Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Volunteers Lay On to help Spirit of South Carolina weather Isaias


With Spirit of South Carolina confined to her dock, options were limited.

Talk about dodging the bullet.  

Sunday morning, the forecasts were ominous. Tropical Storm,, or maybe it would, again, be Hurricane "Izzy" (I gave up trying; if you can pronounce it correctly, bless your heart).. was looking to slam full throttle into the Carolina coast early Monday evening, just south of us around St. Helena Sound - no, wait,, now McClellanville, just north of us, with sustained winds in Charleston Harbor up to 70 knots. oh-yes,, and a storm surge thrown in, coinciding with a King High tide at 2059 Monday evening threatening to add another 4 to 6 foot push over the fixed dock. 
Most traditional sailing ship mariners will tell you the best place to be when de' hurricane come would be, in order of preference:
1. New England doing summer programs, beyond reach of those pesky low pressure systems.
2. A ways up river surrounded by soft pluff mud marsh and bottom with both anchors nicely buried.
3. At sea many many miles from any coast and plenty sea room to run away.

With Spirit of South Carolina lying at dock wounded from her lightning strike and unable to start engines, Capt Dan Cleveland had none of those options, save to make her as snug as possible,  reduce windage,  keep things from blowing away, and respond to situations as they came. It was just him, and Hunter our Cook. 

But Sunday was also a scheduled Volunteer Day.  As Dan and Hunter began the work of sea stowing the deck, the Cavalry showed up, in the form of 4 Volunteers. 
Madison Pulley, driving 3 hours from Greenville, disregarded a text message that there might not be anything to do, and pressing on.  
Old Salt, Joe Gorman, nursing his old sailor weather eye, sensed some urgency. 
Another Old Salt, Steve Boone drove down anticipating finishing his own project over the aft cabin hatch, but shifted into different mode. 
And Fred Jourdan, newer volunteer had planned to come down regardless, for more deckhand training.  It likely would've been five if yours-truly had not waved off Danny Johnson, with thought that there would be nothing to do.😕  

Dan immediately put them to tasks. Together they muscled the rescue boat up over the port side and lashed it onto the deck.  Madison and Steve took charge of the dock-side stores, tools and spare parts piles, stowing or lashing tarpaulins over what they could, bringing some aboard. Fred and Joe pulled out and set up remaining dock hawsers to augment the already doubled sets of four, so that a total of 12 large dock lines now held her against the three huge 9 ft long x 6 ft wide cylindrical"Yokohama" roller-fenders and fixed dock pilings with just enough slack to allow her to rise and fall again.  Dani Feerst checked in later in the day and volunteered to stand-by the next evening for Storm Watch  on deck if needed. By mid afternoon all that could be done, except for last minute deck sea stow and awnings down-rigged, was done. 

Next morning, Fred Jourdan and Bryan Oliver returned to join Dan and Hunter for the duration, giving Dan a sufficient crew to set watch throughout the night, monitoring dock line tension, adjust fenders when they rode off the Yokohama's and check/pump bilges.   On deck it was already hot and steamy. 3 fans in the salon forced air to move around, making it tolerable below,  avoiding a sauna-like experience. Fred and Bryan secured remaining gear in the dory, now at rest on deck, reset fenders already trying to squeeze out of position, sea-stowed deck chairs, coils of line, and remaining loose gear scattered on cabin tops or hanging on stanchions. They set the foresail boom preventer to portside to clear the boom from fouling the gangway if the tide situation worsened.  The anticipated King tide would force hoisting the gangway another two feet, in order to keep clear of the cap rail. 
Bryan and Fred waiting and 
watching Ft Sumter disappear

By 1 pm, winds were gusting to 18 knots. Bryan and Fred joined Hunter below to put don foulies and munch on a bucket of fried chicken, macaroni / potato salad comfort food brought aboard, while Dan went off watch for a couple hours, anticipating the long night ahead.  With snacks in pockets, Fred and Bryan climbed up on deck to watch the changing weather and check the ship's fenders that continuously surged, and worked, as the hull rose and fell against the larger Yokohama fenders. Tide was at ebb and starting come in again. Wind, current, and waves were forcing the hull to lurch and grind against the large Yokohama fenders, cushioned somewhat by the 9 smaller fenders we had suspended overside along the starboard rail.     Spray coming off chop in the harbor was now blowing across the deck.  We could sense a pronounced increase in the deck's rise and fall.  The growing south east gale winds were blowing directly against our port side, pressing us hard against the dock.

