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

  1. #36
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    Good stuff JD thanks for sharing.
    This post is temporary and my disappear at the discretion of the managment

  2. #37

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    This is awesome! Can't wait for the next writeup! We all should feel so lucky to have these stories for free!!! This is book material!
    Mark Delbrueck
    Canon Equipment
    http://www.MarkDelbrueck.com

  3. #38
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    J. Dillon, Thanks for posting this thread. Great read.
    \"The strength of a man is not measured on what he must have, it\'s measured on what he can do without\"

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    Thumbs up

    More please, and thank you.

  5. #40
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    "Fly Bridge", LOL!
    Hey! It's MY Hughniverse!

  6. #41
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    Thumbs up

    What a nice way to spend some idle time on the net reading this thread. Thanks so much for taking the time to share these thoughts. We need more of these types of threads from time to time to remember what brings us to this venue.
    Happy trails to you.

  7. #42
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    keep em coming

  8. #43
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    Good story

  9. #44
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    JD, add me to your list of groupies. Thanks for instigating this Paul Rick

  10. #45
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    Some nitty gritty living aboard stuff, good & bad


    The barge had moved in. A rusty crane with pile driving rig adorned it. Old cables caked in grease, crud and some more rust littered the scroungy deck. Filth dominated. It seemed a miracle that it had the privilege of floating. Smoky pumps ran continuously to dominate the otherwise still night air. It didn’t deserve “her” when referring to “it”. Broken boxes served. aboard as tables and chairs for eating crew to “dine” from. Old beer cans were scattered here and there. . “IT”. was to be one my neighbors for the oncoming winter. Not right close but near enough to dominate the lives of all the livaboarders for the rest of the winter.“IT” harbored dark secrets.

    My phone line was finally hooked . It was a big problem back in the 80's. Cell phones were not around. I summered in a big marina in Stamford CT. They didn’t permit winter liveaboarders which required you to move. It took many calls to AT&T to switch service to a new location. I was told they had to come out to the docks, inspect the lines, make repairs, etc. bla bla etc, etc.. Of course your bill reflected it all with strange coded symbols justifying large numbers with dollar signs.
    Once hooked up in New Rochelle, NY, I would get strange calls of all kinds from bill collectors to old lovers trying to connect from long ago. They would leave messages some of which I could hardly understand, heavy with accents. Others, a totally different language. The strangest one was from Ole. It would go something like this, “ This is Ole .Where do I go next and what will the cargo be ?” I could not figure out that one but found out later that there was a shipping router that shared my name. Apparently Ole got my new number somehow. It also appeared the phone company recycled the same numbers after a while and you could expect to hear from anybody . It was a source of amusement .

    I must return a to little more of summer time living aboard. in Stamford. The North Atlantic Boat show would be held there . You would be required to vacate your slip for 10 days . They would give a list of other marinas that might accommodate you. It didn’t matter too much to me as I still maintained a mooring in nearby Byram, Ct . They wouldn’t even give you a ticket to the show. It was a big pain for the thousand boat owners that had to leave.

    The marina dumpster was also a good source of gear . I never had to buy a dock line of any size. My morning routine would be to glance into its contents to see what was thrown away. I found 50' lines, three strand, some braided. Just a little bit of chafe or a length of oil stain had condemned them.. Some were halliards with a frayed wire to eye splice. The rope portion might have a little sign of wear. I even found a rigging knife with a bit of rust on the spike. I liked to think of dumpster diving as a form of recycling. I kept one carpenter brother supplied with a fender now and then. I had plenty . After a summer squall fenders would be floating around the marina God knows from where, their chafed clothes line lanyard draped from a hole.

    During the summer months the transient dock was not too far from my slip. Many boats of all sizes graced the docks . Some were massive. Their black braided dock lines stretched out neatly spliced eyes. For a week now I noticed some really gorgeous women coming to and from a Feadship. There was something familiar about their demeanor They were very friendly, not unusual I thought, just about everybody was except in my manager friend in New Rochelle winter quarters. In the morning. the Feadship’s uniformed crew would be getting morning dew off the bright work and scrubbing the decks. One gorgeous gal in pink hot pants pranced off, climbed the dock ramp to walk her lap dog. It had a sailor collar and barked when approached. She said “Hello”. “ Good morning” I replied.. “Looks like a nice day”, as I got into my car and off to work Puzzled, I drove off.. She bears watching I thought. In the evening I would wander around to see what else showed up. After dark they started to board. One at a time. All casually dressed, but all guys. Music wafted across the summer air. The lights on the after deck were just turned up to reveal dancing couples . Silently dock lines were dropped. Running lights flicked on as she slipped out and into the channel hardly making a wave. I could hear the laughter fading away. Of course, a charter party out for an evening cruise on Long Island Sound.

