Saturday, 11 July 2009

The De Naming Ceremony by John Vigor,journalist

The De-Naming Ceremony

I once met a man in Florida who told me he'd owned 24 different yachts and renamed every single one of them.
"Did it bring you bad luck?" I asked.
"Not that I'm aware of," he said. "You don't believe in those old superstitions, do you?'
"Well, yes," I said. "As a matter of fact, I do. And so do a lot of other sailors who wouldn't consciously do anything to annoy the ancient gods of wind and sea. Out there, you need all the help you can get."
Actually, I've come to the conclusion that it's not so much being superstitious as being careful. It's part of good seamanship. That's why I had to invent a 'de-naming' ceremony some years ago to ward off bad luck when I wanted to change the name of my new 31-ft sloop from 'Our Way' to 'Freelance'.

I needed a formal ceremony to wipe the slate clean in preparation for the renaming. I searched in vain for one. But research showed that such a ceremony would consist of five parts: an invocation, an expression of gratitiude, a supplication, a rededication and a libation.

So I sat down and wrote my own ceremony. It worked perfectly. 'Freelance' carried us thousands of deep-sea miles and enjoyed good luck all the way.

The ceremony should be read with flair on the foredeck before a gathering of distinguished guests. Or it can be mumbled down below by the skipper alone if he or she finds these things embarassing.

The libation part, however, must be carried out at the bow, as was the original naming ceremony. And I would advise you to use nothing but the finest champagne and to pour it all on the boat. One thing the gods of the sea despise most is meanness, so don't try to do this part on the cheap.

How much time should you leave between the de-naming ceremony and the new-naming ceremony? There's no fixed limit. You can do the renaming right after the de-naming, if you want. But I'd prefer to see a gap of at least 24 hours to allow the demons time to clear out.
Oh, and one other thing - you have to remove all physical traces of the boat's old name before the de-naming ceremony. There may be official papers with the old name on them, of course. If you can't destroy them you should at least keep them well out of sight in a locker during the ceremony. But don't neglect to wipe the name out in obvious place - bow, stern, dinghy, oars, logbook, lifering, charts and so on. Likewise, do not lace the new name anywhere on the boat before the de-naming ceremony is carried out. Hoo-boy, that would be tempting fate.

The ceremony:
"In the name of all who have sailed aboard this vessel in the past, and all who may sail aboard her in the future, we invoke the ancient gods of wind and sea to favor us with their blessing today.
"Mighty Neptune, king of all that moves on the waves, and might Aeolus, guardian of the winds and all that blows before them: we offer you our thanks for the protection you have afforded this vessel in the past. We voice our gratitude that she has always found shelter from tempest and storm and enjoyed safe passage to port.
"Now, therefore, we submit this supplication, that the name whereby this vessel has hitherto been known, '_________', be struck and removed from your records. Further, we ask that when she is again presented for blessing with another name, she shall be recognized and shall be accorded once again the self-same priveleges she previously enjoyed.
"In return for this, we rededicate this vessel to thy domain in full knowledge that she shall be subject to the immutable laws of the gods of wind and sea.
"In consequence whereof, and in good faith, we seal this pact with a libation offered according to the hallowed ritual of the sea.
Now pop the cork, shake the bottle and spray the whole of the content over the bow. Then go quietly below and enjoy the other bottle yourselves.

- John Vigor


John is the author of 12 boating books and scores of articles in boating magazines on three continents, including Cruising World, Sail, and Good Old Boat. His career as a newspaperman spanned nearly 40 years in America, England, and South Africa. He has written more than 5,000 humor columns and more than 2,000 editorials for metro daily newspapers. He is now a copy editor for Good Old Boat magazine.


John Vigor was born in Plymouth, England, but emigrated to South Africa with his family at age 13. After being trained there as a newspaper reporter and photographer, he returned to England to gain experience of British journalism. He joined a paper in Maidstone, Kent, and there met his American-born wife, June, a journalist working for the same paper. They married in Maidstone and later moved to Durban, South Africa, where they raised three sons.

