Tuesday, 15 April 2014

Ruh Roh.

     "I've been looking too hard, I've been waiting too long..."

     The Dock closes for the season on October 31.

     November 1, the waiting starts.
    November 1, We start to count down the days until we can get back in the water, back on the Dock.

    When the winter is long, deep, dark and cold, that count is important- it reminds us that winter is not never-ending, no matter how permanent  the ice and snow feel.  
    November 1,  we start to focus on April 15- Opening Day.

   This was one seriously long-ass winter, but by the end of March there was some hope.

   The Marina parking lot was (mostly) free of snow...

... even if the Dock was still (mostly) iced in, what with the temperatures remaining stubbornly sub-freezing, sub-seasonal and just generally submarining my mood.

By the end of last week things were looking up.  The air temp had increased rapidly, causing mist to rise from the thawing Lake on a rare (at least, this season)  string of two warm sunny days,  making Lake Erie look decidedly, er, eerie:

   Turns out, the Marina did not escape winter unscathed. With a relatively shallow depth,  limited room for ice to move, and a harbour mouth open to the prevailing winds, the ice froze thick, froze hard, and fought everything it came up against.  Like the docks:

The repairs were under way, but...

According to a note taped to the cash register at Bridge Yachts ...

Okay, so for all intents and purposes, it looks like Opening Day will not be Opening Day, but that is okay because it is getting warmer and finally starting to feel like spring, and it's all good, I tell myself...
... and then I wake up this morning  to this:



Sooner or later, we're gonna get in the water.


   While we all wait for spring to damn well finally get here all permanent-like, please continue to "Talk the Dock!"


Sunday, 30 March 2014

Offerings from Off-site, Vol. 1

     " 'Til there was nothing left to burn and nothing left to prove "
                                                                             -Bob Seger


       A few months back, I was asked to contribute a regular column to Ontario Sailor Magazine .  As regional sailing magazines go, in my unabashedly biased opinion, I think it is a pretty good one, covering all aspects of the local sailing scene. You can pick up a current issue at any local reputable book store in Ontario, some marinas, a few chandleries, or you can subscribe at the link above.  I recommend you do so.  Then maybe I could get a raise.
       I'll occasionally re-publish a back-issue column here from time to time.  This is one of those times.

      An Ode to Orphans

The good news:  Sailboat manufacturers are still building new sailboats, and they are, generally, faster and better handling and more comfortable and better equipped than ever before.

The bad news:  There are a lot fewer of them than a generation ago.

My wife likes to point out that I was born at least 20 years too late.  I think “Gimme Shelter” may be the best song ever written or performed, I appreciate the occasionally troubled soul of triple Weber carburetors lying in wait under a Ferrari Daytona’s hood, and  I feel that mankind’s greatest technological achievement was traveling to the moon.

And back.


So, it stands to reason that I have a soft spot for boats from the “Golden Age” of boatbuilding in the 60s and 70s.

    As wonderful as new boats are, as shapely and sleek and polished and equipped and better than back in the day boats, they have become….safe.

    Today we have so much more design knowledge, so much more computing power, and so much more real-world experience than four decades ago, that fewer chances are taken because there are fewer chances to take.

 If you know what works, you do it.
 And you don’t do anything else.

Flash back a few decades:  There may not be bliss in ignorance, but there sure is enthusiasm. See, if you don’t know everything, if you don’t really know what won’t work or what won’t sell, you’re free to try damn near anything.

  There were lots of boatbuilding hits, and a lot more misses, and a lot of enthusiasm as entrepreneurs discovered that it was possible.   If you had a space big enough to hold a mould and enough cash to buy enough wood, resin, cloth, hardware and sails to build a boat that you could display at a boat show, then you could become a boatbuilder!  No courses to take, no mandatory building codes to worry about, if it floated and moved under it’s own power and you could sell it, you were in business.

   Looking back from our well-regulated and thoroughly thought out 21st century, it’s pretty amazing.

   Some great designs came out of that era, boats that are still built today, in one iteration or another, like the Laser and the Hobie Cat and the Catalina 30.

    Others, the vast majority, were far less successful.

    In some cases, marques died an untimely death due to bad management, cashflow issues, or the vagaries of the economy.  In other cases, the boats just weren’t very good- poorly designed or poorly built or poor performers.  In many cases, it was simply a matter of a boat that was just too … weird.

    And I love them all.  From North Sea -inspired Nordica and Halman double enders built in the farmland of southern Ontario to comfortable and clumsy Grampians to the Tardis-like accommodations of the fish-tug shaped Tanzer 28,  these boats represented a freedom of design that has been paved over by the superhighway of  knowledge.  Hell, no one in their right mind would ever even consider building a Willard Vega or Fales Navigator again:  a center cockpit, pilothouse, sloop-rigged sail trawler?  That idea, on paper is insane.
    Yet dozens were sold.

