Blog needs to be edited

I haven’t used WordPress for a couple years – six to be exact – and I’m still working on the ‘look’ of the page, so bear with me as I play.


Dreams of Future Voyages

Sitting on an island off the coast of Maine, not that far from the mainland but you can only get here by boat – so “off the coast”.

This will be my fourth winter on this island in what I used to think of as the ‘frozen north’; a place I have come to love despite the snow and ice of the winter months. A place I feel more connected to than that warm state known as Florida where I lived for 11 years. BUT, I do miss the voyaging which was once so central to my life. I miss being a ‘homeless bum’, traveling the world with no fixed address, meeting new people in places where I didn’t speak their language.

Last year, I got one of those phone calls that I used to get on a regular basis, “Hey, Roman, you available for a delivery?”  Was I ever.

A New York attorney, an experienced racing sailor, had bought a Marten 49 in Tortola, BVI, and needed the boat to be sailed to Newport, RI.  I was recommended by a couple of friends and despite my advanced age, the lawyer decided I could do the job.  He sent me the pre-purchase survey and it looked like the boat could be made ready for the trip with just a couple days of boatyard labour.  Three weeks later, I was installing a new toilet one hour before we let go the dock lines and set off from St Thomas USVI for Bermuda.

At first, there were just two of us working on the boat in combination with the guys at Nanny Cay but that number became five as the remainder of the delivery crew arrived. Long hot days on the boat and long nights of imbibing at the beach bar and we finally had the boat ready to sail. Then there was a problem with one of the crew being unable to control those long nights at the beach bar and he had to be put on a plane before we set off.

The ‘professor’ lectures his students as Summer Storm (ex-Defiance) sets off from St George, Bermuda.leaving st george

Once we set sail, we had a smooth voyage with no mechanical problems and no extreme weather situations – other than no wind at all for a couple days. We delivered the boat into New England Boatworks of Portsmouth, RI for a makeover for the new owner. My recommendations filled six hand-written pages – I think most of them were heeded.

So, I titled this post, “Dreams of Future Voyages”.  What does that mean, you may ask; after all, I have here written only about a past voyage?

The Lady and I are thinking about flying over to England in the autumn of 2018 to look at Contessa 32s, with the plan to sail the boat back across the Pond.  The 32 is a relatively small boat with an extraordinary record for being exceptionally seaworthy.  Crazy, huh?

Why do they do that?

From my office windows, I can watch the annual migration of boats in the ICW, 90% plus are powerboats. But – every day and twice on weekends, I see ‘cruising’ sailboats outfitted with all of the ‘stuff you must have’.


Now, I’m only speaking of those items that may be noted from outside the vessels, not what has been installed in the non-visible locations. Those items for comfort and safety which the cruiser simply must have if they are to enjoy that lifetime dream of sailing over the horizon to some far distant exotic paradise. Well, at least that is the way those items have been sold to the boat owner and his/her partner in the adventure.

First and perhaps the biggest faux-pas in my estimation anyway, are dinghy davits on boats less than about 60 ft LOA. I have seen them on boats between 30 and 35 ft long. Sure, the davits do provide a convenient way to carry the required dinghy, required if the cruiser actually anchors out although most seem to stay in marinas. Almost always the dinghy being carried is an inflatable type, some with rigid bottoms but many without. What’s so hard about deflating the bloody thing and lashing it on deck until needed?

MY primary objections to davits on smaller boats are safety related:
ONE) On many of the boats when the dinghy is hoisted and secured for motoring along, it obscures the crew’s vision sternwards, so in the ICW such boats are often surprised when that obnoxious pro-skipper delivering a sportfish comes blasting up to the stern.
TWO) The weight of the davits, dinghy and dinghy motor depresses the stern of the vessel affecting the handling under power.
THREE) and most important if the small cruising sailboat with davits does go out into the ocean. The davits with dinghy and motor secured, substantially raises the centre of gravity of the craft which decreases the VAS as it is known by a few folks who read geeky papers. VAS = Vanishing Angle of Stability, also known as the Angle of Positive Stability or the Oh, my gawd!, the mast is in the water. We’re all going to die!! heel angle.

Here’s a shot that shows some of the problems one will encounter when sailing with a dinghy in the davits.

boat with davits

The photo shows another of my pet peeves – lots of fuel jugs on deck. If the owners of the boat in question are using the fuel containers properly, we see three gasoline (red) and one diesel (yellow). I have seen boats less than 35 ft LOA with 12 of these 5 gallon containers on deck. Does not make it easy to move from the cockpit to the foredeck. Each of the fuel jugs when full will weigh between 30 and 35 lbs. Add ’em up and then think about how much weight that is, located several feet above the CG and the centre of flotation – whoops, the WAGTD! angle is even worse

Now add in a bicycle or two, four or more fenders and one has to wonder what the folks onboard such a craft do when they come into the dock or try to pick up a mooring on a breezy day, much less how it affects the boat’s motion at sea.