In 1987, John sailed from South Africa to the United States on his 30-foot sloop with June and their youngest son, Kevin, then 17. The story behind that stressful six-month voyage is recounted in his acclaimed book, Small Boat to Freedom.
John is now an American citizen living in Bellingham, Washington. He recently completed a solo-circumnavigation of Vancouver Island in his 27-foot Cape Dory sailboat, Sangoma.


John had a reason for departing South Africa,in a published story,probably SA Yachting? which I still remember reading,he tells of doing some maintainance on his Durban home.He was either painting or plastering his front wall,when an african man came by,he asked to be given the job to do,John said it was not possible,as he could not afford to pay for labour.Some time later,the wall was defaced,John decided after this to depart South Africa.Some while after sailing from RCYC in Cape Town,he did SA yachts persons a what I feel was a dirty move,John wrote about yachts sailing off from SA with Kruger Rand gold coins in their keels, I doubt customs took kindly to this,if in fact it was the truth? It did of course spice up Johns story!

Trekka and John Guzwell

Photo Courtesy John Guzwell

Fifty years ago, a 29-year-old singlehander from Victoria, BC, named John Guzzwell completed an unprecedented circumnavigation aboard Trekka, a 21-ft wooden yawl he'd built with his own hands. At the time, Trekka was the smallest boat ever to have gone around. The book he published about his adventures, Trekka Round the World, became a cult classic among would-be voyagers, and is credited for sparking the dreams of many who have circumnavigated since. John Guzwell, at 29, sailed Trekka around the world.

This was a report in Latitude 38 magazine,they held a meeting in Johns honour.
In a sport often dominated by massive egos, John Guzwell is a refreshingly humble hero who normally shuns the spotlight. So we are thrilled that he has graciously offered to share insights from his lifetime of voyaging and custom boatbuilding. He'll show vintage Southern Ocean film footage shot while accompanying Miles and Beryl Smeeton on their ill-fated Cape Horn attempt aboard Tzu Hang in 1957 — chronicled in another sailors' classic, Once is Enough. If you haven't had the pleasure of reading it, let us explain that the threesome got caught in a horrendous storm that pitchpoled Tzu Hang and dismasted her. Thanks to John's carpentry skills, they finally arrived safely in Chile after 87 days at sea.

John contacted CKD Boats last year,he was asking about our Didi 26 design by Dudley Dix.

Friday, 10 July 2009

The wooden craft of Hout Bay continues

Left click this picture for a larger view.

This is a picture I took while in Portsmouths Naval Dockyard,it was stuck away in a bit of a dark corner,hence the low picture quality.Its a model of the Ton class mine sweeper,in this case its all made from wood,in the actual full size build,the frames you can see were all made from alloy I beams,thats a lot of metal!

HMS Glasserton.

How about this one,we had our very own Mine Sweeper in the harbour at one time,when the SA Navy put the Pretoria up for sale,Charles Bates bought it for personal use and kept it moored on a quay in the harbour.

The design is called the Ton class,named such as each boat built was named after a town in Britain which had a name ending with Ton,such as Castleton or Skipton,etc,many were built from around 1957.I have first hand knowledge of the design and used to supply the SA Navy with the correct quality of African Mahogany (khaya),it had to be kiln dry and with lengths to six meters,this replicated what the British Navy had originaly specified.

The boats were made from an alloy I beam frame,spaced about 16 inches apart,then planked with layers of mahogany,both one inch and two inch thick,so the final thickness of the hull was three inches (75mm)the boat was a bit of a battery as all planks were bolted to the alloy frames with galvanised steel bolts! They were supposed to last the second world war only,so I expect this was allowed for,now fifty years on they are still to be seen.

Then and now,some history:

SAS Pretoria, P1556, M1144 (ex HMS Dunkerton; ex HMS Golden Firefly) - museum ship in Hout Bay,now to be found in Cape Towns V&A Waterfront and renamed Madiba.

