Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Duck Punting: MOAR!

By popular demand, MRS MUMBLES went back to Plum Island Sound for some more punting!

Strapped to the roof of the car, we shot down to meet again with Dan Noyes and his idiosyncratic 12' punt, and were instead met with calamity-- Dan was dismasted at the bottom of the ramp. While he was sheeting in his dipping lug to fiddle, he wind, barreling down the river at a steady 15kts sent a higher and unanticipated gust which filled the lugsail and broke his burly spruce mastwhich in turn wrecked his mast thwart. His punt was on the hard, so it couldn't heel, applying full force to the mast and partner assembly.  

There was a moment of collective hair grabbing and talk of what the wind was going to do to my bendy POPLAR DOWEL mast and accompanying spars, and what kind of hypothermia would set in after they were chewed up and sent overboard.

The damage is done.
HOWEVER, we are burly New England sailormen, and such trivial matters such as masts, strong winds, and 33F/1C air temperatures hardly register on our annoyance scale when the sun shines as bright as it does and the water beckons. It's only going to get colder, after all. We adjusted our plans and sailed to the flats instead, to do some clamming.  MRS MUMBLES secretly loves Dan, so I offered to sail her down and he could sail her back. This way, everyone got to go sailing, and MRS MUMBLES and Dan get to do their innate sailing thing, which almost sounds obscene but it's not, it's beautiful to watch.

Also, Dan got to take some FIRST EVAR pictures of ME sailing MRS MUMBLES. (just in case we forget).

The poise as we barrel downwinds. Note bendy mast.

Here, just at this moment, I break a thole pin.
I broke two thole pins today, making it three broken in two sailing days.
I need a new solution.
Downwind, under control, and check out the forestay! Bendy POPLAR mast at it's finest.

On the flats, and Dan clamming in the distance.



One of these nifty salt pans that remain full of water, above the waterline.

Dan getting ready to go.  I add this picture to show how she sits on her lines.
Disregard wrinkled sail.  Snotter stretched a bit.

I found ICE in Dan's bilges.

Dan working MRS MUMBLES upwind and back home. She cuts a fine figure.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Duck Punting: Introducing MRS MUMBLES

AHOY! A new boat joins this blog! We have seen a Goat Island Skiff, a Quick Canoe, a Sea Pearl 21, assorted other boats from friends, and now I present FLO-MO's stitch and glue interpretation of a West Mersea Duck Punt from southeast England!

At the end of September, I got a hankering to do something a little different than the coastal open-boat cruising.  A rainy solo evening at home got me reacquainted with Dylan Winter's duck punting videos from the UK.  For the intrepid reader who DOESN'T know anything about duck punting in traditional duck punts from West Mersea, England, have a look-see over at Ye Olde YouTubes.

I strongly suggest looking at Lurch's page, as he has some phenomenal videos of duck punting with his local duck punting group. I have spent hours watching his videos to glean sailing tips.  Dylan Winter, through his famous Keep Turning Left adventure has literally wrested this small traditional duck boat from SE England and plunked it on the world stage of sailing, where it has weaseled it's way into many sailor's hearts for it's simplicity that also demands high levels of technique.

Duck Punts have no rudders, or centerboards. They are sailed by sail and weight trim, and an oar. They sail in a few inches of water, and cost little to build.

Cap'n Jon pushed me over the edge, and I built a duck punt in one month, for a few hundred dollars.
I built my punt from FLO-MO's stitch and glue adaptation of John Milgate's classic West Mersea duck punt plans.  There were a few aesthetic and construction changes, but the scantlings and dimensions are true to FLO-MO's plans.  I did not play naval architect and I wanted to ensure I kept the West Mersea shape that FLO-MO put together. John Milgate requires a strongback and 10mm plywood, I wanted mine built out of 6mm ply and without the strongback.  Primarily, this was because I wanted to car top my punt, as I live somewhat landlocked.  Meranti ply and pine came from Goose Bay Lumber, leftover epoxy, some screws, and a few cans of Rust-O-Leum.  An optimist club sail came from Intensity Sails for a swell price.

Then, I called the legendary Dan Noyes, who built a solid wood 12' Yankee reimagination of John Milgate's punt, and we went punting!

Dan Noyes with his punt on a dolly, walking down to the water.
Dan's punt is constructed of solid pine boards and oak frames.

MRS MUMBLES and Dan's Punt getting ready to launch.  Note Dan's DIPPING LUG RIG.  SALTY!

Detail of Dan's Punt

MRS MUMBLES working through the grasses to a hidden creek in Plum Island Sound

Dan follows behind, snaking through the grass

Dan and his dipping lug, which he dips.

Working up another creek

We find small irrigation ditches and follow them deep into the flats.
Notice my super cheap-o boom jaws! The entire rig is made of poplar dowels.
Not ideal, but a quick fix for quick sailing. Forestay to keep mast from wobbling too much.
A more permanent mast is in the works for this winter.

Dan in his own irrigation ditch.

Dan's ditch comes to the end of the line. From here, we will drag the boats.

