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Little Boat, Big Dreams
Biting the Bullet

Summertime is sailing time and for the past few summers we've always had Wings in shape to at least daysail, despite unfinished trim work. But this winter has not been cooperative and when we were supposed to be hauled last fall for more involved projects, an assortment of things from inhospitable weather to unfeasible yard scheduling seemed to present one insurmountable obstacle after another. So, it is finally warming enough that the ice has melted, but we have at least five or so months of work to do. We finally had to face the fact that to get Wings keel reglassed and the interior done was going to take more than our usual few hours a month.

I used to keep an Irwin 42 down by the bay at Jennings boatyard, a boat-building as well as repair facility about an hour away and began to consider these great facilities. A couple of weeks ago I went down and got briefly reacquainted with Larry Jennings, and for the next year it appears Wings will be on the hard down by the Bay near Reedville, Virginia. We'll miss sailing Angels Wings on a summer whim, but look forward to getting her finished and up to par for the summer of 2011 - hopefully with reglassed keel, more functional and robust cabin as well as some moderate rerigging and general topside upgrading.

03/22/2010 | nighean donn
Ahoy Angel Wings! came across your blog on CForum. We also family sail a 26 ft sailboat - on the west coast of Ireland. Hope you get your repairs sorted soon and get sailing again.
Best wishes
Good Grief...

Okay, the last few months have not gone according to plan. Wings was supposed to be pulled in late October or Early November to allow us time to cut apart a delamination in the keel foot. The plan was to let the keel drain and dry all winter and then epoxy/glass the heck out of it come spring. Well, if spring comes this year, it will find Wings still in the water. Hopefully afloat. It is beginning to look like Wings will spend the year on the hard because there are myriad lingering projects, and a few like the keel that just have to be done, or else. However, the past two months have been weather hold-up after weather hold-up. First, interminable late-fall rains that almost shut down the Colonial Beach yacht center for November and early December and then snow after snow. Lately our boating has consisted of going down to shovel Wings' decks and cockpit to help keep the little girl's bootstripe from disappearing below the surrounding ice.

Black Bag and Batteries

Regardless of how simple we like to try to keep life, it seems that techno-gizmos intrude -- and, we must admit, some of them can be useful. However, aboard Wings there is no electrical system, there is no generator set, there are no battery banks and if there were, there is no way to charge them. So how do we manage?

The short of it is, quite nicely -- thank you very much!

With the exception of paper charts and chart books (yes, they still do print these), the bulk of our techno-gizmos fit into a small, black canvas bag a little smaller than a shoebox and there is plenty of room to spare. Essentially, we run on AA and AAA batteries -- batteries that power; a depth finder, a wind gauge, a hand-held VHF, various lights, our faithful and inexpensive Garmin 72 GPS as well as a few other odds and ends that help us mimic civilization.

Missing from the picture are Wings' battery operated LED navigation lights, two LED interior lanterns, a hand bearing compass, a couple of small digital cameras and a few other minor items that we've accumulated. The bag goes with us from home to boat, and then back again, easily and with no fuss. To be sure, we don't have the luxury of weather-fax, single side band or satellite phone, but somehow that all seems a tad superfluous for local cruising (and I'm told Tangvald, Chichester and others far more experianced managed without `em as well). What we do have is a handful of trustworthy gadgets that help us navigate through the dark, promise reasonable means of emergency communication (we also carry cell-phones, but they've never seemed terribly useful), allow us to gauge the depth of the water around us should we be so curious and good old paper charts to help us visualize where we might be on those rare instances when were out of sight of land.

The truth is, in our little bag with techno-gizmos powered by a few bucks worth of batteries per year we have more sailing and navigation information than I've had in several decades of low-pressure boating. I can navigate easily and accurately to the degree I never could dream of when we used to fish 25 to 30 miles offshore. I can quickly determine the depth of the water far better than I could on the 15-ton ketch I lived aboard for several years (it had no depth-finder at all -- used a lead-line), we can tell the speed of the wind easily as well as light our way home safely, and maybe even legally -- I'm always astonished at the brightness of the LED navigation lights. On several occasions the stern light shining aft has more than illuminated the cockpit to read the GPS and charts.

