The 2015 season was an exciting one for us. After a long year with Ariose being teased by a view of Lake Temiskaming beyond the fields while sitting on-the-hard, we finally craned her in and docked her at the Haileybury marina.
We spent every moment we could on her – a total of 30 days & nights of moments! Usually we would meet Friday evenings for dinner aboard while we reconnected after our separate work weeks. We would then enjoy 2 days of exploring the lake and anchoring out. Sunday evenings inevitably arrived too quickly and we would reluctantly drag ourselves off the boat and back to real life.
We packed in a lot of new sailing experiences, familiarized ourselves with Ariose’s quirks and learned about a few of our own. A good beginning.
Have you heard of Carl Alberg? Less than two years ago, neither of us had heard of the man let alone his boats. Now, Carl Alberg has taken on near legendary status for us – we were dropping his name with the best of them at the Toronto International Boat Show earlier this year – and his Alberg 30 has been finding a place in our hearts while eating a hole in our pocketbook! Actually, that’s not fair to the reasonably priced Albergs. Outfitting any boat can become pricey, and most Albergs have far fewer requirements in this department than most boats of this vintage. More on its quality in a moment.
Carl Alberg, a Swedish-born American, was one of North America’s most respected yacht designers. The Pearson Triton was one of his notable creations. The Cape Dory Typhoon is another. In fact, he has 47 designs to his credit, some of which continued in production after his passing. His home in Massachusetts, fittingly, overlooked the local harbour.
Not only was Alberg a skilled designer, but it seems that he had a sense of humour too. The Great Lakes Alberg Association (GLAA) has posted a letter from an early owner on its site. This person wrote to Alberg describing several groundings on rock and gravel which resulted in deep scratches. He asked for advice as to the best method to duplicate the boat’s strong construction when repairing the damage. Carl Alberg’s advise? To move to the Chesapeake Bay where the bottom is mud.
BIRTH OF THE ALBERG 30.
The 30 footer is one of the middle children of the large Alberg family. Alberg 22s, 29s, 30s, 34s, 35s, and 37s were produced. A group of sailors from Toronto Yacht Club approached Whitby Boat Works Limited of Whitby, Ontario, Canada in 1961 to design and build a boat to meet their needs. They were looking for a racer/cruiser. They wanted something built from fibreglass (boats were just beginning to transition from wood construction), with a full keel, standing headroom in the cabin, and more. Whitby Boat Works turned to Carl Alberg to design it. Some sailors from the US east coast (Washington DC and Annapolis) also were interested and placed orders. Shortly after, the Alberg 30 was born and the first boat was launched in 1963 (side note: it preceded Shirley’s “launch” by a few months). Subsequently, more than 750 Alberg 30s were produced over a 22 year run.
There continues to be a concentration of Albergs currently in Chesapeake Bay, U.S. and Toronto, Canada, where enthusiastic owners associations keep the vision alive. We’ll include links to their sites at the bottom of this page. Descriptions and testimonials of owners often sound like accounts of love affairs. Here’s why.
DESIGN & TECHNICAL FEATURES.
As Tim’s shared in an early post [Acquiring Ariose part 1], the Alberg 30 is a beautiful, graceful boat. Its design is true to the early 60s. It’s a distinctive classic boat, with long overhangs, a narrow beam, low freeboard, and a full cutaway keel-attached rudder. Compared to modern boats of similar size, the Alberg’s narrow beam and low freeboard leaves an interior that feels undersized. We think this is a small price to pay co
It does technically accommodate a crew of four (two in the v-berth, and two in the main saloon) but they would need to be a group of exceptionally compatible crew we think for that to work. The head (a manual pump toilet), with an integral holding tank is squeezed in opposite a hanging closet, and these divide the v-berth from the saloon. The minimalist galley is in the aft part of the cabin below the companionway. All Alberg 30s had an icebox. Ours had a cut-away in the counter to house a antiquated looking 2-burner propane stove – we’re upgrading to a new marine oven/stove. I think that is project #37 on the list. A previous owner installed a propane heater which was much appreciated during our early season northern Ontario over-nighters … thanks Jordan!
The Alberg 30 seems to be a perfect combination of sturdy and sweet-sailing. Alberg 30s have a reputation for being solidly built. Whitby Boat Works was a highly regarded company and as with others pioneering in the use of fiberglass construction, they were generous, compared to modern methods, in their use of hand-laid fiber and resin. We’ve come across many accounts of groundings over the years with hardly a scratch resulting. Thankfully, we have yet to have an occasion to support or refute this claim.
