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.

Hibernating Beach Cats

One of the few downsides to being Canadian is that our boats must hibernate for at least six months a year.

Canoeing on a dead-calm lake at sunrise

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.

Be careful of boats' claimed top speeds

A while ago, I saw an ad for a small sport boat with the tagline: "The speed, up to 60 mph*, is simply incredible!"

Then, later, in the fine print: "*Achieved with a professional driver on a closed course using a specially tuned engine and custom propeller. Do not attempt."

Advertised speed capabilities are useful in understanding how a boat might behave, but they don't mean what you probably think they mean- even if the vendor isn't fudging them.

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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.

A truckload of plywood

Delivery day is always a good day for someone building a boat.

We picked up the first batch of okoume plywood for our Starwind 860 yesterday- the first real "work trip" for the '05 GMC Yukon XL that'll eventually become this boat's road-going companion. Progress then ground to an immediate halt. (If it's 28 C and mostly sunny, you don't work- you take the boat out to the sandbar to chill out for a while.)

Learning to arc weld

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.

Mounting hardware on cored decks: Right and wrong ways

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.

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