Monday, September 29, 2008


David at Never Sea Land likes mermaids.   A lot.   I, too, liked this one. Had to share it. If you like mermaids, visit. Looks like a Pre Raphaelite painter, but I'm not sure who it might be. And what, exactly, is going on with the hair. I'm pretty sure there's a hidden image in there, looks like a tail and some small hooved feet just left of center. Anyone see more? Hazel?

Saturday, September 27, 2008

Webb Chiles and Chidiock Tichborne or Macro/microcruising (part 7)

Webb Chiles is currently undertaking his fifth circumnavigation, well, 4&3/4 if you want to get technical, but he doesn't and I won't, so fifth it is. The 3/4 one is definitely the one he is most known for, his cruise almost around the world, solo, in an 18' open Drascombe yawl named Chidiock Tichborne after the 16th century English poet. Actually two of the same boats, as he lost the first the first after being falslely imprisioned in Saudi Arabia, as a spy. A truly epic voyage, and a capable boat and sailor. This from Webb,"Chidiock Tichborne was a great boat, who did more than I had any right to expect, and was a pleasure to sail.  My best day's runs in her were around 145 miles, and I often completed long passages only three or four days slower than boats more than twice her size".Webb is not only a sailor, he's also a writer and photographer and a very good at both.   I find his writing elegant and lucid, lean and clear as glass.  He is also very generous. Four of his books, numerous articles and photographs and poetry are all available on his website, which is also clean and elegant. Today Webb responded to my email queries and let me know that he's recently arrived back in the US, leaving his latest boat in Darwin but will be returning to it in January to resume his fifth.   Circumnavigation.   You can follow his wanderings in his Journal. Here is the poetry of Tichborne, which Webb read to those seeing him off at the beginning of his journey in the Drascombe.

My prime of youth is but a frost of cares,
My feast of joy is but a dish of pain,
My crop of corn is but a field of tares,
And all my good is but vain hope of gain;
The day is past, and yet I saw no sun,
And now I live, and now my life is done.
My tale was heard and yet it was not told,
My fruit is fallen, and yet my leaves are green,
My youth is spent and yet I am not old,
I saw the world and yet I was not seen;
My thread is cut and yet it is not spun,
And now I live, and now my life is done.
I sought my death and found it in my womb,
I looked for life and saw it was a shade,
I trod the earth and knew it was my tomb,
And now I die, and now I was but made;
My glass is full, and now my glass is run,
And now I live, and now my life is done.

The photo at the top is called "Dante". The next two are of Moorea, Webbs favorite island and anchorage, eight miles from Tahiti. The third down is the drascombe leaving San Diego, the fourth...somewhere along the journey. Go to this website, read Webbs books, follow his journey.
Listen to his interview with furled sails here.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Frank and Margaret Dye, or Macro/microcruising (part 6)

Frank and Margaret are perhaps the ultimate Microcruisers. They have taken their little Wayfarer dinghy (15'10") to some places and on some cruises most folks wouldn't or couldn't do in a larger boat.  Seemingly fearless, they have not been , but have believed that adequate preparation will see you through most eventualities. And so it has been for them. The first book I ever read about sailing adventures was Ocean Crossing Wayfarer and I was electrified by it. I am currently reading Margaret's book on dinghy cruising, with an eye to prepping  the Daysailer I'm working on. I recommend it. To anyone sailing a small boat.  Frank made some amazing voyages to Iceland and Norway as well as on the Atlantic Coast of the USA and elsewhere.You can find here a great video of the voyage from northern Scotland to Aalesund, Norway. I will warn you to turn down your volume as it's very loud. Margaret has also done phenomenal cruises on her own and together with Frank. A very interesting couple who have given great inspiration to the cruising community in general and dinghy cruisers specifically. Their achievement, together and individually, is immense. The top photo is not the Dye's boat but does show the kind of boom tent Frank and Margaret designed for the Wayfarer.

Macro/Microcrising (part 5)

Around in Ten is a singlehanded circumnavigation race designed to challenge Serge Testa's record , stipulating that all boats must be 10' or under. Set to begin in 105 days, January 10, 2009, from Bermuda  to Bermuda, with a westward route and passing through the Panama Canal. There are six racers entered, and apparently most are still building. Three well known boat designers are represented, John SelwayBruce Roberts and John Welsford. The other three are building to their own design. I must say, they are all interesting designs. Only three have posted construction photos on the website.  The image above is the boat Skippy, designed and being built by Gilbert Van Meel in Antwerp, Belguim. The race is the  brainchild of Nick Dwyer, who is also the organiser, and he'll be providing a support boat and be transmitting coverage of the race on a regular basis. I actually like the idea of this race, but...I have a few reservations. Most, if not all, of these boats are not yet completed, far from it. Doesn't leave much time for fitting out and sea trials. And at least three of the designs are untested (the self designs), and actually, I don't know if the designer's boats have built and tested by others. If this thing actually goes off, I'll be watching. With interest. Please take a look and give me some feedback, whats your opinion? Are these guy's nuts, or simply very courageous, or burning with a desire to enter the record books. A ten foot boat can only intensify the hardships that Serge endured on his epic voyage, and are they truly viable for circumnavigation? What do you think? Heroic  or (something else)? Nick is looking for sponsorship to help manage the effort, so...

