Posts Tagged ‘outdoors’

Another old, hanging story that needs to be completed … I wrote Part 1 in March 2015, and I never added the update until today.

Actually, the windscreen and side-curtains were completed in November 2017. I picked them up from the canvas shop Thanksgiving weekend — and Halcyon was “on the hard,” stored ashore for the winter, when I fitted them to check them out, and took these photos.

And here’s a photo of Halcyon under sail, taken from a similar Bristol 29.9 on the Rhode River, the following summer:


The dodger is big enough to shelter under, out of the rain … but I confess, I don’t go sailing in rainy weather. I really should get used to it.

More to the point, it completes all of the improvements I wanted to add — except, maybe, to install a cold-plate refrigerator in the boat’s icebox ….

There’s a saying among boaters: “There’s always something to fix, on a boat. Once you’ve got everything fixed, there’s still something to improve or add to the boat. And once you’ve added everything you want, and have the boat completely fixed up the way you want it … then it’s time to get another boat to fix up.”

(Not that I intend to do so. Halcyon is all the boat I need, for what I’m doing — knocking around the Chesapeake Bay.)

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22:30 EDT, Saturday, 31 March 2012 – Lat 34°39.9’N, Lon 79°00.3′ W …

The north end of the Walmart parking lot in Lumberton, NC; not a place where you’d expect to see a boat heave-to for the night. A Toyota 4Runner, towing a 26-foot sailboat on a trailer, cautiously pulls in among the land-yacht RVs and travel trailers, parked across the stripes. The driver, not coincidentally the boat’s skipper, is a bit uneasy about this – what is the protocol for spending the night at Wally-World? Satisfied that he’s parked just like the others, he gets out of the SUV and walks down toward the Big Box emporium. He’s about to pass a gaggle of teenagers, standing around their parked cars, when the security-vehicle pulls up; seeing an opportunity, he crosses over to the driver’s window and asks directly, “Is it OK if I park there for the night?” …

Yeah, that was me, Beija-Flor, big as life and twice as weird.

I was travelling with Bossa Nova, my 26-foot sleep-aboard sailing dinghy. We were headed for a few days’ vacation on Lake Marion, SC – and in need of a place to stay the night. Some years ago, a travel-trailer-warrior friend of mine told me that Sam Walton himself – a travel-trailer enthusiast and bargain-hunter in his own right, I suspect, in the early, lean years before Walmart made him a billionaire – had directed every one of his store-managers to let travel-trailers park overnight in their store’s parking lots, on their way to their “real” destinations. Not only was it a gracious good-will gesture, but 99 out of 100 will need something they can get right there in the Big Blue Box. I was no different in that respect; it’s just that my own travel-trailer has a different shape. A boat shape, a yacht-y shape. Between boat-ramps, Bossa Nova is quite functional and even comfortable as what I call a “funny-shaped travel trailer.”

Serious sailboats do not go on trailers, unless you count the specialized “transporter” trucks that are used to haul the smaller ones across the country. It is no simple task, for instance, for the Island Packet folks in Largo, Florida to put a new 46-foot yacht on a transporter trailer and haul it to – let’s say – Rock Hall, MD; where Gratitude Yachts will step its mast, rig the rigging, and use a Travelift crane to gently lower her into her proper medium, the water. But many smaller vessels, such as sailing dinghies, live on trailers and are only launched when the owner wants to go sailing.

Bossa Nova is at the large end of the “trailer-boat” classification, at 25’11” long and 7’10” wide (abeam). She’s a good “weekender” boat, with (supposedly) enough bunks for 6 … but, in fact, with the stuff I carry and use and the way I carry it, maybe adequate room for two or three at most. Still,  she is quite functional as a “second home” – with a working galley (a single-burner butane stove, a tiny sink with an electric water-pump, and storage space for provisions and utensils – plus a 40-quart ice chest); a workable bathroom (a porta-potty in a little broom-closet that gives me just enough room to haul up my trousers after the deed); a reasonable dining table, across from the galley, so close that it’s almost part of the galley; and a couple of good sleeping spaces (the one I use is a quarter-berth, aft under the cockpit, which is a little bigger than a torpedo tube). Bossa Nova is only a “yacht” by virtue of the fact that its designer and builder calls his factory “MacGregor Yacht Corp.”

But … I can cook aboard, take care of my ablutions aboard, and sleep aboard Bossa Nova. For a limited time – and I have friends who have pushed the limits, out to months – I could live aboard this boat. She’s certainly more comfortable than a refrigerator box under an expressway overpass.

