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.

Engine technology to watch for

With the recent release of the final report of Nigel Calder's HyMAR project, marine internal combustion / electric hybrid powertrains are making waves once again- and not necessarily in a good way, as Calder's team found that the benefits of the expensive hybrids were limited to a relatively narrow, low-speed operating regime. We've known for quite a while that the major advantages of gas/electric and diesel/electric hybrid cars- namely, instant start/stop and regenerative braking- don't apply to boats. We've also known for quite a while that hybrid systems only make economic sense aboard ship if the house loads are comparable to, or larger than, the power required for main propulsion.

Tech addicts need not fear, though: There are many other fuel-saving and pollution-reducing technologies waiting in the wings, and hybrids aren't quite out of the running yet.

Fog over Collins Bay

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 big things with a small boat

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.

Back on the water

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.

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In The Shop

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.

Coloured epoxy?

What does it mean when your epoxy hardener comes out coloured? Will it put your project in jeopardy?

Nope. It turns out that this is not really a problem for strength or curing characteristics, only for appearance.

Crossbeam construction

It's been a while since we kept you folks posted on the Starwind 860 project. Don't worry, it hasn't died – we've just been busy!

A simple trailer tongue extension

Folding trailer tongues are nice, but a folding mechanism is expensive and hard to retrofit to an existing trailer.

With the local water levels already low and going lower, the time was right for us to modify Sunset Chaser's trailer for shallower ramps. Here's how we did it.

Crossbeam webs

After a (rather too long) hiatus from building the Starwind 860, we're back at it with the plywood webs of the aft crossbeams. (A similar set for the front crossbeams will be built once this pair are complete.)

The trimaran's folding crossbeams are a fairly conventional box section structure, with plywood webs fore and aft joining thicker top and bottom flanges of laminated wood strips.

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