Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Quick Canoe

Since the Goat Island Skiff is laid up until next season, I nosed around the garage for a bit putting together a little somethingsomething that would get me out on the water.  The Goat is great, I love it, but something that could easily get onto the Merrimack River, which is close by, would be great.  Nothing like a little late fall paddle up a river with a float back down, right?  Right.

Enter:  3 sheets of Sureply vinyl floor underlayment from Lowes for 20 bucks a sheet.
Enter:  Miscellaneous wood left-over from the Goat.
Enter: A few quarts of Rustoleum (latex exterior house paint would've worked too) for 40 bucks.


Add a little bit of your time, really, not much, and next thing you know, you have a canoe.

See the thread at Storer's Forum here.

A new design, less than a year old, and already many have been built all over the world.  Some are experimenting with sailing rigs.  Others made skinnier prototype versions.  It comes with solid, fast, inexpensive boatbuilding technique.  Yes, you could probably get on the water for less than 200 bucks.  What in the name of Poseidon are you waiting for!?!?

Monday, October 25, 2010

Clint Chase Messabout and the End of a Spectacular Season

Well intrepid reader, it is time to close out this season.  It's getting cold, the days are getting shorter, and the fresh water is about to become hard.  I needed to have a definite end date to this sailing season, mostly because if I didn't, I'd keep sailing into the early reaches of winter, and I'm sure something would happen that I would regret.  Additionally, the Goat Island Skiff needs some attention, she deserves a de-salting and a rest while the temperatures are still above freezing.

Saturday was the last day, in Portland, in conjunction with Clint Chase Boatbuilder's annual boat-talk and small messabout at the East End.  I am relying on others who took pictures and the video.  All the pictures below can be seen or accessed through this thread at the Wooden Boat Forum.  There are pictures of other boats too, dories, a Pea Pod, and the like.  I took several people for rides, all of whom I think enjoyed it.  I am always happy to share my boat, sailing is awesome, sailing with others is even better!  Many thanks to Jonathan, Gareth, Milo, Dan, Shane, and Clint for cruising with me this afternoon.

You'll notice that I stand a lot sailing this boat.  There is a reason for it.  First, the boat is very spacious in the cockpit and it's large floor is ideal for standing.  Second, my ruptured discs in my back don't like it when I sit for long periods of time.  With this configuration, I get back relief and get to go sailing!  So awesome, and an unintended bonus of the design. The boat is very comfortable for sitting too, so it's kind of a shame.  But sitting on the floor with legs propped on the opposite side as well as the gunwale is all very comfortable.

To the pictures, and some video:

Goat Island Skiff with a Beach Pea

With GISAmateur fan, Jon!  Yes, I have a fan!

Tight Maneuvering around the dock makes for fun sailing!

Heading out with Dan Noyes of Beachcomber-Alpha fame.  I am humbled.

Clint Chase Boatbuilder holds court while I demonstrate the impressive stability of his Deblois Street Dory.

So it was quite the season!  Some 30+ days of sailing, 8 of those were spent overnight cruising, several day-cruises to islands in Casco Bay and  beyond, and lots of lake sailing in beautiful New Hampshire to boot!  My back injury hampered certain adventures that were supposed to happen, but I had other adventures instead.  It was a good season, and I am a happier man for it!

The intrepid reader will be advised to keep an eye on this blog, as I will soon be unveiling another Storer design, as well as addressing end-of-season mechanical issues with the Goat Island Skiff.  There is a laundry list of repairs, cosmetics, and maybe even wholesale additions to the boat.  The season is over, but the passion of boating is not!

Fair winds!

Monday, October 18, 2010

Weekend in Casco Bay

This weekend I shot up to Casco Bay with Al from Brooklyn who has built a stunning Goat Island Skiff in his shop.  He launches it into an East River tributary by unceremoniously dropping it off the sea wall into the water.  The original plan was hopefully for two boats, but Al wasn't able to get the trailer finished in time, so we took mine, which is just as well since Saturday was hot on the heels of a decent sized Nor'Easter we had up here in New England last week.  We got a late start on Saturday, and in confused seas we set out for Little Cheabeague-- not too far away, but with a beautiful sandy beach.  Far enough.

The ride out was exciting, we shipped a lot of water over the bow in the steep seas, and the last half of the journey was characterized by a fast reach to the island.  The ride was wet, and Al did his fare share of bailing.  One tack, all the way.  In all the excitement I left my trusty camera in the one of the watertight buckets that turned out to be... not so watertight.  My camera took a salt bath...

Thankfully, on the return journey we ran into Talisman, a 24' Ostkust.  You can see pictures and read about Talisman Here and Here.

The skipper of Talisman took some pics of us returning to South Portland that afternoon, and, video!

