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Old 14-03-2016, 22:45   #1
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The tale of Sweet Allie

I have been meaning to write the adventure up and time slips away, so it's time to start I guess.

I got the wild hair in around April 2015, and started looking. In Sept, after reading a half dozen recommended books and reading the want ads EVERY NIGHT for the whole time, I found the boat of my dreams (and budget). My boat was in Barnegat Bay NJ (BB). and I was in Hickory NC. I made an offer "contingent upon", hired a surveyor, and (eventually, two months later) rented a car to drop in NJ and packed it full of stuff, and went up there.

I paid $10K (the owner wanted $13K) for my really quite immaculate '73 Morgan OI 33. And it really was in quite good shape. The first owner had it for about 3 years, '73-'76. The second owner had her from '76 until 2013, or approximately 37 years. It was his pride and joy and he took great care of her, replacing the rigging and repowering her along the way. The last owner had her for just 1.5 years before selling to me, most of which time it was on the hard.

So it was in fine shape. Except that the PO had started installing an AC and a DC breaker panel and hadn't finished the wiring the DC part. So much stuff didn't work. But it turns out that the wires were hanging out in the back of the DC panel, neatly labeled, just not wired to the breakers.

And the running lights were 40+ years old and the plastic was almost opaque, and so I had to replace them. The steaming lights likewise, which required a trip up the mast. No not me!!! And there was no chain locker, nor in fact a way to drop an anchor other than throwing it over the side. Sigh. Which required welding an anchor roller on the bowsprit. I was advised to do a bottom job, which I did (required pulling the boat), and renamed the boat (Sweet Allie Bluebeard). So I spent three weeks living on the boat, and $2500 in various costs to the marina. During this time I hired a sailing instructor to take me out on my boat and show me the ropes (pun intended). Yea, I had never sailed until I bought my boat.

I advertised for help getting it back south (not a commercial mover) but all the folks willing to crew with me wanted it on their schedule. Imagine that. It eventually became obvious that I was going to have to solo it.

To be honest I didn't have the background to understand my options, and so once it came down to "ok gotta get there", and it became apparent I was going to do it solo, I was advised to take the ICW. I was told do NOT go outside down the coast of Maryland to the Chesapeake. Which meant basically sail outside from BB down to Atlantic city. From there down to Cape May. From there hit the ICW which means sailing up the Delaware river and taking the canal across to the Chesapeake, down to Norfolk and then through the canals and such to get into the Albemarle and Pamlico sound. I took that advice.

And so I set a target date, when all the minor repairs would be finished and the only reason not to take her home was my inexperience staring me in the face. On a fine Saturday, with the weather in my favor, sun shining and a 15 knot wind, 2-3 foot swells on the bow, I headed out of the Barnegat Bay inlet, by myself. Scared (did I really say that?) and alone but confident that the boat would not kill me. Once out of the inlet I hoisted the sails (a hanked on jib!!! ) and started sailing south towards New Bern where I had decided to home port my baby.

I had purchased a Tiller Pilot, which was a wonderful crewman I must say. I got Sweet Allie pointed south parallel the beach, perhaps 3 or 4 miles off shore, and set Tillie to keep me pointed that way. And sat back to enjoy the ride. Which is when I discovered exactly how slooooooow a boat moves. I had done the math, I understood at an intellectual level, but there is no replacement for sitting in the cockpit, with Tillie steering, nothing much to do, for HOURS.

I will say that when that moment of understanding hits, one can rebel or acquiesce. I decided to enjoy it. I have lived my life rushing around, and here I was forced to do nothing, for hours on end. Look out at the waves. Observe the motion of the boat as she rode up and then splashed down into the nice small waves. Watching the wake and marveling at how fast it appeared to be moving, for not actually getting much of anywhere.

