December 2016 Archives - Small Boats Magazine

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.

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.