Swimsailor

Merlin at 75 mph

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Late summer '76 my dad and I picked up our Santa Cruz 27 from the Chicken Coop to drive it back to New York for sailing on LIS. At that time Merlin was being built and the hull was still upside down in the coop.

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Late summer '76 my dad and I picked up our Santa Cruz 27 from the Chicken Coop to drive it back to New York for sailing on LIS. At that time Merlin was being built and the hull was still upside down in the coop.

Bill Lee is an old Sea Scout from Newport Beach. In July of '76 some of us Sea Scouts sailed up the coast from NB to SF, we stopped in Santa Cruz. Bill picked us up at the harbor and we all piled into the back of a stake bed truck for a tour of the Chicken Coop. I also saw Merlin's hull upside down and Bill told us a bit about his Transpac plans. I met him again in 1988, sat with him at the pre-race dinner for the Oakland-Catalina race. Good guy and great memories. Looking forward to following the Transpac next year!

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In July of '76 some of us Sea Scouts sailed up the coast from NB to SF

Which "ship"? I was part of ship 711, DelMar, back then and IIRC DelMar and Procyon did that trip around then.

 

/drift

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In July of '76 some of us Sea Scouts sailed up the coast from NB to SF

Which "ship"? I was part of ship 711, DelMar, back then and IIRC DelMar and Procyon did that trip around then.

 

/drift

 

 

Yes, Ship 711. 2 boats, Islander 30 Del Mar and Pearson 36 Procyon made the trip. We switched off crew. I was aboard Procyon first, moved to Del Mar in Monterey or Santa Cruz. Cruised the bay and Delta aboard Del Mar then back to Procyon for the return trip. Do we know each other?

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Great to see Merlin back home with it's wizard ,Bill Lee. Followed Merlin since T/P days from NZ.In those days all we could do from downunder was dream of the likes of Merlin as we laboured on with the old hole diggers. Except for Infidel / Ragtime and the" powers that were" deemed her unsafe out of Auckland Harbour. So she went Stateside and promptly did the Transpac. Oh how slowly the human race yields to change. (Bobby Kennedy speech ).Sailing on Merlin is on my bucket list !

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In that last picture with Bill standing in the cockpit. You have to wonder what's running through the old man's head. Is it a "oh shit, what have I done?" Or a "hell yea, I remember this thing"

 

Either way, the world feels like it's sitting a little better on its axis with that thing floating again.

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Welcome Home, MERLIN! A re-christening ceremony will be held February 26, all invited. Regarding questions about the paint job, cabin shape, and other refinements, Bill would say MERLIN remains a "work in progress," with nothing off the table..

 

February 26, 2017 seems a long way off for planing purposes. But if that's the date, I'm clearing my calendar...

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Thursday, Feb.24, 1977, was a big deal for Bill Lee and crew. The previous afternoon MERLIN had been rolled out of the Chicken Coop and loaded aboard Drivin' Ivan's plum colored 18 wheeler. With nearby Santa Cruz Harbor shoaled by winter surf, Bill instead opted for the 20 mile drive down Highway 1 to Gravelle's Boat Yard in Moss Landing for MERLIN's launch.

 

With "Bosun" Dave Wahle in Maui, Bobbo was detailed as "launch master", and KT was charged with picking up refreshments: a keg at Z's Liquors. Drivin' Ivan never was much for speed limits, and somehow the crew aboard MERLIN was able to lift local power lines with wooden handle crutches as MERLIN sped along underneath.

 

MERLIN arrived at Moss Landing before noon. But Bobbo had somehow forgotten to check the tide book and launching couldn't take place until later .... much later.

 

The launch crew and arriving friends did what they do best in such adverse circumstances .... "Let the Party Begin" pronounced Bill Lee.. The beer keg was breached, brandy was poured, and the sweet aroma of local pot filled the air.

 

By mid-afternoon the party was in full swing, and there were some minor casualities. Drivin' Ivan had been drinking brandy in his truck cab and passed out onto the ground below, his position taken by a back-up driver.

 

Fortunately, Don Snyder's mother had thought to bring a camera, otherwise we wouldn't have the only photo of the event that apparently survives.

