displayed their wares.  For an extra $5 they will clean if for you.  It was a bit unsettling to watch how aggressively they went at the fish with a machete.  Scales  flying everywhere accompanied by a constant dialogue from his buddies dissecting his skills.  I was impressed.

A bit further down where the cruise ships dock, the environment is much different with high end fashion the norm. No dried fish here.

Well, that was yesterday and now it’s Thursday morning and raining steadily.  I am told that this is not normal weather at all according to Bob, the owner of The Abbey.  In the 8 seasons that they have spent here they have had more rain this winter than the total of their last seven years visiting the Bahamas.

With regards to our departure, we had expected to leave here on Friday or Saturday but now its looking more like Sunday. as there is a low and unsettled weather that just won’t budge.   For the short term, I just hope that the rain stops so we can do a bit more exploring later today.

Where’s Pandora? Perhaps better to say where’s Bob?

For some months I have been looking for a service that will allow me to provide real time location information here on where Pandora is at any given point.  This will be particularly valuable when Brenda and I head south in the fall so that family and friends can follow us as we make our way south for the winter.   Of course, the natural question that some to mind is “why would we want to follow your trip?”.  Well, that’s simple, because you can…

There are a number of services available that will track progress and I settled on a unit called SPOT.  This is a nifty device that’s just a few inches long and sends a signal to low orbiting satellites to keep tabs on where the unit is at any given time.  With an update every 10 minutes when it’s turned on, it’s an amazingly simple way to keep in touch.  This is an amazingly affordable service and you can click here to learn more about this remarkable device.  Even more interesting is this overview of how the unit works.  As simple as the device looks, it’s part of a system that looks REALLY COMPLICATED and EXPENSIVE.

This video gives a good overview of the tracking function.  What an awesome gadget!!!

“Spot” will be aboard Pandora most of the time but for now it will be with me as I head this coming week for Nassau Bahamas to help my friend Bob bring back his South African Islander 56′The Abby, to Norwalk CT.  At least, that’s where I think we are going.  Not sure as the boat spends a lot of time in Newport.  Well, I guess that will learn more when I head there on Tuesday.  I know Bob from my years as a member of the Norwalk Yacht Club and also as member of The Corinthians.

There will be a total of four of us on this trip and we expect to leave on the 18th or 19th of May and will arrive at some point late the following week.   As I understand it, we will head out into the Gulf Stream and ride it north.  This will allow us to make the trip as quickly as possible given the fact that the “stream” moves north at several knots which will give us a boost in speed as we head up the coast.

Anyway, back to the issue of tracking our progress.  With SPOT aboard, there will be a real time record of our progress as we head north.   I won’t turn the unit on until we leave the harbor except briefly when I get to Nassau to post an initial position on my SPOT page.  You will have to pan out on the map to get a better feel for where we are as the link defaults to a close up view.

It should be fun and I hope that you will enjoy “ride” with me.

More to come.

The wild life aboard Pandora and a Mother’s day greeting.

Even though Pandora is still on the hard in Norwalk CT, she’s still a hopping place for some.   In this case, the feathered kind.  When I went forward the other day to check out the anchor windlass I was surprised by a Ground Dove that had built her nest under the cover.  I was loath to interfere but had to attend to the anchor so unfortunately, disturbed her.   It was amazing just how brave she was and only flew away when I carefully prodded her with my outstretched finger on her back.   However, I did have to give her a poke as I really needed to lower the anchor to the ground for some work I was doing.  Most important is that the windless makes quite a racket, something that would surely have sent her “over the edge”.  I wanted her to fly away but not forever.She did make a run for it and I quickly snapped a photo of the egg while she was away.   I came back a few days later and she was still there but this time I kept a respectful distance.

With Mother’s day less than a week away I certainly don’t’ want to be accused of being tough on mothers.  Besides,  my own mom might get the wrong idea about me.

Pandora has proven to be a great home for me and Brenda and it seems fitting to have another family living aboard while she is on the hard.

Let’s hope that the chicks fly the coop by early June when Pandora gets launched.   So, how fast to doves grow?  For their sake, they had better be quick about it.

While life goes on aboard Pandora, I am headed to Freeport Bahamas this coming Tuesday to help a friend bring his boat back to CT.  It should be a great trip and I am sure that some fun posts will come from the journey.

More to come and soon I hope.

