Simon Graves checked in with a series of emails (last first) he had with the new owner of Supernova, a guy named Swanny from Canada who is living the good life down there. The boat is still in Panama.
Hey there Simon,
One million thanks for the time taken to share some info on Supernova. The more I spend time looking her over the more I wonder what has transpired and many of my questions have been answered in your email - when was the new winch put on? what happened with the replaced shroud deck mount? Sail history? what the &%$#@ happened with the boom? etc. It's like calling back into the past and getting answers.
The 8hp is still kicking but yes stinky and noisy and yes always with the hatch up. Only the Dolphin main was with her from Jeb. Also the good genny and two small storm jibs. Brightwork needs replacing, but that is beginning in earnest within a week or two - a few leaks and the jib track is close to giving way on the starboard side. Also going to rewire the whole boat. Day dreams of a roller furling jib. And when I can rig up a haulout at the farm I am going to put bottom paint and maybe even a new gelcoat. Standing rigging is quite fine, but I plan to redo some of the running rigging.
No stove, no windscoop, only one solar panel which has a bad connection just before the cable out, but all the cushions, new battery, Tiller Tom is still kicking, but no other elex. Jeb put in a marine stereo which is working fine. he also crafted a new tiller out of cana fistula..
We paid $3500 for the boat and sailed her home - a very fine deal and perfect for our needs. Damn near like destiny!
She is a fine little sailer and rest assured Supernova is in good hands. In time she may look even better than when you sailed her out of Florida heading south. I'm going to post the progress on Dolphin24.org
Anyway, thanks again for the info and the whack load of scans you sent - yes it did arrive. Much appreciated and I will keep you updated on her future.
When I bought that boat, I knew so very little about sailboats. But I trust my assessment of people's character so I decided to choose using that skill. My friend Jim and I had a budget of 5000-8000 to find a boat worthy of sailing to Cuba, so one week I flew out to Florida drove all around that state to look at the en or so boats we saw for sale that might fit the bill. That Dolphin was the smallest of the group but also seemed to be in the best condition. Its owner was a guy in North Miami named "Captain Dan", whose profession was taking care of other people's boats. He was a very honest and upright guy so I trusted that he treated his boat like his own baby. I didn't bother negotiating with him since the $6500 he was asking seemed fine with me. He even threw in a bottom job as part of the deal.
Oh, and the boat was then named "Someday Arrived". Jim and I wanted something that could be understood in Spanish so we chose "Supernova", partially in honor of my '72 Nova we drove out from California and which delivered us at least to Tallahassee before quitting its many years of service to me.
We changed the name in Key West in accordance with all superstitions about changing boat names, and chose a name that future owners would never have to part with. I made my own font on graph paper that became the template for the transom lettering (very difficult to paint an undercut transom while hanging my headbackwards off the floating dock near the waterline).
Jim and I spent another $2000 or so outfitting the boat for our cruise. This included a spare mainsail (did Jeb leave that with the boat? It's the one that doesn't have a dolphin on it) and a spare jib which we ruined by letting it soak in salt water for months (so I took it with me). The original jib and main had life left in them but by no means were new; the genoa was practically new. We bought the dinghy in Key West; we got very lucky. It was two days before our launch off the continent and dinghies were in high demand there. It was very lucky that it would just fit on the foredeck without deflation.
The Supernova served us so extremely well on our journey. That shallow draft is an incredible blessing; it allowed us to skirt over reefs and get over river mouth bars that no other cruiser around could manage. This was especially helpful along the Mosquito Coast, where protected anchorages were very rare and every day was an upwind battle. And the familiar THUNK of the centerboard was just a friendly warning to roll the thing up. And singlehanding that boat is a breeze. I don't believe we ever used winch handles.
The fiberglass on that boat is impenetrable. I believe in those years they didn't know how long it would last so they were ultra conservative in laying it in. It's like a floating tank. Perfect for carefree cruising.
The Yamaha engine was two years old at that time, I believe. We used it for the dinghy as well. Awesome hassle-free engine, which had parts we could find in any village in Central America.
In Cuba, on Isla de la Juventud, we noticed that the port shroud was starting to pull up out of the deck. We found that the under-deck piece of wood that anchored it was water logged from a leak and rotting through. So we awkwardly cut out the rotten section and replaced it with a piece of Angolan hardwood. I think you can see where thatpatch job was. I was concerned that we lost the benefit of distributing the weight over the entire 4' f the original board instead of the 2' of the new piece and for a while we took it easy on port tacks, but confidence grew again and I never thought about it again.
