go to 72 year old Sven Yrvind for sailing his latest 4.8 meter
microcruiser, YRVIND.COM, all the way from Ireland to Madeira.
Steady headwinds at the start made for some slower than
expected progress during the first half of the voyage, but eventually
landfall was made in Porto Santo after 30 days at sea and an
additional 10 hours of hard sculling. Sven comments
about his adventure in his
where he notes that his latest craft proved quite seaworthy and
comfortable in the troubled waters of the Bay of Biscay. However, he
now believes that he could improve this new design to even make
it better. His trip will resume in October with his next
port of call being sunny Barbados.
One of our readers sent us this nice entry for our Famoussmallboat
page. In 1968 John Smith sailed a stock Leisure 17
from Weymouth England to Cuba where he was jailed for several weeks
right at the height of the cold war. After returning home he went on to
start a windvane company called Windpilot, which
is still in existence today.
Recently, I made another oar for ENIGMA.
To be honest there was nothing wrong with the old one outside of
the fact that it was a little short for me; but I just wanted to see if
I could improve it a bit. This new fir yuloh (middle) has alot more
curve than the original (right). My idea was to try to
capture some of the self-feathering properties found in LITTLE
CRUISER's oar (left). When
the latest yuloh was tested on the lake in ENIGMA
it turned out that it required less wrist motion to get it to
feather as expected; however, my top speed measured on the GPS was
somewhat reduced. Of course this may have to do with using a standard
oar lock instead of the "ball and socket" type commonly used for this
oar, but I suspect the straighter oar has less drag at the end of the
It looks like Sven is headed to the States in his latest boat. He
writes on his blog
"But, Cape Horn have to wait for the next boat. Now I will sail to
consult Matt about my new project....I hope to leave my home port
boat behind my car, beginning of next week. The planned route is thrugh
Germany Belgium France England Wales Ireland. The destination is Kinsale
Ireland. There the boat will be launched."
all these years I still find it interesting that people still ask me
if "Paradox" can sail upwind without a centerboard or a
Well of course the answer is "yes", but she is no America's Cup
boat. She is an all-weather microcruiser that will carry you and your
stuff with a reasonable turn of speed in all manner of conditions.
However, if you want to go really fast, then you want a racing boat. If
you only need to day sail, then get a daysailer. If you dream of going
long distances comfortably, then get a cruising boat. I'm sure some
designs might be able to fill two of these goals adequately like a
daysailer/racer, but ultimately every boat is some sort of compromise.
When I entered ENIGMA in the Watertribe Challenges I had no delusions
that I was going to beat any of the racing boats out there with my
pointing ability and my top speed of only 4.3 knots. However, I
did know that I would most likely be able to finish in almost any kind
of weather; and that is what has happened in the last 3 events that I
have entered. Since I am primarily a cruiser, my goal was to learn
skills that would help me travel longer distances more efficiently.
Ultimately, these events taught me how to get my fully loaded cruising
boat easily off the beach by myself. It forced me to become completely
competent sculling my craft, and it compelled me to sail long distances
non-stop with little sleep. Now I'm ready to put some of these skills
to practice for my next trip to make it more enjoyable and safe.
Congratulations go to Pete for winning "The
Most Innovative Home-made Boat" by WATERCRAFT MAGAZINE at the
Beale Park Boat Show with his PARADOX. You can see more pictures
of JOHANNA at Pete's
blog. If you are as big a fan as I am about John Welsford's
SCAMP, you can get plans and learn more about it at the SCA Forum.
happy to report the recent launchings of two new microcruisers this
month. After several years of research and hard work, Sven Yrvind has
finally completed his incredible sailboat that is intended for rounding
Cape Horn against the prevailing winds and currents. This flat bottomed
cruiser is quite unique in that it uses chine runners along with
several other innovative features to make this epic voyage possible. If
you haven't already been visiting his website
already, I'd encourage you check it out. Also, don't forget to
explore his pages titled "my life/text" and "video/photo" to learn
about his prior trips and adventurous experiences in small ocean going
boats. Next, Alexander from New Jersey has just returned
from an 8 day trip aboard his newly completed Paradox, Odyssey. He
has high praises for his little cruiser which he reports cost him
around $2500 to build. You can view some Youtube videos
of his beautifully finished boat along with his tests of the
boats righting abilities.
In the past few months there have been several well
of piracy towards yachtsman, especially in the Arabian sea. This has
prompted quite alot of discussion in the microcruising forum as to
whether it is appropriate to carry firearms aboard our tiny boats. In
response I wrote about our experiences while cruising in "Little
Cruiser" when we were in a troubled area of Andros. You can read my
On a brighter note you might want to check out the Robert Manry Project
website which has a bunch of information on the 13'
micro-cruiser, Tinkerbelle, and the intrepid sailor that crossed
the Atlantic back in her in 1965. I especially found Manry's
journal interesting and worth reading from start to finish.
