The One-legged Sandpiper Mutineer Logo
The Mutineer
A Fifteen Foot One Design Class Sailboat
A Gradual Recovery
Lavallette, New Jersey

     The Mutineer started the year 2001 in a rather forlorn state, having been unceremoniously dragged onto the beach the previous fall and forced to weather over the winter at waters edge, at the mercy of wind and waves.
     Sand seems to be one of the heavier things there is to shovel. It doesn't look like much from here, but there's probably fifteen hundred pounds of sand in the cockpit if there's an ounce. This is not the clean white sand it appears to be on the surface. Just below it turns a nasty green, and then black at greater depths. The smell was overpowering, and the sand was crawling with every imaginable variety of shrimp, sand flea and worm.
     You should only abandon ship when you can step up into the life raft. Or so the saying goes. I'm not sure how that applies in this situation. One can't just dig in and begin shoveling in a case like this. The fiberglass cockpit is strong, yet could be damaged easily from contact with a metal shovel. Those cracks can let water seep into spaces where water shouldn't be, possible rotting internal wooden stringers or frames, or cracking and delaminating the fiberglass. This means digging with plastic cups and shovels and... By hand.
     The credit for most of that arduous task goes to Kelly Walter, who decided she wanted to learn to sail this year and wasn't going to let three quarters of a ton of disgusting bay muck keep her from it. Kelly dug out most of the gunk with a plastic cup and used her bare hands near the bottom, working around the hiking straps buried near the bottom of the cockpit.
     Bad news, but a good sign, was that even with the sand removed we were still unable to budge the boat... Due to her 'tween hulls being filled with water nearly to the gunnels. The good sign is that if she'll hold water in, she can hold water out. It seems to have seeped in through the inspection port in the aft end of the cockpit. When the port was opened, enough water to flood the cockpit six inches deep poured out. Another half ton of weight... Or more. Being stoutly built helped the Mute survive this entire ordeal with relatively little damage. The deck was separated from the hull for about four feet forward of the mast on the starboard side. This will have to be repaired before the mast can be stepped due to the pressure put on the deck by the stays.
     Concrete blocks loaded in the Tacoma ready to be chained together to serve as a mooring anchor for the Mutineer. Eight blocks at forty pounds a piece should hold her in any kind of weather. The fender will float the chain so it doesn't foul on the concrete blocks and snub the boat up on a short rode as she swings on her mooring. The floating fender will act as a shock absorber and ease the strain on the bow of the boat as she tugs on her anchor. The chain doesn't stretch so some give is necessary. Today is the day she gets to float again.
     Parking is a bit of a problem since it's not allowed on the bay side of the road. We stop long enough to drop off our payload of mooring supplies and park the truck on the other side of the bay road directly in front of a great new house. The owners of said house seem quite friendly and don't seem to mind the intrusion... And their sprinkler system has been the only fresh water bath the truck has received all summer.
     Back at water's edge the Mutineer sits patiently in a bed of eel grass and pollen waiting to be back in her element. The ten foot trip to water's edge took a few weeks. She's been sitting this close for two weeks waiting for this day. She was tied to a make shift anchor set in the beach to prevent her wandering off unattended. Setting up the mooring hardware takes just a few minutes.
     The Lavallette Yacht Club watches over this small cove and beach from a short distance to the north. Harry Sindle, owner of Cardinal Yachts, the company that owns the molds for the Mutineer hull and supplies the spare parts, started sailing at the Lavallette Yacht Club in the forties. He went on to sail in the Olympics before that decade ended, and eventually moved to Virginia where Cardinal Yachts is located today. He wrote the Rigging and Handling Guide for Mutineers and Buccaneers that I purchased a while back. It's full of sailing and racing tips. .
     Mutineers were originally manufactured by Chrysler Marine. Buccaneers as well. I've owned one of both. I like the Mute better. Chrysler sold the molds to Formula who marketed the boats as a Starwind, of which mine is one. They sold the mold to Mister Sindle, and the rest is history... Or at least a pleasant story. Here the Mutineer sits with her cockpit full of bay gunk again. At least this time a bucket and a sponge and a pump will solve the problem.
