Category Archives: sailboats

Meteor Fizzle in Boquerón

Next to man-made fireworks I like celestial ones, too. Early this morning (Jan 4) there was supposed to be a super meteor shower from 2 a.m. on. The Quadrantids shower was hyped up to have upwards of 80 to 100 “shooting stars” per hour. I set my alarm for 2:30 hoping to see some pyrotechnics to possibly rival what the locals put up on Christmas and New Years Eves.  Well, it was a washout here, if, indeed, anyone could have seen them in Panama to begin with. It was heavily overcast with clouds and only three or four stars were visible through tiny holes in the sky. Oh, well.

I’ve seen one before. Often when I tell people about my single-handed cruise on my beloved “Nancy Dawson” back in 1992 people ask, “Don’t you wish you’d had someone with you?” Well, the answer, for the most part is “Not always, but there were some events it would have been nice to share with someone.”

One of those times was when I was anchored out off the tiny island of Ranguana Caye at the edge of the reef in Belize. It was a lovely, isolated spot and everything a tropical islet is supposed to be. Small, at the edge of a coral barrier reef with a long line of breaking surf off to seaward, and covered with dozens of coconut palms. I was anchored in about 7 feet of crystal clear water on the leeward side of the island. A gentleman I’d met in the small town of Placencia owned the island and was building three tiny cabins that he hoped would earn him his fortune renting them out to dive tourists. He and a couple of helpers would come out during the week to work on the cabins but most of the week I spent there I was by myself.

One night I was lying out in my hammock that I’d strung up between the mast and the fore stay. I had finished off the last of a righteous bud I’d bought a week before from “Dancing Sam the Rasta Man” who had a small house beside the town’s famous “sidewalk.” I reclined there in my hammock miles and miles from the nearest artificial light. There was no moon, even. Just this wonderful canopy of a gajillion stars in the sky above. Marcia Ball, Doctor John and the Neville Brothers drifted up from the boom box in the cabin below.

And then the light show began, as if just for me. It was early August and the earth was moving through the Perseids belt. Shooting stars blazed all across the sky. For the next couple of hours not a minute went by without at least two or three and often dozens of meteor trails shooting across the heavens. And when I’d look over the side of the boat long luminescent trails ran in all directions as medium-sized fish chased little fish and big fish chased the medium-sized ones all intent on a fresh sushi night cap. THAT’S when I wish I’d had someone along to share the moment with.

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Filed under adventure, boats, Boqueron Panama, cruising, Microcruising, Minimalist Cruising, sailboats, sailing, Small boat cruising, Small Sailboats, Uncategorized

PDR Ocean Explorer Weekender

You all know I have a soft spot for the PDR (Puddle Duck Racer). Eleven months ago I wrote a post about how a Finn, Perttu Korhonen, modified the standard 8’X4′ PDR into a cool, but tiny, weekender. http://houseboatshantyboatbuilders.wordpress.com/2010/10/ In today’s issue of Duckworks (if you haven’t bookmarked this great blog, do it now) there was this video of Perttu taking a cruise on Lake Konnevesi. The lake is located in the middle of the country and the whole area seems to be covered with lakes. http://maps.google.com/maps?t=h&hl=en&ie=UTF8&ll=62.613562,26.559448&spn=0.721399,1.774292&z=9&vpsrc=6&output=embed
View Larger Map

I love the Ocean Explorer but I’m not sure I’d want to have one in Finland. I understand that summers are great there. They had it on a Thursday last year. Take a ride with Perttu in this YouTube video…

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Filed under adventure, cruising, Living Small, Microcruising, Minimalist Cruising, PDR Racer, Puddle Duck Racer, sailboats, sailing, Small Sailboats

We Didn’t Build Bird Houses In Our Shop Classes

Back when I was in high school we were required to take what today would probably be termed “life skill” classes. The girls took “Home Ec.” classes where they learned cooking and sewing. Some of the girls also took secretarial classes where they learned typing and shorthand.