By 3 pm, winds were gusting to 25 knots southeast, rain was beginning to go horizontal, and Schutes Folly, 3/4 mile distant, had disappeared in the darkening gray.  Three awnings remained rigged under the booms tent-like across the deck to allow hatches to remain open and ventilate below decks. Now they were rock-taut as a straining sail, and we  checked our watches, and held up our phones into the rain to measure wind speed. At 1600, winds were steadily increasing past 30 knots,  visibility was barely twice the boat length. Fred and Bryan were eying the guy lines and straining grommets in the awnings.  After informing Dan of the conditions on deck and condition of the awnings they set about securing all hatches closed, then retying awning guy lines with slippery hitches so they could be released immediately. As Dan appeared on deck the first guy line of the smaller aft awning snapped,, the edge binding tore and started flogging. Fred and Bryan jerked loosed the remaining guys and started rolling/furling the flogging sunbrella material up onto the boom, and lashing the corners to the nearest fitting or lazy jacks that rose to the boom lifts.  Dan grabbed handfuls of sail ties from the line locker and bent them together to spiral-lash the rolled-up awning onto the main boom. 

Bryan at 35 knots

Once secure the three of us pushed forward against now blinding rain to the huge awning ballooning and heaving like a horizontal square sail over the foresail boom. Working one side at a time, the three of us jerked loose the slippery hitches on the guys and, holding on for dear life the corners and edges, slowly rolled it up towards the boom until it could be lashed in place to the lazy jacks rising off the boom. 

With the last awning securely rolled in place, we could take a deep breath and take a look around us.  Over the next hour winds steadied out, sustaining in the 30's  with occasional gusts to 40.  Dan went below to the chart table, and shouted up to us as if in triumph, that the glass was reading 29.(?) inches.. The barometer was displaying the extremely low pressure reading typical of a Tropical Storm/hurricane.  Around 5 PM, Dan checked his phone app weather radar to confirm that the storm's eye was abreast of us, on the same latitude, and moving quite fast.  We could sense the wind beginning to clock more easterly.

1800 hrs Fred and Dan at the gangway 
conferring on the last few feet of King tide

By 1800 the wind was noticeably dissipating, and blowing Northeast.  We could actually see glimpses of sky and sunlight towards the west. Patriots Point was reappearing to the east, and even Ft Sumter way out on the southeastern horizon. We were still 3 hours to high tide, but our rate of rise gave us hope that we would not end up with the fixed dock awash, and our stowed gear at the end of the dock in peril. In fact, it felt safe to conclude that we had already seen the worst.  The skies continued to clear up, winds steadily decreased, veering to north west, then west. By sunset, conditions had eerily returned to normal,, better than normal actually;  the temp was in the low 70's..  
So foulies came off. Deck chairs up-rigged from their stowed positions, remaining chicken and salad pulled back out and spread over the salon table. Dan brought forth some cold beer cans from somewhere, and collective sighs of relief could be noticeable.
Oh,, and as last of the chicken was disappearing, Dani Feerst popped her head down into the salon hatch, reporting for Night Storm Watch.  We're saved!

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Five Volunteers combine 30 hours to maintenance projects, and some deckhand skills thrown in.

This past Saturday five volunteers, coordinated by yours truly, joined up on deck, from a distance of course to take on five different maintenance projects.  Though weather threatened, it never materialized over us, and the sea breeze made the tasks bearable.  
A special welcome aboard to new Volunteer Fred Jourdan, who was here to watch her being built, and is now able to join us on deck. No one wasted any time in getting involved in something.. The morning quickly focused into individual projects, under the awning,, mostly.

  • Steve Boone plugged resealed and reinstalled the hinge and dog hardware on the aft cabin butterfly hatches. 
  • Danny Johnson sanded down the gangway dock steps to prep for repainting and replacing the ship’s name with new letters, finding a good stopping point for lunch and the first rain drops.
  • Joe Gorman did some canvas repair fine tuning to restore one of the deck chairs. 
  • Layne Carver returned the Dory sailboat’s wooden thwarts and ship’s boathooks, all restored and varnished.
  • Both Layne and new Volunteer Fred Jourdan pitched in together to begin the scraping and sanding of the Mainmast fife rail , in prep for oiling and sealing that will bring it up to standards with the rest of the deck furniture. Afterwards, Layne took Fred to a pinrail to demonstrate and try out some line handling skills.
As these volunteer days press on, and hope springs for a change in the virus situation, and opportunities to cast off from the dock, maintenance projects will continue to take center stage, but deckhand skills training will take on added urgency. 
Currently the prominent maintenance repair projects are 
  • completing the scraping,sanding, and varnishing of the remaining scarfs of the caprail.. Currently six sections, including the Taff rail. 
  • Repairing and restoring the finish of the Dory.. now on deck under the awning.
  • Complete scraping the Main Masts' Fife Rail, to prep for it's coats of preservative/sealant,, usually 8 coats.
  • Aloft in bosun's chairs to prep the masts for receiving their own UV protective coats.
  • Below decks,, straightening up and preparing the berths for passengers. 
  • ReFinishing the Gangway Wood Steps. 
More to follow.

