Monthly: June 2009

29 Jun


Blackwatch Fleet Entry 5


WOW!!  What a neat event to attend!
The folks at the Oklahoma City Boat Club really know how to throw a party.  I’m so glad that Pammie had me fly down, in spite of the fact that Saturday was our Eleven Year Anniversary.  Hopefully, I’ll figure out some suitable way to make that up to her.
Four Blackwatch made the gathering.  This was not terrible, but we had eight boats lined up a couple of months ago, that would have been truly amazing.  Various problems and conflicts pared the fleet down to the four in attendance.  Gary Saunders and Kent Johnson are both members of OCBC, and this was the impetus to try to gather the fleet at the club’s annual Lighthouse Charity Regatta.

Chuck Roach brought his wife Sally, and his Blackwatch #40, from Wichita KS.  This boat crossed the Florida Straits to Cuba, averaging 5.5 knots for the crossing. Honest, Chuck has pictures to prove it!

Chuck & Sally Roach

Harry Rowe’s #69 made the trip from Stockton, MO.  Harry was kind enough to pick me up at the airport, with the boat in tow!  That created a bit of head-turning!!

Harry slaved for many, many hours in 105 degree Oklahoma heat trying to get #69 in the water, to no avail.  The final straw was when the main halyard ended up at the masthead late Saturday.

Kent Johnson is a member of OCBC, and owns the second Blackwatch produced, #02

Kent Johnson sorting out a line in preparation for our Saturday sail.  Kent was a tremendous help to all of us, helping Harry with his boat, taking us "boatless” folks sailing, and providing my return transportation to the airp0rt Monday morning.

Gary Saunders is the owner of #52 and is the person who originally suggested that we utilize the OCBC Lighthouse Charity Regatta as our venue for the Blackwatch Fleet Gathering. I’m really glad that he and the Commodore of OCBC, Ann Kilpatrick, made such a convincing argument in favor of their facility.  EVERYTHING was completely outstanding!


Gary Saunders, Harry Rowe, Sally & Chuck Roach, and Kent Johnson relaxing on the deck (we must have somehow managed to temporarily get Harry in out of the heat)

Other Clan members in attendance, sans boats:

Jerry Fruit and his wife Vikki traveled from San Marcos Texas to join us.  Jerry was planning to bring #81 to the event, but a schedule conflict prevented.  They flew in to OKC Saturday morning to join us.

Norm Lansky and his wife Leslie drove from New Orleans to be with us. Norm owns KITTYHAWK, the only known Blackwatch rigged as a gaff-cat. “The second #1”


Your humble report, Dave McFate, Valley View, Ohio.

"Rock Star" dockage was provided for "The Fleet" in the basin in front of the Clubhouse.

Three Blackwatch in the basin, and Harry’s boat would have made four.  Next year, I really think we might be able to get ten, perhaps a dozen.  Wouldn’t that be something?
I cannot express how much I appreciate the effort that all these folks put in to making this Gathering possible.  And heartfelt thanks to the Officers and members of The Oklahoma City Boat Club who provided such a warm welcome and simply  made everything perfect for this rag-tag bunch of Blackwatch folks. I hope we can do it again… maybe next June for the SECOND Gathering of the Fleet & ‘The FIRST Blackwatch Nationals’. 
More later when I get the FILM processed (yes, I know, but I’m an old Navy Photomate, can’t seem to make the jump to digital.  These were all taken with my son’s little Olympus)
—Dave McFate

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27 Jun


The Log of “Dauntless” Entry 14


Checking in this afternoon from Blakely Island Marina Store.  Last night at Roche Harbor we were docked at the farthest dock from the resort and the wireless signal was really poor. So, to get you up to date:
After our wet ride to Port Sydney on Wed, we spent the day exploring the town. Sydney is a delight and a spot that Jo and I surely want to return to. Larry showed me a "Boater’s Exchange" store just up from the marina that was like diving into a treasure chest of used sailboat parts. This place had everything—if you had the patience to look for it. Inside it was like one of those giant mining dump trucks ( you know, the ones that can hold 30 cars?) dumped its load of used boat parts on a store the size of your local Circle K. It was fun to rummage around in.


