Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Nord Vinden still available...

This beautiful boat is still available. You can read about her and see more detailed photos here. Built by William Clements in 1988, to George Holmes Ethel design, this boat is a marvel. I've been in touch with the owner and he is asking 10k, though she's probably worth twice that. If you have interest or questions, please contact me via my email address, visible in this blogs introduction, and I will connect you with the owner. Located in southern VA.

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Alessandro Di Benedetto: Around nonstop in a Mini 6.50

Alessandro Di Benedetto

Improving and strengthening the boat in preparation for her voyage

Building the protection cabin

rotta teorica

the Mini fitted out

Departing Les Sables d'Ollone

Mini with Alessandro aboard

Modification aft, the 'protection cabin', is apparent here



all photos courtesy Alessandro Di Benedetto

With the spate of circumnavigations one reads about these day's, from teenagers to 60' Maxi's, this particular adventurer stands out, at least for me. Alessandro Di Benedetto is no stranger to open ocean sailing, having crossed both the Atlantic and Pacific in, or rather, on a 20' catamaran with no cabin. Now he's pursuing something no less audacious. He's making an attempt to go round via the three capes in a modified 21' Mini 6.50 with no assistance and without stopping or landing. If he succeeds he will have done so in the smallest boat to achieve this to date. He cites the rule and spirit of the first Golden Globe as inspiration:
"The new trip rules are very simple. They are the same used for the Golden Globe, first regatta single-handed sailor held by Sunday Times in 1968/69, later become Vendée Globe:

* A sailor, a sailing boat, the globe circumnavigation sailing past the 3 Capes at left (Agulhas, Leeuwin, Horn), without any landing and not assisted."

Alessandro made some significant modifications to his Mini in preparation for this endeavor. He built a cabin at aft which will allow him protection from the elements while allowing him to steer from within, much in the vein of Blondie Hassler's innovations to Jester. He's also strengthened the rudder/steering system.

Alessandro has rather lofty goals for his project which range beyond simply being the 'first' to achieve something. In his words:

Some of the aims of the project:

* To accomplish a unique feat which would be recognized as World Record.
* To be ambassador and international testimonial for sponsors taking part into the event.
* To contribute to the scientific research in several fields (renewable energy, environment protection, medical researches, new technologies, clothing, materials).
* To promote extraordinary experience to be shared with people from different cultures in order to make them feel citizens of the world.
* To be a source of inspiration and motivation for children and young people and to educate them to consider themselves citizens of the world in order to sustain the protection of both natural and artistic earth heritage, with special regard to the next generations.

In order to guarantee the successful achievement of the Round World Sailing and to allow the creation of new multi-medial high-quality products (high resolution videos, satellite communication ,etc), the sail-boat is equipped with the latest technologies (regarding sailing safety, sailing systems, sustenance, complete protection of the body in hostile environments).
The expedition and the boat itself are a real laboratory with the aim to receive new ideas, various kind of projects, testing new tools, materials, renewable energy systems, clothing and realizing medical researches. Documentation which is being collected during this expedition and Alessandro's overall experience will be used not only to fully respond to the sponsor requirements in terms of image, but even to promote the culture of the sea among young people and in order to give strong support to the scientific research, specifically about the environment.
(from Allesandro's website-ed)

Alessandro made good Cape Horn on April 16.

In response to my request for permission to write about him, with some words of encouragement and admiration added, he replied: (relayed through his mother, Anne Marie) "Thanks a lot. Your message gives me -and the boat too - new energies." Sent from Atlantic Sud 46°37'37"S/49°45'43 W, his latest location. You can track Alessandro's progress and read his log updates on his homepage.

My thanks to Alessandro and his mom for their cooperation and I am wishing him great success for his project. You can read about his past adventures in his books and read more about his current venture and listen to a lengthy interview here.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Earth Day 2010

Jumbo Celeste at Newlyn. Imagine fishing from this boat for your livelihood!

