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Thread: J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

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    Default J. Dillon, 11 years on a 27 footer, WOW!!!

    Quote Originally Posted by J. Dillon View Post
    Lived aboard for 11 years on a wood /glass home built Vancouver 27,for all four seasons. Cruised the eastern seaboard from Maine to Fla which included one single handed passage to Bermuda. It was tight living and if I had to do it again it would be a much bigger boat. It was like living in a walk in closet. Winters in the NE were the toughest . Heater breaking down, rats trying to get inside . Propane explosions and fires aboard and one near sinking.( Got skin grafts from that one) Warring with racoons for permission to board are among my unpleasant memories. The good stuff, all here that have done some cruising know all ready, but one I haven’t seen mentioned is snow hitting the deck over my head was a pleasant sound , if you’re snuggled in your sleeping bag and all systems functioning.
    Pictured below a calm day during my Bermuda passage& Inside the boat.



    Can we hear more? Please.
    Last edited by Paul Pless; 02-14-2007 at 06:33 PM.
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

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    OK Paul ,what would you like to hear ?


    Just trying to put in one of the missing images above.
    Aboard Shaula en route to Bermuda.

    35 SH Bermuda inside Shaula.jpg


    JD
    Last edited by J. Dillon; 11-30-2017 at 09:50 AM. Reason: replace missing image
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    Quote Originally Posted by J. Dillon View Post
    OK Paul ,what would you like to hear ?

    JD
    Not just Paul.

    Did you build her, where did you keep her, what did you do for a living. Don't leave out the "sordid" bits.

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    Damn...11 years is quite a stretch. I lived for about 9 months on a 23 footer (Maine to Florida and back on the ICW) and at the end I was ready to get back to having a bit more living space!

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    JD, its no secret to most here that I'm a dreamer and I dream about living aboard a sailboat and doing some serious cruising in the future... Yet I've been unwilling and unable to give up my current lifestyle to do it. I'd like to live vicariously through your experiences. So yeah, did you build it yourself? When you chose the design, were you planning on living aboard for 11 years? or did that just happen? Did you work and/or have a career at the time? How old were you when you did it? Hit me up with a few of those 'good' and 'bad' stories. How'd your wife take it? Anything you'd like to share I 'd love to hear it.

    Thanks,

    Paul
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

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    Ok Paul, tomorrow. It's time to bed down now.

    JD
    Senior Ole Salt # 650

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    Look forward to reading, would make a nice WB article.
    Brian T. Cunningham
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    Memoirs of a Liveaboarder

    Living aboard there is both glamor and realities, pros & cons but it’s an experience one must actually do to find out if it suits you . Some here have far more experience then I and continue to do it, but no mater what size boat you have it is confining especially if a work shop is big in your life. I had a small one and a dark room both of which had to be shelved..

    My wife at the time decided to fly after nearly 25 years of marriage our two offspring just about had left the nest as well. Like many here I also had tinkered with the idea of “living aboard”. Well into my 50's it was time to put a suppressed dream into reality. My boat at the time was a 24' F. glass yawl designed and built by a friend and editor of a leading boat publication. She was a dream to sail, fast and responsive but no blue water cruiser . I needed something bigger. Poking around the local yards, brokers and marinas in CT, I finally spotted what looked like a suitable boat . It was designed for ocean sailing and enjoyed a good reputation. I was not inclined at the time to start from scratch and build a suitable cruising boat. I knew how time consuming that can be having built 5 sail boats from 8' to 26'.. Some dreamers never achieve their goal .bogged down by repairs and the long building process further complicated by numerous lifestyles and responsibilities Besides I wasn’t getting any younger. The Vancouver 27 I was eyeing was home built with a balsa core FG hull but wooden decks and cabin made of plywood but unfinished inside. The interior seemed quite compressed but I could stand tall in one area. Essentially it was sailable but lacked the refinements needed for cruising. No wiring DC or AC ,no wind vane or any self steering devices no battery or wiring for the engine. A unfueled propane stove hung in gimbles with no tank or supporting plumbing The starter wasn’t useable. No lockers. or mattresses. Basically an unfinished interior . A small inadequate kerosene heater hung sadly on a bulk head. The absence of a holding tank made the head up in the forepeak almost unuseable. In short a good buy but it needed a lot of work to make her four season liveable. Her owner was anxious to sell her and also embroiled in a divorce with the boat value part of the settlement.

