AuthorTopic: Diner Autobiographical Life Anecdotes  (Read 2403 times)

Offline RE

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Re: Diner Autobiographical Life Anecdotes
« Reply #30 on: April 28, 2017, 05:38:14 AM »
The Scot was recovered with no real damage, and we went on to race her in the Governor's Cup race two years in a row, although we never won. We were very good to windward, but I never really mastered the fine art of launching a Scot spinnaker. It has to be done from the cockpit

Sounds a bit like the Flight of the Phoenix:icon_sunny:

<a href="http://www.youtube.com/v/IACjOvyx5hs" target="_blank" class="new_win">http://www.youtube.com/v/IACjOvyx5hs</a>

In the Diner version, Eddie gets the Jimmy Stewart role and RE gets the Hardy Kruger role.  :icon_mrgreen:

RE
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Offline Eddie

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Re: Diner Autobiographical Life Anecdotes
« Reply #31 on: April 28, 2017, 06:40:02 AM »


The actual site of our accident. The shore is not nearly as close at it looks.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline agelbert

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Re: Diner Eddie ROCKS!
« Reply #32 on: April 28, 2017, 11:49:58 AM »
I've got one for you. Let me lay a little groundwork first.

I first went sailing with some friends when I was in college. I grew up around ski boats and fishing boats, the kind working class  people used to be able to afford when I was young , but coming from rural East Texas, I was not exposed to sailing at all as a kid. That was something rich people did. I never even thought much about it. But once I tried it, I was hooked for life. However, for four long years of dental school, I was nose to the grindstone. I didn't even have the time to read a book for pleasure. Dental school is roughly equivalent to carrying about a 25 hour load as an undergrad. I was at school every weekday from 7:30 am until midnight most nights, when they made us leave and go home whether we wanted to or not. Four years, with a month off for summers. I worked as a research assistant during the summer breaks. I needed the money.

When I got out of school in San Antonio and moved to Houston to start my residency in pediatrics, I scrimped together enough money to spend maybe a thousand bucks on a very neglected but very worthy old Flying Scot, a 20 ft daysailor with a big swing keel with a windlass. I didn't even know where to go to put it in the water. I asked someone, and they said people sailed on Offut's Bayou in Galveston. I proceeded to hook up the trailer to my 1976 Toyota Corolla Wagon (1600cc's, 5 speed manual transmission, roughly half the size of the boat) and headed down there to check it out.

Fortunately, the freeway on to Galveston Island crosses Offut's Bayou, so I found it without much trouble. I backed down the public ramp and launched my vessel. I was pretty busy between the hospital and two part-time side jobs, but I found time a couple of times a month to drive down there and begin to figure out how to sail a boat. By the time I was out, two years later, I at least knew a tack from a jibe, and enough not to get blown on to a lee shore. There was a lot more about sailing I didn't know, far more than I did know. But when we moved to Austin i pulled the Scot down (now behind my new Ford Bronco II, the worst car I ever owned...but that's another story).

When we had moved to Houston, my two oldest girls were ages 2 1/2 and 6 months. Near the Med Center there was a fairly famous infant swimming school, the Phil Hansell Academy. Remember that article from Life Magazine in the 1960's that documented how children younger than a year could be taught to float and even swim? Phil Hansell (one time swim coach for University of Houston) got in on that early wave, and started such a training center. By the time we came to town, it had been in business over 20 years, and it's still there now. The teachers there have taught thousands of babies how to float on their backs fully clothed, with a soaked diaper. The kids don't graduate until they can do that.


A Typical Infant Swimmer (after 3-6 months of training)

On the wall at Phil Hansell are displayed many letters, photos,  and anecdotes from parents whose children's lives were subsequently saved in various water accidents as a result of their training, even one involving a toddler who fell through an open manhole and floated far below street level in a storm sewer for half an hour until the fire department could get a man down. Expecting a corpse, they were surprised to find a floating kid who wasn't even that upset.

