Bird Island

Even before I started building my first boat my girls were fascinated about the stories I told about visiting the various islands of Moses Lake, Washington, where I grew up.  Some of my fondest childhood memories revolve around paddling, rowing, or sailing to Goat Herd Island or Marsh Island, and my girls were intrigued by the idea of following in my footsteps and visiting an island of their own. Continue reading “Bird Island”

Utah Lake State Park

For the second weekend in a row I was able to get my boats out on the lake.  Like last week all three of my littlest girls came along.  This time my son Zachary was able to come with us as well.  It was a lot of people for two small boats, but we made it work, and everyone had a good time.  In fact, I am not sure that taking my family boating in my small boats is not a perfect prescription for learning to get along with one another.  The kids were good to take turns on the mouse boat, and were all helpful with Stella.  We spent just over 4 hours out on the water, and everyone got along great. Continue reading “Utah Lake State Park”

Puddle Duck Racer Refit — Leeboard

I am not a naval architect, but designing boats is sort of fun.  My pdracer is inexpensive enough that I am more than happy to experiment, and at some point I am hoping that experimentation includes some racing.  To me, that’s the beauty of the Puddle Duck Racer.  They are easy and inexpensive to build, but there is nothing stopping you from treating them like a real sailboat. Continue reading “Puddle Duck Racer Refit — Leeboard”

First Boat Outing 2015

The stars finally aligned, and I got my boats out on the water for the first time this year. The day got off to an inauspicious start. Eliza had a bad cough, Abby wasn’t feeling well, and Stella, well Stella is always a little difficult.

However, Eliza and Abby have been dying to try the mouse boat, and I really wanted to see how the pdracer rowed.  So I figured that we could probably sneak down to the lake for just a bit.  I wouldn’t take the time to rig the pdracer for sailing. I would just throw the boats in the water and paddle around a bit. Continue reading “First Boat Outing 2015”

Puddle Duck Racer Refit — Gunter Rig

Nephi’s Courage sports a nifty gunter rig, and I really like it.  The rig allows me to sport a ridiculous amount of sail area on spars made from 12 foot 2×6 boards.  Yes, 12 foot spars don’t fit in the boat, but they do fit well on top of my minivan.

Of all of the design decisions I made when building Nephi’s Courage the decision to use a gunter rig was by far the most nerve racking.  I’d never sailed a gunter-rigged boat before.  Heck, I had never even seen a gunter-rigged boat before.  I had no idea how the rig would work in real life.  Fortunately, I live in an age and time where I do not have to rely on just my own knowledge and the knowledge of the boat owners in my area.  Once I started thinking about a standard sloop rig with spars that were less than 12 feet the gunter rig started to look like the right solution.  However, it wasn’t until I started watching videos of Mirror Dinghies that I started to believe that a gunter rig might actually work in real life.  Now that I have sailed one for a season I am sold. Continue reading “Puddle Duck Racer Refit — Gunter Rig”

Michalak Oars

I had always planned on a set of oars for Nephi’s Courage.  I drew oar locks into the plans, and I purchased an inexpensive set of nylon oarlocks from Duckworks when I made my big order from them, and I even installed the oar locks when I built the boat.  It turned out to be a good thing too.  When I first launched the boat I didn’t have the clam cleats yet for the jib (I forgot them in my order to Duckworks), and so I used the oar locks as a fairlead for the jib as they are mounted in approximately the right place. Continue reading “Michalak Oars”

Puddle Duck Refit — Rudder

I built my puddle duck racer with a Michalak-style kick up rudder, and I still think that was a pretty good choice.  However, the place where I typically launch is shallow for a good distance, and I did not take the time to install a lanyard that would allow me to pull the rudder blade up manually.  So my rudder dragged the bottom a lot.  I didn’t care last summer, because sailing is more fun than fixing rudders.  I hoped that I could make the rudder last the season, and with a bit of emergency repair it just made it.  I definitely needed to fix the rudder before I could take the boat sailing again though. Continue reading “Puddle Duck Refit — Rudder”

Nephi’s Courage

Launch of Nephi's Courage

In October of 2013 I started building an 8 foot sail boat.  Or, at least that was when I made the first cut in the wood that I purchased.  I had decided to build a boat after spending some time looking at the prices of new sail boats.  I now think that if I had been more patient in looking at the used sail boat market that I probably could have found an old sunfish (or something similar) that just needed some love, but now I am glad that I wasn’t more patient, because building a boat was awesome. Continue reading “Nephi’s Courage”