Please visit our home site at

Anke and I live aboard WAYWARD, and wrote about it's design and construction at

Access to the net comes and goes, so I'll be writing in fits and spurts.Please feel free to browse the archives, leave comments where you will and write... I'll respond as I can.

Fair winds!

Dave and Anke
triloboats swirly gmail daughter com

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Eric Sloane's WEATHER BOOK: A Review

Right Turn... I GET it!
from Eric Sloane's WEATHER BOOK

Anyone who has known a sailor with "a weather eye" and who has also seen the inside of a weather bureau knows the difference between being weather-wise and being meteorologically accurate.

-- Eric Sloane

Eric Sloane's WEATHER BOOK: A Review

When I studied trigonometry, I memorized table after table of mind-numbing tables of ones, zeros and negative ones just long enough to regurgitate them for a test. In the blizzard of unanchored data, I struggled to make out the point of the exercise. Finally - in an afterword - the authors of the textbook condescended to mention the Unit Circle. The picture that generates all those piddly numbers in lean back, close your eyes and visualize the answer fashion!

I was thoroughly disgusted.

Weather mechanics had been a similar story. I slogged through book after book, nodding off over arcane terms and lists. Even classic pictures of clouds, with their names and meanings were mere creatures of rote.

For instance, high pressure winds spin one way; low pressure winds the other. But which is which? My mind just doesn't hang onto that kind of information without some underlying principle.

And trying to understand weather - arguably a good thing for a sailor - little came together. Like anyone, I could and did look to windward for trouble, but the whys and wherefores of weather eluded me. Neither the gestalt of real weather, nor the usual books were of any help for anything beyond the obvious.

Then along came Eric Sloane's WEATHER BOOK.

Mr. Sloane's gift is pictures (he's not bad at words, either). Every illustration from his hand is a wonder of clarity and apt information, succinctly delivered. He manages to capture motion and relationships in black and white sketches. His drawings are often beautiful, often humorous or whimsical... always educational.

Another aspect that appeals to me is that it's not merely about weather, but also its effects and affects.

For example, he presents an 'insect thermometer'; from the onset and quality of various insect sounds, one can estimate temperature pretty closely. Of course, no katydids (or katydidn'ts, for that matter) here in Alaska. But maybe the mosquitos?

He opens our eyes to the wonders of weather and the world enveloped in it. He draws out and entices the inner, junior scientist within his readers.

And there lies the beginning of weather-wisdom.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Way Off-Grid Laundry

 The rest of my clothes are still wet!

I believe you should live each day as if it is your last, which is why I don't have any clean laundry, because, come on, who wants to wash clothes on the last day of their life?
- Wisdom from the Web

Way Off-Grid Laundry

Doing laundry is a challenge for those of us living far from the Grid. 

For offshore sailors fresh water is precious, so efficiency is paramount. And getting it dry - is no small feat in the maritime reaches of a boreal rainforest!

For years, we've been picking away at the problem of laundry at large. Here's what we've found (or hope to find) for those times when the sink just isn't enough...


First we need a decent anchorage. 

Laundry can take a day or two, all told, so we need to be confident we won't get blown away in the night. We might have to wait in a good location for laundry weather, which could be anywhere from a few days to a few weeks.

Next, we need a freshwater non-salmon stream with good flow and accessible banks. Fortunately, these abound. If we happen to be near a sea-level hotspring, its run-off simplifies the whole operation.

An adjacent, south-facing beach for drying is a big plus. We'll likely heat water for washing, too, so need some drift- or standing deadwood close at hand.

A big, smooth rock or clean driftwood log is a plus for sorting and folding.


Most of our stuff is wool or synthetic, and colorfast. A few cottons take their chances. No whites (it's been said we favor "moth colors"!) or delicates. No sorting; everything gets thrown into one wash. Hot wash (mostly), cold rinse. Regular cycle (we do our worst, in other words).

Wool does shrink, a bit, and can be a little tight the first day worn. Most trousers end up 'let out' at the cuffs. After that, it seems to find its way back. If not (rare), it goes to rags.

We don't have anything that requires a special coating, or I should say, that coating doesn't last. Anything 'breathable' becomes an ordinary garment in fairly short order. And good riddance. Even new, they just tempt us into the rain where we get soaked.

A Cheap and Easy DIY Washing Machine. Spin Cycle Included!
From Tiny House Listings
YouTube location with several useful comments here
Synopsis follows post for the connectivilly challenged

Here is a variation with some useful additions to this system.


The video (above) presents a brilliant, DIY washing machine; inexpensive, compact, economical and... well... just freaking BRILLIANT! Just heard of it and can't wait to try it out!
It's made from two, stackable plastic buckets with plumber's helper agitator (one bucket, lid and agitator modified), rinse, press and spin cycles! Just add water, laundry and muscle.  If you can't load the vid, there's a verbal description following this post.

We're hoping that the the perforated bucket will streamline our present (one bucket) practice, and encourage the heavy agitation and  thorough rinsing that seem the key to clean loads. More efficiency here may further our quest to reduce or eliminate soap (see below).

