Of Mooncursers and other Spun yarns

Of Mooncursers and other Spun yarns
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Thursday, December 28, 2006

Wolftrap to the Center of the World and Beyond: Read oldest post first

The sailboat Woftrap was built by Mars Machine works in Virginia as a project to keep the welding shop busy in off times.

Here she sits at the Dock of Gene Ruark's Marina in Deltaville Va. waiting for sails from Rod Hayes at Gloucester Point. Va. Spring 1979 Above she is sailing off Stingray Pt. Chesapeake Bay.

Here's a little something about the people and Company that Built Wolftrap. Bob Grow, was President and David Grow treasurer and I brought up the rear as Shop Foreman and Vice president.
Bob and David were the sons of a barn stormer and brought that tradition into the business. Bob was a stunt pilot, Commercial pilot, aircraft mechanic, motorcycle rider and one time successful bounty hunter. He was a sharp minded business man, a keen maker and spender of money. He was to some degree a womanizer and could talk the matches out of the hand of Lucifer. Bob married a little tiny women, Irene, who is pleasantly mouthy or not so pleasant if you find yourself on her wrong side. To the astonishment of us all she tamed him.
A perfect Company president I thought, and to my sadness he passed away a few years ago. David is a stunt pilot, a builder of airplanes and a rebuilder of many classic planes. In the shop he handle the paperwork of complex government contracts saw to the buying if materials and the shipping of product. David never got to big to go into the shop and do the dirty or nasty job if it was called for, he was dedicated. He and his beautiful wife Linda ran the business from the office. The shop was run a certain amount with the idea that we should make money to be able to play hard. We Did! My partners were in charge of Airplane and motorcycle play and I ran the boat play department.
The first part of my job was to figure out how to do the machine work and for me that was easy. It came natural with very little thought. The hard and biggest job for me was how to work forty or forty five people successfully. Myself being somewhat introverted I had to step out of my own personality to even begin to accomplish that task

I had recently sold my Crocker Gull class ketch and was without a boat. I was working long hours in the Machine shop where I was shop foreman and had tried to put boats out of my mind. That proved to be more in the nature of ignoring a tooth acke. After a short time finding myself weak, I gave in to images of fine little sailboats that wondered through my mind like cows in a pasture. I first eliminated the sailing ships then the sixty footers and the thirty footers and settled. I was finally thinking in terms of something about 23 ft for my wife and I . Our teen age children were way beyond the age of being willing to go sailing with mom and dad except maybe on Saturday morning for a couple of hours. I had in mind a boat suitable for us right up into our old age. I thought I was a lot older than I was. I was at fifty, a mere lad as I look back.

I was thinking in terms of a wooden boat, shallow draft with a little bit of windward ability with the board up. Hopefully powerful to windward with the board down. I liked the idea of a raised deck to get comfortable living space to be gone a year at a time. I liked the little Yanmar engine for power and I had a preference for a ketch or a schooner. I have always felt that a sloop just can't carry enough sail. If racing and lets face it, if two sailboats are going the same direction and in sight of each other they are racing. A two masted boat running or reaching can pop out a mizzen staysail and pick up a knot. Not enough? Set a flat spinnaker and you are really moving. Any amount of wind at all and you are sailing beyond hull speed. Because your off the wind you are hardly heeling and sailing in most cases with nearly a neutral helm. A main boom end well past the transom on a boomkin with a good long bowsprit for good directional stability. Low rig to keep healing easy and a couple of topsails for the July, August doldrums.

We felt that if we wanted to go back to Bermuda with a centerboard slot that went all the way up through the boat. We could replace it with a ballasted foil shaped keel that could be slipped up through the boat and pinned in place. In shallow water it would be unpinned so that the keel could push up through and even hoisted from the mast to get off the bottom. Of course the boat would have to be designed to do that. It would not be difficult to remove the keel and put the centerboard back in for sailing n the the Chesapeake bay.

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