Merry Christmas, and I hope everyone is having a great holiday this season with their families.

(click photo for link)

I was browsing Youtube the other day for some videos of Matt Layden's  micro-cruisers, and I ran into some beautiful drone footage of Paradox Johanna on the river Thames.  Since I usually see things at eye level, it was nice to view the vessel from a top down perspective. You can read more about this sailor and his beautiful sailboat at his blogspot.  
Another one I enjoyed watching was the capsize test done awhile back in Paradox Odyssey.  You can really see the stability of Matt Layden's sharpies as the captain attempts to pull the boat over while clinging tenaciously to the mast.  Next, I watched  Little Jim sailing in a force 5 breeze and Chris Curtis flying along in  Scout on Lake Havasu in Arizona.  I also rewatched  this video  of Sebastian Naslund  crossing the Atlantic in his Sven Yrvind  inspired micro-cruiser, Arrandir .  I'm still impressed by what long voyages can be undertaken in a well prepared tiny vessel.  With this in mind I recently discovered a tough little 4.2 meter aluminum sailboat on Facebook that looks like it's capable of undertaking some serious trips.  It's nearing completion  and I'm looking forward to watching videos of some sea trials under sail.  


This latest snowfall reminds me why we used to spend all winter in the Bahamas!
Poor Swamp Thing and Enigma
For those of you following Sven's blog you've probably noticed the steady progress he has been making on the new boat.  All along I've enjoyed reading about his wholesome design philosophy and how he intends to incorporate them into this tiny sail boat. I think that now that it is the holiday season, it might be a nice gesture to send him a little contribution to encourage him along.

Lately, I've been watching alot of YouTube videos on various outdoor related activities. Usually I start with a single subject in mind, but it doesn't take long before I'm clicking away on other things that look equally facinating. Well, the other day as I was wandering around that site I came across a video about a  retired Boeing engineer who has been designing and making micro-buildings which are reminiscent of Matt Layden's ingenious cruisers.  I think Paul Elkins has some neat ideas that you could even use for improving the living accomadations aboard micro-cruisers. You might want to check it out for yourselves

Sven Yrvind is now working on a brand new micro-cruiser to resume his non stop voyage to New Zealand.  EXLEX was not to his liking so he ended his first attempt in Porto Santo, Madeira.  Now work on his latest craft, EXLEX MINOR, is coming along quickly, and many of the performance issues of the earlier craft have been addressed.
First of all, it seems that the first boat came out quite a bit heavier then planned which impacted its overall behavior in the end.  Though never intended as a fast cruiser, it nevertheless proved to be painfully slow, especially for those of us who were watching the live tracking.  Early on I suspected this might happen as I watched him add heavy custom stainless steel deck hardware everywhere, a pair of robust dual rudders and two heafty leeboards.  I think all the ideas behind these innovations were great, but they might have proved a bit too much for such a tiny boat. Therefore, I wasn't too surprised when more ballast needed to be added to this especially narrow craft to make it sufficiently stable for ocean use. By the way, after the initial sea trials, the leeboards were deemed unsatifactory and removed, and a single dagger board was added towards the bow.  Then there was the interior living space which even to me looked a bit cramped, and thats coming from a person who has spent months living aboard a narrow 12' and a 15' sharpie.  I think the headroom was a bit too low to begin with, and the small square cabin tops did  little to add space.
However, with Exlex Minor all these issues seem to have been considered. The boat is proportionally a bit wider for stability, and it should be much lighter. The dual rudders have been replaced with a simpler single appendage,
and a lot of the heavy hardware is being replaced by ingenious rope tie downs saturated in epoxy.The taller cambered deck will provide more headroom and living space below, and the older ventilation design has been upgraded which should make living aboard for months more comfortable. With the help of some of his friends, Sven has recently added a bronze plate to the bottom. This will  serve as part of his overall ballast, and it will provide a hard surface apon which to dry out on the tide.  I'm not sure if he is planning to use a centerboard or another daggerboard this time, but it would be awesome if he would consider the addition of "chine runners" too.  I think they would be effective in this narrow boat, especially when traveling upwind in shallow water.  I have to admit that I am really excited about EXLEX MINOR, and I've got my fingers crossed that this will be the micro-cruiser to carry him all the way safely to the ends of the Earth. 

Sven has made it safely to Porto Santo, Madeira, but unfortunately it seems that he may end his trip there as his micro-cruiser has not performed as intended. Up to now he has not been able to maintain the desired 2 knot average because EXLEX is too heavy with all the required supplies for a non stop voyage to New Zealand.  In addition, this immense inventory has also made it nearly impossible to reach the front hatch from inside where he intended to handle the sails and the daggerboard. Unforeseen problems with the rudder have added to the problems with managing the boat. Maybe with some time in port he can unburden some of his load and correct these flaws so that he can continue. We will see.  Either way, I wish him well.

I've also been looking at another small boat adventurer, Matt Kent, who is attempting to cross the Atlantic from West to East in his 3'6" sail boat, Undaunted. Unfortunately, he too is stuck in port, awaiting clearance to leave from La Gomera in the Canary Islands. In his case the boat is ready to go, but the Port Authorities there want him to have both a $300,000 insurance policy and U.S. Coast Guard approval to undertake the trip. You can read more about it atThe Little Boat Project.