Aside from their obvious advantages, both buckets can do double duty for other jobs around the boat. The perforated bucket can be a laundry hamper, colander, sieve, clam basket, line bucket, etc..

NOTE: The 'spin cycle' may not be a big improvement over mere gravity drip? But then, all it has to do is overcome surface tension (which holds water in a sponge in spite of gravity), and spinning may help transport what does drip. Either way, it's just too cool a step to skip!  8)

We currently use a Lehman's 'good' hand wringer  (their 'best' wringer is bigger, costlier and harder to clean.. didn't work any better that we could see). But it's amazing the amount of water clinging to fabric! We often have to send it through three to six times. Getting water out is one key to quick drying.

A Press/Spin Cycle prior to wringing may get it down to a single pass. Or none!

Cleaning Agents

Laundry produces a lot of grey water (used, often soapy water), which is difficult to dispose of in a conscientious manner, in town or out. In wilderness settings, its impact can be acute.

We aim to use soaps sparingly or not at all, and to follow (ever evolving) guidelines for disposal.

When in a situation where limited soap seems tolerable, Doc Bronner's is our one-soap-fits-all choice.

First off, the label is a hoot! It's biodegradable, pure castille soap (no animal fats) in concentrated liquid form (Dilute! Dilute! Dilute!) with a range of pleasant scents and righteous credentials. It doesn't foam up, much, which I read as an environmentally good sign, yet cleans well.

Castille soaps can be combined with baking soda and/or vinegar to handle just about any freehold cleaning job. The label even has directions to use it as toothpaste and contraceptive!

If we can get our hands on it, a bar of bile aka gall soap, or, alternatively, naptha soap, can be used topically for oil or grease stains. Both cut right through, and, at least on an engine free sailboat, last a long time.

On the counter-soap side, we've had good luck with some re-usable 'laundry balls' that came our way, for everyday laundry.

These are a collection of ju-ju rich, ceramic pellets in a water permeable container. They claim they reduce or eliminate the need for laundry soap. The science behind them is... ah... dubious. But there's plenty of anecdotal satisfaction (including our own), especially regarding odor neutralization.

Many types are available, and apparently not all created equal. Also, different users get different results, even within the same brand. Caveat emptor!

A similar, and maybe less controversial (?) possibility is stainless steel bars of 'soap', which purport to remove odors. Again, lots of anecdotal success (from professional chefs, among others), and the science is more credible. They're spendy, but generally well made and last forever. They're marketed for hand-washing, not laundry, but what the hey? Eventually, we'll try one and get back to you. Same cautions.

Drying Laundry

Drying is most places a simple matter of line drying. Not so simple in our rainy climate.

We look for a sunny day (ha!) and a breezy spot. As with firewood gathering, we scope the undergrowth for relatively dry, open woods. If it looks like the Black Lagoon, it probably is... even in dry weather, humidity stays high in such spots. And, of course, it has to be close to a freshwater stream.

Direct sun is a big plus, as UV rays help reduce any remaining biologics (cooties) in the laundry, and radiant heat helps dry the clothes. If we ever get it together, I've been thinking of a low level, solar concentrator, cobbled up from reflective space blankets.

Might exceed our productivity threshold, though. Mere laundry is daunting enough!

Summary of Methods

These approaches, in this order (descending) strike me as most effective:
  • Dirt is removed by mechanical agitation in hot water.
  • Grease/oil is removed by solvents (i.e., soap).
  • Odors are neutralized by ionic (?), UV and/or chemical action (e.g., baking soda).
All of the above are aided and abetted by:
  • Multiple rinses (especially with hot water) remove or dilute all of the above.
  • Mechanical extraction of water between rinses multiplies benefits.

None of this is exactly news. It does remind us to lean on the agitator and go light on the soap. Odors tend to evaporate with their medium (grease and dirt), but it never hurts to hedge our bets.

So... whoops... gotta go!

Laundry, again.


SYNOPSIS of DIY Washing Machine: 

Build: Two equal sized, plastic buckets, stackable. Inner bucket and plumber's helper perforated with small holes (not so many as to weaken). Smooth inner hole edges. Hole lid at center to accept helper handle. 

Wash Cycle: Load laundry + water + cleaning agents into inner bucket (stacked in outer). Attach lid over helper and plunge (~5 to 10 minutes). 

Rinse Cycle: Empty liquids and repeat as necessary, minus cleaning agents. 

Press Cycle: Insert intact bucket into perforated one (may raise on two sticks) and sit on it.

Spin Cycle: Hang inner bucket from line. Twist by manually spinning, then stand back and let gravity do the work. Repeat as necessary.

Monday, December 1, 2014

Spawned Out Fruit: Some Recipes for Wine Musts

Must find a way to use the must!
Photo from

Some very fine fruits died in the making of this wine. Show some respect!
-- Gleaned from the Internet

Spawned Out Fruit: Some Recipes for Wine Musts

Boat Wine generates a fair heap of must; slightly used fruit of dubious appearance... Anke dubbed it 'spawned out fruit'.

