Sunday, August 21, 2016

House Chores

I was vacuuming one of the side bedrooms in our house and came across two small pieces of paper on the floor. In picking them up, I discovered they weren't scrap paper but thumbnail prints (most likely cut out from a contact sheet) of the blogmeister sailing his Laser out of SSA (Annapolis) back in the 1970's. They must have fallen from some book I had re-shelved. I don't know who took the photos. (Warning! Blogmeister with hair and beard)

It looks like it was a gusty northwester as I was sailing upwind towards the U.S. Naval Academy.

Nobody had invented flat leg hiking yet!

From the Earwigoagin archives; a few of the Laser posts featuring the blogmeister.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Header Photo: Shannon One-Design Start

The previous photo is a start of the Shannon One Design, an Irish, 18 foot, clinker, cat-rigged traditional dinghy that is raced primarily out of Lough Derg on the River Shannon. The class came about when, in 1920, sailors on the River Shannon decided to ditch their motley assortment of 18 foot sailing/rowing open boats and settle on a design by Morgan Giles.

These Shannon One Design's are very quick in a breeze.

In looking up the Shannon One Design, I came across the BBC show, "Three Men in a Boat", which seems to be a watery takeoff of the hit BBC car show, "Top Gear"; both shows featuring three guys swimming in back-and-forth witty banter . "Three Men in a Boat" did a show on cruising the Shannon and featured the Shannon One Design (seen at about 19 minutes in on the following YouTube).

The Wikipedia page for the Shannon One Design can be found here.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Music Whenever: Heifervescent "Billy Comes Home"

A boppy rock tune - it's got a little of the late 60's Monkeys vibe to it (and to tell you the truth, I liked the Monkeys). I guess this band isn't into putting up a produced music video but it's the music that counts.

The lyrics:
Billy comes home
I've been waiting for so many years to find a reason to ride back home

It's been a long time
and these houses and haircuts and horrorbags I hardly would have recognised

I call up my friend
and he tells me his wondrous adventures in financial investment went wrong

but I'm all right Jack I hate to say
I've got no money but I'm happy this way so hey hey!
so hey hey!

Oh dear what have I done?
I had an idea and took the money and ran...
...into a brick wall

These goofs are bigger than me
These goofs are better than me
These goofs have friends in high places

I wondered how often I used the adjective "boppy" to describe a tune. It turns out not that often. Click here to see the tunes I described as boppy.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

George Steer's 1856 design "Laura"

In 1856, the last year of his life, George Steers, the designer of America, designed a small 24' racer for Harry Latrobe Roosevelt of Skaneateles N.Y. Named Laura, this Steer's racer would spend her entire career on Skaneateles Lake. On Christmas Day, 1936, after being hauled for the last time, Osgood R. Smith, John Barnes, and Art Emerick would measure Laura on the beach. Eight years later, Osgood R. Smith wrote an article on Laura in the August 1944 issue of Yachting magazine and included the lines they had assembled.

Laura provides a glimpse of how the New York designers were moving the lines of the New York oystering workboat into a recreational racer. (See also Chris Thompson's article on the 1853 Una design by Bob Fish). We see the basis of form that would be tweaked, some fifteen years later, into the all-out Sandbaggers of the 1870's. Compared to Sandbaggers,  the George Steer's Laura is a wholesome hull of moderate proportions though we can see the fine bow and the tucked-up aft rocker of the Sandbaggers. There is no record of Laura needing sandbags to be raced.

Laura's sections show a fair bit of tumblehome.
The beam is not excessive.

This side view has the stern lopped off because the copier distorted the stern as the page made it's way down into the binding of the book.

My night of Sandbagger sailing.

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Wood Engraving: Print of Annapolis Harbor around the Civil War

I saw this wood engraving on my good friend, Tom Price's, work desk and he was kind enough to scan it in. In poring over the wood engraving, the best we can make out, putting our heads together, is this is Annapolis Harbor just after the Civil War. Sketched from the vantage point of the North Severn River, we see several Navy tall ships anchored off the Naval Academy, a steam ship motoring west on the Severn River towards the Bay, and off to the right, presumably anchored, a Monitor iron-clad war-ship. (Plus, a small cat-boat sailing amongst all this big lumber.)

James W. Cheevers, Senior Curator at the U.S. Naval Academy Museum, sent along this detailed email on the history represented by this engraving, from which I quote below.
"This line engraving is definitely post Civil War. It is a view of Annapolis from across the Severn River with the Naval Academy main pier left of center surrounded by ships, a good view of the seaward side of Stirbling Row, the Maryland State House sticking up at center, McDowell Hall at St. John's College, a clear view of the Academy's Steam Engineering Building (1866) and New Quarters or Cadet Quarters (1868) with a copula out of perspective by sticking up too high in proportion to the building.

"I think the three-turreted monitor is a mistake, too. I have record of seven different monitors visiting and/or serving the Naval Academy between 1866 and 1910, but none of them had three turrets. Those with double-turrets included USS Amphitrite, formerly Tonawanda; USS Nevada (BM 8), and USS Terror. I think the monitor is probably meant to be USS Amphitrite which had a funnel between its two turrets that when retracted could have been mistaken from a distance as a turret. It was used at the Academy for training between 1866 and 1872.

"I note that there is an inscription lower left. It looks like the words Fleet and Puck. Puck was a magazine from 1871 to 1918, but its illustrations were primarily cartoons. There appears to be another inscription on the right where the dark water meets the land. It seems to end in "weed" so it could be an artist's name. If are able to better decipher either of these inscriptions examining the original up close, let me know what they are because we do have reference books on artists to perhaps help you further.

(Click on image for larger view.)