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Serge Testa and Acrohc Australis or Micro/Macrocruiing (part 4)

Serge Testa currently holds the world record for circumnavigation in the smallest boat, his Acrohc Australis, which he designed and built himself. 11' 10". He set out from Brisbane in 1984 and returned to Brisbane in 1987. He chronicled his amazing feat in a glorious little book titled 500 Days. The boat now resides in the...Museum in Brisbane ( all photo's courtesy Bill Seargent@ SmallSailboats UK.) I've written Serge to find out what he's up to these days but haven't heard back, yet. At least I know this: After his circumnavigation, Serge and his brother Silvio built a proa in the true Polynesian style in the Phillipines and attempted to cross the Pacific to prove that ancient migration to the "new" world could have been made by boat as well as by land. Plagued by underfunding, the trip was abanonded 1/2 way to it's destination in Japan. serge continued his sailing pusuits, crewing for other's and made his way to an Francisco where he met and married his wife Robin. Together they built a new boat, a 60' steel yacht  named Encanta, in which they sailed around the world between 1993 and 1997. Serge's record is set to be challenged by some folks building super/micro  cruising boats. Maybe. If they actually do it.
We'll see.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Microcruising Part Three

Dave and Mindy Bolduc are exemplars of microcruising. They have a website devoted to microcruising and do quite a bit of it themselves. Little Cruiser, a Matt Layden design, also built by him, top two photos, they own and have cruised to the Bahamas from their native NC. at least 7 times. Swamp Thing, a much smaller design, they now own and are restoring, if I've got it right. They have an update on their restoration and other interesting bits here. They also are the conduit for Matt' plans if you want to build a Paradox. Their website is the main portal to Laydens work and has great links, cruises they've done, study plans, sketches,news and forums.
You can order plans for Paradox, and probably other craft by emailing them here: The plans for Paradox are $40. A steal. 12 pages. From David:Though no step-by-step 
instructions are included, you can obtain an excellent building guide from 
Don Elliott,  at or This booklet 
first appeared as a 16 part series in "Messing About in Boats," and it is 
worth getting if you are at all serious about building this neat little 
boat. Payment for the Paradox plans can be by money order, bank check or 
Paypal ( . Happy building.

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Microcruising, Part One (well, actually, two)

Bill Seargent has a very informative, information rich website for small sailboats and cruising them. He's owned a lot of boats over his lifetime but seems to currently be most taken with Matt Layden's Paradox design. That's Bill with his self built "Faith", and cruising the Suffolk coast, his home cruising ground. Alastair Law, also in the UK, built and sails "Little Jim", the interior of which we see at the top. These and other Paradox can be found in a special section devoted to the boat on Bill's website. This site is full of useful info for microcruising, extensive lists of boats and other resources, building process of several builders of different boats, with photo's, and more.

Friday, September 19, 2008


I'm working on something else but I thought in the meantime you might enjoy these. Denmark, Peer Bruun, designer. Quote "The Megin dinghy is basically a scaled down model of Skuldelev 1 (and look at the video there), one of the shipwrecks found in the Roskilde fjord in Denmark. The Skuldelev 1 has a pair of planks in the bottom set at an angle to the lateral line of the vessel, called Meginhufer. They create a step running parallel to the keel. In this step the water travels faster reducing the wave system around the hull. " You can find more here by going to links, dinghies, Megin. Or click the title above for the Danish.

Monday, September 15, 2008

Deja Vuoogle

Whoa. Creed O'Hanlon of the Ethnic Catamaran Co. sent me a heads up on a possible new development in the evolution of seasteading and it's two (at least) divergent paths. Google has filed a patent application for databarges, to house the immense supercomputers needed to run its global search engines. Apparently there are huge energy costs associated with cooling these things, and the idea is to harness wave energy for electricity and use seawater for cooling. They would set up as far as 7 miles out to sea. Not mentioned by google is the fact that at sea they would be effectively "offshore" with all the implications of that status. Theoretically they could become a sovereign nation. What are the tax implications, and what about privacy law? Of course this is very difficult to achieve and has been tried in the past many times, almost always failing. Almost always. Then there is "Sealand" . Or is there ? Refer to Creed's recent four part discussion at his blog A Tiki in Thailand. I also recommend reading the comment left there by Michael Schacht of Proafile. My title links to the original Times article. And there's much more here... Any thoughts?