    Aboard one cold December night the broker hovered near by as the owner inserted a hand crank, pressed the decompression lever, turned the engine over several times and that little Faryman 1 cylinder 12 HP diesel coughed into life. Tropical islands and bikini beauties seemed a lot closer. A survey, cashiers check completed the deal. I now owned a world capable cruiser.

    I was working as a general carpenter and did everything from concrete forms to fine trim. Also wrote a few articles supported by photography and drawings. So the task at hand was not daunting but did need time. By the summer of 83 I closed the house door shut and hauled my seabag aboard “Shaula” I was now a live aboarder It was what you dreamed about, golden sunsets, cries of the sea gulls, gently lapping waves, secluded anchorages the whole dream coming true. Sailing and cruising occupied my time along with fitting the boat for some more serious blue water sailing. Week end ladies aboard looked at me strangely when I hinted at more distant shores. They could see there was barely enough room for my own gear. IMO extensive cruising in a 27' boat isn’t for most couples over 50.

    The months whisked by and coolness settled in. Winter approached I and the boat were not ready to embark oceans. Financial responsibilities demanded continued working. I bought what I thought to be good heater. It was made in Sweden. They ought to know about such things right ? It turned out to be the worse conceived knuckle buster one could imagine. Constantly breaking down and demanding complete disassembly. Some components had to be bent 90o to remove which eventually broke. Laboring on the demon I was covered in fine black soot, freezing and itching where one cannot scratch and keep looking civilized.. There was no internet to cry for help. I even bought aviation kero thinking the best grade would do but to no avail. It was a loser. Other live aboarder’s advised but I had to make do for this season enduring the whims of this loser of a heater I stayed aboard and survived the first winter.
    to be continued
    JD
    Last edited by J. Dillon; 02-16-2007 at 07:38 PM. Reason: Giving it a title
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    Thanks! Looking froward to the next installment.

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    Totally.

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    would like to know the general areas that you sailed, and the years and compare notes. I have noted the changes between visits just a couple of years apart when returning to specific locations.
    I also looked at a vancouver 27 as being a bit on the small side although my first offshore boat was a plywood 27 footer and found it a bit tight also.....
    Wakan Tanka Kici Un
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    Fighting Illegal immigration since 1492....
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    Thanks for that intro!
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

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    In the following years it soon became apparent that the boat was underpowered . That little 12 hp Farryman had difficulty punching through strong winds and or currents. High freeboard a tall 40 mast combined to make serious long runs against high winds in confined waters impractical. For now re powering was out of the question., I had to live with the deficiency. The wind vane was more important and the best one for this boat was the “Auto helm” . Without a shop I had to rely on the humanity of the marina owner/ manager to use his bench & vise. I had some tools aboard and in my van which is a usefull addition to any liveaboarders equipment. It was like a mobile store room . It became a challenge to slip into his working area unobserved and use his bench . He hated liveaboardrs and like most big marinas in New Rochelle NY., He preferred the big gas guzzling sport fishermen as customers. Even then this marina provided cable TV on the docks. They spent the bucks, paid handsomely and rarely questioned well padded bills. By winter the bloated boats were snug under tarps and only the live aboard sailors remained to need a heated wash room. He turned that off and had a timer on the lights. If you got your business done in 20,minutes you’d be ok but any more ,total darkness would be your fate. Soap in your eyes or not, you were on your own to find your way out of the showers. Soon all live aboarders included a wooden wedge in your toiletries bag to jamb the timer’s motion.

    This new life style opened the way to new friends and opportunities, especially if you’re single and unattached . I found my self skippering boats in the Virgin Islands. for other singles with my traveling expenses paid for By this time I had a USCG license and in demand for deliveries south and north. The intra coastal would became a familiar waterway.

    While in the Navy I bought an old vernier sextant when visiting Istanbul. The bazaar there is the crossroads of the world ( a place incidently one could easily get totally lost I did but that’s another story) I have never seen so many sextants in one place. Take your pick. The Navy encouraged any relevant navigation learning regardless of rate, at least on my ship. HO 214 was the method back in the 50's so I took a course using HO 229 to up date myself to 1982..

