My Favorite Things

My favorite Things
As abused by Willie Blevins in 1995

Girls in bikinis with batting eyelashes,
Sliding down big waves and hearing the splashes
Wind in the rigging with tension that sings
These are a few of my favorite things

Kevlar and Mylar and long tapered battens
Outhauls and downhauls and a mains’l that flattens
Colorful spinnakers and rigid boom vangs
these are a few of my favorite thangs.

When the mast breaks, when the boat sinks
When I come in last,
I simply remember my favorite things
and then I don’t feel like an ass.

Digital readouts and self tailing winches
Finishing races and winning by inches
Smooth sanded bottoms and new damn it rings
These are a few of my favorite things

Crew that call wind shifts and yell at port tackers
Harken ball bearings and stainless steel shackles
Fair keels and rudders and sailboats in slings
These are a few of my favorite things

When the mast breaks, when the boat sinks
When I come in last,
I simply remember my favorite things
and then I don’t feel like an ass.

Calling for room to all those outsiders
Walking around in brand new Topsiders
Beating to windward, curtailing a luff
This is just some of my favorite stuff

Wide open transoms and plenty of mast bend
Shaking the reef out when there’s too muych wind
Fresh breeze and sunshine, a swim in the buff,
This is just some of my favorite stuff

When the mast breaks, when the boat sinks
When I come in last,
I simply remember my favorite things
and then I don’t feel like an ass.

another favorite thing

another favorite thing

For my friend, John Farrer

Below is an excerpt from a continuing story about my recent road trip. It is a tribute to a friend.

My plan to head further south the next morning was altered by a phone call from John Farrer, the artist. I generally try to see him for at least a little while when I am in the area. He has requested repeatedly that everybody from the farm stop in to see his studio, and coincidentally this turned out to be the day. My sisters and brother and I took a drive to Huntsville to see Johns studio.
John R. Farrer and I lived near each other during high school and often rode motorcycles together. His dad owned a machine shop that I went to whenever I needed a part altered or fabricated. We went to different high schools but we did manage to find some of the same trouble. He spent some time at Auburn University studying architecture, and spent some time in the southwest US. I am not sure if he was studying Indians or chasing women or hiding out. He spent a little time in Alaska selling vacuum cleaners, and he spent some time in my dad’s wood shop. My dad showed him a few tricks about making square boxes, as in SQUARE boxes, and some brain teaser type wooden puzzles. My mother created a mosaic turtle out of wood chips from my dad’s shop that, on at least one occasion, John viewed as supernatural. Hey, it was the sixties.

John was an avid arrowhead hunter and has a beautiful collection from areas near the Tennessee river in Decatur Al. He picked up an old stump and carved a coffee table out of it with a chain saw, then mounted his collection on it under glass. He worked with his dad in the machine shop for many years but always had an artistic project in the works. Eventually his artwork became his livelihood and his accomplishments are unique. There is a story that goes with or about each piece, sometimes in verse, sometimes by title only. The words combined and spoken by this north Alabama redneck liberal polish his masterpieces with a glaze as thick as molasses. Thought provoking, colloquial, simple, complex, and astonishing, disguised by a slightly twisted sense of humor, and an accent you could not cut with a blow torch.
During our short visit, John showed us the mock-up of his latest masterpiece the Whiskey Wall, and several of the pieces of the nearly completed work. He displayed and discussed several pieces in his studio, unfortunately I do not have the correct names, but there is Wind Walker, and some version of a Time Machine, incredible candelabras, several paintings, sculpted stone vases, block prints, and Geronimo’s Unicycle, to give you an idea. It was a great, exclusive one man showing, presented to an invitation only audience. This special showing took place on Tuesday November 13, 2012. John Died December 1, 2012. Peace my friend, hoping to see you at the Whiskey Wall, riding Geronimo’s Unicycle.

John’s graveside service is today 12/4/2012, in Madison Alabama, at 2:00 PM

Kettle Cup 2012

Kettle Cup 2012

This regatta has been going on for a long time. I started sailing in 1985 and it had been around for several years already as the Tangerine Bowl Regatta and possibly some other names. I suspect there are a few sailors around that could take us all the way back but they refuse to admit it. The first weekend in December has been home to the famous seven hundred boat Red Lobster Cup and the nearly as large Citrus Sail fest. The infamous S.L.O.B.S. Fest made its mark at the turn of the century. For the past eleven years, the Lake Monroe Sailing Association has hosted the Kettle Cup and what follows is a summary of this year’s event. If you missed it, we are really sorry and we waited as long as we could, but in the end we went ahead and had a great time without you.

Friday the last of November contained all of the necessary and generally anticipated drama. Will there be enough late registrations to make the numbers? How many volunteers will bow out at the last minute? Where are the tents? Will there be enough Catalinas for a class? We have been here before.

