Tuesday, June 29, 2010

You can't spell SLAUGHTER without LAUGHTER

Amongst all the work going on with the 25-foot Launch, and getting her inner keel ready for lamination, and preparation for the pirate festival, I've been getting some questions about our representation of battles, skirmishes and combat in general - along with some criticism of how we do so.
First, this is a job for our PR Director - so go bang down his door when you don't like my answers!
The Blackbeard Festival in Hampton July 9-11 has been the underlying cause of most of these questions and criticism, so let me summarize. The festival commemorates the 1718 capture of Edward Teach, aka Blackbeard, and his crew near Ocracoke, NC. It is a story stepped in folklore and popularized in the modern imagination by pirate movies. But the true story is much more complicated and interesting than any work of fiction I've read recently. Not only was Blackbeard a 'bad guy' - having captured and plundered dozens of ships and been responsible for countless deaths - but the colonial authorities that captured him were at best sloppy in their administration and accountability and at worst corrupt and self-serving. It reminds me of an 'Enemy at the Gates' type situation - where you're really not sure who to root for, the Nazis or the Communists. This happened - hell, still happens - more than our history books would like to admit or bring to light.
Most criticism I receive revolves around the indignity of glamorizing piracy in an age when our sailors are still fighting them in several areas of the world. There are also a few that say that pretending to shoot at each other and fall down is silly and infantile. Hmmm. Both opinions are valid and agree with my own, but do not apply to what we're doing in Hampton.
Our representation of the historical battles of 1718 is inherently flawed. We are using uniforms and equipment appropriate for 1770-1790, fifty years too late. Our boat is made of fiberglass, and her hull form is only appropriate back to the 1760's. We have short hair, we wear combat boots, our clothing is machine sewn, we brush our teeth and we use deodorant.
So where do we claim to represent history? In the attitude of our participants during the event. In preparation, they'll be read brief passages describing historical procedures such as the press gang, naval enlistment, and civilian reports of the 'dastardly acts' of pirates. They'll also be given the same motivation as the original pirate hunters - rewards for capturing the pirates. Not to mention a summary of the benefits of looting the pirate's 'booty'. They'll be fully sold on the notion of working for the King (government, not me) as a potentially lucrative occupation. And even if we create these factors artificially, their representation may shed a little light on the truth behind the folklore, both for spectators and the participants themselves.
The pirate crews, I might add, are even more up to speed on this than we are. While they admit that their principle income is derived from crime, they are quick to point out that theirs are fully democratic crews, with constitutions, elected leaders and equal shares of their plunder for all members. Bet not many people on the street would know that.
So in both sides, there was good AND bad. See that for what it was, and you're starting to understand history and what we can learn from it.
Aside from the passing of knowledge and learning is the DOING. Participants will be focused on what we are doing vice what we are wearing. I'm sure that the cut of a waistcoat was not high on the list of priorities for engaged combatants in the 18th century, just as it is not on ours. Sailors and marines alike will think TACTICALLY and do their best to use the limited resources and information at hand (satellite imagery wasn't a common asset in 1718). And to make the challenge all the more difficult, they'll have to capture the "pirates" - without actually hurting anyone - including spectators watching two feet away.
Learning to use assets within their limitations, exploit the limitations of our opponent, exercising rapid operational risk management decisions on an individual and unit level - you can't tell me there is no professional development in this for our sailors and marines. From the rank and file to the leadership elements - this is not only a past time but a chance to hone skills learned in the military but little exercised in combat, or even mock-combat.
And most importantly is a little laughter. Not only because it's in the blog title but because it is essential to ensure participants have FUN and therefore absorb information more effectively. The same is true for the public - when they're laughing they're paying attention. When they're yawning, they're zoning out just as they did in history class, which might be why they've never heard of Governor Spotswood, Lieutenant Maynard or Edward Teach. So you'll forgive the bad Monty Python jokes (last year it was from Quest for the Holy Grail: "you stay here until I come and get him"), the occasional raucous cheers and bad singing. But if even one spectator walks away saying "hey hon, did you know the navy used to do that? - just kidnap people off the street" then we've won.
If anyone has any questions about the validity of learning about the history of piracy, many of our active duty sailors and marines have met REAL pirates face to face. Ask us.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Fullbore Friday - yeah one of those

