Sunday, November 24, 2013

And now, for something completely different!

This post has absolutely nothing to do with Pocketship or sailing.

It is an unabashed self-serving promotion of the official launch of my first novel that I am optimistic you will not be offended by.

Encouraged by some kind comments from readers of this blog about enjoying my relaxed and easy writing voice I embarked on a journey more than two years ago to see, as the saying goes, if I had a novel inside me.

Tomorrow’s News, an idea spawned from a dream, was the result.  My completely unbiased opinion is that my short novel is a fast-paced, easy to read adventure, interspersed with humour and true historical facts about Gimli, Manitoba. Gimli is situated on the shores of Lake Winnipeg, which is the inland sea my Pocketship “So True” sailed on from 2009 to 2013.

The book is classified as science fiction but the science fiction is integrated into the story in a plausible manner and based on real scientific principles. The book is available on Amazon as a Kindle Edition.  The book is suitable reading for young adults. At first, I had some apprehension about my story being a novella in length, but then realized I wasn’t in such bad company when I saw this list. 

Below is a draft of the back cover and includes a brief blurb about the book.  The book is available for purchase here.  The book sells for $2.99, but as loyal readers of my blog, I am giving you advance notice that a promotion will be running December 25 to January 1 and it will be selling for only $.99.

Monday, August 12, 2013

The Final Post --- Old Captain...New Captain

The official hand off of "So True" was official on Sunday, August 11, 2013.  In the photo above is me, the old captain on the right, squinting into sun shaking the hand of the new captain Mike Gannon. Mike and his wife Marie-AndrĂ©e undertook a 2400 km three day drive from Montreal to pick up the first Pocketship to launch after the prototype.

As shown by the title this will be the final post on my blog but Mike has indicated he may start up a blog to document the future sailing adventures of So True on the Saint Lawrence and its tributaries.
I will leave the blog active as surprisingly to me it still attracts a regular and consistent readership even though my posts have basically stopped.

Although our sailing experiences on So True were limited I have not regretted for one second the marvellous memories of my first boat building project. Final kudos are due to the designer, John C. Harris, of Chesapeake Light Craft for the fantastic design and excellent comprehensive building plans.

As far as boat building projects go, I am kind of working backwards on the size scale. Last summer I built a hybrid Wood Duck 12 with a cedar strip deck for my brother to use a fishing kayak and when we move to Australia next year I plan at some point to make a pair of stand up paddle boards.

The two captains in a more relaxed pose.

Proud new owner

Correction... two new proud owners.

Proud old (and I mean previous, not old as in age) owners.

So True starts its 2400 km road trip back to Montreal.
Pocketship's beautiful lines look almost as good on the trailer as when afloat.

There was a little bit of sadness seeing my creation drive away but I cannot imagine So True finding a more deserving and enthusiastic new captain.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Dave's Pocketship is for Sale

I am leaving this post up but as of last week the status of "So True" is sale pending.


Sale Details

"So True" is just over 3 years old but is basically brand new. She has only been on the water for perhaps half a dozen short sails. The boat has always been stored summer and winter in her own portable garage and therefore has had very little exposure to the elements.  The customized trailer has less than 150 kilometres on it and the 2.5 HP Suzuki four stroke outboard has probably 5 running hours and is not even done the 10 hour break in period.

Technically, "So True" is a gaff-rigged sloop with more than 300 pounds of lead ballast in the hull and shallow keel which makes her extremely stable for a 15 foot sailboat. She also has a self-furling jib and all control lines and halyards can be operated from the roomy cockpit. More details are available at the Pocketship website.

I am asking $12, 499 for the boat, trailer, motor and accessories like life jackets, paddles, first aid kit, bumpers etc. This basically would be recouping the cost of materials as Pocketships in other locales have had marine surveys done putting the value at $25,000.

Any interested potential buyers can leave a comment with any questions or email me at dcurtis100 at

Lots of photos are shown below:

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Better Late than Never 2011 Update

It is difficult to believe that my Pocketship launched more than two years ago. It is also harder to fathom that people are still reading this blog but evidently there is a Pocketship readership out there. Therefore, I guess it is overdue for me to update the continuing trials and tribulations of “So True”.
The sailing season of 2011 was delayed as the previous year due to extremely wet conditions on our cottage lot.  The photo below illustrates how  much water can accumulate due to the saturated soil. I could probably pull the boat and trailer from its garage but in the process would dig ruts a foot deep in the boggy soil conditions. Backing the boat and trailer back into its garage would likely have been impossible.

Conditions did improve faster than 2010 and the cottage lot finally dried up but wind conditions on Lake Winnipeg were once again our nemesis. This novice sailor is just not ready to challenge 25 knot winds quite yet.

“So True” finally got to test out its new 2.5 HP Suzuki outboard. The maneuvering ability and power more than exceeded my expectations compared to my failed electric trolling motor experiment. The photos show the motor in its up and down position and also that when in the down position the cavitation plate is a good six inches below Pocketship’s waterline. 

The motor mount turned out to be less obtrusive than I anticipated and it is sturdy enough that the motor does not need to removed for trailering. 
There is also a photo of the solution to not having to remove the bobstay for the bowsprit when launching the boat. Who knows how many times I had stared at the winch but, “Doh!”,  not realized the winch is adjustable. Thanks to Pete M. for that remedy. 

With the winch and crank moved down the bobstay is now nice and taut and never has to be unhooked. The arrows indicate the old position of the crank.  You cannot move the crank completely to the bottom or the crank handle will hit the triangular plate.

