Where Is Ben Now?

Well, I’ve moved over to One Simple Question and Sailing Simplicity… further sailing, cruising, filming, diving and live aboard adventures are documented there…


A Sailing Adventure Documentary: One Simple Question: The Trailer

It all began with a quest, a curiosity really — can we find an iceberg?

Simply put, One Simple Question is a film about two sailors (and cat) who set out aboard a small sailboat on a journey to find an iceberg. The small boat of course is the capable Bristol Channel Cutter named Elizabeth.

One important goal of making this film for me is to portray as accurately as possible the day to day life aboard Elizabeth underway. The potential trouble with capturing the real essence of offshore sailing is that it can become rather boring for the viewer. Of course it’s hardly boring when you are out there living it — when you are out there making important sail reduction decisions while half asleep in a warm, cozy (aka smelly) bunk,  plotting another position that’s only 4 miles from your last, or listening to the weather forecast over and over in hopes that it will change the next time through. But watching another  package of raman noodles soften in a bowl of boiling water while the camera lens goes foggy from the steam is hardly the epic adventure modern movie goers are accustomed to.

Read a recent casual interview with Teresa & Ben at Abraham Louis’ site Elusive Horizon.

Here’s the trailer… and a challenge: can you spot the famous sailing author?


Video of the Beloved Bristol Channel Cutter Elizabeth Underway

Here is a sweet clip or two of Elizabeth underway off Nova Scotia on her way to Newfoundland during the summer of 2011. Note: she has been sold, so disregard the final message in the video.


Gaffer Hannah Video

We met up with Gaffer ‘Hannah’ in The Bras D’or Lakes last summer… and had the chance to sail with them for a few minutes en route to Newfoundland! Awesome boat, built in Ferro Cement. Awesome people, built in England I think, judging from their accents ;-) Hope we run into them again sometime, and have the honor of stepping aboard their salty little girl. I love gaff rigs, and I love Archer, or is it Atkin (?) designs. Either way, what a beauty she is!

Check out their weblog for more info:gafferhannah.blogspot.com

And the music for this video is by one of my favorite bands, Nanook, from Greenland.
Please check out more of their work and go buy their album on itunes: myspace.com/nanooksite


This BCC Enjoys a Warm Winter

It’s the winter that never was…itchin’ to get out for a sail. I bent on the main and stays’l the other day. The days get longer, the sun gets higher… and my blood starts to pump thru my veins a bit faster. Elizabeth and I like Mid-Atlantic weather. A hint of winter is enough for us…and I don’t have to hear all the whining about the Pats.

Elizabeth is still for sale. We did clean her up a bit below for a showing, and loved how she cleaned up! We thought — jeez, she’s such a great boat! Since then, we’ve been doing our best to keep her neat and tidy. The new cushions really brighten things up, and Teresa is a stickler for making me eat over the table now… and NO feet/shoes on the cushions either!

I’ve got the mid winter itch to get out and go far…I think we all get it. South America looks interesting. But it’s Northern Europe that beckons now. Iceland, Scotland, Norway, Denmark and France. In the meantime… while working to finish the movie, milking the internet cash cow, and working on a new book, we are back to eating well (making up for a few Tim Horton’s binges in Newfoundland – Newfies taught us that donuts really help to keep the frostbite at bay).

See ya!


Elizabeth For Sale

Note: Elizabeth was sold April 2012.

It is with sadness and a tinge of uncertainty that I offer Elizabeth up for sale at this time. I have spent many years dreaming of owning a Bristol Channel Cutter. Sometimes, I pinch myself to make sure it’s for real. As you can tell by reading the pages of this blog,  alot of time and care (and money!) was invested to make Elizabeth what she is today. She has not let me down. I’ve sailed her well over 6,000 nautical miles, and she’s been my home for almost 3 years. As I sit here in the cockpit looking forward over the cabin top at the tall bulwarks, the wide side decks, the stout bowsprit, and I know I’ll never find a boat like this one. But life changes, and so do the dreams. I never thought this day would come actually.