I really enjoyed looking at Pete's video of his Paradox
which is almost complete. You can read more about his build at his blog. I also
found a Youtube
video quite by accident of me sculling "Enigma" to the ramp
after the 2010 NC Challenge.
reflecting upon my Watertribe Challenge experiences over the last two
years I decided to write an article about what I've learned
sculling a micro-cruiser. The article can be found here.
is in the air! The trees are blooming, the days are
finally warmer, and the cold gloom is behind us. I have
to admit that I did get out and paddle on our local lake
regularly this winter, but
it wasn't always fun venturing out when there was ice. The
thought of capsizing in those frigid waters worried me plenty;
therefore, I always wore a full wetsuit and made sure that I
had my recue and safety gear aboard. Now it's time to enjoy
the nicer weather and to attend to some much needed painting projects
to get our sailboats ready for another season. Enigma's spars do
require some varnishing since they got beat up during the
last Watertribe Challenges, and the little sharpie could use some paint
since it hasn't been refinished since Matt sailed the boat years
By the way, many of you may ask why I didn't compete in
the Everglades Challenge this year, and it was for several reasons. To
begin, Mindy had a trip planned to visit her family at the same
time so I decided to stay home and take care of our pets. Then, of
course I wanted a break after completing 3 challenges in a row. Most
importantly, I needed to save some money since it costs
about $800 for me to do the EC when you include the entrance
fee, gear purchases, spot rental and travel expenses. Luckily, I got to
enjoy the event vicariously by watching Krunch and Woodcutter
(Andrew Linn and Michael Monies) sail their
11'11" SCAMP. At the moment they are probably a day away from
the finish line. This year's weather has been quite tough, and alot of
the participants have dropped out; however, this tough crew has kept
their little boat moving all along.
got out for another rowing session in Enigma yesterday.
Fortunately, Mindy has
been joining me to enjoy the weather as I scull around the
lake for a few hours.
(click to enlarge)
haven't done much boating for the last few months since I needed a bit
of a break after training and participating in two Watertribe
Challenges. Instead I have been enjoying a lot of nice day
hikes with my wife Mindy. However, now it's back to doing
some more paddling on the lake in preparation for the NC
which is just around the corner. It begins September 24,
and the 100 mile course is really worth doing because it's
both scenic and challenging. The race starts from the beach next to
the ferry terminal on Cedar Island, and from there you
paddle/sail out into the Pamlico Sound. When you arrive at the
Neuse River, you head up it until you locate the mouth of the Club
Foot Creek for a distance of around 32 miles. If you time it right you
can ride the tide through the creek and into the Harlowe Canal to reach
CP1 in historic Beaufort without too much trouble. However, if you
show up on a rising tide you are going to have to fight all the way
there. After checking in, you work your way out of
Taylor Creek and then set course towards Harkers Island, making
sure to avoid all the shoals. More shallow water has to be navigated
all the way up the Core Sound, and you definitely have to
pay special attention to not get caught up in any pound nets along
the way. If all goes well, you will land at the start/finish line
before the deadline and you will be rewarded on Sunday by a
wonderful seafood banquet, which will restore your
energy and your spirits for the road trip back home.
enjoy visiting Sven Yrvind's website regularly because he
is working on innovative and interesting things for his
latest boat at
his "Present Project"
page. It seems that Sven must spend a good deal of time thinking
about his new ideas as they are both sturdy
and elegant when done. Of course this has inspired me
(and I'm sure
many others) to work on their own creations as it relates to
Below are a few that I've dabbled with over the past year or
Here are my 2 homemade masthead lights used aboard Enigma for the Watertribe
Challenges. One uses 14 LEDs- 12 point sideways while 2 aim
up. The second
light uses just 9 LEDs which are focused on a mirror for all
I made a bunch of tie downs for Enigma
using 12k carbon
tow that was formed over a wooden mold. They are incredibly strong
since the tow was wrapped in a 90 and 45 degree fashion.
Here is a custom anchor tray to protect the interior from abrasion and
from my Manson Supreme anchor. After the prototype
a better one was made with an 1/8" board core and a
This project involved using a section of padded PVC pipe with a slot
cut into it to
serve as a boom vang for downwind work aboard Enigma. I used it in
the 2010 EC
on the first day and it functioned nicely to keep the boom from
lifting up excessively
in the gusty conditions. The 2 markings on it show the location for
both port and
starboard line positions.
The above is my interpretation for a leecloth used to sleep
Enigma while underway.
Matt came up with this idea for the 2006
UFC, but he ended up sacrificing the original leecloth to his wheel
so I wasn't quite sure what it looked like. The first one I made out of
uphosterly material which worked okay for the NC challenge. The second
I made from some 5 ounce dacron that I had on hand. It's much
nicer, but I think a
heavier fabric like 9 ounce dacron, sunbrella or trampolene material
would be best.
Here are some little neoprene boots for the halyard and reef lines.
These were created to prevent water from squirting in through the
tubes while beating to windward. I also made some for the steering lines
that pierce the rear bulkhead aboard Enigma
to provide a little more
water tightness in the event of flooding. You can also see a waterproof
I made out of packcloth for the dodger.
This is the cooking system I used for the 2010 EC. The support rod
is just an oak dowel with custom molded ends to hang on to the cockpit
coamings. I made my own tray to hold the pot, but you can purchase
a purpose built setup for your Jet Boil®. I later replaced the nylon
kevlar ones which are stronger and more flameproof.
Here are the various 12 volt power supplies I have use aboard
in my search for the perfect battery setup. The first is
favorite in that it is the most compact with a 5 ah gel cell battery.
The second setup uses a bigger 7.5 ah battery. The last one employs 2
Prius car battery cells for about 6.5 ah of capacity. All of them have
controllers to regulate charging via 10-20 watts of solar power.
