Ambassadors for all we America was. Apologists for all America is.

Archive for April, 2013

Of things from our youth, remembered with a smile!

New Sneakers.

When I was in junior high school, every Fall as school started, I got a new pair of shoes.

They were not just any shoes.  They were Converse (all-stars, I think).  And, with those new shoes, for a while … anything was possible.

I was suddenly able to run faster, climb any tree higher, leap like Superman –albeit shorter leaps–and generally peel out when starting to run and screech to a halt when stopping.

All of this because of the rubber’s newness.

When, I was in high school in the mid 60s, I actually worked in a factory that made such shoes; and, while I attended high school,  I made the inside foam inserts and “vulcanized” the bottom rubber to the sides.

It was hot dirty work and hard physically.  Lots of kids worked there during school because, once summer was here, we worked stacking bales of hay on trucks to make money.  No one had–as yet–had heard of child-labor protection laws.

Two weeks ago, I walked by the Baja Star store, in La Paz centro, and my eyes were caught by a pair of new Converse basketball shoes.  Like a child to the scent of fresh-baked cookies, I was drawn into the store.

As I stood there looking at the last vestige of an earlier America, I smiled.  For just a moment I was standing again,  in Delbert Wax’s General Dry Goods Store in Gillham, Arkansas in 1964.  I could smell the wood floors, the sawdust that kept the ice blocks cold, I could picture the wooden book rack with the newest issues of Fantastic Four, Superman, Spiderman, Dare Devil, Batman, and the Blackhawks.

I could see the “old” men sitting around the pot-bellied stove, in overalls from the railroad, or from the County Roads Department talking about the unions.

For a brief second, I was 14 again.  The second did not linger.  But, my smile did, looking at those shoes.

The sales clerk tried to sell me a pair of white ones … that is not what I remembered.  ‘Cause, even as a child I knew, white wouldn’t still be white by the time I got home.  Dirt does not tolerate white shoes on a teenaged boy.

No, they needed to be just like the ones I had as a child.  And, those were made from unbleached canvas.  Like a classic sail, they were slightly off-white.  You knew that–after a while–the sweat from your feet would make a stain where the canvas was joined to the sole.  That is also where they would, inevitably, “blow out” when they were too old to keep you running.  But, that was forever in the future.

As I walked up the dock to the boat I smelled the smells of my mom’s kitchen.  The smells of Southern cooking–cake, cookies, and cornbread–were always in the air.  We were poor but not dirt poor.  She saw to it that we never went without food.

Then, as I stepped aboard, I realized it really did smell like cake.  It smelled like carrot cake.  When I got below, Carolyn (wife not mom … or wife and mom) was  cleaning up from having just placed a carrot cake in the solar oven.  The smell was as real as real.

So was the taste of the batter clinging to the sides of the mixing bowl and the glass of ice-cold milk.

And, so was the brand new pair of canvas Converse basketball shoes.


Spiritus gets a triatic stay ….

Many who own ketches have gotten, at one time or another, drawn into the never ending discussion of the need or lack of need for the triatic stay ( also spelled Triadic Stay).  This is the stay that runs, in the case of most Ingrids, from the top of one mast to the top of another.  If you look thru the pictures at the Ingrid sites, you can quickly see that about half of the boats out there don’t have this stay.

There is a further variation where the stay is installed but lower on the mizzen mast.  Usually this installation is half to 2/3 way up the mizzen.

Spiritus, which was formerly Tanya Dawn, never had this piece of rigging installed.  In La Paz, as I have been working on the boat, I discovered all the hardware stored away in one of the holds.  I was in the midst of having the rigging tuned after the trip south and after discussions with a local rigger, we decided to install the triatic stay.

I took his advice, but mostly, I decided to install it because every plan  sail plan I have seen for an Ingrid called for this stay.

The discussions, which I had with the original owners (when Carolyn and I bought the boat three years ago) broached this discussion of its absence.  The original owners, who are also the family that finished the boat, decided that they did not want the two masts tied together in case of the failure of a single mast causing the failure of both by dragging the other down.  Theirs was a safety decision to increase the redundancy of the sails and rigging of the boat.

When our rigger and I tuned the standing rigging after the Spiritus’ trip south from Oregon, he commented on the missing triatic stay and we noted it was extremely difficult to get the mizzen tuned and at the same angle relative to the boat hull as the main mast.  In addition, we couldn’t get as much tension thru the 8 pieces of standing rigging that support the mizzen as we wanted.

Spiritus is rigged with Castlok fittings like those used in elevators.  They are end hardware that doesn’t use a small wedge inside another hand tightened stainless steel hardware.  Instead, an epoxy like reddish formula is mixed and pushed into the end fitting after the wire is feathered inside it.  The results are an exothermic (it gets hot and expands) reaction in the epoxy that seals and immobilizes the end of the wire.  These are relatively difficult to find now.  And, it took me forever to find a set of instructions on how to mix and apply the epoxy.  The rigger had never used them before, so we chose to order and use a Norseman fitting.

