In The Beginning

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					                                  IN THE BEGINNING


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


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!


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?
   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
   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


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

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.


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

        Sail Cover                                                      138
        Cockpit cushions                                                185
        Tiller and cheek covers                                          82
        Mast winches installed (Murry bottom action) (2)                320

     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
     Fuel filter – racor water separator                          170
     Raw engine water strainer                                    170
     Zinc perry nut                                                30

     Radio coax in mast to chart table                              90
     3 db VHF-FM antenna                                            90

    Electric automatic bilge pump                                  185
    Basin and hand pump in head                                    210
    Saltwater foot pump to galley sink                             140

     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)

     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

       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

       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

Finally, I asked for a trailer tongue extension, the cost of which does not appear in the
listing above.


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

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.


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

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

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

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

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

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.

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