13 Aug


The Cartop Carrier Yacht


An Inveterate Tinkerer Turns Things Upside Down
by Jim Graves

I stopped at a nearby neighbor’s almost perpetual garage sale, where a Sears cartop luggage carrier about six-feet long caught my eye. I figured that with a bit of work—some judicious cutting and drilling here and there—it’d make a quickly-built and quirky little sailboat.

After a bit of planing and sawing, the hull begain to show promise of a capable, if tiny, sailing craft. Much online research was begun to find the specific ratios and distance dimensions. A lot of small boat comparisons of apparent sail area to hull profile were tallied; the same with lee board size and location. The “quick” project went the same as all the others, taking far longer than expected, but the enjoyment was not diminished. It became obvious that, more than with motorcycles and other builds, a sailboat has to have all its component parts designed at the same time to work properly. As in an engine, everything has to work together, and small dimensions matter. It takes at least as long to research and design as to build and install. But the hope remained that, in the end, maybe it would float.

I also consulted with a few experienced and successful sailboat designers. I learned that the scale of the appendages does not change at the same rate as the hull, when scaling to a different length. So, as always, a bit of “over engineering” in places seemed wise, if specifics are not known. That is, we don’t have to know some of the exact parameters, but should be able to compare and copy closely. Thought was applied to where stress would originate and travel. Also, it was decided the materials used should be conducive to low-cost construction. Pine wood was settled on for its lightweight and finished beauty.

Some extra heft was put in the leeboard swivel surface. The hull was stiffened using 6″ pvc thinwall tubing around the upper inside gunnels. And it provides floatation. The mast step is pvc tube too, held stiff and distributing the loads by lateral tubes to the gunnels, with a stiffening plate under. More pvc space frame may be added later. If it floats. An aluminum extendable tube was attempted as mast, but added unneeded complication; the old proven aluminum tube being resorted to. The experimental  sail is of painters drop cloth. The boom will be changed from the pvc to matching aluminum. L-boards and rudder are foil shaped, and the rudderhead is hand carved, using electric power tools. Stand by in a future issue of Small Craft Advisor, for the results of the sea, I mean, pond, trials…. if it floats.


The all-self-built assembly.


Showing lee board swivel mounting.


Inside. Flotation gap allows enough room for skipper’s nap below.

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27 Jul

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Pocket Yacht Palooza and Crooza



July 18th saw boats gather in Port Townsend for the fourth annual Pocket Yacht Palooza. In addition to the boats on trailers and along the waterfront, visitors were treated to a Q&A session with several Race to Alaska racers—including first solo finisher, Roger Mann. And that evening, small-boat designer John Welsford gave a stimulating talk on “Designing for Dreams,” which included his sharing details and photos of Howard Rice’s nearly finished modified adventure SCAMP and Howard’s plan to return and explore remote Tierra Del Fuego by small boat.

The next day more than 20 boats set off on the first ever Palooza Crooza, a scheduled 3-day cruise around nearby Marrowstone Island. What follows are photos from the festivities and cruise.


Palooza in full swing. Photo by Marty Loken


R2AK solo racer Roger Mann answers questions. Photo Marty Loken


The fleet setting off for Mats Mats Bay. Photo Helen Leenhouts


Danny Grunbaum of Seattle with his twin 13-year-old twins, Sam and Maks aboard their Core Sound 17. Photo Helen Leenhouts


Pete and Helen Leenhouts’ little tug called Blue Star. They served as escort the entire cruise. Photo Josh Colvin


Charles Silver at the helm of SCAMP #1. Joel Bergen’s Navigator Ellie in background. Photo by Josh Colvin


Tom Gale’s Bolger Old Shoe passing under bridge at Port Townsend Canal. Photo Debra Colvin


A pram parade of SCAMPs looking for wind. Photo Josh Colvin


Rick Proctor took this shot of another San Francisco Pelican from his own Pelican.


Lee’s Oughtred-designed Wee Seal called Opus. Photo Josh Colvin


Tom Carr’s Mirror Offshore 19 called Bluebird. Photo Helen Leenhouts


Simeon’s SCAMP #11 Noddy headed under bridge. Photo Debra Colvin


Lynn Watson and Katie Mae ghost into Mats Mats Bay. Photo Josh Colvin


A few of the boats moored at our gracious host’s private dock in Mats Mats. Photo Marty Loken


Sunset on Mats Mats. Photo Marty Loken


Kirk Gresham’s Crotch Island Pinky, and David Jones’ Oughtred Eun na Mara cruiser near Marrowstone Point. Photo Helen Leenhouts


Scott Marckx’s Welsford Rogue runs close to shore. Photo Helen Leenhouts.