When Wings is tied to the dock all our (semi)expensive electrical gizmos are safely in the closet. And, as we get ready to get underway we simply grab the little black bag and carry it aboard. Okay, I admit many times we don't use the gizmos much for day sailing and normally the gadget we use the most is the GPS -- especially when we think we're enjoying a good turn of speed. But they all go with us, and we test the gizmos with some regularity to ensure they'll work when we need `em. We sail reasonably secure in the knowledge that we can know where we are, access the weather information if needed, have reliable light to enjoy a good book snuggled a way in the evening and alert other travelers to our whereabouts and intentions - all for about $10 a year in batteries.

How bad is that.

01/02/2010 | Ralph from RELAX
Hi, Larry, thanks for your comment on our blogpage. Agree with you to the love for "staying with basics". Keeps away lot of trouble! Unfortunately I was surrounded by Gismoz all my life, not able to change.
And, it is not the size of a boat that matters, it is the love for the boat. Maybe I loved my first 21 footer most when I was young guy?
Regards from Hawaii
Reflections on The Boat Show

The Annapolis Sailboat Show used to be an annual ritual for me some decades back, but over the years the rite has languished as the necessity for new-fangled, innovative technicals and the more posh seemed to fade from my view ... but in recent years, accompanied by the family, I've rediscovered the easy fun I used to enjoy before I became preoccupied with bigger and better... just poking around, admiring the woodwork of a hand-built kayak, the engineering simplicity of a steering-vane or just chatting with a purveyor if some well-thought-out gizmo that leaves one scratching their head and wondering why no one had ever thought of that before... But this year, it was the grandson who got to set priority; he being of the age when faster, brighter and flashier rules the day... And, he announced, he wanted to see all the multihull boats we could... We went aboard the requisite number of condo-cats; sumptuous, airy and extravagant, but always inundated with a crowd of envious visitors. We also went aboard a smaller cruising tri-hull or two, I have grown to admire the simplicity of the smaller cruisers, but the grandson was unimpressed... Then we stumbled on a little Wharram cat and lingered for a second and third look -- chatting with the builder who seemed more interested in talking boats than in selling them... the little Wharram didn't actually have standing headroom and seemed to lack some of the glitzy accouterments and techno-gizmos of its big sterile sisters, but, oh, it had personality, real character... I remember many years ago a similar feeling I had when I went aboard a cozy little Bingham Flicka for the first time, comfy, tasteful, robust and affectionately crafted... that's what I was looking for... a boat with a heart... they're still being made; very reassuring...

Family day on the water...

Well okay, the refurbishments aren't done yet... Deanna has nicely done combings in her shop just waiting on the indolent helmsman to get off his duff and varnish the suckers, but time is a wasting... so on a nice breezy Sunday, the Admiral threw the old half-decayed combings in the car and we headed to the boat... the helmsman and the grandson (now promoted to navigator) scrapped the lower unit of the motor, the same motor helmsman was supposed to bottom-paint, and headed out for a day sail... We threw in one reef in the main since it was kicking up a bit from time to time and just enjoyed whooshing along... the reef took care of the weather helm we get from time to time with these elderly, and baggy, sails (helmsman has a "new" mainsail just waiting to be bent on, but does he get with it.... noooo...). But the day was sunny and pleasant, we switched roles from time to time so everyone got a little more accustomed with several more boaty things, and when the reefing hook jammed itself in the cringle, it became apparent that the helmsman has yet another chore he must attend to... boy, something defective with that helmsman... hope the Admiral doesn't run an inspection before we get Wings in shape...

Grandma’s notion -- Nana's N'Ocean

Well, the Admiral's fleet has expanded... fishing off the back of Wings has proven unproductive so far, and besides for some, 5 knots just doesn't cut it all the time... I mean why glide serenely over the waves powered by the summer breezes when you can smash and bash throwing foam and spray every which way and keeping some middle east Sheik in business... okay, okay just kiddin'... Deanna has been wanting a little "speed boat" for some time and one day while the helmsman was at work, this little guy just followed her home - honest injun'... There is a little matter of needing a motor, but the search is in high-gear and there are high-hopes of boating a tuna or marline, or at least a croaker, before the north wind blows... had one similar to this one decades ago and enjoyed it immensely, trekking far too far out into the Atlantic in search of Mackerel and Wahoo's, so here we go again...sure am glad I ordered those spare reels to upgrade the trolling poles...

01/29/2012 | Rob
hey if you ever want to sell that 20' c-hawk let me know, i may be interested.

rob - Eastern NC

very nice website by the way.
01/29/2012 | Rob
my email didnt come out very clear in the above post - its [email protected]

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Port: Colonial Beach, Virginia, USA
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