Saturday, April 23, 2011

Greenwich walk about

I got together with another of my boat building buddies, this time William Duffield.  William lives in an old town in Cumberland County New Jersey called Greenwich. Cumberland Country is largely rural and is located in southern New Jersey along the Delaware Bay.  In the colonial period this part of New Jersey was first settled by the Swedes.  Next came the Dutch and later the English. The basic plan of the town was laid down by John Fenwick who died before the town was settled.  However his plan was followed and the first acreage was sold in 1684.  By 1690 a small port community had developed along the Cohansey River.  Many of the surviving buildings date to 1700s.

The town provides a sign for the pronunciationally challenged.  It's "green-witch" and NOT "grin-itch".  The townspeople changed the pronunciation after the Revolutionary War because "grin-itch" sounded too British.

Looking east along the main drag, Ye Greate Street.  Yep, that's what it's called; I don't make this stuff up, kids.

Wm's house, built in 1727.

This Swedish-built granary is across the street from William's house.  It was built in 1650 and is the oldest building in the state of New Jersey.  More can be found here:

The Gibbon house is home to the Cumberland County Historical Society.  Note the Flemish bond brick work.

More info about the Gibbon house.  The old granary is in the background.
An earlier Richard Wood lived in William's house.  This Richard Wood also built and operated a general store.

Here is Wood's store.  Interestingly, Richard Wood's descendants are also merchants.  They founded the Wawa chain of convenience stores.
Another of the Wood family's houses.  This one is next to the store.

Across Ye Greate Street is the stone tavern.

At the other end of town is this building which houses the Post Office on the left and Tom & Mabel's County Store on the right.  Both serve as gathering places for the village.

There's that witch again.  Shouldn't she be green?

Like the colonists in Boston, New York and Annapolis, Greenwich also had its gang of "Indians" who burned a cargo of tea in protest of taxes.  This is a monument to the Greenwich Tea Party.  More about the Greenwich Tea party can be read here:  and here:

Finally, here is the Quaker Meeting House, built in 1771.
There are many other interesting buildings and several museums in Greenwich.  We'll explore those on future visits.  In the meantime you can read more about Greenwich here:

Sunday, April 17, 2011

BAMBAROO: A Moth Boat from the early 1930s

As a follow up to my last post, Clayton Fuller has sent me what is perhaps the only surviving photograph of his brother Charlie's first Moth, BAMBAROO.  For those who have not read the previous post, BAMBAROO had a light weight mast made from bamboo so that Charlie could easily drop the mast in order to clear the low draw bridges on the Miami River between their home and the Biscayne Bay which was the site for most of the local Moth Boat races in those days.

Charlie and Clayton Fuller sailing BAMBAROO in 1932.  As a reference point, the the very first Moth Boat, JUMPING JUNIPER was built in 1929 and the first organization to administer the class rules, The National Moth Boat Association, had just been formalized in the same year as this picture.  Indeed, Charlie's first Moth was a very early example.  The location depicted is along the Miami River near the south-west second-street bridge. No doubt if a photograph of this same area was taken today the real estate along the water would look quite different.  As a point of interest note that day light can be seen between the luff of the sail and the mast.  It appears that the leading edge of the sail is attached only at the head and the tack!  Perhaps Charlie used loose lacings along the luff of the sail which are not visible in this photo.  Having said that, the sail seems to have a reasonable shape, at least in the light breeze conditions seen on the day of this outing.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

More Moth Boat history

The other day I received an email from a former Moth sailor living up in Buzzards Bay, Massachusetts named Clayton Fuller: 

I am glad to see some of the classic Moths on the Internet. I am ninety-four years old now and I sailed and built Moths when I was in my late teens. We lived in Miami then and went to many regattas in east coast and central Florida. My brother Charles Fuller was a boat builder who taught me the skills of laying out and building sailboats. He and Harry Cates were good friends.

In Miami, our home was on the Miami River where the river is crossed by the south-west second-street bridge. Charlie built his first Moth in 1932, I believe. It was a scow design of his own. He liked to compete in the races that were held in Biscayne Bay, north of the two existing causeways. He had no way at that time to carry or trailer his Moth to Buena Vista, so he built his boat with a bamboo mast that could be lowered to go under the bridges. He named his Moth Bambaroo.The bridge tenders sometimes were a grumpy sort and paid no attention to his signal on the brass bugle. Charlie used to sail down the river and across the bay all the way to the races site. Talk about determination. I do not remember his ever winning a race with the rig that he had then.

Later, when he had become a member of the Moth Class Association, and when the had built other Moths of different designs and materials, he used to carry his new Moths on his car roof. We sailed then both in the upper bay and at Coconut Grove.

I built my own Moth, a bull nosed scow design with a spruce mast. Next was my own design with very narrow beam. It had hollow wood mast. Very hard to sail because of the beam but it was fast. It was named Blue Banana. Of course it was painted blue.

The dominant Moth champ in our area then was a fellow who used to scull with his rudder during very light wind conditions. I do not think that was an acceptable practice but he got away with it.

I still have Super 8mm footage of some of the boats that were at the races, and of the last beautiful Moth that Charlie built before he went into the army in 1941.

