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February 2015

The MerryMac

A Cat-Rigged Sharpie

The MerryMac catboat tends to make the blood hum with a sense of adventure and challenge. Its owners claim that it has always been so since the first of about 200 MerryMacs sprouted wings on the banks of New Hampshire’s Great Bay back in the early 1950s. And MerryMac lovers will tell you that the sense of adventure and challenge root in both the boat itself and her designer/builder Ned “Mac” McIntosh.

The garboards are built up of three planks joined with flush dory bevels and rivets. The seams between them are visible here with one running out at the transom and the other at the garboard's upper edge. To the far left is one of the butt blocks on the broad strake.

The Mower Dory

Sailing again after a century in hiding

One day in the early 1990s, a local contractor visited my boatbuilding shop in Marblehead, Massachusetts, telling me he’d been hired to convert an old boatshop into a playhouse. “The museums and antique dealers have been through it,” he said, “Take anything you want or it’s going to the dump.” The building was mostly empty but in the long back room there was a planking bench with odd parts scattered around. Above the bench, tucked under the eave, the blackened end of a tight roll of paper caught my eye. I took the roll down, dusted it off, and put it in the truck. That evening, I unrolled my find.

With summer rains and high water levels drowning the beaches at many of the official crown land campsites, the ability to live comfortably at anchor—or nosed into a reed bed—was a big advantage.

Lake Nipigon

Sailing solo in the Ontario wilderness

The morning on Lake Nipigon brought cool air, clear skies, and a few faint wisps of cloud to color the sunrise. I unzipped the tent and saw a line of fresh moose tracks between me and the water’s edge, barely three feet from my front door. So much for thinking of myself as a light sleeper.

Thermos cooking

Hot meals cooked while you're under way

When I'm out cruising I’m generally too lazy to do anything fancy to feed myself. Then I discovered thermos cooking. It’s so simple that I now regularly cook hot meals.

The Hydrus fabric has a water-repellant finish and is laminated around a waterproof and breathable membrane.

Kokatat’s Launch Socks

When I heard about Kokotat’s Launch Socks I was pretty excited. The first time I tried them, I waded into the water, got aboard my kayak and my feet were still dry! It was a cold day paddling in the wind and rain, but my feet stayed happily warm.

The 1/2" braided painter takes a half turn around the drum and then feeds out the top of the winch.

Greenfield’s Sky Winch

There’s a little balancing act down the trailer tongue I have to do when hauling my boat up on its trailer. Sky Winch put an end to this nonsense.

With her centerboard retracted, WHIO can anchor safely in waist-deep water.

WHIO, a Welsford pocket cruiser

Ralf Schlothauer first tried to build a boat when he was 6 years old. He scavenged bits of plywood and lumber from the neighborhood and then enlisted the help of his sandbox playmates. The result was not a boat but a collection of even smaller bits of plywood and lumber.