Yes, its back, if only for one out of eight more Fridays! This week is a reflection about operations - and getting the job done safely, efficiently, and using sound judgement. These things can really make or break an activity or an event for yourself or the whole group.


First, a disclaimer. Some links definately fall under the 'bad influence on kids' group. Others are just plain silly. There is some bad language used. Complaints may be addressed to

NHS Complaint Department
c/o Dinsdale Pyranna
Behind the Pipes
Third Stall Along
Grand Central Station


Proper training is a constant necessity. The adage 'if you can't tie a knot, tie a lot' is BS and won't fly here. The average NHS sailor may not be the best hand at marlinspike seamanship, but we're working on that. Taking a few extra minutes to learn the right way to do something will save time and energy later on, rather than making do with what might work.

Learning the edge of "the envelope" is also a necessity in sailing and boating in general. And knowing when to push it and when not to is essential. This we try to pass on with experience and careful study, from one generation of sailor to another, that we can try and avoid crossing that boundary and putting ourselves, our ships and our shipmates in danger.

Considering these essential elements, we now focus on regular operations. During drills and in 'action', it is important to remember to hone your skills and be confident in your actions. Even the right actions, performed sheepishly, can lead to accidents.

Of course, it is important to enjoy the fruits of your labor, too - and I don't mean for anyone to think we shouldn't have a good time. You should enjoy yourself, and feel a deep satisfaction that you are not only increasing your professional skill and knowledge, but engaging in a past time not available for many people. This is all about recreation, for officers and enlisted personnel alike.

For now, I think I'll be happy so long as we don't do anything really stupid. Then again, you could join the Army.

Have a good weekend! I'll be in the shop tonight, tomorrow and Sunday for those who want to come out and lend a hand!


A visit to Erie, hanging out with the big guns

Apologies for the hiatus but I've been travelling again. This Monday I stopped in Erie, PA for a few hours and visited friends and respected colleagues at the Erie Maritime Museum and Brig Niagara. I spent two hours with Niagara's Senior Captain, Walter Rybka, possibly one of the best and most experienced square rigged captains in the world (no exaggeration) catching up since my last visit in September and discussing NHS Dockyard activities. Niagara's Chief Mate Billy Sabatini also stopped in, and we discussed NHS sailors crewing the ship en masse this fall (!).

Capt Rybka has been working on many things we can relate to, including a dipping lug rig on Cutter 2 - nearly the same as ours right down to the leeboard. He was gracious enough to provide me with a draft of an illustrated manual he's been working on for sailing dipping lug boats, which I'll send to the web guys for posting as soon as possible.

Thanks gents, I can't wait to get up there again this fall!


Yesterday in the heat, we managed to get some work done on the 25 foot launch. We cut all the templates for the new mold patterns and cut and stood up Molds 1 and 2. Tonight, we'll cut and stand up molds 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. Later in the week, we'll loft and cut the transom pattern, followed by the transom itself, and hopefully by next week we'll have mounted both the transom and the inner stem, and can proceed straight into setting up the inner keel. Once the inner keel is set up, our progression looks like this:

1. laminate 26 of 32 permanent frames in place on molds 1-13.
2. laminate 6 temporary frames in place on molds 14-16.
3. bevel all frames to match planking.
4. bevel inner keel to mold lines.
5. rip and plane inner planking stock.
6. lay up inner planking.
7. rip and plane outer planking stock.
8. lay up outer planking.
9. build up outer stem, keel and skeg.

