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Free Range Human, Sailor, Writer, Artist, Videographer  

Monday, January 28, 2013

McKay Creek Boat Shop Heritage Village FL

The second to the last weekend in January always finds the HideAways lounging under the tall pines amid the restored buildings of Heritage Village at the Pinellas Folk Festival .  This year the festival had nineteen bands, a German folk dance group, and the Dunedin Scottish Country Dancers.  There were historical demonstrations where you can learn everything from Morse Code on some very old equipment to traditional fiber arts.  And there were just the right amount of true antique cars and trucks.

All this and more for the outrageously low admission price of $5.00 per head.  Gladly paid I might add. If you are in the Largo Fl area the Pinellas Folk Festival is a must see.  Besides a quarter million of your closest friends are otherwise engaged in some sort of Pirate Invasion of Tampa held the same weekend.

So what does all this have to do with sailing you ask.  Really go ahead - 
Ask in Unison or wherever you may live.

Optimist Pram -Clark Mills 

Entrance to park involves walking over a wide foot bridge at the end of which was a hand built Optimist Pram with sail set.  The Optimist Pram was designed in Clearwater, Fl. by Clark Mills to be made from one sheet of plywood, cost only $50.00 and be sailed by kids. The hottest boat you could own during that time was the Optimist.  Still is, according to those folks of the same vintage.

The Com-Pac 16, which grew into the Com-Pac 23, is among Mills many designs.

McKay Creek Boat Museum
Peak Your Interest Yet?

It gets better.  Until now the rich marine history of Pinellas County has been largely passed on by word of mouth.  And oh the stories!

Enter the new McKay Creek Boat Museum, a part of the Pinellas County Historical Society, is about to break ground in Heritage Village.  The structure is patterned after the many boat building shops that have been lost to modern times. The museum will perhaps for the first time, tell the complete story of the boat building culture of  Pinellas County.   Of course, HideAway, hull #2 an early version of the Com-Pac 23,  feels genetically linked to part of this story.

 I have it on good authority that, although they do not at this time plan to build boats at the site, they will be restoring donated boats of all kinds.

You Can Be Part of History  

Throw $50.00 in the paint can and they'll dedicate a personalized wood model of a small pram and display it in the new museum.

To find out how to become involved go to Pinellas County Historical Society website or call 727-582-2233.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Sailing Away The Florida Winter

After months of life’s less pleasant offerings the HideAways found a bit of spring in their winter under sunny skies, 80 degree weather, and easy seas this last Saturday in mid January.

Multiple weeks of absence from sailing has been known to cause the average sailing brain to corrode and sea legs to stiffen.  The boat seems to suffer a similar malaise mostly from enduring the snowbirds. The ones that prefer to poop on boats not so much the ones driving about in RVs.

On our first tack the jib sheet wrapped itself around a forward cleat perhaps in revenge of an immobile sailing brain forgetting to add a stopper knot on its bitter end letting it run free from the laughing block.  (Yes, the block was laughing, I’m sure of it)

We won’t talk either about the throw cushion and fender, both of whom left the boat for a swim without permission, warning or proper paper work.   They didn't get far.  It seems our man-over-aboard drills have paid off.

Later, anchored off the Gulfport pier, the HideAways settled in for a winter afternoon nap.   The capt, not often accused of planning ahead, stretched out on a variety of throw cushions employed poorly to soften the fiberglass cockpit while the-one-who-plans-everything wisely relaxed in her comfy berth below.  

In defense of the capt, sleeping in the cockpit has the advantage of the close proximity to Nature.  Imagine yourself anchored off a tropical shore on a global warmed January afternoon just a short distance from the beach, a white sandy one at that.

 A refreshing breeze gently rocks your boat under impossibly blue skies as kayakers investigate a nearby sunken wreck which seems closer now.  You awake to the ever so sweet fragrance of orange blossoms. If you have been to Florida in the spring you know how intoxicating these blossoms are – A true southern comfort.

Wait a minute… Orange trees don’t blossom in January!

The thing about orange trees though is that they grow on land. If you happen to smell them while asleep on in the airy cockpit of your boat you dream of running aground in an orange grove.  The two concepts clang together in such a manner as to wake the unsuspecting mind of a corroded sailorman. Great panic and confusion ensue not helped at all from an unnoticed change in wind direction.  A panicked glance below reveals an open package of wet wipes residing on the galley which some fancy smanchy ad man had doused in orange blossom scent.

Ahhh the life of the sailor – A perfect way to relax in the Florida winter.  Even the skeeters are smaller as we see in the video below-