Portland Pudgy ~ Junk Rig Conversion

*** A version of this article will be appearing in the February, 2019 Junk Rig Association magazine; for unfamiliar terminology, be sure to check out the links in the “glossary” tab at the top of the Auklet blog. For loads more information on junk rig, and to receive the upcoming JR dinghy issue electronically or in print, consider joining the JRA! https://junkrigassociation.org/join_jra ***


The Portland Pudgy is a roto-molded polyethylene double walled 7’8″ dinghy, marketed as a combination dinghy/lifeboat for cruising sailors. A sailing rig, designed to break down and stow in the compartment in between the inner and outer hull, is available complete with a telescoping aluminum mast. In many ways the original sailing rig is well thought out, but it is not designed with easy reefing in mind. Other than the reefing issue, the Pudgy is an outstanding boat for sailing on its own. This made my own Pudgy, Marigold, seem a particularly good candidate for conversion to junk rig, for local sailing from our tidal dock. An endearing characteristic of the design is that when the boat is not loaded the drain plug can be removed, which makes the cockpit self bailing, so the boat requires no attention after heavy rains. All Marigold needed was a junk rig to make the sailing just as easy.

The original rig, perpetually reefed for safety when gusty wind could come up at short notice. Photo credit: Suzanne Jean

Fortunately, this Pudgy JR conversion has been done before! Marcus Raimon, and his little Portland Pudgy Pugwash, have already demonstrated just how well it can work. Marcus kindly provided dimensions of his rig, which made for a great starting point.

Designing and building Marigold‘s junk rig was fairly straightforward. The boat already had mast partners and step, rudder and tiller, and daggerboards that fit into molded slots port and starboard. Looking at the book Practical Junk Rig, and thinking about the length of the boat, it seemed appealing to go with a Hasler/McLeod sail, with a 6 foot batten length that was only slightly longer than what Marcus was using.
We really miss Theo, since moving from Holyoke – she did such beautiful drawings, but we are muddling through. Suzanne and I traced this picture from Practical Junk Rig, and then filled in the measurements. This method really suffered at the throat of the sail, because of the small scale, and I can think of better ways to do it now, to more clearly show that topmost 4 inches of the luff. But I’m including this rough sketch and notes to show that you really can make it work anyway.

This is what we built the sail from, and it does still drive the boat, including upwind. Approximate math tells us that the sail is in the neighborhood of 45-47 square feet, without the missing bottom panel, which would add another 7.25 square feet. The diagonal measurement of 7’9.5″ sets the angle of the lower battens, which are intentionally not 90° in the H-M design. That diagonal line should land right at the throat, where the yard meets the sail, and there should be 2 inches, on center, from the uppermost parallel batten to the fanned batten, and then two inches again to the yard. But it works even if you goof that up a little bit, as we did…

Construction was a simple operation with UV stabilized polytarp, cord, and tape, with no sewing whatsoever. Our approach followed the assembly guidelines on the website http://www.PDRacer.com, as well as instructions that came with a different sail kit from PolySail International, saved from another project. In the end, we used bright orange UV stabilized polytarp, bought from a generic tarp store online. The color was chosen in hopes of avoiding getting run over while sailing such a small boat.

Starting off with a flat sail design made layout particularly easy, with one complication. Actual tarp sizes are smaller than the dimensions under which they are sold. The original sail plan called for five parallelogram panels, which we happily laid out… And discovered that the fanned top of the sail ran right off the edge of the tarp. Nominal and actual tarp dimensions are not the same! Which I knew, but had not realized by quite how much. Photo above and below: Suzanne Jean

This was solved by redrawing, with one less parallelogram panel, and rubbing off the original lines.

With the outline in place, and batten positions marked for later, the next step was to put double-sided carpet tape just to the outside of the perimeter outline.

Below, Suzanne is trimming the excess tarp from the outside of that additional width of tape.

Once the tarp (now a sail cutout) was down to a manageable size, most of the rest of the work took place indoors, where it was considerably warmer. A non-stretch polyester perimeter line was laid alongside the inside edge of the double-sided carpet tape, the second backing pulled off, and the edge of the tarp folded across the non-stretch line and stuck down with the tape. Because we used tape rather than stitching, the usual edge-webbing for junk rig sail construction would not work, but the line folded into the tarp seems to be doing the job just fine for this small sail. Shemaya folding in perimeter line. Photo: Suzanne Jean

Corner patches were added to the head and throat, using more double-sided tape and triangles of tarp.

After all that was in place we added Gorilla Tape – especially heavy-duty duct tape – to cover all the folded edges. I believe that the layers of tape are also helping to take the place of the webbing that would normally be added to the perimeter of a stitched JR sail. The purpose of the webbing is to prevent stretch; the tape layers seem to be adding quite a bit of additional support to the perimeter line, together making the edge of the sail quite stable.

Once the tape was on, grommets went in at the head and throat. This could be done more simply, but we had the grommet kit already, so we went ahead with this version. For an effective low-cost alternative, check out this riveted “jiffy grommet” available from Sailrite (link included for readers’ convenience – I am not receiving anything for printing it): https://www.sailrite.com/Jiffy-Grommet

Photos below are of regular spurred grommet installation with hammer and dies.

Battens were attached next, made up of 1/2″ OD x .035 wall thickness aluminum tube (https://www.onlinemetals.com/merchant.cfm?pid=4352&step=4&showunits=inches&id=71&top_cat=60 – nope, not receiving anything for posting). Wooden molding from the hardware store went on the other side of the tarp, with plastic wire ties sandwiching it all together. We simply used an awl to poke the holes, not being inspired about breathing burning plastic that would have come with the method that involves burning – and thus sealing – holes with a soldering iron. The small holes seem to be holding up just fine in use, without the melting. Machine screws, with flat washers and nyloc nuts, fasten the batten ends, and the same screws hold webbing loops for attaching rigging. If I were to do this again, I would fasten the aft webbing loops so as to straddle the ends of the battens, which would help the sheetlets avoid getting stuck on one side when tacking. It was a bit of an ordeal getting the machine screws through the heavy tape, so I’m in no hurry to take it apart just to change it over.

The yard was not yet in place in the above photo, but it’s just a piece of dowel “closet rod” from the hardware store, 1 1/8″ in diameter. I was concerned that this might not be strong enough, and planned that if there were a problem I would add more material by lashing it on, but it seems to be just fine in use as it is. The yard is attached to the sail with plastic wire ties, as well as with lashing through holes drilled at either end for tying to the head and throat grommets.

The boom is simply another batten, on the foot of the sail, with no extra reinforcement. It’s an endearing characteristic of junk rig that the boom carries very little strain, because the sheet parts go to each batten. For this reason the boom can be lightweight, making it much less of a swinging hazard than the heavier Western variety.

