Yesterday, Roger and I had a dress rehearsal for our first dry sail of Inshore Lady. Her companion, Micro Scoot, has been fishing already and proved she is a good tender vehicle. She too has a Spritsail as opposed to the Gaff Sail the plans call for.
The larger sail may make for better sailing but we figure the Spritsail will be a safer boat for our grandchildren to manage. Principally this is because it does not need a boom. (Many sailors will tell how they have been hit on the head by the boom as a yacht tacked starboard to port, or vice versa. Maybe they will not tell you – few admit a mistake of this kind.)
I have some minor finishing to do and our chilly winter water is uninviting so she will remain indoors for a while yet. However she is ready for a dip.
Roger made the sail from a small tarp as the designer John Bell suggests. This is a useful repurpose of the fabric.
In case my use of sail names is confusing the photo below is of a model we made beforehand. The sail is a gaff sail. It has a boom. The boom holds the sail firmly – just above the head of the sailor – and when the boat changes direction (tacks) the boom swings across the boat to catch the wind as it turns.
Alice was alone. With purpose she walked onto the pier. The young couple could see she knew where she was going as she passed by them. They ambled along unaware of how threateningly strange the light in the west was becoming, especially near the horizon. Their walk continued along the causeway.
They noticed the boats tied up to the docks as seagulls searched the decks for leftover scraps. The biggest boat was named “It’s Noon Somewhere”. A faded telephone number flapped on a board attached to the door of its cabin. It announced the craft was for sale. Beside the boat a lone fisherman huddled out of the quickening wind watching his line tighten and slacken on each breaking wave.
To the east the sea was alight in bright sunlight. Despite the sun a few droplets of light rain fell like jewels upon the couple’s faces. Oblivious to the weather, perhaps they quickened their pace imperceptibly as they ventured further out along the pier. When they reached its end droplets of rain awakened them to the weather coming in from the west. On the rocks below they saw Alice standing alone. The droplets turned to rain and the couple ran hand-in-hand down the pier toward the shore. Unaware of them Alice was anxiously grasping a light pole and scanning the sea for ……
One of the little John Bell Blondie dinghies Roger and I have been working on is now in my garage waiting for a final coat of paint. There is still much to do before it will be launched, but Roger has taken his to Robe South Australia.
He anticipates it will handle well, even in choppy water, because it has a “rocker” bend in the flat floor. He likes to fish and he thinks Robe might give him a chance to catch some whiting. I hope he does because he was so excited to pack it with his fishing paraphernalia before he left.
It has oars roped to the gunnels. Rod keepers are screwed to the chine, or walls. In the bow he has ropes and the anchor stowed. In the stern it has an emergency flotation locker beneath the seat he has packed lures, line and hooks. He says because of its flat bottom when the dropdown keel is in place it should be easy to stand up and stretch his legs when he has been sitting for a while. This is much easier than his old dinghy which has a v shaped floor. All in all it should be much easier to row and manage on land, than the one it replaces. He understands we are getting older and he thinks he will get a small motor, to save having to row it in future.
I propose to give mine the name “Inshore Lady” in the next few days. I don’t fish. I don’t even sail, but stripped of its fishing garb and fitted with a balanced lug sail I intend to finish it so it can be sailed. The purpose was never to own a boat but to make one. Now it has reached this stage I am sorry I did not do more of the making myself. I fabricated it, and helped at every stage, but because it was made in Roger’s workshop he did much more in my absence than I expected.
In the long term I will have a sail boat a (grandchild) person should be able to sail easily. Roger will have a tender he can fish from – especially when he fits a motor.
The boat has been constructed in a stitch and glue procedure. This simple construction method has enabled the boat to be built and held together with plywood, a “peanut butter” consistency of resin , fibreglass, and flow coat. It has a few screws in it as well. Refer to my earlier post. John Mansfield inspired sea fever. https://onlinebluemoons.home.blog/2019/12/22/john-masefield-inspired-sea-fever/
The motor Roger expects to fit, and the screws it has used, have in common the use of the benefits of a helix. I am sorry Tom Lehrer did not produce a song about the helix. If you are unaware it is one of nature’s wonders. He did however compose “Mathematics”. Sensibly it all comes down to mathematics whether the boat is driven by a motor, by oars, or by the wind.