    It was a hot night. I had all the hatches open and a fan going. I was barely asleep my bunk damp from sweat. The music returned, gradually getting louder but not objectionable I glanced at my watch. It was 1 AM. The crew secured the boat. Her dock lines once more stretched. holding that big Feadship safe. The music abruptly stopped, all was silent. No body got off not even the dog. **** ! That big Fu** er was a floating whore house. By the next evening she was gone . Off to another port. New clients but the same "crew"I assume.


    Not many boaters stayed aboard during the week. We liveaboarders were scattered all around in various marinas and other slips I had the same slip as the previous season, S1. The transient docks were full but past me on the same dock further down was a trawler, sleek and flying a Bahamian flag from her stern. One could easily see she was a ocean cruiser. She was real quiet, nobody aboard to be seen. She was like a ghost ship.. One evening, after 11, I could hear loud shots ringing out from her direction. They didn’t sound like fire crackers for sure. Again they rang out, this time in distinct bursts. I got on the phone and called the cops. A gruff voice replied “Yea, we heard about it”. The harbor police are on it”, he added . Bull****, I said to my self. I knew they were gone for the night. Their boat was in the marina, dark, tied up and not far from me. They were stalling for time . Nothing happened but the shots continued. I called again. “Yea, yea. We’ll dispatch a patrol car”, the voice rang out. In a few minutes the car pulled up to the dock . Two cops got out drawing their weapons . I never detailed exactly where to go. Just the marina . But somehow they knew. Perhaps they got another more informative call.
    In a few minutes they were walking two characters up the dock, hands cuffed behind their back The cops had their weapons holstered but each were holding what looked like a M 16 assault rifle. It seemed this trawler might be a drug runner. The next day I asked the harbor police . “Yea,” he said. “They were drunk and shooting up the buoys”. “Not high on drugs?” I asked. “Naw, not here”, he replied . “We got a lot of calls last night about the gun noise.” Later that week the boat was gone, where I haven’t a clue, but the USCG & Harbor police boat were stopping just about every boat coming in and out of Stamford Harbor and searching it. Go figure that one.

    to be continued
    Senior Ole Salt # 650

  11. #46
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    Back to winter in New Rochelle NY

    My assigned slip brought me close to a big overpowering fiberglass power boat with all the frills jutting from decks and sides. Tattered flags indicating “Wife aboard” and “Happy hour” fluttered briskly from trolling rigs . They sometimes rolled too close to my rigging during gusty NW winds. There was a mass of cables entering this yacht from her dock finger supplying the necessities of life. We were so close that we shared fenders. Six inches separated our topsides. My new neighbors were first time liveaboarders, middle aged, and very friendly. Joyful smiles enlivened their faces.

    I was still wintering in the same marina. The grouchy owner /manager still hated liveaboarders and added a new twist to squeeze an extra buck from us . In the mail ( I maintained a PO box back in CT as a mailing address) I received an extra bill stating the over all length was 30' not 27'. I confronted him about this and he said “I define LOA from the bow pulpit to the end of your trim tab attached to your outboard rudder. Technically he was right, I thought . Seeing my frustration he added, “If ya don’t like it, ya can leave right now” He turned and walked away.

    The barge referred to earlier was to drive new piles to accommodate a much bigger wider travel lift . Some of his summer clientele were getting massive and hauling elsewhere for repairs as the present travel lift was too small. All slips electricity was metered so you would receive an added bill plus his additional fee. I think it was over 25 cents a kilowatt hour plus his take. I didn’t use much and kept an 40W bulb burning at night in the bilge to keep water from freezing. I also junked the Swedish beast and elected to install a catalytic heater using propane as fuel, same as the stove demanded. I did the plumbing myself, and tested it. A construction buddy checked it all OK and gave his approval . A standard 15 lb tank was stowed in an aft vented locker . A solenoid switch inside the boat controlled the gas supply. As an added precaution I turned off the valve at the tank when leaving the boat. I did neglect one important thing. It would catch up with me years later.

