Thursday, September 22, 2016

Jack O'Lantern

I recently had the pleasure of sailing the double-ended, gaff-rigged schooner, Jack O'Lantern, owned by Bruce Barnes, of Taos New Mexico. Bruce acquired this boat from builder Charlie Taylor, in a partially complete state and spent the last few years in Port Townsend, Washington, fitting the boat out. The day I crewed on Jack O'Lantern was the first time she had been under sail since her build began, back in 1975.

Jack O'Lantern is a fifty foot Tancook Whaler, so called, though they did no whaling, a fishing boat hailing from Tancook Island, Nova Scotia. She is an adaptation of a fine design, more than a little out of the ordinary, which evolved to its peak, in the mouth of Mahone Bay, Nova Scotia, around the middle of the 19th century.

The whalers probably rose from a long-standing double-ender tradition traceable to European craft including the Dutch pinques, the French chaloupes and the shallops of the English and the Basques. Translated to the New World, these ancestors evolved into the Chebacco boats, Cowhorns, and later Nomans Land boats, Isle au Shoals, Hampton whalers, pinkys, Quoddy boats, and the Gaspe (Canada) boats or pinques.

The small open boats of the North American fisheries evolved from the laws of usage and adapted to the regional demands and the type of fishery. Since whaling was an early fishery and continued well into the 19th century on that coast, it seems likely that whaleboats of varying designs had their part in the development of the Tancook.

"Shortly, through the fog, appeared brown sails (their sails were nearly always tanned) and a white hull, between 40 and 50 feet long. The boat seemed to approach slowly, to hesitate a moment, and then to leap past in the manner of boats passing at sea... But there was time to observe two or three men in yellow oilskins, the helmsman standing with the end of the great ten-foot tiller behind his back, lifted slightly form the comb, and the load of barrels and boxes partly covered by a tarpaulin or, more likely, by the brown staysail (it was not set) in her waist… They were then close aboard. The tiller was swung a trifle to weather; the loose-footed overlapping foresail filled with an audible snap, and away she went, at eight or nine knots, her lee rail occasionally awash, and with a smoothness and lack of fuss in that broken water which, somehow, no other boat has ever seemed to me quite able to obtain – and I have known some good ones! … My friend remarked … “Damn good boats, them Tancook Whalers!”" ( Ernest Bell, Yachting, February, 1933)
 photo e3362ae8-005f-4e1e-b5af-8bb5f2317521_zpsca0cba8a.jpg

Obviously Charlie Taylor has taken liberties in adapting the open Tancook Whaler into a closed cabin yacht. Jack O'Lantern, though she has a deep ballasted keel, coupled with a heavy plate centerboard, has a good bit of top-hamper and could use more ballast. In the accompanying photos, taken during the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival, she has taken down her foresail and may still be over-canvased.

And here's the clincher: Jack O'Lantern is for sale. You all know how much Doryman loves a project...
LOA:  60 feet
LOD:  50 feet
Beam: 12 feet

Friday, September 2, 2016

National Preparedness Month

Now, that's a title for you. Who knows better about preparedness than a sailor? There is quite a bit of irony in such a statement, because, as we learn with experience, preparedness requires the flexibility to respond when not prepared.

When I sat down today to chat with you, I wanted to talk about how situations arise, seemingly out of nowhere, requiring the sailor to improvise. There is no formula for success in all cases. Everyone probably has had the experience of being between the proverbial rock and a hard spot.

Heather and I just got back from a sailing trip to Canada. Had some real challenges, with the weather and other boaters. One nutty guy in a very big motor yacht nearly drove us down, veering off at the very last minute.We were becalmed, with all sail standing. He and we were the only boats in sight, for several square miles, and he was actually at the helm, I could nearly tell the color of his eyes. My blood pressure skyrocketed, simply not believing he wasn't changing course. Finally, we went for the horn, but he'd gone by.

Close calls with big commercial traffic, also. Too many for just one trip.

