I have always been fascinated by boats and always wanted to own one, but could never afford to buy one so I decided to build one. That is when I stumbled on Stevenson’s projects.
You may want to know what the criteria might be for me to consider building a particular boat. Here is what a boat design has to be for me—
Cruise: June 2002
I decided that this time I would set up and then cast off. I put the sail up and ensured that the bow of the boat was facing into the wind. I decided to tie the main off so that the sail would not swing back and forth. I attached the rudder and launched. That after I got my line to the dock untangled from another boat which had tied his line over mine. Once launched the boat began to swing beam on to the wind and was beginning to turn over. I rushed to untie the sail and found it was tangled and would not come loose. With a great deal of swearing I managed to get it untied before I ended up in the water only to find myself very close to a reef of rocks and closing fast. Using the sail and oars I managed once again to avoid disaster. I sailed up Gander Lake in the light winds till I had reached Glenwood Park from the wharf in Glenwood. I would say that would be about a mile and a half. I sailed around a small island up that way and sailed back. I made very slow progress getting back due to the wind slowing down.
Once I reached the wharf at Glenwood the wind again picked up and I decided to cruise back and fourth across the river. That was such a trill.
I spent the last week or so finishing all the modifications to the Little Squirt. The battery mount is installed. The Solar Panel is set up, and the new aluminum mast is ready to go and so am II got up early, kissed the wife and the original squirt who is now a little over one year old. Neither of the girls in my life was too happy about me disappearing for the day, but a guy's got to do what a guy's got to do. I arrived at the dock with Little Squirt at about 0849. The winds were light and the sun was shinning. It was a beautiful day.
I put the boat in the water and set up. For the first time I had few problems setting up. I lost the rope once leading to the top of the mast and that was the only problem. When I launched the boat started drifting into shallow water while I was setting up the rudder, but I just used the motor to go to deeper water and finished setting up there.
By now the wind has picked up a bit. It wasn’t heavy but it was heavier then I was used to and going the worst possible direction. I would have to tack the 6km to the entrance to the main part of Gander Lake. I figure I could have used the motor, but pride was involved. The engines were only for emergencies and maneuvering in tight quarters. I was sailing out.
The wind direction was a pain. When tacking one way the boat went quite fast, but to tack back to the other side I was actually sailing slightly down river from where I wanted to go. I had finally passed a small island I use as a marker (located about 1.5km from the launch point) when I noticed that the tape along my home made sail was coming off at the bottom along the boom. I hoped that I could continue sailing under I reached Glenwood Park where I had planned to stop for a break, however that was not going to happen. The tape continued to peel off. If I allowed it to continue the bottom part of the sail was going to come loose completely. I took down the sail at 1000. I went the rest of the way to Glenwood Park under engine.
I reached Glenwood Park at 1012. I took a reading of the battery at 1028. It said 12.58V. 12.6V was 100% charge so I was set there. I got some rope and a plastic box to secure the sail and set off to continue under engine alone. I left Glenwood Park and continued on my way at 1035. I figured I would fix the sail when I stopped for a break, and took a picture before I left. After all the sail wasn’t doing me a lot of good anyway because of the direction of the wind. I decided to go the whole way at power level 3. Any faster used up the battery too quickly. Any slower would lead to insanity.
I reached a nice little beach at 1122. My battery was at 12.47V, or 75% so I was still in good shape. Now, I get to the embarrassing part of my story. I opened my toolbox and found that there was no duct tape. I could not fix the sail with what I had. I had a choice. I could go back or continue on with the engine alone. Reaching my goal was no longer possible. The trip would probably take days instead of hours. I decided to change my goal. After all I was out for fun. Not to prove anything. I would now motor to the opening to the main part of Gander Lake. A note to remember. I did not bring a rag to clean out the small amount of water from the bottom of the boat that collected there from my shoes when I walked the boat out from Glenwood Park. I had to use my shirt. Ah the pain and horrors.
I saw a little beach I thought would be a nice place for lunch a little
while later. I started to motor towards it when I realized the blade of
my motor was hitting bottom. That was when I discovered a great thing
about electric motors. Instead of breaking a sear pin or causing other
damage when an electric motor hits something the blade just stops spinning.
I tilted the motor out of the water and walked the 100 yards to shore.
It was mostly knee deep but sometimes it almost came up to my waist.
When I went out to the docking area there were several people hanging around. I found out later they were waiting for someone to come in a speedboat to pick them up. They were fascinated in my boat, but kept commenting on how long it was taking me to set up. As a result I was rushing my setup more then I normally would. Mistake number 1. I also could not find my notebook anywhere. My notebook is where I record times and information for this site. This is why the information on this story is not quite as specific as it normally is.
So now I was finally ready to go. The wind had picked up and was blowing nicely. It never occurred to me to check the water for whitecaps I was too eager to get out. My audience kept asking when the sail was going to go up, and I felt silly taking so long getting ready. This I will call Mistake Number 2.
As I normally do I motored out to the middle of the lake for putting up the sail. This is mistake number 3. The wind was considerable and my technique might be fine for light wind, but for strong winds it left much to be desired. I should have tied off to the dock and set up the sail there.
I put up the sail and went back to put on the rudder. I do it in this order because if I put on the rudder first it had a tendency to come loose while I am putting up the sail. The boat began to turn lengthwise to the wind and to my horror I saw the sail was in the center position and was not playing out. The main line was tangled. Started the engine and used it to turn the boat into the wind.
So started a battle between the elements, my sailing rig, and me. After about 20 minutes of struggle and two or three incidents where I sat there and wondered how Little Squirt could possibly still be upright instead of on its side in the water, I decided that I was far too inexperienced for this wind. I took down the sail and motored back to dock in shame.
It was a sunny but windy Sunday morning. My darling wife was planning a trip shopping and I wanted to know when so I could plan my day around her plans. Then all of a sudden the golden words were spoken. "I don't know when I want to go, but would you like to go out in your boat now." I had the carburetor cleaned out on my gas engine, but I haven't had a chance to test it. I did not have to be asked twice.
I was almost up to the opening to Gander Lake when the water started to get rougher as I was approaching the larger part of Gander Lake. The bow was starting to dig into the water more then I was comfortable with as it went over a wave the bow dug into the next wave. I decided not to take my 10-foot boat any further into the main part of the lake and turned back. That was fun.
I decided to take the next day off. The whole week had been clear with a wind that was good for sailing, and since the season is coming to a close I decided to put in a leave pass, and spend the day on the water.
I got up at 6:30 and followed my usual routine as if I was going to work. By around 8:00AM the boat just had to be hooked up. I had even taped a Canadian flag to the end of the spar. I complained it was hard to tell wind direction and my wife had give me this little flag figuring it would help.
10:30 Refueled and bailed. I'm really concerned about the waves. I'm
getting wet from water splashing up through the dagger board slot, and
over the front. The water is quite cold.
Changes in Latitudes: May 2004
I have to put The Little Squirt up for sale. I'm being posted to Ottawa
and can't afford to keep both it and the Pocket Cruiser I'm building.
Right now, I'm asking $450.00 for the boat, the trailer, the oars, and
the sailing rig. I've removed the solar panel, and the electrical fittings.
A non-commercial association of amateur boat-builder enthusiasts.
All our wooden boats are Stevenson designs.