December 2016

From The Editor

Topsails, Jibs, and Tarps

My 14′ Marblehead skiff started out with a sprit main and a jib and that was enough when there was a decent breeze, but sailing during the midsummer doldrums wasn’t much fun. I added a bowsprit and an outer jib and they helped a little, but if I was going to catch more wind, I needed to raise the rig.


Milgate Duck Punt

Simple rig, rewarding sailing

Mersea Island, tucked into England’s Essex coast about 50 miles east northeast of London, is only truly an island twice a day, when the high tide covers the causeway that connects it to the mainland. There’s open water to the island’s southeast side at the junction of the Colne and Blackwater estuaries, and to the northwest mile after mile of tidal salt marsh with a wealth of wild waterfowl. This is the spiritual home of the Milgate duck punt.

The Lightning Bug's electric power plant can maintain 5 knots for 7 hours.

Lightning Bug

Quiet power, stately pace

The Lightning Bug’s range of 35 miles between charges will theoretically get it to points with a 17-mile radius from home. That’s a lot of territory, but a boat that is so easy on the eyes and ears isn’t about merely getting from one place to another. The vessel is in and of itself the destination: a place to relax, enjoy solitude or the company of friends, and take in the view, both within and beyond the boat.

It took more than sixty years to build the Boyard fortress, and it was never used for the military purpose it was intended for.

The Sailing Light Challenge

Cruising France's Charente Maritime

The French love sailing, but the big and expensive racing and cruising yachts often get all of the attention. A group of friends got together and organized a new event, called Sailing Light Challenge, an unsupported, 100-mile tour along the Bay of Biscay coast in small boats under sail and oar. This year's participants arrived at the Corps de Garde harbor near Charron, and waited with gear-laden boats for the ebb to provide a favorable current down the Sevre River to its mouth at Aiguillon Bay.

The placement of a melonseed skiff's mast so far forward, rules out setting the topsail while afloat. Other boats that have the mast set farther aft and offer the sailer good footing and stability won't have to be rigged while ashore.

Topsails for Sprit Rigs

A classy addition to a classic rig

Barry Long has always liked sailing in light air—ghosting along close to shore on a quiet evening feels like magic, especially in a small boat. But light-air sailing, though relaxing, is surprisingly challenging. In moderate winds, any boat competently handled can attain hull speed, but light wind requires sharp skills and careful attention to detail to get the most out of what’s available. Sail shape and trim make a big difference. Beyond skills, having a little extra canvas adds a sharp arrow to the quiver.

Reader Built Boat

The post at the stern supports two mirrors; the larger one at top provides a good view forward, and the wide-angle mirror below it takes in a broader view. Mirrors are common fixtures on rowing boats used in races in Finland.


A kit-built Savo 650

Tim Murfitt of Norwich, England, has been puttering with small boats, mostly power boats, for more than 40 years and grew weary of their speed and noise. He thought taking to the water with a pair of oars would be a good change of direction for his boating, and although his only experience with rowing was on dry ground with a rowing machine, he felt confident that he’d enjoy rowing. He wasn’t so sure that his wife would.


As the name suggests, the Bivibag Duo can be used for a bivouac, in tent fashion for one, a double sleeping bag for two.

BivyBag Duo

Exped's versatile shelter garment

The BivyBag creates not only an instant shelter but also the peace and presence of mind that comes along with that measure of comfort, allowing for the thoughtful decision making that is essential to any successful outing.

The pin that's included withe the WeatherMeter provide the option of connecting the device to the phone so they can be handled as a single unit.


Meteorology in your pocket

This compact and inexpensive device provides data that leads to a more objective observation and better understanding of weather conditions and patterns.

News and Curiosities

2018 Small Boats Annual on Newsstands

From 2017's articles here on the site, we've got the Coot dinghy on the cover, a nice selection of sail, motor, paddle, and oar articles, a guide to kits and boatbuilders, and an inspiring collection of Reader-Built Boats and their stories.

Watch: Building and Using Oselvar Boats

A few years ago, the Oselvar boat was named Norway’s national boat and the design serves as an icon of the country’s deeply rooted maritime traditions. Vidar has filmed an informative video about the boats and the workshop.

Drake Raceboat Plans and Kits Are Now Available

With winter coming on, it’s a good time to retreat to the shop for a boatbuilding project. By spring you could have a Drake Raceboat ready to row. You can now order plans or kits from Chase Small Craft.

Sights from the Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival XXXIV

Our Fearless Editor, Chris Cunningham, has traveled to this gathering in the past, and we plan to re-establish our connection with this fantastic gathering in 2018. A workshop? A beer social? We're not sure yet, but get excited. Here are some photos from 2017 to get you ready for next year.

Canadian Winner of World’s Best Teacher Promotes Kayaking With $1M Prize

Maggie MacDonnell, a teacher in Salluit, Canada, who recently won a $1 million prize for her contributions to education, and, in particular, to the Inuit community there, is channeling that fortune into connecting the rest of the world with kayaking and other aspects of Inuit culture.

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