Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Where Old Centerboards Go To Die

Have you ever wondered where old centerboards go to die? Well, probably not, but here's an image of the old centerboard from the Evans. It was laid in front of our shed at the shipyard where we store our wood for the season as well as all the paint and supplies for making the schooner look great every year. It has been working for years in its new job as a "deck" for the shed but, as you can see, its useful life is nearing an end. The wood is rotting away and the centerboard is sinking into ground leaving behind only the metal drifts that held it together and the metal strap along the bottom that was in place to prevent the wood from splintering if it were to strike the bottom while sailing.

The centerboard that is in the schooner right now is a similar size and construction. I had it out a few years ago when we replaced the old corroded pivot pin. We had to use a crane to get it ashore for maintenance. I took advantage of the opportunity to put a new metal strap along the bottom and a few coats of bottom paint before putting it back in the boat. We were also able to reach up into the centerboard trunk while the schooner was hauled out to get some bottom paint up in there as well.

Wait, let's back up a minute. What's a centerboard, you say? Well, some boats are built with a full keel deep in the water. They tend to be narrower than the Evans and much faster. But the Evans was built to carry oysters and the wider the boat, the more cargo you can hold....and besides, you want to be able to get to the shallow muddy places where the oysters are so you don't want a lot of boat underneath you. But you do need something deep in the water if you want to make progress sailing into the wind, or close-hauled. That's where the centerboard comes in. The centerboard's job is to keep the boat from skidding sideways from the force of the wind and to provide lift so we can sail closer to the wind. When we're tacking into the wind we can lower this large piece of wood that pivots on a pin in the galley. This prevents the wide, flat hull of the Evans from slipping sideways in the water so much. It doesn't prevent it entirely, mind you, we still get blown sideways a bit but the centerboard certainly helps a lot. If we were to sail close-hauled without the centerboard down, we would notice the side slipping quite a bit more. If we were to change our course and head downwind, we would pull the centerboard up and reduce drag allowing the schooner to be as efficient as possible on that point of sail. Here's a drawing, created by Sam Manning, of a Great Lakes centerboard schooner, the Lottie Cooper, to give you a general idea of what it looks like and how it pivots.
Lowering the centerboard is a one person job. Hauling the centerboard back up can be a one person job if the person is strong but generally it's a two person job on the Evans. In each case, a block and tackle is used push buttons or winches, it's all muscle and the mechanical advantage of the block system.

Wednesday, February 06, 2008

The 123/5/3 Meme

The 123/5/3 Meme

Tracy of Reflections of Nothing tagged me for this book meme. The meme is: Find the nearest book, turn to page 123, skip the first 5 sentences and then type out the next three sentences.

From The Lady and the Deep Blue Sea by Garland Roark:

Everyone appeared on deck of evenings when myriad Southern stars seemed to dangle from the velvety blue of tropic heavens down to the network of rigging. The on-deck crew lazed and the below watch gathered at the hatch coamings or rail to sing of sweethearts and home.

On the day the Eagle crossed the imaginary line of twenty degrees south, the setting sun burned on the level of the water at the far end of flaming crimson sea.

You can complete the meme in the comments...thanks!

Saturday, February 02, 2008

A Sailing Adventure Aboard the Evans... A Teen View

Garry W. is a dear friend of mine and of the Evans. He brought his sons and grandsons aboard for a summer vacation and below is one grandson's account of his adventure...

"We arrived in Rockland, Maine after an hour drive from Portland, Maine. Rockland ,a seaside harbor located on the down east coast would be the place we would board the floating resort that would be our home for the next four days. The schooner Isaac Evans is not the usual kind of lazy relaxing cruise that you are on with thousands of other people and play shuffle board. It is a small schooner with about twenty other people. The rooms are about half the size of the cruise ships for twice the
money. So why would you want to do this...for the adventure of a lifetime.

At the age of thirteen I was an amateur film director viewing the ship as a cinematographers wonderland. I stepped from the car camera in hand and was nailed with a sharp breath of salty air. It burned my throat but I loved it. I would board the ship with my dad, my cousin Brandon, my PopPop and my uncles Dave and Kevin who were automatically cast into my film.

I stepped onto the boat for the first time and was unexpectedly hit with the rocking from side to side sensation. “Josh, do you want to come meet the captain”, my dad asked me. I was shocked to find the captain was a woman.

“Hi,” she said, “I’m captain Brenda.”
“Nice to meet you,” I spat out still in a stage of mild shock.
“Hopefully you’ll be a hardworking boy who we won,t have any trouble from.”

Now I was scared of the woman, “Uh Huh,” I whimpered and turned to walk away. My dad and I headed to our room and saw the absolute microdimensions we were supposed to try and live in. Knowing we would not be able to, we took our mattresses from our room and on to the deck where we slept. I awoke the next morning to the luring aroma of breakfast. We met the cook Eileen and first mate Todd. We learned to put sails up and keep the boat in order. Everyone went to sleep that night with a smile and sore arms.