The masthead fitting is particularly important in a junk rig, because of the various lines that support the sail bundle. This fitting is ordinarily a custom metal band or cap with rings for attaching the rigging. The one for Marigold, however, is made out of webbing. My many thanks go to Annie Hill for this suggestion, which is what she did on her bigger boat Fantail; the webbing masthead fitting is easy, lightweight, and simple, and works like a charm. It fits snugly on the top of the mast, and though I had originally planned to add a couple of small screws to make sure it stayed in place, inertia set in and I decided to try it without. With all the downward pull of the lines, the webbing has shown no inclination whatsoever to come loose, and being such a small dinghy it has felt acceptable to leave the webbing unfastened, avoiding holes in the wood and possible water issues with screws that are removed every year.

One caveat is that it’s important to use webbing that is UV stable. The polypropylene that is often used for sail ties will degrade in the sun in short order, completely losing its strength and becoming a safety hazard. Polyester is more suitable, as are some of the high-tech modern materials, though I used nylon because I had it on hand. The nylon seems to be working out just fine; in this use there is no problem if it stretches a bit, and it appears to be holding up well enough to the sun. For a detailed discussion of webbing material characteristics, see http://www.sailrite.com/Notions/Webbings. (Link included for readers’ convenience – I am not receiving anything for printing it.)

The knot seen in the masthead fitting picture below is the “water bowline,” which I happened to come across last year; it has become my new favorite knot. This photo was taken after the end of the sailing season, without any adjustment or retightening. The water bowline has been great for rigging, because even with slippery modern line it does not work loose on its own in the way that regular bowlines or two half hitches often do when they are unloaded and shaken, as happens so often on a sailboat. I’m delighted to have done away with using waxed thread to secure the tail of every rigging knot. As an aside, here’s my favorite video for how to tie this knot: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pDhqEtfWCcg Shown on a scrap of dowel, not the actual mast. Photo: Suzanne Jean

Once we had all the various pieces in order, we had a tremendous amount of fun rigging the whole thing in the living room. I could not be more pleased at the ease of working on such a small sailboat rig. My fun seems to be magnified, the smaller the boats get – it’s easy, it’s lightweight, and something about raising the mast and sail right there in the living room still makes me laugh.

The original aluminum mast was too short for the new rig, mainly because the telescoping tubes had frozen with corrosion in the mast’s shortened “reefed” position. Being inclined for very simple test materials, we got a 12′ piece of “closet rod” dowel from the hardware store, which is hardwood of some indeterminate kind. This is the same material that we used for the yard, except that this one for the mast is 1 1/2 inches in diameter, which is the largest size available at our local store.

On the boat, a 3 foot piece of aluminum tubing with an outside diameter of 2 inches fits into the original partners and step. The closet rod mast drops down into that aluminum tube, with a bit of play at the top of the tube, which benefits from the addition of a couple of small wedges. The mast step that is molded into the Portland Pudgy is slightly tapered, so the heel of the whole arrangement has been without play, both for the aluminum tube and for the dowel mast inside it.

The original theory of this tubing arrangement was partly that it would provide extra strength at the partners, along with being the correct size for the existing partners and step. But the bigger reason was that the sail bundle, with all the batten parrels, could then be dropped down over the aluminum tubing, and the wooden mast could be removed without fussing with the parrels, which would be all in order when the mast was put back in place for sailing.

In practice, the dinghy does not seem to mind having the mast left up at the float, including in some pretty bouncy waves, and when the little boat dries out with the tide it has seemed fine as well. Some of the lines that go to the masthead are also not perfectly simple to release, which one needs to do in order to allow enough room to lift the mast clear of the aluminum tubing. Because of this complication, and because the boat was faring well with the mast in place, in the end we just left the mast stepped until the time came to break everything down for winter. I do think that the tubing has provided useful additional support for the lowest part of the skinny dowel, especially at the partners.

The sail bundle stows well in the boat when not in use. There is only one aft lift (lazy jack), and it fastens to the boom by clipping into a small carabiner that is lashed to the boom. To stow the sail, the aft lift is unclipped and slid forward, allowing the sail bundle to come down securely into the cockpit where it gets tied to one side. Photo: Suzanne Jean

The boat sails nicely with the new rig, and is generally balanced in spite of the changes, except for upwind when it rather predictably tends toward lee helm. This upwind issue is a result of the new sail area forward of the mast, and is easily corrected with the tack hauling parrel, using it to shift the lower part of the sail farther aft which restores the overall balance. Batten parrels are cut long, so that off the wind the tack hauling parrel can be let out, easing the sail forward across the mast and doing away with weather helm.

After sailing in choppy water it became apparent that the rig would also benefit from a yard hauling parrel. It’s completely unnecessary under many conditions, but in the right kind of chop the yard thrashes enough to make one worry about breakage. The yard hauling parrel was simple to add, and took care of the hazard while also improving the sailing, as it stopped the wind from being repeatedly knocked out of the sail in light air conditions with waves.

Then there’s the sheet arrangement. The original rig for this boat used a line traveler for the sheet block, simply attached through holes at either side of the tiller on the transom. With the JR rig, using 6 foot battens, it works well to run the sheet back and forth from the blocks on the sheetlets to three blocks at the transom, which are tied individually into a substitute line in place of that original traveler. In this photo the sail was reefed, so the lowest section of the sheet is bypassed, using the sheet as it exits the second stern block instead of the third.

Some discussion has been had in the JRA fora that perhaps all those sheet parts are not necessary for such small boats. I figured that rigging it this way was an experiment, and that I might end up doing away with some of those parts. In practice, I’ve liked them after all. They require much less strength than a single sheet, which is convenient when one is not in the most ergonomic position for hauling on lines, being reclined in the bottom of a dinghy.

Also worth a mention, for those of us in the “not perfectly spry” category of years or circumstance, is that I ended up leading the halyard and the tack hauling parrel back to a handy spot that is reachable from the comfort of my usual sailing position. This is not fancy: the boat has attachment points forward and aft, low in the cockpit on each side, that were originally intended for lifting the boat on davits. A scrap of line, with two loops tied into it close to hand, is stretched out between the two starboard lifting rings; those loops make perfectly reasonable spots for quick slip knots for the halyard and tack hauling parrel. Someday cam cleats might be nice, particularly for one-handed use while also steering, but the present set up is working well enough for now, and is quite an improvement over scrambling forward. This arrangement is a little bit visible in the earlier photo of the stowed sail in the boat at the float.

