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 large Alberg inventory.

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Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Sailors and Pilots watch the weather.   It changes.  And sometimes that change brings challenges.  As a sailor, you must meet the challenge and cope with it.  Sometimes as best you can.  We all hope when sailing that the weather is to our advantage.  Even the Apostle Paul had ran into some sea stories on his passage to Rome in the book of the Acts of the Apostles, chapter 27, drifting two weeks in the Mediterranean, 276 aboard that rig.  The winds had been against them it says.  That travel sequence involves lots of frantic soldiers and some hearty sailors, a shipwreck, and eventual arrival in Rome.  Worth a read!

But wind is what drives a sailboat, so it can be furious at times, and at other times, it can be fair and pleasant.  The following GoPro sequence is from a hot afternoon in the summer aboard the Baggy Wrinkles.  Our club had set a race that afternoon.  There were only a handful of keel boats.  Since my motor was fickle and I had to rely upon the wind alone, I'd set sail an hour previous and had made my way into the lake ahead of the fleet.  Another keel boat followed.  As we waited for the rest of the fleet and the race Committee to get in place, the weather decided to change.  Colors went from menacing black to opaque grey as rain blowing sideways whipped across a now deranged lake.  A delightful 6 knots of winds turned into a raging burst of 20 to 25 knots, bearing down on us in heavy handed bursts, the kind of torment which can break things and make you ask mortal questions!

My partner vessel and crew pulled behind an island for safety.  Solo, I was at a disadvantage to bring down all my sails, so I decided to come about and leave that location and slog back into the drenching rain and wind, without my genoa, slowly beating against the increasing waves now flowing out of the grey turbulence. 

Almost forgetting I had my GoPro attached to the taff-rail, I hoped the battery was still charged enough to capture this beating.  You can hear the Dory's rig and get an idea of what it sounded like at the beginning of this short video.  And then, you will hear the music, which I think is typical of how we look back at these events.  At the time it is taking place it tempts you to get frantic, yet if you look at the situation and take necessary precautions, you find solace in your choices, your equipment, and in your vessel, and you wax a bit romantic about it all.

By the way, notice the lean angle of Baggy Wrinkles to give you an idea of how much gusts are hitting her...her 900 pound ballast keel keeps her steady.



After all, if you're a sailor, you're going to have to cope with a change in weather sooner or later. 

 


Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Baggy Wrinkles is a curious name for a vessel.  But is not unique to just my vessel.  In fact, baggy wrinkles has been around since the days of tall ship square riggers, canvas sails, crows' nests, wooden boats, salty dogs, windjammers, belaying pins, eye patches and crinkled sails.  You can Bing it or search it any way you wish, and you'll find some curious results but I prefer the descriptions on Wikipedia for baggywrinkle.  It's an art-form for protecting sails before the days of "sail tape" and aluminum spreaders and so forth.  It's really "old school" as the term is used often these days.

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.
Somewhere on that voyage I looked above and notice these furry fuzzy things on the shrouds.  They looked as if they were an accumulation of sea growth in the standing rigging, something needing to be scraped away, certainly curious, and not part of the elegant design even of a wooden ship.  Our captain, Dennis was his name, curly black hair and a youthful thirty something like myself, followed my gaze upward as I asked of these strange furry creatures.  "Baggy wrinkles," he said.  "They keep the sails from chafing."  That which looked like some sort of fungus in the rigging was actually a functional buffer to keep the lines from wearing holes in the sails.  The photos here are taken from photographs taken within the past ten years as the Argus transitions from a ship in disrepair to its continuing life as a seamanship training vessel. The baggy wrinkles are just barely visible on the portside shrouds:


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:

Baggy wrinkles hung on the top of the spreaders.  The first time I saw a Cape Dory, I also thought of baggy wrinkles.  They seem to be just the right sense of form and function for a classic yacht.  Made from the very rigging lines that hoist the sails, so their composition is integral to everything that is a sailing vessel.  On my Baggy Wrinkles I had to fetch the proper hemp rope. 

