|1990 - 1997
|It seems I was almost right in my timing. I had the
foremast stepped when I documented the boat. The word
'temporary' seems to mean something different to me than
other people, as my temporary fixes hang on for years.
In case it was not mentioned before, my overtightening an
injector in the engine when first putting it together
resulted in a cracked head and by now the possible fix of a
weld was not an option. A search for a cylinder head
revealed junk yards were willing to sell a stripped casting
without valves or cam or anything else, used, for $300.
They also mentioned they could get me one completely
reconditioned and ready to bolt on for somewhere around a
thousand. I got all choked up and a little teary in the face of
Down the street to the next junkyard and a complete,
|running engine was available for $250. Decision made. The motor came down the dock on a two-wheel dolly and was just as easy
to move around as a frozen solid neighbor. Slide him like a sled.
It took about a days work to pull out the old motor, strip it to a bare block and head, saving all the extra pumps and injectors and
pulleys and such, and toss the junk into a dumpster. By supper time I was finished putting the new engine together and ready to
drop it in place. Below right is the new engine together and in place the next day. The Volkswagen diesel 'Pathfinder' conversion
engine is, in my opinion, a great power option.
|As much as this photo Log might seem an accurate and sequential accounting of these events, the best I can really say is that
'what is here is true and accurate, but it is only a fraction of the real, day to day story swirling around me. There were many times
when pictures should have been taken and weren't. Sometimes, memories of what seemed like big events at the time, come back
to me and I wonder why they are not here. This also accounts for huge gaps in time and complete misses of big things, such as
the installation of the engine while in Lynn. It was a big deal, but it isn't even mentioned.
One of those things is the aft floor section in the cockpit. I sort of remember making it and putting it in, but not really. Still, there
it is, big as life. I did make the battery tray at this time and it served for quite a while, but was eventually replaced with a
fiberglass and aluminum unit of much greater strength and resistance to rot. Battery acid is rough on wood. Eventually there
were 3 8D Gel cells and 1 4D Gel cell on the battery rack and another 8D and 4D inside below the cabin sole. Fast forward to this
day, during this rewrite (December 27, 2012) and the battery tray and all those other batteries are gone, as well as the next set,
including 3 8D wet cell starting batteries purchased in Marathon. Now, there are a dozen size 31 AGM deep cycle 2 volt batteries
tied into 2 12 volt 630 anp hour batteries. They weigh 840 pounds and cost $4000 and live below the saloon sole, on top of the
keel lead. Back to the past.
|Misunderstanding the crucial loading on a mast, I thought the flimsy J24 spars could be stiffened up and saved by laminating
carbon fiber to them. I got 1000 feet of parallel endless carbon fiber filaments and prepped the masts properly with acid etching
and everything, then epoxied the CF to the masts. If education is beneficial, then it wasn't a complete waste of time and money.
Oh, well. I eventually peeled it all off, sold some of the spars and used one for a boom. A pricey little exercise in futility, not to be
my first or last.
|There were more tricky parts to manufacture in the rigging and installing of the bowsprit. Tying everything together in a clean
and strong fashion, using only the materials on hand, has been a constant challenge all these years in the building of this boat.
Cut and drill 1/4 inch SS plate to accommodate the forestay, the bobstay, the bolt for the sprit shrouds and the tack for the jib.
The first splices for the aft end of the sprit shrouds were too ugly and had to be done over. An error in measuring somewhere
along the line resulted in using two toggles so the turnbuckles had adjustment in both directions.
|One night, over coffee at a local café, I mentioned to a friend I needed to get a
healthy length of 1 1/2 inch by 1/4 inch SS bar stock to start making my 16
chainplates. He asked me to sketch out on a napkin exactly what I needed,
having me spec out holes and sizes and all significant dimensions. He stuck
the napkin in his pocket and told me to chill on the subject for a day or two,
until he could get back to me. A day or two later, my friend, Charlie Ingersol
handed me 17 finished chainplates, explaining he had his guy make one extra
in case I dropped one overboard. Turns out he was the manager of a big
machine shop somewhere at some University and wouldn't take any money
for the parts. Score.
|The chainplates each had five countersunk 5/16 holes for flathead machine screws. Each one was attached with the single top
bolt, so they could be aligned with the direct pull of the shrouds to equalize the strain on each bolt. Once the
entire rig was up, they were aligned and tightened and the last 64 holes were drilled and all the fasteners installed. The last
thing was to walk around the boat with a 3 pound sledge and tap the tops in, bending the chainplates at deck level to match the
inward angle of the shrouds. Piece of cake. Anyone would have thought I'd done it before.
This was a big day. I was alone and it was time to raise the foremast. It took thought and preparation, but the raising itself was
quick and straightforward. The system really needed more thought and later on it improved immeasurably. This first time was a
tad bizarre by comparison. I set the base of the foremast at the rear of the bowsprit with the aft upper shrouds connected and the
forestay tethered to a line leading through a block attached to the tip of the bowsprit. Then hoisted the top of the mast off the
deck and walked it upward until the angle of the forestay was wide enough to take over lifting by pulling the line.