Sunday, September 14, 2008


Kevin O'Neill has a very nice wiki, called Wikiproa, wherein he has a group of proa enthusiasts and builders publishing the fruits of their building labors and commenting on the results (and the process). It's fun. There are accounts of the building processes and performance of the boats as well. Very relaxed and conversational. Many to Gary Dierking designs, and some indigenous archaic reference material. Highly recommended. For home build proa lovers, a feast.


Photos are: top: Kevin's
Middle: Wade Tarzia having a blast,
Bottom: Vintage Walap from Kiribati

Hiroshi Sugimoto

Hiroshi Sugimoto is a sublime and even ecstatic artist. Buddhist inspired or informed, very silent and quiet, empty but always pointing or at least hinting at other possibilities, other worlds. He's on the leading edge of art today. His work, for me at least, does what great art should do, invites us to explore our intellect and imagination. I've always felt his photos as keys, stimulants for the imagination. They are so quiet and empty, as much about what is not there as what is. This series is called "Seascapes" and here is what the artist has to say:

"Water and air. So very commonplace are these substances, they hardly attract
attention―and yet they vouchsafe our very existence.
The beginnings of life are shrouded in myth: Let there water and air. Living phenomena
spontaneously generated from water and air in the presence of light, though that could
just as easily suggest random coincidence as a Deity. Let's just say that there happened
to be a planet with water and air in our solar system, and moreover at precisely the right
distance from the sun for the temperatures required to coax forth life. While hardly
inconceivable that at least one such planet should exist in the vast reaches of universe,
we search in vain for another similar example.
Mystery of mysteries, water and air are right there before us in the sea. Every time I view
the sea, I feel a calming sense of security, as if visiting my ancestral home; I embark on a
voyage of seeing."

Hiroshi Sugimoto
Posted without permission, as no contact information is available. I post this in spite of not having permission, as this work is important, and this artist big enough to approve of this posting.

Friday, September 12, 2008

Elf Update

Elf apparently has her new topsail, judging from these pictures I recently recieved from Rick. The Crab Feast took place last weekend but I haven't heard with what results and wasn't able to go. Nor can I make it this weekend to a work party in Maryland to get her ready for the fall. Maybe you can.? Here's Rick ...
"Dear friends, ELF is out of the water now at Georgetown Yacht Basin. We are painting the hull, and adjusting the waterline / bottom paint, etc. If you have a moment to stop and lend a hand it will be greatly appreciated. Please let me know your thoughts. I am trying to get her in real show condition for the upcoming events. I need to re-launch by Wednesday or earlier.
Rick "
'Nuff said.

Thursday, September 11, 2008

Can't believe I missed this

I spoke to Grant Gambell of Gambell & Hunter Sailmakers up in Camden, Me. I had written about them before in connection with an electronic exhibit on them at the Maine Memory Network (see earlier post below). I was talking to Grant because I wanted to buy his sail repair kit. I've been looking around and his is not only a good deal, but I would be supporting a traditional sailmaker as opposed to West Marine, who offers 1/2 as much and charges twice as much. We were discussing my article and he asked if I'd seen the website he put up on A.P. Lord, the original sailmaker in this loft. I wasn't sure. So after the call I checked, no I had not seen it, and it's deep and rich and well worth a look. I'll let you find it as I did, click the link above for the repair kit, go to the bottom of the page. By the way, the sewing machine is Mr. Lord's, still in use and making the products on the canvas page. Enjoy.

Jose is in!

Jose finally went in Tuesday morning and Jasper and I went down to fire up the new diesel. She started on the second pop, but eventually would die . Repeatedly. We suspected air in the fuel line and tracked back to the source of the problem, a compression fitting coming off the fuel tank had split almost it's entire length. Diesel all over. Amazing that the engine ran at all. Well, it's simple enough to fix and we need to replace some old pitcock valves with ball valves in the fuel line anyway. Were heading back down to North East either tomorrow or over the weekend, a couple of hours of work, an hour or so to begin breaking in the new diesel and then, with some wind, a sail.

This is the new Beta 20HP diesel engine — made in England and modified for an Atomic 4 footprint that replaced a Westerbeke 26HP gas engine (22-years old). The Westerbeke needs some gaskets replaced but is available. Interested parties email me and I'll put you in touch with Jasper.

