Friday, December 12, 2014

Going sailing tomorrow

The last few months have been very hectic here getting ready to sail south for the winter.
The Hogfish Maximus has been gone over from stem to stern. All looks well. I will be leaving in the morning sailing single handed out Ridley Head Channel heading east sailing with a forcast of NNE winds from12-23 knts . This is forcast to last for 4 days and will then start veering down to ENE for hopefully the rest of the trip south. HFM does well when hard on the wind as does my wind vane "Sinclair." Should be a one tack cruise. We'll see. I will be shooting to make landfall in Antigua with the goal of making it in time for Christmas. I'am not a fan of the western worlds idea of capitalist Christmas 
but I have lots of friends there so should be a good feed if the wind gods treat me well.
Rachel and our dog Bequia will fly down and meet me after the new year. Bequia is 11 years old and does well in day sails but 10-12 days at sea would not be fair to her.
I want to thank every one that has commented on my posts and to all the readers through out the world that seems to be reading my posts. I can see by my traffic that people from all over are reading what I have to say. Well thanks for taking the time.
It is very easy for me to answer emails so email me at ...
This is a good way to talk.
I will try and get some good photos of HFM sailing along on this trip for all the flat bottom boat followers. This IPad contraption is quite remarkable . I have not figured out yet how to get videos to play on this blog but will take a bunch and post on my facebook page when I get near the WYFY matrix again.
 So to everyone out there please enjoy your customs, beliefs, and family as the year ends.
Talk soon... See you down island

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Cariacou Sloops

When I first sailed into the Carribean Sea with my parents and sister in 1976 having transited the Panama Canal I started to encounter many indigenous built sailing craft. The first ones were the Cuna Indians sailing dugout canoes called "Ulues". This is spelt wrong but that's how it sounded. From here We sailed to Cartagena Columbia and came across large 50' dory shaped schooners that were used in the coconut trade with the Cunas. In the bay of Cartagena sailing at that time was a mirad collection of sailing dugout canoes.
From there We sailed to Florida arriving in April of 76.
Here we docked in Tarpon Springs next to an old Apalachicola centerboard schooner called the Governer Stone. Next to This one was another in great disrepair owned by an old man called Capt. Tom Annerdown. He was 90 + years old an had lived his life on the water making a living under sail only. His schooner had been his home for the past 50 years. He had made a living as a sponger, fisherman, bringing shells back from the Bahamas to sell, a conch fisherman, and just plain living off the sea. He said he had a pot slowly cooking on his wood stove that never got cold so he just added what ever came his way. A turtle would last for a month slowly cooking away. Tom was also known to have anchored his schooner next to oyster shoals in the Everglades and eat his way across them.
 From here I sailed my first real sailboat at 18 to the Bahamas. She was a plywood hard chined sloop 
18' long built in France to the JOG offshore group rule. In 1977 the Bahamas still had lots of pure wooden sailing vessels. These sloops ranged from very crudely built to just lovely. They were used for collecting and storing Conchs withmost having a live well in the middle of the boat to keep alive the fish that was caught in fish pots and hand lines. 
Years later My wife and daughter arrived in the West Indies on the first Hogfish ,my engineless centerboard yawl. These islands are full of local native built sailing vessels that suit the particular islands needs.
Four years ago I was hired to fix up a 38' sloop built on the island of Cariacou  to race in what has become an expat sport. These boats are built by hand tools on the beach in Cariacou by eye with only very basic tools . The boats are fastened with house nails. The sails are scraped from wrecked yachts or hand me downs. They sail engineless.
My job was to fix a few soft planks , repaint and get her ready for the St. Bart's regatta.
Today these sloops are sought after by wealthy expat foreniers that love to race each other in these boats. The one I worked on would not fetch a cent anywhere else in the world for how rough and leaky  it was but my client gladly paid around $50,000.00 for his. " Sweetheart" was about 35 years old with a good race record. She had a small Yanmar diesel in her as the owner used her to fish for Wahoo over the shallow offshore banks. Today there is a constant demand for new builds. These cost about $150,000.00 each with the same construction but the fastenings are bronze now.
After getting Sweetheart seaworthy I was able to sail her for a few days and day race against another new builds. These boats have a wicked weather helm on any point of sail but are fast and very sweet sailors. I believe the helm problem is caused by the rudder stock being placed to far forward.
It was good job for me,
all done in Jolly Harbor Antigua. 
Here you can see that the rudder is way to far forward. I think they just down sized old schooner lines from up north.

I could poke my finger through a lot of this hull. They rely a lot on underwater Epoxy to keep these boats afloat. 
Jolly Harbor in the back ground. No hills like this in the Bahamas!

I'am a coke addict.

Love this detail. We don need no stinkin turnbuckles !

Being chased by a new build on my way tacking up to English Harbor.

Look at that luff ! Who cares we'er still moving along well.
We give up!
Ha ! Maybe next time you might catch us.

I hope to be in Antigua by New Years this year. Waiting here in Spanish Wells for a weather window to catch a front to sail down non stop. Missed this one but will be ready for the next.

My client raced for a season , had a blast and sold Sweetheart for what he had spent .
I then built the Ian Farrier 32 AX trimaran for him.
It's in Antigua now so hope to be sailing her soon.
See you down island soon.

Saturday, December 6, 2014

One of the creatures that share our place with us.

When we bought our land here on Russell Island in North Eluethera it was all bush,fruit and natural trees. The only way to get to our place was by water and a trail. We had lots of snakes, frogs, spiders, turtles, centipedes , bat months,birds ,hermit and land crabs but no humans. It was wonderful. 
Progress has changed all that but we still have most all of these creatures clinging to our small oasis of land as we have gone to great lengths to keep our place natural and alive.
All of our neighbors hate trees and are afraid of the natural world around them so have built houses that can only be livable by using air conditioning. I call them " Aircondistionists". 
They only use their homes for about 4 -6 weeks out of the year but keep their lawns well maintained. 
I have held 3 tenets in my life . 1 - never go to Disneyland.  2- never wear a tie and 3- to never mow a lawn. I hate the idea of lawns. 
We were the first to start reclaiming this land so are part of the reality of what is now .
Look at the photos and see what is called civilization.

Our place when we started. That is a natural fresh water pond behind us with mosquito fish in it.
Starting to clear the brush out . 

Our first house going up. It's 16' x 21' 
The pond and hill side after hurricanes Gene and Frances blew over at 130 mph. This picture was taken two years after they passed over. Our little house did fine ,but not our trees.

After we built our place the locals decided to make the pond into canal lots. Took them 8 years to do this as they were not in a great rush. They cut the canal edge 18" from our property line. I like water as a neighbor.
Houses going up and still digging out the pond. The Hogfish Maximus has just arrived from the Carribean and is using our neighbors new dock to unload all our Purple Heart flooring for the house that we bought in Grenada.
Our place is the sliver of land on the canal. We call it " Tight Spot " as we have water on three sides.

Our place today.
One of the many frogs that still hang out at our place. We love them even though they poop all over our window sills at night.


Art made this year

Between sailing adventures here and about the Bahamas and working on our house this last year I have been able to carve and create a few wood sculptures. Here are some photos of things in progress and finished. 


Most of these pieces were commissions.
I'll be carving this winter when sailing about the West Indies as I have more commissions.
I hate to let these things go .... But our house on shore is so small.