Sunday, August 23, 2009

Next stop, Random Island

With the success of the bay trip to Embree some 4 hours drive away, I set my sights on the next trip. Random Island. Random Island sits in a bay near my brothers community of Shoal Hr. in the Clarenville area. It has high bluffs and cliffs but boasts some beautiful scenery and a few great sandy beaches for beach camping. I need to dig out the charts and scan them for this post. I also need to make up my list of essentials to take along. My buddy Travor will be coming along and if I remember correctly will be our first weekend boat trip since our childhood. I'll keep an eye on the weather through out the week to see if it's favorable for the trip.
But right now I have to keep an eye on a little hurricane "BILL" bearing down on me as I type. It is supposed to hit after midnight. To be honest, I think it's hyped up a bit in the media, It will make landfall here as a tropical storm and dump less than 100mm of rain on us. I've seen these conditions this past spring. Other than some washouts on the shoulder of the road and some displaced patio furniture, nothing too major. Not that I haven't taken precautions.
We'll see.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

The islands

With very little planning I decided to take an extra long weekend and take PIKAKE out over the highway to Embree. A small community where the in laws live. My Corolla had no trouble towing the 800lbs of boat and trailer and I never broke the 3000 rpm mark the whole trip. I just let the speed fall off on the large hills. Back to about 80 kph or so. I launched her on Friday morning from a beach not far from the house. Not a true slipway, but close enough to do the job of one. The winds were gusting to 50 kph and I was running with the wind. To be honest I had too much sail area up and it made me and my wife uncomfortable with an unproven boat. (I'm still getting a feel for how PIKAKE performs) after a while of the crazy sailing downwind I dropped sail and motored to her uncles cabin. There's a narrow "tickle" or run between 2 islands and the wind speed is even higher there, and so is the sea. It took about an hour of motoring but quite enjoyable. with no danger of capsizing with sails down she broke through the chop with ease. As John Welsford said, "she's a dry boat" I agree.
The afternoon winds were no different, but I was determined to sail in it. I reefed the main to it's second set of points (smallest area) and headed out with my father in law and uncle. Both are used to these conditions and it was sunny at any rate. We sailed around the nearby islands and I kept an eye on how the boat performed in these winds. I could have gotten away with more sail area out and have more speed, but this was good enough. Even with the wind the reefed sails kept us upright all the time. We had the sails down and tried some fishing but this time of year the cod are full of caplin and are not biting. With sails down and us fishing from the sides we were all impressed with how little PIKAKE tipped when we were up and about. We returned to the cabin for supper but after the wind was just right and myself and the father in law went out for an evening run. Idea conditions. A light breeze and no sea. It had calmed down a lot from earlier. This is why I built the Pathfinder...The next morning there was not a breath of wind. I was up early, anxious to start the day Everyone else was asleep so I wandered around snapping some photos. Me and Nadine motored back to Embree and picked up a load of relatives and shipped them down to the cabin.

As we were heading to Embree Nadine snapped this shot of us cracking the water of the bay. Not a soul around, not a sound to be heard. By late afternoon a small breeze had developed and I managed to get my nephews out for a sail. They thought it was pretty cool to sail into the wind and not just away from it. Totally enjoyable.We sailed about the shoals and small islands for an hour or so before the wind died again, but it was still so satisfying to do this with my nephews. Later that evening we gathered at the cabin for a large BBQ. Steak, pork chops, sausages, salads, oh my, the food. Once all the food was eaten everything was packed and we shipped out. With very little wind in the evening it made for a quiet trip back to Embree.

I'll add some more shots when I download them.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Road trip to the Exploits isles

The north east coast of Newfoundland has some incredible scenery and fantastic sailing areas. The many sheltered coves and harbors make it ideal small cruiser territory. Which is where PIKAKE is being trailered to this weekend. This is why I built the Pathfinder, to explore.I will be launching from a slip in Embree to the south west of the islands and head to Sewards island first. The weather looks to be favorable and the winds light and from the north. Just as well since I 'll have kids and possibly in-laws aboard so no crazy seat of your pants racing for me. Perhaps when everyone is dumped ashore in the afternoon, i'll take my nephews out in the small bay and give this Pathfinder a good workout. My wifes uncle has a powerboat so perhaps I'll get them to do some on the water shots of the Pathfinder in action.

I continue to add to the boat as I get moments here and there. This evening I'll be at my brother in-laws house and he has a large garage. He don't know it yet but I'm going to hang the boat in there and install my rub strips on the keel. This will make for easier beaching on the rocky shores and give me some piece of mind. I finished cutting the strips to width last evening, and all the holes were predrilled before the boat was removed from the house. If you recall the moving cradle from last month, the same runners used in the sled are the ones im using now. The holes I drilled are a match to the keel plugs I made before turning the boat over in the shop.
I'll give a report when I return.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Sea trial #2

Modifications made, all tightened up, I planned an overnighter, but some prior commitments, a poor forecast of 25-30 knot winds and heavy rains called for some adjustments. Not wanting to waste any time on the water I asked my wife if she wanted to go out and she was all up for it. I got out on the water early but no high winds as of yet. With a strange calm we motored out of the harbour.It didn't take long for the clouds to form and look sinister.
But there was a scattered break in the cloud and the winds picked up a little. As I stated a long time ago, this part of Newfoundland has few places to beach you boat.
Winds a bit more steady now and we managed to get to Brigus and turn around to head back.
There must have been a large storm on outside the bay by the size of the ocean swell.

The mood of the winds and the rain showers passing by was enough to send us back to shore but All in all a fine trip out. No mishaps and the furling system and other add-ons worked flawlessly.