Boys never took those courses though they should have been required to take typing because there was a lot of that to be done when they went away to college. No, instead we took “shop” classes where we were supposed to learn how to use tools and how to build things.

I suppose in most schools young boys learned how to build bird houses.

And if they were really skilled and adventurous they might have tried to tackle something like this…

But we who went to Orleans High School, later to become Nauset Regional High School in my senior year, weren’t content to build bird houses. Instead, we built THIS

The Sea Explorer Ship Nauset, a 42-foot ketch.

The seed of the idea was germinated in 1954 when the Sea Scouts rowed two boats from Orleans to Nantucket.  It was documented by Life Magazine in their May 17th issue:

http://books.google.com/books?id=IVMEAAAAMBAJ&pg=PA159&dq=sea+scouts&hl=en&ei=k7PGTeGcPMry0gHkrIn2Bw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CDgQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=sea%20scouts&f=false

Supposedly when interviewed about their exploit one of the crew members said the next time they came to Nantucket they wanted to sail there.

Thanks to my brother Jeff for sending me to this story in an old issue of Boy’s Life Magazine from July 1961. The story starts on Page 15 and is continued on Page 46.

http://books.google.com/books?id=nliVPS8HNxwC&printsec=frontcover&dq=boys+life+1961&hl=en&ei=MaXGTZDYDYnh0QHMpP2iCA&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=1&ved=0CDoQ6AEwAA#v=onepage&q&f=false
Not only did I help build the boat but I was, of course, at the launching and on the maiden voyage. But that wasn’t the last I saw of the valiant SES Nauset. In the fall of 1987 while taking the Christiana, a 47-foot Grebe motor yacht from Provincetown, on the tip of Cape Cod, down to Fort Lauderdale, Florida, where I would wrap up the restoration job I’d undertaken on her, I was wending my way through the Waccamaw cypress swamp on the Intracoastal Waterway  north of Charleston, SC, when I came upon a sailboat headed in the same direction. Her masts were on deck and she was being pushed along by an outboard motor attached to its transom on a bracket. As I drew up astern I saw the name board that read, SES Nauset. I pulled up alongside and throttled back to keep pace with the old lady and said to the young man at the tiller, “You might not believe this, but I helped build your boat.”

She was long past her prime and you could practically smell the rot in her as cruised side by side in what I consider to be one of the most beautiful spots on the whole ICW for ten minutes or so. The young man had big plans of restoring her and going off on grand adventures. But he was simply another of the tens of thousands of dreamers who are living proof that nearly everyone has a dream that won’t pan out. I wished him well, nevertheless and continued on my way. That’s the last I ever saw or heard of the boat again.

The Sea Explorer group is still thriving and has been integrated with the girl’s group known as Mariners back when I was a kid, but you wouldn’t expect any less from kids whose town is only 4-1/2 miles of sand between the Atlantic Ocean and Cape Cod Bay.

http://www.seascoutship72.org/index.htm

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Coolest Boat Ever!

I ripped this off while “Tag Surfing” the WordPress site. It was on http://thealterrealist.wordpress.com/ who found it at:

http://feeds.feedburner.com/GoodbyeForeverFatty which is an awesome site and definitely deserves your attention.

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Puddle Duck Goose

As my regular readers know I love the Puddle Duck Racer. It’s an ugly but easily built boat that can get you out on the water for a couple of hundred bucks and a couple of weekends worth of work. The web site proclaims: “The PDRacer is a one designe racing sailboat that is basically a plywood box with a curved bottom, and is the easiest boat in the world to build. Free plans, free club. The rules are aimed at keeping the lower 10″ of all hulls the same, but the rest is up to the builder. A simple hull can be made from 3 sheets of plywood, Titebond II glue and latex house paint. If you work hard for two weekends you can go sailing on the 3rd weekend.”

I doubt there is a group of sailors anywhere in the world that have more fun than the owners of these boats. Many have made some remarkable voyages in the Texas 200 the last couple of years and no matter what kind of boats the other participants of the 200 are sailing it seems everyone pulls for the little guys.

