Thursday, June 23, 2011

20th Annual Brigantine Yacht Club Classic Moth Boat Regatta

Saturday, the 18th of June marked the twentieth time Elisabeth and I have organized the Annual BYC Moth Boat Regatta.  We started in 1991 with a handful of boats participating.  Where the hell did twenty years go?  I was hoping we'd have 20 boats racing for the 20th edition of the regatta but in the end we had fourteen boats which is still a goodly number.  The day started off with light, unsettled wind out of the west.  The race committee postponed for an hour in the hope that the wind would make the predicted shift to the southwest and start to fill in.  By 11 o'clock the wind indeed started to shift and boats were launched.  The first race took place in light, shifty conditions but by the start of the second race the southwest wind had established itself and began to quickly build to the mid-teens.  At the end of the event, John Zseleczky had prevailed over Joe Bousquet by a razor thin single point with Mike Parsons taking 3rd in the Generation II division.  All three sailed Mistral design Moths.  In Generation I, Walt Collins achieved his goal of getting his name on yet another perpetual trophy.  Your diarist achieved his goal of beating Walt at least once and that's all I did--I got him in the second race but followed him home the other four races that day.  Rod Mincher took the third spot on the the Gen I podium.  There were a few gear failures, the most notable was the break up of the mast extension which Greg Duncan had added to the heel of his mast in order to gain a little more room under the boom of his Europe design.  No doubt Greg will solve that little problem in time for the next regatta but it was regrettable that he drove over 16 hours up and back from North Carolina for roughly 10 minutes of racing.  He and I always have a good battle out on the race course but we were denied that pleasure this time.  C'est la vie.  We shall both sharpen our claws in anticipation of the next meeting!  Photo credits: sailing pix, Ingrid Albaugh; trophy presentation pix, Bob Patterson.

The wind was still light and the water "glassy" when the RC finally decided to get going.  Here Barb Wescoat (orange t-shirt) helps stabilize OOH LA LA as your diarist clambers aboard.

Heading out to the starting area.  Harrah's Casino (building with the swoopy blue decor) can be seen in the background, just barely on the Atlantic City side of Absecon Inlet.  Casinos are permitted only within the AC city limits, which is more than close enough in my book!
Susan Bousquet is obviously delighted to have her modified Shelley Moth back.  Husband Joe has been using her boat while he had the decks off of his Mistral Try_Umph.

Joe Bousquet barely got the decks back on Try_Umph in time for the race.  In true Moth Boating tradition, the varnish dried on the way to the regatta.  No doubt Joe will have the hull repainted by the next time we see her.

Milling around, waiting for the start sequence.  Sail Nr 115 is 84 year old Merv Wescoat in his home-built Shelley Moth LOOKOUT.  I hope I'm still racing at 84.
At the gybe mark during the second race.
A nice shot of the down wind leg.  Sail Nr 124 (with the double chevrons) is an experimental sail being permitted on a trial basis.

Towards the end of the day we had planing conditions.  John Z. is shown below zooming past a marsh island in his Mistral Y2K BUG, originally built and raced by Walt Collins.

After five races we came in, hauled out the boats and had sandwiches and the awards presentation.  The large wooden perpetual trophies were made by Merv Wescoat.  The Gen II trophy is the South Jersey Championship Trophy.  The one used for the Gen I division is the Les Kammerman Memorial Trophy.  Les Kammerman was one of the founding members of the Moth Class.  The small lighthouse trays seen are the "keeper" awards.  Just the right size for apres-regatta cocktails!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

LBCs at Lilypons, Part II

OK, let's see if "blogger" is in a better mood.  I'll carry on where I left off...

Here's the engine room of the pretty Elan which I think was the last photo in Part I.  A very clean example of the well known Ford-based Lotus twin-cam engine.  Nice to see the cam cover in the original "hammertone blue".  Many examples have been tarted up with "racy" black or red crackle finish paints.

This Triumph TR3 was sporting a custom nose.
I owned one of these years ago:  an MGA Coupe, aka: "a driving helmet on wheels".
Now here's a rare bird:  A Sunbeam Harrington.  A number of these were entered in Le Mans in the mid-1960s.  This is the road going version.

Zooming in on the info display in the boot.  Click on the photo to enlarge.  For those interested in such things, the original UK registration tag (hidden behind the Maryland one) reads: "BAP65B".
It was still quite hazy as I headed home mid-afternoon.  Adamstown is up near Frederick so we're getting up into the hills when we come this far north in Maryland.
Nice smooth, quiet "sports car" roads in these parts....
Unless you come across this!

