Tuesday, May 26, 2015

A Wicked Good Day at the Beach

This past three-day weekend, which included Memorial Day, marks the unofficial start of summer. This is particularly so within the small communities along the shore.  And although most businesses look forward to the influx of tourists ("have to make it during the season, ya know")  most residents dread the up tick in traffic, long lines at the island liquor store, etc. and so look forward to the other three-day weekend which marks the unofficial end of summer--Labor day, in early September.

The view from the cut in the dune at the oceanward end of 22nd St. is timeless.  The beach grass and bayberries which stabilize the dune quickly give way to the arid vegetation-free zone of constantly salted beach.  If you study the sea in the background you can just make out whitecaps.  There was a strong SW wind all weekend long.  This did not keep people from attempting to lay about in beach chairs but the chill air and the sandblasting tended to make lazy beach reading a bit of a chore.  The west wall of the Gulf Steam is far beyond the horizon.  We occasionally get lucky with  random Gulf Stream eddies which radiate landward off the west wall, and the wall itself can move in and out, but from my perspective the water temp in May is suitable only for those below the age of 12 or those wearing a wetsuit. 
A few of the island's beaches did have life guards over the long weekend.  Looking towards the beach at 26th St. revealed a goodly crowd.  Full life guard coverage doesn't start until the end of June.  Beach tags go from the preseason cost of $15.00 each to $18.00 each on the 1st of June.

The old hotel, built during the initial land boom in 1927, survived another winter.  In a couple years it will be 90 years old.  I remember back in 1977, a local bakery baked a huge cake in the shape of the hotel to honor its 50th year.  Fifty years seemed like a big deal back then when I was a good bit younger than fifty!

Another tell tale sign of the arrival of summer is the renewed flights of banner planes.

This one staggered slowly across the sky into the face of the 20 knot breeze like a fat old bumble bee .  No doubt the exposed engine makes life easier for the mechanic but one would think that having a streamlined cowling would help aerodynamics.

I had no idea what "Wicked" was all about so I googled it for you.  Apparently it's a musical that retells the story of the Wizard of Oz from the various witches' perspectives.  The producers must be trolling the beaches for a New York crowd since South Jersey isn't included as an off Broadway stop for this show.  Personally, I find it easier to relate to banners instructing me to drink beer or buy a particular brand of sunscreen.  As the plane and its banner gradually got smaller I reluctantly crossed the dune and returned to my spring chores of removing storm glass, installing screens, mending the drive way gates and pulling weeds.  The annual BYC Classic Moth Regatta is just four weeks away!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Maser for sale

Ah, the Maser--a Moth made out of a slack Laser hull.  Boats like this which are "re-purposed" rather than taken to the dump are sometimes referred to as "Franken Moths".  Over the years we've seen different attempts to take cast-off freebie hulls from another class and use them as the basis for a Moth.  Some of the more memorable ones include the Franken Fish (cut down Sun Fish hull), a Fire Ball-based Moth and even a Moth built from the first eleven feet of a dead Flying Dutchman.  

Returning to the object of today's post, some Maser Frankies are better than others and this particular adaptation is one of those.

The first Maser was built by Mark Saunders.  Mark wanted a durable, stable boat suitable for his then young children.  He took an old Laser hull, cut the bow off at the knuckle and brought the new bow back together, à la stitch and glue, against a cedar fence picket to form a plumb bow.  He then measured back eleven feet and sawed off the excess length.  After gutting the hull and installing new plywood decks, bulkheads and a centerboard trunk he had created what he was looking for--a stable Moth Boat that was brick-solid and suitable for the abuse that early learners dish out.  Joe Bousquet looked at Mark's efforts and created a second Maser, much like Mark's but with a free standing rig.  Both of these boats served their purpose of introducing new sailors to Moth Boats.  The Bousquet boat survives to this day.

