18 03 2014 Posted by Daniel

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, Canada

ALETHEIA is a 36-foot junk schooner with a Hassler/McLeod rig designed by Tad Roberts and constructed on the venerable Allied Princess bluewater cruising hull after her original rig dismasted in early 2012. Hull construction date is 1978, built in Catskills, NY.

She displaces 16,000 lbs and has a beam of 11 feet. She sails beautifully - I’ve singlehanded her from Houston, TX to her present location in Halifax, NS, Canada.

I’m offering her for sale because I really want a smaller boat - I bought ALETHEIA with a partner with the goal of round-the-world sailing and while she’s terrific for that purpose - easy to sail and quite roomy, I find my solo self wanting a much smaller craft suited for different purposes. If you’ve been following my blog, you know that there’s absolutely nothing wrong with her - she may not be everybody’s idea of “spit and polish” but she’s quite well maintained, most everything mechanical or electrical is new or new-ish, and I have labored long and hard over whether, or not, to sell her. But the truth is that I’d be happier on a smaller boat, and life is short.

So, on with the details!

She features two ~370 sq. ft. junk sails made from dark blue Odyssey III cloth with a jaunty bright red high-vis panel near the top, flat-cut, single-sheeted - a rig extremely similar to Badger’s but scaled slightly for the larger hull. Her sails, rigging, masts, and hardware are new as of early 2013. Her primary winches - though usually they aren’t needed, are 2012 series Lewmar 46 self-tailing series - fantastic when you really need the power. All lines lead to cockpit and can be handily managed from the companionway - perfect for single- or short-handed crews. She easily stows a dinghy up to 8 feet on the cabintop - dinghy is not included but we can talk.

She is US flagged and USCG documented.

She comes with three quality anchors: A 20kg Rocna is her bower anchor on 100 feet of G4 high-strength 5/16” chain and 300 feet of heavy 3/4” 8-plait nylon rode. Her backup is a 35lb CQR on 50 feet of the same chain and 150 feet of 6-plait 3/4” rode. Her kedge is a Northhill stainless aviation anchor - very lightweight but extremely strong and perfect for rowing out in a dinghy and as a solid but easily retrieved lunch hook. I have had her on the Rocna in 40 kts sustained winds gusting MUCH higher for 24 hours with heavy inshore chop and no dragging - it is an excellent anchor for this vessel.

Powered propulsion is via an Electric Yacht 9kW electric motor with a huge 48V, 220AH bank of Lifeline high-current AGM batteries. Installed in 2010/2011, this is a fantastic electric propulsion unit with a LOT of torque and near silent operation. She charges overnight and is ready to go the next day.
The 48V battery bank is switchable into the 12V system using a high-current solid-state DC-DC switchmode power supply to provide redundancy - the 48V bank becomes a massive 880AH 12V powerhouse if necessary.
A 2kW 120V pure-sine-wave inverter runs off the 48V bank as well, making for extremely high efficiency 120V power for tools or other implements.

12V power is provided by 440AH of Lifeline AGMs installed in 2009. Charging by a 270W Kyocera solar array and Blue Sky SB3024iL MPPT charger. Panels are permanently and conveniently mounted atop the NEW (2013) hard dodger and structural cockpit arch. Tested in high winds on the open ocean, this dodger construction is extremely solid, yet lightweight. It fully protects the companionway and helps keep the interior dry and cozy in even the worst blows. I’m 6’ 2” and there is ample clearance to get belowdecks and move around the cockpit while the dodger is low and streamlined enough that any additional windage has not been noticeable.

Other features and amenities include:
8-person AVON liferaft in canister on deck - needs inspection but canister is in good shape.
Brand new CPT wheel pilot - extremely powerful and very energy efficient.
2kW Yamaha generator provides backup charging and 120V power.
Massively overhauled electrical system - 2009/2010 complete replacement of all wires with new, heavy gauge cable and simplified wiring. Much easier to access, simpler, all connections adhesive-heat-sealed and all cable tinned copper marine grade and oversized.
Electronics included: iCom M502 VHF with deck remote, Furuno GPS, Uniden handheld VHF backup, high quality multi-stage battery chargers and advanced monitoring for both banks.