My wife wanted to put our girls in swimming lessons, and so we did. We lived in some student apartments owned by the University of Texas, which had an Olympic pool. Very soon my kids were known around the complex as swimming prodigies, and the late Dr. Red Duke (trauma surgeon turned TV personality) who had a regular spot on the nightly evening news, even sent out a camera crew to video my kids, and they were on TV one night, for maybe 30 seconds. LOL. Frequently, people who didn't know they were completely water safe, would jump into the pool and try to rescue them, or just walk up and give us a ration of shit about not watching our kids around the pool. It was a great joke for me and my wife.

Fast forward to the summer of '87. We moved to Austin, and I started asking again about where to put in a sailboat on Lake Travis. My wife's brother allowed as he had seen people sailing at a place called Windy Point, so once again, I hitched up the trailer and went to check it out.

There are no coincidences.

Now, today, Windy Point would be the last place I'd go to launch a sailboat on Lake Travis. Very shallow water, no boat ramp. I had to back way out into the water in my car to try to launch, and it still wasn't easy. A guy about ten years older than us offered to help us launch. He'd been sailing a borrowed Sunfish, but had just broken his rudder. He helped me launch the Scot, and bummed a ride. Turned out he was a single Dad who lived right in our neighborhood and had a son right between my kids in age. We would go on to become best friends and sailing buddies (on a long string of boats) for decades. He was already an experienced sailor, but not on small boats.

We spent the whole summer sailing our asses off, kids along, often all three kids and me, my wife and our new friend Terry.


A Flying Scot Under Full Sail

In Texas it isn't always obvious when summer ends. We went out one fine Sunday, the first weekend in November, 1987. The weather was glorious, the water still fairly tolerable for swimming, and the wind was blowing a steady 10-15 knots. By this time we were feeling pretty good about our expertise, and we "put the rail in the water" as they say, and spent a great afternoon sailing across the main basin in Lake Travis. Now, one thing you should know, is that lake sailing can be tricky. Unlike the bay, the wind is constantly changing direction and speed, and promontories of land can put you out of the wind completely. Eventually, Terry and I would know that lake like the back of our hands, but we were still newbies then.

We had already named the main basin "The Vortex" because of the weird wind effects there. One side of the lake is lined with high cliffs. At the top is a huge destination restaurant and bar called The Oasis, which bills itself as "The Sunset Capital of Texas". The wind along the cliffs creates whirls and eddies and you can never tell exactly what you might get hit with next.

We stayed out until very few other boats were still on the lake. The wind started to rise a bit, but we didn't pay that much attention. We had put away a few beers, and we were having fun. Terry was at the helm...if you can call lying on your back with one hand on the rudder and the other holding the mainsheet "at the helm".

Then, suddenly, it all went very wrong. A big gust, and we heeled way over. Terry let go the main and I let go the jib. but the mainsheet (the line that lets the mainsail release, thereby de-powering the sail and preventing a capsize), got caught under someone's foot. In one long second, we got knocked down. We were in the drink. Me, Terry, my wife, and my two girls. His kid was not there. Mom's weekend.

The Scot has a somewhat unique rig. The main halyard (the line that raises and drops the main sail) is not a rope. It's a cable, and it works by turning a tiny little ratcheting winch in a box affixed to the mast. To drop the main, you need the winch handle. The winch handle was gone. As we went over, my oldest girl grabbed the boom, and I had to pry her strong little hands off of it to keep her from being dragged under as the boat proceeded to turtle,

The kids had on life jackets. The rest of us grabbed one and put it on. Nobody was hurt. Everyone was fine.

Except...the sun was going down and the water was getting colder. There wasn't a single boat in sight. Terry and I finally stood on the centerboard together and stood the boat back up. But it was too full of water to bail, and the wet main, still up, was making the boat unstable. It could turtle again anytime. We were already getting exhausted. 


A Swamped Scot

Within a few minutes, I knew we were in real trouble. I was cold, but the kids were really cold, teeth chattering cold. Blue skin cold. They wouldn't last an hour. No way. The sun set and we were way too far from shore to swim in. It started to get dark.