Don't forget to check our our Voluneer T-Shirt.. currently only color, is gray. Quality Ship's illustration on the back.  Contact Bryan Oliver to arrange for obtaining one.  Sold per cost. proceeds are returned the the Ships Petty Cash Fund.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

First to reach 100 Volunteer Hours on Spirit of South Carolina

"Foremast Volunteer"
That's the rating first awarded to Volunteers starting in 2003, who had achieved over 100 hours of time dedicated to supporting the building, launch, and sailing of Spirit of South Carolina.  The program languished after 2011 as the schooner fell into hard times and was laid up. In February 2019, the Volunteer Program was resurrected. By that time, Ken Fonville was just getting actively involved.  As a "walk-on" Ken came down to the dock one day and offered to help out wherever he could.  I remember his mentioning one caveat, as an past executive in the furniture building industry, he preferred NOT to do varnishing.  I think within the first few weeks, he found himself scraping and prepping a scarf of the cap rail, for , you guessed it,, varnishing.  
Ken Fonville (the tall guy)
 with other volunteers on return
 from Shipyard at
Thunderbolt in Savannah.
Since that time Ken's laid into just about every project started on Spirit of South Carolina, including two days in dry dock in Shipyard in Savannah.  

He's also logged several day sails in the harbor, including delivery back to Charleston from shipyard.   

Moving Day: Volunteers team up with crew to load and haul gear from storage back to the dock.

These past 10 days have seen a flurry of activity on and around Spirit of South Carolina.  As Captain Cleveland prepared to move back aboard,  he faced the daunting task of emptying out and moving back to the ship an entire storage shed of ship's tools, spare parts, hardware,
Deckhand, Matt, and Volunteer
 Hunter Freeman  unloading
 and stowing tools and parts
 on the dock.
 sails, and cordage that had been kept in storage off site. 

 So, last Friday, the 17th, Volunteers, Bryan Oliver and Hunter Freeman laid into the task along with Capt Dan and crewmember Matt, to drag, roll, lift, and haul eight loads of materiel back to the dock.
The following Sunday morning, Volunteers Dan Maurin and Danny Johnson, mustered on deck to sort out and secure the pile of materiel, as well as dispose of several dock carts worth of trash and salvage. As the afternoon heat closed in,  volunteer, Bryan Oliver showed up. He and Hunter teamed up with Capt Dan and Matt to down-rig the sailing Dory, and lift, haul over, and maneuver the hull across the dock and over to the deck of Spirit of South Carolina, where she will become the next maintenance project. 

Saturday, July 11, 2020

New Revised DRAFT of Crew Manual is available for download.

Click on the link in the right column to open a .pdf version of the latest draft. It's much expanded over the 2009 edition.  Focused more on crew and deckhand responsibilities than student orientation, it's equally applicable to professional, volunteer crew, and participants who choose to engage in their tall ship experience as crew.  
Comments are welcome.. contact

Volunteer Effort is again making a difference on Spirit of South Carolina.. and Results are showing!

Progress continues on the effort to make Spirit of South Carolina ready for her next time she can slip her lines and bear away. Last Sunday, Danny Johnson and Madison Pulley, all the way from Greenville spent the day finishing the remaining belaying pins, and trying out some deckhand skills. Madison picked up the Heaving Line merit badge pretty quickly, with excellent marks on form. Note the picture of her aiming to put the line over the rail of Spirit of the Low Country that was just passing by.
Last week, Danny Johnson took home a project to repair the ripped seat of our canvas deck chair.. returned it stronger than ever.

Robin Pennington lays
 on the last coats of D1 sealant
 to the 12 foot boat pole
This Saturday, Layne returned with a newly restored 12 ft boat hook. Both boat poles are now 99% refinished and ready for use, thanks to Ashley and Robin Pennington, Steve Boone and Layne. 
Steve and Ashley wooding
and sanding the small boat pole
 prior to applying
1st coats of sealant.
Steve Boone came aboard too, and immediately focused on the salon's sprung butterfly hinge, resolving an issue the crew had been staring at for weeks.

All lines except the Main Gaff vangs are run fair to their respective belaying pins, thanks to Danny J. Layne and Dan..and our nautical lexicon has hopefully been expanded and reinforced. The main boom was hoisted into it’s proper angle. Layne again has his hands full for a good take home project benefiting the Dory. 

Thursday, July 2, 2020

Slowly regenerating a Rhythm

Recent weeks have seen a s slow but inexorable resurgence of activity aboard Spirit of South Carolina.
Last Wednesday, 24 June, the College of Charleston brought aboard a video crew and an agenda for filming a video short to be used in marketing for the College's student body, and ultimately for broader audiences.  A  group of experienced Volunteers joined some returning crew to participate in the project. The day started early  at 0730 with a breakfast.  
CAPT Dan and Blake set up
the Onboarding scene

Dr Blake Hall, College of Charleston,also a volunteer, explained the agenda and objectives for the day.  Meanwhile two different camera men were already moving about, filming just about everything. While some crew began preparing the deck for a simulated Day-Sail, and being filmed, other received specific roles to perform as they would for bringing passengers aboard, stowing their gear, assigning berths, etc, all with a camera filming. Other crew rolled up the awnings, and dressed the Jumbo for setting.  Change scene to Captain Dan giving his welcome aboard speech, then a launching and retrieving of the rescue boat, followed by setting, dousing, then harbor-furling the jumbo. 