Back on October 22 I wrote about a “cruising” version of the boat and suggested that I thought the PDR Goose would be more suitable for a minimalist, easily built inexpensive boat. I did not, however, explain what the Goose was.

The PDR Goose is a stretched-out 12′ version of the PDR and it’s fast building its own following. The Racer has a Yahoo site for its devotees,http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pdracer the Goose recently formed one, too: http://groups.yahoo.com/group/pdgoose/ Unlike the PDRacer, the Goosers (oooooo, that tickles) do not want  the boat to become a racing class. They’ll leave that to the one-design class PDRacer. Hey, the boats are cheap and there’s no reason you couldn’t have one of each. The advantage of the larger Goose is that you can more comfortably take along additional crew on your adventures.

This morning in one of my favorite boating blog sites, Duckworks, there was a post in the next-to-last article giving a link to several YouTube videos of a completed Goose under sail. While  the Duck is rather clunky having a length to beam ratio of only 2:1 at 4’X8′ but the elongated Goose is 3:1 at 4’X12′. Not only does it look good it seems to sail great as seen here.

And it will get up and plane:

To see more videos of this nice craft underway click this link:

http://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=pdgoose&aq=f

Plans can be downloaded from Duckworks here: http://www.duckworksbbs.com/plans/storer/pgr/index.htm. A good story with lots of photos on the building of a Goose.


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Filed under adventure, homemade boats, Microcruising, Minimalist Cruising, PDGoose, Puddle Duck Goose, Puddle Duck Racer, sailboats, sailing, Small boat cruising, Small Sailboats

Sea Sickness

The only “sure cure” for sea sickness is to sit peacefully under a tree until the feeling passes.

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Minimalist PDR Cruiser

Any regular reader of this blog knows I have a real soft spot in my heart for the Puddle Duck Racer.  Naturally it was only a matter of time before someone expanded on the concept and turned one into a minimalist cruising reality. Probably the first to do it was Jason Nabors, who built the Tenacious Turtle which he entered in the epic Texas 200. Not really a race but more of a “cruise” up through the semi-protected waters along the Texas coast.

A bit crude in its execution and jarring to the eyes of anyone who loves classic boat lines as I do, I still thought it was one of the neatest things I’d ever seen.

Of course the Aussies couldn’t leave the simple PDR well enough alone and came up with the OZ PDR which is a bit flashier than the original. Now,Perttu Korhonen, in collaboration with Michael Storer who came up with the OZ design, has come up with the Ocean Explorer. No offense, Jim, but this one really has a chance of taking off.

Plans for building this wonderful little boat are available at Duckworks for $40 US. The set which is downloadable in PDF form from the above link consist of around 95 pages of drawings, photos and text which should provide you snow-bound dreamers with plenty to ponder this winter and hopefully kick-start you to build one yourself. You can get more photos here: www.woodworkforums.com/f169/ultimate-cruising-pdr-120306/

Personally I think I’d want to use these plans as an inspiration for modifying the  PDR Goose, the expanded 12′ version of the original 8-footer. It would allow you more room for supplies and, possibly, a companion.

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Filed under boats, cruising, homemade boats, Microcruising, Minimalist Cruising, Puddle Duck Racer, sailboats, sailing

Dylan Winter Scores Again

It’s been too long since I’ve posted anything by the video blogger Dylan Winter. I enjoy his short films about sailing around Britain in a 19′ boat and his shots of classic and working watercraft on his voyage. Also a passion of mine. In this contribution of Dylan’s he gets to ride in a West Mersea Winkle Brig (isn’t that a wonderful name for a class of boat?). This boat is a plasticized version of the old working boats. One of the things I especially like about this is the balanced lug , an old rig I find both beautiful and have done a lot of reading on. My next sailboat will be fitted with one.

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America’s Cup Gets New Look

The venerable, and oldest yacht racing trophy, America’s Cup,  gets a whole new look. Well, not the cup itself, which is the oldest active trophy in international sports predating the Modern Olympics by 45 years.

