Tuesday, September 11, 2018

Is there more to life than boats? Duchamp was afraid of repeating himself. The other day I took a picture of a Praying Mantis bug that was right by the staff entrance to the Museum. He was standing at eye level as people walked by him. I said to my Supervisor “Did you see that Praying Mantis?” He had already taken a picture of it.

Hard to beat nature itself when it comes to sculpture.

Sunday, September 9, 2018

“Without the idea
Of a sailboat
Dancing in the wind
There would be no order
In the universe,
Only chaos”

About a month and a half ago I finished building a model of Herreshoffs “Quiet Tune”.
She’s one of the loveliest shapes ever to kiss the waves. I’m finding it hard to think of any other boat
To build a model of. She has that little bit of flair at the waterline right whare she starts cutting the waves, and a long low graceful sheer (profile deck curve) which sweeps all the way back to her perfectly proportioned stern. Her mizzen sail echoes the proportions of her main sail, and her jib balances the whole picture.

To build  my Quiet Tune model, I needed to overcome a few interesting technical challenges. Should she have a modified modern keel and separate rudder well aft? Should the cabin top be removable like other boats that I’ve made for easy access to electronics at deck level? Should she have working scale brass turnbuckles for easy set-up and take-down of the sails at the pond?

I happened to have a keel bulb for an international one meter boat which miraculously fit, in a sculptural sense, as well as displacement, right below her scale keel profile. She got to keep her keel, as drawn by LFH, plus ballast painted black attached lower down.

I decided, after much head scratching, to permanently attach the cabin top, mainly to avoid the look of having a slight gap showing daylight. I can reach the winch under the scale main  hatch, and the rudder servo is under the forward hatch, which is sealed with silicone.

Brass turnbuckles are too expensive.

Then came the long awaited launching day. She sailed perfectly, stayed upright more than expected, went to windward like a real Quiet Tune.

Friday, September 7, 2018

My new sails. (A story)

The Vintage Marblehead National Championship Regatta was to be held that June, so I emailed my entry. Luckily I happened to have a good straight piece of Sitka spruce on hand which I planed and sanded as thin and aerodynamic as possible for the new mast. It took me a whole sick day from work to set up the new sails. The only rigging wire I had was this rather twisty bendy stuff, which wasn’t really supposed to be rigging wire for a model yacht. I had to secure it to the turnbuckles the same way you secure picture wire to the back of a picture frame. I didn’t have any time to test the new sails, except to rig them on the boat in the living room, the night before the regatta, to make sure everything worked right

At least I was able to practice for about ten minutes before the first race. She went like a dream, like she was on rails, like a real thoroughbred, the way she silently made her long graceful wake through the mirror smooth water, grabbing her wind from above.

I knew about a strategic trick which I suspected only the die-hard locals knew about. During the count down to the start, I kept my boat to the right of one end of the starting line, in a place where I knew there would more often be steadier, less fickle wind.
I kept jockeying in long circles, patiently staying away from the other boats dirty turbulent air. I was in no rush to get my boat across the line right at the start, because I needed to stay in clear air to keep moving, and also to avoid colliding with other boats.

At the start, most of the boats went at an angle toward the left, far side of the pond, before tacking toward the windward mark. I didn’t do that, I tacked right after the start and stayed on the right side. This was where the good steady wind frequently comes along the near shore. My boat was first at the weather mark, and won the first race ahead of how ever many other boats. The other twelve races don’t matter, we won’t mention those.

The point is, what turns me on isn’t winning races at all, it’s the magic of what makes these boats go, all the physical details of how they work. Even better, I get to share the experience with other skippers

Friday, June 15, 2018

The future is where we are going to spend the rest of our lives. Dear self: don’t forget about the future. Imagine turning your body a hundred and eighty degrees toward the next model boat voyage, and the one after that, etc.

On the other hand, it’s fun to remember stuff that already happened, like one of the first times you carried your 17 pound, four foot long model boat, plus tall mast and sails, on the MBTA bus from Boston to Redds Pond in Marblehead Ma. Do you remember what happened when you were waiting to get on the bus to go home? The clouds looked rather dark and hairy, like they were about to burst. Right at the exact, and I do mean exact, moment you got on the bus, and the door shut behind you, it started raining like cats and dogs.

Thursday, June 14, 2018

Dear self-
You know what your tedious day job is. A whole other book three inches thick could be written about your tedious day job. Okay, let’s just say it consists of endless hours of waking and walking through the galleries in a world class Art museum. Needless to say, dear self, you started your tedious day job six U.S. presidents ago. Yeah, hard to believe isn’t it? On the other side of the coin, you did a hell of a lot of

Model boat sailing

In those thirty odd years. To figure out how many miles of scale model sized ocean that is, would require a certain amount of math. On average, one trip to the model boat pond per week, about 24 voyages per season, 2 hours each voyage, times 28 seasons. That’s 672 voyages, which comes out to 1,344 hours of

Model boat sailing

Distance depends on speed so the number of miles will never be known.
(Dear me)
You’re going to write a book
To inspire people to make model boats.
It’s going to be all about how most people think model boats
Tip over and sink, and therefore should not be taken seriously. Same reason
Kids toys aren’t taken seriously, only guess what! Model boats don’t tip over and sink
Unless you leave a hole in the bottom, and/or cut off the keel, which makes them pretty magical in my opinion.

It’s also going to describe in exact detail, the many ways model boats can be made. How
Servos are installed, what kind of batteries to use, how to make the keel, all the necessary details.

But why would anybody want a book like that? I guess it doesn’t matter, somebody might like it, certainly not everyone. Does every book need to appeal to everyone? Nope.

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Dear Me:
Here is a possible artists statement--

I once told a shrink I was seeing that I could understand a sailboat keel far better than I could understand a person. At the time, I remember feeling like if there was ever a sentence that I could say and feel right about, that would be it. After all these years, mere words have still not come close to accurately describing what my obsession with boats is really about. Merely saying "I like sailboats because they are beautiful" has always felt like only part of the story, and I'm still trying to describe the other part. At the same time, the boats are central to who I am, that much I do know.

Its not just the way boats move through water, not just the beautiful shapes of boats that inspires me, not just the way they move gracefully, or even the endlessly fascinating engineering challenges that sailboats present. Perhaps its the fact that the basic concept of a sailboat has barely changed in many centuries or that sailboats represent, to me, a constant reliable world that I can inhabit and understand with ease both in my imagination through art, and in reality. This feels much more empowering than the fluid tumultuous constantly changing interactive world of real life stuff like paying my electric bill.