Category: Blog

11 Apr


The Child Inside




My boat already beached, I sat in the warm sand and watched my friends’ boats sail toward me, an easy breeze rippling the water. As they landed, skippers and crews hopped overboard and walked ashore, anchors and rodes in hand, dragging the vessels a little farther up the beach and setting temporary hooks.

We stood around admiring each other’s boats for a few minutes, pointing out various modifications made or planned, then shared a community chocolate bar and recounted—with appropriate poetic license—highlights from the day’s sailing so far. Next came debate and strategizing about the best route back on the afternoon’s rising tide and contrary current. Someone suggested they might row while under sail, another planned to walk their boat upstream by the painter and push off around the point. Someone else was lobbying to stay put and make camp.

At 45 years old I was the youngest in our group, and not by a little bit. Among those gathered were two former military pilots, a construction company owner, a doctor, and a retired professional designer—all with vast experience, nautical and otherwise—all serious and capable people. But now here they were, pants rolled up like Huck Finn, one of them showing off his new camp stove, another fiddling with his phone’s navigation app, and everyone laughing at each other’s corny jokes. It occurred to me then that what we were, fundamentally, was a group of twelve-year-old boys. We had our wooden rafts and bed-sheet sails, our binoculars, our sleeping bags, and a longing for adventure. All that was missing were a few comic books and maybe a slingshot or two.

Something magical happens when we climb aboard a little boat and push off to explore. If we relax and allow ourselves, we return to the age where such adventures first appealed. A tiny boat really is a time machine, revealing the boys and girls we’ve never fully stopped being. Aristotle said “Give me a child until he is seven and I will show you the man.” I say give me a 70-year-old and a small boat and I will show you the boy. —Joshua Colvin

Filed Under: Blog

05 Oct


How fast can you go in a small cruising boat?



Gerry Spiess and Yankee Girl arrive in Honolulu. Pic by Marlin Bree.

“When it comes to small boats,” my friend Gerry Spiess was explaining to me, “all the rules go out the window.”

Gerry is the champion small-craft sailor who set two world’s records by sailing his 10-foot homemade plywood sloop, Yankee Girl, across both the Atlantic and the Pacific Oceans.

On the long reaches across the Pacific, he took only 34 days to sail 2,539 miles from Long Beach, California, to Honolulu, Hawaii. He had averaged 74.5 miles per day—an extraordinary run for a heavily laden boat with only a 9-foot waterline. Much larger sailboats do well to average a little over 100 miles per day.

He was bettering his North Atlantic record run. He had sailed out of Virginia Beach, Virginia, heading eastward to England. That sail took him an elapsed time of 53 days, 5 hours nonstop to Falmouth, 3,780 statute miles. He had averaged 60 miles a day an average speed of 2.5 miles per hour in storms, high waves, doldrums, and some good sailing. His best day’s run was 84 nautical miles.

Out of Honolulu and in the South Pacific’s trade winds, Yankee Girl began hitting 100 miles per day under her twin 29 square foot jibs.His best day’s run: a whopping 138.09 miles.

He abashedly jokes about his little boat’s speed: “I was asleep a third of the time.”


Marlin Bree ( is a contributing writer to Small Craft Advisor and the author of numerous boating books. He has twice won the coveted Grand Prize Award in Boating Writers International’s annual Writing Contest.

07 Jun


R2AK III Kicks Off



Photo Debra Colvin

An assortment of links to articles and media on this year’s Race to Alaska.—Eds

The R2AK homepage where you’ll find updates and team info.

Here’s the CBS Sunday Morning segment on R2AK by Luke Burbank.

A nice audio report from Nevada Public Radio.

An article focused on a team sailing a 27-foot O’Day.

Cruising World article on the race.

Here’s a newspaper article on Team Sistership

Today’s R2AK “Ruckus”

26 May


Dave Lucas on SCAMP: Hauling Ass, Easy as You Please



We received this fun report from Small-Boat-Guru, Dave Lucas about his experience at the Cedar Key rendezvous and his thoughts on SCAMP specifically. —Eds

We’ve all seen the videos of the SCAMP dancing and flipping around and have even sailed with some, but this weekend at Cedar Key really showed me the true nature of these little boats. It was blowing a solid 12 to 15 with higher gusts and us hot-rodders were having a ball showing off and speeding around the slower boats when what do I see ahead of me but a SCAMP.

We’ll just zip up, sail circles around him and be on our way. He was only a hundred yards or so ahead of us and we figured to catch him in about two minutes; It didn’t work out that way. It took us about two miles to finally get to him and I was beginning to have my doubts.


Many of you have experienced these 16 foot Melenseeds that Roger Allen designed and know that they’re real rockets

These guys on SCAMP were just sitting drinking beer and hauling ass, easy as you please. They could tack and jibe and mess around like it was dead calm where we were having to be really careful. You know that’s impossible, this kind of performance cannot come from a clunky little 12-foot boat. This thing somehow ignored everything I thought I know about hull speed. I would strongly recommend this boat to anyone who wants a simple, lightweight, safe, dry, fast boat.

That’s probably why two of them are going together here at the Happy Hour boatshop; and I wouldn’t be surprised to see a couple more take shape in the near future.



Dave Lucas
Lucas Boatworks and Happy Hour Club

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Filed Under: Blog, Uncategorized