Saturday, August 29, 2009

Concordia Sloop Feather

Back on Sucia Island the Concordia Sloop Feather caught my eye. There is no mistaking a Culler boat. Capt’ Pete could inspire people to take up sailing, just to be in one of his lovely creations. One day I hope to sail (or row) Feather. I have high expectations and don’t expect to be disappointed.

Glenn is skipper of this little sloop and obviously loves his boat, so I’ll ask him to tell us about it.

Feather is a Concordia Sloop Boat, designed in 1964 by R.D. "Pete" Culler, for the Concordia Company of Dartmouth, Massachusetts. John Graham in Sausalito, California built ours in 1983. We purchased it from him in Sequim, Washington in June of 1994.”

“She is 17' 8" long, 5' wide, and draws 18" with the centerboard up and 3' with it down. She is rigged as a gaff knockabout sloop with 172 square feet of sail, 127 in the main and 45 feet in the jib. There is no standing rigging and the jib is set flying. She displaces 1240 pounds with rig and anchor and carries as many as six adults. She has two sets of reef cringles in the mainsail, allowing her to sail to weather in 35 knots of wind with both reefs in and the jib set”

“Most of the work we’ve done on the boat is more in the nature of maintenance and repair, keeping up brightwork and spars. There have been a few modifications and some repairs of the inevitable sailing damage.”

“In the summer of 1999, when our daughter was five weeks old we took her across San Francisco Bay and back in Feather. Even an infant’s life jacket was too big."

“Last year I used her for winter crabbing season from late October to the end of December. On December 20 I pulled my pots out for the year under sail, the air temperature was 20 degrees. I was glad the wind was light -- it was a wonderful last sail of the year.”

That’s what that boat was build for, Glenn!
Thank you for taking us with you….

Photos of Feather under sail by John Kohnen, taken at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Show.

Glenn has a great story of struggling to attend the 2007 Sucia Island Rendezvous in Feather:

Crossing the Straits of Juan de Fuca

"The beginning was a fiasco."

"Feather had been out of the water for a couple of years after a mooring parted and she went on the beach in the winter of 2004, tearing off her skeg. I recovered all the bits at low tide, including the keel band, rudder and attendant hardware. I spent the month before Sucia Island Rendezvous 2007 with a good deal of help from my brother Alan, building a new skeg and performing various other repairs. Alan also built a rowing seat to mount on the aft end of the centerboard case."

"Our plan was to launch Wednesday afternoon, load up and let the boat soak overnight (I'd been soaking the bilge with a hose for 3 days), then leave on the dawn ebb Thursday morning. Wednesday evening found me frantically varnishing spars and oars and leathering the oars."

"We launched at dawn Thursday. By the time we loaded and cleared the dock at Fort Flagler at the north end of Marrowstone Island, it was almost the end of the ebb... We tried anyway and sailed across to Keystone on Whidbey Island. It was obvious we had totally blown the tide. If it weren’t for the back eddy in Admiralty Bay we'd have wound up in Seattle!"

"We worked the back eddy as far West as Admiralty Head, where it peters out against the Whidbey shore and spent the rest of the flood tacking on and off the head until it eased enough to reach off to the State Park moorings at Ft. Worden in Port Townsend. Feather was making more water than was comfortable, but hourly pumping kept up with it. Never hazardous, but a worry for the whole cruise."

"We spent the night at Alan's and left, rowing on the dawn ebb Friday. We hit the tide perfectly, but cut too close to Pt. Wilson, actually passing inside the buoy. It was a miserable time trying to row in the rips, so rough that I was afraid we'd lose the boat. Thank Pete Culler for a seaworthy design! The water would just come to the deck edge, and that beautiful bow would rise over the sea. It was all I could do to keep one end to the seas (I swear they were 6 feet high and 3 feet apart!), either bow or stern first, like a MacKenzie River drift boat. Between rips we tried for all the northing we could. Somewhere around the "SA" buoy we got enough wind to set sail, which steadied us out a lot, and relieved us of rowing."