Palooza Croozers at the dock at Fort Flagler State Park. Photo Marty Loken


Some boats used beach rollers to overnight at Fort Flager. Photo Marty Loken


Palooza coordinator, Marty Loken, catching a well-deserved nap. (George Holmes designed canoe yawl based on the Ethel design) Photo Helen Leenhouts

Filed Under: Blog, General Posts

24 Jun


Roger Mann on his R2AK Experience


Below is an excerpt from our interview with the indomitable Roger Mann—the first place solo Race to Alaska finisher who completed the adverse 750 mile course pedaling and sailing his Hobie Adventure Island sailing kayak.


Roger on transiting Seymour Narrows: “Heard that Team Un-Cruise did it at night, so took one last quick nap and headed out after midnight. Took much longer than I expected to get into the Narrows, so I hit it late and when I did it there was at least 20 knots on the nose, which caused severe conditions—worst that I had seen yet. I didn’t carry much sail into it, but used the current, staying in the middle and just rafting along, but the waves were so close together I ended up missing getting lined up for one big one with the pedal drive and ended up getting washed off the boat. I had my surfboard leash on and quickly got back aboard, climbing over and bending my tiller steering rods. I looked for a place to hide out but nothing came up until early in the morning about the time the tide was changing. I found a nice island to get behind and tied up to bull kelp.”

On pithchpoling at Cape Caution: “As I reached the Cape it was around 10 pm, dark, and swells were around 20 feet—I was not making progress very well. I reefed, lined up for a beach landing and went for the middle which I knew was clear, but the surf was just too big for the 16 foot boat and I planted the nose and the boat flipped over forward with the right ama hitting the ground, sheering the breakaway bolt and then folding back as the mast hit the sand and the wave crashed everything onto the beach.

“Everything that I had Johnstone had taken away.”

“My feet were working the pedals trying to keep the speed, so when we hit, one leg of the drive system broke off as I got thrown from the boat. I stood up in chest deep water and grabbed the mast and pulled it up and the boat popped back upright with the right ama folded as another wave crashed down. I had a large bag on the back storage area and many things attached to the hiking benches. The bag and right bench had gotten washed off and waves continued to crash and push us in. I noticed I had trouble moving and thought that it was undertow. Instead it was that I had left my fly zipper open on my drysuit and my legs had filled with water. I was pinned to the beach and couldn’t pull myself up and out of the water, so I got my knife and slit open the feet which let the water out and I was able to get up and drag the boat out of the surf…

“I took care of getting out of the wet clothes and warmed myself and felt Like I was now out of danger, and then started seeing how bad it was going to end up being. I was thinking the worst, and that the akas may be bent and I may need to call for rescue. But as I assessed the boat I did not find any major damage. I had replacement breakaway bolts so that was going to be okay, but I was missing a lot of stuff—mainly the Hobie seat. It was just plain gone. Plus the anchor and many other items.”

On one of many trip highlights: “My last night on the water. I had pushed very hard, was hallucinating bad, was pretty much lost although I knew about where I was, and just plain beat down, so I tied up to some kelp around 2 am to get some sleep. I was awakened by the snort of a huge whale only about 50 feet away. As I awoke his back slid slowly through the water with his tail coming way up and out of the water. It was huge—had to be as wide as an airplane’s wing—maybe 30 feet or so. It was foggy, misty, very calm and very cool and pretty magical. Just amazing.”

On surviving the straits: “Everything that I had Johnstone had taken away…I had a major personal moment with myself. I was very proud that I had made it in those conditions and having had so many things taken from me. I felt like I was broken down and reborn as a new stronger person that had confidence to take on big challenges and overcome them. It was a life changing moment for me. I am not ashamed to say that I shed a few tears of joy. It was very tough and challenging and I am very glad that it was, because it allowed me to learn a lot about myself.”

The complete interview and an R2AK recap article will appear in the next issue of Small Craft Advisor.—Eds

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15 Jun

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More Boats of the R2AK


Here’s a list as some additional boats of the R2AK

Team Grin
Etchells 22
Length: 30′ 6″
Beam: 6′ 11″
Draft: 4′ 6″
Weight: 3700 lb
Sail Area: 310 sq ft


This classic international one-design keelboat racer was designed in 1966. This sleek, fast, seaworthy sloop is typically sailed by 3 or 4 crew and is known for excellent pointing and light air abilities. Its top speed is around 10 knots. Not typically used for distance cruising, accommodations are spartan—although in the R2AK that’s a relative term. You can spot the E22 easily by its long, graceful overhangs, as although it is over 30 feet long, the actual waterline length is only 22 feet.

Team Blackfish
F-27 Catamaran (Farrier Marine)
Length: 27′ 1″
Beam: 19′ 1″
Draft: 1′ 2″/ 4′ 11″
Weight: 2600 lb
Sail Area: 446 ft


This modern classic was put into full production by Corsair back in the 1980s and went on to become hugely popular. Corsair sold over a hundred of these boats in 1991 alone. The F-27 has won countless races and successfully crossed oceans. In the 1993 Miami to Key Largo race an F-27 averaged 18.2 knots over the 43 mile course. The cabin sleeps 2-3 adults and the same number of children in addition.

