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.

On The Water

Photos, ramblings and the occasional bit of useful information from our voyages aboard the runabout Sunset Chaser and other small boats.

Boarding ladders for small boats

Getting into a boat from the water is HARD. The drag of the water makes it difficult to jump, and there's often no bottom to stand on. Even if you're in good physical condition, it's quite difficult to heave yourself more than about 15 to 30 cm (6" to 12") vertically out of the water. Take a look at a swimming pool: the copings are rarely more than 15 cm above the surface; in the best modern pools, they're level with it. Most people just can't jump any higher out of the water.

Let's look at Sunset Chaser for a moment:

Eye splicing single braid rope

Most of the lines on an average boat are either double braided or twisted three-strand, but single braid does show up on occasion. If you do have it, here's how to splice it.

My advice: Avoid single braid rope. Splicing it is very tedious (an hour or two per eye for 12-strand, although 8-strand is much faster), and without a protective cover it's more easily damaged and more prone to chafe than double braid. But now and then, you just happen to have some, and wouldn't it be nice to have proper spliced eyes in it instead of bulky bowline knots....

The great AIS debate, and a bit of applied mariner's sense

There's quite a flurry of debate going on right now about automatic identification system (AIS) equipment. The question of the month is about who sees what: if you fit your boat with a class B AIS transponder, will big ships carrying class A equipment set their display filters to hide your much smaller vessel from their radar displays?

ARC fleet, passage speed and trade-offs

Those who are still at sea in this year's Atlantic Rally for Cruisers certainly seem to be enjoying themselves... for the most part. The trade winds have filled in, the boats are ticking off the miles, and a fair chunk of the fleet is already in St. Lucia.

ARC fleet on 12 Dec 2010