Photo: Craig Pursell

All in all, the junk rig for the Portland Pudgy feels like quite a success, and a real improvement on the original rig when it comes to local daysailing. The junk rig reefs quickly and easily in our gusty and changeable protected-water winds, and over the summer and fall I was impressed with how much more secure I felt in the little boat, compared to previous forays with the old rig and too much sail area, which had made for a bit of a reminder of the real possibilities for dumping an 8 foot dinghy. Furling the sail is also vastly easier than the previous arrangement, which had required standing and wrestling the sail and boom up against the mast for tying, and removing the whole business, mast and all, when not in use.

Additionally, the original rig was prone to substantial lee helm and weather helm, as wind intensity and point of sail changed. This was a particular problem with the somewhat flexible plastic rudder, which was strained by these steering issues in strong wind. Being able to shift the JR sail forward and aft, using the tack hauling parrel, has meant a significant improvement in both safety and comfort, as it has taken the strain off the steering.

Since the new rig feels like a keeper, a “proper” mast is now in the works, being built of tapered spruce and close to 14 feet in height. This extra height will allow plenty of room for adding that bottom panel back onto the sail, which was otherwise going to be a bit cramped. The new mast will fit the existing partners and step, with no aluminum tube. I am also having some small thoughts of trying a cambered sail for comparison, though there are no immediate plans.

Just as it is, the new rig has made the Pudgy even more of a pleasure than it already was, for all sorts of sailing around the neighborhood.
Photo: Suzanne Jean


New England Junket

Over Labor Day weekend, now just past, we had a gathering of junk rig sailboats and sailors here in Joy Bay, and in Gouldsboro Bay. What a good time we all had! There will be articles in the Junk Rig Association magazine, but in the meantime here are some pictures.
[photo credit Craig Pursell]

We had five junk rig boats sailing, one on the dock, and four more boats that were not junk rig, for a total of nine boats out there with sails up. MARIGOLD, my Portland Pudgy, had it’s just completed junk rig, which has been working out quite well. So AUKLET stayed at the float, while I had some fun tearing around in MARIGOLD.
[photo credit: Craig Pursell]

There was another small boat, trailered all the way from Missouri, a Mirror dinghy with a bright red sail.
[photo credit Jeannie McDermott]

And this one, an O’Day Widgeon, which is the boat design on which I learned to sail. [photo credit: Shemaya Laurel]

Along with yours truly, happy camper.
[photo credit: Craig Pursell]

[photo credit: Craig Pursell]

Dave and Jeannie sailed over from the other side of Joy Bay, to join in the fun:
[photo credit: Mike Lyons]

The biggest boat, TERRAPIN, at 38 feet was the grandest thing not only here at the junket, but that I have ever seen here in Joy Bay. Breathtaking.
[photo credit: Suzanne Jean]
[photo credit: Craig Pursell]

The intermediate size boats were gorgeous too. This one came under sail from Penobscot Bay:

And this one on a trailer all the way from North Carolina, specifically with the junket in mind:
[photo credit: Mike Lyons]

[photo credit: Mike Lyons]

My friend Chubba brought his Cape Dory 25, as well as extending wonderful hospitality to the whole group.
[photo credit: Mike Lyons]
[photo credit: Chubba Kane]

AUKLET dressed ship for the occasion, and TERRAPIN came in to our float at high tide. That was extra special!
[photo credit: Suzanne Jean]
[photo credit: Shemaya Laurel]

We all had the best time, from Thursday until Sunday, with gorgeous weather to match. [photo credit: Luke Tanner]

Thanks to everybody, for making it such a treat!

[photo credit: Luke Tanner]


For more information about junk rig:

Junk Rig Association
worldwide membership organization; much information available to nonmembers in information pages as well as in publicly available forum discussions

Junk Rig Sailing
public Facebook page, readable for everybody including nonmembers of Facebook

International Junk Rig: Sailing Old and New
closed Facebook group, must be Facebook member and request to join group. Fairly active membership with photos and discussion.

Looking for Speedwell of Hong Kong

Best news of all! Just heard that she’s arrived, and all is well!!!

Shirley’s blog post with the story:


Putting the Internet to some of its best use, this post is not about AUKLET. Rather, it is for anybody sailing in the Pacific, or who might know anybody sailing in the Pacific at the moment, roughly between the Panama Canal and French Polynesia, who might have run across the boat in this photo during the last few months. Shirley, I very much hope that you are about to arrive safe and sound, and that you will forgive that I am taking the liberty of posting this concern for your whereabouts all over the place. It is my great hope that A, it will be completely unnecessary, and B, that if things have become seriously difficult, that all this word might help lead to just the right help.

Following is a message, with details, that I posted to my Facebook page this morning. For those who use Facebook, it can also be found here: https://www.facebook.com/permalink.php?story_fbid=624410714611586&id=100011279893542
Please feel free to share this around – information moves like a flash nowadays, especially through already established networks. Like ocean sailors. Again, Shirley, I hope that you will forgive this – if nothing else, a LOT more people will be knowing about your blog! Hoping that we will all be hearing of your safe arrival very soon.

The text of the Facebook post:

Has anybody sailing in the Pacific seen this boat in the last three months (since mid-May, 2018)? Shirley Carter, on the 25 foot junk rig sailboat Speedwell of Hong Kong, is overdue in her passage from the Islas Perlas, off of the Panama Canal, to the Gambier Islands in French Polynesia. She left from the Islas Perlas around May 10, 2018. Friends and family are concerned, as she expected to make the trip in less than 60 days.

Shirley is a very experienced and competent sailor, who has done extensive cruising and living aboard for many years. There is some thought that very light wind in the early part of the passage may have slowed her down considerably, and may have also contributed to bottom growth that could have continued to slow the boat even after she got into the trades. Because Shirley is hearing impaired, she has limitted radio communications aboard. If anybody sees her boat, could you please let us know, and if possible check on her well-being? She carried food and water for 60 days, though will have likely started rationing that when she saw how slowly progress was going. The boat has an engine, but fuel supply was limited.

As you can see in the photos, Speedwell is very easy to spot. If anybody has seen this boat in the last couple of months, it would be very helpful to know, even roughly, where that was. Please feel free to copy and paste this post, or to share it from my personal FB page, to any groups with members who might have seen Speedwell and Shirley, or who could be on the lookout in that part of the Pacific.

Many thanks,
Shemaya Laurel
ShemayaLaurel (the usual e-mail format) yahoo com

Here’s the link for Shirley’s blog – it includes a great description of her recent passage through the Panama Canal. http://speedwelladventures.com/blog/
Note that she built a new sail a couple of years ago. Both the old and the new are bright yellow, but the new one may not have the black image high on the sail that shows in many of her blog photos.