 

As the sun set, MERLIN's chief wood worker, KT (Karen Trap), was handed the traditional bottle of champagne to break on MERLIN's bow. Only problem was she couldn't reach the bow, as it overhung the water. Bobbo appropriated a nearby scaffold plank, and with half a dozen wobbly kneed assistants acting as counterweights on the inboard end of the plank, KT ventured dangerously to the end and with a mighty swing, christened MERLIN.

 

post-17096-0-54349400-1477443397_thumb.jpg

 

Doggies.

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Dude. Don't harsh my mellow with a question listen that. I'll like get back. Ok?

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Thursday, Feb.24, 1977, was a big deal for Bill Lee and crew. The previous afternoon MERLIN had been rolled out of the Chicken Coop and loaded aboard Drivin' Ivan's plum colored 18 wheeler. With nearby Santa Cruz Harbor shoaled by winter surf, Bill instead opted for the 20 mile drive down Highway 1 to Gravelle's Boat Yard in Moss Landing for MERLIN's launch.

 

With "Bosun" Dave Wahle in Maui, Bobbo was detailed as "launch master", and KT was charged with picking up refreshments: a keg at Z's Liquors. Drivin' Ivan never was much for speed limits, and somehow the crew aboard MERLIN was able to lift local power lines with wooden handle crutches as MERLIN sped along underneath.

 

MERLIN arrived at Moss Landing before noon. But Bobbo had somehow forgotten to check the tide book and launching couldn't take place until later .... much later.

 

The launch crew and arriving friends did what they do best in such adverse circumstances .... "Let the Party Begin" pronounced Bill Lee.. The beer keg was breached, brandy was poured, and the sweet aroma of local pot filled the air.

 

By mid-afternoon the party was in full swing, and there were some minor casualities. Drivin' Ivan had been drinking brandy in his truck cab and passed out onto the ground below, his position taken by a back-up driver.

 

Fortunately, Don Snyder's mother had thought to bring a camera, otherwise we wouldn't have the only photo of the event that apparently survives.

 

As the sun set, MERLIN's chief wood worker, KT (Karen Trap), was handed the traditional bottle of champagne to break on MERLIN's bow. Only problem was she couldn't reach the bow, as it overhung the water. Bobbo appropriated a nearby scaffold plank, and with half a dozen wobbly kneed assistants acting as counterweights on the inboard end of the plank, KT ventured dangerously to the end and with a mighty swing, christened MERLIN.

 

attachicon.gifKT2.jpg

 

Doggies.

 

 

 

 

awesome!

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It would be something to recreate that grass roots boat building vibe in CA again. Incredible to think of all the great boats that came out of that era and that are still around (a Moore 24 in the Indian Ocean). We need a new Transpac slayer. Carbon beast that makes that fat red boat look slow.

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There was all kinds of grassroots boatbuilding going on everywhere back then.

 

It died largely because people realized that huge numbers of them never got finished.

 

I was always curious how much Lee spent on building Merlin.

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I was always curious how much Lee spent on building Merlin.

I'd be surprised if anyone knows. Re-read the story above and then think what the accounting procedures were probably like in that corner of Santa Cruz in 1976..

 

Love the Wizard and his legacy but sitting at his desk crunching numbers is a hard picture to conjure up.

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There was all kinds of grassroots boatbuilding going on everywhere back then.

 

It died largely because people realized that huge numbers of them never got finished.

 

I was always curious how much Lee spent on building Merlin.

 

People used to do things, or at least try. Now most just stumble around staring at little screens...

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It must have been the Heyday though. Moore and Olson too. Who else? Shape something, throw it in the water and see how it goes. Make some changes. Build a mold. Sell a bunch of boats. Win a bunch of races.

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There was all kinds of grassroots boatbuilding going on everywhere back then.

 

It died largely because people realized that huge numbers of them never got finished.

 

I was always curious how much Lee spent on building Merlin.

 

People used to do things, or at least try. Now most just stumble around staring at little screens...

 

 

Now they mostly restore cheap old boats instead of starting from scratch. Lots of that going on but not the same as the old Santa Cruz thing I'll agree.

