Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Sven Holch recounts the first Sea Of Opportunities program from summer 2013

"Connor, we have you and Wallace Boatworks to thank for literally keeping the surfboat program afloat!  While your job has been fixing it up, my job was to break it! (ahem, I mean USE it). I fulfilled my duties on the very first day by wrenching the bronze rudder track right off the stern and watching it's green, curved, 2 foot form sink 12 feet down into a bed of seaweed. Guess what an old, curved, green piece of skinny bronze looks just like? Yup, you got it, seaweed. At low tide that very afternoon in only 8 feet of water, after an hour of diving on a needle in a haystack with assistant surfboat instructor/local sailor/accomplished rower, Matias Sejersen, we emerged victorious and within 24 hours, Connor had that piece of bronze affixed to stern for at least the next 100 years, thanks Connor! 

It did not, however, deter for one second, an energetic group of 4th, 5th, and 6th graders from making the most of everything the surfboat had to offer. In just two weeks, this dedicated crew learned how to rig it, sail it, row it, keep it shipshape and put it away every afternoon. Some highlights included a visit to the Lifesaving & Shipwreck Museum, sewing their own ditty bags on a rainy day, rowing against the current through the cut in the jetties(then later riding it back through like a very large canoe on rapids), sailing against the current up to the inside of Coatue, racing the outgoing tide to emerge "ungrounded" from our favorite swimming hole, lots of swimming and diving at the end of each day. 

Our Sea of Opportunities took many forms, and we were fortunate to meet with local resources around the harbor, from Chuck Gifford taking us on an informative row in the whaleboat, to the Coatue Ranger teaching us tracking skills and bird identification, to the Coast Guard touring us throughout their "surfboats(s)." And finally, we were treated to a "gam" with local waterman, Alfie Sanford, who invited us to sail alongside his beautiful, wooden yawl, Starry Night. We had the distinct honor to not only get a tour of the elegant vessel that he designed himself, but the green crew were then given the rare opportunity to take her out for a sail! That really capped off an extraordinary two weeks of the inaugural year of the program. What impressed me the most about these kids was how they looked forward to it every day, and how well they took care of the boat and each other while having a lot of fun. I sincerely hope that we continue to see the surfboat plying the waters of Nantucket with an enthusiastic  crew aboard."

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Summer 2013

After a long few months of the Surf Boat soaking up the spring rains, it was finally time to take off the tarps and do some finishing touches.  Pascal Antionetti, over at Nantucket Community Sailing, dropped off the beautifully refinished spars which allowed Eric Holch to sit down and figure out the rigging.  He basically disassembled a Marshall Cat rig and used the ropes and blocks to make something work for the surfboat.  At this stage, a lot of this rigging work was guess work, but in the end we found it to work very well.

I did some final touches on the interior of the Surf Boat.  I added a few more backing blocks to support the thwart brackets, added a block and purchase system onto the centerboard, and drove home a few more screws that needed driving.  Most of my focus, however, was in the launching of the boat and making sure that when she went it, she would not sink to the bottom.  To do this, I allowed some rain water to fill up the boat and sit before draining it out.  This allowed the boat to swell a tiny bit more, but also show me where she was leaking.  I went around with some slick seam and covered the spots that looked like they would be more of an issue.

On a clear June afternoon, Eric Holch, Bill Fredericks, and Pascal Antionetti met me down at the launch ramp to splash her for the first time.  John Stanton and film crew where there to make some movies of the boat going in.

My initial idea that day was to get the boat in the water, make sure she didnt sink, maybe row it around a bit, then get it on the mooring.  Once in the water with the mast rigged and with a little elbowing from Bill we decided that it was too nice of a day to just leave it at that.  We got to row her, steer by the oar, rig both the main and the jib, attach the rudder and get some amazing sailing in as well.

The boats performance far exceeded any expectations that I had.  She actually sailed well and tacked through the wind with no issues and was light on the helm.  I cannot tell you how internally happy that made me feel.  After years of neglect, then months of hard work, an old Surf Boat from the 1940s was now sailing around Nantucket Harbor under my hand.

And soon I was to turn it over to Eric and to his son Sven who would run the two week Sea of Opportunities Program this August, which turned out to be an incredible success.

Short Video from the Surf Boat's inaugural sail!

Summer Fun On The Surf Boat

Eric Holch, Bill Fredericks, John Stanton, and myself take the surfboat on her inaugural sail!

Putting the boat away at the yacht club

Eric's son Sven takes kids out from the Boys and Girls club on during the summer Sea of Opportunities Program 

A close up of the Sea of Opportunities program

Another view of Sea of Opportunities 

Eric takes out family members during the rainbow parade at the 2013 Opera House Cup

Here she sits 

After a successful inaugural summer