Saturday, May 9, 2015

WOE and DUCKPUNTING (or, Dory Dan Bailing His Punt)


Intrepid Readers and Mates, ahoy. I unfortunately announce the passing of Count Gregoire de Frontenac, adventurer, philosophe, and beloved brother-in-law.  He now sails the night skies into the oblivion of which we must all follow.

He always hated this portrait

You may remember Count Gregoire from the breathlessly exciting Amateur Hour installment: BILTREK2012 (legendary) and a short follow up featuring his futuristic Ship of Tubes and Plastic Bags in Count Gregoire de Frontenac Goes On Adventure. I for one will certainly miss Count Gregoire quite deeply. And so, with him in my heart and mind, I decided to go DUCKPUNTING!  (trumpets!)

YES DUCKPUNTING! Duckpunting makes all things straight and good, and I decided what a better day to go duckpunting than the day before the memorial event! A sailing-memorial of sorts, if you will. So with Count Gregoire in heart and mind I sped down the interstate to our favorite Stereotypical New England Character, Cap'n Dory Dan! I had big plans and visions in my head of duckpunting, streaming a black pennant, putting MRS MUMBLES into distress, disorder, and discombobulation for a mourning photo op, and making a libation-ous offering to Poseidon for the safe passage of Count Gregoire across the Oceans of Tyme. (thyme?)

As I pulled into Dory Dan's homestead, I realized I forgot the black pennant.  No big deal, we can still put MRS MUMBLES into mourning and make libation-ous offerings. Dory Dan was deep in his duckpunt, fixing the broken mast step and thwart from our last punting day the autumn prior.  The air was thick with the smell of linseed oil and turps and freshly sawn pine.

It's always 1882 at Dory Dan's
Soon, we were down at the ramp and we found ourself looking at a very low river, with a very swift upcoming tide, and a stiff southerly breeze, also piping up the river.  Dan decided to row (smart) I decided to sail (cheap gratification) and after two crossings of the river I thought I had made good on the wind, but due to the current found myself right back at the boat ramp. SOoooo, I struck the rig and popped out the oars, and rowed after Dan, who now had made significant passage south downriver.

I soon passed Dan, because his plank-on-frame duckpunt had been in his hot dry shed for the past three weeks. For you non-nautical types, that means his planks were dry, and not swollen shut and so every joint was like a faucet allowing water to enter the hull. Dan was bailing his duckpunt and flipping her on her side to empty the small ocean inside. I found this quaint, then quickly realized this was going to be the theme of the day.

Dory Dan rowing into a little creek I pulled into
YAR there be water in them bilges!
Dan emptying his duckpunt. Notice the dory-built construction style of his duckpunt.
The planks overlap the stem too!
Dan was quite humored by all the bailing he had to do, but was looking for less exposed areas to row, as a boat with several pounds of water in it equals no fun. We scoped out the creek and decided to cut a large corner off our route by taking the creek and then we'd row around the next point for lunch. There was a little less current and much less wind down low below the marshbanks.

Shortcut across the marsh
We soon arrived at our lunch spot and declared it good.  However, the tide was absolutely roaring up, and the sandbar was quickly underwater, the wind was whipping, and we were continuously retreating up the banks.  I realized I was not going to be able to put MRS MUMBLES into mourning with her spars all ahoo unless I wanted to court some sort of damage or real-deal discombobulation, so instead I hastily poured a libation to Poseidon, while desperately holding on to my punt. Soon after serving the libations, we had a moment of silence, which lasted about as short of a moment as you can think, and we beat a hasty retreat up the bank.  Dory Dan left his duckpunt solidly in the water so it would "take-up a bit during lunch" because he's an eternal optimist and I'm a willing friend who will listen to such daydreams.

After lunch, Dory Dan did some more bailing.

OH Poseidon, watch after Count Gregoire with your aquatic-y goodness (Hi Neighbor!)

