Master Mariners Wooden Boat Show

We love boat shows and especially wooden boat shows but lately we have had busy times and I have been very…immobile due to ankle surgery, casts and whatnot since mid-April. Boring times it’s been. I am still on the mend but able to get out and around using something called a knee scooter. Yes, it’s pretty much what it sounds like–a scooter for your knee to rest on while you go about your activities. It’s too big for the boat–so are crutches for that matter–but works well for everything once I’m off the boat. Exactly the sort of strange looking contraption that you think you’d never be seen dead near much less using. Ah, until you’re in a situation of being a bump on a log or regaining your mobility using it! I now think it’s downright beautiful. David and I had a great weekend–last weekend–that included attending the Master Mariners Benevolent Association Wooden Boat Show.

Here are a few photos of the day.

One of the best things about visiting a boat show is seeing details of construction or the ways various boaters have dealt with similar equipment and issues to those you have.  Here is a Fortress style anchor on nice wood chocks atop the cabin of Encore, a Concordia yawl owned by Bert Damner. It was great to learn that Bert, like me, loves varnishing and, like me, hates sanding prep to varnish. anchor chocks on a Concordia Yawl

When we visit a boat show, we also often see boats that remind us of one we considered buying or almost bought.  At this show, we saw the Rhodes Design No. 398, SV Nike, a 37′ cutter rigged boat built in Maine in 1937.  She was very similar to a Rhodes cutter we once considered purchasing in Maryland.

Rhodes cutter SV Nike

A really nice thing about going to the wooden boat show at the Corinthian Yacht Club is the view of the San Francisco Bay is spectacular. Across the water in the distance is the San Francisco skyline. From the yacht club we can see boats sailing the bay, the ferry and Angel Island. It was a warm and windy day — perfect for Bay sailing, too. Spaulding Marine Center’s Freda in the foreground of this photo. There is a lovely video and photos about her restoration on the Center’s website.

Freda and the view of San Francisco Bay

I suppose the boring isolation aboard Mahdee for a couple months really has made me much more appreciative of any of the sights and sounds away from the boat. No matter the reason, I really enjoyed the boat show. The day was festive, a New Orleans-style ragtime jazz band playing on the club deck with tunes familiar to David and I. Our listening began with a series of Rags skillfully performed and as we were leaving, the clarinet led the Whining Boy and I couldn’t help myself from singing along quietly and hearing the voice of David’s godfather, Frank Gillis, singing it as he often did. The music wafted over the air mixing with the other sounds of the day perfectly. The boats were fully adorned with private signals, flags, festive ship’s dress, and burgees representing participation in various classic boat regattas. The wind cheerfully whipped the colors in a really delightful way.

Flags and Burgees

Besides burgees and signals and flags, sometimes there are a few people that you meet at a wooden boat festival who mange to epitomize the event. During the Master Mariners Wooden Boat Show this year at the Corinthian Yacht Club, that person would have to be Shelly Willard. I didn’t know Shelly before the event, but I happened to see her standing alongside one of the boats in a navy blue lace sundress complete with the perfect straw hat and nautically-themed ribbon on the hat with a big bow and long ribbons streaming down her back. Perfect. I snapped the picture below of Shelly while she was visiting one of the boats. I then learned that she is an active member of the Corinthian Yacht Club, involved with their Education and Speaker Series, and is a total wooden boat devotee who is spending a good bit of time later this summer visiting Maine, a Mecca of wooden boats.

Shelly Willard Corinthian Yacht Club

We saw boats big and small throughout the show. Most were in the 30-some-foot range but we even saw a cute little 10′ tender originally built by the Stone Boat Yard. It is the sort of tender that would have been provided to an owner of one of the big yachts built by the famous Alameda-based boat yard. The tender at the show was restored by Bill and Grace Bodle, former owners of the Stone Boat Yard and who now own and operate the Sugar Dock in Richmond.

Tender built at Stone Boatyard and restored by Bill and Grace Bodle

Another small boat that was on display, Roy Fox, a cat-rigged ketch, had the cutest little interior. A footwell of a seating space with wood stove, a v-berth, and a single burner galley co-existed happily inside. This was a boat with a place for everything and everything in its place.