    The Virgins islands were quite crowded during winter months in the 80's. All sorts of vessels were crowding the anchorages and swinging room was at a premium. You often had to put out two anchors. Some tourist windjammers would drop the hook never giving a dam how you were swinging. To intimidate you they’d just shout out “We’ll be leaving early so just watch for our bow sprit” It worked most of the time you’d move. Off Jost Van Dyke there were all kinds of beach parties some getting quite wild. My name was on the charter agreement and I often stayed aboard to keep an eye on things as the others went ashore. On one occasion a tropical rain squall came through. I went below to close the hatches only to find three other singles in the state room well entwined. They offered to make it a foursome. I declined and stumbled up on deck to check the anchor. HIV aids scares were very much in the news then.

    Next episode The ICW with some pix
    Senior Ole Salt # 650

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    Good stuff. Looking forward to more.
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

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    Since living aboard and cruising is a dream for many of us, please keep posting.
    Pet photography, the degree you get when you fail aromatherapy - Duck D.

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    Thanks Katherine I don't get much encouragement here. 478 peeks and 14 responses some mine own isn't a good score. However I'll continue writing it up to revive old memories.

    JD
    Senior Ole Salt # 650

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    Quote Originally Posted by J. Dillon View Post
    Off Jost Van Dyke there were all kinds of beach parties some getting quite wild.
    I was there one spring when the surf was running a bit and numerous charter dinghies got rolled in the surf trying to get in to those beach parties. Pretty humorous, all in all.
    If I had a dollar for every girl who found me unattractive, eventually they would find me attractive.

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    Quote Originally Posted by J. Dillon View Post
    Thanks Katherine I don't get much encouragement here. 478 peeks and 14 responses some mine own isn't a good score. However I'll continue writing it up to revive old memories.

    JD
    We're just quietly, but impatiently waiting for the rest of the story.
    Pet photography, the degree you get when you fail aromatherapy - Duck D.

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    Thanks for sharing JD. I love this stuff, too.

    Steven

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    Quote Originally Posted by J. Dillon View Post
    Thanks Katherine I don't get much encouragement here. 478 peeks and 14 responses some mine own isn't a good score. However I'll continue writing it up to revive old memories.

    JD
    Nearly 500 views.What more encouragement do you need?
    This is great stuff.Keep going it's appreciated.A lot of people have the means and the opportunity but not the courage to do the live-aboard thing but we do like to read about it.
    We don't know how lucky we are....

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    Quote Originally Posted by J. Dillon View Post
    Thanks Katherine I don't get much encouragement here. 478 peeks and 14 responses some mine own isn't a good score.
    Don't you worry, Jack. With a story like this, it's the number of peeks that counts. The sparse response level just means that most of us have little experience like yours and therefore nothing very useful to add. But that doesn't mean we're not still interested and appreciative, make no mistake...

    Me, I'm just waiting for the next episode.
    .

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    Please continue

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    Keep it coming Jack, very keen to hear all about it.

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    Yes JD keep going we can't wait to read the rest of it

    Lannig
    www.mavourneen-mary.com

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    Default not enough experience to post

    Please keep telling your story. You write well.
    I'm one of those people who mostly peek although I have been on the forum for years. Except for rare instances, the experiences of the other members of this forum render me mute.

    I won't quote Sterling Hayden, since we all know it, but your story illustrates its wisdom.

    So keep writing, but also take your time.

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    Default Damn!

    How did I miss this thread?


    More please!
    The only difference between [where I work] and the TITANIC is... The TITANIC had a band.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Mike Field View Post
    Don't you worry, Jack. With a story like this, it's the number of peeks that counts. The sparse response level just means that most of us have little experience like yours and therefore nothing very useful to add. But that doesn't mean we're not still interested and appreciative, make no mistake...

    Me, I'm just waiting for the next episode.
    .
    My thoughts also.
    If you don't know where you're going, you might not end up there.-Yogi Berra

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    JD I've been thinking for the past few years that when the kid gets in college that I want to move to the Pacfic and start a sailing charter. The way I think it that we will be land based somewhere and sail around the Pacfic. Out for maybe 3 or 4 months at a time.

    So since you lived aboard quite a bit, can you tell me what you saw of charters like I have in my vision?

    Chad
    There are three ways to do things: The right way, the wrong way and my way.

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    Default Write on, Brother, write on...

    Well-written, fascinating. Keep it coming.