This is where it got silly. I had no way of preventing the mast from swinging side to side except to hold it from the bottom. This
got increasingly difficult as it went up and swells from the main harbor worked their way through the marina. Also, it was
extremely hard to haul on the lifting line with only one hand and my teeth. I caught a small calm spot in the motion of Falcon
and released the mast, then bolted aft and set it upright in one quick movement. Now it was supported by the two aft shrouds
and tethered forestay. At this point, I began a slow, careful process of tightening and loosening lines and lanyards until I'd moved
the mast base aft to it's step and actually lifted the mast straight up the 6 inches or so to set it on the step. This was the last time
such a thing occurred, I promise you. Each occasion from then on got better and better.
|A couple more hours of installing rigging and adjusting everything
and the mast began to look right. This was kind of a big day for me,
but I have lost sight of the big picture and have always known what
was left to do, so no one ever caught me celebrating small advances.
Rats. The spars were skinny and the lower shrouds looked just as
cobby and ready to trip me as anything I ever saw. There was nothing
|to do about it then however,
and the mainmast was readied
One scary part was climbing
the foremast to connect the
triatic stay between the
mastheads. Man, these sticks
really look thin and too tall.
All was corrected later.
There was plenty more to do
with the booms, gaffs,
lazyjacks and everything else. I
loved it. There was something
'toy-like' about rigging the
masts and booms.
The entire rig was finally
lashed onto the boat, though
the rest of the chainplate bolts
still needed to be installed, and
the chainplates needed to be
bent over, and the gaffs were
just lying there, and the cutter
halyard was just tied to the
bowsprit, but all in all, it was a
|Another winter was upon us. Long, boring periods of hibernation where not much of anything got done. Watching mindless TV
and wrestling odd jobs and wishing for warm, sunny days and spring. It slowly began to occur to me that I might just be in the
wrong part of the country for what I was doing. The financial resources to make a move far enough South to make a difference
were simply out of reach. Besides, there was a special kind of solitude on a deserted dock in winter and it was beginning to grow
on me. Not to mention, the Northeast is where I was born and grew up and it felt comfortable.
|Ice on the boat and ice on the docks. What to do? Ahh! Build a dock box and put a bunch of stuff I'd been climbing over into it.
Now, it hides thing from me, but it looks good and others at the marina want me to make some for them. No deal. It was time to
get back to work on Falcon because it was time to leave East Boston. The yacht service I'd been working at was moving to a
cheaper facility in Winthrop, a small town just north of the Boston Harbor entrance and just south of Revere.
|This unusual photo is of the huge drydock with the endless lights docked right next to the Boston Boatyard Marina where Dana
and I had our boats. We both made arrangements to move the boats to Crystal Cove Marina in Winthrop, and this was the last
night under the glare of these lights. To tell the truth, I never minded them - I had no portholes and couldn't see them.
|A couple of shots of my new berth in Crystal Cove Marina. This really was a nice place and had the potential to be a great little
marina. The owner left a lot to be desired as far as honesty and integrity. It is also a little sickening to see a person functioning
almost entirely on rapacious greed. Luckily, I didn't stay long.
|A job where many of the old docks were cut up and tossed out resulted in a huge
pile of old flotation foam. Amazed at how light and dry most of it was, it seemed a
good idea to trim off the dirty stuff and slice it into two inch bats for eventual
installation into Falcon as insulation. This pile was stubbornly saved and moved
from place to place for years before it finally found a home in a dumpster. Same
thing with a sweet little dinghy mold.
The first winter at Crystal Cove found me alone and 'house sitting' the yacht
service while the owner, Wally, his wife and Dana all went to Florida for three or
four months. Boat work in Boston contains a nice big slice of death called winter. It
was the winter of 1992. My first computer and a bunch of new equipment for the
boat came after a lawsuit and a very crooked lawyer aggravated me for a long time.
Yes, it was my lawyer. Anyway, $30,000 found its way to my bank account and it
didn't last long. Looking back, even after 20 years, there is nothing to regret in how
the money was spent. It changed the world for me in more ways than I can say and
provided enough brand new material to keep the boat project going for years to
|The computer was, at the time, the epitome of blazing desktop speed. It was a Gateway 486 processor at 66 MHz. Holy crap! This
thing warped the space/time continuum when you booted it up! It fragged 12 times in the first 10 days and I had to get into DOS
Debug code to make the crippled piece of crap work, but it was the time of my life. It came with a Torrey Pines Golf game. I also
got a flatbed scanner and the brand new Hewlett Packard HP-4 laser printer with a $500 ram option and a $500 Postscript
option. In all, $12,000 catapulted me into the computer age. Expensive, no doubt, but it was a move not to be avoided if I was
ever going to do any serious writing. My second full novel, first on a word processor in three weeks, printed it out and sent it off.
I have never bought another computer, having built every one after the first.