"Passengers" stow gear and try out
 their berths while the camera rolls.

On completing those scenarios, the crew shifted to performing the more routine chores,, performing deck wash, rigging awnings, coiling and hanging, and, of course, some scraping and sanding of the taff rail for varnishing.  We even went over the side in the rescue boat to spot paint the hull. Amidst the activity, Hunter laid out a hearty spaghetti and meatballs lunch on deck.

Crew members Matt and Dani
 compare notes following
their interviews.

Following lunch, maintenance work, filmed of course, continued.  Selected crew and volunteers were selected to be interviewed on a range of questions.

Chief Mate Charlie explains
to "passengers" how they'll harbor
 furl the Jumbo.

As the day wound down Blake reviewed the day and explained what would be done with the video and interview footage collected all day. It would be edited into a final documentary in the style of "Veritas" which combines snippets of the seemingly mundane, with overdubbing of conversations and interviews to produce a coherent credible message.

Last Saturday marked the resumption of weekly Volunteer Days, planned for alternating Saturdays and Sundays 9 AM to 3pm. New volunteers Hunter Freeman and Madison Pulley were welcomed aboard by Bryan Oliver who led their orientation. 

New Volunteers, Hunter and Madison 
finishing up oiling belaying pins, 
while Bryan explains the
deckhand skills checklist

On completion of the ship tour, they joined Layne Carver who had already started a project of sanding down and oiling the remaining 12 belaying pins with D.1 preservative/sealant.   As the last coat began to set, the group shifted over to some line handling practice.  By end of day Volunteers had checked off  on 8 deckhand skills.

Monday, June 22, 2020

Volunteer Days Scheduled for Spirit of South Carolina

Click on the link to the Google Calendar, in the column at right for a schedule of the Ship's events, and Volunteer activity.

You must contact the Volunteer Coordinator["Contact Us' box in right-hand column] if you plan to attend, in order to guarantee a slot. Due to social distancing discipline, attendance is limited, and walk-in's risk not being allowed on board except on a stand-by basis.
The day will be split between Ship's maintenance and Deckhand Skills Training. In event of inclement weather, It will be postponed to following weekend.
Due to current Social Distance standards, only up to six-eight volunteers at a time, can be confirmed to come aboard. It is Capt Cleveland's intent to engage as many different Volunteers as possible. So, confirmation for volunteering will be managed by the Volunteer as Follows: First to respond and confirm are-first served, with the priorities, to Volunteers who have gone longest without an opportunity to attend. This mean's that, given 9 people volunteer, the priority will go to the people who have been longest without an offer to go aboard, followed by the next earliest sign-ups.

Tuesday, June 2, 2020

And We're Back in the Saddle!

  Volunteers can take the deck starting , as soon as you you can!

Some interesting items came up during a meeting on deck this afternoon.  The big thing, from my perspective, was Captain Dan's "OK", in fact his enthusiastic invitation, to see Volunteers back on board, doing what they do best,,, taking care of our Schooner, and getting her ready to go sailing.  The email blast went out earlier to all active Volunteers just prior to this posting.  

Of course, the reality of COVID-19 looms large, and the norms of social-distancing, hand-sanitizing,  will be folded into our Volunteer involvement. Volunteers are welcome aboard almost any day of the week.  Weekend days have been scheduled  on the Volunteer Calendar to ensure a crew member is available to help guide  the maintenance work, and coach deckhand skills training as desired.

Our schooner's future looks hopeful if this afternoon's meeting is an indication.  Blake Scott and  Brumby McCloud of College of Charleston, brought along  a couple of colleagues including a film maker to pitch to the crew their ideas to showcase "Spirit of South Carolina" to the City of Charleston and the State by her symbolic link to Charleston's Maritime and Seafaring heritage. They have engaged the interest of National Geographic, and other organizations who might be willing to sponsor, some programs aboard, including cruises, leveraging social media, and producing a documentary around the maritime heritage theme.   In fact, the group proposed shooting footage for a trailer of the documentary on the deck, beginning as early as next week, with video of crew and volunteers at work, along with interviews. 

In the meantime,, ship's maintenance looms large, some cosmetic, some more foundational, must be completed before the ship will be ready for sea.  Her first milestone to negotiate will be her Inspection for USCG COI renewal. That will include casting off and sailing, executing drills underway.   That means a crew aboard, most likely a significant number of volunteers.   And that means,, there's training that needs to be done.

