Tuesday, May 29, 2007


Another step in the life of the Walkabout! Diana and I just returned from an overnight trip to the Provincial Marine Park, Sandy Island. The weather was sunny and hot, winds on the way over were about ten knots. On the trip over, there was a lot of chop that slowed us down, causing the boat to lose steerage. We crept too close to a rocky shore, so I rowed for a few minutes to take us away from that shore, into more wind and onto a different tack. The waves made the trip over to the island take twice as long as the return trip this morning.
We took far too much stuff, but it was our first trip camping in many years and I'd forgotten what to leave at home, so I took a lot and packed very inefficiently too. However, the boat swallowed all the gear and left lots of room for lounging too. The large compartments with large hatches took sleeping bags and tent gear while the small hatches along the sides accepted water bottles, fuel bottle, and other smaller things. The huge stuff sacks and back packs stayed under the deck overhang at the bow.
The camping was great and the food and company were splendid too. Wonderful to be alone on such a beautiful island.
The tide dropped drastically between our arrival and departure times. When we landed, I tried to rig up a pulley line on the anchor chain, but the lines got all twisted and I gave up, deciding I'd roll the boat on fenders when we were ready to leave. I woke up at 3:30 this morning, determined to try again, recalling how much trouble we had rolling an EMPTY boat. So, in first light, I straightened all the lines, replaced the anchor and chain on the boat, rowed out about 100' then tossed the anchor overboard. Once I rowed back to shore, the pulley system worked very well, towing the boat out into deeper water! During the morning, we had to repeat the exercise twice as the tide retreated laterally about a hundred yards! It was a long haul of supplies and I was glad I crawled out of the warm sleeping bag to move the boat when I did!
The trip back was speedier though the winds were lighter, but we were still passed by a kayaker. No loss of face as we were touring and he was training!
Lunch was on an ocean-side sand dune about a mile from the launch ramp. Our last sail of the trip was speedy as the wind blows stronger in that bay. I played Joe Cool as we entered the crowded marina under sail and threaded our way to the ramp!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Tree Island Picnic

Late afternoon of May 25, Diana and I launched the boat at Union Bay. The winds were becoming lighter, but the waves were still pretty high from earlier winds. I set the full main and sailed through the chop for Tree Island. (Provincial Park named Sandy Island) The winds were light enough that we sat on opposite sides of the boat for balance. The trip over was very pleasant with lots of gurgling and slapping of the waves, but no rolling and very little pitching. We arrived at the island in about half an hour (Kayak trips usually take three quarters of an hour or more). The tide was nearing its low, so I nudged the prow onto the beach and let the prevailing wind keep it there. We had a very nice picnic and a walk about the island too. We had the place to ourselves and could have camped anywhere. Save that for the next trip. This island has always been very special for me. Many trips here in my kayak. The tide level was about a foot lower than the boat at departure time. I found a couple of round logs and used them as rollers to get us back afloat. The return trip was slower as we were trying to sail into what was left of the wind. Half way home, I furled the main, removed the dagger board and raised the rudder. Rowing home was not my best speed and I attribute that to having to correct my direction frequently. The mizzen was still up and Diana sat on a cushion on the floor at the aft end of the cockpit. I wonder if the wind was pushing me off course. In any case, I earned my supper after I ate it. We got back to the ramp with an hour or so of available daylight.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Quiet evening sail

Tuesday, May 22, I brought my buddy, Miles, and the boat to McIvor lake to take in the evening breezes and sunshine. It was an easy rigging as I left the rudder and boomkin in place after working on the boat that afternoon. Up-line of the cam cleats on the tiller head, I had attached a couple of fairleads which keep the steering lines from popping out at extreme tiller angles. Seemed to be no reason to dismantle the apparatus for a short trip to the lake. Saved some minutes and some tangled lines too.
The winds on the lake were very light. Shook out the reef and raised the sails. Didn't tighten them as much to give some belly to the sails. We casually sailed around the first part of the lake, avoiding the passages between islands where I suspected the wind would not help us.
It was a great first trip in the boat for Miles. I wanted a calm experience to hook him on the joys of boating. You need to only look at his pictures to see he is enjoying himself! As the sun was getting low in the sky, it was time to turn and run back to the car. I jokingly asked Miles if he wanted to row back. He took me up on the offer, so I put the sails to bed, raised the daggerboard and rudder and got him in place on the rowing seat. I sat on the floor at the stern, where every time I leaned back, I caused the tiller to swing down like an axe and bonk me on the head. Only partly done to amuse the crew.
As Miles started pulling us down the lake, I was amazed at his straight path and good speed! "I row with my Mom in her Whitehall"

Victoria Day

Monday, May 21, I trailed the Walkabout over some washboard roads to a provincial park. The roads in the park were worse, with giant potholes that caused the boat to bounce alarmingly on the trailer! Once I got past the half-hour of bad roads, I arrived at Mohun Lake, to find the motor homes and big trailers were amassing for convoys out. Glad I avoided having to pass all the land-whales on those narrow roads!
The winds were fairly strong on the lake and the land caused them to shift and flow directly at the launching ramp. Once I got the boat into the water, I found it impossible to get it headed into the wind, climb aboard and start rowing before the wind pushed me off sideways onto the rocks. Thankfully a park attendant was there to give me some assistance!
Once I was out on the lake, I found the wind was making a lot of waves, but I could not see any whitecaps. So, I'd guess it was blowing about as strong as Friday evening at Comox Lake. I raised the sails, leaving the reef I'd put in last trip. I also got the GPS working! The sailing was brisk, but with the reefed sail, I was never heeling very much. Neither was I pointing as well into the wind. The GPS said I was movng along between 4 and 5 knots, with a recorded high speed of 5.9 knots. It felt very fast, but the boat stayed close to upright.
I sailed past a small island where a number of birds raised their heads above the tall grass. I suspected it would be a great place for nesting, so didn't go ashore. I disturbed a loon enough to take to the water where it swam, warbling its beautiful song.
Stopped for a bite of lunch in a small cove (attached picture) then continued to sail back and forth for another hour and a half. At one point, I considered sailing far down wind then tacking back to the ramp, but the limited ability of the boat to point today had me worried it may take a long time to get back.
Once, the wind blew my hat into the water. Good thing it wasn't a crew member as it took me quite awhile to get organized for a return trip. Part of the problem was the cam cleats I put on to control the rudder lines. At extreme steering angles, the lines are encouraged to pop out of the cleats. That problem is now corrected.
I sailed back to the ramp and loaded the boat in time to join one of the convoys down the dusty logging roads back to the highway.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