Thursday, 9 July 2009

Yacht Blue Leopard

Blue Leopard at at anchor,not in Hout Bay I might add,just check out the lines of this yacht,stunning for sure.

This picture is also not in Hout Bay!

We are fortunate to see many yachts of all sizes enter Hout Bay,South Africa, where I live. One of the largest,if not the largest, happens to be a yacht designed by Laurent Giles and launched in 1963,she was a ground breaker at the time,light weight and fast,faster than expected I remember,she is of course a wooden yacht.

Length Overall (m): 34.10 Length Overall (ft): 111.88
Length On Deck (m): Length On Deck (ft):
Length Waterline (m): Length Waterline (ft):
Beam (m): 5.80 Beam (ft): 19.03
Draught Max (m): 3.25 Draught Max (ft): 10.66
Draught Min (m): Draught Min (ft):

Built by Wm,Osbourne and sons

Blue Leopard – A personal perspective by John Duffy

Designed by Jack Giles, Blue Leopard was built in Littlehampton, U.K. in 1963. The brief was to produce a gentleman's yacht with a combination of unique features, which would make her lightweight, fast and easily handled by a small crew. With a double diagonal planked hull and an aluminium deck and superstructure, for her years she was a triumph in yacht design, the perfect blend of sail and power, capable of astonishing speed under power yet equally fast under sail. At 112 feet she has a surprisingly narrow beam of 19 foot. The twin Rolls Royce diesels are capable of taking her to almost the same speed under power as under sail.

Time and tide,the sextant and its timer

I have used this pair on two South Atlantic voyages,my chief cook and navigator,Notty, started off by using a much favoured yacht sextant in alloy,even when marketed as a light weight yachtsmans sextant,the weight was still an issue,doing a number of tests,one sextant against the other,the differences were found to be so small that Notty only used my Davis plastic sextant from then on,its a quality made tool I must say.

Wednesday, 8 July 2009

Brasilian chart of Atol Das Rocas,from a chart of 1963

Left click the chart to view full size.

This is one of those places that when your going there you had better have a chart but how do you find one? (you just have) This place is probably the only coral atol in the South Atlantic,I say coral,as its all over the island,whats underneath may be rock?
We stayed her for a few days,the British Admiralty Pilot book advised of ship wrecks,rats,scorpions,and lice,we saw all of those excepting the rats!

Please take head of the warnings and restrictions as noted on this chart!

Ians Little Boat progress

This is a Cape Cutter 19 build,we sold the last kit we had to Ian in Picton,New Zealand,Ian is progressing well,he has a great work shop full of tools right next to his home,very handy!

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Wanted B&G Network GPS 12 Instrument Control

This is the GPS control unit wanted.

This is the full set up,the unit center page that is the main control would be good to have as a back up.

Does anyone have one of these for sale or trade? if so contact me at other Network instruments also considered.

Boat Bits Pages

This is to be found on a site we have no actual link with,excepting a common cause perhaps?

A sailing blog : Random thoughts and rants on boat design, boat building, and other boat bits...
Monday, July 06, 2009
masts and rigging for the real world...

Sadly these days a lot of things cost silly money and more than their share has the word "marine" attached!

For those of us firmly in the cheap seats, there are a lot of ways to bring costs down but I'm always surprised at just how expensive some stuff can be...

Take masts and rigging for instance! Seriously silly prices get thrown around for what is really just aluminum tubes and wire. Now in the cheap seats of course we know that we NEVER buy industrial stuff (like wire) from a purveyor of marine goods. Buying it from Acme wire who may not know a boat from a hole in the wall but certainly DO KNOW wire, is even more important because they are not in the world of silly marine pricing. They sell wire and other rigging stuff for what it's worth not what they can gouge which is often a huge difference!

The same line of thinking goes for chainplates and suchlike... Now that just about every city has some sort of CNC metal cutting operation you can make a drawing give it to a guy and have a perfectly cut and polished chainplate for just a little more than the cost of the metal value. I won't even mention the obscene pricing the last time I looked at chainplates from a marine store...