Before that happens, her Life rafts must be swayed ashore for inspection and repackaging. Her electrical systems, having recently suffered a lightning strike will require inspections and likely replacement of components. The cap rails, pin rails and belaying pins, even both masts still require prepping and refinishing with D1 oil or linseed oil. 
Tim aloft scraping the mainmast
Her hull whitesides will require some significant spot painting. 

Sunday, May 24, 2020

Memorial Day Update on Deck

Well, it's been a quiet month aboard ship.  Hunter, our Sea Cook, is still aboard, performing routine maintenance and dock security responsibilities.  Chief Mate Charlie, is on a second job, so only able to get down to the ship once weekly. Capt Dan is regularly meeting with the Tommy Baker Organization, working towards some plans for getting back to operation, and reorganizing the responsibilities normally performed by an Executive Directer, Controller, and funding Developer. While relationships with College of Charleston and Citadel remain,, the current confused seas resulting from COVID-19, are muddying any planning such that the fall is earliest Capt Dan expects to cast off for anything.. even a harbor cruise.  Our Coast Guard COI renewal is also approaching, which of course has a say.
Shipboard maintenance continues, given a vastly reduced Volunteer presence. The cap rail has received most of the attention, being oiled  all the way to the Main mast, and D2 varnished to midships.

Big thanks to the Volunteers who took on some "distance" projects. 
Darren Casale made a run to Costco for rubber Gloves, beating the buy-out rush.
Danny Johnson produced two Bosun's Chair's seats, and is finishing up some nice Soap/Sanitizer Dispenser holders for each of the three Heads.  Gary Pope took home a bag of rusted saws and scrapers,, and restored them to usable condition. 
Dani Feerst and Dad also built a Bosun's Chair, and Ken Fonville dropped off his personal model on loan, a nice sail canvas arrangement with lots of features.  
Bryan Oliver sewed up a canvas weather cover for the rescue boats gas tank, spliced, seized on the bridles for the new bosun's chairs, and built a nifty napkin/condiment holder for the Salon table. 
And.. just this week, three Volunteers responded to our call for help in troubleshooting an electrical issue aboard ship. Ted BullockJoe Gorman, and Wayne Burdick, answered up to offer ideas, and helped us narrow down  the trouble to a specific component.
Four improved (read "longer") bosun's chairs. That gives us capability to send four crewmembers aloft on the masts, to refinish the masts, whose lamination will start to suffer from sun and weather over the next few months, without protection.  
Which  brings us to next subject.

With the gradual re-opening of the  city around us, Capt Dan is looking at a plan to re-engage Volunteers, while keeping to the social distancing guidelines.  Capt Dan is cognizant of our crew and volunteer demographics,, Many of us are of that certain age that enhance risk of contracting the thing, and the nature of work onboard encompasses shared surfaces and proximity.   Large Volunteer Gatherings  of this winter and early Spring won't happen for the time being.  At the same time, everyone appreciates the urgency to get the ship thru her next COI renewal, and train a crew.
What will happen, with your help, will be sessions of 3-6 Volunteers at a time on board, splitting time in maintenance, and deckhand skills training. 
The big maintenance priorities identified so far are;  
  •     Prepping and Spot-painting the hull - 
  •     Completing oiling and varnishing of the cap rail
  •     Aloft and  scraping/re-oiling the masts
  •     Assorted smaller oiling/refinishing project;  remaining belaying pins, pinrails.

Expect a canvassing email this week asking your help and participation during day slots to be created.

Most desirable is identifying at least four volunteers who are willing to go aloft, preferably climbing the shrouds (clipped in of course), with the chair to a sufficient height  to be swayed across to the mast.   Currently, it takes two crew on deck  and an extended  period of time to hoist a person up the mast, using the gantlines, with no purchase tackle.  
So,, Sing Out! if you're up for this adventure. It'll take you to the next level in Tall Ship Sailing.

 or text  314-409-0433

Saturday, April 25, 2020

What literary or movie quote seems to fit our current situation?  

Everyone has a favorite movie quote. I'm sure of it.  They may be profound, moving, sarcastic, witty, dripping in irony,,, hopeful. Mine is the latter.
"..It's a mother-beautiful bridge, and it's gonna be there!"
Actor, Donald Sutherland's character, the hippie-like slacker-dude tank commander in the movie, "Kelly's Heroes," said that non-sequitur to his tank driver(Gavin McLoed).

So, last month, Captain Cleveland made a pronouncement on deck that,  somewhere down the road, when it was safe to do so,  Spirit of South Carolina will cast off and go sailing in the harbor. And she will be crewed by all volunteers.   Partly as appreciation for the amazing number of volunteer hours donated over the past several months, and partly to start training volunteers sufficiently to take on passengers.
Its something to look forward to, when all this passes.  I'm hopeful. After all, "It's a mother-beautiful bridge and.. c'mon, say it with me. "it's gonna be there!"