Running wing-and-wing at 3am in Honduras we were worried about broaching and tied a jibe preventer from the center of the boom to the deck (bad idea, but you learn from experience, right?). The whisker pole fell overboard and in my maneuver to retrieve it I forgot about the boom being tied off (WHOOPS) and when I intentionally jibed the sail back filled and the boom snapped in half at that point. We ran on the jib the rest of the night and found a sweet little protected cove behind Punta Sal. Right where we landed the dinghy ashore on our repair scouting mission there was a piece of bamboo perfectly sized for our needs. So we spent two days making a new boom and that served me all the way to Panama. I loved it; that boat sails just fine with a loose-footed main... but I figured it would be easier to sell with an aluminum boom so I took the water taxi from Bocas to that banana town and found a guy and his son who welded it up for me. I wish I had kept the boom; the last I saw of it, it was sunk in the mud on Carenero island with a lancha tied up to it. Note: Simon sent us this picture on May 14, 2009.
The motor gave us trouble eventually where it would die and not start again. I never figured out the problem but it turned out that taking out the carburetor and filter, blowing them out, and replacing them worked every time. But we never motored through a reef pass without having at least a jib ready to throw up at a moment's notice. That saved the boat two or three times along the Yucatan coast.
We were anchored in the road in front of Puerto Cabezas (Nicaragua) and it was so choppy that we slept in a hotel. Our mast light was solar powered and never glowed past about 3am (folly) and one morning we returned to the boat to find that someone had struck it with a lancha. This punched a 1"x6" hole in the top of the starboard foredeck, and knocked off a bit of the wood trim. We repaired it there with fiberglass and it should be good as new.
Torn sails you can see for yourself where we patched them. We painted the bottom in the Rio Dulce with red Honduran paint circa April 2005. There used to be a geared system for raising the centerboard but that rotted through so now you lift the entire thing with your own human strength.
When I bought the boat, the autohelm still worked. We named it "Tiller Tom". I remember having trouble with it later on, but by that point we had figured out how to get the boat to steer itself by setting the sails and tiller in the right configuration, so that wasn't terrible news. Do you have it? Does it work?
The original fuse-and-switch box was in bad shape so I replaced it in 12/2005. I now use the original panel in my van as a coded keyless ignition.
You've probably found by now that the engine is annoyingly loud and smelly, and you are tempted to lower the lazarette door if you hate motoring as much as we always did. But then you found that the engine runs terribly when the hatch is closed. On days that we had to motor long distances we would run lines from the tiller up to the foredeck and steer from there.
I replaced one of the winches, can't remember which, in Belize in 2005.
Okay, I'm running out of ideas here; at least technical informationthat would be useful to you. I could spend days telling you stories about the boat and its history. I'll send you some interesting literature in a following email.
Oh, I ended up selling the boat to Jeb for $5000, a week before a group of kids offered me $7000. How much did you end up paying? I think even $8,000 is a good price if it's still in good shape.
Dolphin Bay? I think I anchored out there many nights. Is that to the south of Isla Cristobal? We called it "It's a Crystal Ball".
Do enjoy yourself out there. And let me know when you are ready to sell.
On Apr 27, 2009, at 2:34 PM, leisurevolution wrote:
Patiently awaiting news of the history/background on my new girlfriend, Supernova!! :) We were just out on the bay yesterday for a few hours. And if you are ever back this way, I'd be happy to hoist the mainsheet and take you out and about!!!
Still interested in hearing about the Supernova? I'm back from the desert.
On Apr 7, 2009, at 12:37 AM, Simon J. Graves wrote:
Sweet, I'll be happy to talk with you at length about my beloved and most worthy Supernova. For selfish reasons I'm sad to see it changing hands--I was hoping to bring my girlfriend down to visit Jeb and rent or borrow the boat for a few months, but alas there will always be other boats in other places.
But for all other reasons I'm excited to see the Supernova on her way to new adventures. I'm leaving any minute on a trip to Death Valley so my detailed ramblings will have to wait until my return on Tuesday. Will you please send me another email later in the week as a reminder—my mind will be full of desert wilderness when I return.
On Apr 6, 2009, at 11:25 PM, Swanny wrote::
I discovered your site and travels south while researching Yankee Dolphin sailboats. In fact, I looked at your very Dolphin, Supernova, as a possible purchase recently. Great boat, cool trip and many moreinteresting goings-on in your life since...
Anyway, if you have a moment or two, I would love to know somedetails/background about Supernova: where she sailed out of when you found her? what shape you found her in? what you did to prep her for her voyage south to Panama? how much you sold it for at this end (Panama)? what she was like to sail for 18ish months in the areas you went? pluses/minuses of her particularly?
I want to start taking my young family sailing here on Dolphin Bay and around the whole archipelago (yes, if I buy her she will be a Dolphin docked on the shores of Dolphin Bay) and what a great thing that you brought such a perfect little craft down this way for us to find!! I sold my boat back in Canada when I moved to Bocas and have daydreamed about finding a funky little pocket cruiser and lo and behold Supernova crossed my path.
Your time is much appreciated and any info/background etc on her that you know of would be great. I plan on keeping www.dolphin24.org updated on her progress toward "The Great Rejuvenation" and enjoying many afternoons under sail around the islands.
So now we will wait for Swanny to check in....