Out on the horizon to the south was a squall line, that dark line of clouds with rain falling out of it. I can't really say how often I had read "if you think you outta reef". Well I didn't. The squall line hit and the wind picked up to 25-30 knots and 5-6 foot seas. On the beam. And I learned my first lesson of the day, it is terrifying to be alone on a boat in 25 knot winds, with your sails up and knowing that you pretty much have to get them down. With the waves on the port beam, the boat rocking and rolling. I had a jack line and tether. I couldn't stand up on deck, so I pulled myself up on my belly to the mast, then "one hand for the boat, one hand for me" struggled to get the sails lowered. And with no experience to work with I was trying to do this on a broad reach.

Now I believe in God and so I am telling God he was welcome to give me a little hole in the storm, just a few minutes of no wind would do. Well it doesn't work that way it seems, but what He did for me was remind me that I was supposed to be heading directly into the wind to drop the main. Oh yea. So back to the cockpit, hand over hand on my belly, to get Sweet Allie pointed into the wind (directly out to sea), motor on and idling, which I knew from my sailing lessons kept her moving 2 knots, and Tillie keeping her pointed into the wind. Hand over hand on my belly back to the mast and now the main came down pretty as you please. Tying it on the boom was ugly but I finally got it. For some reason the Jib didn't want to come down so easy. So I belly crawled back to the cockpit to get her headed down wind, back to the mast and managed to get the jib down.

And as I am wrapping it with bungee cords to restrain it, I notice that the waves around me were white capping and really choppy. It seems there is a shoal about 1/2 way between BB and Atlantic city and I had managed to motor right into it. Luckily by that time I had the sails under control and I had only gone in a couple of hundred yards so I grabbed the tiller and did a 180, sailing back out as close to my original course as I could get. I was later told that those shoals are bad enough that if you go aground, they don't even try to pull you out, they just lift you off in a helicopter and you wave good bye to your boat. Of course they might have been yanking my anchor chain?

At any rate, I headed out to sea to get around the shoals, then I motored south, 5-6 foot waves on the port beam, but at least the sails were down. We were definitely rocking and rolling. I went below to get out of the weather, only to discover that anything that could move, had moved. A LOT. Lesson number two, keep heavy stuff low when under way. The salon was a mess, everything, and I do mean everything, was on the floor. But we were still rocking and rolling so I just braced myself against the quarter berth and contemplated why I thought this was so much fun.

Popping up on deck everything 15 minutes to make sure that I wasn't in danger of being run down or hitting something. I was a few miles off shore and saw a grand total of three ships the entire day. And doing the math told me that I was moving forward a little under two miles every 15 minutes. Remember I mentioned how slooooow a boat moves? Yea.

And then, as I started up the ladder, the boat pitched violently. and I flew off the stairs and onto my right ribs on the stove. Six hours into my two week long voyage it felt like I had broken a rib. When you injure your rib cage, that entire side of your upper body becomes almost useless. Searing pain in my chest doing anything with my right arm.

Luckily I had an engine and Tillie, so I just nursed my bruised ribs and my bruised ego and motored along, for hours. The squall eventually blew over, and I more or less enjoyed the rest of the motor trip down into Atlantic city.

Lesson #3 has to do with backups to backups, and having them instantly available. I had a pair of Android tablets and my phone all of which had Navionics on it. What a grand program. It would save my butt many times in the next 11 days. But tonight... I had one of my tablets in the cockpit and was motoring into the Atlantic city channel and on into the bay. There was no traffic and Navionics doing a grand job. Until I slipped and caught my tablet, and Navionics was giving me a "yes / no" choice. Without properly reading what I was being asked I selected yes, and Navionics closed. No problem, I just opened it back up. Except the only thing visible was the humerously crude depicition of the land, all angles and pretty much useless. All the water stuff was not showing, why I never figured out. It would work fine again tomorrow, when I didn't need it immediately. I never again sailed without Navionics up and running on all three of my devices. Which of course meant I never again needed that backup.

Anyway, I am playing with Navionics, trying to figure out why I had no water features, and getting nowhere, so I throttled back to idle (remember the 2 mph crawl thing?) and crawled along as I tried to figure this out. I am in the middle of the bay and my Morgan OI 33 has 4' draft so I'm not worried. Looking up occasionally to make sure I am not running into anything, still in the middle of the bay. The tablet is refusing to cooperate so I duck back down to get another tablet and back up. Looking up I am about to go under a huge bridge, and I have no clue what is on the other side, and I have no charts. So I made a quick decision and turned to starboard and ran aground. Immediately!!! Like 10 seconds later, pointing due north towards the shore. At 10:00 at night. With the tide going out as I discovered a little later.