     Mooring a boat in United States coastal waters in one of the rights we have as citizens. If we're not impeding traffic in a channel, or taking up space in a private or municipal mooring field, we are free to anchor a boat of any size or shape just about any where we choose for as long as we want. This area of Barnegat Bay in Lavallette in a good example of this in practice. Close to two dozen boats occupy this area and manage to co-exist nicely without any squabbles or unpleasantness. This happens without any sort of government intervention... At all. How nice it would be to keep it that way forever. The only requirement is that the Mutineer be registered... Which it is in Connecticut. The town of Killingly asses a small excise tax on her and the state gets about twenty bucks for the registration. .
     Here we can barely see the mooring float in place off the beach. It's the second white spec from the left. The third white spec is a seagull swimming in to investigate this new object in the water. After all, it may be food. The trick to mooring a boat here is to put an anchor of some sort with a line or chain on it to with which to make the boat fast (Tie it up). You want it deep enough to float the boat on the lowest of tides and far enough away from any existing moorings to allow clearance around the surrounding boats. I like to follow a clear path from a point on shore so I know I won't stub my toes or worse on an abandoned mooring anchor in the way. These are usually piles on concrete blocks with rusty chains on them. Looking at the large version of this picture you can still see the disturbance on the bottom where the blocks were dragged into deeper water. 320 pounds of concrete blocks chained together kick up quite a bit of gunk on the bottom. They don't drag easily either. Not... at... all!!!
     There are two things of note in this picture. One is the new registration sticker. 2002 baby.... A whole year of legal sailing. In Connecticut, due to the fact that the Mute is less than 16 feet in length, and un powered, she wouldn't need to be registered. In New Jersey however, anything over 12 feet that isn't paddled needs a registration.
     The second noteworthy feature in this picture is the extensive barnacle growth on the bottom of the hull. These made it extremely difficult to extract her from the trench in the sand she had become buried in. The barnacles act like Velcro when combined with well packed wet sand and required quite a bit more force than would seemed to have been necessary given the Mute's empty weight (minus the water between the hulls) of four-hundred pounds. Oh yeah... They need to be scraped off as well. That'll be lots of fun. .
     Time to pump the last bit of bilge water out of the bilges. No more came in than was in there already when she was beached two weeks ago. That means that there was no more hull damage from her winter ordeal beyond the split deck seam. She's a tough old boat nearing thirty years old, but still cleans up real nice. A little scrubbing and rinsing and pumping will take care of the last of the bay sludge.
     Just a stain marking the waterline inside the cockpit now. That should bleach out nicely in the sun before too long. No sense bleaching it with any of the commercial products available for that. It just puts excess chlorine into the bay... Although the thought of doing in some barnacles seems appealing... The chemicals aren't selective and too many of the little critters are tasty when cooked up just right. Not the barnacles... Crabs and clams and mussels and such... Although I'm sure my Cooking Alaskan cookbook has a recipe for barnacles. There's recipes for everything from sea cucumbers to whale steaks and walrus liver. I'll have to check. Keep an eye on Danger Kitchen for a barnacle recipe. If anyone knows one... Send it in.
     Some of the remaining items slated for repair or replacement on the hull are visible in this picture. The original Mutineer had an open compartment on either side of the centerboard trunk for storage. These were made of plastic that deteriorated gradually as the boats aged until they collapsed into the space under the foredeck from the weight of anything stored in them. These were replaced here by plywood panels urethaned and held in place with stainless steel screws. The hiking straps need to be removed. They do little more than clutter the cockpit. The spray rails need to be refinished and some cracks in the deck need to be repaired. That can wait until after this sailing season though. The damage isn't structural.
     On the mooring at last. A month into the project and she's back in her element. A month of weekends minus one actually, but a month none the less. She looks trim, shapely, seaworthy and fast even without her rig. It seems very fitting that she lies just off The Lavallette Yacht Club given the history of the Mutineer. This is one of those milestone events in any project that provides incentive to keep going even though most of the work remains. The bottom needs to be scraped, sanded and painted. The mast needs the same thanks to being left in the water for weeks on end and then not being rinsed with fresh water or even emptied of sand and muck. The rig needs to be repaired and some stays replaced, and all of the gear returned but... She's back in the water for now.