Charlie was sent to New Guinea in 1944. While there he built a sailable boat out of shipping crates and other scrap material. His sail was made from a striped mattress ticking. The only carpenter’s tool he carried was a shingle hatchet.
He had his Kodak 116 camera throughout the war. I have dozens of photos from many places. He came home from Hokodate, Japan in 1945 and built another Moth.

I may have an old sail from that time but I am not certain.  I shall follow the International Moth Class on the Internet, both classic and fin. Keep up the good work.
Clayton Fuller

Clayton sent along a few period photos of his brother's last Moth Boat.  The first photograph shows the boat under construction in Harry Cates' backyard.  Harry Cates, of course, was a well know Moth Boat builder in his own right.

This boat looks very much like Bill Lee's "Banana Boat" design.  Bill build a few of his design and then loaned the molds and building jig to Harry Cates.  Cates built one called TOP BANANA.  Perhaps this boat is the final one built to those lines before Bill Lee got his molds back from Harry.

This photo dating to about the mid-1950s shows the finished boat on top of Charlie's 1948 Dodge sedan.  Charlie, much to the later dismay of used car dealers, cut out the headliner of this car in order to install cleats on the roof to mount the boat's cradle for transport to regattas.

Clayton found this old Kodachrome slide of Moths being launched in Miami and took a photo of its image after he projected it on a wall.  I have access to the old Moth Class registration records which makes old photos like this a little more interesting. Sail number 1400 belongs to T. W. McGlamry's Challenger design Moth called SIESTA. Nr 1320 is Don Lap's LIL' RASCAL. Nr 1320 looks like a Harry Cates version of the Dorr Willey design. Cates' boats were always lighter than Dorr Willey's boats (Dorr persisted building his Moths "plank on frame" out of Atlantic White cedar while Cates learned that lighter was better and started building his boats from thin plywood.  The dark colored Moth in the water may be Charlie's boat.  I've found a boat in the old records registered to Charlie in the early 1950s (Nr 1296) but the Banana Boat design is later than that. Clayton has an old sail with number 1581.  I'm tempted to think that Charlie's last Moth had the later number as seen on the old sail.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Blossom Time and the weather is Breezy.

Good Morning Campers.  Yes it's early April otherwise known as Cherry Blossom Time here in the Wash, DC area.  The weather still toys with us but the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival marks the beginning of what will become the typical hot and sticky DC summer.  This past Sunday we hopped on the Metro rail and rode into town for our annual pilgrimage to the tidal basin.

We live in the Maryland suburbs and so catch the DC Metro (aka subway) at the Orange Line's New Carrollton station.  In early April even the scrubby brush and untended volunteer trees along the rails are in bloom.

RFK Stadium, the former home of the Washington Redskins, is the last above-ground sight before the train takes the plunge underground.

We emerged back into the sunlight at the Smithsonian Station.  The Smithsonian "castle" is the brick building in the background.
Precisely why the Scientology Church had a couple of large tents on the Mall by the station exit is a mystery that I didn't bother to inquire about.
 The National Mall is a rectangular area between Independence and Constitution Avenues and is the location of many of the Museums which feature prominently in most of our visits to DC.  The Monuments and Tidal Basin are an ease walk from this starting point.

Facing east, one see the US Capital.
Facing west one sees the Washington Monument, which is about mid way between the Capital and the Lincoln Memorial. 

The annual kite festival was scheduled for the previous weekend but was blown out by bad weather.  A number of folks were making up for lost time on this day. 
Curse You, Red Baron!

But we wanted to see the blossoms so we left the kites and headed down  towards the Tidal Basin.

The majority of the trees, some of which are survivors of the original plantings made in 1912, are the Yoshino variety which has single white blossoms.
The path around the Tidal Basin was heaving with people.
Most of whom were like me and this chap, taking photos of blossoms and family members.  Cameras were everywhere and getting shots without pieces of  people in them was something of a challenge.

Not all the trees are white.  Here is an example of the Akebono variety which has pink petaled blossoms.  There are also Usuzumi and Kwinzan varieties but those bloom a few weeks after the festival is over.
The paddle boat Armada was out in force.  Some of the paddlers were having a heavy go working against the morning's brisk winds.  Fortunately the winds died down in the afternoon as the clouds filled in and blocked the sun.
Across the Basin one sees the Jefferson Memorial.  Don't ask how long I had to wait to get this clean shot!
Zooming in on the Memorial.
Walking around gawking at blossoms makes one hungry.  We walked back in the direction of the Mall and discussed various lunch options.
The carrousel across from the Smithsonian Castle was busy.  Our kids always fought over who'd get to ride on the black horse.  Rides now cost $2.50--I'm glad that during our riding days tickets were only a buck!
Washington is, if nothing else, a town with lots of tour options.  If you're a tourist with sore feet there's a mode of touring designed to separate you from your money.  You can take an open air double-decker bus...
Or you can join the Segway Nation...
Or if neither of those appeal you can take a ride on a WWII era DUKW.  These combine touring on the street with a dunk in the nearby Potomac River.

Being local (and cheap) we did none of those and continued walking.  We walked up Louisiana Ave. past the Carillon,
Up to Union Station and,
Finally arrived at our destination--Capitol City Brewing, where...
I finished the day with one of these.  (Highly recommended).