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    Chad, I don't know much in that regard . I think you should work for a firm for a while to get the feel of the business rather then jumping right in. Good luck in what ever you do.

    JD
    Senior Ole Salt # 650

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    An old Navy buddy Steve wintered south and needed help to move his trawler named CAVU North. (flyers here will know what that means.) He docked her in Stuart Fla. and had journeyed south the preceding fall with some friends who regarded the trip as a time to cut loose, stock up on beer and stay drunk . That’s OK but not for passage making. Steve had enough of that . Drinking was not one of my problems so he called on me to come down. For the most part we didn’t experience any thing outstanding motoring up to Elizabeth City NC.

    I do want to comment on southern boaters. IMO they are with out a doubt the most generous and trusting people I ‘ve encountered. You would pull into a marina to provision in any kind of boat and ask someone where’s the nearest super market usually a “ Piggy wiggly” and how to get there. Invariably they would respond something like “ You’ll see a red ford pick up in the lot . Here’s the keys . Go out, turn left at the next light” etc etc. Hell they didn’t even know your name or what kind of driver you were but were reasonably sure you’d be back . Perhaps they saw you coming in and docking skillfully or liked the cut of your jib. I cannot recall the variety of cars I drove from big Lincoln’s to old jallopies with the doors almost falling off. One such vehicle the owner explained to be “Careful braking ya have to kind of pump em up” he cautioned as he reached in beside you to move the barrel bolt closed “locking’ the door shut. That’s not to say Northerners aren’t generous . But more southern hospitality later.

    On one passage down the Hudson river from somewhere up the Erie canal we were bound for NYC. The boat named” Red Snapper” was owned by Motor Boating & Sailing magazine and built by the editor. The logo was clearly written on the top sides. We needed a refueling and provisioning so we pulled into Kingston NY. Maybe the logo had something to do with it as a nearby boat owner came down from his flybridge, befriended us and handed the keys to his plush Lincoln. I had many adventures in the “Red Snapper” including one threatened clubbing when taking pictures of a cup contender in New port RI., but that’s another story on with the Dismal canal yarn

    Cruising the I.C.W. is a kind of time journey through American
    history and the "Dismal Swamp" conjurers a sense of foreboding and
    mystery , but the events that Steve and I experienced were quite
    different then what we anticipated.

    Before transiting the canal we tied up for the night at the city
    docks of"Elizabeth City N.C"to await repairs on the closed highway 17
    bridge. The very generous welcoming committee had provided free dockage, maps to get around town, wine and cheese the previous afternoon.

    At 06:00 the next day a call on VHF channel 13 confirmed the
    bridge was operational and we cast off to make the 08:30 opening of
    the locks at South Mills the gateway to the "Great Dismal Swamp
    Canal". 18 miles away.

    The approach meandered through great oaks and cypress with rarely a
    sign of human habitation. Along the shore a lonely bass boat drifted
    with its sole occupant hoping for a bite . The waters for a long time
    now had a tea like color, more intensified that the great swamp was
    drawing closer. Our call to the highway bridge alerted a tug with a string of barges.
    He transmitted his intention to take a load of pulp logs south,
    telling all concerned what to expect. That meant us.

    Powering north "Cavu" hummed merrily along with a fresh filter, oil
    change, gauges reading normal and the compass lethargic. At each bend
    we were ready to meet our tug. We gave a precautionary long blast as
    prescribed by the rules of the road. The channel was getting narrower.
    Trees were closing overhead as they reached across attempting to
    embrace their partners on the other bank. The sun had just climbed
    above them on the starboard side and was still only a brilliant yellow
    ball shining on a mist just above the surface of the water. "Cavu"
    chugged on as the banks drew even closer. Trees now blocked the sun. I
    thought of" Marlowe" in "Conrad's" " Heart of Darkness".

    35 ICW Tug with logs.jpg

    We turned a small bend .....and there she was ,a scowling red tug . It seemed formidable, large with 6 barges astern and logs piled 25 feet above the decks. About 500 feet away we called via. ch. 13 and agreed to a port to port passing .
    35 ICW Lumber going to market on the ICW.jpg

    As he moved over the top of his mast scraped low hanging branches. He was giving us plenty of room, more then we really needed. When abeam he waved a friendly gesture, this was routine for him. A few minutes later we were at South Mill locks with time to spare.