The usual stuff:
3-burner propane stove in galley,
Room for cooler or powered portable fridge box,
36 gallons water tankage in new non-leaching food-grade poly tanks,
Simple foot pump fresh and salt water taps in galley, freshwater in forward basin,
80 gallons of unplumbed original fiberglass water tankage still integral under v-berth,
Nature’s head composting toilet (clean, simple, and legal EVERYWHERE),
“Hobbit” wood burning stove - proven to keep cabin cozy in -15C!
Alpine Glow warm dual-color Fluorescent and LED fixtures throughout cabin - amazing warm inviting light at extremely low power draw.
BEBI and Aqua Signal LEDs for navigation, masthead, steaming, and anchor lights.
Cockpit light doubles as backup/lower anchor light.
Beautiful HUGE bookshelf in main cabin.
All required safety gear for a singlehander is aboard plus a generous helping of extras. Since she has a lovely woodburning stove, there are ample fire extinguishers, a CO detector and smoke alarm, and a propane sensor and remote shutoff switch. Her bilge pumps are both new in 2010/2011. She has two manual Whale bilge pumps also - one belowdecks and one in the cockpit.

Ample spares for all critical systems are included.

Cosmetically she is in “good” shape - her decks were last repainted (with Kiwigrip - fantastic grip and barefoot friendly) in 2012 with a touchup in 2013, her cockpit could use another touchup but the paint is onboard (waiting for warm weather). Most everything on deck has been gone over thoroughly. Her lifelines are Spectra (SK-75) 1/4” and will NOT ever chafe or cut your foulies. They are in very good condition. Her teak is gray, but in good condition if you want to take it back to bright.

Interior she is mostly original, with a few modifications to allow for the junk rig conversion - heavy structural bracing in the keel and new ring frames in the cabin trunk were added to take the additional loads and the deck core was strengthened in the broad area of the mast partners. These areas are unfinished - trim or paint as you desire. Otherwise the interior is the 1970’s wood-grain laminate with hard- and soft-wood (largely teak and mahogany) trim. She could use a refresh if that’s not your look, and some of the trim pieces have over time been damaged, but she’s entirely solid and excepting some trim and needing a varnish in the galley and companionway area is in structurally excellent shape.

She’s priced to go: $29,900 USD as-is, where-is. Other arrangements may be able to be made, just ask! The smart ones among you may realize I’m basically just asking to cover the cost of re-rigging the boat … everything else is effectively free.

I also have her Hydrovane for sale, separately, for $6,500 including shipping to most major destinations. It’s a 2010 model VXA2D, standard vane, high performance rudder. I am willing to make a deal combining the boat and the vane.

You can see full details of the boat, maintenance history, dismasting and new rig, construction, execution, sailing, etc. over the five years I’ve owned her here:

She’s a beautiful boat with lovely lines, docile handling, and plenty of room while being seakindly, durable, immensely strong, and always attracts positive comments and attention from salty beards, other boaters, and dock-walkers alike.

If you’re interested, drop me a message at studio dc creative (at) gmail (dot) com.


O Canada

15 03 2014 Posted by Daniel

Well, I’ve been deliberating what to write for six months now (has it really been that long? wow!), and I still can’t figure out exactly what to post.

I could tell you the story of arriving on the Canadian coast, of drifting with no wind and dense fog for days and days, of the chatter on the radio of friendly fishing vessels and the occasional heavy cargo passing by to keep me company. Of the occasional radio email from a friend encouraging me.

I could tell you about arriving in Lunenburg, at nightfall but comfortable with the arrival as I’ve done it before… of having the force 3 wind die to force 2, then force 1, then nothing. Of a dead tired night of hand steering for 30 hours, ghosting along on awkward tacks, only to realize that I’m stuck in a tidal basin. Of finally turning on the electric motor and gliding my way, silently, in to the gorgeous Lunenburg harbor at dawn, doing 1-2 kts in a dead calm to extend the range. Of arriving at the clearing in dock with 20 percent of battery left. Of the feeling of accomplishment, and also of the thoughts of “what if” that constantly crossed my mind the entire way in.