In the meantime. crew and volunteers haven't stopped.  With all the social distancing restrictions, the ship is losing opportunities for completing our winter maintenance priorities, training volunteers, and generating some revenue thru public day sails or other short-term programs. Nevertheless small things can add up.  Danny Johnson, Gary Pope, and Dani Feerst volunteered to build simple bosun's chairs, that will allow more than one crew member aloft for mast maintenance. Gary Pope also took home a bag full of rusty saws, and dulled scrapers, bringing them back restored and sharp... Big, Thanks, Gary!
Sean McQuilken, and Danny Johnson have been collaborating  with  construction sites for recovering still viable lumber remnants that might be useful for carpentry projects aboard.
Bryan Oliver just completed a small project - a napkin dispenser commissioned by Hunter for the Salon dining table., and before that, a canvas gasket bag for the line locker.
We're putting together a new crew manual. Any help offered here, in formatting, proofing, cutting and pasting, searching for clip art/illustrations. would be most welcome. Text me.
Varnishing of Cap rail and deck furnishings has somewhat abated only by the social distancing and subsequent reduction of brushes being otherwise wielded by volunteers.
Captain Dan Cleveland has posted a recent entry on the Facebook page; worth reading.

Spirit of South Carolina's Facebook Page

And if you haven't done it yet, take a look at Spirit of South Carolina's Video Playlist; an archive of older and newer footage sure to regenerate a bit of excitement about our future.  It's on a tab under the Blog title Banner.   Until then:
"HOLD FAST" (another movie quote, or literary quote).   Text me with the source and I'll treat you to a beverage when this quarantine is through.

Thursday, April 2, 2020

Are you running out of Projects at home?  Try out these Suggestions.

Cabin Fever about to set in?  Frustrated at inability to get back onto Spirit of South Carolina's deck and pitch in on the to-do list, or  practice some of those deckhand skills, in anticipation for the next Harbor Cruise? ..and there Will be one.  Capt Cleveland has decreed the first cruise off the dock at the end of this affair will be for Volunteers.   

Here's a list  of  projects you might want to consider.  These are special in that they all fill directly, or indirectly advance the Mission of our Schooner.  By the way,, keep track of the hours you spend in these projects.  You will want to log them, once back on board.

Tool Maintenance.   
  • Sharpen Paint scrapers and chisels.Our paint and varnish scrapers, plus other assorted edged tools are badly worn and dulled.   Others are rusted, and in need of clean-up. We need a volunteers who know how to use files and sharpening stones to sharpen edges.  This is a project you can do from your own home. Simply arrange with Chief Mate Charlie, or Bryan Oliver to "check out"  specific tools, along with the requisite sharpening files/ or stones.  If you have your own sharpening tools, so much the better.   Because these tools are frequently used, you should try to complete the work and  return restored or sharpened tools within 48 hours
Small Carpentry Projects:
  • Bosun's Chair.   Construct a second bosun's seat, possibly a third, of pine or similar lumber, similar construction to the existing seat, only six inches longer, and 3 in wider.  If you can donate the wood materials, as well as construct the seat; that's preferable.. Otherwise, arrangements can be made to procure wood, fastenings and finishings.  Arrange with Bryan or Chief Mate, Charlie to coordinate taking lines off the current chair. for measurements. Illustrations of the existing bosun's seat, unrigged, is below.
Top view
Bottom view

Crew Handbook
  • Join a team to Revise the Ship's Crew Handbook.  How are you with Microsoft Word, PowerPoint or Excel?   No sailor experience needed. We have two "Benchmark copies of  other Crew handbooks to use as models.  Our job will be to transcribe relative content into our own new draft, and create or import illustrations/diagrams.  This will be a collaborative team effort, where we will divide the work between composition, layout, proofing, editing, and illustrating.  The current old copy is available to you by a clicking on the link in the right-hand column of the Blog. The content is 11 years old and orients on students rather than crew.  Capt Dan want's a version focused on value to new crew, both volunteer and professional (such as yourselves).   Contact Bryan Oliver if you can help with this effort. 
  • Volunteer to Co-Edit  the Crew Handbook.  Coordinate other volunteers in the project of revising a new draft of the Seamanship manual.  Collaborate with Capt Cleveland, and Chief Mate, Charlie, first getting their vision and guidance as to the focus and content of the manual  Help organize  the  effort, of other volunteers; engage and consult with appropriate subject matter experts (crew, or literature), and draft new content.  Contact if you're interested.
  • Master the Lingo - Nautical terms and definitions. You already know  the significance of this knowledge everytime you set foot on deck.  This is a good time to refresh and reinforce. The current Seamanship manual and other references listed in this blog are good resources.  If you volunteer to help revise the Crew Handbook, you'll pick up a lot by osmosis.  If you hit an obstacle, or point of confusion. email me at
  • Make a list of suggested Revisions of the Spirit of South Carolina's Website. Start with some obvious shortcomings,, postings out of date, stale content.  But go deeper.  Research best practices, by internet search of other Tall Ship Websites for ideas, our use your own experience/expertise.  At some point, the website and it's administrator will  be accessible, and we should be ready with a  list of specific validated updates/improvements to apply.  Send your list to, and we'll organize a team to put this together. 
  • Brainstorm a list of Fundraising Projects.  Generating revenue to keep the ship operational is, and will be, short term, a BIG priority as soon as our Public Health restrictions are raised. Send your idea list to me, and we'll organize a team to consolidate and refine, including 1st steps, and pass on to Capt Dan..
  •  Practice your Deckhand Skills. Review your Deckhand Skills Checklist. It's available for download from this blog,, right-hand column,  Several  skills could be practiced at home with minimal tools or  references. Click on the "Books and Useful Apps" link under Links to References in the top of the right-hand column of this blog.  If you can't find a reference for a specific task, email me at:

