Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Chandra goes sailing!

Yesterday my Granddaughter Chandra visited us and we all went for a sail. Her Uncle Lee drove her to the marina and stayed with us the whole day.
Chandra got to see dolphins and actually managed to get a few pics. (Instead of the "hole in the water where the dolphin used to be" like Bev and I have been getting.)
Chandra even took a turn at the tiller.
After our sail we went to Philthy Phils for some late lunch, and then a trip to the beach. By the time the sun went down, Bev and I were worn out. (Chandra napped in the car and so was rarin' to go.)

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Bev's "crew"

Admiral Bev has asked me to post some pics of her friends and family back in MA. Everybody needs their 15 minutes as per Andy Warhol.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Graduation, George Washington and Choppers

No, not THOSE choppers, bikes as in Orange County Choppers. On our way back from Plymouth, Bev and I stopped off in Orange County NY so I could visit with my Aunt Kay. While in the area we stopped to see the folks I used to work with at Orange Regional Medical Center. Hi Margie, Ada, Tyler, Rob, Ed, Elaine, Sandy and everyone else.
The visit to Orange County included a stop at Orange County Chopper the home of Paul Sr., Paul Jr. and Mikey of TV fame. We browsed the shop and saw some of the famous bikes included the FDNY bike, complete with fire hydrant.
We also went to the nation's very first "National Historic Site," Washington's Headquarters in Newburgh. Of course it was Tuesday, so the place was closed! We knocked on the door and the site manager, Donald Fraser came out and told us that they were giving a private tour to a VIP but that we were welcome to join them.
The VIP turned out to be Mrs. Hamilton Fish IV, widow of a famous Congressman.
The museum curator, Mel Johnson, took us all on a wonderful narrated tour of the grounds and the house. The old saw "Washington Slept Here" in this case has been thoroughly documented, right down to the actual room he used as his bedroom.
Washington spent more time at this house than at any other posting during the entire Revolution. He stayed here from the surrender of Cornwalis at Yorktown through the signing of the Treaty of Paris. It was necessary for him to keep the army together during this period as the British kept an army posted in New York City until after the final peace treaty was signed.
The Washington's Headquarters Site was the very first place to be designated as an historic site anywhere in the world! It served as the example for the preservation of Mount Vernon, Washinton's home in Virginia, and all other historic sites.
Here also are a few pics of Matt's graduation. The ceremony was OK as these things go, too long and full of speeches that no one listens to, especially the keynote speech made by John Kerry.
Bev was of course, very proud of Matt, the first of her kids to graduate college. His degree is in economics.
Bev wanted me to be sure and mention that she saved a turtle. While on the beach at Plymouth we spotted a large fresh-water turtle in the surf. He was struggling to get up the beach, so Bev called the environmental conservation folks and they came and took the turtle to the aquarium for a checkup. It was severely dehydrated from exposure to the salt water. They cared for it and then released it back to its normal habitat. How it got into the Bay was a mystery.

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Phil's cat, Capt. Josh and Walden Pond

Here are a few random pictures of our New England trip.
The cat on the chair is Phil Bolger's recent adoptee. He likes to sleep on the chair, and doesn't move even if you spin the chair.
We also visited Walden Pond. We saw the replica cabin. The original was torn down shortly after Thoreau's stay. I used to think that it would have been difficult to live in so small a space but after a year on the boat his cabin looks positively spacious.
We also took a walk around the pond to the site of the original cabin. It is marked with stones and sits right next to a pile of rocks said to be from the original foundation.
On our way back from New Bedford (where Bev's son Matt lives) we stopped off at the "monument" commemorating Capt. Joshua Slocum's solo circumnavigation of the world in 1895. He was the first person ever to complete a solo circumnavigation. His feat inspired whole generations of sailors, your narrator included.

A day with the legend.