Goat Island Skiff Homeward Bound

Fort Gorges in the Background

Here is I am Zinea, Pterodactylus in all her youtubes glory!

Another exciting weekend of sailing!

Monday, October 11, 2010

VisionQuest/ManQuest2010 counterpart blog post.

My seafaring matey JAYRUM has posted a blog about our manly-man sailing adventure in Casco Bay last month.  I invite the intrepid reader to peruse his text and wonderful photographs about our trip at his blog.

Click here for awesome!

You will not be disappointed, I think!

This is what a hero looks like:

That would be me, for the confused reader.

Sunday, September 19, 2010

Other Storer boats

As many of you know, Mik Storer is the designer of my Goat Island Skiff.  As popular and as awesome as the Goat is, Mik has also designed other boats as well, all of them excellent.  Obviously my mind wanders to boat building as the days get shorter and water colder.  While I am Zinea, Pterodactylus and I will sail well into the cold season, I'm getting a hankering to trying some new boats, if only to demonstrate my new hard won building skills.

For instance, I have had a real hankering recently to get a canoe so I can do some paddling on the local ponds and rivers, freeing me from the 1hr. car ride I have to make everytime I want to go sailing.  It's my water fix, and I need it.  Since I'm not working now due to my two ruptured discs in my spine (I'm fortunately mobile, but I cannot sit for any appreciable amount of time-- this is why the Goat is so awesome, I can easily stand and sail), I'd love a canoe, but it needs to be a cheap canoe.

Voila, el answero:  The Quick Canoe.  Goes together quick and dirty and cheap for fun on the water.  Of course, one could also make it nice.  Csaba in Hungary just put one together, and put together this video for it.

I mean, how much more fun do you want, in 5 hours and a couple of hundred bucks later?  Already I've seen sailing versions, narrow versions, white-water paddling, a motor-QC conversion, amongst numerous other builds, some really spanky nice, some really cheap.  Get on the water!

Another boat that really has my Goat *joke* is Mik's sailing canoe yawl, Beth.  This is a beautiful boat.

  Please see Mik's Beth Flickr page and peruse around.

Mik sells this plan with the caveat that you are going to capsize, get wet, go fast, and then capsize again, but boy!  She pulls at my heartstrings she does.  She may not be the best boat for my back right now, but she's on my hit list.  No kidding.

In the meantime, my good friend and adventuring buddy is working on his own Storer design, the elegant and multipurpose Eureka canoe.  Stay tuned to see this boat in person, vicariously through me.

Another boat perhaps on the Storer drawing table is the fabled "Son of Goat," a smaller yet just as capable version of the Goat Island Skiff, except mainly tuned to one person and the occasion passenger.  A thread here, describes the concept. 

A nice stable of boats, if I may say so myself.

Thursday, September 9, 2010


After my solo Casco Bay trip it was time for my great friend Jason and I to do some nifty sailing together and answer some of Life's Big Questions (ketchup was not the answer).  We loaded up "I Am Zinea, Pterodactylus"  and set sail!

Day One:  South Portland (A) to Bangs (B).

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This was an evening sail.  We enjoyed the tail end of a blustery day and made good time behind Long Island into Chandler's Cove and out up to Bangs.  The northernmost campsite was occupied so we turned upwind and rapidly moved southward enjoying some amazing bioluminescence as we sailed along under a moonless sky.  The rudder stock glowed an unearthly pale blue while bright sparks outlined our wake.  A magical few moments, indeed!  Rowing into harbor each oar splash sent off a swirl of luminescent water.  The Milky Way and the Andromeda Galaxy lit our campsite as shooting stars streaked over the dome of sky.  I couldn't have asked for a better way to start the trip!  I only have one picture-- the examination of our bottle of rum:

Day Two:  Bangs Island (A) to Eagle Island (B) to Jewell Island (C). (might have to zoom out on this one)

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Up after dawn the next day, we patched the sail which suffered a rip when it snagged a piling in South Portland.  Nothing a little duct tape can't fix!  We sailed off of Bangs Island and reached out to Eagle Island, which is a Maine State Park (reached by boat only) and used to be the summer homestead of Admiral Peary, the first person to make it to the North Pole.  How could two adventuring buddies resist visiting this beautiful island once inhabited by such a fascinating adventurer!?

Duct tape sail patch
Lobster boats
Ready for adventure!
Admiral Peary's house on Eagle Island
The view North, on Eagle Island
Goat Island Skiff from Adm. Peary's library!

After our visit to Eagle Island, we sailed upwind to Jewell.  The wind was around 17kts from the South East, and with such a large fetch we were definitely riding some nice large rollers from the Atlantic.  We would high point on one, surf down the backside in the trough, lose sight of some rock we were trying to avoid until we were hoisted again up on high.  It was an exhilarating, fast, and wonderful sail.  Our destination was a small beach next to the Punchbowl on the Northeast side of Jewell, where we were going to camp for the night.  Unfortunately, no pictures between Eagle and Jewell since we were so busy sailing.