Thursday, August 6, 2009

Some final thoughts on the building of the Pathfinder named "Pikake"

With the build behind me and life returning to normal, I finally can reflect on what I have done. It has taken 11 months and 500 hours in that time span to completly build this boat. I started building in September of 2008 and averaged about 10 hours a week in my shop, but after the Christmas holidays I nearly doubled that to get in the water this summer.
The completed boat has cost me $10,000 approximately. About $1500 over my estimate. The cost which I have kept pretty much to myself is higher than some might think, but you must consider it's all new. (example; 5hp Honda $2100, Sails $1400, Trailer $1500. That's $5000 before I include any hull or rigging.) You don't build a boat of this size to save money.
I have average building skills and none of this build was technically challenging. What it was though, was a lot of hard work and patience. People tell me I must be very proud of what I had done, but to be honest I don't really feel that. I feel relieved that it's over, and very, very satisfied. It's not until I got up to my neck in the build that I realized that it don't take a master boat builder nor a cabinetmaker to build a boat like this. People looking in from the outside at this project see the final product and how it seems to be somehow a major feat. When I get the "You must feel proud" I can't help but think of the fishermen of not too long ago would spend the winter building bigger boats to replace their previous smaller ones, and launch in the spring with a nod an "Hope she floats" murmured. Half a dozen would be launched in nearly every community across this island with no more thought than if they had fixed the wharf. It's just a lost skill that used to be common place like making nets or mending them.
It's been a goal since my teenage years to build my own boat and now that its been accomplished it's gratifying. But I can see how a person could get down because it is taking so long to finish their boat. Moral I think is the biggest killer of boat builds. You just get tired of it. So you better be sure what your getting yourself into before you commit large sums of cash to the project.
I thank my wife Nadine for agreeing to let me take on such a large project and for putting up with the huge mess in the basement work shop that migrated out so far as the laundry room. But she no longer will need to endure me pouring over plans and telling her in minute detail about what this boat can do and what that boat costs to build. I bet she's as relieved as me that it's done.
I have a sailboat again, but this one I built...

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

More upgrading

I finally got my furling system installed today. It is much better then hauling up the sail on the forward stay in the jib hanks. Not only that, when not under sail it doesn't catch the wind and get in the way. I ran some fairleads back to the cleat so it would run smoothly and not hook up in any other rigging. I'll us it in this configuration for this season and see how it performs.
I have all the rigging checked and tightened, I so changed my centerboard haul-up so it would run smoother and not bottom out before it was all the way up. It's a single block tied to the main centerboard line, that a leader line runs through and through a double block then back to a cleat. It's a bit of weight to haul on it, but not too hard to cause any adult problems. it's only used occasionally anyhow. I left extra rope on nearly all the rigging until my sea trials are complete, then I 'll trim it all off. In case you may have noticed all the odd ends hanging all over the place.
A nice afternoon casually playing with the boat in my yard. I think I have all the minor things done so next is another day in the water trying things out. I'll only take one other person this time so I don't have all that weight/ballast aboard. I would really like to know how she performs running light and fast.

Finally... The tiller

While working on my rigging I managed to get a couple of shots of my tiller.
Made by Maxwell Patten Sr. only weeks before I launched for trials. Made from mahogany and ash sandwiched and varnished. It's a fantastic piece of work and I'm proud to have this specimen on my little boat. I attached A tiller tamer for my excursions to the front of the boat.
The tiller is mostly to plan and in generally the same style. A wooden plug is in the end to keep the tiller in place.
the tiller sits in a good position and don't interfere with my knees when bringing it across.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009


With a little time on my hands, I set to making small adjustments to the rig where I see improvement. The first was the bowsprit hold down "Widow maker". The lower end interfered with the wench haul-up and roller, So I drilled a 3/8" hole through the stem and glued/bolted a 3/8" bow eye in a new spot just above the roller. With a quick shortening of the cable I reinstalled the unit and i'm pleased with the result. Strength not an issue. This will stay taught. From the first sea trial and the stay that broke loose, here's why it did so. Note the picture below and the uneven spacing of the jaws that grip the cable. It basically slipped out the side. Lesson learned.
It should look like this below if you can see my point. I removed the stay and brought it into the shop for reattachment. It won't break loose this time. I will do a once over on all the rigging tomorrow and make sure all the swaggless fittings are tight and secure. If there is little wind I'll set up the boat on the trailer and make my adjustments to the gaff. I already took it off the boat and did some prep work on the back end near the mast. The dry run tomorrow will test it.
Tomorrow... yeah A day off. Regatta Day in the city, the oldest longest running Regatta in North America.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


Only a day after the first sea trial I was off on the second leg of my vacation. (the first week was spent outfitting the boat from daylight til dusk) Out "around the bay" doing some fishing, whale watching and water skiing. (The later was mostly me driving the boat) My wife got some shots of the bald eagles who now number near as many as the sea gulls in the area. She really needs a zoom lens to get clearer shots.

Now it's clean up time in the shop and man... there's a lot to clean up. That will take me a day or so, but then it's back to making adjustments to the boat.
1/ Fix port side stay. (my fault for letting it go like it was, lesson learned)
2/ Install additional bow eye for the bowsprit. (this one is above the wench bumper)
3/ Install newly arrived furling gear.
4/ Modify gaff for better haul up and to better slide on the mast.
5/ Try to add the rub strips on the keel if I can.

These are in order of importance. I will be on the water this coming weekend. I'll also need to make adjustments to this blog now that the build is complete. Not to mention getting some more shots of the boat completed.

Time.... aaah nice! No time to log anymore, that is a pretty cool feeling :)