 

That was a very different world - glass boats were still pretty new, the IOR was in full swing and there was a huge boom in sailing going on. Development was explosive.

 

None of that is happening now.

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^^^ plus there was a scent of revolution in the air.

 

Up through the mid-70s, a "proper ocean-racing yacht" was a 70-foot, 100,000 pound crab-crusher.

 

It was clearly a lot of fun to build a game-changing ultralight, and not only win with it but make the east-coast yachting establishment squirm in discomfort along the way. Legend has it that none other than Olin Stephens argued against allowing Merlin into the Transpac, over concerns about seaworthiness and suitability for the course, so it must have been intensely energizing to not only get in and win, but a set a course record that stood for two decades.

 

Now what we've got is a bunch of planing sportboats that all owe their design, in some way, to the SC rebels, but... have still managed to become sorta pedestrian in their similarities.

 

It'll be fun to see what the next revolution looks like.

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I have a friend who raced a Ranger 37 on a Transpac in '73 (I can't imagine a worse boat). After the first 3 days they were ahead of Chutzpah by about 60 miles when they hit the trades. 36hrs later they were behind by 50 miles and it grew.

 

Bill Lee was a genius.

 

I had the good fortune to race many years on an SC70 and to say it was easier to sail than an IOR 50 is a gross understatement.

 

Great to see Merlin back in good hands.

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Hey Sledracr

 

There was a rumor that on the way to Moss Landing, the vert. clearance of one of the overpasses

was so tight that they had to let air out of the trailer tires to squeeze under it.

 

Fact or myth. . . ?

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It'll be fun to see what the next revolution looks like.

 

 

...prolly somethin t'do with LardTiP foils :mellow:

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Legend has it that none other than Olin Stephens argued against allowing Merlin into the Transpac, over concerns about seaworthiness and suitability for the course, so it must have been intensely energizing to not only get in and win, but a set a course record that stood for two decades

That would be pretty ironic looking back on how Dorade's seaworthiness was perceived

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Fact or myth. . . ?

No clue. I wasn't there. I think sleddog was...

 

First time I laid eyes on Merlin was tied up at Balboa Yacht Club in Newport Beach, shortly before the 77 transpac.

 

Love at first sight ;-)

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Merlin sailed today.

It went well in eight knots and thick fog.....

Too foggy for any video I'm guessing. Someone must have got a photo?

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Stopped by Santa Cruz to take a look at Merlin since I was in Cali visiting the bro. She was looking good and hopefully working towards the trip to Hawaii later this year. There were a couple of SC70's around, 2 that are the Chardonney boats and then another standard boat sitting next to Merlin..

 

post-43532-0-72880000-1485663233_thumb.jpg

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There were a couple of SC70's around, 2 that are the Chardonney boats and then another standard boat sitting next to Merlin..

I'm curious what the SC70 next door is. I don't recognize the name (or the coach-roof)

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I'm curious what the SC70 next door is. I don't recognize the name (or the coach-roof)

 

Looks like the ex-Pied Piper, hull #5. She came back west a couple years ago.

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Pretty sure the old Thirsty Tiger is now one of the Chardonay boats. Renamed Merlot. :rolleyes:

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Here are a couple of pics of the dog house on Pied Piper, hull #5, from when she was racing on the Great Lakes. Photos courtesy of the Pied Piper Racing website.

post-28227-0-90331000-1485711860_thumb.jpg

post-28227-0-08091300-1485711870_thumb.jpg

post-28227-0-50433500-1485711880_thumb.jpg

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Yeah, hull #5 (PP) sailed as Buena Sera in the 215 transpac.

 

I looks like someone has done some "styling" to change the look from two windows each side, to four.

 

post-17143-0-36937400-1485713952_thumb.jpg

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A sunny afternoon for MERLIN's 40th Birthday celebration at Santa Cruz Harbor. Many familiar faces among 150 paying homage, with docks filled, tours below, and MERLIN's cockpit filled with smiles, guitar and mandolin music. Much emotion too, realizing we are all 40 years down the road. Yay, MERLIN, bringing us together again.