    Living aboard in summer and the warm months is of course a joy. What you give up is well overpowered by what you gain but the winter tests one’s resolve. A small boat was not designed to live aboard in northern winters. Repeat after me, “A small boat is not designed to live aboard in northen winters” . Say it three times. I didn’t say it was impossible but IMO you have to drastically alter the boat to approach comfort. My little overturned dinghy sheltered the fore hatch. This proved another asylum as it turned out later. Still new at this I decided to drape the entire boat with batt insulation fore and aft, side to side, over the living spaces. Then cover all with the standard tarp supported by a strong wooden frame. It became my cave. Now the sunshine doesn’t pour in, the deck doesn’t resonate the rain and on those quiet nights the sound of snow falling is gone. The boat rolls more, yielding to blasting gusts of wind from the arctic that seem not so far away.

    Now on my built-in stereo sound system I avoided playing the Four Seasons as I found the winter portion too defining. Those stabbing violin and cellos notes reminded me too much of the ice all around. Vivaldi understood winter. In the twelve years living aboard I never did completely solve the problem of mold and mildew. With the ventilation essentially shut down, dampness prevailed. When leaving the boat I would close down the heating . Now cold enters. Returning I would fire up the heat. Now things condense moisture in all sorts of places . Books become speckled, pages stick together. Letter envelopes seal shut . Clothing ...Yes clothing... I was dating in my new single state. It was a joyful time. A few even stayed over on cold nights to keep me warm. (The best heater going). I remember one particular gal . It was to be our first date into the big apple to attend a concert at Carnegie hall.. Ya had to dress up I thought. That meant a suit. I wanted to keep up best appearances. Maybe make a good impression as her mom was coming with us. My suit was stuffed in the one single hanging locker I had. It wasn’t even full length. The garb hung up against the hull safe in a zipped up heavy plastic bag. On the morning of the date I took it out to take a look. It was now green. I mean green as a putting green. It smelled. It was wet, heavy, hopeless. I dragged it out of the cave. and dropped it off at the nearest cleaner. I said, “Have it ready by 5 PM”. He unzipped the covering bag took it out, looked up without any facial expression and said, OK . I almost fell, but scampered out and to work. That evening my date’s mom complemented my appearance. I do believe in miracles. It was funny, the dating game in your fifties. I would get the once over from my date’s kids. I knew the look I did it also when guys dropped by to pick up my daughter, not very long ago.

    The winter groaned on. Saturday was an important day for Liveaboarders since the water was shut off on the docks . We would all get together and connect up our hoses along the dock, up the ramp along the walk into the heated building to a tap. This meant about 200' of hose. Each in turn we would fill up our water tanks. Mine only took about 25 gallons, others, hundreds. It was a social time and an opportunity to get better acquainted. Most were more experienced then I and we compared notes on survival. Mold and mildew was also their problem but they did drastically reduce their library for the winter. All still worked for a living from lawyers to tradesmen like me. Some were couples living in sin and others married. In fact one wooden cruiser had two school children aboard. Rumor around was they lost one overboard a couple of years ago. I found out later it was true. There was a social room in the marina and we rented it out during the Christmas season and had parties. It was festive . Some boats even raised lighted Christmas trees up the mast . Others decorated their winter covers just like houses ashore. I was reasonably warm and comfortable in my “cave”. I occasionally spent week ends ashore in friend’s homes. Life was good. I had as many dates as I could afford. But a new menace threatened my tranquility. I could hear them at night. It sounded like a war. Their heater cycled on and off all night long. It would drone on but I got used to that, like people living near train tracks .They fought like cat and dogs almost every night I heard their problems like a shrink They argued over everything from where to go, to what they bought. It was a radio soap opera. I could not change the station. Accusations of Infidelity also reared their ugly heads. On Sat watering parties they would be lovey dovey and to my knowledge never knew I knew everything. I got used to it. But that wasn’t the real scary thing for me. New sounds could be detected. I couldn’t tell what they were. I had suspicions. Scratchy sounds. It would stop. I would listen in the still of the night after my neighbors finally went to sleep. I pressed my ear against the overhead. A half inch of plywood separated me from the sound. It moved I drew back, chills went up my spine. RATS. That goddam barge shipped them in. and they were searching, hungry looking for some new breeding grounds, a place to move in and dine in warmth. I lay back in my bunk and pondered what to do: Poison. Traps. Establish better relations with my lady friends and move in. That was out for sure. That left poison and traps. I quickly plugged the inboard end of my Dorade vent with laundry and crawled into my sleeping bag. I finally went to sleep still chilled as their noisy feet scampered around my decks looking for an entrance or weak spot to gnaw. A light snow had fallen during the night After a hurried breakfast I emerged from my cave looked around. Little foot prints leading from the dock and into my home’s cover confirmed my suspicions. I had company. So did the other liveaboarders. We were invaded by rats no telling how many.
    Senior Ole Salt # 650

