Thursday, May 31, 2012

One Step Forward, Three Back

Sailcraft Boatyard, Oriental, NC
35 01.97 N 076 41.11 W

Well, with our work complete, we splashed Tarwathie this morning.  Our intent was to sail as far north as possible today, and attempt to put to sea Friday Night at the Chesapeake Bay.  A weather window from Friday night to Monday noon would just about get us to NYC by Monday.  

But those plans had to be abandoned.  After splash, the first item was to check for water leaks around the shaft log and dynaplate where we had done work.   No leaks, so far so good.  Next, we started the engine and checked for leaks were Dave and I had cleaned the heat exchanger and replaced some of the water hoses.  ALARM: looking below, I could see water streaming from the end caps on both ends of our head exchanger.  SHUT IT DOWN!

So now Tarwathie is temporarily rafted with another boat in the canal at the boatyard.  I took apart the end caps and inspected the area.   The aluminum water jacket is corroded and pitted so badly, that the rubber O-rings could not seal the gap.  I tried putting some Life Caulk in there.  Still leaks.

Consultation with Daryl at the boatyard gave me the bad news.  There were several temporary emergency fixes we might try, but they would all cause bigger trouble in the future.  The only real solution was to replace that water jacket. 

A call to Beta Marine, confirmed that they had the parts, but that the cost was $1219!   We have to buy a complete new assembly, jacket, heat exchanger, and end caps.

Triple ouch.  We thought that we had accomplished this haul out and projects with a very modest bill of $564.  But now we are into major hit territory.  

We have to wait until Friday afternoon for a new gasket for the jacket to arrive.  That means we'll definitely miss the weather window for NYC.

Oh well, it accomplishes nothing to get upset over things like this.  Stuff happens and some of those things are expensive.   

I'll have to think back to my maintenance history to see how much my lack of skill or attention contributed to the problem.  The heat exchanger and end caps are brass and the jacket is aluminum -- dissimilar metals seemingly begging for trouble.  They depend on the rubber O rings to not only seal leaks but also to prevent metal-to-metal contact.   It seems like a delicate design to me escalating the consequences of a slight misplacement of one of those rings to something very serious.  

The owner's manual says that I should be able to clean the heat exchanger myself, but I wonder now if that's wise.  A certified Beta mechanic would not make that mistake.

What else could Beta owners do?  They could coat the edges of the end caps with anti-seize (anti-galling) compound to prevent galvanic corrosion between aluminum and brass.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The Rescue of The John R. Noyes

Sailcraft Boatyard, Oriental, NC
35 01.97 N 076 41.11 W

I depart here from my normal blogging style to repeat verbatim one of the most amazing boating stories I ever heard.  I found it here. Charlotte, NY is on Lake Ontario.

U.S. Coast Guard Awards

George N. Gray
Frank B. Chapman
W. Vernon Downing
Charles Eastwood
Mial E. Eggleston
George E. Henderson
Ira S. Palmer
Delbert Rose
Lester D. Seymour

