Captain's Log; Adventures Aboard the "Amethyst"

Thursday, February 22, 2007

Winds of Winter

February is a time of weather, in Southern California. It rains, yes, but never for more than a day or so. When it stops, the winds shift 180 degrees and blow, in what is known as a clearing Northwesterly. Exhilarating blue skies, fresh sea air and salt spume excite the senses. Here in this picture, "Amethyst" is close hauled and beating to weather, on such a day. Dolphins were escorting us, as we sailed along. The fore deck awash with salt water, "Amethyst" the 46' wooden ketch is in her groove. Visit us on your next trip to Marina del Rey!

Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Valentines Dinner Cruise

Happy Valentines Day!
Tonight, a couple will enjoy a private dinner aboard, followed by a sunset cruise. We have warm and dry Santana conditions which are so welcome this time of year. Hot dry desert winds blow outwards toward the sea creating clear skies, smooth waters and spectacular sunsets.
Ahhhh.....sailing into the sunset. Does it get any more romantic than that?
Visit us soon at
-Capt Mack

Sunday, February 11, 2007

A Sunset Sail

Hello sailors!
So many times it is, that the best sunsets are in the winter months. The clouds, low sun angles and weather adds up to some very memorable evenings. Here, returning to Marina del Rey, we saw a beautiful rainbow. Wish you could have been there......

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Summer Sailing in Southern California

When the morning dew has gone as the mid morning sun warms and dries the "Amethyst's" decks, it is yet another perfect day for a sailing adventure in sunny Southern California. We gather at the dock, with anticipation of fair winds, sunshine, sea air and relaxation.
Leaving the harbor and all of civilization behind, the bowsprit of "Amethyst" cuts a clean wake as she enters the blue Pacific Ocean, with her guests and Captain eager to hoist sails......
What will be seen today? Sea Lions , and all manner of sea birds for certain, and possibly dolphins....stay tuned!

Saturday, December 10, 2005

Grey Skies

Hi everybody, Captain Mack here....
When the skies cloud over and the sunshine just can't quite break through the clouds, the days spent on the ocean still have a beauty of their own. I would like to share some thoughts describing the subtle hues and feel of the sea on these special days, when the winds are light and the sea is quiet....

Grey Skies

Up on deck this morning, just after waking,
was a grey sullen dawn, on sea of lead breaking.
No warmth in the dawn or sign of cheer,
I return below to plot the day's course I’ll steer.

Of silver grey clouds and a leaden sea I dream,
and of Heaven and water with a wooden yacht between.
And of sea smoke rising in the chill dawns air,
a sea bird’s plaintive call , and of a mermaid fair.

Sea adventures, voyages and memories in the making at

Saturday, June 11, 2005

"Amethyst" riding peacefully at anchor in Emerald Bay, Catalina Island, Southern California.
Just one of the beautiful places to visit when you sail with Mariner Sailing Charters. Visit us now at

A history of the Sailing Yacht, "Amethyst"

Yacht Name: "Amethyst"
Year Built : 1969
Model and Hull # : Mariner 40, #51
Owner's Name : Capt. Mack Steagall,
Hailing Port: Marina del Rey, CA


Yes, a fine history she has. One of trials, sorrow, abuse and ultimately, redemption and excellence!

"Amethyst" was once known as "Yontonka" and with that name she led a life of ignominy, going from owner to owner, marina to marina, scarcely ever receiving proper maintenance, and simply languished, awaiting her fate, one to which so many of these fine vessels have been sentenced to.

And so, in 1997 in such a wretched state I found her, as she laid along side the Balboa Boat Yard in Newport Beach, CA. So sorrowful in appearance, was she, scarcely recognizable as the Wooden Boat Regatta winner that she was to become!

She was missing her mizzen mast and families of pigeons(!) resided in her, down below.The guano of many generations of various seabirds was upon her decks, and she was devoid of anything reminiscent of bright work. I wondered who it was and how it could be that this could have been allowed to happen.....

something surely must be done..........

I of course snapped her up for a paltry sum, due to the owner realizing his failure as a yachtsman, and after some stop gap mechanical work, delivered "Amethyst", ( the new name that I gave to her, to change her luck) to Marina del Rey, to start her new life. The delivery, a voyage of about 50 miles, is a story in it's own and for the sake of brevity, will not be told here.

