The adventures of the merry band of misfits who call Dock Six in Port Dover their summer home. Boat repair, boat maintenance, boat building, boat cruises, boat philosophy, boat recipes and just plain boats are the focus, fueled by good food, good friends and cheap booze. Welcome!
"You'd be well on your way, if you could only set sail..." -Kenny Loggins
Long nights, short days, water too hard to
sail in, and an off-season maintenance punchlist with an emphasis on sanding,
sanding, more sanding and refinishing leaves me with lots of time to think.
(I’m not entirely sure this is a good thing-
I sand cockpit grates, cockpit tables and companionway doors preparatory to their
semi-annual renewal coat of varnish, and consider new projects that will turn
big pieces of wood into smaller pieces of wood and large piles of sawdust, I find myself pondering:
Why do I do this, this varnishing thing?
Why don’t I use that newfangled synthetic, fast-drying, easy to apply,
orangey-looking stuff that so many sailors swear by, that requires only two
coats, and a lot less sanding? It would
take so much less time, and it works almost as well, and it looks almost the
…and it ain’t right.
As I was laying down the finish coat,
watching the varnish bring the grain to life, I realized that there
is something zen about varnish. The
smell, the feel , the magic as it goes on, the connection to dozens of
generations of boatkeepers who have gone before , doing the same off-season refinishing job, and
likely asking themselves “Why?”
Varnish is about keeping the fire.
To me, that is a big part of the appeal of
keeping the fire.
But that fire grows a little dimmer, every
Here’s what I mean:
For millennia, sailing vessels were
constructed of wood, with sails and lines of natural fibre, caulked and sealed
with vile tarrish concoctions boiled over a fire from ingredients fit for
neither man nor beast. Legend says that
any brew too thin to seal wooden boats was re-marketed to the pub trade under
the brand name Guinness, and any goop too thick to caulk a hull was jarred and
sold as Marmite.
(Hey, watch it! I like Marmite! – ed.)
For centuries the traditions were handed
down, from wright to wright and boatswain to boatswain, and while there was
advancement in design, materials and construction methods stayed pretty much the
same. A 15th century boatbuilder would
have gotten along pretty well in an early 20th century boatyard,
since the tools and techniques hadn’t changed much.
Aboard, the same pattern held true. Lanterns and lamps dimly lit the way for
centuries, flags were the only option for communication beyond range of voice
and navigation was an arcane art of sun shots and celestial scrutiny.
The fire was kept, the torch passed,
from one generation to the next.
Then, in a span of less than five decades, the
world of small boats saw more technological advancement than had been seen in
the entirety of the past five millennia.
Within the last half of the 20th
century, fiberglass had virtually replaced wood as the material of choice for
production boat building. Aluminum had
virtually replaced wood for construction of spars, electric lighting had
virtually replaced lanterns and lamps, radio had virtually replaced signal
flags and Loran, and then chartplotters, virtually replaced the sextant and dead
great naval architect L. Francis Herreshoff might have denigrated
fiberglass as “frozen snot,” …but it turned out to be very successful snot
Thanks to snot, boats could be built
faster, with less skilled labour, requiring less maintenance.
The upside was that sailing became a more
accessible option for the everyman.
The downside was that the fire dimmed.
Skills that had been passed down for
generations, from sailor to sailor, became, first, quaint,…
… and then forgotten.
Quick, how many of us carry a full
complement of signal flags aboard? How
many of us have caulking irons and mallets in our tool bags?
How many of us know what caulking irons are?
don’t get me wrong- I love the reduced maintenance and longer lifespan of fiberglass
hulls and alloy spars and synthetic sails, and I think my radio and
chartplotter are wonderful tools to have aboard. I appreciate that I DON’T
have to keep caulking irons and mallets in my toolbag…
… however, I draw the line at slathering
the wood on my craft with some synthetic that is cheaper, and easier, and
faster and almost the same, if you squint.
See, I figure there is magic in boat work,
a purity of process, an adventure of design and construction that envelopes the
senses- the sound of the saw, the sight of brightwork glistening, the smell of
varnish... it is poetry.
maybe it’s just fumes.
Whatever it is, it ain’t much, but I’m
keeping the flame, as best I can. "Talk the Dock!"
"Havin' fun!" -B-52s
I've been saving this momentous post for a momentous occasion.
"What makes this post momentous, and why now?" Faithful Reader asks.
Because this is the 300th Dock Six Chronicle.