Little British Car Day at Lilypons Water Gardens

Last weekend was British Car Day at Lilypons Water Gardens up at Adamstown, Maryland.  This garden was originally started as a fish farm to supply koi to rich people's garden ponds and later, after water lilies were added to the products offered, was named after Lily Pons, a mid-1930s opera star.  Lilypons has several demonstration ponds with lilies and has hosted the local British Car Day for several years. You can read a canned history of the place here:

There were many fine cars on display at Lilypons.  What follows is just the tip of the iceberg.
This year's featured marque was Jaguar.  2011 is the 50th anniversary of the XKE.  Where the hell did 50 years go?  I remember reading about these cars in magazines as a teenager.

The Morgan display included this early 1930s Aero three-wheeler.

Up the hill from the Morgans I found this clean Turner Mk III.  This is one of only 14 in the U.S.

Bentley owners take their picnics seriously.

Avez vous du Grey Poupon?

This is a '47 YT MG.
I like the "dinner plate" instruments.  The bucket seats in the Y-types look more comfortable than the bench seats in the T-type roadsters.

Here's a '49 TC for comparison.  Sleek and racy.  Love the 19" wire wheels.
This TC special looks vaguely like a Lotus 7.

Another view of the TC vintage racer.
A Series One Lotus Elan.

This PITA blog spot is giving me fits.  It wants the  next pix mid-way up the page instead of here!  I'll post this part and start a second page.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Moth Boat Racing at Miami Yacht Club in the mid-1950s

Clayton Fuller succeeded in getting about 5 minutes worth of an old 8mm film he took, of a Moth regatta in about 1955 or perhaps early 1956, transferred to a DVD disk.  Clayton took this little movie on the occasion of his brother Charlie going for the maiden voyage of what was to be Charlie's last Moth, Nr 1581.  The video opens with the 1953 World champion, Lewis Twitchell sailing past the camera in FLYING SAUCER, Nr 1332.  Next up is Ken Klare's father Ed sailing LITTLE LADY, Nr 1336, a knock off Ventnor design.  We also see Nr 1316, II Sins, sailed by David Aaron, Don Lapp in WEE E, Nr 1429, Charles Hunt in TWILIGHT, Nr 1350.  Nr 1296 is one of Charlie Fuller's (the cameraman's brother) earlier boats. Next up is Chuck Phillips sailing a Challenger Moth, Nr 1370.  Next we see Charlie Fuller climbing into his new, all varnished  Mint design Moth Nr 1581.  The blue Challenger seen next with sail Nr 1407, in later years migrated to Ocean City, NJ and was sailed by Rosemary Bellwoar.  Obviously that's not her in the cockpit in this film clip!  T. W. McGlamry slips quickly by the camera in Siesta, Nr 1400.  Lee Swihart is sailing I SIN, Nr 1315.  Finally we can see the boat which helps date this film to roughly 1955; Nr 1460 is a Cates Florida Moth sailed by Frank Sumner from Delray Beach.  The Florida design was a modification of Warren Bailey's 1954 World Champion winning boat MACH ONE.  The earliest Cates Florida Moths hit the water a year later.  Also note the total absence of windows in the sails.  This also dates the film to before the end of the 1950s.

Ken Klare, a former owner of my Moth MINT (see earlier posts) confirms that the location is in the bay near Miami Yacht Club.  Ken also identifies himself as the sailor in Opti Pram Nr 31 so that means this film was recorded before the summer of 1956 because Ken graduated from the pram to MINT in time to sail at the Nationals at Norfolk Y&CC.  For the record Ken was Junior National Champion in MINT at Norfolk and was beaten in the overall title by Ted Causey.  So this film dates to sometime between 1955 and early in the 1956 sailing season.  Perhaps someone can identify the large hotel visible midway through the film.  Can anyone identity the skipper who is awarded the big trophy at the 4:45 mark?  Can anyone pinpoint which regatta this is?  If so leave a comment!

Oh, finally, Ken indicates that the end shots featuring the seal and porpoise show is at Seaquarium off Rickenbacker Causeway, just north of South Bay.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011


Alright, this blog spot has had a Moth Boat overload for the past few postings.  My "about me" thingy says something about Moth Boats, LBCs (little British cars) and bikes both motor and pedal.  With that in mind I guess it's time to introduce Xenopus, my Frog Eye Sprite.  Actually over here we more usually call these little cars "Bug Eyes" but I think the Brits got it right because an early sprite looks just like a comic book happy frog.  I call my car Xenopus after the well known (at least to developmental biologists) South African clawed frog, Xenopus laevis.  X. laevis is a model for many facets of gene expression.  Besides, I just like saying the word:  Xenopus! Xenopus! Xenopus!  Kinda like Zippy the Pinhead.  Now if I wasn't so cheap I'd get a vanity tag that reads that name...

