Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Things are about to get expensive.

So the boat is being hauled this week by Ben Miller of BM Boat Works. His rates are a lot cheaper than the yard. I guess I'll soon find out if the discounted labor is worth it. First order of business is to get the new sailing instruments installed, fix around a dozen of the worst blisters, get the new bottom paint on, add a boot stripe, plumb the macerator pump, and shore up the port side mizzen stay chain plate. I am probably looking at a bill somewhere between 6 - 8 thousand. This is why most cruisers do their own work. It'll be much easier when I live in Kemah.

On another note, I am not so impressed by Givens Life Rafts. I shipped my raft to them and got notice of delivery on December the 20th. I had to call and email 4 times before I finally got any kind of reply. Unfortunately, that only included letting me know they were under the impression there was no hurry. Apparently my raft has been checked in for testing, but since all the field service sites are shutting down they are swamped at the factory. I can't believe they are telling someone this that is in the market for a new raft. Practical Sailor is doing a study on life rafts in the next issue. I'll probably be looking for anything other than a Givens at this rate.

There have been a few ideas swirling around in my head I haven't completely sorted just yet. For some reason I keep thinking of the movie The Ice Harvest. Oliver Platt says "There is nothing left in this country for a man but money and p****." Hey, this is a family place. You can read between the lines.

The next one is a little overused in movies these days, but even watered down it is a great one. "Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond imagination. It is our light more than our darkness which scares us. We ask ourselves – who are we to be brilliant, beautiful, talented, and fabulous. But honestly, who are you to not be so? When we liberate ourselves from our own fears, simply our presence may liberate others." --Marianne Williamson

John Playfair was a friend to James Hutton, the Father of Modern Geology. There is a place I visited in the UK called Siccar Point. It was at this location that Hutton found proof to the means by which the earth formed through massive upheaval and continuous erosion. Playfair wrote of the encounter at Siccar Point, "The palpable evidence presented to us, of one of the most extraordinary and important facts in the natural history of the earth, gave a reality and substance to those theoretical speculations which, however probable, had never till now been directly authenticated by the testimony of the senses. We often said to ourselves, what clearer evidence could we have had of the different formation of these rocks, and of the long interval which separated their formation, had we actually seen them emerging from the bosom of the deep? We felt ourselves necessarily carried back to the time when the schistus on which we stood was yet at the bottom of the sea, and when the sandstone before us was only beginning to be deposited, in the shape of sand or mud, from the waters of a superincumbent ocean. An epoch still more remote presented itself, when even the most ancient of these rocks, instead of standing upright in vertical beds lay in horizontal planes at the bottom of the sea and was not yet disturbed by that immeasurable force which has burst asunder the solid pavement of the globe. Revolutions still more remote appeared in the distance of this extraordinary perspective. The mind seemed to grow giddy by looking so far into the abyss of time; and while we listened with earnestness and admiration to the philosopher who was now unfolding to us the order and series of these wonderful events, we became sensible how much farther reason may sometimes go than imagination can venture to follow."

The great philosophical and educational renaissances in history didn't occur as people dug deeper and deeper into sectioned off areas of study. The great scholars were typically students of all sciences including sociology or what we would call the "arts" today. While we have made huge advances in some areas such as microprocessor technology or molecular modeling we seem to store this information in silos rarely combining the information with other hard won insights.

Marianne's quote should give reason to pause. What really could be possible if each of us were completely uninhibited to achieve anything we believed to be worth while? Is it possible for a person to become an expert in many areas of study today? Or are we so specialized with such a breadth of knowledge that it is too much for one person? What could we do with all of the knowledge at a given persons fingertips?

It seems like we've grown stale in the U.S. anyway. So comfortable that we no longer hardly feel the need to try. So many safety nets that if you don't have the motivation to do or be anything that's ok. There is a program to make sure you don't have to. Have the rest of us gotten lazy? Necessity is the mother of invention, but do we really need anything anymore? I guess this brings me back to my first quote from Ice Harvest. it could be that the real opportunities to do something are in the developing world. I'd sure do like the idea of taking a look.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Allied Boat Company: Allied Mistress Mk III Production Run 1976

Posted by PicasaHere are a few shots of the Wright/Allied production facilites in Catskill, NY. These were taken during the 1976 Mistress Mk III production run. I've got a whole slew of these and will try to post them back on my site. I love knowing the history of things and Romance is no exception. If you've got other historical documents from Allied Boat Company let me know. I am always interested. I've also got a copy of the largel scale archetect's sail plan for the Mk III. I can make copies for anyone who needs them.