As of December 10th, our (mis)adventures have had more than 200 000 views. *insert polite applause here.*
Thanks to all of you who take the time to give us a read.
And, most momentously, our friends Dan and Jaye, the pirates behind the Life Afloat blog, flattered the D6C by honouring us with a Liebster Award nomination.
The Award, alas, comes with no cash prize, no trophy, but it DOES come with the warm fuzzy feeling that at least one fellow scribbler thinks your scribbles are worth reading.
Dan and Jaye explain the Liebster Award:
"So here's what it is about: bloggers recognizing other bloggers. The Liebster Award is a project that promotes the discovery of new blogs. If you're selected for the "award", you must answer some questions given to you by the blog that selected you, and then also choose other blogs for the award and give them some questions to answer. "
Right, then. So, here's our Q and A....
What got you started on
I hated golf.
I’m not kidding! My hatred of golf at the age of 9 led me to
become the sailor that I am today.
Before I became an eccentric adult, I was a
weird kid- I was hard to motivate, had,
and needed, few friends, was happy to sit and read all day. The arrival of
summer vacation caused my parents no little frustration, as i had no desire to do anything except nothing,
which, clearly, was not an option, apparently.
My parents were, and still are, avid
golfers. When summer vacation arrived,
my parents signed me up for “golf camp” at the club, aka “daycare for avid
I hated it.
I did discover, however, that I could eat
all I wanted in the clubhouse... for free.
All I had to do was sign the bill with my parents’ membership number! WIN! So,
mom and/or dad would drop me off, I’d slump toward the first tee, and as soon
as I could, I beelined for the clubhouse and had my first burger or hot dog of
the day. I quickly got caught, however, and my parents, smart and empathetic enough to
realize that the links life was not for
me, asked me how I would prefer to fill my summer.
Me? I’m 9!
I don’t want to do anything!
The ‘rents made it clear I had to
do something, and started rhyming off pastime
possibilities- Daycamp? No. Arts camp? No. Sailing school? No. Wait. Maybe.
I’ll try it.
So, Monday morning, we head down the road to
the local sailing club, and Mom signs me up for two weeks, and in short order I
step aboard one of the school’s Alcan Petrel dinghies and...
....I was hooked. Instantly and forever.
Realizing I was finally onboard with
SOMETHING, my parents got onboard as well.
A cheque was quickly written for the rest of the summer sessions, and
the following spring I took proud possession of a Mirror dinghy, and by the
time i was 12 had worked through all of the CYA White Sail, Bronze Sail and Silver
Then, I discovered girls, and motorcycles, and cars and engines, and
didn’t sail a boat for over 25 years.
Flash forward to 2008. SWMBO, descended from Viking stock, from an avid boating family, the daughter of a
boating magazine editor, had never sailed...
... Until she attended a corporate retreat in San Diego in March of that
year. One of the team building exercises
was a dinghy regatta on Mission Bay.
SWMBO loved it! She fired me an enthusiastic
email, and opined that acquiring a sailboat would not be a horrible idea. I had a solid employment bonus coming at the
end of the quarter, so by the time SWMBO got off the plane from California, I
had lined up a half dozen boats ofr us to tour over the next week. By the end of April, we took stewardship of a
Georgian 23 Whiskeyjack- Six season later, we acquired NextBoat,
our soon to be renamed S2 8.0C. The rest is modern history, chronicled in the Chronicles.
your life like, pre-boat? What did you do for recreation?
Pre-boat, I wrote a little, did
the occasional home improvement project at Stately Jones Manor, restored old
Volkswagens and motorcycles, drank beer. Boats and boatbuilding replaced the VWs and
motorcycles, until recently, kinda. I
have acquired a small collection of vintage mopeds which have kinda brought me
partly back around to my wheeled transportation mania. Why mopeds? Great question. More on that in later editions of the Chronicles.
most unlikely thing you currently have aboard?
One thing about summering aboard a smallish
boat that is relatively new (to us), is that we try to keep our payload aboard
fairly stripped down. The most unlikely
thing aboard? The liftgate net from a 1997 Ford Aerostar, which makes a
decent low-buck gear hammock.
Tell us about your first night at anchor.
