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So I'm here in Birch Bay, WA (near Blaine) for the rest of the week...starting to clean out my dad's old boat "Improbable" (that he bought in 76 from Dave Allen). Almost everything I pick up brings on a flood of memories & nostalgia, about my dad & the boat.  He was still singlehanding the boat in the San Juan Islands up to his 80th year.

For sure I'm not the only one with a lot of memories about Improbable.  Thought I'd start a thread and see who's still out there that might want to chime in with any sailing stories from the boat or anything else.   Many of those who raced the boat in her heyday are getting old, however after being berthed & sailed for years in the NW perhaps there are tales from the later era as well.

If all I get are crickets, that's ok too.  Shot below was from the last sail with the Old Man, a couple years ago....

IMG_20160811_133711455m.jpg

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1 hour ago, Haji said:

So I'm here in Birch Bay, WA (near Blaine) for the rest of the week...starting to clean out my dad's old boat "Improbable" (that he bought in 76 from Dave Allen). Almost everything I pick up brings on a flood of memories & nostalgia, about my dad & the boat.  He was still singlehanding the boat in the San Juan Islands up to his 80th year.

For sure I'm not the only one with a lot of memories about Improbable.  Thought I'd start a thread and see who's still out there that might want to chime in with any sailing stories from the boat or anything else.   Many of those who raced the boat in her heyday are getting old, however after being berthed & sailed for years in the NW perhaps there are tales from the later era as well.

If all I get are crickets, that's ok too.  Shot below was from the last sail with the Old Man, a couple years ago....

IMG_20160811_133711455m.jpg

I spent an afternoon off Waikiki in 1973 with Bill Lee's girlfriend (at the time) teaching a few of us how to surf a sailboat properly.  We had done the Transpac on New World, the weird, wonderful Spencer 69' ultra-light schooner.  We had knocked off some 300 mile days so we kind of knew what we were doing, but really just wanted to go sailing on Improbable.  (Or was it Impossible?   It was a long time ago!)

Anyway, her teaching method was to stand behind you and as the boat lifted on a wave to slap you hard on the butt on the side the wave was coming from and say, "Feel that - feel that pressure?"  "Now work it and find the low spot"  Most fun instruction I ever had.  The slog back up hill to Ala wai was less fun.

Bill Lee always said it was faster to go through waves than over them.  

 

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Good story!  I wonder whatever happened to New World?  Sounds like an interesting boat.

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I remember seeing her in Cowes in the 1971 Admiral's Cup.  An extraordinary breath of fresh air!  Having raced the big heavy S&S ones (Duva etc...) Imprabable was just a radical new idea.  That gigantic tiller was an eye-opener.

Good pic of her in the latest Seahorse (issue 460) page 46, bashing down the West Solent with a number 2 and two reefs.

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At what time was thrvtransom hung rudder removed ?

drawing is original configuration by Mull.

IMG_1801.JPG

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7 hours ago, silent bob said:

C4D7FBB4-702F-4C2D-83F6-E83B56CEEDF1.jpeg

Wow, great shot! Thanks SB

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I wonder if that old transom rudder is still leaning against a shed somewhere...

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Have just read about her in the Ron Holland book "All The Oceans", interesting about how she was finally built after a few potential owners dropped out.  Great read too.

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Condolences to you and your family Haji....

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49 minutes ago, hobot said:

Condolences to you and your family Haji....

Thanks Hobot, much appreciated.  Going through the boat is a nostalgia minefield....

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Raced against Improbable in the 74 Hobart-Auckland race.  Blew like hell!  Improbable beat us (Tequila - Paul Whiting's family's boat) home because our skipper D'Arcy didn't know how to plot a great circle course, so we sailed a few extra miles.  IIRC the tiller on Improbable was 6' long! 

An iconic boat Haji, hope you can keep her in the family.  Sorry to hear of your father's passing. 

 

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4 hours ago, Recidivist said:

Raced against Improbable in the 74 Hobart-Auckland race.  Blew like hell!  Improbable beat us (Tequila - Paul Whiting's family's boat) home because our skipper D'Arcy didn't know how to plot a great circle course, so we sailed a few extra miles.  IIRC the tiller on Improbable was 6' long! 

An iconic boat Haji, hope you can keep her in the family.  Sorry to hear of your father's passing. 

 

Blew the paint of the bow of Inca on the return leg, bloody wet.