Just about the time I was coming to the realization that my kids were in danger of dying of exposure, a small cabin sailboat, sails furled, motored up under the power of a tiny outboard. They took my wife and kids onboard and dried them off. We didn't want to abandon our boat. It was too unstable to tow, though. So....Terry and I stayed onboard and sat on opposite sides on the gunwales and kept the wobbling boat upright, while they towed us to shore, which took about an hour. Their tiny motor strained just to pull the Scot with its cockpit full of water and its flapping main sail.

It was nearly 10pm before we were able to secure our boat to some rocks near the put-in, where we left it for the night, still full of water. We would return the next day to bail it and put in back on the trailer.

I was colder than I ever remember being. Our rescuers gave me some dry sweats and towels, and I stripped off my wet t-shirt and shorts and put them on, but my teeth kept chattering for a half hour and I didn't get warm for hours. Not until I was home in bed. We quickly thanked our rescuers and they motored off. My wife drove us home, because neither Terry nor I was was able to drive.

About ten years later, my wife was attending an adult bible class here at Riverbend Church one Sunday. The teacher asked everyone in the class to recount some experience they'd had that had made a real impact on them. The people in the class took turns telling about things that had happened to them.

One woman started to tell a story about a day when her family had been at the lake, motoring in at dusk, when they came upon a derelict sailboat and some people with little kids stranded in the middle of the lake....and how they pulled them out of the water and saved their lives. As the story progressed, my wife suddenly realized she was talking about rescuing us!  So she finally had the chance to thank them properly.

I'm sure they'll never forget what they did for us. Neither will I. What would have happened if they hadn't stopped to help us? I'm not sure. But the outcome might have been very tragic. I learned a lesson that day about sailing. A hard lesson I'll never forget.

EXCELLENT! Thank you, Eddie! 
Leges         Sine    Moribus      Vanae   
Faith,
if it has not works, is dead, being alone.

Offline agelbert

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Re: Diner Autobiographical Life Anecdotes
« Reply #33 on: April 28, 2017, 12:00:35 PM »
Coming soon: How Anthony built a teeny, tiny 'catamaran' (a Hobie Cat is HUGE in comparison to my short lived contraption  :icon_mrgreen:) and sailed it without knowing beans about sailing.   :P
Leges         Sine    Moribus      Vanae   
Faith,
if it has not works, is dead, being alone.

Offline Eddie

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Re: Diner Autobiographical Life Anecdotes
« Reply #34 on: April 28, 2017, 12:45:11 PM »
Thanks AG.
What makes the desert beautiful is that somewhere it hides a well.

Offline knarf

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Re: Diner Autobiographical Life Anecdotes - Eddie's story
« Reply #35 on: April 28, 2017, 02:09:53 PM »
WOW! That is a "chilling" story, I was worried you were all gonna die, but apparently you and your family have a group of angels watching over you. They must have whispered to your rescuers to get a move on to where you were. :) Thank you for sharing that with us, I still think you should consider "writing", as a serious hobby, you communicate really well, and I'll bet you have tons of knowledge that you could pass on with either fiction, or non fiction.
  The coldest I have been in the water, is surfing in the Pacific around Santa Cruz. I don't know the temp of the water but without a wet suit, it was so cold my ears would ache for a couple hours, and my teeth would be chattering, and that is after only an hour in the water. I hate to be in cold water!  I am so glad you and your family are safe, and sound.  :icon_sunny: 
HUMANS ARE STILL EVOLVING! Our communities blog is at https://openmind693.wordpress.com

Offline RE

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Re: Diner Autobiographical Life Anecdotes
« Reply #36 on: April 28, 2017, 02:22:37 PM »

In terms of boating insanity, one of my best anecdotes is a canoe trip I took with a friend to Verendrye Provincial Park in the Great White North.

I had been there before as a Camper in the Primitive Skills camp I attended as a teenager, so I was the "expert" on this trip.  On the trip with the camp, there were experienced counselors who knew the route, they took it every year.  It covered 3 lakes with 2 portages that were not too long, one maybe a 1/4 mile, the other maybe a 1/2 mile.