Celeste on the hard

Jumbo # 2 taking shape, the William Paynter to be launched June 12 2010

William Paynter oiled and ready for fitting out

above photos courtesy Jonny Nance

Jonny Nance, the driving force behind the St. Ives Jumbo Association reports that the second Jumbo replica is nearing completion. Jumbo # 2 will be named William Paynter "after the renowned St.Ives boatbuilder who left us a book of drafts including one for a jumbo for 'John Uren and others'. It was very unusual to record drawings of boats at this time and so this book (rescued from being thrown away by my grandfather) is crucial to our knowledge of local boatbuilding in the second half of 19th Cent". His plan is to raise awareness and community involvement vis a vis local heritage by forming a Jumbo class and racing the boats. More interesting, to me and globally is his long range intention, after engaging local attention, is an initiative to demonstrate the viability of a return to fishing under sail. Though this may seem radical to some, well.. it is, in the truest sense of the word, which is a return to roots origins. Fishing under sail is a way to reduce trawler and other mass 'harvesting' from the sea and allows for sustainable practice. While not yet widely accepted, the idea is gaining groud, for example the British Parliament has opened a design competition forboat designer's working with the concept. Read more here.

At Bray locks, river Thames

Ness yawl Clodia along the Thames

Man on the River at Marlow lock

and here
above photos courtesy Giacomo De Stefano

Giacomo De Stefano's voyage across Europe has begun. His initiative, called Man on the River, a 5200 km journey across the rivers of Europe, by rowing & sailing, to talk about water protection, sustainable tourism, local economies. I have written about his endeavor here and here.

I was recently contacted by Midori Matsuyaga with Oline Outreach at the Nature Conservancy asking if I'd like to participate in this years Earth Day with an emphasis on minimizing impact on our Oceans. I am enthusiastic about this. I'm putting forward here two initiatives which I feel are important in this regard, and also publishing a list of five things we can all do to minimize our impact on oceans. Please read above about the two projects which I feel are making strides to protect and preserve our water, as well as putting up the Nature conservancy's list of things we can all do to help minimize impact on the 70.8% of the world we inhabit.

Top Five Earth Day Actions:

1. Use reusable bags; hundreds of thousands of marine animals die every year from ingesting plastic bags.

2.Eat sustainbly; you eat fish even when you don't, 38 % of world
fiheries catch is used to feed farm animals.

3.Green your gardning; plant native species, they take less
fertilizer which can seep into oceans!

4. Adopt a coral reef; 70% of Earth's coral reefs will be destroyed by 2050-act Now!

http://adopt.nature.org/coralreef/bahamas /

5. See oceans, Save oceans; See 'OCEANS' ( 4/22-4/28) and a portion of the ticket price benefits the Conservancy's work on coral reefs.


6. *Bonus-general Earth Day messaging; It's time to celebrate Earth Day's 40th anniversary, were asking you to help protect oceans.


I apologize for the typological errors above, but I've had lots of trouble with trying to include the Earth Day list in my post, and I'm not sure why. I had the post ready this morning and it wouldn't post because of some html problems. I seem to have fixed most of them, but two of the five on the list are seemingly unfixable. So just click the links to get the info. Sorry

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Help us find this boat: 'Twilite'

Everett building with Emmett, (maybe), poking out of the backpack

courtesy Hallie Bond & WoodenBoat

'Twilite', built to JH Rushton's Vesper design.

Courtesy © Benjamin Mendlowitz

Bob LaVertue paddling Twilite

Courtesy © Benjamin Mendlowitz

Twilite's sumptuous bronze rudder

Courtesy © Benjamin Mendlowitz

The completed hull in Everett's shop with the deck framing in.

courtesy Emmett Smith

Two more shots of the work in progress

courtesy Emmett Smith

Everett Smith's first boat, Merganser, loosely based on Rushton's Princess, resting on his shop floor

courtesy Everett Smith

Twilite surrounded by her admirers. Mason Smith (left), Everetts brother, wrote the WoodenBoat article,
Bob LaVertue (standing before the sail) commissioned Everett Smith ,(kneeling in the red check shirt) to build Twilite

courtesy Emmett Smith

John Brady recently forwarded me an email from Emmett Smith who is trying to locate a boat built by his father Everett. Emmett's email was originally sent to Tom Shephard, a fellow member of the Delaware River chapter of the TSCA. John thought I might be interested, and inevitably, I am. Here's the gist of the matter:

"Dear Mr. Sheppard,

My Name is Emmett Smith. John Brady gave me your name. I am looking for a very unique boat that I think may be in the Philadelphia area. It is a reproduction of a Rushton Vesper model decked sailing canoe that my father Everett Smith built for a customer in the 1970's. It was called 'Twilite,' and got a bit of press from WoodenBoat at the time. For me, it is a part of my family history, and I am anxious to find it.

