Sunday, February 26, 2012

Echo will be leaving soon

We are pushing onward with Echo's preparations for her voyage across the great Pacific Ocean, and our progress has been noted by everyone who passes. Every day, Tine and I hear people saying "beautiful yacht you have there," commenting on her fresh coats of varnish. So many people walk by and tell us how good of a job we are doing. We are recieving huge amounts of positive encouragement and interest in our project. It's great to have such a large number of well wishers and awe struck eyes glaring at our little yacht. Unfortunately, we have been confronted with more than just well wishing and encouragement. There are a certain few people out there that don't want to see us carry on, and don't want to see us set sail for distant shores.

Echo is a true classic, with a great history. She was built in Stockton, California in 1957 by the Stephens Brothers along with 18 other Farallon Clippers. The Farallon Clipper fleet has been described to me by more than one person as the "pride of California." They have a good reason to be a source of pride as well. Each Farallon clipper is meticulously built to an old world standard, and is a true testament to the Stephens Brothers as a shipyard. A sense of quality craftsmanship oozes from every perfectly joined seam.

In order to keep track of every Farallon Clipper, and to document each and every one so that they are not forgotten, they have been cataloged in a museum. Moreover, an owners association, consisting of the owners of the remaining 17 Farralon Clippers has been formed. Each and every year the clippers meet at two seperate regattas, one being the Master Mariner's Regatta here in San Francisco. The Master Mariner's Regatta takes place in May, and apparently there are quite a few people that are upset about Echo not being able to make an appearance.

More than once I have heard of grumbling old men that don't want Echo to go anywhere. They want her here, so that twice a year she can put out her dress flags, slap on a brand new topcoat, and put out her cushions so that she can be flaunted. I've had shipwrights that refuse to work on her, stating that she shouldn't leave California. I can't even hardly walk into the local chandlery any more without someone commenting negatively on Echo's pending voyage. I'm getting quite exhausted by the recent negativity, and I'd like to address this issue since it has become apparent that is is of great importance to some.

I have purchased this beautiful, classic sailing vessel with every intention to maintain and refurbish her in a way that restores her originality and keeps her one of the most gorgeous boats aloat. Before I bought her, she had been for sale for over two and a half years, waiting for someone with the time, energy, and inevitably money that she so desperately needs to stay in such great shape. During her time up for sale, any one of these grumbling, naysaying folks could have bought her and maintained her. They could have done their part to preserve her rich history, and if they so choosed they could have left her in the same berth, waiting for her moment to be shown at some upscale regatta. None of them were interested, especially when the cost in both time and money were involved. They let her sit, waiting to rot from a lack of use. Now that I have taken on the massive task of caring for this old classic, the whining has begun. Now that it is my pocketbook and my efforts that are on the line they are happy to loudly complain about her future overseas. Echo was not meant as a daysailer, or meant for champagne sipping at the annual haughty tauty regattas. Echo was built for the sea, and that is where I am going to take her.

Echo began a transformation when I took over as her new skipper. She has shed her old varnish and paint, and is starting anew. She is changing from a daysailer to an ocean voyager. I plan to use her as she was intended to be used, stripping her of the monotony of simply sailing around San Francisco bay and tying up before dark. Now she will be prettied up with a fresh coat of varnish every two months. Her rigging will be renewed, her quirks and un-original features mended and fixed. She will be maintained in bristol fashion, so as to provide a safe journey overseas. Now that she has begun her new life as a sea going vessel she will constantly be under my care. Every day I will maintain her, and look out for her best interests. Echo is my one and only obsession, and she is already gleaming because of it.

So to all of those that are disappointed in seeing her leave her known harbor, it is important to know that she is being looked after with the utmost care. No, she will not be making her annual appearance at this May's Master Mariner's Regatta, she will be moving on to bigger and better things. If this fact still causes feelings of unrest, then I must bluntly state this to the restless: Anyone could have bought Echo while she was sadly waiting, for sale for years. The grumblers could have bought her and kept her here in San Francisco if they could only have mustered the effort. More likely the case, someone with big dreams and no sense of the reality of owning a wooden vessel could have bought her. The grumblers and whiners would certainly have not liked to see her fall into a state of disrepair in the hands of a lofty dreamer. Worse still, she could have been bought by a liveaboard, secretly planning to cut a hole in her cabin top to fit a new window air conditioner. Fortunately for Echo, I have bought her and dedicated all of my time in maintaining her beauty and seaworthiness. So what is it that the grumblers are really grumbling about? It's simply the fact that they won't get to glance at her twice a year when they get together for a few posh cocktails on the docks.

I will continue to take great joy in the positive comments and well wishings that I so frequently receive. It is a real joy to own such a gorgeous vessel with a rich history and large following. Every day I love my yacht more and more. I can understand some reluctance in watching her sail overseas, she is indeed a unique example of quality craftsmanship right here in California. What everyone else needs to understand is that her history does not disappear when she leaves the port of San Francisco. Echo will be a testament to her builders in any port she calls upon, and the reputation of the Farallon Clippers will spread globally as she makes her way across the South Pacific. Echo has a rich and interesting future, and I can't wait to get her out there in the big blue.


Monday, February 20, 2012


Just over a week ago Echo's first crew member arrived from Denmark. I knew that I would not want to be at sea all alone for weeks on end, and also knew that experiences are never quite the same unless you have someone to share them with. I met Tine, my new crewmember, on a website for sailors seeking crew; All of our numerous e-mails and exchanges paid off. It turns out that we get along really well and she has been a great help in getting Echo ready for her voyage across the South Pacific.

A few days ago I had Echo pulled from the water and put on the hard to get some much needed work done. Tine and I have stripped off all the old varnish, sanded her, and just today been able to put on the first of 10-12 coats of fresh varnish. Through hull fittings have been added and checked, some minor caulking has been done, Echo has a new set of zincs and soon a fresh new coat of bottom paint.

I have put together a photo album of the preparations aboard Echo, click here to view it.

Since having her up on the hard, Echo has drawn an extremely large amount of attention from passers-by. Sometimes it's difficult to get work done because so many people stop to admire her and ask questions. She really is the star of the show around here, the entire Marina is interested in the boat, the upcoming voyage, and in hearing about my constant preparations. Every day several people tell me how beautiful she is, or how good of condition she is in. She really is a beautiful old classic, and this new varnish will really bring out the best in her.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Makin' Power

Preparations are well underway on the sailing yacht Echo. My father visited for some time and we worked into the late hours to get her ready for her epic voyage. While we were able to get lots of work done, I am happiest about getting the solar panels completely mounted and wired up. Just the other day I tossed out the old battery charger, and have begun to rely completely upon the sun. It's amazing to be making my own power and living off of the grid on my self contained little cruiser.

Here is a layout of the electrical system I will be cruising with:
  • Four 95 Watt ET Solar mono-crystalline panels putting out a maximum of 22 amps an hour
  • A Blue Sky MPPT solar controller, regulating the charge to my battery banks
  • Four group 31 lead acid batteries, wired into 2 separate banks. Each battery is capable of storing 130 amps, giving Echo a total of 520 amps of storage.

From my calculations I think I'll have plenty of power to run everything I need aboard Echo during her voyage, only having to turn off the autopilot if I get several days of absolutely no sun.

While my father was here, we even managed to get Echo out on the bay. It was great to have his help, and even better to have the company. Thanks dad, I wish there was more time for sailing and relaxing while you were here but your time was greatly appreciated.