IN THE BEGINNING 8-22-83 Well, I‟ve done it! I‟ve finally made a public commitment to undertake the acquiring of a suitable boat, and the appropriate skills for a transatlantic sail. All of the old fears are there – not of injury or even death – but of failure. This is something I have promised myself I would do for years and years – and now the time left to me seems to be flying by. I guess I need a new focus, so that I can grab a chunk of future existence and hold it in my head at least for a while. This one‟s for me: to add purpose and some down stream anticipation to a life which has become pretty routine. I‟ve decided to try to keep some sort of a record of this. It‟s a long-range plan kind of thing, and it might be fun to try to capture some of the emotional flickering and logistical adventures associated with it. I will try to record something about all of the significant events along the way: the grandchildren might find it at least curious, if not amusing, in the years to come. Also, the intent to write it down will, I think, enhance my savoring and perceiving the guts of the activities, and that‟s what this is all about – to get close to me, the real (whatever that means) me. I‟ll be faithful as I can in the recording department; one of my hopes is that I‟ll get better at putting my feelings into words; Jane used to say that was something I simply couldn‟t do. We‟ll see. The “coming out” of my blue water dreams has expanded much more than I anticipated. I guess the idea of sailing the Atlantic is such an unusual notion that it has spread like wildfire. Maybe if I lay low, so to speak, the project will lose some if it‟s “Gee-Whiz”- ness. I described my plans to a co-worker, Graham Hodgetts, who is a sailor who keeps an Islander 30 up on Lake Erie. He allowed, in his low key English way, that he too had always wanted to sail the Atlantic. Perhaps we‟ll do it together. However, if I have my druthers I will do it alone, at least one way. That is the dream. I‟ve always been a loner, and a solo crossing would be a great satisfaction to me. Maybe I‟ll go over alone and back with Graham. Also, maybe by the time I‟m ready to tackle the trip Jane will be confident enough to sail back with me. No need for definitive plans at this point – stay loose! 8-23-83 I should try to get down what I have been up to since deciding that one of my life goals, to cross the Atlantic under sail, has “come critical”. I have a lot to learn – and relearn – and years of preparation ahead. One obvious necessity is getting the right boat. I‟ve spent years looking, and reading, and calling, and writing, and asking. One group of “experts” has said “Why spend the money for a blue water boat now. Keep the one you have, and when you are ready to go, then charter one for the trip, or buy it at the time.” Well, emotions play a part here, „cause one of the things I want is to make a crossing in “my own boat”, not some strange vessel with which I have little or no rapport. Sailing is a very personal thing, and a great deal of the satisfaction I take in it involves my ship. A second factor is that I want (need) to do a lot of off-shore sailing to get the experience I would have to tackle a crossing. While I could charter to get that experience, again I want to build skill with and confidence in my boat. A third consideration is that this whole undertaking has a not inconsiderable price tag; especially the boat! I want to get started paying for it so that she can be paid off sometime close to my retirement time. I know I could put the money in a “boat fund” and let it build, but in 10 years the cost of such boats is likely to be higher than the growth in money would cover. Besides, I would like to have the boat now! 8/25/83 Big Decision! Will explain in a minute. First I want to write down the questions I want to ask about the boat. 1. Must we have a stern pulpit (pushpit) for mast erection and trailing? 2. What is the standard configuration of ports – is there one forward and one aft? Screens? 3. Could the sheer stripe be teak? 4. Is a CNG two-burner Dickerson stove/oven available? 5. Who makes sails? Are they available from other makers? Through Nor‟ Sea or direct? Color choices for drifter? 6. Documentation/use/State tax – Need sales receipt on minimum hull and rig. 7. Deck cap – bronze. What is that? 8. Teak knee covers – can I build them? 9. Colors available for sheer? 10. Sears gold bottom paint? 11. Does electric winch come with trailer? If not, cost? OK, now to catch up. Things have moved pretty fast. I have been looking for appropriate trailer-able ocean cruising boats for a long time. There are not many that meet the requirement for safe blue-water passages and still satisfy the criteria Jane and I have for our “ultimate boat”, which include: 1. Sleep the two of us, and the kids/grandkids (up to four more) in comfort and privacy. 2. Have stand-up headroom – at least in the galley/eating area. 3. Be trailer-able, rig-able, and launch-able by Jane and me in under one hour. 4. Be suitable for Lake Arthur as well as the ocean i.e. keel not deeper than 4 feet, and engine power under 10 hp. 5. Strong enough rig to withstand 50+ kts of wind. 6. Capable of being sailed single-handed. 