November 2016

During the first part of 2016 we finished a major refit to the 1968 Alberg 30, Barbara J, we had begun the prevoius year. This boat was also a Voyager Edition, meaning we addressed every issue to prepare the boat for offshore and fit her out with an enclosed tilt-up outboard well. At the owner's request, this time we installed a Nissan 9.8 extra long shaft motor with electric start instead of the 6hp motors we usually supply for these size boats. While the 6hp motors are somewhat underpowered for a 30' boat, the 9.8 proved during sea trials to be more than adequate, pushing her along at 6 knots in a calm sea and still having the reserve power to punch into a moderate headwind and chop.

One different project we did on this boat was to build a 54 gal integral water tank into the central bilge. We kept the original small 15 gal fiberglass tank under the v-berth as a second tank. Another change was to remove the old built-in icebox and replace it with a combination storage locker/counter/slide out table. A portable cooler or portable fridge/freezer can be located elsewhere if the owner decides to add that later. 

Interior and exterior video tours of this boat are available at the links below: 

Barbara J on a shakedown sail 2016
Ready to launch another A30 Voyager Edition
The 9.8hp tilt-up outboard well
The 9.8hp outboard motor required a
raised lid to contain the motor head
A30 finished interior looking forward
Finished interior looking aft
The old icebox and rotted wood
The new nav station in place of the icebox

This year we also finished and launched another Albin Vega 27. The owner actually did most of the work himself with Mei and I assisting as needed and providing consulting on the various modifications and repairs. Once launched the young sailor/musician owner sailed off for a cruise of the Bahamas.

The Albin Vega stripped before painting
Ready to launch 2016

Other friends that sailed away from Brunswick this year were Brian and Debbie on their modified Allied Seawind 30, Dawntreader, and Fabio and Kate on their Columbia 29, Tranquility. Dawntreader sailed from Brunswick to Bermuda, Azores, Madiera, and Canary Islands and by the end of this year are heading towards Africa and beyond. Tranquility made a series of passages up the east coast to New England. Both boats have interesting modifications. Their blogs are featured on my Links page and video tours of their boats are linked below:

Allied Seawind Modifications

Columbia 29 with Electric Propulsion

More boat projects arrive

My unreasonable love of rescuing and transforming small classic sailboats into vehicles to deliver dreams has meant that my planned semi-retirement in 2016 was again put aside. In the spring Mei and I drove up to northern Michigan to purchase and trailer home another Alberg 30 sitting neglected in a boatyard. A blown or worn out inboard engine is often the final insult these old girls endure before they are put to pasture. Otherwise, the boat was preserved almost as if in a time capsule from 1966 due to her resting easy in covered winter storage and being sailed infrequently on the gentle breezes of the freshwater lakes in the summers. We brought her home and soon found a client who hired us to bring the boat back to life. Work continues and the launch date is planned for December.

Our latest aquisition is a lovely Tripp 29 sloop built in Holland in 1964. Her engine too had died which meant an uncertain future. We drove up to Virginia for another rescue project. That boat is now awaiting a new owner who appreciates her potential and can afford the considerable expense and care these old girls require. The listing details and link to a video tour can be found below:

Tripp 29 Sailboat for Sale

We did manage some local sailing this year on Atom and friends and clients boats. We spent a memorable day offshore testing Atom's new Jordan Series Drogue in a blustery Nor'easter. All went more or less to plan and I posted a video of that as well.

Several times Mei and I sailed the 8-10 hour trip from Brunswick to Cumberland Island to walk along palmetto-lined paths under twisted overhanging limbs of mossy live oaks and explore the ruins of the park's late 19th century oil and railroad tycoon's mansions. Some are abandoned and crumbling down slowly year by year. At least one is restored and park rangers give tours to the few tourists that come out on the daily ferry boat. Fortunately no bridge connects the island to the mainland and so it is spared the hordes of tourists that would come in cars to despoil the very thing they seek. 