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Some Clarity on the Volunteers Visiting the Ship during this COVID-19 outbreak.

If you sense that you've been getting mixed messages over the past week on the volunteer situation, I'll take the blame.  
I'm clarifying by posting below, appropriate excerpts from emails passed from Capt Cleveland and myself, which summarize the current situation regarding volunteers visiting the ship.

Bryan wrote: "Earlier this week, His Excellency, Gov McMaster, invoked a statute statewide limiting gatherings to no more than 3 people. However, he added a large caveat, giving local law enforcement broad flexibility as to enforcing the statute. 

On March 25, Hizonor Mayor Tecklenburg decreed that people of Charleston should stay at home unless they are going to specific destinations, and he listed five,, The Spirit of South Carolina not being one of them."

Captain Cleveland wrote: "The vessel is not deemed an essential business and therefore anyone attempting to go to it may see resistance from the police.  They have been given a loose range of decision making power.  I spoke with an officer at the grocery today to get more details and he basically said you’ll get a warning to go home if they don’t like the reason you’re out for.  Then a citation will come.  

I would ask until Bryan and I get a chance to choose a responsible decision that keeps the live-aboard crew and all our volunteers safe, but productivity on the vessel going, that you please not come down to the ship.

Again myself, the crew, and most of all our fine vessel appreciate everyone’s participation greatly." 

So, this means; Until further notice; Please do not come down to visit the ship without express clearance from Captain Cleveland or Chief Mate Charlie.   Ship's officers are formulating a policy that will hopefully allow for some productivity while keeping with the spirit of our local and state directives, and considerations for health of the crew on  board.

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Spirit of South Carolina's Crew gets downsized. No Information on Ship's Future.

Below is a summary of an email sent out to the Volunteer Contact List on Friday evening, the 20th. As of  time of this posting, no new information is available regarding future operations.  So, as Volunteers we are continuing to march. 

The Board of Directors has reduced the payroll of the ship that basically now allows only for a Captain.  Period.  Captain Cleveland has negotiated to spread that reduced payroll amount among the three key crew:  Captain, Chief Mate, and Cook. , in hopes of retaining those positions at least for the short term.  

Our Schooner is still at the dock, technically ready to cast off and set sail.  She still needs taking care of. 
These things remain the same:  Capt Dan Cleveland’s vision that this ship have a deep bench of competent volunteers who now how to take care of her, and know how to sail her.   A few of us are even actively reaching out to potential corporate customers for additional programs.  All of you on this email list can have a hand in making that happen. I believe we make a difference.

I propose we stay our course;  Ship’s Maintenance and deck hand training.
Last Volunteer Day we split the day between maintenance tasks and building up deck hand skills. No reason not to keep to that heading.  But of course, there’s the complication:
Our city is dealing with COVID-19. Social distancing, self-quarantining-meaning no groups >10.
This Weekend is sort of shot. But starting next week with Monday, the 23d, I propose we resume a routine, that allows for small groups of volunteers to report aboard to help the  crew finish up, and take over the remaining projects planned for the remainder of March, and even April.  In the meantime, planned harbor sails that generate revenue, pending the College of Charleston locking in their proposed programs, just might help turn a corner.

With all the closures, many of us are now with unexpected time on our hands. If you have some free hours these coming weekdays-and are in excellent health of course-which you can devote to some projects/deckhand skills training, please let me know as soon as possible.  I’ll work out a schedule that keeps us to a small group at any given time.. Same goes for the scheduled Volunteer Days on alternating weekend days.  Again, it will be a small group <10.
To keep maintain everyone’s motivation to contribute, I’ll be a gatekeeper in sense of making sure that everyone who want’s to volunteer will get some opportunity on deck, during these days of social distancing.

