Just as we were leaving Fernandina, Florida, our British friends on Meander sailed over. We had last seen them in 1993 in Madiera prior to making an Atlantic crossing in my old boat. They built their classic gaff rigged monohull and are the kind of sailors who always sail on and off their anchor and rarely use the engine. They rely on easy sail handling and we needed to learn all we could from them because we need to be able to reef and furl our own gaff rigged sails with much less effort.
When we had both boats anchored that night, I dinked over and looked closely at Meander's gaff rig and especially at the way her sails are attached to the masts. The gaffs were quite similar to ours, but Lo and Behold, Meander had olde fashioned rope mast lacings! Bob demonstrated raising and lowering sails for me and it works perfectly for them even when the boat is off the wind as she was with wind against tide on her anchor that day. They told me that they had given up on mast hoops because "the darn things kept breaking". So there is an experienced and opposite view from that of our schooner friends who hate rope lacings and recommend hoops! I learned that the particular lacing method makes the difference. Bob says they used the method detailed in John Leather's Gaff Rig book which we have and were studying earlier. They sail Meander round trip from Bahamas to Nova Scotia each year anchoring and sailing all the way, so their experience is deep. I watched them handle Meander for a couple of days and their talk matched their actions impressing us hourly. John Leather's book is now out on our galley settee and we are drawing designs on paper. This could all be so darn simple, effective, and cheap! Eventually we always learn some little trick with rope that makes the expensive modern high tech equipment look silly! We no longer plan to have fully battened mega roach sails.
We have ordered the new 66 pound spade anchor and will report on its effectiveness in detail shortly.
We are full of delicious Thanksgiving dinner entirely cooked by Bill Tait. He cooks so well, this is our third year here!
Family Good News is that my daughter has completed the classwork for her phlebotomy course with an all A average. Way to go Jessie! She is enjoying her clinical rotation and is quite good at it too. And here comes your reward Jessie... a job you like and a better standard of living for yourself and your daughter! Nothing beats the satisfaction that comes from accomplishment following hard work.
The new 66 pound spade just got set into the mud for the first time north of Cape Canaveral and it set so fast, it made us both laugh out loud. WONDERFUL! Nev dropped it, Peace reversed, and you could feel it grip the bottom with no hesitation at all. Tonight there is no moon, lots of rain, and the bad weather will continue. But we can sleep safely now.
We anchored for a short while in Titusville to do some shopping and later, for the night, here in Cocoa and the 66 pound spade continues to make us laugh when it digs in so fast and secure. I guess our old 44 pound spade was just too small because we had to tease and trick it into setting properly. But you need to allow for the fact that Peace is really two boats tied to a dock. The port and starboard hulls are tied to the huge center deck section so a large anchor is needed - whatever the experts say.
We intend to buy 200 feet of high tensile 5/16 chain for the new spade immediately. Nev is having no trouble raising and lowering the spade with our large bronze ABI manual windlass for now, but I know that I want the electric windlass for the spade eventually because I want the safety factor of TRULY being able to single hand this boat EASILY in every respect. Then we can use the ABI for the Fortress 55. However, we must research this electric windlass plan and buy the right one. Then Nev must design the proper installation so it will all work properly. So expect more details later.
Once we get the sails recut and electric windlass installed, Peace will become a true singlehander boat that even I can manage alone. I know that my love for her will increase several fold at that point. She is a big boat, and it has taken us quite a long time to figure out what to do, but now I think we are on the right track.
I am pleased that we will continue to have the gaff rig even after we recut our sails. My great grandfather was a schooner captain and it is good to know when you please the ancestors. It also pleases me that recutting these sails will not be costly. Though the cloth we used is heavy and probably part of our problem with sail handling, it is also darn near indestructable and that is a comfort in a blow.
The PCA meet here in Florida has been excellent and extremely well attended especially when you consider how many folks were unable to attend due to homes or boats being damaged in the recent hurricanes this year and last year. We had several innovative monohull designers and builders who dropped by in their boats because they knew we would be here and they were interested in maybe building a Wharram someday. A few had bought Wharram study plans in the past and kept nudging their wives sharing little eager boat building looks and we feel some may contact us again soon. Conversations, meals, laughter, and lots of "Wow!" happened all weekend as folks discovered new friends and shared ideas and contacts. Gene Perry will write his report to the PCA soon.
And George de Fabio FINALLY bought his plans for a Tiki 46 after YEARS of pondering! He brought them to the meet to discuss with us.
Last night was the wind down part of the weekend sitting out on the foredeck under the stars, and listening to the Atlantic breakers outside the lagoon. As the anchor lights came on around us, we felt the enduring magic of life at sea.
The wind will not be right to cross over to the Bahamas for several days and we must wait for our spare props to be repaired, but we still expect to be in Green Turtle, Abacos for Christmas. Peck Lake has filled up with several of our old cruising friends who knew we would be here at this time. Dinghys have been zooming back and forth and Peace has been the host for countless potlucks catching up on news and stories of lots of voyaging. We all laugh when the conversation gets around YET AGAIN to anchoring or marine toilets! But then we share little tips on clever stowage, good food for boats without refrigerators, repairs that work, and things to avoid. These gifts of shared experience from each other are our presents this Christmas.
Ann and Nev
© Anne and Neville Clement, 2005