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! 

 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

"Messing about in boats."  That phrase from Kenneth Grahame sticks in my head every time I climb aboard the Cape Dory.  Perhaps it is because there is always something to occupy one's time or that because one knows that whatever time invested will be well spent.  And it doesn't have to be something entirely great at all.  It's just the fact that whatever you're doing, you're doing on the boat, and that alone is enough to justify the investment of time, money, and whatever temporary discomfort comes along with the task.  And so, it is a joy to mess about in the boat.  And especially some boats!

“Believe me, my young friend, there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in boats.”
Kenneth Grahame, The Wind in the Willows    

A fishing boat in the small port of Sipanska Luka, Croatia
And for that matter, boats have always been an attraction for me.  Now that might be because I'm an Aquarius by time of birth in the calendar year, and so everything having to do with water is fascinating to me as well, because water too, in any form, gets my attention.   I never feel more alive than when I'm in, or near, the water.  Perhaps too there is a sense of adventure associated with water, the horizon which disappears between sky and sea, or the smell of the ocean, the particular flavors which waft around a port, the sounds, the sense of departures and arrivals. 

Or it could be my fascination with boats came from that little classic, Scuffy the Tugboat and His Adventures down the River by Gertrude Crampton who in fact also wrote Tootle, both books which were each in their own regard some of the best selling childrens' books in English.  I can recall pouring over the adventure of Scuffy as a small child with rapture and wonderment, something about boats I guess. 

So it is no surprise that anything having to do with boats has my attention.  And especially classic boats.  And in particular the Cape Dory.  It is so classic, it demands attention. 

It is like someone once said about motorcycles, another avid interest of mine, that if you find yourself turning around after a few footsteps, to gaze at your motorcycle, to admire its lines and its lean, you're really hooked!  And I've thought that same thing every time I walk away from the Dory.

Many years ago, when I was a very small child, our family took a trip across Europe.  We ambled across France, then Spain, and found ourselves alongside the Atlantic in some village in Portugal where fishing boats were pulled up on the beach, others bobbed at moorings, and the scent of the tempestuous Atlantic insisted on filling our noses with its curious scents.  The rocks that lined the sea were black and smooth, wet, green seaweed wrapped around them, barnacles dotted their backs.  Those smells and images have never left me.  They make me want to turn around and look back at them. 



Somewhere in that village my father had purchased a model fishing boat for me.  I promptly found my way to the hotel pool to launch my boat.  All of about three, I was not totally unaware that some young men were playing water polo in the pool, but I thought there was plenty of room for my launching.  And of course, the little fishing boat got away from me.  Yet as I watched it bob its way into the deeper waters of the pool one of the players took note of it and guided it back to me.  I recall him pushing it my way and making sure it made its way into my hands.  I've never forgotten that help.  At three, the sea was already calling me.

My father was never much of a mariner at all.  Though he had an interest in fishing, and owned a small runabout for a while, he largely kept his affairs shore-side.  Yet he seemed to know my attraction to the water and I credit him for launching the idea of sailboats in my little mind either by that model fishing boat, or the several trips across the Atlantic, coming to and from America to Europe, or by his announcement one day that my brother and I would be making our own model sailboats out of balsa wood!  For a landlubber, he certainly instilled wonder-lust in my mind!

Today he still has a photograph on his refridgerator of the Beneteau 473, we owned for about five years.  I imagine as soon as Baggy Wrinkles is photographed at sea, she will take a position of honor on that fridge as well.  There is just something about messing around in boats that makes anything about boats a great pastime.  Perhaps for some it is simply looking into a photograph and traveling by imagination, like reading about Scuffy.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Any time I think I'm clever, I'm not.

I had had my eye on the cockpit drains for months.  Being a small sailboat, the Typhoon employs cockpit drains in the event water splashes into the seating area, it can easily drain out.  Very little water jumps into the Typhoon, but if it does, it has a place to run back to the sea.