On the trail of tangled trees
Abandoned estate of Dungeness
The restored Carnegie Plum Orchard Estate
Inside 1898 Plum Orchard Estate

 Another interesting project we did this summer was to modify a non-tilting, open faced ouboard well on a Pearson Triton that is kept next to Atom in a slip at the local yacht club. A previous owner had built the fixed well as an experiment in improving the outboard transom bracket mount he had. The current owner saw the advantage of the tilt-up design and we completed the modification with the boat in the water as seen in this video.

Hurricane Season

 This year the Georgia coast was affected by two hurricanes that caused more damage than any storms we've seen in the 13 years we've been here. First came Hermine, a minimal Gulf hurricane that came shore in NW Florida, passing just west of us. As in similar past storms we expected Hermine to lose most of her strength over land and give us little more than heavy rain and a breif spell of gale force winds. Even so, the Frederica Yacht Club docks where I keep Atom as well as several of our clients and friends boats are exposed to the south by four miles of fetch across St Simons Sound with only a small floating breakwater for protection. We prepped the boats with extra lines and removed sails and awnings just in case. 

Hermine packed a stronger than expected punch as it tracked NNE at 15-20 MPH just west of Brunswick, placing us in the storm's right front quadrant where the wind speed is added to the speed of the stom's forward motion, bringing us sustained 40 knot south winds with gusts to 65 for several hours. This would have been not so bad but the direction of the wind kicked up waves in the Sound that broke up the inadequate breakwater and left the boats behind it dancing nervously and jerking hard on their mooring lines. We watched helplessly from on shore as one boat after another chafed through their lines or pulled cleats off the dock, then were tossed into the hard steel-framed concrete docks. Eventually whole sections of the south-facing docks were torn away from their pilings. Four boats sank and many were damaged in our small marina. Atom and the other Triton and Alberg 30s that I had helped bring here all survived without damage because I had long ago placed them all on the most protected north side of the north dock in expectation that one day we may get a damaging storm from the south. We didn't escape entirely however, as Hermine blew down a big pine tree onto the roof of our house.

A month later, Hurricane Mathew came barreling up the east coast and everyone's earlier under-reaction to a storm threat became an over-reaction as weather forecasters and local officials all proclaimed major destruction and flooding was a certainty. Mandatory evacuations of the coastal region were ordered. Before leaving, we moved Atom and our other friend's boats to more protected marinas. This was particularly important now that our breakwater and docks were weakened from unrepaired damage from Hermine. The morning of the Hurricane's arrival Mei and I packed up our valuables and dog and towed our F-24 trimaran 60 miles inland were we slept aboard the boat in a small town's Walmart parking lot. The rain came down all night with winds of 40 knots rocking the boat on the trailer as we slept uneasily. 

Even though Mathew passed within 30 miles of Brunswick at hurricane strength, we were in the less dangerous semi-circle where actual winds felt were reduced by the amount of forward speed of the storm - the opposite situation we just had during Hermine. The forecast 7-11' storm surge turned out to be only a couple feet and that occured during low tide. The winds were from the NE backing to NW, which our marinas are well protected from and so very little damage occured to any boats. We returned home the next day, and although the power was out and many trees came down in the county, there was relatively little seroius damage and no lives lost.

Alberg 30 Offshore Shakedown

Between Hurricanes I drove north to Connecticut to make an offshore delivery on one of the Alberg 30 Voyager Edition boats I had refit here in Brunswick a couple years earlier. The boat had been trucked to New England by her owner and recently resold to a consulting client of mine from Russia. The new owner wanted to have the boat based back in Brunswick for awhile as he and his wife gained experience sailing between here and the Bahamas in preperation for longer voyages. On this trip we had the opportunity for a proper shakedown of the boat to thoroughly test out all the repairs and modifications we had made as well as provide the new owner with offshore sail training. Everything went well and I posted a video and article of the trip here.