I wanted to see all the parts of the park we missed on that trip!  There are dozens of lakes, along with rivers/streams/creeks between them.

So first thing was to order a topographical map of the park to plan the trip.  There was no internet and no Google Earth in those days.  We budgeted 2 weeks for this trip after finals in May.  I picked out what looked like a really cool route on the map of 6 lakes with 3 portages and 2 river connections, which I figured probably had some rapids because there was a significant elevation change between the lakes.  Figured we could handle it though, being a couple of macho 20 year old guys. lol.

So we drive to Canada and first thing is to rent the canoe from an outfitter and give him our launch point and destination for pickup later, along with the estimated date of arrival.  No cell phones in those days either, so if you missed your pickup time, this was not good.  You had to then hitch a ride to the nearest pay phone and get them to come back for you, and pay an additional fee for that.

So OK, I give our route and dates to the guy renting the canoes and he looks at me suspiciously.  In a really thick Hoser accent, he asks me:

"So you have canoed here in Verendrye before?"

"Oh yes, I respond."

"You are sure you can make this route in 2 weeks?" he asks.

"Oh sure." I respond.

"OK, I rent you the canoe.  $300 deposit."

"$300?  Your sign says $100."

"That is for lake trips only.  Not down the rivers."

This of course should have clued me in, but we drove all that way and I didn't want to just paddle around lakes and hoist a canoe on my back on portages, I wanted White Water ADVENTURE!  :o

The canoe is a big old cheap aluminum model, not anything real nice and also costs I think it was $100/week rental fee.  Fortunately we carried a lot of spare cash, since there were no digibit cards then and neither of us had credit cards yet.  The $500 outlay did not leave us much left over though, probably not enough for gas to get back to NYC.  I figured I could wire my mom for more money though to get home.

So he loads the canoe on the trailer and drops us off at Lake 1.  First day is just beautiful, it's about 80F in May in Canada, and this like never happened back in those days.  We paddle across the Lake and make camp, for a portage the next morning to do Lake 2.  Fabulous meal of 2 fresh steaks packed in ice and wrapped in a makeshift cooler of towels and (clean) underwear, along with rice and canned beans.  Rest of the trip was all Freeze Dried food of the era, which amounted to Chicken ala King, Spaghetti with Meat Sauce and "chinese" Pepper Steak.  We smoked a doobie and hit the sack.

Next morning, instant oatmeal for breakfast and we do the portage, first carrying the backpacks along the trail, then going back for the canoe.  Temperature is still climbing, now approaching 90 on day 2, still in the morning.  Work up a nice sweat.  Launch point?  On the map it looked like part of a Lake, in REALITY it was SWAMP attached to the lake!  Mosquitos come out as we begin to paddle through the reeds.  Not a few mosquitos, the air is BLACK with them.  Out of desperation we jump out of the canoe and into the water, walking/swimming the canoe along from underwater and coming up for quick gulps of air, filled with mosquitos.  I takes an hour or so to make it throuh the swamp and into open water.  Mosquitos finally peter out.  We are both bitten up and itchy, but splash the clear cool water on which relieves the itch and we paddle across the lake.  I fill up my canteen with water in the middle of the lake, and drink from it with no boiling, no purification tablets.  Water still pretty clean in those years.

The other side of this lake is the first River connection.  We stop here for 2 days of rest and relaxation, do some fishing and catch some, so we have more fresh food here to go with the freeze dried stuff. Mosquito itching subsides, and we walk the river bank to scope it out, spying where the rocks are and good channels to try and go through.  It doesn't look too bad, so that even though it's an open canoe, we elect to try it with our gear in the canoe, rather than walk it with gear first, then go back for an empty canoe ride.  This was a mistake.

We did in fact make the whole ride without capsizing, although we did not hit all the channels we had planned to.  By the time we were halfway down the river, we had shipped about half the canoe full of water.  Our packs were stewing in this, and the canoe itself was wallowing deep in the water and hitting every rock on the ricer bed.  SCRAPE, SCRAPE, DENT, DENT.  Scrapes and dents were a minimum of $10/inch off your deposit money on the canoe for repairs.  All our gear was SOAKED.  It took a day to get everything dried out.

