Sunday, June 18, 2017

Total Solar Eclipse 2017, August 21st

On August 21st, 2017, a total eclipse of the Sun will be visible from within a narrow corridor that traverses the United States of America. The path of the Moon's umbral shadow begins in the northern Pacific Ocean and crosses the USA from west to east through parts of the following states: Oregon, Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas, Iowa, Missouri, Illinois, Kentucky, Tennessee, North Carolina, Georgia, and South Carolina (note: only a tiny corner of Montana and Iowa are in the eclipse path). The Moon's penumbral shadow produces a partial eclipse visible from a much larger region covering most of North America.

More information can be found on these NASA websites:

Preliminary information about the 2017 total eclipse of the Sun.
Eclipse Bulletins
Eclipse map/figure/table/predictions courtesy of Fred Espenak, NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center, from

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Wharram Designs; Tiki 21

Look what followed me home!

 Until today, there has not been much discussion here about my fascination with multi-hull sailboats. But consider yourselves warned - there will be more, anon.

This is a Wharram Tiki 21 coastal cruiser. It's been through a few owners, though I'm sorry to not be able to provide much in the way of provenance. I acquired her from Eric, in Bellingham, WA. When Eric picked up this boat, it was a bare hull(s) neglected and randomly damaged. From what I could see of Eric's boatyard, he is a prolific builder and turns out some very nice work, in a small makeshift shop. Just my kind!
Even before I looked at the Tiki 21, I was distracted by other projects I'd be proud to own. Proof positive there are Others out there... (the rest of you know who I'm talking about).
Eric had a Hobie sitting around, which proved to be a good fit for scavenging a new rig for the Tiki. He says this full battened main and jib are very close in size to the designed rig for the Wharram Coastal Trek and worked wonderfully for cruising the Salish Sea and San Juan Islands.

Back in the early 1980's, when this design was developed, a couple boat building friends of mine became obsessed with multi-hulls and their enthusiasm was infectious. Interestingly, there is little crossover between mono-hull and multi-hull sailors. In fact, one set seems happy sailing at what amounts to a brisk walk, while the other is dedicated to speed.

There-in lies the prospect for me. In Pacific Northwest (Salish Sea) sailing, the summer months often find us mono-hull sailors lying adrift, at the whimsy of tidal currents. Please don't get me wrong, I love a leisurely afternoon drift as well as anyone. But when a lightweight catamaran or tri glides past me while I'm stalled, in irons, I have a deep yearning to be such a gossamer.

When I saw Eric's Tiki 21 up for sale, it reminded me that I've dreamed of building this very boat for a long time. He has done a nice job of putting this package together and saved me the time and expense of doing so. I am very grateful - thank you, Eric! There are a few details I want to address (doesn't every sailor modify their vessel to suit themselves?), so she might not make it to the water this year. Rest assured, I'll keep you posted about progress. The first is to modify the trailer so I can assemble the hulls directly. Eric unloaded the hulls and assembled the boat on the tarmac. Obviously he has more strength and dexterity than I.

As a coda, I'd like you to join me in admiring how the charming sweep of shear on the Tiki 21 compliments that of the mother ship, Mistral. No wonder Doryman finds her so appealing.

 The following description is from the James Wharrem Designs page:

"The Tiki 21 was designed in 1981 as an easy to build Coastal Trek catamaran, using the [then] new epoxy/glass stitch & glue techniques. In 1982 the new and then quite radical Tiki 21 was given first prize by Cruising World magazine (USA) in their design competition for a ‘Trailable Gunkholer’. Since then, 925 Tiki 21 Plans have been sold (as of June 2010)."

"In 1991-97 Rory McDougall sailed his self-built Tiki 21 Cooking Fat around the world, sometimes alone, sometimes with a companion. She was the smallest catamaran to have circumnavigated. In 2010 Rory entered Cooking Fat in the Jester Challenge (single handed 'race' across the Atlantic for small boats - under 30ft) and came into Newport, Rhode Island a close second after 34 days."

"The Tiki 21 has stayed popular as a simple, easy to trailer Coastal Trekker all over the world."

If you have questions (as I have) about the overall performance of the Tiki 21 catamaran, here is a synopsis of the coastal cruising log for Little Cat: (link provided for a very interesting blog, recommended highly.)