Rd where you on Tequila for the S2H race as I was there?

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2 hours ago, SloopJohnB said:

Blew the paint of the bow of Inca on the return leg, bloody wet.

Rd where you on Tequila for the S2H race as I was there?

No, I sailed down on Anaconda and jumped aboard Tequila in Hobart because D'Arcy needed someone to drink with!  We had Paul and the 2 Prior brothers, and at 23 I was the oldest but for D'Arcy.

I remember seeing Inca come into Auckland missing great patches of paint!  Those beautiful, latest and greatest S&S 45' alloy yachts were beaten by 2 wooden warhorses!

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17 hours ago, Recidivist said:

Raced against Improbable in the 74 Hobart-Auckland race.  Blew like hell!  Improbable beat us (Tequila - Paul Whiting's family's boat) home because our skipper D'Arcy didn't know how to plot a great circle course, so we sailed a few extra miles.  IIRC the tiller on Improbable was 6' long!

Actually, IMPROBABLE's tiller was 7', laminated of Kauri like the rest of her hull.  In breeze-on conditions under spinny, it took 2, even 3 drivers pushing and pulling on opposite sides of the tiller. In the '71 Fastnet, running back from the Rock in a SW gale, we were the only boat to carry a spinnaker the whole way,  Ron Holland, Commodore Tompkins, Dave Wahle and myself power assisting each other at the Red Rocket's helm.  No roundups,  the only Admirals's Cup boat we couldn't catch was the well sailed RAGAMUFFIN,  overall Fastnet winner.

We had some sterling racing Down Under in '73-'74 against the likes of INCA, APOLLO, RAGS, LOVE&WAR, QUICKSILVER, PROSPECT of WHITBY, RUNAWAY, et.all.  But the really good stuff was against D'arcy's 45 foot TEQUILA, which was the same speed as IMPROBABLE and well sailed by the entire Whiting family and long time crew.

As IMPROBABLE's skipper I had a front row seat to D'arcy Whiting's bottomless supply of practical jokes, many on himself.  The first was the day TEQUILA arrived in Sydney after a Trans-Tasman delivery, her entire cabin floor stacked 3 high with cases of beer for the anticipated Aussie Christmas beer strike before the S2H.

D'arcy brought TEQUILA into the CCA docks under a good head of steam, throwing her into reverse at the last moment.  Only there was no reverse.  We watched in astonishment as TEQUILA rode up and over the dock like an ice-breaker.  No problem. D'arcy and crew got TEQUILA backed off the splinters in time to host the entire yacht division of the uniformed Sydney customs crew of 8 for a little piss up in TEQUILA's cockpit. They were expecting TEQUILA's arrival with great anticipation!

A few weeks later, after the 1973 S2H, TEQUILA and IMPROBABLE faced off in the Hobart-Auckland Race, D'arcy and crew were set on breaking KIALOA II's record of 8 day's 2 hours.

TEQUILA and IMPROBABLE had a ding-dong battle out the Derwent, running side by side under spinnaker. Then we saw it ahead, the mean looking, low clouds of an incipient Southerly Buster moving quickly our way.

Even though running in a pleasant NW breeze, we let TEQUILA escape ahead while double reefing and changing to the #5 jib on IMPROBABLE.  As the Southerly Buster hit, we could just see TEQUILA a mile ahead pirouette under spinnaker, and take off downwind, in the wrong direction, up the Derwent, bow wave foaming.

IMPROBABLE and TEQUILA passed going in opposite directions, about 5 boat lengths apart .....I could clearly see D'arcy frozen at the wheel, struggling to control TEQUILA while her crew figured out what to do to get the spinnaker down and the boat turned around.

That was the last we saw of TEQUILA. In typical rugged Tasman conditions, IMPROBABLE set a new, unofficial record from Hobart to Cape Reinga of 7 days, and finished off Auckland Harbor's  Orakei Wharf at sunrise.  There was a welcoming crowd of thousands, and we were live on the radio.  I'd never seen anything like it.

In answer to some of the above questions, IMPROBABLE's transom rudder, built by New Zealand surfboard shaper Rodney Davidson, was scrapped after her win in the '73 Jamaica Race.  We were headed to England as a 1 boat Admiral's Cup Team representing New Zealand, and the new IOR rule did not treat the transom rudder with any favor.

