08 Dec

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Jagular Goes Everywhere (Excerpt)


from “Jagular’s North Channel Adventure” by Tom Pamperin

Morning brings a gentle breeze and a few white clouds moving slowly through the sky like scattered sheep. The sun climbs slowly above the horizon and the rough granite of Africa Rock seems brighter than it did yesterday, the wide waters to the south calm and inviting. Moods are built of such small things: darkness and waves, morning sunlight and blue skies. Today even the gulls seem lively and bright as they wheel through the air above us.

But the deer skull at my feet seems to stare up at me as if it knows something I don’t. I’m trying not to pay attention. For the next forty miles we’ll be sailing along the rockbound coast that forms the northern edge of the North Channel. The chart shows clusters of asterisks and crosses and dots liberally sprinkled all along the shore, a long belt of markings that represent rocks—shoaling, half-submerged rocks that lie hidden among the waves like sets of jagged teeth. My copy of Well-Favored Passage describes this stretch of the North Channel as “inadvisable for small boats without sufficient power to cruise at least ten to fifteen miles an hour.” There it is, right on page twenty-three. Inadvisable for small boats. All along I’ve been secretly dreading this part of the journey, and now here we are. Without a plan, as usual.

“The ship was the pride of the American side…” Jagular sings softly, his voice trailing off into an ominous silence.

“You’re not helping.”

“We could head offshore and hop from island to island.”

“Sure,” I tell him. “Four miles south to Thessalon Island, then ten miles east to Bigsby, and another five to West Grant. Long stretches of open water with big fetches and God knows what kind of storms brewing up, just waiting to sock it to us when it’s too late to turn back.”

“Maybe. But I’d rather try the islands than those rocks,” Jagular says.

“Well, I’m the captain, and I’d rather be close enough to shore that we can get to a beach if we need to. Besides, when did you get so daring, anyway?”

“Since you started wanting to do things that are so inadvisable,” the boat mutters. “It’s not your bottom that’s going to get chewed up on those rocks on the way in.”

“It might be,” I tell him.

It’s a beautiful day, though, and it won’t do any good to wait around hoping that things won’t get worse. Things always get worse eventually. It’s just a question of how long we have until that happens. Time to get moving. I stow the tent aboard, snap a photo of Jagular in the bright sunlight, and then with a quick slide down Africa Rock’s rocky ramp, we’re launched and underway. I look at my watch, hanging from a strap under the starboard side deck. 7:02 a.m. I row out a few yards and hoist the sail.

We drift around for a while as usual, trying to work our way southeast on a close reach. Overhead the sail flops lazily back and forth. I get a good long look at Africa Rock behind us. The gulls are squawking and fluttering above it, rising into the sky and diving back down as if the rock is a bloated carcass they’ve returned to feed on. Up ahead, three or four miles east, the long snout of Thessalon Point marks our progress. Sometimes it looks closer. Sometimes it looks farther away. Finally I take down the sail and start rowing.

Two and a half hours later we pull into the shallows just off Thessalon Point. When I check the chart I see that we’ve only come six or seven kilometers.

“That’s not even five miles,” I tell the boat, running through the conversion in my head. “At this rate we’ll never make it.”

“You should have rowed faster.”

“Well, I’ve rowed enough, anyway,” I say, and hoist the sail again. Slowly it spreads out and catches what little wind there is, a faint northeast breeze. I turn us to starboard and we’re sailing, heading southward into the open water. I tie off the self-steering lines and let the tiller mind itself.

Excerpt from Tom Pamperin’s new book. Signed copies available here.

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25 Nov


SCAMP Camps for 2015



The coming year offers a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build your own SCAMP with expert instructor Howard Rice, and designer John Welsford. Experience the camaraderie of a group-build experience and join one of the fastest growing sailing communities in the world.