Needless to say, we have a lot of work to do this summer. As I see it, we need to hustle, as we're already behind the power curve.


Preparations for the Blackbeard Pirate Festival in July continue. Tuesday we recieved 5 sea service muskets, 2 boarding pikes and 50 rounds of training ammunition. There is still lots of activity splicing and setting up lines (don't ask what for!) and gathering more anchors and grappling hooks. So good progress is being made, and we'll be ready on time for that.

More to follow soon.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Just one more thing I love about CONSTITUTION

This photo was posted on Facebook by someone who recently visited Old Ironsides. Of course, my first thought is to the unknown (to me) incident prompted that sign - and a wish that I could have been there because I'm sure it was highly entertaining, in a funny and/or scarry sort of way.


Yesterday's meeting forged ahead in several key areas. After a discussion of the plans for the 25-foot Launch and a brief tutorial about boat design, drafting and lofting, we turned to a clinic on marlinspike seamanship, then to planning and preparation for the Blackbeard Pirate Festival. Thanks to those who came out, and for those who didn't - you're missing the boat shipmates!


The Dockyard is closed this weekend for tree clearing and termite prevention work. See you all next Tuesday!


Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Dockyard getting extreme makeover

Well, maybe that's a little overstated. But now that the temporary addition to the Framing Bay is complete, we've begun a week of rennovations of the rest of the facilities before embarking on the great construction journey that is the 25-foot Launch. The Framing Bay was entirely gutted yesterday and all tools and materials dragged out into the yard, where they were cleaned and organized. While that was going on the entire Framing Bay was swept and blown down. And now, while I still wouldn't exactly eat off the deck, I am much happier about the work to begin on the Launch next week.

Still on the schedule for this week's rennovations, removing the remaining fence posts in the back forty to clear the "Flipping Path" - the track where the Launch will eventually be wheeled out, upside down, flipped onto skids and chocks then pushed back into the Framing Bay. The Lofting Bay is also set for clearing out and refinishing - we actually have some more lofting to do in there so we'll need to clear out the sailmaking gear for a while.


Wednesday meeting tonight at 1900, free snacks and beverages courtesy of the SS (support section). We'll be covering elements of marlinspike seamanship as well as rigging the grappling hooks and spare anchors in preparation for the Pirate Festival.

Next week we start instruction with the flintlocks (!!!) and we'll have some practice line-throwing.


Monday, June 14, 2010

EVENT UPDATE - Blackbeard Pirate Festival

HOT OFF THE PRESS - we ARE going to the Blackbeard Pirate Festival this July 9-11. The crew of the Monomoy Pulling Boat will be joined by a FULL SQUAD of 8-10 NHS marines for an expedition against the piratical horde assembled at Hampton VA. This event will utilize historical costumes as well as reproduction weapons. Think of "Pirates of the Carribbean" - we're the British for this one. The marines are decked out head to toe in British Marine uniforms, and sailors will wear a mix of clothing appropriate for sailors of the period.

Last year's highlights include shooting muskets from high in the rigging of a ship during the battle, as well as several ship/boat to shore actions. The pirate wenches made a great show of trying to wrest the marine's muskets away, and several marines ended up on a barrel wearing the placard "I fold the King's mufket for puffy". This year, with our own boat and several times the compliment, I expect we'll be very active.

Time to break out the grappling hooks, spare anchors, and all the line we can muster. By the way, the King's Men won this one - and returned to port with Blackbeard's head dangling from their bowsprit. Needless to say, we've instructed the costume and prop people accordingly.

a bloody great hole in the leg, or, how to launch the Monomoy single handed

This morning I am still hurting from the weekend, as we had a neverending stream of things to do. First and foremost was Harborfest, our second event of the year with the Monomoy Pulling Boat. It was there that my fun started for the weekend.