4-26-10 The never ending project
Since returning from the Everglades Challenge I've been working some
more on Swamp Thing
to finally get the little boat ready to sail. I finished up fairing
everything with West System® 407 Low Density
filler, and a coat of
primer and paint was applied. The oars and the mast got the same
while the boom and yard were varnished. At this point
I climbed up on a ladder and took a picture of both Swamp Thing
side by side for an interesting comparison shot. Of course the older
boat looks wider proportionally I think because of its external
(Click to Enlarge photos)
I'm back from participating in this year's Everglades Challenge,
and I must say that I had a fantastic time. A special
thanks goes to my family and to my friends, Noel Davis and Jose
Rodriguez, for without their help and support this adventure would
have never happened. I've always wanted to do the EC, but
there seemed to be recurring obstacles over the years that
prevented me from taking part in this race.
However, I was not going to be denied in 2010, and everything
came together perfectly.
(Noel wondering how it's all going to fit. New rollers makes launching
get to the EC I first had
to drive 640 miles from North Carolina to Jose's house in Florida.
Then he drove me and my little boat to Fort Desoto for the Friday
morning inspection. Of course once I reached the starting line it
was nearly impossible to stay focused on packing the boat with a beach
full of small craft, interesting skippers and
inquisitive spectators. Therefore, I found myself practically
throwing gear into ENIGMA at sun set when Chief called out
to clear the beach for the night. However, somehow I managed to
get everything packed, and I was ready to go for the early 7 am
(Matt's new 9 footer "Elusion" Note
the long standup board type paddles.)
(Test sailing with Karen the day
before the start)
the 12 foot boat was easy as I picked the steepest part of the
beach and I had 3 new inflatable rollers to help things move along. My
intitial plans were to sail near Matt, but he paddled off so fast in
the beginning that I really didn't see which way he went. Nonetheless,
I eventually found myself parallel to him as the day wore on.
His new 9 foot boat, ELUSION, was moving at about 4
knots close to the shoreline, while I was keeping pace
with him a mile offshore. By the late afternoon the wind piped up
abit, and that's when a few watertribers found themselves in trouble.
I stopped for about half an hour to help Yellowthing when he lost
his rudder, during which time Matt ducked into Venice inlet to avoid
the bad weather. I decided to continue sailing on the
outside to take advantage of the stronger winds, but
then I discovered too late that Gasparillo Pass was impassable for
my boat on the Ebb tide. Rather than risk getting knocked down in
the 5 foot breakers, I chose to drift out in the
Gulf while I waited for the tide to change and for the wind and
the waves to moderate. After a few hours, the conditions did
improve and I headed in to arrive at the first checkpoint by early
(CP 1 Grand Tours)
Since I was already behind schedule, I quickly signed
in at Grand Tours, and then I sculled back out, exiting through
the same pass that had given me trouble the night before. The
winds were still favorable and out of the North, which helped me make
progress all day long and into the night. Eventually I started to
really tired so of course I began catnapping as I hadn't had any
proper sleep since the start of the race. During one of my catnaps
I awoke to find a large shoal marker directly in my path.
Unfortunately, I hit the metal I beam which was part of it's base
chine runner. Enigma stopped immediately, the seabirds sleeping
on the top were knocked off, and I was jolted awake. Fortunately,
of the night passed uneventfully, and I made it as far as Cape
by morning. The winds then died, and I took the opportunity to
row up to a nearby spoil island to beach ENIGMA and to effect some
repairs. After completing the fiberglass work, I called home for
my required check in, and I found out that Matt was only 11 miles away.
Therefore, I relaunched my boat quickly, and I started towards the
checkpoint. Within a few hours a fair breeze carried me all
the way to Indian Key pass, and I rode a rising tide easily to
Chokoloskee. When I arrived at the second check point I was told
that I had missed Matt by a mere hour and a half. Even
his diminuative 9 foot boat, Matt proved to be too fast for me to
catch. Therefore, I just continued at my own pace, heading out
Chokoloskee pass in the dark of night.
there was no wind again, I decided
to simply drift out with the Ebb tide and to try to get a little
sleep while I
waited for the wind to fill in. Two hours later I awoke to a
light breeze, but I found myself absolutely chilled to the bone
eventhough I was
wearing insulated underwear and a heavy polypro jacket. In fact I had
been dressed this way the whole time because the weather had been so
bitterly cold from the start. The rest of the evening was spent
sailing downwind in light airs all the way to Cape Sable. Then the wind
died altogether. In the morning I sculled for a few hours until the
wind switched to Southeast, forcing me to spend all day beating
into the third checkpoint. I anchored out for the night, and then I had
a warm welcome in the morning by Noel Davis who was manning the
Flamingo checkpoint. Afterwards I set
into a stiff headwind for the final leg to Key Largo. However,
taking the tricky and shallow water route East that I had originally
planned, I chose
to sail South in more navigable waters all the way to Long Key.
another full day of sailing so I decided to stop again for
a good night's rest
before completing the last 30 odd miles to the finish. All in all,
it was a lot of fun, and hopefully, I'll have an opportunity to do it
Well, it's official. I'm going to take part in this year's 300
mile long Everglades
After watching the race from the sidelines, it's my
chance to be a participant; eventhough, I know I have no chance of
winning in tiny 12' ENIGMA.