It is impossible to ignore the helix though. In its most complex form it holds the mystery of life itself. Our DNA is formed in a series of double helix. Best remembered with the nemonic, WCW, Wilkins, Crick, and Watson they were awarded the Noble Prize in 1962. From 1950 – 1952 Wilkins led a team to solve the nature of DNA. In the following year, Crick and Watson created a model to illustrate its complexity – in 1953.
The helix gives a screw the mechanical strength to pull pieces together. The propeller does the same with water, or with air, as it pulls – or pushes the transport along. The helix is also found on the human body. The cartilage around the outer ear is called the helix. It is only in writing I realised my grandmother wore her hair in a helix. The bun she wore at the back of her head is a helix. (A coil of rope – a like example).
Our boats, at least mine, sits waiting until we finish it’s rudder and tiller. A sail boat is steered by the sailor adjusting the sail against the wind. She can do this quite accurately except for sailing directly into the wind. One sixth of the compass direction the wind is blowing from cannot be sailed directly toward. (Imagine the wind is blowing from the twelve o’clock position. The boat cannot directly make progress against the wind from the ten o’clock to the two o’clock position). With the use of reserved speed, and with the sail down, a tiller enables the sailor to steer the yacht accurately toward a jetty even against the wind.
Some would say I am over thinking all this, especially by banging on about the helix. In response apart from the doing – it is all academic until I get the thing in the water anyway.
In explanation I choose to call the dinghy Inshore Lady, first because boats are most commonly referred to in feminine term. Therefore she is a lady. Secondly, Inshore, because she will be sailed close to shore for safety reasons. Finally it is a nice little semantic link to our home in Inshore Drive to recognise where she lives.
The discovery of the living matter we humans are constructed from – Deoxyribonucleic Acid or DNA for short) only came about from knowledge of the helix. The unraveling of its mystery is a marvellous achievement. The men and (the unacknowledged Rosalind Franklin a radiographer of photograph 51 used to create the DNA model) who discovered it were brilliant. The three main names (WDW) each earned PhD’s before their twenty-first birthday. (This writer had barely earned his driver’s licence at the same age). It is because DNA is understood scientists are now able to work with the human genome and find cures and remedies for the most terrible diseases. Amazing indeed. It was only explained first with knowledge of the helix.
Tom Lehrer deserves a mention for I found his satirical and comedic songs wonderful. This man of mathematics could have wasted his life on his popular ditties but he gave away fame to follow his passion. There is a message there. Become , and remain, passionate in order to lead a life well lived.
When the fishing rod was bobbing up and down in the water I knew I had caught a fish. I loved standing on the craggy point looking into the water watching the minnows feed. This day I was fishing not far from where I lost mum’s chip frier. She said, “If you take that thing make sure you bring it back, your father likes chips.” On that occasion it was a matter of losing the frier, or losing my footing and falling into the water and swimming with the minnows I had been attempting to catch. I chose to stay dry. The day I elected to get wet and swim into the wintery lake and retrieve my rod I was bored. While waiting for the fish to bite I had built quite a big fire and I knew I could dry off by it if I swam to get my rod. My new insight is, fishing was something I did while waiting for something else to do. Anglers have more patience.
The Southern Ocean has been a constant factor in my life. I have driven the western Victorian coastline over and over. Therefore this little insight could be from anywhere in all those kilometres. Instead of illustrating the bravery of the deep water seamen who put to sea each day from one of the dozen piers in their ‘Couta boats, only to over- fish Barracuda, or Southern Rock Lobsters I choose to tell the story of the amateur. The Lorne pier is the place to recall the stoicism of fishermen.
