Monday, December 03, 2007

Build a sailboat? Support for the idea from an unexpected source

If you've been following along, you will know that I'm just about finished with the kayak build project. As excited as I am about having it done and getting it out on the water, I'm a little sad about finishing it. If you've been following along for quite awhile, you'll remember that the whole project came about from my desire to build something that I could use, but something more viable than an airplane. I already have one of those, thank you very much, and the time and dollars required to build a new one are things that won't be available for a number of years yet.

I've really enjoyed building the kayak. The satisfaction of seeing it come together, the solving of myriad small problems during the build, and the relaxing effect of working on something tangible (idle hands, Devil's workshop, you know the drill) are things that I'm going to miss when it's done. I briefly considered trying to sell it when it's done, but I'm actually more interested in using it. We have good rivers for it nearby, and it seems like it will be a nice, relaxing couple of hours out on the river paddling it downstream in peaceful solitude on the occasions that I can arrange for drop-off and pick-up.

Now, let's dissect that last sentence, in the hope of justifying the expense of acquiring a new project, namely a sailboat, to build.

First: "out on the river." We have lakes, too.
Second: "paddling." Well, good exercise or not, that's work, eh?
Third: "peaceful solitude." There's a difference between that and forced solitude. It's a one-hole boat, and just as with an RV-3, there are sure to be days when I'd prefer to have company.
Fourth: "arrange for drop-off and pick-up." Hmmm. There will be days when I want to boat, but can't arrange for the appropriate transport.

It seems to me that the solution to all of these comes from the same place:

That boat comes from the same manufacturer as the kayak did. It's call a Passagemaker Dinghy. It can be built as a rowboat, power boat (4 hp or less), or a sailboat. In fact, it's all three! I doubt that I'd ever want to buy a motor for it, though. Motors that small are fussy and noisy:

("I think it's out of gas. Send Lassie there for help!")

And, of course, the whole point is to sail. Besides which, there's no need for the motor since the oars would be there for the days when I'm becalmed and need alternative means for getting back to shore. Our local lakes aren't very big.

For even longer than I've been fascinated with airplanes, I'm been interested in sail boats. I read all of the Horatio Hornblower novels as a kid, and knew the theory behind how sailboats work long before I knew jack about airplanes. I even owned a sailboat once, but it was a complex racing catamaran, and I was never able to use it much. I want something simple that can be rigged in just a few minutes and doesn't require a trailer or a place to store it.

When you think about my interest in both flying and sailing, they really both involve manipulating a wing to achieve a desired result. The only difference is the orientation of the wing.

While the simplicity of this little boat is nice, it's also very beneficial that it can be built such that it can be taken apart and the halves nested together for easy transport and storage:

It's pricier than the kayak, though, especially when it comes time to buy the sails and rigging. Those aren't needed until it's done, of course, but at some point I'd need them.

In any event, it's the cost that's the issue. Support for a new project at home may be questionable. I did run it past Co-pilot Egg, though, just to see if she'd be interested in learning to sail. Here's where I got some support that I wasn't really expecting:

"Sure! That's how the girls in the movies get all the guys!"

Wow, was that ever an unexpected (and somewhat frightening) answer! That said, buy-in from the co-pilot is necessary, but not sufficient. I'm going to have to think about it some more.


  1. Ted the RV niner A driverDecember 3, 2007 at 2:59:00 PM EST

    The sailboat looks easy to build. I like the feature of being able to fold it into half. Ten years ago I built a 17' "weekender". Sails (main and jib) were made of tarp with duck tape reinforcement. It was fun as long as you are not going anywhere. RV is also fun and it goes somewhere fast. When you get your sailboat done, I would like to be invited to be a crew!

  2. You bet, Ted! You could have a pretty good day: fly up in the 9, sail for a few hours, fly home.

    I swear, sometimes I feel like a rock star, albeit on a roadie's budget.