I'm betting that "Bumpy and Lumpy" in their 20' Tornado Catamaran
will win or be near the top since they have been the victors the
last two years. I also expect Ardie Olsen
will do very well in the class 2 single kayak category since he placed
overall at the 2009 NC Challenge, missing first place by only 6
minutes. For me I'm hoping for some favorable winds along the way
so that I can
make the checkpoints and just finish on time. Our friend
Layden will also be participating in his new 9 foot sailboat in the
much longer Ultimate
Florida Challenge, which is
made up of the the EC plus another 900 miles! It is an around Florida
race and includes a 40 mile portage. He's one of the favorites to win
for sure, but he's certainly going to face stiff competition with all
the Kruger Canoes entered this time.
This morning I was trolling around the internet for some interesting
boat related things to read, and I bumped back into Bill's wonderful blog
which he posts to very regularly. He has lots of nice
commentaries and pictures on a variety of watercraft, so go check
it out if you haven't already been there. At least once a week I
also go to Sven's site to see how
progress is coming along with his Yrvind 1/2. I love looking at
all the new ideas he's experimenting with on this innovative
(click photos for links- Stern,
Skippy, Big C)
been awhile since I looked around the internet for any
exciting trips in really small boats, and I was kind of
caught by surprise by the recent E-W crossing of the Atlantic by
Frenchman Frank Andreotta, in his 172 cm/5'7" mini transat boat, STERN.
You can read more
about his adventure in a great article titled, Survival
of the fittest...and smallest"
by Dieter Loibner. The author also goes on to recount a nice
history of other past tiny ocean crossing boats, and he even looks into
some of the sailboats that were signed up to participate in the
first "Around In Ten" race. This is definitely a must read! By
the way, if you want to see some video of how STERN sails,
check out Youtube
and there are some more pictures of this tiny craft here. It's amazing
how much more information is out there on microcruisers now and their
captains are embracing the web. Even Tom McNally has a myspace page and there is a
nice history of his record
breaking voyages by author William A Butler.
Happy New Year Everyone!
We're sure glad to see 2009 finally over as we lost
some loved ones along the way. Mindy's father, Alan Hart, died in
October at the age of 70. I was so blessed to have him as my
father-in-law for 20 years. He was a great human being, and he
loved life and encouraged us to enjoy it to the fullest. I doubt
we could ever have made so many successful trips to the Bahamas if he
hadn't been taking care of things back home while we were away for
months at a time. He will be sorely missed and not a day goes by
that we don't think about him.
Ex-owner of SWAMP THING, David
Gatan, also didn't make it to 2010, but at least we know he spent
many happy decades living in the Florida Keys aboard his various
small boats like
the 23' Glander Cay. He prefered living on the hook even if
it meant dodging the hurricanes and
enduring the hordes of moquitos during the summer months. Never
one to use an outboard motor, David enjoyed the
simplicity and quiet afforded by sailing and sculling. He also
accomplished guitarist, and I imagine his last days were
spent serenading the nearby Pelicans with some of the finest
Flamenco music by Juan
(Above David sculling L.C. after one of our trips to the Bahamas and
Alan during a walk with Mindy near our home.)
Carolina Challenge turned out to be a lot of fun this past
September, and ENIGMA took first
in her class and fifth overall. I
decided to go to Cedar Island a few days before the start of
the race, which turned out to be a good idea since it gave me time to
do some relaxing sailing and to organize all my gear aboard such a
On the day of the race, light headwinds made for a slow start and
I (now known by my Watertribe name of Freebyrd)
lost plenty of time to the faster kayaks and the racing
sailboats. Therefore, I tried to relax as much as I could during those
first few hours to save energy, and I even managed to take
a few catnaps along the way. However, once I reached the Neuse
river, a line of thunderstorms and their accompaning squalls
kept me on my toes as I drove the little boat at maximum speed
downwind for the next 18 miles. When I reached the Harlowe
Canal at dusk, the tide was favorable, and I had a
comfortable scull all the way through, albeit in the pitch dark. I
into Beaufort after midnight, and I briefly considered going on;
the weather forecast was not promising, and so I stayed
put along with pretty much all the other Watertribers. At first
light I left the protection of the anchorage,
and then I spent several discouraging hours beating to
shallow water to slip pass the south side of Harkers Island and
out into the Core
Sound. The wind remained blustery all that day, and the short seas
made for a challenging sail. There were frequent down pours, but
luckily I remained dry inside the cozy cabin; and with the helm
tied off, the
little boat charged ahead merrily under reduced canvas. By nightfall
the weather started to turn really ugly, and I narrowly avoided
colliding with some pound net posts as I approached Cedar Island
in reduced visibility.
In an attempt to reach the finish line that evening, I pressed
onward in the deteriorating conditions until I was less than a
mile from the end, but then a particularly severe storm cell
forced me to anchor to let the worst of it pass. After a half
hour of waiting, I ventured out into the horizontally driven
and guided ENIGMA by hand along the shoreline until I reached the
finish where I was warmly welcomed by Dawn Steward, the race
organizer. The following morning four more people came in paddling
their kayaks, and then all the
participants had an incredible seafood banquet at the Driftwood Restaurant.
I'll definitely be returning next year. Hopefully, some of you will
join me to do this adventure race.