Awarded 3 January 1903

In recognition of their gallant conduct in effecting the rescue on 15 December 1902 of four men and one woman from the wreck of the schooner John R. Noyes, the crew of the life-saving station at Charlotte, NY received the Gold Lifesaving Medal. Those awarded included Keeper George N. Gray and Surfmen Frank B. Chapman, W. Vernon Downing, Charles Eastwood, Mial E. Eggleston, George E. Henderson, Ira S. Palmer, Delbert Rose, and Lester D. Seymour.
The circumstances of the case were as follows. About 5:30 PM on 14 December 1902, the train master of the New York Central Railroad at Charlotte, NY received a telegram requesting him to notify Keeper Gray that a vessel showing signals of distress lay at anchor about 3 miles off Lakeside, 23 miles from Charlotte. Upon receipt of the information, the keeper instantly prepared to go to her relief.
The harbor tug was frozen in the ice upriver and could not tow the surfboat to the scene. While trying to pull 23 miles against a head sea on a winter night would have been both useless and foolhardy. The keeper, therefore, resolved to proceed by rail to Lakeside and thence, if possible, to reach the vessel. He promptly secured orders for a special train at Windsor Beach and a gang of shovelers went to work breaking out two flat cars standing on a siding. Due to the deep snow and other obstructions, it was nearly two hours before the life-saving crew could get to the depot with the wagon carrying a surfboat. It would be an hour more before the train was ready.
Before leaving the station the keeper sent a telegram to the keeper of the Oswego Station. He requested him to dispatch a tug in search of the craft in order to save her. He also telegraphed Lakeside for teams to be in readiness for his use at that point. The special train was delayed by a freight train and Lakeside was not reached until 9:35 PM. From there the condition of the roads proved so unfavorable that sleds were necessary to transport the apparatus to the shore.
The journey of 4 miles was extremely difficult. There were great snowdrifts, at least 6 feet deep, obstructing progress. There were also very considerable stretches swept bare, over which it was impossible for four horses to drag the sleds. The crew was frequently compelled to assist in hauling them. At 11:30 PM the shore was gained and while the boat was being removed from the sleds. With the hope that it might encourage the distressed vessel’s crew, the keeper proceeded to a bluff and burned a red Coston signal. Before embarking, he also obtained as good an idea of her position as he could get.
Launching the boat, the crew pulled outside into the heavy sea. The weather, however, was bitter cold. The air was so thick with vapor that the keeper, after going about a mile, found it impossible to see a dozen yards ahead. Nevertheless, he kept on by compass until about 3:00 AM. For three and one-half hours they fruitlessly continued the search, burning several Coston signals. Finally, with the bewilderment so disheartening, he felt compelled to wait for daylight and ordered the boat ashore. At his request the people of the vicinity built a large bonfire, which it was hoped might possibly be seen from the vessel. All hands were permitted to lie down for 90 minutes. After breakfast the keeper sent the entire crew along the cliffs in order to sight the vessel, if possible, after daybreak. No signs of her, however, were discovered. Leaving a man on shore with instructions to ascend to the top of a windmill and signal which way the boat should go, again he launched the surfboat.
As soon as the lookout reached the top of the mill, he discovered the schooner in the distance. Upon his signal the keeper put back into the beach. He then spotted the vessel with the aid of marine glasses. Taking note of her bearings by the compass, he again launched. Having the wind astern, the boat soon made a distance of 10 miles off shore when the wind came brisk from the east. This compelled him to proceed in the dangerous trough of the combing waves. The weather was so cold that the spray rapidly covered the boat and its occupants with ice. The conditions then constantly grew more difficult and when the boat reached the wreck at 11:30 AM, 20 miles off shore, the wind was blowing very hard and the sea was running high.
The vessel and her crew were in a most pitiful condition. She had lost her sails, yawl boat, and both anchors, had her cabin smashed in. She was leaking fast and was heavily encumbered with ice. She was simply a helpless wreck, drifting about at the mercy of the storm. All on board were suffering from exposure for more than fifty hours and from lack of food for upward of thirty-six hours. They had lost hope, bidden one another goodbye, and were lying on the deck benumbed. Some were hysterical. In a little while all would have perished.
Having wrapped the woman in the keeper’s overcoat and provided her with mittens, the lifesavers managed to place all hands safely into the surfboat. As nothing could be done to save the wreck, the keeper pushed off quickly with a view of gaining the land before darkness should shut down. All were worn out and the return trip lay in the trough of the sea. This made it necessary to head the boat up to the breakers, whereby her progress was much impeded. A little assistance was rendered at the oars by some of the shipwrecked men when they were sufficiently recovered. After an extremely trying experience the shore was reached about 4:30 PM a mile and a half from the launching place.
On account of the accumulation of ice, however, the boat could not land. The crew was compelled to carry the rescued persons ashore, through the water and ice, on their shoulders. Then they pulled farther down, where horses dragged the boat ashore. After partaking of a warm supper, the crew proceeded with the boat to Lakeside and thence, by train, to Windsor Beach. They arrived at the starting point about 9:30 PM on 15 December. Having been engaged in this extremely hazardous enterprise more than a day and a night with little sleep, they were under oars from 11:30 PM of the 14th to 4:30 PM. of the 15th with the exception of about two hours. They pulled in a heavy seaway nearly or quite 60 miles and all were more or less frostbitten. Grave apprehensions existed on shore lest they be lost. Preparations were, in fact, made to send out a rescue party if necessary. Throughout all these trying circumstances they nobly bore their part.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Ship Shape & Ready

Sailcraft Boatyard, Oriental, NC
35 01.97 N 076 41.11 W

Well, we worked very hard.  We even had help.  Dave came down from Zebulon twice to help us for a day.  He says he's grateful for the lessons on marine systems maintenance.   We say we're grateful to see Dave (as always), but also for two days slave labor.

We also had help from Daryl, the boatyard mechanic.  He had just the right expertise and just the right tools twice.

So now, the work is done and we're ready to splash.  The only trouble is that Tropical Storm Beryl will be here in the morning.  Not a nice day to be out.  Therefore, we'll sit and do nothing another day.

So, what did we accomplish?

  1. Scraped, sanded, and painted the bottom. First time sincer September 2009, she needed it.
  2. Libby retouched all the scrapes and dock rash we accumulated over the years.  The paint is not a perfect match, but she looks much better.

  3. Removed the shaft log and replaced the cutlass bearing.  Now hopefully, the last remnants of vibrations left from years with our Max Prop will be gone.

  4. Re-installed the bobbin and shaft saver so that the properller spacing in the  aperture is about perfect.

  5. I gave up on the cone-shaped prop nut and zinc.  I retrieved the old prop nut from the Max Prop.  It screws on fine and I have a safety pin in it to prevent it from falling off.  No more worry about that.

  6. I pulled the shaft log and re-bedded it a second time because I wasn't satisfied with the friction we had turning the shaft in neutral.  Now, after the 2nd time, it turns much easier so I did make an improvement.

  7. We installed new boomkin tangs that I had bought from Bud Taplin.  Those are extremely critical parts.  If they break at sea with a strong wind behind you, dismasting will result.  It happened to three W32s in the past three years, so it is a matter of great concern for all Westsailors.

  8. We removed and cleaned the heat exchanger.  I tried and failed last year to get the end cap off.  Daryl from the boatyard was more clever than I.  He showed me how to do it.

  9. We tried to install a new high-rise exhaust header that I bought from Bud Taplin.  Without the high-rise there is a slight chance of having water back up into the engine if the boat is heeled at extreme angles (really extreme).  However we failed, and had to put the original header back in.  The problem is that the new header blocked the space where cooling water leaves the heat exchanger.  I'll need a 90 degree rubber elbow to make a sharp turn.  I'll retry that installation after finding the elbow.

