Monday, November 30, 2009

Disabled Sailing; Tip of the Hat to All Those Volunteers!

Wow! Those who volunteer their time in getting the disabled into sailboats are tops in my book! The absolute joy radiating from the disabled in piloting their own sailing vessels fills the following videos with a special aura.

First up is the Downtown Sailing Center , a community sailing program run out of the Inner Harbor in Baltimore. Video excerpted from a Maryland Public TV documentary.

Next, is a disabled competition in specially designed trimarans on Grafham Water, England.

And disabled sailing in France.............

Oh No Mr Bill!... (the Gummi Bear version)

Warning, not a sailing post! Further warning, silly guy thing! In my early teens, our neighborhood "gang" had all sort of destructive fun with M80 and Ladyfinger fireworks. Back then, construction crews would routinely burn wood scrap which, after hours we would stoke into large bonfires and keep burning well into the night.... and yes my next door neighbor friend was a pyromaniac. It was a different age and may explain why I find this following video so fascinating (No, I haven't touched a firework in years, not even on July 4).

At 49 seconds in, see those guys step forward with grins on their faces....... that was my neighborhood "gang".

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Headache included

No, This video doesn't have sailing in it, but it does have a Laser sailor in it. This video is mesmerizing in that we are waiting for the ball to knock Estonian Laser sailor Deniss Karpak on his ass.

Does Tillerman have this in his training regimen? It might help with ducking the boom.

Mortal Ball from Deniss Karpak on Vimeo.

Snark Thread Continues

Mighty oaks from little acorns grow.

Two professional sailors who got their start in the Snark foam sailboat;

Alan Drew; sailmaker, coach, North Sails rep

Alan relates this story. His Dad took Alan to the Washington Boat Show in the 1960's and they entered a raffle where a Snark was the prize. Alan's Dad didn't win but in talking to the winner, he found out she didn't have any way of getting the Snark home since she drove a convertible. A $25 offer was made and accepted and the Snark ended up in the family summer place in Maine. Alan's Dad taught himself to sail on the Snark (Mom kept an eye on him through the kitchen window and if he got into trouble, launched the family motor boat to the rescue). Alan sailed the Snark some but as is usual for young kids, found the Snark much more fun to capsize and swim around. Alan's Dad got the sailing bug in a big way, became a part-time yacht broker, first for Galion sailboats and then later for Yankee yachts, and upgraded his racing boats, finally ending up with a very successful Yankee 38, an S&S one tonner. Alan cut his racing teeth steering his Dad's keelers. But it all started with a Snark!

Renee Mehl, Vandestar Chair US Naval Academy, Around the World Racer

From Renee's comment I solicited for my Snark posts;

Yup, I learned how to sail on a Snark. We won it in a local church raffle in Michigan when I was in jr high school. We used to take it down to Gulf Shores Alabama and sail out in the Gulf from the beach. I remember my cousin trailing his hand in the water... until my dad asked him if he was trolling for sharks! We did get a visit from some dolphins once, I'm sure they were bigger than the boat. We also used it as a diving platform with the mast out back home in the pond. Not a very stable platform. Remember that sharp metal plate holding the rudder on? I have a nice scar on my elbow from that. Still, who would have thought learning to sail on a styrofoam Snark would lead a girl from an island in Michigan to wind up sailing around the world in the Whitbread?

And another Sea Snark video, this time with a yappy dog (thankfully the sound is off).

The complete Sea Snark thread is here

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Music for Fridays; Fan Death, "Reunited"

"Music for Friday" should really be called "Music for Whenever", for I often miss putting something up on Fridays.

Well, this weeks selection is from my daughter Robyn, who giggles hysterically when viewing my past "Music for Fridays" choices.

Are you ready for STRANGE? My take on the video storyline is a hipster "Wizard of Oz" where Dorothy meets up with weird and wonderful characters. Yonder readers of this blog are allowed to concoct your own storyline. My advice is to study the dance moves for your next wedding reception, particularly if you want to look like an old fool.