I tried reversing her out but that didn't work. So I eventually got the cell phone out and called SeaTow. The best advice I ever got was to buy the unlimited membership, which I had. But how embarrasing, the very first day out? SeaTow informs me that the local boat is out in the ocean working with the Sheriff to raise a private plane with a body in it, and the guy on the phone was down in Ocean City and couldn't get there any time soon and... the tide is going out anyway which meant I was not getting towed off tonight.

So as the tide went out, and Sweet Allie settled on her starboard side, I went to bed. With my salon trashed, everything I owned on the floor somewhere, I propped myself in the corner of the bunk against the hull and went peacefully to sleep, wondering why I thought this was so much fun. What a fitting end to my first day of solo sailing.
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Old 14-03-2016, 23:16   #2
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Re: The tale of Sweet Allie

Ah jwcolby54, sounds like you and Sweet Allie had an adventure on your first trip.

I laughed when you said about how slow a boat moves. I experienced a bit the same when I brought my new boat home. Took three weeks. The pace can take a bit of getting used to. The thing is, I enjoyed it so much. Once I stopped checking course, speed, fuel, depth etc every few minutes and kept an hourly log, in other words relaxed more, I enjoyed it more and time didn't drag.

Thank you for sharing.
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Old 14-03-2016, 23:24   #3
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Re: The tale of Sweet Allie

Cool story, please continue.
Life begins at the waters edge.
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Old 14-03-2016, 23:49   #4
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Re: The tale of Sweet Allie

I enjoyed your story.

Since you're here writing it, I guess you survived the trip.
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Old 15-03-2016, 00:37   #5
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Re: The tale of Sweet Allie

Originally Posted by WindwardPrinces View Post
I enjoyed your story.

Since you're here writing it, I guess you survived the trip.
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Old 15-03-2016, 01:40   #6
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Re: The tale of Sweet Allie

Originally Posted by WindwardPrinces View Post
I enjoyed your story.

Since you're here writing it, I guess you survived the trip.
What a great story! Well done for having the balls to head out and see what happens.

I work in the City and always find the first few hours of long distance sailing tough on the brain (we're going so sloooooowwwww!!!). After that, I get back in tune with sailing and start finding jobs that need doing / books that need reading, and start enjoying the peace & quiet.

Keep us updated

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Old 15-03-2016, 02:22   #7
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Re: The tale of Sweet Allie

Day 2

The next day was Sunday. SeaTow woke me up at 7:10 AM with their bull horn, and post haste got me turned around pointed back out into the bay. I started the engine and between their pulling and my engine, Sweet Allie slid right back out into the bay.

I had originally intended to sail on down the coast that day, but I was in a lot of pain so when I got towed off and the SeaTow operator offered to lead me into a marina I took him up on his offer. I headed into a little place called Kammerman's Marina and booked a slip which I ended up keeping Sunday and Monday. I just lounged the next two days trying to let my ribs heal.

I also walked all the way around Gardner's basin to a restaurant directly on the opposite shore of the basin. Two hundred yards away as the seagull flies, a mile or so on foot. And a mile back of course. The food, meh. But a mile walk at least puts you in the mood to try to enjoy it. And the thought of another mile walk back, makes one a real food critic. Uhhh nope, not worth doing again tomorrow!

My boat had a slow leak around the packing gland. I had discovered the leak back at Barnegat Bay and had tried to get it fixed but the marina owner, who was a fine mechanic, just couldn’t get in a position to get at it. It was up behind something called the exhaust lift or something, pretty inaccessible. He told me that the next time I hauled the boat I could get it fixed. It leaked perhaps a pint an hour, a fair amount, but it really just meant that the bilge pump would run once a day or so to pump it out. Not good but not a real issue.