It looks a little worse for wear... smooshed, and a bit ragged around the edges. Texture is on the firm side of  'stewed' (especially with liquids drained or pressed out). Little sweetness remains after yeast has had its way.

On the plus side it's chock full of B vitamins from yeast content, as well as fiber, vitamins and minerals from the fruit itself. Much of its original flavor remains, accompanied by a distinctive, alcoholish flavor.

If you're out and away, you work for a living or even try to live mindfully, throwing out this perfectly good food seems wanton waste!

Without restoring the sugar, the fruit can be added to savory dishes. Stir fries, pastas, salads, cassaroles. It goes especially well with meats in the manner of chutneys, along with perhaps a bite of vinegar. Or added to pot roasts and other slow-cooked meals.

Sweetening is a simple matter of adding sugar to taste, after which you can add it to oatmeal, pancakes, cinnamon rolls and the like. Or adapt your favorite recipes for pie, cobbler, strudel and cakes - upside up or down. Or...

In short, you can add it to most anything, playing with possibilities and refining results. You can supplement flavors which all work in the same direction, or experiment with piquant contrasts that titillate the tongue. Plain Jane or Cordon Bleu.

Due to its appearance and a general aversion to 'left-overs', must dishes can encounter an initial lack of enthusiastic reception. But a little creative 'dress up' enhances presentation, making use of its colors and textures.

While it's unique taste is sometimes an acquired one for those raised in Puritan cuisine, we find that, if our friends can get past that first bite, we've usually made a convert!

Bon apetit!

PS. I'm pretty sure the alcohol bakes out of cooked must, but the taste remains. Consider that some of our friends are recovering alcoholics, for whom a bite can range from uncomfortable to downright dangerous. Others may wish to avoid alcohol for religious or personal reasons. This isn't an ingredient to spring on the unsuspecting!


Here are two less common recipes to whet your appetite:

These are essentially a three layer fruit bar. Thickness and texture of the three vary widely, depending on taste, and how you adapt proportions. The crumble (dough) texture can be varied by a little more or less oil, adding small amounts of water, milk or other liquids. The fruit mix can vary from jam-like to almost chewy, depending on how much thickener is added. Can be gussied up with spices, nuts, chocolate, etc. to taste. 
Combine 1 part each of flour, sugar and rolled oats with 1/2 part oil (minced butter is mighty tasty and works best but it's seldom available to us, so we use liquid oil). Comes out somewhat crumbly. Consider more or less oil, to taste.

In a cake pan or equivalent, spread half this mixture. Press to preferred depth.

Start with fruit in a separate bowl (about 1/2 the volume of the other stuff)  and sweeten to taste.  Add a thickener (cornstarch or flour) as you would for pie filling. Spread evenly over layer in pan, to preferred depth.

Spread the rest of the dry mixture (if you wish to add water, do it while still in bowl).

Bake at 350degF/175degC for 25 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool before cutting into bars. Often at its best after a day in a cool (not cold) spot.

NOTE: Our 4g batches of wine use enough must to fit with 1c (~250cc) portions, and fit into a 9x13in (~25x35cm) baking pan.

 Fruit Kim Chi
Kim Chi is ordinarily a fermentation of vegetables with spices. In this variation, it's a second fermentation of fruit with spices (one suite we like is chili peppers, garlic and ginger).
Anaerobic fermentation and salt inhibit yeasts and molds, but permits lactobacilli to produce that 'sour' taste we associate with kraut and pickles. Find precise guidelines here, and free and easy guidelines here.
In a glass container, layer a glop or two of fruit, dried or fresh spices, and (non-iodized) table salt at the rate of one heaping teaspoon per pint (10 grams per half liter). May adjust salt up or down, but I suggest researching the whys and wherefores at the links, above..

Top with a bioplug of any edible, leafy vegetable. This is a sacrificial lamb which
may float, but helps to keep the fruit submerged. Periodically pushing it into the brine should keep it mold free, but if not, exchange it for fresh, carefully wiping any mold from edges of glass.

Add liquid (water, generally, but consider wine or vinegar), with maybe a proportional dash of salt.

Cover with a clean cloth and let sit at room temperature. Bubbling will come and eventually go. Sample occasionally, and use when delicious!

NOTE: You can always add more salt, if not enough (chronically moldy bioplugs), or dilute it if too much (no fermentation or unpleasantly strong taste of salt). If you want extra salty (for garnish, say), you can add it after fermentation or at serving time.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Simply Does It

LADY KATE (ex Bolger AS29)
photographed from the SHIRLEY VALENTINE (ex Bolger
From Tim Fatchen's Square Boats pages

This reminds me of a guy I met years ago. We were both building small boats, under 30 feet. I was going at it hard and fast, he acted like he was building a clock. He kept coming around telling me how sloppy this was and how wasteful that was. Well, I launched and headed south. I never did see him again, but a year later, as I was getting ready to head west from Puerto Vallarta, I sent him a postcard that said, "Having a great time. Heading to the Islands tomorrow; see you there, Melon Farmer!" I wonder if he ever did finish.

