sailing

All posts tagged sailing

One year already since I let my domain name expire. I was lucky to get it back. A lot of things changed of course, not all for the best. My health isn’t very good right now. I am not quite sure what is going on, but it isn’t good. I started thinking about my build projects, the Fafnir sailboat and the Hornet gyrocopter. I love building stuff, but let’s face it, it takes an aweful lot of time. So I was browsing the sailboat ads last year, just out of boredom one day, and thought that I might just be able to afford a small boat, one already built that I wouldn’t have to wait three years to sail. Because who knows…

I hate not finishing projects mind you, but sometimes better things come along and you need to let go. I sold the gyro project. The Fafnir jig and keelson are still under my car port, and I have the floor board, a bulkhead, stringers and other pieces of wood which were going to be used in the construction. If anyone is interested, let me know. I might get back to boat building in a few years, but I had to look for a boat I could use now, or at least, soon.

It wasn’t going to be easy because my requirements were pretty specific. The boat had to be able to cross an ocean in relative safety. For me, that meant a somewhat heavy displacement hull, full keel, and double-ender if possible. So I kept on browsing.. I saw a Pacific Seacraft 25 at a good price, but it was in California. I had a Southern Cross 31 surveyed in St. Petersbug, but unfortunately the deck was soaked with water and the cabin had been attacked by a wannabe electrician with a one-inch hole cutter.

Then there was one ad for a Morris Frances 26. I hadn’t heard of that model before, but knew the designer’s reputation, Chuck Paine. And a reputable boat it certainly is. It is said that at least one has circumnavigated. The boat was named “Carol Anne” but had changed names before from “Rachael” and “Fancy.” Now she is “Dagny.” When I saw it the deck had just a coat of grey primer. The inside was fine, except for three small rot spots. The single cylinder Volvo Penta 2001 model ran fine. We took it on a short trial with the owner, the surveyor and my friend Patrick.

Awesome lines! There is no standing headroom, and that is a problem for me being 6’2″ (188cm). Have a look at the inside before I started any work:

Then the deck needed attention. I started by sanding it lightly, with the help of my friend Shane, then applied one coat of epoxy to seal the plywood. Then, my friend Brooke and I applied two coats of Pettit white EasyPoxy paint; the one-part kind. It was also a good time to glue solar panels on deck. I chose Aurinco because they seemed to be getting good reviews and are assembled in the United States. They aren’t cheap but can be walked on. I now have two 26W panels and two 18W. Solar charge controllers are two Genasun 4A models.

The deck once painted was very slippery so I bought some KiwiGrip, which is an awesome product and very easy to apply.

I’ll spare you the minute details of little projects that went into making the boat ready to sail. Let’s just say that I intended to leave for a long cruise in April, and we are now in mid August. It still isn’t finished, but the light is visible at the end of the tunnel. My friend Christine painted the name on the stern last month.

There is still quite a bit of painting to be done on the inside, a few square feet of KiwiGrip to apply, a couple small spots of rot left, and unfortunately the companionway hatch is warping, so that will be another project. The rudder is at my house, being 40% repainted at this time. But really, aside from a few electrical details and finishing touches, it is almost ready.

So, where am I going? Well, the Bahamas for a start, since it is only forty miles from the East Coast. Then South to the Turk and Caicos, then who knows.. The Panama Canal, French Polynesia? I am dreaming here, but let’s just say I will go as far as I feel comfortable and safe at the time.. It might end-up being a few miles from my dock, or around the world, I have no idea. I certainly hope to leave in October at the latest. You can follow the preparations, and hopefully the trip at SVDagny.com.

