Hello AllIt's been awhile since I have updated this blog. Thanks for waiting. A hectic summer and fall complete with time challenges found me launching my boat later than originally planned. It happens. Managing a project like this without sponsorship and on a shoe string budget is always a challenge and I thank the many friends who have lent a hand!
A Refresher...............or a bit of back story
The boat I have built is a SCAMP sail and oar boat of the micro mini cruiser type. For the past few years I have been part and parcel of the growing SCAMP class in that I have been involved in the build of something like 75 of these neat little boats through the SCAMP Camp program. Builders who participate in this program purchase a kit from Small Craft Advisor magazine and as a group we build for ten days yielding a highly accurate hull for each participant. It is not only productive it is incredibly fun and I am very pleased to have so many new friends from the builds.
The boat in the photo above is my version or modified version of the SCAMP. I developed and built it specifically for the voyage I am now on. All design changes and the build are mine and in no manner imply the stock boat is not right. The stock SCAMP is a great near shore cruiser and day sailor.
I needed something a bit different for where I am about to sail when I set out south on the Strait of Magellan. I have been at this project for years and actually had penned my own design in collaboration with a naval architect but after going back and forth with him the SCAMP design came out and I decided to drop my design and investigate the SCAMP as an alternative as she featured some elements I had not thought of.
This is the stock SCAMP. In this photo I am headed out for the first open water capsize tests in hull #1.
I flew in from Japan for this and had the honor of joining a team to see just what my pal John Welsford had created. Lots of questions in my mind as I sail off in a breeze to flip her over. The day was a bit of a revelation for all of us. The boat performed really well and I (there selfishly to learn more) being the primary guinea pig was very pleased after eight purpose capsizes. Intuitively I knew what she was capable of yet proof of concept is what counts, so I flew in for one cold windy capsize testing experience. I developed the capsize protocol and luckily Josh Colvin (his new boat) gave me thumbs up for static and open eater testing. This is what friends get who trust each other.
After capsize testing I applied what I learned to the development of my own boat. I believe all small boats should be first static capsize tested and then tested in real life conditions, not just a calm day. My friend Josh Colvin (Small Craft Advisor) was all about testing in wind and waves, good on ya Josh. Thanks for the opportunity to allow me to lend a hand Small Craft Advisor!
My original dream and vision was a voyage north from Goose Bay Labrador across the Hudson Strait to Baffin Island and then north coasting Baffin to Cape Dyer. From Cape Dyer I planned to cross the Arctic Sea to Sisimut Greenland. I ran into a challenge I had no answer for. Without going into details it was a major change in Polar Bear movements on the coasts of Labrador and Baffin Island. It seems global warming is real and Polar Bear encounters and a spike in attacks have become a genuine issue for anyone on land on on a boat near shore.
Some years ago I sailed a 15 foot sailing canoe through eastern Tierra del Fuego and south of the Beagle Channel and near the end of this 4 month solo I found myself in the far western Beagle Channel unable to go further due to the onset of early winter. I looked to the southwest and made a promise I would return to explore, little did I know it would be nearly 30 years later! So here I am in Santiago a few days from flying south to Punta Arenas to meet my new boat.
Sometimes Small May Be Better
I have been at the small sailing thing for many years and have built or modified a number of small boats to make them suitable for short cruises, make them safer and capable of being slept aboard at anchor or at the dock.
Small boats in the hands of a conservative sailor may offer a few advantages larger boats cannot.
1. They are affordable whether new or used.
2. They can be kinetically controlled by movement of body mass by the sailor when underway.
3. They can be easily self rescued if set up properly.
4. Perhaps most importantly they can be hauled on shore when nasty weather looms.
Below is but one iteration of my passion and pursuit, the modern sailing canoe. The photo below is a canoe I developed and have cruised and sailed for some 15 years.
Hugh Horton photo
Here is another. A Mirror Dinghy I modified and cruised for a number of years using a tent I built for it. Not a great photo but it does show my Mirror the "African Queen" on the hook.
Here is another of my small, well not that small cruising boats with tent, a 23 foot Dick Newick Tremolino Tri...........what a boat!...........and an upper limit stretch in size from micro mini cruiser.
A Complex Project
Developing and building a boat for a voyage through southern Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego is quite an undertaking but only one small part of the whole equation. This equation contains elements of feasibility, suitability, safety, very specific gear, provisioning, shipping, navigation, power generation and storage, just to name a few.
On August 14th I quietly launched Southern Cross into Little Traverse Bay, Lake Michigan. She was only in for a couple of days as again my free time was short (headed for Port Townsend to teach a boat building course). She sailed much as I expected or I should say hoped for. Its always dicey to alter a sound design by someone else and expect good results. I have been very careful and stepwise in my modification process and I think, just maybe that with Southern Crosses split rig and other modifications that I may heave created a boat that I like, she sails well. I have sailed many stock SCAMP's (lug rigged) across a variety of conditions and although my initial sails were both in light air I just had this feeling I was on to something good. The boat was a lively and maneuverable as any SCAMP and seemed better balanced and steady with the split rig.
I had her rigged just to make a first sail, no tuning, furling system not set up, reefs not set up, jib leads not yet installed (I wanted to wait until I hoisted sail to determine sheet leads) granny knots here and there to test placements, etc. Still she sailed like a dream. Very excited to get back from Port Townsend for some windy September/October sail testing.