• Port Townsend, Washington July 20th-31st, 2015
• Baldwin, Michigan September 21st- October 2nd
• Port Aransas, Texas, October 12th- 23rd

In addition to intensive building, SCAMP Camps will feature “chalk talks” on SCAMP handling, design, seamanship and more. And depending on venue, Howard and John will also take builders out sailing on a demo SCAMP.

Cost- $1600
Materials- $800
Deposit to secure a place- $250
Payable to Small Craft Skills Academy, Box 104, Conway, MI 49722

Kits sold separately through Small Craft Advisor
Cost- $2200 ($100 discount for Camp attendees)
Contact 800-979-1930

Enrollment is open and space limited. Call now to reserve your spot.

For additional information contact the Small Craft Skills Academy 231-838-8472 or Small Craft Advisor 800-979-1930.

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19 Nov

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Eight Ways Less is More With Adventure Rowing


Getting outside on the ocean, river or lake in an “all water” rowing boat equipped with sliding seat, rowing gear, and lightweight carbon fiber sculling oars can change your life for the better in small ways that are big.

1. Less Boredom—More Adventure!
Less staring at the same four walls on the same rowing machine, doing the same motions, in the same room temperature. With outdoor rowing it’s always changing, views, wind, waves. It’s so much more of an adventure!

2. Less Stress—More Peaceful, Happy Feelings!
Less tense muscles and mind load. Rhythmic breathing produced by rowing greatly reduces mental stress.

3. Fewer Health Issues—More Ease of Movement and Fitness!
Fewer aching joints, weak muscles, less weight gain, depression, etc.

4. Less Stale Air—More Fresh, Crisp, Oxygen-Rich Air!
No odors produced by sweaty gym rats or the recycled indoor air of the gym.

5. Less Pollution—More Clean Air to Breathe! More Nature Sounds!
Less stinky exhaust gasses, less noise, no fossil fuel consumption. Leaves no oily footprint behind.

6. Less Noise—More Sounds of Nature. More Serenity!
No roar from an engine and no yelling over it to be heard. Less disturbed and frightened wildlife. Noise travels a greater distance over water.

7. Less Chronic Pain—More Fun Moving!
Less need for medication for arthritis; less stiffness, faster healing of damaged joints. Rowing is a great way to warm up the joints.

8. Less Impact On Your Body—More Time Feeling Great!
Less need for surgeries due to impact on connective tissues of knees or hips causing joint damage as with jogging, etc. Rowing: a symmetric, balanced loading of 90% of the body’s muscles in a smooth fluid motion.

Rowing is one of the best health and fitness activities in existence. It’s a total body workout that is gentle and effective. An all water rowing/sculling boat is safe and can easily handle wind and waves. Some are even available with sails, which adds yet another dimension to being out on the water all year long.
Written by Marie Hutchinson, co-founder of Whitehall Rowing & Sail

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30 Sep


Best Place to Sail a Small Boat


Here at SCA we’re slowly putting together an article on the best places in North America to sail a small boat, and we’d love to hear what our readers have to say—in fact we need to hear what they say! Where are your favorite cruising grounds? How about sharing that special sailing spot?

Certainly the Florida Keys, San Juan Islands, and North Channel are popular—and we’re happy to have you vote for them—but how about some lesser-known locales? Maybe that little Midwestern lake near you has its own special charm? Perhaps you’ve never found any place more fun than that creek or pond down the road from your house.

While scenery and weather have a lot to do with great sailing venues, there are other considerations as well. Maybe it’s a hidden boat-in campground, a special dockside eatery, or a maritime museum that make a place your personal favorite. Perhaps it’s a yearly boat show or messabout that attracts you, or the welcoming warmth of the locals—whatever it is we want to hear about it.

Your feedback and that of other readers will aid us in our never-ending quest for small-boat paradise. Please consider adding your thoughts to the comments at this blog post or we’d be happy to receive an e-mail with your suggestions. We might even use your quote when we write the eventual article. —Eds

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