I woke the next morning with anticipation for the events that would follow. I started exploring the schooner. Then, I found the treasure I’d been hoping for, a kid’s box with all kinds of toys, that meant props. I also found a big container of bubbles with a green dish to float them out of.

I went to the captain and asked “Captain Brenda, do you think I could fly bubbles off the side of the boat?”
“Sure, I do all the time. Just don’t drop anything.” If there was anything I was going to do on that ship, I wouldn’t drop those bubbles. I started letting bubbles fly. It was just wonderful. Then, as a sun sparkling bubble departed the ship so did the lime green dish full of bubble liquid. I was horrified...I had dropped the bubbles. Captain Brenda gave me a menacing stare and she had to turn the whole boat
around. What was she going to do to me? Make me walk the plank? Sword fight her to the death?

I shuddered and ran to my cabin. Maine summers are warmer than the winters by a long stretch, but the water never gets warmer than about fifty to sixty degrees. I had promised myself that I would swim in the water but now that I was standing on the edge of the boat in my bathing suit, I was not so sure. I prepared myself for the jump. I closed my eyes, braced myself and fell face first into the blanket of blue. I hit the water and the breath left my lungs and floated to the top of the dark nothingness I was engulfed in. I surfaced and hollered, “I did it.” Then it was like a chain reaction. Everyone started jumping in including an old man who decided to moon everybody once he was in the water. “Looks like a toothless whale”, my PopPop wheezed out.

I woke up a little disappointed. It would be our last full day on the Isaac Evans. We pulled up the anchor to let the ship know we were waking it up. Then we sailed to an island where we would possibly ave the most extravagant feast of all time. Maine is famous for one main food, lobster. We had about forty to fifty pounds of lobster on the ship. We would stop at the island and boil every one of them. I actually swam from the boat to the island. They dropped the lobsters into the boiling water and the high pitched scream they made caused a shiver to run down my spine.

We all were overwhelmed with anticipation as we stood around the boiling crustaceans. I was up first. I got my lobster and was extremely annoyed at being reminded that you have to get all the meat from the tail first. Finally, I had the meat out. I took the white meat toward my mouth dripping warm butter and shoved it in my mouth so fast, I practically inhaled it. The juices exploded down my throat leaving me in a taste enveloped high. I swam back to the ship with a full belly and a tired body, then went to sleep dreading the next day.

I woke the next morning wanting to go back to sleep. I wasn’t ready to leave. I loved the boat, when I stepped off the boat I would just get on a plane and head back to Alabama. But we had only paid for four days and I had to leave. I got packed and was ready to leave when Captain Brenda stopped me. “Josh,” she started, “I had a good time, I will miss you and your camera. Make sure you send me a copy of your video. I just want to say goodbye.”

“Goodbye, Captain,” and I turned and walked off the boat. I wanted to say goodbye to a boat. I felt so stupid. Then I kept walking to the car, got in and never saw the ship again. We drove to Portland and said goodbye to the relatives. Then headed to the airport and boarded our plane...thousands of feet above the ground, I looked through the window and saw Maine’s ocean. I put my forehead against the glass, gazing at the endless blue.

“Goodbye, Isaac Evans,” I whispered."

Thanks for such a great story, Josh! I truly enjoyed experiencing the trip through your words (and your video!) You are a talented young man and I look forward to more great things from you! I'll try to work on not being so scary :-) and you've reminded me that I need to make a lanyard for the bubble wand!

I especially like the part about you saying your goodbye from the air. I have guests each summer that simply don't want to leave and I'm sure they'll agree that your desire to say goodbye to the boat was not "stupid" at all. I talk to her all the time. Even now, in the winter, when I stop by to work on projects, the first thing I always do is greet her with a "Hey, girl. How ya' doin'?" I imagine that she is as thankful for the rest after a busy season as I am and that she has no desire to sail about in winter weather. But I also imagine that she is as anxious as I am for the new coats of paint and varnish and to get back out there again under full sail!

Friday, February 01, 2008

Go Pats!

It's Super Bowl weekend and Brian and I will be watching the game and cheering for the Patriots! I've been a Patriots fan for years and years....since long before the "dynasty"...we even fly a Patriots flag from the mast of the schooner! So it's amazing to see them doing so well the past few years and with an unequaled record this year.

My friend Mike probably still wants to see the Patriots lose a game because he is a Dolphins fan and doesn't want another team to go an entire regular season and play-off season with no losses. But the Pats have really already beaten that record because of the longer season...

I would much rather be watching the Patriots play the Packers....but, maybe a win over the Giants will be even sweeter!

Go Pats!