We had some very good sailing, though, so it was a good trip all-in-all and no one died. It was a celebration of the renewal of Belle Starr, who was wrecked in a storm this time last year. She is a great boat and as I often say, can take much more than her skipper or crew. Let's call that the basic rule of preparedness for a sailor.

At the beginning of our trip, while traveling north across the Strait of Juan de Fuca, standing waves developed out of a calm sea in mere moments. We had judged our crossing into the San Juan Islands with great care to avoid just such a scenario, yet encountered a turbulent sea we probably should not have been out in. What do you do when turning back is just as dangerous as going forward? Carry on, of course and do the best you can - trust your boat and your skills. In the end, count your blessings and file the experience under the category of preparedness.

While on our return leg, we spotted several wood schooners, apparently headed for the Victoria Classic Boat Festival. We shared an anchorage with Zodiac, out of Bellingham, Washington, in Parks Bay on Shaw Island. We'd never seen Zodiac before, so it was quite a treat. What a beauty!

 That wee tender might not carry many crew, but she's a nice match.

On a different topic, the Wooden Boat Show in Toledo Oregon was a huge success. The weekend before the voyage just described, Doryman was mentoring first time boat builders in the annual Family Boat Build. We build plywood kayaks from scratch, no kits, in three days. It's a lot of work and even more fun. I get quite a thrill from the experience of seeing the builder's pride grow with their creations. This year we had a number of young adults from the local Job Corps program. There were some budding boat builders in that group, I'm happy to report.

Last, though certainly not least, the annual Wooden Boat Festival is coming up next weekend, in Port Townsend, Washington. I am looking forward to seeing many of you there.

Fair winds!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Summer Ephemera

It's been a summer of discontent. What started as an extreme cold, in May, developed into something akin to labarythitis. There can be many causes of vertigo and dizziness. They can be as innocent as an ear infection and dehydration to more serious causes such as a stroke or tumor. The most common cause of inner ear dizziness is called benign paroxysmal positional vertigo. Problems, such as a degenerative vestibular dysfunction or a neurological disorder such as a stroke might be evident...

 Michael and Karin in Theia.

One thing I can tell you, if you have symptoms similar to seasickness - before you set sail - you should probably stay home...
I did not - as is typical of Doryman - who's life motto, as derived from Admiral Nelson, is "damn the maneuvers, go straight at 'um". Or as Neil Young once famously said; better to burn out, than fade away.
On a single-handed trip, while still suffering from said vertigo, to the fabled Sucia Rendezvous, our hero lost his balance while sailing, and fell against the cockpit coaming, severely bruising the area around his kidney and possibly fracturing a rib or two. Good fun (not!).

 Clover, on a run.

It's been a summer of mixed blessings. Undaunted, the injured Doryman still insists on getting out on the water. Last winter, my good friend Martin mentioned he regretted paying for moorage at the local marina, while his worthy cutter, Clover, sat lonely and unused. It turned out, the moorage fees weren't the issue, it was the combination of lack of use that troubled our skipper. So, we began what has become the popular Church of Clover.

 Lynn, in the poetic Katie Mae.

 As the weather improved, friends and neighbors have joined us on our Sunday outings. It's been a lot of fun seeing more boats each week sail in company, some planned, some spontaneous. The most rewarding is to have fresh new skippers added to our ranks. It seems all it takes to encourage a sailor new to the sport is to sail in company with others. What a treat to see friends happily developing the skills of a mariner!

 Lance and Issac the wonder dog, aboard Kestrel.

I leave you with a short video.As Clover sailed close to the Sea Sprite, Kestrel, to toss Lance his favorite pastry for lunch, I had to capture the sound of the combined bow wakes of the two boats in a quick action shot. This was Lance's first time sailing solo. Obviously Isaak the wonder dog loves sailing, too!

Kestrel Under Sail from doryman on Vimeo.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

Meanwhile, Back in the Boatyard

Cruising verses Working. Which would you choose? Stupid question, Doryman! But there are still boats to be rescued and that is what we do around here during shore leave.