The link for this AUKLET blog post can of course also be shared…

Guy, just so you know, the network of Facebook sailors is vast. I shared the above post to the group Women Who Sail, which has over 16,000 members. Many of those members, including quite a few who sail in the Pacific, have now also shared this post to other substantial cruising sailor Facebook groups. Folks will be looking for Shirley, and telling their friends who are in the region, truly worldwide. Hopefully she will forgive me for this – it’s a chance I’m willing to take, in the hopes that somebody will see her boat and offer whatever assistance might be needed. Many messages of good wishes have also come in. Hopefully she’ll be showing up any day now!

Speedwell of Hong Kong, April 2018, getting ready to go through the Panama Canal westbound.

Maybe Not Done

It took until about March for the water to look a tiny bit appealing. One warm day (comparatively) and a little breeze, sitting on the shore. It happened again in April, once or twice. By May it occurred to me that if a boat had a little more space, and if it were in a quiet cove, I might like it. The fear wore off, with a good long rest. Being about done with the discomfort, not so much.

Two weeks ago, middle of June, the 2018 Race to Alaska started in Port Townsend, Washington. This year they had perfect weather for the initial crossing to Victoria, streamed for all the rest of us to see on Facebook live. “For THAT race,” I said, “it would be worth being uncomfortable.” Knowing full well the pounding they took in 2017, and the long calms, the year before that, has not seemed to interfere. This year, 80° for days, and a lot of rowing, peddling, and paddling. Eventually the wind came, and the temperature dropped. Seven women got to Ketchikan first, all the rest of us bursting with pride. I ordered some charts. Actually, I ordered them the day the boats all set out from Port Townsend.

It’s far-fetched, the possibility of Race to Alaska 2019 including an entry with my name. What’s nice to feel is that given the right motivation: Alaska, BC, mountains, fjords, true silence – even a drive across the country – something inside lights up. I’m happy on land. But the room that had gone dark, that is filled with sailboats, might have the kind of light that comes with dawn. Faint, in the east. With stars.


On the plus side, as far as practical realities of the r2ak, there is that ever since the Race to Alaska was proposed about five years ago, its requirements have been a guiding theme in AUKLET’s development, and my own. Motorless – check. Human power (yuloh) – check. Navigation, current, big tide. Stores for weeks. Water (see rainwater collecting). Check, check, check. Heavy weather sailing – see junk rig. Check. Night sailing. Solitude. Check, check.

The work that was done in these past years has stayed, banked, even as I walked away. The boat capable of such a trip is right there in the boat shed. It dawned on me in the last few weeks that what changed, in my lessening enthusiasm over this last while, is that with so much familiarity, and so much practice, I was getting bored. Who would’ve thought! There was stress, and there was discomfort, but there was not the newness of the unfamiliar, and the delight at finding one’s way. And the all-absorbing challenge, to expand into such new territory, which goes so far to counterbalance the stress and the discomfort. But ALASKA! And British Columbia, which is the bulk of the Race to Alaska. Lots to not know, in that proposition. To study, and to see how it unfolds.

So maybe it’s not done. Applications for entering the 2019 R2AK open in September. In the meantime, though the front runners are all snug in Ketchikan now, the 2018 race is ongoing, particularly for those in small craft that are paddled or rowed. Soon the sweep boat – affectionately called the Grim Sweeper – will be making it a real race for those on the slow end of things. If I get in the race, I would expect to be somewhere in the middle, or having my own personal run with the Sweeper. But there is no shame in that. Being in the race would be by far the greatest victory. With bonus mountains. Whales. Sea otters. And me.


For information on the Race to Alaska, see: https://r2ak.com/about/r2ak-explained/

How It Ends

Other sailors have told me – from their cozy position on a powerboat, or from a spot firmly on solid ground – that one day it just changed. Nothing dramatic or bad happened; they were just done. It seemed incomprehensible to me, at the time, in each conversation.

There is another Auklet post, written but not yet put up, from the beginning of this summer. It has to do with considering the possibility of being done, and various reasons for this dramatic shift, but was written while there was still sailing to do this year. I had committed to the Junk Rig Gathering in Penobscot Bay, for one thing. As the organizer of the event, it would not have done, to miss that. Certainly not for a reason as diaphanous as this odd feeling in the back of my mind.

It’s good that I went on that trip, which turned into 37 days, up and down Penobscot Bay, as well as the going and coming back to Gouldsboro. Penobscot Bay is a solid 50 miles from here, or more, depending on route, and how one counts arrival and departure. It was a good trip, better than the previous two, earlier in the summer, this one with lovely wind and quite a bit of fine weather. The Junk Rig Gathering was stellar, and visits with friends and family from Rockport to Swans Island all added to the enjoyment.

Oddly enough, when I got home I still had that feeling, more and more entrenched, that it’s done. A profound relaxation even, as the boat came out of the water, rather than my usual immediate pining for spring. This was good to discover. It wasn’t because of a bad trip, sloshing around with no wind and not enough sleep, or fog and no wind, or bashing grindingly to weather, into too many gusts and too many waves, or any of that.

During that last trip there was beautiful, stupendous sailing, along with the typical interjection of less-than-stupendous harbor issues, those last completely balanced by nights, and days, in gorgeous, idyllic, peaceful coves. There was more to learn – always, which is one of the things I love about sailing – and a chance to feel the familiarity with the boat that has made it possible to sail well in a variety of situations. Sailing onto and off of docks, and out in the wild wind and foaming waves, there is huge satisfaction in watching the boat, and rig, go, with a certain amount of competence, from all these years.

Oddly, and for the first time, this wasn’t enough. The rather cramped space inside the boat – which has never bothered me for longer than the first couple of days after moving aboard – felt constricting, and uncomfortable, ongoing. The long calms were aggravating, rather than meditative. More than all of that, the fear of making a mistake, of ending up on a rock somewhere, or overboard, never really left. I said prayers for actually making it home in one piece, hoping that I might pull that off this one more time, and thinking how ironic it would be to crash just when I was ready to stop.

Fortunately, no rocks were so much as tapped, this entire season, and I stayed firmly on the boat, at all the appropriate moments. Neither of these concerns used to cause me nearly so much stress. In the past I have indeed clunked rocks occasionally, not being that worried about it, while at the same time staying attentively away from the big ones with breaking seas. While I was always careful to not fall off the boat, it wasn’t a big concern, other than being mindful of exercising basic caution. The risk did not particularly worry me after the first couple days of adjusting to being aboard.

Now, I have lost my nerve.

The funny part is that it doesn’t feel like “I have lost my nerve and therefore I am ready to stop sailing.” That might be it, but it feels more like I have become ready to stop sailing, and therefore whatever magic that produced the nerve to do all the wild things I have done afloat has evaporated, along with that underlying, rather driven desire. The desire melted away, and with it the capacity to do those somewhat brave, nervy things. Oddly, I’m not really missing it.