 

post-17096-0-81339800-1488257474_thumb.jpg

 

Lu and Bill Lee, Bill in his 1977 Transpac crew shirt

post-17096-0-88207600-1488256961_thumb.jpg

 

6 surviving crew from MERLIN's Transpac record run in 1977:

(from l to r) navigator Don Snyder used celestial; phil vandenberg was cosmic flushed; Bill Lee, Dave Wahle; Jack Halterman; Bobbo Larson.

post-17096-0-61125800-1488257178_thumb.jpg

 

RIP Harvey Kilpatrick, Rob Wade

 

post-17096-0-73925600-1488257338_thumb.jpg

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Well, looks like Game on for Transpac.  Who's on the boat?  Anyone have the scoop? 

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Our buddy Kea Ho and his son Nalu,  from Maui are aboard,  I think - both excellent sailors, and some guy named Morgan Larson...yeah,  they've got some talent aboard.

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5 hours ago, Kack said:

Well, looks like Game on for Transpac.  Who's on the boat?  Anyone have the scoop? 

Yachtscoring has the crewlist.

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On 7/6/2017 at 4:48 PM, Great Red Shark said:

Our buddy Kea Ho and his son Nalu,  from Maui are aboard,  I think - both excellent sailors, and some guy named Morgan Larson...yeah,  they've got some talent aboard.

 Yeah, they do!  Would love to see them save their time on the SC 70's!

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1 hour ago, SloopJonB said:

AIUI, keeping her was never the plan. Plan was to save her from dying in a warehouse. Save her from the abomination of the canting keel and “wouldn’t it be great if she competed in the 40th anniversary raced her record.”  No intention of a fire sale, just a situation where the goals have been achieved. 

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On 10/10/2017 at 7:19 PM, Innocent Bystander said:

AIUI, keeping her was never the plan. Plan was to save her from dying in a warehouse. Save her from the abomination of the canting keel and “wouldn’t it be great if she competed in the 40th anniversary raced her record.”  No intention of a fire sale, just a situation where the goals have been achieved. 

 

This surprises me.

Bill told me last year that he was actually looking for a large power boat but decided to go with Merlin instead because of an offer he couldn't refuse. The work done to bring Merlin back and prepare her for this year's TP was hardly that of someone planning to keep the boat short term and flip. The re-christening party did not appear to be that of short term ownership either. My understanding at the time was goals were long term ownership, not just the 40th anniversary of the record run.

Bill is advertising classes/rides in Latitude 38 on Merlin, but the price is steep so I am not sure how many takers there are. No doubt it takes a lot of $ to keep a 70 foot sled happy. Could be the financial reality of keeping her long term combined with Bill getting up there in years forced a hard decision. Also, the harbor doesn't seem keen on more charter boats. Chardonnay Charters wound up buying Pacific Yachting in order to gain a charter slip license for Chardonnay 3 after being shot down by the harbor. That could be a factor as well since he is effectively advertising for charter but doing so under the training/team building premise. It is hard to imagine the harbor and Bill not getting along, what with he being on the Port Commission for so many years, but who knows.

It will be sad to see her leave Santa Cruz again if this comes to pass. I had hoped she would stay here longer this time.

 

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3 hours ago, msvphoto said:

 

This surprises me.

Bill told me last year that he was actually looking for a large power boat but decided to go with Merlin instead because of an offer he couldn't refuse. The work done to bring Merlin back and prepare her for this year's TP was hardly that of someone planning to keep the boat short term and flip. The re-christening party did not appear to be that of short term ownership either. My understanding at the time was goals were long term ownership, not just the 40th anniversary of the record run.

Bill is advertising classes/rides in Latitude 38 on Merlin, but the price is steep so I am not sure how many takers there are. No doubt it takes a lot of $ to keep a 70 foot sled happy. Could be the financial reality of keeping her long term combined with Bill getting up there in years forced a hard decision. Also, the harbor doesn't seem keen on more charter boats. Chardonnay Charters wound up buying Pacific Yachting in order to gain a charter slip license for Chardonnay 3 after being shot down by the harbor. That could be a factor as well since he is effectively advertising for charter but doing so under the training/team building premise. It is hard to imagine the harbor and Bill not getting along, what with he being on the Port Commission for so many years, but who knows.