Team Mau
Nacra 570
Length: 19′ 6″
Beam: 8′ 2″
Draft: 10″
Weight: 360 lb
Sail Area: 225 sq ft


The fast Nacra is a austere choice for a race like the R2AK. The 570 is very light, doesn’t like to carry a lot of additional weight, and offers no amenities or protection from the elements. With skeg hulls, the Nacra doesn’t need daggerboards or additional lateral resistance, keeping her draft exceptionally shallow. The boat is rigged with a double trapeze so that both crew can hike out to offset the powerful rig.

Team Barefoot Wooden Boats
Custom Tad Roberts Design
Length: 19′
Beam: 6′ 5″
Draft: 6″ board up
Weight: 500 lb
Sail area: 287 sq ft


One of several boats built specifically for R2AK, Team Barefoot’s boat was designed by B.C. designer and Shipyard Raid founder Tad Roberts. Designed as a planing monohull, the boat was also kept narrow for good rowing performance. Instead of a conventional centerboard or keel, the Barefoot boat employs a pair of offset daggerboards located just inside the gunwhales. Essentially she’s is a big open dinghy, meaning she requires more attention to sail safely but offers exceptional performance potential. The boat also features a bowsprit for flying the spinnaker and a pair of sliding-seat rowing stations—one for each oar, port and starboard.

Team Excellent Adventure
Montgomery 17
Length: 17′ 2″
Beam: 7′ 4″
Draft: 1′ 9″ / 3′
Weight: 1600 lb
Sail area: 154 sq ft


A classic mini cruiser, the Lyle Hess designed (with Jerry Montgomery) Montgomery 17 sloop features a masthead rig and shallow fixed keel/centerboard combo. The 17’s cockpit is spacious and there are typically 2-3 berths and an optional minimal galley unit below. Fast for a small trailersailer, the Monty has been known to hold its own with 22 and 23 footers. While not nearly as fast as the beach cats in R2AK, the 17 can carry provisions and gear easily, and her cabin offers protection from spray and a dry place to sleep. You can spot the Monty by its simulated lap strake hull.

Team Mike’s Kayak
Prijon Kodiak Kayak
Length: 17′
Beam: 23.3 inches
Weight: 62 Lb


Sitting down in his 17-foot Prijon Kodiak kayak, Mike is arguably the most the most exposed of all racers. His particular boat is said to be designed with speed and carrying capacity in mind–a touring boat that tracks well and swallows a lot of gear (weight capacity 331 pounds).

Team Coastal Express
Length: 16′
Beam: 6′
Draft: 6″
Weight: 260 lb
Sail area: 178 sq ft


Designed for the Daily Mirror newspaper in 1963, this plywood kit boat 16-footer was based on the very popular 11-foot Mirror Dinghy. The Mirror 16 was popular with racers but also with sailors who wanted to potter around and camp cruise. Like the smaller Mirror, the 16 sports distinctive red sails.

Team John
Easy rider Kayak with outrigger and sail
Length: 17′
Beam: 24.25 ”
Weight: 52 lb


John’s kayak is equipped with a single outrigger, adding stability. The main kayak hull was designed to be a forgiving ocean boat, tracking well and slicing through waves.

Team Boatyard Boys
Swampscott Dory (decked)
Length: 17′


We don’t know a lot about the Boatyard Boys’ boat–apparently they found the derelict Swampscott Dory left for dead in the weeds and blackberry bushes. Where an open dory would be vulnerable to swamping, the Boys built in flotation by decking the boat over completely, creating a tiny cabin, and they installed a sliding rowing seat. The boat is also equipped with a small, low-aspect sailing rig.

Team Sea Runner
Hitia 17 catamaran
Length: 17
Beam: 10′ 1″
Draft: 11″
Weight: 295 lb
Sail area: 160


We think Team Sea Runner is sailing a home-built James Wharram designed Hitia 17 catamaran. Designed as a beach catamaran, the Hitia is also frequently used as a cruiser or coastal trekker. There is no cabin, but the boat is seaworthy and offers dry stowage in hulls. The deck makes a good base for a two-man dome tent.

Team Puffin
Tiki 21 catamaran
Length: 21
Beam: 12′
Draft: 1′ 2″
Weight: 790 lb
Sail area: 208


We believe team Puffin is sailimg a James Wharram designed Tiki 21. These are Polynesian-inspired home-built catamarans designed for cruising. Although very simplistic, Tiki 21 hulls offer a bunk out of the weather and are known to be very seaworthy. In fact a Tiki 21 was the smallest multihull to sail around the world.