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

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.


Mother’s Arms Challenge 2012

Mother’s Arms Challenge 2012

photos contained herein are compliments of Lance Squires and Mike and Pam Loughlin

Thanks mainly to Hurricane Sandy there was enough water to run the Mother’s Arms Challenge this year.  The water stage is about 2.7 which is close to a minimum level to make this race even possible for much of the LMSA fleet. As it was we managed to find at least one spot where the water was a little thin.

Mother's Arms Challenge

Stay out of the muck and the weeds if you can

I rode to the Lake with Denise ‘cause my truck has to have new brakes. I was not particularly excited about sailing but I said I said I would do the scoring. Pam Loughlin measured the wind at a sustained 14 knots but Lake Monroe is only about nine feet deep at this stage and the waves make it look much worse.  It was cloudy and cold enough for socks, which is outside my comfort level. The sky opened up a spot or two of bluish but I was thinking seriously about waiting at Wolfy’s and drinking Irish coffee until everyone was done being cold.

At the competitor’s meeting, Jerry Brinton and his daughter Lauren asked if I wanted to sail with them and I had a moment of hesitation, the Irish coffee idea was beginning to take hold.

Sail Gator is a S2 7.9 in immaculate condition, and the 7.9 is truly one of my favorite boats of all time. I wish I had kept the one that I sold when I bought the Loose Cannon. I still would have acquired the Loose Cannon, but I could have kept Wild Turns, it would have been O.K. At the dock we tied in a reef, and then headed out to the start line.

Race Committee is a tough gig. Far be it from me to cast aspersions on anyone that assumes that responsibility unless, of course, they happen to be my very good friends, Mike and Pam Loughlin and my wife. Again, not to be critical, but usually the start line is set in water deep enough to have the keel at least part way down. I am sure that this was just an extra little challenge thrown in to see how many boats could make the windward start line in fifteen knots of breeze with no keel. We were late to the start line by over a minute and crossed the line as we raised the jib. After a short beat on starboard we tacked below the layline to the mouth of the river, hoping to get lifted. Andy and Fisk apparently managed to cross the start line on port and get lifted all the way to the opening. We were too close to Mother’s Arms to risk that line even with the keel only part of the way down.

Slipping into the river behind  Ha Ha the other Precision 23 of Byron Hicks and DJ McCabe, the reefed mainsail was called into question. The possible consequences of having too much mains’l in the government cut or once we returned to the lake won out for the time being. We left the reef in. Easing the sails and bearing away just before climbing into the cockpit of the Precision allowed Sail Gator to accelerate through the Ha Ha wind shadow.

In the second short cut, the already partially retracted dagger board grabbed a big chunk of swamp bottom and Sail Gator stopped. I reached the winch first and got the board to move a little as we could hear the Precision getting closer. Lauren came from the bow and took over the winch handle, I grabbed the line to “tail” and Jerry steered us to a little deeper water, all before Ha Ha got on top of our air. We could see Fisk and Paulie flying the spinnaker on Old Yeller the San Juan 21. Andy with his crew of Johnny Yannish, Diane Forrest and Maryann Carter had the infamous whisker pole stretching out Show Me’s genoa. Removing the reef was a unanimous decision at his point, and it did help. Ron Semans and Brent Carter were staying with Show Meon the Laser 2. All three of them rounded Willie’s Roost into the government cut before we could see it. Willie’s Roost is a corner upon which I have perched in previous excursions around Mother’s Arms.

Right there under the bigger boat

By the time we reached the cut, Ol’ Yeller’s spinnaker had passed Show Me’s pole, and the Laser 2 was having to short tack in the channel because they just did not have the momentum to punch through some of the wind shifts. Sail Gator weighs in at over two tons even without rail meat, momentum was not the issue. Not enough time to catch anyone so we finished fourth.

Jeff Herter’s Vulcan Mermaid,

met us as we returned from a leisurely reach across to the western shore of Lake Monroe after we finished, and we had a little close order drill type exercise before docking and gathering at Wolfy’s for the scoring ritual.