"Today is the greatest day I have ever known"

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Scow Moth Update; November 2009

I am one of the few Yanks who has ever owned a winged scow Moth. In my case I had one-off Australian designed and built scow Moth shipped to the U.S and, as it turned out, the scow was not a very good scow design, fun in flat water and a breeze, almost impossible to sail in any sort of confused chop. I wrote about it in more detail in 2003 and if interested, one can view my scow experience here . A picture of me sailing my scow Moth...

I still love the scow Moth, even though it's been over 20 or so years since the scow was eclipsed by the monohull Moth in International competitions. Today many sailors see the scow as very ancient technology when stacked up against the current foiler Moth. But then some have accused me of always being the contrarian; and so I continue to collect scow Moth news wherever it pops up.

Englishman (also living in the U.S) Len Parker seem to be at the center of most of the current scow news. In the summer, Len Parker collected a badly decomposed Imperium design from somewhere in the Southeast USA and dragged the hull back to Florida for a rebuild.

And Len's pal Ray, on the Isle of Wight, has done a beautiful job restoring a Red Ned design (a 1970's Western Australian design). Pic following;

Meanwhile in New Zealand, the New Zealand one-design scow Moth is still raced out of Stewarts Gully Sailing Club. This is a wingless design and was very popular in New Zealand until the Laser showed up. More information here . Picture from Lindsay Russell,

And finally, from New Zealand again, this YouTube video shows a winged scow Moth that had the rudder drop off.....

Equal Opportunity Skin

Old news now, but Groupama 3 has pulled out in their attempt at an "Around The World" record after they damaged an aft structural bulkhead on one of their outriggers. However, before their withdrawal and in a more relaxed time, they shot this (rain) shower scene.........

And in the Transat Jacques Vabre, our girl Roxy (Sam Davies) takes a (sea water) shower......

And they say this blog has no standards...............

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Are We Having Fun Yet? Family Sail

I ran across a YouTube video, that in a sideways fashion, brought back memories of my dad and his attempts to get our entire family sailing.

Our Dad first bought an 8' El Toro, which both he and I eagerly embraced in learning to sail and, then we divvied boat time up among ourselves as we puttered about the creek. My brother was lukewarm to sailing a pram, my sisters and mother were definitely not too enthusiastic. So to light the fire and get the whole family participating, he bought a 16' Rebel sailboat, a commodious fiberglass daysailer still raced in the MidWest. Our first family sail in the Rebel resulted in us going hard aground in the Chesapeake black mud. My Dad could string some profanity together at the drop of a hat and this was one of those times. Both me and my brother leapt overboard and pushed us off but the remaining day's sail remained under a black cloud. The second attempt at a family sail had us sail smack dab into the middle of a vicious thunder squall. Thankfully we were still in the creek and managed to get the sails down, but it poured buckets, and thunder and lightning filled the air. My Mom and sisters squeezed themselves under the small foredeck and waited it out; to me it was all a grand adventure. After that, I don't think my Mom ever set foot again in a sailboat, and my sisters went out occasionally but never took to it as I did. My Dad and I continued on, eventually competing in the racier Windmill and Y Flyer. My brother returned to sailing as an adult, enjoyed it immensely and became a very competent dinghy racer.

The following video features an English family sailing a Lymington scow, which isn't a scow at all, at least in the American definition, but a small dinghy. By small, the Lymington scow is 11'4" long and a tad under 5' beam, a hair bigger on those dimensions than my Classic Moth. In this video, the Dad is having a great time (Ah! The male ego.... "This is good, this is what it's about". Something I could well be accused of saying!), the older son enjoying himslf as well, the younger son is affixed on the leeward gunwhale in his own reverie and the Mom, well the Mom has her game face on (and is bailing with a passion) but I have a feeling she is thinking this is really bloody stupid. I wonder how much Mom has been out on succeeding family sails on this Lymington Scow, or has she always found some excuse to opt out?

Lymington scow video no longer available.

Here is a video on the Rebel class.

Friday, November 13, 2009

Music for Friday: Jimmy Buffet; "Pirate Looks at 40"

I'm not a real fan of Jimmy Buffet, a tad too syrupy. I also shy away from the mainstream. But Jimmy Buffet and this mellow video of an older guy sailing his O'Day Widgeon around a tiny lake just seems to fit. So my first selection for "Music for Friday" that is also a sailing video.

