Posts Tagged ‘classic sailboats’

Where have I been?

July 24, 2014

My loyal readers (both of you) may have been wondering what happened to this blog, since I have not posted much in the last year. The truth is I have been writing a lot, but just not on this site.

A lot of my time during the last two years (perhaps too much of my time) has been devoted to bringing out a new book.

Lasting Friendships, a Century of Friendship Sloops has been in the pipeline since November of 2012. It has been produced and Published by the Friendship Sloop Society, and I have been spearheading the project.

Part of the reason that I agreed to head the group that was putting this book together (aside from a love of Friendship sloops and their history) was an opportunity to work with Ralph W. Stanley.

Ralph has been recognized as a master boatbuilder and is an NEA National Heritage Fellow, but he is also an excellent writer and historian. Without his help the book project would have been much less interesting the finished book much less impressive.

The book also allowed me to meet and briefly work with Maynard Bray, who wrote the introduction for the book. Maynard has a long history with WoodenBoat Magazine and with Mystic Seaport. He is also one of the key figures between Off Center Harbor, a video website and collection of blog posts from some of the more influential sailors, writers, and boatbuilders from this part of the world.

When I took on this project, I did not realize how confused some of our own records at the Friendship Sloop Society were, nor did I fully appreciate how entwined the history of these sloops is with the local history of small towns up and down the Maine coast. We had terrific and generous help from Ben Fuller and Kevin Johnson at the Penobscot Marine Museum. Frankly, without their help I am not sure we would have ever untangled the origins of certain photographs. But we also had help from librarians, town historians, and many members of the Friendship Sloop Society. Without their help this book would not have been possible.

I am very relieved to have this project off my desk and am looking forward to getting some of my life back, and I might even have some time to devote to this blog too.

The book is available in soft cover from Amazon, and in hardcover exclusively from the Friendship Sloop Society.



The Fleet Is In

September 28, 2012

After what seems like the busiest summer yet, our fleet is home again and we are starting the chores to get all of our boats ready for winter. This includes fresh bottom paint, winterizing the diesel on the Friendship Sloop, cleaning and stowing sails, cushions, pillows, and mattresses, packing up the galley, and most importantly making lists of repairs that need to be done over the winter.

Typically, once the boats are bedded down for winter, they are allowed to rest for at least a couple of months while we focus on the autumn chores  at the cottage,  and then the winter holidays. Come January and February, though, I know I will start thinking about winter boat projects that need to be done before spring-cleaning and painting begins in earnest. Having made a list in the fall saves time and helps push the process along.

When we built the shed it seemed huge—much larger than it needed to be—and I remember wondering if we had not gotten a bit carried away. Now, twelve years later, part of the autumnal ritual of putting the boats to bed is the process of figuring out how to get everything into the building and still leave enough room to move around.

I know I will enjoy puttering on projects in the boat shed over the next six months, almost as much as I enjoy being on the water. And there is something very satisfying about putting all the bits and pieces away, making sure everything is tagged or labeled, sometimes adding a shelf or box somewhere in the shed so that another piece of gear can have a better place to winter over. Like stacking firewood, the process of putting things away, brings a sense of order to what is usually a frantic end-of-season rush, and a knowledge that I will benefit later from the work I do now.

For the moment though I am taking a deep breath and savoring the fact that the boats ate all back safe and sound in the boat shed.

The leaves have begun to change colors, the equinox has come and gone, the boats are in the shed: autumn is here.

Among Friendships

July 21, 2011

We will be heading out for Rockland shortly to participate in the annual Friendship Sloop Gathering. If you are going to be anywhere near Rockland I would encourage you to come down to the town docks and check out the boats, and chat with the skippers and crews. Beautiful boats, friendly people, if you are lucky you might see some dramatic racing or just some beautiful boats under sail, and it is free…what more could you want?

Friendship Sloop Days July 21-23

Rockland town docks,

Rockland Maine

The 2010 Friendship sloop races

Town docks in Rockland
Photos by Calef Heininger

Boat Blogs

July 15, 2010

Back in 2006 this blog was written up with a bunch of others in WoodenBoat magazine. Even though this blog is not solely about boats, I was very flattered to have “dovetails” included. Since then a number of the blogs mentioned in that article have…is dried up the word? Do blogs fade away, or do they go to some cloud equivalent of the elephant’s graveyard to die? Well anyway, in the interim a number of other boating blogs have popped up to take up the slack as it were.  I thought I would mention some of those that I am still reading and that were mentioned in the 2006 article, as well as some of the new ones that I am reading to take the place of those that, shall we say, have taken the deep six.

Still Reading:

In the boat shed, Gavin Atkins well illustrated blog from the other side of the Atlantic. Gavin still finds a seemingly endless list of goings on and historically interesting tidbits.

I still occasionally check in with Tim Shaw on Chine Blog to see what he is writing about. And I occasionally check out Craft a Craft.

To be honest those ore the only ones that I still check in with from the original article.