A Dog’s Life Aboard!

Gary H. had his favorite Greek restaurant that we all trekked uptown to for dinner. Mmmmmm. It was a good call. We even found out that there is a difference between baked and steamed spaghetti.
The plan for yesterday was an early departure to cross the Haro Straight with light currents to get to Roche Harbor and check into customs. Overnight, I was awakened numerous times by downpours on the deck and we awoke to stormy looking skies and an ominous forecast. The Haro Straight has a reputation of being exceptionally nasty when the winds oppose the currents. That’s exactly what it looked like might be setting up. If we were going to make a run for it we needed to do it pronto before the ebb tide really got going. As a group we pored over the tide/current data, weather reports and charts and evaluated how much of a rough ride we were willing to deal with. Eventually, we decided to wait until the tides and currents turned, around 1pm, and make a run for it when the wind and currents were running the same general direction. Depending on what forecast you listened to, winds were forecast to be 10-20, and possibly more.
The later departure gave crews a few more hours to enjoy Sydney and skippers a few more hours to fret about the upcoming crossing. Knowing that we could turn back if we needed to I went ahead with preparations. One thing I decided to do was to eliminate our dinghy as a potential problem. Our previous encounter in the Haro Straight last week had the dinghy surfing up to and crashing into the back of the boat, turning sideways and making me worry that we might flip it. This time, we packed the dinghy up and brought it aboard . Problem solved! Many crews pre-tied in reefs in the main and secured everything for a potential rough crossing.
1 pm arrived and the fleet, like clockwork, cast off dock lines and headed out. As if we were being watched over and the weather Gods felt repentant for the wet ride the day before, a blue hole opened up over top of us. The sun’s warmth felt awesome. We wouldn’t be able to see the conditions in the Haro until we sailed a few miles, around Sydney Spit, and stuck our noses out into it. Right off the bat conditions were good. We were sailing a reach over to Sydney Spit with a full main and a blade jib making around 5-6 knots. Seas here were no problem but we were protected by Sydney Island and still the question remained, how would the Straight be?
As we rounded the Spit the wind freshened and we busted through a few tide rips, but the seas were pretty mellow and the boatspeed just kept on increasing. Although the currents should have been pushing us north, it seemed that they were from our stern adding to our speed. Crews were shaking out reefs right and left and hauling up headsails.

The Fleet Crossing Haro Straight at 7+ knots and more!

The sailing was great as the boat was 100% powered up but fully controllable and the knot meter was going off the scale. All the boats reported that they were holding speeds in the 7+ knot range, with long bouts in the 8+ knot region and surges over 9!  On Dauntless, we peaked out at 9.2 knots. It was great!  All that worrying and it turned out that the sailing was great. We covered the 11.5 miles in an hour and 45 minutes. That included getting in and out of port! Everyone agreed that it was one of the best sails they have ever had. Jo and I sailed all the way into Roche Harbor.

Everyone tied up safe at Roche

Roche Harbor, if you haven’t been there, is the playground of the rich. I am not exaggerating. As you walk the docks there are new yachts for sale tied up like an auto dealership on the water. What do the window stickers on them say? Well, we briefly looked at the four tied up by the head of the dock and they were $890,000.00…2,800,000.00  and 3.8 million. The harbor is full of these kind of boats. Amazing. I don’t know what all these people do, but they must do it well!


 Roche Harbor

Yeah, our boats are down there…but you’ll never find ’em!

We cleared U.S. Customs at Roche as we were now back in U.S. Waters. Two of the 8 boats were searched and I’m happy to report that they were clean! The difference between dealing with U.S. Customs vs dealing with Canadian Customs was huge. I’ll only speak for myself , but suffice it to say that it seemed the Canadians were a lot happier to have us around.
Everyone milled around , watched the Lowering of the Colors Ceremony and then ended up back at the boats. Out came cans of crackers, cheese, wine, soda, pretzels, peanuts, etc. and we had our own little dock party sitting Indian style on the dock as the millionaires watched from the decks of their superyachts. Unbeknownst to them, we were the richest people in the world enjoying our special friendships for the 13th evening in a row. Life is good.
This morning was an early 7:30am cast off from Roche for Blakely Island Marina. Blakely is a special place. We love it here. It’s tiny and beautiful. It was a clear windless morning.

