Blackbird XLC and Thunderfly

The Blackbird XLC and the Thunderfly are a good match for a steep shoreline and a narrow beach.

To preserve beautiful wild places for the future, visiting the wilderness requires camping with minimal impact. The Blackbird XLC camp hammock by Warbonnet, a Colorado based family-owned business, is a flexible, all-weather system that leaves no mark on the landscape. It’s comfortable, too. The hammock is available in a lightweight version, aimed at backpackers looking to save every possible ounce of carried weight, and a heavier version, with a double layer of fabric which increases its weight-bearing capability. The Blackbird is an asymmetric design, so that a sleeper lies on the diagonal. Initially a little counter-intuitive, the arrangement creates a sleeping position which is fairly flat.

Knipex Plier Wrench

The 180 mm Knipex plier wrench is a good size for all of my boat and trailer applications.

I have a lot of wrenches and pliers in my shop. There’s plenty of room for them there, but aboard my boats I have to keep my toolkit to a minimum. A single tool that can stand in for several is a welcome addition; the Knipex plier wrench, as its name suggests does the work of both pliers and wrenches. Its parallel jaws will fit hex nuts and bolts and its extraordinary gripping power makes it possible to tighten nuts and bolts and even loosen rusted ones without slipping off and rounding their corners.

Dynamic Dollies

A dolly opens up access to the water in areas without launching ramps.

We first used dollies about 20 years ago, after years of toting around 140-lb Sunfish. Life immediately became easier when we could roll our boats to and from storage, load them on and off trailers, move them to the beach, and launch and recover from the dolly. Because we did not dunk our trailers so often, they lasted longer. Dollies also reduced the number of scrapes and gouges on the hull, as well as the amount of labor required for repairs. We now own six lightweight dollies that are easy to store when not needed.

On-Demand Paper Charts

The Small Craft version comes folded to fit a waterproof chart case.

While my fondness for old charts may be somewhat sentimental, I still find paper charts useful even though there are some very sophisticated electronic alternatives. If I were traveling the Inside Passage or the Intracoastal Waterway again, electronic charts would have a clear advantage in lower cost and bulk, but my cruising grounds are limited in range, so I don’t need many charts to cover the area. The screen on my handheld GPS is less than half the size of a credit card, and while it can zoom in and out, it can’t give me the big picture and the details all at once in the way that a chart can. And on a sunny day I can rarely see through the glare on the screen.

EP Carry

he EP Carry is the second generation of an electric outboard developed and manufactured by PropEle Electric Boat Motors in North Bend, Washington. It is designed specifically for small boats and weighs just 14.4 lbs, making it an easy, one-hand lift. The battery, in its case, weighs 6.3 lbs and will float if dropped overboard. . . .


The end flaps close off the ends of the HouseFly, sealing the the cockpit against cold or wet weather.

hen Kyle and I built SOLVI, a 20′ open sail-and-oar boat to take down the Mississippi River, we had plans for an elaborate boom tent, but, as many boat projects seem to go, we ran low on time and money and we had to scale back. I spent hours looking online for an affordable product . . .

Luci and LuminAID Lanterns

The lanterns all provide a board area of diffused white light.

There are two popular brands of inflatable lanterns: Luci and LuminAID. These inflatable lanterns have some common features: they float and are waterproof, compact for storage, and self-supporting when in use. The diffuse light they create is ideal for cooking, working on a boat, or playing games in a tent—a great advantage over the small beam of light created by a flashlight or headlamp. The latest models of inflatable lanterns have the ability to top-up batteries on electronic devices via a USB port. The lanterns we used on the Mississippi were Luci Original Outdoor 2.0s without USB ports for charging themselves or other devices, so we recently added two new lanterns with charging ports: a Luci Pro Series Outdoor 2.0 and a LuminAID PackLite Max 2-in-1 Phone Charger.

Poseidon Sliding Seats

The seats are supplied without pads. Those are left to the rower to select to suit individual preferences.

I have been competing in open-water rowing with a traditional boat and a fixed seat for over 20 years, and several years ago I had the opportunity to row and compete in boats with sliding seats. I really enjoyed the increased speed and total body workout, so when I learned about the Poseidon sliding-seat system from Puuvenepiste, Finland, I was eager to have it installed in my 18′ Merrimack Screamer, LE BARON ROUGE. The boat was built by Doug Scott, a New Hampshire boatbuilder, using traditional construction techniques. It has a narrow flat bottom and four wide strakes on alternating sawn and steam-bent frames. I use the boat for open-water rowing races and was drawn to the Poseidon rig as a way to improve the boat’s performance without significantly altering its character.


Flexpoxy can be dispensed through a static mixer tip and emerge from the tip ready to use. The cartridge fits a standard caulking gun and takes XX pressure. The tip can't be allowed to sit idle for long—mixed epoxy with begin to cure and become too thick to flow. At the end of the job, the tip has to be discarded and a bit of epoxy goes with it.

With these requirements in mind we found our way to Flexpoxy, a thickened epoxy that comes in a 250mL, two-part cartridge that fits a standard caulk gun. Flexpoxy comes out clear on one side of the nozzle and a light purple color on the other, then turns a translucent white when it is thoroughly mixed. It is very convenient to have the cartridge dispense the proper amounts without having to measure the two components to get the right ratio. The resin and hardener can be dispensed through a static mixing tip and applied directly to the work surface, but what we like to do is dispense larger amounts onto a palette without the tip, stir it up, and apply it to large surfaces that needed to be bonded. We have also troweled mixed Flexpoxy into a small syringe to fill small checks in planks. Flexpoxy is highly viscous and doesn’t run, so there is no need to mix in fillers to keep it from sagging. We’ve used it without any additives for filets. The resin/hardener mix has a pot life of 20-25 minutes, sets in three hours, cures in 16 hours, and dries clear.

The Portable Buddy

The Buddy Heater will shut itself off if its sensor detects a drop in oxygen levels or if it tips over.

The Portable Buddy, a radiant infrared propane heater from Mr. Heater, is a practical way to extend the boating season. It’s not a 24/7 solution that will take you to Alaska, but I’ve used it for winter weekend outings aboard JUST ENUF, my Kohler-designed catamaran outboard cruiser, to warm the cabin, especially just before turning in. I usually turn the heater to the middle setting for 10 minutes, then turn it off another 10 minutes—it doesn’t take much to warm the cabin.

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