The boat was sold by the Ross Bros. in Massachusetts in the late 1980's and entered the world of designers and antiques. It found its way to Wanamakers Department Store at 1300 Market St. in Philadelphia, whee it was on display from 1991-1996. When Strawbridges bought out Wanamakers, the boat went into a storage unit at 8th and Market. In 2006, when FDC-Macy's moved into 1300 Market St., the old storage building was cleared out and the boat was sold. This is information from the Visual Director of Macy's, a man named Mark Moody, who oversaw the selloff but does not remember who the boat went to.

So far this is where the trail ends. The boat was sold in downtown Philadelphia in 2006. So, I am contacting people in the area who would take note of a unique boat such as this. If you have seen it or have any leads for me please be in touch. I am looking also for anyone else who sells or deals in boats or maritime antiques; anyone who might have come across this boat.

The boat is Alaskan cedar over oak, with mahogany decks and coamings and spruce masts. The folding rudder and Radix style centerboard are handmade as well. The boat has copper flotation tanks under the decks. It did have a flag with its name, but I do not know if it is still with the boat. The Ross Bros. also stamped their name before they sold it, probably under the thwarts and seats. I have attached a couple of pictures as well.

Thank you so much for your time."

I was intrigued. I searched my spotty WoodenBoat archive and found the article in WoodenBoat # 65, august 1985. Jogged my memory. As a recent graduate of the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art ('83)I was thrilled to read this article which depicted the boatbuilder as artist. It introduced me to sailing canoes, canoe yawls, and J H Rushton. I think I bought the Manley book on Rushton shortly thereafter and visited the Adirondack Museum within the year. I wrote Emmett to get permission to write about his search and some intriguing info came to light. Emmett is now a boatbuilder living on the West coast and also doing consulting work for various institutions. Everett now has his shop in Canton, NY, the location of Rushton's old boatworks. He served for a time as the curator of the Antique Boat Museum at Clayton, NY. Bob LaVertue, who commissioned the boat, I met at the MASCF last year. He crafts bronze and copper hardware for sailing canoes of this kind, including the folding fan centerboards in Springfield MA, and while he created some of the hardware for Twilite, the radix centerboard was made by John Wells.

This boat has a rich heritage, and Emmett would like to return it to the family fold. ANYONE having any info regarding the whereabouts of this family heirloom should contact Emmett, or me or John Brady.

Special thanks to Benjamin Mendlowitz for permission to use his lovely photos of Twilite. You really owe it to yourself to visit his website. And thanks to Tom Jackson at WoodenBoat for putting me in touch with him.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Flying Dutchman: 'On the track of Windvinder'

Here's another photo of Yellowfin;
Wipke comments :

Little Yellowfin with 9000 meters of water under the keels... I swam towards him - we didn't want to come so close with the big canoe - it was crazy. Such a boat on such an Ocean! The water is so clear that you have to be afraid you could fall down. Nine thousand meters! And then this fantastic creature, in the middle of nowhere. Like a jewel.
I wrote last year that such a windmill could not be very effective, nor seaworthy. That's what I imagined. I was wrong: These creatures are the most seaworthy things I have ever met on the ocean! And they are fast - incredible.


An older photo of Thor

Thor, looking aft.

Possible route

all photos and other material courtesy Wipke Iwersen

Wipke has sent me another photo of Yellowfin and an account of her introduction to him, please read above. She is also very concerned that the coming expedition aboard Thor is correctly presented here.
She has written me that:

"Windvinder goes to the origin of the wind, unmanned, and we sail around the world ON THE TRACK OF THE WINDVINDER, to collect the stories which the mysterious "ghost ship" creates with its voyage. We will meet the makers of his life journey! And who knows what else... People can still JOIN THIS EXPEDITION !!! Creative, enthusiastic, seaworthy people, of course...