The thing about Elizabeth is that she is ready to go right now. She’s just finished a circumnavigation of Newfoundland, and is ready to carry on south this fall to the Bahamas, the Caribbean, and beyond. You will not have to worry about old systems, old rigging, a tired engine, or unkempt varnish. My goal was to make her bullet proof, and she is. Furthermore, before I bought her, she sat unused for 10 years and during that time had her bottom barrier coated, her electrical system and electronics redone, a new mast installed, a new bowsprit installed, new ground tackle, and many, many other upgrades. I continued where the previous owner left off, and fitted her out with new rigging, 2 solar panels, a wind generator, coat after coat after coat of varnish and Awl-grip, 4 new batteries, LED bulbs everywhere, etc etc etc! I took my time to get things done right, and did things that made sense for longevity. For instance, I didn’t like the exposed plywood core at the hawsepipe. So I routed out about a 1/4″ of the plywood, and filled it will thickened epoxy. Now neither the wet chain, rain, or  waves crashing over the bow have access to that deck core, and rot should never be an issue.

If you are looking to sail far or stay close to home, this is the premier small boat to do it on. I single-handed her for a year. She is easy to handle alone. With both a tiller pilot, and the Monitor windvane, self steering is covered. I’ve double handed her alot this summer, and we’ve even had three aboard plus a cat for most of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia. I initially thought three aboard would be tight, but it wasn’t at all.

I could go on and on about the virtues of this boat, why I love sailing this Bristol Channel Cutter, talk about the work done on her, the intricacies, the upgrades, gear choices, etc. But I think I’ll just direct you to her listing, some photos, some more photos, some videos and my email. Elizabeth and I are currently in Maine cruising, and will be heading south in October. You can come see her whenever you like.


Almost North By East

I’ll be underway for Newfoundland in less than 5 days. I’ve got about 8 days worth of projects to complete. I’ll begin the trip with a project (and sleep) deficit. It’s common.

I think I had a break through on the waxing – and that is: apply two coats of wax. I’ve spent hours in the past compounding, polishing, then waxing only to see the shine fade a month later. I’ll be keeping an eye on it throughout the summer. Also, learned that I should wax at least once mid-summer to maintain best protection.

There’s a problem with painting black on black when it comes to bottom painting. That is, I used more paint. It’s hard to tell how thick the application is, or if a spot has been painted already. So naturally I err on the “I didn’t paint that section yet” side – and some of the imaginary boxes I use to map out the hull get painted twice, sometimes three times. I got through 75% of the hull on one gallon this time. I recall last year painting out the entire hull with just 1 gallon. Next year, I’ll use a different color – green? I bet I’ll be back down to one gallon.

A good friend, Paul Bowden made a beautiful spice rack for Elizabeth. She is getting some nice details this year, and the spice rack is by far the prettiest !


On The Train

I’ve spent a fair amount of my life waiting for the next train at the “procrastination station”  …but my train came in, and I’m full steam ahead. With less than a month to go before we let loose the mooring pennant and point our bow North by East, Elizabeth has been getting alot of attention.

There’s always a bit of varnish to do. I do love it though. It’s one of those things that if you just keep up with, like investing in your 401k, it will serve you well in the future. I’ve done my fair share of “investment coats”, most recently on the cockpit coamings. After some serious sanding to flatten out the sags from my hasty build-up coats, I applied two fresh coats of Bristol Finish.

There’s also some fabricating to do. A new adaptor plate for the radar scanner mast mount. I ordered a simple 12×12″ plate of 1/4″ 5052 H3 aluminum from onlinemetals.com for this project. A few holes to drill, some cutting, and cleaning up the edges and she’ll be ready.

Another project I’ve been meaning to do for months is to move the upper backstay insulator away from the mast. When I initially made the backstay I put the insulator at the very upper end of the stay. I later learned that the RF radiation can damage instruments and lights atop to the mast, and that placing the upper insulator about 3′ from the end of the backstay is safer. So, up the mast I scrambled, unhooked the backstay and brought it down on deck to make a few new Sta-lok fittings. I used the topping lift and main sheet to make a temporary backstay. I love Sta-loks, so easy. Also while making this new upper end of the backstay, I added in 2″ of overall length. This allowed me some room to ease the backstay a bit and take up on the headstay, thereby removing the slight aft bend I had in my mast. This theoretically should help reduce weather helm, but I doubt I’ll notice any difference.

One Simple Question movie updates:

Teresa and I did an interview on WUSB, talking about the challenges of sailing solo and combining onto one boat.

