02 February 2016

Winter Dreams

No, I still haven't found time to work on my Handy Billy. It would only take an hour or two to finish the other block, but around Christmas I decided it was time to finish proof reading my book if it killed me, so I've put everything else on hold (other than work and the usual household stuff, of course), and devoted all my spare time to that one project.

I never would have guessed it would be such a job to write a book, but I'm glad to say that hard work has paid off and I'm nearly done. In fact, I have the 'proof' in hand.

"An Unlikely Voyage: 2000 miles alone in a small wooden boat"
Final (I hope) proof copy.
This is a proof copy which I am going through one more time to find the last batch of small errors (it's remarkably difficult to find every error in 100,000 words), then it should at last be done.

Which of course begs the question: what next?

I've been pondering this question for awhile now, and was getting a little discouraged because I couldn't seem to find a new project that got my juices flowing. Then I picked up an old book.

Always a dangerous thing, picking up a book.

The book was called "Tinkerbelle", by Robert Manry. Back in 1965, Robert decided to fulfill his dream of crossing the Atlantic, in the only boat he owned, the 13-foot centerboard sailboat called Tinkerbelle.

Tinkerbelle on the Atlantic - summer 1965
Tinkerbelle had many advantages over most blue water boats. For example, it was easy to touch up her bottom paint. In the drive way.

Maintaining your blue water cruiser.
When beset by high seas, she lay easily to a sea anchor -- a canvas bucket tied to the end of long line.

And when her frisky behavior and a breaking wave tossed Bob out of the cockpit into the water, her low freeboard made it easy for him to climb back in. It "could have been a lot worse," he wrote after the first time this happened. "Tinkerbelle was still right side up and clear of water, and neither she nor I had suffered so much as a scratch."

So, has this little yarn got me thinking of taking Cabin Boy across the Atlantic?

No, but if tiny Tinkerbelle could make it, why not the much more substantial Blue Moon?

Blue Moon - summer 2015
Makes you think, right?

She would need some modifications to make her handier, and a bit more comfortable for the voyage. For example, I've been doing some calculations, and believe I could make her unsinkable without losing too much cabin space, by adding a couple of waterproof bulkheads and filling the space with foam (no need for foam, as someone pointed out in the comments!) Some lifelines and bulwarks might be nice... maybe roller reefing for the jib... a third row of reef points in the main... a good sea berth...

But being the goal-oriented New Yorker that I am, I am even thinking one step further: entering the Blue Moon in the 2018 Jester Challenge -- the famous single-hander's 'race', for boats under 30 feet long, from Plymouth, England, to Newport, Rhode Island.

The Jester Challenge is run every summer, rotating between Plymouth to the Azores (2016), to Ireland (2017), and to Newport (2018).

Since the race is run in May, I'd have to get the Blue Moon across the Pond the year before, to have her at the starting line on time. That means crossing over the Summer of 2017, maybe doing a bit of cruising in France or on the Norfolk Broads, and hauling her out in Plymouth for the winter.

Doable? Helena says, if we don't ditch everything and sail off to the South Pacific, then why not?

Why not, indeed?

What do you think? A good, next adventure?

Next Up: First Things First


  1. You definitely want to get that new book edited by someone that knows what they're doing(not me) before you publish it. I will proof read it for you if you're looking for beta readers. I've done that for my daughter who is a professional author so I do have some street cred there.

    If you're excited about that race and have the time and energy to put into it, then I say go for it.

    1. Editing already done. I am just combing out the last few errors.

  2. There's nothing like a stubborn streak to get the boring bits done, although I send my pieces to my son the Solicitor to pull apart. Might I suggest something different to filing holes with foam. I live in Queensland, north Australia (probably similar climate to Florida)where condensation is a serious problem. The literature in this part of the world is not to use foam as it can concentrate our already high humidity. Might I suggest that you use the holes for stowage and add waterproof access hatches. Just keep the heavy stuff midships. Around here we tend to epoxy seal all surfaces as we build them, but if you haven't, perhaps you might give further thought to a routine airing. Then open the access hatches and air out the contents when you get the right time (probably not best in the North Atlantic with storm clouds on the horizon. I saw a variation on this in one of Lyn and Larry Pardy's stories.

    1. Ah, good point. I hadn't thought of moisture build up in a wooden boat. Two waterproof bulkheads would do the trick, as well as retaining storage space. Thanks for the idea.

  3. I think doing the Jester Challenge is a great idea. It would take a lot of preparation but at least you don't have to find a suitable boat - the one you have is more than suitable.

    1. Yes, the first time the idea popped into my head, I thought, "That's crazy." But the more I think about it the more I like it. It's still crazy, obviously, but...

  4. Look forward to your book and about prep for the first transit.

  5. John, you are an inspiration, it is not often that we get the chance to live our dreams, but sometimes the dreaming is just as important. I look forward to reading your book. I have been completing a build myself for the past six years; I never set out to build a sailboat let alone a top sail gaffer. Good luck with your endeavors.

    1. "If a man must be obsessed by something, I suppose a boat is as good as anything, perhaps a bit better than most." -- E.B. White

  6. Stanchions, a storm jib and trysail would be handy. I think bulwarks built around the bulwarks on Lyle Hess designs would look good on her and a definite safety feature.


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