It took us three hours to measure (twice) , cut, install the fitting on the 3/16 stainless wire, climb both masts, install the two ends, including a turnbuckle, and then re tune the mizzen.


Because it’s March in La Paz,  mid-winter, so it was only about 90 degrees Fahrenheit by 12:30 p.m. when we finished.

It is always entertaining to people on the docks when upper shroud rigging work is being done, because you don’t get to see it that often away from a shipyard.  I am including below the contents of an email Carolyn wrote to some friends about the installation.  She also gets credit for the nice photo above of us in the rigging.  After all, what is the point of doing this if you don’t get a hero shot or two.

Her email:

Well, we needed to put a triadic stay.  “What the hell is that?” you well may ask. (Or not particularly give a continental damn, as you will.) However, we thought it was kinda a good idea.  For those of you with a thirst of knowledge for its own esoteric self, I include a rather good description of what it is, what it does, and why it exists. (Despite the fact that it is about another make of ketch–the answer is still the same.)

“The triadic stay was an option at the factory but it was standard not to have it until the early 80’s.  After hearing of a three of losses of the mizzen, albeit two of them were needless, the builder, Kurt, decided to make it standard. The wire size was of a smaller diameter than any other on board the boat save the halyard wire portions. There was a variance on the configurations over time at the factory and of course owner installations take on a life of their own.  The factory installs were basically masthead to masthead from tangs and at the mizzen end was a turnbuckle which required a man to get up there to attach it. The other was to go through a sheave and down the face of the mizzen to deck level.

One of the benefits was that less forward and downward pressure was required to tune the mast while making it parallel to the main. This in turn put less pressure on the head bulkhead, deck fitting and cabin sole and its under sole support.  The pressure if too great would over time change the companionway configuration and make the hatch hard to slide and similarly cause the head door in the aft cabin to change fit.

The mast is the same as the Alberg 30 with no forestay. For open ocean sailing safety and aesthetics I would prefer the stay and was party to the decision to add it as standard.

As an owner you get to choose.  From 1972 most of the Whitbys did not have one. I only know of 3 losses and it is 37 years later and with about 200 of them with no triadic, that is a lot of sea time with no problems!!!!!!”


Russ got a hold of our rigger; he (in turn) ordered the part, and about three weeks later they both went up the masts to complete the addition.

I escaped for awhile–thither and yon–foraging for the necessities of life such as groceries and Animalitoes (Mexico’s version of animal cookies); I returned to find Russ at the top of our taller mast ((50 feet above the deck).  It was a hot day and it must have been hot as hell up there with no shade whatsoever.

So you will better understand  the situation, I climbed with Russ for about 20 years and one learns–in that time–some interesting rules about being exposed at great heights to having your ass hanging vertically high off the round with your only protection being a rope and a carabiner.  Rule #1) Simple gravity.  It’s hard to fall UP/easy to fall DOWN,  Good protection is a must and don’t get sloppy because #2) no matter how high you go, the first 40 feet can kill you just as dead as 1400 feet. #3) Don’t walk up unexpectedly and yell at the climber, “Hi Honey!!  I’m home!  How ya doin?”  On a boat, Rule #4 is applied: Don’t jump on the boat carrying groceries and a case of beer.  (Did I mention the beer earlier?)  Climbing boat masts also have other rules regarding windy days and lightning storms.

Anyway….I rolled my grocery cart down to the dock quietly and there was a very nice Mexican man in his mid-50s watching the climbers. He motioned to me to be very quiet (with his fingers to his lips) and pointed upward to the mast.  I, in turn, shook my head proudly. 

The man said,”Ese hombre es joven y muy fuerte.” (That man is young and very strong.)

Despite the reference to Russ being young–which I took in stride–again I shook my head affirmatively and replied proudly,Bueno, él viejo pero muy fuerte. Mi esposo.”  ( Well, he’s old, but very strong. My husband.) 

The man (who definitely had a great sense of humor) smiled, winked at me, and asked playfully, “¿Es vigoroso?” (“He’s energetic?” USE YOUR IMAGINATION!)

I laughed.  “Si! Muy vigorosa” (“Oh, yeah!” LOOSE TRANSLATION)

He bowed grandly. Tú eres una mujer afortunada.” (You’re very lucky.)

I returned the bow. “Eso es muy cierto.”  (“That’s very true.”)

Needless to say, I had fun and Russ was thrilled when I told him the story.

Love to all,


See how much family fun you can have on an Ingrid 38, even on a day when it doesn’t leave the dock?

I already notice that the mizzen no longer “pumps” in heavy winds with the new stay.  I will let you know if I can tell any difference in how she handles under sail.  I am not expecting any major change, but the tune up (coupled with the new stay) may make her a bit more stiff, not sure if it will be noticeable in a 28,000 lb boat.