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Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Bye bye, Boojum.

It is said that the two happiest days in a boat owner's life are when he buys his boat and when he sells it. Or "she," of course, if the boat owner happens to be female.

Several years ago, when I was living in New Jersey, I bought a used sailboat off of my fencing buddy, Ryan Alfonso. The boat was a Lockley Sea Witch 12, a small 1970s vintage, ABS plastic over foam construction sailboat that was easy to trailer and was a fairly decent day sailer, though it definitely had some limitations. [For you boat geeks out there, Lockley sold out to Snark in the 1980s and the Sea Witch became the "Sunchaser II." FULL SPECS HERE.] It looked to be a good choice for taking Ian out for an afternoon on the water and teaching him to sail.

Ryan was, to put it gently, "not a sailor" and the boat he sold me had definitely seen both better days and a lot of "creative" repairs. I took the boat home and flipped it over on some sawhorses in the garage and started to take stock of what needed to be done, which was quite a lot. The plastic was cracked in a number of places and I had to learn how to lay fiberglass to repair it. The bow was crushed from some sort of misadventure and I ended up recreating it with foam and then re-glassing it. One day, after I had the boat repaired and repainted, I went sailing in the afternoon and then, with the boat and trailer still behind the car, went to my fencing class. When Ryan saw the boat, he didn't recognize it as the same one that he had sold me, which definitely made me happy.

Over the next few years, I took the boat, which we named Boojum in honor of Lewis Carroll's poem "The Hunting of the Snark," to a variety of places, sailing on the pond at the Al-Genna, the Eddy family camp in the Adirondacks where my family has spent many fourth-of-july weeks, sailing on Willsboro Bay on Lake Champlain, puttering around a bunch of different lakes and reservoirs in New Jersey and New York.

When we moved to Connecticut, though, Boojum's liabilities started to be problematic. She was really too small and light for me to feel comfortable taking her out on Long Island Sound. With no motor, I couldn't launch her from the city boat ramp and she was too big and heavy to launch from the kayak launching area at the beach. Sadly, Boojum sat on her sawhorses while Ian and I started sailing with our friend, Bob McGregor in weekly races during the summer. In March of 2010, a huge wind-storm picked Boojum up, turned her over and slammed her back down on the ground, re-breaking the fiberglass-repaired seams and causing lots of other cracks. Without a good bit more work, Boojum wasn't going to go sailing, but I didn't have the time to fix her and there wasn't really anywhere suitable to take her, anyway. I knew that Boojum and I were bound to part ways, but wasn't ready to deal with it quite yet.

Over the course of the past winter, I decided that it was time to find Boojum a new home. This past Monday, as I was checking my email, I found one from Ed, a fellow Freecycle member, asking if anyone had a boat that he could use with his seven-year-old grandson. I emailed back, telling about Boojum's need of repair, but he wasn't daunted. He came to the house, looked the boat over, and decided that he was up to the challenge, so I trailered Boojum over to his place a couple towns away, leaving Ed (pictured at left) with the boat, all the rigging, some PFDs, and some of the fiberglassing materials and paint that he'd need to repair Boojum back to sailing trim. I hope that he and his grandson have a lot of fun with her, rowing and sailing for years to come. Now, though, it is time for me to start fantasizing about my next boat.


Unknown said...

I just acquired a Lockley Sea Witch and the rig is puzzling me.. I don't know if the sail I have is modified, it seems to have no halyards but is pretty much stuck on the mast. I know it's meant to be sleeved but this one has a strap sewn over the top of the sleeve at the top of the mast which is apparently keeping the sail up?! (in lieu of halyards) Seems like it would be problematic to not have the ability to take the sail down without taking the mast down.. Just curious if that's how yours was or if somebody got "creative"...

Paul Bryant-Smith said...

It sounds like someone did, indeed, get creative. My boat had a halyard on the main and the jib. I'm sure you could re-engineer one without too much trouble. Check the specs link in my second paragraph in the above post.

Fair winds!

Unknown said...

So the sleeve in the mainsail is able to slide easily over the jib fairlead? That seems to have been replaced on my boat with a big screw eye that snags the sail when I tried to take it down- but that's fixable.

Paul Bryant-Smith said...

The fair lead for the jib is just small enough for the mainsail sleeve to slide over. I had trouble with the sleeve snagging, though, so I built up little ramps above and below the fair lead, using some beeswax I happened to have on hand. It wasn't a perfect solution, but it worked.

The Sea Witch has some very "interesting" design features, including the forward hatch covers that direct water INTO the lockers. You'll definitely learn a lot from this boat.