This could of course change, and I could go out again. But I don’t really expect that. Sailing has given me so very much: solitude and self-sufficiency, when my life on shore had neither; travel, and marvelous connections with people; friendships and good times remembered, which all remain; a task requiring such depth and breadth of knowledge as to make it completely absorbing, for years. Connection with the gorgeous ocean, and the light, and stars, on the water. Nothing takes that away.

Meanwhile, there have been other considerations. This last year has been somewhat daunting, from a memory perspective. I’ve written before about both cognitive and memory issues, that have come and gone, and various interpretations of why that might be. It has become more difficult to remember odd things that pass in a day, or a week. On land it is rarely significant, but it remains shocking to perceive such blank spaces where something was once known, or to completely forget relevant, familiar details, in the face of a current question.

On the water, there is a limit to how far one can go, compensating for those kinds of gaps. At some point, extra study, and knowledge, and a rather OCD approach to daily systems, are not enough to tip the balance toward safety. I think that I could still do it, sailing off, but the risks feel palpable, in a way that they didn’t used to.

Perhaps this comes back to the question of nerve. Nothing used to stop me, including obstacles that are not these days as big as they once were. But the drive has left. The boat – and sailing overall – have brought me here, blessed to be in a place where the tide rises and falls outside the window. Or at my feet. The warm weather will come again, and I hope to be swimming.

It’s enough, now.

[Photo credit: Suzanne Jean]


There is more to say, about this and that – a little bit of trip stories, the Junk Rig Gathering, and the article about the Mer Veille radar detector that I’ve been meaning to do for ages. Posting that other entry from a few months ago, about contemplating stopping, is on the list. I’ll hope to be filling these in, over the next while.

Thank you so much to all the many readers here, and especially to those of you who have written back. It’s been such a pleasure.

Out of the Water

The boat is out of the water, and I do hope to come back and post some bits from the second half of that last trip. In the meantime, here are a few more recent photos.

Arriving back home, October 1, with the early morning tide.
[Photo credit: Suzanne Jean]

A few days later, with the rig taken apart and the masts down, Chubba gave us a tow to the boat ramp. Dave McDermott came along to help, and the gray rain held off until we were just about done.[photo credit: Suzanne Jean]

And this one, taken by one of our neighbors:[photo credit: Jon Young]

In the yard the next day, waiting for wash-up.[photo credit: Suzanne Jean]

And then into the boat shed. Yesterday the mainsail got the salt rinsed off of it… Sure does look big, when it’s not on the boat!

It’s nice to be home.


The third trip this year started a couple of weeks ago, heading generally west from Gouldsboro Bay, with a destination of Penobscot Bay. The New England Junk Rig Gathering is coming right up, outside of Castine, which has made for a very specific goal. Having a time consideration, the boat and I set out a couple of weeks ahead, and went up into Frenchman Bay. Here’s Mosquito Harbor, which I’ve been looking at on charts for years. It’s a keeper.

The boat farm came along with.

Going north from there, it’s all about working one’s way around Mount Desert Island.

Ironbound Island catches one’s attention, with massive cliffs. The tiniest white dots are lobster pot buoys. The somewhat larger white dot in the middle is a full-sized lobster boat, handy for scale.

Further along, small rivers feed into the Bay. This one has fishing weirs visible at low tide.

A bridge connects MDI to the mainland, over a narrow passage in the middle of a long causeway. The timing of tide and wind worked at about six o’clock in the morning, for passing through into Blue Hill Bay with about a foot to spare above the top of the mast. Hooray for small boats!

And the view from the other side:

This sailing vessel, ALCA i, has been doing research on algae in the bays of Maine for decades. They come into Gouldsboro Bay, and it was fun to see them again on the west side of MDI, inside of Barter Island.

You can see more about their work, and help if you like, here: https://www.gofundme.com/alcai

Then it was down to Mackerel Cove, at Swans Island.
[photo credit: Kent Mullikin]

By the next day there was a fierce wind carrying on in the outer harbor.

Kent, brave soul, rowed out to visit regardless!

Leaving Mackerel Cove involved a side trip to McGlathery Island, due to wind and tide. This trip might also be titled “looking for Bill Cheney” – as yet unsuccessful!
Across from McGlathery, it looks like the Universe was playing at marbles.

This one is for Patty Kirshner – you’ll see why. I like to think of it as DRK, looking on.

There was supposed to be a night at McGlathery, but the wind and waves were bouncy, and with an ideal tide and wind, up came the anchor and off we went, to our original destination of Eggemoggin Reach.

What was completely impossible earlier in the day was now easy, and a little over two hours later, as the sun went down, we were anchoring in a handy cove along the south side of the Reach. In the morning it was down to Pickering Island, which would have been nice if the wind had not shifted east (forecast southeast and then southwest)! On the weather radio in the night it was blowing 35 knots, from the east, at Matinicus Rock… Friends in Carver’s Cove were having the same problem with waves from that wind, but we had some fun texting about the crazy situation, as we all rolled around.

The next day was a great opportunity to go and look at Horseshoe Cove, which has been a place I’ve wanted to see for years, passing by its entrance over and over.

After a night in there, and some fun tacking out in the morning, there was a fine wind going up Penobscot Bay toward Holbrook Island.

Now it’s Holbrook Island, in the rain, with the lovely scent of the dripping forest.

Puffin Interlude

I look back at the pictures, out to sea, and you could have the idea that the wind was blowing.

At least in some of them.

Last week on Tuesday (June 13 – amid all the sailing conventions for when not to leave, is the 13th of any month also bad luck? Together with any Friday, on which one is specifically not to undertake the beginning of any substantial voyage, or risk the misfortunes that befall those who mess with the sailing spirits.) At any rate, unsure of the particular protocol, and with forecasts for the ideal wind, we set out from Gouldsboro Bay, with big ideas for travel.

We had a nice sendoff, from Chubba and Roger, out in Chubba’s skiff.

We were in hopes of a good, sturdy northerly wind for two days and one night. With that in mind, the goal was to sail south out of Gouldsboro Bay, and to keep going until either Cape Ann or Cape Cod was somewhere in sight, one hundred and some miles to the south and west.

Instead, about an hour after passing Mount Desert Rock, officially the start of the long journey and already about 20 nautical miles offshore, the wind basically died. That was about 11:30 PM, or 2330 hours. We sailed on through the night, AUKLET and I, but in place of our previous steady progress there was barely enough breeze to maintain our course. When the sun rose, instead of open water in all directions, the mountains of Mount Desert Island and Acadia National Park were at some distance but still clearly in view. This was not good! At least from the perspective of human plans and a preconceived notion of what might be achieved in the next couple of days, as far as transport to warmer and sandier surroundings.