Erratum: Peter Belenky, who it turns out has done marine etchings, points out that I originally erroneously categorized this print as an etching when it is actually a wood engraving. I've pulled his detailed comment over to the main post and made the appropriate corrections to the main post. Thanks Peter for the education.
"Not an etching, but apparently a wood engraving. In both processes, ink is rubbed into grooves on the plate and wiped off the surface. Then paper pressed down picks up the ink. In an etching, the principal means of creating grooves is scratching the design through a varnish coat on a metal plate and bathing the plate in acid. In an engraving (metal or wood), the grooves are gouged with tools. These are "intaglio" processes, meaning that the lines are printed where the surface is cut away. In the alternative "relief" process, like book printing, the blank spaces are below the surface and ink is rolled onto the raised surface to be printed.

"The wood engraving process was the chief means of publishing images in magazines of the Civil War period, and many of Winslow Homer's drawings and paintings from the front were reproduced and circulated in this way.

More from James Cheevers: In response to a further inquiry of mine about the dock with the paddlewheeler at the top right of the engraving, Mr Cheevers sent along some further fascinating details.
"Yes, there was a wharf at the end of Maryland Avenue on the Severn River. It was not a public wharf after 1847 because the Federal government had purchased the property as part of the first expansion of the new Naval School at Annapolis. In the post Civil War period the wharf was called Phlox Wharf after the screw steamer USS Phlox, built in Boston in 1864 as F. W. Lincoln and purchased by the U.S. Navy. Phlox had seen active service during the battles of Fort Fisher and then was reassigned to the U.S. Naval Academy when it returned from Newport, RI, to Annapolis. Phlox served as the academy's ferry or water taxi from 1865 to 1873.

"There had earlier been an additional pier at the end of Tabernacle Street, later College Avenue, but I think by the Civil War period it was gone.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Header Photo: R2AK - A Luddite Hero?

The previous header photo is from the 2015 R2AK - the 720 mile Race to Alaska - of Team Boatyard Boys finishing in Ketchikan, Alaska; two guys in a 16' Swampscott Dory that was so slow under sail they ended up rowing most of the 720 miles. It was obvious from last year's race that a crewed multihull was the ticket if you wanted to claim the $10,000 prize. So what craft did Tim Penhellow (I think he's the one on the left in this photo of the original Team Boatyard Boys) choose to compete in the 2016 R2AK? The same 16' Swampscott Dory, though this time he decided to do the race solo. Alone! Predictably he finished last, amassing the slowest time over the two R2AK's (of those who did the race twice). Some of Tim's quotes when he was drinking a beer after crossing the finish line:

When asked what it was like racing the R2AK solo:
"Like losing your virginity. You're glad you did it but embarrassed by your performance."

"I'm bored of being bored."

"Solo sailing is not for me." (Where he went on to relate some terrifying moments under sail when he needed an extra set of hands - but all he could do was hold his breath and wait for the outcome.)

Truth be told, the organizer of the R2AK originally envisioned this race as one for the Tim Penhellow's of the world, an ultra-marathon grit and grind up the western wild coast of Canada, where human-power is just as important as sail power. Unfortunately this narrative for the R2AK only plays out in the boats under 20' of length. Several millennia of history have pointed out the fastest way to eat up the miles in non-carbon water transport is a sailboat. Fast sailing beats a fast rowing boat every time -  and there is no better fast sailboat then the modern multihulls, who this year made the 720 mile R2AK a three day sprint (for the winners).

As a race for the prizes, the R2AK is now a long distance multihull race, the R2AK adding some navigational wrinkles and spectacular coastal scenery as compared to a slog in the ocean. The guys that do the R2AK with boats under 20 feet - 2016 Luddites, all of them.  They will finish weeks after the multihulls, but I tip my hat to all of them.

Congratulations to Tim Penhellow, to the other small boat adventurers in the R2AK, and particularly to the older duo, Heather Drugge and Dan Campbell, racing the only sailing dinghy, a Mirror 16, who managed an incredible 600 miles before pulling out.

Further proof of why racing a Swampscott Dory in the R2AK is like bringing a knife to a gun fight - video from day 6 of the 2016 R2AK.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Music Whenever: The Lumineers, "Cleopatra"

I heard this on the radio and it captured me. The Lumineers have a new album out; some of the hits on the new album are boppy, folky, stock love songs, but this one is different. A song of despair, regret, a life that branched into treading water when the love of the life is dismissed. Supposedly this a true story as related by a female taxi driver the Lumineers met in the Republic of Georgia. Great, poignant lyrics.

The lyrics:
I was Cleopatra, I was young and an actress
When you knelt by my mattress, and asked for my hand
But I was sad you asked it, as I laid in a black dress
With my father in a casket, I had no plans, yeah

And I left the footprints, the mud stained on the carpet
And it hardened like my heart did when you left town
But I must admit it, that I would marry you in an instant
Damn your wife, I'd be your mistress just to have you around

But I was late for this, late for that, late for the love of my life
And when I die alone, when I die alone, when I die I'll be on time

While the church discouraged, any lust that burned within me
Yes my flesh, it was my currency, but I held true
So I drive a taxi, and the traffic distracts me
From the strangers in my backseat, they remind me of you

But I was late for this, late for that, late for the love of my life
And when I die alone, when I die alone, when I die I'll be on time

And the only gifts from my Lord were a birth and a divorce
But I've read this script and the costume fits, so I'll play my part

I was Cleopatra, I was taller than the rafters
But that's all in the past now, gone with the wind
Now a nurse in white shoes leads me back to my guestroom
It's a bed and a bathroom
And a place for the end

I won't be late for this, late for that, late for the love of my life
And when I die alone, when I die alone, when I die I'll be on time