IMPROBABLE was impounded in CUBA by Fidel's troops when her trans-Atlantic delivery skipper, Ron Holland, cut the western tip and got into local waters for a better view.  Fortunately, Ron's wife, Laurel, had a supply of Playboys for just such an eventuality, a bribe ensued, and IMPROBABLE and crew got the hell out of there.

NEW WORLD, George Kiskaddon's 68 foot John Spencer designed ultra light schooner, was lost on a reef in Micronesia sometime in the late 70's under new ownership.

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SLEDDOG!! Awesome flashback.  Great stuff.

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Great stuff Sleddog!  You should have seen the amount of grog we had on board when we left Hobart!  Did you see the 2 schools of Orcas - one each side of the river? Just before the change of course, probably why we didn't see it coming!  And, while the later production GRP version of Tequila was 45', she was only 43' with the transom scoop.  A bloke in Auckland loved Tequila's shape, but wanted to build it in steel.  Paul was embarrassed to work out the scantlings and discover the steel boat would be lighter!

That was a great trip - we had been sailing for 5 days before I realised we had to go around Cape Reianga - I thought we were heading to Manukau!

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11 hours ago, Bob Perry said:

See you Saturday Haji. I'll have the Guild tuned up for you.

Looking forward to it.

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Mnn, Improbable. First boat I steered at well into double digits as a young fella, courtesy of Skip Allen.

Always liked her as a result.

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Improbable!  Great stuff. I was on a bit longer race that had a layover in Sydney when skip asked me to do the southern Cross with them. Great people great fun. Parties at  rsyc  And we did well. I missed the Hobart race as I had a longer race to do. What good times with great sailors.

To whoever was on new world transpac 73,, Phil's wedding was epic! Our socal doctor spent the next morning dosing out penecillin to the Ala Wai swimmers/drunks. We we're on Robon rafted next.

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New World was bitchin.  Bill Lee was right about surfing big boats.  I always taught folks to place the bow in the holes.

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Gary Mull, IMPROBABLE's designer, insisted the crew keep crescent wrenches in our pockets.  This was to facilitate adjusting the lenticular shaped (flatbar) standing rigging to aim into the apparent wind for less drag, something successfully used for aircraft controls and rigging, the 12 meter VIM, 6 meters, by John Illingworth, and, at some point, accidentally discovered by Bob Perry who temporarily grooved his backside lying against a lenticular rod while asleep on deck.

Not only did we adjust the lower lenticulars, but Commodore Tompkins would unceremoniously hand-over-hand ascend the mainsail luff on each tack with his crescent wrench to tack the upper rigging.

Haji could confirm.  I believe IMPROBABLE still has her original lenticular rigging that we used to tack 47 years ago....

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One of the intermediate lenticular shrouds fell into two pieces at the dock, I think sometime in the 90's.  At which point dad got all new Navtec  (round) rod rigging.  Too bad... that aero bladed stuff was really cool.

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It was notorious for failing like that - would oscillate in the wind and fatigue crack. Having threaded ends did not help, either.

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Condolences on your father, Haji, and I'm sure going through the boat is quite a rollercoaster.

The responses to this thread are great, and really represents the best of SA, IMO.

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2 hours ago, sleddog said:
Gary Mull, IMPROBABLE's designer, insisted the crew keep crescent wrenches in our pockets.  This was to facilitate adjusting the lenticular shaped (flatbar) standing rigging to aim into the apparent wind for less drag, something successfully used for aircraft controls and rigging, the 12 meter VIM, 6 meters, by John Illingworth, and, at some point, accidentally discovered by Bob Perry who temporarily grooved his backside lying against a lenticular rod while asleep on deck.

Not only did we adjust the lower lenticulars, but Commodore Tompkins would unceremoniously hand-over-hand ascend the mainsail luff on each tack with his crescent wrench to tack the upper rigging.

I believe that is the current OED definition of "Fanatical"

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Holy cow Sleddog! Where the hell did you come up with that memory? I lay the blame for that on OLD ROCKING CHAIR bourbon. I was not a drinker in those days but someone pulled out a bottle of OLD ROCKING CHAIR, the cheapests whiskey he could find at the liquor store, and I decided to give it a try. I trust you will keep quiet about the rest of the shenanigans that went on during that regatta.  Please.

