Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Stringers Are Done

All 12 stringers (2 chine stringers and 10 hull stringers) have been glued and await their turn in the build sequence.

Next up: Frame #1, the rudder blade, the centerboard and the centerboard case.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Sunday after Thanksgiving

Sunday evening at Little House - the temperature outside is dropping and rain is falling but I have a nice crackling fire keeping things toasty and cozy.

I had a very good Thanksgiving as I have much to be thankful for - a good family, many friends, good health and the ways and means to build my next boat. I don't need more.

Work continues on Gardens of Fenwick although the growing pile of wood doesn't look much like a boat at this point. I have completed 9 of the 12 stringers for the hull. When the last three stringers are done this week I will begin the frames. Perhaps by next Sunday I'll have photos of Frame #1.

Something to look forward to...

Monday, November 21, 2011

New post added to The Shop.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

New Progress Note

New Progress Notes post.

Friday, November 18, 2011

Pathfinder Stability

I've posted a photo on the Pathfinder Design page illustrating the stability of the hull.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why the Pathfinder?

Why the Pathfinder? A friend recently asked that question.

In July 2011 I discovered I want to explore out of the way places by small boat. Areas such as Les Cheneaux Islands in northern Lake Huron, the North Chanel in Canada, the Maine Island Trail, the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior, the San Juan Islands in Puget Sound and similar areas.

To do this I want a stable boat that can carry gear and provisions for a week or three. I want a boat I can sleep on if shore-side camping is not available. I want a boat I'm not going to capsize - except in extremely rare conditions which I hope I have the good sense to avoid.

The Goat Island Skiff is a great boat. It is fast. It is stable - once one learns its quirks - but it is easily capsized. It will carry a lot of gear. In fact, the more gear the better. But, the Goat Island Skiff has one major camp-cruising limitation: it is not easily set up to sleep on board.

After looking a number of designs I selected the Pathfinder for my camp-cruising boat. The Pathfinder is larger and more stable than the Goat. The Pathfinder has more freeboard and is much less likely to capsize than the Goat. The Pathfinder also has a designed-in sleep platform that makes it, in my mind, the perfect boat for what I want to do.

The Goat is a sports car… the Pathfinder is a pick-up truck with a camper.

When I want to race - and I do enjoy racing - I'll take the Goat. When I want to explore those out of the way places, I'll take the Pathfinder.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Gardens of Fenwick

Gardens of Fenwick - odd name for a boat, isn't it? Let me explain…

I don't care for cutesy boat names. I like meaningful boat names even if the meanings are lost on all but the owners. I also like what I call compound names: Maid of Endor (and the variation, Witch of Endor), Vicar of Skye, Star of India, City of Ragusa and similar names.

When I retired at the end of 2010, my sister and brother-in-law offered their central Michigan refuge, named Little House in the Moonlit Woods, to me as my home-base. Little House is a special place and is not just my home-base, it has become my safe haven, refuge and home. When I decided to build another boat I wanted to pay tribute to Little House and, in turn, pay tribute to my sister and brother-in-law who have welcomed me to Little House in the Moonlit Woods in Fenwick, Michigan.

At the Fourth of July Parade last summer in Cedarville, Michigan, one of the local civic groups distributed packets of flower seeds and encouraged people to plant them. From those packets arose the idea for a boat name: "Flower of Fenwick" but that didn't really 'feel' right to me. However, gardens are an important feature at Little House - flower and vegetable gardens flourish here. Gardens are, to me, visually pleasing, inspirational, meditative and functional. Those are features I want in a boat (along with being seaworthy and weatherly). The idea for the name came to me over a period of several days in a sort of slow-motion stream-of-consciousness. Beginning with the packets of seeds, flowers, gardens… an idea emerged: Gardens of Fenwick. The more I thought about it the more I liked it. In my mind the name references the Little House in the Moonlit Woods, the gardens here and my sister and brother-in-law.

As I looked at designs for a boat suitable for boat camp cruising I was drawn to John Welsford's Pathfinder. I realized those characteristics and features I like in gardens are also present in the Pathfinder - along with some design-specific features. I decided to build a Pathfinder and name it Gardens of Fenwick.

Friday, November 4, 2011


In the summer of 2011, I completed and launched the sailing version of Karen Ann, my Goat Island Skiff. This was the culmination of a rather long and drawn-out building project that saw me go from, "I can't build a boat" to "I built a boat!" At the beginning of that project I was convinced that, despite words of wisdom from those who knew better, the Goat Island Skiff was the one and only boat I would build. That resolve was short-lived (I was looking at the "next" boat plans within three months of starting work on the GIS).

In July of 2011, I took Karen Ann to Cedarville on Michigan's Upper Peninsula for a sailing vacation with my sister's family and Wildcat, their Compac Picnic Cat sailboat. With a few 'new boat' rigging issues to be resolved, I did not sail Karen Ann as much as I might have during that vacation. But, I sailed her enough to realize the Goat Island Skiff is not the camp-cruising boat for me. I dearly love the GIS for daysailing and round-the-bouys racing - but I wanted something different for a camp-cruising boat - something heavier and more stable. Although I had sailed on Wildcat before, I had not sailed her enough to truly appreciate her capabilities. During an expedition sail (five adults and assorted gear for a full-day's outing) in strong winds, I realized that Wildcat's hull design - deep, full and (relatively) heavy - was what I wanted for a camp-cruising boaat. I set about looking for a design I could build with a hull similar to Wildcat's.

What I found, among others, was John Welsford's Navigator and Pathfinder designs. After much deliberation, reviewing the study plans for both designs and looking at everything I could find regarding these two designs, I decided the Navigator is too small for what I want (a camp-cruiser large enough to sleep aboard if shore-side camping is not available). Oh, yes, sleeping space can be created aboard a Navigator by using extra boards but I did not want to do that unless absolutely necessary. Pathfinder solves this concern by having a large flat forward cockpit - ideal as a sleep platform without the need for extra boards. Now, there may be a false economy in this reasoning as the Pathfinder is three feet longer than the Navigator (considerably more material goes into those three feet than would be needed for extra boards for a sleep platform on the Navigator) but here is that 'heart-throb' element of boat design at work: the Pathfinder 'speaks' to me in ways the Navigator does not.

I ordered the Pathfinder plans in August 2011, and began preparations for building my Pathfinder.