A salt pan, that remains full at low-tide, above the water line, in the middle of the flats.


Time for lunch! We are pleased with this beautiful day.

Dan sailing MRS MUMBLES
After these pictures, they ran away from me

MRS MUMBLES is very fast, which is why I have lots of stern pictures from a distance,
and very few up-close action shots.
Having a fast boat is not frustrating, unless you are trying to take pictures of it.

Heading home in round-about kind of way.

Hauling out in the muddiest canal we could find in the entire state of Massachusetts.
Please join in me in welcoming MRS MUMBLES to GISAmateur Style! HUZZAH!

There is an entire gallery, including construction, that you can peruse at this link.

Thursday, October 16, 2014


AHOOOY Intrepid Readers!

Yours truly is back and with a tale of journey to tell!  Actually, SCOUT and I have TWO stories, but they will be added in installments.  The first story is a four day trek on minimal left-over foodstuffs that spanned mid-coast Maine from Belfast-Castine-Brooklin-Castine-Belfast, or as I like to call it, the BCBCBfest! It almost sounds like a famous punk-rock bar that is now closed in NYC, but not quite and probably not as cool.

Let's get this party started, right here on your favorite Amateur Style network!

Red = Sailing
Black = Iron Mizzen
Yellow = Rowing


The first day minus one day was spent with Cap'n Jon of TWO HEARTED.  He has a new transportation device, an expedition length Old Town Canoe Tripper XL, henceforth dubbed, "THE TRIPPAH." We spent an evening on the Kennebec and trippahed down to a Reny's, which is a Maine Institution, like Hamilton Marine, but less marine-y.  I needed a pair of muck boots, and I definitely found them, and for the right price (15$)!  My life afloat has dramatically changed with these boots.  Why did I wait so long? Thank you Reny's! (No joke, life changing).

BOOTS! and Cap'n Jon sprawling around.  But the BOOTS!

Characteristically late, and catching the last of the outgoing tide before it became a threat to forward progress I sailed out of Belfast Harbor with a stiff Southwesterly sea breeze coming up Penobscot Bay.  Think:  Outgoing tide, incoming wind.  Since I was in a rush, I was in t-shirt and didn't button up the center cockpit under the tonneau cover.  Woops.

Half way across Penobscot to the north end of Isleboro, I ended up stuffing the bow into the chop.  The Sea Pearl has some great design features.  The water I was shipping aboard flowed back to the aft cockpit, and drained out the stern (I thoughtfully opened the plug), and so swamping wasn't too much an issue.  The bow-stuff maneuver was a first time event for me, and SCOUT shook it off and kept marching forward.  I ended up reefing multiple times as the further I left Belfast behind the higher the wind velocity and the steeper the chop.  It got to a point where I was taking so much water I put on my dry-suit.  My heart rate was up, a tad.

I stayed very determined on the north point of Isleboro, because I knew when I cleared that, the fetch would diminish significantly and I could enjoy some calmer waters.  The goal was Castine, and I planned to throw the hook in a little harbor between the Ram Islands.

Entering the lee from Isleboro and calmer waters

Everything is soaked.  Canvas bags worked! Sleeping bag dry.

Four wraps in on the mainsail reef.

Safe harbor in Ram Island with Castine in the distance.

Something big this way comes.

Did I mention my new boots?!  Life is awesome!


Up and at 'em early I motored out of the little bay and headed down south to enter the Eggomoggin Reach.  I was somewhat something kind of planning to head to Mount Desert Isle/Acadia and sail up Somes Sound, which I hear is legendary.  However, I was flexible and was going to let chips fall as they may.  Rounding the Head of the Cape the wind picked up and I killed the Tohatsu and fired up the sails.  We had a very enjoyable sail down the Egg Reach, under the Deer Isle bridge, and down to Center Harbor/Brooklin, where we had an interesting and unexpected meet up with the good people over at OffCenterHarbor.com.  They were sailing a 7-strake Caledonia Yawl, and were a little intrigued at SCOUT and I bebopping around the coast like a bunch of worthless bums.  We spent a few minutes discussing particulars, and there is a good chance we'll see some SCOUT and me over at OffCenterHarbor.com.  I will admit I was somewhat trepidatious, as SCOUT and I aren't the most clinical of sailing types, with sails and oar and sacrilegious motors and lots of loud opinions, but as Eric piped up, they are "off" Center Harbor, after all.  I was sold.

It's really a wonderful website with lots of great videos and I highly recommend the subscription, it's kind of like WoodenBoat/SmallCraftAdvisor but online and with videos.  Cap'n Jon certainly likes his. (and that's an endorsement!)  If you're an arm-chair winter-sailor like me, this is a great hint-hint for the better half.  Just sayin'.

Sea-side cabin
Fall is coming to New England.  You can't stop it.

Deer Isle bridge.  A rite of passage for all boats.

Apologies about the blurry but this is MARTHA, E.B. White's boat.  
This is his boat.  No joke. I pass close to legend.

A little Chesapeake skiff. 