When Wally and the rest came back, he got a new computer and software program and spent a couple of months getting
completely boggled in it. The original Peachtree Accounting program just about stymied him and now I know why.
I worked on Wally's boats and writing all summer and did another house sitting stint the next winter. Little or nothing got done
on Falcon. This time during the winter I rebuilt two old ship models for Tim Ropes and his brother. The boats were made by their
long deceased Dad when he was a boy. Tim gave me the old toy to get rid of it and instead, I repaired and finished it and gave it
back to him. He was so touched he got the other one from his brother, so I did it as well.
|I slapped together this long, strange contraption to stretch each shroud, one at a time, so I could parcel, which is to wrap with
tarred canvas strips, and serve, which is to wrap over the strips with Tarred Marlin Twine, which is a real product you can just go
out and buy if know the last place on Earth where it's made, which I discovered from a monk in a cave in the Tibetan Alps who
demanded a copy of the words to Bob Dylan's 'Rainy Day Woman' in exchange, which I faked on the spot figuring he'd never
know. Anyway, I ordered a case of it.
|Allow a little 'parcel and serve' seminar. Back when The Rolling Stones were just in their 40's and the industrial world invented
twisted wire rope, those big square-rigger ships stopped using thigh-diameter manila rope to hold up the trees they called masts
and opted for the iron, then steel, wire rope. When the first Pirate missed an unarmed Merchant Ship due to a flake of rust in his
one good eye, there was much complaining and sabre rattling and people too poor to stop working had to come up with a way to
make the steel stop rusting. We still revere them in a non-involved, perfectly invisible way. This is what they developed:
Strips of canvas were soaked in hot, thinned tar and wrapped spirally around a stretched shroud from one end to the other. Then
sisal cord was wrapped over the canvas in the opposite direction and when complete, the sisal also was coated with lots of hot tar.
This method was so successful shrouds from ships sunken hundreds of years ago - or, at least while they were making iron or
steel shrouds - and the protected metal was just like new.
The math reveals 562 feet of standing rigging on Falcon to parceled and serve. Since this wire was so much smaller than the big
stuff on the old ships, standard friction tape would be used for the parceling and it worked great. My purpose was to get character
and make it easier to climb. The SS wire didn't need protection. Next, I had to make a 'gizmo' to assemble around the stretched
cable, outfit with tarred Marlin Twine and a counterweight, add a friction device and a crude guide, and spin as fast as I could.
It's amazing how good this thing worked. I couldn't believe it - nobody could believe it. Just get the wrapping started, put the
thing on, adjusted it a bit and started spinning it. Slowly at first, then faster and faster. It moved itself, only requiring slight
adjustments to the friction setting and the counterweight - which was no more than lead flashing wrapped on in several pieces
for easy adjustment and held in place with a little electrical tape - to make it go from one end to the other in ten to fifteen
minutes. More time on the longer ones. First thing you know, all parceled and served. If only it were so easy now to tar the
rigging every ten years or so. It's due now and not something I'm looking forward to.
Things at Crystal Cove ran out of control for the next couple of years. As spring approached, some of the people in the marina
who owned boats started coming to me to work on their boats. I explained I wasn't working for Wally anymore and even though
we were not on good terms, I didn't want to be the kind of guy that would sneak around and take his customers. They said they
would not have been going to Wally if I hadn't been there and the whole thing was to get me to work on their boats and they
wouldn't go to Wally if I didn't. Oddly enough, Wally had a thriving business before I ever arrived, but I was prone to believe
their bull and enjoy it. I told one guy I'd do his boats hull repair, under the table, so to speak, because I just didn't want to get all
caught up in the crap, but I knew I was the only guy in the area who could fix it correctly and match the gelcoat so the huge
repair in the middle of the starboard side was undetectable.
I did the job and everyone saw me do it, and it came out perfect, and there was now no chasing the customers away. I went down
town and got all the necessary permits and licenses, got the insurance and tax forms and next thing you know, I was 'Falcon
Eddie' yacht service at Crystal Cove Marina in Winthrop. Rats. Now I never got to work on Falcon and had way too many dealings
with Dirty Dan Curtin, the greedy, Rush Limbaugh worshiping owner of the property..
Within a month, I had almost all Wally's customers and Wally's Yacht Service closed the doors and moved away. Now Dan was
on me like a prison tattoo to move into the ex-Wally facility. He offered me the same rent I was paying at the small shop at the
other end of the same building. Next thing you know there was a secretary and about a dozen employees, so I made the move and
completely refurbished the other facility, cleaning thirty years of dirt and old crap out of the place, painting everything, building
new benches and a storage loft, and finally, punching a 16 foot by 24 foot hole in the back wall and installing giant doors to allow
bringing in big boats. I got training from U.S. Paints and started doing Awlgrip paint jobs.
