Many years ago, while I was living in Los Angeles, working with youth, I chartered a Danish ship named the Argus, for a voyage from Newport Harbor to Catalina Island. A distance of about 30 nautical miles off the coast of Southern California provided a nice weekend passage for about 30 youth aboard a classic wooden ketch about 108 feet long from spar to stern. Argus had been retrofitted with a diesel engine, just in case the winds would not cooperate. ( View the current Argus Foundation here )
|S/V Argus from the Argus Foundation-a Danish freight ship|
now a training platform for youth in Newport Beach, CA.
I had the same curious gaze recently as a member of the yacht club gazed at the Cape Dory and asked, "Tell me, what are those things in your rigging?" I smiled, knowing so personally that very question. My mind went back to that morning on the deck of the Argus and I answered her, "baggy wrinkles," they are the old form of sail tape. "Oh, I see. I wondered what they were, thank you!" And off she went, putting that piece of sailing genre in a file drawer. And this is what she saw:
A classic pictorial, also found on Wikipedia, of how to make the baggy wrinkle is here:
By braiding sections of rope strands along a fixed line, the baggy wrinkle can then be circularly wrapped around the shroud and secured with a tied a line which holds the wrinkle in place at the point of contact between spreader and sail. The results are classic and endearing. After a while the brown seaweed look fades to grey and the wrinkles become softer yet continue to fend off the furious whipping and poking that often takes place above our heads while we sail.
I know what you might be thinking--this is much ado about nothing. Perhaps for some. But for me, the baggy wrinkle is a salute to tradition, functionally protecting the sails while providing a touch of yesteryear class to a classic little yacht. And this says a lot about how we view our vessels.
After having owned a brand new Beneteau for a number of years, it's a great feeling to have a new yacht, state of the art electronics, beautiful new white sails, a vessel on which everything is new, smells new, and works just right, well, almost works right. Won't get into the warranty items here! But in all, the Beneteau is a terrific yacht and sails like magic. But after walking away from that vessel, the smaller, older, and particular Cape Dory is something more like art, than a model number. Like my friend nicknamed the Hillbilly says, "buy a used vessel." All the problems require the owner to warranty with hard work and sweat, fighting mosquitos in the boat yard, dodging rain, and enjoying the happiness which comes in fixing an old boat. After all, she sails as good as the Beneteau anyway!
This is the origin of the name Baggy Wrinkles. She will take her place alongside a handful of vessels named after these odd additions that cause people to scratch their heads and ask questions!