The original plan involved making significant southerly progress before a major wind shift to the south on Thursday morning, that would be my ticket to turn west and go in toward shore, somewhere in Massachusetts or its islands. I had kidded that I might end up in Casco Bay, the big bay near Portland, Maine, but it was really not the idea. As Wednesday unfolded with only occasional riffles on the water, even Casco Bay seemed highly unlikely. The harbor at Matinicus Island appeared possible for a little while, and then not, as the tiny wind shifted northwest, putting the island directly upwind. Isle au Haut became a bit of an option, if that little breeze out of the northwest lasted, but as the afternoon went on this prospect, still about 8 miles distant, developed into something that would likely mean arrival in that cozy harbor sometime after midnight. And that only if the now disappearing tiny breeze somehow revived.

The prospect of such fussy sailing for so many hours, and staying awake for all of it, seemed both unpleasant and unrealistic. So toward the end of the afternoon we turned again toward the open water, in order to get enough distance between the boat and any land for some calm rest away from the possibility of rocks. Fortunately, traffic in this area is minimal, making substantial naps a real option if there is enough surrounding water. The radar detector makes an unholy racket in the presence of any other boats’ radar signals, so there is very little danger from other vessels that might be out and about. As well, the AIS transmitter/receiver informs ships and other craft of our presence, and us of theirs, using a VHF radio signal that makes only a minimal dent in the electricity budget on the boat. The AIS also calculates “closest point of approach,” and when that will happen, along with providing a visual image of where everybody is and is going.

Technically, single handing and taking naps at sea is completely against international navigation rules. On a ship that would damage or destroy anything in its path, the whole approach would be completely inappropriate. On a small boat, where the risk is almost entirely to oneself, and in conditions where problems are unlikely, it feels reasonable enough to undertake. Electronics makes this feel comfortable, to me. Knowing that singlehanded sailors were going forth long before electronics, and coming home to tell about it, leaves me willing to take the chance.

At any rate, we did see one cruise ship in the night, apparently coming out of Penobscot Bay and headed for Bar Harbor or somewhere farther on. It was duly announced by both the AIS and the radar detector, and watching its Christmas tree lights pass at about a mile and a half distant gave us a little fun in the dark.

The tiny wind came and went, from a variety of directions. The autopilot worked well enough to keep us from sailing back toward land, and in the morning of that third day, with the minimal breath of wind now from the northeast, we made a new effort to return to shore. The forecast said that by midday there would be a real wind, filling in from the southeast, so there was time for more naps before we might start making real progress.

In the meantime, there were puffins! These are the tiny seabirds with the extraordinary, enormous, colorful beaks. They first appeared in the evening, going into that second becalmed night, and then again the next morning. They fish underwater, popping up unexpectedly, and swim companionably on the surface a couple of boat lengths away, until down they go again. There was never enough time for a close photo, but the memory shines. The low sun lit those beautiful beaks, and, relative of auklets, we were especially delighted to see them.

As if that was not enough bird excitement, on the first morning out we had the pleasure of being a resting point, far out at sea, for this small visitor.

I reached to adjust the sheet rather automatically, after coming into the cockpit, and then pulled back when my fingers touched feathers! The little bird was exhausted, perching on the taut sheet up near the cleat, and didn’t even flinch. As I watched, it would close its eyes, sleeping after what must have been an overwhelming flight.

A little while later it seemed to recover, eyes open and watching me, and eventually flew to the forward part of the top of the cabin where it landed again for a little while, and then was gone. As my own trip became a little long and overmuch, and I occasionally wondered just what I was doing out there, it occurred to me that the entire effort was worthwhile for this one reason. We were in the right place at the right time to provide a resting point for a very, very tired little bird. It did indeed make the effort worthwhile.


Eventually, close to noon on the third day, the real wind finally materialized. Swans Island was in range, and by 1730 we were getting closer to the southern entrance to Burnt Coat Harbor. Originally about 13 miles away, the new steady wind made quick work of the bulk of the distance, before the breeze again faded toward the end of the day. It took close to two hours to go the last mile and a half, fortunately with some help from the tide. What a pleasure it was to finally put the anchor down, in that first cove on the right, in the company of several lobster boats on their moorings. With the long solstice days, it wasn’t even getting dark.

The next morning, it was anchor up, with an excellent south breeze, and out to sail halfway around the island to Mackerel Cove. This northern harbor is sheltered from southerly winds, and made a good place to settle for the wind, rain, and fog that were due to arrive next. There was a lovely visit with a friend who lives on that shore, and I had some restful days and nights, cuddling up with the warmth of the charcoal stove, watching the fog spill over the hills from the ocean side of the island.

Finally, on the fourth day anchored in the cove, the fog opened up a bit. Really, it was clear from Mackerel Cove to Bass Harbor, on Mount Desert Island, about 5 miles away. Bass Harbor is not a good harbor for a sailboat in a south wind, but continuing on and around the corner, a range of comfortable destinations were well within reach on the steady 15 to 20 knot wind that was forecast and already blowing. Reefed down to three panels on main and mizzen we made good time, keeping an eye on the edge of the fog bank that obscured the lighthouse at the Bass Harbor Bar, hoping that things would break up at least a little before we got there.

No such luck, on the fog! Approaching the bar, and the buoys marking the channel across it, we were shortly completely enveloped. On the bright side, over the winter I had finally broken down and acquired a handheld chartplotter. This gizmo seriously simplifies this kind of low-visibility navigation, compared to what I have been doing all these last years. Taking the latitude and longitude position from the GPS and plotting it on the paper chart – while steering – in combination with the traditional piloting and dead reckoning, was not exactly a smooth process, particularly when trying to hold a steady course without the autopilot.

Several friends have been encouraging this move to more advanced electronics, for a very long time. Thank you Bill Cheney, for our conversation last fall that finally tipped the balance toward saying yes to that winter sale. I could not be more pleased.

My skills with the new device are rudimentary, but good enough to find the next buoy on the gadget, and to guide the boat to that mark, before setting up for the next one. This is all in combination with the usual routines of laying out compass headings in advance, and keeping track of boat speed, and time, and distances between marks. But how relaxing, to have an additional check on all those calculations, and a visual image of actual progress. Despite visibility of about 200 yards, and some noticeable tidal current, the second half of the day’s trip went forward in a way that was interesting and straightforward, and so markedly less stressful than previous runs in similar conditions that I am an utter convert. Not that I won’t keep practicing the traditional approach – electronic gadgets fail on a regular basis, after all – but I am delighted to have added this bit of ease to my sailing life.