I don't know what this is (International 210)
but it looks fast, and it looks mean, and I want one.

YAY Beetle Cat! I love Beetle Cats. They saved me when I was lost.

Tom Jackson's FAR AND AWAY looking lonely under the green tarp. 
C'mon, Tom, let's go sailing!

SCOUT hiding behind Little Hog

Sunset over the Egg Reach. 
Home sweet home.  Cooking up some random rice bag found floating in the bilge and enjoying
the heat from my German lantern.  Go lantern, go!  Keep the cold and humidity at bay! 


This was day four without a shower and since OffCenterHarbor was coming my way I took a sponge bath of sorts which was cold and exhilarating and brutal all at once.  I will say, that my view from my morning constitutional was fantastic, however.

The view from The Can.
OFC and I did a little sailing and a little video and then I went off to the holey of Holies, Wooden Boat where I totally clinched my "Small Boats" collection with the supposedly LAST 2008 issue left in inventory!  YES!  Years of searching and waiting all for this very moment! Victory is mine with a capital V!  Then there was some more sailing around Center Harbor, specifically with a gorgeous Herreshoff 12 1/2 from 1928 (I may be off on the date but I'm damn close, thing was old!) and we had some great sailing together.  She was a beautiful boat and SCOUT totally cleaned her clock. That being said, sailing with a boat almost 100 years old is humbling in ways that is tough to describe, cleaning of the clock non-withstanding.  I don't have a picture of the 12 1/2, and I find this very sad.  I was enjoying the moment, and didn't get the camera out of the bilge.  A win for my memory, a loss for all your intrepid readers.  Apologies.

After some more sailing in Center Harbor I headed back to Castine for night, and ran into a dead calm.  The Tohatsu answered the call to putt-putt, and we motored almost all the way back to Ram Island.  More blasphemy? Or more cruising? I don't judge, too much.

Another perfect morning in Brooklin.
Where were you waking up?
tic toc tic toc tic toc, time waits for no man. etc. etc. etc.

Back under the Deer Isle bridge bound for Castine, under Iron Mizzen power!

Into the sun. Not enjoyable.


So back to Ram Island SCOUT and I awent, where we spent the night again.  This evening was largely burned up listening to people on a beach party, which brought to mind this post from 2012. Read the paragraph below the ferry.  My feelings haven't changed. What is with people and noise? Seriously.

After waking up, we waited for the tide to come up across the bar by Nautilus Island, and headed to Castine.  The waiting of the tide clearly illustrated the benefits of the Sea Pearl 21.  I came across Penobscot Bay in a blow and steep chop with little worry, ghosted down the Egg Reach, effortlessly motored back to Castine, and I can cross a bar in 6" of water.  That's all I need to find a snug anchorage and get to where I need to go.  Six inches of water.

I was tipped off by Cap'n Jon that Castine is home to lots of Elm trees that somehow escaped the blight.  I found this fascinating, because I grew up listening to the Olde Popster who would tell me about Elm trees that would line all the main streets and provide shade and so on, and how they have all disappeared with the Dutch Elm Disease, and how he would chase ice carriages in summer time for ice-chunks to suck on, and Ye Olde Dayes were not like today with you and your kids and your refrigerators.  And behold, Castine has Elm trees, and they are great to see, as Olde Popster said they would be.

Waking up to more dew and a paradisio anchor hole.  Good holding ground, well protected, morning sun.

All that separates me from Castine

Give me 10 minutes.

Starfish a-plenty! This one is blue.

Crossing the bar with 6" of water.  YES shallow draft!

Castine Town Dock.  Everyone stop. SCOUT has arrived.

ELM TREE and Congregational Church. Is there anything else more New England?

Another Elm Tree!

Not an Elm Tree.

Sigh, catboats.  So wonderful.  I love New England.

PRESTO? Let's face it, I love sharpies.  Is this the Presto 30?  It has 4 windows instead of 3. Not sure. Regardless, beautiful and capable.  I.Want.One. You want one! This boat also has the Australian rudder-cassette design a-la Goat Island Skiff.  Very excited I was, to see that on a large production vessel.  If anyone knows what this is, please advise.
After breakfast in Castine, I motored out of the harbor, ran out of gas, and ended up rowing most of the way to Belfast.  That was a lot to row, right across the top of Penobscot Bay.  Dead calm, and just me.  Harbor porpoises, seals, birds, and a run in with a fellow TSCA member which precipitated a mid-bay messabout.  Afterwards, a quick stop at the legendary Young's Lobster Pound, and off to the boat ramp, ending 4 days of wonderful mid-coast Maine cruising.

Rowing weather.  Jeeeezum, it's flat. 
I'm really not that excited. CCBB represent.

Mid-Bay Messabout.  That's the tip of Isleboro I was so happy to see three days prior.

HOWEVER THERE IS A DAY 5 (6)! Stay tuned! SCOUT and I got to Massachusetts land of aggressive driving, lights, noise, Berkshires, Boston, and DAN NOYES New England Dory Man!