7. Gas galley range and large well drained ice crest. I have written, talked with, and called everyone I can think of who knows about these things, from boat owners who have boats I am interested in to magazine editors who test and write about them. Some of the boats which have appeal include Flicka, a 20 foot cutter; great blue water boat, but too small. Stonehorse, a 23 foot cutter; beautiful classic lines. Very appealing, but has only sitting headroom. Ranger 26; modern lines but rig not as strong as I want for going to sea. Farker Dawson 26, sloop rigged with centerboard and retractable rudder; nice boat with aft cabin and a history of ocean crossings – but all plastic. Hard to be satisfied with a Clorox-bottle yacht. By far, the very best available, in my opinion and in the opinion of most of the experts contacted, is the Nor‟ Sea 27. It is strong as a bull, built of first class materials throughout, and has all of the capabilities we want, and more…except that it will probably take longer than an hour to rig and launch her. I can live with that. There are two other drawbacks: One, she is heavy – about 8,000 lbs unloaded. That combined with her 3‟ – 9” draft full keel make me a little uneasy about launching, and especially recovery. Two, she is expensive. She is like a Mercedes – top of the line, but you pay for that kind of quality. The base price is $39,300, and with the optional equipment I‟d like to have, she will go to $50,000. That‟s a bunch! Jane and I have done a lot of talking and have concluded that it is like buying a retirement home – or a summer place. A major investment, sure, but hopefully one which will not depreciate significantly over the years. We‟ve decided to do it! GETTING HER BUILT AND BOUGHT 9/26/83 I got far behind in the recording of this saga. Several phone calls to Bob Eeg, the President of Nor‟ Sea Marine, have set the stage for an order placed this fall (to take advantage of the old price structure – it‟s going up 1 September ‟83), with a scheduled pickup of the boat next August or September. We will take a vacation driving out to California and trailing the boat home. Should be a neat trip! On 26 August I sent Bob Eeg check #841 for $1,000 as a starting deposit. In return, I am supposed to get a contract, cost schedule, etc. As of 23 September I had not heard from Nor‟ Sea, so I called them (even though I had the cancelled check). I left a message that I wanted confirmation of our order. Bob called today while I was on another call, and said everything is fine – the papers are coming. They are busy out there getting ready for the West Coast boat shows. So, the order is in! Whew! That‟s a big bite, but I am going ahead. My current plan is to try to arrange a line of credit, secured by the equity in our home, (about $60,000+), so that we can make some pre-construction payments, - to cover that cost of materials at today‟s prices. For example, we‟ll probably buy the trailer very soon – at cost, (about $3,200), etc. These loans will be secured by the house, since the boat does not yet exist. Then, next summer when there is a boat, the financing will be transferred to a new loan secured by the boat itself, and we‟ll pay off the interim loan. I plan to talk to Equibank and to Security First about the interim one, and to them also about the final one. I also plan to fill our forms (an application) from Yegen Marine (yacht financing) from Boston, if the local banks are not interested. However, Yegen is not interested in the construction loan for such a small boat. They only do that for $150,000 and up! Hearts Content, our AMF-2100 is up for sale. Boy that hurts more than I thought it would! But, we need the money from her for a down payment. She will be in the water a few more weeks, and then I‟ll haul her home. I‟ve offered free winter storage as part of the sales deal. Am asking $13,000, but I feel I must get $12,000. That will let us pay off the loan and come close to meeting the 20% down payment requirement – depending on financing. I should report one change in the boat specification for our Nor‟ Sea 27. She usually comes with a 15 mp Yanmar diesel. However, the powers that be at Moraine will not let me put her there with more than 10 hp. It‟s a State law. Bob Eeg has said that he will put in an 8 hp Yanmar, which is what the boat was originally designed for. They went to the 15 hp because some owners in Seattle wanted more horse power to buck strong tidal currents. Bob says that the boat moves just fine with the smaller engine, and the cost is considerably less! Fall of ‘83 Well, projects and proposals and such have distracted me so that I have gotten way behind in my reporting. From here on I‟ll talk about the things that happened in the past tense. I can‟t seem to keep up with the present. I wrote an ad for the Hearts Content. 