Here she is post sailing, jib housed below in the cuddy rigged on a deploy/retrieve system. The headsails and for that matter all controls including sea anchor (para-anchor) operate from the cockpit.
In this photo the seat cushions can be seen. Each attaches to the boat by strips of 2" velcro and hard fasteners to ensure they stay in place. Missing in this photo are the floor cushions. The entire cockpit is padded for safety, comfort and as a big part of safety extra fixed flotation. The floor cushions can be used in place or easily stowed forward in the cuddy. Each cushion has a tan slip cover to help keep them clean, a working surface.
The oars tuck in nicely behind the cushions without the need for bungee cords or tie ins. The cushions keep them locked in place yet they can be easily withdrawn for quick use. Each oar is on a leash attached to the boat.
The floating thwart is for trimming the main, flipped over it has a 3" thick cellular foam seat for rowing and snap the seat off and the thwart becomes they base for the galley, work bench, etc. It slides in and out easily for opening the floor space for sleeping.
Not a very clear photo but one that shows some of the hardware layout. While it all looks busy its really not. The pink line for example is the deploy/retrieve line for the staysail/spitfire jib. On the port side leading forward you can see the white line for the genoa deploy/retrieval system.
The main and peak halyard are also color coded as are all lines for ease of instant identification and both are lead through a double clutch and backed with horn cleats. Any can cleat on the boat is also backed with a horn cleat. Could be trouble at the wrong moment to lose a halyard or other control line should it pop out of the cam cleat.
All fwd and aft lines go into their respective stowage bags (red pockets hanging on aft end of the cuddy). There is another pocket line control set up for the mizzen.
In the photo above you can see the genoa stuffed into the cuddy. I had just come in and retrieved the jib using the system and simply stuffed it ready to go again or to derig. There is a cloth closure door for the cuddy. The door is part of the cuddy inflation set up. Most sailing I will do in the south will be with inflated cuddy cabin as righting data shows she should not stay turtled if capsized.
A few screen captures from a video camera recording the first sail. Not much wind but like most SCAMP's she moved really well and in one slightly gusty time in the afternoon I put the padded hiking seats to work and was fully hiked out toes under the hiking strap. It was great sailing!
Like other SCAMP's Southern Cross will basically turn in its own length. If you note my height as 5' 11" and then look at the photo you can discern the value of the footwell I have designed in. I am standing in the three photos above, nice and low where my weight means something. The footwell gives the boat a completely different feel, secure, stable and for the sailor a feeling of greater protection. I like it and am glad I took the chance to follow my hunch on designing in and installing the footwell. In my opinion it really adds to the boat and with two drop in floor boards the foot well goes away in seconds for sleeping or if I just decide to sail without it.
I went old school on some aspects of the build and quite modern in others, a good blend I think.
The mast hoops may seem an anachronism but in my experience there are very few simpler and faster sail attachment methods than hoops.
In this photo you can see the forward anchoring system mounted on the side of the cabin. Two of the three camera mounts can also be seen on the added cuddy cabin aft bulkheads.
I did spend a first night aboard and it was so comfortable with all the cushions. The cushions also provide insulation from the cold of the Strait of Magellan, Beagle Channel and the Southern Ocean.
Nice feeling to have the complexity of the build and all the head scratching modifications behind me. Now its time to test and sail the paint off the bottom before she goes in the shipping crate bound for Tierra del Fuego. In the coming weeks I will be conducting sea trials, capsize/recovery, loading and provisioning. Keiko now kicks in as we plan and begin preparing food stores for the voyage. All of this is very interesting, challenging and made all the better by the dedicated friends who have taken an interest and lend a hand. I appreciate all of you very much.
Here are a few other photos that may be of interest.
John and I at the Naval Mapping Institute in Santiago where I purchased topographic maps of southern Tierra del Fuego. Sofia Ortiz escorted us there. She and her family have become such friends, Chileans are like that, plain and simple open hearted and friendly. Thanks for all you have done Sofia!
Big news- John Welsford has teamed up with film maker Dave Nichols and through their partnership they will produce the film about my planned voyage. Dave was going solo on producing Below 40 South but now has allies in John and friend/sailor/writer Tom Pamperin.
Southern Crosses shipping crate. The crate was built by friends Dave Chase and Marty Worline. Since I elected to delay to this fall the crate has been in storage covered and now features its own wheels. I purchased an old powerboat trailer and built a crate trailer from it. The trailer is the temporary means I will use to deliver the boat to a shipping terminal for the domestic road trip to Cargonauts (Chilean shipping company) in Miami. There it will be containerized for a six week ocean voyage through the Panama Canal and on to Chile. I will fly down to be there when the crate arrives. Game on!
This is the dock in Punta Arenas where a crated Southern Cross will arrive. This is the dock used to re-supply the Chilean Antarctic base and for deployment of ships to and from Antarctica. Lucky for me the one place John and I scouted that would be suitable (protected enough) for me to stage and prepare Southern Cross from is adjacent to the dock. This was quite a find in Punta Arenas, which is not a waterfront friendly place for ships or boats of any kind. Windy, rough, no protection. Well we found one little niche of a spot on the shoreline in town and at the dock. This makes for an easy move from the shipping crate to the water.
John and I will have to move the boat only about 100 yards from the customs dock to this spot where in spite of its relative ugliness is the best or only spot in Punta to stage and launch a small boat from.
Now that I am sailing I will get back to posting sea trial and preparation information as it happens.
Thanks for reading.