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.

Sources of weather data for Lake Ontario

I have a really hard time trusting meteorologists.

No offence is intended to any weather forecasters who are reading this. The trouble is, Kingston is a geographically and meteorologically complex region, making it hard to build accurate forecast models with sufficiently fine detail- and the forecasters who do cover our area are also responsible for many, many other cities. So, while a forecast of "sunny, not much happening" is pretty reliable, estimates of wind, rain and sea state are often way off.

Taking it slowly

Why are we always in such a rush?

I am trying to think of the last time I saw a good old-fashioned displacement hull powerboat at a boat show. I honestly can't think of one. Even the pontoon boats are packing 100+ hp these days.

First Ever Winter Voyage - March 19th

 

To my knowledge, today was the earliest in the year we have ever launched the boat (March 19th). Typically on our spot of Lake Ontario, we're still waiting for ice-out day at this time. Since it never actually froze anywhere except for a few sheltered, shallow bays, we didn't have to wait this time.

Collapsing crane vs. yachts? Crane wins

The marina down the road, Collins Bay, had a bit of trouble with their crane on Friday morning. A bit of bad luck, as far as I can tell; this facility is well-known for being among the most careful, meticulous yards around.

Here's the story according to the Whig-Standard.

Reports are that nobody was hurt when one of the crane's stabilizing legs gave way, but the boat it was lifting, along with one adjacent boat, are now in pretty rough shape.

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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.

Breached hulls, swamped hulls, and bilge pumps

You see them at just about every boat show. Sometimes it's a six-metre fishing boat, sometimes it's a luxury cruiser with a six-figure price tag. But there are always a few boats with something terrifying lurking under a hidden access hatch in the stern: a "bilge pump" that would barely suffice for aquarium duty in my wife's Red Oscar tank. Sure, it'll get rid of rain water and the occasional bit of spray that seeps down there, but that's not what a bilge pump is for. Its main function is to keep you afloat if everything goes to pot, and frankly, most pumps just aren't up to the job.

What's it really made of?

It's not always easy to figure out what a boat is made of. Aluminum is usually pretty obvious, as is traditional wood construction. But fibreglass is a different story- without cutting the hull open, there's no easy way to tell what's below that innermost layer of roving. Anyone who has read David Pascoe's article "Are they fiberglass boats anymore" is at least a little scared of the mysterious substances that take the place of proper hull structure in many production boats.

Engine access: Sterndrives

Crawling around an engine bay, trying to reach some deeply buried component with three flex fittings on a socket wrench, is nobody's idea of a good time.

Thankfully, at least a handful of production boat builders have recognized this, and offer reasonably good access to the critical bits of the sterndrive system's prime mover.  Still, it seems there will always be a few that insist you hire a double-jointed 8-year-old with the mechanical skills of a Formula One pit crew just to change a spark plug.

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