Tag Archives: wooden sloop

Big Bad Boats

 

Rocket Science a mini-monster from the Cook Islands.

This is 50 feet, water ballasted, twin ruddered, carbon fibered, wickedly fast boat with a 13 foot draft!!!!

I stepped aboard a monster Sunday. The beast tethered to a dock. Sixty-five feet of ocean going, purpose built, go anywhere, under any conditions sailboat.

The beast had been born inNew Zealandto an American couple. For eight years this water ballasted ballistic sailing vessel was both a means to an end and an end in itself.

The design was conceived with a lengthy and sleek hard dodger. The stick was massive, the spreaders gargantuan, staysail could be hanked on, and the jib roller furled. Temporary lower backstays were ready in the event the staysail was deployed.

Oversized winches were aft, a weight compromising windlass on the bow (looked more than adequate for the job while small enough not to interfere with the boats sailing characteristics.) And I have to mention the spinnaker pole stowed vertically against the leading edge of the mast.

A mere man and woman, two people handled the task of sailing this unrelenting powerhouse. Losing control of a boat this size, flogging a sail, jamming a line, getting a sail down, hoisting one up, furling an unfurled sail, or having the guts to unfurl the thing was akin to going into a war zone voluntarily.

At the center on the starboard side below a diesel heater had been installed. There was a huge generator, a larger still auxiliary diesel. Forward in the V berth a queen sized bed. The boats interior was not Spartan, but its purpose was the point. Navigation, cooking, electronics, the heads, showers, rear stateroom, the interior lighting, portlights were all what you would expect of this one of fiberglass Titan.

I was imagining the able bodied seamen I’d want with me should I’d found myself heading out the Gate on an ebb in a blow. I’d pick a couple of old coots the balance would come broad shouldered, under forty and be either crazy or have guts, preferably both!

In 2003 I was down inFt.Lauderdale. Wandering the docks I stumbled upon a brokerage that specialized in selling sailboats of this size. They were all beasts. You looked at one and said I could take that boat right now to Europe, that other up the Northwest passage, still another toAntarctica. There were a few tender looking boats mixed among the toughie’s, and then there was this one I was aboard yesterday.

It is something special to be aboard something that resembles what you would use to get you through your worst nightmare. It is something like how you would travel to somewhere over a rainbow intent upon arriving back from a dream you would be wise not to make.

Is that a merry-go-round or Secretariat…

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Good Man to Go with a Good Woman aboard a Blue Water Vessel

Handmade Excellence...

I’m a big fan of traditional yachts. Here is Chris and Helen’s. Lyle Hess designed this vessel with the Bristol Channel Cutter in mind. She displaces almost twenty thousand pounds. She is made of wood. Chris built her in New Zealand. While her hull is made up wood she’s been sealed (in fiberglass?) and LPU painted. Helen and Chris have sailed her around the world. Chris helped me on a few problems with my wooden sloop Maestro. Building a yacht of this type requires something on the order of seven thousand hours. Having worked along side Chris it is impressive to compare the speed and accuracy of his work with mine. Not only does my work go slower my work doesn’t look as good as Chris’s work when completed. When I lived in the same marina I used to pause anytime he was working on a project to observe how he approached the thing, what tools and techniques he used. In matters such as wooden boat repair not only are there unusual tools there is also an oral tradition to the craft. Much of what you might want to know isn’t written down. The way to do something is passed from one craftsman to the next. You want to know if someone knows what they are talking about take a look at their boat. I enjoy being aboard their fine boat. It is a place where every inch of every part of their boat is an example of skill, seamanship, and wisdom. It is rare that we are allowed to enter into the very inside of the results of a person’s handmade best efforts. I admire this couple and their fine yacht for what it says about how much beauty they see in the building and maintaining of a classic blue water sailing yacht.

BANKRUPT HEART                      THE SECOND NOVEL 

“Creating the
universe was really pretty simple, one big bang…and boom, the whole of creation
in one flash. You’d think after a stunt like that it would be so simple, what
in the name of god would have been so hard about making a good man to go with a
good woman?”

