by Guest Columnist Mark Zeiger
My Martha Jane
from a post to the Yahoo Bolger discussion group.
I am nearing completion on the Martha Jane as originally
designed, with a few minor modifications. Primarily, I am using lead ballast
instead of water. This decision was made before the questions of MJs
abilities or seaworthiness, and involved wanting to use the tank space for
food and gear storage.
No disrespect to those who have had unpleasant experiences
with their MJs, but I think a lot of people (and I fear the majority of
these were armchair sailors) took a quote from a _Woodenboat_ article too
far, and to heart. The article said "The MJ should be self righting . .
." meaning the author thought it would be self righting in most
situations. I think this led to the idea that it WAS self righting, and when
it turned out not to be in some situations (although there are many cases
where MJs have come right back up after knock downs) people became
I think that the original design of the MJ is one of Mr.
Bolger's most enduring designs because it offers a lot of features that make
it a fine boat. If you like it, build it and sail it, and disregard the
opinions of this list. What we do here is fun, but no one should live their
life by committee.
Sad fact is, gentlemen (and ladies, if you're there) history
is full of boats that were not ideal. The vast majority of them provided
lifetimes of good sailing despite what some have now come to consider the
fatal flaw of not being self righting. Many designs proved to be downright
dangerous, yet people still sail them, and come safely home.
I would assert that risk is an inescapable part of any
worthwhile recreation. Sailing's not as safe as golf, but it's probably
safer than skydiving.
If you hear someday that I flipped my MJ and drowned, you
can still quote me on this. The water isn't for the faint of heart. If you
spend all your time trying not to die, you're not really living. If you have
to have absolute safety, stay on shore. But watch out for cars, falling
trees, disgruntled employees . . . you get the picture.
Now go build the boat of your dreams, and don't make me come
back in here!
> > Juneau, Alaska