Dirty Dan reneged on the old deal, even though I'd invested all of my own money to improve the property, and suddenly
increased the rent to $2500 a month, 5 times what I'd been paying. It could have been fair if he'd made the improvements, or
even paid for any of them, but he hadn't. He mistakenly assumed I'd painted myself into a corner and would have to pay the
increase. Instead, I ran another 8 months there without paying any rent at all, then moved out on Christmas Eve.
I paid part of my crew to load up the biggest truck I could rent with everything, and I mean everything, and left at 8PM into a
blizzard. The only plan was to drive South until I couldn't see my breath anymore, stop there and start up again. 24 hours later,
while fueling up in Jacksonville, Florida, I could still see my breath and asked the gas station attendant what was going on. She
shrugged and accused me of bringing the cold down with me. I continued on, crossed over toward Tampa, but kept going until I
reached Fort Myers. I unloaded everything into a storage facility, hiring a tow truck to lift the last few really heavy items out of
the truck and put them in the storage garage, then returned the rental truck and caught a flight back north.
A friend, Steve Papuchis, gave me a registered and insured truck to go back South in, asking only that I take off the plates in six
months and dispose of them. A girlfriend gave me a gas card and best wishes and after gathering a little more stuff, I headed
back, this time to Naples, where other friends had connections and said Naples was much better than Fort Myers.
|1993 - 1996
|Above, Steve Papuchis, a great guy and good friend, with one of his beloved
Mustangs. During hard cornering, the passenger doors on these cars would
pop open. Ask me how I know. To the right, Lauretta, my girlfriend and a
woman too good for me. I'm better now, but still.......
Below, an old postcard of Naples. It's still like that and I used to refer to it as
|I arrived in Naples with Lauretta's gas credit card, Steve's truck, $13, and the phone number of a customers friends roommates
ex-wife. Well, how can you go wrong all set up like that? I called the number and got a very friendly and attractive young woman
who insisted on taking me out to lunch right then. We met, ate and talked, and she called another friend, a young man with a big
apartment in need of a roommate.
I went over and talked to the guy who was about as laid back as you can get, explained my lack of money and would need to find
work to pay the rent. His name was Chris Day. Anyway, he waved my explanation off and said, "Catch up when you can," and
pointed me to my room, yawning, as he went back to bed to sleep off a hangover.
It took me about two days to get a job, then another came through, and another, so I worked them all, caught up on the rent by
the end of the first week Chris started running me around town and showed me all the best spots to drink and meet people. I
don't drink, but it didn't seem to matter. In three weeks, I landed the best job, and two weeks after that, quit the other three, but
not before making $1300 a week for a couple of weeks. Now, with a fat wallet and a steady, high-paying job, I had a firm toe-hold
on Naples. The irrepressible Mr. Day got injured and stopped paying the rent, so I picked up the slack. After all, he'd given me a
break when I needed it. Unfortunately, he never got better and instead, vanished. Well, it wasn't my apartment and at $1000 a
month, I wasn't about to live there alone, so I moved out and found a sweet little place 1/4 mile from Royal Yacht service, where
I was now working. At $425 a month it worked well for me.
Then a horrible thing happened destined to scar me for life. Driving around the local area in Steve's old truck on a day off, I
wandered up the coast to Fort Myers and over the bridge to fabled Sanibel and Captiva Islands. Nearing the northern end of
Sanibel Island there is a large wildlife reserve of some sort and the two lane road has no buildings, turnoffs or shoulders. About
halfway down this stretch of road, on the opposite side, someone had tossed out some trash. It was an old steamer trunk, two
suitcases and a big box. It seemed disgusting anyone would do such a thing in such a nice area.
After driving all the way to the tip of Captiva and back, I decided to stop and pick it up and pulled over. There just wasn't any way
to get 'over' without driving into a deep ditch. I stopped, then noticed a long line of cars filling in behind me. On the other side,
another long line of cars was passing me. People started getting 'antsy' and trying to get around me. Afraid I would cause an
accident, I shrugged it off and left the stuff there.
That evening, on the news, was this report. "Four million dollars in cash was discovered today on the side of the road on Sanibel
Island. It was in a steamer trunk, two suitcases, and a box." I may never be the same.
When leaving Winthrop, Falcon got stuffed with tons of belongings. I dropped the rig and tied it to the deck, and motored it back
over to Boston Boatyard Marina. I wanted it hauled and blocked, ready to be picked up and trucked south, but they had no room
up on land, so they promised to haul it as soon as possible. I paid them in advance for part of the winter, then made monthly
payments and received printed receipts in the mail each month.
I have stared at this page for several days now, wondering if I should include the account of the drama in rescuing Falcon from
pirates (of a sort), or not. It is a difficult decision. My intention in this section is just to stick to the process of building the boat,
and avoid the sidetracks which inevitably cause interested readers to simply stop reading and not come back. I have decided to
include the affair, but promise to be brief and as concise as possible.
|Back at the dock looking all shiny and reflective, it was time to put
on the name. This is one of those ideas that looks better at the booth
in the Boat Show than it does on the boat. You have to be a little
high and cockeyed to recognized the first letter as an 'F'. I ordered
the name sets, read the instructions and did my best putting them
on. It was sometime around this Falcon was documented and,
thinking I might want to commercial fish it, documented it for
recreation and fishery. The fishery thing meant she had to have the
name in four inch letters on either side of the bow. Imagining one
day installing fancy, carved Teac trailboards with the name carved
in, I temporarily used some cheap stencils and a can of white spray
paint to slap the required names on the bow. With a little overspray.
