Archive for July, 2011

Dragon Boat Races, Diggin’ Rot Out

July 28, 2011
Last year in Grenada we had the Grenada Sailing Festival.  Oriental has its own boating festival – the Dragon Boat Races.  This annual event starts with the Dragon Dance.

Native Oriental ritual known as the Dragon Dance

The dancers perform an intricate dance that threatens to tie the dragon into a knot.  A drummer provides the beat.

Dragon Dance Drummer

They then weave their way down the street to lead the Dragon Boat Parade.   (they seem to be big on parades here) The eighteen teams followed one by one.

Dragon Festival Parade

You can see much of the parade on YouTube Dragon Boat Parade  Watch carefully and y0u will see someone familiar walk by at about 47 seconds into the movie.

The dragon boats are long, narrow, tippy, and have little freeboard.  They were to have a practice the evening before the race, but there was too much wind and chop on the river, so everyone sat in the boats on the beach and practiced paddling.  Many paddlers left for the race without ever having been in one of the boats on the water.

Dragon boats on the beach waiting for launch

Each boat has twenty paddlers, a drummer sitting in the bow (and facing aft) to provide a beat for the paddlers to follow, and helmsman in the stern.  The first race began and one boat pulled out to a lead.  The boat’s dragon tail fell off soon after the start. 

Dragon boats racing. Boat on left going faster after it shed its tail

Then the tail fell off the other boat and it moved into the lead.

Retrieving a dragon tail

The races went on all day.  By the afternoon the wind and waves kicked up, so four paddlers were removed from each boat to increase bouyancy and freeboard.  Team Raleigh Dragons paddle together regularly and unsurprisingly took first place. The PCS Fossil Floaters finished second and Pirates for PAWS came in third.  You can see some video of a race on YouTube.  Dragon Boat Race


But it’s not all play here, the boat work continues.  The port side of the aft cabin has been glassed and sanded.  There is more work to do to prep the cockpit coaming, but it’s nearly ready for priming.

Port side is glassed and ready for sanding and priming

The starboard side also leaks, so it has been taken apart and there are a few spots with rot.  There was a board at the aft end of the cockpit coaming that literally crumbled as I tried to remove it.

Pile of pulp in foreground is the remains of a board

The fairing block is also shows rot and the leak seems to have gone past it.

Fairing block is rotted on the top and left (aft) edge

The good news is that this side of the boat is much better.  Part of the side of the house needs to come out, but at least the front part of the cabin is OK.  The bad news is that because it is in better shape and has been repaired before, it’s a lot harder to get apart.

Next: Road Trip

Summer Vacation

July 17, 2011
Remember when you came back to school in September and you had to write an essay on what you did on your summer vacation?
Well, we have been spending the summer fixing the leaks in the aft cabin.  The aft cabin is made of plywood and it seems that Dickerson left the edge of the plywood exposed on all the 41s.  Water seeps into the plywood and it rots.  When enough wood rots away you get leaks.  We finally decided it was time to address the problem.
The project started with an archeological excavation to unearth the rot.

The water soaked into the plywood on the side of the house

You can see through more than the window.

You have to cut out the rotten wood and replace it with good wood.

Cabin front and side are cut away
 Once you have cut away the rot, you can fit new pieces of wood.

Front of aft house fitted in place

 Cutting the new panels and getting them to fit is a long, slow process.

Test fitting the repair

Making sure the interior trim fits, too

While I’m cutting wood and fitting it in place, Jackie (or should I call her “Sandy” or “Dusty” sands the cockpit wood so it will be ready to  finish.

Jackie strives to achieve a Zen meditation state as she sands the huge amount of wood on the boat.

The pieces on the right are ones that Jackie has sanded


Sanded cockpit combing

  Finally after much measuring, cutting, planing, and sanding, the panels are ready to install.  Mix epoxy and coat the wood then thicken epoxy and put it on the edges, then put the panels in place, screw them down, and add epoxy to make sure all the joints are sealed.

No turning back, the panels are screwed and glued

Now we just have to sand it all smooth, fill the gaps with epoxy, cover with fiberglass, sand some more, and paint.

Next:  We get to do the other side.


July 9, 2011
Oriental, NC.
Jackie and I have settled in Oriental while we do some boat repairs.  We found a small apartment in the back of a house.  The front of the house is an office, but it is used just a few hours a day.  We have a nice sized kitchen, a full bath, and a combination living room/bedroom.  It’s the kind of place you get when you are newly married and just starting out.
The first weekend in July is Croakerfest, named after that loveable little fish, the Croaker. 

Atlantic Croaker - looks pretty festive to me

The festival starts out Friday evening with booths for food, crafts, food, jewelry, tee-shirts, food, and other festive stuff opening in a little waterfront park.  There is live music and contests for the Minnow and Croaker Queen Pageants.

Looking at half the festival from a public dock

John Deere powered ice cream maker

Did I mention there was food?

Saturday morning is the parade.  It comes down the main road and passes our apartment just before it turns and goes through the “downtown” area, then if finishes at the little waterfront park.  We went out to watch the parade and our neighbors invited us to watch with them and help ourselves to their Mojito fixin’s.  What a nice way to start a Saturday.
The parade is a thick slice of small town Americana.  It seems like every organization is represented and all the spectators know all the people on the floats.

Right Click and open in a new window to see parade slideshow

After the parade we wandered back to the festival for cheap food.  The other big event was the Croakerfest Regatta which took place just offshore of the park, so everyone could watch.  It was the biggest regatta ever, with 66 sailors in 51 sailboats. 

The sunfish fleet had very close finishes for first-second and fourth-fifth

  It was also the smokiest thanks to the wildfires that have been burning since we got here.  Luckily we are upwind most of the time.

The last big event of the weekend was fireworks.  The town closes off the bridge and shoots the display from a point in the river.  It was a great show and best of all it was a five minute walk from the apartment.

Next:  More Oriental