Preparations 8/20

The most boring part of any job/challenge/trip is the preparations yet it is crucial to success. For painting, the boring part is all the surface preparation and taping. For a trip it is the packing. For the Everglades Challenge it is not only the packing but getting the boat ready. Accordingly, this portion of the blog may not be the most interesting. Scott Gosnell and I agreed that I would work on getting the boat ready while he would figure out provisioning for the challenge.

I have already done several things to the boat to make it suite my purposes including spending the occasional overnight on the boat. I already did use the Picnic Cat for the 2020 Florida 120 challenge back in May and found it to be very comfortable including sleeping onboard despite using a simple boom tent to keep the dew off.

Sails and Rigging

One of the first things I did was to replace all of the running rigging including changing the throat halyard, the halyard that raises the front part of the sail on a gaff rig, from a one part to two part purchase by adding a pulley. This makes it the same level of purchase as the peak halyard, the part that raises the back of the sail, allowing you to grab and pull on both at the same rate. Makes raising quicker though the extra purchase on the halyard makes it stick a bit when you try and lower the sail.

I also experimented with using a bigger sail, something I did with the Com Pac Suncat I owned to great effect. I sail a lot in light winds and a gaff sail reefs well without changing the balance of the boat. Honestly, I should have sailed the boat with the original rig more before experimenting because the original sail area is quite good as is. I ended up taking the original sail to Schurr Sail loft in Pensacola to get some needed repairs done and add another line of reef points. If the winds get really light on the Everglades Challenge, I am going to replicate a strategy John Bell (aka Mister Moon) and I did in his Core Sound 17: add a light wind sail. We can add a jib but just in very light winds so that we don’t stress the standing rigging.

Working on the rigging and trying out the new bimini

I made two changes to the standing rigging. First, I put quick links on the shrouds. The turnbuckles had a tendency to bind on the shroud plates (at the attachment points) and bend before you realized what was going on. Second, the previous owner had damaged the sail slot on the mast by not insuring the boom, sail, and gaff were below the tabernacle before lowering the mast. The damaged slot caused issues when trying to raise or lower the mast and also was a potential point of failure. Fortunately, the top of the mast has the same dimensions as the bottom including the sail slot so I just swapped ends and reattached all of the hardware.


Having no cabin, the Picnic Cat is basically all cockpit. Makes for a huge comfortable area for us to lounge in. My first fix was to wash and then teak oil the wood in the cockpit including the cockpit grate, centerboard trunk top, and the hinged seat. The tiller took a bit more work being a denser sort of wood. I also added a bimini as you can see from the preceding picture. Given the importance of shade when sailing in the south, the bimini is the maximum size I could fit under the boom and behind the mainsheet.

Newly cleaned and oiled wood

I also made a filler board to bridge the seat to the centerboard trunk forward making for a larger sleeping platform. The filler board is hinged so it stores easily below. Not sure if we will use it on the challenge…. The full length seat cushions came with the boat but I do need to modify them into three sections so it is easier to get to the storage below. Finally, I raised the level of the wooden platform under the tiller to match the height of the seat cushions…more room to store underneath and holds the cushions in place.


On the tiller, I added my standard tiller tamer which is a line attached to either side of the rear corner of the boat that goes through a cleat on the bottom of the tiller. A bungee cord on one corner gives the needed tension and allows for the tiller tamer to be disengaged. I also added an extension to the tiller so I could lean back on the cockpit seat. I used one of the rear support poles that came with the bimini and some hardware I bought from to make the tiller extension.

Tiller tamer and tiller extension. Parts for tiller extension purchased from


The storage on the Com Pac Picnic Cat is absolutely huge! It is under all the seats and even runs under the cockpit sole. The latter is a bit of a problem as small items have a tendency to roll to the very lowest point and become irretrievable. My earlier solution was to put plastic storage bins under the seats but this proved to still be awkward. Also, while the Picnic Cat has built in flotation…it may not be sufficient for the weight of the skippers and extra gear for the boat. While I was browsing the internet looking for beach rollers….I came across a solution for both issues.

Walmart sells thick vinyl inflatable exercise rollers. ( I purchased four of these to inflate and stick under the cockpit sole. They both act as additional flotation and wedge in tightly enough to provide a barrier to items getting lost under the sole. They also might serve as rollers to get the boat off the beach. (you have to beach launch boats at Ft. DeSoto at the start).