Bankrupt Heart Copyright © 2011 by Dana Smith

Water Wonder Dog World

Yacht-Doggie as Sailor

 

Lacey is a good dog. I tell her that. I say, “Lacey you are
a good dog.” She’s deaf now. Can’t hear me, didn’t listen when she could unless
I said, “Where’s the ball?” Then she heard me! She’s 14 years old now and sinks
like a stone. She doesn’t have the energy to doggie paddle any longer. She
traveled with me to Sunfest in West
Palm Beach, Florida
back in 2003. We did shows for a few days and then we sailed off to the east of
Key West and
anchored off and snorkeled for a few days. Barracuda were mighty impressed with
this furry lure. If I dove in off the stern Lacey followed. She didn’t want to
miss a thing. She’ll bury her head beneath the water to look around, at least
she did back in the day. Now, she’s just an old dog. So, we sail the San Francisco Bay together. On blustery days she gives
me a look like, “who do you think, you’re kidding. You call this fun?” Other
days when things are not too raucous out there she doesn’t mind. I used to
leash her to the stern of the Golden Gate
sloop we owned and she’d spend the entire sail mesmerized by the wake kicked up
as the sloop healed over close hauled. Waves to a Jack Russell are like smoke
rings to a cat’s imagination. She can’t hear much anymore but she still helps
me see the world, or in this case the water, through her terrier eyes…This is
dog as lesson, lessons of wonder, life as never seen before….

     Bankrupt Heart                          The Second Novel 

 

      “Finn possesses such character. I
know your friend well. I think the loon loves his boats more than he loves his
women.” The man began to walk down the dock.

            “You do know Finn,” Ry finished his
thought. “Right about now I’d say there’s a woman trying to change his mind
about that.”

            “God bless the woman for trying. We
should all be so lucky.” The man waved goodnight.

            “What is your cat’s name?”

            “Her name is Asia…I
call her Catalyst, she owns this neighborhood.”

            Ry laughed. “I used to own a whole
city.”

Bankrupt Heart Copyright © 2011 by Dana Smith

 

Under the Spell of a Golden Gate Wooden sloop, Hull #18 Maestro

Baby in Cradle of the Imagination

Indian summer ignites my passions. I don’t mind a hot summer
day, don’t care for a cold winter night, but those last gasps of balm that
slather my skin as the Northern hemisphere inevitably marches toward winter
stir some deeper part of my yearnings. Because fitting out a wooden sloop is so
time intense they become objects of contemplation. Some days a single task
takes the whole of the day. You get out of a thing what you put into it. Put
your whole back into a marriage and you might just get the life partner your
heart has always dreamed of. So, like the feel of sun on my skin in October the
mere sight of a wooden sloop displaying a refurbished and seaworthy appearance
stirs some illusions I carry in my soul as I quest toward perfections that I
know do not actually exist in reality. And so against the odds a beautiful day
appears between the last storm and before the next. One repaired and soon to be
launched wooden sloop pushes back against the tyranny of all those neglected
hulls dissolving back into the primordial soup from which they arose. My mothers
love for her son was unconditional, absolute, and foundational. As Shunryu
Suzuki would say, “we must find perfection in imperfection.” Work on a wood
sloop beneath the healing beams of an Indian summer day comes close to such a
notion.

 

Bankrupt Heart                                               The Second Novel 

“He had to start over and walk the length of the mast one more time. Seemed by the
time he got to the other end he’d forgot he was supposed to be doing a final
inspection instead of dwelling upon his new job. It was like that for Ry. He
looked up. He turned and looked one direction and then in another direction, he
looked up into the sky, it was blue the air clear the sun warm, he looked down
into the water it was calm, reflecting the sky it was darker but blue, the
siren like high pitched scream of a woodworker cutting an edge with a router in
the distance sounded right to his ear, Palo and Javier were moving boats with
the jitney, Max had just dashed by in his straw hat with his stoic manner, the
yard was alive with one man  painting a
bottom, another man carving out a piece of rot from the hull of a wood boat in
the early stages of a major refit. The long rainy season was giving way to
warmer days. The light of the sun shined more often and longer. The late
afternoon was after a hot shower, if a man had worked to his limit became a time for
satisfaction, for a beer, with the acknowledgement that a hard day’s labor had
moved a project closer to its end.”