Return of a classic for the Pandora clan

Prior to sailing big boats (larger just actually, not BIG like the .001% boys), Brenda and I traveled for vacation to Lake Clear in the Adirondacks as I had with my parents for many years.   During the many summers at Lake Clear, near Saranac, I fell in love with the sweet lines of the classic Adirondack Guide Boat, a style of pulling boat designed for hunting guides to take their customers (sports) out on the lakes in the area to hunt and fish.  It was important for me to find a good boat supply store who are reliable and provide quality products. Due to the fact that the many lakes were close to one another and yet required frequent portages or “carries” where the guide would have to carry the boat from one lake some distance over land to the next launch area, these boats had to be very light so that they were manageable and easy to handle.   While traditionally built out of wood, many of the modern day versions of these boats are built in kevlar, again to ensure that they are as light as possible.

Years ago, nearly 30 actually, I purchased a bare kevlar hull of a 16′ guide boat and finished it myself.  The decks, fore and aft, and side rails are made of  a combination of cherry, ash and walnut and the seats are caned.  I even got ash blanks and made my own 8′  oars or sweeps, to match the design.  The hull shape was taken from a wonderful boat Ghost built by a well known boat builder, Durant back in the 1800s and now in the collection of the Adirondack Museum in Tupper Lake which can be found, who would have ever guessed, in the Adirondacks.

Once we got into cruising Long Island Sound, the guide boat went into storage hung up high in my parent’s garage and for the last few years jammed under our front porch.  As our new home is just one mile from the Connecticut River, we will once again be able to use our guide boat and for the first time since our boys were toddlers.   Now our boys are 26 and 28 years old so it’s been a lot of years since the boat has touched water.

As you can imagine, after so many years in storage, the guide boat was pretty nasty looking as is witnessed by this shot.  The under porch storage was very tight and while protected from much of the weather, it was a pretty humid place.  Fortunately, the wood chucks that live under the porch hadn’t “chucked wood” or damaged the boat in any way.  I did find some leaves tucked up under one of the decks that looked like a comfortable nest, perhaps for some mice.

Pretty nasty but there is beauty in there somewhere.After a bit of scrubbing, beauty…  Actually, a lot of elbow grease on this baby.

As I mentioned, walnut and cherry decks.  Oh,  if it wasn’t clear, this wasn’t a kit, just a bare hull and a pile of locally purchased lumber.  Not bad for a beginner.  I must have been in my late 20s when I finished her.  Amazingly, the varnish hasn’t been touched in all the subsequent years.  Nice when you can keep a boat out of the weather.

No, I didn’t weave the cane seats.  They are machine woven.  CHEATER, CHEATER!!!  Yes, don’t be too tough on me, we all make compromises.   I was even able to fine hardware true to the original design of Ghost.  It’s great to have nice hardware on a great boat.  GOD is in the details as is the case in all of life. What amazing lines this boat has.  She really moves through the water.

One thing that this boat has in common with our SAGA 43 Pandora, is a fine entry.   They both move through the water very easily. Straight on you can really see how this boat would track on the water.  Like a knife…Fine, really fine…No, I won’t be distracted from Pandora this summer but what better way to kill a few hours on the CT River than aboard a classic guide boat.   There’s even a caned seat back (alas, packed for the move and not shown) for  Brenda to lounge against, parasol in hand as we head out on the river.

Perhaps we will want to avoid the whole “dead deer in the bottom of the boat thing” as is in the case here.

No, and I am confident that Brenda will be good deal more attractive and a lot less smelly than the guy who is a passenger in this classic photo from Guide Boats.com.  There’s a lot of great information here on the history of this unique North American craft.

In about a week we will be moving out of our NJ home and will be able to begin enjoying this great boat again after what seems like a lifetime ago.  So much to look forward to.


A trail of breadcrumbs for Pandora

As we prepare for our trip south next fall, a key need is for our family to be able to follow us and our position along the way.  In the past sharing such information required equipment that was expensive or, at the very least, complicated.   However, with the advent of more sophisticated satellite technology, it appears that there are now systems available that enable us to set things up in a way so that our friends (and random blog readers) to follow us as we make our way south.  To say that we are in Charleston is nice, but for me it would be totally choice for someone to be able to look at a map online and see exactly where we are any day or any time of day, for that matter.  And as we move along the map will display a trail of bread crumbs to show where we have been.

Yesterday I called Henry Marx the owner at Landfall Navigation, a group that sells all sorts of boating safety equipment.  Henry is very knowledgeable and I expected that he would have something to say about this topic.  Yes, he’s never shy about saying what he thinks.  Today he responded with a note suggesting that the DeLorme inReach unit might do what we are looking for.   As a side note, Henry doesn’t stock the product as he specializes in safety products and does not want to take the chance that his customers will confuse this product with an EPIRB which is a critical safety device for the sort of sailing that we are planning.  Yes Henry, Pandora has one of those units aboard and happily, we have never had to activate it.  And yes, the batteries are up to date and it is properly registered.