Inflated roller 30″ x 7″ roller.
Roller tucks under the sole for both flotation and to block small items from going to the lowest point in the boat.

Alternative Propulsion

The whole goal of the Everglades Challenge is to go 300 miles on renewable energy. The simplest way is to paddle which is truly the origins of the Everglades Challenge and its parent group The Watertribe. It is a collection of expedition kayakers. Early on a bunch of sailors stepped up wanting to be included and Chief, who is the grand poo-bah of the watertribe group, added sailboats as a class. Sailboats are allows to use both sail and manual (oars or paddles) propulsion. There is an experimental class that allows for electric motors using renewable (solar panels and the like) propulsion. I mentioned this last as a possibility to Scott G. but was shot down…he wants to earn it the hard way.

So, how does one move a Picnic Cat when there is no wind and motors aren’t allowed? The challenge is both the wide beam and high freeboard of the Picnic Cat. The very dimensions that make it a capacious and stable sailboat for this challenge also make it a pain to move if the wind doesn’t cooperate. I happened to have a sturdy pair of aluminum and plastic take-apart oars that were a standard six foot in length but not near the 9 foot needed given the dimensions of the Picnic Cat. How did I get those dimensions? There are plenty of websites that give you various mathematical formula you can use to calculate. I also happened to have some aluminum tubing left over from my failed experiment in increasing the sail area of the Picnic Cat. I added this tubing to the oars so I now have 9’6″ take apart oars that will work with the boat yet are small enough to store down below. When taken apart, they also make suitable paddles for waterways too narrow for 16 foot span of oars.

Nine foot six inch oars are amazing to see. Fortunately, being aluminum, the weight isn’t too bad on these.
When taken apart, the are small enough to store down below. The one section makes a decent sized paddle for tight waterways.

To Do List:

I still have a long to-do list. Will write out both as a good place to keep my list and for any comments readers would like to make.

  1. Make a dodger: Block both the spray and give the off-watch crew a protected spot to sleep.
  2. Modify cockpit cushions: divide the one part cushions into three part cushions so can access under seat storage without having to take the whole cushion off. Also add snaps to keep the cushions in the boat.
  3. Buy rudder: A nice foil shaped rudder (current one is an aluminium slab) will improve performance including speed and pointing ability.
  4. Add oarlocks: Can’t use the oars I modified without
  5. Replace the shroud turnbuckles: repeated binding and bending may have weakened the metal.
  6. Add masthead flotation: Capsizing is a real possibility even in a boat as stable as the Picnic Cat. Don’t need much flotation at the masthead to prevent this.

Attempting the Everglades Challenge again!

The Everglades Challenge is a 300 mile boating adventure that happens every March. A bunch of crazy people pay $350 to show up on a public beach and sail, row, and/or paddle 300 miles from Tampa Bay to Key Largo risking hypothermia, exsanguination by voracious mosquitoes, drowning in a violent storm, and etc all on free public waters. For all of this, they get a shark tooth and a toy paddle both of which can easily be purchased at any one of a thousand tourist shops. This will be my fifth time shelling out this money for the possibility of getting said trophies. Why do we do it? For the privilege of hanging out with other crazy people, for the recognition, and for the safety in numbers. Heck, I can spend more just getting a beach front hotel room for a couple of nights ordering room service but I won’t get near the satisfaction.

In 2011, I attempted the challenge in a homebuilt 12′ catboat. I dropped out due to rough conditions off of Stump Pass.
In 2012, I attempted the Challenge in an eight foot Puddle duck Racer. Dropped out due to capsizing in high winds/waves off Naples, FL
In 2014, I successfully completed the challenge with John Bell (aka Mister Moon) in his Core Sound 17.
In 2017 I attempted the challenge with Scott Gosnell (aka Foghorn) in his 13 foot IMB boat. We dropped out at Sanibel Island due to sickness.

As can be seen by the captions, I attempted the Everglades Challenge four times before and only completed it once. It isn’t called a Challenge for nothing. You have to choose the right boat, be mentally prepared, and be patient to complete a challenge. This all assumes that nothing catastrophic happens to you or your gear.