Confession time- it was actually this
season. While we are seasonal
liveaboards, we largely day sail. (Insert horrified gasps here) Due to
work obligations, in the past we simply haven’t had the schedule flexibility to
cruise extensively. This season we
decided to simply sail across the bay and anchor out at the end of Long Point. The
night was largely uneventful.
after- not so much. It was a relatively short passage, and the anchorage, as
always, was pleasant and attractive. There
was the typical Lake Erie square 2-4’ chop, not uncomfortable with enough
scope, but a little unpredictable. It took a while before I stopped obsessing over
the depth finder and chart plotter, and shoresighting to ensure we weren’t
dragging. We swam, explored the beach, ate a wonderful dinner (as dinners always are
aboard) saluted the sunset with tumblers of rum-based beverages, read and
retired. SWMBO and I lay in the aft
cabin admiring the stars through the overhead hatch, drowsing to the sound of
the breeze in the standing rigging, and attempting to ignore the random *ting*
of the shackle on the small Danforth hanging on the sternrail.
oh dark thirty, the rolling stopped. The
absence of motion roused me from my slumber and I climbed into the cockpit.
The wind had clocked halfway around, and
the anchorage was now baby’s- bottom smooth. We hadn’t dragged, (good) but the sky was becoming overcast to the west
(not so good). I made the decision to
relax in the cockpit and watch the dawn.
I took in a reef on our main,
figuring we might need it come morning.
Dawn broke beautifully in the east, but dark
skies and heavy wind gusts from the west weren’t bringing good news. I made the decision to rouse SWMBO and we
opted for a hasty departure. Then things got interesting. More later.
were no object, what addition/change would you make to your present boat?
SWMBO and I are lucky- we are satisfied with
a simple “low wake” life aboard, and have been lucky enough to have hit the
boat ownership lottery with NextBoat- there is very little that we feel a
desperate need to change, or a want for
gear which would be hugely expensive to
either fix, modify or add. One chore on
the winter refit list is to add a larger holding tank and rework the head
layout to make it more usable. An autopilot and diesel heater may be on the
2015 installation list- more detail later, as it happens.
finances (we all have that issue), how has boat life changed you?
It has taught us new skills and refined skills
we already had. Our small life has
brought SWMBO and I closer together, and at the same time made us more
bloggers have a story about someone they met through their blog, or an amusing
connection or opportunity that happened because of their blogging ... what's
I have met
some interesting people and created some great friendships through my scribblings,
and the wonderful band of fellow reprobates who read it. Last season SWMBO and I tied up on the pier
for Friday the 13th, and soon
the pier , and the town, were packed with upwards of 100 000 people. Throughout the day we had been trading nods
and waves with the hordes of folks walking along the pier, and late in the morning
one couple walks past the boat , dude does a doubletake, stops and says , “Hey, you’re Dock Six! I recognize half your face! We just bought a boat!’ We talk a little and they move on. Flash forward to early November: NextBoat is on the hard in the Bridge Yards
yard, and SWMBO and I take a Sunday afternoon to offload gear and
winterize. We step into the cockpit and I
look over to the boat beside us, Where another couple is also doing last minute
boatwork, and this time it is my turn to do a double take- it is the same
couple we met on Friday the 13th.
"...in the face of a hurricane west wind..." -Gordon Lightfoot
This time last week, the temperature was below freezing, and the first snow of the season was flying.
Today, the snow is gone and the temp is positively balmy, but we are getting slammed by a meteorological freight train that hasn't slowed down since it left Kansas. Steady 40-50 knot winds hurt your face.
Here's how the Lake looked this afternoon:
Steady 40-50 knot winds hurt your face.
So, I figured this a good time to revisit a more placid day in Port Dover.
It's mid-September, and the weather is well and truly balmy, not too hot, not too cold, not too humid, not too dry, a little underwindy, but oh, well... one of those late summer/early fall days that are too good and too rare to waste.
SWMBO and I decided to put it to use by making a Quack run up the River, seeing what we could see.
Th is is hardly the Canadian equivalent of a Joseph Conrad/ Coppolian saga- the Lynn River is the tributary that inconveniently divides Port Dover...
-image courtesy of portdoverwaterfront.com
..... it is also the source of some small controversy. As you can see on the map above, the Lynn flows from Northwest to South, through the town of Simcoe, then into the town of Port Dover, where it meets Black Creek, flowing Northeast to South, and then discharges into Long Point Bay.
The controversy arises below the Y- is the waterway south of the confluence the Lynn River, or Black Creek? Some refer to this stretch as "the creek", others as "the river", others, noting that aforementioned body of water has been dredged, widened, straightened and breakwalled, refer to it as "the channel."