Until the silly screen filter in front of the pump clogged. It turns out that the bilge had crud in it, and I hadn’t really cleaned it. So after a few days of battling the seas, water sloshing around in the bilge, it stirred the crud up and sucked it into the pump. To be caught by the screen, which is what filter screens are for after all. And the pump stopped pumping because no water could get through the filter. And the bilge water got deeper, which is how I discovered the problem. Well the pump never shutting off was a clue.

The bilge pump is under the sink, in the engine compartment, behind the trash container, a wooden door with a v shaped container that tilts out at the top to put your trash in. You lift that out and there is the pump behind it. And the plastic container holding the screen is screwed down next to it. All very convenient unless you have severely bruised ribs. Because you have to get down on your butt and sit in front of the door, reach back in there and use a screw driver to get it loose. Every single part of which, getting down and getting back up, and using the screwdriver, requires using my right arm, which tweaks my injured ribs. In fact I was to discover that pretty much everything I had to do on the boat required using my right arm and tweaking my ribs. In any event, I found the pump, the screen, the problem, and cleaned the screen. In fact I would clean the screen pretty much daily. Painfully aware that I shoulda fixed the damned leak.

I talked to the marina guy about the next leg, down to Cape May. He assured me that the bay was quaint, and that I could get fuel there. He told me I should motor into town, tie up at the dock and enjoy dinner in the quaint little town. I was naive. I was also assured that I could anchor in the bay, and sure enough I looked at Navionics and could see the little anchor symbols out in the bay. Again I was naive. So I made my plans to motor on down to Cape May and anchor in the bay.

I had no idea how big my fuel tank was (gasoline engine by the way), in fact I still don't know for sure. As near as I can tell it's 35 gallons but the only way to know for sure is to measure the length and the end, and being a cylinder, do the math. I still haven't done that. What I did was buy two five gallon jerry cans and filled those with gas, lashing them to the rails. If I do run out I can at least motor on another 50 or more miles on my spare gas. And I was told by the previous owner that Sweet Allie used about a gallon+ an hour at full speed, hull speed being around 7.something knots. Doing the math there I figured I could get 250 miles or so, plus the Jerry cans. But it is an uneasy feeling not knowing.

Anyway, I didn't bother to fuel up in Atlantic city, figuring I had plenty of fuel to get me to Cape May. Tuesday morning I headed out of the Atlantic City cut and headed south. It was a fine day, and I should have sailed, but I was still hurting and really didn't want to manhandle the sails so I just motored. As I said, it was a fine day, blue skies, no real wind to speak of and so no real waves to speak of, and I made good time. If you can call 7 MPH good time. Yea. But Tillie kept her on course and the engine just ticked along and I made it into the Cape May bay by late afternoon, a long but uneventful trip.

As I came in the bay there were in fact a bunch of sailboats anchored off to the side of the channel, but they all look kinda small. I am now looking at the bay on Navionics expanded in pretty good and it looks to me like the bottom off the channel is only 4 feet or so.

Now you'd think that given my difficulties in Atlantic City I would have studied the Cape May bay in some detail but you'd be wrong. I am back at that idle crawl thing, trying to figure out whether there was any place for me to anchor, and not really finding one that I believed was deep enough. So I decided I'd motor on into the little town as my buddy had recommended. I was told I could go right in, so I did. I am looking at the sides of the bay approaching the town, looking for those fueling stations, and not finding them. There are pilings along the sides, with some commercial boats tied up, but no sign of fuel.

The channel comes in and splits into a Y with the starboard branch heading on out the other side of the bay (I learned later), and the port side heading into the cute little town.

Now I'm here to tell you that it is indeed a cute little town. Emphasis on little. I'm doing the idle crawl thing motoring on in and as I zoom in further and further I suddenly discover that I am coming to the end of the canal / and there is a low bridge on the leg I thought I was going to go into to motor on out of town. This is when I suddenly understood what every sailboat owner must understand. We have a big stick sticking up into the air and many bridges just won't let us past.

So I am alternating between enjoying the cute and panicking over what the heck am I gonna do next cause this canal is getting real narrow real quick. With the restaurant along the starboard wall of the town, folks at dinner looking out at me motoring in, thinking to themselves that I must not know what I am doing, cause there is no place to go!!!