Duckpunt wallowing in the stream



super close-up picture of this available on request)
WELL. Now came the downwind sailing back to the boat ramp. This is where the pictures kind of come to an end, because it was all-hands-on-deck downwind duckpunt sailing at high speeds. We were hanging on with our teeth, oar clamped in our armpits, two hands to the mainsheets, and hoping for the best.  Nothing like the risk of hypothermia to really up the ante and the heart-rate. Duckpunts are fascinating creatures downwind, an adept sailor can heel the boat to windward and she will bear off the wind, or sheet in and bear up. It can even be hands-free. It works well, until the wind starts gusting to 20kts, and then you are in for a ride! But first:

More bailing.
We sailed back down the creeks we came up, often spinning out of control and hitting the banks. At one point I was gripping the boat for dear life on a full-on Nantucket Sleigh Ride, and turned back to hear a deep, primal hooting coming from Dory Dan. I fumbled the camera out as quick as I could as I watched him come roaring around the corner, bow in the air, water spilling in over his transom. We regrouped upriver to catch our breath and rest our arms.  Our muscles were killing us, duckpunting in strong breezes is full-body exercise.

Dan is just moving in this pic. I wish I had more to show of this. Incredible sailing.

Mud adorns our bows as evidence of multiple excursions from the planned routes into the marshbanks.

 As we were getting ready to push off, I dropped my painter.

I dropped my painter, with current and wind pushing MRS MUMBLES upriver and away from me at a great rate of speed.  I was marooned on a Massachusetts marsh that was quickly going to be covered in cold May ocean water. JEEPERS. And it was all my fault.

Dory Dan to the rescue! He jumped high, turned his punt around, and sailed like my life meant it in pursuit of MRS MUMBLES. He grabbed the punt with his oar, and then drifted/rowed the two boats to the marsh banks opposite me and across a large creek.  I, in full sea-boots, took off at a sprint yelling over my shoulder that I would find a crossing of the marsh creek. Now, these creeks are narrow, but deep, well over 6 feet. I could only swim across, which this time of year wasn't in the cards. So run I did, which including jumping over many smaller creeks, and falling in the mud.

Dan stopped bailing, and sailed off to catch MRS MUMBLES...
Red dashes = Me, exercising my heart and lungs, running to meet Dan and boats
Red arrow = Stranded
Green Arrow = Dory Dan with boats
Blue arrow = Point of Dawning Comprehension
After a good run across a muddy marsh in my boots, Dan rowed back over to my stranded location and picked me up. In Dory Dan fashion, he chuckled, "I was yellin' to you that the creek goes for a mile you're never going to cross it." (Picture a Huck Finn type of character admonishing some adult, but in New England). Back at the boats, we headed downwind following the creek and worked our way back to the boat ramp. We absolutely flew down the creek, working upriver.  The water was very smooth, and I did the balancing/heeling/sheeting steering technique thing, and it was wild and wooly and wonderful.  A few times the boat snapped in one direction or another and I had to scramble to keep her from capsizing, but we made it to the end of the creek in an explosion of hooting and hollering. Exhilarating! This was really high-class sailing.

My hero, Dan.

Bailing. Again. More bailing.

And we're off for home! Coming down the creek

Surf Cruisng!


Dory Dan inbound to the boat ramp. Yeah!

Just missing MRS MUMBLES

ASHORE! NO HYPO! I deem this day a success! 
Today was a fitting tribute to Count Gregoire de Frontenac. I didn't stream a black pennant. I didn't put MRS MUMBLES into a state of mourning and distress with her rig all ahoo. Honestly, most of the day was pandemonium so we certainly found ourselves in a distressed state by our own bumblings.  Dory Dan certainly contributed to the distress with his sailing-colander that he calls a duckpunt. At least Poseidon got his own, and MRS MUMBLES and I went duckpunting, and Dory Dan and I got to sail together and talk about Count Gregoire and others that have passed before us.

WE HAD FUN, and that honors Count Gregoire more than anything else we could have done.

Stay healthy, Intrepid Readers and thank you for reading.

Fair winds, friend and brother.

Monday, April 6, 2015

Where is IAZ,P now? Update from NYC!

Oh boy Intrepid Readers- welcome to a very special installment of GISAmateur Style where we have asked Cap'n Patrick Danger-Danger on an update and his version of events on acquiring and sailing The Most Famous Goat Island Skiff in the World-- IAZ,P. He has gladly obliged, and without further ado I present to you....