The boat ramp in Harbor Park is difficult to find - it is literally just a concrete slab one lane wide that descends at a perilous angle into the water, where huge rocks and debris clutter up its end. There are no docks of any sort and the nearest place to embark is a wrecked pier some 20 yards away from the launch ramp. Where better to try launching the boat single-handed, right? Well first you have to understand the progression of events here.

First, I was 90 minutes early with the boat, earlier than my usual hour. I had the boat ready to go within about 10 minutes, and decided to more carefully examine the ramp with the trailer. Backing slowly, I stopped every few feet to get out, examine the trailer on the ramp, then back a little further. The plan was to just "examine" the ramp's suitability. But by the time it was clear that 1) the trailer would in fact fit down the ramp, 2) there was nobody around to whine that I was taking too long, and 3) I have rowed the boat single handed before, I thought what the hell - I cast off the straps, then jumped in the car and lowered her all the way down.

Now on this ramp, all the way down is a technical term. Basically it means until the stern is floating, the ramp being at such a steep pitch that its unadvisable to try to get the whole trailer in there. When set, I locked the brakes on the car, put it in gear and shut down the engine. Then I jumped out and manned the winch, lowering the boat off the trailer and into the water. She slid easily down without a problem and in about 10 seconds flat, she was afloat. I then took a moment to chock the wheels of the truck to prevent it from going anywhere, then approached the boat to jump in. And that's when disaster set in. Not thinking about the slimy ramp, I took one step and slid under the trailer, punching a nice hole in my leg and bruising the crap out of my back as my leg went careening under the trailer and my back onto the keel rollers.

Taking a moment to recover and survey the damage from this absolutely DUMB mistake, I pulled myself onto the bow platform and broke out the first aid kit. I got the hole patched up with a little disinfecting medical adhesive, and swabbed up the blood, both off my leg and the side of the boat (save it for the Pirate Festival). I then unhooked the bow and sitting atop the stowed mast and sail, grabbed two of the 14' ash oars and rowed the boat clear of the trailer. An onsetting wind helped me get the boat to the makeshift dock, at which I tied myself up, and went back to park the car.

So all in all, a very interesting launch. Could have ended very badly, but didnt thanks to the well-equipped boat. Next time, I just need to make sure I stick to the 'two person integrity' rule.


The remainder of the event went well, and was nothing if not an exercise in what a few well-trained sailors can do. When the appointed hour rolled around, only two crew members had shown up. Remember, this boat has a standard crew of 10 - six people hadn't shown. So after waiting the requisite 15 minutes, we decided to work into the river with just the three of us. NHS Seaman Reese took the steering oar, while NHS Seaman Jones and I pulled for him on the three thwart. Once out into the river, we rigged the leeboard and hoisted sail - just the three of us - and sailed into downtown Norfolk for the festival.

I have to say, without the weight of the full crew sailing is TIGHT. The empty thwarts start 'talking' and the mast strains against the collar. With two people required to top up the halyard, the coxswain has to hand the sheet as well as the steering oar. But considering that all three of us had made the trip across the Chesapeake, this proved to be no problem. She heeled with the freshening breeze as we three crowded the weather rail to balance the boat. We made it to Nauticus without a problem, and astounded our fans waiting on the dock (yes, we have a few fans, mostly friends and family). We tied up and disembarked (debarked, in Navy speak) and set out to enjoy the festivities.

Here, I should note that next year we need to get involved with the other events. They had a "quick and dirty boatbuilding" competition, a "dock dog olympics" and other events we could easily compete in.

By about 1900 the skies had started to darken and the wind began freshening. With only the three of us, we lacked the ballast for stability we'd need in foul weather. So we made the decision to set off back up the river for the recovery site. Once we'd worked out into the river, we made excellent time sailing, reaching the ramp before 1930. Haul out went much smoother than I'd hoped for and we had the boat recovered and heading home before 2000.

Special thanks to NHS Seamen Reese and Jones - you guys were SHIT HOT out there and really made an otherwise bust event a great time! You rock!