There are boats tethered on every foot of the wall and no docks until the very end, where I see an unoccupied tiny little dock sticking out. Just for me?!?!? With a piling off to the port side, there is just enough space to slip in between the piling and the dock. So I try to slip in. Only for some reason the bow starts swinging towards the dock on the starbord side, pointed right at the end of the dock, and I'm gonna hit it. I put it in reverse and reved it hard and discovered just how bad my prop walk is. The ass end swung to port. My bow swung starboard and I executed the cleanest turn you have ever seen. I put it back in forward and reved it slightly and I am heading right back down the channel I came in. NO idea how I managed to not hit that piling, or the boats on the far wall. In fact I would have sworn there was not enough width to make that turn.

I decided that discretion is the best part of valor and I proceeded to motor on back out of town the way I had come in. As I am leaving, I am waving to the folks eating dinner, thinking to myself "I bet they think I know what I am doing!" From up there at the restaurant tables I must have looked like an expert seaman.

Unfortunately, the sun is now going down, the wind is kicking up, I need to anchor, and it seems that the bay is questionable for my size boat. So I headed out the other leg of the channel, the Cape May Canal. By now I am resigned to just heading out into the Delaware river basin and anchoring off shore in the river for the night. Little did I know.

The mouth of the Delaware river is wide, perhaps 12 miles from the tip of Cape May Point over to Lewes Point, where I don't want to go anyway. And when I clear the canal, the winds are now blowing 15 knots or so and bad chop, short duration, 2-3 feet directly on the bow. Which means my plans to hook a right and anchor against the beach isn't going to work because I will be anchored in this nasty chop. There's really nothing for it but to motor on across the bay to the other side and hope that the shore will shelter me from the wind and waves.

Have I mentioned how slooooow boats go. Well 6 miles per hour directly into the chop for 18 miles across the bay... yea, three HOURS at the end of an already long day. And did I mention that my boat has no dodger? What no dodger and short chop on the bow means is that one gets wet. I am cowering down behind the front wall of the cockpit, but it doesn’t help. The nose dives into the chop, the wind blows the spray up and over and drops it precisely behind the front wall of the cockpit. What’s a responsible captain to do except go below and get dry. Of course one has to pop up every 15 minutes or so to check for hazards, and you can bet your sweet bippy that when you do, that will be the precise instant that water comes into your face as you plunge into another wave. Boating is so much fun.

I had been told that I needed to catch the tide moving up the river because it would add to my ground speed, and that I really didn't want to catch it coming down river as it would subtract from my ground speed. As it happened when I got to the other side, around 9 that night, my plan had worked, the winds died and I had glassy calm water. And as it happened, the tide was coming in. While my intention was originally to just find a place to anchor, once I discovered that I was making stellar time upstream, and remembering the caution to make hay while the moon shines, I just turned up river and motored on into the night, staying a half mile or so off shore.

I have to admit that this is what makes sailing fun. Out there on the water, pitch black, the lights of the big ships at anchor in the middle of the channel. The engine purring and glassy smooth water. Navionics was functioning great, showing me where I needed to be, how far to stay out from shore. A beautiful night.

It was probably midnight when I saw the lights across the river, no clue what it was but like a huge factory or something. Hope Creek generating station as it turns out. Nuclear it seems, though I didn’t know that at the time. So I cut back across the river, which at that point is around a mile wide and dropped anchor.

This was also the very first time I had deployed the anchor by myself. I had practiced it with my instructor a couple of times but it's a little different single handed. In fact now that we are on the subject I just want to mentioned that everything is a little different single handed. Another of those "never really thought of it that way" things but single handed means I have to do EVERYTHING! By myself. Thank goodness for Tillie. And the fact that a boat really doesn't go very far very fast. So I could do the idle crawl, with Tillie getting me heading some direction, take her out of gear, and I could go up forward and drop the anchor without the boat really moving very far. It was very satisfying though, dropping the anchor that second night of travel, all by myself out in the darkness. Feeling the anchor bite and stop the boat.

