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.

Faux pas from the launch ramp

Trailer boaters are generally a pleasant, easy-going lot.

That doesn't mean it's impossible to frustrate them, though. If you really want to be the bane of the local boat ramp, try any (or all) of these behaviours... and see what happens. (These are all real incidents from recent years, some of them disturbingly common. Names and registry numbers have been omitted to protect the guilty.)

Manually starting an electric-start outboard

If you have an electric-start outboard, and it doesn't have a rope starter built in, a second independent battery is essential. Because the "emergency rope start procedure":

Does not work.

The immortal aluminum skiff

A great many cruising sailors swear by their rigid-hulled inflatable dinghies. The cream-of-the-crop is, apparently, a 10 to 14 foot Hypalon-tubed, fibreglass-bottomed thing with a two-stroke Yamaha on the back. Some folks start with something smaller and less rigid, but the small RIBs eventually dominate.

Up in Northern Ontario, though, such a vessel would be unthinkable. Almost every lake has rocks and deadheads that would tear an inflatable apart. The docks are rough, the winters are harsh, the repair facilities are non-existent. There's lumber to carry, fish to land and young skippers to teach.

Here, the humble, immortal aluminum skiff is king.

Does this look like boating weather?

Today might be a good day to head out on the lake, if it's not too rough out there. Does this look like boating weather to you?

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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.

Model testing the Almaguin, part 1: The framework

Computer simulations are pretty good these days, but there's still a lot they can't do. And as nice as it would be to have my own full-scale prototype of every boat I draw, that's just not feasible- there's never enough space or money for that. Models, though, are inexpensive, don't take up much room, and are fun to build- and, if done carefully with the right mathematical backing, can offer a lot of insight into how the full-size boat will perform.

Electrical and hardware updates for Sunset Chaser

My five-metre runabout Sunset Chaser has been undergoing an assortment of repairs this winter. Here's a brief overview of the wiring and hardware updates I've been doing on this boat, in the hopes of keeping her going for another decade or so.

New plans: Almaguin 400 & 500 utility runabouts

The plans are ready! The four- and five-metre Almaguin runabouts, designed with first-time builders in mind, will be excellent fishing, utility or sport boats for inland lakes, rivers or calm coastal areas. They're built in taped-seam plywood and don't require elaborate jigs or fine carpentry skills. Have a look here, and please feel free to contact me if either of these boats interests you.

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