Another quick and dirty Maser, much like the first pair was constructed by Norfolk area sailors, Al Whitener and Randy Stark.  After sailing their boat this pair decided that the initial concept was OK but merely measuring back eleven feet from the newly created plumb bow and hacking off the excess footage produced a hull with a lot of wetted surface.  Clearly more could be done with the lines offered by the original Laser hull.  After a bit of thought Al and Randy resorted to a more radical approach.  In addition to gutting the hull, i. e., cutting out the decks, CBT, and bulkheads and then performing a "nose job" creating the plumb bow, why not do a "C-section" as well to retain the best parts of the Laser--the bow and transom sections?  So instead of hacking off the boat at its widest point (creating a big, draggy transom) the pair took a jig saw and made careful Vee cuts just ahead and just behind the original CBT.  That center part of the Laser, which includes the original, heavy CBT, was discarded and the remaining bow and stern sections were reunited using unidirectional glass tape.  With a bit of experimentation they came up with a Vee cut procedure which allowed the bow and stern sections to dovetail back together with a minimum of fairing and futzing.  This approach produced a fairly stable, round bilge hull which could then be tanked and decked to produce a Moth which came in at the CMBA's minimum hull weight of 75 lbs.  Al and Randy build two of these boats and they have proven quite competitive within the ranks of the intended Generation I fleet.  The late Bill Schill built several more and Merv Wescoat built one as well.

The Maser currently for sale is the first of the pair which Al and Randy built and is the one which Al raced.  She currently has her side tank decks removed and is offered for sale as a project by her current owner Joe Courter of Absecon, New Jersey:

MAZER - $500 or best offer.  Needs new cockpit decks.

1)  Custom pivoting deck mounted fiberglass mast
2)  Aluminum boom
3)  Kick up rudder
4)  Sunfish dagger board
5)  Sail
6)  All stays and fittings

Contact:  Joe Courter   home:  609 484-1724  office:  609 296-1005

Monday, May 11, 2015

Mid-Nite Scow Boy: The Perverted Moth Blogspot


I recently discovered the Perverted Moth Blogspot.  The author of this blog, Markla, has been around since 2008 and starts off the first post by telling us that he hates us all and he particularly hates blogs.  He does this blog anyway but only because it's easier than creating a website.  He tells us not to expect updates anytime soon.  That was then.  Fair enough.  More recently he has updated Ray Hilton's Bunyip IX scow design and adapted it for carbon sandwich construction.  The first hull out of the female mold is sailing.  Curious?  You can read about it here.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Classic Moths on the James River

This little video gives you the feel of sailing a classic moth boat.  The two boats, one an old Fletcher-Cates and the other "Chico" the ex-Scott Wolff "Sidewinder", glide along in light air on the James River in Virginia.  Sidewinder used to race with us several owners ago.  I keep hoping this pair of boats will return to the race course sooner rather than later.  As always, remember to click on full screen.

Another blogspot to follow

The Starling dinghy.  A popular class in New Zealand
Fellow blogger Alden Smith left a comment about my post which asked if a dilapidated Moth Boat could be saved.  It seems that Alden is hip deep in the process of rehabbing a very down at the heels Starling dinghy and so, like me, has a soft spot for boats which others might dismiss as lost causes.  The first installment of his journey to breathe life back in his boat can be found here .

Alden is currently up to installment nr 15 so there's a bit of reading to do in order to catch up, but the effort is enjoyable.  Alden's blogspot is called "Stream of Consciousness" and can be followed at this URL: http://yachtee.blogspot.com/ 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Toppered Off.

One of my sailing pals, IoW Len, recently managed to buy a Topper that somehow found her way to  south FLA.  The Topper, designed by Ian Proctor, but little known here in the US is almost Moth size at 11 feet, 1inch long. The Topper is viewed as a successful "pathway" dinghy class in the UK and is the next rung up the sailing ladder from Optimist dinghies.  Many of the UK youth "sailor of the year" award winners come from the Topper class. 

Early hulls featured fiberglass construction.  More recently, the boats have switched to injection molding and are built out of polypropylene.  Yes, the same stuff that fades on your car bumpers.  A little known fact about polypropylene is that faded items can be "refreshed" by carefully running a heat gun over them! (See video clip above).

