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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Thursday, November 28, 2013

You can't sail a Cape Dory without some water.  And perhaps that's just as well that for now the Dory will sit ashore while the lake levels are too low to properly splash her or pull her onto her trailer.  I guess it is just as well for my last sail of the year, due to this water problem, had to do with a race rather than water.

So, the water is dropping perilously low in our lake.  But that in a bit.  Back to the race...So my last sail last week, I was swept into a race I thought was going to be a delightful little sail around an island with burgers and wine tasting at the clubhouse, and turned out to be a rather highly competitive 3 hour afternoon torturous experience in less than 3 knots of wind that concluded with 15 knots, gusting to 20 with daylight fading and an outboard motor run out of gas...back to that in a bit too...

So I took BaggyWrinkles out into her last sail for a while the other day with about 30 other vessels, most all of which were larger than her.  The largest was 34 feet in length.  It was a race sponsored by a sailing association on the lake.  Being that I've only competed in about 3 races in my entire sailing experience, I was certain I would not fare too well in the standings.  I also knew these sort of events caused my blood to boil.  Some sailors love to hold the knife in their teeth and take these events seriously while others lollygag their way around the course drinking beers and dangling their legs leeward avoiding seasickness.  I am somewhere in between these metaphors.

I recall the last time I volunteered to join one of these expeditions was in the British Virgin Islands aboard my 47 foot Beneteau cruising yacht with our crew of 6 and winds of 3 to 5 knots (barely).  Torture.  And yet we manged to make it from Cane Garden Bay to the finish line near Norman Island ( and the infamous Willy-T's Bar aboard this old hulk of a ship where the established routine involves jumping into the water from a perch some 20 feet up, below you see some rather large fish, the size of human beings swimming below awaiting pieces of hamburger...and if you wait until later, word has it that if you jump in the altogether, you get a free t-shirt, and you can imagine the rest of how that evening wears on with all sorts of nearly legal teens on the bar and old men, well ok ... ) needless to say, we were the 3rd vessel across the finish line following two large catamarans.  Yet we were not accorded our 3rd place as the 1st monohull across the line because that had to be given to a grandson and his grandparents aboard a 30 something foot sloop, handicapped of course so that all our efforts to blow on the mainsail were fruitless torture.  Torture in the BVI.  Crew was sour and I was furious.

So I realized I was going to be tortured again.  I was thinking, it was a good thing the First Mate was not aboard for this adventure because not only was I periodically ridiculing my involvement in such a fiasco, but was doing this out-loud with a sneer every few minutes that drifted into an anxious groan toward the last mile of barely drifting toward an orange tetrahedral I'd rather have shot with a flare than passed to the hardly interested Committee boat gazing at this classic, less than long enough boat which neither belonged in the South nor looked like it was anything that ought to be racing!

Just a week prior to this I had volunteered to serve on another racing committee to place the tetrahedral markers for a Flying Scots' race.  However, it was fine for me to watch those rather gossamer adorned little boats skate across what looked like a glassy lake.  I did not have to race, nor did I have to be tortured that day.  This time, I was being watched, tortured, and for little more than to arrive at the finish line and promptly be met with 15 knots of wind!

I couldn't have been more delighted with the arrival of some sturdy weather, yet my inner scorn of racing was now bronzed-up rather well as the Dory leaned over and I let her run where she wanted to run.  The sky had suddenly gone from dark grey to boiling grey and the lake began to furrow its brow and dare me to make headway.  At least I was free of the race, and my next to last place finish.

But now I must get back to the water issue...

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Just another fabulous day of Sailing.  What else can be said?  Simplicity of vessel makes the Cape Dory Typhoon the sort of sailing that is so effortless, one can relax, and take in the entire panorama of sea and sky while giving little thought to rigging or weight distribution.  You can be utterly wrong and enjoy it as if it is right. 

After all, this sort of sailing is not competitive, it is reflective!  And BaggyWrinkles feels like a friend in the water, rather than a boat.  I'm sure all of us who sail have this inner compass about sailing vessels and can find our "center" on most any vessel because we know what "right feels like" as is often said.  Yet on the Typhoon, for a sailor, it's simplicity of design and rigging enables one to so easily drift into the wind and adventure.

The other day was typical of this.  The wind forecasted 10kts gusting to 18 by noon.  I arrived to splash the Dory at about 9am.  The lake was a sheet of liquid glass, only ducks created faint ripples.  This provided me plenty of time to haul out the sails and rig her up.  I monitored the radio for the forecast.  It cycled over and over with the same monotonous forecast of 5 to 10 kts of wind from the North or something such as that.  I hardly paid attention to it as I lashed things in place and prepared to depart.  I knew the wind was on the way.  I ignored the quiet and talked to myself a bit as I rigged her.