1980 AMF-2100 Hull #44, Custom Equipped, Sleeps 2-3 Hood Sails: Main, Working Jib, 150% Genoa, Tri-radial Spinmaker and All Gear Harkin Blocks – Go Fast Gear Hood Sea Fuel for Jib/Genoa 7.5 Johnson Long Shaft Outboard & 6 Gal. Tank Teak Cockpit Grating/Galley Table and Cabinets/Cabin Trim Running Lights, Cabin Lights, Lighted Compass Anchor & 150‟ Rods, Porta Pottie, Fire Extinguisher Sail Covers, Cooler, Cockpit Canopy, Gas Stove Trailer, Winch, Tongue Extension and Dolly Wheel Free winter storage and delivery. Price $13,000 When the word got around ASA that the boat was for sale, one of our employees on the West Coast decided that he wanted to buy her if I would bring her out there. Since he was willing to wait until the following July (‟84) and since I would have to drive the truck out to California anyway so that we could trail the Nor‟ Sea home, I was more than willing. We negotiated a bit, and I agreed to sell for $12,000, which was what I felt I had to get for her. Cal Harris was the buyer‟s name, and he sent me $2,000 as a deposit, which was fine. To complete the story on the AMF-2100, I got a request from Cal for a separate Bill on Sale for both the boat and the trailer. I was familiar with the problem (State tax), since I was playing the same game with the Nor‟ Sea being registered in PA. I sent Cal a Bill of Sale for the boat which simply identified the boat as an AMF Sailboat in As-Is condition, for $700 and the trailer for $300. (I have seldom in my life purposely broken the law, but I didn‟t feel very guilty about this one!) The agreement about the smaller engine continued to bother me. I know that there are several boats up on our lake that have engines larger than 10 hp. Finally I called one of the owners of those boats to find out just what he did to get permission of have more than 10 hp in his boat. The story was the he agreed to have his diesel detuned so that it could not produce more than 10 hp – except that he never had the detuning done, and the marina and State Park people never check. “Besides”, he said, “those people wouldn‟t know what to look for if they did check”. The more I thought about the problem the more I came to believe that the intent of the rule is to prohibit any form of water skiing. I wouldn‟t get my hull up to water skiing speed if I installed 10 times the legal power! Anyway, I was not about to violate the speed code even if I could. And, I figured that the extra power would really be important if I got into a tight spot in rough water while ocean cruising. So, I called Bob Eeg up and changed the order back to the 15 hp Yanmar. Bob said that he would get me an engine spec plate for a 9.5 hp 1GM Yanmar so that if someone did check the engine would look legal – providing the checker didn‟t know that the 1GM was a single cylinder engine and could recognize that me engine had two cylinders! Another change made at the same time was from the CNG stove I had ordered to a kerosene one. Experience was to prove that change to be a poor one, but at the time it seemed the only logical way to go. CNG is clearly the fuel of choice, but several calls to the gas company here in Pittsburgh indicated that there were no facilities in the area to recharge the gas bottles; I would have to send the bottles to New Jersey to have them refilled. Kerosene stoves are great when they work well. They produce a very hot fire, and any spills that result in stove fires can be extinguished with water – a highly desirable condition. Plus, kerosene is available all over the world. So that settled that, for the time being. In January 1984 I had another business trip to the West Coast, and I was able to visit the factory again. Bob spent a lot of time with me discussing various schemes for financing; Yegen Marine had approved my application for financing, so I decided to go with them. At that time the interest rate quoted by all of the financial institutions I contacted was 13.25%. Jane and I decided to take a second mortgage in the house to raise the money to build the boat, (since Yegen or any of the other sources will not lend money on a boat that is not yet built). Then, when we had official ownership of the completed boat, money from Yegen would be used to pay off the second mortgage. This scheme would give us the $26,032 to pay to Nor‟ Sea to have the hull completed in late February, 1984. Whew! What a mess of finagling, but it will be worth it when we haul the boat home. Speaking of hauling the boat, another problem which occurred to me as I contemplated my intended use of the Nor‟ Sea, was the trailer and the vehicle needed to tow it. The trailer came into question when I thought about the problem of backing the loaded trailer down our driveway so I could store the boat on the back patio over the winter, or whenever she would be out of the water. The driveway, while not long, is rather steep in the middle and forms a sweeping downhill arc to end up parallel with the back of the house. All that sounded rather benign, until I pictured my ten-thousand pound boat taking charge of my five-thousand pound truck and dragging it down through the trees below the patio! Clearly, I needed some brakes; the surge brakes which the trailer is equipped with as standard equipment only work going forward! Some phone calls to the EZ Loader trailer people finally connected with a fellow named Roger, who agreed to have my trailer fitted with electric brakes on the front axle, a tongue extension, and a Fulton Power Winch 