A fiberglass composite rudder is attached to the keel, and a 3300 pound iron ballast is encapsulated inside the keel cavity – that should keep it upright! The deck and cabin house are constructed of fiberglass cloth and a core was used in areas for added strength. Boats built prior to 1970 utilized masonite as a core material while those built after used balsa wood. There’s quite a few reports of problems with the masonite getting soft. Some folks have taken on ambitious projects replacing the deck. Our deck seems fine, but we will know better once we open it up to do some other work. Fingers are crossed!
The cockpit and lazarette are at the stern. The mast is deck-stepped. Early boats had a laminated wood beam to support the mast and this has proven to be one another of the Alberg’s few weak points. There have been situations of failure after hard use. Most boats from that era have been retrofitted with an aluminum plate to support that area, and this seems to be an effective repair. In 1970 this was replaced by an aluminum beam encased with fiberglass. The final design flaw we’re aware of is a weakness in the attachment of the forward lower shroud chain plates. A previous owner beefed this up on Ariose … thanks, Bill and Christine!
Of course, most Alberg 30s have some problems as would be expected from the normal wear and aging of any vintage boat. We’re ever so grateful for the good care previous owners have given to our boat. She’s in good shape.
Originally the Alberg 30s were powered by the twenty-two horsepower Gray Marine gasoline engine, and then later by the Universal Atomic 4 engine. In later years of production, diesel engines were available (single cylinder Bukh diesel, followed by two cylinder Volvo Penta marine engine). Some Albergs still have their original engine. Ours has been re-powered with a Yanmar 3GM30 diesel …. thanks, once again, Bill!
Originally, Alberg 30s were outfitted with a tiller, but many, ours included, the tiller has been replaced with a wheel.
DATING OUR BOAT – VARIATIONS OVER THE YEARS.
Our Alberg, according to 2 surveyors who based their documentation on information from the owners at that time, was built in 1971. There is no visible hull number, though, which would give it a positive identification. Its sail number is 392. If that is correct, and this sail is not a hand-me-down from another boat, Cathie Coultis, Commodore of the Great Lakes Alberg Association, through consulting Whitby Boat Works Shipping Manifest & Order Cards, has advised us that #392 was produced in 1969. At that time, the Alberg 30 was going through some changes. The main differentiating features were that the older boats had a laminated wood mast beam, no liner, masonite cored decks, their decks drained directly overboard under the toerail, and the upright icebox was accessible from the cabin and the cockpit. Newer boats had an aluminum mast beam, balsa cored decks, decks drained through hoses to cockpit scuppers, molded fiberglass pan forms cabin sole and support for furniture, and the icebox is top loading from the cabin only. It’s likely that boats starting with #409 were the newer design. Whitby Boat Works made ongoing incremental changes, and there are also a few transition boats (such as #371) that share characteristics of both, with many variations over the years when tailoring boats individual customers. Of course, most boats have had subsequent upgrades and modifications to suit successive owners. It is likely that no two boats are exactly alike.
Our boat leans toward having the features of newer Alberg 30s: mast beam (uncertain, but no signs of stress so either newer or repaired older), no liner that we can tell (older), deck (uncertain, but in good shape, so likely newer – will find out when we install some deck equipment this summer), toerail/scupper drain (newer), icebox cabin opening (newer – much to Tim’s chagrin when he thinks of the easy access to cold beer from the cockpit that he could have had). We’re not sure which vintage of Albergs came with their own standard poodle guard dog as ours does.
So, when we assemble the pieces of this age puzzle, Ariose was built in:
- 1971 – according to some previous owners
- 1969 – according to our boat’s likely number
- pre or post 1970 – according to its features it’s either a post ‘70 boat or a pre ‘70 early forerunner of the newer models.
No definitive results, it seems. The mystery continues. We’ll stick with assuming it is a 1969 unless new information comes to light… we like the notion of Ariose being born in the same decade we were.
As mentioned before, the Alberg 30 is known to be forgiving to sail and seaworthy enough to cross oceans. It has many circumnavigations to its credit – quite remarkable considering its relatively small size. We’ve come across accounts of 4 solo circumnavigations. We have yet to decide if this breeds confidence for us duo sailers or not. After all, if people can sail it singlehanded around the world, it must be fairly straightforward for two to do some small scale off-shore sailing? Or, does its cozy confines preclude comfortable companionship? We’ll see.
