Life at Rebel Marina, Norfolk, Virginia, USA

Home Wharram World Peace Four Life at Rebel Marina, Norfolk, Virginia, USA
By Anne Clement

April 3

Well, we are still at Rebel Marine here in Norfolk and the foremast is all ready to be lifted out whenever the people at the commercial yard near here are ready for us. And the details about what broke to cause our forestay to come loose are understood now.

When we launched, back in Britain in 2002, we were in an almighty rush and we hired a rigger to speed up the process because our insurance company insisted we had to be out of British waters before Sept 1 or else wait until spring to go cruising. As a result, we hired a man we did not know well. The rigger.

The Wharram design calls for a particular type of plastic coated galvanized wire rope with soft eyes that slip over the mast and are held in place by a wooden "thumb like" thing that keeps the wire from slipping down. That is an excellent and robust system that works well for our shrouds. But the particular type of roller furler we got for our jib calls for a stainless forestay wire with Norseman fitting at the top. That is also an excellent system though much more expensive and it requires some way to fix it to the mast. Our rigger selected a short length of galvanized wire inside a hose and he put it in place in a "choke" at the top of the mast held in place by two of those thumbs. It is not best practice because it bends the wire at a stress point and the rigger (who we had apparently trusted too much) selected a wire size that was just not up to the job. It was too small and the guys here at Rebel sneered when they saw the broken bits we took up to the Breezway. It might have been OK for a small dinghy sailing in the bay but was totally inadequate on an ocean going 46 foot cruising catamaran. And attaching galvanized steel wire to a stainless fitting in a marine environment accelerated corrosion of his wire too.

We should have spotted this during annual inspections, but our trust for this "expert" overwhelmed our good judgement. We are lucky it did not fail at a worse time though doing 9 knots to windward was hardly a picnic. I think the moral to this story is that it is easy to go wrong if you do not follow the plans carefully and it is also not a good idea to trust the "experts" too much.

Meanwhile, there was a party here in Rebel Marina and lots of the committee members from the Great Chesapeake Bay Schooner Race were here. They came down to look at Peace IV, scratched their heads, and wondered what to do with a hot looking catamaran amongst all those heavily built old monohulls. They refer to the oldest, and best loved schooners as "dowagers". We have wooden masts, deadeyes, gaffs, etc and we REALLY ARE a schooner, so we belong in the race and everybody wants us there, but exactly which class is the problem. Some agree with us that a multihull class needs to be developed, others want to put us with the larger monohulls, and some want a special class for racey looking craft along with a few modern schooner Freedoms designed by Gary Hood. Luckily we do not much care where they put us, and neither do they really, so long as everybody has a good time. I suspect they will have many discussions as a good excuse to drink lots of beer while mulling over the finer points and the eventual decision will be made in GST (good schooner time). The main thing is, we're in! Piero will come, Cliff and Laura will come, and Al too. Cliff and Laura are building a boat like ours. Mike in Toronto is also building a boat like ours and we may have room for him. We will try.

April 5

We have never been at a marina dock since we launched, so are not used to the dock lines creaking, people walking by, and all the social life around here. Rebel Marine is becoming Peace's spring and autumn equinox pit stop and they sure make it comfy for us too. The place is a hotbed of schooner activity and just about each day we meet the captain or crew of yet another famous schooner willing to pass along schooner wisdom. A pair of youngsters on the training ship Virginia came down to Peace to tell stories and share their plans to become traditional boat builders. Fresh faced, healthy, and boat mad kids in their young 20s, they have it all ahead of them still and we were pleased to see how well connected they are with boat building programs, sail training programs, and plenty of experience too. Then the rest of the Virginia crew came down and we were invited aboard the Virginia. Great fun.

We are amongst friends here and the center of social activity is The Breezeway Cafe. This is just a casually covered over area here at Rebel with a complete cooking facility, wood stove for heat, and tables and chairs. Folks gather to sing chanties, folk songs, tell sailing stories, and enjoy one another's company. They let us use the "port car" which is wonderfully worthless. No key is required - just turn the ignition. The doors sorta shut, the rust has not completely taken over, and nobody locks it. Why bother? We LOVE this truck which we can drive worry free. Nev has fixed a few things on it and it runs reliably. Once it was red so we call it Red Fred.

That's all for now,

Love, Ann and Nev

© Anne and Neville Clement, 2006