12000. Well, it was just money; someone else‟s money at this point! In for a dime, in for a dollar. Total trailer cost $4,120 plus $175 for the electric brakes. That took care of the trailer problem, at least at that time. 1/24/84 Bob Eeg and I had several long phone discussion (coast to coast!) about how the boat should be configured and equipped. The Additional Equipment List which I ended up sending to Bob included: Cruising Sails, 2 reef points and jiffy reefing $1,350 SAILS Sail Cover 138 Cockpit cushions 185 Tiller and cheek covers 82 Mast winches installed (Murry bottom action) (2) 320 DECK HARDWARE Bow pulpit, Dbl lifelines, stern pulpit – thru bolted 1,160 with stainless steel bolts and aircraft locknuts and stainless backing plates (stanchions included) Bowsprit with dual bronze anchor rollers on bow 940 Platform – thru bolted with stainless backing plates Bronze deck cap 56 Anchor windless – thru bolted 684 Storm hood for the main hatch 285 Teak translucent hatches Main 340 Fore 240 Aft 240 Boom gallows 400 Winches, Barient #19, 2spd self tailing – bronze (2) 470 Mast lowering package 182 Genoa track package 400 ENGINE ACCESSORIES Fuel filter – racor water separator 170 Raw engine water strainer 170 Zinc perry nut 30 ELECTONICS & NAV Radio coax in mast to chart table 90 3 db VHF-FM antenna 90 PLUMBING Electric automatic bilge pump 185 Basin and hand pump in head 210 Saltwater foot pump to galley sink 140 ELECTRICAL 110 volt shore power system with 50 ft dock cable 600 and three interior outlets Second battery - installed 200 Battery charger – automatic 360 Tri-color masthead and combination anchor/steaming lt. 200 Lighting protection 230 (all chainplates etc. grounded to a hull-mounted Dynaplate) INTERIOR 2-burner gimbaled stove with oven and remote tank 790 Teak knee covers 100 Hull ceiling strips – aft cabin 500 Additional portlights – aft cabin (2) 330 MISC Name and hailing port 130 Extra padeye – foredeck 35 Trailer 3,710 Power winch – trailer 410 Total $14,882 BASIC BOAT $39,300 Grand Total $54,182 Plus electric brakes for trailer @ $175 $54,357 In the same letter on 24, January 1984, I asked for some additional modifications which included: 1.5 inch drain line from the chain locker to the bilge Hanging locker between head and the chart table Extensive modifications to the galley lockers Special table Bowsprit and rudder cheeks from teak Autopilot wiring Installation of a PLATH compass Installation of a SIGNET 1000 knot/depth meter Baby stay fittings Divided seat back cushions Storage under stove Mahogany sheet stripe I also mentioned to Bob the problem of the 6% PA state tax. That is a healthy bite for a $57,000 yacht! Since I planned to do, and eventually did, a lot of the interior work myself at the factory I figured that I ought not to have to pay tax to PA for that. When we finally got all the paperwork together, I found that Bob had really gone overboard in helping with the tax. I asked him for a Bill of Sale for just the basic boat, figuring to keep my tax bite low. He made up the CA state tax (also 6%) on it before I brought it home! This resulted in “0” PA tax! I wonder what the Statute of Limitations says about this! Finally, I asked for a trailer tongue extension, the cost of which does not appear in the listing above. 3/22/84 The Mars Bank came through with the first big lump of cash, and I sent off a $25,000 check to Nor‟ Sea. That was the first big outlay, but of course, it was somebody else‟s money, or so it seemed, so it was not so bad! Funny how easy it is to be very blasé about money the bank has given you for just signing your name! That first 25K was for the hull, and Bob called me with the hull number (219) as soon as she came out of the mold. I also got a serial number for the trailer so I could apply for Pennsylvania plates. That way the trailer was all legal for the eventual trip home. About this time I managed to wrangle a business trip out to the West Coast, and took a day‟s leave before coming home so that I could visit the factory. Factory isn‟t quite the right concept for the place where Nor‟ Seas are built. It is more like a large shop where a few craftsmen spend their time tinkering with putting boats together. Nor‟ Seas are really hand built. Two guys, Jim and John, both of whom were super craftsmen, where framing up my boat; glassing in bulkheads, installing the basic structure for the settees, galley, etc. The 2GM Yanmar diesel was sitting on its mounts, but was not bolted in, wired, or plumbed, and Jim was pouring foam around the two water tanks under the bunks in the aft cabin. Bob Eeg, the President of Nor‟ Sea, was younger than I had thought, personable, and very disorganized. The secretary, Mary, who was there part-time, was clearly struggling to keep some kind of order in the office, but the flood of paper – bills, letters, legal documents of various kinds, and all sorts of notes and sketches from anxious customers – simply were more than she could cope with, and were the residue of all the details which Bob had in his head. Experiencing the office would have driven away the most eager of sailors, but one look at the three boats abuilding in the shop and