Interestingly, this new tool had also come in very handy on the first night of this trip. On the way out to sea, our first destination was to pass by Mount Desert Rock, about 20 miles out from the mouth of Gouldsboro Bay. In the dark it is notoriously difficult to judge distance from a light. Previously I have gone by this tiny island and its lighthouse during nighttime hours with a certain amount of stress, plotting position from the GPS, and watching the bearings change on the handheld compass, but feeling very aware that some small mistake could mean being much too close for comfort, out there in the dark. This approach has involved a substantial amount of peering into the night, and listening for waves on a rocky shore that might be closer than they were supposed to be.

The new gadget is quite endearing for so easily reporting distance off of a given mark. With the Mount Desert Rock lighthouse picked out on the little screen, boat distance was continually shown, reassuringly at over a mile and a half away at its nearest point. The distance of the light continues to be impossible to judge by eye, and I continue to watch anyway, and to listen for surf that shouldn’t be there, but the edge was really taken off of that experience also. The fog a few days later was the ultimate test, but in both of these situations, by far the most noticeable result was how much more relaxing it was to be out there. I’m delighted, and enormously thankful to all of the friends who have encouraged my further expansion into the digital navigation age!


Meanwhile, out there in the fog off of Bass Harbor, the breeze kept up (as did the fog), and we soon turned the corner into Western Way and continued north into the islands around the central Mount Desert Island harbors. Just before the entrance to Northeast Harbor the visibility finally started to open up, showing the edges of nearby island shores, and once into the harbor, with the surrounding warmer land, the air was completely clear. We were at the head of the harbor by 1400, and soon on one of the public moorings, after a little diversion to the float so kindly made available to the public by Thuya Gardens. Tomorrow we would be off again, heading the rest of the way to Gouldsboro.

That next day the sun shone, and after a bit of a false start once out of the harbor, with about an hour and a half of near-calm, we inched past the edge of Mount Desert Island and into the good breeze funneling into Frenchman Bay. By about 1400 on this day we had rounded Schoodic Point, flying along with the full mainsail in hopes of beating possible thunderstorms later on.

The best fun was that all of this timing happened to coincide with Suzanne visiting with a friend whose house looks out from Prospect Point, just south of Prospect Harbor. The best course was not close enough for waving, and was at the limits of Suzanne’s camera, but in spite of all that we ended up with a photo record of AUKLET blasting along on the wide Atlantic.

A couple of hours later, and several miles up Gouldsboro Bay and then Joy Bay, the wind had died back but the tide was conveniently running in. The lobster pot buoys are now in place for the season in Joy Bay, and provide perfect channel markers between the barely submerged mudflats and mussel bars of the less than half-risen tide. Suzanne was home by then, and took more pictures, from our home float.

In the end, the two of us decided that it made no sense to stop and then start again in another two hours when there would be enough water to bring the boat in to the float. So on that perfect, peaceful evening, I picked up the mooring and had one more night in the boat, sleeping in the comfort of knowing that we were almost home.

In the morning, on the high tide, the boat and I sailed in to the float. This coming and going and coming back again is the real gift of having moved to this special place on the shore. It’s nice to be home, seeing how much the gardens and flowers have grown and come out in these last eight days.

And it’s nice to remember the water, and to carry the vision of puffins, out there in the gentle waves.



Note to self: if there are no sails, and the wind is blowing, but not toward where you want to go, do not entertain the idea that you can yuloh wherever you want! Rig the sails… Or stay put. Wait for glassy calm, and while you are waiting, rig those sails!

Looking on the bright side, the most interesting thing about “motorless” is the opportunity to further develop one’s judgment, by collecting completely new experiences. I’ve never claimed to be a fast learner – I’m just determined. Each new set of circumstances has so many intriguing, and significant, factors.

The new circumstances these days have to do with both launching the boat motorless, and being the proud keeper of a mooring that is close to 1/2 mile from our shore. The distance has to do with the location of the channel, and the substantial mud flat at low tide, that leaves everything but the channel high and dry (or muddy) when the tide goes out. It’s a bit of a task, to get back and forth across that distance.

The right answer in this combination of new circumstances would have been to work on rigging the boat on the mooring, and then to go back to shore (before the tide went out) with the dinghy that got me and Suzanne out there in the first place. Instead, I had the idea that it would work to bring AUKLET back to the float under yuloh power, to do the rigging more conveniently where one could climb around, on and off the boat itself. Now that the storm of the other day had passed, the boat would settle just fine in the mud at low tide alongside the float, being both accessible and easier to work on. With this in mind, as the afternoon breeze died back we let go the mooring and AUKLET headed for shore, with the dinghy in tow.

In a flat calm, propelling AUKLET by yuloh is both pleasant and effective. The boat moves along well enough for good steering with the tiller and makes quite reasonable progress. Somewhere in the range between glassy calm and larger wavelets there is a transition from easy and pleasant to difficult to steer. Some wavelets/wind is doable; then there’s a crossover point, beyond which the wind catches the high bow and cabin, making any steering a compromise at best. The other day I was reminded about all of that, as instead of dying back further the breeze strengthened when we were halfway across that open expanse between the mooring and our float. Headway was slowed, steering diminished, and there was no turning the bow the 20° closer to the wind that would have put us back on course.

This reminder of yuloh and steering limits led to an evening on the shore, about 450 feet downwind of our destination, in spite of all our best efforts. As the shore got closer, and being too far downwind, we anchored. Scrounging around, Suzanne and I tied together every spare line on the boat, and then dinghyed toward the float, running out of length about 100 feet short of the goal. We retrieved some extra line from the float, and led it back along the shore to where the dinghy had stopped. Altogether, with one long pieced-together mish-mash laid out between boat and float, we were eventually in position to pull the boat upwind to its berth.

Did I mention the tide was falling? After hauling the anchor back up, and pulling on the long line toward the float, that same breeze pushed the boat into the shore, where with very little ceremony it was soon contentedly stuck. Using the dinghy, we put the spare anchor out in deeper water, so that when the tide came back it would be possible to keep the boat off the shore (it would have been handy to have done this earlier). We adjusted our patchwork line to the float, and settled in, putting our weight on the shore side of the boat so it would go down in that direction, happily observing that it would be a soft landing on mud and grass.

With nothing better to do for the afternoon, we got the mizzen sail rigged…

The neighbors came to visit, checking that all was okay, and it was an easy walk on the now-drying shore between the boat and our house. I stayed with the boat, Suzanne went for supper, returning with a delightful thermos of hot food, and we counted out the calculations for when the water would be back.
On the theory that there was no reason whatsoever for both of us to spend all those hours in the fun-house angles of the beached boat, Suzanne went back to the house for a nap, and I settled in to the low side of the cabin to do the same thing. Sometime around 11 or 11:30 that night the boat would be floating again, ready to pull to our original destination.

