November 24, 2015

Many thanks to many boats

BOATS I HAVE OWNED have taught me a lot in my lifetime. I guess I ought to be giving thanks to them right now. So, OK, thanks to:

My International sliding seat canoe whose name I have happily forgotten. She taught me how ancient Roman army catapults worked. Every time a gust came along I was catapulted off the sliding seat and over the boom into the drink.

Shane, a 14-foot Sprog one-design. My thanks to her for teaching me that having a fast boat doesn’t necessarily mean you’ll win races. It needs cunning and deviousness as well.

M’aidez, an 11-foot International Mirror Class dinghy, for alerting me to the fact that you should never name your boat M’aidez if you ever want to call anybody on VHF radio.

Mother’s Ruin, another Mirror, taught me how to wage  psychological warfare against racing competitors. Old Band-Aids stuck on a brand new mainsail seemed to distract them greatly as I sailed past.

Messy, another Mirror, taught me the valuable lesson that there are various forms of polyester resin, at least one of which will not cure if you don’t exclude air from its surface.  Her taped seams never got hard, never accepted paint, so I deliberately gave her a splodgy paint job and painted her name on her sides with a whitewash brush.

Trapper, a C&C 27, deserves my thanks for raising my social status at the yacht club.  Everybody admired her looks, if not my racing results.  A sweet boat.

Freelance, a Performance 31, by Lavranos, carried me and my family to a new life in America and taught me how to lie ahull in 50-knot winds off the Cape of Storms.

Square One, yet another Mirror, was a wreck I found in Los Angeles. She taught me how to restore a wooden boat in a garage in an apartment block without alerting the tenants directly above.  I learned their habits, and did my banging and sawing while they were showering or listening to loud TV. Nobody reported me to the fierce landlady.

Square One II. Yep, a Mirror again. Another wreck, this time in Seattle. I learned that I could

use an epoxy paste to replace a whole ply of marine plywood that fell off the starboard topsides. I was very proud of that repair job.

Tagati was a Santana 22 that showed us the glories of Puget Sound, the San Juan Islands and the Canadian Gulf Islands. Fast, simple and easily handled. I spent 13 months restoring her and should never have sold her.

Jabula, a Cape Dory 25D, took us around Vancouver Island on a six-week trip and allowed us to to meet an Oregonian cruising couple who gave us their recipe for gravlox salmon, which became our most-requested dish ever.

Sangoma, a Cape Dory 27,  took us around Vancouver Island again and taught me that you can  tow a heavy-displacement full-keel sailboat for two miles behind a small dinghy in a calm if you know how to scull with one oar over the transom. Yes, our engine broke down, but I got her into a small port from which a friendly Canadian boat towed us 10 miles to the area’s only mechanic.

Eclipse, a Cal 20, one of Gary Mull’s finest, taught me that I don’t like outboard engines that work in small wells let into the cockpit. She was a champion sailor, but I couldn’t stand the idea of her propeller protruding beneath the hull and causing drag all the time.

And finally, I have to mention Tokoloshe, a 10-foot, narrow-gutted, fiberglass fishing skiff that served as tender for the last four boats I owned. She was an unfinished mongrel of a boat, but without peer for seaworthiness. We towed her for thousands of miles, including hundreds in the open Pacific, and she never gave us a moment’s worry. Perhaps it was because I warned her that if she ever gave us trouble in a heavy following sea, I wouldn’t hesitate to cast her loose. I give thanks that It was a threat I never had to carry out.

Today’s Thought
So once in every year we throng
Upon a day apart,
To praise the Lord with feast and song
In thankfulness of heart.
— Arthur Guiterman, The First Thanksgiving

"Why did that sailor buy drinks for all those girls?"
"He likes to have a port in every sweetheart."





Steve said...

Well, we need the Salmon recipe now...

John Vigor said...

GRAVLOX, from Burl and Abigail Romick, Wind Song, Barkley Sound, 1999


Center cut of salmon, 3 to 3 1/2 pounds, cleaned and scaled.

Large bunch of dill. (Or dried dill, if you’re cruising.)

1/4 cup Kosher salt

1/4 cup sugar

2 tablespoons crushed peppercorns


Slice lengthwise and remove backbone and small bones.

Place half of fish skin-side-down in a glass or enamel baking dish or casserole. Sprinkle dill on top.

Combine salt, sugar, and peppercorns. Sprinkle over dill.

Place the other half of the fish on top, skin-side-up.

Cover with plastic, weighted down and place somewhere cool (refrigerate if possible) for 48 hours. Turn fish over every 12 hours or so and baste with the liquid marinade that forms.

You’ll need a sharp knife to take off horizontal slices, because the meat is quite soft, and you can serve it on crackers or bagels as an hors d’oeuvre, eat it with salad, or simply rip pieces off with your fingers and gobble them down if nobody’s watching.

If you’re at home, you can, of course, buy a ready-filleted center cut of salmon at your grocery store, delicatessen, or fishmonger. It’s not cheating. But if you can, catch your salmon yourself. It will never taste better.

Anonymous said...

My apologies ... but Cal 20 is Lapworth design unless I am mistaken (which I often am).

John Vigor said...

Thanks, Anon, you are quite right. Bill Lapworth designed the Cal 20. I had the Santana 22 in mind when I mentioned Gary Mull. You're certainly not mistaken this time.

John V.