Xenopus: a 1959 Austin Healey Frog Eye Sprite. Handsome devil ain't he?

Xenopus entered my life by a circuitous route.  I was at the lab minding my own business when the phone rang.  It was diarist-woman ringing me from her work.  She said "the woman whose desk is next to mine has a boy friend with a bug eye sprite.  It's sitting unregistered on the street and the City of Rockville, MD has given him three days to move it or loose it.  Are you interested?"  Do I have a great wife or what?  I went and looked at that sprite and it was a rusty, rotten roach.  The City of Rockville had discovered this sprite after one of the city's dump trucks, parked directly uphill, had slipped out of gear, drifted downhill at an ever increasing rate of knots and came to rest after T-boning the poor old dear.  Needless to say that encounter didn't improve the sprite.  The owner wanted a quick hundred bucks if I agreed to "get it the hell outta here today".  I figured that sprite was a gonner but still had enough useful parts to justify the cost of renting a tow dolly and dragging it home.  I further figured that I could break it for parts and make some easy beer money. The deal was done and home we went.

My mistake was made when I started scanning the fine print ads in the classified section of the Washington Post looking to see if there were any "wanted ads" looking for  a sprite gearbox or engine, etc.  Instead, what I found was a sprite for sale which was the exact opposite of the one I'd just bought:  a beautiful, rust-free body that had been taken apart as a father and son project, which unsurprisingly, like most F & S projects, had stalled.  The sirens were singing sweetly.  Diarist-woman should have chained me to the mast because being me, I just had to look.

The F & S duo had taken a fairly clean sprite COMPLETELY (and I do mean completely) apart to the last nut and bolt.  They next took the body tub and bonnet to a metal laundry and had the two main pieces dipped and stripped.  A cheap Macco paint job (refrigerator white, of course) was woofed on, any questionable metal work was cut out and redone with new metal and then reassembly commenced.  They had gotten to the point where the sprite's suspension and steering gear were back in place so that the car was a push-mobile.  That was the point where the father realized that he was doing all the wrench twirling and the son was off with his buddies cruising around in a Camaro convertible.  Meanwhile the wife/mother of this clan was questioning loudly why her Toyota Camry was parked in a snow drift while this space gobbler was hogging her side of the garage.  They had boxes and boxes of parts they'd scavenged from junk yard spridgets (spridget is a commonly used contraction between Austin Healey SPRITE and the similar "badge engineered" MG MIDGET within the LBC fraternity).  However, they still didn't have all the required parts.  Missing was an uncracked windscreen, for example.  They wanted $4000.  This was over twenty-five years ago when you could buy a running sprite for that kind of money.  I offered them a grand figuring they release the hounds on me.  To my surprise, after a brief family huddle-up they countered with $1200 for the sprite plus all the boxes of stuff.  After renting another tow dolly I found myself the owner of two sprites, neither of which ran.  That and a pick-up truck load of semi-valuable sprite junque.

Xenopus and your diarist the day we departed the shop under our own power.

Fortunately for me, prior to the service, I'd worked at a shop which catered to whatever drove in, including LBCs.  We worked on literally everything from farm tractors to the occasional Rolls Royce.  This shop was a few miles away from our farm in southeasten Pennsylvania.  Vic and his son Tim took me and my collection of Sprites under their wing and allowed Xenopus a small place in the back of the shop.  Slowly reassembly took place as time and money permitted.  Kids and a mortgage got in the way.  Xenopus's rebirth took 23 years!  But finally the day came when man and sprite departed--no doubt to the relief of my former employer!  Since then I've been enjoying my frog eye on fine summer days.  He truly is a cheeky devil and I always have a smile on my face during a drive.  The day I visited Grant and Amelia to look at their Ventnor Moth was a pleasant sunny day with temps in the upper 70s and just enough breeze to cool the fevered brow, so I drove the Sprite.  After leaving them I decided to stop briefly at the World War II Memorial which is just opposite from Annapolis, across the Severn River.

This small park is shady, green and cool.  It offers a great overlook back at Annapolis.