The deck of the Topper as purchased

The same deck after heat gun treatment.

Scuzzy bottom (above) and transom (below) prior to general cleaning followed by heat gun treatment.

Same bottom and transom afterwards.

The Topper's hull shape is very reminiscent of Lewis Twitchell's 1953 Moth World Champion Flying Saucer.
Not much Len can do with that sail other than replace it with a fresh(er) one!  With the offending one inch taken off and a Moth rig in place of the Topper rig, we might just be looking at the next conversion from one class of dinghy to a Classic Moth!  The topper hull is however a bit on the "robust" end of the scale, clocking in at a hefty 94 lbs.  None the less a fun boat.                       

Monday, April 27, 2015

Can this Moth be saved?

Back in the early 50s when I was a boy growing up on the farm, my mother had a subscription to a women's magazine which along with recipes plus tips on gardening, child rearing, health, and etiquette had a monthly column with the arresting title "Can this marriage be saved?".  Each month the column aired out a marriage which was teetering on the brink of foundering, detailing the various warts of neglect, injury and sometimes reckless abandon.  I can't remember if the magazine was Better Homes and Gardens or perhaps Ladies' Home Journal.  That is unimportant.  The bottom line is that many broken things, occasionally including human relationships, can be restored if those concerned are willing to devote time, treasure and energy.  The question which always remains to be asked is "Is it worth it?"

Today's post advances this very same question in reference to an extremely neglected fiberglass Fletcher-Cates.  This boat is very close to that point where smart sailors turn away and instead of sinking money into a dubious pit, wisely decide that they'd be better off spending that money on new materials and building a new boat. 

Most Cates Moths, regardless of the builder, carry a traditional system of decks as dictated by Harry Cates back in the mid-1950s.  This boat sports a rare, short production run, roll tank cockpit layout which Blair Fletcher built in limited numbers.  Of all the surviving Fletcher-Cates Moths I've seen in recent years only two other examples have surfaced which have this roll tank deck lay out. 

Our subject, built in 1963, is featured in the old Moth Class records for a year or so but then disappears after a change of ownership.  She resurfaced a couple of decades later, left abandoned when her then owner skipped town without paying his apartment rent.  The current long term owner was given the boat roughly twenty-five years ago in appreciation for helping clean up the messy apartment.  As found the boat had a number of soft spots in the glass lamination.  The new owner ground off the gel coat from both the decks and the hull in order to find them all.  Over the years, despite several moves of house our hero kept the boat and repaired some of the damage with new cloth and resin but there's more to be dealt with as the following photos will reveal.  With his next move of residence taking him to Chicago he has decided that it's time to part company and move this little boat to someone with more time and hopefully to a successful outcome. The boat is currently in the south Jersey area.

Due to years of haphazard outdoor storage the roll tank deck suffered delamination in several areas.  The current owner has addressed those problems.  It's a shame that Fletcher Marine Products chose not to make the side tanks and the bow compartment water tight.  That would have added seaworthiness to the more comfortable than usual cockpit.  This could be done.

This photo shows a hole in the bottom of the hull which shouldn't be too difficult to fix.  More troubling is the broken fore deck which involves the mast partner.  The mast partner is a high stress area in the boat.  This damage may require removal of the fore deck in order to make a proper repair.

Another pix showing the fore deck damage.

The hole in the port side of the hull.  The rectangular patch just aft of the CBT slot was once the location of an Elvstrom type bailer.

The keel line forward of the CBT needs some repair, no doubt caused by young owners dragging the boat after a beach landing.

Spars, blades, misc wood trim pieces (useful as patterns at this point) convey.  Not pictured is a box full of period  hardware which also comes with the boat.  If anyone is interested in taking this poor little boat under their wing, leave me a comment.  I tend to be a sucker for neglected Moth Boats but at this stage of the game I've already got more projects than I'll ever complete.