Old Sound, New Wood

Perhaps it is nostalgia or maybe a tight wallet, but I’ve taken a small interest in “vintage” stereo equipment. It is surprising how fast we cast off technology. “But it doesn’t have WiFi, Bluetooth, etc”.  I know, and I do like the depth of music Spotify has given me (I trust the artists are justly compensation. They signed on, so I assume so). However, I do feel I’m somewhat of a hold out. I remain unconvinced that digital sounds better. There is a harshness to my ear. As evidence, I offer Miles Davis’ Kind of Blue. Despite the occasional hiss or pop, vinyl simply sounds fuller on vinyl than CD. While playing Rock, this may be a difference without distinction.

Anyway, a couple weeks ago I picked up some vintage Fisher XP-55B speakers. They were packaged with a Harman Kardon “One Thirty” receiver which had a hum in the left speaker channel, but not the headphones. Nonetheless, I wanted the speakers and $15 seemed more than fair. Maybe the stereo can be easily fixed. I’m guessing it is a ground problem.

Back in the ’60’s, before the mass production of stereo equipment, Fisher produced quality speakers in line with KLH or Wharefdale. The company was sold to Emerson in 1969 and later to Sanyo.


This pair was made in Long Island City, NY and in good mechanical condition, nothing blown and good woofer foam. Some use was evident in the roughed up faux wood veneer edges. I liked their easy clear midrange sound and decided to dress them up. The “veneer” was readily peeled off to reveal the particle board cabinets. Easing the cabinet edges with a rounding over bit removed barked up corners. Four coats of polyurethane, brass finish washers to hold on the grilles and I had “new” retro speakers. Wood pegs made good speaker stand offs. In combination with some Baby Advents for the highs, these speakers are a joy to listen to. Pat Metheney’s Watercolors and Bright Size Life rotated in the CD player (now more old school) and these speakers have proved themselves. Now I just need to get a fire going and kick back.


Rowing Ruth

I contacted Dave Gentry last week about a skin-on-frame pulling boat he designed several years ago named Ruth after his grandmother, mother and now daughter (but at 2 1/2 yrs old you could argue his baby girl is named after the boat. Dave, what were you thinking?). It is a pretty name and fits this no-nonsense well proportioned shell. With a wine glass bum and glowing dress, her sheer is pleasant to gaze at. Weighing a trim 45 pounds, she’d welcome play on any river, lake or even beach.


Yes, Ruth could offer a little rowing exercise, but maybe better yet, the two of you could chill along a shady river bank where you might fancy a read, savor a picnic or simply doze in the warmth of the day.

Anyway, Dave was gracious enough to invite me to try out Ruth. We met at Walnut Creek Park in Albemarle County, about an hour from home. I loaned him my recently finished F-1 kayak and together we cruised the little lake talking along the way, mostly about … boats.


I’ll have to say I was impressed with the boat’s glide. Her lightness has many advantages and the fuse frame makes for a quick build (40 hrs?). Dave says he has been leaving the polyester skinned beauty turned over and outside for years. While she showed signs of weathering, there was no deformation of her shape and the varnish sealed skin remained tight and leak-free.

Here’s a quick clip. Slipping without strain. Longer oars could be of benefit.

Did I say I was impressed? Smitten may be more like it.

Walks with Huck


Tomorrow, our pup Huckleberry will be 1 year old. Already he’s added much to life. Still, after almost 20 years without dog, the expected routine by the “baby” took some adjustment. Yes, he can be demanding. He does wrong when you least expect it. The list is long of stuff he has eaten, chewed, torn or scraped. The floors and his favorite window sill are worse for the wear. However, its easy to forgive it all for the walks we take each morning. Most days I rise an hour before he “asks” to leave his bedside crate. Thats enough time for quick emails and a cup of Joe. After his breakfast, we jump in the truck and roll downhill to a park along the river. Neighborhood walks tethered by leash don’t allow him to burn off  steam, but just after sunrise we can ignore the many “dogs must not run free” park signs . Then Huck leaps and bounds through the woods. I marvel at his energy and grace. A thing of beauty, he has forced me to pause, stretch the legs, air the brain and ponder next moves. “Huckadoo” has become my good buddy. Oh, and he likes to go sailing too. We’re a perfect match.

Here’s this morning’s scenery-


My Buddy Huckleberry

As the season closes, Huck and I stole a brief sail across Mobjack Bay and back yesterday. Believing he is still a lap dog, he made for a nice heater as we pushed to weather.


We’re still assessing the new sails. The stainless steel slides are not right for bronze or naval brass T track. They still snag slightly when raising and lowering. Either I need to file round edges on each slide or replace them with naval brass, if those can be found. Such is the challenge of ordering sails at a distance. Add it to the winter projects.

At 10:30 wind fluctuated between 5 mph or less. LUNA still moved along. Maybe the bottom isn’t as slimy as I thought.

By noon the breeze built to 12-15 and we really chunked along.

Short and sweet.

Mid Atlantic Small Craft Festival 2016

For me, a 4 hour drive is a long haul to go sailing with Mobjack only 1 1/2 hours away. However, MASCF is an exception. Almost 100 small boat enthusiasts, many with crew, bring their respective craft to enjoy friends new and old, savor some seafood and get in a bit of boating. Last year’s event was washed out by hurricane threats. This year was just our second attendance in what was the 33rd running. Friday and Saturday were wet and windy. Sunday, still overcast, offered barely a whisper. Regardless, the time in Saint Michaels was fun. My youngest son and I took kayaks we built and left UNA behind. She was missed, but we got rides from our pal Dale to watch Saturday’s race in his Ben Garvey outboard. With an almost 7′ beam, he can set up a tent  in the boat’s floor and still have room to keep his skin-on-frame kayaks aboard. Complimented with a 40hp four-stroke and a folding bimini top, Dale may have found another attractive access to the water.

Dale at the helm

Later in the day we paddled around the harbor to take in the sights. This town has been a regular stopping point over many years of cruising the Bay. The visit never grows old. Though the boutique shops seem to be taking over the main drag, pockets of childhood memories still survive. This is in no small part due to the Maritime Museum there. Now that I have been to Mystic, I can say it reminds me of that fine museum on a smaller scale. In this quaintness, St. Michaels is more approachable. At this festival, one can wander amongst the current builds and renovations. You are welcomed to nose around and we did.

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