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Old 02-10-2011, 19:07   #1
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Dock Walking

When I was a little girl one of my favorite things to do with my Grandpa was what he called ‘Dock Walking’.

We would go down to the marina on a Saturday morning to check on the boat, and if we weren’t taking her out we would do the wash down and tidy up. He would check batteries and refill them from the jug of distilled water under the V berth. Turn over the huge twin Chevys. Flush the head. I would do whatever chore he set me too. All too often it involved sandpaper or a brush…

Once we finished the chores he and I would clean up and walk up to the marina office where the gas pumps and a cooler of ice cream also lived. Then, licking up the drips from our drumsticks, we would stroll the docks, walking along and looking at boats. Seeing what had been done to neighbours and old favorites, checking out any new boats or folks at the visitors dock. Chatting with the other boaters there also, working on their boats, or coming and going.

I still love to dock walk. Lucky me, Himself does as well and we often, on nice days, go for a dock walk. Strolling along the path between the berths, the bows pointed in towards us like friendly dogs in a kennel, the myriad hulls, hardware, rigging, canvas, the assorted goods that people add for their own comfort. It always fascinates me.

In our own marina there was a boat that had always interested me. It was clearly older, fiberglass and fast looking, but hardware that dated her, like older ladies with costume jewelry from their heyday. She had no mast and there was evidence of work that had begun and then been abandoned. She had sat there for years. Her tags were a decade old. But she had… good bones… that sleddy fast look. Think Anne Miller or Sophia Loren in their later years. Still hot thru the wrinkles and crazing and softening of once firm structures.

She had the tiny letters ‘FFB” on her stern next to her name and port. A racing friend had once told me, when I asked if he knew what it stood for; “Honey, that’s just a ****in fast boat”. I still don’t know if he was joking, but he was right, she did look fast.

One day a man was working on her when we were dock walking so we paused to ask about the boat. Moondancer’s new owner was happy to share her history. She was a ****in fast boat. She was one of Tom Wylie’s early designs, a one off, described by the designer as ‘a racing machine’. Built early in the ‘70’s, by ’73/’74 she was blowing the competition out of the water and taking no prisoners in races in Northern California and Southern California in the same seasons.

How she had landed in our little quiet marina no one knows. She was just parked there and left. But her new owner was laying fiberglass, repairing deck coring, installing beautiful huge new winches. He described the carbon mast he had ordered and the rigging for her, the new suite of sails, the redone electronics. She was clearly being put back into racing form. When the mast was ready he motored her out of the marina and never returned. Recently I spotted her in a Singlehanded Sailing Society racing sheet. She had taken first in her class in the Long Pac. It made me happy to see she is back doing what she does best.

Wyliecat Performance Yachts: About Tom Wylie
Singlehanded Sailing Society

This post was inspired by something I recently saw. Last weekend we were at Grand Marina over in Alameda and after running our errands we indulged in a bit of dock walking thru the yard. They work on big boats there. One huge beauty caught our eyes. She was almost a full keel, but not quite. Double ended, with a huge bowsprit on her bow. Three masts. She looked traditional, but not like a classic woody. We knocked on her hull. I looked at the surface. We couldn’t tell what she was made of. The hull looked to smooth to be wood. To rough to be fiberglass, but not the right feel for ferro. She was getting the works; mani pedi, colour, cut and curl, new wardrobe.

When the yard was done with her she was going to be smashing, in an old school kind of way. I asked and was told “That there is what we call a Herrshoff 55”. Her name was 'Constance'.

I went home and googled around. Her designer is an America’s cup Hall of Famer. Her keel was laid in 1971. She was built from the 1946 designs for the ‘Marco Polo’. We were unable to tell what she was built from because she was sorta a fiberglass boat laid up like a ferro cement hull… Something called Feralite. She has an electric propulsion system now. She has cruised all over the Pacific and Atlantic.

Latitude 38 Letters - January 2001
Constance | Green Marine RePower

I love how much I learn by just looking, and asking, about the fascinating boats I find.

Anyone else discovered any treasures, while just wastin time, dock walkin on a lazy day?
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Old 02-10-2011, 21:27   #2
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Re: Dock Walking

Nice post Sara.

I work on the research boat at the home dock during the week when I am not out on a cruise. I get a lot of dock walkers who ask what I do with the boat or what this or that piece of scientific equipment is for. I always take time to answer the questions of people who ask. I quite often offer to let them come aboard to have a closer look. I tell them about the research we are currently doing and they always seem to appreciate that. I have had the opportunity to meet a lot of nice and interesting people this way.
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Old 02-10-2011, 21:46   #3
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Re: Dock Walking

i kayak around to the docks on the other side of the marina--is as fun as dock walking but in the heat of summer here is a lot cooler in temperature. i can talk with the owners who are here for summer when they pop their heads out of their boats and feel like visiting.
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Old 02-10-2011, 22:27   #4
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Re: Dock Walking

Marco Polo's are awesome, but the turtle back on the bow and extreme narrowness kinda throw me off. They look much better with the original gaff/marconi setup IMHO. She's an NG Herreschoff design, not an LF.
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Old 02-10-2011, 22:58   #5
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Re: Dock Walking

Sara - what a beautiful testament to your grand dad and the inheritance he gave you. thank you for posting this. It gives me hope that one of my grandsons will take to boats as you did with your grandpa. We all love to see these old designs show their worth. thanks for this post. I loved it.
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Old 02-10-2011, 23:37   #6
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Re: Dock Walking