We want to leave end of this summer. Thor is a 14m classic steel yawl, built in 1957/58 on the island Norderney in the North Sea.
By the way: While Windvinder is sailing against the wind all the time, we sail DOWNWIND with Thor. We have no windmill on board!
Luckily the world is round; so probably we will meet at the other end of the world.

From the Windvinder website,

"We will follow the trail of stories, rumors and legends that this unmanned ghost ship leaves behind on the islands – and MEET THE MAKERS OF ITS LIFE JOURNEY.

These stories and encounters will be made into a book.

Windvinder is on a journey to make the intangible tangible. Our voyage will be to reap what he has sown - and continues to sow. Messages from islanders and fishermen, sketches on bits of paper, models from driftwood and drawings in the sand: interviews overcoming language barriers to communicate about that which knows no barriers... the breath of an invisible creature, a whiff of an idea. The purpose of our expedition is more than “just” the reconstruction of the voyage of an unmanned vessel that is driven and piloted across the world’s seas by the wind alone. More than anything we want to use the collected fragments to reconstruct the journey of a living, growing saga: the rumor of the impossible, which may turn out to be less impossible than we think."

Anyone wishing to participate in this fascinating adventure should write to Wipke here:

Sunday, April 11, 2010

News of Windvinder

Windvinder at sea

and here

Wipke rode the back of Windvinder for about 300 miles on the open sea.

She returned to land aboard this large outrigger canoe, a tuna fishing vessel.

Wipke and a local islander making a new tail fin for the Windvinder

Others have been inspired to build their own Windvinder's and set them free on the open sea. These 'offspring' have been dubbed 'Yellowfin', after the first new vessel, seen here, with yellow 'sails' or wings.

Wipke writes:


"The strange thing about the Guam reports is that they do not contradict each other. And they come from very different phone numbers. Even from different countries! After all, it’s not so impossible that some kind of Windvinder is underway there. Two old canoes are easy to find, make them watertight, put two beams in between and a single-shaft windmill drive, and that’s it. The single shaft Windvinder doesn’t even need a keel or a center board. As long as it is very small, it can be really easy. Well, nobody has said that a Windvinder has to be big! Maybe the smallest ones have the biggest chance to survive…

The problem is the shaft. Wings could even be made from plywood, for a small six-blade windmill, but the shaft…? Bamboo doesn’t work, I have tried it. Not even for a one meter model. You need something really straight. But the islanders are masters in improvisation…

The more interesting question is, if the Mariana Windvinder really exists, how did he jump there? Most probably he is born north of the typhoon tracks. Or he is incredibly lucky; or both. But some connection with the original Windvinder must exist, because he seems to have our phone number on board. This contact number is not published on this website or anywhere else, it's only written on the Windvinder - and his descendants.

"Possible construction of the Mariana Windvinder, as described in the various reports of the past months: Two old canoes connected with bamboo spars. Windmill and propeller sit on the same shaft, no gearbox is necessary.

The windmill with six sails is not the most effective and certainly not the most storm proof solution, but no other windmill can be repaired or replaced so easily, without any special tools or knowledge. Bamboo and some rice sacks can be found anywhere.

The use of simple sails can be a good way to try out how much sail area is actually needed to propel the vessel against the wind. The sails can be reefed easily by furling them partly or completely around the bamboo.

It's also possible to use only three of the six sails. This could explain why some reports mention "three wings" and others "many"."

This drawing is a conjecture by Wipke based on reports of a 'sail wheel' as the means of propulsion for the Yellowfin.

Yellowfin sighting.

all photos and other materials courtesy Wipke Iwersen

This amazing story just gets better. I thought of Wipke Iwersen and her Windvinder project recently and wondered how things were progressing. So I wrote to Wipke and now she as replied. (Some of my long time reader may recall my earlier article on Windvinder, found here). Apparently, the Windvinder is doing well and Wipke and her team have recieved many reports of sightings, some with photos. He has needed some repair here and there, and recently wipke travelled to the South Seas to complete ome extensive repair work that was beyond what the locals could reasonably be expected to complete. She reports:

"I'm just back: 3 months in Oceania - repairing Windvinder and leaving him on the open sea again. This was not planned - but that's life! Windvinder was on a little island; fishermen had brought him there. Normally I don't hear of these repair-stops at the islands, or only when he is already gone again. (Mail on paper...) But this time they phoned me; the gearbox was broken, and that was something they could not repair on the island. So I took the opportunity to see and help him one more time - very probably the last time! But who knows...