  10. We compounded, waxed and buffed the hull topsides.
Like I said, being in a boat yard makes for very hard work days for us spoiled cruisers.  Now howeve, with the hard work done, we get the satisfaction of sitting back with a cool drink and saying sigh.

Ship shape and ready to splash.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Yard Work

Starcraft Boatyard, Oriental NC
35 N 71 W

I haven't kept up with blogging.  Too busy working.  Cruisers really prove the saying, "work-work play-play"   We play almost all the time and we really have fun.  However, when the boat is up on the hard in a dusty, hot boatyard, the priories are flipped.  We just want to finish our jobs and get out of here.   That makes for 12 hour days, working one's butt off.

It also shows up our aging bodies.  Never before has this boatyard work seemed so hard and so exhausting.  I'm afraid that we may graduate into the mode of paying expensive laborers to do the work for us.

On Friday Libby fell off the ladder.  Not far, only about 3 feet.  She wasn't hurt, but it demonstrates the point about our aging bodies. She said that it wasn't so much exhaustion, but rather the oppressive heat.

My plan is to let a mechanic do some work on the engine Tuesday, and splash on Wednesday AM.  However, that plan may have to bend because Tropical Storm Beryl will be over us on Wednesday.

The pictures below show the before and after views of Tarwathie's bottom.  We use ablative paint, and each successive coat gets a different color.  That way we can see how much the paint is worn by looking at the color.  The most recent paint was red, and under that is blue.  In the top picture (sorry for fuzzy focus) you can see where blue is showing through.

I screwed up on paint selection.  The new paint should have been black, but I bought blue.  Too bad.  The bottom picture shows her after the first coat.   The blue smurf dressed in white is yours truly.

Sorry for the poor focus

p.s. Last night Richard and Penny from Viking Rose came over from nearby.  We had dinner together at the Toucan Grill.  That was a fun reunion.  We haven't seen those two in two years.  Bowing to the bad economy, Richard took a full time job in Atlanta to replenish their sailing kitty.  They moved there.  However, in Atlanta Penny has really discovered herself as an artist, in competitive art show circuits.  She's doing very well.

p.p.s. We also met two very nice new friends, Drake and Mo on the W42 Paragon. Drake has an interesting history.  He single handed 7 years on a W32, then he traded up to a W42.  He single handed that too and he's sailed about everywhere between Nova Scotia and Venezuela. Drake and Mo are planning to sail to Ireland next spring.  Good luck to them.  See their youtube channel.  Search for drakeparagon on youtube.

p.p.p.s. Libby likes this boatyard better than the one in Deltaville, VA.  I think it will be a regular stop for us in the future.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Oriental public dock

See us on the web cam
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Carolina In the Morning

En Route, The Neuse River
35 02.02 N 076 58.27 W

Last night we sat in the cockpit chatting with George and Carol from Traumeri. I noticed that the topic of conversation drifted to the "luxury" amenities offered by various places that boaters frequent. By "luxuries" I mean things like coin laundry rooms without long waiting lines. Well, the New Bern Grand Marina is near the top of our list. I thought it might be fun to list them.
  • Access to family and friends.  This one is kind of personal.  We really appreciate the ability to visit with Dave and Cathy and to see Nick at Fort Bragg.  We also have several friends in the area that we enjoy visiting.
  • First rate docks.  This is a big marina with more than two miles of docks by linear measure.  The floating docks are well founded and stable.   Water & electric services are great. Pumpouts are free. The area also seemed to be very safe and secure, day and night.
  • Great rates.  We paid only $272 for a month in one of those nice slips.  That's less than we pay for a mooring in Vero and Marathon.  
  • Electric use is metered.  We used 21 kWh costing $3.23 in 24 days.  Tsk tsk how wasteful, we usually use only 0.6 kWh per day; here we cranked up the refrigerator, we used lights and the computer longer hours, and I used power tools for projects.  All that increased our consumption to more than 0.8 kWh/day.  That felt very decadent.  (My friend Walt says, "Heck, my wireless router uses more than that.")  

    By the way, we left our 50w solar panel on all the time, and it probably produced 50% or more of our electric use.  The 21 kWh was use over and above solar panel generation. I can use that number to properly size an expansion of our solar panel capacity.
  • Great facilities.  The marina is integrated with the Double Tree Hilton hotel.  Marina guests use the hotel facilities.   Luxury bathrooms finished in marble.  Great showers, very clean.  Free newspaper and Starbucks coffee in the morning.  An adequate laundry and sailors lounge.  Great WiFi.  Use of the hotel van.  We didn't ask but we may have been able to use the hotel pool and exercise room.
  • Active location.  The hotel, the next door convention center and the adjacent New Bern downtown buzz with interesting activities and events.   Even more than Burlington, Vermont.
  • Neat stores and restaurants downtown.  So many downtowns in the USA today look like ghost towns.  Not so here in New Bern.   The number of art galleries and stores and their quality are amazing.
  • Nearby shopping.  Just 15 minutes away by bicycle is a Walmart, Harris Teeter supermarket, Waffle House, and just about any other store.
  • History.  We watched a civil war reenactment once in New Bern.  We've also taken our guests to tour Tryon Palace just 300 meters away.   That tour, by the way, is very educational.
  • Beautiful river setting.   It is very pretty looking out over the river at night.  We tied up next to the railroad bridge, but that didn't spoil things.  Indeed, watching the RR workers working at glacial speed, and the trains going by slower than a man's walking pace were great entertainment.
  • Day/overnight sailing.  Any time the weather looks nice, just cast off the lines and go for a day sail on the Neuse River.  It's a great place to sail.  If you don't make it back before dark, just drop the hook almost anywhere in the river and spend the night.
  • Great weather.  We haven't been here in mid Winter or Summer, but in the spring and fall, the weather is very pleasant.   Especially the mornings.  Remember the song, "Nothing Could Be Finer than to Be in Carolina in the Morning?"   Well, it's true. I liked to do my chores and activites in the mornings.  After lunch and a nap, when it started to get really warm, I would retreat to the air conditioned sailor's lounge until suppertime when things cool off again.   This year we saw no mayflies, and hardly any flies or mosquitoes.
  • Fun people.  There were not too many cruisers this year.  The marina was full of local boats temporarily displaced from their home marinas by fire or Hurricane Irene.  However, we did get to meet a number of interesting local sailors around the docks.
What't not to like?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