A typical view from the helm.  Green grab bag with comfort items at easy reach, radio for weather and emergency comms, Galaxy with its Nav program for compass and speed readout, lines abound.  Notice the compression bar semi-permanently installed underneath the mast in the cuddy cabin!  A cool and windy day for great sailing this week.

A slight breeze began to muster as I worked.  I thought to myself, "Hmm, here she comes..."  And by the time I was ready to cast-off, I never lowered my aging outboard.  After all, I never know if it will truly work or not.  It's not much insurance, but I tell myself I'll somehow get through in a pinch if the wind fails me.  I always have a radio too--but what if nobody is listening?  Oh well.

The wind was ever so slight, I calmly loosed the fore deck line and brought it along the gunwhale and dropped it into the cuddy cabin.  The same with the stern line and then I actually shoved her off and stepped aboard using the rudder ever so slightly to drift to the end of the rigging dock.  Physically pushed the mainsail to leeward and then raised the genoa, letting her bulge to grab even a whisp of air.  She did.

And off we went.  I'd downloaded an APP for my Galaxy phone that provided speed and compass direction for my tacking (I'll post another piece on the 2 Apps ).  After one reach to the Northeast, I jibed her to leeward and set off south at about 148 degrees.  The photo here is the view I had.  It wasn't stormy, just cloudy and the wind was building.  By noon, I recalled from the Wind models online, she'd be even stronger.

Starboard reach, southeast at about 148 degrees.  This is the view from the helm.  Radio on squelch monitoring the weather band.  Line from the genoa runs from the portside through a spring-block, 4 to 5 wraps around the winch, then I tie it off on the starboard cuddy cleat to keep it accessible to my position on the starboard bench.  lines from genoa and mainsail cleated and run into the cuddy as well.  It looks like the genoa didn't quite get locked!
So I was off at about 1030am and she sailed assuredly toward the southern part of Lake Murray.  Reminded me of a homing pidgeon the way she ran across the lake.  Gave me plenty of time to remind myself to enjoy myself.  Stop thinking about the metrics, just enjoy it. 

Realizing that some who read this are Cape Dory enthusiasts and others are fans from afar, I am always in search of how to convey the sense of the sailing with my limited capabilities for such.  I really need a photographer alongside in a skiff to take the photographs I really wish, yet without that, I must rely upon imagination and a few creative photographic means.  The following 40 second slide show from YouTube attempts to chronicle the port reach to 290 degrees with her heeling to starboard and taking the small windswell on the lake.  Notice the waves periodically splashing upward.  Yes I got wet.  And then notice the rise and fall of the bow which illustrates how she is bounding across the lake.  I love to sit on the quarter deck as she runs.  Feels like a little stallion running freely across the waves.

In total, I sailed for about 4 or 4.5 hours this day.  After turning east to run with the wind I traveled from Bomb Island on Lake Murray to my entry point for the marina taking only 30 minutes to run the distance downwind.  Risking balancing my camera on the cuddy I managed to get this selfie.  Yes the sky was really that brilliant and the slight swell pushed the Dory along with glee homeward.  You cannot but smile at the helm of a Cape Dory.



Saturday, November 9, 2013

People love to look out to sea.  Seems everyone dreams better when near the ocean.  Even my music service Rhapsody, has ocean music for easy listening.  However, I can't stand listening to the ocean when I'm trying to sleep.  I always wonder if the tide is coming in.  But most people do love to look at the ocean, whether it is hypnotic as it laps the rocks, or is a stormy torrent, or becalmed. 

During our visit to the north of France we escaped the brunt of a major Gale sweeping from the southwest, across the Finistere toward the northern coastal areas of France.  This insert from Accuweather shows the trajectory of the storm which blew over us.

Six people were killed during that storm and huge waves were generated in places like Nazare in Spain, a big wave surfer named Maya nearly drowned after being overcome by a huge wave.  News indicates she is fine at the time of this writing.  A small sloop, almost the length of the Cape Dory makes its way to Cherbourg harbor ahead of the storm, as winds began to whip the channel at nearly 20 kts:

The water lures us.  Several photographs of the ocean on our trip struck me as both alluring and pensive.  How better to get closer to the sea than in a vessel which can transport us from land to sea, into the magic of that environment where we can for a while, at least, be somewhat free of the constraints of duties ashore, and to dream a bit while under sail, and listen to the pulse of the water, the waves, and the sounds of our imagination. 

Here looking west toward Cap de l'Hague the sun disappears.  Scanning the horizon I spotted a monohull cruiser making its way towards Cherbourg at dusk.  Looking at the vastness of the channel, we sometimes think of as small, the cruiser is overwhelmed by the mass of water and the distance it must travel before the sea and sky become black.  Hardly visible, the vessel is framed by evening clouds and an easy sea.  Look closely to see it.