First Real Sail

Last evening, my friend Diana and I hauled the Walkabout up to Comox Lake as it looked too rough on the ocean. We launched easily and I rowed a few hundred metres out from the launch area. There I raised both sails and we were off! First time in any real wind! I am not good at estimating wind, but the chop was about a foot high and there were a few whitecaps. I had up the full main sail and we both sat on the windward side of the boat. There was barely enough wind to make the boat level, but easily enough wind to make us really move! It was great sailing as we cut through the waves with no heeling. We were able to sail close enough to the wind to make good progress up the lake. Seldom were the gusts strong enough to make the boat heel! We got some spray over the bow, but no real water! After a few tacks, the wind seemed to be increasing and I thought I would practise reefing. I sheeted in the mizzen and dropped the main, tightening the topping lift. The boat bounced with the waves, but did not spin around nor broach. Once the reef was in and the main raised, the boat moved a bit off the wind. Sailing with the reef in was very quiet and one of us had to sit on the lee side to keep the boat from heeling into the wind. Downwind with both sails ahead of their masts was very civilized and we did not roll with the waves. After an hour or so of terrific fun, we sailed back to the launch area and home!

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Sail Trials

The Walkabout has been back to McIvor Lake a couple more times with her sails up. The winds have been light and very erratic, so no real sailing stories yet. First sailing day, Diana was an outrider with the camera and then came aboard for a sail up the lake and lunch in the sun. The boat rigs very quickly and launches easily. I row it out into the lake and raise the mizzen first, sheeting it in tightly. The rudder is lowered and the dagger-board inserted too. The mainsail raises easily using a single pulley at the top of the mast and a topping lift to the aft end of the boom. Once the main is secured at the top, the down-haul is tightened. Next step is to loosen the sheet for the mizzen and start sailing! If I am sailing on my own, I like to lounge on the floor of the boat as shifting my weight throws the boat over to that side, upsetting the little air filling the sail. The few times I have had any real breeze, I sit up on the side 'bench' and smile!

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Sea Trials

The Walkabout has had three trips to the lake. First trip was in pouring rain, just to relieve my nervousness and find out if she would float level, track in a straight line, float without taking on water and that I could row at all! We were mostly a success, but found that one seam where the dagger board box met the hull needed more attention as it let in a few cups of water.
The boat returned to the shed, got dried out and warmed up. The seam was found and more epoxy filler was added. That evening we went back out to the lake in sunshine but a cold wind. There we found that crew placement on the boat is important. If the boat is lower on one side, rowing is unbalanced with one oar angle markedly different from the other. If the crew sat high enough for the wind to catch them, the boat was thrown off course. Best position was stting on a cushion on the floor of the hull. Weight in the center and no wind resistance.
Third trip was again in sunshine, but no winds. My friend Diana sat comfortably on the floor of the boat, in a shaped seat. It was a glorious three-hour trip around the islands of McIvor Lake in Campbell River, BC. The boat was travelling at an easy 2.5 knots. Pretty good for an old geezer who has never rowed before, moving a boat that weighs over 200 lbs with a combined crew weight of over 400 lbs!
It was terrific to be able to move all around the boat without having to be so careful of my balance (thinking of my kayak here) I love being able to lounge against comfortable back rests and having great areas for spreading out lunch, gear, charts, clothes etc.
All in all, I am very happy with the rowing part of the boat. As I get more practiced, I expect to get comfortable enough to row in the local ocean waters too.

Sunday, May 06, 2007

Finishing touches

The coaming epoxy has been cleaned and smoothed. Also cleaned up most other glitches, leaving a few to vex me once the paint is on. Once the paint had dried, it was time to install the oarlocks and hatches. I should be ready for the first of the sea trials in a couple of days. Still waiting for the hardware to work the sails.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007


The little bandsaw is small, but cuts wonderfully (Sears 10"). With it, I was able to make short work of the compound curves of the backing plates for the coaming. At the fore and aft of the cockpit, the curves include the pieces of wood themselves, so I laminated up three thicknesses of 6mm plywood then cut the required shapes into them. Hard to see much from the pictures. Installing the coaming at the fore and aft were very complicated and it was hard to hold the plywood in place. I tried several mathematical and scribing ways to draw the curves in the boards, but finally gave up and made a little 'picket fence' of pieces of plywood and pieces of 1x2 scrap. That served as a template and gave me the curve to draw. After that, and four or six hands to hold it in place while I drove some temporary screws, it was epoxied in place and is there for keeps! Side pieces went in very easily and the line at the top was marked at a few places for height and planed back to a nice even curve. That part is not yet finished as the epoxy is not yet set up. Left to do? Trim here and there, a lot of scraping and sanding, mounting a few pieces of hardware then painting and rigging.