It will be sad to see her leave Santa Cruz again if this comes to pass. I had hoped she would stay here longer this time.

 

Don’t know. My info is second hand but from someone who discussed Merlin and her future with Bill a few months ago. 

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Was just driving through Tucson about noon today, and I do believe I saw Merlin on a trucking heading east on the 10. Pretty sure it was a 70, not too often you see that paint job! Any rumors of an actual sale, or it’s next regatta?

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Did I read that right?

Born in a chicken coop, was dying in a barn and now Merlins' new owner is a guy named Merlin? :D

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1 hour ago, SloopJonB said:

Did I read that right?

Born in a chicken coop, was dying in a barn and now Merlins' new owner is a guy named Merlin? :D

Yep. Coming here to Tampa Bay. New owner has had a B-32 for about a year, wanted a bigger boat to do some longer races.

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On 12/19/2017 at 4:33 AM, RKoch said:

Yep. Coming here to Tampa Bay. New owner has had a B-32 for about a year, wanted a bigger boat to do some longer races.

I saw the B-32 back up for sale.   Hell of a jump up from a B-32!

As the former Naviguesser for Flankspeed, dodging the spots that were less than 8 feet in Tampa Bay was tough enough while racing.   I doubt Merlin will be visiting DIYC very often, if at all, with 13+ foot draft (10.5 foot tall keel, plus hull depth), given the reported average depth of 12' for the whole bay.   West Coast FL PHRF series is safe from this magician!

Definitely an offshore pot-hunting big gun!   Great to see another Santa Cruz in Florida.

Stumbling

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4 minutes ago, stumblingthunder said:

I saw the B-32 back up for sale.   Hell of a jump up from a B-32!

As the former Naviguesser for Flankspeed, dodging the spots that were less than 8 feet in Tampa Bay was tough enough while racing.   I doubt Merlin will be visiting DIYC very often, if at all, with 13+ foot draft (10.5 foot tall keel, plus hull depth), given the reported average depth of 12' for the whole bay.   West Coast FL PHRF series is safe from this magician!

Definitely an offshore pot-hunting big gun!   Great to see another Santa Cruz in Florida.

Stumbling

New owner is basing it in St Pete, is the word.  I doubt it'll ever get up the bay to DIYC. He wants to do Havana and Isla Mujeres races, Newport-Bermuda in the plans. I wouldn't be surprised if future plans for Miami-Montego Bay or Carribean circuit are in the works.

The B-32 is a good deal for someone. Previous owners did many upgrades and had an outstanding record with the boat.

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3 minutes ago, some dude said:

Hope he's a good caretaker.  Please give her back her classic paint job

Yes. I also prefer the original doghouse, but that's probably too much to ask.

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Hey - I'm just happy about the guy's name. :D

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4 hours ago, RKoch said:

New owner is basing it in St Pete, is the word.  I doubt it'll ever get up the bay to DIYC. He wants to do Havana and Isla Mujeres races, Newport-Bermuda in the plans. I wouldn't be surprised if future plans for Miami-Montego Bay or Carribean circuit are in the works.

The B-32 is a good deal for someone. Previous owners did many upgrades and had an outstanding record with the boat.

Add the Transpac as a possibility. The B-32 was worked-on more after he bought it and added new sails to boot.

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The B-32 is not for sale.

The new owner's name is in fact Merlin.

Merlin will live in St Pete in between offshore races. The plan is to use the Cuba race and Mexico race to get to know the boat and then sail in Newport Bermuda, back to FL for the winter, and then back west for 2019 Transpac.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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4 hours ago, Brian M. said:

The B-32 is not for sale.

The new owner's name is in fact Merlin.

Merlin will live in St Pete in between offshore races. The plan is to use the Cuba race and Mexico race to get to know the boat and then sail in Newport Bermuda, back to FL for the winter, and then back west for 2019 Transpac.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Then someone needs to go to : http://www.sailboatlistings.com/view/58296 and do a little cleaning.

Stumbling

Pix of b-32.png

ad details b-32.png

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7 hours ago, Brian M. said:

Hasn't been Mad Cow for most of a year now.

 

We still call it Mad Cow and then correct ourselves.