(click to enlarge)
bunch has happened since our last posting, both good and bad. Phil
Bolger, one of the most forward thinking boat designers of our time,
sadly passed away. His thoughts greatly influenced the design of our
sharpies and his steady contribution of ideas and commentaries in such
magazines as "Messing About in Boats" will be sorely missed.
the brighter side of things, we've been working steadily on our various
projects to insure that ENIGMA is ready for the Watertribes' Carolina
Challenge in September and other future trips. The ballast bags are all
done and we're now in the process of adding in more tie points for
them. Also a new smaller solar/battery electrical system has been
tested along with a more energy efficient mast head light. A set of
custom storage bags have been made to better fit the limited interior
space, and the sleeping cushion is ready for it's packcloth cover. A 7
lb Manson Supreme anchor has also been added to deal with more varied
(Lead in bags, sleeping cushion
fitted and new anchor. )
we didn't get to go to Cedar Key Florida this year for the Small boat
gathering as Mindy injured her foot and we decided to take the
time to recover at home instead. However, I am hoping to enter
ENIGMA in the 100 mile Watertribe N.C. Challenge September 25-27, 2009.
The race will begin and end from our old stomping grounds on Cedar
Island, NC. The same rules basically apply for this event as for
other watertribe challenges, and you can get more information if you
are intersted here .
Today we spent several
hours reorganizing the whole website to make it more friendly to Mobile
devices and netbooks since these have become so popular. This basically
boiled down to simplifying the main page, increasing the text size and
adding some additional pages. I also removed some broken links
and added some entries to the LINKS page.
By the way, congratulations to all those who participated in this
Challenge! Matt Layden, the designer of LITTLE CRUISER , finished first
in his class in a brand new home-build 12' kayak.
And they're off! The 2009 Everglades Challenge
began early this morning, and you can see the competitors launching on Youtube.
The designer and builder of our boats, Matt Layden is using
a 12 foot kayak this year, and we're sure he will do well since he has
paddled this event in the past.
As for interesting cruising news, we've been keeping an eye on Sven
Yrvind's progress on his new 5 meter
This design has many innovative ideas which will help
the boat fight it's way around Cape Horn against the prevailing winds
and currents in the future. Some of these ideas include chine
runners, a canting mast, moveable lead ballast and a completely
watertight ventilator. His website has many pictures and
descriptions of this present project as well as other pages on his past
In addition, we've reading about the adventures
of MISS CINDY, a 16 foot microcat that was towed from Vancouver to
Mexico in October 2008, and has been sailing South ever since. At the
moment Tony is in Nicaragua; and from there he intends to sail on to
Panama, where he will transit over to the Carribean. You can read about
his incredible trip here.
Here are some pictures of the ballast bag in place, the portable power
pack stowed and the foldable solar panel charging.
is a picture of the 12 lb ballast bag described in our earlier post.
Each naugahyde fabric bag will be tied securely down to eyelets
and blocks to keep them from shifting when the boat is heeled over or
even knocked down. We're still thinking that a maximum of 16 bags
should be sufficient, which amounts to 192 lbs. However, we
will add more ballast if needed once we get the little boat back
on our city lake for more testing.
These two photographs show our current power system for Enigma and
The idea here was to have an inexpensive and portable power pack
could transfer from one boat to the next. Since our
electrical needs are modest, all that was required was a 7.5
amp/hr 12 volt AGM/SLA acid battery charged by one or two 5 watt
foldable solar panels putting out 300 ma/hr each. We believe we should
have sufficient electricity to power our LED masthead
light; charge our cell phone; power our GPS; and energize our
Ipods. Incidentally, the battery was purchased locally from
for $33 and the ICP
solar panel cost $35 each on Ebay. We found
the charge controller in our junk box along with two unused marine
12 volt recepticals. The controller was an old Bobier M-2 that
we originally had aboard Little
Cruiser in the 1990's, but
we replaced it awhile ago with a SSC3
kit one. You can find something similar to the Bobier one at Defender for
$27 or even do
without the controller, using a blocking diode instead and making
sure to disconnect the panel when the battery voltage reaches
a fully charged state of 14.1-14.3 volts. Finally, the
enclosure we employed was an old 1.7 liter Rubbermaid container, but a
nice Pelican box would be superior if you happen to have one
Happy New Year!
Well it's been very cold here as of late so no boat related
activities have been going on. However, we do hope to begin
getting some of our gear together for our next trip down to Cedar Key
in May. Last time things were very tight aboard Enigma for 2
people so we intend to make some minor changes to the boat to give us a
little more space. One of these adjustments is to use lead as our
primary ballast. Last time we used sand bags, and the bags took
up a lot of precious interior space. This time we intend to use
the 1 pound ingots that we bought off of Ebay. These are
going to be placed in much smaller bags for a total weight of 12 pounds
each. We will most likely need between 14 -16 bags in all, and each one
will be secured to the bottom of the boat.
intend to make one large custom foam pad to sleep on instead of
using two individual thermarest pads. We discovered last time that
there wasn't enough beam to fit both of them at once without
overlapping them in the middle, which created an uncomfortable ridge.
The final change will be
the addition of cloth side pockets to store lightweight gear and
navigational items like our gps and our vhf radio. In 2008 we
our gear primarily in dry bags, and we had trouble accessing our stuff
quickly since we located our equipment in the bow and the stern
free up the cabin. Well, that's about it for now. Stay warm!
OMG, more fairing.
the last few days we've done plenty of sanding along with more
fairing with microballons. Swamp Thing is beginning to look a lot
Yep, you guessed it!
