Saturday, November 29, 2008


"Poor little, sad little blue Bluesette
Don't you cry, don't you fret,
You can bet one lucky day you'll waken,
and your blues will be foresaken,
Some lucky day lovely love will come your way."


K and I have decided to sail an open 14 foot sailboat across the Pacific Ocean from California to Japan!

Shear madness? Not at all. Why, in 1891, Capt. Bligh of the HMS Bounty, after the famous mutiny, sailed an open boat with 18 of his crew and provisions for only a matter of days, from Tonga to the Dutch East Indies, a distance of 3618 nautical miles (6701 km). While LA to Tokyo is alot farther - 8816 km - there are only two of us (not counting Momo the Wonder Dog).

Besides, our boat will be sitting on a trailer and tucked away on a very large ship for the whole voyage. We'll not have to leave home until it arrives.

When I was a kid in California, my family had a Lido 14 sailboat. Designed and built by W D "Bill" Schock in 1958, ours was #443. My brother taught me how to sail in that boat (he was a good teacher and went on to sail - at different times - from San Diego to Hawaii, around Mexico, and across the Atlantic, in addition to sailing small boats in San Fransisco Bay). Over many years I enjoyed sailing the Lido with family (even our standard Poodle, Peppi! Or perhaps I should say "even with my two sisters" :o), friends, or solo. Usually sailed by two people, a Lido can also carry a guest or two comfortably (or 3 or 4 guests less comfortably), or be sailed single handed. It's a great family boat.


My brother sailing with friends back in the day.

Every time I see Lake Kitaura (which is often since it is just down the street from the house), I think of how nice it would be to have a sailboat. I've only seen one on the lake a few times, though several decades ago one might see several sails of "hobikisen" net fishing boats. Those days are gone and the few net fishermen left use power boats. The most popular recreational boats on the lake these days - and there aren't very many as the long recession in Japan really took a toll - are bass boats (fishing - yawn).


Calling to me - Lake Kitaura

A few months ago I decided it was time to do something about all that and I started looking at sailboats. Dinghy sailing is popular on certain lakes and protected ocean waters in Japan and there are clubs that hold regattas for various types - Lasers, Tasers, 470s, Yamaha Sea Hoppers, and so on. After looking into the various types of boats available here, I decided to go with a company and boat I knew, even though that meant bringing it across the ocean. The W.D. Schock company is still the sole source for the Lido 14. It is now run by the founder's son, Tom Schock. Over several emails he helped review the various boats they make today and surprise, surprise, I decided on another Lido 14. Not too big, not too small, fun to sail, but not too tender* i.e. too wet or scary for K or a guest to enjoy themselves.

When they reached Lido #6000 a few years back, they made a number of design improvements based on the experiences of the previous forty odd years. The new boat is still very much a Lido and meets the requirements for racing with that class, but has features to make it more durable, safer, and easier to sail and race. Our boat will be #6329 (a long way from #443). Tom Schock came up with a color I like in a paint scheme that he calls "classic" as it makes the boat look more like the older style Lido. It looks a lot like #443, but is very much "new and improved".


Here's Lido #6329 in the factory. As you can see, it's BLUE.
( The Moody Minstrel should like that part.)


After much discussion of possible names - Japanese and otherwise - we decided on "Bluesette" after the jazz tune by the great Toots Thielemans.

Most of the Lido 14 fleets are along the west coast of the USA, from southern California on up to Oregon and Washington, though there is also an active fleet in Ohio.That a new Lido is headed for Japan has caught the attention of the Lido 14 Class Association and I have been interviewed for the next edition of their magazine, "BowWave". I've even been invited to race over there, but I told them they'd have to come here. ;^)

Bluesette will arrive in January. I'll probably have to wait for Spring weather before I can convince K about putting her in the water (the boat, not K), but that will give us time to jump through the bureaucratic hoops of trailer registration and properly equipping ourselves with the needed safety gear, waxing the hull, and so on. Applications for passengers and crew are now being accepted. (No experience necessary. Unquestioning obedience to the skipper mandatory. Pirate talk highly discouraged.)

Hopefully our presence on Lake Kitaura will encourage others to join us and once more make sailboats a familiar sight here - only of the recreational rather than commercial variety. Who knows?, perhaps Lidos will catch on and join the other classes of sailing dinghies popular in Japan, and we'll have someone to race against.

Here's Toots Thielemans and Stevie Wonder performing Bluesette...enjoy.

*tender - the characteristic a sailboat to heel over in the wind, generally scaring the hell out of any guests on board.