                                                                                                       -image courtesy of yachtworld.com

   The Golden Age saw some weird stuff, but also some better than fine boats that…
  Just.  Won’t.  Die.
 Look at the racing fleets throughout North America- for every close pointing late model J Boat on a course,  there’s a dozen elderly C&Cs and Mirages nipping at her transom, waiting for the skipper to slip, still competitive (enough) three decades on.

   And maybe that is one of the other reasons why there are far, far fewer manufacturers building far, far fewer boats today:  They Just.  Won’t.  Die.

     How many 30 year old cars do you see on the road today?   Maybe boatbuilders could have, or should have, learned something from automakers back in the day- you don’t have to build it to last forever.
You just have to build it to last long enough.

     I’m glad they didn’t.

     I enjoy walking down the Dock and passing Sirens and Sirius 21s and Tanzer 22s and  DS20s and Bluenoses and C&C 24s, seeing the optimism in the designs, the belief that if we could put a man on the moon, then, dadgummit! we can certainly build and sell a full keel, bowspritted and trailboarded, full headroom, 25 foot cruiser.

     Alas, the newest Bayfield 25 is now more than a quarter century old.  Bayfield  Boats closed up in 1988.  Tanzer boats died a year earlier.  So Did Vandestadt and McGruer, Sirius builders. Nordica packed it in even earlier, while Halman managed to hang on until the mid 90s.  Whitby, Ouyang, Mirage, Grampian, Aloha, Ontario, Hughes, CS, Paceship, McVay?  Gone, gone, gone, gone, nada, done, closed, history, no more, goodbye.

     We don’t go to the moon anymore, either.

      I’m not sure we’re better off.     BDJ.

     Let me know what you think.

   Thanks for checking in, and don't forget to "Talk the Dock!"

Saturday, 15 March 2014

A Great Way to Kill Time Waiting for Spring to Come

     "The 'inferior' sex got a new exterior..."
                                          -the eurythmics

   Spring  is coming.
   But it doesn't look like it is coming anytime soon:

    In the meantime, need a sailing fix?

  Check out "Untie the Lines" on youtube:

    One woman.
    One boat.
    A whole bunch of  adventure.

    Warning:  The story is addictive.  Get done done what you have to get done for the day before you start clicking links.

Thanks for checking us out, and remember to
"Talk the Dock!"

Monday, 24 February 2014

A Last Look At Last Year- The Dinghy Diaries: A New Beginning

   "Turn the clock to zero, buddy..."

Since the snow continues to fall, and the Marina currently looks like this:

        I figured I would continue with the regular sporadic feature series, A Last Look At Last Year.

        You might remember that, early last season,  we acquired a new used dinghy.

        You may also remember that it leaked.  I figured this could be a testing opportunity.  I decided to try out various over-the-counter not-meant-for-dinghy-repair-but-the-internet-says-it-works adhesives and compounds.
          It wasn't a time-sensitive project, so whenever I had a spare couple of hours, about once every couple of weeks or so, I'd try a different adhesive, or sealant, or wonder goop.

         I discovered from where it leaked, and patched the leak.
         Then repatched the leak,

         Then patched the patches.

         Then removed the patches,  repatched the patched patches and patched the repatched patched patches...
        And as the season began to draw to a close, it leaked.  Less, but it still leaked.


       As mentioned in the original post, we didn't need another project, or another dinghy.  I could have pulled off the patch and worked on it over the winter, but with Stately Jones Manor going on the market, I definitely did not need another project or another item in the garage, or the shed, or the workshop.

      But I thought somebody else might.

       The Birtch family had slipped their Bayliner bowrider a few slips down the Dock for as long as we have been here.    Dad, mom, a son and a daughter, just a nice bunch.  We watched the kids grow up.  We chatted to each other from across the slips, traded the occasional beer over the years.  They lived in town, so while we essentially live on the Dock through the season, they came down to the Dock to use their boat and clean their boat, and then head home.  We'd see them a couple of times a week.

       Finn loves them.  They seem to think he is okay.

       That matters.

       He's gonna miss them.

        See, at the end of the season, Dave dropped the news that he was being transferred to North Bay.  The kids were gonna finish out the school year, and then the family was packing up and heading north.  This was their last season on the Dock.

        I got thinking.

       Over the last few weeks Hunter had been eyeballing the emphysemic Zodiac. I asked him and his dad whether it would be okay if Hunter took this project off my hands.