  12. #47
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    Thank you so much for sharing this with us.

  13. #48
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    Just an additional thank you for your continuing story. As a long time Alaska liveaboard I surely share some of those onboard winter feelings. I find myself drifting south these days as I age ungracefully.. Regards..and thanks again

  14. #49

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    Awesome tales, and well written. Thanks!

    Rob

  15. #50
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    Thanks JD, I'm with Jeff Smith on this, you sure know how to end each episode. You write really well. Thanks.
    Simpler is better, except when complicated looks really cool.

  16. #51
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    A floating brothel. I guess that's one way a gal can make a living on the water.
    Pet photography, the degree you get when you fail aromatherapy - Duck D.

  17. #52
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    Thank You!!!

  18. #53
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    This is great!

  19. #54
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    Keep it up please! This is great!
    Bill R

    There was supposed to be an earth shattering KABOOM!

  20. #55
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    Thanks for all the encouraging responses. It helps to keep me going.
    I would like to post some images in some up coming text but my first attempt above didn't turn out the way I would have liked. I know Bob S. smoothly posts his art and know how very neatly. Any clues ? I have a lot of images coming up soon . Maybe I should start a click on album in Image station. Thanks again.

    JD
    Senior Ole Salt # 650

  21. #56
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    You seem to be doing alright with images. I gasped and said a scotable word when I saw that tug and tow coming around the bend. Ipso facto -- you've got the realism.

  22. #57
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    Doin' good.....hope ya got more pics than me........hang on to 'em...
    Wakan Tanka Kici Un
    ..a bad day sailing is a heckuva lot better than the best day at work.....
    Fighting Illegal immigration since 1492....
    Live your life so that whenever you lose, you're ahead."
    "If you live life right, death is a joke as far as fear is concerned."

  23. #58
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    This is good. Brings back some forgotten details from when I lived aboard with wife and 3 kids in New Guinea. One time I bashed a rat to death with a stick in the cockpit-the trap held him, but didn't kill him. The boat next door was owned by the Prime Minister. I remember looking out the porthole of the head while doing what you do there, to see the sharp end of an automatic weapon as one of his body gaurds lounged against the side of our boat. Gave me a bit of a fright. We didn't lose any babies overboard, but one of ours in full batman costume took a slide off the marina into the water once. A neighbor grabbed him by the cape and fished him out. Remember walking the crying baby up and down the marina trying to settle him to sleep. Great social atmosphere, good friends. We fitted half doors in a few places around the boat as the baby became mobile, to keep him safe. Swung one of those toddler swings off the mizzen boom, pretty cute place to keep a baby. We had a solid ss rail all round the boat, hung a full sized domestic BBQ off it for outdoor cooking. Just unhooked it and left it on the marina when we went out for a sail. Its harder to go sailing when you live aboard. Unless you are really really disciplined, you end up with a whole lot of stuff that doesn't want to be tipped over to 45 degrees. Loved it though. Sorry, don't want to hijack your thread, keep it coming.

  24. #59
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    Keep them coming
    Regards
    Robbie

  25. #60
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    Fantastic writing, great stories.
    Keep on posting please, I'm hanging on every word.