Since then:

I check in with 70.8, a blog with a similar flavor to In the Boatshed, lots of newsy bits that I might otherwise miss. Some beautiful pictures of small craft, and interesting information on the builders of those boats.

I have also been enjoying reading Unlikely Boatbuilder. Part building blog, part cruising blog, I have enjoyed reading about his attempts at getting a lovely blue moon yawl from point to point. I watched a blue moon being built at the Appreticshop in Rockland, ME, over a two-year period and she was a beauty, so I may be biased. I also have to admit that there is something satisfying about reading accounts of someone else’s cruises where everything does not go according to plan. I also just like the way he writes.

Russ Manheimer writes at Hove To Off Swan Point ostensibly about his boat SJOGIN a small sailboat from a Scandinavian working tradition. In point of fact, his blog is a delight for anyone interested in classic small boats. Hove To Off Swan Point is also a stellar example of the enjoyment of simple pleasures on a small boat, something that too many people miss out on. Lots of great photography, and an attitude that I greatly approve of, as the tag line on his blog says, “Sailing as slow as I can….”

I recently stumbled upon Michael Scott Stories. In some ways his blog is similar to Unlikely Boatbuilder, lots of good reading here. Part of what I like about Michael Scott Stories is that there is a lot of substance to what he writes, but it is neither particularly ideological nor preachy, something I find to be both rare and refreshing.

Casco Bay Boaters blog is uneven in posting and in the type of content, but is a source of waterfront gossip, and I check in every now and then to see what I might have missed elsewhere.

To be honest that is about it. I do surf the web from time to time looking for good blogs, but for my tastes and interests, the vast majority are either way too personal, inactive, or frankly banal. I have found a number of blogs that I enjoyed looking at once, or that I was able to glean one piece of information from, but there are not many that make me want to come back. I know that there are many more good blogs out there, but those that I have listed above are the ones that have me returning for more.

Creativity and Diesel

May 3, 2010

Working on the diesel for our friendship sloop, might not be the first thing you think of when you think about creativity, but there are links. One link has to do with the installation. Unless you are working on a production boat, installation of a diesel differs from boat to boat because the space allowed in each boat for the engine tends to be unique. One of the first adjustments I had to make when I started learning about marine diesels was the idea that part of the engine might be in a different location than is shown in the manuals because of the special arrangement in the engine compartment.

Engine with overlay of cooling system, fuel system, and engine controls.

Ten years ago, when I first peered into our engine compartment, I assumed that each component of the system was located where it was because it was the result of careful and exacting planning. What I have since learned is just as likely that a part of the engine system was placed where it was without too much consideration for maintenance and the other systems competing for space. This is more typical than you might think.

I had a very good friend in school that became an aeronautical engineer. One of his first jobs was with a major jet engine manufacturer. He was excited because he was going to get to use all the stuff he had learned about metal tolerance and fatigue, and the precision of perfectly engineered design. He was quite shocked on his first day on the job when his boss told him that his job would consist of taking finished engine designs down to the maintenance guys and recording carefully all of their explanations for why the engine would fail.

At first he though this was part of a sort of “play a joke on the new guy” thing. So he took the new design down to the maintenance shop to see what would happen. Much to his surprise the “guys” in maintenance shot holes in the design in about thirty seconds. The designers were looking at how all the pieces fit together to function smoothly. The maintenance people were looking at how to take the thing apart when it did not. The design had not accounted for things like room to rotate a tool to extract a bolt, or room to back out the bolt without first removing half the engine. My friend was further surprised when the jet engine design had to be totally reworked to accommodate the needs of both function and maintenance.

I recount this little tale, because in our stewardship of the boat I have too often run into the same kind of problem; the location of some element of the engine components seems fine, until you have to work on it. As a result, much of this winter I have been struggling with the approach of the “maintenance guys.” Since the engine has been in the shop, I am making what adjustments I can to allow for a little better access to those parts of the system that need maintenance.

The engine compartment of the friendship sloop is the one part of the boat that I am not keen to spend a lot of time in, but if I can spend time now while the boat is in the shed doing this re-thinking, then perhaps I can spend less time in the engine compartment when the boat is in the water. Or, if I do have to make repairs on the water, I might at least be able to get to the parts that need repair a little easier. The hard part of this process is very three-dimensional. I seem to spend a lot of time visualizing things like: if I put a wrench on that, and turn it clockwise, what do my knuckles, hit? You can take the same question and substitute another part of the body for “knuckle”, and you get a more complex twist to the puzzle.

We are getting to the point where the systems should be coming back together in the next week or two. The engine has been completely overhauled. The main jobs were the removal of the heat exchange system so that it could be cleaned, and painted, and so that I could add protective insulation to the electrical harness, which, for reasons that escape me, runs directly over the engine block and under the heat exchanger. Seems to me to be one of the hotter parts of the engine (someone should have asked the Maintenance guys). Anyway, with that done the heat exchanger and fuel pumps could all be reassembled. I am waiting on one gasket for the exhaust elbow and I can reship the diesel.

The next part of the creative process with the diesel is how to make the reinstallation “fun.” When I have the answer to that one, I will let you know….