"We learned to check our charts for topography liable to cause rips or overfalls. Bad ones are usually labeled as such on the chart. It's obvious that ebb coming around Pt. Wilson will be forced up by the rapid shoaling there and raise a huge rip. We should have headed well east from Ft. Worden and not gone north until we had enough offing to keep the ebb from setting us through the shoals."

"We went east of Smith Island, which was a mistake. The tide turns in Admiralty Inlet an hour before it does in Rosario Strait. So when the wind died, we had the remains of the ebb setting us south again. We were afraid if we got too far south, we wouldn't make the flood up Rosario. So we rowed for three hours and actually lost ground from being just at the north end of Smith Island, to a little south of Smith before the tide turned."

"Around the south end of Flounder Bay we got a little breeze and were able to sail north through the bay, into the marina. We arranged to spend the night with some of Alan's friends in Anacortes."

"Saturday morning, the tide didn't flood until afternoon. We were underway on the first of the flood, sailing for less than an hour until the wind dropped and it was back to rowing! Up Rosario Straight a little wind off the east corner of Orcas Island allowed us to lay one long tack with the tide holding us to the wind. Then, back to rowing off Barnes and Clark. Near dark, we found a counter current against us on the south side of Matia Island, which wasn't shown on the current print out Alan had downloaded. With diligent pulling, we made it into Fossil Bay just after dark, and a day late, to the music of Jamie's bagpipes."

"Southbound down President's Channel to Jones Island, the wind was light."

"Everyone else was being sporting, using sails only, and edging towards Waldron Island to get a little more wind. We edged closer to Orcas Island to get a better current; whenever the boom swung inboard we'd top it up and row. We were first to Jones Island, beating in on the last mile against a brisk southerly."

"We parted from the flotilla the following morning at Spencer Spit with a light southeast wind and drizzle, rowing most of the day, with no problems with tides or rips this time. Going through the channel to the west of James Island we had enough wind to sail as the following current pushed us south. By now the drizzle had soaked us thoroughly. Whoever had the helm was hypothermic. Rowing kept the other one warm."

"Lousy visibility with drizzle -mist and fog off Smith Island, with no steering compass. We used my hockey puck hand-bearing compass, sighting on our bow and periodically wiping off the rain while we rowed. Southbound, past Smith the current change worked in our favor, so passing east of Smith again worked best. Hugging the Whidbey Island shore would have worked too. South of the "SA" buoy we got enough wind to sail, but with a headwind from the southeast. We made one long tack from there to Point Wilson, the flood being strong enough to lay the Point. We encountered some light rips, but not so bad on the flood and we stayed outside the buoy. Feather lost the wind again off Fort Worden and we had to row up Port Townsend Bay."

"Just before we got to Point Hudson the long forecasted westerly wind finally kicked up, so we sailed the last quarter mile, after rowing most of the day."

"The next day I took Feather home, across the bay to Marrowstone Island. We’d rowed three fourths of the trip!"

Glenn Woodbury
PKA Black Douglas,
Master of the Sloop-Boat Feather
And the Terror of Scow Bay

For those not familiar with the San Juan Islands, that would have been over 100 nautical miles!

More photos of Feather can be found on Doryman's Flickr site.


Bursledon Blogger said...

That is one lovely boat

doryman said...

I thought you might like this one. Glenn says she is not a very good gunkholing boat, mostly because she is hard to row and not easy to run up on a beach. But he continues to use her as such, so it can't be that bad.
For a beautiful boat, you can't go wrong with Pete Culler!

Anonymous said...

Hello, would like to know more about the seat you built for rowing. and see photos if possible. Thanks

doryman said...

Sorry J, this is a boat I profiled a few years back. It's not mine.

jdware said...

OK. Thanks. Have just acquired a Culler Concordia Sloop and am looking for some advice from experienced owners. Is there a way to reach the owner of Feather?