    Locking through was simple, the doors opened , we entered, the doors closed and in a few minutes we were 8 feet higher. Beckoning ahead of us was the "Great Dismal Swamp Canal" stretching her 25 miles in front of us. Does the name stir anything in you as it does me? Mysterious, dark, brooding, laced with history.

    Now I really felt like Marlowe looking for Kurtz. Did dangers lurk
    along its banks waiting to spring on us ? Hardly but what happened
    We should have anticipated and not allow romance to seduce us.
    However Providence grinned and furnished what we needed for survival. Still innocent we plodded on, relishing our scenery reveling in the haunting beauty the canal imparts. The wind was behind us. We were at a disadvantage. Few at first, merely annoying, then appearing frequent, numerous and more determined. They mustered under the Bimini preparing for a coordinated assault. Attacking en mass their ugly green heads were intent on bitting every morsel of exposed flesh. Steve wielded our one weapon, a fly swatter, vigorously slashing the invaders desperately trying to crush them before they landed on us.

    Our present strategy, proved unproductive and energy expensive.
    Waiting until they landed on something would be better giving us an
    easier target and time to become more efficient. While I steered
    Steve kept them off. I could see that he was improving to the point
    he called his shots. Still they came on. We relieved each other
    weilding our one weapon, knowing one person couldn't keep swatting indefinitely. The helmsman had to keep moving and develop a kind of shuffle to hold them off. It worked to some extent. We fought valiantly against increasing hordes. They crawled up our legs, along our brows and down our backs. Taking turns swiping , we became more proficient and developed a back hand any tennis pro. would envy. We could anticipate their moves and hit some on the wing. We rallied with our new skills and met the challenge of their increasing numbers. By this time the decks crunched under foot as the fallen bodies were a measurable depth. It soon became apparent we were losing. The invaders had reserves to spare and were determined to avenge their
    fallen comrades with intensive ferocity.

    While trying to verbalize our situation and plan an alternate tactic
    ... they hit our ears mouths and lips....a strategic retreat was in
    order. Scrambling down the ladder we dove into the pilot house and secured the sliding door, hatches and ports to seal off the battle
    ground and prevent enemy reinforcements. Our windshield was a mass of crawling scheming but vulnerable flies. We swung with both arms using our swatter and rolled newspapers. The gore obscured visibility but who cared we could smell victory. Frenzied we swatted right, left up, down and sideways. We were winning. Pausing briefly to clear the windshield, I could see Steve reveling in this slaughter. A kind of glaze came over his eyes. I never saw him like this ( Steve was an ex navy combat pilot) but I assumed I
    didn't look any better as he ruefully glanced my way amid wild swings with our weapon.

    We spied another boat coming towards us at a good clip and hoped he might attract some of the hordes off our topsides. He slowed down only to be taken aback by the sight of two madmen swinging away in the pilot house. Quickly he throttled up to escape any possible swamp madness that might befall him, never realizing his speed into the wind kept him safe from the malady.

    Sensing victory , there was time to use the window cleaner, sweep up the cabin sole and take a breather. We sweated in the stuffy sealed off pilot house, the air reeking of death, like a gory battlefield. The enemy was still around but we were in control of the situation.

    A short time afterward a northerly breeze sprang up, clearing the air. We climbed up to our normal conning station on the "fly bridge" tired but victorious taking the opportunity to look around and appreciate the canal. Our intense battle lasted about two hours and the rest of the transit was a kind of "mopping up operation". .

    The experience didn't in any way detract from the beauty or mystery. We just saw another mood of the Great Dismal Swamp.

    We were encountered flies again but this time not as vicious when we poked our way north in the much shallower New Jersey waterways.

    Next episode My home sinks
    Last edited by J. Dillon; 11-30-2017 at 09:59 AM.
    Senior Ole Salt # 650

  32. #32
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    Awesome stuff here. Thanks again. Eagerly awaiting each installment.

    Like others have said I'd comment more but I really have nothing to add just really enjoying your thread.
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

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    Yes, indeed, more please. We're not saying much because you're telling a great tale. If it wasn't, we'd be interrrupting you!

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    Quote Originally Posted by J. Dillon View Post
    Next episode My home sinks
    Sounds like a chilling tale!
    Pet photography, the degree you get when you fail aromatherapy - Duck D.

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    J Dillon, You also have a surprisingly good command of language and writing style which makes it all the more pleasant to read.

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