You already had a glimpse of the Old Town canoe - this one has all the characteristics of that timeless double-ender and much more. It's an Oselvarfaering from Norway. Not your common plywood replica, but handsomely built of larch planks carved and riveted. She is reported to be a racing Oselvar. Apparently the slatted seats are the deciding feature, a rowing Oselvar would have cross-thwarts at the frame sections. This also means she likely had a marconi rig. She is of a venerable age and shows it. But, she's in good hands now and will soon show her inherent lively spirit.

Twenty-two feet in length, with a maximum beam of five and a half feet, her heritage shows in how lightly she's built. Three people loaded her on the trailer, so I'm guessing her weight to be around 300 pounds. The proven seaworthiness of this design is it's ability to float high and efficiently, as one with the sea. The Norwegians liked these boats to be flexible...they should swim like a fish. Thus the minimal framing.

Check out those robust grown frames, shaped by nature herself!

And what do we have here?

On the other end of traditional boat design in this lovely little cat boat. My very good friend, Doug Follett was given this work-boat legend by an ancient mariner, now retired from the sea. She's built of plywood, on oak frames, with mahogany trim. A very stout vessel reminiscent of the days of working sail. At a mere fifteen feet she is, of course, too small for much more than sport fishing, but would stand up to a pounding much longer than her skipper could take it.

I fell for this quaint little cat immediately and repairs have already begun. She will be back on the water in all her former glory later this summer.

Please stay tuned...

If anyone has clues to what design this might be, I'd like to know.

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Montague Harbor Rendezvous 2016

For several years, I've tried to attend the small boat gathering in Montague Harbor, Galiano Island, British Columbia. This is the first year I've visited early enough that the harbor wasn't crowded with yachts and campers.

 Lynn Watson in Katie Mae.
 Photo by Martin Schneider.

 Montague Harbour Marine Provincial Park is one of the most popular parks in the Gulf Islands. It is renowned for a west-facing beach covered in worn shells. The beach is, in fact, an ancient midden created by Coastal Salish people, who migrated through this area in search of food.
Montague Harbour is popular with the recreational boating community and the harbor is often crowded during the warmer months of June, July, and August.

Reeving a stray halyard through the main mast. 
 Photo by Martin Schneider.

Our small boat rendezvous is scheduled during the Memorial weekend in the States, thus avoiding the crowds that appear later in the summer. The bay is peppered with mooring buoys and there is a single Park dock to access a camping area, which is also used for mooring. The rest of us lie at anchor.

Jamie and Paul discussing breakfast plans.
 Photo by Martin Schneider.

Following the Rendezvous, a number of boats continue to sail for a few days to other, more remote destinations. Many of us in this herd of cats have sailed in company for several years and it would surprise everyone if the group stayed intact for more than a handful of days.

Belle Starr rides anchor behind Friendship in Princess Inlet, on Wallace Island. 
Photo by Martin Schneider.

That's the beauty of the Canadian Gulf Islands - there are so many wonderful and diverse anchorages - every one of them stunning. People are very friendly and considerate. It wasn't until back in US waters that our safety was compromised by yachts who's owners apparently do not know the Rules of the Road. Every small boat sailor has a catalog of stories relating to incidence of bullying by yachts that observe tonnage as a right-of-way. Perhaps we'll take up this subject one day. It's an increasingly dangerous blight on an otherwise superlative trip.

Marty Loken's recently restored Bill Garden Eel, Skye.

 Bob Miller in his Drascome Lugger, Sally Forth.
Photo by Marty Loken

Kirk Gresham keeps pace with Bob in his new-to-him Flika.
Photo by Marty Loken.

Jamie Orr also picked up a new (old) boat this year. It's a fine little schooner he's named Orkney Lass, after his home territory. More about this vessel in the near future...
Jamie is the organizer for this gathering and we rely on him and Paul Miller, on Friendship, for local knowledge.
 Doryman photo

 Lynn Watson at home in Katie Mae.
 Doryman photo.

Kirk and Paul came from Nanimo, Vancouver Island, BC in this no-nonsense Davidson 17. Kirk has sailed all over the Gulf Islands in this capable racing dinghy.
Doryman photo.