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On 6/8/2018 at 9:42 AM, sleddog said:
Gary Mull, IMPROBABLE's designer, insisted the crew keep crescent wrenches in our pockets.  This was to facilitate adjusting the lenticular shaped (flatbar) standing rigging to aim into the apparent wind for less drag, something successfully used for aircraft controls and rigging, the 12 meter VIM, 6 meters, by John Illingworth, and, at some point, accidentally discovered by Bob Perry who temporarily grooved his backside lying against a lenticular rod while asleep on deck.

Not only did we adjust the lower lenticulars, but Commodore Tompkins would unceremoniously hand-over-hand ascend the mainsail luff on each tack with his crescent wrench to tack the upper rigging.

Haji could confirm.  I believe IMPROBABLE still has her original lenticular rigging that we used to tack 47 years ago....

 

23 hours ago, SloopJonB said:

I believe that is the current OED definition of "Fanatical"

Makes me wonder if the gain would have been more than offset by the time lost due to increased heel, windage, and pitching moment while a body was up the mast.

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Exactly - real losses for a theoretical gain.

Not to mention exhausted crew members.

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2 hours ago, SloopJonB said:

Exactly - real losses for a theoretical gain.

Not to mention exhausted crew members.

Possibly you've never seen Warwick (Commodore) Tompkins go hand over hand up a rig, even the headstay.  He was up the rigging at age 4, off Cape Stiff, on his father's schooner WANDERBIRD....see it here https://lifeonthewater.us/cape-horn-passage/

Commodore was responsible for much of IMPROBABLE's layout, including specing the cross-connected titanium winches, Sunshine vents, park bench seats, 40 knot speedo, halyard fall boxes...

 IMPROBABLE's red hull, original transom rudder and tiller were homage to Dick Carter's RED ROOSTER, which Commodore and I sailed on in the '69 Admiral's Cup and Fastnet.

Too bad IMPROBABLE came in about 2,000 pounds over G Mull's designed weight.  Even still, surfing down the Windward Passage from Cuba towards Montego Bay was a revelation and we were able to catch and pass the S&S heavy hitters, the '56 footers CHARISMA and YANKEE GIRL.

You are correct, "tacking" the lenticular rigging did not prove advantageous aboard IMPROBABLE..  We were sorry to have to curtail Commodore's enthusiastic mast climbing. :rolleyes:

The red hull with the stars and stripes on the rudder, our Easy Rider crew shirts, pony tails and other California paraphernalia did not endear us to the '71 Admirals Cup selectors.  Even though we were high  point boat for the AC Team selection in the '71 SORC, we missed the first race with the as yet unseen IMPROBABLE being offloaded from a freighter in Baltimore, delayed in her passage from the New Zealand builder by a back log at the Panama Canal. 

It also didn't help one of our crew, Ron Holland, was in the Clearwater jail, having been arrested in a "little misunderstanding" for driving down the wrong side of the street without a drivers license after leaving a bar, his Kiwi accent so incomprehensible to the men in blue that they put him behind bars for an overnight stay for his protection.

Ron kept telling the police  lieutenant, "But I'm here to sail on IMPROBABLE.""

"Sure you are, kid." was the unsympathetic reply.

And that's when IMPROBABLE arrived on the truck, tipped over at 30 degrees and dragging remnants of a phone booth and power lines from a now twisted bow pulpit. The truck driver just so happened to park in front of the City Hall, to ask directions to Courtney Ross'  boatyard.  In his hurry to avoid permits and delay, the driver had taken back roads through South Carolina and Georgia....

And then a stroke of improbable luck occurred.  Ron Holland looked out his cell window, and there was IMPROBABLE parked across the street at City Hall. Ron couldn't believe it.  Next he spotted owner Dave Allen pulling in with his station wagon. Dave had been shadowing the truck all the way from Baltimore.

Ron yelled madly out his cell window for their attention, and Dave quickly bailed Ron out of jail.

We couldn't wait to get sailing and the start of the crucial 370 mile St. Pete-Ft.Lauderdale Race was only hours away.  We got to the start line with only minutes to spare, Commodore again up the mast installing the leeward lenticulars, Tom Wylie refitting the ripped off bow pulpit, and navigator Chan Chrisman trying to figure out how to miss the Tampa Bay shoals if we couldn't tack before Commodore was finished installing the port side rigging from England, which had different threading from the turnbuckles.