Quote:
Originally Posted by sarafina View Post
When I was a little girl one of my favorite things to do with my Grandpa was what he called ‘Dock Walking’.
I just want to say that I *love* dock walking - and I've always called it that, too. Not sure where I got it from. Most of the marinas in Marina Del Rey have their docks behind gates, so aside from the marina I'm in (where I have a key that gets me to all of the docks) and a couple others that still have the open dock design, most are closed away. I loved when I was tied up in Alamitos Bay because their docks were mostly connected one to another without even leaving dock level. I'd spend my mornings, often, walking the docks and greeting other owners, and I've always loved having people come visit my boat and tell me how pretty she is or ask me questions about her history. To me, it's a huge part of the whole experience of having a beautiful classic boat and being in a marina: community is a big deal.
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Old 03-10-2011, 01:08   #7
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Re: Dock Walking

Sarafina, what a fantastic post. I also went "dockwalking" with my grandfather and now take my four year old Grand daughter "dockwalking" as well. The irony of my reply is that I work for a Marina and these days part of my job is to do a "Dockwalk" inspection every morning and afternoon.

Yay Grandpa!
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Old 03-10-2011, 01:46   #8
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Re: Dock Walking

Quote:
Originally Posted by eoffermann View Post
Most of the marinas in Marina Del Rey have their docks behind gates, so aside from the marina I'm in (where I have a key that gets me to all of the docks)
same in Melbourne Australia, I love walking ours but its sad you must be in the club to be able to look at boats from a reasonable distance.
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Old 03-10-2011, 05:20   #9
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Re: Dock Walking

Thanks for sharing your story. It is heart warming to have had a grandfather who took the time to nurture you. It gave me that warm fuzzy feeling inside....thanks......i2f
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Old 03-10-2011, 05:26   #10
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Re: Dock Walking

Quote:
Originally Posted by minaret View Post
Marco Polo's are awesome, but the turtle back on the bow and extreme narrowness kinda throw me off. They look much better with the original gaff/marconi setup IMHO. She's an NG Herreschoff design, not an LF.
Marco Polo is definitely LFH.
It is in "Sensible Cruising Designs"
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Old 03-10-2011, 08:21   #11
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Re: Dock Walking

G'Day Sara,

Very good post, that was! As a fellow dockwalker, I can't count how many interesting folks I have met this way. We spend little time in marinas, so, like Zee, we do the same sort of thing by dinghy -- that's how we meet the rest of our cruising family.

It's interesting to contrast your great attitude with those expressed in the recent thread about keeping visitors away from ones boat. The people that Ann and I have met are what has kept us cruising for 25 years.

Cheers,

Jim and Ann
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Old 03-10-2011, 20:37   #12
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Re: Dock Walking

I never really get the "keep away" thing either, but I don't have showstopper of a boat. Maybe when you do it gets old?

Thinking about the sailing community and how rewarding is to be a part of. I guess its all about the boats, the water. Everyone on the dock is there because they like boating and everything that entails. So you have a big common ground with all your neighbours right off, as soon as you pull into a new harbour.

Living on land, yeah everyone has a house (at least the fortunate among us) but having a house isn't really common ground, and often, with land based neighbours, I never do find a common ground with them and don't get past the "say hello and visit for a moment on the sidewalk occasionally" stage.

At the marina as soon as you pull up you connect.
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Old 03-10-2011, 21:06   #13
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Re: Dock Walking

It's interesting Sara...Joli' Elle is dry docked at Nelsons in Alameda where I labor on her. I frequent a lot of the same place's you do and did see that Marco Polo. I have seen it around through the years in Santa Cruz and up in the Bay. When I walk the docks I remember the vessels names easier than their owners names....mostly due to the fact the owners come and go...the boats?...
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Old 03-10-2011, 21:09   #14
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Re: Dock Walking

Isn't she just kind of amazing looking?


I remember the dogs and the horses more easily as well ; -)

And thanks for all the warm replies!
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Old 03-10-2011, 21:51   #15
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Re: Dock Walking

Sara,

Great post. Makes me think of all the hours/days spent hanging around the boats, piers, and waterways where I grew up.

We didnt have large marinas in my home town but it is (not as much now) a fishing town and all the Cray (lobster) boats and Squid boats would come in while we fished and generally hang around to see what was caught.

After that we would spend time looking throught the rock pools near by for bait and any odd creatures we could find. (only one non serious stinging incident I can recall)

On a day trip with my parents we would go to the other towns nearby were there were more sailing boats in amongst the fishing trawlers and cray boats. These were the "dock walk" times with family. It included lunch of Fish and Chips and to this days fish and chips at a marina/wharf, or any where else near the sea reminds me of these days.

I think maybe this is what draws us to the choices we make. Some people can't understand why we spend our money and so much time on boats, scuba diving, fishing etc. But I can go fishing and not catch a thing and have a great day. We come back exhausted, been sea sick and talk about that day for years to come.

I so grateful for the childhood I had and what is has taught me. I hope I can pass the same on. When I see soemone walking down the docks and they ask about my boat I would be happy to tell them all about it.

The marinas now being refurbished all have the locked gates which I think is a shame. But I guess everyone is demanding more security and other services for their fees. Safety (litigation) is a big issue too and this means more locking up off work area and marinas.

Wow. What memories. Thanks Sara. I think I might go for a walk down along the local pier now. Might grab some fish and chips also.

Scott
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