Numerous people have helped me work on the boat, given me rides, advise, gear and encouragements. I can’t thank them enough. I must mention, in no special order, Patrick, Ted, Christine, Brooke, Michael, Shane, Ed, Phil, Dave, and I am horrified right now about forgetting anyone. I even had to refuse help at times. You guys don’t even understand how much it means to me. I have been living here for more than twenty one years now, and leaving for an undetermined lenght of time, leaving my best friends behind is going to be very hard. If I get to leave… So many things can go wrong. The last straight line before the finish is always the longest and most treacherous, so I am crossing my fingers…

I had never been interested in boats until a few years ago. Not that I didn’t have the opportunity to sail, but the North Sea isn’t a friendly body of water, not to mention the weather.. My first day on a boat was out of Dunkerque (WWII buffs know the town) in a heavy chop and rain. We didn’t even hoist the sail. I used to think of sailing in terms of wetness and hypothermia. That and the fact that I didn’t know anyone else who owned a boat kept me away from marinas for many years. Moreover, owning a decent boat in France is for the rich, thanks to socialism.. You could also encircle the globe with the red tape associated with boating, in France that is..

Fast forward about seventeen years.. An older gentleman, friend of mine whom I met at the airport (he was a P-51 pilot in WWII) invited me to sail around Sarasota. I had the feeling that it was going to be a whole different experience than Dunkerque.. We didn’t go very far, but when the old Atomic 4 engine was shut-off, I was in heaven. We were moving at a decent speed it seemed, even though the scenery wasn’t quite flashing by. Time slowed. If you ever sat in front of a fire in the woods and watched it, the feeling is somewhat similar. There is a sort of fascination about being driven by the wind. The wine and cheese helped quite a bit too.

These days, we fall under the control of many. It isn’t something you really notice until you start wondering about what freedom really is. Politicians love the word, but they never seem to define it. After the advent of the industial age, big money and large goverments, freedom’s definition became a bit fuzzy.

Take your house for instance. You really only own it after it’s paid off, and only if you pay your property taxes. Even after you die, your kids will have to pay an inheritance tax. Which by the way is the biggest racket I ever heard of. You can’t leave and take your house with you. That’s fine if the city or country you live in is heaven on earth, forever, but things change. Many people have been reminded of it in our present economy. You can’t find a buyer in a down market. Boats don’t have that problem. Sure, they lose value every day spent on the water, but a well kept boat can last a lifetime. You get waterfront property for free and pay no property taxes. If things get iffy, you can sail away in the sunset. You’ll never be bothered by Jeovah’s Witnesses either! Those who say that a boat is too small have never seen the inside of a fifty footer. A well ajusted family of six could live well on such a large boat. I would own a house, don’t misunderstand me, but I would also own a boat, be it a small one if that is all I could afford. My Dagny is 32ft on deck, enough for probably four for extended periods of time. I plan on building a bigger one if I can.

Traveling in a post-911 world is more of a hassle, to say the least. You get patted down, scanned, IDed, and arrested for carrying so much as a pocket knife. Hell, you’ll get arrested and jailed for raising your voice in a plane. Don’t shrugg, it has happened. God may have mercy on you if your name happens to be on the terrorist watch list, as this eight-year-old found out. If there ever was a large scale evacuation, or some sort of country-wide lock down, you might not even be able to leave. A sailboat gives you that option.

The first time I lost sight of land while at the helm was in a plane, flying to the Bahamas. It lasted all but ten minutes before I spotted West-End. I wasn’t concerned, but found myself checking my oil temperature and pressure guages a bit more often. I imagine that being away from land for days or weeks in a boat is not for the faint of heart. You can get used to almost anything though.. You are after all traveling in your own house. There is plenty to do on a boat, and you can always load-up on books, musical instruments, DVDs, video games and fishing tackle. How else could you travel around the world for a reasonable amount of money?

Sailboats are not just toys to sail around the ICW. They give you global mobility if you ever need it. Once you get into international waters, you are your own master. A boat can take you and your family out of a bad area to safety. More than powerboats, sailboats can become a lifestyle that might be the only way to truly be free in this world. And of course, it is always nice to go out for a day, drink wine and eat cheese while anchored near a local uninhabited tropical island..