The legend of the bright red boat with the "hippie crew" was born: bandanas, beards, tie-dyed American flag shirts and freak flags a' flyin'. In the 70 boat fleet, there was no one else out there quite like it.

The East Coast Admiral's Cup selectors by-passed us for an all East Coast team of BAY BEA, CARINA, and YANKEE GIRL, likely a reaction to our long haired crew and the bold American flag painted on the huge stern rudder.

But we were going to England, team or no team.  We didn't have to brainstorm for long.  Good friend George Kiskaddon, of SPIRIT and NEW WORLD fame, was immediately successful at recruiting the King of Tonga to appoint IMPROBABLE as a one-boat "Tonga Team."

Again we were rejected, this time by the Royal Yacht Squadron, who curtly announced the Kingdom of Tonga did not have an official yacht club.

Ron Holland, then age 24, had a brain storm. With the help of his father , Ron quickly became a member of the Royal New Zealand YC.  Ron then "bought" IMPROBABLE for a dollar, the RYS accepted the last minute entry, and with Ron listed as skipper, we were in business, a one boat New Zealand Admiral's Cup team with 5 Yanks and one Kiwi aboard the Red Rocket.

 

 

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Nice Gibson Jumbo!  J-200?

This thread is fantastic - thanks sleddog and others for sharing.  Very enjoyable to listen in; I was born in ‘75 so missed out on these halcyon days. 

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great yarns Skip, them's was the days of wooden yachts and happy maidens,,,,,,

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On 6/8/2018 at 5:51 AM, poncho said:

Improbable!  Great stuff. I was on a bit longer race that had a layover in Sydney when skip asked me to do the southern Cross with them. Great people great fun. Parties at  rsyc  And we did well. I missed the Hobart race as I had a longer race to do. What good times with great sailors.

To whoever was on new world transpac 73,, Phil's wedding was epic! Our socal doctor spent the next morning dosing out penecillin to the Ala Wai swimmers/drunks. We we're on Robon rafted next.

That wedding was indeed epic.  IIRC, Phil had managed to create quite a close friendship with the HYC's commodore's daughter (Not, of course, referring to Commodore Tompkins), and after having spent the night in the fore peak of New World, convinced George (who was highly amused) that they wanted to get married that afternoon on the bow of New World.  George found a justice of the peace who was very dubious but George was convincing, so there we all stood in our lava-lavas and leis and rum drinks - about 10-15 of us -  and Phil got married in a quite dignified, slightly hilarious ceremony. The JP kept on looking around as if he wanted either in on the joke or out of the deal.   And Phil got his green card - which was the whole point. 

The HYC commodore was a little "non-plussed" when he heard about it after the fact.  Not sure how long that marriage lasted. I heard several years.  

I have a picture of that wedding somewhere.  Holy cow we were young.

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Sled - GREAT story, GREAT.

I trust that was all carried out properly in blue blazers and white slacks. :D

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1 hour ago, Left Shift said:

That wedding was indeed epic.  IIRC, Phil had managed to create quite a close friendship with the HYC's commodore's daughter (Not, of course, referring to Commodore Tompkins), and after having spent the night in the fore peak of New World, convinced George (who was highly amused) that they wanted to get married that afternoon on the bow of New World.  George found a justice of the peace who was very dubious but George was convincing, so there we all stood in our lava-lavas and leis and rum drinks - about 10-15 of us -  and Phil got married in a quite dignified, slightly hilarious ceremony. The JP kept on looking around as if he wanted either in on the joke or out of the deal.   And Phil got his green card - which was the whole point. 

The HYC commodore was a little "non-plussed" when he heard about it after the fact.  Not sure how long that marriage lasted. I heard several years.  

I have a picture of that wedding somewhere.  Holy cow we were young.

Lmfao!

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7 hours ago, Bob Perry said:

Bruce tries out another office toy. Passing the time waiting for Arne Hammer. Could be a long wait.

40890946680_342c2de1c9_k.jpg007 by robert perry, on Flickr

Thanks for letting me check out those awesome guitars!  Folks, Bob's guitar collection is truly impressive, and his office a great place to visit and talk boats.  Arne never made it, he missed a good time.

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Sleddog... Wow again. Priceless stuff.

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Haji:

I just forwarded an email to you with Mr. Flowers contact info.