I hadn't run aground. I hadn't hit that pier, or the piling. I had somehow miraculously hooked a u turn and extracted myself from Cape May. Two days on my own and I hadn't even damaged my boat or anyone else's.

I sat in the darkness listening to the silence, wondering what that big mass of lights were.

To be continued...
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Old 15-03-2016, 04:08   #8
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Re: The tale of Sweet Allie

Great story (so far), very well told.
Thanks, and keep it coming!
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Old 15-03-2016, 04:46   #9
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pirate Re: The tale of Sweet Allie

Son of Brownoarsman..
Keep on truckin mate..

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Old 15-03-2016, 05:21   #10
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Re: The tale of Sweet Allie

...And THEY think we are "out there" having fun...

Well written...and understood...

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Old 15-03-2016, 05:40   #11
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Re: The tale of Sweet Allie

good luck, fair winds following seas.
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Old 15-03-2016, 06:25   #12
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Re: The tale of Sweet Allie

wonderful tale
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Old 15-03-2016, 08:55   #13
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Re: The tale of Sweet Allie

I woke up to the sound of my water pump going way too often. Looked at the mildew on the deck from 5 months of rain. Came into the galley and saw it was 47 degrees in there. Said to myself, "what the hell am I doing on this boat?".

Now sitting sipping coffee, diesel stove warming us up, watching an eagle harassing the gulls and reading your tale. I guess we're all nuts, but you sir, can sure write. Next chapter please.

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Old 15-03-2016, 09:19   #14
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Re: The tale of Sweet Allie

Back to the beginning

Because of the two days spent in Atlantic City waiting for my ribs to calm down, the day count gets hazy. Yet another reason to get it written down. At my age, the memories get hazy rather faster than was the case even a few years ago.

I’m going to go back and tell some tales of the weeks spent in the yard, and even before. As the nubees can attest, finding that boat of our dreams can be a challenge. On a “buy budget” of $20K the challenge gets even bigger, or so I believe anyway. Not that I would know what the challenge is like with a bigger budget since I didn’t have one. I am just taking my experience and extrapolating a bit. It seems logical that if my budget restrains me to the “clunker” end of the spectrum, an unfortunate phrase used by another poster to describe older boats, then if I have a bigger budget it seems logical that my universe of potential boats available to buy would grow larger. Now to me, given the small universe of boats within my budget that seems like it would be a wonderful thing, to have so much money that I could afford what I wanted instead of what I could afford.

Knowing human nature as I do, I understand that expectations rise with the available pool so perhaps I am better off constrained to the clunkers. Only the very wealthy can actually afford “what they really want”, all the rest of us find ourselves constrained, even if just in our own minds, to “what we can afford”. And please do not take my use of the phrase as an insult, to me these clunkers are “plastic classics” as another poster calls them. I ended up with a 73 Morgan Out Island and I love my boat.

That said it is not what I started out dreaming of. We are often warned not to “fall in love” with a specific boat, keep an open mind. And that works when? The boat I fell in love with (within my budget) was a 70s 37’ Hunter Cherubini. I only mention that because it seems important to acknowledge that sometimes we get something far different than what we started the path seeking. A ’73 Morgan OI 33 is very different from a 70s era 37’ Hunter. My boat has shallower draft, a wider beam by a fair bit, shorter of course by 4 feet. And slower, smaller Sa/D and a slightly shorter LWL. But in the end, the majority of boats have a pointy end and a not pointy end. They all have a V berth. They all have a salon. Some have a quarter berth. Some have two quarter berths. In the end however, after you look at enough floor plans you begin to notice that they all look pretty much the same inside. The key dimensions are the LOA, LWL, beam and draft. After that the stick height. And in the end I did not end up with my dream Hunter Cherubini 37, and the Morgan OI 33 I ended up with became my dream. Strange how that usually works eh?

I came to CF just like the next (and previous) nubee, asking for boat buying advice and forced to wade through the enormously varied, and all very valid opinions. Being new to the forum I wasn’t really prepared for that variety of opinions. I was annoyed when I got the inevitable negatives. Let me just say that one poster actually posted a one sentence response “You can’t get much of a boat for $20K”. Welcome to CF.

