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Forum Index: .: Dock Talk:
The bilge was my babysitter
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The Publisher
*****


Apr 23, 2009, 12:25 PM

Post #1 of 17 (24762 views)
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How many people had their first sailing experiences in the bilge of a boat? I know I did... a Santana 22 to be exact.

A story I just read reminded me of this, which notes how past IOD World Champion Kevin Farrar had his first remembrance of sailing in the bilge of my parents sailboat (click here for story).

Everyone that submits their “The Bilge Was My Babysitter” is entered in a raffle sponsored by McLube and could win some of their Hullkote speed polish. Raffle to occur May 4, 2009 at 9am PT.



- Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt




Bill Seifert
*

Apr 26, 2009, 8:53 AM

Post #2 of 17 (24480 views)
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I started sailing on auxiliary sailboats at age 14. This was back in the days of wooden boats. My job every spring was to stay on board the first night the boat was launched, and sleep in the main cabin with my arm over the edge of the bunk.

When my hand would get wet, I would wake up. First I would do the natural reaction to one's hand in cold water, then spend an hour working the 12" diaphragm manual bilge pump to get the water under the sole boards so I could have another hour or so of sleep.

In 24 hours, the underwater planks would swell enough that the boat was reasonably water tight when upright. But on the first couple races of the year, we would keep a pair of boots on deck to put on before going below while beating, as the hull above the waterline needed immersion to swell up.

Bill Seifert
Warren, RI




J. Lee Maier
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Apr 29, 2009, 4:44 PM

Post #3 of 17 (24205 views)
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I started out my sailing adventure crawling around the floor boards of my parents Int'l 110 on Saginaw Bay. Most of the time when my folks were racing, I was left ashore with Grandma and Tiger baseball on TV. (Which explains my love of another summer sport.) Well, when Grandma was busy, or we were pleasure sailing, it was my time to come along. I remember standing with my wobbly new legs, hanging on to the cockpit combing and watching the freighters come and go in Saginaw Bay. When the crew (Mom) had crew work to take care of, I would be stuffed on a blanket into the bow of that 110. Dad would have his sailing hat on with the scrambled eggs on the bill and the Bay City Yacht Club pin stuck on the crossed anchors.
As winter came on, I remember being all bundled up and sitting on my Dad's lap as he held me tight with the ice crystals stinging my face as we skimmed across the ice of Saginaw Bay on his DN.
Great times. I'll never forget them.
J. Lee Maier
Gull Lake, MI


AnneKochen
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Apr 29, 2009, 8:54 PM

Post #4 of 17 (24183 views)
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I started sailing at 9 months old in the bilge of an Atlantic my parents crewed on, in Western Long Island Sound. My mother would prop boat cushions on either side of me while I took a nap under the foredeck. My father likes to say that actually I started sailing before I was born. I was born in September and my mother was crewing on an Atlantic that whole summer she was pregnant with me.
Anne Kochendorfer
Glen Cove, NY


appleot
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Apr 30, 2009, 5:27 AM

Post #5 of 17 (24156 views)
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I was first on a boat just 2 days after I was born in October. The moment I came home from the hospital, before we even went into the house, my Dad took me on-board First Draft, our Catalina 27, for a picture.

Then next spring, my parents strapped my car seat to the starboard settee and off we went. While they enjoyed the view of the sunset, I enjoyed the view of the port settee. Later that summer, as I began to crawl and walk, they used that same settee cushion as a baby gate to keep me corralled inside my new nautical playpen - the vee berth. Mom or Dad would occasionally stick their head down the hatch, keeping me entertained by playing peekaboo, but I really wanted to steer.

They eventually gave me the tiller, and today I'm racing Optis and Lasers and crewing on the Commodore's J30. My goal is to one day do the TransPac on a TP52 like Morning Light.

Sean Walker, 12
West River Sailing Club
Galesville, MD


msfarrar
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Apr 30, 2009, 6:49 AM

Post #6 of 17 (24140 views)
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My dad was always a very competitive Star sailor in Colorado when I was young. By the time I was 4 I had my own full body foul weather gear, mine was bright pink, and my brother's was orange. Every Star regatta he went to, he brought us along. Shortly after my dad had left the dock, both my brother and I were up by the mast sleeping. It was very peaceful, and we were out of the sun.