The remainder of the weekend was spent hauling trash and debris out of the dockyard and searching for signs of infection. All those old fence posts, chain link fencing and the debris from the Framing Bay tearout have been removed, and the leg seems to be healing nicely. The Framing Bay expansion is on schedule to be finished by Wednesday's meeting and the whole thing should get a new coat of paint soon after. This looks to be a very exciting week.


Weekly meeting Wednesday at 1900, free beer, soft drinks and snacks.


Friday, June 11, 2010

Ready for a productive weekend

Sorry kids, no fullbore today. Just a short word about this weekend's activities.

Yesterday, we poured the concrete for the addition to the Framing Bay, and completed the drawings for the overall structure. Assembly will be largely weather dependent but must be completed by close of activities Sunday to save my nerves the strain of having so much material protected only by a tarp.


The crew of the Monomoy Pulling Boat will be out to row Norfolk Harbor on Saturday afternoon. As of writing we still have several vacancies in the crew, so bring your friends as it looks to be an easy, fun event. See yesterday's post for more information.


The Monomoy herself has been cleaned up and readied for Harborfest, including lots of pine tar and three new oarlocks. She'll be travelling light for this event, with little equipment but her safety gear.


Have a good weekend!


Thursday, June 10, 2010

Preparations continue

We're always preparing for something, aren't we? That's why the subtitle of the blog is "Preparing to be prepared, standing by to stand by". This week, we're running full tilt into preparations for completion of the 25-foot Launch. We've framed in and knocked out the opening in the rear of the Framing Bay to accommodate the boat's new lengthened hull form and are preparing to lay down the concrete pad that goes under it. That will probably be complete and drying by the end of the day today. After that, we construct the temporary addition that will cover the stern of the boat during construction, then shift the molds into place and begin re-assembling them. All in all, I hope to be ready to proceed with construction by the end of next week.


Last night we had our first weekly meeting. The time was used cleaning out and prepping the Monomoy for HarborFest this Saturday. We'll be under oars the entire time but we will be rowing at night, and so the entire communications kit and lighting package had to be broken out and inspected. Everything tested satisfactorily, and we're now more or less ready to go.


Notes about HarborFest (from the message):

Location: Harbor Park (Baseball Stadium) Boat Ramp
- Ramp is unmarked and difficult to find. Look for the BOAT on the East side of the stadium (away from downtown) near the water.
- You must drive in BEFORE 1500 in order to get free parking. Be sure to tell any attendants that you are with the boat crew if they try to get you to pay. Call LT King if you have issues.
- Park in spaces as close to the boat as you can.

Wear khaki shorts (or some variant thereof) and a blue NWU t-shirt. Conquer the Chesapeake T-shirts encouraged. Above all, be comfortable. Hats are encouraged.

Sunscreen, your wallet, cash for vendors at festival.

Free for all hands.

After launching we will row approx 1/4 mile to Town Point Park. We may make a few passes of the waterfront to get attention before docking at Nauticus and letting everyone out to enjoy the festivities. We will meet at the boat periodically to row around the waterfront, and at 2100 we will head out to position the boat to watch the fireworks.

We are NOT planning on returning to the launch site and parking area until after the fireworks. Please bring everything you'll need for the day with you in the boat.

Tall ships, concerts, tugboat races, food/beverages, fireworks. For more information click

We will try to get U/I Coxswains onto the platform as much as possible. Contact LT King to discuss if interested.



Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Demolition in the Dockyard!

Last night, I set to getting the shop ready for our first weekly meeting tonight. We have several new projects on the table, most having to do with the new Launch, slated for completion by December. The first and most significant project is the expansion of the Framing Bay, aka knocking a 10' wide by 9' tall opening in the back of the garage, putting in a concrete pad and framing in a temporary structure. Without this expansion, the Launch wouldn't fit into the space, and seeing as we have no other options we had to make it work. Of course I would prefer to dig a giant bunker under the garage but there were some objections to that. And a lack of excavation equipment. But I digress.