Sail Log for Wharram Tiki 21 Little Cat
Data since 9/2011
Total distance: 3921 nautical miles
Fastest indicated speed: 16.4 knots
Fastest corrected speed: 14.9 knots
Fastest corrected average speed over 500 meters: 13.5 knots
Fastest corrected average speed over one nautical mile: 12.6 knots
Fastest corrected average speed over one hour: 10.2 knots
Fastest corrected average speed over a sailing trip:
- 8.6 knots/17.3 nautical miles (reaching from Martinez Bridge to Montezuma Slough)
- 8.4 knots/11.2 nautical miles (reach from Seal Rocks to Pt San Pedro)
- 7.8 knots/15.9 nautical miles (beat/close reach from Burlingame/SFO to Sausalito, with the tide)
- 6.5 knots/9 nautical miles (spinnaker run from Peninsula Pt to Marin Islands)
- 6.5 knots/25 nautical miles (close reach from Mile Rock to Half Moon Bay)

Some photos of the Tiki 21, from around the world. Thanks to all who own and love these dynamic craft. I hope to be joining some of you soon:

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Michael Scott's Hadron Dinghy

Our friend Michael Scott, artiste extraordinaire and diehard dinghy sailor has done it again. Over this last winter he modified a Hadron open transom racing dinghy to suit his personal preferences and came up a winner.

Michael lives on the Artistic Isle of Whidbey (Whidbey Island, Washington, US). That makes him a neighbor to Doryman, because I can see Whidbey Island from here - across four miles of the often challenging Admiralty Strait.
He is a very talented artist and exceptional sailor.

I've been following his latest project, the modification of a Hadron racing dinghy. His (our) friend Brad Rice has been the shipwright on this job and recently the two of them tested the Hadron for the first time.

Michael reports that he is very pleased - chuffed - as they say in his hometown of Oxford. Here's his report:

"My boat was designed by British designer Keith Callaghan. Three of his Hadrons were built in Sequim (WA) and I acquired one that was partly finished, and have completely redesigned the interior. Lots of fun!"

"First test sail and capsize test of the Hadron/Hoot hybrid......some homework to do.....but floats level, comes up easy, handles well....thanks to Brad Rice for braving the cold waters of Lone Lake....feeling quite chuffed."

" far.....tiny bit of water remains but would soon go if we were actually moving....! It's the rig I need to work on, it's all new for me - having to pre-bend the mast to get the sail up, and adjustable battens.....much work to do.....!"
(Michael salvaged and fitted a fully battened main + mast from a Hoot dinghy.)

 Keith Callaghan has this to say about his Hadron series:
"Hadron H1 is a plywood single-hander dinghy designed in 2011,  which will fulfill the requirements of the experienced dinghy sailor who is perhaps, like myself, getting on a bit, but who nonetheless demands good performance, and without too much pain. In other words, the boat must have impeccable handling characteristics, be comfortable to sit out and to sit in, easy to right after a capsize, and of course be a joy to sail. The boat is of 4 plank plywood construction, and is specifically designed to be easy to build."

Michael's Hadron has even made the preeminent dinghy blog. You can find Rod Mincher's review on Earwigoagin

Kudos to you, Michael and thanks to Rod for making him famous! 

HADRON H1 Dinghy

LOA    4.27 meters
LOW   4.2 meters
Beam   1.95 meters
Sail Area  10 sq. meters

Monday, April 10, 2017

Ed Opheim Dories

The Kodiak Archipelago has a long, rich tradition of dory construction and use. This is a story of the rugged and capable dories built for the local fisheries by Ed Opheim.

The village of Ouzinkie is located on Spruce Island, approximately twelve miles north of Kodiak, Alaska.  In the early days of North American land appropriation, Ouzinkie became an outlying community for the Russian American Company, an official St Petersburg effort to expand settlement along the west coast of the North American continent. The Russians referred to the settlement in 1849 as "Uzenkiy," meaning "village of Russians and Creoles." In 1889, the Royal Packing Company constructed a cannery at Ouzinkie, which spurred the development of a modern fishery. This aerial photo is from 1960.

The earliest commercial fishing in Alaska was the salt cod industry. Hand-built dories used in this labor intensive effort were oar-powered until the 1920's, when small horsepower outboards were employed.
Ed Opheim, Sr. recalled that cod were so abundant around Unga, where he was born in 1910, that a red rag was all that was needed for bait.

