Saturday, December 11, 2010

Marina Del Rey Trip

Last week we had to be on the west side for the afternoon helping out at church and decided to go to Marina Del Ray for dinner. The original plan was to talk with marina and boat yard owners to see if they had any lien boats for sale, and to talk with some of the local yacht brokers. However the 405 being what it is on Friday night we didn't get there until after most of the places we planned to go were closed. Instead we decided to walk along the water front and watch the sunset as the fog rolled in.
Here are some of the pictures we took.
 Sailboat coming in out of the fog.
 One of the forlorn boats at the impound dock,
(this one was luckier than the others and had the hatch closed)
 The last rays of the sun as it slips into the offshore fog.
 One of the local residents watching a fishing boat motoring into the fog.


I have been really busy with work launching the new line of swords at Privateer Armoury and haven't had the time to post anything (a great problem to have when you work for yourself).

Boat: Still hunting, we have found quite a few inexpensive or free boats but none of them have worked out for various reasons.

Captains Licenses: Wading through the Annexes to the COLREGS and studying all kinds of nautical subjects.

Friday, November 26, 2010


We haven't really said much about ourselves yet, so here is goes.

My name is Ben. I am a craftsman and kind of a jack-of-all-trades, master of a couple.  I am a husband,  father of one son, and a self-employed bladesmith (Ben Potter, Bladesmith, Privateer Armoury ). My favorite pastimes are spending time with my family, taking walks, traditional crafts, learning new skills, and of course, sailing. I am currently working on my USCG OUPV license with the goal of doing sailing charters in the southern California area. I am very happiliy married to the most wonderful and amazing woman in the world:

Well, thank you, Ben- I heartily reciprocate. My name is Corrie and I am also a craftsman in my sphere- I love to sew for myself and others, cook for everyone, and dabble in all things creative. I am a harpist, and play at weddings and events with my mother. I am a book-fiend, although my literature of choice is melodrama-free. Living on a boat is also a dream of mine- I love to entertain and have people over, and there ain't no venue more inviting than a boat. In the summer. Well, we'll get one with a wood stove. And in the winter I'll bake bread and have the clam chowder simmering.

This pretty much sums up our relationship...
except for...
Our special son!! Living, as we do, with one set of in-laws and a few blocks from the other, Roo is the most popular kid in town. He is an extremely adventurous and not-too-fastidious baby. We are looking forward to raising him on the water.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving!

They that go down to the sea in ships, that do business in great waters;
These see the works of the LORD, and his wonders in the deep.
For he commandeth, and raiseth the stormy wind, which lifteth up the waves thereof.
They mount up to the heaven, they go down again to the depths: their soul is melted because of trouble.
They reel to and fro, and stagger like a drunken man, and are at their wits' end.
Then they cry unto the LORD in their trouble, and he bringeth them out of their distresses.
He maketh the storm a calm, so that the waves thereof are still.
Then are they glad because they be quiet; so he bringeth them unto their desired haven.
Oh that men would praise the LORD for his goodness, and for his wonderful works to the children of men!

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Friday Night Long Beach Waterfront

Just a couple of pictures from our date to the waterfront in Long Beach looking out over the harbor. We had a great time walking along looking at all the different boats and discussing the relative "saltiness" of the different types and looking for ones that were for sale.
Looking through the marina out to one on the islands.

The Queen Mary looking out from one of the fishing piers at shoreline marina.

What quiet walks by the sea are all about.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Wilmington Marinas

This afternoon we took a trip down to Wilmington to look at a boat and enjoy being near the sea. I had to ship some pieces before 4:00 so we headed out after mailing them.
Mrs. Afloat and I enjoy having adventures. In this case, the "adventure" was navigating around terminal island without a map, having only been off the freeway there once. After seeing a bit more of the harbor than we had planned, we made it to the marina.
Fog was blowing in over Palos Verdes, but the sky was crystal clear over head as we walked out onto the docks to inspect the boat, a Coronado 35' center cockpit. The price was good, but the decks were bad, with major delamination and rotten spots in the cores. The owner is planning to fix it up and raise the price along the way. We really liked the aft cabin and the flush deck, but we need a boat for sea time and this one will not be seaworthy anytime soon. Our search for the right boat continues.

I have heard it said that."A house is just a boat so poorly built and so firmly aground that no one would ever try to launch it". This afternoon we found proof to the contrary.

We walked around to the other marinas in the area to ask if they had any boats for sale. Most of the offices were closed and the ones that were open only had small boats available.

Our boat is out there...somewhere.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Custom knotwork

Here is a Cutlass grip that I did this morning. It has a single strand fencer's knot.


It looks like Sea Voyager found a different home. Always good to see and older wooden boat get "rescued", but a bit disappointing for us. The search goes on.
Thanks for all your prayers.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Advanced Knotwork, Spyglass

 Ever since I was young and had Obadiah the Bold read to me by my mother I have always loved Spyglasses. Over the years I have owned several, black and chrome, red plastic, but not the shinny brass kind that is so salty looking until last year when my parents gave me one for my birthday. It came with faux leather on the grip which doesn't really help the saltiness of it. So I decided to cover the grip with coach whipping (Ashley Book of Knots, has an example of this in it) and finish it with three strand Turks-heads.
Here are pictures and a description of the process:

 Spyglass with faux leather.
 Spyglass without
 Tools and supplies for the project.
 Strands for the coach-whipping and one for the clinch knot
 The strands tied on to the 'glass.
 Strands evenly spaced.
 Doubling over the first set of three strands over the clinch knot.
 Beginning the over under weaving.
 finished coach-whipping.
Finished Spyglass with turks-heads.