Tuesday, March 17, 2020

Spirit of South Carolina Aligning to National and Coast Guard Advisories regarding COVID-19

For the foreseeable future, Capt Dan has laid out an intent for the Ship, which is to formally align Spirit of South Carolina’s protocol with National and City guidelines and requirements, while still advancing the onboard work of maintenance, rescheduling programs and planning for new ones, thereby demonstrating/proving her continued viability in spite of the current situation.

Capt Cleveland's formal letter outlining the Ships Policy may be found at this link:

So Spirit’s Protocol  takes shape like this.

Spirit of South Carolina is not shutting down, but is monitoring  sailing programs that were likely to execute over the next two months.  Our unique close environment on board, coupled with our diverse age demographic(many of us of a certain age are more susceptible than others) deserves special consideration.
Crew projects for maintenance and improvements will continue;
The ship is a home to the crew.  It goes without saying that visitors aboard should respect it as such, especially under these circumstances.
Crew has increased discipline in hygiene, sanitizing, and social distancing as warranted.
The ship is sticking to the directives of minimizing groups to size of 10 or less. ..meaning that the Mate must restrict the number of Volunteers coming on board to a maximum number, the amount of which may vary.

So what’s this mean for Volunteers?
·        The Volunteer program is not suspended, but it will be significantly constrained primarily in the numbers of volunteers on deck at a time.
·        Volunteer Days, as we know them, i.e. the mustering  a critical mass of dozen or more volunteers on a weekend, will temporarily shut down. 
·        In its place, we will try to spread Volunteer presence out over more days in the week, and encourage a voluntary social distancing.  .
·        If you display any signs or symptoms of a common cold or flu, please stay home.  If you are of the certain age (like me), consider your own self-interest in distance.
·        If you have time to offer the crew for maintenance, or wish to pick up some skills,  First, call or text to Chief Mate Charlie Porzelt, with a time frame you can help.  or  203-870-5739.

·        He may welcome you on board, or wave you off this time based on the task at hand, or numbers of souls already on board.  Rest assured, that training up deckhands, as well as prepping the ship for sailing remain top priorities.  If you wanna be part of it.  Keep Charlie posted.

Monday, March 16, 2020

Saturday's Volunteer Day concentrates on deckhand skills basics. Another 50 Hour Volunteer Achievement is marked.

Saturday's Volunteer Day started off with a recognition for achievement;  50 hours of Volunteer work for Spirit of South Carolina;  the fifth such recognition to be awarded since the re-inception of Spirit of South Carolina's Volunteer Program a little over a year ago.   After just two and a half months on deck, new volunteer Darren Casale, broke the 50 hour threshold.  In recognition of that achievement, Volunteer Coordinator Bryan Oliver handed off to Darren a lapel pin, following tradition first awarded to Volunteers while Spirit of South Carolina was still being built in 2002.
Darren Casale shows off his 50 Volunteer Hours recognition,
flanked by Volunteer Coordinator, Bryan Oliver,
 and new Volunteer, Austin Eubanks.
Depending on your perspective, 50 hours may sound like a lot, or merely a long week's worth of time.  More fundamentally it recognizes commitment to the Ship. Some of us - retirees, mostly, can spend hours easily.  More of us, still in the workforce, juggle multiple work and family priorities just to find a few free hours per week, or more.  The fifty-hour milestone seems to surface as a visible milestone, between people who start out with best intentions and then fade after one or two Volunteer days, and those  who demonstrate an enduring commitment to furthering Spirit of South Carolina's mission of youth education under sail. Darren joins four previous awardees this year,  Ken Fonville, Dan Maurin, Layne Carver, and Carter Edwards.

With the majority of Winter Maintenance completed, and the weekend's planned events cancelled, Volunteers took advantage of a somewhat warm but blustery Saturday to advance deckhand skills training.  It was a good day to welcome aboard two new volunteers, Austin Eubanks and Tom Bierce, both coming aboard for the first time.
Volunteer Deckhand skills consists of performing a number of tasks fundamental to a deckhand on traditional sailing vessels. Aboard Spirit of South Carolina, those skills are  are demonstrated, practices and performed twice before being checked off.
This morning, the objective was to check off at least five deckhand skills as being observed performing to an observable and measurable standards.  Eight volunteers focus on proficiency building in five different knot, first practicing then demonstrating for first check-off. Part of the training is to demonstrates the knots in context of how they are actually used. and Chief Mate Charlie Porzelt did not disappoint.  Just as the training session was about to close, Charlie called all hands to the Mainmast to prep then set a shallow reef into the Mainsail. Demonstrating all they had just learned, volunteers laid out on the aft cabin to pass portside reef nettles under the mainsail's foot bolt rope, then make a slippery reef knot on the starboard side. In doing so, Old Salt Joe Gorman pointed out the second whipping on the sail's "Deep Reef" nettles, as a means of eliminating confusion in inadvertently selecting the wrong reef nettle to secure on the main sail boom.