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: 

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.

Thursday, April 23, 2015

Sea-U-Soon, resurrected from the dead.

Sea-U-Soon, a mid-1960s era Fletcher-Shelley, malingered on the "for sale" file for a couple of years.  Last fall, Chestertown Moth sailor Victor Stango bought the boat and over the winter has spiffed her up.  What follows are a few before and one (so far) after photo of the boat.

Sea-U-Soon, Nr 2993 began her racing life at Ocean City Yacht Club in the late 1960s. She was later sold to a Cooper River sailor and finally ended up at Wildwood Yacht Club before being acquired by Rick Bacon in Greenwich, NJ.  After putting the boat back into sailing shape, Rick decided she wasn't his cup of tea.  Note the grey graphite coating on the bottom of the hull and the blades.  Graphite was a popular if somewhat messy "Go-Fast" idea from the late 60s and early 70s.  It's a chore to remove.

The boat has a self-draining cockpit, courtesy of a sloping false bottom over the cockpit sole.  This allows water to drain out via the open transom.  The small winglets are not legal under current Classic Moth Boat rules

The false bottom style of self-draining cockpit is something of a mixed blessing.  On the plus side the boat won't swamp.  However the false bottom does detract from the amount of "under the boom" clearance for an adult sized skipper.  One also must adapt to a "knees in the chin" style of hiking.  Finally, this style of cockpit contributes to a wet boat, particularly if the  skipper sits too far aft.  This last aspect is probably a plus in as much as water coming back into the boat is a constant reminder to the skipper to keep his weight forward so to not drag the transom.

The main bulkhead seals off the bow and also contributes to the boat's buoyancy. 

Sea-U-Soon after having some hull repairs, a fresh paint job and additional sail shape control hardware added to the fore deck.  She will be an interesting addition on the CMBA racing circuit.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Athens 2004

Leeward Boat!  My glass Europe during an exciting moment in her previous life.  I still have the sail which Meg G. used during those games.

Friday, April 17, 2015

Sail Ho!

Since we last heard, Martin Scott has been busy on his computer designing a sail for Evolution.  The sail is a bit smaller than the max permitted by the IMCA-UK but Martin thinks he'll be faster if the boat stays sunny side up.  I agree, capsizing is not at all fast.  Martin gave his computer file to a local sail maker and what we see in the following three photographs is how the sail looks on an old tapered Needlespar mast which Martin has in his collection of boat stuff.  Martin is thinking about adding an extra batten between the top batten and batten Nr 2.  At this point He estimates that the boat has cost roughly $2400 US dollars to build and it appears that he's very nearly done.  Martin hopes to launch her this May.  The cost compares favorably against that of a new Laser or Aero don't you think?

Martin has recently ordered a set of Shelley Mk III plans for a friend.  If the narrow Shelley is built with hiking wings, as designed, and equipped with a modern IMCA shaped sail as seen here, it will be a very interesting comparison when the boats go head to head on the race course.  These two designs couldn't be more different if they tried: the Mistral is a narrow waterline, round bilge shape, while the Shelley is a wedge which, with the right skipper, is capable of planing up wind.

Looks good to me.  Martin says that the software he uses for sail design tells one the total amount of cloth required, including allowing for the seams, and then computes the total size of the finished sail.  He temptingly tells me that his design could be scaled down to Classic Moth size.  Hmmm.