Today we did more fairing. Now it's fill/sand/fill/sand until
everything looks good. By the way, we'd like to point out
Thomas' great blog
site about Macro/microcruising.
All of the glass work.
We've completed all of the glass work on Swamp Thing.
The other day we added 6 oz glass to the top of the chine
runners, and then today we covered the skeg in a layer of 10 oz
glass which was finished with a layer of 6 oz glass to smooth
things out. Now it's back to fairing and then priming the whole boat.
Time to sand
we began sanding the hull and fairing all the low spots with
microballons and epoxy. One thing worth noting are the "improved"
chine runners. Per the designers suggestions that are now larger than
before. In fact they are about 1/4" wider and 1/8" thicker which makes
them about 25% wider than the original ones. Hopefully, this will
improve the boats windward performance.
Well, we finally finished all the major glass work on Swamp Thing
while the weather was warm enough to get a couple of coats of epoxy and
filler on in one day. Now we have the fun task on sanding everything
fair and adding a little more fairing compound to prepare her for
priming and painting.
Progress on Swamp Thing
is once more moving along well, and we are getting closer to finishing
the glass work. All that remains is the bottom now,
which we hope to tackle tomorrow. Earlier, we put 4 oz fiberglass set
in West System Epoxy on the deck and then 6 oz fiberglass on the sides.
The bottom with receive 2 layers of 10 oz fiberglass.
could be expected, several other projects came up in the last two
months so not a great deal was done on Swamp Thing. However, we
are now finally approaching the home stretch and glassing the hull
will soon begin. When I look back on this restoration, it's hard
to understand why it has taken so long; but after lookin at some
of our old photos on the project, I guess it's understandable. It's
seems that much of the boat was badly damaged and many components both
large and small had to be repaired or replaced. The biggest thing was
the bottom along with all the supporting floor timbers. Then there was
the rotted deck which was clearly seperating from the sides. All my
clamps were required to hold it back together while the glued set
up. Most of the wooden fittings were damaged, and they needed to be
duplicated. One of the blades on the custom oars was missing and was
repaired, while the mast required minor work along with complete
fiberglassing to make it weather tight. All of this turned out to
be more time consuming then expected. I think half of our time was
spent just stripping off years of paint, removing
stubborn fasteners and tearing out rotted wood. I'm not sure we
would ever do it again, but now that we are so close to getting
the little boat ship shape, it's nice to know that this unique craft
will be sailing again.
Getting things just right!
Happy Birthday Mindy!
We've been ordering 50-60 lbs of lead at a time on Ebay to use as
ballast. Oddly enough, the shipping is very reasonable despite the
heavy weight because the metal is sent in a flat rate box. I wonder how
long it will take for the Post Office to set a weight limit or for our
mailman to just refuse delivery.
Back to Work!
It's time to get back to work on Swamp
This project has been dragging on way too long, so we rolled the little
boat into the boat shed so that we could finish her up. Next
on the "to do list" is to install the chine runners and the skeg.
Then, it will be just a matter of covering the whole exterior of
the sharpie in fiberglass cloth set in West System epoxy. When the
weather cools down (it's now 92 F), we'll paint the boat in
Interlux Brightside polyurethane and go for a sail!
For those of you who are interested in more information
about Enigma, below are some of her particulars.
Draft 6"/1'-10" (rudder down)
Sail area 58 sq ft
Payload 500 lbs
Hull weight 160 lbs including dodger, hatches and rudder
(weighted blade adds 7.75 lbs)
Here is our updated
to our most current food inventory list. By the way, the
page is a work in progress, so we'll be adding things to it as time
goes on. Since we got back from Cedar Key with the new boat,
we've had a few requests for inside photos of ENIGMA. Therefore,
we added two below. Also, here is the newly completed portable
electrical system using the original solar panel from the boat.
(Click for larger picture)
We've rewritten the page on Matt's boats here to reflect
his newer designs and to further elaborate on their place in his line
Mindy and I had a great time at this years WCTSS
Cedar Key gathering! We arrived three days before the
event to meet the other early arrivals, and then we stayed a
few more days afterwards to do a little cruising aboard our
new boat ENIGMA, another Matt Layden design that made it's debut in the
2006 Ultimate Florida Challege. Along with a few others, we were
little worried that the high fuel costs might deter many people
from trailering their boats to the event, but our fears were
as there was a record number of watercraft at this years get together.
The weather turned out perfectly, and everyone had a super time.
Even our talk about micro-cruising seemed to be well received at
the Saturday night cookout. The only problem I had was that my legs got
sunburned while I was busy looking at all the wonderful boats and
talking to all the fine folks. Next year I'm definitely going to
wear long pants. More of
our pictures from the event can be seen here. You can
also view many more photos from the 2008 gathering at the WCTSS photo page.
(Click to enlarge)
We had such a great time last year at the WCTSS boat gathering
Cedar Key last year that we will definitely be returning on May 3-4.
For those of you who have never been before, this is an opportunity to
meet other like-minded people and to enjoy the beautiful gulf.
Motel accomadations are probably pretty scarce at this late
of date, but why not just sleep aboard your boat like we are doing.
In addition, we will be giving a little talk after the Saturday
night cookout about our cruises to the Bahamas. We think that
will be a great opportunity to answer questions for those of you
who are contemplating a trip to the islands or just want to know more
about cruising aboard small trailerable boats. See you there!
