"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.


Don Snabulus said...

Wow, that sounds like so much fun! I actually took a sailing class when I lived in DC...found it very interesting, but discovered 2 things.

1-It seemed expensive (like skiing)

and more importantly

2-Like my sailing teacher said, "There are 2 kinds of people, those who like to sail, and those who like to get a tan on the boat"...I found out lean toward the latter!

I ended up being MUCH more interested in how to read weather signs, navigation charts, "reading the waters 'n' stuff like that, plus I had a terror of getting hit in the head w/the boom...

Pandabonium said...

Don - Cost is a major reason I chose a smaller boat - no dock fee, no engine maintenance, no need to the expensive Japan boating license, no need for a gas guzzler to haul it around, etc. The Lido only weights 310 lbs, so can be towed even with a small car. No engine to maintain or to burn gas. After the initial cost of the boat and proper gear, there isn't any big expense involved. In the US there are lots of used boats available a low cost. Of course to take up sailing from scratch you'll incur the cost of getting educated in it, but that is true of many sports.

Skiiing? Well, unless you live near a mountain, every time there's travel expense, lodging, meals out, lift tickets, doctor bills :o

Don Snabulus said...

That was freaky...it looks like Ladybug posted while I was logged in. I never took a sailing course (grin), but she did.

I've only been sailing once when I was quite young, but all I had to do was duck at the right times, so it was more of a pleasure cruise. I've always thought sailboats were beautiful and I wish there were more of them and fewer noisy powerboats and Sea-Doos in the States here.

The current American culture seems hooked on gas-powered noise (watercraft, Harleys, ATVs, leaf blowers etc.). Let's go out into nature and make it inaudible! Wheee.

Olivia said...

There was a definite intake of breath at the first statement - but breathing resumed after the third paragraph.

Good luck with that though. January is not far off so Bluesette will be home soon.

Bear Bear said...

Sailing across the ocean? That's so exciting! Have a safe journey. :)

Pandabonium said...

Ladybug? Don? crossed signals? Next Vincent Price will be a fly with a human head calling "help me!" That's too funny - and weird.

Don - the REAL Don - yeah, sailing is quiet and one moves as part of nature rather than by trying to beat it into submission. Those "jet ski" thingies real bug me. They are like 2 cycle motorcycles on the water.

Olivia - sorry about that. just a joke. I may be dumb, but I'm not stupid. No transpacific voyage in a tiny boat for me. Bringing myself up to speed for sailing across our little lake is plenty enough challenge for me.

Bear Bear - uh oh. I guess I shouldn't have tried to be clever with that opening line about sailing across the Pacific. We're NOT going to do that. Just our little boat is going, and it is traveling by a big container ship.
By the way, we're glad you're blogging again. Give Xau Bai a hug for us all (including Momo).

Martin J Frid said...

Hail the chief, where do I sign up? Sounds like the perfect Peaceboat for me. Love the name too: A little blue..? Aren't we all.

I will need a lot of lessons and a good vest!

ladybug said...

Panda-although my 1st comment sounded a bit negative, I did enjoy the sailing overall. Esp. the noise factor...my fav water conveyance is a kayak BTW, you can easily do rivers too.

I also share your hatred of "sea-do's" (or whatever they are called) the noise and SMELL are horrendous, plus the folks usually riding them are obnoxious nascar/redneck types (occasionally spoiled trust funders also)

Pandabonium said...

Martin - the Norse shall rise again!
;^) A good vest will be ready for you. The skipper will do his best to see that you never get wet.

Ladybug - Not so negative. A boom is good thing to be concerned about. Duck!

I like kayaking too and used to go every week in Hawaii. But in colder waters, I don't like to be immersed. I don't know how Bonnie (frogma.blogspot.com) in New York does it - especially doing rolls. Brrr. But it's a great sport.

Sea-doo is a brand of Jet Ski or "personal water craft", so either term is correct. In Japan they require a separate license to operate - a physical exam, training course, tests both written and practical. Not that it does much good. When we were at the shrine of Itsukushima a group of guys on the damned things drove them through the torii to show off! Outrageous.

The Moody Minstrel said...

As Princess Leia said, "General, count me in!"

(Cool! A BLUE sailboat on Lake Kitaura! What a concept!)

I was lucky in that one of my better friends in my grade school days was the son of a well-known surgeon, i.e. they had money. They owned two sailboats. Once they took me with them on their 28-foot Catalina up the Columbia River, where they and others with the same type of boat converged on a small island for a group campout. THAT was fun! I wasn't too happy about the stormy weather during the return trip, however...

Pandabonium said...

Moody - excellent. Welcome aboard. As Chewbacca said, "Gggggaaaaaaarrrrr. Arrrrhhhn."

Catalina 28 is a beautiful boat. Never been on one, only drooled at them from a distance. That camping trip up the Columbia sounds great.

nzm said...

Jeez - you had me going with that opening statement, but I could picture Momo in a lifejacket up on the bow!

Looks like a whole lotta fun come this summer, PB, and for sure if we get back to Japan, I'll sign on as crew.

I love sailing and my bro and I owned a Hobie for a number of years. Great fun and lots of stories - mostly involving him going solo and capsizing!

Pandabonium said...

NZM - cool, welcome aboard. Those Hobie cats are FAST. Must have been a blast.

In many ways Momo is brave doggy, but when it comes to water she is like a certain brand of canned tuna - "Chicken of the Sea". :p

nzm said...

Heh - my Tibetan Terrier Basil was also that tuna brand, he hated even getting his feet wet when it rained!

Yes, Hobies are fast. I reckon that if you can master a Hobie, then you can sail anything.

Then I saw skiff sailing and realised that the art of the kamikaze warrior is not dead.

Pandabonium said...

NZM - Skiff sailing....that's my brother's old hobby - sailing 420 and 505 trapeze dinghies (14 and 16 feet) on San Fransisco Bay. Holy cow those boats can fly.

jam said...

So you are going to sail in Lake Kitaura. Nice! Or you are really planning to sail from California to Japan.

Pandabonium said...

Hey Jam. We'll just be sailing on the lakes around here, mostly Kitaura. The boat will sail across the Pacific by itself - on a big ship. :)

bonnie said...


So when I do my annual blogroll update (once a year, whether it needs it or not), should I be moving you up to the Boating Blogs section?

BTW we've got some mixed-up cherry trees in Manhattan! Come see!

Pandabonium said...

Bonnie - thanks. I could well be blogging about the boat often next year.

I'll come take a look at those cherry blossoms on your blog.