Of course, I could also tell you of sitting at anchor in the Northwest Arm of Halifax, with the beautiful coastline of Sir Sandford Fleming park and the peninsula of Halifax proper surrounding me. Of sunsets and rowing ashore; of meeting old friends and making new ones in a city I have come to love dearly. Of bicycling joyously for miles and miles each day.

I could tell you of the difficulties when interrogated by customs and immigration after an unfortunate but innocent miscommunication; of hiring lawyers and finally, in the end, receiving a work permit. Of the gratitude to a very gracious friend, whose generous recommendation to his company resulted in them hiring me and continuing to make it possible to stay in this country both financially and legally.

I could tell you of amazing snowfalls, of frozen water tanks, of nights of storm-tossed sleeplessness, of city lights, of rural peace and hill country skiing; of beautiful moments in freezing, sleet-swept days with lovers and the difficulty of losing what feels like everything - losing to distance and time and different directions. Of new years and newfound loneliness.

I could tell you of the beauty of my boat in the harbor in winter, of the joy of returning to her after days away ashore; how she’s truly home. How living aboard full-time in winter in an uninsulated boat without “modern” heating can still, actually, be done. How a wood stove brings cheer to one’s heart and is a meaningful and necessary part of life. How it feels to row your heart out against 35-40kts of wind and a stiff chop in a tiny pram, with the wind chill -20 and the salt spray freezing solid as it lands on you, to think - halfway there - you won’t make it. To give up. To not give up. To realize your limits. To push through them and set new ones. To make it. To retreat. To tie, and-harder-untie frozen knots.

I could tell you how it feels to find a mooring fail. To nearly lose your boat - except for an absolute and unearned kindness from the universe. To immediately have to find a new place to stay in the dead of winter on a coast which cannot be anchored off of and has active ice forming, flowing. To find lines jamming in halyard blocks due to frozen water in the core. To sail, solo, in below-freezing weather with a chilling breeze. To have a friend come through in a desperate time of need.

Besides, I still don’t know how the story ends.

White Spot Pirates needs your help!

23 02 2014 Posted by Daniel

So, I suppose it’s been very nearly six months since I last posted anything here… I owe everyone (and that means both of you who wrote me wondering why the delay) a big catch-up post. I took a few pictures of snow and ice all over the decks but it just doesn’t tell the story well enough, so I’ll have to do it.

For now, though, let’s break the fast with something very important.

If you don’t know, there’s a really terrific series of video posts by a young lady, Nike Steiger, who has bought her first boat in Panama and is fitting KARL out for some voyaging. Her series is called White Spot Pirates and you should pretty much drop everything and start right at the beginning of her story right here:

Thing is, like most of our dreams, there are some details lurking under the surface that she’s run hard against and she could use some help - financial, encouragement, or just your thoughts. It’s a tough spot to be in when you find your boat, the one you love and have put some hard work and dreams into, has serious problems.

I suppose I could say I know because I’ve been there.

Give some love to her video series, show some support, and if you’re in a place to help a young dreamer who is actively sharing her inspiration with the world out, give what you can. Her paypal link is here, and if you can, give generously:

Help Nike and KARL out!


Slow Sail North

10 09 2013 Posted by Daniel

The faint beginnings of a double rainbow can be seen here off the Chesapeake entrance. The main rainbow was an entirely unbroken arc spanning the horizon.

There’s just something about arriving in a port you intend to spend quite a long time in that gives a sense of tremendous satisfaction and accomplishment.

Unfortunately arriving in Ocean City, MD was almost the opposite.

After departing Beaufort I’d intended to anchor in Mobjack Bay, off the southern Chesapeake Bay. I departed in light winds which were forecast to strengthen, and after a long night tacking in gentle puffs to windward I was able to clear Cape Lookout Shoals and head northeast again. After a hard storm, in which I saw the wind do a complete 360 degree circle, the sky cleared and a beautiful, vivid full rainbow appeared. Just as it reached maximum brightness the faint beginnings of a second rainbow began to form at both ends of the horizon - I’d heard of but never seen a double rainbow before, so this was quite special.