Looking a little cobby. Okay, it was a tragedy, but I was happily
oblivious for a while.
|My first attempts at gaff goose necks can easily be considered shy of stellar. In my own defense, I was working at something
never done before so there was no tried and true method to study or investigate. All known gaffs were constructed in the old,
original configuration, as a huge yoke sliding around a tree trunk mast with a half-hoop of wooden rollers holding it on and big
wooden blocks hoisting it on twisted manila line. I started with two graphite masts from wind surfer's, scratched my head and
went at it. The first try wasn't bad at all and I liked the way they looked in the setting sun.
|Wally was a drinker and a foul-tempered, abusive jerk at times, which was about once a week. One time he came into work and
fired the entire crew. I mean it. I'm serious. He came back from Florida in just such a mood and I had to rent a shop at the other
end of the building so I could work on Falcon, or anything else for that matter, without having to be in his shop listening to his
cheap crap. There is more to it than I have said and I might as well add a bit of context. My own father was the same kind of
person and I was violently abused as a child. Beatings, terrorism, psychological, mental and emotional abuse. It is a form of fire
that burns some children down, and tempers others to give back as good as they got. That was me. I gave back,but hated the
atmosphere it created. Always on edge,always ready for a row,and above all, always ready to go to fists if it came to that. It is a
shitty way to live and I was not happy in it. Once I got the other shop in a workable condition, he freaked out and thought I was
going to start my own yacht service, so he came down to my place and started a big row like a junkyard dog. It was not a good
move on his part and I was in no mood for it. He left the shop the loser for it and I was once again out of a job. I didn't care at
this point. I'd do odd jobs out of my own shop. Meanwhile, it was time to parcel and serve Falcon's rigging. The photos below
were taken right about that time in the new shop.
|When I left Winthrop and moved to Florida, I filled Falcon with personal possessions and parts and equipment and brought it to
the new Boston Boatyard and Marina in East Boston where I'd stayed for four years. Although there was a new manager in
charge, I knew everyone else and he seemed okay. This assumption proved to be a serious mistake. He had no room up on the
hard, so we made arrangements to leave Falcon in the water for a while and as soon as space on land became available, she would
be hauled out and the Brownell Boat Hauling Company would transport Falcon to wherever I was in Florida. All in agreement, I
prepaid rent for four months, got my receipt and headed off to Florida.
When I knew it was time to have the boat hauled and pay more rent, I called and they said there was still no room, and could I
just send a check. The rent was only about $90 a month for winter storage, so I sent checks and they returned printed receipts. I
expected the boat to be out by June and arranged with Brownell for the haul, only to discover Falcon was still in the water and
they had no intention of hauling it out.
I called the Boston Boatyard office and spoke with the manager. He explained that, as he saw it, Falcon was abandoned. I quickly
recalled to him the monthly checks and his returned receipts, and asked what the hell he was talking about. He chuckled and
said, "Then, I see it as transient, and the rent is now $1000 per month."
This confirmed, in my mind, what I suspected the second I heard the boat had not been hauled; that Dan Curtin, the scumbag
from Marblehead who owned the Winthrop property, had gotten to him and hatched a scheme to steal Falcon.
I told him I'd send the check on the first of July and concluded the conversation in a polite, conciliatory fashion. The 4th of July
was coming up and it would land on a Friday, making for too big a weekend for management to be around the marina office.
I stuffed $2500 in my pocket, and filled a carry-on bag with what I needed for a quick flight to Boston. In the picture above, you
can see Falcon docked in the Boston Boatyard Marina. The red asterisk is on her. At that time,the foremast was up. When I went
to get her, both spars were lying down, tightly lashed to the deck, and she was closer to land, in the slip marked by the green
asterisk, in the right hand, lower corner.
When I arrived in Boston, I went straight to Christine's house. Christine is a close friend and was my office manager when I had
a yacht service in Winthrop. She drove me around to buy a bunch of tools, a battery, food and water and a lot of other things I
figured I need to rescue Falcon. Then we headed straight for the marina.