Enjoyed the get together yesterday. It's a pleasure to listen to you pay guitar. I'll put you on the list to inherit the Hoboken Guild.

Let e know if you need a berth for the night

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16 hours ago, daffy said:

Lmfao!

If you have a pic, post it!!  I have a cover shot of Phil driving some boat in 1973. My son was concieved in Phil's bed in NY!

On 6/8/2018 at 11:53 AM, SloopJonB said:

I believe that is the current OED definition of "Fanatical"

 

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2 hours ago, Bob Perry said:

SoCal:

Yes, Gibson Custom Shop JS 200. It's a keeper. Haji sure enjoyed playing it.

Indeed I did.  That thing has some real bass string power.  But the Guild impressed me the most, really well balanced.  My dad would have loved to hear it, and then critique my playing like always...;-)

My love for acoustic guitars is probably related to my infatuation with fast wooden boats (like Improbable)

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I always enjoyed the "story" of Dave Wahle during the SORC riding his motorcycle down to the boat, stomping down the docks in his bandana, motorcycle boots & leathers and climbing aboard Improbable. He was busily working on the rigging when the owner of the yacht next door asked if he might possibly borrow Dave's rigging knife. Dave pulls out his switchblade, opens it up and hands it to a very wide eyed "proper" yachtsman. Those guys were legendary!

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Little did we know in 1976 when my dad bought Improbable, how rich was the history of the crew.  However in this pic I found in dad's archives, we did appear quite motley. I'm the 2nd from the right, and the only one left...

20180610_131414m.jpg

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Hanging from the headstay, Commodore-style...

20180610_131342m.jpg

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2 hours ago, Devoforedeckus said:

I always enjoyed the "story" of Dave Wahle during the SORC riding his motorcycle down to the boat, stomping down the docks in his bandana, motorcycle boots & leathers and climbing aboard Improbable. He was busily working on the rigging when the owner of the yacht next door asked if he might possibly borrow Dave's rigging knife. Dave pulls out his switchblade, opens it up and hands it to a very wide eyed "proper" yachtsman. Those guys were legendary!

Dave Wahle, no shrinking violet and garbage man by trade, was the "bosun" on IMPROBABLE. His switchblade saved us more than once.  As we were short tacking IMPROBABLE up the IOW shore in the Solent, the genoa leech line hangs up on a piece of rigging.  In a flash, David whips out his knife, presses the button, and cuts the cord free before any damage is done.

I believe it was that Admiral's Cup race, or another one that week, when we were again short tacking westward down the Island shore.  Along comes a port tacker, a nice varnished sloop named MORNING CLOUD, who skipper has cut the crossing a bit too fine. In the heat of battle, David runs to the bow of IMPROBABLE and shouts in his stentorian manner, "Get the fuck out of the way."

I had to call David aft for a dressing down.  "Brother, you've just told the Prime Minister of England to get out of the way."

DKW says to me in no uncertain terms, "I don't care if he's the Pope, he shouldn't be sailing his boat like that."

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On 6/10/2018 at 2:45 PM, Haji said:

Little did we know in 1976 when my dad bought Improbable, how rich was the history of the crew.  However in this pic I found in dad's archives, we did appear quite motley. I'm the 2nd from the right, and the only one left...

20180610_131414m.jpg

My first long distance race, Protection Island, was on Improbable the year after this photo was taken.  Haji, my condolences to you for your loss.

 

JM

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Thanks JM!

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Improbable has been through several color changes.  From the original red, we & dad first went to dark green (not so great), then white with black bottom, then white with red bottom, back to red with white bottom, and finally back to white, with red transom and a stripe running fwd some.  Here's the red with white bottom iteration....

20180610_131800.jpg

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And here's the white with red bottom period.  I liked the font in the name.

20180610_131151.jpg

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Have to agree.  Here's another shot

20180610_131733.jpg

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I never knew Improbable was almost a chined hull.

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I guess the pic sorta makes it look that way, however the curve at the waterline is pretty gentle.

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On 6/9/2018 at 4:51 PM, sleddog said:

Possibly you've never seen Warwick (Commodore) Tompkins go hand over hand up a rig, even the headstay.  He was up the rigging at age 4, off Cape Stiff, on his father's schooner WANDERBIRD....see it here https://lifeonthewater.us/cape-horn-passage/

Commodore was responsible for much of IMPROBABLE's layout, including specing the cross-connected titanium winches, Sunshine vents, park bench seats, 40 knot speedo, halyard fall boxes...