On the second portage my friend sprained his ankle.  Not really bad, but enough we had to wait 2 days to get rolling again, because the canoe was just too heavy for me to portage alone.  Now we were starting to run behind schedule.  The second river run was about the same as the first, although this time we were smart enough to bring our packs down on foot first, then go back for an empty canoe ride.  We still hit more rocks though.  SCRAPE, SCRAPE, DENT, DENT!

We did make our pickup on time, paddling well into the night the 2 days before the meeting time.  The Hoser who picked us up look genuinely surprised we made it.  He looked at the dented up wreck of a canoe and laughed.  Back at his shop, he gave us estimate on repairs, $500.  $200 more than the deposit!  No got the money.  Drives me to a supply store with Western Union and I wire mom for the money.  Comes through, and we are free to drive back to NYC.

For $500 then you could have bought a brand spanking new canoe of this type, and he probably did that rather than repair it.

RE
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Offline RE

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Re: Diner Autobiographical Life Anecdotes
« Reply #37 on: April 29, 2017, 12:56:08 AM »
As I mentioned in my initial post when I split off this topic, my hope was to create a Compilation Article to post to the Diner Blog.

Numerous regular Diners have contributed an Anecdote from their lives so far, it's already enough for a compilation. However, some regular Diners have not yet contributed an anecdote, and I would like this to be as comprehensive as possible.

So for those of you Diners who have not yet posted, I hope you will make a contribution and I am setting a deadline on this for a week from Sunday.

Get your personal stories of Life in the Age of Oil in!

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Offline agelbert

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Re: Diner Autobiographical Life Anecdotes
« Reply #38 on: April 29, 2017, 01:36:49 PM »
Thanks AG.

You are most welcome. I am convinced there was a significant bit of spiritual intercession that day/night.


In terms of boating insanity, one of my best anecdotes is a canoe trip I took with a friend to Verendrye Provincial Park in the Great White North.

I had been there before as a Camper in the Primitive Skills camp I attended as a teenager, so I was the "expert" on this trip.  On the trip with the camp, there were experienced counselors who knew the route, they took it every year.  It covered 3 lakes with 2 portages that were not too long, one maybe a 1/4 mile, the other maybe a 1/2 mile.

I wanted to see all the parts of the park we missed on that trip!  There are dozens of lakes, along with rivers/streams/creeks between them.

So first thing was to order a topographical map of the park to plan the trip.  There was no internet and no Google Earth in those days.  We budgeted 2 weeks for this trip after finals in May.  I picked out what looked like a really cool route on the map of 6 lakes with 3 portages and 2 river connections, which I figured probably had some rapids because there was a significant elevation change between the lakes.  Figured we could handle it though, being a couple of macho 20 year old guys. lol.

So we drive to Canada and first thing is to rent the canoe from an outfitter and give him our launch point and destination for pickup later, along with the estimated date of arrival.  No cell phones in those days either, so if you missed your pickup time, this was not good.  You had to then hitch a ride to the nearest pay phone and get them to come back for you, and pay an additional fee for that.

So OK, I give our route and dates to the guy renting the canoes and he looks at me suspiciously.  In a really thick Hoser accent, he asks me:

"So you have canoed here in Verendrye before?"

"Oh yes, I respond."

"You are sure you can make this route in 2 weeks?" he asks.

"Oh sure." I respond.

"OK, I rent you the canoe.  $300 deposit."

"$300?  Your sign says $100."

"That is for lake trips only.  Not down the rivers."

This of course should have clued me in, but we drove all that way and I didn't want to just paddle around lakes and hoist a canoe on my back on portages, I wanted White Water ADVENTURE!  :o

The canoe is a big old cheap aluminum model, not anything real nice and also costs I think it was $100/week rental fee.  Fortunately we carried a lot of spare cash, since there were no digibit cards then and neither of us had credit cards yet.  The $500 outlay did not leave us much left over though, probably not enough for gas to get back to NYC.  I figured I could wire my mom for more money though to get home.