     Back on the beach, there's nothing but a crease in the sand where she spent two weeks waiting to be re floated. The original trench has almost filled itself in and shortly there'll be no trace of her ordeal ashore. .
     What started as a beautiful warm clear spring day turned a bit ugly later on. The wind picked up from the West and threatening looking storm clouds rolled in behind it. The sunset was eerie and beautiful at the same time. The Mutineer road the chop, kicked up by the freshening breeze, smoothly thanks to her load of barnacles dampening her movements, and not having the rig up to catch the breeze even without sails and make her a bit more top-heavy. Time to reflect on the success of the project so far, daydream about the sailing to come, and get ready for next weekend when it's time to tackle the barnacles. .
     Back at the bay a week later, the Mute is back on dry land looking like a beached killer whale. Sonia Lopez, visiting from Argentina, helps sand the hull along with Kelly Walter, who's been onboard since the first handful of gunk was scraped out of the hull. Power for the palm sanders is being provided by the trusty Yamaha generator... A reliable source of electricity in remote locations for fifteen years now. Scraping the barnacles off was the first step. Sanding is necessary to get rid of the calcified anchor the little critters use to anchor themselves to whatever they feel like.
     Kelly pauses long enough for fresh sandpaper as Sonia keeps her palm to the grindstone. I sanded plenty as well... I didn't just take pictures. Sonia had to go back to Argentina before the boat was sailable. She said "You guys can sail to Argentina to visit me". She needs to come back to go sailing but in the mean time waits patiently for us to sail down to pick her up. We'll need a bigger boat for that trip I'm afraid. Maybe next year. Something over forty feet would do the trick... With lots of electronics and plenty of spare sails, a water maker and a shower. A shower can turn a cruise from camping to yachting. .
     Hours of work begin to pay off as a smooth clean hull begins to surface from beneath the layers of crud. The hull is in surprisingly good shape considering the ordeal of last winter... And the fact that she'd probably qualify as an antique if she was a car. Even with this much work to do it's still a beautiful day on the bay. A fresh breeze is blowing, the sun is shining, and people in boats and on the beach are frolicking tenaciously every where.
     Tenacious frolicking, or in our case: work, is interrupted by two male ducks fighting each other over a female waiting near by. The fight lasted for ten minutes and kicked sand and feathers over everything in sight. The battle consisted mostly of flapping wings and biting each others tail feathers. No one really gets much of a beating. The loser seems to be the one who tires out first.
     Kelly takes a break to enjoy the sun and scenery at the edge of the water. Sonia took a walk along the bay beach. I took pictures and tried for a nap in the sun.
     The jet boat makes a pass at warp factor five and puts on quite a show with a rooster tail a hundred yards long and thirty or forty feet in the air. The boat is quieter than a lot of the other more anemic muscle-boats, but you can feel the power as it thunders down the bay at over a hundred miles per hour. Rumors have it that she'll do 160 MPH with full afterburner... And that no one will ride with the owner when he goes that fast. Long after this cruise missile of a boat is out of sight you can still smell the distinctive smell of jet exhaust... which is nearly identical to kerosene. Every so often a huge column of flame shoots twenty or thirty feet in the air as throttle changes are made. Not many people complain. Most would love a ride. I would.
     Kelly is overtaken by a nap attack. It's a perfect day for it now that the sanding is complete.
     Sonia contemplates her return to Argentina. It's a ten-thousand mile trip... Must seem even longer now that the weather is getting nice here. She left Argentina as the weather was getting warm to arrive here just as it was getting cold. She was here all winter, and has to leave just as the weather is getting warmer. Back in Argentina, summer is over and it's beginning to get cold again. Remember, Argentina is very close to Antarctica. It's as far south as Canada is north and their seasons are reversed because they are south of the equator. Sonia is facing almost a year of winter, so a day like this is very important.
     After a few more weeks, which included quite a few trips to Boat U.S., sanding and painting the mast, replacing the hardware corroded in the bay and making repeated attempts to round up all the gear, the Mutineer was in the water and sailing smartly. This picture picks up the story at the bay after a violent storm. The storm nearly washed Bat, an A Cat moored off the yacht club, ashore near the Mute. Bat was the winner of the Governor's Cup trophy during Sailfest 2000 in Island Heights, New Jersey. Cantaloupe, as the Mutineer is now known, faired a little worse. The deck plate that anchors the forestay began to pull the screws holding it out. The leading end of the plate was nearly a quarter inch away from the deck and two of four screws were pulled loose. Repairs needed to be completed as soon as possible. The access hole was cut in the deck even before the rain stopped.