British Virgin Islands, Team LMSA / Fleet 29 wrap-up

Andy sent this in this morning from the BVI’s. -wb-


Sorry for the lapse of info, we have been out of wifi range for a few days.


Day 3:

We are still within 2 points of first despite the dingy debacle.  Today we have the longest race across the entire length of the BVIs on the north side.  The wind was to be E or NE and held at 12 to 15 for most of the day.  We started well and were near the lead until a jib sheet found it’s way under the hull as we were approaching a reef leaving Virgin Gourda Sound.  We spent a few tense moments but cleared the mess and got into the outside course in 4th place.  Fisk went to work and within 5 miles we had scratched out a small lead.  The overall leader, Seattle, was on our hip for the next 7 miles as we pulled ourselves well ahead of the others.  By the time we could see the RC boat it was a match race.  We were 5 lengths windward and 7 lengths ahead on a beam reach making 8 kn, where else would you choose to be with 2 miles to go?  Seattle had been trying to sail through our lee for hours with no luck.  We then sailed into a hole, sat still for 20 minutes and watched as boats leeward and windward sailed nicely ahead.  Seattle took first and Annapolis nosed us out for second.  That was tough to take but we wouldn’t have done anything different, just bad luck.


Day 4:

We are now tied for second with San Fran and Seattle only reachable with a meltdown.  A port reach start, a parade around the west end of Tortola and the notoriously difficult Thatch cut lay ahead.  Instead of causing a 6 boat pile up at the start as we had the opporunity to do, Fisk took the high road but let 5 boats get ahead from the line.  Our difficult job ahead was clear.  We sailed the parade through the shifty wind and water currents of Thatch Cut but still were back in 5th.  Once through the cut the race changed to a beat in 18 to 20 and 8 foot rollers.  Fisk was working hard, but on a beat he will allways do well.  We choose to go left as the others stayed right.  We steadily made up ground untill we picked off 4th and had a real shot at San Fran in third.  Closing in on the finish we caught a deck cleat with the jib sheet and our moment was lost, so close.  We ended up losing 4th at the line by a nose.  We thought that we had held third overall but later found that the dingy race had bitten again and we had moved to 4th by a fraction of a point.

We are all proud of Fisk and our crew, we could have gotten it all.

See you Friday,

LMSA / Fleet29 Updates from the British Virgin Islands

Having sorted out my emails here in the soon to be frigid Midwest, the following reports are available from Andy Forrest and Team LMSA/Fleet 29, my comments are italicized to avoid confusing Andy’s honest efforts with my possible sarcasm.

Upon arrival

We are here, rusty grill again but skip arrived after dark and dosen’t know it yet. Nice sailors from all over the US. San Diego dude a little smug, we’ll have to take him down. But rest of crowd seems fun they brought. 15 friends and therefore rented a 45 cat too, Pam.  Here we go…   -Andy-

Rusty Grill is the code for the older, less maintained boat that Fisk and Andy had during a previous trip to the BVI’s. Apparently they will have to achieve greatness with less than the best vessel available.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

First day,bouy races:  15 knots in Sir Francis Drake channel.  Our boat named Whiskey Chaser had upwind speed over the whole fleet of nine.  We overcame early boat learning mistakes and came from last to second on the second lap in the first race.

The second race we lead until two hundred yards from the finish and were overtaken by San Fran, where is the unholy whisker pole when I need it!  (No whisker poles are allowed in this race)

Third race we lead start to finish even with a mark touch and the 360.  We were happy and suprised by our sucess against these big city sailors.

Day 2

Long upwind sail to the Bitter End Yacht club.  We lead for the first 2 hours but were passed due to two poor tacks and a jib sheet caught on a deck cleat.  Still tied for first going into the Laser race.  Sorry to say I was not in the same league as the 150 pound 25 year olds and took a solid 7th, which is last.  Pride hurt but rum is dulling the pain.

We are still in a tight race going into the two Laser distance races.  No one can sail with us upwind and Fisk is making good calls all around.

That is as many words as my thumbs can do after 10 hours of sailing and 4 hours of rum.  More to come.


Team LMSA/Fleet 29 is making me very proud. –wb-