In 2011 I attempted the challenge solo in a homebuilt 12′ catboat I had equipped with a dodger to sleep under and keep out the spray. I was not ready mentally not having had enough experience sailing in a small boat in rough weather conditions. I sailed through the night and faced some very rough weather on the nose near stump pass and made a snap decision to drop out. Never make a decision when you have had too little sleep! I also discovered the disadvantage of overpacking…can’t find what you need when you need it!

In 2012 I attempted the challenge in an eight foot Puddle Duck Racer I had built specifically for the event. I had a dodger that covered the cockpit giving me a dry place to sail from and to overnight. Again, it was a tough weather year with very few Class 4 sailboats finishing. I was in the middle of the pack when a sudden violent gust caused a capsize in the Gulf of Mexico off of Naples, FL. I lost some of my gear having not tied it in for fear of getting tangled. I also had rarely ever capsized a boat so dropped out despite recovering with only inches of water in the bottom. I deeply regret not having picked up replacement gear (clothes mainly) and continued on winning class 4 single. I just didn’t have enough experience.

In 2014 I successfully completed the Challenge with John Bell (aka Mister Moon) in his Core Sound 17. It was a very light wind year but, with the help of an old stained sail I made into a mizzen staysail, we were able to keep moving at a decent enough speed to finish. I also learned how nice it was to have another person on the boat with you.

In 2017 I attempted the challenge with Scott Gosnell (aka Foghorn) in his 13 foot IMB. This is an interesting boat designed to be sailed from inside the cabin with a slot-top that provides a cooling breeze or can be closed off to protect from the weather. We made the decision to go on the gulf side (leeward side) of Sanibel Island on a high wind day. We were gambling that the wind would die down before we had to cross open water. Unfortunately, the wind failed to die down, the waves were towering over the boat, and our sail was starting to rip. Scott Gosnell was also feeling the effects of life stress and an oncoming cold so we had to drop out. This was Scott Gosnell’s 2nd failed attempt to earn that sharks tooth.

At this point in my life, I had decided that I could easily go and enjoy the beautiful coastal waters without having to shell out the $350, during a better time of the year, and in a powerboat. In 2021, the Everglades Challenge happens the same week as my Spring Break (I am a college professor) so I could go down and enjoy the festival without any guilt. I called Scott Gosnell (aka Foghorn) to see if he wanted to join me in doing the route, but not the challenge, in my 1952 Lone Star powerboat.

My restored 1952 aluminum powerboat with 2017 40hp outboard.

I thought I had a brilliant idea as my boat cruises at 20 mph going 9 miles per gallon. We could choose when to be on the water and have some fun visiting with our friends in the challenge while on the water. Scott Gosnell, on the other hand, had other ideas. He has yet to earn his Sharks Tooth and wanted to be a participation and not a spectator for the challenge. Something in me must have agreed with him all along because next thing I know I am volunteering to do the challenge with him in my newly acquired Com-Pac Picnic Cat. Not only that, but I am more excited about doing it the slow and more costly way to boot! Of course, when seeking spousal permission I couched it as “helping out a friend” when truly I am excited to go.

Why do it in a Com Pac Picnic Cat you might ask? Well, in 2014 I enjoyed the size, freeboard, and stability of John Bells (aka Mister Moon’s) Core Sound 17. We also met up with a SeaPearl several times on the route and it got me to thinking about comfortable sailboats that could be beach launched (one of the “filters” for the Challenge). At the time, I was the happy owner of an easy to launch and sail Com Pac Suncat, a 17 foot catboat (single sail) with a cabin. This boat, with its full keel and 1500lb displacement, was not able to be launched from the beach but I knew if its little sister, the 14′ Picnic Cat, that could do it. The Picnic Cat has a displacement of 500 lbs and a centerboard that fully retracts into the hull for a minimal 6 inch draft. Best yet, it has a lot of stability and a large self-draining cockpit. In other words, since 2014 I have been thinking it would be fun to do the challenge in a Picnic Cat.

