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.

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