  26. #61
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    Allright JD you have us hooked there
    And no follow up this morning I'm frustrated !
    Or may be as you have us hooked ,you will now write your "memoires" and sold them in hardback/expensive/first edition/signed/... to all your followers on this forum ???
    Mind you that is a very good idea ,don't forget I was the first to suggest it
    May I get 10% of the royalties to finish my boat ??
    Keep going I can't wait anymore and I do really like your style of writing
    Best regards

    Lannig
    www.mavourneen-mary.com

  27. #62
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    Very fun stuff. Well written too ...

    Add another reader to the unfolding book ...
    If I use the word "God," I sure don't mean an old man in the sky who just loves the occasional goat sacrifice. - Anne Lamott

  28. #63
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    Before leaving the boat I placed everything edible in my ice box and took out what little garbage I had. Later that day I stopped by the local hardware store and got two traps and rat poison. May as well attack with two weapons I thought. I asked the salesman about the bait . He replied “Where are you going to use it?” “Down on the dock in a marina”, I replied .“Having a problem down there? Another guy bought some rat stuff this morning. They get thirsty and die some where else”, he added. “Good”, I said. I also got some wire mesh with about ½”openings. Aboard I cut it oversize round and bent it to fit snugly down the throat of my dorade vent. It would slow them down. Some peanut butter was smeared on both traps’ trigger. I carefully pulled back that big powerful spring and placed the two traps just under my cover. The pellets were also sprinkled liberally around out of sight beneath the tarp. It was Wednesday . In three days we liveaboarads would be watering up and could scheme collectively regarding our combined strategy. I ran into Jim who lived with his wife and two children aboard a wooden boat. He was fearful too and had plenty of evidence of rats aboard . They had started to gnaw at one portion of his cockpit locker . He heard it at night. His wife was ready to check into a motel with the kids. He also bought traps and poison. Back aboard I cooked my favorite stew in a pressure cooker. Another advantage of this rat proof container. Did a little reading and turned my heater off . Yes, off. I didn’t completely trust propane. The sleeping bag was quite warm during the night and all my insulation kept quite a bit of the heat contained. My ears were cocked for any noise. Nothing. Just a gentle roll with the sound of wind .I turned on my tape player. Mozart and the sea , a collection of Mozart’s greatest symphonies blended with gentle surf. It was soothing, calming. By 2 AM I woke and answered nature’s call . It was still pretty quiet. Back in the bag I drifted off to sleep. In the morning after a quick breakfast I took a glance at the still set traps under the tarp. Empty. The pellets were still around but just maybe less of them. Wishful thinking I thought. On the way to the car Jim was coming back from the dumpster with a big smile on his face. He had just disposed of two rats still in the trap. “I’ll get more traps” he said “I just don’t want to handle em in any way”. Who could blame him with the diseases this menace harbors. My score was 0. Friday night I got one. The thud like bang in the wee hours declared one victory. I felt like raising a rat flag something like the one WW2 pilots painted on their aircraft signifying downed enemies. On Saturday we compared notes Just about all liveaboarders had at least one victory. One guy got three. He had set 6 traps. All of us spread poison around as none of us had any pets. I even think old grouchy set a few traps in his work-office area, now aware of what the barge had delivered. I noticed “IT” seemed a bit cleaner. The box tables were gone along with the beer cans. The marina would have a lot to lose when the summer came if it was still rat infested. We further determined to continue our present strategy and see what happened and to confront the marina to hire a professional exterminator if things didn’t improve. We would share in the expense. Our liveaboard lawyer would write it all up in legalese.

    The whims of wind, weather, irate managers, and rats were not the only concerns of. liveaboarders There was always a lingering threat of the Fire Marshal. He had the power to kick us all out . Our heating arrangements were make shift and would never pass any kind of inspection. Then there was the issue well as how the Fire dept. could get equipment down to the docks during icy weather in the event of a conflagration . My marina in New Rochelle was in Davenport Neck section and situated on the bottom of a fairly steep hill. During storms of ice and snow our manager /owner was not at all diligent in getting us plowed out. He didn’t live there. We did and as early risers shoveled the snow ourselves to get to work. Kitty litter helped and some us carried sand as well. By the time old grouchy came to work it was all done for him. I suspect none of us would be up to any code regarding fire prevention aboard or on the docks. The Fire Marshall never did come around, to my knowledge and just maybe a few bucks in the right places helped . I like to think he was under staffed and had plenty of populated areas to look after. A dozen liveaboarders were of no concern.

