Part 1 of 3 Following in my Mentor's Footsteps . . .

Started by Charles Brennan, Dec 06, 2023, 09:28 AM

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Charles Brennan

In  1999, I was dealing with a rusted stuck-shut swing keel on Urchin and despairing of having the resources to repair it myself, or have it repaired.  :(
Had dark visions of chainsaws and landfills in my future.  :'(
But, I found my way to the TSBB and Charlie Jones convinced me that the average Joe could pull a 400 pound swing keel, knock off the rust and coat it with Coal Tar Epoxy, reinstall it and keep on sailing.
Then Noemi Ybarra (a girl!) casually mentioned that oh, yeah, she had just done the same thing to her sailboat, one with a 600 pound swing keel.
If SHE could do it . . .  .

Charlie had lots of good advice of all kinds; like how to flip halyards around spreaders, to avoid mast slap all night.
Also how to repaint a sailboat with EZ-Poxy.
Came out like this:
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He even came to Miami once on a cold January night and we went sailing on the very sailboat he had encouraged me to refurbish: (Urchin)
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I remember my motor got so excited to have CJ aboard, it forgot how to pump water through the engine and quit, just as we left the dock.
We both looked back at it, shrugged and kept on sailing. Had an enjoyable sail.
At one point in the sail, he looked at a jib sheet and pushed down in a specific place and said: "You need a twing, right here."
I was electrified at the sudden surge in speed and mentally memorized where CJ was pushing down and promptly installed some twing blocks the very next week.

So, to say he is my Mentor is nearly an understatement.

We've had cruises together and swapped ideas and stories and broke bread together, for over 20 some-odd years.
Lately, CJ has had problems with aging out, as a sailor.
And just this past year, so have I.

I realized on a solo sailing trip of sufficient introspection, that I can no longer safely handle Urchin.
But I still love to sail.
I critically (self-criticism being my strongest talent) assessed what things were affecting my ability to handle a boat I have owned for 47 years.
Mostly, the mast.  60 pound extrusion was getting to be an obstacle, even with several improvements in rigging it.
Dealing with rudder, mainsheet and jib sheets, while solo in heavier conditions was also becoming a significant challenge.

As I did in 1999, I called for advice on the TSBB.
The two most common suggestions were to get a ComPac Sun Cat, or a SCAMP.
Financial resource-wise, it was a wash.  Used ComPacs and new (or used) SCAMPS were about the same cost: Too Much.
Perusing the boat market, a boat the size and age of Urchin would not get me enough spare cash to get a replacement.
The ComPac looked like it would get me another 5 years or so, before I started running into the same issues as I already had on Urchin.
I became slowly enamored with the SCAMP.

I continue to get intermittent Small Craft Advisor emails in lieu of a magazine print edition and last Thursday while checking my email, saw this:
"Examples of current ads include a rare Drascombe Coaster, a Welsford Walkabout and partially built SCAMP for.....(checks again) $200? You're welcome! —Eds"
And a pic:
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Whoa!  :o The plywood kit was $3200.00 from Duckworks.  Basically, a $3,000.00 discount on acquiring a SCAMP build.
What I could get for Urchin and what I could scrounge, was probably enough to get me back in the water in a simplified manner.
One rub: It was in Cedar Grove, Wisconsin.
I discussed the idea with my wife at supper, made sure she was on-board, then called Mike E. at the number in the ad.
To  my shock, it was still available (which my peasant Irish Superstition immediately took as an Omen) so I told him I would be there Saturday or Sunday, and he agreed to hold it for me.
I grabbed the cover off my RIB Short Rib, and my kayak trailer, some come-alongs, tools, cribbing and a BIG roll of Duct Tape.
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Left Friday at 6am, heading north, kayak trailer in tow.
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Got rear-ended in traffic while stalled and stopped-dead for a traffic accident, and Mr. Not-Paying-Attention in a Dodge Ram, cracked my trailer's left tail light.   >:(
Later at home, I discovered the impact jammed my trailer coupler ball mechanism, which will require replacement.
Spent the night somewhere in south Indiana and got on the road again, bright and early, on Saturday.
Arriving in Cedar Grove that afternoon, I met Mike and started checking out all his toys.
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Mike E.

His main toy, a J-92:
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(J92 is the one on the right.) ;)

And a restoration project on a Lightning, about 80% complete.
(Although, is ANY boat ever complete?)
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He explained that the Sheboygan Sailing Center had gotten 3 SCAMPS and even had Howard Rice (noted SCAMP Guru) teach a SCAMP Camp there.
I had worried that the workmanship might be risky, but at those camps all the proper procedures are taught under Howard's supervision.
A cursory inspection showed that the workmanship was more than equal to my own skills, so I was pleased to see the long trip had not been for nothing.
I was also gratified to see lots of BS1088 Okoume stamps on the plywood pieces; I had feared they were using whatever the local Sheboygan Big Box store offered.
Two of them had been finished, but the third one had languished until Mike brought her home, then decided he wouldn't have enough spare time to finish the project, what with the Lightning restoration and all.
We chatted a while, I handed over the cash and then we figured out how we were going to get the SCAMP on my kayak trailer.
And just like that, I was now the proud owner of an Almost-A-SCAMP #637.

Charles Brennan