IAZ,P Moves to Brooklyn... NYC That Is

Oh man, where to begin!!?!? So I made up my mind to build a dang boat finally. Even decided what type: The famed Goat Island Skiff of story and song. I had begun to cast about for some decent building space. New York City is not a great place to seek shop space for a labor of love like a small sailboat, so my search was fruitless and plagued with daydreams of tents in the mother-in-laws yard or a temporary shop in a storefront in a rundown neighborhood...

Anybody got a shop I can borry part time for like the next 2 years or so? While I figure out how to build this boat as I build it...?

Well I am not a big fan of "The Universe Will Provide" but the way things go some times what else is there to say? You make your luck. So I hooked up with DaveL. who had recently completed his GIS and was looking for crew for BIG ADVENTURE TIME. I thought "well here's an opportunity to have a sail or two in my chosen vessel" kind of a try before you buy kinda thing. Suffice to say, I ended up aboard GIS "Chivita" bound for adventure on the Long Island Sound and most epic of all in NY Harbor!!?!

Pic from H. LaFontaine

 in very close proximity to Lady Liberty and all her attendant craft big and small. Amazing and wonderful to say the least. Cap'n Dave at the helm ( I got some too!) and we sailed to and fro near Liberty Island and then made our way up the Hudson to visit the Entrepid on Mahattan's west side. What a day! This day became more sailing and aboard Dave's brother's yacht Flor D'Luna, a fine and comfortable Beneteau Oceanis 34'.

Transit from Liberty Landing marina to her home port in Glen Cove at Brewer Yacht Yard was in the offing:

Brooklyn Manhattan and Williamsburg Bridges with deckshark.

Through the East River and Hell Gate out into the Long Island Sound... A sailing weekend that started at a public ramp in New Jersey aboard a tiny yet beautiful hand crafted wooden dinghy (GIS Chivita) and ended with a cool beverage aboard a swanky modern yacht (SV Flor D'Luna) Whoa! how did that happen??!! You make yer luck.

So the Summertime rolled and I got to go aboard Flor D'Luna a coupla more times, all the while dreaming of my GIS in waiting and my magical NYC Storefront boatyard...

Come the winter and Cap'n Rick of the good ship Flor D' Luna made it known that he would be entering the lady Flor in the Around Long Island Regatta. For those ignorants, (few and far between of course) this regatta starts in the Atlantic Ocean off Rockaway Beach, Queens NY, heading East, leaves Montauk Light to port and finishes some time later in Glen Cove Long Island, Home port of the Seacliff Yacht Club, Regatta Sponsor, and Flor's home slip as well. Would I crew? Heck yeah! Sailing day and night? Excellent! Multiple days aboard Flor D'Luna? COOOOL!!! You make yer luck. Planning commenced and soon the crew manifest was full: a salty bunch of fools the lot! Ideas and Questions and Charts and What Goes Where and EPIRB and Harness etc. etc.and all the while looking at pictures and videos of various Goats, and the one in particular that is I Am Zinea, Pteradactylus. You know the one:

No question that Callsign has truly captured the essence of something very intense and special with his builder and sailor blog about boaty exploits along the rugged and spectacular Maine coast. At least since somewhere within 2012 I had been ogling the scenery and the sailing within GIS Amateur Style: this is exactly what I envisioned I just didn't know it till I saw it here:

Spring begins to crack open a bit in 2014, and I get a message from DaveL amongst the planning and dreaming and ogling... Callsign is selling his boat! IAZ,P is in need of a new skipper as Sea Pearl Scout becomes the Adventure Realization Engine Callsign needs to fulfill further Adventure Realizing! IAZ,P is for sale!!!!???!?! Hurriedly, breathlessly, I send an email and I join a woodenboat forum. Hey Dude! I want that boat!!! Emails are exchanged and a plan begins to formulate: we will meet to look over the boat, but where? Well, it turns out that about halfway between us is a little town in Connecticut where Callsign's ancestral manse is located, complete with ancestors (very charming folk indeed) white picket fences, a town dock, you get the picture. Very Boaty.

