Letters from Mike – I Learned Something…


by Michael Beebe – Rockport, Texas – USA

I Learned Something…

I learned something today, after forty years pulling boat trailers, there’s still room for growth. First another something a friend showed me a few months back. That, in itself, surprised me to no end. A simple procedure of pulling the tongue jack handle of an empty trailer, to move it about, is so much easier than my way of the past all too many years.

Most reading this probably think this is old hat; having learned to do so in the first six months of small sailboat ownership. Not this guy. My hard headedness has kept me in the back of the bus for so long i never realized they now are driven by the better-looking sex.

Well, todays lesson I stumbled upon all on my own.  41 years ago, I hitched up my first homebuilt sailboat, a Glen-L El Gato catamaran. All twelve feet of her. If I remember correctly, that sailboat had only two shrouds and a forestay, them’s the wires used to hold up the mast; unless of course the dock gets in the way as it did upon my first sail. Those things happen.

Well I’ve been putting the third rig on the Lightning, and it’s just about ready to go into the water’ again. The original, a sloop, the mast had two repairs to it, I didn’t trust it anymore.

The second, a Lug I hand sewed the sail from a big ole jenny, about 150 square feet or so is what I ended up with. The mast is an old RV awning boom. Plenty strong, I had added a fore stay and Port and Starboard shrouds.

Didn’t like it. On the first sail I saw right away the shroud would rub a long hole real quick in my new sail. I let that one slip by.

So I built a wooden tabernacle I saw on a Duckworks page, extending down through the foredeck. It needs work as well and in the process of waiting for an answer to float by, another rig came my way, or came back to me, I should say.

A sloop, shorter mast, less sail area, which is fine by me, with boom furling. This little rig is over kill for this Lightning. Three shrouds per side, one of them being the top cap shroud, if that’s what it’s called. With fore and afters. Strong.

Well this stumbling and learning thing came just as nice as can be, all-be-it, forty years later it seems. The fore shrouds need to be disconnected in order to lower the mast using the gin pole.

Well a simple lashing now keeps it all nice and neat, keeping it from the tangles and lost turnbuckles, which I’ve done as well. I’m sure there’s more learning coming my way. It seems to follow me around.

Went Sailing

Went sailing yesterday. Gusting to 26. I got wet, the Red Top, as I now call my 12’ Lehman conversion, sounds much better calling her that over ‘Lead belly’; because she’s sporting 90#s of lead in her lower regions, she got wet as well.

She did fine, got a good wash job out there. Good for her, and me as well. Again, we had it all to ourselves. The girl and I. Today at the ramp a fishing guide I talk to quite often said I looked like a character sailing out of Key West. I laughed and took it as a compliment.

One day on the docks I had gotten in ahead of him by minutes. Him with his clients, him edging the dock as well the dock lines, I said, “Throw me a line”.

“Line?” he says, “We call em ropes around here” laughing. Coastal Texas has been nice. Lots and lots of sailing, good winds a majority of time, friendly people, few sailors.

I don’t like saying this but I’m getting ready for a trip. Just me and the girl, Red Top. I guess that is a funny name. I don’t ever plan on putting it on her behind.

Brings to mind a story I may have told already. Over in California, San Pedro actually. If there were train tracks bisecting the harbor this particular marina would have been on the other side of the tracks. A live-aboard there had three newly decaled seals about three inches tall right on the bow of his 26’ sailboat.

Seems he was dozing at the helm on a recent warm day and ran head on into the 8 foot bell buoy, scaring himself as well as numerous sleeping seals.

His friend took him out to dinner and a few drinks and lots of laughs, one friend left the party early, snuck back and applied the decals. Good fun. Later that year he went on down to Costa Rica, I received a post card from him when he stopped in Cabo. Nice guy.

Today sailing was not at all like yesterday. Very light winds. So, I anchored a half mile off the beach and went over. Testing my ability to get back aboard. Since you’re reading this, I did, went over a second time as well. I used the lee-boards lines as stirrups. Worked just fine. Also, as I was in the water with that view I saw she needed work around the rudder, but that is another story.

Come on down, the waters fine, the wind generally is blowing, and parking is free.

I Shared This 

I shared this story this morning at the office. Verbally, not this written version. Years back, while living in the mountains, I had a trip planned with a Westerly 22. I trailed it down to Marina Del Rey. Was planning on launching it that Friday night, excepting I got there so late, I decided to spend the night in it, there in the parking lot.

Mid January, on the California coast, can get cold to us who aren’t used to the northern climes. The sleeping bag just didn’t do the trick. I’d turn the propane heater on for a few minutes, then off again, not trusting it, only to awake a short while later, freezing.

My brother showed up, along with yet another fellow I knew, my brother didn’t know the guy. This older gentleman had an old Islander, on a trailer in the mast up yard. He never sailed it all the years I knew him. Kept it he said so he could have year-round access to bring his motor home in and enjoy the area as he wished. With a boat in the mast up yard, the cost was a third of what daily fees would had been. He had been doing that for going on ten years.

Well the three of us walked on over to MacDonalds, Bill bought.

He cursed like a drunken sailor, around everybody, I found out after he had passed away, his family included.

After MacDonald’s, Bill went back to his motor home to take a nap, he was eighty, going on ninety. My brother asked if I was going to put in. As it was now nearing towards noon, I said “No, probably not, in my mind I’m already halfway home.”

It’s like that at times. My brother understood exactly what, where, and how I felt. We had an understanding, we still do.

Some days we start off on adventures and they turn into an adventure of a different sort.

The things we learn from sailing even when we aren’t sailing.

1 Comment

  1. Yep. “The things we learn from sailing, even when we aren’t sailing.” Especially, when the wind usually blows, and the parking is free.

    Thanks, Mike.

    Dan Rogers

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