    Our lawyer didn’t have to draft a rat document . For the most part the situation appeared under control . We all had victories, I don’t remember the total score. I got four more and now an “Ace” Our one mother and family breathed more easily. The pile driver was still banging away and the ice around was melting as the days lengthened. The end of hibernation neared . I still had a nightly visitor, but nothing in the one trap set. It was getting rusty. I could hear him at night. Something was up there over my head, noisy. Goddamn, he must be big and smart, I thought. The alpha male of rats. One Saturday I untied a few hold down lanyards and got under the cover . My insulation was all in place, though a bit ripped here and there, and I guess the rats hadn’t sensed its warmth potential. By the overturned dinghy, the trap was still set with the now moldy bait in place. I rebaited the trap with a nice big fresh glob of peanut butter. Apparently my visitor was not eager for tainted morsels. Maybe something “fresh” would tempt him. My mystery visitor didn’t come around every night and when absent I kind of missed him.. My cave was closing in on me. Boy, did I need spring. .

    What does one do during long winter months in a cave? I missed tinkering in my workshop and darkroom. There was always something to make or repair and even write about (more about that later). Sailors traditionally did “scrimshaw” I was no different. In my cave I could read but I liked my hands busy so I also did pen and ink sketches. of sailing ships. Made a beautiful jewelry box of teak for daughter. It had full sailor’s sea chest beckets. The other, for my daughter in law, had a musical motif and miniature violin on the lid, as she was a professional musician. There’s many a yacht’s wheel or tiller with a Turk’s head I tied indicating mid rudder position. I even managed to build a couple of half hull models of clipper ships like “Young America” and” Cutty Sark.”.



    This model clipper survived a sinking and fire aboard. I had to completely redo the rigging . If you look close to the top of the main mast you’ll see a remaining scorch. I kept it aboard as a reminder to inspect everything.

    Spring finally came and we all had to be out of there by the end of March The marina was busy. It was time to get ready to leave and head back to Stamford, CT, this time to a smaller marina. and go through phone screw ups burden again with a new bunch of strange messages.. Saturday the cover came off, the insulation dumped, the wooden frame off and the engine put back into commission. I took the dinghy off the boat . Something rolled out and hit the deck . It was a mussel shell. More stuff appeared - , debris of all kinds including fish bones, and there about a two feet away a long black turd. Puzzled. Then it came to me - a freekin racoon had made the overturned dinghy his dining area and “rest “stop. I figured he climbed up on the underside of the dinghy’s seat, enjoyed the escaping heat, dined in relative warmth and crapped as he left. I had occasionally encountered this creature before, coming back late at night. He would dominate the dock defying you to come on , pass him to get to your boat. I often backed down, returned to the van to get something I forgot ( I told my self), and then back to the now empty dock.

    Sunday I said farewell to my neighbors, cast off and sailed for Stamford never to winter in New Rochelle again.

    Next episode Bermuda Bound.. alone
    Senior Ole Salt # 650

  29. #64
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    JD,
    Good read. Thanks for sharing.

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  31. #66
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    Fun reading. I hope you are enjoying reliving this.

    We learned the same lesson about animals finding their way into insulation. I had several garbage bags of old fg batting in the basement one winter which a skunk burrowed into. Disgusting mess he made, too.
    If I had a dollar for every girl who found me unattractive, eventually they would find me attractive.

  32. #67
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    Yes Rbgarr, I 'm enjoying reliving and reteiveing old memories. Something good to before Alzheimers destroys memory banks . Maybe my great grand children will enjoing scaning what I put to paper as well as mute viewers. But it is hard to get it down in a legible readable way.

    Back to the story.

    JD
    Last edited by J. Dillon; 02-22-2007 at 01:26 PM. Reason: additional text
    Senior Ole Salt # 650

  33. #68
    Join Date
    Aug 1999
    Location
    Woodbridge, Suffolk, UK
    Posts
    23,182

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    I'd missed this.

    Excellent stuff and wonderfully written.

    More, please...

    (I only did it for 18 months or so.)

