Saturday, March 31, 2018

Redemption of a Lost Prodigy - The New York Times

The sweet smell of toluene, the chirp of a saw, fragments of Bach,  the scent of tobacco, and the Budweiser-bred gravelly voice are what - until today - I knew of the genius next door.  For the past 10 years my boat's winter slot has been next to one of the boats Saul Chandler (nee Lipschutz) was busy restoring.  We are neighbors in Washington Heights too; and his son sells boats and runs a launch in season at Barron's Boatyard where my boat has been stored.  And - thanks to a master woodworker Pat Montalbano - my North River 2 has recovered from mishaps -  like dismasting in a gale by a boat that broke loose from its mooring.
 So I didn't know that there was another master craftsman at the City Island yard - until this morning's Times unveiled Saul's first craft.  As a child prodigy.  As a violinist bound for the heights - Carnegie Hall at 11, Juilliard, et cetera he gave even Itzhak Perlman a run for his money. - gwc

Redemption of a Lost Prodigy - The New York Times
As a teenager, he was an elite violinist,
a rare talent. Then, something
happened. Fifty years later, he has
found a refuge in a City Island boatyard.

As the sun set and the tide started to rise around City Island, the seaside village off the eastern tip of the Bronx, Saul Chandler took his seat at a bar called the Snug. Mr. Chandler, 70, a small man who smokes cheap cigars and refuses Budweiser not in glass bottles, is one of the island’s waterfront eccentrics. He is a bar-stool fixture at the pub, known for telling bawdy jokes and paying the tabs of strangers before slipping into the night.
He likes rambling about his boat, a two-masted schooner docked nearby. The shipyard was lonesome throughout winter, but he was usually in the hull of the schooner drinking beer and sawing wood by lamplight, classical music echoing from a radio in his cabin. He mostly tells stories: how he glued himself to a boat he was repairing and had to rip himself free and wander off in his underpants, how he nearly sank in the Bermuda Triangle, how he has named vessels after the Herman Melville novels “Typee” and “Omoo.”
After a few beers, however, Mr. Chandler might tell a story that is not of the cheerful maritime sort:
“I played Carnegie Hall twice before I was 13.”
“I was known for my Bach.”
“They turned me into a trained monkey.”
“If I could forget about music I would.”
When asked to say more, he shrugs, and the stories fade into the barroom haze. But this mysterious specter follows him to his boat. When music is playing on the radio, if a certain violin concerto comes on, he may get up and switch the station off. “The violin upsets me,” he said. “It reminds me of terror.”
Specifically, it reminds him of his gift. A gift he has spent his life trying to forget.
In the 1960s, Mr. Chandler was one of the most promising classical violin prodigies in New York. He started attending the Juilliard School of Music’s prestigious preparatory division when he was 9, he played at Town Hall and Carnegie Hall before he was 11, and he performed Mozart live on WNYC when he was 13. His pedigree was of the highest order: he was a student of Ivan Galamian, the legendary Armenian violin teacher who taught future superstars of classical music like Michael Rabin and Itzhak Perlman. Mr. Chandler’s greatest triumph, he claims, was once getting a better grade than a teenage Itzhak Perlman at Juilliard. “No one could beat him,” he said, dragging on his cigar. “Not until me.”

Friday, March 30, 2018

Quit Trying to ‘Fix’ Baseball | Commonweal Magazine

Quit Trying to ‘Fix’ Baseball | Commonweal Magazine

by Gregory K. Hills

Every year I look forward to watching Louisville’s Triple-A baseball team, the Bats, play in one of the nicest ballparks in the minor leagues, Slugger Field. It was built in 1998 amid a resurgence in designing ballparks to look more like they did during the golden age of baseball in the mid-twentieth century. However, on a spring day three years ago, I noticed something had changed. Over the center-field wall was a pitch clock, which reset after every pitch and gave the pitcher only a limited period of time to throw the ball.
The pitch clock over the center-field wall at Slugger Field bothered me because, of all the major sports in North America, only baseball is (or, rather, was) untimed. Baseball has the eternal built into it, from the circular nature of each player’s voyage around the base paths to its refusal to have the game limited by the constraints of time, and the pitch clock introduced something alien to the game, like a virus that couldn’t but compromise the health of something that was otherwise healthy and beautiful.