        Hunter: "Are you serious?!?"
              Me:  "Yep"
        Hunter: "How much do you want for it?"
               Me: "Nothing.  Take it.  Just send me a picture of you using it."
        Hunter:  "Are you serious?!?!"
               Me:  "Yep"

       It's kinda fun to watch the adolescent too-cool early teen pose lose out to the giddy kid-at-Christmas goofy grin.

       A couple of days later we got it deflated and packed into it's bag and loaded on a dock cart and off the Zodiac went on a new adventure.

       A week or so later, I climb aboard Whiskeyjack after work, and there is an envelope in the cockpit.

       It's not ticking, so I open it.

       Inside is a thank you card, and inside that is a Beer Store gift card.

       Looks like I owe Rod, the man who passed the Zodiac on to me, some beer.

       A week or so later, I got an email.  This was attached:

    An old Zodiac is off on a new adventure.

    Fair winds, Birtch family.

Remember to "Talk the Dock!"



Wednesday, 12 February 2014

A Break In The Weather. Please.

"Man, what a picture-perfect postcard this would make... "
                                                            -Rodney Atkins

   I am so damn done with this winter.

  More snow has hit the ground  this winter than we have had in the past four winters, total.

  With more on the way.

  As I type this, it is -23 degrees Celsius outside my window.

  I am tired of the gleeful addendum  to the weather report  "... that feels like -1,387 with the windchill!"

   (Ever notice that the cruel, cold-hearted bastard who invented the Wind Chill Factor is anonymous?  Celsius and Fahrenheit and Richter and Geiger and Beaufort all named their various scales and measurements after themselves, but the guy who came up with the answer to "Hey, how can we make a miserable season like winter feel even worse?"  is unknown.  Or In Witness Protection.}

  I have run out of places to pile the snow that I scoop, once again, off Stately Jones Manor's sidewalks.

 The driveway?  Fuhgeddaboutit.  Down to two frozen ruts.

 I could live without that heart-sinking feeling  I get when I slide behind the wheel of Lady Liberty in the morning, turn the key and hear *click*.

  I am tired of the ritual of coming home, stepping inside the front entry, removing my boots and stepping in melted snow.  Every.  Damn.  Day.  

 The novelty of a "good old-fashioned Canadian winter" has well and truly worn off.

  So, it's time for some pretty pictures!

Jack and Melanie captured some great shots of the Wednesday Night fleet:

Shots from the end of the Dock:


Whiskeyjack at dusk:

Yes, Hilary is attempting to ram us...again.

   (objects in rear view mirror may appear closer than they actually are.)

  Speaking of Hilary, he and Deb often visit offspring who reside in the Bahamas, and they find it necessary to torture me with pictures upon their return:

   Look at that water!  It's ....blue!  All of the water here right now is white.  And solid.

     Eight and a half more weeks until the Dock reopens for the season.  We might even have clear water by then.

Until then, keep the faith, and continue to ...

"Talk the Dock!"

Wednesday, 29 January 2014

A Last Look at Last Year: Cyclone Season

"And bad mistakes, I've made a few..."

     Those of you playing along with the the home game version of the sporadic-but-still relevant Dock Six Chronicles may remember that I became a racer last season.

     So, how did that turn out?

     Surprisingly well.

     Better than it had any right to, in fact.

      On paper, we didn't have a chance.

      Cyclone is a beautiful boat.   She is a great example of the state of C&C's art...

...40 years ago.  She may be the oldest boat in our racing fleet.

    Her sails are original.  They are definitely the oldest sails in the fleet.

   Charitably speaking, Cyclone is...  experienced.

    Her crew, on the other hand?
    .....  not so much.  Some of us had at least a decade of experience under our belts, others had years, I had three months, three decades ago.

     I was definitely the boat's greenhorn...and it often showed.

   We also had the widest age spread of any crew in the fleet to add to our notable statistics. Five decades separated our high- school- freshman bowman from our most experienced retiree winch grinder.

  If this was a Hollywood blockbuster, our season would be summarized in under 2 hours of running time including all of the expected cliches- a crew of oddballs and outcasts work past their initial wariness, bonding over beer, a montage, broken gear, crises of confidence, a crusty mentor,  another montage, climaxing with winning one final race, backed by an orchestral score heavy on strings and timpanies, with a single wailing electric guitar.

   Alas, this isn't "Seabiscuit."  We didn't win it all.

      But, we won enough.

       At the wrap-up banquet, we got to find out how we finished the season, after all the protests were settled and the phrf calculating was done.

       We finished pretty damn well.