So yesterday, I began clearing the shop and prepping the back wall for "blowout". I marked the wall, measuring carefully to align the new door between two large trees in the space behind the building (so we could, theoretically, drive through it in a car). Then I cut temporary supports to block up the wall while cutting away the studs - really nothing more than 2x4s to wedge under the header - and cut the new reinforced header and studs. As I continued making 'preparations' I realized that I could just do it myself and get it out of the way, and so about an hour later, the door was cut and the remnants of the old wall were strewn in the yard behind. I know I know, this isn't exciting, but I am quite proud of myself.

Now, we get to start chopping down the underbrush and grading for the concrete.


Tonight, we'll be giving the Monomoy and her gear a thorough once-over in preparation for HarborFest this coming Saturday. It'll be her last outing for an event for a couple of months, as we turn our whole focus to the construction of the Launch, and getting the momentum going on that. We'll have the Monomoy back out in August for our Expedition to the Blue Ridge, and for more events this fall.


I expect a short tutorial about the construction and design of the Launch to be posted on our website any day now. I think our webmaster gets distracted too easily when he's at the computer.


Monday, June 7, 2010

Dockyard buildings to undergo expansion

Some of you may have seen the plans strewn across the drafting tables in the lofting bay. The 24-foot launch is soon to become the 25-foot launch, as her aft stations are re-drawn. The original design, which was based largely on an original 1800-era Frigate's Launch and subsequently called the "Frigate's Boat" had something of an ungainly appearance aft. She carried her center of flotation well aft, causing any weight in the bow to force it down and the stern up. Balancing the boat aft is difficult because it is so well supported by the aft flotation that even a small amount of weight forward requires many times the same weight placed aft. So our naval architect, aka me, set to re-draing the lines of the frames from midships aft. Based on an original 18th century Launch in Champan's Navalis Mercatoria, they are far more pleasing in appearance and function. The new transom has more of a "wine glass" taper and a finer look, while some of the aft flotation was shifted forward, the gunwales lowered and the sheer rounded a bit more. The transom was also canted aft a bit, lengthening the overall design to 24' 8" instead of 23' 3".

All of these changes look great in the 3D renderings, and the hull speed of the boat is increased 0.8 knots - which though it doesnt seem like much is actually a vast improvement. Needless to say she won't be as sluggish under oars as I once inferred.

The one problem with all of this is that the boat is now too long for the framing bay (aka my workshop garage).

Wait. No, you're not JUST realizing that we do this all out of my yard, are you? Well, I'm sorry to crush your hopes and dreams. The attached finished garage, now laundry/rec room is in fact the "Lofting Bay", while the detached 3 car garage turned workshop out back is the "Framing Bay". We used to operate out of an old laundry plant turned workshop on 24th Street (now no longer used) that we called the "Carpenter's Shop". The "Spar Yard" is in fact the side yard next to the garage where the spar testing gear is rigged, and the "Gunner's Cage" is in the front of the garage under the workbenches. Rigging and equipment are stored in the rafters.

Yeah, so hopes and dreams be crushed, we are a small operation - and I stress small - operating on a shoestring budget with our sources of knowledge experience farmed out for training. Don't worry, that's not the "Framing Bay" pictured. But it could be.

Back on topic. So the idea has always been that when the Launch is finished and rolled out, we'll tear down the existing "Framing Bay" and rebuild a proper boat shop. After all, the one benefit of owning 3 acres of land in a nice Norfolk neighborhood is that I can always expand. But for now, the increased length of the boat is cause to rip out (for lack of a more refined term) part of the back of the existing structure, lay down a concrete pad and frame in a temporary structure to cover her ass end. It should be very ghettofied and I look forward to it.

And at this point, I'd do almost anything to get this boat finished and out of the shop.