A New Suit of Clothes for Tarwathie

New Bern, NC
35 05.91 N 077 01.95 W

No, not a new suit of sails, a new suit of clothes.  See the picture.  For more than a year, Libby wanted a new set of covers for our cabin cushions.  The old ones we used for 7 years, plus who knows how many other years with the previous owner.   The cushions are fine, but the covers were worn.

In Saint Augustine, Libby got a great bargain at the Sailor's exchange, buying Sunbrella fabric for $4/yard.  Then she arranged with Wendy (of Jeff&Wendy fame on board W32 Calypso), to sew the covers.  Yesterday, Jeff & Wendy came to dinner and they delivered the new covers.  They are nice, very nice indeed.   We put two coats of Scotchguard on them and we hope they'll last a long time.

Click to see the whole picture.

But that's only the beginning for Tarwathie this week.  Tomorrow we leave for Oriental.  On Friday we go up on the hard at the Sailcraft Boatyard.  Tarwathie will get the full spa treatment.  She'll have her bottom washed, scraped, polished and painted,  her flanks cleaned and waxed, and her cutlass bearing replaced.  After that she should be a happy girl for quite a while.

We are perhaps behind schedule to be in Rome NY on June 23 for Sara's High School Graduation.  However, we scheduled the yard work this way to avoid being on the water over Memorial Day weekend.   We've learned over the years, that holiday weekend boaters are a menace, and that the worst weekend of all is Memorial Day Weekend.

Monday, May 21, 2012


New Bern, NC
35 05.91 N 077 01.95 W

Even though we have been living the life of cruisers for more than seven years, I never felt fulfilled.  The problem was the promotional video made to sell Westsails in the 1970s.  In that video, the skipper of the W32 had a wonderful jaunty cap that made him look so very  nautical. I thought, that one can't truly be a cruiser without a cap like that one.  See the picture.

I always wanted a cap like that and I asked Libby several times to get one as a present.  The trouble is that most stores don't sell stuff like that and searching for "jaunty hat" on the Internet won't produce useful results.  Thankfully, today Libby found almost exactly the right cap as a used clothes store here in New Bern.

What do you think?  (p.s. for smart alecs.  I'm not claiming that I'm jaunty, just that the cap is jaunty.)


Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Shriners Parade

New Bern, NC
35 05.91 N 077 01.95 W

On Saturday, we went to see the Shriners parade, just a few hundred yards away.   Neither Libby nor I have ever seen a Shriners parade before.  It was a lot of fun.  Actually, it was hard to tell who was having the most fun, The Shriners, the kids watching, or the rest of the spectators.   For the rest of the weekend, the Hilton here is full of Shriners.  I guess they really do pump a lot of money into local economies.

I'm sure you know, Shriners are also a charitable organization dedicated to helping children.  They finance a number of childrens hospitals.  Today though, it appeared to be an organization dedicated to allowing mature white men to wear silly costumes and act immature.  Sure looks like fun to me.

Below is a little slide show I made of the parade.

I somewhat regret never having joined any kind of club. There are Freemasons, Lions, Rotary, Kiwanis, Moose, Elk, Toastmasters. You name it they got it. But I never paid much attention to them. To my best recollection, neither have any of my friends ever belonged to any such club. The one exception was my friend Kalle in Finland who was active in Jaycees. Now it's probably too late for me; I live a nomadic life style.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Contortionist Not

New Bern, NC
35 05.91 N 077 01.95 W 

If I could average 3-4 hours per day on boat projects, I could keep well ahead of the list.  In reality, I typically do only 1-3 hours work per day on work days.  On travel days I do zero.  Therefore, I keep up with the list only barely.

Some boat projects are difficult to do except when at a dock.  That includes work on the dinghy, projects that need electric power, and those which require that we vacate the boat.   This month in New Bern I'm doing a little of each.

I sanded the bottom of the dinghy.  Then, Libby and I put a new layer of fiberglass cloth and epoxy resin on the bottom.  I sanded it again, and then put on two coats of antifouling bottom paint.   Finally, I overcoat the portion above the waterline with a lighter color.  Bottom paint only comes in dark colors.  The reason for all this is that our dinghy needs reinforcement.  It is made of fiberglass, and it tends to get crushed at dinghy docks like at Vero and Marathon.   Getting squeezed between other dinghies creates longitudinal cracks in the hull, which eventually leak water.   Also, I'm hoping that use of antifouling paint may help in Vero and Marathon where the dinghy sits for long times in subtropical water.