The system works off of the Irdidium system of geosynchronous orbit satellites.  (I’ll bet you didn’t think that I could spell geosynchronous.   No, I can’t but that’s what spell check is for.)  I have always thought of anything associated with Iridium as being terribly expensive but this one isn’t at all.   The inReach unit itself retails for about $250 and the communication plans run anywhere from $9.95 to $49.95 a month with a year commitment.  The variables in these plans are related to the number of position fixes and text messages allowed per month.

The plan for us will likely be the $24.95 one as it allows unlimited position fixes and a reasonable number of text messages.  A text might say something like “headed to Andros on Friday”.  I understand that it also ties in with Twitter and Facebook but I don’t know exactly how that works.

In any event, in a day when we want to tell the world what we are doing every waking moment, including our trips to the bathroom, this is a great option.

This is an interesting video, sale pitch though it is, about the product.

I NEED one of these.  What’s great about this is that when someone asks my mother “It’s 10:00.   Do you know where your children are?”.  At the very least, she will know where Pandora is and I am never far away.  However, I will be sure to never take this particuar piece of equipment into the bathroom.   I guess I am just not in the right generation for that.

Oh, to be young…



So, how much would you pay for a gallon of water?

As we prepare Pandora for our trip south I am reminded once again of the adage, “when Momma be happy, EVERYBODY be happy!” As I have said many times, it’s all about keeping Brenda happy and aboard with me.  These words are particularly true today as it’s her birthday.  Yes, January 15th is a day that you too should have in your calendar.  However, that’s another story and this post is about the cost of water.

More importantly, just how much would you pay for a gallon of water?    That question certainly has many answers all of which depend on your state of mind.   Questions such as… how thirsty are you, do you need a bath, or would it be a good idea if the person you are with down below took a bath?  Need to wash dishes?  Clothes? Each of these weighty concerns relate heavily to keeping Brenda, and to a lesser extent me happy aboard Pandora.

As we prepare Pandora for our upcoming strip to the Bahamas a big issue for us is one of having adequate water aboard.  Perhaps better put, the value of a gallon of water depends on how much you carry aboard and in our case, it’s about 125 gallons.  This seems like a lot but if you have to work hard, or travel great distances, to get more it’s a big deal.

Aboard Pandora we have two water tanks and we have documented that we tend to use about 15 gallons of water per day.  That means with reasonable usage we can fill up about once every 8-10 days, perhaps every two weeks if we were to really conserve.

A great solution to the water supply problem is to install an RO unit, and that’s what we’ve decided to do.  As I noted in a past post, we chose a Spectra unit and I will begin installing it in the next few weeks.   Setting aside cost, this is one complex unit.  Besides the obvious technology that makes the system work,  there are a LOT OF PARTS.  This sucker is complicated.   The instructions that came with it urged me to do a complete inventory upon delivery.  Here you go, a complete inventory…

Yes, it does look like it would be expensive.  But, more importantly,  back to the question about cost.  When you purchase a 12oz bottle of “designer” water for $2.00, that translates to roughly $20.00 per gallon.   Put it that way and it makes a $4.00 per gallon gasoline seem like a bargain and perhaps it is.

So, how much is a gallon of water worth?  In the Bahamas you can purchase water for about $.25/gal but that assumes that you can bring the boat to the dock or are willing to schlep the water by the bucket full from shore in your dink, something that I did last summer in Maine multiple times per week.   Given the cost of the unit I purchased it will take nearly 25,000 gallons of water to break even on making verses purchasing water.  At 15 gal per day it will take 1,600 days to use that much water.   Since we will be aboard Pandora for about 180 days in 2012, that means that we will break even on the purchase in about 10 years.  But wait, there’s more…

These calculations don’t even count the cost of maintenance of the unit or the cost of the energy to run it, not an insignificant amount.

So, how much would you pay for a gallon of water?  If you compare the RO unit and the cost of those bottled waters that you get, I will actually break even on the unit in 3,000 gallons.  However, I find it hard to imagine pouring countless 12oz bottles of water over my head to rinse off after a hot day.  Decadent you say?

Perhaps better put is to repeat J.P. Morgan’s quip when asked how much it cost to maintain his yacht when he said,  “If you have to ask the price, you can’t afford it”  Can I afford to use RO water aboard Pandora?   Who knows, but it’s safe to say “when Momma be happy…”

The value of a happy wife with that “just showered feeling”?  Bring it on.