Ahoy, boaters! Welcome to yet another boating blog, this one focused mainly on small-craft cruising and boatbuilding on the canals and lakes of Ontario, Canada.
Many folks- like us- love the water, but have land-based commitments (you know, jobs and things like that) that prevent us from sailing off to the sunny south. That's OK- there are plenty of interesting places to cruise right here in Canada, many of which can be explored in a weekend (or perhaps a long weekend... or a week).
Our current flagship is Sunset Chaser, a five-metre runabout designed by Phil Bolger and built by Matthew B. Marsh. In the shop is the prototype of the Marsh Design Starwind 860 power trimaran, which we are building to extend our cruising grounds.
Photos, ramblings and the occasional bit of useful information from our voyages aboard the runabout Sunset Chaser and other small boats.
Fog may be a routine matter for the Maritimers who read this; for us Great Lakes folk, though, it's a bit of a rarity during the boating season. Most boaters around here simply avoid it, but there are often a handful who will forge on through no matter what.
Towing little things with a big boat is pretty straightforward. There are plenty of nuances and details, of course; one sure way to spark a lengthy debate among cruising sailors is to ask about the best way to tow a dinghy. But, ultimately, towing something smaller than your own boat boils down to "tie it up, fiddle with the tow line, then drive normally".
Towing big things with a little boat is somewhat trickier, not to mention riskier. It is, nevertheless, important to be able to do it. You never know when you might have to press the dinghy into service to get a crippled mothership into harbour, or when you might need to help someone out in an emergency.
Well, Mother Nature, it took you long enough.
Spring is finally here, hopefully for good. Lake Ontario has thawed out, the birds are back, the fish are starting to spawn, and it's time to get back out on the water.
We usually make the first trip of the season a short shake-down cruise, rarely more than an hour or two, just to make sure everything's running properly. At this point the engine's been sitting unused for seven months, the remaining fuel's a bit older than that, and if something does decide to break we'd rather not be out of rowing distance from the dock.
One of the few downsides to being Canadian is that our boats must hibernate for at least six months a year.
Canoes are simply amazing little boats. They have no systems, no motors, no sails, none of the usual trappings of maritime life. The boat is really nothing more than a hull, a thwart or two, and a place to sit.
And yet this simple boat is a veritable magic carpet, taking you to an unfathomable number of secret, hidden places where no other vessel can travel.
Dispatches from the shop: Progress reports on our boat building projects, plus some useful information for those of you who are building, restoring or repairing your own boats.
One thing I never really got around to learning in high school or in university was how to do a decent job with an arc welder. It's about time to change that- Sunset Chaser's trailer needs work, our weird new Starwind 860 will need a custom trailer, and there's always plenty of stuff that needs fixing.
It's one thing to read about how to do it- friendly old Google offers up 1.58 million pages on the subject. And, having been through engineering school, I have a pretty good idea how a weld works, what a good one should look like, and how the stresses are transferred across it.
Friends who know, though, always respond with "Well, you can read all you want, but the only real way to learn it is to lay down dozens of really bad welds until you start to get the hang of it."
So, for anyone else who's thinking of learning how to weld and is a bit intimidated by the idea, here's my "Day 1" report- complete with terrifying photos of beginner screw-ups.
Improperly mounted hardware is a constant source of frustration for boat owners. Sometimes it's water leaking in through a bolt hole, sometimes it's rust bleeding onto the deck, sometimes it's a cleat that tears off its mount under load.
Here's how to mount hardware on cored fibreglass decks correctly, so you won't have to deal with it again- and a few examples of why things go wrong otherwise.
It's about time for another update on the Starwind 860 power trimaran project.
Katy calls it a "boat embryo" now. Several key assemblies- the outrigger struts and the strut-to-crossbeam junction blocks- are complete. Almost all of the custom machining is done. There's a steering wheel (a proper ship's wheel, of course- could it possibly be otherwise?) and the helm shaft assembly is finished except for a bit of thread cutting.
Our current situation, with regards to the construction of the Starwind 860 power trimaran, requires that we stick to small bits: there simply isn't enough space at the moment to build the entire boat. In order to minimize the time for which we'll need a full size build shed, we're starting with the smaller and more fiddly pieces of the boat. These can fit in our current work space, and by having them pre-assembled, we'll save a lot of time during final assembly.