This week, I'm refinishing the floor in Tarwathie's main cabin.  The floor finish seems to last only two years.  I've used polyurethane and bowling alley varnish -- same result.  I'm sure it would last longer if Libby and I could ever learn the habit of never wearing the same shoes on board as on shore.  We've tried and tried to acquire that habit, using various memory jogging crutches, but it never stuck.

Actually varnishing the floor means we must evacuate the boat until the finish dries.   It also means that I must paint myself into a dead-end.  A dead-end that ends with a ladder.  Then I have to paint the floor right up to the end and the ladder itself.  If I were in my 20s, I could hang the paint bucket on a string from my neck, then do one-armed handstands to support my body as I painted with the other hand, and do it all as I hand-standed myself up that ladder.   Well, I'm 67 years old so acrobatics like that are beyond imagination.  Still, via all sorts of contortions and Spider Man type tricks, I mange to accomplish the painting job.  I can't describe in words how I do it.  Too bad I can't take a video of myself doing that.  I'm sure you would enjoy it.  By the way, I have to do it all three times to put down three coats.

I'm considering a totally different approach.  I could open the portholes and hatches for ventilation, then paint down the ladder and across the floor until I painted myself into a corner where I could crawl up into bed.  Then after a good night's sleep, we could walk on the floor again come morning.  Assuming the ventilation is sufficient, it might be a better way.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

How Much Water

New Bern, NC
35 05.91 N 077 01.95 W

I love this picture. It is an ingenious way to illustrate how much waster is on Planet Earth.  If all our water were a sphere, it's radius would be 700 km.  That's about half the radius of the Moon.   Still, it looks tiny in this perspective.

To those of us who live on the the water and who sail the oceans, the amount of water seems nearly infinite.  Not so, as these clever people illustrated.

Illustration Credit & CopyrightJack Cook, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Howard Perlman, USGS

For more explanation about this remarkable picture, look here.

By the way, note how well this picture illustrates how wide the North American Continental shelf is along the USA East Coast.  That's why in most of our offshore sailing, we are still in water less than 100 feet deep.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Answer

The Neuse River
34 57.80 N 076 43.77 W

Well well well.  As I predicted, a number of you correctly said that the mystery object is a serving mallet.  What I didn't expect were the number of clever but smart-alecy additional answers.

The picture below shows diagrams for serving and seizing of wire rope, and also how the serving mallet is used. On Tarwathie, I used siezed connections for  our lifeline gates, and for the running backstays.  For the main stays and shrouds, we have Norseman connectors, but no swaged fittings.

The served and seized fittings are said to be 85% as strong as the Norseman fitting.  However, on lifelines and stuff we have swaged fittings.  They have started to slip indicating that they are not properly holding.

Actually, I'm disenchanted with stainless steel standing rigging of all kinds.  Having learned more now about how it can fail catastrophically and disastrously, and how difficult it is to spot incipient failure, and how hard it is to properly maintain SS, I think it sucks.  Someone on another blog pointed out that stainless steel rigging was invented for racing boats, and that it is not really optimal for cruising boats.   I'm going to gradually replace my stainless rigging with ropes.  Of course I'll use the modern miracle fiber ropes that are stronger, and lighter than steel, and which resist abrasion and chafing.  I think one fo the brands is Amsteel.

I think that the proper criteria for a cruising boat are that all equipment should be able to be adequately inspected on board, and also repaired or replaced when under way.  Stainless steel standing rigging, especially swaged fittings, do not meet those criteria.

Swaged lifeline fitting that is failing.

By the way, I follow Westsail news via the owners association ( I think that it is noteworthy that in recent years, 100% of the cases of major structural failures and abandonment of Westsails have been because of stainless steel rigging failures.  Some critical parts, like tangs and chain plates offer no alternative.   I've never heard of bronze chain plates.  But other critical parts do have alternatives.

So, how well did my home made serving mallet work?  It failed.  It was doing a great job, laying down a very tight, very uniform layer of serving, when the tension on the string became so strong that it crushed the mallet body.  See the picture.  I finished the job, but the mallet is ruined.   The hardware store dowel I used was too soft.  A serving mallet must be made of much harder, must stronger wood.  Oh well, I'll throw in the towel and buy a commercial serving mallet, complete with spool, on the Internet.

By the way,David drove down to go sailing with us Monday and Tuesday. The weather forecasts have been dismal, but 100%^ wrong. Yesterday morning it was supposed to blow 10-15, it blew 15-25 instead. It was supposed to rain all day yestrday, last night and this morning. We only saw a few sprikles. It was suppoesed to blow 25 last night, it blew zero. It was supposed to below 25 this morning, it is blowing 8. However, we've had good luck with wind direction so we're having a great time sailing. We are acclimating Dave to Tarwathie with the thought that some day he'll be her owner.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

New Bern Nicer Still

New Bern, NC
35 05.91 N 077 01.95 W

Even though we liked New Bern before, this weekend we discovered other local delights.

One was the New Bern Artwalk.  All the local art stores had open house.  There are lots of them.  We were amazed at the quantity and quality of art from local artists.  This really is a haven for artists.  One cool place was the Amateur Artist.  Customers paint their own art on unfinished pottery.  The store than fires them for you.  Lots of families, like the one in the picture, came as a group and everyone in the family did their own.  Neat idea.

The next day they had an antique car show.  Of course we have seen lots of those.  But this show had extra fine cars, some really exquisite.

Foreigners laugh at Americans about how involved we are with our cars.  It's true.  We associate cars with strong memories, like the ones in the pictures below from yesterday's New Bern Antique Car Show.   I put a caption on each to explain what memory each triggered.  Boy what a buzz I got from seeing those cars.

