Saturday, July 25, 2009

Launch day and sea trials.. episode #1

A lot of work goes into launch day. last minute details and safety equipment go load aboard. Secure the trailer, check and re check. The new motor ready for its first ride. Secured. I just need some gas!
Out of the driveway and to the gas station for gas and a check.
I was warned about Johns boats, that they tend to draw a crowd... I was delayed a bit by well wishers and folk catching a peak of this unusual looking boat. My favorite an now standard response to "Where did you get that!" I respond... "My basement" "NO WAY" ... "way"
With all rigging set up and checked we backed her in the water for first time... plug in boat check.
The trailer was hardly in the water when the boat practically leapt into the salty green. Anxious I see are we.
A quick check of the center board pin arrangement for leaks and then all the gear and tools were loaded aboard. This after all was a work day not a "pleasure day" Only expendable crew were allowed on board :) I kid of course.
I had some difficulty with the motor but it was found to be in the storage that oil got into the cylinder top end. A quick removal of the plug, a few pulls and replace again and were in business.
This caption should read ... "Someone got a spare plug wrench?"
I look at my shoes... I know I'm going to get them wet... I just know it.
I have yet to take delivery of my furler system so I had to jury rig my jib. Not the best set up mind you. I noticed a couple of other things which I need to fix to make dockside set up faster as well.
My wife.... Who has endured 11 months of me toiling in the basement. I owe her so much, It will take a lifetime to repay. But you know what.... It was worth it!
You know how much water Pikake draws?... I could practically step aboard from where I stood.
In the water. No leaks yet. OK, now lets load her up. Myself, My father in law Austin who's helped with some of my tasks and as excited as me to see her launched. My long time friend since practically birth Travor Miller and his son Sebastian. A nice load. They all kept a eye out for potential problems. The motor was kept down and idling just in case of trouble once sails were up.
Centerboard down, rudder down, lets start with something safe, motor to top of harbor and raise mainsail, then go from there.
Small waves, and chop, but quickly as on cue, the wind picked up to a gusty 18 knot with 10-15 knot sustained winds. These boats were just out past us, their leaned out a bit. It was an offshore breeze so though the wind was high the shop was small and it did die down again after.
As I said, it died down after. With some small hick-ups to the gaff the mainsail got raised and tested then the jib was raised. Perhaps it was the load of men aboard or the design but she stayed upright pretty much the whole test.
The gaff pitch needs some work I noted, I'll fix that. I really like the fact that while sitting in the cockpit you seem very secure, I wondered what it would be like. Now I know. Still a bit surreal that we sailed today.
Notice something missing in below picture? ... no?
I'll let you in on it.... Left side of the picture... no? OK compare left side to right side of picture....
OK I'll tell you...
While cruising back across the harbor at a good clip I might add we tacked onto a broad reach. We were on that for a minute or so when a snap and everyone looked skyward! Mast still there, but the port side shroud had snapped! Without a pause I told Trav to take the tiller, I rushed forward to take down the mainsail and as I moved forward I told Austin to take down the jib. within second all sails were down. OK check for damage... other that the busted swaggless fitting at top everything was fine! The mast stayed up with only a forward stay and a side stay, under full sail... I've never thought it possible until today. the mast should have toppled into the ocean like a tree but no. I can only attribute it to the strength of the mast and the stainless steel mast tabernacle bolted firmly to the deck. No damage to speak of. Nobody panicked. It after all was a trial for such things. Everyone performed well during the unexpected problem. Great work guys! We sat there for a moment discussing it, then I said, we have lots of gas, let just motor out the bay a bit for a cruise. And we did. very nice in a sea I might add.
Don't they all looked stressed out aftward a near demasting? Everyone agreed, no big deal. Short but adventurous.
Back at dock side she slipped on the trailer with same ease... I did get my shoes wet, I knew it.

Thanks guys for making the day fun.

Maxwell Pattens Tiller was magnificent on the boat and I'm ashamed to say I have no picture yet. Sorry. But I will, it's worth a story in its self.

p.s. There's no more building. after 11 months its done. But there's adjustments to be made, and half a summer left of sailing. I have already planned for some projects for the winter in my now seemingly massive work shop. After the pathfinder build nothing is too big now. I now have to catch up on some fishing.


  1. "Oh the rolling of the sea's..."

    Enough couldn't be said about the work you put into it. Thanks for doing the Blog as it was the only way I could see without being there, the work that you put into it, and the fine craftmenship that was done. 11 months, fast time I might add. Now time for some R&R on the sea...



  2. Well done Perry and welcome to the club of successfully launched Pathfinders. Great adventures lie ahead. Best wishes from the crew of Idle Fiddler. We all drank a toast to you last night (your launch day).

  3. Perry

    Well done, a very nice boat. I hope you have some great times in her.


    Richard Lozell

  4. What a thrilling first outing! Pikake looks great!

    Anne and Paul - Idle FIddler

  5. Thanks for the kind words people. It's been an interesting journey in building this. Now it's all adventure. and by looking at the other blogs like the idle Fiddler and Spartina and many others, it's inspired me to finish quickly and to get out onto the water. Ryan, thanks for suggesting the blog. Its been a time tracker for me on this project and something I can look at later wondering how the hell I did it. It hasn't sunk in yet.


  6. Congratulations on your launching- a beautiful boat! Fair winds and following seas.

    Kevin Beddoe
    Carlsbad California
    El Pedito (Navigator soon to be launched)

  7. Perry -- she looks superb, congratulations! It must have been magical to feel the boat move on the water for the first time. Truly inspirational. Thanks for posting all these pictures.


  8. AnonymousJuly 30, 2009

    Loved reading your build log. Only one complaint!

    Where is the pic of the Tiller? We never got to see it!

  9. Perry:
    Just stumbled on your website. I built a Pathfinder, finished June '07, and have enjoyed the boat very much. I sailed her in the last 2 Small Reach Regattas at the Wooden Boat waterfront.
    Great looking boat, by the way, and I know you will enjoy it.
    I had it out in 30+ knots yesterday, sailed on jib and mizzen. Doesn't handle well in that configuration, but it was fun anyway.
    Congratulations on the build, and enjoyed your blog.
    Tom Williamson