Over the years we've gotten quite a few inquiries regarding the micro
folding dinghy. One of the frequently repeated questions was where to
find #4 Duck cloth for the hinges. Originally, we sourced our
fabric locally from a tent/awning manufacturer, but they no longer
carry this heavy weight material. Luckily, a sailmaking friend of
ours pointed us to an online supplier at FabricsandVinyl.
The only problem is that you will need to get 3 yards of the
material to make a continuous hinge, which is much more than is
necessary for one dinghy. In fact, for $30 (including shipping) you
will have enough cloth to make 9 boats! Therefore, it may be
more economical for a few people to buy the material together, and then
to divide it so that they can make a few boats apiece.
Happy New Year! Well it was a busy Fall for us, and we did a bunch
of work on Swamp Thing
We finally got around to adding the bottom to the
little boat and we completed most of the interior work. However, it
became too cold to do any more glassing on the exterior so we'll have
to wait until Spring to finally finish her up.
As for Little Cruiser, we refinished the floor boards, made some new
cushions and started work on our latest
sail. Of course this time we
built a proper loft floor in
the greenhouse to facilitate the sail's
Mindy and I just got back from a trip to New York where we
attended her cousin's wedding. The affair was beautiful and
everyone looked fantastic in their elegant clothes. A
few candid photos of us and her family can be seen here.
Afterwards, we got to take a short "cruise" on the Staten Island
Ferry into Manhattan. We visited South Street Seaport, which I hadn't
been to in years, and we hopped aboard the subway to go shopping
uptown. We ended our excursion of the "Big Apple" with a wonderful
authentic chinese dinner on Canal Street.
Today we updated the Famous Small
Boat page to include more information about Wayne
Dickinson's God's Tear and Webb Chiles' Chidiock Tichborne I &
importantly, there are two new websites about these adventurers.
Webb Chiles even posted some
of his books and other publications in pdf file form for free at his site.
To learn more about Wayne Dickinson and to see lots of nice
pictures of his sailboat go here.
Lastly, we thought it might be a nice idea to actually trace the path
of each of our voyages aboard Little
Cruiser on maps produced using Google Earth. These are presented
in our Trips Page.
Just click on "Route" to see
We hope everyone is having a nice Labor Day Weekend Holiday (in the U.S
that is). We
got started on some more boat related projects the other day. To
begin, pillow cases were made because the old ones were well....
passed it. Obviously we couldn't just go out and buy some nice
fresh ones from Walmart since the pillows along with all
the cushions aboard Little
Cruiser are custom
sized to fit our tiny boat. However, the new ones ended up
costing nothing but our time because we had the fabric on
hand. Mindy seemed especially pleased with the color, a dark
deep purple. I think when our fabric samples arrive in the next
few days from Outdoor Wilderness
Fabrics , she'll probably match the pillow cases to some purple
fleece material from which we'll make a new mini blanket.
At the same time, I began work on making a backup
solar controller. Presently we use a Cirkits SCC3 20
Amp controller. This has worked well for the last few years;
nonetheless, we thought that should it ever fail in the field, it
would be simpler to replace it with an identical unit rather than
experiment with something new. The SCC3 was
ordered online, and we received it after only a few days wait.
As might be expected from a quality kit, everything was there and
I was able to begin soldering right away. One thing I noticed was
that the design had changed slightly with the addition of two
resistors and the removal of one diode; however, the printed circuit
board was the same size, which meant that it would fit in the small
wooden housing under the floorboards. Assembly took a few hours,
and the controller worked flawlessly when tested the next day with a 10
watt solar panel and an old SLA battery. I have to say that the
thing I like best about this unit is that you can control the float
voltage by adjusting a small potentiometer. This is especially
important with SLA (GEL) batteries since they don't like to be
constantly overcharged. Ours is set to 13.8 volts by the way.
In addition, there is a single bi-colored LED that tells you
everything that is going on. RED means that the solar panel is
producting electricty and the battery is charging. When it starts
flashing RED-GREEN, you are getting close to the float voltage. Solid
GREEN means fully charged. No light means no juice is coming from
the solar panel. Finally, there is a switch to equalize the
cells, which basically means that it will over-ride your float voltage
by +1.5 volts until it is turned off. This is done periodically to
insure that all the cells are charged equally.
Testing, new controller, and old one aboard Little Cruiser.
Not much has happened since our enjoyable cruise in May to Cedar Key.
has remained untouched sadly and Mindy and I have been busy with work
and various other projects. However, now that summer is
almost over, we are beginning to think about what to do for a nice
winter cruise. Therefore, the other day we pulled the protective
tarp off Little Cruiser
check out her condition and to give her a nice wash down.
Afterwards, we slid the hatch open and climbed aboard to
remove some forgotten items from our previous trip. Of
course we weren't terribly surprised to discover a half dozen cans
of food still remaining deep in the bilge. This boat
seems to just swallow stuff up! Then there
were the charts for the west coast of Florida, which we probably
wouldn't be needing this winter. In the overhead nets
we noticed a few articles of clothing and some other odd and ends.
Unfortunately a quick look at our LED battery meter showed us
that our gel cell would not last another trip since it was no longer
holding a charge despite being fed a steady supply of current from a
remote solar panel. Thus, we made a mental note to buy a new one
soon, and we removed the old battery. By the the next
day, the hull had fully dried, and we examined the bottom of
the boat along with the the rudder blade and the centerboard for
damage. We noted a few scrapes caused by hitting those
oyster bars in Cedar Key, and we went ahead and filled the scars
a thick putty made from epoxy mixed with milled glass and microballons.