JAM Fleet

Sailed: 3, Discards: 0, To count: 3, Rating system: Custom, Entries: 5, Scoring system: Appendix A
1stJAMCYCloneC&C 35 MK111153A.Elkin1391.
2ndJAMWest WindC&C 33-228069L. West1542.
3rdJAMStargazerC&C 27-2 M344150G & C Overmars2053.
4thJAMShaibu IVNonsuch 302810H. Jackson1627.00 DNC4.004.0015.0015.00
5thJAMFlashdancerGorman Express 30481E. Skinner1535.00 DNF6.00 DNF7.00 DNC18.0018.00
(Historical footnote:  The Maytham cup is named for Jack Maytham, a Port Dover  marine engineer/ naval archietect/ boat builder who built the Niagara Falls  tour boat Maid of the Mist 6. )


SPIN Fleet

Sailed: 3, Discards: 0, To count: 3, Rating system: Custom, Entries: 8, Scoring system: Appendix A
RankFleetBoatTypeSail#OwnerRAUG 7AUG 14AUG 21AUG 28TotalNett
1stSPINLegacyJ-3532690S. Hewson722.
2ndSPINCYCloneC&C 35 MK1A.Elkin1293.50 CB4.003.0010.5010.50
3rdSPINRitualJ-3542922J. Vallee721.009.00 DNC1.0011.0011.00
4thSPINAmazing Grace IVBeneteau 36.7080L. Grace783.002.006.0011.0011.00
5thSPINCaliedoscopeCal 31140M. Thomas1624.003.004.0011.0011.00
6thSPINEnigmaC&C 33-174207J & J Parker1505.005.007.0017.0017.00
7thSPINMenaceHobie 3353243J. Morey939.00 DNC6.005.0020.0020.00
8thSPINSpecial KC&C 9955L. Kramer1089.00 DNC9.00 DNC10.00 DNC28.0028.00


SPIN Fleet

Sailed: 5, Discards: 1, To count: 4, Rating system: Custom, Entries: 16, Scoring system: Appendix A
1stSPINCYCloneC&C 35 MK1A.Elkin129(9.00 DNC)
3rdSPINGoldfingersC&C 29-144131L & M Dowds1804.00(5.00)
4thSPINSpecial KC&C 9955L. Kramer108(9.00 DNC)
5thSPINSequenceJ-30A & B Smith1443.006.004.00(7.00)4.5024.5017.50
6thSPINAmazing Grace IVBeneteau 36.7080L. Grace785.003.00(8.00)8.007.0031.0023.00
7thSPINPromiseCS 33 SD3345P. Murray153(9.00 DNC)
8thSPINEerie WitchGoman Express 3074207R. Chivers144(9.00 DNC)
9thSPINUnbridledC&C 309307E.Bilopavlovic1706.009.00(11.00 DNC)9.008.0043.0032.00
10thSPINShaibu IVNonsuch 302810H. Jackson1742.00(12.00 DNC)11.00 DNC12.00 DNC12.00 DNC49.0037.00
11thSPINCaliedoscopeCal 31140M. Thomas1629.00 DNC(12.00 DNC)11.00 DNC12.00 DNC12.00 DNC56.0044.00
11thSPINMenaceHobie 3353243J. Morey939.00 DNC(12.00 DNC)11.00 DNC12.00 DNC12.00 DNC56.0044.00
11thSPINLegacyJ-3532690S. Hewson729.00 DNC(12.00 DNC)11.00 DNC12.00 DNC12.00 DNC56.0044.00
11thSPINRitualJ-3542922J. Vallee729.00 DNC(12.00 DNC)11.00 DNC12.00 DNC12.00 DNC56.0044.00
11thSPINEnigmaC&C 33-174207J & J Parker1509.00 DNC(12.00 DNC)11.00 DNC12.00 DNC12.00 DNC56.0044.00
11thSPINTapestryRedwing 304055N. Fraser & F. Smith1969.00 DNC(12.00 DNC)11.00 DNC12.00 DNC12.00 DNC56.0044.00

       In a fit of utter insanity, skipper Andy invited me back this season.

       I'll be there.

     "Talk the Dock!"


Thursday, 9 January 2014

Toronto International Boat Show Time! Two More Sleeps!

"People coming from miles around, they come from everywhere..."
                                                             - Smokey Robinson

   Outside Stately Jones Manor's hallowed and warm(ish) halls, the wind is howling, the snow is blowing, the highways and biways are icy, gritty and salty,  the temperature is below zero, and starting Lady Liberty  is like rolling the dice every morning. This winter has been more wintery than most in recent memory.
    SWMBO and I agree-  we need to (to steal a tag) put some summer in our winter.

    It's Toronto International Boat Show time.

This year, the Seminar Schedule is outstanding.

    We will be storming the castle  this weekend, January 11-12.  The annual Dock Six Gam will be held on Saturday the 11th at the Chart Room at the Westin  Harbour Castle.  Storytelling and civilized sipping commences about 8ish.  Outlandish BS will start about 8:15.
   All are welcome to join us.

Come on down and...

"Talk the Dock"