Look Ma, No Rudder (No Paddle Either); St. Lawrence Skiff

Last post in this series, unless a reader points me to another class. The St. Lawrence skiff is a traditional clinker double ended craft developed in the mid 1800's among the Thousand Islands, between New York and Canada. Usually between 18' and 22', the Skiff was originally an all purpose water transport between islands and the mainland. The St. Lawrence skiff was not paddled but propelled by oar or sail, and was always sailed with no rudder. In the late 1800's, with the rush of city folk to the outdoors, the St. Lawrence skiff became the craft of choice for the local fishing guides to take their paying city "sports" out on the river. Sailing races between towns on the river took place in the Skiffs, again using no rudders, just the movement of the crew (a la the Patin a Vela catamaran) to steer the boat.

Today the St. Lawrence skiff is built primarily as a rowing craft. Search on the Internet, turned up one sailing regatta a year, the Harold Herrick Cup, usually with around five St. Lawrence skiffs competing. In my 20 or so years of taking a summer vacation on Sugar Island , one of the Thousand Islands, I don't recall coming across a St. Lawrence skiff sailing without a rudder.

I was able to lift a picture of a sailing St. Lawrence Skiff from the online "Thousand Islands Life" magazine.

And from the October 1988 archives of the New York Times, the obituary of Harold Herrick, in whose name the St. Lawrence Skiffs race every year.

Harold Herrick Jr. of Clayton and Cape Vincent, N.Y., who died earlier this month, was an extraordinary fellow. He was a superb waterfowler and a staunch member of Ducks Unlimited, a supporter of aspiring wildlife artists, an acknowledged expert in antique duck, goose and shorebird decoys, and a master at handling the rudderless St. Lawrence sailing skiff. Harold had astonishing energy, ebullience and enthusiasm that often left the more cautious mortals with whom he was associated pleading for time to cogitate.

The Thousand Islands area of the St. Lawrence was his special love. He knew its history, its people, its reefs and channels; he knew where to find muskelunge, black bass and walleyes, and in late fall and winter he knew where to rig decoys on open water for bluebills and where to wait for black ducks in secluded coves and marshes.

Harold had no truck with sham or whimpering, and to the end he refused to dwell on the cancer that so swiftly ended his life. His time was up and he knew it, but even in his final hours he was arranging a fishing trip for friends or talking enthusiastically of the warm public response to a new book, in whose publication he played a major role, dealing with the history of the St. Lawrence skiff.

He did not rage against the dying of the light, but accepted it with a forthright dignity that those who loved him will always remember.

I'll have to do some more research on this craft, particularly on how you sail them.


John Summer, former curator of the Antique Boat Museum, Clayton NY, has left this comment, which I have brought up to the main post;

Skiffs typically had a fan-shaped folding centerboard, operated by a lever in the boat, similar to the Radix and other boards used in sailing canoes of the later 19th century. A Clayton resident, Montraville Atwood, had a patent on a 3-leaf folding centerboard. Rig was a 70-90 sq foot spritsail.

The majority of the skiffs had long, straight external keels with very little rocker, which facilitated tracking and reaching. To tack, the skipper moved forward, pulling up the board as he went, and crouched at the base of the mast while the boom went over above his head. Heading back to the stern, he pushed the board back down. To gybe, the skipper went to the stern and sat on the afterdeck, urging the boom across with a flip of the sheet. Smaller course corrections were variations of this weighting/unweighting, augmented by sail trim.

The French Again; Transat Jaques Vabre

Give thanks to the French. As our sailing season in Northern US comes to a close (excepting the hardy frostbiters) the French launch two events to keep us Internet sailing junkies soaking up the sea spray. In the previous post we are watching Groupama's high speed jaunt around the World in quest of the Jules Verne record. And unknown to me, until the videos started popping up, the Open 60's and Multihull 50's are racing doublehanded across the Atlantic from Havre, France to Costa Rica. Having quite a time of it as conditions over the last two days have been horrific. Seb Josse and JF Curzon were airlifted off their Open 60 BT after the boat filled 2/3 with water through a damaged deck.

