Sunday, 30 March 2008

Bristol Rose to Recruit a New Crew Member

“Shorthanded crews don’t steer offshore. Before we got our wind-vane, we had no self-steering on one passage after our electric pilot failed. That passage lasted three days - but it seemed like three weeks!” Beth Leonard, The Voyager’s Handbook. I can relate to Beth’s experience, Sandpiper is not fitted with self-steering and even on an 8 hr journey up the bay I found myself always looking for someone else to take the helm.

Bristol Rose is fitted with a Robertson AP 22 Autopilot which works great in the bay, but we don’t have any back up. “Many cruisers augment their steering with wind-vane self-steering. There is no question that the servo-pendulum type is the most effective-I would not consider any other type for offshore work” Nigel Calder’s Cruising Handbook . In addition the Autopilot is a drain on the 12 Volt power system that is of concern on an ocean passage under sail.

I can’t say I am overly excited about having a Wind Vane fitted to Bristol Rose. I love her classic lines and the wine-glass transom. All wind-vanes change the way she will look, but then again Bristol Rose is a cruising sailboat and designed for the addition of a wind-vane.

After some months of consideration I have ordered a Monitor Wind-Vane from Kopi from Scanmar International, Jay from Annapolis Rigging will fit the wind vane to Bristol Rose.

I selected Monitor for a number of reasons:

  1. The design is well proven, the first Monitor was made in 1975
  2. The Monitor design seems to be the least intrusive, I really liked the Cape Horn but fitting it to a Shannon 43 looks difficult.
  3. A number of Shannon 43’s have Monitor Wind-Vanes fitted, so I know it will work.
Photo courtesy of Scanmar International

Having gotten over the shock of fitting a stainless steel contraption to Bristol Rose I am now looking forward to introducing myself to the Monitor Wind-Vane over the summer. Who knows I may even weaken, like so many other cruisers, and give the new crew member a name?

Thursday, 27 March 2008

S/V Starshine

This video is of S/V Starshine, a Shannon 38 owned by Dave and Adeena. We met Dave and Adeena last year and hope to catch up with them this year.

Sunday, 23 March 2008

Spring 2008

Spring is my favourite time. After Winter, which always seems to last forever - especially for boaters and gardeners, the unmistakable signs that warmer weather is around the corner are the ever-faithful snowdrops. Their delicate green and white are a welcome sight, often peeking out through a covering of snow. They'll spring up anywhere; in the lawn or wherever they please.

Snowdrops are closely followed by clumps of crocus shooting up through the frozen ground; bright yellow, purple or white. Then comes everyone's spring favourite, the bright Yellow Daffodils, narcissus. They're planted in drifts beside the road and in garden beds all over the country where winter temperatures provide a consistent 40F or below.

What daffs have going for them that tulips and other tender bulbs do not, is that they repel critters, who would otherwise like to dine on their ample bulbs. A toxin in the bulbs makes munching a bad idea. Many varieties naturalize freely, appearing to be the most cheery and generous of the spring bulbs, not at all narcissistic.

For me, the most amazing of all the flowers in the garden are the Helleborus, or Lenton Rose. What looked like a clump of frost-bitten leaves has suddenly turned into a mass of tall, sturdy stalks with multiple buds, flowers and very attractive serrated leaves. The Hellebores tend to go unnoticed, quietly flowering alone during the latter part of the winter when it is too cold to go strolling in the garden. These are the first flowers I look for as winter draws to a close and I venture out to wander around with a morning coffee. While the purple variety I rescued from a home demolition site is very striking, with large flowers and leaves, and the cream and green variety in my garden is adorable, I'm very fond of the green and pink variety in the photograph.

The trees are budding up. The red maples are looking like their branches have been dipped in bright red paint. They glow a gorgeous red in the sunlight. The Bradford Pears lining the streets are fit to burst into a sea of foaming white blooms. My Autumnalis Cherry is showing signs of tiny pink blossoms and my Magnolia Soulangiana will burst into flower any day. Let's hope there are no hard frosts then, or the blooms will turn to brown mush.
I planted the spikey Mahonia years ago because of the foliage and the gorgeous blue "grape" clusters, never realising how beautiful the shrub can be when the chatreuse buds are dusted with fine snow. Soon the yellow Forsythia will be in full bloom as they are already showing shocks of yellow along the roadsides where they grow wild.
March 27 to April 3, 2008 is peak viewing time for the hundreds of Yoshino Cherry trees planted around the Tidal Basin in Washington, D.C. The National Cherry Tree Festival parade has to be one of the prettiest! Kwanzan cherry trees are growing in Howard County, with the county's Blossoms of Hope project helping to raise awareness and support for cancer survivors. The photograph is of Kwanzan cherry blossoms. The ruffled petals remind me of cotton candy.
Spring is always a miracle to behold. Maybe more so for us, coming from half a world away, the products of the Sunburnt Country. No matter how cold the winter, all these stunning natural wonders truly burst out of the ground on cue, each spring. It's the most wonderful thing to see.