Opheim had his own small lumber mill, processing the local spruce he used in dory construction. Hundreds of his boats were used in cod and salmon fisheries.
With his two sons, Ed Jr. and Norman, he built more than six hundred dories and skiffs from native spruce. For decades they were ubiquitous in the salmon gillnet fleet until aluminum and fiberglass skiffs replaced them in the 1980's - though his beautiful dories still ply Alaskan waters today.

Recently, I had a chance to look at an original 24-foot Opheim dory. Roy Parkinson owns this iconic piece of history and it has been fifteen years since he motored the boat to Port Townsend, WA, from SE Alaska. Roy fished this boat for several years in Alaska, everything from salmon to crab (the cod fishery has long since been decimated). His Opheim dory is outfitted with a 13hp Perkins diesel and once sported a sprit-rigged sail.

Building with solid timber has the advantage that all the parts can be replaced as needed, so as you might expect, Doryman is considering making Roy an offer on this fine old vessel. Despite years of neglect, it's sturdy carvel-planked hull is still tough, though the plank on frame bottom appears to be in sad shape. As I ran my hand along the still substantial shear-guard, years of plying the challenging waters of Alaska came to mind. This old dory as more life left in her, no doubt of that.

In his later years, Ed Opheim moved to Kodiak,
took up writing, and his books are now celebrated local lore. (Ed lived to be 100 years old.)
He wrote "The Memoirs and Saga of a Cod Fisherman's Son: Ten years of dory-fishing cod (1923-1933) at Sunny Cove, Spruce Island, Alaska", which is sadly out of print and as far as I can tell, no longer available.
If anyone knows of a copy, I'd love to hear of it.

Old photos of Ouzinkie courtesy of Timothy Smith.
Thanks to Marty Loken, boat restorer extraordinaire, for bringing this old work boat to my attention.

Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Doryman's Boatyard

Last July a Charles Wittholz 14' 11'' Catboat showed up in the Boatyard, in need of love. It's a small yacht and getting her back on the water seemed a slam-dunk. Fate had other plans, however and the strange symptoms that took me by surprise the day she arrived turned out to have been possibly a stroke. Not one to run to a doctor, it took a while of struggling to act normal (acting normal isn't exactly my modus vivendi, but bear with me) before it became obvious, that among other things, the wee catboat was not going to make it out of the 'Yard anytime soon.

I'm happy to report most of the debilitating symptoms have abated. Of course, as soon as weather permitted, Doryman was back in the Boatyard doling out love in generous amounts. Gotta love those boats!

As the story goes, my good friend, Doug Follett was given this work-boat legend by an ancient mariner, now retired from the sea. Her name was Meow (no kidding). After extensive refit and repair, she has emerged as Puffin. The plan is to launch Puffin within the week. The last two months have been an elaborate dance with late-winter, early-spring weather, since work progresses outside. I'm often asked how I can glue, paint, or for that matter, work outside during the winter. Don't tell anyone - manufacturers specifications are very conservative.

Work done in boatyards all over the Pacific Northwest, in almost any weather, are testament. I chose my means and materials carefully, beyond that, it's a privileged secret.

So, my friends, this is a teaser. If all goes as planned, there will be more to tell soon. Just got some varnish on the brightwork today. The mast, yard and boom are repaired, painted and ready to go. She'll get a waterline boot-top stripe tomorrow.

Puffin sports an amazingly large gaff rig, as per design. This is going to be fun.

The Charles Wittholz catboat is a V-bottomed seaworthy pocket daysailer/cruiser designed for plywood construction:
Charles Wittholz
Plywood planking over sawn frames.
14' 11"
7' 4 1/2"
(cb up) - 1' 4" (cb down) - 3' 8"

Displacement: 1,400 lbs.

Tuesday, February 14, 2017


I don't often promote the work of others, done for profit, because of an ingrained suspicion of the profit motive. You will not find advertisements here, though the opportunity for profit exists. Exceptions do appear from time to time, when I feel the people involved have a mission above and beyond making money, or feeding their ego.