On arrival on the beach we found two large parties underway with local families.  One gentleman went above and beyond the call of duty, and when everyone was done with their fill he brought us over a pan of mussels, harvested in the Punchbowl just hours before.  OH MY WORD-- after a cold wet sail, this was an amazing gesture that we will not forget!

On the Beach on Jewell
The Punchbowl, apparently the largest tidepool in Maine
Nature's bounty-- mussels!

After our mussel feast, we wandered about Jewell.  This island used to have a military installation on it for defensive purposed during WWII.  This means observation towers, battlements, and batteries.  Kinda cool!

Looking north from the WWII tower
WWI tower from WWII tower, South
WWII Tower
South End of the Island
Evening.  Notice the disappearing sea wall with high tide...
That evening was windy and wet.  It spit rain, the wind picked up, and the boat got really bashed up on the beach as the tide came up.  The small protective wall went under water and the Atlantic came rolling right into our cove.  The decision was made to decamp for day three to Cocktail Cove, a beautiful and protected anchorage on the other side of the island, with camps that are located higher up from the water underneath pines.  A great spot.

Day Three:  Jewell Island to Cliff Island for sandwiches, and back to Jewell.

After moving camp, we sailed to Cliff Island next to Jewell and then back.  The rain and clouds moved out.  The rest of the day was spent snorkeling in the Punchbowl, swimming, enjoying the post-Labor Day serenity.

The Punchbowl

This cove will fill right up at high tide
Six Sailboats shared the cove for the night.

Oh yeah, there was a sunset.

Day Four:  Jewell Island (A) to Little Chebeague (B) to South Portland (C)

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The next morning saw passing showers, reports of isolated thunderstorms, and fog rolling in and out of the different islands.  This was go-home day.  We got up and after the rain decided to make a run for it.  The tide was up, the wind was whipping up whitecaps and pretty good rollers from the Southeast.  We decided to stay inside Casco Bay and go back to South Portland via Little Chebeague instead of the open-ocean passage.  In hindsight, it probably took the same amount of effort since the wind variations in Casco Bay actually left us becalmed for a bit.  A more consistent wind with albeit more effort on the Atlantic side would have yielded the same result:  tired yet happy crew.

The tide's up in the cove-- before the wind and waves...
Camp Three, fog in distance
Drying out on Little Chebeague

Maine Island Trail, Solo

I took off recently for a quick two day sail in Casco Bay along the Maine Island Trail, stopping for the night and quickly day visiting some other islands.  Casco Bay is nice because it has more sheltered areas to duck behind when the wind and waves really quick up, or one can vote to sail topsides, and have a spirited good time on the ocean side of the island groups.  Regardless, it's a beautiful, FUN, and multi-faceted place to sail.

This trip was characterized by hot, beautiful weather, and dissapointing light airs and calm seas.  As some of you may have gathered, I usually do not enjoy sailing my boat on sheltered flat water, but rather large wild windy lakes with enough fetch to kick up 2-3 foot steep and tightly packed seas in a few moments, or out in the Atlantic surfing some good ol' oceanic rollers.  I definitely like excitement, speed, and big water-- I want that salt spray on my face.  It's good for my complexion.  So the light winds were a disappointment, but it was still quite relaxing and enjoyable.

The first day:

South Portland (A) to Little Chebeague Island (B) to Bangs Island (C) for the night. (You may have to grab and scroll map to see)

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On Little Chebeague Island
On the way to Bangs Island
On the hard on Bangs for the night.
Day Two started with a row around Bangs (A), a quick row to Crow Island (B) between Bangs and Chebeague Island, and a brisk sail to Chebeague (C) for muffins.  Then, a sail to Jewell Island (D) to Little Cheabeague (E) back to South Portland (F).

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A boy and his boat and an Atlantic sunrise
Lobstermen doing their lobstering thing.
Big Chebeague from Bangs... muffins await me here!

After Big Chebeague I sailed to Jewell Island.  Jewell is a large state owned and MITA managed island with multiple campsites, anchorages, historical military installations, and natural splendor.  However, the big win for me on this island was running into this Michalak designed Cormorant named "Sea Fever" and built by Garth from New York.  Garth and his family cruise "Sea Fever" around New England and have even done an epic multi-month cruise from Florida to the Bahamas.  Hell Yeah!

"Sea Fever" in Cocktail Cove, Jewell Island
Two rad boats!

After Jewell I ghosted back to South Portland via Little Chebeague, and sadly, back to my car and home.

Casco Bay = Awesome.

Ship Shape and Bristol Fashion!