Friday, July 13, 2018

What I did on my summer vaca: Part One

The last two weeks of June were busy-busy for your old diarist.  First a Classic Moth regatta to prepare for (both as a competitor and as an organizer).  After that there were new sails to pick up in New London, Connecticut, plus a Moth to pick up.  These two errands coincided with the annual wooden boat show at the Mystic Seaport Museum.  I'll being with the 27th annual Brigantine YC Moth Boat Regatta.

Photos are in short supply for this event as one of my usual photographers was busy studying for a test and her mother was busy preparing lunch for Moth Regatta competitors.  But you've seen most of the boats already.

Ten boats showed up to race.  Three in the Gen II division and seven in Gen I.  No vintage Moths raced this time.

We planned for the first signal to sound at 10:30am. But the bay still looked v. glassy at that point.

So we postponed for a half hour's time and mostly sat around on the porch.

Limp sails

More of the same.

Finally, around 11am, the sea breeze started rustling.

And that's about it for photo documentation of this event.  After the first race in light conditions, the sea breeze did fill in as promised, and with enough strength to cause one rig collapse and one goose neck failure.  So, all in all, a good regatta.
Well, I do have this shot of the Gen II winner, Joe Bousquet, holding the perpetual trophy.  Note to self: next year avoid having the windows of the new clubhouse behind the peeps in the pix.
My son Erik won the Gen I award.  I tied for 2nd but lost on the tie breaker.  That's show business. 
After the regatta diaristfamily relaxed for a few days, then diaristson and daughter returned to work and school.  Diaristwoman and I prepared for the next event in our vacation: driving up to Connecticut to (a). pick up an old Harry Cates-built Moth which had been offered to me, (b). go to Mystic Seaport and take in the exhibit of rare Viking era artifacts which were on loan from Uppsala, (c). go to the wooden boat show, also at Mystic, the next day and finally, (d). pick up our new sails from Kevin Farrar in New London.  Lots of moving parts.

We'll start off with that Cates-built, Cates-designed Moth Boat.

 A period photo of Sandy Renna sailing Renegade, Nr 1999 at his home waters, Spray BeachYC.
Sandy and his younger sister at the yacht club docks.  Renegade is a word play based on his surname.   These two photos date to the late 1950s or early 1960s
 Sandy received the boat as a Christmas gift from his parents in 1958.  They purchased the boat directly from Harry Cates.  Sandy sailed the boat for the next several years with both local club and major regatta success.  He graduated high school in 1962 and due to working that summer didn't get back into the boat until late in the racing season.  Never the less he was able to win the Junior division of the North America Championship, held that year at Ocean City YC.  When Sandy went off to college, his parents decided to sell the beach house in Spray Beach.  The sale included the furniture and contents of the garage--including Renegade.  Sandy didn't like it but that was his parent's decision.

Scroll forward a few years.  Sandy, now finished with his education decided to go back to Spray Beach and take a look at the old family stomping grounds.  As he drove by his former summer home he saw his old boat in the driveway!  After stopping and talking with the current owner he discovered two things: (1). the boat was still more or less intact, missing only the standing rigging which the current owner pirated off the mast to fix a broken garage door lifting wire, and (2). the current owner was getting ready to donate the boat to a local open air museum.  Sandy and the owner quickly came to terms and the boat returned to her first owner.  Sandy moved the boat to his home in Massachusetts and contacted me asking questions about various repair issues.  This was perhaps 20 years ago.  Since then I had often wondered if Sandy had gotten the boat sailing again but hadn't heard from him until this spring when he told me he wanted to move his old friend on to someone who would actually fix the boat and get her sailing again.  I agreed to take the project on.  Since I was coming up to pick up sails and also attend the Wooden Boat show at the Mystic Seaport Museum we agreed to meet at one of the Museum's big parking lots.

The boat had been stripped of her varnish and since the weather forecast seemed iffy, Sandy decided to wrap the boat in plastic sheeting.
After a bit of back and forth cell phone calling we found one another.  We moved the hull from Sandy's Honda to my Volvo without incident.

The boat came with her original spars, blades and sails.

Along with the major parts of the boat, Sandy gave me a small zip lock bag containing many of the hand made, boat specific hardware items such as chain plates, splash board brackets, and so on that hark back to a time when "off the shelf" items for small racing dinghies were not readily available.  In the late 1950s companies such as Race-Lite and Rolledge were just in their infancy and companies such as Harken and Rodstan didn't exist.  A wonderful find in the bottom of the bag was Harry Cates' little black builder's tag.  With the boat transfer complete we went into the Museum to check out the Viking artifact exhibition.  I'll talk about that in the next post.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018


This past weekend I sold one of my Moths that needed a full rehab and I hadn't gotten around to doing that.  The buyer had owned a boat just like the one I had so I sold him back his childhood.  He left a happy man.  While I was waiting for him to arrive I took one last detailed look at the old dear and rediscovered a small decal just forward of the cockpit:

"WATERPROOF WELDWOOD".  Weldwood was an early trade name of the United States Plywood Corporation for it's marine grade plywood.  How that decal has survived almost 70 years of sanding, re-varnishing and benign neglect is mind boggling.  But never the less, there it is.  A tiny bit of the forgotten history of waterproof plywood.  This boat was proudly built from a quality material and its manufacturer clearly wanted people to know. 