Lake Dillon's waters never get above about 45 degrees in the summer time. My brother and I were enjoying our mid-morning nap, when the races started. The next thing we knew, frigid water from the lake was pouring in on us, and we were rudely awakened. I do not recall this bit of memory, but my dad can tell it well. The next thing that happened was the two of us came shooting out from under the mast, yelling, "We hate racing!!!"

Good thing that it did not deter me for long.


petey
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Apr 30, 2009, 7:45 AM

Post #7 of 17 (24120 views)
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Since I am still in the sport, I guess the "bilge babysitter" did not deter me, but I recall some miserable times in the bilge of a Catalina 27. Maybe it is what motivated for me to sail my own boat, and be in control rather than be held hostage. For parents looking to cut costs and not hire a babysitter, please at least allow your child to bring along the best toys and treats.


Margaret
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Apr 30, 2009, 9:12 AM

Post #8 of 17 (24090 views)
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When I was born, my parents were learning how to sail in an ODay Mariner, so they just took me along. A few years later, my brother and I sailed with Dad in his Finn, with one of us on each side of the centerboard trunk. It was cozy, but plenty of space for a 4 and 5 year old. Years later, on a cruising boat, we have vivid memories of getting hungry down below while Mom and Dad were sailing. We'd scronge around until we found something, usually the vienna fingers (mini hotdogs in a can) and the cheese whiz and crackers that were always on the boat. On hindsight it was pretty gross food, but we were starving, and learned how to make all kinds of fun with the cheese whiz (nicknamed "squirt cheese".) I never had any impression that the bilge was consciously chosen over a babysitter. Going down to the marina to play/work on the boat, or go racing or sailing was the norm, and was what our family did. As an adult I realize how great that down time was, and how strongly it's contributed to my innate need to be near the water, or on the water. We are now trying to give that kind of time to our kids, and raise them as river rats.


Terry Welsh
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Apr 30, 2009, 1:31 PM

Post #9 of 17 (24072 views)
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My first experience sailing occurred when I was about 18 months old in 1935. My father launched the Snipe he built down at LAYC. and the family of 5 (mother, father, brother, sister & me) were loaded on board and went out for a sail. After a successful sail the boat was returned to the dock, and everyone got out so the boat could hoisted up and set on the trailer. With the boat hanging on the hoist about 12 feet in the air, my Mother realized that I was still in the bilge of the Snipe so there was quick action to swing the boat close and lift me out. Though I don't remember the incident, we all had a good laugh when I was told in later years. -- Terry Welsh


Jezpeek
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May 1, 2009, 1:19 AM

Post #10 of 17 (23997 views)
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How I developed a love for sailing is still a mystery to me, it was one thing I certainly detested as a child cruising the Chesapeake Bay on my parents 22' Helsen pop-top. I would have much preferred to go swimming or beach combing than bob around on that boat all day.

The Chesapeake as locals will know, is generally a peaceful and quiet area to go sailing with the exception of the mighty Nor'easters or the frequent squalls that can pop up suddenly during the summer months.

It was the squalls that used to scare me the most, a giant wall of black that would slowly roll over us. Nowhere to run, better to drop sails, batten down the hatches and run with it.

That was normally my queue to go below and hold onto the mast, Dad and my big brother would be on deck handling the heroic work while my mother would be below holding my head out of the chemical toilet and cleaning up the Fresca and Tasty-Cakes I was spewing everywhere.

Now twenty-five years later I have accumulated over 150,000 nautical miles of offshore sailing and can only remember two bouts of sea-sickness in the latter years. One of of them being the result of a slight over-indulgence and I'm certain the other was from a bad piece of chicken at a beach barbecue in Grenada.

Sitting on top of the keel and holding onto a bucket are not my fondest memories of childhood sailing and I am glad to hear I am not the only one that started this way.


Dave Ellis
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May 1, 2009, 10:48 AM

Post #11 of 17 (23917 views)
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Dad got home from Italy in 1945 and the second thing he did was take me sailing. I was 18 months old. Soon I was taught to always hold the outside of the tin can for bailing, as the inside of the top was sharp from the can opener. Also, I was discouraged from peeling the dry rotted wood from under the canvas covered deck. But the most important lesson that I remember him giving me at an early age was, "Son, don't ever, ever sneak up behind a comorant sitting on a piling and say 'BOO'."