What a production! The anchor line for keeping the boat off the shore was rigged with a buoy – really, a spare fender – so that it could be let go in the night and retrieved at another time. We agreed on a flashlight code (one flash for “pull,” two flashes for “stop pulling”) and that I would call on the cell phone when the boat was floating. Suzanne asked how I would be sure to wake up, and I responded confidently that I never sleep through the boat starting to float, because it is both noisy and jouncy, with small creaks and slapping water noises, and shifts of position as the interior of the boat comes back to horizontal.

At five minutes to midnight, there I was sound asleep, awakened by the ringing telephone. Thank goodness! With the boat not completely outfitted, I had no alarm clock. The night was perfectly flat calm, and I had slept soundly right through the boat coming up! Fortunately Suzanne had woken up at 10:30, and had been waiting, ready to go. On the one hand, that was a long wait. But on the bright side, instead of rushing our trip across barely submerged rocks, the tide was now an hour before an astronomical 13.6′ high, with the water deep, and perfectly still. Stars reflected on the glassy surface, and what had been so hard, and impossible, in the afternoon, was now an easy, relaxed pull on that long line, gathering it in as the boat moved quietly through the moonless but starlit dark. In the end we used no flashlight signals, and were soon near enough to talk softly, hoping not to wake the neighbors. The anchor line out to deeper water was unneeded, and after it was stretched out the fender/buoy went over the side, to be picked up in the daytime. Moving the boat took about ten minutes, with everything laid out and the water so peaceful.

After AUKLET was tied alongside the float, including lines from the masts to make sure that the boat would lean toward the float when the tide went out, we spent a little time admiring the stars, and said goodnight. I stayed on the boat, to make sure that it would go down okay when the water left again around 0430. It was chilly – 37° that night – but satisfying to sleep on board with the boat properly snug.

For the future, I will know that at the very least the mizzen sail must be rigged before trying the yuloh in a breeze. If we’d had that tidbit of sail area at the stern it would have been much simpler to correct for the steering difficulties. But really, the right answer is that even though getting a junk rig set up and ready to go is a little fussy and time-consuming, don’t plan to go anywhere before it’s done! Motorless, in a sailboat, really does mean that you rely on the sails. Don’t leave home without them…

AUKLET Still Floats!

This morning, May 25, AUKLET made it out of the boat shed, down the road, and into the water, after about a year and a half on dry ground. We’ve had a very late spring here, which put a hitch in my grand ideas of launching in late April or early May. Finally the leaves are starting to come out on the trees – if only barely, in these photos – and we had enough warmer weather for necessary projects.

Here’s the boat ready to go at our nearby ramp in Steuben.

This ramp is gently sloping, so even with the hitch extension on the trailer, there is no floating the boat without letting the trailer farther into the water. This involves a webbing strap, and trusting the tongue jack with the little wheel in front to carry the forward end of the trailer and boat. One of our projects this spring was adding a new tongue jack with double wheels, because the old one has been looking precarious. The new one fit nicely on the other side of the trailer, so now we have two. Redundancy is good, and overall, especially because of the A-frame layout of this trailer, the arrangement seems sturdier and better balanced than even a single jack that’s in good condition. We used both, for the launch. In this picture you can see their vertical tubes on each side of the winch post.
[photo credit: Suzanne Jean]

Of course, that photo was jumping ahead. The first order of business, after the masts were in place, was backing the trailer to the edge of the water, chocking, disconnecting the trailer from the truck, extending the hitch, and attaching a long heavy-gauge webbing strap to the trailer hitch at one end, and to the truck hitch at the other. There was a moment of drama when one of the chocks slid on the slippery ramp, and the whole business, trailer and boat, readjusted itself by about a foot on one side. After the chock on that side was pushed firmly back in place we were once again in business, with no further slipping. Then the truck pulled forward to stretch out the webbing, and put on enough strain to release the chocks from behind the trailer. Chocks were retrieved, and then the truck backed up, letting the trailer roll slowly into the water.
[photo credit: Suzanne Jean]

With the truck a respectable distance from the edge of the water, the boat was floating but not yet free. The tide was rising and shortly did the rest of the work. Friends who had come in a skiff for the festivities (thank you Chubba and Arthur!) took a stern line and easily guided the boat off of the trailer.
[photo credit: Suzanne Jean]

We had dispensed with the electric motor for this effort. It’s a project to get the sails rigged, in a junk rig. Without the sails, in a wind with some rockweed snagged in the propeller the motor offers a false sense of possibility; last year with the Peep Hen this approach led to emergency anchoring and rigging the much simpler gaff rig to then sail back to our float. The little Torqeedo would have managed on this much calmer day, but only if the forecast wind did not come up before we were finished. We decided to skip that particular set of stresses.

With AUKLET and no motor, the options are either rig the boat on dry land after the masts are up (fussy and time consuming, with launch-helpers waiting); launch and anchor near the ramp (might or might not find that one very small perfect spot where the boat will actually float at low tide, rather than uncomfortably going over on its side), and stay for the night (cold, rainy storm coming); yuloh across to the mooring or float, about a mile away (gotta already be in shape, for that one, and like the electric motor, not feasible at all if the breeze comes up); or, ding ding ding! have a wonderful friend with a skiff and a sturdy gasoline outboard.

[both photos credit: Suzanne Jean]

The original plan was to tow AUKLET to our float, and let the boat go up and down on the mud while we took our time with rigging. The weather had other ideas, with the storm coming in tonight and tomorrow that will blow directly across Joy Bay, pushing waves into the float on our side of the bay. The steady 20 to 25 knots that is forecast is enough for some pretty good whitecaps, which would not be kind to the boat in the transition between floating and being high and dry. So now AUKLET is out on the mooring, perfectly snug for the messy weather. We had a nice tow from the ramp to the mooring, and then the boat was on its own as I got a ride in to shore.

Bonus, all those friendly helpers put MARIGOLD (the Portland Pudgy dinghy) in the water too, making quick work of what would have been a little more tricky sliding over the rocks. Those three strong folks picked that boat up like it was groceries! What a wonder. This morning we went from no boats in the water, to two, just like that, and back in the house before lunchtime.

In a couple of days the weather will clear up; if all goes well we’ll have some fun with rigging, and after a little more loading of supplies the boat will be ready to go. Many thanks to Chubba, Arthur, Chipper and Suzanne, who all made this possible. And to Joy Bay, for being there.

[photo credit: Suzanne Jean]