Tuesday, January 09, 2007

I call it a vacation hangover.

It’s not booze related at all, but that depression that sets in when you have to stop doing something that you love and return to the grind. It isn’t easy to get the old momentum up and running again. I will say this, having a real plan of escape that is starting to take shape is the best motivation I’ve ever had to put my head down and work. I’ll be on the road the next two weeks solid so may not have too many updates forthcoming. I was telling a buddy of mine about everything that went wrong from tearing off my thumbnail to running aground. He started laughing because the smile on my face. He figured that if a trip could go that bad and we were still having as much fun as we did we must be doing something right.

Towards the end of our trip I was setting up several interviews with various boat work contractors around Kemah. The ship yards like Seabrook were incredibly expensive for basic work like bottom jobs. No, that’s not something dirty, but where they paint the bottom of the boat with really nasty paint that keep critters from growing on the bottom of the boat. Otherwise it starts to turn into a floating coral reef. Anyways, I got hooked up with a guy named Ben Miller who doesn’t seem to have been thrown out of normal society to chase the Grateful Dead for 15 years before he started working on boats like most the guys down here. Ben is retired military and was a pleasure to work with. He’ll be hauling the boat at the end of the month to knock out several of the more critical projects like the above mentioned bottom job and the installation of those cool new sailing instruments. All at a fraction of the cost of the bigger boat yards.

I know cruisers are not supposed to mingle with those racer types, but our razorback neighbors have talked me into doing some club racing with them on Wednesday nights this summer. Let’s face it, I’ve bought a big heavy boat and I can’t think of a better way to increase the performance of Romance than learning how to race a little bit. Only going a knot faster may not seem like much, but when you are talking about a two week passage that equates to 168 nautical miles. Plus they are a cool couple that Kris and I have really enjoyed getting to know. We even spent our New Years Eve with them on Forty Love, their hunter 420.

Speaking of a knot faster sailing performance I’ve been looking at something called a feathering propeller. I’ve got a huge 21 inch 3 blade bronze prop on the back of Romance that is perfect for motoring, but creates a whole lot of drag under sail. Not to mention the forward velocity induces the prop to spin or “windmill” under sail which can ruin the transmission since it doesn’t lubricate without the engine running. So, I can either rebuild/install a the proplock I have, or I can eliminate the need for one by installing a prop with blades that lays flat when the engine is off and I am running unders sail. Only problem is they are a little steep at $3,800 for one that will fit Romance. Have to think on this one a bit. Let me know if you have any experience with the various feathering props out there. This is a picture of the Max-prop. Probably the most common on the market.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Black eyed peas on a bayou

Ever see that movie Captain Ron? Well that is pretty close to what the last couple of days have felt like. Kris and I couldn't get a stretch of weather that was good long enough to make the run to Port Aransas. We turned back once, but decided that on New Years Day we would make the trip down to a place called Offats Bayou. It is known to most cruisers around here as the best anchorage along the Texas stretch of the ICW.

There is an old saying amongst the boating community. There are those who have run aground, those who will, and those who lie. I've never been a very good liar so I'll just come on out and say that I grounded this boat good. Ran her right up onto a shoal. Kris was so scared she thought we were going to tip over. I'll admit my heart was beating a little quick, but you are not going to get any more out of me than that. We had just crossed under the Causeway Bridge and were looking for our turn down channel to the Bayou. We came a little long and had the red and green markers, but didn't realize that the red over green can was marking the shoal and not the channel. Sure enough, wham, we listed about 20 degrees to starboard and must have come a good foot and a half out of the water. Shocked is really all I can say. K and I had our moment of panic, but then I remembered something the previous owner had told me just about the time I was calling for the tow boat. "I never run aground such that Romance wouldn't dig a hole and pull me out". Remembering that, I hung up the cell phone and started running the old diesel in forward and reverse at full throttle. My hopes started climbing when Romance leveled out and the bow started drifting to starboard.

After a few more minutes of this, around 30 in total, we were free again. We got our bearing, lined up the markers, and made our way into Offats Bayou. We got the anchor down and secured just at sunset. The Gardens were still lit with Christmas lights and we had the whole place to ourselves. It was really a spectacular evening complete with black-eyed peas and cornbread. A family tradition of mine since I was a child.

We wanted to spend today at anchor doing absolutely nothing, but the weather once again is wreaking havoc on our sailing plans. Not wanting to kill ourselves beating into wind and rain we headed home and are now sitting back at Waterford Marina. We are going to continue to enjoy the rest of the week off starting with the Kemah Boardwalk and Houston Space Center both of which are just around the corner. Happy New Years Everyone!