Personally, I figure a creek can flow into a river, yet a river cannot flow into a creek, just as a town can grow into a city, but a city cannot grow into a town...ergo, it is the Lynn River which empties into the Bay, not the Black Creek.
(Not that anybody really gives a shit. -ed.) Er, anywater, we had been up the River and up the Creek dozens of times, always aboard the mothership, but had never turned left and taken the Lynn less travelled, as it were. Concerns over the uncertainty of draft, airdraft and general there-are-never-any-sailboats-there-so-sailboats-must-not-be-able-to-go-there logic led us to mark the upper Lower Lynn with "here there be dragons" on our mental chart.
But, not wishing to leave any local waters unexplored, we decided to take an hour or so and make a Quack attack.
We tied up NextBoat opposite the old Misener fish plant, clambered into Quack, our 7 foot long inflatable, cranked up our trusty Suzuki O/B, bid our floating condo adieu...
"You see your dreams come true, this I promise you..." -Rick Ross No matter how big the boat, every boat is too small.
Especially the galley.
When it comes to boat galleys, to paraphrase James T. Kirk...
Space is the final frontier.
NextBoat*'s galley has more storage capacity than Whiskeyjack's galley, but "more storage capacity" is a relative term. That is like saying that your humble scribbler here is taller than the average 9 year old child.
That doesn't make me a giant.
Ergo, maximizing space is paramount. The more stuff you can fit into the existing space, the more comfortable your life in aforementioned space.
Hence my interest in a set of nesting cookware.
Every year at the boat show I look for a deal on cookware. I like the quality of the Magma set...
-image courtesy of Magma
...but I don't like the inventory- there are four pots, but only one pan, in the 10 piece set. Those of you who have read any of the Two-Burner Tastiness recipes understand that I'd rather have two pans, and one less pot, but that isn't an option.
So, my search continued.
Until early this summer.
Wandering through the camping department of my local Canadian Tire, last June, I made an impulse buy.
(why am I not surprised? - ed.) I had just picked up the bottle of lamp oil I needed, and on the shelf right beside the lamp oil was the camp cooking gear. There were the usual speckled enamel suspects, the stuff that looks rustic and rugged, right up until the moment you actually use it, but in the midst of the sea of stamped-in-China-great outdoors-nostalgia-ware was a SALE ! tag, under a carton of cookware that looked...different.
So I bought it.
Yeah, I'd never heard of "Lagostina" either.
No, those not-shrimp, not-prawns, not-crawfish, not-lobster things? Those are LaNgostinOs.
Which can be cooked in a Lagostina pot.
Here's the deal: Lagostina is an Italian firm that has been manufacturing stainless steel cookware for decades. Their "Campeggio" line is their, as the name implies, line of camping cookware, but while it is compact in size, it is not compact on quality.
These pots and pans are constructed of 18/10 stainless, with three ply (stainless steel/ aluminum/ stainless steel) bottoms for even heating. fold down the handle on the large stock pot and ...
Keep going and in rapid succession you get...
Two, count 'em, TWO pans...
...Two stock pots...
...Two lids that fit both pots and pans....
... and a grip-anywhere, go-anywhere insulated pot/pan handle that is both ambidextrous and has hooks for removing hot pot lids, like when you are steaming Langostinos.
Both pots are graduated, which is a nice touch...
...for measuring the exact amount of liquid for boiling langstinos
Also included is a mesh carrying bag... that was promptly repurposed forother uses aboard.
After 5 months of use, both SWMBO and I can confirm, we LOVE this stuff.
All pieces heat evenly, the bottoms don't warp when warm, the handle is substantial, the construction is solid, the non-stick is real non-stick, and, mosti importantly...
... These were the ONLY pots and pans we have used for the last 5 months, and we haven't needed to buy more. Cooking for 2-4 on a 2 burner stove? This is all you will likely ever need. It is all we have needed.
Here's an example:
Cracker crusted pork chops, "Booker T" mashed potatoes and peaches and cream corn- two burners, three pots, from one nesting cookware set.
Surprisingly, although less than half the price of the smaller one-pan Magma nesting set, the Lagostina cookware comes with a 10 year warranty, compared to the Magma's I year warranty. I am impressed. Retail price at our local Canadian Tire Store was $119.99 cdn.
The only challenge is where to find it outside of the Canada.
If anyone wants a set, let me know. I'll pick it up for you and ship it out- for actual cost.
Thanks for checking in, and please,
"Talk the Dock!"