-- From Buehler's Backyard Boatbuilding (now updated for the 21st Century) by George Buehler

Simply Does It

Early on, Anke and I spent a couple of instructive years in the boatyards of Port Townsend, Washington (aka PT).

In case you hadn't heard, PT is something of a west coast, wooden boat mecca. Home to a fleet of beautiful, classic, wooden yachts. The School of Wooden Boatbuilding. Edensaw, purveyor of fine boatbuilding woods. The PT Wooden Boat Show. And lately, the Small Craft Advisor.

There, we got to see a number of boat building projects in various stages of fruition. And like fruit, some were fresh and dewy in the first blush of springy optimism. Others were shriveled in a winter of their discontent.

What struck us most were projects - often by professional boatwrights, mind you - that spanned years. Years which spanned a decade. Or two. Or more. Projects in the course of which the builders had grown old.

Lemme tell ya... that impressed a pair of impressionable, young wannabes!

A few of these did get finished, eventually, and some owners lived to enjoy their works for many's the year. Others were completed, but their owners' strength was spent... the boat sold. Many were still under construction - or worse, abandoned - when we returned for a visit some 20 years later.

Beautiful boats, all. Works of Art. The kind of thing you see in a maritime museum. 

There was another kind of boat in the yard... usually plywood or worked-over fiberglass. Not exactly ship-shape nor Bristol fashion. These came and went pretty quickly. Their owners generally (but not always) young; generally (but not always) handy after a rough fashion; generally (no... always) passionate.

They came, patched a vessel up or together... and left!

Off they went, in the teeth of well-meant admonitions from land-locked sailor/builders. That won't work! That'll never go to windward! You're risking your very lives! Off they went, nevertheless; over the horizon, under full press of sail.

We hear from them, occasionally. From New Zealand. From Thailand. From Chile. From the Caribbean. From Nova Scotia. From the Med. Or from their home town dock, if that floats their boat.

In short, from wherever they wanted to sail.

These boats were one and all flagships of the KISS concept (Keep It Simple Sailor). They did the necessary with a minimum of extravagance, and a maximum of efficiency. With tools, materials and skills at hand, their owners put together a working vessel.


If you choose build over buy, I propose this list of general KISS attributes, distilled from all those sail-away vessels:

  • Tolerably small (small is beautiful! - E.F.Schumacher)
  • Simple hull shape (easily lofted, easily built)
  • Simple construction (straightforward build from common materials)
  • Simple interior (avoid complicated spaces, joinery or detail)
  • Simple, durable finish (wipe-down, if possible; avoid varnish)
  • Simple, basic systems (avoid unnecessary, complex, unrepairable) 
  • Simple, robust gear (good quality, fix-it-yourself)
  • Simple, robust rig (low stress, fail-safer)
It is the combined economies of these points that keep overall costs down, and often make the difference between got 'er did, and got 'er didn't

Clearly, there's a lot of room, here, for interpretation. Saving here, one might lavish a bit, there. But the more one simplifies, the better the odds of completion, sail-away and keep-on-a-going.

To these, I would add my own (opinionated) ultra-KISS advice, accumulated over 25 years of loafing about:

  • Flat bottom (easiest build, greatest volume/displacement on given dimensions)
  • Square sections (easiest build, highest form stability / volume / displacement, reduces ballast)
  • Ultra shoal draft (offers a hundred harbors to every deep draft one)
  • Outboard rudder (external, inexpensive, easy maintenance)
  • Leeboards (external, inexpensive, easy maintenance... prevented, they needn’t be tended)
  • Free standing, junk rig (inexpensive, simple to use, maintainable with DIY materials, fail-safer)
  • Copper plating (long lived, non-toxic anti-fouling, mechanical protection... works particularly well with flat bottoms and ply construction)
And last, but not least:
  • Move aboard (If you don’t, let’s face it; your vessel is an expensive toy)

Moving aboard converts expenditures on the boat into investment in your home. Even a modest home on modest land costs more than boats up to their high middle end. That lower cost means less wasted on debt service. 

The work of maintaining a liveaboard is less than a shoreside home-owner's (Mow the lawn? Reroof the house? Dig up the septic system? Puh-leeze!). Vacation means a voyage (low transportation cost, no hotels, all the comforts and economies of home!). And property taxes? Low to none.

Putting all your eggs into one basket concentrates one’s risk, but it’s certainly an economical way to go. If it means the difference between doing it and not... 

I’m just sayin’.

PS. Check out Bob Wise's VOLKSCRUISER blog for plenty more on this theme.

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Thank you, Ken Neumeyer! and Fare Well! (Author of SAILING THE FARM)

Ken Neumeyer
30 July 1953 - 3 July 2013

If there are two things the sea has provided man throughout history, they are the abundance of wealth to be found within its waters, and the ability to travel long distances. With the proper tools and skills, man has lived from the sea since time began, and he will continue to do so as long as he survives on this watery planet.