Fast forward to 2019 when I found myself in need of a sailboat for our newly purchased home in Pensacola. I had lost a suitable boat when our house had burned down in April (Otis, my 14′ self designed and built boat). The launch ramp near our house requires going under a 15 foot clearance bridge if you want to get out to Pensacola bay. Few sailboats of any size can pass under this clearance and most sailboats are difficult to raise or lower the mast while underway. Com Pac makes a line of catboats with tabernacle masts that makes raising and lowering on the water very easy. I had owned a 17 foot Suncat before and regretted selling it but I wanted something a bit smaller and lighter. Fortunately for me, I was able to snatch a Com Pac Picnic Cat off of ebay. Had to drive to Charlestown to pick it up but was well worth the trip! This is why I just happened to have the right boat at the right time!

Bringing home my new to me Picnic Cat!

When I brought the Picnic Cat home, I made some changes like like taking off the big “Downsized” name and re-christening her “Catnip.” I also cleaned her up, gave a fresh coat of bottom and bootstripe paint, added a bimini, and switched to a two-part throat halyard. I have very much enjoyed getting to know this boat and continually tweeking it for the type of sailing I like to do.

New bimini, bottom paint, and bootstripe paint
Parked with other Florida 120 boats at Ft. McRee
Made it to Deadman’s Island on Pensacola Bay
Parked near our house in the Navy Point neighborhood

Now that I introduced you to the Challenge, my reasons for doing it again, and the boat I intend to do it in, I will close out this chapter. Next posts will detail our preparations for the 2021 Everglades Challenge.

Otis, Fun before the End

Not sure when this happened in relation to the accident, but my Hunter 27-2 was out of service while I waited for a new forestay. So, I ended up using Otis for one of our club races. Despite being the smallest boat out there, I wasn’t the last boat to cross the finish line. Was a great day of sailing even if it didn’t count for racing due to not having any idea of a handicap for Otis.

Otis in the racing mix!
Good size comparison to the largest boat in the fleet, A 30 foot Hunter
We didn’t arrange ourselves this way…was purely accidental after rounding the mark.

In 2018, my wife and I took Otis to the Cedar Keys messabout in Cedar Keys, Florida. I knew better than to ask her to sleep in the tiny cabin on the boat so we got a waterfront hotel room. I also brought down the strip built Kayaks I had built. Was a great event as usual with some high winds allowing for some good testing of the higher cockpit coamings!

Otis with other boats at the Cedar Keys messabout. Boom gallows are temporary and just for trailering or lowering mast on the water.
Exploring some of the beautiful islands surrounding Cedar Key.
Getting a good test of the higher cockpit coamings on Otis. Boat is in a real good place now!

April 3rd, 2019 at 3am in the morning I woke up in my house to the smell of smoke. Shortly after, the fire alarm went off. A 12 volt Lithium Iron Phosphate batter on a trickle charger in the garage right next to Otis had burst into flame. The garage sprinklers rained water down on the battery causing the phosphate to burn even stronger. By the time the fire was put out, Otis, along with our home, was burned beyond recovery.

All that was safe to see of this great little boat.

Otis Evolutions

As mentioned in my previous blog post, I did build Otis in a bit of a hurry both to make the Florida 120 and to beat Scott Gosnell in his build of the IMB. Add this to a new design by an amateur (me) and some experimental build methods (canvas and tightbond III) and you get a boat that will need some fixes and corrections down the road.

This first came to notice during the first Florida 120 ( I took Otis to when the canvas and tightbond III coating started coming off the bow of the boat…big flap of cloth hanging down. I also found the main rather hard to tension as I hadn’t made the mast quite tall enough. Finally, my wife and I took Otis to Lake Jocassee for two nights and we got wet thanks to water intrusion. Ended up being from the chines which I never did properly tape or glass. The canvas and tightbond III let in water and the wood quickly rotted despite the paint.

One of the many waterfalls on Lake Jocassee.
My wife wondering why the cabin is always wet?
She still enjoyed the trip!
Fixing the rot and replacing the Canvass and Tightbond III skin with a proper fiberglass one. Bottom part of the hull now has 2 layers evened out with thickened epoxy.
Graphite in the last epoxy coat for abrasion resistance.
Repainted in the original colors.

After this fix, Otis didn’t leak a drop of water. I also took the opportunity to lengthen the mast for better geometry for raising the sail. Really helped! I took Otis to the Florida 120 event again…first time I used the same boat in two consecutive years! This year we met up at Dupont point and then sailed to Ft. McCree area. The next morning, only 8 boats made the trip down to Navarre due to rough conditions crossing Pensacola Bay. I did end up motorsailing because I wasn’t making good time going to windward in a fickle wind against some nasty chop. Once under the Pensacola Beach bridge, the conditions improved for a great windward sail down to Navarre.

