Well, the wooden dinghy we built this spring has proven to be a complete failure. Let this be a warning to all you boat builders, get a good plan from a reliable designer and DO NOT MAKE CHANGES!!! We had put a lot of work into our dinghy, but she will go off to the consignment store and hopefully be sold to cover costs. Now we have a brand new inflatable with a bow shape that is squared off so it is easy for all of our visitors to simply step onto the ramp and climb aboard in little steps be they young or old or in between. Easy breezy except for the price!
Repairs to the radar, autohelm, and port side outboard engine were hard to take on top of the cost of the dinghy. A week later we had the huge insurance bill too, so it was nice that our friends left us rum at the last party. Good rum too, and soothing.
We had a gathering of Wharram owner/builders and 15 people showed up for the three day event. After all, if you are having a party, you may as well have a good one! They drove from Toronto, and Georgia, and points between and brought lots of food, beer, and rum. This time nobody fell in but maybe next year they will bring musical instruments and we can at least have some singing. It was fun to introduce my son and his sweetie as "Clayton and Sarah - Tiki 30" since they just bought plans and will begin building a smaller version of our boat soon.
Presently we are experiencing the tail end of hurricane Charlie so it was a good opportunity to test out my very first pair of really nice foul weather gear. Always before I have had make shift rain wear or bottom-of-the-line rubber coated misery. But a comedy of errors brought this nice suit to me from several sources. It fits and even goes together for style. I was out there in drenching rain scrubbing the deck for about half an hour this morning and stayed completely dry, warm but not sweaty, and my glasses stayed dry as well as the book in the pocket. This is a brand new experience for me. After sailing an equivalent number of miles to a circumnavigation though, I guess it is about time I got properly outfitted. If you sail, go now and get a suit of breathable foul weather gear. Maybe get the top for Christmas and bottom for your birthday? Whatever it takes, get it.
Marge Leighton has known me since I was 4 years old and she came with her niece, Judy Drinkwater, for a one week sail to Marblehead. Marge, in her 80s and post surgery, tested the new dinghy and gave it full approval for comfort and safety. Our steep ladder steps tested Marge's climbing ability though, and it was difficult for her on the first day. But she managed on her own after working out her personal method of doing things. Given time and opportunity, everybody seems well able to find a personal method to accomplish whatever they really want to do. When we built the boat we put the ladder steps on top of the stringers and just kept that spacing, but maybe it would have been better to make one more step and space all the others accordingly. Marge is a sporty lady and went out in the dinghy with Judy and me in a stiff breeze and heavy chop and laughed with each boarding wave. On the trip, we saw whales off the tip of Cape Cod, had some wonderful sailing with all sails up, and both Marge and Judy climbed all the way out on the ends of the bows for a ride with feet getting splashed in the bow waves. After she got out there, Judy told me she had been afraid of the water up until sailing with us. But she is the kind of a gal who overcame her fear of heights by climbing in the Himalayas. Marge told us about her China voyages in the air force where water was extremely limited and she gets the gold star for water conservation on Peace IV. I do not think she forgot anything from her experiences years ago. Arriving in Marblehead we welcomed her daughter, Margaret Ann ("Tootsie" when we were kids), and memories flowed. I got called "Sissy" for the first time in decades too. It was a pleasure having them all aboard and we will hope for another trip next year.
Although we are so often off sailing, our family has been gathering and strengthening ties more often even in our absence. This life of voyaging has much to recommend it, but it does take a toll on the family left behind. The time we have with friends and family is certainly precious to us and we have fond memories of picnics, week end trips, and many visits in between all during the summer.
The leaves tell me that autumn is approaching now and soon we will have to think of heading south. This year we plan to leave in October after a short plane trip to California. A gathering of Wharram owners/builders in the Chesapeake may happen in or near Oxford on the Delmarva side. If it looks likely, there will be a notice in the Polynesian Catamaran Association and Wharram web site bulletin boards.
As Woody the Woodpecker used to say at the end of the cartoons, "That's all for now, Folks!".
Love, Ann and Nev
© Anne and Neville Clement, 2004