How to live lightly on the earth, how to convert energy efficiently, how to minimize needs for expensive resources and how to reduce unrenewable energy requirements - these are the basic questions we must answer to attain greater levels of self-determination and control. These skills will determine our fate and destiny as humans.


I'd rather have a well stocked sailboat and the ability to sail it anywhere in the world than money in a bank that might fail, a job from which I might be laid off, a government pension that might dry up, insurance policies, etc.. The ability to carve your living out of the raw earth is the best security you could have anywhere at any time.


I have learned from many years of sailing that the ocean is the safest place on the planet - but the shore will ruin you.

-- From Sailing the Farm by Ken Neumeyer

Thank you, Ken Neumeyer!
And Fare Well!

A young man wrote the words above, and a younger man read them.

In 1981, Ken Neumeyer wrote Sailing the Farm: A Survival Guide to Homesteading on the Ocean (see note following post).

Four years later, I was embarking upon my adult life without a clue as to what to do with myself.

I'd done some hitchhiking... and loved the drifting, dreaming nomadics of the Road. But the warm glow of the '60s was fading fast as the nation took a flinty right turn. I saw no future in the mainstream; nor were the backeddies to my taste.

But then - in the discarded freebies from a public library - I stumbled across... Sailing the Farm! [BOOM] A Guide to Homesteading on the Ocean!! [BOOM] Independence on thirty feet!!! [BaBOOM]

I could feel my heart thunder in response to the mere titles! Sensed synaptic conflagration; the shift of paradigm... the very snicker-snack of a thousand, disparate pieces falling into place.

A boat! A sailboat!! A seastead!?! 

Ken's words granted me satori. My aha! moment. And... well... you can see where it led me. This blog is a part of my token attempt to pay that gift forward.

The book is a classic.

Virtually sailor afloat knows of Sailing the Farm. There's a well-thumbed copy on many the cruiser's shelf. Many swear by the spirit - if not the letter - of the approaches Ken pioneered and championed. 

There's even a group of young, international, passionate farmers who take that name and are building their own sailing seastead!

He wrote up a brainstorm of ideas toward thriving at sea on one's own terms. Ways of survival at sea which render the approach to land elective, rather than compulsory. Ahead of many who followed, he foresaw the moment of Peak Everything, and offered an alternative.

More than anything, he conveyed an attitude... Courage to find one's way. Faith that obstacles can be overcome. Tolerance for mistakes along the way. Confidence in one's self.

Ken did far more than write... he was out there

Living and learning; sailing and seasteading; granting the concept its clearest expression since Cap'n Nemo. Delivering it (unlike the NAUTILUS) into the hands of small-pocket dreamers.

He took his best shots and some hard knocks. Sifted through the workable and the unworkable, the wise and the foolish, the beauty and the beast.

Yet Ken wrote no sequel. His exploits didn't appear in the rumor mill or weigh in at the forums or show up at rendevous. The sailing community is a small 'hood, especially in those early years, yet no one seemed to know his whereabouts. 

His silence and absence were conspicuous. To the larger community of sailors, it was as if one of our luminaries had sailed over the edge.

I fondly imagined him permanently at sea aboard his latest generation seastead. Too busy and engaged to drop a postcard. 

It happens, but not this time.

In 1982, Ken's car crashed into a cradle that toppled a thirty foot sailboat onto the roof of his vehicle. He suffered serious brain damage, ending his years of sea-faring. His family and friends provided on-going, loving care throughout the next three decades. 

In July of 2013, they saw him off on his Last Voyage.


Of all those who have inspired, taught and mentored me - of all the giants upon whose shoulders I climb - I owe the greatest debt of thanks to Ken. 

Without his words - reaching me at the crossroads of life - I might well have trudged, head down, into a rut for which I was nowise fit. Might well have walked right by the open door that leads to the sea.

Now, belatedly, I've heard his story. It saddens me, but reminds me once more that there are so many ways to live well, especially when surrounded by those who love you.

Ken, for all the many sweet years at sea to which you opened my eyes, I thank you! For love I found along this path you set me on, I thank you! For the very life for which your words were catalyst, I thank you!

Fair winds and fare ye well!


Sailing the Farm can be found on-line here.

Ken's memorial (original found here):

