Light and Invariable

Attendance by the Old Bay Club was light, but the fun was invariable. Molly, Zephyr, Ginger, English Tart and Una sailed out of Belle Island State Park on the Rappahannock River. Winds were variable. Friends constant. Meals delectable. Glad we went.

Beetle Cat Specifications

Camille: Hull #713 was built in 1958 for a Mr. Cramer of Padanaram Harbour, South Dartmouth, MA by the Concordia Company along with 64 sister boats that same year. Other owners have been Francis Welch of Manchester, MA, Harry Holcomb of Franktown, VA and most recently Keith Meyer of Gloucester, VA. Construction is of white cedar carvel planked on white oak frames, keel and stem.

Hull Type: carvel Rig Type: Gaff cat
LOA: 12′-4″ LWL: 11′-8″
Beam: 6′-1″ Listed SA: 140 ft2
Draft: 24″(bd down.)/ 8″ (bd up.)
Hull Weight: 375 lbs. All Up Weight: 450 lbs.
Designer: John Beetle 1921
Construction: Wood (carvel on steam bent frames)

Happy Anniversary Baby?

Anniversaries come too often. Every year! The one for marriage is particularly daunting. What do you give the girl who has given you so much this year? More diamonds? A new vacuum cleaner? You see my dilemma. It is easy to get in a rut, but how many appliances can one women own? This year I’m not sure I played it safe, but I hope both wheels aren’t in the ditch. No, not a new car! You crazy? However, I may be closer to one end of the spectrum of desires. Anyway, in looking across Craigslist (Yes I said it. Should I have gone to Wally Mart?), I found a 1958 Beetle Cat, in much need of love. Despite its disheveled condition, it brought to mind the simple joy at 9 years old when I sailed my first boat, a similar small craft called a Turnabout. I’ve long thought that if I could place anyone at the helm of such a boat, they’d be hooked on the joy so many know. But as a gift to your wife?! I know. I know.

Cover girl at bottom in better days.

Well, I went to see the little 12′ boat anyway and determined there was too much involved, thanked the seller for his time and left. The mistake was that I had taken pictures and continued later to gaze at them. This boat wasn’t so horrible. Look at that “moccasin” sheer (Thanks Peter). Before long I had a list of repairs and, predictably, had rationalized a second visit.

The now 4th owner had her for several years, but said he’d never launched her. Before his time the hull and deck were glassed in 1986, not something generally done to a wooden boat, but it just may have been this one’s salvation. After sounding the hull and reassessing that list, my offer was accepted. “Watermelon” was secretly hauled home. Her color scheme befit her name, green, pink and beige. That had to go. Renamed, “Camille”, after my girl, the ownership stuck and a commitment began. All the bronze hardware mounted to the spars was removed to soak in antifreeze held in a crock pot (no, not the one from the kitchen). Decades of varnish sloughed off overnight. Removing the same layers from the spars chemically proved too arduous. Scrapers, a hand plane and sanding worked faster. Mast hoops were stripped and restored with a “boat soup” used on my kayak paddles. The hoops are now a nice contrast to the varnished mast and slide much better. Perhaps the biggest task was repairing the broken fiberglass cracks parallel to either side of the keel at the centerboard case. This required cutting out old glass, fastening stainless screws from keel to case, bunging holes, fairing all with epoxy and wood flour and then tapering two layers of glass from keel to inside of case. One item not foreseen was a swollen centerboard from old rusted iron drift pins. After some scraping and discovering rot there also, I elected to make a new board. Three layers of Okoume marine ply sandwiched epoxy and glass between. Lead was cast in a cut out and the entire thing glassed with an epoxied and graphite mix.

almost there

Topsides were primed, sanded and given 3 coats of Interlux Brightsides using the roll and tip method. A portable garage kept dust and bugs to a minimum. One more coat of bottom paint, and she is going for a sail. The remaining interior cleanup can come along later. So far I’ve 4-5 solid days in the effort. She’s starting to shine and debuted this past Sunday. As insurance a long loving letter accompanied the presentation. Hard to believe, but the sentiments were reciprocated. I had a feeling. Camille was too pretty to cast off.