Unfortunately just as I neared the entrance to the Chesapeake the wind dropped to zero with shifty puffs of not more than 3 knots coming from all directions. Even more unfortunately, it stayed that way for almost three days. With the heavy shipping in the area and the wind coming from the west, I did not want to risk the commercially congested entrance and the massive Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel with its strong currents between the trestles, so I did my best to stay offshore and keep making progress northeast. The next port of call which presented good opportunity was Ocean City, and it appeared that some of my online acquaintances from the Junk Rig Association would be able to visit if I called there, so I planned to stay over for a short while and see if they could show up.

The wind finally picked up again and I was able to make port in a stiff 25 knot onshore breeze, but even that wasn’t quite enough to make it in the channel against an incredible outflow current. I should note that this was about half an hour AFTER low tide, so the current should definitely have been slack or inbound. Not here - apparently it’s nearly always outbound. A little motor sailing in, though, and we made a good knot or two over ground, enough to solidly put us inside by midafternoon. Ocean City is unremarkable in general and the anchorage and facilities are not fantastic. I don’t recommend it.

Sad to say, my friends were unable to meet and I spent nearly a week wasting good wind, only to depart as the wind decided to ignore the forecast, shift horribly, and again die, coming back full force right on the nose as I neared Nantucket. The forecast wasn’t good at this point and so instead of spend the effort to go into some port (and likely arrive right as the wind got better) I decided to stay outside and wait it out. This proved to be a good choice as the wind remained frustratingly difficult for the next week, and it took quite a bit of effort to make any progress at all against the shifts and massive current rips off Cape Cod. After I was well clear of the cape the wind returned.

At this point I had a serious decision to make. Do I stick with my plan and head into Maine for some coastal cruising or do I continue north and visit Nova Scotia? Well, the wind made that decision easy and at about the point where I had to choose it shifted west and increased in speed, meaning I either had a nasty beat to Maine or a fairly easy reach to Nova Scotia. Boom, decision made.

Naturally, that wasn’t the end of the story. After committing to the new course and spending 18 hours on a perfect 6+ knot romp, the wind again died. I had a lovely opportunity to drift in thick fog for three days off the coast of Nova Scotia as fishing boats and commercial ships plied the coastline. One of the things I noticed about Canadian coastal traffic as opposed to US and Caribbean/Gulf operations is the near-total use of AIS. Perhaps the fog and other hazards make it more necessary, but I was tremendously relieved to find not a single fishing vessel in my area without it. Also, everyone was without exception friendly and courteous on the radio and the fishing boats paid attention to me and worked with me to coordinate safe passage, both in the fog and at night. I’m very impressed.

The wind remained light but began to build gradually and I picked up speed towards Lunenburg, my intended port of entry. As usual, though, once I closed the coast and began navigating near the outlying islands the wind began to slack off. As I entered Lunenburg bay, it went northwest and dropped to 5kt. This was directly on the nose, and so light that my tacking angles were not favorable. I chose to motor-sail the last 5 miles in, going about 1kt to save battery power and increase my motoring range (remember, I have an electric motor onboard and so am range limited to the charge in the batteries). I silently glided into Lunenburg harbor after a full night spent hand-steering up the bay ghosting along. What a beautiful town to see as the mist cleared and the sun rose! I cleared customs at a local dock and then dropped anchor in the middle of the harbor to take a well-earned nap.

At long last I felt that sense of accomplishment.

I should make a few notes about the junk rig, as these two passages comprised quite a lot of light air and windward work together. I’m still a complete neophyte at this rig and am learning each time I sail how to get more out of it. My experience was that I need to work on speed to windward - I was easily able to get a good pointing angle, but my speed was not great, and this comes down to tweaking the sheeting angles and managing twist and reefing balance. I also noticed that my wind vane needed some serious tuning - a screw had come loose which caused the vane and the rudder to get “sloppy” and so the vane was not doing a good job of holding course. Unfortunately I didn’t realize this until I arrived in Lunenburg, but it would have helped significantly in my quest for windward speed. Also, I did not have any telltales on the sails to help with visualizing the airflow. I’ve added them now, and hope that they will help on subsequent passages.