In 2020 there is going to be another edition of the transatlantic sailboat race for 5 meter boats called the Setka Atlantic Challenge SAC. This event takes place every 4 years and it has already been run 2 times before. What makes this competition so unique is that just about anyone can enter since the plywood boats designed by Janusz Maderski are affordable. well proven and primarily owner-built. In addition, there are rules in place to insure safe practices like the use of positive floatation as well as other incentives to keep things fair and economical like the use of hanked on dacron sails. The first leg of the race is from Sagres, Portugal to Santa Cruz de Tenerife, Canary Islands. The final leg then goes from there to an imaginary finish line between Martinque and St. Lucia in the Carribean. There is no entrance fee and no prize money. The reward is in finishing, and preferably doing it faster then the next sailor. Unfortunately much of the information about this race is written in Polish, which I don't undersand, but I still learned alot by looking at the pictures on some of the contestants facebook pages here and here. There are also some more wonderful photos from another competitor here.

Sven Yrvind is now on his epic voyage to New Zealand. He left Ireland 5 days ago, and he is making slow but steady progress Southwards in light winds. You can follow his epic non stop 15,000 mile trip through the magic of gps tracking on this page.

In addition, take the time to download his free book, With Four Square Meters of Sail and One Oar, which goes into his thoughts about low energy sailboats like EXLEX and his reasons for taking this 300 day adventure at the ripe old age of 79. Within those 95 pages he explains how smaller boats can be made much stronger than larger ones so that they can take on the rigors of the open sea. He also explains why the EU Recreational Craft Directive does not view smaller sail boats favorably for ocean use because it is biased towards promoting sales of larger European built watercraft.

In addition, there are quite a few interesting "pearls of wisdom" contained within which come from a life time of passionately building and cruising sail boats. One short one which I liked was "every lie complicates life." In this case he is refering to how racing sailboats are often designed and built to rules that can get circumvented to primarily win and not to produce a good overal design. Sven too suffered from this same malady at one point in his life when he kept modifying his 10 foot sail boat that was intended to break the existing around-the-world-record. He kept making the boat longer and larger by adding appendages to the ends that technically were not included in the calculation of the overall length. However,in the end, he got disgusted with the deceit, and he cut the boat up with a saw. Once he had hauled the cancerous pieces to the dump, he then had a clear conscience to begin work on his present boat which wasn't based on any artificial restrictions.

I think one of the best ways to understand Sven for what he and his boats represent is to read the following passage he typed:

"Of course, my small ocean-going boats will not give joy to princes and those who are spoiled, to those whose will is not stronger than their flesh. However, my small boats will give happiness to those who enjoy solving problems, to those who feel comfortable when they use their bodies, who enjoy the movements of their muscles, to those who keep trying, to those who don't eat until they are hungry and don't drink until they are thirsty, to those who don't rest until they are tired, to those who respect nature, to those who are prepared to fight for a long time and sacrifice things to achieve their goals, to those who have an ideology and know that life without struggle for higher values is meaningless."

I wish him fair winds all the way to New Zealand!

Well three more years have flown by since my last post, during which time I have mostly paddled my fast kayaks to stay in shape and to get on the water. However, I figured it was about time to update the site with more information about sailing and cruising in small boats. But first things first! The old dead links had to be removed, and a few more new ones were added like the one for Don Elliott's small books. Over the next few weeks I'll also try to post the answers to some of the frequently asked questions that we get in the mail to better explain our take on micro-cruising to the sailing community. Also I'll take a closer look at some of the current races like the Watertribe Events and the neat transatlantic race for small sail boats. Lastly there is the Famoussmallboats page which needs to be updated.

Since returning from my last trip to the Bahamas I haven't done much sailing; though, that doesn't mean I don't get on the water often. My other great passion in life is kakaying, and I try to go out regularly on the lake in my tippy Olympic class K-1. I also do some racing, and last year I even competed at the USCA Nationals and at the Masters World Marathon Championships which were held for the first time in the U.S.A. However, lately I've been dreaming about sailing away again to distance shores and to new cruising grounds in our micro-cruisers . Therefore, I figured it was about time to get ENIGMA back in shape for a possible future trip.

Eventhough I patched the large hole in the starboard side as soon as I got back from my last trip, I still never got around to repainting the hull. For me this task always seems to take excessively long because I'm too much of a perfectionist at heart. I find myself trying to prep and paint my boats to a car like finish; but in the end, it's kind of ridiculous since it's not too long before I bump into something hard that damages all my work. Nonetheless, the boat looks good at the beginning- long enough to take some nice scrap book snap shots.

So I started by patching the deeper gouges on the bottom with epoxy filler and then filled in any remaining pinholes on the topsides with 3M 5095 white glazing putty. I mixed up my own concoction of bottom paint which basically consisted of some oil based paint mixed with copper powder that I got from Epoxyproducts. This was sprayed on in the morning while it was still cool. Now with several coats of grey paint applied, I'll go ahead and roll on some Oyster colored enamel on the sides.