|Chris was nervous as we approached the security gate and the guard
standing there, but relaxed and laughed when he greeted us warmly
and waved us straight in. He was unaware the manager and Dirty Dan
Curtin were trying to steal Falcon. We quickly unloaded the car and
brought everything to Falcon, still in the same slip I'd left her in six
The first thing I noticed was the chain and lock securing the bow eye to
a dock cleat, and the comical 'Impounded' notices they'd printed up on
the office computer. It was Chris who noticed the second chain,
attached from beneath the center of the dock to Falcon's prop. If she
hadn't seen it, I might have missed it until it was too late and I'd ruined
the prop. The second chain was fat with barnacles, proving they'd
attached it as soon as I'd left the boat. Also proving this manager is as
much a scumbag as Curtin. Christine again got nervous. I had a lot of
work to do before I could leave, so we said 'good-bye' and she went
|Once inside Falcon, the first thing I noticed was my two brand new Fortress anchors, still in the boxes, were stolen, as well as a
little bit of ballast lead. There was a junk sport fisher a few slips down with a drunk owner always on the look-out out to steal
something, and I knew my stuff was on his derelict tub. I had bigger fish to fry and had to shrug it off. After disposing of the two
DOA 8D batteries on board, I connected the new size 24 I'd bought, went through a commissioning process and fired up the
engine. Much to my dismay, the front main shaft seal on the fuel injection pump was blowing out diesel fuel like a punctured
With no option but to fix it, I stripped off the timing belt and injection drive pulley and removed the seal, then found a
dealer/repair shop in Boston for the Bosch injection pump and made arrangements with Chris to borrow her car and go get the
seal. Two hours and $1.19 later, I was back aboard and fixing the pump. I apparently worked a bit too quickly however, and
over-tightened the toothed timing belt.
Just about sunset, I struggled into an old wet suit and slid off the dock and under Falcon. I didn't have a mask, or flippers, or
gloves, but the July water wasn't too cold and the work kept me fairly comfortable.
The chain coming from beneath the dock was as large as a man's calf with barnacles and growth. It had been wrapped around and
around the prop and shaft into a huge ball, also bristling with sharp barnacles and I could only 'feel' my way around. Thus began
a three hour test of patience and perseverance which finally resulted in the chain hanging straight down beneath the dock, and
my prop and shaft clear and clean. My hands were cut up pretty good, but only minor scrapes and nicks. Anyone who has had to
deal with barnacles knows what I mean.
Exhausted and with a full day coming, I turned in and slept like a log. In the morning, I walked through the gate and down to the
American Ice Cream Shop in East Boston Square where I had coffee and breakfast and talked to many old friends who were
delighted with my story of rescuing Falcon. None of these people have any love for those I was butting heads with, so I had no
fear of being ratted out. Back aboard Falcon, after another friendly chat with another guard, I started securing Falcon's spars,
strapped down to the deck, and mounting and connecting a cheap set of running lights, engine controls to the helm, a bilge
pump, and basically preparing the boat for a long haul. At this time, it was my intention to make it to Mark Simonetti's dock,
behind his house, then scrape the bottom, change the prop to the one I'd brought with me, provision a little more and head south
to Naples, Florida.
With everything set by the middle of the afternoon, I relaxed and ate and waited for the activity around the marina to die out. I
was hoping to slip away without drawing attention and apparently with good reason, considering what happened later. It was not
to be. The holiday weekend had filled every boat in the marina with revellers and drinkers and the party was on. I quickly cut a
link in the forward chain and twisted it so the chain still appeared intact, but I could drop it off the boat in a moment. At 8 PM, I
started the engine and let it warm up while I untied all the lines and took the power cord aboard. I started backing out, jolted to a
stop, came back in, jumped to the dock and ran forward to separate the stupid chain, (note the CHAIN being stupid and not the
knucklehead who forgot to drop it), then back aboard and out of the slip.
As I started forward and turned for Boston Harbor, someone on the next boat started screaming, 'That boat is impounded! You
can't take it!'. I distinctly remember telling him to go screw himself - or something remarkably more obscene, it was my boat. I
throttled up and headed for Winthrop and Mark's dock.
Falcon was incredibly slow. I couldn't move above 3 knots. It took a while for me to get my head around the fact that Falcon was
so thick with growth that 3 knots was flat out. Rats. The growth on the bottom must have been horrendous.
|I know this is tedious and boring, and I do apologize,
but it just needs to be here to satisfy me.
This was Boston falling away behind me when I noticed
both blue and red flashing lights coming toward me
from way back there. The blue lights were coming
straight out of Boston and the red were coming from
the right, somewhere in Charlestown or East Boston. I
have to admit I was disgusted and cursed the growth on
the hull. If I'd been able to make 7 knots, as I should, I
could have already passed Logan Airport and could be
disappearing into the darkening channels and coves
around Winthrop, but no such luck.
I kept looking back as they drew closer, and constantly
scoured the coastlines for a viable hiding spot, to no
avail. There simply were none. This stretch of the
Boston Harbor Main Channel, 'President Roads', it's
called, is open and exposed with shoal areas adjacent to
the airport and nowhere to go but straight in or out.
|Obviously, with little else to do, I kept turning to watch the
approaching Police Boats, confident it was me they were
after. Just as I turned to watch for the tenth time or so, both
boats simultaneously throttled back and shut off their lights
and sirens. They both did slow turns away and motored back
toward where they'd come from. Talk about a sense of relief.