  34. #69
    Join Date
    Oct 1999
    Location
    Hamden CT USA
    Posts
    5,563

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    Preparing the boat and my self.

    For some of us, planning a blue water passage is an event we rather subconsciously scheme for. You don’t really conduct a step by step process as in getting medical or law degrees. Your sub conscious knows what you have to do from reading exploits of blue water sailors, absorbing by osmosis what they did and how they did it. It just kind of lies there lodged in your memory to retrieve in the future. The commitments of the real world like family, job or career take over most of your conscious mind. With a marriage over, the family on its own, age creeping up, my responsibilities relieved, I was free. It was time to re surface this suppressed scheme and make it reality So, I redesigned the boat’s interior. There was no way any woman near my age would commit to long time cruising aboard “Shaula”. I could easily see that “candidates”, in my mind at least, reacted when I hinted at tropical shores. So I was free to alter the interior to suit my personal requirements.

    Altering the inside

    I started with the stb. fwd bunk raising it to about 50" off the cabin sole. Its white laminate top would be the main chart table with strong grabable fiddle along the edge On top a folded chart could easily be spread.. Beneath, I constructed a series of drawers, the top one to accommodate charts, Nautical Almanac, sight reduction tables and off shore plotting sheets; the other drawers, clothes , and one portable typewriter. It all still looked like a bunk but higher. I guess its smooth white surface could serve as an operating table for a medical student to practice on.
    Opposite, would be the main sleeping bunk complete with a sea cloth. Over this bunk, I installed a solid oak grab rail. A great ape could hang from it. Aft of the mast, opposite the gimbaled stove, would be a second narrow berth with a high fiddle. It would serve mostly as a catch-all for sails and other gear you threw in or on it . Over it I built a small fold up table with a 12 V and 110 volt lamp. The bunk if cleared, enabled one to sit sideways, fold the table down and dine with a guest opposite. The other nav. station was too tiny and with the ice box underneath, contents were difficult to access. Coming down the companionway I also installed oak grab handles. ( you can see them in the opening images of this thread). My stove had a great sturdy stainless. steel bar across the top. I could lock the stove in one position. This rail was strong enough to grab when things got rough. For the main bunk I stitched up a heavy canvas sea cloth and sewed in grommets to receive the lanyards which were snapped into grommet eyes secured to my over head grab rail. The canvas would keep me from falling out when heeled hard over on the port tack. In the forepeak I contrived a reel to roll up the anchor line. It guaranteed free flow of line when anchoring, but was a pain when rolling it back on the reel . In weighing anchor single handed, I would get the cable up on deck any which way, and secure the plough anchor. When gaining some sea room, I’d engage the wind vane, and neatly recoil the line on deck to afford getting it below easily. Then I’d take a good look around and dive below to roll in the line on the reel. It worked but was a sweaty job. My thinking was when anchoring in an emergency, guarantee the anchor cable paying out smoothly with no possibility of kinks to snag in the thru deck opening. Forward of the bulkhead separating the main cabin berth was the head. It had a Y valve and a a tiny bladder holding tank. A little sink with a sea water pump with small shelf hung on this bulkhead to port.