So he loads the canoe on the trailer and drops us off at Lake 1.  First day is just beautiful, it's about 80F in May in Canada, and this like never happened back in those days.  We paddle across the Lake and make camp, for a portage the next morning to do Lake 2.  Fabulous meal of 2 fresh steaks packed in ice and wrapped in a makeshift cooler of towels and (clean) underwear, along with rice and canned beans.  Rest of the trip was all Freeze Dried food of the era, which amounted to Chicken ala King, Spaghetti with Meat Sauce and "chinese" Pepper Steak.  We smoked a doobie and hit the sack.

Next morning, instant oatmeal for breakfast and we do the portage, first carrying the backpacks along the trail, then going back for the canoe.  Temperature is still climbing, now approaching 90 on day 2, still in the morning.  Work up a nice sweat.  Launch point?  On the map it looked like part of a Lake, in REALITY it was SWAMP attached to the lake!  Mosquitos come out as we begin to paddle through the reeds.  Not a few mosquitos, the air is BLACK with them.  Out of desperation we jump out of the canoe and into the water, walking/swimming the canoe along from underwater and coming up for quick gulps of air, filled with mosquitos.  I takes an hour or so to make it throuh the swamp and into open water.  Mosquitos finally peter out.  We are both bitten up and itchy, but splash the clear cool water on which relieves the itch and we paddle across the lake.  I fill up my canteen with water in the middle of the lake, and drink from it with no boiling, no purification tablets.  Water still pretty clean in those years.

The other side of this lake is the first River connection.  We stop here for 2 days of rest and relaxation, do some fishing and catch some, so we have more fresh food here to go with the freeze dried stuff. Mosquito itching subsides, and we walk the river bank to scope it out, spying where the rocks are and good channels to try and go through.  It doesn't look too bad, so that even though it's an open canoe, we elect to try it with our gear in the canoe, rather than walk it with gear first, then go back for an empty canoe ride.  This was a mistake.

We did in fact make the whole ride without capsizing, although we did not hit all the channels we had planned to.  By the time we were halfway down the river, we had shipped about half the canoe full of water.  Our packs were stewing in this, and the canoe itself was wallowing deep in the water and hitting every rock on the ricer bed.  SCRAPE, SCRAPE, DENT, DENT.  Scrapes and dents were a minimum of $10/inch off your deposit money on the canoe for repairs.  All our gear was SOAKED.  It took a day to get everything dried out.

On the second portage my friend sprained his ankle.  Not really bad, but enough we had to wait 2 days to get rolling again, because the canoe was just too heavy for me to portage alone.  Now we were starting to run behind schedule.  The second river run was about the same as the first, although this time we were smart enough to bring our packs down on foot first, then go back for an empty canoe ride.  We still hit more rocks though.  SCRAPE, SCRAPE, DENT, DENT!

We did make our pickup on time, paddling well into the night the 2 days before the meeting time.  The Hoser who picked us up look genuinely surprised we made it.  He looked at the dented up wreck of a canoe and laughed.  Back at his shop, he gave us estimate on repairs, $500.  $200 more than the deposit!  No got the money.  Drives me to a supply store with Western Union and I wire mom for the money.  Comes through, and we are free to drive back to NYC.

For $500 then you could have bought a brand spanking new canoe of this type, and he probably did that rather than repair it.

RE

Ouch! But hey, you came out okay so it was a good experience. As we used to say in pilot training, any flight you can walk away from is a good one.     ;D


Leges         Sine    Moribus      Vanae   
Faith,
if it has not works, is dead, being alone.

Offline agelbert

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Agelbert's  Mini-Catamarran Folly

Posted May 19, 2018

I promised to write about this a while ago. 😇 Today, I'll see if I can set my experience down in print.  ;)  :coffee:

Way back in 1975 I was an air traffic controller who had FINALLY gotten through three years of grueling training to reach the journeyman radar controller level. I lived in a simple $26,000 home I had bought in 1972. Now that I didn't have to worry about being washed out by some bigots from Indiana on my ATC crew (they had moved back to the "world" after their two year tour of fun and games with Puerto Ricans) in the FAA, I had a bit of time on my hands on weekends...