The sun set with no boats chasing me and no one else out
on the water. It would have been a pleasant sail if the boat
could have just gone a squeak faster. As it was, I wallowed
onward for three hours while Chris, Mark and my girlfriend
Lauretta waited for me at his dock. I picked my way along a
channel I'd never been in before with a flashlight and a
wrinkled chart. At least I didn't have to slow down to be
careful - the boat was as sluggish as an overloaded burro and
I could have walked faster. They had a great time poking fun
at me when I finally arrived at about midnight. I was just
tickled to be at a dock and not under arrest or something.
|The next morning at high tide, I pulled the boat way up the dock close to the house and waited for the tide to go out. When it did,
I was joined by a long-time friend, Tony Harling, who helped me scrape 2 inches of barnacles and growth off the hull and change
the prop and prop zinc. When the tide came back in, Falcon was ready for the trip.
Mark gave me a bunch of military rations called MRE's, - meal ready to eat - and I got water and set up a few other things. At
noon on the third day, Mark hurried home and told me Dan Curtin had pulled something shady and was sending Winthrop cops
to arrest me and impound the boat. I told Mark that was a bullshit story. There was no possibility of Dan Curtin, or anyone else,
coming up with a criminal reason to arrest me on my own boat while at his dock. It was then that I realized it WAS a bullshit
story, and Mark was running from his wife, not Curtin. I didn't push the issue, I made ready to leave, but the wind piped up and
howled for two days, and Mark, a lobsterman, told I couldn't possibly go in that mess.
On the third day, with the wind down to 10 to 15 knots, I untied and headed out of Winthrop with Falcon moving MUCH better.
There was still a moderate swell outside the harbor of about 6 to 8 feet, but the seas were not choppy or confused and Falcon is
heavy and steady and I had no doubt she would manage easily.
|This is the Boston Graves Lighthouse. I'mtold the
walls are 7 feet thick and made of granite. In rough
weather the waves crash and roar against the granite
ledges she is built on. The sea was about flat on the
day I took this picture. It was anything but on the day
Falcon and I passed.
Five miles out of Boston Harbor, very close to the
location this picture was taken, the engine stopped
with a loud 'thunk'. With wind and waves pushing me
back towards the 'Roaring Bulls', a granite ledge which
hides at high tide and roars with crashing waves any
other time, I quickly deployed a large Danforth anchor
on 5/8" nylon rode in about 30 feet of water. Falcon
drew up sharp as the anchor snatched bottom, leaving
me about 150 feet of leeway to the Bulls, straight
behind me. Then I went to investigate the engine.
The toothed timing belt driving everything, including
the injection pump and the cam, was snapped and dead
|and lying in the bilge below the engine. I had no spare. Even if I did,what were the chances the engine hadn't bent a valve?
Oh well, I'll call the ship to shore operator and get patched through to Christine. She can get me a belt and drop it off to Mark,
and he might be able to drop it off to me when he goes out tomorrow to check his pots. A half hour later I am convinced my radio
no longer transmits. Even the rare boat passing withing a mile or two cannot hear me.
It's only about 1:30 in the afternoon, and if I'm going to get Falcon's rig standing, I'm going to have to get going. I put on the
wetsuit again and constructed a makeshift rope ladder to lower off the bow so I could get to the bow eye at the waterline. Then I
attached the bobstay to the bowsprit and rigged the bowsprit in it's spot on the foredeck. Next, with the bow of Falcon plunging
like a wild horse into some of the big swells, I climbed down to the bottom rung of the rope ladder and attached the bobstay to
the bow eye. As I said, the boat was plunging pretty good, sometimes almost slapping green water with the bowsprit, so I took
regular dunkings underwater. It didn't surprise or bother me in the least, but apparently, it freaked out Mark Simonetti.
Just as I finished and began climbing back aboard, I heard him yelling behind me. He'd been out checking pots and noticed
Falcon on his way back in and tried to raise me on the radio. Concerned he didn't get a reply, he came over to investigate, slowly
circling Falcon and calling for me. To his shock, I suddenly appeared at the bow, going in and out of the sea like Ahab lashed to
Moby Dick. He stopped his boat and started yelling to me. He was pretty wound up and swore I was drifting toward the Roaring
Bulls, though a glance told me it wasn't true. He snagged my anchor rode and motored off with it running over a line he'd rigged
across his two aft cleats. When my anchor came up, it hooked the line and he towed me back into Winthrop, only this time, to a
mooring field just a few hundred feet from Curtin's office. Things like this make life worth living. Curtin is thrashing through
everything trying to get me, and I show up on his doorstep and he never had a clue.
I picked up a mooring and Mark dropped me off at his house. I told him about the belt on the way. I met Chris at her apartment
after work and stayed there for the night. In the morning, she gave me a ride to a couple of places for a new belt, a new radio,
antenna, some wire and I forget whatever else. She dropped me off at the public launching ramp where Falcon was sitting on
who knows who's mooring. It took about half an hour for me to hitch a dingy ride out to Falcon and once there I commenced
timing the engine and setting up the new radio and antenna. When everything was set I tried to start the engine.