Yesterday, Bev and I drove our rental car up to Gloucester to meet with Phil Bolger. We expected to visit for an hour or two, but he and his wife spent the whole day with us.
We talked about boats in general and Bolger boats in particular. We talked abut our trip and the many ways we used the features of the AS-29. We showed them a slide show of our trip.
It was quite a thrill for me to actually meet the man who designed my boat. Phil's wife Susan spent a lot of the time talking about ways we could modify the boat to make it a real "world cruiser." I was really fascinating to hear her talk about how we could mold a second skin on the boat that would make the boat more impact resistant, more buoyant and more stable. She said we could use heavy duty construction foam (the blue stuff) on the outside of the hull to insulate and protect it, followed by a layer of 1/4" plywood and fiberglass to protect the foam. This process wouldn't add much weight, but it would add volume which increases displacement. We could carry more gear and supplies and still float higher in the water. Gluing the foam in the outside, combined with the extra layer of plywood would make the boat strong enough to cross oceans. She also suggested that we add a removable "V" to the bow if we intend to take the boat across the ocean.
I really liked her ideas. Not only would the changes make the boat safer, they would also make it more comfortable. It would be warmer inside when the weather is cool, and cooler when the weather is warm. I'm really going to have to give some thought to making these changes someday.
We also talked quite a bit about the boat's handling and trim. Phil and Susan suggested I try sailing without the mizzen to how if this would reduce some weather helm and make the boat behave better off the wind.
During the course of our chat, I discovered that I had made a mistake in building the boat. I left off what's called the "bottom plate" of the rudder. Somehow, as many times as I had looked at the plans, I didn't see the sketch of this plate. It's purposed is to channel the water pressure coming off the rudder to make the rudder more efficient. When I get back to the boat I'm going to have to pull the rudder off and add the plate. It should improve the steering of the boat, making it easier to handle when the wind picks up.
While we were there, Phil and Susan showed us the plans they are working on. One is a 34 foot version of the AS type. This is intended to be a real sturdy ocean cruiser. The other is a 50 something monster with a completely enclosed pilot house and a ramp for launching the rather large dingy. It has a cargo hold and special compartments for some serious photographic equipment the clients need to carry.
Phil is really quite an amazing character. He is now 80 years old and except for an occasional pain in his hip he is quite spry and his mind is as sharp as ever.
We all went out to lunch together at a good Chinese restaurant on the waterfront in Gloucester. During lunch Bev and Susan got into quite a heated discussion of politics. Phil and I just stayed out of it. Two highly opinionated women disagreeing about politics can be scary.
Phil and Susan now live in a house. This was a surprise to me as I had thought Phil lived on his boat "Resolution." He did live aboard for 14 years and the boat now sits in the front yard of his house. He and Susan were able to buy a "handyman special" at a really good price and have spent the last few years fixing it up. They put 12" insulation in the walls to keep their heating bills down and now there are two rooms in which they have no heat at all and claim they don't need it. Makes you wonder why all houses aren't built that way. A few extra bucks at building time translates into hundreds (if not thousands) saved every year for the life of the house. Home builders of America - take note: charge your clients a few extra bucks to build the house, then guarantee them lower fuel bills - you'll clean up. With the prices of oil, natural gas and electricity going through the roof, you'll gain an advantage over your competitors if you can honestly promise lower heating and cooling bills.
This same concept is what Susan was talking about when she told us about sheathing the boat with foam.
One of the topics we talked about was they way the boating magazines seem to ignore the common sense approach to boat design that is exemplified by Phil Bolger and Friends. Even magazines like "Practical Sailor" and "Good Old Boat" seem to ignore the home built market. Susan suggest that I write to the editors of these magazines (one of whom lives in Sarasota) and tell them of my experience with the AS-29. As she pointed out, my own experience proves that you do not have to spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to have a boat that is safe, stable and able to cruise anywhere. Too many people think they have to work at spirit-killing jobs to earn large amounts of money to afford boating. They go out and buy big expensive boats that sit in the marina 95% of the time.
We also talked a bit about how so many boats today are overpowered. Phil pointed out a lobster boat that he designed. The boat was tied up in Gloucester harbor, probably because the owner couldn't afford to feed the 150 hp engine he put in it. If he had powered it with the 35 hp engine Phil designed it for, he'd be out on the water earning money.
I've included a couple of pictures of Phil and Susan and "Resolution."