Tuesday, May 29, 2018

Another New Mistral hits the water

Back in March of 2014 UK sailor Dominic Bowns contacted me about Mistral plans.  Earlier this week he sent me photos of the completed boat.  Dominic's rate of progress makes John Z. seem speedy.  The first two photos are courtesy of Dominic.  The last three are ones I found on the International Moth FB page.  Looks like she was worth the wait.  Dominic indicates that now his business partner wants one...

Monday, April 16, 2018

Moth Sailboat Fleet, Stone Harbor (1952)

Here is a facsimile  of an old post card which I bid on but failed to win from a well known on-line auction site.  This photograph, showing the up-wind leg of a race at the Stone Harbor YC, reinforces my assertion that most so-called development classes boil down to a series of very similar boats for a given era and venue.  In this picture 100% of the boats close enough to be clearly identified are those built by the old Ventnor Boat Works from roughly 1940 up to about when this exposure was made.   The only differences seen among these Moths are those of the two slightly different Ventnor designs-- early Ventnor Moths, produced prior to (and a very few during) WW II, had transom bows while post war Ventnors featured a redesigned "bull nose" bow.  A very few pre-war boats also sported canvas fore decks in an attempt to reduce weight.

If I were to substitute this picture taken in 1952 with one from 1962, most of the boats would be of the Cates Florida design. In 1972 the majority of the boats would be narrow water line designs such as the Duflos and the Mistral.  The top dogs of the fleet tend buy the latest equipment and the rest follow along in a herd mentality sort of way.   For the most part, "development" staggers along at a generational pace with occasional "break through" designs and occasional flops.  This is a good thing--no one wants their new boat to be totally obsolete within a few months.

 Checking the surviving Moth Class records from this era I found it interesting that none of the boats with sail numbers close enough to the camera to be read are from Stone Harbor YC!

Nr 742 Black Beury, sailed by Harry Beury, Margate City YC
Nr 659 Name unknown sailed by A. McGee, Margate City YC
Nr 686 Champ sailed by Bob McGurk, Margate City YC
Nr 752 Nutshell sailed by Bill Maguire Ocean City YC
Nr 642 Circe sailed by John Elfman Margate City YC
Nr 640 Black Cloud sailed by Henry Hood Ocean City YC

Perhaps the boats in the lead are Stone Harbor boats, making full use of local knowledge!

Wednesday, March 21, 2018

Sail Ho!

Last month's result at the Mid-Winter regatta lead me to the notion that it's probably time for a new sail.  Erik did OK with the fresher of our two old Dan Winters sails but with a new rag he might have been more competitive against boats which were sporting new sails from the St. Pete North loft.  Sadly, we couldn't order new sails from Dan as he and his son Brett had decided to close shop.  After learning that, I emailed the North Loft in question but after an initial reply with prices the guy at that sail loft lapsed into radio silence when I asked  him about the various options (loose foot vs bolt rope foot; full length battens vs the more normally seen short battens, cloth selection, panel layout etc.).  After not hearing back from the guy I decided if he couldn't or didn't want to invest the time educating and talking me through the various choices, then I'd better find a sail maker who could and would. The price of two new sails might be chump change to some folks but it's significant dollars to me and my son.

So, I talked to another sailing friend who used to sail Moths with us and he recommended Kevin Farrar who has a loft up in New London, Connecticut.  Kevin quickly replied to my questions and said he'd be willing to build a pair of sails for us.  I send him the deposit and made an appointment for a mast deflection session up at his loft.  I brought three masts with the idea that we'd build sails with luff rounds suited to the two stiffest sticks.  One of the bonuses of working with Kevin is that he is a past U. S. Europe Class measurer and so he's very familiar with the boats and their sails.

Nr 6 Union Street

How Farr Under?  I'm gonna find out.

That ain't mashed potatoes on the pavement.  Yep, they still had a bit of snow here and there last weekend.  I'm sure that they're getting more today since we, six hours south in Maryland, are getting a big "Spring" dump this morning.

I left the house at 5 am and arrived in New London at 11:30.  We quickly got the mast bend data, picked two masts, and then Kevin showed me around the loft.  The first floor area where we set up the masts for bend curve data was the area which Kevin used to build his GP-26--a four year project.  Sail building occurs on the second floor of the "Monte Cristo" Building.  There is a Monte Cristo cottage in New London which was the boyhood summer home of the playwright Eugene O'Neill.  I wonder if Eugene needed a garage building as well?

The arched second story windows of the Monte Cristo building mark the sail loft of Farrar Sails

Hopefully we'll have two new competitive sails in time for our next regatta in June.  Will a new sail help me claw my way back up on the podium?  Can't say, but it can't hurt.