Libby and I first dated in a 1956 DeSoto.  Here is a 1954 DeSoto.
The front seat of a DeSoto is where Libby and I made out.
We had  a Dodge like this; same color.  Used it to drive to Sacandaga Lake to sail.
A Chrysler like one of the many cars my Dad brought home.
An exquisite Ford.  All brass plated parts, even a carbide generator to make gas for the lights.
George & Carol have a Porsche, but not like this one.
What happened to good old fashioned shotgun weddings?
This Ford 150 pickup was exquisite.  Note the mirrors on the ground.
In the 1960s, the coolest show on TV was called Route 66.  It featured a Corvette like this.
More of the Ford 150
An Imperial like one of the many cars my Dad brought home.
Libby and I went on a Mustang Road Rally in a car like this with our friend Harry.
My Dad & Mom had a 31 roadster with a rumble seat like this one.
I once owned a 1958 Chevy, this one is a 1956.
The 1957 Chevy is the classicalest of classic cars.
I also owned a 1951 Ford that looked like this.
The steering was so bad I had a hard time keeping it on the road.
My Dad ran away from home at 17, got a job selling new Model A Fords like this one.
They sold for $65 each.
Look at the engine in this 1912 Rambler.
I guess I must explain something.  My Dad was a factory representative for Chrysler Corporation.  Part of his job was to let dealers see every variation of every model Chrysler made.  Therefore, he brought home a brand new car every week, sometimes twice per week.  When I was 16 he let me borrow a 1960 Plymouth Sport Fury Convertible; red and white; white leather seats; a 413 cubic inch Hemi engine with two 4-barrel carbs, and automatic push-button transmission. It was a lot like the one in the picture below. I drove it at 60 mph, then stomped on the gas, it burned rubber starting from 60.  I chickened out at 120.  Remember that sucker must have weighed 6000 pounds.  It was a monster.  Even today, it is my concept of the best car ever.

1960 Plymouth Sport Fury

My Dad also took the Chrysler turbine-powered concept car to New York City.  He drove to Rockerfeller Plaza where there were news cameras,  poured a quart of Chanel Number 5 in as fuel (at $3000 per quart), took off one wheel (to demonstrate torsion bar suspension) and drove around NYC for the rest of the day on three wheels.

The Chrysler Turbine Car

Saturday, May 12, 2012

A Cruiser's Hero

New Bern, NC
35 05.91 N 077 01.95 W

I love this interview with Matt Rutherford. Matt was the man who sailed nonstop solo around the Americas in an Albin 27. Click below to hear Neil Conan do a great radio interview with Matt.

Friday, May 11, 2012

Mystery Object

New Bern, NC
35 05.91 N 077 01.95 W 

Yesterday we spent a nice day with George and Carol from the cruising vessel Traumeri.  Their land-based residence is here near New Bern.  It was fun.  Thank you much George and Carol.

While we were there, I used George's wood working shop to make the object in the picture below.  It is something I've needed on the boat for a long time, but I couldn't make myself without woodworking tools.  So now I'm making it a blog reader's contest.   What is that object called?  What is it used for?  Post your answer as a comment.  I'm confident that my knowledgeable readers will get the answer within minutes.

p.s. If you want one of those, I have two extras and George has three.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Storing Anchors

New Bern, NC
35 05.91 N 077 01.95 W
Secure storage of anchors is difficult.  There are many types of boats, and types of anchors.  In my opinion, most real life anchor storage arrangements are poorly designed and not seaworthy.   To prove my point, I made a photo survey of actual boats here in the New Bern Grand Marina.

Most anchors and most bow rollers have holes to put in a safety pin that secures the anchor when not in use.  Looking around, I see that 90% of the time the holes don't align making them useless.   Of course not everyone sails offshore and if they don't the safety pin is less necessary.  In my opinion, a safety line is better than a safety pin.

Tarwathie's rig, and some of the best and worst examples from my survey are below.  At the bottom is a movie of all 71 pictures in my photo survey.

On Tarwathie, we are stuck with the bowsprit platform constraints.  When at sea, I tie a safety line from the hole in our CQR anchor to the base of the staysail.  I used to carry our Danforth anchor in a bracket attached to the bow pulpit.  The second bow roller is useless for the Danforth.  Then I read on the WOA forum that the extra weight of anchor stowage forward and up high costs up to 10 miles per day performance when at sea.  Since then, I store my Danforth in the lazarette.  As a matter of safety, I always keep the primary anchor ready for rapid use regardless of performance penalties.

Terrible.  No secure mount at all.
Perfect fit, snug, secure.  Must be custom fit to the anchor.
Oh God

Storing Danforth type anchors is hard.
This is the only one I saw with an adequate safety pin installed.

This 37' foot boat uses a tiny anchor the same size as my dinghy anchor.  Oh no!
This stainless wire is too flimsy.  It will break.
Whoops! What happened here?
Anchors with roll bars are difficult.  Here's one with a well fitted bow roller.
Last winter, my friend Darrick on Y-KNOT bought a new anchor with a roll bar.  It proved to be more difficult than he thought to mount it securely.  He had to have a custom bow roller made.

The movie follows.

Tuesday, May 08, 2012

North Carolina's Inland Sea

New Bern, NC
35 05.91 N 077 01.95 W

I've written before that we spend about 4 months of every year in migration mode, heading North or South.  However, we manage to dawdle 1-2 of those months in North Carolina.  Why?