Thus, I find myself in the compromising position of promoting the work of a best-selling author. In this case, it is with the greatest pleasure. Apparently late to the game, I've recently digested the Wool series by Hugh Howey. In a previous post, I concurred with the opinion that writers, painters, musicians, sculptors, poets, designers, creators, makers of things, dreamers of dreams, have a responsibility to begin the process of imagining a compassionate future, in the face of economic and ecological unraveling. Hugh Howey has offered such a polemic for our consideration.

In the novel, Wool, it's prequel Shift and the sequel, Dust, we find a science fiction world all too believable. It's been many years of compulsive reading since I've found myself in a fictional world where I actually sympathized with and cared about the characters. Hugh has this to say about this trilogy:
" of the ideas I wanted to capture is the insanity of walling ourselves off from each other, and all the trillions we spend defending from and attacking one another, when we’re all in the same green-and-blue space-boat. Viewed from afar, it’s absolutely bonkers. Yet we persist."
If you're interested, he has a lot more to say about this topic in a recent blog post, which can be found on his website, The Wayfinder. Hugh has obviously thought a lot about the human condition in reference to the rock we all share and finds hope in the most desperate situations.

Another quote from Howey, borrowed from the missive cited above:
"Science fiction is full of laments over the wastefulness of war. Many such books look to the cosmos as a place we should be building bridges. I think we’ve got a perfectly good home right here to concentrate on first. It’s a strange dichotomy of optimism and pessimism to think that we can settle on and terraform Mars, but that we can’t possibly figure out a few degree rise in temperature here. It’s the optimism of science coupled with the pessimism of our relationship with nature. But really, if the science were so easy, we could settle by the millions in Antarctica. And if nature were such a pushover, we’d have toppled her by now."
The argument here is for dissolving the artificial barriers we've built for keeping us separate and in conflict, favoring bridges uniting us in common cause. I strongly suggest you check out the essay linked to above and let me know what you think. To repeat the travesties of the past is folly.

If you can imagine it, anything is possible. Please be very careful what you wish for.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Firefly Revisited

Four years ago, we heard from Bayard Storey, from Los Angeles, CA, who was building an ultralight Firefly II from the drafting board of Ken Basset. Recently Bayard wrote to me with an update.

It's always good to hear from old friends...

Bayard is currently finishing another ultralight double rowing racer, which is an indication of how long it's been since his build of the Firefly II. He and his brother raced the Firefly II last summer in the Blackburn Challenge in Gloucester, Mass and took gold in the Touring Double division (20+ miles in 3 hours, 56 seconds).

It's interesting that, even though he describes the Firefly II as "a plywood tub, if an elegant one", it turns out that the lighter, purpose built racer wasn't up to heavier seas and the worthy Firefly II was the boat that won the day.

Here is his story (no pun intended), in Bayard's words:
"(the Firefly) came out to about 85lbs without row rigs, and 120 with. My brother and I raced it this summer in the Blackburn Challenge in Gloucester, Mass and took gold in the Touring Double division (20+ miles in 3:00 hours 56 seconds (a wrong turn kept us just over 3 hours). Great race, great group putting it on and participating, highly recommend anyone try it if they can."

"Getting the boat from L.A. to Gloucester was a real logistical challenge. I had to get it to a trailer about an hour away from me, and they brought it to Ohio (for club nationals). I flew to Oak Ridge, TN to meet my brother (co-rower, ultra-marathoner with some rowing experience), we bodged together a Home Depot bits and pieces rack (Gorilla Tape is amazingly useful -- we went through two rolls) for his SUV, then drove north to Ohio to pick up the boat. From there we barreled northeast to Mass. The trailer to Ohio was the missing link I only belatedly discovered - I've been meaning to get to that race for years."