KENNETH W. NEUMEYER July 30, 1953 to July 3, 2013 In the last days of Ken's life, a bouquet of caring persons surrounded him with love yet gave him space to experience his own journey with dignity, softly listening to the sounds of ocean waves and seagulls and Susan Boyle singing "Somewhere over the Rainbow." These friends and family, and the professional staff of Hospice, cared for his comfort on his last adventure. And then, in the quiet of the late night, with his sister Susan, his niece Phyllis, and his faithful dog Min Min Feedlets quietly encouraging him to embrace the warm light of the Lord and those loving persons who had gone before him, he set sail. Ken, "Kenny", was and still is, a free spirit. He is survived by his dad, Fred Neumeyer, "Good bye, son!", and recently predeceased by his best friend and mother, Phyllis Neumeyer, who for 30 years after a car accident which left Ken head injured and handicapped, championed each and every resultant surgery and challenge Ken faced with passionate determination. Along with his sister, Susan Morgan, they worked tirelessly one step at a time, one day after another, to encourage him to reach his maximum potential. He maintained many friendships from before his accident in 1982 and was cherished by many who met him and got to know him from that time forward. Two months prior to his devastating crash into a cradle that brought a 30 foot sail boat down upon the roof of his small car, he had published a sailor's bible called "Sailing the Farm", a survival manual on how to live aboard a... thirty foot sailboat independently. Reviewed by the likes of Tristan Jones, who nicknamed him "Noomie", he welcomed Ken to sail with him anytime. Ken received letters from all over the world sharing with him opinions and sailing stories. He was hoping to publish these reviews and letters in an anniversary edition, and his family will now help him finish this dream. "Uncle Kenny" to Thomas Morgan, Phyllis Stewart and David Stewart, and great Uncle to babies Kayla and Tommy Morgan, Ken was blessed with each of these children in his home to delight in their growth and be a part of their lives, with his intact communication and charming sense of humor raising them with a natural acceptance of a handicapped person in the family, community and universe. His caregivers and friends, Janna Rastrelli, Victor McNulty, Nick, Gary, and Marie not only prayed with him during his final days but had just provided a special new environment for his healing. His sailing buddies Robert Steinberg, David Cook, David Weisenbach, Tom Sheridan, Susi Walsh and Debra West maintained lifelong friendships. His cousins, especially Walter Neumeyer, his Aunt Lassie, friends Rachel Wray, Shay Ford, Clare Hanks, Laurie Nezbeth, the Becker boys and Mark Stewart were a constant source of strength. Ken was also predeceased by his big brother and big sister Freddy and Karen Neumeyer. At the age of 14 he endured their loss in a canoe accident. Ken responded with a will to make a difference. From fixing and selling bigger and better sailboats, leading to the loss of a fifty footer on the rocks of Baja California, to relearning how to talk, walk, write, and sing time and time again, his will and determination is an inspiration to all who knew him. "and, oh, the difference to me!" Fairwell to you, Captain Courageous, darling Ken, with enduring love from your soul sister and adoring crew.

Saturday, November 8, 2014

What's in a Name? Naming One's Vessel

Yacht names carved into boardwalk at
Tofino Hotsprings, BC

“A name can't begin to encompass the sum of all her parts. But that's the magic of names, isn't it? That the complex, contradictory individuals we are can be called up complete and whole in another mind through the simple sorcery of a name.”

 ― From Dreams Underfoot by Charles de Lint

What's in a Name? Naming One's Vessel

Ideally, the name should evoke the spirit of the vessel. One's approach to life. One's Self. All of these.

But contenders have to run a gamut of quibbles. 
First and foremost, if one is plural, it has to grab both of you...
For example, Anke loves MUSTELID, which represents a whole family of admittedly fascinating varmints. They share a certain funk to which we relate. Me? I'd like to narrow that down to two that have a strong, aquatic connection; LUTRA - land and sea otters. But that sits lower down Anke's faves than others...
Cute and clever are tempting, but often have a short lifespan.... too long on the lips and it may come to gall.

SQUARE PEG (in a round world), for example. Or CUBIT, BOXER or C- or R-SQUARED.

The name must fit into society.

For example, we love the name ANARCHY. But its the kind of word that puts Concerned Citizens up in arms. Wouldn't do to sail into a town that doesn't know us with a name like that. Ditto ERIS (Goddess of Discord).

It has to be distinctive on the air (radio communications). 

US Coast Guard Vessel LIBERTY, this is the QUIRK, the QUIRK, the QUIRK. 
Quebec... Uniform... India... Romeo... Kilo. QUIRK.
Affirmative, QUIRK.

Too obscure:

WAMPETER. LIFE o' CONWAY. HOPEFUL MONSTER. BENTO. OPUS (Oppure Se Muove!). GREAT MOMENTS (in Evolution... a Gary Larsen cartoon that... well... nevermind). LI T'SI PO. TRILOBOAT (what the hay???).

S'CHAO was our most 'hopeful monster'. Chao (pronounced cow) is a Discordian (see ERIS, above) Unit of Chaos. YEAH! The S' prefix, with a little, local dialectic stretch passes for it's a, and makes the name a homophone of scow. Cool on all counts but about as obscure as they come. And get it across over radio?
Cool sub-text is welcome...
SLACKTIDE: Ambiguous uncertainty; Stillness in transition; Adaptability (from the I Ching).

Too much character can broadcast more than we might wish.


So, we have a short-list of contenders, but no final decision.

As she takes shape, her character grows ever more pronounced. One of these days... and very soon...

She'll whisper her name to us.


Sunday, November 2, 2014

The WAFER Dinghy Approach

MAITRE D' (to MR CREOSOTE): And finally, monsieur, a wafer-thin mint.
-- From Monty Phython's The Meaning of Life

The WAFER Dinghy Approach

Dinghies are indispensable to the cruising lifestyle.

