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Thread: New Boat 4 Sled

  1. #2491
    Join Date
    Sep 2007


    On a road trip to S.Cal for spreading of ashes of a dear aunt, I was able to kayak yesterday in childhood waters of Newport Harbor. There lying on a nearby mooring was an old friend, the splendid 86 foot schooner ASTOR, a Wm. Fife design launched in 1923. She is built teak on bronze. Like a moth to a flame, I circled ASTOR several times, admiring her obvious loving attention.

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    ASTOR is no slouch, having finished first in the Sydney to Hobart. And competed world wide.

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    On my 2nd circumnavigation of ASTOR, and nearby big cat AFTERBURNER, the breeze quickly built from SW 6-8 knots, to W 18, gusting 25. This strength of breeze is rare for Newport, and one foot whitecaps speedily built across the Bay. With only 4" of freeboard on the kayak, I paddled for shelter at Newport Harbor Yacht Club, where 12 international teams were racing Harbor 20's in the Team Race Baldwin Cup.

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    Even with reefed mains, the Harbor 20's were dangerously out of control in the stadium racing close tactical situations, and racing was postponed for the afternoon in the fresh breeze, which would have been considered a pleasant wind for SF Bay. One skipper friend from Eastern Yacht Club in Marblehead gave me the skinny: "the boats are designed for S. Cal winds, the rudders are too small for this breeze.."

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    As I sat on the NHYC dock watching the Baldwin Cup action, I considered the present. I've been writing an online gig as a hobby for 24 years, since 1994, when the only internet sailing related Forum was a "news group" called "watersports." The following year, "Rec.Boats.Racing" appeared as a Forum to post sailing related info. Photo postings were still in the future, due to dial up speeds and antiquated computers.

    I thank everyone in SSS, and on this SSS Forum, for allowing my indulgence in two of my passions: sailing and writing. I rarely anticipate subjects. Many are significantly off topic; some not even sailing related. More than a few are repeats.

    I write for fun, education, often questing for an historical perspective: my first race, the Flight of the Snowbirds, was 7 decades ago, right here where I was today paddling the kayak. Snowbirds were 12 foot catboats, with a boom as long as the mast was high, and several hundred were once local to only Newport Harbor. Now only one remains, in a nautical museum.

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    No deadlines, no publisher edits into unrecognizable prose, no minimum wage. Been there, done that, as did my father for a monthly West Coast sailing rag called SEA.

    I didn't chose Sleddog as my "handle," it chose me. I tried for "Seadog", but it was already taken, even in the early days of 1994. At the time I was skippering "sleds", Ultra Light Displacement Boats or ULDB's like MERLIN, Santa Cruz 50's and 70's, mostly built in Santa Cruz, where I relocated in 1971 after managing a communal bookstore in Palo Alto.

    Once I became "Sleddog," I began receiving unsolicitated e-mails from Iditarod and dog team owners, inquiring as to my techniques, and what kind of dog food I preferred. One lady wrote from Alaska inquiring whether my dog team would be interested in meeting her pups. The only thing I knew about dogfood was during a financial dry spell in college, I had tried eating a can. Not a recommended dining cuisine!

    I write on an older Toshiba laptop, with many letter keys well worn, even indecipherable.

    I've met about 15-20 of you. The other 99% of readers are unknown to me, although I doubt DJT frequents this Forum. Golf seems to be his gig.

    I wish everyone well with your summer endeavors, whether it be racing, cruising, or day sailing. Trivia winner or not, you are always welcome at the Capitola Boat Club. If you have sailing related questions, comments positive or otherwise, or a good story, you are always welcome here to post on this current "thread." Or just write me directly. My e-mail is

    Good Sailing!

    Last edited by sleddog; 04-13-2018 at 08:33 AM.

  2. #2492
    Join Date
    Dec 2007


    LaDonna and I really enjoy reading your 'blog', Skip. Every time I open the SSS site and this thread is highlighted, I click on it first to see what's new with you. We really enjoy hearing about your travels and the historical perspective is what makes it special, gives it all context. Your depth of knowledge is astounding and we appreciate your sharing it with the world. As members of the 1% (FINALLY!), keep writing, keep posting photos, and keep on sledding.

    Rob & LD

    PS: I never heard of the Snowbird class till you mentioned it in an earlier post. I did some research and found there were hundreds. Shocking that only one remains!

  3. #2493
    Join Date
    Jan 2013
    Berkeley Marina


    Quote Originally Posted by sleddog View Post
    ...The other 99% of readers are unknown to me...
    Our Father, who art in heaven...give me this day my daily Sled.

    - One of the 99% and still amazed I get to witness the almost daily musings of a sailing legend. Please keep it coming. I think I'd be too star-struck to join the 1%.

  4. #2494
    Join Date
    Mar 2017
    Los Osos


    We are so delighted that you needed a cat fix, lo those many years ago up in Blunden Harbour. Archie helped us to meet and we have been delighted to be friends since. Thanks for all of your help and tips for MARTHA's Transpac and it is always a pleasure to spend time together. Please do keep it up, amigo.

  5. #2495
    Join Date
    Jan 2010


    Quote Originally Posted by sleddog View Post
    I write for fun, education, often questing for an historical perspective ~sleddog
    Aaaahhh, Skip. Your obvious enjoyment and appreciation for everything on water is apparent. How much do I appreciate you in return? Well, every morning I stumble downstairs, pour myself a cup of coffee, read the San Francisco Chronicle and despair of the world. I pour myself another cup of coffee and read the Wall Street Journal and despair of the world anon. I pour myself a third cup of coffee, return upstairs to my work room and turn on my computer where I read ... Sleddog. Then finally, FINALLY the world begins to come into focus and I am becalmed. All is right with the universe. Is it the coffee or is it your splendid writing? We all know the answer to that. And when you attach photographs? Nothing better than Skip & boats.

  6. #2496
    Join Date
    Sep 2008


    Quote Originally Posted by Philpott View Post
    Nothing better than Skip & boats.
    Technically, I'm in the 1% for two brief passes, but I am in the 100% who enjoy your writing.
    I wish you'd publish an anthology or a long yarn.
    Write faster dammit! :P

  7. #2497
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Santa Barbara Sometimes


    "I wish you'd publish an anthology or a long yarn."

    ^What he said.^

  8. #2498
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    San Diego


    Hey Skip, From the first time we first saw your artistic and imaginative logbook in Moorea (1987) to the many ports since - you amaze and entertain us with your wisdom and creativity. Thank you for being there.

    Bill & Patty
    s/v Dolfin

  9. #2499
    Join Date
    Oct 2007


    Just to let you know Skip, There are a lot of us who really enjoy your writing but don't chime in that often. Please keep on going.

  10. #2500
    Join Date
    Jan 2014
    Arnold, CA


    I always look forward to Sled's latest posts. All of the racing, sailing, travels, and history. Never a dull moment.
    Thank you!
    All men dream: but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it is vanity; but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they act their dream with open eyes, to make it possible.

    T.E. Lawrence

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