When the Alberg 30 was designed, it was considered a relatively quick boat, but not so much by modern day racing standards. We’re not interested in racing at this time, so that’s okay. The boat will not point particularly high to windward, and we find it seems happiest at a beam reach to close reach. We’ve read that the Alberg 30 shines when the going gets rough as its narrow beam allows it to slice through the waves. Modern designs that boast about ample cabin space will have their crew well tossed when in heavy seas. The Alberg 30 is said to comfortably be able to heave-to to wait out storms, although that’s probably a relative assessment as it’s hard to imagine using the words “comfortable” and “storms” in the same sentence.
SPECIFICATIONS (data from from GLAA site)
- Length over all: 30 feet 3 inches
- Length at water line: 21 feet 8 inches
- Beam: 8 feet 9 inches
- Draft: 4 feet 3 inches
- Displacement: 9,000 lbs
- Sail Area: 410 sqft
- Builder: Whitby Boat Works
- Years produced: 1962-mid 1980s (various sources indicate 1984, 1986, 1987)
And that’s it from us for now about our boat, Ariose, the Alberg 30.
WHAT & WHY?
The simple answer to what are we doing is we plan to cruise on Ariose, our Alberg 30, from Ontario to the Caribbean, leaving in the fall of 2016, and we plan to use this blog to write about it. We expect to be gone initially for about 6 months, a convenient amount of time to fit within our Canadian winter, Tim’s work schedule, and the hurricane season. Who knows – we may be gone for less time or this taste may hook us sufficiently for it to be the beginning of much more.
The details of our plans, and our motivations, though, are a little more complicated to describe. We invite you to our conversation where we talk about what appeals to us about cruising. If you listen closely, you’ll also hear Melo, Shirley’s dog, moving in close to try to interject.
Just click here:
Here’s a Cole’s Notes summary of what we discuss:
Lots of things appeal to us about cruising. It provides opportunities:
- To take a break from our usual lives – a bit of a mid-life escape for Shirley and a continuation of Tim’s lifelong escape from the trappings of a traditional life.
- To be self-sufficient, attending to all our basic needs;
- To open ourselves to new experiences (esp. Shirley wanting to feel what it’s like outside of hyper-planning mode), to learn, grow, stretch our abilities and test ourselves as we face challenges;
- To be better connected with nature, and able to experience a sense of awe that surrounds everyday living on a boat;
- To live simply and in the moment, and to cultivate a sense of gratitude; and
- To travel to new destinations and better understand our world.
Wonder how these intentions will compare to our actual experiences once we get out there….
It seems like a dream. The sounds of instruments echoing off of the walls with the counting of metronomes and tapping of feet on the dense maple floors in that grand old Victorian home conjures up memories of my life right through university. I grew up in a musical household, my parents were both singers and music filled every pore of my early life. Instruments competed with one another and at times, it seemed as though we were living in a music studio. Violently contrasting sounds, echoed from my sister’s Bach cello suites in one room, while Bach cantatas rang out on the oboe in another and my father worked on a musical choir score, chord by chord, tapping out the rhythm once and then again, on the piano, echoing off of the 9 foot ceilings in the large living room on the main floor. My mother set aside a promising singing career to raise me and my 4 siblings instead of pursuing her musical talent. She won the Rose Bowl in 1965, a competition directed by the CBC (Canadian Broadcasting Corporation – for those of you not familiar with that institution) and at the time, she was pregnant with me – you could say I was a live aboard! Later in life, it’s pleasing for me to note, that she sought out other creative avenues and poured all of her energy into the product of the potter’s wheel and lumps of clay. This is something that feels very fitting for my mother to have done, with her solid connection to the earth. Her delightfully hand painted nature designs brought many smiles to the faces of people walking with armloads of her pottery, moving in for a purchase. My father spent his working life teaching students to sing in the classical style at Wilfrid Laurier University (a.k.a. Laurier) in Waterloo, Ontario. Having been immersed in a house full of artists, I naturally followed a similar path up until my 20’s, enrolling in Honors Music at Laurier. I studied oboe and conveniently hitched a ride with my father to school for several years while I worked on my degree.
I frequently played the oboe 6 hours a day or more, and between orchestra, quintet, competitions, lessons, rehearsals and , let’s not forget, all of the core courses, there wasn’t much time or energy left. Examining the lives of my oboe teacher and of my father, I had a good window into the life of a professional musician. Although I had a lot of interest and maybe even some talent for the profession, I often found myself daydreaming and even sneaking away to hike, canoe or camp with my friends, work on my mother’s car, or build an imposing 14 room, purple martin bird house, than spend the kind of time required to maintain the level of perfection demanded by a musical profession. I had so many other interests and not the focus required to give it my all and as my father used to say, “if you don’t want to do music above everything else, then do something else because it’s not an easy way to make a living”. I had pretty much already lived that life, playing piano, playing oboe, singing and being involved in choirs and orchestras, musicals and operas since I was very young. It was time for a change.