 Martin trying out his new balanced-lug sail-rig on his Chameleon, a nesting dinghy designed by Danny Greene.
The design originally had a sprit-rig, but Martin reports the balanced lug works just as well.

 Doryman photo

Chuck is in no hurry to get back to his boat, just admiring the scenery.
Who built that little pram for you Chuck?  ;-)

 Doryman photo

Belle Starr proved the thoroughbred she has always been, shaking off her injuries as though they'd never happened. We have been back for just a few days, yet we're already looking forward to our next trip into Canadian waters.

More photos can be found on Doryman's Flickr site.

Monday, May 9, 2016

Doryman's Melonseed

In the upper left corner of this page is a search window. If you type in Doryman's Melonseed design, you will find, as I did, that this project started in December of 2011. How could that be? Four and a half years. Well, I guess you know how fate has befallen this sailor.
Take heart my patient reader, for the long awaited sail-rig has evolved to the test stage. We already know how Aria rows. Like a song.

Martin and I chose a calm day for our first sail. Turned out to be breathless, but we had enough puffs to get a feel for how this 'seed flies.

It was apparent from the first, the free-footed sail needs a boom for windward work. The fixed keel shape, taken from Atkin's Valgerda allowed quite a bit of leeway, but I think that will improve with a boom as well. I intend to leave the foot loose, lash the sail to the boom at the tack and clew and use a downhaul from the clew to the base of the mast.


If this sounds confusing, we'll come back soon with photos and an updated report.

Please stay tuned.

Thursday, May 5, 2016


By now, you may be tired of looking at the starboard view of Belle Starr. I promise, this is the end of the recovery saga, it's time to party!

Here she is, back in her element. Ship-shape and bristol. The observant will note the anchor chain. Whatever evil lurks below, waiting to chafe innocent anchor rodes, will find this one harder to chew.

A far cry from this.
Thanks to all who stepped up to help bring her back.
Brings tears to my eyes.

Paul Miller
Philip Morley
Martin Schneider
Lynn Watson
Claire Acord
John Acord
Heather Hicks
Marty Loken
Doug Follett
Steve Follett
Scott Marckx
Allan Woodbury

And all of you, my friends all over the world, who offered moral support in a time of need. Thank you.

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Doryman's Boatyard

As you might guess, the restoration of Belle Starr is at the top of the list. Working outside definitely has it's drawbacks and I've known all along that when spring weather approached, there would be a frenzy of activity. Nothing new there - to a sailor, the weather dictates everything.

Belle Starr is a happy boat. She's very near being ready to launch. All that remains are the fiddly bits, the structural work is complete. In fact, I have a friendly wager with a fellow sailor about who will launch first. Sometime late this month is my best guess. Despite being very anxious about splashing her, I want Belle Starr to be better than before her accident. This view of the starboard side was a ragged hole not too long ago.

The starboard side from the interior. Those pesky, leaky deadlights have been re-bedded at last!
There are some upgrades this time around. New winches grace the deck to assist in keeping the halyards tight. I'd like to have winches for the new genny too, but that will have to wait. The interior is handsomely reworked. With the boat completely empty, refinishing everything was imperative. It's very rewarding to sew up loose ends. For instance, there will be no more hauling and stowing plastic jugs of water. A rudimentary water system featuring a bladder tank and hand pump now simplifies that task.

An unexpected bonus to this tragedy was revealed while repairing the rudder, which was snapped off at the waterline.

The two sets of gudgeons and pintles that were underwater were corroded to the point that they could have failed at any time. I'm not a welder (at times like this, I wish I was...) so having new hardware fabricated has suddenly become one of the most costly elements of this repair. It will be good to know that the rudder is once again firmly attached to the boat. Losing steerage is a sailor's nightmare.

Meanwhile, look at what followed me back to the shop... an Old Town canoe. I've had my eye on this beauty for a decade. I haven't had a chance to look up the serial numbers yet, but she's probably in the neighborhood of seventy years old.

My friend Rick Johnson finally took pity on me and we loaded her down from the rafters of his shop. She now graces the rafters of mine. It could be a while before she gets the attention she deserves, but when she does, you'll be the first to know.