Some actual sailing photos are included below.  I DO have to remember to bring my wide angle lens so that more of the boat is actually visible.

I'm looking a little crusty in this one as we motor out of the harbour.  The cars are parked on the large breakwater for the harbour and you can see that the lake level is less than a foot from the top of the dock. In normal years it is a 4 or 5 foot drop to water.

In this photo you can see my economy track stop. Instead of paying an outrageous $40 for a track stop with a lock screw I simply used a $1 track slide and lashed it to a small cleat on the other side of the mast.

This is about as calm as it gets on Lake Winnipeg.  Fifteen minutes later the chop picked up and we were motoring back to the safety of the harbour.

Enjoying the ease of use of the new outboard. The tiller lock comes in handy when using the outboard.

“So True” received some other upgrades this year. The companionway louvered doors and cockpit floor grating have added a nice touch to “So True’s” appearance. 

We purchased a sail cover kit from Sailrite to protect the sails when trailering and to keep out the spiders when the boat is stored in its garage.

We are looking forward to an earlier start to the sailing season next year now that we put in the gravel driveway. The driveway is elevated enough that even with lots of standing water we will still be able to pull the boat and trailer in and out of the garage.

We also have plans to boost our sailing confidence by going out in “So True” with Fred who has 30 year experience sailing on Lake Winnipeg. We tried to hook up with Fred this year but our schedules just didn’t match up.  Fred did drop by to look at “So True” and was impressed with what was crammed into Pocketship’s 15 foot design.  Another sailing couple who were moored at the harbour when we were launching one day were equally impressed. It was a surprise for them to see such a fine gaff rigged sloop design. Thanks again to John C Harris for designing such a sleek modern design based on a classic sailing rig that just isn’t seen much anymore.
Winter, for us , is only about 30 days longer, as we will again be visiting both our kids in Australia for two and a half months. Lots of time to get a good head start on a protective tan for the 2012 sailing season.

I thought I would finish with some photos that show just how destructive the high water levels were on Lake Winnipeg this year.

The beach is a hundred yard walk from our property through an empty lot.

This was our "beach" this year.  At least 15 feet of shoreline were eroded away this summer.

Yes, I have to confess we are some of those awful people who when sailing conditions are not optimal haul out a jet ski for some fun.

The big old Cottonwood that was standing in a previous photo did finally succumb to the wind and waves.

By late September the lake level had finally dropped and Mother Nature had started to return to us the beach she had borrowed for the summer.

This is the type of day that we don't have the confidence yet to go sailing.

At least the geese were amused by the windy conditions.

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Year End 2010: Addendum (newest boat projects)

Here are my newest boat projects. I made mahogany louvered paneled doors for the companionway opening. They are oversized right now and the vertical stiles will probably have about 2" cut off each side when I can custom fit them to the boat in the spring. Should give another classic touch to the boat even when they are opened up against the cockpit/cabin wall.  I cheated on the construction a bit; I call it my Chinese manufacturing method. This is where the true woodworkers out there will cringe but instead of cutting complicated grooves with a router to fit all the slats in I just nailed them into the smaller vertical strips you can see using my nail gun with two 1" SS nails in each end.  It turned out actually to be quite sturdy. The slats are mahogany door stop that came already milled with a nice rounded edge on one side.

The second project is a simple mahogany slat floor for the footwell sole. It is already finished with 5 coats of urethane so that is why it is darker than the doors. I did look at making a traditional grate but I would have had to buy a $100 dado blade for my table saw to cut all the necessary grooves and plus construct a complicated jig for doing the cutting.

A couple of weekends ago we had a very strong winds on Lake Winnipeg where our cottage is and where "So True" is stored for the winter. Winds gusts were up to to 90 km per hour and the waves did a lot of damage on some shorelines. Several lakefront towns had flooding one or two streets in from the beach and part of a concrete/wood boardwalk was washed away on Grand Beach.  We decided to go check that "So True's" portable garage survived and were pleased to find out that everything was still secure. This gave us more confidence that the boat's winter storage should be uneventful.

I have had some very useful correspondence from Pete McCrary who participated in the first Pocketship fleet with his boat. As you may have read earlier I have abandoned my electric trolling motor auxiliary propulsion experiment and will purchase a small outboard in the spring. Pete has done a neat cutout on his transom to accommodate a Tohatsu 6 HP SailPro extra long 25 inch shaft outboard. He provided me with several photos and a couple of design sketches.

The drawing shows the propeller shaft of the 6 hp about 4 inches higher than as actually installed.  After installation the bottom of the shaft assembly is just about even with the rudder winglet.

He has also tested out a 2HP Honda and reported the following:
The prop was only about 8" below the waterline.  But she pushed us along pretty good at between 4 and 4.5 knots.  At first it was pretty choppy, but even when rocked by larger wakes the prop never spun out of the water.  It's just fine for day sailing.  For overnight cruising, I'd take the 6 hp for the extra range and margin of safety.
Our cruise was about 2 hours and we just ran out of gas 100 yards from the ramp.  Tank volume is just 1 liter.  We refueled with our spare gas can.  It looks like the extra 4 hp gets you about one more knot and right up close to the hull speed.  She might not make much [if any] headway against waves and a strong wind.
Based on his sea trials it sounds like that for my intended use the Tohatsu 3.5HP could be a reasonable compromise between the 2 and 6Hp models concerning both weight and power. I have not yet decided if I will use a cutout as Pete did or buy or make a motor bracket.