When I arrive IAZ,P is on a trailer behind Callsign's car. After lunch and a chat with the parental units, we look her over and turn her over and "'s this ding and that scuff..." "...rig this tie that..." and like that. Stashed her bottoms up in the grass in front of the house keeping company with a slightly sagging Aquarius relaxing into her trailer bunks.  I am bursting with amazement at my luck. Imma buy this boat from this guy!  Came time to fork over the cash so I did. What came next? Well, Callsign gave me back some of my cash and handed over a really nice bottle of rum. The good stuff! What a Prince this fellow is! A real reverse haggler. What you might call potlatch I guess in the give better than you get vein. Afterwards, a stroll to the waterfront, a coffee, and good conversation about sailing, water, life, current and tide... y'know, the important stuff. We agreed that I would retrieve the boat from the parental yard within some small space of time, (Thanks Mama Callsign!)

Well now what? I bought a boat with no place to put her!!??

Of course I had some ideas and possibilities, and certainly there are yards and marinas and mother in laws... all storage potentials (some more dubious than others) and none quite right for a fine craft such as Ms. Zinea.

Well, I go to the internet one day (as we do) searchword "small boat storage NYC" or some stupidness like that and there on the glowing screen is the website of the Sebago Canoe Club. Cool. I went down to Canarsie, Which is on Jamaica Bay in South Brooklyn to check out the facilities. I met up with JimL and Beth E. and signed up for Conditional membership. Huh. That was easy. "Yeah bring the boat on down, we'll find a place over there for her. Buy yourself a dolly." Which I did. The Brothers LaFontaine and Cap'n Paulie, (Skipper of GIS Kathleen Marie) volunteered to help load and transport IAZ,P, and get this: we cartopped her from Connecticut to Canarsie on a Saturday in late May. Full on Beverly Hillbillies action.

Hilarious and wonderful. Cap'n Paulie saw us safely down I95 til we got to his exit and sent us on our way with some positive words about the state of our tied down to the roof of the ManVan boat. JimL was at the Club when we arrived and helped us get IAZ,P off the car and onto her dolly and ensconced in the yard.

Relaxing after a rinse.

From that point on, IAZ,P has plied the waters of Paerdegat Basin and Jamaica Bay with interest and abandon, beaching for lunch, running aground, dodging jet skis and fishing boats, sailing with her buds, capsizing a coupla times intentionally and not so intentionally, and teaching me volumes about sailing and my own self in the process. So great to spend the summer on the water with my family and new friends at Sebago.

Jake the Snake gets his wade on...

Crabulator Crabulon with Mouse in the background.

 Matinicus Peapod Mouse, handcrafted by JimL. 
IAZ,P's new homie.

Lunch on the beach with the gang.

In time I crewed on Flor D'luna in the Around Long Island Regatta,

Gustavo at the helm, Such a badass. Great and willing cook.

and DaveL instigated a GIS meetup in the finger lakes at Cuyuga Lake in Central New York State. We cartopped IAZ,P there and back, again on the ManVan, and it seems she doesn't mind the upside down time rolling at 60 knots, or at least she ain't complaining...

Pic from A. Cohen
IAZ,P, Kathleen Marie, Chivita.

ManVan with IAZ,P uptop and GIS Chivita trailing aft.

What it all comes down to is this: I thought I was buying a boat and I bought a whole new lease on life. Sailing I Am Zinea, Pteradactylus has saved my life. I can be a happier, nicer, more rested, and slightly more reasonable human. At times I even move through the world with more purpose. This little boat brings everything into focus. The immediacy and presence of being on the water sailing carries over in many small ways to the rest of my time on this earth, and I am ready to get on the water as much as I can. It's almost been a year now and it's always time to go sailing.

pic from JimL

 And did I mention, We're building a boat? You make your luck.

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Woodsy Skiing, Off Center Harbor, Tom Pamperin

Well it's been a while, Intrepid Readers, and I think it's high time to discuss a small variety of issues that have accumulated over the winter.  There is a fair share of some shameless promotion, but it is all worthy, methinks.

So, let's get this out of the way right now:  I LOVE WINTER.  I LOVE SNOW.  I LOVE COLD.  I LOVE NORDIC SKIING. This has been a GREAT WINTER!