I parked Xenopus just as a tour bus pulled in.  I went to the overlook to snap a few pix and when I came back a middle-aged woman was striking a seductive pose along side the car for her male running mate to capture with his cell phone camera.  I tried to tell them about Xenopus but they mumbled something in a language I didn't understand.  Who knows where that picture of my little car and that woman will wind up?  This happens all the time to Xenopus--he's an absolute chick magnet.  Look closely and you'll discover that Xenopus is a "right hooker" (Right Hand Drive).
Looking back across the Severn at Annapolis.  Double click to enlarge the photo.  The nearest buildings are part of the Naval Academy.  The green dome in the center is the NA chapel.  The dome to the right is the Maryland State House.  The spire just to the right of the American flag's pole is St. Anne's Church.  During Commissioning Week (Naval Academy speak for graduation) people line the bridge in the foreground to watch the Navy Blue Angels perform low altitude aerobatic displays over the river.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

A Ventnor Boat Works Moth called ELIZABETH

Back in late winter Rod Mincher at the Earwigoagin blog spot sent me a photo of a very seductive Ventnor Moth which I will reveal in a moment.  But first a little history:  Ventnor Boat Works was established by the Appel family in south Jersey before the second world war.  They were perhaps best known for their three point hydroplane racing power boat, an innovation which revolutionized power boat racing in the 1930s.  Having said that, VBW also built small sailboats, including two versions of Moth.  Several of the early Ventnor Moths with a transom bow have survived, however the largest surviving examples of Ventnor Moth Boats are the later "bull nosed" version.  I started racing the bull nosed and what I'll refer to as the "Mk II" version of the Ventnor Moth in the summer of 1959.  At that point the surviving boats which boys my age could afford from the wages of part time jobs were nail sick, leaky starter boats suitable for newbie racers.  Both of the two Ventnors which I owned were all plywood construction.  Pre-war, Ventnor Moths has strip plank decks but after the war, the Company knew it had to contain costs. The post-war, bull nose bow Ventnors had ply decks.  However thes boat which Rod M. sent me a photo of was remarkable because it had the later bow shape but the earlier strip plank deck.  This has to be a rare transition boat.

This photo from Rod Mincher caused a certain amount of "wood envy" in the hearts of certain Moth Boat sailors. She's a beaut!  At least one Moth may soon get a strip plank deck job after seeing this photo.  As always, double click the photo to see an enlarge version.  Photo credit: Amelia S.  All other pix: GPA.
I contacted  the owners of this boat, who happened to live near me in Annapolis and set a date when I could see the boat in person.  Basically the story way this: an original owner, now somewhat aged, gifted the boat to a young sailing couple in the hopes that the boat would survive.  The original owner had used the boat very infrequently and so the boat was very authentic.  The boat was named after the original owner's first wife.

Co-owners Grant and Amelia.  The sail on deck is an original Egyptian cotton sail which bares the stamp "made by Ventnor Boat Works, West Atlantic City, NJ"  In pencil is the number 32, which is not a Moth Class sail number but instead a VBW's production number.  If anyone reading this blog can shed light on the Ventnor production number system, please contact me as I have additional production numbers from other surviving Ventnor Moth Boats.  It would be interesting to be able to crack the code.  My assumption is that this boat is a very early example of the later, Mk II Ventnor Moth design.

This view shows the distinctive bow shape of the later Ventnor Moth.  The earlier Ventnor Moth borrows heavily from Russell Post's "Red Spot" Moth design.  Post worked for VBW during the war years and afterwards co-founded Egg Harbor Yachts and then later went off on his own to found Post Marine.  Post Marine is still in business building big sports-fishing "battle wagons" in Mays Landing, NJ.

Grant and Amelia had to go apply bottom paint to their big boat so we couldn't linger and chew the fat. but I hope they give this Moth the TLC she deserves and eventually come race with us.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Decoration Day at Brigantine Beach.

The three day holiday we refer to as "Memorial Day weekend" started off just after the Civil War as "Decoration Day". When I was younger some people still occasionally referred to it as such. In reality, after the First World War the holiday was expanded to include a remembrance of all those combatants whom as Mr. Lincoln so famously said "gave the last full measure of devotion" and the name of the holiday was changed. In the U.S., Memorial Day weekend is considered the start of the summer season with the three day Labor Day weekend, in early September, marking the end of summer.

With daytime temps predicated to climb into the mid-nineties in Bowie, diarist-woman and I decided on spending at least part of the weekend up at the beach on the island of Brigantine.

The beach was quite crowded for so early in the season.
Dairist-woman and I had a number of spring maintenance chores to get done but we managed to sneak down to the beach and get in a walk.  Oh, just in case you're wondering, the surf temp is in the upper 60s--too cold for your diarist to think about testing the water.
It was hot for late May.  Temps were in the upper 80s at the beach and into the 90s inland.  It was quite hazy.  Almost like July or August.  You could barely see the Atlantic City sky line across Absecon inlet.  Works for me!
Ah, summer.  Compare this shot of the cut through the dune with the one from my first post last December.