Sunday, February 14, 2016

Header Photo: South Gippsland Y.C. Classic Wooden Dinghy Regatta

The previous header photo was of  Australian sailing dinghies gathered on the beach for the 2015 South Gippsland Y.C. Classic Wooden Dinghy Regatta. In the foreground we can see, from left to right, a Mirror, and two scow Moths. The 2016 Regatta was held this past January but I haven't received a report yet. When I do, hopefully I can post some photos.

Saturday, February 13, 2016

Seen at the 2015 Annapolis Sailboat Show; The America's Cup

Oracle Team USA has been working steadily to bring the America's Cup to the attention of the masses. One part of that strategy is to publicly display the actual cup around the U.S. And there it was, tucked into a corner of the 2015 Annapolis Sailboat show, next to the old Fawcett building. As trophies go, impressive enough, very tall and ornate.

After snapping a photo, I got a kick out of talking to one of the security contingent. He was dressed in a suit, sporting an ear bud, looking identical to the Secret Service, except for the white gloves. He was based out of San Francisco and when the America's Cup went out on the road, so did he. As security gigs go, this one didn't sound half bad.

The security guys were amazingly tolerant about letting people close enough for group photos but physically touching the cup was a big no-no.

The car behind the America's Cup was one of the fancy Tesla E-cars, Tesla being one of the sponsors of the America's Cup tour. I took a look and, compared to our known fossil fuel vehicles , the Tesla was somewhat topsy-turvy. The powertrain and batteries were well hidden, out of sight, the front hood opening up to another storage compartment. One got the impression that the Tesla ran on some magical ether it collected from the air.

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Without an Instructor

I learned to sail, more or less, by myself; by taking out a small singlehanded pram, exploring the nooks and crannies of a river, enjoying the wind and water, no instructor in a coaches boat yelling in a bullhorn that I was doing this wrong or could I keep the boat a little flatter. I have quite a few sailing friends (all accomplished racers) that learned outside a formal program. Unfortunately, what is lost in a junior sailing program is that confidence gained for a pre-teen in their first independent driving; by steering and handling the sails of a complicated piece of machinery, without an adult hanging over us, telling us what to do next. I'm sure that, going sailing by myself just racheted up the fun factor of sailing even more. I'm also thankful that my parents made sure I knew how to swim, was wearing a life jacket and were willing to let me push off in my 8 foot "yacht" as long as I was back by dinnertime.

I have a soft spot for juniors who are learning on their own; maybe their form isn't quite right and they are capsizing right and left but, geez!, are they having fun.

Exhibit A is the junior duo in this video making all the mistakes and grinning the whole time.

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Vintage Photo of a Sneakbox and Catboat

I pulled this vintage photo off the Internet.

The photo is obviously staged but does show a sailing day trip to the New Jersey bays. The growth of the railroads out to the New Jersey shore allowed the Philadelphia and New York crowd to enjoy day trips where local watermen would gladly take them out on "party" catboats, or if you were adventurous, you could rent out the smaller sneakbox for a sail. Date for the guess is the 1890's. No idea of the actual location.

Saturday, January 30, 2016

Seen at the 2015 Annapolis Sailboat Show: The Portland Pudgy dinghy

I spent an interesting fifteen minutes over at the Portland Pudgy stand. The Portland Pudgy is a another variation on the dinghy tender; this one in rotomolded plastic, with an emphasis on dual use as a life-boat if disaster struck. After looking the Portland Pudgy over, one comes away with the impression of a different take on the cruising dinghy; well designed, not too expensive, commodious despite the short length, and buoyant enough to work out as a life boat if needed.

All of my time spent at the stand was in talking with Pam, the wife of the designer, David Hulbert. We mostly discussed the travails of running a Mom and Pop boat production business, particularly how little things can gum production up. The sub-contractor that made the specialty designed inspection ports for the Portland Pudgy went bankrupt, unbeknownst to the Pudgy production team. When they went over to subcontractor's shop, they found it shuttered up with the specialty tooling for the inspection ports locked inside. Once they got it all sorted with a new subcontractor there was a three month hiatus on getting Pudgy's out the door. I detected an undertone in her story of maybe this was too much, too all consuming, particularly for a couple in their senior years. But the Portland Pudgy does offer something unique in the boating world and there appears to be a steady market going forward.

The FAQ page on the Portland Pudgy as a straight up dinghy.

The FAQ page on the Portland Pudgy sailing rig.

Thursday, January 28, 2016