Originally the Royal Yacht Squadron Cup it became America’s Cup when the schooner America won the challenge in 1851 beating 15 yachts from the Squadron’s 53 mile race around the Isle of Wight 8 minutes ahead of the best British boat.

There have been two replicas of the America built. And I have a familial connection with the first one which was built in 1967 by Goudy and Stephen, East Boothbay, Maine. My dad’s sister, Marion, married a lumber merchant, Speed, who supplied the masts for the boat. I always had thought of Speed as sort of a noodge when I was young, but admittedly I didn’t know him well at all, but later when I found out what he had done it gave me a different perspective of the man. Speed spent a couple of months tramping around and camping in the deep forests of the Pacific northwest looking for just the right trees for the masts. When he’d found them they were so far from any roads that they were air lifted out by helicopter which was such a unique solution to the problem that it was photo documented by Life Magazine.

A second replica was built by Scarano Boat, Inc., in Albany, NY and launched in 1995.

There were no challenges for The Cup until  James Lloyd Ashbury’s  topsail schooner Cambria tried in 1871

The form that the boats contesting for the cup changed over the years. The first were, of course, schooners, and the New York Yacht Club, which became the holder of The Cup, wrote the rules and remained in possession of the trophy until 1983 when the Royal Perth Yacht Club and their Australia II ended the longest winning streak in the history of sport. In 1885-87, the rules required that the competitors arrive for the race on their own bottoms, so the British contenders first had to sail across the Atlantic.

The magnificent Volunteer tried in 1887

In 1889 the rules limited boats to a 70 foot waterline length of 70 feet but that rule was changed several times. Ten years later Thomas Lipton (yes, THAT Lipton who made tea famous once again here in the States after the party held in Boston Harbor some years before.) entered the fray with his Shamrock against Columbia.

In all, Lipton made five attempts to capture the cup, all of his boats named Shamrock which didn’t offer him good luck.

His efforts to win the cup, earned him a specially designed cup for being “the best of all losers.”

From 1914 to 1937 the boats were bound by what was known as the “Universal Rule.”  This era saw the domination of the J boats.

After WWII the super-expensive J boats gave way to the era of the 12 meter class rule that ran from 1956 to 1987. Fiddling with the rules of the class resulted in boats with an overall length of between 65 to 75 feet.

Dennis Connor lost The Cup in 1983 but in 1987  he redeemed himself in the yacht Stars & Stripes representing the San Diego Yacht club after beating 13 challengers.

In 1988 New Zealander Sir Michael Fay lodged a surprise “big boat” challenge under the original rules of the cup trust deed and came up with the gigantic 120 foot long KZI which lead to a long court battle that ended with Dennis Connor beating him with the 60 foot wing-sail catamaran Stars & Stripes US-1.

To thwart such challenges between such unlikely boats again the International America’s Cup Class was instituted for all the races from 1992 to 2007. The last winner of The Cup was Alinghi owned by pharmaceutical billionaire Ernesto Bertarelli.

This coming February the 33rd America’s Cup race will be held in Valencia, Spain, starting Feb. 10th and contested by a muti hull fleet which, with their legendary speed and hull flying should end the old saw that sailboat racing is as exciting as “watching paint dry.”

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New Dylan Winter Web Site

As readers of this blog know, I have featured quite a few of Dylan Winter’s videos of his trip around England in his 19 foot boat. I have also been fortunate to have been in sporadic email correspondence with Mr. Winter who has not only done his bit on the water, but once bought a couple of horses and trekked across much of the western part of the United States with them.

Recently he sent me an email telling me he had a new web site: www.keepturningleft.co.uk. and asked me for my opinion on how it worked. Well, as with everything I’ve seen from this gentleman, it’s superb, and well worth the time for any of my readers to spend their time on clicking and viewing his work.

I especially like the videos that feature the different boats found over there. So many of them reflect the long nautical tradition of England and are either restored working craft of boats patterned after long-established designs.

This is a great place to spend a cold wintry afternoon or an evening when those three hundred channels on the telly have absolutely nothing worth watching. Dylan Winter’s videos certainly are worth the time.

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