At any time, in any season, on a visit to the pier, you will find at least one lone person with the patience to fish with a rod and reel. Silently, crouched to avoid the wind, the rain, or any other element the world can throw up, the fisher waits to catch a pinkie, a salmon, or common fish swimming by. If they catch a fish and drop in in their fish bucket they simply return to throw their line in and do it again without fuss. Even if they go home without a catch they will tell you they have had a good day. Their love, is the experience of doing.
My life companion has a different attitude to routine. She gets enjoyment doing things precisely, step by step. She knits while watching television. The thousands of repetitive steps, twisting wool this way, catching the tread, and twisting it around her finger so she can reverse it on the the opposite needle, is therapeutic. To her it is not a chore.
Neither is, it seems, anything requiring repetition. Take jig saws. In order to improve her failing eye sight she willingly chooses to spend leisure time tirelessly selecting this shape and the colour to match a picture with pre-cut shapes. Strangely she finds ironing a basket of clothes no more difficult than piecing together a thousand jig saw pieces When it comes to repetitive jobs in our house one person will elect to do it without complaint.
Back in the seventies the Buninyong Shire faced a storm of new arrivals. We had chosen to live on farmlets. Our rates went up overnight. The reckoning was with so many new residents the Shire had to raise revenue quickly in order to pay for the services now demanded. They determined a range of new residents had chosen to live on their properties for lifestyle and they were not farmers. The new system meant we were moved from the affordable Farming Rate ( rated so much in the dollar per acre) to Residential (a rate based on the house value.)
Naturally this caused a lot of disquiet. With the aid of some neighbours we called a meeting of affected people. The meeting was a hostile affair but there was consensus the size of the property was not an indication of its use. Some people could illustrate they were working their land full time. Most could not. My very smart neighbours said they were planting fruit trees (walnuts to be precise). They argued their farm should not be rated as a lifestyle farm as they were farming but they had to leave their properties daily for a paying job because their trees could not be harvested for at least seven years and no one could expect them to live without an income so long.
In the end the council had a problem it could not easily solve. In my case I moved to a new position. Lead on by my internal fight, flight seemed easier than staying. Before we left we had planted lots of trees. We planted so many it is impossible to see our old house without making a detour. Our neighbours that planted out their property with fruit trees have left their family an inheritance that will keep giving for generations. That is the benefit of patience.
When it comes to patience. The most patient people in this land are it’s first peoples.
Many years before my skirmish with the council a protest started in Canberra. The Aboriginal Tent Embassy out side old Parliament House started in1972. It was a protest about land rights.. In the intervening years the fight for Aboriginal Land Rights has been constant. The right to land rights was won in the High Court with the Marbo case. That was only the beginning because every agreement has sine been a hard won negotiation and taken years longer than imagined. (unless you think it has been too easy for people who have lived continuously on that land have no right to it.)
Either way, the perseverance shown to obtain those rights illustrates, right is ultimately stronger than mere political bastardry. This is the common arsenal used in Canberra when things don’t go the way directed by the political class.
Some things are worth fighting over. Take for instance the carbon bank we call trees. A reasonably short protest has been occurring on the Western Highway. The road department is building a four lane highway joining two country towns. The only thing preventing the development pressing on are a few trees. The trees in question have resisted fire, flood, and drought for six hundred years. This is just a heartbeat in the life of the world itself but generations of mankind. And this is its significance.
Our seaside village is undergoing a rapid change. A new city is being built. The developers have bought all the land they could. Before they build they raise everything that once stood on that ground including the life giving top soil. Six months after the bull dozers leave a new suburb of chocolate boxes stand where people tilled the land.
The developers have hurried, so the people who arrive after them can slow down and rest in their new homes. To help the future heat bank effects of those homes be reduced, avenues of saplings are planted. In sixty years the shade needed will be enjoyed as a resource worth keeping. When thought of in this simple way trees ten times older are worth the inconvenience of making a detour on a country highway. Somethings are worth waiting for.