By the start of the first race on Saturday December 1, all the issues were resolved and even the weather looked great. I had been booted off my intended ride, but Andy Forrest had mentioned earlier in the week he needed crew and after a couple of, “I got somebody” and “ now I don’t” conversations, I landed at the helm of Show Me. My position as helmsman is mostly dependent on the fact that Andy seems to prefer doing everything and driving is kind of dull compared to being everywhere at once.

Our open Portsmouth class started first with the Catalinas and as predicted at the skipper’s meeting the Catalina class bunched up at the committee boat end of the start line.

Don Hoofring

Don Hoofring’s Free Spirit

Don Hoofring’s Catalina 27 Free Spirit was in our class and coming in high and hot to the stern of the RC boat. Since it looked as though I was going to be shut out at the line, and I was below him I suggested to Don that he might want to reconsider. As I luffed sharply to drain off a little speed prior to having to choose between Randy Pawlowski’s outboard and the transom of the RC, Don headed up and tacked away. Dropping back in behind Randy worked ok. We were a little slow, with a clear lane to the right so as soon as we passed the RC anchor rode we tacked.

Jeff Herter’s Vulcan Mermaid was at the pin end and getting gassed by the Catalina’s which held him back for a while. By the time we converged at the windward mark the Mermaid was ahead by a few lengths.

Wasp Waist

Wasp Waisted Spinnaker

Their wasp waisted spinnaker gave us the time we needed to park Show Me’s sail plan directly upwind and we made extra effort to stay exactly there all the way to the leeward gate.  From the gate we followed the Vulcan Mermaid for a short distance but the pressure looked better on the left side of the course.  Show Me came about and immediately started to wiggle through the congestion of the rest of the forty boats on the course. It was the correct move, by the time we set the pole for the final run we were well ahead.

Lots of Fish
Kettle of Fish

Sunfish take a surprising amount of space for being so little, but we avoided confrontation well enough to finish without penalty, and were pleased to have to wait for the Vulcan Mermaid to finish. I am sure that it was only my evil side that took such pleasure in that. As the San Juan 21 class got close to the finish, it was very exciting to see the blue spinnaker of Pete Owens out in front of Fisk Hayden’s red one and Kyle Everly’s white one. Pete is relatively new to the SJ 21 fleet and the competition is as tough as it comes. The Sunfish fleet finished with Joe Blouin in front followed by LMSA’s own Mindy Strauley in second and Pauley Strauley in third. Titusville’s Brad Ruffe had aced the Catalina Fleet followed by LMSA member Randy Pawlowski. The Raiders were led by Dave Ellis, and the open planing class was being dominated by the Buccaneer’s. A small little rain cloud had blown down the course and had helped the wind for us.

the wind was stolen by a rain cloud

Within minutes, as sometimes happens on Lake Monroe, the wind followed the tiny little rain cloud all the way off the lake. After an hour or more of staring at ourselves in the liquid reflector, the RC weighed anchor and competitors gathered at the tents near Wolfy’s.

Sunday started with no wind, but John Fox was in tune with the weather and anticipated the general wind direction which allowed for a quick course set. The Vulcan Mermaid had acquired an additional crew member in the person of Sharon Balsam, a recent graduate of U-Sail. Show Me picked up a dock wanderer in the person of Steve Hayden, world renowned Lightning Class champion. Seemed like a fair deal to me.

In the first race we started within inches of the Vulcan Mermaid stern rail with two Catalina 22s just to windward. Stuck as it were, no real place to go, just hang on, go fast, and pay attention. When the Catalina 22’s tacked away, we gave them a little room and then followed them out to the right, with clear air, good pressure and boat speed. By the time we crossed the competition, Show Me was out in front far enough. The second race was mostly about wind shifts and dodging Sunfish. The wind was much lighter, and I was concerned that it might quit like Saturday. Andy’s eternal optimism and the fact that Steve Hayden sees wind shifts in high definition Technicolor may have helped us in race two. Show Me had a couple of surprises, like Don’s Free Spirit driving past us like we backing up. The Catalina 27 needs more air downwind so we got it back on the run. The Vulcan Mermaid had some problems at the leeward mark besides running over a Sunfish. The imaginary string of that track would have tied a double bowline on a bite. We managed to eke out another bullet.

Race three almost started with Show Me well behind the line on a port tack, but real fast. A big wind shift, a capsized raider in front of the line, and last minute postponement, took away what I think would have been another big win.
I was too far out for the real start of the third race, and “a big lefty” pushed the bow too far down from the line to make it on starboard. I tacked a little early and had to pinch to miss the RC boat. We had enough speed to listen to John Fox say… “I have a long anchor line, I have a long anchor line, I have a long anchor line” prior to bearing away to power up. Vulcan Mermaid had started at the pin and several lengths ahead. The pin was quite favored because of the “big lefty” and the Mermaid looked to be in a dominant position. Show Me gained a little and by the last leg had shaved enough seconds off of the Mermaid’s lead to be within the handicap differential.