all was forgiven! The workmanship was superb! Bob let me poke around all I wanted. In the back room I found a pair of Barient bronze #19 two-speed self tailing winches and an Australian-made windless with bronze wildcat and drum which just begged to be on my Nor‟ Sea. Another $120 extra! But, they were beautiful! Bob also agreed to use as much bronze, rather than stainless steel, in the fittings and gear as they could located. It was an exciting day, and I was like a kid at Christmas! Another change I decided to afford, after prowling around in a just finished Nor‟ Sea was to replace the carpet that they usually sheathed curve of hull with below the galley and under the chart table with teak strips. I had seen that done somewhere and it seemed much better for an ocean cruising boat than a damp carpet. That was a good choice! By the time the deck was on Jane and I decided that the “boat” needed a name. At first Jane was pretty distant from “my” project, so I agonized alone about just the proper name. Finally I selected SOLILOQUY, and announced that at supper one night. No way! When push came to shove Jane wanted to be part of the naming just as she was a very important part of the financial support which was making it all possible. We each agreed to make a list of names to submit for consideration, and then to negotiate. A week later we had settled on SYNTHESIS, and Bob was duly notified so that he could have her name and hailing port (Pittsburgh PA) lettered on each side of her shapely canoe stern. 5/29/84 A letter to Bob confirmed the latest changes. Why I thought that a letter would ensure that the things we had agreed on would come to pass with any more reliability – after seeing the office procedures at Nor‟ Sea - than having Bob tell me he would see to them, I don‟t know. Anyway, I noted that we had agreed that delivery would be on the 18th of July, and that I was making arrangements to come out before then to work on the boat. Optimist that I was! This letter was accompanied by another check, this time for $15,000. More coast-to-coast phone calls and anxious nights. The waiting was hard! In addition to all the communication with Nor‟ Sea, there was a whole series of letters, calls, and forms required by Yegen so that once the boat was built and accepted by us at the factory, Yegen would send us the money to pay off the second mortgage on the house from the Mars Bank. On top of all this was another series of forms which had to be dome and redone to get the boat documented. Without documentation, which is done by the Coast Guard, Yegen would not be able to find a financial institution willing to put up the cash! Finally I got it all sorted out, and on 20 June I wrote one last letter to Bob giving him my summary of the final set of numbers. We determined that the final cost of the boat, trailer, insurance, and transportation would be $59,200. Of that, we would be making a down payment of 20% (47,360 to be financed). Actually, the real cost of the boat (alone), with all its modifications, was $53,335 – just for the record! In order of the financing institution, Yegen Marine, to release the money for the boat to me, so that I could pay off the second mortgage on the house, they had to have a “Paid- In-Full” receipt from Nor‟ Sea. Actually, Yegen would send money to the bank to pay off the mortgage, and send the difference between the mortgage payment and the amount financed to me. I, then, planned to use that difference to finish paying Bob for the boat. All very complicated! But, it all worked out! Of course, there was one last hitch – at the last instant the interest rate for the loan went up from 13.25% to 13.99%! By then we were so committed that I felt I couldn‟t start over and go shopping for a lower rate. I wonder how often the rate jumps on these kinds of deals just as the boat is being finalized? One last flurry of letters occurred on 20 July 1984 which reconfirmed all the arrangements, and also required a check to the New England Marine Documentation Service in the amount of $325 for documenting SYNTHESIS, and another for $15 to the Prothonotary for filing the UCC-1 form. Everyone, is seemed, had his hand in the till! In the midst of all of this, Jane and I were trying to make plans to take vacation, and somehow travel to California to get the boat. At first, delivery was set for 26 July. Later it slipped to “early August”. As things turned out, the delay worked to my advantage, since I got to spend a lot more time at the factory than I had originally planned. It worked this way. As I previously described, my plan was to trail the 2100 out to San Diego and deliver it to Cal. Then I would go up to Laguna Beach, just a few miles south of L.A., to the factory and take delivery of SYNTHESIS. Jane would fly out to L.A. and, together, we would trail the boat home to Pittsburgh. In general, that is what we did, but with a few unanticipated twists. GETTING HER HOME First, a bit about trailering. When we had the 2100 I towed her with a Chevy diesel Blazer, a 4x4 car (truck) that I liked very much. At about 3000 pounds, she towed very easily, and it was hard to tell from the way the car handled that anything was