The next day (Saturday) I had my best sailing experience ever in the Pensacola area which is saying a lot. We went all the way from Navarre to Dupont point, a distance of 45 miles. We arrived at Dupont point around 4pm.

No description available.
Otis and the other boats that made it to Navarre
Sailing past Big Lagoon State Park. Note my taller mast.
Happy sailor. Another recent modification was shortening and widening the bowsprit. Allowed for better geometry on the sails and also made for a nice place for a bow anchor.

It was an incredible day followed by a fairly miserable night. That night we had a major storm pull through that dumped a lot of rain. First time I had slept in Otis during a downpour only to have about two inches of water join me down below in the cabin. Completely soaked my bedding and made for a cold night and yet another modification for the future. I recovered Otis and stored it in Pat Jackson’s boat cave for use in the BEER (Backwater Environmental Escape Rendezvous) in June.

In June, I drove back down enjoying not having to tow a boat all the way from Atlanta. I picked up Otis and headed to Galvez Landing to launch my Otis for the BEER cruise. Unfortunately, on the way there I was rear ended by an inattentive driver. The winch stand bashed in Otis’s bow and crushed the Evinrude outboard my family had since I was six years old. I ended up hitching a ride with Pat Jackson on his Mirage sailboat for the BEER cruise.

Hole caused by the collision.
No more outboard
But at least the outboard fought back.

So, back to the boatshed to rebuild Otis once again. Beginning to think this wonderful boat is a bit cursed! I rebuilt the bow using 2 layers of 1/4 inch plywood instead of the one layer I originally had. Be a bit more comfortable when the waves bash against the bow. I fixed other damage caused by the collision before addressing the water intrusion into the cabin the last Florida 120 trip. I realized the water snuck in via the storage niches I had put into the seat backs. I hadn’t done a good job sealing up the path from those seat backs into the cabin. When I took the seat backs off, I found rot so decided it was best if I got rid of those storage niches. Could add flotation at the same time! Finally, I decided to increase the height on the cockpit coamings to prevent water coming in when sailing hard.

Bow and bottom rebuilt stronger than ever if not a bit crooked…gave it character!
New taller and well-sealed coamings.
New transom boards as well. I also added large holes to the transom at seat-top level to allow for good drainage of water. Added one-way flapper valves to prevent getting pooped.
Managed to save the graphics from the old Transom boards to put on the new one.
Replaced the old soft pine rudder and rudder head with a stronger oak setup. This is before adding led to the bottom of the new rudder.

Otis–a Pelacanish sort of boat

Now that I had a big boat without a trailer, I needed something I could trailer to many different boating adventures like the Florida 120. So, I booted up that wonderfully simple boat design program called Hulls by Carlson Designer ( and got busy designing my new boat. Hopefully, the results would be a bit more successful than the first iteration of what would ultimately become Blue Dog.

I decided on a pram or scow shaped hull as you get a lot more boat by chopping off the 2 foot or more required for a pointy bow. I also decided on a lot of flare to the sides given my experiences with the reserve stability this gave to Knot Yacht. With these specs in mind, the first boat that leapt into my mind was the San Francisco Bay Pelican designed by Bill Short. This is a 12 foot boat designed to sail some of the roughest waters I have ever seen and do it with some aplomb. This boat would serve as my design inspiration.

First change was to increase the length to 14 feet so that I would have enough length, with the use of a bridge deck, for eight feet of cabin sole for comfortable overnighting. Second change was to reduce the amount of rocker to the hull. I sail on much calmer waters so was in favor of increasing the planning capacity (increase speed) over rough water handling. The file below shows the plot points to cut the hull and bulkheads out of 5 sheets of plywood. I used 3/8 inch for the bottom and 1/4 inch for the sides in an effort to keep the weight down. Could probably do the whole thing in 3/8th inch for ease.

After cutting out the sides and the bulkhead, I started building stitch and glue style measuring and cutting out new pieces to support the cockpit seats, deck, and cabin as I went along. Before too long, I had something 3D that looked somewhat boat like!