Bankrupt Heart Copyright © 2011 by Dana Smith

Removing Change

Going Back 40 Years

Finishing Bankrupt Heart meant I could focus on finishing the refinishing of the exterior of our redwood home. The east side of the building hasn’t been touched since it was first stained in 1974. Orbital sander in hand and with about 40 hours of spare time and just like that the side of the house is now ready for new stain. Sanding wood plays a role in the book and so it is appropriate I was allowed by the gods of fate to immitate the art I have just been saturated in for the last 21 months. Sanding like long fiction requires an extended time horizon. We have to look into the impulses for instant gratification and put those yearnings on hold while exercising patience. With time and effort great things can emerge so long as we are headed in the right direction. Having refinished my old wooden sloop so many times I’ve learned to follow the steps, and while it is hard to see, it is with the use of these many steps that a great accomplishment is completed. Working on the novel there lurks in the mind of an author a fear that what is being expressed on any one page won’t add up to a hill of beans, that all these incidents, these scenes to the story, hang together and mean little to nothing. Whether it is a novel, the side of a redwood building, or the fate of a nations future… what seems to emerge in my mind as one of the great lessons in life is that the great accomplishments come by having the courage to work toward something over a long time horizon. Working toward goals that will literally transform the workers, the world, and the soul of the men or women who have the courage to wait for the reward of a job well done. I’m waiting and listening for leaders who can inspire people to such ends, instead of spreading fear that such endeavors are not the source code to our future. These midgets of imagination need to be sent packing back to the timid and selfish world that they have crawled out of.

Bankrupt Heart                               The Novel

“I’m going to give Jasmine everything I got.” Ry said. “Whatever the hell I’ve been
doing the last three months, isn’t working.”

Finn was looking out the windows he was becoming
drowsy, drifting thought to thought. He wasn’t much listening anymore.

“I’m 56 years old and I still haven’t grown up, I’m
still scared of being alone.” He looked across the pilothouse toward his
friend. Could tell he was just about to fall asleep. “Finny, how come you like
being alone and I hate it?” Finn didn’t react, not a word, nothing. “Maybe
that’s how it works.” Ry concluded.

“How’s what work?” Finn said. He was absent, his
interest vanishing from the conversation.

“How do we make our dreams all come true?” Ry asked.
“Before it’s all over while there is still time.”

 

Change Changed Newport

A Place Named After a Floppy Hat

Busking was salvaged from the dictionary some years back and put to work again as a term describing street performing. I visited Newport,
Rhode Island and while strolling the waterfront walked past this joint. Not that busking would go down very well in Newport. I make it my business to know about where buskers play and Newport appears closed for business. When looking for situations that might be right for the game we play we are first looking for a space that we could make work. I didn’t see that space in Newport. Second we look for a situation. The situation looked promising. People appeared as if they could use something to do. Finally, we look for the kind of people who might react favorably to the offering. That looked hard to read by my eye. I’m not sure I saw a kind of visitor to downtown Newport who might be inclined to spending some impromptu moment engaged in a bit of mirth and diversion. I did see a good city sponsored music presentation in a
local waterfront park. And of course the legendary jazz and folk festivals are both in Newport. I didn’t really know what Newport, Rhode Island would mean, didn’t know what the vibe was in that town, but having been there now I kind of got my first taste. The legendary Andrew Potter of High Street Circus lives nearby in Jamestown with his wife and daughter when she’s not away in college. We walked the historic district, drove past the mansions, the New York City Yacht Club, and slipped the line off Andrew’s sailboat and took a good romp across her legendary sailing waters. Newport is a great place for buskers to go sailing is what I’ve learned. Some things will never change, even in the face of the fact that nothing remains the same forever. When the New York City Yacht Club lost the America’s Cup that is when change changedNewport.

Bankrupt Heart                              The Novel

“Nick had a nifty side job using a power washer to
clean hauled out boats. This morning he was flogging the pull chord trying to
get the machine to start. While Ry was sanding Nick was cussing, and this
wasn’t just simple cussing, this was existential cussing, this was cussing like
when Picasso was painting, this was Nick putting the fear of the gods into the
inanimate object of his unfulfilled wishes cussing, this was Nick flipping the
whole mess on its side, pulling spark plugs, replacing spark plugs, changing
gas, trying again until the power washer after ruining his whole day in spite
of all his impatience and cussing at long last started.”