Shore side festivities were quite successful this year. The raffle and the silent auction should provide a great boost to the money being donated to the Salvation Army of Seminole County. Special thanks to Charlotte Jackson, Mary Jevitt for taking that on, and Paulie Kaiser, Kristen Cole for selling raffle tickets.

The amount of effort that it takes to pull this off is large. In addition to those mentioned above, I offer my personal appreciation to Mike, Pam, Andy, Diane, Fisk, Bob, Matt, Marty, Denise, Jerry, all the sponsors, contributors, contestants, John and Nancy Fox, Fred and Maggie Shoemaker, Bob Johnson, Vic, J.C., Rebecca, Mike McKeown and most importantly all those people that I have neglected to mention.

Project Termination

Project Termination

Threats are over, the projects that have been hanging over my head for many years are hereby terminated, at least two of them. The Boston Whaler, purchased with the utmost of intentions, acquired an offer that was reasonably persuasive. It shall become the property of another on Black Friday. The Mirage 5.5 known as, what Bugs Bunny called a Maroon was purchased in a weak moment for a truly reasonable price as a potential daggerboard conversion project.No need to waste any words here to justify why these projects avoided fruition.

The Whaler was dragged out of the collapsed varmint hole under the right tire, into a workable space for the new owner to come and convert it to road worthy. The sale is “where is and as is”.

I expect my involvement to be negligible other than collecting and signing. The Mirage is a slightly different story as the only value contained therein is pieces parts, and the trailer. Once stripped of every single piece of stainless steel, aluminum, molded plastic, functional and/or reparable component, it shall become a dumpster, and be filled with a veritable plethora of items destined to decay in the county landfill. Granted, some of those items will take many thousands of years to decay, but they have decayed as much as they can in my yard.

Steve Siegfried has encouraged me to move in this direction for some time, and today he had the time and opportunity to assist me. My plans to provide mobile marine services to another Boat Yard Inc. customer and friend were altered, which created an opportunity that coincided with a flurry of motivation and Steve’s assistance. Steve and I have walked the yard many times, projecting possible scenarios for many of the projects that rest there.

Today was different. Not talking about the Capri 22, not talking about the Catalina 22, nor the Daysailer, nor the other Mirage, well maybe a little about the other Mirage, it is related. Not talking about the Chris Craft, the Big Red Juan, or the Swamp Boogie Queen. Not talking about the kayaks, the jet skis or the jet ski trailer, not the canoe, not the US-1, not even the Loose Cannon. We cut some of the vines away from the Whaler, backed up the suburban, used the floor jack to raise the trailer tongue high enough for the hitch, pushed the four-wheel-drive-low button and pulled the Whaler out into a mowed section of the yard and declared it an accomplishment.

flora reclaimation

The Maroon Mirage was nearly invisible under the carpet of overgrown vines and low hanging China Berry tree limbs, the floor jack and the four-wheel-drive-low button were again employed to eliminate the grip of the thick Florida flora. There is a couple of meg of somewhat amusing video available by clicking below. (about a minute twelve)


Once removed from the consuming vegetation it became obvious that some level of cleaning would be necessary to be able to identify the salvageable components and hardware.

The garden hose is connected directly to the four inch well. While it is not as powerful as the commercial pressure washer it produces a stream of water strong enough to move six inch thick leaf mulch from the boat while shooting a twenty foot fountain of water back by the pool from a split in a hose subjected to the well pressure previously. In a short time a variety of valuable items became visible enough to begin an inventory. Two oversized Lewmar rope clutches, an aluminum bridge with several cam cleats, clam cleats, and fair leads, appeared on the cabin top. The mast tabernacle was obvious but a Harken micro-cheek block and two deck mounted and spring stabilized turning blocks were well hidden. Track for jib cars, one of which still has a car on it were uncovered. U-bolt type chain plates and a variety of horn cleats and a few blocks for the adjustable backstay emerged. The traveler had a visible outline, and the windward sheeting traveler car rose from the leafy muck like Aphrodite rising from the sea.

That little tidbit was the main reason I bought the boat in the first place. New it cost more than, suffice to say they are quite expensive. The pintles, the transom step, the perforated aluminum toe rail, the bow pulpit, completed the external inventory. Inside the boat was the boom, the rudder, the tiller, a sink, a pump, an anchor with rode, and a couple of fenders. Granted I knew this stuff was on or with the boat but it looks different when it is about to become inventory instead of part of an unfinished project.Too insure we were not missing any big pieces we had to clean most of the muck out of the cockpit.  I used a six inch hole saw to allow for some drainage and my trusty reciprocating saw to make a couple of additional incisions.







A new much more aggressive blade will be required for the Sawzall for the next procedure.

O.K. Maroon, ready?! Strip.