At first, in 2005, we learned to love The Great Dismal Swamp, Elizabeth City, and Oriental.  Those three delights made NC the most fun part of the journey.   

Later, we began getting bored with the ICW in NC, and started doing side trips.  We discovered Bath, Washington, Edenton and New Bern.    

Still later, we discovered that skipping the ICW entirely and sailing the Outer Banks route to Manteo and Okracoke was much more fun.

Then, last year we had an added attraction.  Dave and Cathy moved from Fairbanks to Zebulon, NC (near Raleigh).   Hooray.  Now, in addition to the other fun, we can visit family while here.  To make it easier, the Grand Marina in New Bern rents a slip with excellent facilities for less money than we pay for a mooring ball in Marathon.

All that doesn't tell you what a jewel the NC inland waters really are.  Take some time to study the lovely picture below.  Click on it to see it full screen.

US Geological Survey. Post-processing and production by

The big body of water to the East is Pamlico Sound. It is a huge body of brackish water, about 20 feet deep. When it is not storming, Pamlico Sound is a wonderful place to sail. Open waters, very few obstacles or shoals, and no ocean waves or swells.  Anchor almost anyplace.

West of Pamlico Sound, from North To South. are The Abemarle Sound, The Pamlico River, and The Neuse River. These are each major rivers. The mouth of The Neuse River alone is 13 mlies across. At the head of The Abemarle, is Edenton, at the head of the Pamlico is Washington, NC, and at the head of the navigable Neuse is New Bern.

I estimate about 15000 square miles of inland navigable waters in NC.  Compare that with 500 square miles for Lake Champlain, 25000 square miles for Lake Ontario,  3000 for coastal Maine, 1500 for San Francisco Bay, 4500 for Chesapeake Bay, and 150000 for The Baltic Sea.

Almost all of these waters are fresh, or only slightly brackish.  The waters are also full of tannin which colors them brown like root beer.  Also, there are hardly any tides in all these waters, but strong northerly or southerly winds can make water depths vary as much as 4 feet north to south.

The ICW runs North to South, crossing The Abemarle, Pamlico, and Neuse, via man-made connecting canals too small to see on that picture.

We enter NC via the Dismal Swamp and Elizabeth City at the top center of the picture, and exit at Beaufort Inlet at the bottom center of the picture.   Cape Lookout is visible at the lower border of the picture and Cape Hatteras on the right border.

If the weather were better, we would be tempted to spend much more time here.   Alas, in the summer months, NC and the Chesapeake Bay are characterized by stifling hot and humid weather and no winds. The winters are usually mild but still too cold for spoiled cruisers like us.  

Weather aside, if NC only had mountain views like Lake Champlain offers, we would be sorely tempted to stay longer.  Around this time of year though, we are fed up with flat land, and we yearn for New York and Vermont scenery.

If you are not a full time cruiser and you would like a change from chartering in the Caribbean, consider North Carolina in October.  I guarantee you would have fun.

If you are an East Coast Cruiser following the ICW.  I strongly suggest that you allow 2-3 weeks in your migration schedule to linger in NC and to get away form the ICW,  explore the rivers, sounds and banks.

Saturday, May 05, 2012

Lunation Lunacy

Zebulon, NC

Tonight's perigenal full moon was in the news today.

Do I seem obsessed by lunation phenomona?  If so, that is because it's true.  I think it is great fun to see the wonders of nature in a way that science and mathematics predict so accurately.

Spring tides are extra high/extra low tides that occur when the moon and the sun are aligned (new moon) or opposed (full moon).   When sun and moon are 90 degrees out of phase, we have neap tides.  Actually, spring tides happen a couple of days after new/full moons because of local effects.

Below, you see the tides for 30 days at Bridgeport, Connecticut.  The spring/neap tide variations are very plain.

The moon's orbit is not circular.  It is closest ad perigee and furthest at apogee.  The biggest spring tides occur when full or new moon correspond to perigee.  They are called perginal spring tides.  Below you see the tides at Bridgeport, Connecticut for a period of 400 days.  At that scale you not only see the spring tide cycles, but the variations in spring tide levels and thus the perigenal spring tides.  Cool huh?

Regular readers also know that I've written several times about perfect moonrises.  I define a perfect moonrise as being the time when the moon rises in exact syncronism as the sun sets.  That happens, of course, on the evenings of full moons.  However, at the moment of full moon, there is only one longitude on earth where the moon is rising at that exact minute.  The coincidence of that date, time and longitude give you the time and place of the perfect moonrise.  I calculated those dates, times and longitudes for the next several years.  See the table below.

