25 September 2022

Weatherwise, it’s such a lovely day

 Enduring a 35-kt squall at the dock is a little better than the same thing farther away. 

Lazing on a Sunday afternoon

 Diana (far L) with her neighbours at Curtin’s Wharf. Photo of Sunday afternoon, courtesy of Katie Curtin.

26 August 2022

Open House - well; BOAT

Come and see Diana on her last day in New Jersey!

Sunday, 28 August; Curtin’s Wharf, Burlington NJ  

Diana of Burlington, fully-restored classic yacht designed by John Cherubini, is open to view. Diana is beginning her 1200-plus-mile journey to warmer latitudes THIS WEEK. She still isn’t totally finished (but what ‘project boat’ ever is?) but here is a rare opportunity to see how a modest but very proper cruising yacht is set up and prepared for extended living and working aboard, to ask questions and learn, to see many of the magical features that make this boat cool and unique.

Diana will be call at many ports along the Intra-Coastal Waterway but this is the last chance to see her in New Jersey for at least another 9-10 months.  All genuine interest is welcome! 

Details on the FB Event page (you do not have to be a Facebook member; just open the link & read it).


12 August 2022

The ‘Dowager voyage’

 Diana is 48 years old as of this past March 1st. I have had her since November 2002; and after a too-long period during much of which I was unable to do the necessary work to both restore and remodel her, she is now in the water, (very nearly) complete, and a viable sailing vessel once again. 

 She has not been in the water since the 1999 season. In about 2012 my friend Jerry Rohrbach was inspecting his C44 with a moisture meter and he offered to test Diana with it as well. Neither expected her to show any (potentially deadly, for a fiberglass hull) water intrusion in the laminate; and her reading were all very low, indicating a normal dryness. 

 Today she was put to the test, as my friends Matt and Boo and I dared to push her off from the dock under her own power.  And now that I’ve got over worrying about the motor’s reliability, I worried about how structurally sound she would be by now, especially after I’ve taken apart and reassembled virtually every single structural, electrical, plumbing and cabinetry system including detaching and reattaching the keel.

 But she was fine. In fact she was more than fine. Like the long pent-up dragon in Deathly Hallows, once free she reverted to her true self, a proper sailing yacht that knows exactly what she has been supposed to have been doing all along. She had not forgot. And as well pulled up sail and turned upwind at the end of Burlington Island, she heeled over and then accelerated (as all my dad’s boats do, in that sequence) and chased the bone in her teeth. ‘I am a yacht,’ she said. ‘This is what I was born to do.’

 Nothing broke.  Nothing jammed.  Nothing failed to do what it was meant to do.  The collection of parts, raw materials, paint, varnish, and Dacron just coalesced into a living, breathing boat, as though to scold me: ‘What did you think I was waiting to do all these years?  I’m a boat after all; this is what I do.’

 Matt said several times that he was impressed that nothing failed, or broke, or fell apart (or even slid off onto the floor below).  He sent the accompanying photo in a text message with the one word: ‘Success!’

 Once I said, ‘We should check the bilge.’

 ‘Good idea,’ he said; and he checked.  ‘There’s about half an inch of water in here.’

‘That’s from the icebox drain,’ I said; for I had not blotted it out (and definitely should.  I haven’t drained it since the first time - I just scoop it out before adding each new bag of ice, which stands in cheap plastic box that contains the melting water.  I hate having waste water in the bilge).

 Of course it was not all perfect.  The motor stalled three or four times, once at a crucial moment just before landing at the dock.  It is probably the idle mixture and I can fix that tomorrow.  Also the sail track is dirty and dry - as soon as I find any SailKote (only thing that should be used, ever) in stock anywhere I’ll lube it.  Also the downhaul tackle was off, getting an eye spliced in; so we could not definitively tension the mainsail.  These things can be done tomorrow.

 Little Diana is reborn. There’s something profound, even divine, in that.

 Much thanks to all who’ve contributed, in diverse ways, to the success of this moment. 

06 August 2022

Quiet nights and quiet stars

 I lie here under a hazy sky squinting at the stars with a gentle westerly wafting across the cockpit.  Not too far away are the sights and sounds of the city, the whooping of kids’ hopped-up cars, the white-noise buzz of traffic on the bridge, the headlights of trucks coming down River Road from Stephens Station past the quarter-mile-long Amazon building whose lights cast eerie glows upon the water of the back channel.  Up in town the train horn moans going over the crossing.   Beside me the island is dull and dark, the occasional fish jumping at the surface.  And the zinging of crickets and cicadas is everywhere.  The bistro is long closed now, the last of the rowdy sportboats having left (at a most stirring, if overly loud, idle) till they were well round the lower point and starting up the main channel past Bristol.

 Even at a dock a sailboat is still rather isolated, insulated, from the rest the world. No-one comes down here.  Despite all they noises of the night, which I rather enjoy, actually, they belong to another world, the world of people who do not relax and never take the time to just look up at a night sky.  And I rather pity them, if only because I know what they are about; because at some times in my life I have been one of them. 

 I left my job tonight, in anticipation of leaving within a few days for Annapolis, a route and destination I know well but have never taken, together, on my own.  This whole great adventure promises wonderful opportunities for lying in the cockpit till well past midnight but also the inevitability of feeling isolated and cut off from much of the rest of the world.  Just how much I will want to remain connected to the rest of the world remains to be seen.  I expect I will feel lonely at times; but I expect, and certainly intend, to revel in the peace of nights like this.