All videos narrated in French, of which I know not a lick of, but the video is enough.

Next the storm from on Vimeo.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Groupama 3

The French 100 foot trimaran, Groupama 3, is off in attempt to set a new World record for a nonstop Round the World (I guess, reading from the video title, it's called the Jules Verne trophy). I don't know where they are at this moment but wherever they are, they are going really, really fast. Insane! Just leaves me shaking my head.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Look Ma, No Rudder (No Paddle Either); Patin a Vela

Hobie Alter is most often credited with coming up with the beach catamaran. Amazingly, the Catalan sailors in the most North East province in Spain (bordering the Med) have been racing a beach cat, the "Patin a Vela" since the 1920's. This catamaran has no rudder, no paddle, no daggerboard........ you tack by running forward to the mast and steer by ooching the body. And these guys race in big waves and big breeze on the Mediterranean! You can make an on-the-fly adjustment on the rake of the rig (it does look like they are pulling on some string during a tack) but for the most part it's all where you put your body that makes the difference. You just have to watch the videos.

This one shows how you tack a Patin a Vela;

This one shows how athletic these catamarans are;

And even the Patin a Vela catamarans seem to attract those showoffs who love to fly a hull (nice beach babe tucked into the video as well).

Music for Friday: Takashi Kamide

Did I say, I love the accordion. Takashi Kamide does a bang up accordion cover of the Lennon/McCartney "Across the Universe"

Monday, November 2, 2009

Look Ma, No Rudder; the Hawaiian Sailing Canoe

So far we looked at two small singlehanders, steered by paddles on relatively flat water. But steering open ocean proas, crewed with seven paddlers, just using a "Steering Paddle"? What happens when the "Steering Paddle" just doesn't have enough oomph?

"I've been known to close my eyes and just hold on to my steering blade"

(I've sort of wished I could do that on some downwind rides.)

This video does give a good feel of open ocean racing in the Hawaiian Sailing Canoe's.

Sailfish; the Joy of Sailing a Small Boat

If a comment to one of my posts strikes my fancy, I'll drag it out to the main page and give it some exposure. Chris Marthinson, in a comment, posted a link to his post on his Sailfish experience . The fun of sailing a simple boat........

Look Ma, No Rudder (No DB either!), West Mersea Duck Punt

My post about the ACA Cruising Canoe, sans rudder, elicited a comment and also an email, an unprecedented response for this blog. Both readers pointed out that there exists in the UK, a small sailing craft copied after a local wild fowl gunning punt, that is raced with no rudder, just a paddle, and even more surprising, no daggerboard either. Truth be told, I had stumbled across the Dylan Winter video on the West Mersea Duck Punt and already had it penciled in as one of my classes for my "Look Ma, No Rudder" series. Plus, Paul Mullings, pointed me to their website and some more digging on the Internet fleshed out more of the West Mersea Punt story.

The West Mersea Duck Punt is, what we call in the U.S, a flat bottom skiff. Being a craft designed to sneak up on wild fowl, it has very low freeboard and narrow beam. A local boatbuilder took the traditional design and converted it to 12mm plywood. He sells the plywood shell to homebuilders to finish off. The rig looks to be an Optimist sprit rig. The steering paddle is plopped into an oarlock on the leeward side and, like the ACA Cruising Canoe, the steering position forces the skipper to recline about in the middle of the punt. According to Dylan Winter, lateral resistance depends on heeling the punt to get the chine into the water. It must be very interesting to watch the fleet race, particularly since most racing takes place in the winter and, as far as I can see, they have no buoyancy for self rescue. Some of the paddling techniques on the turns are identical to the ACA Cruising Canoe but I'm sure there are some other racing techniques unique to the West Mersea Duck Punt.

According to the website, they have 20 and growing certified crazies that have put one of these craft together. My type of crazy.

Dylan Winters, the great sailing/travelogue videographer, documents his Duck Punt build over here.

And a video on light air Duck Punt Racing;

We also have in the U.S, the Barnegat Bay Sneakbox and the Delaware Ducker, two other gunning craft that evolved to become some very smart sailing dinghies.