 IMPROBABLE's red hull, original transom rudder and tiller were homage to Dick Carter's RED ROOSTER, which Commodore and I sailed on in the '69 Admiral's Cup and Fastnet.

Too bad IMPROBABLE came in about 2,000 pounds over G Mull's designed weight.  Even still, surfing down the Windward Passage from Cuba towards Montego Bay was a revelation and we were able to catch and pass the S&S heavy hitters, the '56 footers CHARISMA and YANKEE GIRL.

You are correct, "tacking" the lenticular rigging did not prove advantageous aboard IMPROBABLE..  We were sorry to have to curtail Commodore's enthusiastic mast climbing. :rolleyes:

The red hull with the stars and stripes on the rudder, our Easy Rider crew shirts, pony tails and other California paraphernalia did not endear us to the '71 Admirals Cup selectors.  Even though we were high  point boat for the AC Team selection in the '71 SORC, we missed the first race with the as yet unseen IMPROBABLE being offloaded from a freighter in Baltimore, delayed in her passage from the New Zealand builder by a back log at the Panama Canal. 

It also didn't help one of our crew, Ron Holland, was in the Clearwater jail, having been arrested in a "little misunderstanding" for driving down the wrong side of the street without a drivers license after leaving a bar, his Kiwi accent so incomprehensible to the men in blue that they put him behind bars for an overnight stay for his protection.

Ron kept telling the police  lieutenant, "But I'm here to sail on IMPROBABLE.""

"Sure you are, kid." was the unsympathetic reply.

And that's when IMPROBABLE arrived on the truck, tipped over at 30 degrees and dragging remnants of a phone booth and power lines from a now twisted bow pulpit. The truck driver just so happened to park in front of the City Hall, to ask directions to Courtney Ross'  boatyard.  In his hurry to avoid permits and delay, the driver had taken back roads through South Carolina and Georgia....

And then a stroke of improbable luck occurred.  Ron Holland looked out his cell window, and there was IMPROBABLE parked across the street at City Hall. Ron couldn't believe it.  Next he spotted owner Dave Allen pulling in with his station wagon. Dave had been shadowing the truck all the way from Baltimore.

Ron yelled madly out his cell window for their attention, and Dave quickly bailed Ron out of jail.

We couldn't wait to get sailing and the start of the crucial 370 mile St. Pete-Ft.Lauderdale Race was only hours away.  We got to the start line with only minutes to spare, Commodore again up the mast installing the leeward lenticulars, Tom Wylie refitting the ripped off bow pulpit, and navigator Chan Chrisman trying to figure out how to miss the Tampa Bay shoals if we couldn't tack before Commodore was finished installing the port side rigging from England, which had different threading from the turnbuckles.

The legend of the bright red boat with the "hippie crew" was born: bandanas, beards, tie-dyed American flag shirts and freak flags a' flyin'. In the 70 boat fleet, there was no one else out there quite like it.

The East Coast Admiral's Cup selectors by-passed us for an all East Coast team of BAY BEA, CARINA, and YANKEE GIRL, likely a reaction to our long haired crew and the bold American flag painted on the huge stern rudder.

But we were going to England, team or no team.  We didn't have to brainstorm for long.  Good friend George Kiskaddon, of SPIRIT and NEW WORLD fame, was immediately successful at recruiting the King of Tonga to appoint IMPROBABLE as a one-boat "Tonga Team."

Again we were rejected, this time by the Royal Yacht Squadron, who curtly announced the Kingdom of Tonga did not have an official yacht club.

Ron Holland, then age 24, had a brain storm. With the help of his father , Ron quickly became a member of the Royal New Zealand YC.  Ron then "bought" IMPROBABLE for a dollar, the RYS accepted the last minute entry, and with Ron listed as skipper, we were in business, a one boat New Zealand Admiral's Cup team with 5 Yanks and one Kiwi aboard the Red Rocket.

dude..... you and poncho need to get together and write some damn books. Non-fiction, fiction,whatever. fuck it, just write it,. 

 

 

 

 

Haji, sorry for your loss man. 

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Thanks Mustang. Total agreement on a book by Sleddog! I'd buy that in an instant.

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On 6/14/2018 at 7:17 AM, mustang__1 said:

dude..... you and poncho need to get together and write some damn books. Non-fiction, fiction,whatever. fuck it, just write it,. 