When used to ferry us to and fro the shore, schlep our gear or while a pleasant afternoon away, they are fine and dandy things. But when we try to tow them, stow them, ship or unship 'em, or even lie quietly next to one of a flukey night... well... they can try a sailor's patience.

Partial solutions include dinghies which break-down, nest, inflate or fold for onboard stowage.

So, I been thinkin'...

This partial solution - which I call the Wafer Dinghy approach - is a DIY, hard-shell folding type. Unlike most other folders I've seen, it folds flat. Bottom and sides are permanently joined, so getting ready for use is merely standing up the sides and inserting spreaders.

Here's the general recipe, borrowing heavily from Great Minds:
  • Start with a heaping helping of Matt Layden's (brilliant) folding dinghy approach (ply panels with interlocking notches along chines (like interlocked fingers of two hands), tape n glued with 'canvas' bedded in elastomeric glue (e.g., polyurethanes, such as 3M5200, Sikaflex, etc)).

  • Stir in a full measure of Phil Bolger's (brilliant) matched curvature between bottom and sides (reduces turbulence from cross-chine flow).

  • Make height-of-Sides less than one half the Bottom beam, with sheer to taste.

  • Season with favored 'folding dinghy transom method' at both ends (e.g., waterproof fabric with plank or stick spreaders).

  • Bake in the harsh light of Reason until reasonably safe.

  • Spread ends and mid-ships sections with plank seats or stick spreaders, and serve!

Since the side heights are less than half the bottom beam, they do not overlap when folded, and therefore lie completely flat. Since curves match, when folded flat, the bottom curve relaxes to flat, as well. As sides are stood up into position, their lower curve springs the bottom into shape.

Bottom shape may be either fully rockered, or have a mid-ships deadflat. To design, first lay out the flat Bottom, and use it to draw the Sides, super-imposed on the bottom. Consider that you'll lose some overall length to curvature when unfolded.

The approach can be applied to dinghies which range from short and beamy to long and slender.

My guess is that the interlocked notches along the chines that Matt Layden proposes aren't strictly necessary, unless subjected to very heavy use. But they are a brilliant solution, cheap and easy, and hedge one's bets.

Of course details would want to be kept to a minimum, in the spirit of a wafer. Rubrails, seats, oarlocks, etc... they all want to stow easily and flat, or they work against the grain. 

One simplifying variation is to use more rocker and eliminate the end transoms (Side sheer will meet the corners of the Bottom). This might be useful for warm water paddling or as a backup against loss of a more capable tender.

A complicating variation is to split the Bottom down the centerline, tape n glue as chines, and fold like a W (end view). Possibly with an overlapping skeg of light strapping fixed to one side of the cut and spanning across to the other, forming a rabbet? The sprung bottom rocker resists spontaneous UNfolding in use, so no locks are necessary. The folded hull is now 4-ply, but only half the beam tall.

If you wish, the sheer need not be a straight line... this would allow relatively higher ends and relatively lower, mid-ships freeboard. 

In our yet-to be-completed prototype, we built in 1/4in ply, doubled along the sheer, and cut oarlocks into that. To date it lives, Wed behind our settee cushion waiting for a few hours to finish the ends and paint. An update is someday forthcoming.


These would be light, quick to assemble, and relatively cheap and easy to stow. I could see a family cruiser with a 'short stack' of them; one for each family member. Folded, they can lie flat (stowed along superstructures, under solar panals(?) or against shrouds), parbuckled (inboard of leeboards?) or be sprung to deck camber.

We've not yet managed to finish one full-sized, though a second, on-board dinghy for the new boat would be nice!

If you do, you'll let me know?

Matt Layden with  Dave and Mindy Boldav's
Micro Folding Dinghy
Note the light and partial rubrail.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Halifax Art Boat

Launch Day!


In October of 2013, I was contacted by a fella who wrote:
I'm representing a consortium of artists and educators in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where we would like to build a couple TriloBoats for artist residencies and to serve as a platform for community and social artwork around the greater Halifax area.
We corresponded a bit, back and forth. I answered a few questions. And next I hear, she's launched!

This, from the Halifax Community Arts Page:

The box scow hull vessel was hand-built by a team of volunteers and community members of all ages and abilities over the winter and spring of 2013-2014 at the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic's historic boat shed on the Halifax Waterfront. Freshly launched into the Halifax Harbour this past July [12th], the project is now entering its next phase of community involvement.

You can follow her further adventures at

PS... As part of her 'Occupancy' certification, the HALIFAX ART BOAT underwent a stability test; so far as I know, a first official benchmark for a TriloBoat (T24x8). This resulted the following exchange (me in italics):
Congratulations! Sounds as if you passed, from which I surmise that 15 people showed up, stood on the rail and nobody went swimming. All correct?

Thanks! Yes, we actually did it with 12 as that is all we could assemble on a weekday, but they were 12, full-grown adults.

How was the number 15 arrived at? Is that an official number for a given sized boat, or maximum occupancy applied for?

The risk assessment folks (oy) put a max of 10 ppl on board, we wanted to demonstrate appreciably more than that for provable stability.
Any estimate as to total kg involved? 15 x an average of 50kg (kids and adults) would come out to 750kg. Close?

