Thursday, July 13, 2017

Sucia Island Rendezvous 2017

Just back from the Sucia Island group, in the northern San Juan Islands. This was the sixteenth annual gathering in Fossil Bay on one of the northern most islands in the western contiguous US.
A great time on the water, shared with some very talented sailors, on beautiful small craft.

Photo of Doryman in Saga, by Joe Fernandez

People we meet are often fascinated with the attractive boats all gathered in one spot, but mostly amazed that small boats like ours can be safe and seaworthy. Make no mistake, there are decades, nay centuries, of cumulative experience anchored in the shallow end of the bay this weekend, every year. Stories abound, of trials and daring-do. Places visited and the pleasure (and effort) of getting there and back.

Hot on Joe's tail.
Thanks for the photo, Joe Fernandez.

This year was one for the books. Though the weather was brilliantly sunny and warm, the breezes and tidal currents were fierce. Sailors from all points of the compass had tales of battles with the elements - what one might expect during a full moon with dramatic diurnal tides. In the San Juan Islands, the currents don't always follow intuitively with the tides.

Photo of Kees Prins in Dunlin. by Marty Loken

The prudent mariner will consult current charts, yet expect the unpredictable. In a narrow channel four miles wide, the current may run up to three knots and believe me, if the wind opposes such a flow, the result will challenge even the most experienced, in a small, low-power sailing vessel.

Dale and Chris' Scamp, from Canada, photo by Marty Loken.

This year, Doryman sailed his well-founded 18' faering Valgerda, designed by John Atkin. This open design was fashioned after the Viking faerings of old and for it's size is an exceptional sea boat. The first challenge came within moments of departure. Crossing the east end of the Strait of Juan de Fuca, from Port Townsend to the Islands always has something new to offer. A glassy sea twenty nautical miles across can turn fierce within minutes.

 Soon after departure, rounding Wilson Point into the commercial shipping lane, one of the all-too-frequent container ships showed up on the horizon. These behemoths clock fifteen knots or more, of speed, and are just plain scary. A breeze had just come up from the west, which opposing the tidal current created an instant boil. After the ship had passed, at close quarters, I swear it's wake kicked the wave action to a frenzy. Soon we were engulfed in standing waves well over our heads, with breaking tops and spumes of spray flying.

Kleppers and folding boats at play in the Bay.

Worthy Saga rode the maelstrom with dedication. For the next two challenging hours, only one small wave found it's way over the coaming, but unfortunately most of three gallons of seawater shot straight up and landed directly in Doryman's lap.

Photo of Bob Miller at the helm of his Drascome Longboat, Sally Forth. by Marty Loken.

Fortunately the day was warm, though, as many of you know - saltwater is very slow to dry. Despite being uncomfortably wet for awhile, the rest of the day was glorious, running north in Rosario Strait with a strong flood tide current running in our direction and a breeze on the beam.

Joe Fernandez brought his popular Cape Dory 22, Philly Girl, all the way from Texas.
Marty Loken photo.

Many mariners in attendance at Sucia had similar tales to tell. Great weather, yet challenging conditions, sometimes in your favor, others not so much. Welcome to small boat cruising in one of the premiere inland waters of the world.

Full moon over Kirk Gresham's Flicka, Koan

Even a long weekend, in such august company, is never enough. Many thanks to all my good friends, old and new, for a memorable time in such a beautiful spot. Already looking forward to next year - this gathering gets continually better and better, like fine whiskey in a barrel.

Joel Bergen's Navigator, Ellie drying out on the beach.

 Martin Schneider's Allegra 24, Clover.

 Paul Miller's Friendship.
Photo by Marty Loken.

One of my favorites. Janet and Bruce Ward's Clarity.
A Montgomery 23, from the British Canadian interior.

 Jamie Orr's new (old) Atkin schooner, Orkney Lass.

There's more, much more...
For the diehard, more photos can be found on Doryman's Flickr site.  Some photos courtesy of Marty Loken. Thank you, Marty!

And yet more photos, courtesy of Dale Simonson, the first Scamp to join us in Fossil Bay. Thank you, Dale, it was a pleasure to meet you.

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

Gone Sailing

Doryman is heading out.

It's time for the annual Sucia Island Rendezvous, in the Sucia Island group in the San Juan Islands, US. I expect to be seeing many of you there. Looking forward to it, the weather is superlative.

This year, the very worthy Atkin Valgerda faering, Saga is the vessel of choice. It's been a few years since the last cruise in this very seaworthy open boat. She's a strong little cruiser, perhaps more so than her skipper.

Salish Sea, here we come.......

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 Wharram 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.