Masts, being low volume products with seriously high tooling costs are pretty silly price wise but you have to wonder how various mast builders always seem to have brand name masts with maybe a little scratch or cosmetic blemish in the anodizing for 10% of the retail price. Of course with masts being just hollow tubes there are all sorts of alternatives to marine industry spars... I've known more folks who built boats and wound up with light poles and suchlike that worked out just fine at a fraction of what it would cost to buy something from Francespar or the like.

Dudley Dix and CKD boats are even doing mast kits in... (Dare I say it?) ... Wood!

It might suprise a lot of folks but wood works real well for masts and in these days of epoxy and other evil chemicals, no longer falls prey to 99% of all the negative press... Check it out!

Notice to Mariners heading to Fortaleza,Brasil

This is the chartlet posted on the Marina Park Hotel web site,todays date is 7th July 2009,they have been asked to change the entry but have not seen fit,DO NOT USE THIS FOR NAVIGATION,just eye ball the pictures and the chart,you will soon see what I mean.

Note,this is for information only,it is up to the mariner himself to check out postitions and bearings.

Left click chart to enlarge.

Left click this picture to view in a larger size,then cast your eye along the red arrow line,its basically the same approach course as the chartlet gives above!

Ship wreck, Mara Hope,its position,the marina.

This picture does show a bouy,does it light up at night I wonder?

Hard to miss,in day light anyway.

Whats left of the wreck,the other half is still under the water I assume,its hidden from view.

The view of the wreck from the marina.

My 2009/1 copy of Flying Fish,the Journal of the Ocean Cruising club high lights a very near miss when a yacht was heading for the Marina Hotel,Fortaleza,Brasil one night,using a chartlet from the hotels own web site they almost piled up on this well known (to locals) ship wreck,the charts are incorrect too it seems?

Radius chine laminate on one of our kits

Left click the picture to see all the details.

This picture is from John in Salisbury,England,he is making good progress with closing off the hull skins,here he is dry fitting strips of 4mm marine ply,this is the first layer of the two he will fit,as we suggested,he is dry fitting each side,its about 46 strips,then he will remove them five or six at a time,apply glue and screw them back in position again,when the glue has dried,the screws will be removed and he will restart the process,it goes very quickly.

Sunday, 5 July 2009

Mast kits

This mast section is taken from one of Dudley Dix's mast drawings,he supplies the design work for many parts of the rig,in full detail,we can supply the parts as a kit.

This drawing is copyright to Dix Design and may not be copied or used without prior permision.

We have won boat kit orders over in the past by supplying mast kits in wood as against alloy,I wont even mention carbon,the cost is just outrageous!Its worth mentioning that before alloy we only ever had wood spars,many are still standing of course,trees manage in strong winds without the assistance of steel wire supports,so when we use wood and add the stainless wires,we are well up strength wise.

The worlds economy is pushing up the cost of many raw materials,plastics and metal are prime targets,this sees alloy becoming an expensive option,witnessed by the very high cost to masts made from the stuff.

Re enter wooden masts? So why not and what if we pulled a few tricks and used the wood as an element but then add some fancy componants,like 316 stainless steel and carbon fibre,plus Harken or Antal mast tracks complete with batten cars,when the mast is painted,fitted out and raised,you wont even know it has a timber core but you will have a lot of cash left to buy your North Sails!

We are working together with the yacht designer Dudley Dix on this,he has done a lot of fine work on masts to suit his designs,one drawing we have shows the fractional rig for his Didi 38 range using a sectional box shape for the mast tube,CNC cut stainless steel for tangs and spreader ends,carbon fibre to the two sets of spreaders,an external mast track for the mainsail.

The mast can be shipped as a kit easily of course as no part will exceed 5.5 meters in length,we will supply all materials and batt car track and cars to a manufactuer of your choice.