Thursday, November 4, 2010


Sorry for not posting the last couple of days, life has been pretty crazy.
We found a boat that looks like it might be a good fit for us, and have been scrambling to get things in order for a trip up the coast to San Fransisco Bay to take a look at it. There are several others interested in the boat and at the price (free) it isn't likely to last terribly long.
As with all "free" boats it comes with a list of repairs and refits that need to happen, so in addition to trying to plan a last minute road trip we are also trying to sell some things to help with the initial costs.

Here is a picture of the boat:

She is a bit larger then we were looking for but almost exactly what we had dreamed about owning in the future.

Keep us in your prayers as we are deciding about this.

Monday, November 1, 2010

An Afternoon at the Seaside

Yesterday afternoon we went down to King Harbor to walk and enjoy the sea. It was a lovely day with warm sun and a cool sea breeze. We walked along the water front looking at the different boats and talking about what features we liked and disliked.

The most interesting boat we saw was a small wooden sloop about twenty feet or so that was set up with oarlock for rowing. We talked to the owner about it and he showed us the wooden oars which were fourteen feet long.

I was surprised at the large number of sea creatures in the marina. In addition to the more-or-less omnipresent opaleye and mussels, we saw limpets, abalone, and pinnipeds. Two dolphins were playing or eating in one of the fairways until a sailboat motored past in the main channel. One of them rushed off to “race” the boat to its slip. A baby bat ray glided past the opaleye feeding among the rocks. Seagulls and a pelican flew overhead. A pair of swell sharks went swimming by on a romantic seafood date, much to the dismay of the smaller opaleye. There was also a pair of western grebes sleeping on the water and several pairs of mallard ducks paddling among the boats. The sun was just setting into the pacific as we drove back home on the PCH.

All in all it was a very pleasant afternoon- I can’t wait to live on a boat!

Wednesday, October 27, 2010


Boat: We found a couple of possibilities but they turned out to have serious problems (for instance, one was being kept afloat by the bilge pump because its bottom planks were rotten). I have been trying to find out if any of the marinas in the area have boats that they want to sell or give away. Most local marinas have terrible websites (special offers that expired years ago, all the pages are the same as the home page, little or no information about actual slip availability or prices). The funny thing is that it wouldn't take that long to fix all the problems, and I'll bet there are plenty of web programmers that would be willing to trade work for slip fees (I for one).

Captain's licenses: We are almost finished going through the COLREGS. I wish that when they re-did the Inland Rules they had just adopted the COLREGS and left out all the "special anchorage areas designated by the Secretary", but then we are in California so we still have to learn about inland but don't get to sail there. Maybe some day we'll cruise the Mississippi.

I am working on decorative knot work on a spyglass (future blog post).

Monday, October 25, 2010

Surviving Cold Water Immersion

I regularly follow Mario's blog and highly recommend it. These articles and accompanying videos are well worth the time to watch and read for anyone interested in boating or activities on the water.

Staying Alive in Cold Water (1-10-1)

Read his other articles, especially the one about drowning- they are short but could save your or your loved ones' life.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Basic Knotwork, Loop Knots

Following the natural progression from stopper knots we come to Loop knots. All of these knots are used to put a fixed loop in the end of a line. The Bowline is one of the staples aboard ship.  It is easy to tie and untie and holds well. The Water Bowline is more difficult to tie and untie but holds more securely especially if the knot will be towed under water. The Flemish Loop Knot or Figure-eight Loop is bulkier then a bowline but is very secure and can be untied even after the line has taken a heavy load. The Bowline in a Bight shares the characteristics of the bowline but has two loops. A triple bowline has three loops and can, with proper care, be used to make a harness in an emergency. Unlike the preceding knots, the Alpine Butterfly knot or Butterfly Knot is tied in the middle of a line and can take stress on not only the standing part and the loop but also on the working end. This makes it ideal for making a rope tackle for lashing things down


Make a single turn in the line making sure that the working end in above the standing part. Bring the working end up through the loop. 

Pass the working end behind the standing part of the line.

Bring the working end back through the loop.

Tighten the knot carefully as it can capsize and not hold.

Finished knot front.

Finished knot back.

Water Bowline

Make a single turn as in the bowline.

Form another single turn in the working end. Bring the single turns together so that the working end can be passed through both.

Pass the working end through the both loops.

Pass the working end behind the standing part of the line.
Pass the working end back trough both loops.

Tighten carefully.

Finished knot front.

Finished knot back.

Flemish Loop or Figure-eight Loop

This knot is tied the same as a figure-eight knot but in a doubled line.

Double the line, form a single turn, and pass the end behind the standing part.

Pass the end through the loop.


Finished knot.

Bowline in a Bight.

Double the line and form a single turn, making sure that the working end is over the standing part.

Pass the working end up through the loop.

Open the working end into a loop and pass it around the knot up onto the standing part.

Carefully tighten

Finished knot front

Finished knot back.

Triple Bowline
Tied the same as a normal bowline but in a doubled line.

Double the line and make a single turn in the line making sure that the working end in above the standing part. Bring the working end up through the loop.

Pass the working end behind the standing part of the line.

Bring the working end back through the loop.

Tighten the knot carefully.


Butterfly Knot

Form a single turn in the line. Twist the loop as shown.

Bring the upper  loop around behind the standing part of the line.

Pass the end of the loop up through the lower loop.

Finished knot front

Finished knot back

Here is a short video of the knots being tied.