Saturday, September 20, 2014
My flats boat early history re posted again!
I have no idea how it disappeared from my blog but my early history posting- story just dissapeared from this blog. Several followers emailed me to ask to share it with their friends so I emailed my daughter to assist me in reposting it. So it's back in its old time slot in June. Here are some photos to go with this story and time frame.
This is the Sea Witch ketch that I grew up on sailing from California to Florida via the Panama Canal.
We are sailing in the San Blas Islands here. The cost to transit the canal in 1976 was $14.00 !
This boat did not have a winch on her. Every thing was a block and tackle. She really loved the wind in the Carribean sea. Otherwise she was a haystack to sail.
Back then with a wood hull you were always looking to paint your bottom because of ship worms.
The tides in Panama on the Pacific were from 8-24' so this was easy. I'am mixing the paint in the dinghy.
When we were cruising the San Blas islands I talked my dad into letting me sail the islands for 10 days with only a 5 gallon water jug , my spears and some fishing line. I wanted to try and live off the land and sea. I ate a lot of coconuts, lobster, sea urchins, and fish. This little flat bottom Garvey dinghy at 9' long with a loose footed lug sail and a leeboard sailed right along and was very seaworthy with the flair that it had. It rained every night and I would just sleep on the two oars with the sail over me. I'am 17 years old here. The Cuna Indians loved seeing what I was doing.
When we arrived in Florida in 1976 I got a job at Stamas Boats. I worked there for six months and saved enough to buy a nice bycycle and go on a 3,800 mike bike trek through the Pacific Northwest for a summer. This is near the Columbia Ice Fields in Alberta Canada.
On my bike tour I got this Big horn to eat my dried apples out of my hand. I asked him if he would like to have his head on my future house wall and he said not today! I'am 18 years old here. The white things around my ankles are plastic bags that I would wear over my socks to stay warm. It snowed that night. I did this trip averaging 75 miles a day for the trip and living off a $3.00 a day budget. Oh for the good old days!
While working at Stamas boats I bought this French designed and built Corsair sloop for $750.00.
This boat which was built out of plywood I then sailed through out the Exumas and as far south as Long Island in the Bahamas and then out to Conception ,Cat island, Eleuthera,the bight of Abaco, and the east side too coming back to Florida in West palm. My next trip over she hit something at 8:00 at night 18 miles out of Key largo in the Gulf Stream and sank in 10 minutes . Because I had no dinghy I ended up swimming for 20 hours making it back to Biscayne Bay.
All my boats have been very strong since this episode.
She's sailing in George Town harbor in the Exumas in 1977 with only 12 boats at anchor in the peak of the season. At the time I was 19 years old and was having the time of my life. I have spent the my time since then trying to recapture the simplicity of that era.
After my little sloop sank I got a job at Glander Boat Works in Key Largo and built myself one of his Prudence hulls from the mold he had. Lawanda and I did most of the building in the water at Lews Marina in Islamorada.
This is a little bit of what was going on before I met Hal Chittum and got into the flats boat world.
This little sloop was a nice sailor. We did several trips to the Bahamas in her before I got into building flats skiffs. We lived aboard in what is called Little Basin in Islamorada right out front of what is now Bass Pro world Extravaganza whatever. Only 4 other sailboats then and maybe 6 guides.