No dice. Dead battery, and I mean - DEAD - battery. I was dumbfounded. There had been nothing left on, no drain, nothing. Dead
battery. Brand new, and no backup. So, out to the cockpit I go, to sit in the cool July breeze and search for an answer.
It occurs to me that I might buy someones second battery. In just a few minutes, one of my old friends and a customer of my
yacht service, comes along. I am ashamed to say I no longer remember his name, but he sailed a beautifully restored classic
wooden sailboat of about 24 sleek and varnished feet, and he saw me and stopped to shoot the breeze. We brought each other up
to date and I asked if he had an extra battery I could buy and I offered a crisp new $100 bill. He scoffed at the money and handed
me a brand new size 27 deep cell marine battery, explaining he only had the one, but he used it for running lights and the radio
and had no use for either on that day. I tried to pay him again, assuring him I was not tight for cash. He just smiled and pushed
off and said it was worth the battery to know he was sticking it to Curtin by helping me out. I thanked him and he left.
A few minutes later, the engine came to life and announced some bad news. One cylinder was banging like a trip hammer she
was only running on three. So, the broken belt had bent a valve. Well, after ten minutes of trying this and trying that, I dropped
the mooring and once again headed out of the harbor, only this time, rather than take 'President Roads' channel out to the
Graves Light, I stayed close along the shore and wove through the harbor islands.
|While these are often seen as bleak, barren, storm-swept islands, it's only because they are. Still, they're a fun place to go in the
summer and hundreds of people can be found out here partying in good weather. Myself, I think of them as someplace I can
swim to if this engine completely disintegrates and sinks the boat. The list of bad things left to happen is getting short, and I like
these islands and enjoyed this route.
|It was not long before I realized leaving the radio on,
with the engine threatening to detonate at any second
was ridiculous, as I couldn't hear it at all over the racket.
For the second time in as many days, I'd left Boston
later in the day than I'd hoped. Still, it was a beautiful
day and I greatly enjoyed the run south to the Cape Cod
Canal. The tragedy happening in Falcon's mechanical
heart sounded less terminal at higher rpm's, so I was
able to push her along comfortably, though noisily, at
about five and a half knots. I reached a great anchorage
just before the canal. It's behind a jetty on the North
side of the entrance. The canal goes more East to West
than North to South, and it's something like 10 miles
long, but plenty wide and deep.
Unfortunately, I did not have the desire, or perhaps
wits, to take pictures of most of this little adventure.
|Perhaps it was because I generally felt more 'under siege' than vacationing. This picture is the closest I have to the anchorage on
that evening. I do have a few pictures of Conanicut Marina in Narragansett Bay, however. I was more relaxed there and it was
more of a take a picture' kind of atmosphere. I awoke before dawn but snoozed until first light, then fired up the engine with a
sigh and a prayer, raised anchor and headed through the canal.
|A lot of Cape Cod looks like this from the water, but not so much from the canal. There are steep sides and high banks through
most of it, but there is a spit very much like this on the north side of the exit into Buzzards Bay.
I'd been in Buzzards Bay before when it was windy and found the exit of the canal can dump you face first into some nasty chop.
Gratefully, it was not the case on this day. It was fabulous and I could only have enjoyed it more if my engine wasn't trying to
commit suicide, or if I'd been sailing.
As I neared the southern end of Buzzards Bay, the swell began increasing and a stiff wind of about twenty knots gradually turned
to hit me right on the nose. Out of the bay I was in deeper water and now travelling due West towards the entrance of
Narragansett Bay. The swells grew to about 6 to 8 feet, but it was a crisp and beautiful day and Falcon plunged onward and into
it. I took a little water on the deck, but mostly spray and nothing I found particularly uncomfortable. Of course, the thought of
losing the engine in this location was daunting as the wind and waves would drive me back towards Cuttyhunk Island and
Martha's Vineyard, both with brutal, rocky shores.
I moved to within half a mile of the most prominent land features to the North and found it helped a bit with the size of the
swell. As I neared Narragansett Bay, the swell diminished to about half and the engine blew with a sickening squeal and a thud. I
went forward and dropped the first anchor, which quickly snarled in some kind of giant steel net stretching southward from the
point of land north of me called 'Land's End'. I cannot tell you how much this irritated me. I pulled my arms off against the wind
and swell until I was as close to over the top of the net as I could get, then cut the rode and let the anchor and 80 feet of rode fall
to the bottom of the ocean. I quickly rigged a second Danforth on the 520 feet of 5/8 inch line left on the brand new rode and
anchored successfully in 100 feet of water.
Whew. Well, the spunky little motor did well to get me this far. I took out my camera and took a picture of Land's End, as perky
and joyful a name as anyone could hope for in such a place. The first picture is Land's End. I think the other was taken in or near
Cape Cod Canal. I really don't know. It was years before I thought to sort them out.