Hull and bulkheads from cut diagram. The rest I figured out as I went along.
Sometimes made modifications after…note lengthened centerboard trunk.
Had experimented successfully with canvas drop cloth and Titebond III as a durable coating so did that for the sole of the boat.
Also use the canvas and Tightbond III to cover the hull of the boat…more on this later
Put in structure for decks and a keel-stepped tabernacle made out of solid oak.
Cockpit seat tops and bridge deck with hatch dry fitted in.
Cabin and seat backs in place. Cut in storage niches in seat backs.
The portholes looked like eyes…in fact, the front of the boat reminded me of my Chug dog Otis hence the naming of the boat.
Otis the dog and the inspiration for the name of my new boat.
Really looking like a boat here!
First time on the water with a polytarp sail I had made for another boat. She still sailed well despite the cat rig…was intending to make her a sloop.

Ended up finishing the boat in a big rush to make the Florida 120. Bought sails from Stevenson Projects intended for their Weekender design. I had previously built their Pocket Cruiser catboat (see earlier blog posts) and knew them well. The sails ended up being a perfect fit. I met Scott Gosnell and his daughter Savannah in his newly built IMB boat and did some cruising pre- Florida 120.

Scott Gosnell and his newly built IMB.
Otis proved to be a bit faster boat but also a bit more cramped in the cabin. Later, Scott and I would attempt the Everglades Challenge in his IMB.
Picture Pat Johnson shot of me in my new Otis boat. Notice the nice fit of the Weekender sails.
Shawn Payment, in his Potter, and I were sailing along talking when John Bell came up and shoehorned in between us in his Core Sound 17. Great picture!

Hunter 27-2

My wife, Laura, mentioned how she would like a bigger boat than the Holder 20 we were currently sailing and the Compact Suncat. Wanted something that was roomier for the family and had an enclosed head (bathroom for you landlubbers). This boat would live on the lake so no need for a trailer. I could build another boat that I could take on the road for my sailing adventures. She accompanied me on the boat hunt and we were both sold on a 1989 Hunter 27 we found at Lake Lanier. We loved the open transom, standing headroom, enclose head, and open layout of the boat. We had some adventures, including the need for a bottom job, getting it to Lake Allatoona but, in 2013, we had a new more comfortable boat. It has proven an excellent boat being both comfortable and surprisingly fast sailor despite the high freeboard. We still own this boat but are looking to sell it not wanting to pay slip fees anymore.

Evidently, Lake Lanier breeds blisters. Paid almost as much for a new bottom job as we did to purchase the boat in the first place!
Excellent boat for Lake Allatoona with its shoal draft and comfortable accommodations. Made a great “Cabin on the Lake.”
New forestay in 2016, sails in 2017, and other upgrades over the years.
Open cabin. Have had seven people down below at that table when overnighting with our sailing club on some colder winter days.
Under new sails

Holder 20

In a previous post, I talked about selling my Compac Suncat and replacing it with a Holder 20. In hindsight, I kinda regret selling the Suncat though, admittedly, I am in a different place in my boating life as you will see as I continue to catch my blog up to the current happenings. The Holder 20 was a wonderfully fast boat but with a punishing layout to the cockpit and especially the cabin. Terry Green named his Holder 20 “Bruiser” just because of this aspect…something I didn’t realize until I purchased the boat. The Holder 20 also sailed more like a dingy requiring active efforts by the skipper to use his/her weight to trim out the boat. Was very exhausting to sail in the swirly winds we have on Allatoona. It also wasn’t a good boat to take the family out to relax on the lake with. Ended up selling her just a year after purchase.

Only picture I found showing my Redneck bimini setup on the Holder.

Blue Dog

Figured I would start the catch up with the boat that kinda caused me to stop posting for awhile. This was the one person cruiser I started building and was the genesis for this blog thingy. I did launch the boat but the launch was so hilariously disastrous that I was too embarrassed to continue posting. Fact was that my subconscious was sending me warning signals about my design but chose to ignore them to my detriment.

First splash…can see my concern over how high she was floating in the water.
I think I designed this boat for elves plus the stability was terrible. Didn’t dare move around any much less raise the sail. Total fail!