So if all you have is $20K, what does one do with a response like that? It took awhile but I eventually understood that thing about the universe of boats within our budget, and that if my budget is $250K, a $20K boat is literally unimaginable. It is inconceivable that anyone could be happy on an old clunker. Or for that matter anything under 40’ (or 50’, or 60’). Or a boat without a watermaker and walk in refrigerator freezer. I know I am getting silly here but the point is none the less valid, if our budget allows a walk in freezer, then a clunker from the seventies with a hanked on jib and no anchor windlass at all, never mind an electric windlass... well looked at from that other side of the fence, it really isn’t much of a boat.

And so I got my fair share of those kinds of replies. And happily for me, my little plastic classic is a cool little boat and I could afford her. Yea she leaked around the packing gland, and she doesn’t even have a chain locker, never mind a windlass, but she’s a very cool boat.

But I didn’t have a boat yet. So I put my head down and searched the want ads, Ebay, Yachtworld and craigs list, day after day, week after week. Looking for the boat of my dreams, slowly discovering what was possible in my budget universe. Being an engineer I built a spreadsheet which I could enter Sailboatdata numbers into to calculate comfort index and other such stuff. And dreamed of sailing away over the horizon. I scrimped and saved and searched and scrimped some more. I came to understand the compromises involved. Project vs sail away. “I can afford this” vs “sure would be nice”.

I finally found “the one”. And made an offer. And the offer was accepted. I had a boat. Well maybe not. I had the surveyor go in to do the survey. The boat was on the hard and had been so for a year, maybe more, which was a good thing it turns out. He could see the hull, do his tap tests, take moisture readings and just generally do a survey with the boat already out of the water.

But... he informs me that the boat is in a marina where it cannot simply sail away. I’ll get to why in a minute. That’s part of the drama. The owner had informed me that he would splash the boat so the surveyor could survey the boat in the water but that the boat couldn’t be sailed out in the bay. Hmm....

The Yachtworld ad had mentioned a marina by name, but the surveyor gave me a different marina name. Hmm....

So I did a search and discovered that the marina it was actually in was in a man made cut, at the end of that cut, and all along that cut were houses with power boat docks. I fired up google earth and looked down on the marina from the earth view. The first thing I discovered is that there were no mast poles casting shadows in the picture. It seems my boat was in a power boat marina. Now a Morgan OI 33 has a 4 ft draft but power boats don’t even need that. So I fired up Navionics and started looking at the charts and discovered that while the cut was 7 or 8 feet deep, the end of cut came out into the bay across shallows, perhaps 3 feet deep.

I thought and thought about what was going on, the dates involved and everything I could ascertain across the phone with the broker and finally surmised the following. I discovered that the owner was a power boat guy. He had bought Sweet Allie (not her name at the time) for reasons known only to him, but his timing was bad and shortly after he took possession Hurricane Sandy aimed its sights on his new possession. Understand that this is all surmise on my part. As near as I can tell, he already had a powerboat in this power boat marina and so he managed to get Sweet Allie pulled by the marina to protect her from the storm.

I have no idea how he got her in the cut but he couldn’t get her back out. At least not easily. My surmise is that the hurricane blew in and an onshore wind pushed water into the bay and he motored her right up into the cut and hauled her out for the duration. It does actually appear that once he hauled her he never again floated her until the week I bought her.

Which explains why I couldn’t take her for a sail, ‘cause she was trapped in a power boat marina with shallow water between her and freedom. Once I figured all this out (or surmised anyway) I put the brakes on big time. I was a tad upset as well, basically I had paid for a survey for a boat I couldn’t (easily) get out. So I went back to the drawing board and told the owner that I was now willing to offer $6K for the boat and would use the difference to hire a truck to load it and haul it to NC, ‘cause I didn’t believe that the boat could be extracted any other way. I was assured that the boat could get out I just had to wait for a “really high tide”.

Like would happen the next time a hurricane blew through with on shore winds.