 

 

 

 

Haji, sorry for your loss man. 

Well... You can get my first book, (back when sailing was fun) at Amazon. Second book, (sailing is STILL fun) in the works, and (one and a half years beside the mast) will follow!  Also check out our movie, the weekend sailor. Lots of fun stories and antics you may enjoy!!  I'm sure sleddog has a ton of things to entertain you all, including the knife fight in the Chestnut grill in BBS!!

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41 minutes ago, poncho said:

Well... You can get my first book, (back when sailing was fun) at Amazon. Second book, (sailing is STILL fun) in the works, and (one and a half years beside the mast) will follow!  Also check out our movie, the weekend sailor. Lots of fun stories and antics you may enjoy!!  I'm sure sleddog has a ton of things to entertain you all, including the knife fight in the Chestnut grill in BBS!!

 

The Weekend Sailor was great!!  Thanks for making it happen!

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On 6/16/2018 at 8:18 AM, billy backstay said:

 

The Weekend Sailor was great!!  Thanks for making it happen!

Well it wasn't me, it was Bernardo arasuega and his crew. I was just a bit part player with camera's!

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On 6/16/2018 at 10:36 AM, poncho said:

Well... You can get my first book, (back when sailing was fun) at Amazon. Second book, (sailing is STILL fun) in the works, and (one and a half years beside the mast) will follow!  Also check out our movie, the weekend sailor. Lots of fun stories and antics you may enjoy!!  I'm sure sleddog has a ton of things to entertain you all, including the knife fight in the Chestnut grill in BBS!!

I bought when sailing was fun a few or so years back. Passed it on to many friends i sailed with back in those days and it brought back great memories and laughs for all of us. Now i loan it to newer sailors and they think it's all BS. 

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50 minutes ago, sleddog said:

Bill Barton's labor of love, The Legend of iMP, has several chapters on IMPROBABLE, her conception, adventures, owner and crew. As poncho remembers, we were in Sydney with IMPROBABLE when SAYULA pulled into port, battered and bruised.

https://www.amazon.com/Legend-Imp-Magical-Rocked-Sailing/dp/0615355315

Battered and bruised we were! But happy to be alive. I was honored to be invited by sled and bone to sail with them and the improbable group. I was just a kid of 23 in the company of greats, and after sail repairs, sailing some more  this was a pinnacle. 

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I was sailing on a Tripp designed Mercer 44 from St. Petersburg when Improbable came to town for the SORC.  We rated about the same, and I remember Improbable just sailing away.  That was my first experience with what being out-designed meant.

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Heading to the NW again to visit Improbable and continue cleaning & prep for sailing.  Will be in the Birch Bay (Blaine) & Bellingham area July 3-10 if anyone wants to connect and see the boat.

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On 6/16/2018 at 4:36 PM, poncho said:

Well... You can get my first book, (back when sailing was fun)

Got it!

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2 hours ago, Haji said:

Heading to the NW again to visit Improbable and continue cleaning & prep for sailing.  Will be in the Birch Bay (Blaine) & Bellingham area July 3-10 if anyone wants to connect and see the boat.

Sorry for your loss Haji, beautiful thread...

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44 minutes ago, chuso007 said:

Sorry for your loss Haji, beautiful thread...

Thanks.  This thread has really helped me to reconnect with the boat I fell in love with when I was 16yrs old...:-)

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The photo is from "The Sailor's World" by Arthur Beiser.  The photo is probably by Stanley Rosenfeld.  The caption is:  New IOR rating rule encourages closely similar racing boats with sloop rigs and fin keels.  Result is fine performance with strong crews in deep water, as Improbable shows, but most boats built to rule are less suitable for cruising than formerly.  Who benefits from situation is mystery to many yachtsmen.

 

improbable_640wide.jpg

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17 minutes ago, captain_crunch said:

The photo is from "The Sailor's World" by Arthur Beiser.  The photo is probably by Stanley Rosenfeld.  The caption is:  New IOR rating rule encourages closely similar racing boats with sloop rigs and fin keels.  Result is fine performance with strong crews in deep water, as Improbable shows, but most boats built to rule are less suitable for cruising than formerly.  Who benefits from situation is mystery to many yachtsmen.

 

improbable_640wide.jpg

Drooling....

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