Roy Fox

Roy Fox

Tiny Galley

Roy Fox tiny saloon with wood burning stove

Mahdee in Print–again!

We’re happy. Even little Musk Ox is smiling bigger than usual. You know we’ve told you that Mahdee was the talk of the day back when she was built in 1931–articles in Yachting and so forth. She also was honored by Roger Taylor in his first book of Good Boats in the late 1970’s. Now we’re very happy to see her in good company of other fine American schooners in Bjorn Rudolph Arp’s book Great American Schooner Yachts LINK

Here’s the description of the book:
The schooner yacht was developed in the United States, though very little has been written about them in this country — until now. In this in-depth look at some of the great American schooner yachts, the author uses both the original plans and drawings and current and past images to discuss their construction and history. Not only are the schooners featured in all their glory, but there is also detailed information about the designers of these boats and their contributions to the trade. See William Burgess’s efficient beauty with the Rose of Sharon, Cox & Stevens’s large steel-hulled cruising yacht the Deva, and Samuel Crocker’s innovation and tradition with the Mahdee. This worldwide overview of the greatest sailing yachts ever built will be a wonderful resource for designers of these vessels, historians, and shipping enthusiasts.

Skipping up the Coast

David looking at charts

After lazing about for the day and watching the big surf hit shores at San Simeon, at 6 pm on Saturday afternoon, we set out up the coast to pass Point Sur in the night.  On our trip down the coast last fall, we had a rolling sled ride down past Point Sur with high winds over 20 kts, short and steep waves, and overall conditions that I’d not want to be motoring against going up the coast.  I was nervous on this trip since the weather forecast by NOAA and other forecasting services last fall for our passing of Point Sur was for no wind but yet we had much!  This time, the forecast was also for very little wind (2-6 kts with a few bouts of 10-15 kts) so I kept my fingers crossed.  This time, all was well and good.  We motor sailed into less than 5 knots the entire way passing Point Sur around 2:30 in the morning.  We decided to bypass Monterrey and continue on to Pillar Point Harbor at Half Moon Bay.  We dropped the hook in the harbor just past noon.

We sat back and watched the holiday antics of many boaters nearby.  Pillar Point is an enjoyable place to be.  New things include the newly restored Monterrey Clipper fishing boat that seemed to be ferrying tourists around the harbor.  We know the fellow who worked on the restoration so we’re hopeful to go and track him down sometime before we depart the harbor and talk to him about the successful project.  Several cruising boats were in for the holiday weekend including a very large aluminum hulled boat with three children aboard and a life-sized skeleton hanging on a noose above the transom.  Nice boat, poor taste in decor.  The small boat center seemed to have kayaking classes ongoing and we were visited by a family in a wooden outrigger canoe.  All-in-all a nice afternoon of bay-watching.

This morning, we’re still lazing about.  It’s chilly so I’m sitting in our chart house bed with the down comforter all puffy around me.  Heavenly.  However, we are likely to have visitors since people (yes, strangers) often stop in and ask questions about Mahdee when we visit a new harbor, so I’d best put away the bed and make things “decent” here in the chart house. I’m really enjoying cooking on our gimbaled Taylors kerosene stove.  We purchased the stove a few months ago from a friend (he had found an even nicer kero stove for his boat) and now we have the ability to cook huge meals on the wood/coal Shipmate or use the Taylors while underway or for smaller fare–like breakfast this morning!

Fair winds,

Along the Way

This morning, as predicted, Cream Puff joined the assortment of boats at the public docks. A few others came, a few left. Another day of people coming and going.

Today, we had a late lunch at Point Break, a nice quiet little place on Shelter Island. I had a yummy grilled cheese and I don’t even recall what David ordered…oh, yes, he had a roast pork sandwich. No dishes and no left overs. I like this. As we returned to the public docks, David noticed the brightly finished wood masts of a familiar 36 foot wooden Herreshoff ketch sitting on the Coast Guard long dock. “It looks like Don is here” he said and indeed it was true! We walked down to the long dock to see why he was here. Like us, Don spends most of his time at anchor. Unlike us, Don sails solo and–get this–with no engine. One or the other could be expected, but both, that takes nerve and skill! I’m always in awe of Don. Especially since he’s at least 70, has had his share of heart surgeries and such that would put a lesser man gingerly into an old-folks home! Oh, but not Don. I truly love seeing him sail into an anchorage and drop the hook. He adds so much to the aesthetic of my sailing life.