back there. When I got serious about the Nor‟ Sea everyone with experience in towing heavy trailers told me that the wheel base on the Blazer was just too short. The boat, they said, would simply overpower the car, and all sorts of dire events were predicted. Well, I really liked the Blazer, and wanted to keep it. So I started a search for a tow vehicle capable to handling the 10,000 pounds of a Nor‟ Sea and trailer. Of course, I wanted it to be cheap, so the used car ads got a workout. From somewhere I got wind of a Chevy Suburban with a 450 engine for sale. Talking with the owner I learned that he had used the car for a number of years – can‟t remember how many – to tow a large Airsteam trailer. That sounded like a good recommendation. The car was in reasonable shape, had 50-some thousand miles on it, and the price was right. We cut a deal. More talk surfaced the fact that he had used stabilizing arms when towing the Airsteam, but because of the design of the boat trailer, and the fact that it had surge brakes on it, I would not be able to fit them. I drove the Suburban for several months, and she ran fine, I became more and more convinced, however, that I really needed a heavier, if not a more powerful vehicle. One day I stopped in to the local Ford dealers, just out of curiosity you understand! By golly, if they didn‟t have a one-ton Ford 350 4x4 diesel pickup with a heavy-duty towing package, as a demonstrator! Boy, you talk about torque – that 6.0 liter International Harvester engine just wouldn‟t quit! The truck had about 6500 miles on it, and the Ford people were anxious to get a new demonstrator – so the price was a bit flexible. They took the Suburban in trade, and I had a first class towing vehicle! That is, the bank and I had this vehicle, and they had more of it than I did! Now I was ready to head off for California. I took a few weeks leave from the office, told Jane that I‟d call her when I knew for sure when the Nor‟ Sea would be ready, hitched up the 2100 to the truck, packed working clothes and a sleeping bag, and drove until I was tired and then slept in the boat „till I wasn‟t. The drive was, by and large, uneventful. I did get stopped just as I crossed the state line into Texas; the cop was really waiting to pounce on drivers entering the state. He said I was traveling at 75 MPH, and I said “No Way!” The road was a pretty good up-hill stretch, and I knew that there was no possibility that I could have been going that fast: the truck simply would not pull the boat that fast up that hill. I invited the officer to take the truck himself and try to go that fast. He declined, looked sheepish, and gave me a stern warning to watch the speed limits in Texas! Boy, was it hot! I crossed the desert in Arizona to Yuma in 110 degree heat, and the truck is not air conditioned! What a relief to finally get to San Diego. Cal had invited me to stay at his house for the two days that I planned to spend in San Diego before going up to L.A., and, just by chance, it happened to coincide with a big birthday party his wife was planning for him. We parked the boat out in front of the house, and I fully rigged her so that he could get a little training before hauling her to the marina. The neighbors were really impressed, as were the party guests! The food was great, and I made up for those days on the road when fast food was the fare. All the festivities happened over a weekend, and on Monday morning I joined the humongous traffic jam moving north to L.A. the Nor‟ Sea factory is in Laguna Hills, just south of the big city. The streets are pretty convoluted there, so it took a while to find the place. Nor‟ Sea Marine is (or was) a very small shop in a cul-de-sac of cream and brown stucco buildings which seem to be intertwined. The office door was dark and dusty, and inside, dim and shaded after the glaring California sun outside, the initial impression was of a slightly musty paper-strewn cave. Mary, the part-time secretary, was bright and cheerful, however, and said to make myself comfortable on the sagging couch. Bob, of course, was not in yet; after all it wasn‟t yet noon, but he would be along in time. If I had not been there twice before the culture shock could have been a significant deterrent to a boat purchase! After fifteen minutes of leafing through old Cruising Worlds, a building roar and a final throttle blip announced that Bob had arrived. Black helmeted, T-shirt and sneakers a bit grimy from the freeway, Bob burst in, all smiles. An organizer he wasn‟t, but Eskimos would rush to buy freezers in January! A nicer guy would be hard to find, and he‟d give you the shirt off his back – especially if you were buying a boat! Out in the shop SYNTHESIS sat on her trailer, all shiny and new. On the outside she looked great, but my pleasure faded when I climbed up to have a look inside. She was almost bare! The basic structures of the settee and the galley were roughed in, but nothing was finished. A crew of four were hard at work, but had a long way to go. “Oh yea”, Bob said. “We are a little behind schedule.” Right then I could see all of my vacation time ebbing away. What if I had to finally leave and drive