Nevertheless, I was able to make slow but steady progress to windward when I was not fighting significant adverse currents, and thus even in light airs over several day I did end up working my way around Cape Cod in adverse winds. As a result, and since I wasn’t able to get the ketch rig to do this well in the Gulf of Mexico, I still see the Junk Rig as being superior for my sailing style and needs than the old rig. So everything I said about my new rig in the previous post holds true - it is really an improvement for the boat. I should also note that by now I have over 1000 NM on the new rig and would definitely rate it as suitable for long passages without question, so that helps me feel more confident in the work I put into ALETHEIA as well as my understanding of the junk rig itself. Are there a few tweaks I’d make? Sure. But overall, it’s definitely a useable rig.

I ended up spending a very wonderful week in Lunenburg, including a meetup with other junk rig cruisers where I learned many new tricks and made some great new friends. I’ll cover this lovely town in the next post.


A Die Hard Junkie

14 08 2013 Posted by Daniel

Well folks, I have a confession to make. After having sailed my new rig a couple hundred miles offshore now, I am in love with this setup. It’s so much easier to handle, and even though I’m still in the middle of a pretty steep learning curve I’m able to sail the boat as well or better than I was with the ketch rig. One of the best parts is the ease of reefing and the effectiveness of the reefed sail. On a bermuda rig, reefing usually consists of either changing the headsail size (or going forward and tying in a reef and relocating the sheets) or going to the mast, dropping the mainsail, and again tying in reef points and tensioning the reefing lines. On a junk, you simply ease the halyard. You can even reef going downwind if the wind is anything shy of ridiculous.

Downwind, the rig is wicked. It’s like sailing with a cruising spinnaker without any of the effort. The boat just GOES. In 20 kt of wind full sail started overwhelming the wind vane - AFTER I’d already well exceeded hull speed and was nearly planing a 16,000 lb full keeler - literally I hit 8.5-9 kt at some points which is absolutely silly for my boat in light 3-4 foot waves.

Upwind, I had mostly light airs and found that the junk rig performed better than the ketch rig, at least under my inexperienced hands. I attribute this partly to the ease of getting full foresail area (simply hoist the sail full up and you have the equivalent of a very large genoa, without the risk of having to switch sails down as the wind picks up). As a result, I carry more sail with more confidence. Another part of it is that the sails just seemed to balance more easily and I loved the fact that I only had to tweak two sails rather than three (or four, with a staysail) as the wind shifted. The junk sails also seem more forgiving in trim than the bermuda rig - rather than having a “perfect” set and just shy of that being significantly worse, they are more of a linear “shades of gray” type trim. This makes it tricky to figure the “best” trim, but at the same time it means finding the best isn’t terribly significant as “close enough” really is. Now, I’m certain I’ll improve with time on this rig, and sometimes I really wish for a single-sail rig - when entering tricky harbors, for instance, it’s nice to have one less thing to focus on. But that’s so rare and handling the two junk sails already feels like cheating compared to sailing the ketch rig. I’m suddenly loving my boat a lot more!

So, I don’t think I’ll be running back to the bermuda rig anytime soon!

As for the sailing trip, I’ll put out some more info soon, but right now I’m making my way up the East Coast of the US on a sea trial for the new rig, making subtle changes as I go, and learning how the rig works. My last stop was quaint Beaufort, NC to visit some friends of mine, Jeff and Anne of C’est La Vie, a beautifully restored Morgan. Jeff and I spent some quality time paddleboarding around the shoals in the area and really enjoying the weather, and the three of us had a grand time sharing some excellent cooking (all three of us enjoy making great food) and conversation. I highly recommend Beaufort as a passage stop - it’s exceptionally easy to access from offshore, offers great amenities for the cruiser including public free dinghy dockage and easy, solid anchoring, and until recently was still a “working harbor”. Watch the shoaling on the entry (it’s all sand and soft mud, so don’t worry too much if you slide aground) and you’re set. When you’re in Beaufort, I recommend you stop at Aqua bar for their tremendous (and HUGE) crème brûlée. Three people can share it, and I recommend it served, as we had it, with Drambuie. Right next door is the other “best” place in town, a charming brick English-style pub which has hosted some of the great names in modern cruising, along with excellent beers at very fair prices, good camaraderie, and a give/take book exchange upstairs for sailors. It would have been my absolute favorite place in Beaufort IF they served even chips along with the beer, but I can’t stay in a drinks-only place for long without needing to chomp on something too. So it goes.

Lots of crazy stuff in the works, hang in there and I’ll get to it before too long.