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Lots of boats come to Oriental, some tie up at the Town Dock for a night or two, others drop anchor in the harbor for a while. If you've spent any time on the water you know that every boat has a story. The Shipping News on TownDock.net brings you the stories of the boats that have visited recently.

Skeleton of a Boat to Ocean Voyager
February 15, 2013
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Randy grew up in Greensboro, North Carolina. His youth was filled with small craft and he taught at Camp Seagull. He attended UNC Chapel, majored in sculpture and went to work in the audio field. In the years to come, he would work with bands from the Jackson Five to Alabama. In the early 1980s, he decided to build a boat. It would be a vessel of moderate size. Something to take him lake sailing. The “real” cruising boat – the steel one – he would build in his retirement.

Under a tarp in High Point he found the start of another man’s dream. The man had gotten as far as building the cement keel and mounting the frames and some stringers – the equivalent of a boat’s skeleton. Then he ran out of steam. The boat was the beginnings of a William D Jackson “Star-Lite” design.

Randy bought the boat, the vessel that, many years later, would become Ideath.

ideath line drawing
The “Star-Lite” design to which Ideath was built

The 27 ½ foot Star-Lite was designed for back yard boat builders. The plans had originally run in “Science and Mechanics” magazine. The construction was simple. Something any motivated builder with access to plywood, lumber yard timber and simple tools could put together.

“I spent the next two years rebuilding what that last owner had done.” he says. Over time, he added plywood planking, decks and a cabin house. His materials came from salvage jobs and hardware stores. The Samson post – the heavy timber in the vessel’s bow used for securing lines and anchor rodes – came from a hundred year old house. Oak from a Lexington furniture plant became a bowsprit. The mast he built with 16-foot spruce planks purchased at Home Depot.

Here, the Sampson post holds a dock line. The anchor rode is secured to the deck with a length of line.
Ideath’s rig looking aft. The green fabric covers the stay sail just aft the the bow. Randy says he noticed his local Home Depot occasionally substituted lighter spruce 2 by 6s instead of the usual, heavier southern yellow pine ones. He purchased the lighter wood and joined lengths of it to build his mast. He glued the spar up using the vacuum bag technique which ensures a tight fit. High wear parts of the mast are reinforced with fiberglass.
When Randy learned it would cost $1,300 to buy the blocks to rig Ideath, he built his own. “A guy in church gave me a 2-inch brass bar and I thought ‘perfect, yeah!’” He cut the bar into slices and used the pieces to build his blocks.
Ideath in her completed state. By the time Randy launched her in Savannah, he reckons he had about $6,000 tied up in her – along with “billions of hours.” The engine, added later, cost extra.

On July 4, 1994, the boat that was only ever supposed to be for lake sailing was launched on Lake Hartwell.

At the time Randy was married. His wife chose to attend a yard sale instead of the boat’s launching. In hindsight, he says, it’s when he sensed the two were really growing apart.

The boat was launched as “Tradition”. The name didn’t stick.

Earlier, Randy had owned a farm. He says it was in the “back to the land hippy days” and he named his property after a house in Richard Brautigan’s novella “In Watermelon Sugar”. The structure’s name was “Ideath”. Randy liked the name so much, he passed it on to his farm and, in turn, his new boat.

When you see it, most people want to pronounce it “i – death”. That isn’t it. It is correctly pronounced “idea – th”.

Randy says his boat’s name unsettles some people because it raises the subject of mortality. He jokes the name might discourage pirates tempted to board his vessel, sending them off to look for a fancier yacht, a “goldplater”. He does carry sharper pirate repellent in the form of…
…roofing nails. Randy notes that Joshua Slocum, first man to sail alone around the world, scattered tacks on the decks of his “Spray”. They worked for Captain Slocum, but so far, Randy hasn’t used them. To blend in (if ever deployed), they are painted the same light blue as his deck.

Ideath was a hit on Lake Hartwell. Especially the part about having no engine. Sailing with his son and friends, Randy learned to maneuver Ideath with sails and rudder. The sailing community took note. At the time, he was part of a yacht club. He says, “the club rules said that members were not allowed to enter the break water without their motor running.” A line was added to the rule. No members were allowed to sail into their berth – “except Randy.”

In 1999, he announced to his boss that he was going sailing. The kind that involved salt water. A long way from Ideath’s lake home. “He freaked out,” Randy says. “I told him, ‘don’t worry, it’ll take me a year to get ready.’” It did. Then a friend trailered Ideath from Lake Hartwell to Savannah, Georgia.

Randy’s cruising life had begun. His wife did not join him.

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Posted Friday February 15, 2013 by Bernie Harberts

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