That is my own interpretation. I was pretty much convinced that the owner was blowing smoke.

He assured me (through the broker, all this transpired through the broker) that it was in fact possible. So I told him I would pay $10K if I took possession in deep water otherwise $6K to take possession where it sat. Weeks went buy and the next high tide approached and I’m getting antsy. Am I gonna own a boat or am I going back to the want ads? And write off my survey to experience.

Then I get the call. The boat is out and sitting at the marina I had specified. I had been in discussion with the owner of a sailing school to give me sailing lessons. That sailing school was right next door to the marina where Sweet Allie was SUPPOSED to be (but wasn’t), so I had called the marina owner and arranged to have the boat delivered there if it ever did get extracted, and with the sailing school to give me lessons. My boat was out and now the clock was ticking. I was paying for a slip now.

I had drafted a plan to rent a big car, load it with everything I thought I needed and drive it to BB and drop it. Buy the boat, take my lessons, and sail south. I had started all of this back in early summer and the extraction phase had cost me two months. So it was now September. I rented, packed and drove up to Barnegat Bay to buy my boat, never having a wet survey. I got there planning to be there a week. Except the boat needed this and that, all small things but necessary before I could sail. And the world turns on its own schedule so my week turned into two and then three.

At the end of week one, on a fine Saturday, I got a call from the broker that the owner was coming by to sign the papers so I headed around the inlet to the marina that the broker worked (remember the ad with the marina name that WASN’T where the boat was?). Yea. Anyway I headed over to his office and met (and in fact talked to) the owner for the first time. A really nice guy it turns out. He had boxes of pieces and parts to Sweet Allie which I took from him and put in the car. We signed the papers and I was the proud owner of my own clunker... uh... plastic classic. Paid for in cash.

The broker gave me a bottle of champagne to celebrate with. Now I am one of those “recovering” types and so not wanting to insult the broker, I quietly drew the old owner aside and explained that I didn’t drink and gave him the champagne to celebrate selling his boat.

Another cool story, perhaps the coolest of the entire trip. I headed back around the inlet to the marina where Sweet Allie was now berthed. It was about 11:00 o’clock in the morning and as I stepped out of the car I noticed a 30s something man and woman about twenty feet away looking in the general direction of Sweet Allie (not yet renamed). And I heard him tell her “That’s the morgan”. Since mine was the only Morgan in sight I walked over and introduced myself and asked if I could help them. They proceeded to tell me that Sweet Allie had belonged to his dad all those 37ish years. At that time his dad had owned a house on long island and apparently had a dock at which he kept Sweet Allie. This kid (in my mind) had lived on her every summer during high school, sailing her all over the area. He knew where the boat had been kept and had just decided to look at her again. Maybe he was told she was being sold, not sure exactly but he had gone looking and noticed her missing from the power boat marina and had gone driving to see if he could locate her. What is the chance that I would pull back into the parking lot at the very instant that he found her. And step out of the car at the very instant that he would say this thing to his wife.

In any event, I got to talk to the son and daughter-in-law of the man who owned her for 37 years. We exchanged emails and phone numbers and talked for a half hour, just standing in the parking lot. Then they drove away. Life is strange sometimes.

At the ripe old age of 47 I became a foster parent and at 49 I adopted my two children. My 12 year old daughter Allie (Sweet Allie) has a ton of disabilities. But she loves doing computer stuff, and my 14 year old son had helped her get a username and password set up for a game called Roblox. Being very into Pirates of the Caribbean, he had made up a user name for her, Sweet Allie Bluebeard. I thought that would be a perfect name for a boat, no one else in the entire world would have that boat name. And vaguely nautical.

When I pulled the boat to do the bottom I had them remove the old name and apply the new name, Sweet Allie Bluebeard.

I had a boat.

To be continued...
jwcolby54 is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 15-03-2016, 09:42   #15
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Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: League City Tx. / Glen Haven Co.
Boat: Cal T2 27', Renken 18, Macgregor Venture Cat 15
Posts: 34
Re: The tale of Sweet Allie

Ahh the romanticism of being a swashbuckler.
Sail on Captain.
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