Finally, on my list of things you should do without if you want to actually sail across blue water safely, full cockpit enclosures. WTF? If you have one of these on your boat, I must ask why you didn’t buy a powerboat, you know, a nice Grand Banks or similar? The first time I saw such a contrivance was a boat on Lake Ontario. Could not believe what I was seeing because you couldn’t sail when all of the curtains were up, the crew could not trim sails because they were unable to swing the jibsheet winch handles in a full circle and nobody in the cockpit could see the main at all and only the bottom portion of the headsail. Sitting in the bar at the National YC, I asked a friend what the hell the owner of such a structure was thinking about to have it installed. “Black flies” was the answer. I in my freshwater cluelessness, answered, “Whaaa?”

In Georgian Bay and the North Channel, beautiful cruising grounds by the way, the local insects just love to feast on humans so the local sailors countered with full screen cockpit enclosures, kind of like a screen porch on your old country house. So, when I see one of these boats passing by, 9 times out of 10, it will be flying a Canadian flag or its homeport will be in Michigan.

UPDATE: (sort of )
reading thru my browser bookmarks recently and came upon an article written by Jon Eisberg for Cruising World in Sept, 2004. The following paragraph is rather obviously relevant to what I have posted here.

To a very real extent, the ICW is increasingly defining how many East Coast sailors are going off cruising. Most of the ICW boats I see are better performers under power than under sail. Maximizing a cruising boat for 1,000 miles of motoring cramps its sailing style and fortifies habits that sailors carry well beyond the ICW. Many ICW boats have decks awash in gear that inhibits on-deck movement; monstrous S.U.V.-dinghies swing from arch/davit configurations that appear to defy gravity. To actually sail some of these vessels would barely be worth the effort.

Jon Eisberg has run the ICW more than 200 times. He divides his income-making days between car racing photography and yacht deliveries on the East Coast of the US. His non-income producing days are spent on his Allied Chance 30-30, Chancy.

Heritage 1 Ton; pt 2

A few more thoughts about the Heritage 1 Ton design.

One problem that almost all of the boats exhibited involved the way the headstay chainplate was originally installed – the chainplate itself was the right size, the bolts were appropriate but the builder didn’t lay enough glass into the stem and everyone that I personally inspected had to have some repair work done in the area. Morgan was good about following up and had one guy who flew all over the States doing nothing but fixing the problem. A problem that was a lot harder to repair with the deck on than it would have been to lay in enough glass while the hull was still in the mold.

A second problem was corrosion of the steel framework that was used to spread the keel loads. It almost seemed to be a ‘Monday/Friday’ problem as some boats had real worries with rapidly corroding frames and others showed no corrosion at all. Seemed to depend on what type of coating, if any, had been put on the steel framework before being installed in the boat. If none was applied before installation, it meant the surfaces lying against the hull skin were bare steel and bilge water quickly began the rusting process.

There were a couple of other items to worry about in those far distant days, hopefully not today if you are thinking of buying one of these old girls. The big errors in construction should have been corrected during the past 35 years – hopefully.

Insufficient laminate in the deck, combined with inadequate tabbing of the main bulkhead to the deck could allow the deck to flex between the chainplates and the mast partners. On the boat I sailed, we installed a laminated wood deck beam that ran from the chainplate to the mast partner on each side of the boat. It was epoxied to the underside of the deck and thru bolted to the bulkhead. Always a bit bothersome, after a hard beat to find vertical scratches on the mast where the deck had been pumping up and down while you were sailing. The deck beam stopped that little fun thing.

to be continued, as I remember things

Heritage One Tonner, pt. 1

While contemplating the sorry state of this little blog, totally due to my ignoring it over the past few months, I came upon an interesting item in the site stats – someone has been searching for info on the Heritage 1 Tonner design.

The boat was built by Charlie Morgan in St Pete Florida, after he had sold/left/been booted from, the company he had founded, Morgan Yachts. It was an interim boat project while he worked on various cruising designs that were produced in the late 70s, early 80s.

Although it was sold as a Morgan design, the Heritage 1 Ton was really a Doug Peterson. The lines taken from a one-off Peterson built by Morgan and a few guys in 1975, the year before he launched Heritage Yachts.

While commissioning the Morgan-built Peterson in Stamford Ct, I met the guy who is my oldest friend in this silly business of sailing boats for a living. An Australian, like many other BNs of that era, he recently swung by for a visit on his most recent trip back to the States. A late night of tales and rum ensued – too bad we had no one but ourselves to tell the stories to.

The first Heritage 1 Tons were launched in ’76. The changes, that I recall, from the earlier Peterson design were as follows: a slightly extended stern that added perhaps a foot to the LOA without affecting the LWL, double spreader mast instead of single spreader set-up and a keel with a large fillet to the leading edge where the lead met the canoe body. (not sure why Morgan added the fillet as all the studies at the time showed a sharp transition between canoe body and keel was more efficient) The boat I raced on, the one in my previous post, had a slightly taller rig than the earlier boats, and a larger rudder – it was also the first Heritage with wheel steering.

To be continued: