Monthly: March 2010

29 Mar

1 Comment

A visit with Sjogin and Russ


My first impression of Sjogin, from photos on Russ’ website, of unpretentious elegance, was confirmed on seeing her.

The surprise was in seeing her generous beam, somewhat apparent here, but more noticeable in the bottom photo. At about 20′ loa, her beam of almost 8′ is generous, she’s shallow with nearly flat bilges.

She’ sweet and workmanlike, true to her ancestry. I was impressed with not only her clear and most pleasing lines but also the absence of anything extraneous. Her finish and fit out are pure work boat, very clean and appropriate.

On climbing aboard, I was first struck by her stark geometry.

Anchor stowed in the cockpit.

Looking forward from the companionway.

Quite simple below decks,

Her elegance continues.

Some neccesaries, including wood for the stove.

Russ recently added the little bookshelf.

Here’s Russ’ tall frame enjoying sitting headroom while we jabber.

courtesy John Armstrong

Teapot stowed. Notice the interior is finished bright, with no oil, no varnish and very little fade in 50 years, evidence of a dry and well kept boat. Copper rivets throughout, but the backbone is bolted with iron, and showing a bit of “iron sickness”, which will eventually need to be addressed.

This lovely little Navigator Sardine keeps Sjogin warm and dry, even on the most bitter days.

courtesy John Armstrong

Russ pointed out the prominent ‘F’ on the forward chainplate, presumably the makers reminder to himself.

Looking aft from the compainway, simplicity.

Russ allows the only ‘bling’ he’s added recently are the handcrafted Ash blocks from Denmark, which “cost the earth” but look great on Sjogin.

Simply rigged, as well.

Another angle on the block and chimney vent. I enjoyed crawling around topside.

Across the way, an unpretentious little summer getaway.

We head off for a tour of the boatyard, more to come…

Russ give’s a wave as we depart. Sjogin’s beam is evident here.

all photos Thomas Armstrong unless otherwise noted.

Brother John and I made the trek down to Brick, NJ Saturday for a visit with Russ Manheimer and his tidy little bombshell Sjogin. It was a brisk and sunny day, but rather blustery, so a planned (and hoped for) sail was not in the offing. Guess we’ll have to make the journey again, in gentler weather, in order to heave to off Swan point. We’ll do that. John will bring lunch and Russ will provide the magic carpet.
We had a great visit nonetheless, sitting in her cabin for hours yakking, and later being treated to a tour of David Beaton and Son’s legendary boatyard where Sjogin resides. We met Tom Beaton, the son of David and current proprietor and had a bit of a gam there as well. More on that soon.
Sjogin was built, as the story goes, by a retired Swedish sailing captain named Gullberg between 1960-62, to lines typical of Swedish or Danish coasting fishing workboats. Or almost typical, but not quite. There’s something different about this boat, something special. Whoever crafted her was an artist indeed, there is something so balanced, so right about this boat, something ineffable. This is not just my opinion. A recent thread on the WoodenBoat Forum evinced widespread admiration for Sjogin. Indeed, it sort of ignited and has resulted in the interest of at least four prominent designers taking interest in adapting this boat with her elegant lines into their current offerings. Francois Vivier has made a preliminary drawing of his interpretation available here. The thread was started by a fellow who wanted to initiate the work of taking off her lines. That hasn’t happened yet but probably will within the year. This is an exciting turn of events, as not only will it preserve the design, but also allow future development from what is generally acknowledged to be an aesthetic triumph.
Little more is known about her builder and origins, so anyone who can shed some light is invited to do so.
A delightful day and John and I are looking forward to another road trip, and a sail…

Thanks Russ.

…After a brief tour of Mantoloking and Bay Head, John and I headed back toward home, stopping for lunch at a small ‘crab shack’ opposite the entrance to Beaton’s. We both tried the fried Silver Hake sandwich. Excellent. Caught locally by the area’s lobstermen, they bring their extraneous hake to this longstanding little business, so it’s local and very fresh. Hit the spot

Filed Under: Uncategorized

15 Mar


Life is What Happens While You Are Busy Plannning Your Future


From Capt’n Pauley’s blog:

“Life is what happens while you are busy planning your future.”


“Life is what happens while you are busy planning your future.”

Pay attention to that little saying, folks, for it applies to all of us. While we’re busy thinking about and planning our futures, real life sneaks up and whacks us on the back of the head.

I recently learned a whole lot more about this subject than I ever wanted to.

First of all, the Grim Reaper isn’t how he is often portrayed; a spectral figure, shrouded and carrying a scythe. He is more like an 800 lb. gorilla carrying a length of 2×4 and he is a real joker. Most of the time, he stands around, leaning on the 2×4 and observing the passing scene. Occasionally, he walks up behind someone and whacks them on the back of the head with that 2×4.

Another favorite activity of that 800 lb. gorilla is setting up domino trains. We’ve all seen those examples, the ones where someone takes over a gym floor and then arranges thousands of dominos. A touch to a single one starts off the show.

Well, that 800 lb. gorilla does the same thing. Some domino trains are short and preordained. Others are longer, with the outcome dependent on a couple of teetering dominos that could fall one way or another.

Many of these dominos are put in place by his helpers and he has many. Most were on my side and are clear in my mind; Nancy, Kim, Candace, Suzanne, Dr. Mike, Dr. Carlos, Dr. Bill and dozens of others. Others are less clear, floating in and out on a Percocet induced haze. Fewer still are neutral spirits and, luckily, fewer still actively against me. But make no mistake, they are his helpers and do, mostly, his bidding.