Idleness is the devil's workshop, they say. I don't know about that. Sometimes doing stuff gets you into a whole lot more trouble...


You see, I didn't know beans about sailboats (that hasn't changed much  :D). I have related here about my mishap on a 34' sailboat my airline pilot brother bought.

I hated sailboats. I said I would not get in one again until they had gimbled cabins. :icon_mrgreen: Going sideways was not my idea of getting from point A to point B in a boat. BUT, I had observed that there is a sailboat type out there that did not go sideways. 🧐 This is called a catamarran. Yes, the smaller ones like the Hobie Cat can have a pontoon get airborne if you are not careful. But, generally speaking, they do not go sideways.

So, I decided to build one. I mean, how hard could it be? I had an airplane pilot's license with single, multi-engine and instrument commercial (plus flight and ground instructor tickets) ratings in addition to knowing how to add and subtract, so what's the big deal with sailboats? Why do they cost so much? I looked at all the sandwich fiberglass stuff and keel weight and hull speed design and all that.  BORING...

Also, I wasn't going to spend all kinds of money and rile up the neighborhood by building a big boat in my yard. Besides. I was on a budget and didn't want to spend more than a hundred bucks or so.

But all that said, I wish to be brutally honest with you. I had an excess pontoon problem.

Now, what in tarnation is an "excess pontoon" problem?

You see, my airline pilot brother (Gilbert - he is seven years older than I am so I had the mistaken idea that he knew what he was doing) had decided on a get rich quick scheme. This involved marketing Aquaskims.
Aquaskims are pontoons that you put your feet into like giant shoes and swish over the water with.

Gilbert thought they would make a great replacement for dingies that sailboat owners used while they are anchored to get to shore for suppllies. This was a really dumb idea for many reasons but Gilbert didn't think so.

Gilbert claimed Aquaskims were more portable than a dingy and lots of people would love them just to walk on water. So, he bought a BUNCH of them.

No, it wasn't for the "volume" discount. You see, they would not sell him one or two pairs. He had to buy a sufficient quantity to fill a 40' long standard shipping container.  :P

You can put a lot of them in a 40' shipping container.

Gilbert thought they would sell like hotcakes. They didn't. Despite our best efforts to sell them here and there, people had trouble maintaining their balance so they did not go for them.

Aquaskims were made of foam with some plastic flaps beneath to help you move over the water surface. I practiced a lot on a lake with them. You need strong legs and a keen ability to balance. You have to keep your center of gravity in exactly the right place or you flop into the water. Getting back on is impossible once you are in the water, even if the water is dead calm.

In ocean conditions with any wave action whatsoever, it is impossible even to walk on them.

I nearly made it all the way across the Condado Lagoon (coastal ocean lagoon about a quarter mile wide with fairly flat seas) as a publicity stunt but fell in the water a few feet short of the dock.  Below is a picture of the Condado Lagoon:


I started out from the dock next to the third building (left to right) towards the ocean side of the lagoon and walked to nearly where that obelisk thing is now on the near side.

My legs just kept opening (doing a split) and I no longer had the strength to keep them together. The muscles you use to do this are almost totally NOT used when walking or running on the ground because the friction of your feet with the ground keeps your legs from sliding apart. Slip-sliding on water to move forward on pontoons is very slippery business. We got a few sales that day but nothing to brag about.

People found it was dangerous to try to get into them in a swiming pool because if you fell sideways or backwards you could hit your head on the pool concrete side. Sailboat owners could not easily carry groceries in bags while balancing on the Aquaskims, even in dead calm waters. I could carry stuff but it was tricky. What I would do to try to sell somebody is that I push a 14' Boston Whaler I owned off a dock at the Levittown lake and let it go out 50' or so. I would then get on the aquaskims, walk to the boat, and tow it back in with a rope. People were not impressed.