Tuesday, September 9, 2008

James Wharram and Hanneke Boon

I've been reluctant to post James Wharram as most of my readers are already aware of him. You may not be aware, however, of this little beauty, a tacking proa with crab claw sail which he initially designed for the Melanesians with an eye to conservation of the trees the Melanesians typically use for creating dugouts: "The 'MELANESIA' is to be used in the traditional manner as a small inter island sea truck, for daily commuting to their gardens, for out to sea fishing or just paddling around to see friends, families or nearby islands." I'd love to hear from anyone who's built or sailed one of these and also a Hitia 17.
Mr. Wharram and Hanneke Boon, his partner in design and life, are recognized as two of the most influential designers to bring the Catamaran into our era, and one of the most effective proponents of the self build community. They have a large and loyal group of builders and are responsible, at least tangentially, for much of what actual seasteading is done today.
PS. Just recieved a link from Creed O'Hanlon @ A Tiki in Thailand on the latest update/letter/whereabouts/and goings on from Mr. Wharram and Ms. Boon here.

Saturday, September 6, 2008


I don't really read Portuguese, so I don't know what this blog is addressing, completely. I do know he(or she) is posting really interesting photo's of what appear to be traditional or traditionally inspired workboats from Brasil. Even if you have no Portuguese it's worth a look, there are some magnificent boats there. Maybe Peter Mirow (of ARPEX) could help.
Peter has replied to me that these are indeed a collection of workboats and that the blogger is a working skipper, hence the sporadic nature of the posts. All I have been able to decipher from the the title, putting it through translation utilities on the net, is that it is something about 'hoist the candle'. Peter? Anyone?

Arpex defined

Peter Mirow has posted an answer online to a question I put to him about the meaning of the name Arpex. He also posted a portrait of the landscape in question, done in his singular style of making artwork with iron oxide stains on dacron sailcloth, if I've got it right. The example I've included here is of another point and mountain range. You can dig into more of Peter's work here.

Thursday, September 4, 2008


Creed O'Hanlon of The Ethnic Catamaran Company has published a very interesting piece on nomadic lifestyles in general and seasteading on the micro level in particular. It was published in the Griffith Review recently and is currently making an appearance on his blog, A
Tiki in Thailand
. Creed had sent me the full text, unpublished, shortly after I first posted about him. I've been mulling it over ever since, because I wanted to give it the right treatment and tie it in with something relevant. It's half rant half academic research and completely compelling. I am posting it with some photo's of the Moken, a semi nomadic group of Thai "seasteaders" as that's the one extant group that I'm aware of pursuing this lifestyle. The Moken or Mogen are not true seasteaders in that they are tied to land based communities about 6 months in the year, but they still embody this ideal more than any group I know of. James Wharram has suggested intentional communities of self builders living on the sea and organised around a mothership. This has yet to occur according to my information.The Moken achieved instant notoriety after the big tsunami in Thailand because, due to their culture and awareness of the sea, they knew the big wave was coming before it hit. National Geographic was all over them, among others. Their lifestyle is of course threatened by the pressure resulting from exposure to modernity and rising fuel prices. Most of their canoes have been converted from sail to fuel.

Creed's article is a must for anyone reading this blog. It tangentially delineates the debate on seasteading and it's possible tracks, corporate or "pirate" ie: small scale or individual approaches. Please read and respond. I'd like to initiate a dialogue on this subject, but I need your input. So I am challenging anyone who reads this blog to weigh in with their views on this subject. If you don't know anything about it, read Creed's work, do some google research, but give this some time and energy.

Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Reuel Parker's Ibis via Scott Williams

I'm sure most of my readers are familiar with Reuel Parker of Parker Marine. If not, you should be. Much like Iain Oughtred, he's adept at taking traditional working craft and adapting them to modern usage and construction. He's building a prototype of his new design Ibis and has had some conversation about this new darling with Scott Williams. to wit:
"Reuel Parker is building the first prototype of his new line of (BIG) trailerable boats in Florida: a double-ended sharpie schooner based on the Straits of Juan del Fuca mackeral-fishing sharpies of Washington State in the 1880's. The new sharpie is 45' on deck, 10' beam, 2'6" draft, 15,000 lbs displacement, with an unladen trailer weight of 12,000 lbs. She is a bald-headed gaff schooner, with self-tending sails."

That's the blurb and there's some really interesting conversation between Scott and Reuel on Scott's blog. It's good. Scott is a boatbuilder himself, an adventurer with a personal exploration of the Caribbean in a kayak under his belt and the author of several books on kayak exploration of his native Mississippi, the Caribbean, and general rants about culture and disaffection with modern life. Look.