Has anyone seen my wife? More later-

Fourth, Fireworks & Luna

There’ve been a few sails I’ve left out from June. Had some fine sailing with Peter and his Caledonia, Nip, in Kinsale. Also, a nice midday sail was had with Randy in his William Garden Eel. However, we’ll start here and maybe work back to the others later …

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After several days together, the tail end of the family (wife, youngest boy and dog) went home. Just me and Luna took a sail up river Independence Day. It was a hot afternoon, yet the breeze was steady. Avoiding the still air going directly downwind, we jibed back and forth across the river stirring some air upon us. We were the only sailboat out. Even motorboats were scarce. Maybe threatening thunder clouds squelched enthusiasm? They were around, but missed us altogether, scudding out over the Bay. As a result, the sun was blanketed before official sundown. The temperature drop was welcomed. So was a bucket dousing of sea with a fresh water rinse. All then was pleasant. Swimming would have been preferred, but I’ve yet to find a suitable boarding ladder to my liking. With margarita in hand I sketched on a solution that’s been fulminating. It is for marine ply “slot and tab” construction so storage can be flat and under the cockpit seat out of the way. I’ll build it when Luna is hauled next. Requires scribing to the hull. Hopefully soon. Her varnish suffers, but life is short. Sailing must go on.

The standing mizzen directed a nice breeze into the cockpit. Another margarita added to the party of shuffled tunes. Dinner was made with Top Ramen and cold cucumbers pickled earlier in the week.

Dusk brought random cracks and fireworks popping along both shores. At 21:00 the “big show” at the local high school set off for nearly 20 minutes. Those were glimpsed under the mizzen boom and off the starboard bow Yorktown’s display rumbled and peered above the distant tree line. Toward the end a motorboat idled maybe 50 yards off filled with maybe 10 people. One of the crew cackled incessantly for several minutes until there was a splash. Apparently she was pushed. The mother of this swimmer then shut down the cruise by unleashing a tirade into the “captain” that would make any sailor blush. Thought I knew all those words. I do now. After that all was quiet as they slowly motored off. We were alone again, in the dark. A good sleeping breeze drifted below and by 23:00 we were sacked out and did not move until 05:30.

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Wiping the dew from the cockpit, we breakfasted on raisin bran and fresh coffee as the sun appeared. Luna requires hardly a breath to move, but even that was absent. The outboard started easily but kept quitting above an idle. Suspecting bad fuel and/or a clogged injector (found it to be both a couple days later. Running fine again), we motor sailed back to Luna’s mooring at an idle. Tying her cover is easy from the dinghy and we row the seventy yards home. Glad we went.

Hippie Fest 2019

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Aren’t we a people who love to label? Sadly, our rush to categorize often dismisses the real chances of nuance. Some names stick, perhaps deservedly. Others are short lived, but some can be endearing. The term “hippie” wrangles some still. For others its a badge of honor. I use the term lightly to describe a somewhat counter current attitude to life’s hustle and bustle.  Out of admiration I label the most diverse group of people I’ve ever met. My daughter says we all dress like bums (guys that is). Sure Crocs are ugly, but they work. This is our Old Bay Club, a Traditional Small Craft Association. With no rules nor officers, we somehow have struck a chord allowing everyone to sing. Granted we’re shabbily attired, yet no one person’s history matches the other’s. Ages vary, in some cases by decades. However, we all take the time to encourage each other to come along. Conversations are able to roll over the political speed bumps and set aside any “my way or the highway” discussion. That is until there’s the mention of sailing. That art is what bands our group together. For me it is a love for some buddies I’d otherwise never have been given the opportunity to know. This weekend about 20 of us spent time together through wind, rain and sun all tempered by wonderful food and drink.

 

 

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Some memories:

Whispered wood stove conversations so as not to wake the fellow dosing off after a long day.

Friends bearing gifts … a beef knuckle for your dog!? Now who’s the favorite?

Watching a friend try a new dinghy as the same dog clambers aboard refusing to be left.

Delicious York River oysters large enough to choke on.

The beauty of sailing along a classic boat like Herreshoff’s Coquina.

Bike rides along country roads.

Rowing in a protected cove as winds roar over the trees

The elation of finding a waterman’s oar, an artifact of simple beauty, washed up in the marsh only to be asked later, “has anyone seen my oar”.

Watching a friend fly her kite with the delight of a 4 year old girl. Remember when?

A blustery sail with my “big brother” and my middle son pulling in the fresh air.

Knowing someone appreciates the surrounds enough to want to paint them.

Sailing with just my dog the preceding 3 days. He gets it too.

Introducing new friends to this group and having them comment on how unusual the band is.

Sorry I don’t have more. The fun overtook the documentation, but that too is a good thing. So we’ve a bit of the Monday morning blues here. Conference calls to be had. Until next time …

Thank you Boop.