    Haggling and Nav. Gear

    Navigation was important and I practiced aboard often as I could to hone my sextant skills even on Long Island Sound when I could get a clear horizon. I guess it looked silly. Charted locations on shore also served for practice during winter months. Greenwich Point in CT was a favorite. I could walk down to the water’s edge, take a sight (that gave me a height of eye of 6'), and later reduce it in the boat. I found that some contractor during the night had moved the point several miles. He worked secretly for several weeks and moved it back closer . Finally he had it in the right place by my calculations. I never informed the authorities of his activities. I also had a Loran receiver. Some crap out on you when getting close to Bermuda and so it did. My compass was a sturdy British made Sestrel. I made a deviation table for power and sail . My sextant made by Brandis, and ancient. In 1950 I haggled a merchant in Turkey for it It was probably made before WW II instruments). It had a vernier scale. The mirrors were in good shape despite its age. I discarded the telescope as it inverted the image and I found that quite confusing. Maybe it would be better in the southern hemisphere ( wink). I recycled a 2x scope for it from a warped plastic Davis sextant and crafted a batt compartment, a toggle switch in the handle and wired up a small red light to illuminate the vernier. It worked well. Even then I was subconsciously preparing for this time. Years ago in a real home with family still around, I would lift it from its mahogany dovetailed box to polish up its silvered arc. It probably pre dated WW II. I often wondered what skipper or mate swung an arc to get Venus to kiss the horizon? Did his ship come under fire? Were U boats lurking near by? In the age of instant positioning, there’s still romance and mystique about this instrument. For time, I used a bulkhead mounted quartz “Time bowl “clock.It picked up time ticks from Fort Collins CO. and a good digital watch .
    My look out was to be a marine radar detector. It was a hand held unit ( forget the name). The alarm would sound if I was being scanned by any radar. It had a scale by which you could set the distance and being hand held, determine the direction of the signal scan. It worked but......
    A friend had given me a beautiful taffrail log. It was brass and made by Walker. It read in statue miles There was no line for it but did have the rotator.. He was a dreamer but when it looked like I was serious about this he gave it to me. I obtained suitable braided line and attached a six foot leader of 1/4" stainless steel wire to the brass rotator . That was to deter sharks. I still have it.

    Emerging from Land fall navigation I had rolled up under my arm three charts of Bermuda, a list of gear recommended for this kind of passage and the current regulations expected at customs. I all ready had pilot charts depicting wind roses and currents. A fun scrutiny by arm chair voyagers as they showed just what mariners learned about the seas dominating this world.
    A small hand held RDF unit rounded out my navigation gear as well as the usual smaller stuff like hand bearing compass, etc.

    "Shaula almost reay to go"

    Altering the outside

    I had the boat hauled to inspect things and do the bottom paint ritual. I had all ready installed the wind vane and constructed a trim tab for the rudder. I now wanted to put steps on the rudder to make boarding easier from the water. . Two steps below the water line and two oak grab handles above made climbing aboard easy. They would slow the boat down, but so what? I’m not racing. I rigged up a stainless 1/4" stainless steel jack line along the deck fore and aft, port and starboard.. The safety harness I bought had a six foot tether with a stout snap hook on the end. It was easy to engage/disengage on to the jack line. It was clumsy to use but afforded some attachment to the boat if things got bad on deck.. I bought a small Bermuda flag to run up the stb. spreader on arrival in Bermuda and sewed up a yellow quarante flag. On the backstay I contrived a permanent homemade radar reflector. It also held a combination red over red light signifying “Captain is dead” to comply with nav. lights regs.. The loran antenna also sprung from this contraption. The port spreader had a block whereby I could run up an additional reflector made by Davis. For years I had a great little folding dink. It was made by Prout. It was a cinch to open up, place in the floorboard /seat, and wedge it all in and firm by a scissor strut. It could hold two small people or one normal. The canvas/wood side section was stowed on deck and was lashed to the shrouds port side. Its floor boards portion, was lashed stb side aft, to the railing, to form a kind of back rest..

    “That will be 2,150 bucks. Check or credit card?”, the salesman briskly asked . Sheech, I thought I could make two or more round trips in the best stateroom aboard a cruise ship to Bermuda for that kind of money. Instead, I’m going alone, a bit apprehensive, and doubting my own commitment to the whole project. “Credit card”, I replied . There’s no turning back now, I thought. I grabbed the big black bag that contained an Avon two man life raft and put it in my van. Inspection tags hung out from the sides and many warnings adorned its surface. This is serious stuff. You could be in it some day wondering why you did this.

    I kind of knew what the insurance broker would say when I requested a quote concerning an off shore rider policy for the boat. He had asked “ What kind of experience does your crew have?” I replied, “I’ll get back to you on that.” and hung up the phone. I was licensed, had been a mate and skipper aboard a couple of 40 ton schooners before marriage. as well as my own array of boats. Last year I navigated a friend’s 36' ketch to Bermuda.
    But crew... I was skipper and the crew . Well, forget about any kind of insurance.

    Next The passage

    JD
    Last edited by J. Dillon; 02-23-2007 at 09:46 PM. Reason: text change
    Senior Ole Salt # 650

  35. #70
    Join Date
    May 2002
    Location
    MD
    Posts
    46,536

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    damn,,glad I get out of the Bilge to find this

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