Why was he here? We learned Don has boat parts to buy–it seemed his solar panel regulator met an untimely demise and he needed a new one. The wind was up today, though, and we wondered how he was going to get the boat into one of the slips. He had a plan–he’d wait for the wind to die down (likely shortly after sunset) and then take action. We offered our assistance, of course. It was accepted, of course. 40 minutes later we were “in position” with David and Don along the long dock and me 120 or so feet away across the open fairway on a finger pier. David rowed across to me with a line so I could warp the boat’s bow to me.

I stood on a finger pier adjacent a little Pearson Triton. Well, I think it was a Triton. I met the owner, Tom, an exceedingly young fellow who knew his newly purchased boat was a Pearson but didn’t know if it was a Triton. It looked like one to me, but what do I know? I learned to sail while crewing during beer can races on a Pearson Triton in Corpus Christi, Texas. I was an exceedingly young 20 year old newlywed at the time. David and I were in the planning stages of a future life of sailing–even back then we wondered how we could do it on a Pearson Triton. We decided we could not–the Triton was too small. I didn’t tell Tom this, though, since I know of several people who have cruised worldwide with Tritons. Just because David and I have always known we’re space hogs doesn’t mean that it’s reasonable to assume that others are too.

Tom and I stood on the pier and chatted as David rowed Don’s tender across to us with a line; Tom had owned the boat a month but the Atomic 4 engine doesn’t work and he doesn’t know what to do about it. He’s not mechanical and just doesn’t know…He thought he’d get the boat and well…learn things “along the way” but now there was “this” he said. I joked “well, you’re learning things along the way, Tom, the way just came a little sooner than you thought!” He smiled at my joke “yes, I didn’t think the Police Dock was along the way.” We chatted more about not having an engine working. I pointed at Don “Look, he has no engine–and doesn’t want one.” Tom was impressed (I think, perhaps not…) and helped me with lining Don’s boat down the finger pier and around the corner to a safe side tie that Don should be able to sail out of in a few days time after completing his business. I introduced Tom to Don and can hope they strike up a friendship–they both would benefit, but neither knows that. They’re guys, what more can I say.

The chill of the air tonight makes me glad we sit at a public dock with shore power. We’re running two little space heaters, warm and toasty as David and I reminisce about our young love, our lifelong sailing dreams, and our early life together. We listen to the random shuffle of our music. Appropriately the shuffle brings us Nat King Cole’s Too Young.

They try to tell us we’re too young
Too young to really be in love
They say that love’s a word
A word we’ve only heard
But can’t begin to know the meaning of
And yet we’re not too young to know
This love will last though years may go
And then some day they may recall
We were not too young at all

A Momentary Lapse of Reason Has Netted a Multitude of Reasons

People often say that buying and restoring an old wood boat requires one to set aside all logic. The same can be said for living and voyaging on a sailboat as well. So, in doing both, we seem to have had a several-years-long “lapse of reason” but that’s OK, because our moments are now filled with many, many reasons to have taken the plunge.

There comes a moment, almost every day, when I look around the boat–seeing something about the boat, the waterscape, the landscape beyond and I think “this moment is the reason we’re here; it is priceless.” Here, as in, voyaging on a sailboat, to be exact THIS old, 1931 schooner. Priceless, as in, beyond value. It sounds trite, or silly maybe to someone reading this blog. But it it true for me.

Today, that moment came when a pod of 4 dolphins swam around and around Mahdee in the still waters of the anchorage.

Yesterday, that moment came when a family of teeny tiny little ducks came swimming by the stern.

The day before yesterday, that moment came when at dusk, the Christmas lights twinkled on the Hotel Del Coronado–making it look like a fairytale castle over the water.

Last week, I smiled in the moment filled with the smell of seaweed and sight of all the tiny crabs scampering about on a seldom used mooring pickup line.

Last month, a misty daybreak with dewdrops sparkling on the wood combings gave us a breathtaking background to our routine of weighing anchor.

On the sail down the coast in October, the winds, waves, and sail combined such that moment after moment unfolded before me with all the reasons in the world to be thankful for this time sailing the Mahdee.


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