The day after my night in the Walmart parking lot, I headed down to Lake Marion, SC. I’d bet you’ll remember Lake Marion, if you’ve ever driven down I-95 to Florida; it’s the first really big body of water along the way, crossed by a bridge that’s nearly two miles long. A bridge that has a “hump” on the south end, high enough to accommodate the mast of a sailboat the size of Bossa Nova. Sailboats are a rare sight on Lake Marion, or so I was told by the matriarch of a family-group that took a picture of Bossa Nova from their overpowered pontoon boat – she assured me solemnly that Bossa Nova was the first sailboat she’d ever seen on Lake Marion.

As my vacation progressed, I came to understand why. Lake Marion was formed from the Santee River, as a feeder for a hydroelectric power plant; they did not cut down the trees in the river-bottom before flooding the area, and so there are plenty of snags that might be hit by the keel or rudders of a passing sailboat. Believe me, I found out about that. Repeatedly. Lake Marion feeds into a further-downstream lake, Lake Moultrie, where they did cut down all the trees. It’s a better lake for sailing, they tell me, but Lake Marion is better for fishing. It might have been sensible for me to take Bossa Nova down to Lake Moultrie – but it took me a hard and sweaty hour-and-a-half to raise her mast and rig her for sailing, and I didn’t feel like repeating the labor.

I stayed three days on the water, in a nice little hidey-hole around the corner from the marina where I’d parked the tow vehicle. I did use my “rubber ducky” inflatable boat to go to shore there, and I took the opportunity to hang out and chat with some of the folks who stayed at the trailer-park that surrounded the boat ramps and the tiny marina. I believe that I could have stayed in that hidey-hole for who-knows-how-long, paying $4 a day to park my car and trailer and nothing for the anchorage – and, ya know, I think it would have been worth it. It was definitely cool to cook up my dinner on the butane stove, then grab a “cold one” out of the cooler and sit up in the cockpit enjoying the stars. (Though it was all too exciting to be awakened by the bull-roar of an alligator at 1 AM!)

But, on day 2, the outboard motor on Bossa Nova was acting up. I decided to spend day 3 at anchor, doing some of the “cleanup” work that she really needs if I’m going to sell her later on this year. I rowed the rubber-ducky dinghy in to Bell’s Marina, and had a couple of really good meals in their restaurant … and Wednesday afternoon, April 4th, I got Bossa Nova out of the water, back on her trailer, and I stowed the mast and the boom for the drive home.  There were thunderstorms on the way, and I saw no reason to be on the water when they reached Lake Marion.

I spent my last night out at the Walmart in Petersburg, VA … and brought Bossa Nova home, the next day, to the marina where I keep my Bristol 29.9, Halcyon. The Bristol is no “trailer yacht” – she’s 10’2″ abeam, with a long fixed keel and a “keel-stepped” mast that will have to be pulled out with a crane some day, to check its base and re-wire its lights and its radio antenna. It’s going to be much more convenient, having both boats in the same place – and later this summer, when I’m ready to sell Bossa Nova (and when I’ve fixed her outboard motor), I can place her with the same yacht-broker who sold Halcyon to me.

Then I will no longer be entitled to call myself “trailer-yacht trash.”


With a post as snarky as this, I really ought to direct you to MacGregor Sailors – a website devoted utterly to the trailer-sailors designed and built by Roger MacGregor, including the “Venture” brand that started his career as an unlikely trailer-yacht designer. (You may find some of my own modifications to Bossa Nova, under my own name rather than my Portuguese “nom de plume”.)

18 USC § 1384… (In Mala Fide, 2 May 2012) – this is a wonderful “kick in the face” to our Nation’s Military, as a follow-up to the media shitstorm from our Secret Service’s secret-services while President Barack HUSSEIN Obama visited the notorious den-of-sexual-iniquity known as Colombia. “Pay-for-play” is legal in that country, as it is in many other countries … but “18 USC Paragraph 1384” prohibits our young-and-horny US military personnel from disporting with the local “professional talent,” who are prepared to deal with their testosterone, and gives them a severe penalty for “getting their rocks off” in a clean, STD-aware, manly-approved fashion. I am pissed-off … royally … as much for the sake of the “girls,” who stand to lose a substantial portion of their income, as for the sake of the “boys” who must zip it up or “take matters into their own hands.”

You want privilege? You got it! (A Voice for Men, 2 May 2012) – Dr. Paul Elam speaks the truth. “Male privilege” includes way more responsibility than “privilege,” and way more liability/trouble/danger/deadliness than is ever faced by the “Strong, Empowered, Endangered, Independent, Needy, Subsidized, Insulated Woman” who demands so damn much subsidy for her to “be Independent” and so damn much protection to be “Strong”!  I can do no better than than echo Paul’s core concept: “If you want my ‘privilege,’ by all means you are welcome to it. All you have to do is pay the price.”

Maybe there is enough here to start me ranting again!

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