EEJohnson
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May 1, 2009, 6:26 PM

Post #12 of 17 (23891 views)
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I was born in November and the next May my father had me hanging below deck in a baby box that had a bungee from the bottom to the cabin sole so I shouldn’t swing around so much and be distracting my mother from what was important. I thought that having a wet spinnaker thrown on you, a variation of “Peek-A-Boo”, was a sign of affection. Over the next years I was moved to a hanging chair, then a nylon strap harness eventually graduating to being on deck and attached to the backstay. To keep me occupied, I was given a fishing pole with an un-baited hook to troll off the back of the boat. Dad hated even that amount of drag. When I was six I became the spotter for boats coming up on opposite tacks and watching for windshifts and puffs on the runs and reaches. I continued to spend every summer sailing and added frostbite sailing for the past twenty years as the illness has progressed. The one thing that I truly benefited from in spending that time in the bilge… I have never gotten seasick.


Oren Beach
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May 2, 2009, 10:16 AM

Post #13 of 17 (23857 views)
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At the age of four, I learned to sail with my aunt and uncle, Jim and Allegra Mertz, on their Int'l 210, out of American Yacht Club.
On breezy days, I was allowed to sit on the seats. Those light wind days, which made up the majority of time spent racing on LIS, were spent lying in the bilge. I can still smell the salt water, paint and rusty mixture that occupies the bilge of a wooden boat. It was especially miserable on hot days, rolling back and forth, not knowing what was going on and wishing I was someplace else.
If only I could turn back the hands of time for a chance to do it one more time. Thanks for the memories.





Jim Whistler
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May 4, 2009, 8:57 AM

Post #14 of 17 (23581 views)
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From Jim Whistler - "The Great Lakes"

I was born into sailing; being the 11th of 13 children, my parents Larry and Betty owned a 1924 black Alden 68' yawl, Larbett III, when I was young. Obviously they enjoyed life, there were still 2 more children after I was born! I was too young for the 3 week long summer cruises to the Georgian Bay and beyond but I was allowed on some of the evening dinner sails across the lake from the Buffalo Canoe Club and back to Point Abino, Ontario. As a child I was cast to galley duty and I remember being barely tall enough to reach the sink while charged with doing the dishes. I had to climb on a crate to plug the sing, then step off to jump on the pump pedal to fill the sink with "fresh Lake Erie water". While I was doing the dishes, I learned so many of those great "sailing songs" that we sang for entertainment long before the tape players and CD's took the joviality of singing out of the cockpit. I think that qualifies as having the bilge as my babysitter.




The Publisher
*****


May 4, 2009, 9:23 AM

Post #15 of 17 (23573 views)
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I just pulled two entries out of my virtual hat.

Jezpeek - The first runner-up wins the Mclube OneDrop Ball Bearing Conditioner - the only product that Harken recommends for use on ball bearing travelers and battcars to reducing rolling friction.

appleot - The winner has won a bottle of Hullkote, which combines the world renowned Mclube proprietary formulation of their bonded PTFE suspension system with a revolutionary citrus-based, long lasting high gloss hull polish.


Thanks to McLube for their support.







- Craig Leweck, Scuttlebutt


stuj24
**

May 4, 2009, 3:22 PM

Post #16 of 17 (23475 views)
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When I was 10 months old, in October 1958, we took a 10 day vacation in Lago de la Cocha, Columbia and were the only guests in a government owned resort run by a Swiss hotel manager and chef. La Cocha is a large crater lake near the Equator at about 9,000 ft in southern Colombia-- easily one of the highest lakes in the world.

In addition to catching about 60 rainbow trout and having native blowgun practice on melons placed over the fireplace at night, we borrowed the sailboat of the Swiss hotel manager and chef for a day. It was the only sailboat on the lake. According to my parents, I laid in the bilge and cried the whole time. That was my first sail. The whole episode is on 8mm B&W film (could be a YouTube candidate) showing me holding myself up in the cockpit trying to keep the mainsheet from wrapping around my head (yup, Dad was still trying to figure out how not to get me strangled). A day or so later, there's another pic of shot of me steering an outboard motor on the fishing boat we used. Seems I liked the powerboat stuff more, as I had a large grin on face. No wonder I enjoy getting my ya'ya's out some time on my Whaler doing 50+ knots! Smile
- Stu J.


norabates
*

Aug 30, 2019, 2:17 AM

Post #17 of 17 (1791 views)
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When my hand would get wet, I would wake up. First I would do the natural reaction to one's hand in cold water, then spend an hour working the 12" diaphragm manual bilge pump to get the water under the sole boards so I could have another hour or so of sleep.
_______________
run 3



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