Our new, or rather OLD, flags

At the recommendation of some senior navy types, we've adopted a new symbol for our forces afloat. The US Navy's Small Craft Ensign was a common sight aboard the fleet's boats and small craft from the mid-19th century on. It fell into disuse in the 1960s, the last recorded examples issued being in the 1950s. Considering the special use of the flags, the slight novelty and the easy recognition as a variation of the national ensign of the US, they are perfect for use aboard our small craft.

NHS Executive Resolution 105.29, 21 May 2010.

After May 30 2010, the US Navy's Small Craft Ensign is to be flown by all NHS boats while in service insofar as is practicable as determined by the Coxswain or Officer in Charge. Other historical flags may be subsituted (as appropriate) for the Ensign herein prescribed at the discretion of the Commanding Officer.

A sufficient stock of these flags are to be produced and maintained by the Commissioner of Supply at the expense of his Regular Operating Budget (ROB) in the following sizes in whatever quantities he thinks necessary:

Flag Size Number/Hoist (height)/Fly (length)
9 3.52 6.69
10 2.90 5.51
11 2.37 4.50
12 1.31 2.49

Upon completion each flag is to be marked per Supply Regulations and delivered to the Dockyard Superintendant, who shall maintain accountability for the same.

Fun times! Check it out at HarborFest this Saturday!


Storm has passed, now back to business!

Apologies for the communications blackout after the Bay crossing, but I'm back from NYC and ready to roll!

Little has been going on at the Dockyard, with the exception of a lot of packages coming in. In fact, after the Monomoy was cleaned up after Conquer the Chesapeake, everyone kind of took a bit of a break to rest and recouperate. I'd like to think that includes the boat - with a sprung leeboard and a missing oarlock, she needed some time to recover too.

First things first - EVENTS. Our next event is Norfolk HarborFest, this coming Saturday, from 1500 to roughly 2200. The plan is to launch the boat at Harbor Park (where the Tides play) and row over to Nauticus, get out and enjoy the festivities including tall ships, concerts etc, get some attention rowing around, hang out in the harbor for the fireworks that evening and then recover the boat again that evening. Looks to be a fun event, with some opportunity to bring a few friends and family out for boat rides (as space permits). Let me know soonest if you can make it out.

NHS participation in the Blackbeard Pirate Festival, scheduled for July, has been cancelled. This for two reasons, namely 1) funding for this specific event is short, both in what the trustees are willing to allocate and in what the event is willing to donate, and 2) two sizeable donations have been made to facilitate a resurgence of work on the 24-foot launch, a project that has languished for two years. It costs a good deal of money, time and logistical organization to get out for a major event such as the pirate festival, and in this case the board of directors has decided that finances dictate we withdraw. Sorry pirates, maybe next year!


Secondly, MEETINGS. I want to start a regular weekly meeting. We'll either conduct training, work on small maintenance projects or take the boat out, depending on what we need to get done and how many people we have. Also depending on numbers, we may fire up the grill/smoker for some barbecue. Our first meeting will be this Wednesday, 9 June at the NHS Dockyard. Contact me for directions and details.


Another product of this past weekend's board meetings is that the headqarters of the NHS Marines may be moving back to Danville VA. Seems the marines don't like hanging around the tars in the dockyard. Ha! Well, its not final yet, but provided the Logistics Director and Commissioner of Supply can work out the funding and logistics, you folks in Danville will be right in the thick of marine country. I am very much looking forward to sending you all back your mess kits and camping gear- good riddance!


Last note for today is a word about the 24-foot Launch. After languishing for two years "on the stocks" she has been picked up for completion by the end of this year. I'm glad to see the renewed interest, and hope that many of you can join us in the dockyard to get 'er done. For details about the design, see the last blog entry. One thing is sure - I've got dibs on coxswain of that beauty when she hits the water!

That's it for now - more to follow this week as I get back in the saddle.