Overall, though, the little boat didn't look too bad. We'll
probably give the floorboards a fresh coat of varnish in the Fall, and
we'll definitely need to make a new sail
and a nice Sunbrella sail cover to protect our handy work from the
working on the next "Trip List"
Well, we're back from the annual West Coast Trailer Sailing Squadron
(WCTSS) meet at Cedar Key, and all I can say is WOW! I've never
seen so many amazing small boats in one place, EVER! There were
beautiful sailing canoes, both high-tech and traditional; small
production and home-built trimarans; sleek and swift proas; nine
sharpies including our own; beamy wood cat boats; a fleet of Sea
Pearls; several plywood cruising catamarans; an EC 22 and a Core Sound
17; a Montegomery 17 towing a Bolger Cartopper; two Drascombe Coasters
and a Drascombe Scaffie; a large traditional fishing dory; a ton of
production and owner built-kayaks; a Kruger solo canoe; lots of
dinghies and row boats; a Skiff America 20 and an incredible assortment
of day sailers like the beautiful Melonseed. I'm sure I've left out
many boats, but we simply were overwhelmed by the mob of sea craft that
covered the beach entirely at Atsena Otie Key. We just couldn't take it
all in! Moreover, we got to meet lots of the sailors we've been
corresponding with over the years, and we had the privilege to speak
with quite a few well-known people like Sven Yrvind, Meade Gougeon,
Graham Byrnes and Hugh Horton. To top things off there was the
incredible barbecue cookout Saturday night and the entertaining guest
speakers (Sven, Graham and Noel Davis/Furledsails.com) afterwards.
If you want to see some really great pictures posted by the
founder of the WCTSS, Ron Hoddinott, you can check them out here.
There are also some really nice shots of the event at Sealpearlboats
. Lastly, I asked Matt Layden in person for an official
answer on whether he intends on making the 12' Enigma and Enigma 460
plans available, and the answer is "yes." However, it may be a
while since he is quite busy with
several other projects at the moment.
Well, it's official! Mindy and I will be taking LITTLE CRUISER
to Cedar Key for the West Coast Trailer
annual get together on May 5th and 6th. This year's
event is one not to be missed as both Matt Layden and Sven
Yrvind/Lundin plan to attend. We will be arriving a few days
early to do some relaxing cruising, and then we'll get to meet all
the other sailors on the weekend . Since LITTLE CRUISER will not
be carring her usual 3 months worth of stores, we'll have
plenty of room to bring along our new micro-folding bike. See
you all there!
Mindy riding, and the bike stored in the stern.
Now that the weather has gotten warmer in North Carolina, I've been
heading out to our local lake
at least once a week to get some fresh air and to be on the water.
hour it takes me to paddle the 4 miles in my kayak, I usually
listen to the weekly Furledsails.com podcast
on my Ipod Shuffle. I've found this little mp3 player to be
for my needs since it is very small and relatively inexpensive.
Interestingly, both the ear
phone and the player fit into 35mm film canisters which are quite
waterproof. I usually pack the two in my life vest
pocket, where they stay dry until I'm ready to begin listening.
Matt Layden does it again-! He is
first in his group (class 4 solo) at
the 2007 Everglades Challenge.
This year he used an 8' pram which
really put the competition to shame! So how does he do it year after
year? Well, he simply sails his boat to it's maximum potential
long hour and day after long day. Eventhough he doesn't get
much sleep during
this 300 mile race, he still is always relaxed and comfortable in
easily driven micro-cruiser. Little energy is wasted keeping his
diminuative craft moving, and he knows how to cheat the current
to work every windshift to it's utmost advantage. Bravo Matt!
The SWAMP THING refit
has been updated finally! There is still a lot to do, but the project
is slowly moving closer to completion. As soon as the weather
gets warmer, the bottom will be glued and nailed on. Then the
hull will be sheathed in fiberglass, and we can start thinking about
of our friends who is a full time liveaboard recently told us: " You
know there are two types of sailing people- sailors and nailers."
Recently, I think we've become the later. It seems
that during the past few years we've done a lot more nailing than
sailing. Refinishing Little
Cruiser took quite a lot of our spare time to
complete, and more recently, we've devoted a good deal of effort to
getting Swamp Thing
rebuilt. However, eventually, we plan to get back on the
water to do some real cruising again. In the meantime,
though, we've at least managed to get out on our local lake to
do a little kayaking this winter. Incidentally, during our
4-5 mile paddles I usually bring along my Ipod so that I can
to the latest FurledSails podcast. Last week I enjoyed an interview
with "Chief," Steve Isaac, creator of
the Everglades Challenge; and
more recently, the yacht designer, Ted
gave an excellent account of his life's passions. If
you haven't checked out the FurledSails.com
website, you really should.
They've interviewed all kinds of interesting sailing folks
like the writers, Lin and Larry Pardey,
fame. As for our own website, we've removed some dead links from
page, and w'eve added Aroundinten,
which is a Yahoo forum dedicated to dicussing the design of 10
foot boats for a possible around the world sail boat race.
Within the next few days, we'll also be updating our Swamp Thing
with some new pictures, and we hope to include a review or two shortly