I had already tried water skiing with them. THAT was nightmare! The pontoons want to go anyway but straight (those fat foam hulls zig and zag continuously  :() when the boat towing you tries to pick up to normal speed. Of course you can be towed along at 5 mph. :D That is something you certainly can't do with regular water skies, but I was pretty sure that wouldn't catch on as a fad. People like to go fast and all that.  8)

Gilbert's get rich quick sheme was dead.

Guess who was elected to store most of them?

So, as you can see, I had an excess Aquaskim pontoons problem.

This is when I got the strange idea that you could make a tiny catamarran with the Aquaskims.

Experienced sailors know something I was not too clear on (to put it mildly). Sailboats need TWO, not just one, connnection with the water beneath them in order to steer them AGAINST the wind.

Yeah, you need a sail. However, the sail just creates leverage on the mast to move the boat with the wind, period. If you stick a rudder in the water you will not get the boat to point in the direction you want to go unless you have something in the water for the rudder to exert leverage on. That thing is called a keel or a centerboard in a normal sailboat.

In a catamarran it's a bit more complicated. The pontoons can be a sort of a leverage point, but they have to be sticking well into the water and they need a certain design (as in the Hobie Cat). Aquaskims are rounded and stubby. They are designed for maximum floatation. This is no good for leverage traction in the water.

But I hadn't figured that out yet. Experience is really a very good teacher.  :laugh:

I had all these pontoons and I needed to make somehting with them. I figured a cheap mini-cat would sell and I could get rid of all those pontoons I was storing.

So, being a methodical fellow , I went to a hardware store and bought a bunch of PVC pipe, a grommet kit, some grommets, "sail" cloth (blue shower curtain plastic), some eye screws and some cord and began my project.

This is what those Aquaskims look like:


I made this PVC frame with some patio furniture straps for the deck: The four support points beneath would be just pushed into the pontoons through the top foam.

Next I added the rudder and began attaching the rigging eye screws.


I then grommeted the sail and attached it to the PVC mast with line and some rigging to be able to raise and lower it. The PVC large pipe ring at the top of the mast could be raised or lowered with the line through the eye screws. I know, VERY CRUDE. But that system actually worked. True, I only took the boat out once and none of this rigging (or any other part of this PVC mess contraption) was built to last, but it goes to show you how cheap you can really go in a pinch.  :D   


Finished with my Mini-Catamarran Agelbert Folly, I took it to the Levittown lake for a shakedown cruise.


I lowered into it from the concrete dock and sat in the middle, more or less. You've got to do that so the pontoons don't upend in the front. The pontoons sat a little lower than I expected in the water.  Well, I had a bathing suit on so having a wet ass was no problemo. 

Of course I considered that my ass dragging through the water would slow me down a bit, but I was not going to sweat the small stuff. Onward and forward!

I raised the sail, held the boom position with my right hand with an attached line and held the rudder with my left hand. The wind was behind me so I moved off the dock and enjoyed running with the wind.

I said to myself, IT WORKED!   

I was wrong. Eddie can tell you all the stuff I did wrong, but I will mention a few.  :-[

When I tried to tack, I could not tack. The boat just slid along sideways, no matter what I did with the rudder. I could run with the wind and slightly at an angle, but that was it. I needed a keel of some sort. I did not have it.

Also, had the wind been any stronger than the light breeze I had that day, the PVC thin mast would have bent too much or broken. I had some rigging to keep it steady (not shown in my 3D sketchup file screenshots - I had a line on either side to the frame), but it was not enough for the stiffness needed to propel the boat in a reasonable wind.

My sailboat would not tack.👎 The mast was wiggly.  :P The mini-cat was a failure. :-[ I was stuck with a lot of pontoons.  :(

But, it was quite educational. I hope you enjoyed this anecdote.

We live and we learn.
« Last Edit: May 19, 2018, 03:46:43 PM by agelbert »
Leges         Sine    Moribus      Vanae   
Faith,
if it has not works, is dead, being alone.

 

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