Friday, March 9, 2018

2018 Gulfport Mid-Winter Regatta Photos

2018 marked the twentieth time Classic Moth Boats have raced in (mostly) sunny Florida at some point during the winter months.  We first started in 1998 with the "Meet in St. Pete".  These early regattas were conducted out of the St. Pete Yacht Club's small boat sailing center near the Whitted Airport.  After a few years the event moved to the Davis Island YC and then after a couple years to Gulfport.  The Gulfport YC has been our host ever since and the club has proven to be a good and enduring fit for Classic Moths.  What follows is a collection of photos, mostly taken by either Lennie Parker or Amy Linton of this year's action.

First off we now, thanks to Walt Collins, have a perpetual trophy to help us remember who actually won this event.  Fellow CMBA member John Pugh remounted Walt's donated trophy onto the backboard seen here.  The trophy now hangs in the GYC clubhouse.

This poor old SAAB model 96 has been bleaching her bones above the junkyard of the Guide Metal Recycling, Inc. property, outside of the town of Starke, FL for at least the 20 years I've been coming down route 301on my way to St. Pete. Too bad she's a later V/4 model.  If she'd have been the earlier 3 cylinder two-stroke version I would have no doubt stopped and tried to buy her freedom.  Still she serves as a landmark that tells us were getting close to the end of our long slog down from Maryland.

This year we had fourteen boats turn up for the regatta.  Four in Gen II and the rest in Gen I.  All of the Gen I boats were either converted Europe dinghies or scratch built boats using the Europe lines as a starting point.  Similarly, all of the Gen II boats were either Mistrals or based on the Mistral design.

Our cast of characters:  Gen II skippers
Jeff Linton.  Dig the groovy turquoise club house in the background.
John Zseleczky
Mike Parsons
Mark Saunders
Our on the water support team:

Mark boat man of the year and photographer Lennie Parker.
Amy Smith Linton--Mark boat skipper extraordinaire.
GYC Commodore and our PRO Mike Kasper (blue shirt).  Mike is my representative for all of the other hard working members of the RC of whom I don't have pix.  Well done as always!  I hope he shares the rum Amy gives him every year!

Gen I skippers; The Charleston gang:

Tom Kapp
Woody Kapp
Frickie Martschink
Lewis Hay
Rutledge Young

The lone representative from North Carolina

Greg Duncan
From Jacksonville, FL:

Gary Van Tassel--Gary is sailing Anna Tunnicliffe's former Europe.  He introduced this sexy laminate sail to the mix.
Rounding out the Gen I fleet were the Maryland guys:
Bill Boyle from Kent Island.  Bill has built two cedar strip Moths based on the Europe design.  This was his first trip to Gulfport.  We're hoping that he returns next year with his son Shane and the second boat.
Erik Albaugh--my sonny boy.  He sailed my glass Winner Europe while I sailed a woodie Euro that is still a work in progress.
Finally, the old diarist himself mugs for the camera.
John Z in his beautiful Mistral.
Erik holding his own (at least up wind).  During one of the last races on Sunday there was enough wind that Gary and Erik beat all the Gen II boats to the weather mark--I think this has only happened one other time.
Lewis Hay killed us this year with massive boat speed.
A bit of Gen II drama at the mark.
Frickie was also able to push his Euro up among the faster Gen II division.
Mark Saunders in Spyder.
Jeff shows off the bottom of Mousetrap.
Obligatory father-son photo.  If I could just steal a bit more of his air...
Bill Boyle
Mike Parsons
Jeff v Mike during an upwind leg.
Erik and Frickie going hammer and tongs.
Milling around prior to a start
Gen II boats off wind.
Erik rounds ahead of the mob.
The mob.
I like the "see-thru" aspect of Gary's sail.  I wonder how responsive it is to sail shape control tweaks?
At least the boat's pretty.

Rutledge likes to face aft when tacking--very trad!
Jeff going to weather.
In between races Mr. Linton came over to the mark boat for some "electrolites". 
Well, one does need to stay hydrated.
A comparison between my cold molded Galetti and
Bill's cedar stripper
One of the starts.  Looks like I had a clean air lane at least for the moment.
A few seconds later and I was swallowed up.
Another look at Gary's sail.
Erik on my rear bumper just after a mark rounding.
Winds were out of the SE to SW at 10 to 12 with gusts in mid-teens.  Perfect breeze for these boats.  There was a fair  bit of chop however as demonstrated here.  Bill initially had good boat speed but dropped back as the day wore on.  When we got back to the beach we discovered he had a bow full of water!  He'll need to do a soap bubble test after returning home to figure out where the leak is.

Greg is the only one to retain full length battens.  John Z. tried them but didn't like having to crack the whip on light air days and so he removed them from his sail and installed regular length batten pockets.

Woody rounds the mark.  I think I owned this boat at one point. 

At the end of the regatta, Jeff Linton was the overall top dog and thus will be the first name on the new trophy.  Lewis Hay dominated the Gen I fleet.  Do to pressing business back home he and Frickie didn't sail the last two races and they still came in first and second.  Erik had a good regatta and rounded off the podium.  I finished down the list but that's show business.