Baggy Wrinkles

Baggy Wrinkles
S/V Nautica, Hull #614, Built at Whitby Boatworks Ltd., Ontario, Canada 1977, one of the most recognizeable Carl Alberg designs. A masthead sloop displacing 9000 lbs, keel hull, Yanmar 15 hp diesel, LOA 30.27 Beam 8.75, Draft 4.29, roller furling headsail, tiller, berths for 4, interior teak bulkheads, teak cap rail and cockpit teak coamings, 12 volt lighting, aluminum mast support, Harken self tailing winches, in its day was designed for customers as a Cruiser-Racer, the Alberg 30 remains a Classic design of the modest Alberg inventory.

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Friday, June 28, 2013

A curious thing happened in the boat yard.  I had gone to the yacht club to work on a couple of little items on the Cape Dory.  It was one of those hot summer days that seems to start cool but by 10am the sun is bearing down.  And it's not finished until late in the evenings, sometimes around 10pm when you can hear the cicadas in concert. 

My assigned position in the Club's yard situates the Dory so that the sun doesn't crawl onto the deck until about 1pm.  It's actually a rather delightful spot to have been so arbitrary.  Someone simply said, "park over here..." And that was my assignment.  The cockpit and deck are always covered by tree debris however.  Would-be sailors crawl around the vessel and I have to do yard work on the deck before I can begin what I want to do.  So, some housecleaning first.

My task this day was to replace a deck plate cowl vent I had unintentionally tossed into the lake while sailing.  I suppose the genoa lines crossing back and forth had picked up the old plastic vent and pulled it from its perch.  While pulling in on the mainsheet I noticed it bobbing below the waves saying goodbye forever.  Later I saw it had been broken, at one time, inside the deck plate and there was no way it would have survived some of the beatings it was to experience on the lake.

See the small cowl vent just in front of the cuddy cabin structure on which the mast sits.  This is before it was swept away.
These vents are curious things.  As a child, crossing the Atlantic several times on ships, I recall these vents, much larger ones of course, and I didn't know what purpose they might serve except perhaps to make the very loud "fog horn" sound.  So, being the 5 year old that I was at the time, I dubbed them "fog horns," and they continued to be fog horns for many years to come.  At least in my mind.  I had no idea those horns were steam driven and located in the much larger smoke stacks towering above the vents.  The vents make sense.  The ship moves forward, gulps air, circulates air through the hold and engine areas and out the aft of the ship.  It keeps the fumes from accumulating.  They're very functional.  And mysterious!   Here is a bronze cowl vent and a bronze deck plate:

So I was installing a bronze deck plate in the same location where the plastic vent had been for many years.  On this Cape Dory, the deck plate was located just forward of the cuddy cabin so I was down below, a bit cramped because it's not meant to be a large area, only a berthing area.  I installed the outer ring of the plate into the hole after blowing some compressed foam into the sandwich between deck and inner cuddy ceiling.  Some water had caused the balsa inside the cuddy to become wet.  It was rather insignificant so I scraped as much as I could out from between the sandwiched layers, foamed it, put the ring in place, and then it happened.

I glanced aft, out the hatch door, a cool breeze wound it's way from the deck plate hole through the cuddy and out to the cockpit area.  Some distant voices of the youth sailing school filtered the afternoon breezes with joy but the quiet serenity in this Dory's hull was amazing.  Suddenly I felt like a kid in a tree house, but this was the Dory.  No one was looking for me, I was waiting for the silicone on the ring to dry, and I realized how completely wonderful it was to have time to be quiet, to look, listen, feeling transported to another place in time.  I had brought a Fuentes cigar with me too, so adjusting the cushions, I laid back in the berth and watched the swirls of blue-grey smoke find its way out into the trees above.  I thought of how terribly busy life could be with digital things and how remarkably adolescent this Dory was making me feel.  I soon fell fast asleep while the sun made its way from behind the trees as if tip toeing across the foredeck to not wake me up.

When I woke, the Dory was smiling at me.  I felt as if this was what Baggy Wrinkles was all about for me, the small epiphanies of joy that come from simplicity, and the sense that everything will be alright.  I sat and wondered how many kids had fallen asleep in that cuddy as I had done and if they had felt as at home in her as I did then.