Tuesday, March 27, 2018

Lost at Sea - John Fisher - Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18

John Fisher - Volvo Race Sailor lost at sea

1,400 miles west of Cape Horn, damaged by a crash gybe, they were 200 miles windward of the nearest competitor.  The nearest commercial ship was 400 miles away. Team Scallywag crew member John Fisher (UK) was swept overboard.  Although he was wearing a survival suit in the 48 F waters, and gale force winds and sea state several hours of searching by his teammates were fruitless.  The boat is again heading east toward Cape Horn where they will be met by race officials and investigators, I presume.

Video update on Scallywag's John Fisher - Volvo Ocean Race 2017-18

John Paul Stevens: Repeal the Second Amendment - The New York Times

John Paul Stevens: Repeal the Second Amendment - The New York Times

Rarely in my lifetime have I seen the type of civic engagement schoolchildren and their supporters demonstrated in Washington and other major cities throughout the country this past Saturday. These demonstrations demand our respect. They reveal the broad public support for legislation to minimize the risk of mass killings of schoolchildren and others in our society.
That support is a clear sign to lawmakers to enact legislation prohibiting civilian ownership of semiautomatic weapons, increasing the minimum age to buy a gun from 18 to 21 years old, and establishing more comprehensive background checks on all purchasers of firearms. But the demonstrators should seek more effective and more lasting reform. They should demand a repeal of the Second Amendment.
Concern that a national standing army might pose a threat to the security of the separate states led to the adoption of that amendment, which provides that “a well regulated militia, being necessary to the security of a free state, the right of the people to keep and bear arms, shall not be infringed.” Today that concern is a relic of the 18th century.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Two Crash gybes - Volvo Ocean Race

A crash  gybe is when the mainsail unexpectedly and violently swings over to the opposite side of the boat.   It most often happens when the wind suddenly shifts to the leeward side, sending the mainsail suddenly to the windward side. 

It's a shock under any circumstances.  But in a VOR 65 (65.6 lwl) it is particularly complicated.  A running (movable) backstay supports the mast from the windward side.  In a strong breeze the canting (swing) bullet keel is extended as far as 45 degrees to the windward side to stabilize the boat.  In a crash gybe (used to be called a Chinese gybe) the boom swings over to the formerly windward side and strikes the running backstay.  That makes it impossible to release the backstay in order to let the sail out and let it flap like a flag.   Only when the crew has set the backstay on the new windward side can the now leeward backstay be loosened.

Complicated enough in a boat lying on its side -perhaps in the dark- but the VOR 65 has a canting (swinging) keel which is now on the wrong side, threatening the boat with capsize, not just a `knockdown'.

Starting at about 9:45 you will see footage of two crash gybes - one in the dark, the other in daylight.  The narrator - staring about 12;30 demonstrates what happened on a model.

Spring Equinox - Friendship

Monday, March 19, 2018

Dragger in a following Sea - Neal Parent

Image may contain: outdoor and water
Belfast, Maine photographer Neal Parent   posted today a new color photo of a  trawler in a huge following sea on Georges Banks in the Gulf of Maine.   It looks like his  series of (film) Black& White prints called Fishing the Banks, like this shot - the cover of his 2002 book Focused on the Coast.  [Which, thanks to Marilyn, has been above my desk for many years.] 
The new shot, dated 2015,  is in color and may be digital.  We will be in Belfast Friday.  I'll try to check it out.  And buy it if...

Image result for neal parent fishing the banks

Sunday, March 18, 2018

The long, cold leg - Volvo Ocean Race

The long (7,600 NM) Auckland to Brazil leg began today.

Here is 30 seconds of  video of the Southern Ocean roller coaster.
And it's good weather.  The wind IS at your back but...
Trouble at the start - video and routing imagery.

Sunday, March 4, 2018


Ben Bajorek is rebuilding his Herreshoff S Boat.  The gray triangular piece is deadwood.  It bears no weight, just fills space.  It occupies the space between the 3,350 lb. lead ballast keel which is bolted to the keelson - the long plank that runs down the center of the hull - and to which frames (ribs) and floors (the orange pieces) are attached.
Image may contain: outdoor

Six barges floating loose in Hudson River off Irvington

Six construction barges moored at the new Tappan Zee Bridge broke loose in Friday's gale.  At about that time I checked the NOAA data station at Kings Point.  It was gusting to 49 kts. NNE.  That's 57 mph - enough to chafe and fray just about any mooring line.  And it did.  Fortunately they didn't hit any of the anchored fuel barges down river.  - gwc

Six barges floating loose in Hudson River off Irvington

Barges break free in Hudson