--Date----- -Latitude- --Approximate Place-- 

2012 May  6       054W Suriname
2012 Jun  4       168W American Somoa
2012 Jul  3       077E New Delhi, India
2012 Aug  2       052W Cayenne, French Guiana
2012 Aug 31       151E Sydney, Australia
2012 Sep 30       050W Sao Paulo, Brazil
2012 Oct 29       062E Western Afganistan
2012 Nov 28       138E Papua, New Guinea
2012 Dec 28       156W Hawaii
2013 Jan 27       070W Buzzards Bay, Rhode Island, USA
2013 Feb 25       053E The Caspian Sea
2013 Mar 27       143W Chugach Mountains, Alaska, USA
2013 Apr 25       060E Ural Mountains, Russia 
2013 May 25       067W Bar Harbor, Maine, USA
2013 Jun 23       174W Aukland, New Zealand
2013 Jul 22       086E Kathmandu, Nepal
2013 Aug 21       026W Thule, Greenland
2013 Sep 19       168W Midway Island, Pacfic
2013 Oct 18       006E Luxembourg
2013 Nov 17       131E Kyusu, Japan
2013 Dec 17       142W Marquesas Island, Pacfic
2014 Jan 16       074W New York City
2014 Feb 14       001E London, England
2014 Mar 16       102E Bangkok, Thailand
2014 Apr 15       116W Las Vegas, Nevada, USA
2014 May 14       070E Kabul, Afganistan
2014 Jun 13       064W Virgin Islands, Atlantic
2014 Jul 12       172W Midway Islands, Pacfic
2014 Aug 10       087E Rangpur, India
2014 Sep  9       025W Azores Islands, Atlantic
2014 Oct  8       163W Aleutian Islands, Bering Sea
2014 Nov  6       024E Athens, Greece
2014 Dec  6       173E Midway Islands, Pacific
2015 Jan  5       074W New York City
2015 Feb  3       013E Rome, Italy
2015 Mar  5       088E Dhaka, Bangaladesh
2015 Apr  4       178E Fiji, Pacific
2015 May  4       056W Buenas Aires, Argentina
2015 Jun  2       115E Hong Kong
2015 Jul  2       036W Mouth of the Amazon River, Brazil
2015 Jul 31       162W Nome, Alaska, USA
2015 Aug 29       081E Sri Lanka
2015 Sep 28       043W Rio De Janerio, Brazil
2015 Oct 27       179E International Date Line, Pacific
2015 Nov 25       019E Budapest, Hungary
2015 Dec 25       168W Niue Islands, Pacific

Unfortunately for me, none of those are the time and place where I'm likely to be.  In fact, for a given longitude, one gets to see a perfect moonrise only once every 30 years.  A perfect perigean moonrise happens once every 225 years at a given longitude.  Therefore, the chances of seeing any of these events is very rare unless you are willing to travel to the given longitude to see it.

Friday, May 04, 2012

Song Birds, Night Sounds

New Bern, NC
35 05.91 N 077 01.95 W

I've mentioned before that Libby misses her garden.   Obviously, there must be some things about shore bound life that we miss.   For me it is the sound of song birds and other night sounds.   I'm reminded of that by being in New Bern and Zebulon where we are treated to those wonderful sounds temporarily.

You see, most of the time we are too far from shore to hear the song birds.   Instead, we hear the sea birds, the lapping of the waves, and sometimes the sound of dolphins venting.  

My favorite song bird sound is that of the mourning dove.  At night, the crickets establish the "normal" background that marks night.   Indeed, a night doesn't sound normal at all without the crickets.  In the 1970s, we had a visit from a man from Finland.  He never heard a cricket before.  He almost tore his apartment to bits to locate the source of that strange sound at night.  It kept him from sleeping.  For him, crickets were entirely unnatural.

Most of all, I and Libby miss the sound of our peepers.   Peepers are tiny little frogs that make big sounds.  A colony of peepers lived near the pond at our house in West Charlton.   The arrival of spring was marked in our minds by the sound of the first peeper to thaw out and make his sound.  Then, throughout March, April and May, the number and volume of peepers increase to a crescendo.   Finally, by the end of June the sounds stop.  You see, they peep in search of love. "Peep peep.  I'm over here."  When they find it, they are satiated and peep no more.   Wonderful.

Wednesday, May 02, 2012

Too Much Temperature

New Bern, NC
35 05.91 N 077 01.95 W

Today it was very hot.   We went to the beach.  Out there it was nice, but the water was too cold to swim.  Along the way we also found a couple of those luscious southern pine trees.  Libby and I harvested about 15 pounds of pine needles.  That should be enough to keep her busy for the summer.   The needles were perhaps 10" long; not as long as those in Carolina Beach, but plenty good nonetheless.

The rest of this week it will be in the 90s every day.  Ushch.  But listening to the Albany NY NPR station on Monday, I heard that they had a hard freeze warning up there.  So this is the in between time of year.  Too hot here, too cold up there.

Actually, today would have been a lovely day to sail from Frying Pan Shoals to Beaufort.  There was a steady 12 knot SE breeze, and the bright sunlight made the sea look green insted of gray.   Out there, the ocean moderates the temperatures so that even hot days are comfortable. This is the kind of weather I expected when Sten-Orjan came here.  Oh well, C'est la vie.

Marching In Step

New Bern, NC
35 05.91 N 077 01.95 W

The small pleasures of staying here in New Bern mount up.   Today I discovered that the free morning coffee served at the Hilton Hotel (the marina is part of the hotel)  is now Starbucks coffee.  

Also this morning we were treated to the music of a fife and drum corps practice.  Their music was so good and so stirring, that I found it impossible to walk normally.  My brain forced me to march in step.  I think the fife and drum corps is associated with Tryon Palace which is very close to us.  Believe me, they are very very good.

Today, we are going to take the advice of our daughter in law, Cathy, and use the car to explore things in the surrounding countryside.

Tuesday, May 01, 2012

More on Khan

New Bern, NC
35 05.91 N 077 01.95 W

The more I learn about Khan Academy, the more excited I get. It is a great concept, and it could help to turn around our sick educational system. That's a big bold statement. To see why, watch the video below. This video is not a sample Khan lecture, but an explanation of the whole concept and how it works.

To watch the video, click here.