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Heading home from Julington Creek this afternoon, visiting the Dehler 34 (no wind), and I saw the legendary (no sarcasm!  I love those boats) Merlin heading south on I-295.  Even though it was only doing about 45, not 75......it still looked fast!  Gave me goosebumps.

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Looks like a ride to St. Pete is in order for this weekend, tomorrow if I can sneak over there...

edit: wait a minute, what's it doing on 295 in Jax? Somebody miss a turn at Lake City?

 

 

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5 minutes ago, ~HHN92~ said:

Looks like a ride to St. Pete is in order for this weekend, tomorrow if I can sneak over there...

edit: wait a minute, what's it doing on 295 in Jax? Somebody miss a turn at Lake City?

 

 

Might have something to do with the oversize load. Or they might be heading to an east coast boatyard that can handle the draft when the keel is reinstalled. I don't think any yard here can handle 11' draft.

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1 minute ago, RKoch said:

Might have something to do with the oversize load. Or they might be heading to an east coast boatyard that can handle the draft when the keel is reinstalled. I don't think any yard here can handle 11' draft.

I was thinking about that the other day, Salt Creek would be thin, maybe Interbay?

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IIRC, Aldermans is probably the deepest but they can only handle about 9' or so.  IDK about Interbay, or if they can even do a keel installation. Just a guess...boat is prob headed to Lauderdale for keel install and mast-stepping, and they'll sail it around. Or just leave it there for Havana Race and bring it to SPYC prior to Isla Race. Dunno...

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Are you talking about the old Interbay High and Dry?   You may not be able to get right up to Interbay Marina with 12 feet, and I don't think they have a travel lift to carry that big of a boat, let alone yard space.   There is definitely 16 feet further down at Lazzara's old place and around the point where Windship was, but both those places are in different hands and I don't know if they are open to the public.   You could reach out to Riverhawk Marine on Tyson Ave, they are occupying that old boat yard and it looks like they have a railway and a heavy duty travel lift still functional.   Some large cruising sailboats were on the hard at that place over the years.

Most likely all boat yard stuff would have to be done over on the East coast, as RKoch said.

Stumbling

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Merlin is at Cracker Boy Boat Works in Riviera Beach. While there are a couple of yards here that reportedly could handle the draft, for various reasons they couldn't handle the whole project.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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1 hour ago, RKoch said:

image.jpeg

Photo posted by Brian M on Facebook.

whats that animal on the stands there ?

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Those keels are getting ridiculous.

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6 hours ago, bigrpowr said:

whats that animal on the stands there ?

Belle Mente, mini maxi 72.

Stunning boat, makes great shade.

 

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On 12/22/2017 at 7:14 PM, ~HHN92~ said:

I was thinking about that the other day, Salt Creek would be thin, maybe Interbay?

shit, we could barely get our 109 out of salt creek... 

 

Hey Brian, what happened to your old account? :P

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14 hours ago, Brian M. said:

Belle Mente, mini maxi 72.

Stunning boat, makes great shade.

 

looks great !

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10 hours ago, mustang__1 said:

shit, we could barely get our 109 out of salt creek... 

 

Hey Brian, what happened to your old account? :P

Which one...?

 

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38 minutes ago, RKoch said:

image.jpeg

I’ve seen better mains...

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6 hours ago, ~HHN92~ said:

On Tampa Bay this morning prepping for the Havana race start: https://www.facebook.com/frankwmccarthy/videos/10213565768273070/

Going through the Skyway:

 

Warms the cockles of the heart to see a near maxi visage going through the Skyway!   It has been a while.

Makes me have a twinge of homesickness.

Good luck and have fun on the Havana race!

As to being light air, thats Tampa Bay.   Fortunately, waterline has a wonderful quality, all its own, which is great medicine for light air.   They are moving a lot faster than you think.

- Stumbling

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12 hours ago, ASP said:

I’ve seen better mains...

The video makes it look like a short hoist on the main halyard.  May just need a few turns during a luff or tack

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Interesting main, with a flattening reef it looks like?  Optimized for downhill I guess and should have flattening reef / cunningham on to weather with any wind on at all.  Be nice to hear from someone who's trimmed it.

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