Further west, here at Cap de l'Hague, the small fishing harbor awaits the ferocious storm behind the jetty wall, with winds already blowing 25kts against this rugged outpost settled in the 1800s.  Winds eventually got to Gale force and raged against the coastline across the English Channel.
 And today, the Transat Jaques-Vabre ocean race has just rounded Cap L'Hague headed for warmer waters.  An interesting race to follow for sailors:   You may select English if the French link is not friendly enough.  Like most races followed online, you may select a button on the map to view the recap of the rhum lines used by the teams. 

Monday, November 4, 2013

You can't always blog.  Sometimes you have to get out and discover, get your head out of the subject and get refreshed. 

I took a trip to France with my Father and brother touring the Normandy and Calvados regions of northern France.  We hugged the coastline and found ships, channels, and seafaring interests everywhere.  One of those appeared in an unlikely spot.

Low tide in a protected harbor at Cap Levi, near Cherbourg, France.  A lone sloop sits high and dry, its cradle tethered to a heavy rode of chain leading up the beach to a secure position.  Made me think of Baggy Wrinkles and how she was doing.

We were travelling back from the Cap de l'Hague towards Cherbourg, France.  After a windy visit to the western facing side of the Contentin Peninsula in northern France, we made our way to the top of a ridgeline where a windswept village sat at the intersection of two roads.  I was flying through the small village when my eye caught the phrase, "XIIIth si├Ęcle eglise" on a sign, "twelfth century church," being a Lutheran minister and retired Army Chaplain, I quickly pulled off and jumped out of the car to see this little sight...

At the intersection was a church dating back to the twelfth century, L'eglise Notre Dame de Joburg.  For one thing, the church sign indicated it was a 12th century edifice and another was that it looked peculiarly old after seeing more modern structures near the port of Cap de l'Hague. 

Upon entering the church I noticed a sailboat suspended from the rafters of the church.  Something I had seen before at Mont Saint Michel, the famous island off the coast of France which is surrounded by waters at high tide, or perhaps tourists these days.  The sailboat hanging in the rafters of the church was not written up in the historical piece left on the visitor's table near the entrance.  But its presence was certainly not missed either.  One got the feeling that safety at sea was part of the reminder this little rig provided the parishioners of Our Lady of Joburg. 

After I returned home and was perusing the photos I'd taken, I certainly gave more attention to this little sailboat than I had noticed at the time I first glanced up at it.  The rigging was rather detailed for such a model, as was the attention to the keel deliberately added below it and the spreader near the top of its little yellow mast. 

It was curious to see a sailboat within the walls of an ancient church.  It reminded me of the importance of taking time to remember our limitations as sailors.  Certain times might become more adventurous, or dangerous, and it wouldn't hurt at all to recognize a bit of divine presence at times if only to admit our humanity and find in that perhaps some wisdom as to how to proceed from time to time while underway.

Too, Joburg's little church was a redo.  Mostly destroyed during the conquering Normans' tour of France, the little building was rebuilt from the stones which littered the ground.  It had a very humble yet determined look.  I couldn't help but think of how classic it looked sitting at this modern intersection, a restaurant on one corner, a business on another, and little Joburg church on another. 

There's something timeless in these ancient stones and its classic lines.  As the winds from the English Channel pelted me with bits of rain, the hollering whistles of wind pushed me around to see the remarkable resistance to change old stones afforded the church.  And off in the distance was the Channel, part of the world of this little church on the ridge.  And again I wondered at the tenure and tenacity of this congregation to withstand the urgencies of modernity as it made its way a chapel of sailors and ships.

Off in the distance, past the cemetery stones was the grey English Channel, reminding me of the special relationship between time, classic ideas, and the people who live in the midst of it all, facing the future while embracing the past.  I was certainly glad they did.  Made for a delightful visit in this out-of-the-way climate with its unique blend of life at sea and ashore.  A glance up at the sailboat showed me they were sailors at heart with a view always cast toward the sea.  How similar to each of us who love the adventure and lure of the sea.  Everywhere I looked there was a vessel, whether stranded at low tide or sitting ashore on the hard, waiting for a sailor.  I felt right at home.



Friday, November 1, 2013

Just getting back from 2 weeks in France.  Travelled the battlefields of Normandy on this 69th year of Remembrance.  Now that I'm back, have to get over some jet lag and check on the Dory as the seasonal leaves and rain are providing lots of clean up for me on the hard at the yacht club.  More to follow!

Just out on the Cruising World website, a link here to the Paine 14 a new build based upon the Herreschoff 12 1/2 design no longer in production of course.  See the link here:

In terms of keel boat designs Herreschoff''s model was a classic design, like his fellow-designer, Alberg for the Cape Dory.  Both little boats have similarly unique hull designs and provide day-sailors with great functionality and maneuverability.  To be viewed.