This winter I started delving into the ancient and wonderful art of pine-tarring, waxing, and using WOOD skis.  They ski as woodie as you can imagine: They are smooth and quiet, fast and classic. I have two pairs, and am looking for a particular third, with plans to maybe make my own pair this summer.  Lots of fun potential, here, I strongly recommend (duh) which is run by the ever passionate Greg in MN who is keeping unique traditions alive, something that we here at GISAmateur can keenly appreciate.  Wood and traditional boats, wood skis, making life difficult for ourselves, stinking up the house with ancient concoctions, etc. "It smells hectic down here!" My brother yelled from the top of the basement stairs as a lit the pine tire on fire...

Obviously, it is very important to look classically classy while in the deep woods all by yourself:

My lovely, wonderful, amazing, sumptuous Madshus touring skis from the late 1960s

Pushing the Madshus around
Smoooooth as butter
Lovely Wife and I went to Acadia National Park and did some skiing there.  I have never skied next to an ocean before, and I highly recommend it! It was certainly neat to look out onto the same water I sail in the summer but under the dim broken light of midwinter, swept with snow squalls and now a hypothermic menace. If you ever want to have an entire National Park at your disposal without the summer madness, I highly recommend this time of year for a visit to Acadia.  Weather prevented summiting the higher mountains (40kts+ wind and blowing snow), but we had a great time low off the ridges down on the historic carriage and shore roads.

#2: Back to SAILING!

In other news, some of you may have noticed that Sea Pearl SCOUT and I have been on a somewhat heavy cinematic rotation.  The Intrepid Readers will remember BCBCBFest, where we had a fortuitous meeting with the dynamic and cutting-edge guys over at OFF CENTER HARBOR which have amassed a more-than-impressive collection of videos that detail everything from building a Caledonia Yawl step-by-step to the meditative aspects of small boats sailing on lakes.  There is truly something at this website for everyone, the videos are well done, highly informative, and feature heavy-hitting-legendary narrators, such as ***Doug Hylan, Maynard Bray, Harry Bryan***...! This is not an amateurish effort (unlike...well...) and if you subscribe to any magazine on sailing, boating, wood boats, etc., this would be a perfect addition to your library.


Hamilton Marine sent out a recent email with the SCOUT video here... please watch our greatness (and then come join me for some sailing in Maine!) and after I whet your appetite, sign up at OCH if you are thinking about it for yourself, or a friend.


Tom Pamperin, skipper of JAGULAR the legendary Bolger Pirate Racer which has been festooning obscure small boat websites for many years has published a uniquely humorous book on their dynamic adventures in "Jagular Goes Everywhere: MisAdventures in a $300 Boat." I have a copy, and you should have a copy too.  If you are reading this blog, chances are you have built a 3-digit boat, want to build a boat, or have happily descended the path of small boat madness, lost all your friends, and are now living in semi-permanent status in some frigid garage arguing with recalcitrant epoxy while your coffee goes cold... again. I send you greetings you hapless hermit for YOU ARE NOT ALONE in a cold brutal world which does not understand this particular madness! YOU HAVE FRIENDS! Friends like Captain Callsign and Cap'n Jon, and Dan Noyes, and Tom Pamperin--who has never sailed with the three of us but who is of the same mind-- I know because I read his book!  Your bathroom is warmer than the garage, and this book will keep you good company for those quiet times.

Let's talk 3 digit boats. Build a Duck Punt for crying out loud.  Especially if you are in northeast MA, NH, or southern ME. Maybe we can get a racing series or something like that going on.

I know, I know, repeat picture but I so love MRS MUMBLES and she loves ME

My favorite wood-buying-place is Goose Bay Lumber in Chichester, NH.  Lie Nielsen had an event there recently, and I did not go, but I am sad about that, but this somewhat famous spoon carving fellow put up a very nice blog post about the event, and I share it here so you can see where I buy the wood for my projects and my boats.  Carl and Carl Jr. and team are very helpful and there is a wonderful variety of neat-O woods, and they have great marine plywood selection!

To hold you over until next time: Check out this great pic of SCOUT sailing Muscongus Bay last summer, taken by Green Mountain John of WAXWING fame!

I think that is all I have for now for you, you funny Intrepid Reader types who just keep coming back for more! You're all great!