Latest Report


Steve poses with Pepper, his nearly finished SeaPearl 21, heavily modified for off shore voyaging and Island hopping in the Caribbean.  Below is a summery from Steve about their progress so far.

6/21/09 Update

This is Steve Ladd and Ginny Phelan speaking to you again. We have finished the bulk of our work on Pepper (our Sea Pearl), but have left to drive back to Washington State for a couple months' worth of visits and errands prior to undertaking our cruise southward. Here is the status on our projects, what remains to do when we get back, and what we intend to do with Pepper when we finally start cruising.

We sailed for four days on Lake Lanier, near Atlanta, to test the three main projects so far.

1) Ballast/stowage system: This has a glitch. Some of the floorboards are hard to slide over their neighbors, blocking access to some of our tanks and bins. We can correct this.

2) Cabin: Successful. Each night we slept with Pepper nudged onto a different secluded beach. We could have pitched our tent ashore, but we preferred the simplicity of sleeping in the cabin. Ginny always slept with her head aft, under the companionway, for which we have a removable mosquito net. Sometimes Steve slept by her side, but he was more comfortable lying head-forward, with Ginny's feet reaching his chest, because it gave him more elbow room. We are small people, and not claustrophobic!

3) Sliding-seat rowing station in the cockpit: Successful under oar. For several windless hours Steve comfortably rowed at a steady 3 MPH per our GPS. Against a gentle head breeze the speed was 2.5 mph. Under sail, however, the long monorail on which the seat slides took up too much footroom in the cockpit. The person not steering no longer has a central cockpit in which to sit, and nothing less than the full aft cockpit is sufficient to accommodate us both. Also, we were not satisfied with stowing our deck gear and constant-usage personal effects in a bucket and a waterproof duffle bag in the aft portion of the footwell. When we got back to Larry's we started two more projects designed to solve these problems.


First was an aft stowage compartment, or "lazarette." We have created a removable compartment that takes up the entire volume of the cockpit starting where the stern cleats were mounted and extending aft to five inches from the transom. This fore-aft dimension is about two feet. The vertical extent is from the floor to an arched shape above and connecting the gunwales. The bottom and sides are a single fiberglass molding from the boat itself. The forward and aft walls are thin plywood. The top is a portion of a cylinder whose axis is parallel to the keel. We made it by gluing up cedar strips (leftover from the cabin project) on a male mold. Epoxy filets hold everything together. Vertical dividers separate the volume into eight compartments, six of which are quite deep. All our "needed-during-the-day" items have their own place and are accessed by twin Bomar "inspection hatches," the smallest size they make, mounted on the top surface. Drainage is via tunnel-like voids to port and starboard. The lazarette excludes the aft five inches so the transom scupper can be accessed to clear blockages and deploy the plug. We can stick our boat fender down into that aft-most space. The lazarette is attached by three bolts through the gunwale on either side. This project is done except for attaching the hatches and bonding the top to the rest of the lazarette. The lazarette was labor-intensive, but its payback in comfort and efficiency should be great! We also feel it nicely complements how the cabin looks.

Second was a removable way of mounting of the sliding seat aparatus. The stock item, as purchased from Piantedosi, is a monorail supported by pedestals on its forward and aft ends. The seat slides on the monorail. The footrests are attached to the aft end of the monorail. We had mounted the device semi-permanently to the cockpit floor. Now all that is changed. First we made a footrest and attached it via hinges to the forward bulkhead of the lazarette. A monorail divorced from the footrest can be shorter, so we bought a shorter length from Piantedosi. We then mounted two brackets on the port walls of the footwell and two on the starboard walls. The forward brackets hold one aluminum, L-section beam transversely between them. The aft brackets hold another. The monorail nestles longitudinally between these beams. The monorail and beams easily dismount. When not in use we will probably stow the three pieces on the forward surface of the lazarette.

On a more minor note, we built what we call "bullwinkle masts" to hold the masts up horizontal when we row for a long time. To make the bushings we wrapped the PVC pipes with strips of towel while saturating the strips with epoxy, until the diameter matched the interior diameter of the mast steps.

When we get back to Larry's, probably in September, we will finish these projects, plus paint the bottom and various other components. We also have a list of items that we will probably undertake after further test-cruising, including grabrails on the cabin top and a custom-fit mattress. Then we plan to travel down the Chatahoochie River to the Gulf, then south along the west coast of Florida, then most likely to the Bahamas. Beyond that we don't know, but hopefully through vast areas of crystal-clear waters ideal for snorkeling. May we be so lucky!

