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By Steve Bosquette - Mt Laurel, New Jersey - USA

Two Years Before the Mast

It is a painful thing for a boat builder to not only be without a boat but also to be in a financial situation that does not allow him to build one.

It is going on two years since the ill-fated PHOENIX met her demise. Trying to salvage what was useable from a dry-rotten Sneakeasy and building something else seemed like a good idea but when underemployment hit everything ground to a stop. Since I couldn't afford to keep the partial hull at the boat yard I took it apart and took the pieces home. This was turning into quite a mess.

The pieces sat in my garage for a while and even though unemployment continued the itch to build a boat became overpowering. I assembled the parts into a small tug. Because I was operating on pennies the normal prudent boat building procedures were ignored and the cheapest approach was used. A BIG mistake. When launched, she leaked. I tried and tried to find the leaks and seal them but the whole affair was like herding cats. I finally gave up in frustration and destroyed the boat (the third boat I cut up). Talk about misery, I felt like a murderer, three times over!

If it wasn't for my good friend and fellow boatbuilder Bob Throne I may have slipped into deep despair. He gave me opportunity to go sailing often over the next 2 years.

WANDERER was designed and built by Bob. He depended on folks on Duckworks to guide him on the very satisfying journey in the development of this nice sailing boat. He had certain design criteria that he wanted to achieve. They were:
1. A stable hull form that was multichined
2. Be able to use the sail rig from a previous sailboat he had owned many years ago.
3. Have a self-tending jib
4. Have a mizzen so he could sail in heavy air with jib and mizzen only and have the boat properly balanced.
5. A cabin that was adequate for 2 to sleep on full sized bunks
6. A BIRDWATCHER type walk-thru to the foredeck.
7. Self righting if knocked down
8. A centerboard that would tilt up so he could easily beach the boat.
9. Trailerable

Bob achieved all of his goals and has a very capable cruiser that he is very proud of.

He designed Wanderer with a centerboard in a box which put the center of lateral resistance in the wrong place which gave her a lee helm. We solved that problem by going to a daggerboard placed way forward in the trunk. That made a nice difference and he had a weather helm. Other than a few minor improvements the result was a fine sailing boat, very stable and a lot of fun to sail.

Bob is older with a bad hip. I noticed that it took a lot of effort for him to rig the boat to sail each time and we started talking about how to make the process more simple. As part of the goal to make things easier I tried to convince Bob to have one sail, more particularly a Lugsail. It would be on an unstayed mast, easy to reef and lighter than the rig he had, and much easier to rig. Bob is a little set in his ways you may say because he still wanted a keep the self-tending jib and would not let the mizzen go. Heaven help me!

Over the winter of 2010-2011 we talked often about simplifying. We settled on a gameplan which included the following:
1. Cap the centerboard trunk, (it had an annoying small leak)
2. Install twin keels, basically deepening the existing skids
3. Replace the mainsail with a large spritsail
4. Make a new jib and mizzen
5. Make a new rudder that is permanently attached to the boat
6. Cut the mast so it can accommodate the spritsail and be in a tabernacle

As of this writing we accomplished all those things except the mast refit.

We had a tough winter weather wise this year. Bob would bribe me with a free lunch and some gas money to come work on the boat. We had to wait for at least 50 degree temps in order to do anything. We began in late April and he had me on my back under the boat for hours, cold, sore and bleeding! He wouldn't let me up until whatever task I was doing was finished. THE THINGS I DO FOR A FREE LUNCH!!

The title of this article is "Two Years Before The Mast" but in reality I had a total of TWENTY HOURS UNDER THE BOAT. He finally allowed me from under the boat just in time to work on the trailer. It had to be modified to accommodate the deeper keels. What a slave driver!

All seriousness aside, we had a great time getting out of the house and doing boat work. Wanderer is now much easier to rig and when we get the new main sail up she should be a little better going to wind and should be much better downwind.

We sailed her with the original main and the new jib and mizzen a couple weeks ago. She was back to a lee helm but we think once the new main is up she will balance better. We are looking forward to the 4th Eastern Messabout June 3rd. Bob wants to have the new main and refitted mast ready by then. He has dangled a FREE LUNCH in front of me. What is a guy supposed to do?

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