My whack came late one Friday afternoon. A heaviness in my chest was then followed by shortness of breath. I hadn’t heard the whack but I felt the after effects. I finally looked at my spouse of 40+ years and said. “It’s time to call 911!” With that call, the gorilla tipped over the first domino and off they went. I was there, but I was only along for the ride.           

There I was, on a ride I hadn’t planned on and a trip I didn’t want any part off. It was amazing to see the dominoes march on, unaffected by anything I wanted them to do. Occasionally, a domino teetered one way instead of another: “One of three things will fix your problem, medication, stents or open heart surgery.” We can all guess how that domino teetered.           

So here I am, weeks later, sitting at home recovering from that wild and unplanned ride. And you are asking yourself, “What does all this have to do with boating?” Nothing but my personal admonition to enjoy the moment, especially where boating is concerned. Take advantage of that weather window. Go for that last cruise of the season. Never put off a boating trip until tomorrow if you could do it today. Stop by the boatyard more often and say “Hi” to the guys. Never miss a chance to enjoy the Bay and the boating life we’re blessed with here. That whistling sound may be that 2×4 headed your way. That’s my advice and I intend on following it…


Capt’n Pauley

Filed Under: Uncategorized

13 Mar


A Master Potter Modifier


A lot of us like to tinker with our boats. Out on the interwebs you can find all kinds of sites where owners have executed modifications that make their boats more useful, correct shortcomings,  or simply personalize their mass-produced plastic tubs a bit.  And then there’s the people who build their own boats, a group whose penchant for personalization knows no limits. 

I have a great fear of doing anything permanent to my boat. I know it’s irrational, but the thought of drilling holes in the virginal fiberglass just gives me the willies. One time I had to attach a cable tie to hold some wires to the interior of the cabin; I put it off for at least a year, then when I actually resolved to do the deed, I found myself barely able to drill two tiny, 1/8″ deep holes for the stainless steel screws. I stared at the job site, breaking into a hot sweat (this is Arizona– Nobody does the cold-sweat thing out here), and finally managed to force myself to drill the holes, all the while in near panic that I was going to punch through to the topsides. Everything about that experience made me quiver, and I felt extremely guilty as I watched the fiberglass tailings drifting down from the holes while I drilled. It turned out fine, but I still bear the emotional scars.

I have this ragged hole in my companionway hatch, a souvenir of my second voyage on the Potter. Since 2006 I have made ongoing resolutions to fix the hole. I placed a temporary piece of duct tape over it  back in ’06 to keep the elements out while I girded my loins for the repair.  I’m still girding. And we won’t talk about my pathetic loins, thank you very much.  I even bought a Dremel tool, including the Bonus Testosterone Toolpack, to facilitate my fiberglass repair project.  Larry Pardey, I’m not.  My boat glares at me reproachfully every time I go up to the lake and replace the weathered piece of duct tape. The Dremel tool sits in my garage grousing about it’s girly-man owner.

What’s really weird about this is I have no problem wrenching the crap out of anything but my boat. I have designed and/or built, with my own hands, 6 houses. Water beater blows up? No problemo. Electronics fried on stove? Piece of cake. Wife doesn’t like door into the den?  Move the door to a different wall, child’s play.  When I was young and stupid, replacing a clutch,  or broken valve pushrod on a small-block chevy didn’t faze me in the least.  My wife’s friends all express admiration at her success in landing a “handy” husband.  My wife takes a different view, naturally.  To her I’m kind of an idiot savant who may be able to replace a toilet, but can barely drink a glass of water without drowning myself. But I’m actually pretty good at this kind of stuff– Just not on my little fiberglass baby.

Anyhow. Thinking of my wussiness as a boat butcher, I am reminded of one fellow who is about as far away from me on the Boat Modification Audacity Scale as one can possibly be. This guy took a West Wight Potter, identical to my poor boat, and did things to it that make me, a wannabe naval architect, drool in admiration.  His name is Charlie, and you can visit his website here

Potters are huge inside, and can store a lot of crap. But getting to that crap can be problematic, especially in a seaway when everything migrates, unseen, to the furthest nether regions of a locker. Charlie, not afraid to wield his manly Dremel with authority, solved that problem in clever and appealing ways. Here’s a picture of the galley he built:

He ripped away a large chunk of fiberglass and built a multifunction galley unit that completely reworks the functionality of the stock “galley” area.  If you go to his site you can see many more pictures that show how wonderfully useful this mod is.

Potters have a silly little molded sink on the port side, that for me at least, serves more as a catch basin for random gear like GPS, cell phone, beer, etc.  Here’s what Charlie did with his:

Just for comparison, here’s what the stock version looks like:

The amazing thing about this is the origami-like sink/table combination Charlie designed.  On his website you can view an interactive page that shows you how all the various pieces slide in and out and rearrange themselves for the desired purpose. Here’s one configuration:

One thing that annoys the crap out of me, and quite possibly most of you, is the mast compression post on my Potter. I have to twist myself into a pretzel to stuff myself into the V-berth, and reverse the process to escape. Charlie solved that problem with an ingenious aluminum arch that really opens up the interior:

And the arch before installation:

There are more modifications, including a really interesting lifting rudder:

A cockpit table:

There are many more modifications, and Charlie has done an excellent job of documenting his work.  I am ashamed to be such a feeb when I look at what he has accomplished with his Potter.  I highly suggest you visit his website, if for nothing else then to admire his craftsmanship.  And perhaps gain some inspiration.  I know I’m inspired– I think I’m ready to go put a fresh layer of duct tape on the hole in my companionway hatch!  Maybe I’ll document that process for you blog readers.  Stay tuned.

Filed Under: Uncategorized