 The reflection of the municipal facility’s security lamps upon the water casts weird undulating glows upon the underside of the solar panel above my feet.  It’s like a miniature, much closer version of the Northern Lights.  I could stare at that effect for hours and think about how I could never have planned for such a source of amazement.  Such little unexpected mysteries are the magic of this crazy scheme.  And I look forward to all the rest of it with a mixture of anxiety, amusement and amazement. 

Corcovado (aka ‘Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars’)

Antonio Carlos Jobim; lyrics by Gene Lees

Quiet nights and quiet stars;
Quiet chords from my guitar;
Floating on the silence that surrounds us;

Quiet thoughts and quiet dreams;

Quiet walks by quiet streams;

Climbing hills where lovers go

To watch the world below together.

We will live eternally

In this mood of reverie,

Away from all the earthly cares around us;

My world was dull each minute

Until I found you in it;

And all at once the happiness I knew

Became these quiet nights of loving you.


28 May 2022

The problem with Sta-Set


This tangled disaster is the primary flag halyard. This is what I contend with every morning.

NER Sta-Set is made with a proprietary stiff core that comes off a roll in the factory and will forever try to go back to its curly origins. In my professional experience the only thing worse than Sta-Set for self-hockling is Sta-Set X. There is very little you can do to avoid it; you can tediously try to lay it all down flat, observe and compensate for each little kink, and add a little turn with your fingers as you flake it; and it will still win.  Trying to un-twist it become more frustrating than leaving it alone.  If you run it through two blocks under any tension at all, you will have hockles or at least excessive friction.

Some will contend with me here and claim that since it’s so popular and widely-used I am probably its only hater out there.  All I can tell you is that such an argument isn’t based on technological fact; it’s based on perception, which is what people in Marketing count on. The world is FULL of bad products successfully marketed at a public (perhaps wilfully) ignorant of their technological drawbacks (VHS, Windows, SUV cars, steel residential entrance doors, vinyl siding, Tesla…). The wise consumer looks for quality using an open mind and an awareness of options.  Most consumers are not ‘wise’.

I strongly advise AGAINST this rope for anything you don’t want to fight with for ever. This 70-ft halyard will be replaced with Sampson Trophy braid ASAP. 

25 May 2022

World change

On the eve of the birth of my first grandchild, my would changes utterly. 


Boat is still far from ‘complete’ but project has basically just run out of time. Still on the list:

  • Most interior trim, including hull liner;
  • Brand-new Johnson SFX toilet leaks due to discharge elbow being designed to metric system or something - actually undersized for world-standard 1-1/2” Type-148 septic hose. DO NOT BUY THIS TOILET - see my review online;

  • Deck vents - need screen before I drill these through-vents;
  • Most egregious - deck paint. This marina is filthy with railroad-grade black gravel and dust clouds raised by restaurant patrons with BMWs (non-boat owners) and large 4x4x4 trucks of jetski owners using ramp for the day. There is no point in staining the hull again like last time with washing down the deck till I am well away from here;
  • Gimballed stove not finished;
  • Cannot afford to get lifeline gates, downhaul tackle, and seatback cushions out of hock at contractors’;
  • No gas. Marina charges like 5.79 for 93-octane with Fuel Ox added in. This is no.1 destination for all the sport boats up the River and it’s fine then; but I’ll go to Wawa and get 2 gallons as soon as I can figure out the incomprehensible spout on the new can I bought (because I mislaid my older one) and that’ll get me to the next, cheaper, fuel source;
Worst: mystery seawater leak about 2 gallons/24 hrs. May have to have boat hauled ASAP to figure this out. It’s not through-hulls; not new through-hull for antique SR Mariner speedo; only leaking hose is holding-tank exit to deck, at the tank (can be fixed later); not keel bolts. Strongly suspect it’s the bronze drain plug, installed with Teflon tape inside and smeared over in 5200 outside. Will replace this with plug completely sealed with 5200 (when will I ever want a hull drain and why did I do such a nice job installing it?).

I’m still debating with God over whether He is totally against me on this - as I've been living full-time on this boat - or He’s just ‘challenging’ me - if they’re ‘challenges’ why are they so much more like absolute BARS?

For example, right before pulling up the mainsail I had an argument with the outhaul and lost the forward tail into the boom. What should have been a 20-minute operation turned out to be an ALL-DAY ordeal of disassembling the whole boom. The little blocks designed to ‘fall’ out the after end (see any pic for how it’s cut off) had become completely jammed together and I made up my mind to cut the boom in half to free them and to use another scrap boom that I have. The other boom turned out to be too undersized. I returned to this boom and, realizing I might have an alternative to using it, it coughed up the blocks and line after one mild tug. They were a twisted, tangled, knotted mess full of paint chips and scratched aluminum. The Sampson XLS had done a really good impersonation of NER Sta-Set that time! 

Still it is the prettiest boat on the River and many friends have been very encouraging. My mom was tested positive for Chinese Originated Viral Infectious Disease (if that’s not PC to call it that, sorry; but that’s what it IS) and I came down with it too. So no launch party or other observances; and so I sit alone down below through the rain with the fluffy bunny (April; she is become the onboard mascot - more on her as events develop) and the Patience game on my phone.  

Now begins the next chapter of my life in which the fulfillment of this great reconstruction ordeal can be achieved!

Much thanks to all who have made this possible:

  • Rachel Cherubini deWeil and all at NuWave Marine
  • George Staton
  • Jerry Rohrbach
  • Jeremiah Masey of JDOC Marine
  • Mike Georgeanni
  • Matt Curtin & all at Curtin Marina
  • my mom

Diana’s slated to sail into Barnegat Bay where she will be till early August.  Reach out for an opportunity to visit and view her.

All constructive support is always welcome.

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