Immediately, work began on "Amethyst" with the initial haul out and the sistering of 16 frames, eight port and eight starboard. We also painted her bottom and topsides, losing the garish blue 70's racing stripe that all vessels of the 60's and 70's seemed to be inflicted with. I implore all you fellow Mariner owners.....Lose the stripe! A classic design such as the Mariner possesses owes nothing to the trends of the 70's!

And so it began, a five year restoration of every conceivable facet of this Mariner 40. Water and fuel tanks, plumbing and electrical, engine and batteries all were replaced and rebuilt. And then the varnish. All spars were varnished, as is befitting a proper yacht, and 12 coats more of Epifanes varnish were lavished on the interior. No flat varnish is allowed aboard the "Amethyst". No, no, no...

In November of 2002, I deemed her ready for her maiden voyage, and with a light heart, cast loose the dock lines, and left the confines of her slip! The wind filled her sails and she took to the wind and raced towards Malibu, with a bone in her teeth. She had been reborn, and again would ply the waters of Southern California.
The story of "Amethyst" continues, as she is now the flagship of Mariner Sailing Charters, LLC , where she is in service carrying people on day sailing adventures and trips to Catalina Island. For more about the "Amethyst" and Capt. Mack, or to contact us, please visit our website at

I hope all who strive to restore their vessels win in the end as I have. Do not listen to what negative people say, for it can be done. I have proved it!
Happy Sailing,
Capt. Mack

Sunday, March 13, 2005

Wooden Yacht Race Results!

Hi, Captain Mack here!
I’m the owner and operator of “Mariner Sailing Charters” in Marina del Rey,
California, where, “We Take You Sailing”, aboard the beautiful sailing yacht,

Visit us at

Welcome back to my blog page!

Pre-race manoeuvres!

Wooden sailing yachts, of all sizes and pedigrees, jostle for position and advantage in the minutes before the starting gun of the race. To many, it is the most exciting part of a sailboat race, because all of the yachts desire to be first across the starting line, and furthest to winward. Near collisions, shouts and stern commands are to be seen and heard as the yachts sail back and forth, waiting for the gun.

Under blustery blue skies with puffy white clouds, the remnants of a storm three days before, I, and my crew of six, exercised our strategy, awaiting the starting gun sequences
that would put the race into motion. Tense with anticipation and fresh with the memory of last year’s head sail failure that cost us our 1st place trophy, we sailed and waited.

Bang! The report of the starting gun was heard! Winches grinded, lines were hauled, and
with trimmed sails, the “Amethyst” sprang across the starting line, in perfect position above the other racers. Within minutes, we were in the lead! Cautiously optimistic, we continued to trim sail and increase our lead to the first mark. Meanwhile, astern of us, I observed the beautiful schooner “Bluenose”, our friendly competitor (and winner) of last year’s race flashing out his fisherman's topsail. Anxiously, I compared our speeds, and observed that we were still increasing our lead!

Rounding the first mark, we hauled our wind for the second leg of the course, the winward leg. A course was set and with the sails pulling well, I now could relax a bit and take in the scenery. The racing cutters, tightly grouped, and intently competing for position. The two large schooners, with all of their various sails flying. The largest schooner was none other than the “Santana”, Humphrey Bogart’s old boat.

The weather mark was now looming near, and so a new activity was set upon on our foredeck. The preparation for the downwind run! The spinnaker, the largest and most powerful of “Amethyst’s” sail inventory, was brought up from below and bent on. So as we rounded the mark, the genoa was dropped and in it’s place the mighty spinnaker was raised!
Off we took, like a waterborne locomotive, a wooden Juggernaut crashing through the waves, ploughing a course towards home, hearth and the finish line! A fine eye had I, on the spars, sails and rigging, judgeing just how much I might safely coax from them in the way of speed. The crew tended and managed their stations, and I was pleased with
“Amethyst’s” turn of speed . This was great sailing. The feel of the salt spray, the smell of the sea air, and the sounds of a wooden sailing yacht being driven hard to victory! And we were doing a “horizon job” on many of the other boats!

The finish line we crossed with all sails flying, to the blast of the first place shotgun! A roar of cheers welled up! No ripped sails, and all memories of last year’s disappointment vanished. A large silver plate would be ours, and awarded to us later that evening, at the awards’ dinner. We had won our race, and the admiration of our competition. A day to be remembered and cherished!

See you soon!

Captain Mack.