Tom, Della, and Booji motoring to Roche

We motored in a group.  Jo and I took a side trip to Shaw Island and visited the small market on the island that has been operational since the beginning of the century along the way.  Arriving at Peavine Pass we had to negotiate about a 3 knot current into the entrance to Blakely. One by one the Montys arrived. This will be our last full day together. Most crews are relaxing today. Some are starting getting things ready to transfer from "boatlife" back to "landlife". Laundry, cleaning up and preparations to get the boats hoisted out.

Jim on Grace relaxin’ at Blakely


Fred shows us how it’s done at Blakely’s Ice Cream Parlor

Crews relax together at Blakely 

Tomorrow we close the loop. Anacortes. The beginning and the end. Honestly, it’s a bittersweet day. Yes, I know that this life is not reality for me. It’s an escape from daily life. It’s a time to make new, and strengthen old friendships. It’s been a time to reflect about what’s important, and what’s not.  In some ways the two weeks has flown by and in others it seems like we’ve been on the boat for an eternity. Even though this trip pales in comparison to many journeys that sailors around the world have taken, it is still a feeling of accomplishment to complete it. But, that feeling of accomplishment comes with the realization that it is almost over for now. The now 7 boats remaining of the original 16 that started the trip will end their journey tomorrow. Once we hit Anacortes everyone will be busy getting ready to hit the road to get back to their respective homes.  Jo and I  are going to try to get to Anacortes, get the boat loaded, and be on the road by evening for the 1500 mile trip home.  Probably won’t be time to post. We’ll check in from somewhere along the road home with a final report. 


Bosun says…"that’s enough bloggin’ dad. Time for a walk"
Casting off
Sean, Jo, and Bosun, and the Montgomery Group
M23 Dauntless

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26 Jun


AAmerican Fiberglas 16′ – water ballast system?


Just got this question from the new owner of an American Fiberglass 16-foot daysailor…


I am hoping you can help me by answering my question or pointing me in the direction of someone who can. I recently purchased a 16’ 1975 American Fiberglass daysailer that has a water ballast system that I am not sure how to operate. The boat has a hole/plug in the lower transom and two hole/plugs in the cockpit. It would seem to me that I should open the plug in the transom and the plugs in the cockpit until water begins to come in the cockpit holes and then replace the plugs in all of the openings. This would fill the water tank and be certain the air was removed from the tank. The previous owner told me just to leave all of the plugs in place and the water ballast fills itself through some valve. When I leave all of the plugs in place I do get water in the ballast tank however I can not find a valve anywhere unless it is in the centerboard area. I am thinking I have a leak into the water ballast tank which I can not find.
I can not find much information about these water ballast systems and the company that made this boat is out of this business. I was hoping that you may provide some insight or point me in the direction of someone who can.
Thank You
Here is a picture of a sistership…
The interesting thing is that I can’t find any information about this boat being fitted with water ballast! Bouancy tanks, yes. Water ballast, no.
 Can anyone out there shed any light on this question?
Capt’n Pauley


Filed Under: Uncategorized

26 Jun


Capt’n Pauley – Checkin’ In!


Just a quick to to let you know. for reason known only to them, Josh and Craig have decided to let me post to the Small Craft Advisor blog.

 Many of you know me as the Technical Editor of SCA. I’ve got a pretty good background with epoxy, polymer lumber and wood. I’ve a good understanding of the ABYC (American Boat and Yacht Coucil) regs and standards and have been acive in restoring and sailing small craft. I still own and sail Ternabout, my 1972 Matilda 20. 

I’m a memeber of SSCA (Seven Seas Cruising Association) and USPS (United States Power Squadrons) with a rank of Past Lieutenant Commander and grade of Advanced Pilot.

 I’m currently based at the head of Chesapeake Bay in a little town called North East, Maryland. It’s located on the Northeast River (yes, that’s rignt, the town is two words and river is one – go figure).

I’d welcome any maintenance, operation or restoration questions and will do my best to answer them or find the answer.

Look forward to hearing from you!

Capt’n Pauley



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