So, I dragged the failed boat home and left it sitting in the garage while I played with my Holder 20 sailboat. Eventually, I decided to try and salvage this boat. First step was to cut out a portion of the V bottom to give it a bit less flotation and a bit more stability. In other words, converted it into a multichine with V shaped entry and exit. Next, I got rid of the raised cockpit and redesigned to sail while sitting on the bottom. Thought I might sail from inside the cabin. As you can see from the pictures below, the resulting boat looked kinda strange. It did work but I wasn’t a fan of sailing from inside a cabin where you couldn’t feel the wind.

Initial paint job was red…but a few Santa Jokes and I repainted to Blue
Much better stability but was not a fan of sailing from inside the boat.
Boat looked like the “Blue Dog” paintings in New Orleans so that ended up being the name. It stuck even after I cut off the ears of the dog’s face.

So, once again back to the drawing board. At this point I was flushing good effort after bad design but I was determined to redeem myself by making this boat work. Fortunately, the third time was the charm and I ended up with a boat that was a great sailor and comfortable (in a bivy sack sort of way) for overnighting.

Cut off tall cabin and made decks I could hike out on. Boat completely open under for sleeping space. Did some intended and unintended capsize tests and she floated on her side without taking any water in.

I ended up using Blue Dog both in the Florida 120 challenge (120 miles without motor in the Pensacola, FL area) and for the Texas 200 where blue dog herded several yellow puddle duck racers. Here are some photos.

Used the boat in the 2013 Florida 120 where I did an unintended capsize test. Righted, boarded, and was back to sailing before the only witness could tack their boat to come back to help.
Relaxing at Sand Island
Camping setup. Later, had a more snug cover which I used and kept me dry in several rainstorms and when trailering
Blue Dog herding yellow Puddle Ducks in the one and only Texas 200 I have participated in.
First day was a Small Craft Advisory. Roller furling sail did its thing and the boat handled the rough conditions easily

The performance of Blue Dog was excellent. It caught the attention of another participant of the Texas 200 who recommended his brother buy the boat. Soon after, I sold Blue Dog.

Seven years of neglect

So, not been doing a good job keeping up with this blog thing. In fact, last post was from 2013 so have had a seven year gap. Kinda embarrassing to think of how many boats have come and gone during that time! Will try and summarize each boat over the next several blog posts including when I last owned each boat.

New Boat Distraction

I decided to sell my Com-Pac Suncat and buy a boat more suited to racing (i.e. Faster).  The Suncat is incredibly roomy, comfortable, easy to sail, and very easy to launch but its speed puts it at the back of the pack.  For racing this means you cross the finish line last or thereabouts then hope you correct over others with your handicap.  Unfortunately, this doesn’t go over that well with the other racers who have to face the sudden realization that they lost a race that they thought they won.  Its human nature and something that I am not above experiencing.  Also, the Suncat’s sailing is a bit too sedate to interest my teenage kids.  There are some other positives to this switch including the difference in price between what I can sell the Com-Pac Suncat for (high) and what I can buy an older suitable sloop for (low).

God must agree with these thoughts as the transition has gone swiftly and smoothly.  I remember Terry Green’s Holder 20 from the Florida 120 as being a really nice and fast boat.  Another friend of mine, Mark Milan, turned his Holder 20 into a dark hulled beauty of a museum piece.  The Holder 20 is unique in that it is a fast full keel boat on the water but a shoal draft launching boat on the trailer thanks to a retractable keel.  There were no Holder 20’s being advertised for sale so I put a “seeking sailboat” add on and quickly got four different Holder 20’s to select from both from direct sources and people who had heard or seen one for sale in their area.  Two of the boats were “race ready” and priced above my budget.  Besides, I kinda like making a boat my own by working on it.  Two others were in rougher condition but correspondingly less expensive.

I ended up buying a nice Holder 20 in Baltimore, MD for an excellent price from a gentleman who was past his sailing years.  I arranged for it to be shipped to Atlanta and will lay my eyes on it for the first time this coming Friday.  Based upon what I was told about this boat, it should be ready for the water and, hopefully, I will sail it for the first time in my sailing club’s race this Saturday.  Big advantage is in having willing hands on shore to help me rig the boat and other sailors out on the water should I screw up or just want some pictures so I can tune the boat.

larrys sail boat 008