back to go to work, with the boat still out here not done? That was the low point of my trip! Bob and the crew all saw my dismay, and the pace of things picked up dramatically! For the first day I sat around on the cabin top and watched the crew work. I tried to make conversation, but they were having none of it. I was the rich customer and they were the bad guys who were making me dissatisfied. To make matters worse, I found several things which I wanted changed. There were stainless hinges on the lazarette hatch and a few other places where I felt bronze or brass would be much more in keeping with the style and overall construction of the boat. I mentioned these things to Bob, (rather than risk the ire of the crew foreman), and he said “Fine, we‟ll change them, but you‟ll have to go and get the new parts”. That was fine with me. It got several things accomplished simultaneously. First, it got me out of the shop. That was good because the foreman had asked me not to sit on the boat and watch the crew work. He said it made them nervous! Second, it drove home the fact that I was serious about using as much traditional bronze for the boat fittings as possible. In fact, after a while the crew would suggest to me places where they knew the kind of fitting I wanted should be used, and Bob and the secretary would routinely call around the Laguna Beach and the greater L.A. area to located suppliers who had the “right stuff”. I‟d take a list and a map and head out in the truck to find the goodies. The third benefit of this activity was that it started the process of integrating me as a regular, (a non-threatening) part of the crew. After a few days I was full time in the boat building things along with the woodworker, I had free access to all the tools, supplies and interior teak work, I made myself available to help with the plumbing and wiring. What a great way to learn the innards of boat! So, the days were busy, but there were only four of them in a work week at Nor‟ Sea! Fridays were part of the weekends! However, I did get in a bit more work once the gang left. Bob had given me a key to the place so that I could use the bathroom. You see, the boat was in no shape to sleep in as I had originally planned, so I was sleeping in the truck out in the parking lot! As we got close to getting her all wrapped up, I called Jane and said it was time for her trip. She flew into L.A. International on a Sunday, and I picked her up after a miserable drive through Sunday afternoon traffic all coming home from somewhere! On the Thursday before Jane came, I had been talking with Bob about boat things, and happened to ask him where I should try to get a reservation for a motel room, so Jane would not have to sleep in the truck too! I guess Bob had not paid attention to my accommodations up to that time because he was appalled when I showed him my “bedroom”. One of the problems with accommodations out there then was that the ‟84 Olympics were going on and the city was jammed with people, both in the motels and hotels, and on the freeways! A short time after our conversation Bob came out to the boat, where I was putting in the eye pad for the baby stay, and dropped a key in my pocket; a key to a very nice double motel room in a nearby Travelodge! Not only did he get me the room, he would not let me pay a penny towards the cost for almost two weeks! Jane and I will not soon forget that generosity! The Monday after Jane got out there we were back in the shop. I was up crawling around helping John, the electrician of the crew, put in the lightning protection wiring, Jane was sanding and oiling hatch covers over on the big workbench. She was a great help, and the crew was really impressed that a woman would come out there to do that kind of thing! Finally the big day came. All of the thousands of things had been cut and sanded and sewed and painted and fastened and … she was done! Done, that is, from the factory‟s point of view. I still had years of work left before she would be truly ready for the big adventure, But, it was with a mixture of pride and relief that we watched her shiny bow emerge from the high-bay door to the shop, as the foreman slowly urged her out into the California sunshine with the little two-wheeled tug. Magnificent! I was ready to burst, and Bob was acting like a new father! Bob and the crew showed us how to raise the mast and rig the boat. We then hooked up a hose to the water inlet, and started up the Yanmar; it ran just fine. Bob was concerned that we would need some helper springs or something on the truck to take the weight of the trailer hitch. I tried to tell him that the truck‟s underpinnings were plenty stiff, but he couldn‟t believe it until we dropped the trailer on the hitch and nothing moved! The truck suspension hardly knew the boat was back there! We did all the paperwork stuff, and it all fell into place just like it was planned to! Wonder of wonders! We checked out of the motel: still no charge. In the truck went all the bits and pieces that didn‟t seem as if they would trail well in the boat, plus all our luggage. We were loaded! Now it was time to go home! As I mentioned earlier, the ‟84 Olympics