But I didn't like the look of these black hoses underneath the cockpit.  I suppose that's my problem, not the Cape Dory's.  Black automotive grade hoses underneath the cockpit just didn't fit my idea of color coordination underneath in the berthing area.  Well, ok, so the berthing area is small, and I probably will rarely lie down in there, but in the event I do, or my friends, it will look right.  Why do we think these things?  Why didn't I just leave them alone?

Underneath a deck you find many curious things that need lots of makeup.  But it's a functional area so it doesn't matter if it is all that clean or all that nice to view.  Below is the view aft in the Dory.  You can see the shaft from the tiller in between the two cockpit supports, with concrete looking fiberglass oozing out like dentures paste or something...   In the foreground at left and right you see the ugly black automotive hose going into the bronze seacock valves, which drain any surprise water from the cockpit.  Why didn't I just leave this alone?


Perhaps it was obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) that drove me to want to replace the hoses with bright white plastic hoses from the West Marine store.  It seemed a great idea.  It would clean things up below decks.  In a previous post you might recall my 1st Mate crawled beneath decks to assist with the genoa tracks.  I wanted beneath decks to be smart looking.  In the next photo you see the stylish white hosing I had put aboard some weeks previous.  It is lying atop the anchor line.  I had had this project in mind for several months.  It was a good idea.  No, it was a great idea. 

 

Cluttered beneath decks, an area to get right.  After all, I'm the Skipper, that's my standing order to "make things ship shape."  However, I should have remembered the old rule, "If it ain't broke, don't fix it...."

So I finally had a bit of time to do something nit-noid ( a word or phrase not in the English dictionary, but means something inconsequential, and perhaps something we feel strongly about, at least strongly enough to get around to it whenever...), I was to  go sailing in a couple of days, so I set out to replace the black hoses.  Yay.

Good thing we'd gone to see the Cirque du Soleil just weeks before, I felt like it was a performance for them as I squirmed and turned my body around beneath decks, twisted my arms and neck to see well enough to remove the bands on the hoses and begin pulling on them to release their grip on the cockpit above.  They were very tight.  I should have thought more about that fact.

As sweat poured down my face I turned and twisted.  Even mosquitos had joined me in the hull for this project.  I closed the seacocks and dumped the excess water into the hull.  With a sense of cleverness I ratcheted both of the hoses off and replaced them with the new classy looking white tubing purchased months before just for this purpose.  I put the hoses in place and admired my work with a sense of cleverness that I had so deftly changed these hoses and made such an improvement to the Cape Dory.

The heat was amplified by the 100 percent humidity that made my clothing sag from sweat.  I crawled out from the hold and stretched like my Collie does when she wakes up.  I was looking forward to being able to make sure my drains were clear of debris with my new hoses.  I know it sounds silly, but I was a bit exuberant over this little repair.  It's the small things right?  I keep the Dory on a trailer in the yacht yard so I tested the drains with a bit of water, everything ran through, and it seemed a perfect installation.



Sailing day had arrived.  I had splashed La Belle Vie about half an hour previous and was doing my final preparations, a bag with my frozen plastic water bottles, my knife, binoculars, hand-held radio, life jacket, fruit bars and crunchy things....I heard a drip...really not sure if I heard it or sensed it.  Any dripping noise on a boat is serious, or could be.  I looked quickly at the hold from where I'd just unwrapped my body.  Water was entering the hull!

The plastic hoses I installed were hard plastic, not thick and meaty like the automotive hoses.  I had brilliantly thrown those away several days before.  I had nothing at hand to prevent the water from entering the hull due to this decision!  I had no idea where a store was but needed to find it quickly, the water was dripping and accumulating in the hold.  Since the seacocks and drains are below the water line of the dory (see above schematic); if the water entered to the level of the drains, I'd have to find a bilge pump to clean her out. 

A frantic search ensued, and a couple of substandard pieces of inflexible thick rubber found at a hardware store served to stave off an emergency.  I felt rather clever again!