After university in the late ‘80s, I sold my oboe, gave the money back to my parents and hit the road, backpacking around Australia and New Zealand. Then, in the early ‘90s, I motorcycled on an XT350 Yamaha one year and then an old 70’s Honda Goldwing the next, around the east and west coasts of Canada. When I got back, I had a few courses left to graduate. While at Laurier, I noticed a posting for a volunteer position in northern Ontario. So, on a whim, I volunteered for a summer of scientific research in the old growth red and white pine forests of Temagami, Ontario with Ancient Forest Exploration and Research (AFER). The next year, thoroughly beaming from my experience in the northern woods, I enrolled in a biology program, which lead to 25 years of wandering around in the forests of northern Canada, observing every bird, mammal and plant for a living. I often received a strange look and a “that’s an odd combination” from people when they my noted my change from music to biology to which I often answered that the beauty of music and the beauty of nature fulfilled similar emotional needs for me. It was the artist in me that was captivated by the beauty inherent in petal of a flower and the sweetness of the melody in the birds that I learned to identify by sound.
Since this blog is about sailing, let me make some connections. In my early 20’s, I played around on a friend’s 22 foot drop keel sailboat in Lake Erie, Ontario. We didn’t sail a lot, but it was enough to create some of the most memorable experiences of my life. We mostly stayed close to our home port of Port Rowan on Lake Erie, and only once, trailered the boat to Hamilton harbour where we sailed up to Oakville. It was a beautiful, warm summer night with air so still and liquid, it matched the water lapping up along the sides of the hull. A late evening storm was threatening to the east and it felt like there was a halting of breath in the air, a silence, and a waiting of the fury that could eventually overtake the vessel. I’ll never forget the feeling of drifting along so peacefully in that soft glow of early darkness, wine glass in hand, CBC playing late night jazz on the radio and the beauty of the water, lit up by the cities’ starry reflection.
Looking forward 25 years, I had a chance to buy into a boat similar to the one of my early experiences. I became co-owner of an old Cal 21 in need of a lot of TLC. Being too busy with work which usually required me to be away during the summer months, I mostly moored the boat near the end of each field season on a little bay at the edge of my property on Trout Lake in North Bay. The boat was a great home office from which to go through my bird recordings and write reports. It was also a great place to enjoy the sounds of late summer dragonflies buzzing over the transom and skimming along the water or to smell the lovely vanilla-like scent of the white water lilies lying unassumingly alongside the hull in this little protected paradise. Facing the fact that I was still a novice sailor, I only sailed it a couple times on my own and was fairly content to use it as a floating dock for the time being. You see, I had yet to build a dock down there at the waters’ edge since it was lower on the priority list than building a place that I could keep warm for the winter.
My former partner and I had researched and dreamt of building an energy efficient straw bale house and this property was purchased with that in mind. When she departed in 2008, I was left with 130 acres of forest, vacant of any dwelling or any building of any kind, save for the cute little outhouse – a pleasurable place from which to survey the landscape.
Being a bit of a survivalist, thank goodness, I felt I had no choice but to try and fend off the imposing winter temperatures of down to -40 in a trailer with no water, electricity or the like. For sure, this piece of land was very close to my heart and had more diversity and beauty than any other place I could ever hope of living. I had no interest in paying rent in the city and the property wouldn’t have afforded enough financial reward to buy a house. Along with the end of a marriage went the dream of building an energy efficient building using straw bale construction. Or did it?
Three years went by and I felt like I needed to begin moving on from my previous relationship, so at the end of 2011, I went online to begin looking for someone to share this lifestyle with. Shirley and I found each other within a couple days and she tells me that what caught her attention most was the sight of someone doing something different ( like me-standing beside a wall of straw).
I quickly learned that she was not afraid of this simple life of mine and to the contrary, she came with a lot of experience! Also, something else that became apparent was that she was interested in sailing and had the notion to sail off into the sunset, so to speak. Early in our relationship, she began to grease the wheels of a consummate dreamer, with ideas about taking a course in the BVI’s and learning how to sail. Once every few weeks during our early writings to one another (which could fill volumes), she would send me an advertisement regarding the above and add a few comments about how much fun it would be. I started to dream, and before long, I had researched the perfect cruising boat for us to launch ourselves into boat ownership and set the final dreaming mode into high gear.
Long story short, we bought the boat and began to make plans to try out the cruising lifestyle.