were underway in L.A. This caused the usually horrendous freeway traffic to become nearly impossible during the day, and especially morning and evening. Then the inflow and outflow of work/home-bound vehicles added to the tourist and Olympics traffic, and the freeways became end-to-end parking lots. And it was hot! Jane and I decided that there was no way we were going to try to trail SYNTHESIS in that mess. I was still anxious about how the truck would handle the 10,000 lb. load, and about my ability to control all that weight safely. So, we decided to leave about 2:00 AM when the traffic would be at its lowest ebb. We slept in the boat that night, waking to a clattering alarm in the relatively cool darkness well before dawn. I must admit that it was with some trepidation that we started out. The first scare was getting out of the parking lot at the factory when the abrupt change in slope caused the rear of the trailer to scrape hard, bending the license plate. Once that was straightened out we got out on the freeway with no trouble. Ten thousand pounds of boat was considerably heavier than the six thousand pounds of truck we were pulling it with, and the first few stops were enough to show me that the driver had to stay well ahead of the action. He dual brakes worked fine, however, and I was soon feeling relatively at ease. You always know that there is a load back there, but reasonable caution seemed to keep things under control. One other factor made trailering this boat different from any I had done before – height. Back in the parking lot we had borrowed a tape to measure the height of the forward end of SYNTHESIS‟s mast, the loftiest point of our rig. We needed 13 feet 6 inches to clear the rig by 1 inch! Never before had I been aware of the signs on overpasses giving the road clearance! I soon learned to pay attention! No, we didn‟t hit any, but there were a few times when I would reflexively duck and hold my breath as a crossing road would flash by overhead. The miles and hours blurred, and we made steady progress. I found very quickly that 50 or under was the comfortable speed range, especially down hill. Above 50 mph the trailer had a tendency to weave, since we didn‟t have stabilizing bars, and a moment‟s inattention would be enough to have the trailer try to take charge and drag the truck all over, or off of, the road. The need to stay on top of the driving was extra tiring, and Jane and I would swap off every few hours. She is a fine driver and found that she could control that big load just as well as I could. We would press on until we both were ready for a rest, then we‟d find a roadside stopping place, park the rig out of the main flow of traffic, use our ladder to climb up in the boat, and sleep! Breakfasts and dinners were had at roadside restaurants, and lunches, snacks, and cold drinks on the road came from our cooler. As we approached Flagstaff, Arizona the next challenge loomed – mountains! There are some long, steep grades on Rt. 40 in that neck of the woods, and there were places where we were in second gear crawling up the hills at 20 mph! Then there were the steep downhill runs where easy on the brakes was the rule. All went well, though. The CB kept us entertained and comments from truckers‟ stimulated lively chatter. At one point, way out in the hills of New Mexico a trucker asked us if we knew something he didn‟t. It didn‟t look like rain, but he figured we must have some inside knowledge about a coming flood! With no air conditioning, we were pretty hot and sticky by the second night. A motel outside of Oklahoma City provided a wonderful hot shower and cool sheets! From there we pressed on with only short rest stops. A call to son Jon as we neared St. Louis set up a rendezvous for supper. This was preceded by one other anxious moment. Friends had alerted us to the fact that there was a “low bridge” just before St. Louis. There we were, rush hour traffic at 50 plus, both lanes of the interstate full, no shoulder to pull off on, and somewhere ahead an overpass which could clean off the top of the rig! Then, there it was: 13‟ 8” in the curb lane and no room to pull over into the center lane. Gasp, duck, and whew! We squeaked under, but I‟m sure glad there was no bump in the road under there! Dinner with Jon, with the rig parked in the middle of an almost empty shopping center, was a real pleasure! From St. Louis to home near Pittsburgh was a piece of cake. We rolled in to our tree- shaded street about noon of the fourth day. It was good to stop driving! Three and one- half days from California; pretty good time for such a load. Another interesting statistic is that, with the big diesel pickup, my usual around-town, no load, gas mileage is 21 mpg; trailing the little boat out to California I averaged 16.5; the trip back with the Nor‟ Sea averaged 9.5! THE TESTING YEARS SYNTHESIS was home, but not yet afloat. I was sure anxious to get her into the water; any water! We still had our slip at the Marina at Moraine State Park, and although the Nor‟ Sea was way too much boat for the little ten mile long lake, it was near home, and a good place to see if our new expensive toy would sail.