Steve and Ginny



Bulwinkle mast support elevation system


Locking the hatch: work by Ginny


Rowing seat mount (removable)


Detail of mounting bracket and angle brace supporting the rowing seat track


Lazerette inverted showing angled foot rest for rowing seat.

Ginny’s Report:

In case anyone out there remains interested in our obscure doings, here is an update. This time, click on the keyword(s) to see a picture, or click here to see our complete photo album.

Our Atlanta working conditions are much better than those in Tampa. Actually, the location is Stone Mountain, about 25 miles east of Atlanta. Stone Mountain is a huge granite rock. Here is a picture of us climbing it .

We were at the house of our good friend Larry Whited. Larry is sort of the president of the unofficial Sea Pearl fan club, having owned several and being a thorough boat nut. He has a bottomless inventory of tools and is an incredible friend and sponsor. Larry is a nurse who works weekend nights. He put us up in our own bedroom, accepted us as housemates, and made us feel at home right away. His property is about an acre is size with a comfortable rambler and quite a few boats of all shapes and sizes.

Once settled in at Larry's, we helped him update his facilities. We put on a new roof on his tool shed, which is out back, and built shelves for his many tools. We turned a screened porch into a shop by clearing it out and organizing it around Larry's fantastic Shopsmith, a combination table saw, table sander, and drill press.

Next we recovered from our car accident. You may recall that we were rear-ended as we approached Atlanta. The truck's bumper and tailgate were damaged and the boat trailer was wracked out of shape . We found a used bumper at a junk yard, bent the tailgate back in shape by driving over it  a certain way, and pieced together a new trailer from leftover parts in a manufacturer's storage yard. Most of the money we got from the guilty party's insurance company went into savings.

Now for the boat work. We finished the stowage/ballast project, including painting all those strange aluminum objects  white. Then we finished the cabin top , which was very tricky. The whole thing comes off by removing 27 bolts and lifting it off.  Larry's Sea Pearl web site, , has some excellent detail of the work if you're interested in learning more.

We worked seven days a week, usually until dark, but somehow still found time to watch movies on the Turner Classic Movie channel and fatten up on biscuits.

In May Larry took us to the annual small boat gathering at Cedar Key, Florida. We had a magnificent time sailing every day, kayaking, bicycling, swimming, and exploring, not to mention looking at cool boats and meeting their designers and owners. We have a few pictures of Cedar Key in our new photo album , but for the real experience check out Larry's Photo Album and his Cedar Key website write-up .

When we got back to from Cedar Key our boat, Pepper, was done enough for a shake-down voyage, so we spent four days on Lake Lanier, a large, man-made lake north of Atlanta. We sailed and rowed up and down the lake. At night we nosed Pepper  onto various uninhabited islands, with an anchor astern in the water and another up on the beach, and slept in her tiny cabin. Good thing we're small! Pepper proved out well, but more projects remained.

Back at Larry's we have almost finished building a stowage locker for the aft part of the boat. Associated with this is a re-do of the rowing station , whereby the rowing components can be removed when not rowing, to free up room in the cockpit. Steve's birthday  came and went, he wasn't interested in celebrating, but Ginny, Larry and Larry's girlfriend Karen were, so we all went out to dinner anyway. After that It was just about time for us to go back to Washington for a visit prior to hard-core cruising.

So three days ago we left Pepper in Larry's keeping and got back into our old Isuzu pickup with the canoe on top. The next day we found where the states of Georgia, Alabama, and Tennessee come together . (It's not as grandiose as where Massachusetts, Vermont, and New York meet.) Now we have arrived back at the house of Lena and Jesse , Ginny's friends in St. Louis.

Basically, we will spend the summer on the road and in Washington, and return to Stone Mountain in the fall. After a little more boat-work we hope to travel down Georgia's Chattahoochee River to the Gulf of Mexico, then south along the west coast of Florida, then to the Bahamas right in time for Hurricane Season...

We hope that you too are finding plenty of challenge and adventure in your life!

Steve and Ginny

 P.S.  We have uploaded all the old emails to Our New Bl(ar)g Site .  We hope this will inspire us to do more frequent, though smaller, updates for those of you who find yourselves wondering what ever happened to us.  We will continue to mail out periodic big emails too for the rest of you.

Editors note:

You can find their pictures on Picasa by clicking here

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