Except for the corrupt officials, the islanders were very nice people. We had a great time, doing all the repairs together. A fantastic launching fiesta, some hundreds of miles of sea trials and a really moving Bon Voyage ceremony when we finally left Windvinder alone again, in the middle of the ocean. I went back to the land with a local tuna fishing vessel, a big outrigger canoe - after some 300 miles on the back of the Windvinder. Unbelievable trip...

There are even new Windfinders - that is REALLY great. Some bigger, some smaller - simple bamboo constructions, but very fast and very seaworthy. Powered and steered by nothing but wind. They have sails instead of epoxy wings. I had heard of them already last year; there were several sightings around the Marianas. But no photos, at that time. (How many fishermen bring a camera for a fishing trip in their outrigger canoe...?) I could only imagine what they could be... (I put some sketches on the Windvinder-website.)
Now I have finally seen them! They are wonderful. The people call them Yellowfin, after the first one who was seen in Southeast Asia, with yellow sails. Definitely the future of the species Windvinder...
A small one was even built at sea by one of the fishermen on our canoe, after we had left the big Windvinder. (There was no material on board to build a bigger one...)
He blessed his boat with the blood of a Yellowfin tuna and left it alone on the ocean."

You can follow up on this fascinating work of art,
with many more photos and reports, at the Windvinder website. Wipke plans to begin an Expedition to the Origins of the Wind late this summer aboard Thor, a classis wooden yawl about 50', I'd guess. She's looking for crew for the journey, "The voyage goes from the North Sea to the North Sea, with a detour around the world.
Starting summer 2010.

We need creative, enthusiastic, seaworthy people with practical and improvisation skills
People must have good English skills, any additional languages are an advantage
Boatbuilders, aerodynamicists, navigators, oceanographers and anthropologists – graduates or not – are especially welcome
but above all: only experienced sailors!
(in other words, people who know and respect the sea.)"

If you are interested, there is an email address on her website.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Nord Vinden for sale on ebay

Nord Vinden

Full view

Stern on

A view forward

Cockpit seating

This is the centerboard arrangement with the lever for the folding bronze fan keel.

Parrel beads attach the standing lug mainsail to the mast

Boom yoke for the mainmast

And for the mizzen

Leathered oar

The rudder arrangement

Tiller attachment

One last look

all photos courtesy John Wurdeman

Built to a George Holmes design by William Clements in 1988, this compelling canoe yawl is for sale on ebay. William Clements is a long established builder of small craft and is known for his attention to detail. Take a kook at the photos here. John, the owner, was kind enough to send me photos of the boat as ebay has implemented new software which no longer allows direct downloading of photos from their site. John was also kind enough to send along some particulars on his exquisite little craft. John spoke to William Clements about what it would cost to build one of these today and the estimate was in the$20k range! The original Holme's boat was Ethel, and is a point in the evolutionary chain which eventually led to the larger Humber yawls as developed by Holmes and his contemporary Albert Strange. A recent publication by the fledgling Loderstar Books treats Holmes and his designs at length. I have yet to read it but it's on my list.

The owner lists her attributes:

Nord Vinden
Lug Rigged Canoe Yawl 13’, beam: 4’
Folding caned seat for use when rowing, Shaw and Tenney oars with
leathers, coppertips, black locust tiller, boomkin, yokes and cleats -
bronze oarlocks, pintal, gudgeons and fastenings - cherry stems,
cockpit coaming, king planks - ash and spruce deck framing - mahogany
rub rails - sapele maring plywood bulkheads - bruynzeel mahogany
marine plywood hull - teak deck - 340 lbs, designed by George Holmes
(1888), built by William J. Clements in 1988, includes trailer and
cover, garage kept, 100 square ft sail area, folding bronze keel,
draws 6 inches/2 feet, flip up rudder, excellent condition, would cost
$20,000 plus to build today according to builder.

The auction ends April 14, the 5k reserve has not been met, so here's your chance to own a modern/classic at 1/4 the price.