"The white boat (pictured to the left) is a new design from a guy who has won the Blackburn in a single version of it in both the fixed seat single and sliding seat touring single divisions (he just built a sliding rig and boom, won)! We worked with a terrific guy in Austria (gotta love boat forums) to get the lines plans optimized for the double version and I had an amateur canoe builder used to strip building build the bare hull about 3 hours from me, all via internet. I added the decks, rigging, etc. later. It's got the usual red cedar strips up to the waterline and then very light paulownia from there to the sheer. Decks are 1.5mm aircraft ply backed by Depron foam in spots to stiffen it. Some carbon tubes, cedar and paulownia were used for the internal furniture. So ready to row it's about 85lbs. Despite the shape, it's the same length and max beam as the Firefly2 and is also meant to fit the design class for FISA coastal rowing 2X (although because there is a weight minimum there, some 35 pounds would have to be added -- however, lead along the keel would only further stabilize it). At this point, though, I don't plan to race FISA."
"That was the boat which we meant to take to the Blackburn as it's about 1-1.5mph faster over the long haul than the Firefly which is, relatively speaking, a plywood tub, if an elegant one. But when my brother came out (to LA) for a long weekend to practice ocean rowing, in white caps and a small craft warning, we discovered that the white boat is speedy in fairly calm water but rolls a lot in serious seas. That's due to too high seat/oarlocks, and the wing riggers being at gunwale height. So I need to rework the riggers to lower the oarlocks, and also lower the seats and feet (especially in bow) to get the center of gravity a few inches down.

"In the end the back-up boat, Firefly2, went weirdly fast (average 7mph even with breaks) so I have a newfound affection for it. And it's stable as hell and can handle any weather thrown at it."

That's an impressive claim to make for any craft. Kudos to Bayard and the Firefly II. Though this blog is not about racing, it is certainly about being able to weather any and all conditions, with style. 
Thank you, Bayard. (his photo essay can be found on Flickr)

 All photos courtesy of Bayard Storey.

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

A Winter Tetrapod Christening

A Peapod named Dunlin and a Canoe named Corvidius

Last Sunday, the local small boating community gathered for a dual launch and christening. It was a fine day, just above freezing, with a light wind - coffee and scones thoughtfully provided.

Corvidae is a cosmopolitan family of birds that contains crows, jays and magpies. They are known as the crow family. The genus Corvus, including jackdaws, crows, and ravens, makes up over a third of the entire family. They are considered the most intelligent of birds, and among the most intelligent of all animals
Ken Miller built his canoe this year and called her Corvidius, based on the family name of crows and ravens. She is a Northwest Coastal Indian inspired canoe and is built in plywood.
Photo, Ken Miller.

The Dunlin is highly gregarious in winter, sometimes forming large flocks on coastal mudflats or sandy beaches. Large numbers can often be seen in synchronized flight on stop-overs during migration or in their winter habitat.
Kees Prins built his peapod this year and called her Dunlin. This oar and sail cruising boat is inspired by the East Coast (US) peapod and is strip-planked with red cedar strips, framed and decked in plywood.

On Sunday, December 11th, at the launch ramp at Boat Haven, Port Townsend, WA, these two original, hand-built designs were dipped in the water for the first time. A winter christening, and an impressive gathering of hearty souls.  Photo by Kate Chadwick.

Kees went first, with Dunlin. The design is unique and his workmanship is impeccable. Dunlin sports a sail rig inspired by the Sea Pearl; the sails furl all standing, around carbon fiber masts. She is outfitted with twin retractable foils, a kick-up rudder and water ballast, all for efficient handling under sail or oar. She has no motor. Sealed watertight stowage compartments assure safe recovery in the event of a capsize.
Photo courtesy of Galen Piel.

Launching Dunlin, December 2016 from doryman on Vimeo.

Dunlin is a light and lively bird. Her first sail of the day was tender, even in light wind. Kees reports that loaded with 200 lbs of water ballast on her second run, she felt much more stable.

Running rigging. Please note the tiller arrangement mounted at the mizzen mast partner.

Beautifully carved rudder foil.
The kind of detail that sets Kees apart.
He is a consummate professional and it shows.

Next up was Ken Miller, with  Corvidius. Ken worked out this design himself, based on local Northwest aboriginal canoes. He did a great job, conceptually.

Once in the water, Corvidius proved to be a bit tender. When he got in, I was very concerned for him because, as you may remember, I've been there, done that. Our good friend Laingdon kept a good hold on the gunnel, at the dock, until Ken opted to climb back out.
I'll spare Ken any photo evidence. Suffice to say, he looked pretty nervous. No one got wet this time.

So, it's back to the drawing board for Ken. He thinks some ballast will do the trick, though the consensus from the gallery was for outriggers. We hope to follow Ken on this journey, to see what he comes up with.

Congratulations to Ken and Kees on jobs well done. Thanks to both of you for taking us along.