We are teaming up with the  educational outfit SEEDS to provide an outreach program for their students this summer while we are filming for the documentary One Simple Question and searching for an iceberg!

We are coming down the final days of our Kickstarter Campaign, and I want to urge everyone who was waiting until the end to jump in and be part of the action, to do so now! The window of opportunity is closing. The support we have received thus far has been absolutely amazing. Nearly 150 backers, and we reached our bare minimum goal, but let’s not stop there. The money raised is going exclusively towards the production equipment needed to help make this the best film possible.




One Simple Request

We launched the One Simple Question Kickstarter Campaign today. Our goal is to raise $8,000—a tall order for a sailing duo setting out to make their first film!

It’s Thoreau meets Shackleton!

This film, at its core, is a sailing documentary. The film chronicles our voyage north to the cold and foggy  waters of Newfoundland & Labrador in search of an iceberg. Unlike glorified reality TV, with its hotels and hot showers between commercials, One Simple Question intends to accurately portray life at sea aboard  a small sailboat. We won’t edit out the dark, cold sail changes at 0300, or the sleepless off-watch hours spent lying wet in our bunks, clad in full foul weather gear.

Why an iceberg? Their beauty and magnificence can only be experienced in person, yet how many people in their lifetime will actually see one? These still and seemingly lifeless objects may not be around forever. As polar ice caps melt, and glaciers retreat, the iceberg population declines.

To see an iceberg is truly a simple quest. Yet that inherent simplicity is what makes it so endearing.  Like Thoreau’s journey to live deliberately, gain understanding, and discover happiness through simplicity, One Simple Question uses the iceberg as its cabin in the woods to explore the virtues of simple living.

These messages are timely. Currently there is much discussion about the “New American Dream”, and the Climate Change controversy  still rages. We think  the discussion of these two engaging issues, wrapped in an exciting sailing adventure will make a great film!

If you agree, please make a pledge to help support this documentary. Of the $8,000 needed, 100% goes towards the purchase of camera and other production equipment needed to get started. We have a filmmaker sailing with us for the majority of the voyage, so good footage is guaranteed, if we have the equipment! BCC Elizabeth thanks you!

Kickstarter - One Simple Question, Environmantal Documentary


Paintering & Dodgering

I long for the day when my spring prep meant dragging my 12′ aluminum boat down the 3 crooked timber and dirt steps to the beach, a drag of less than 50′, and all downhill. That was followed shortly after by a tug or two on the chord of the outboard… and off I went to explore another early spring day on The Harbor. I recall one early spring exploration where I came across a mooring right in the middle of the harbor… this never was here before, I thought. It must have been taken for a ride by the winter iceflows, and now qualified as free for the taking. I hauled it aboard, with nary a care about scratching my dear old Grumman with its chain and barnacles. I had myself a nice ‘new’ mooring with a 75lb mushroom anchor attached. What a score!

Now, spring prep seems so daunting. Not that the list itself is daunting…I can accomplish everything on the list, and each item is relatively simple to do… but what’s daunting is finding the time to do it all. I’ve spoken about lists before, and I sure do love my lists — but I hate them too. For instance, as I sit here writing, on this gray, soggy day, the sky is beginning to brighten and I might even see a patch of blue sky big enough to patch a sailors pants. All of a sudden my slow paced day, turns into a potentially frantic day of wondering what projects I can get done, with the fear that everyday henceforth might be rainy and/or windy — piss poor conditions for varnish, paint or other outside projects.

Yesterday was decent enough to get a coat of paint on the bulwarks and size up the dodger frame, get it mounted and eyeball the shape a bit. Mind you this was my second attempt at the dodger frame. I had mis-measured my frames and made them 30″ too wide… slight mis-calculations! I opted for the DIY dodger kit from Sailrite. Perhaps a bad idea… seeing as time is often against me.

I’m very particular about dodgers. I like them to do their job, but nothing more. I don’t like them to be in my way, I like them to be in the spray’s way. So I mounted, and fiddled, unmounted and cut, remounted and fiddled, unmounted and cut, remounted and fiddled and found it to be to my liking. It’s low and narrow, not in the way of going forward or of the stays’l winch, and not in the way of going below.

Next step: Patterning.


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