     Cantaloupe unceremoniously dragged ashore to steady her while repairs are underway. Weighing in at close to five-hundred pounds fully rigged the Mutineer is a handful to move without using a trailer. Dragged ashore just out of the reach of the wind whipped waves in the bay, a hole was cut in the deck to provide access to the underside of the deck plate. This was reinforced with plywood and an oak block to provide the new larger stainless steel screws something to bite into. .
     Cantaloupe with a new inspection port installed in the opening cut for repairs. This will allow access to the area under the deck to check for water or other repairs just by unscrewing and removing the inspection port cover. It was installed between the ribs that reinforce the deck and doesn't seem to have weakened the deck in the least. It can be walked on without damaging it and is textured to provide a non-skid surface, even when wet. Note the neatly coiled line to the roller furling jib... It even weathered the storm.
     No it's not a picture from a colonoscopy. This is what the Mutineer looks like under the foredeck. The nasty looking material at the bottom of the picture is floatation foam to keep her from sinking completely if she's awash... Should the situation ever arise. One of the frames that reinforce the deck is visible to port, and the massive structure that supports the mast and forms the forward end of the centerboard trunk and cockpit tapers to a point and joins the deck frame. .
     As the worst of the weather clears, Cantaloupe is back on her mooring, waiting for the next sail. This picture illustrates clearly how tall a Mutineer's rig is when compared to the length of the hull. A fifteen foot boat with a twenty-two foot mast has lots of horsepower to spare. This is why the Mutes will plane in reasonably strong wind. We were surfing three foot swells back from the west side of the bay near the Toms River Bridge on one rather blustery August day. These little boats can handle rougher water better than almost anything their size that floats. They sail along neatly in light breezes but really seem to shine when pounding into swells higher than the deck with the leeward rail buried in the foam in the troughs and sucking wind in the bailer as they leap into the air off the top of the wave. What a great little boat!
     Peace at last. A quiet sunset is the perfect way to end a rather exciting day. The day began with Cantaloupe in danger of losing her mast, and ending with a peaceful sunset and barely a ripple in the water.
     Poor Bat is resting comfortably after a rather traumatic twenty-four hours. Even the Yacht Club is quiet tonight. Last night there was a party going on during the storm. That's the way it is with boats and boat people. You can't let a little weather keep you down. .
     Bat is an A Cat. A large one design class of wooden bat boats that race on Barnegat Bay and elsewhere. Bat has about the same mast height to hull ration as Cantaloupe but is nearly twice as long and carries an enormous single main sail far forward on her wide shallow hull. Her standing rigging is complex compared to Cantaloupe but her running rigging is simple. A Cats are beautiful big boats at the upper end of the daysailer scale. A wooden boat of that size takes a lot of time and money to maintain... Not to mention purchase in the first place. Cantaloupe required over two-hundred fifty dollars to refit and repair, including buying some rigging components twice, to replace ones stolen before they were installed. That seems like a bargain when looking at Bat.
     Next day it's back on the bay... Sailing west towards Toms River at a good clip in some lively chop. Ahead is a rather strange sight. If you look at the large version of this picture you can see a sailboat about the same size as the Mutineer being towed at around thirty knots behind a power boat with a Wave Runner leading the way. A strange sight indeed. With a strong wind from the northeast or northwest I'm sure we could keep up... Maybe even pass them.
     An inboard cruiser cuts across Cantaloupe's bow as she nears the channel on the west side of the bay. Not too close for comfort, but a little less than a politically correct distance considering the strong winds and lively chop. Just a little more spray over the bow and a reminder that the channel is power boat territory for the most part, and they have little or no inclination to yield to crossing sailboats. Especially little ones like Cantaloupe. Time to come about and head east for Lavallette and the safety of the little cove near the Yacht Club... And daydream about sailing blue water that a power boat like this wouldn't dare come out in. Just wait 'till the next boat... It's going to be a beauty.

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Copyright 2001, Chandler H. Johnson