I think we had calculated roughly 900kg [1980lbs] of people standing along the rail (like I said, all adults).
How much freeboard was left, would you say, at maximum lean?

Depends on how you define “freeboard”. We measured from resting waterline - it was about 20cm (~8in) UP on the resting waterline on the low side and the chine on the high side was out of the water by about 10 cm (~4in), give or take.
Were there any comments from officials on the results? Surprise? Normal?

I think they were just “oh, I guess you were right, it is safe.” but they kept it close to the vest and just granted us approval.
Sounds as if you had a lot of fun building her. Anke and I are building, now, and envy your 200 participants!

Haha, well they weren’t all there all the time - we put in a LOT of sub-freezing days just one or two of us.
Anyways, we could have done a few things better, and I’m not sure what the project will become moving forward (my main job was to steward the building and approval of the craft, so I’m bowing out a bit due to other interests in the meantime).
Fortunately, the Maritime Museum of the Atlantic has taken over stewardship of the craft for the next two years and will be coordinating activities. We’ll see what that turns into!
Wishing YOU success as well, and thanks for staying in touch! Your boat design made a dream possible for a LOT of people out here - and it was truly fantastic seeing all of the excitement and pride on people’s faces when we launched. Really a fantastic boat - quirky in all the right ways, and a real cross-section of all the tricks and crafts used for other forms of construction in an easy-to-understand nutshell.
Keep at it, and stay square!

Now THAT's the way to move a boat!


Photos courtesy of Tyler John Photography

Saturday, October 18, 2014

Building Yer Own

Our Hopeful Monster

The whole difference between construction and creation is exactly this:
  That a thing constructed can only be loved after it is constructed;
  But a thing created is loved before it exists.
-- Charles Dickens

Building Yer Own

Anke and I are in the throes of building our 'last' boat.

There are moments, I admit, when I question our sanity. Why build when we have a perfectly good boat (SLACKTIDE)? Why build when we could buy? Why upsize when we were happily downsized?

Without having quite realized it, the new boat will represent a five year plan (assuming no extravagant setbacks). Time and treasure...

Financing, planning, shopping, building, rigging... all these represent time spent not drifting about, or at least cutting it to summer/early autumn months. Will the new boat be worth the investment of those golden hours afloat?

Mmm. Good questions, deserving good answers, with Time to be the Ultimate Judge.

Why build when we have a perfectly good boat? This is probably hardest question to answer. The bottom line is that we're afraid that 'tent-style living', on our knees, would not see us through old age. And if we are to build, the time is now, while it's merely hard going. A decade down the road and it may be untenably hard going.

Why build when we could buy? Well, the number of ultra-shoal, live-aboard boats in reasonable condition and reasonable price is a small number indeed. Lots of deals in boats these days, but most are many, many compromises away from our wish list.

Why upsize when we were happily downsized? Both have advantages and disadvantages. The new boat is still small, by most standards.- affordable and manageable - yet affords a large step toward the SWAB concept. Oh, and it has a stand-up galley... Anke loves SLACKTIDE's kneeling galley for the nonce, but feels that for the longer term, LUNA's stand-up arrangement was preferable. Along with project and miniature garden space, elbow-room. Me? I'm a 'small is beautiful' kinda guy. But it's true... everything but maintenance is a skosh easier with a little extra volume.

Is it worth the investment? Time will have to tell, here. We've got a lot invested and a long way to go. We try to cultivate the attitude that we are cruising, albeit shorebound to one particular phase of a bigger picture.

There's a lot to be said for building one's own boat/home, whatever the cost.

Building one's own connects a sailor to his or her vessel and sailing life in a way that's hard to explain, but which, among those who've done it, needs no explanation. Some things just can't be purchased, at any price. 

And there is nothing - nothing - to compare to the moment yer own creation comes to life under first press of sail.

Our muscles ache and complain, yet we grow strong. Morning comes too early, yet the day is full of challenges met. Our progress seems slow, and yet...

Something wonderful is growing under our hands.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Doctors Without Borders: Friends in Need

Doctors Without Borders: Friends in Need

Sometimes, the world scares me.

A howling gale, driving seas, lee shores -- these can leave me dry of mouth and knock of knee. 

But I have some experience in these. A boon companion. Tools at my command. A refuge downwind.

I can face them.

For many years now, Anke and I have supported Doctors Without Borders, aka Medecines Sans Frontieres (MSF).

Since their founding, they have walked the walk through the valley of the shadow of death. In the face of natural disaster, war and disease, their staff and volunteers have risked their very lives in service of populations in dire need.

Now, they are embroiled in the desperate West African fight against the Ebola Virus.

Ebola. The modern world's first biosafety level 4 epidemic. Spreading exponentially.

My mouth is dry. My knees knock. My heart bleeds.

MSF is in the field, facing what I cannot and perhaps dare not.

It's unofficial, but to date, we've managed to put aside 10+% of TriloBoats' earnings toward helping others. Doctors Without Borders has been the chief recipient. Thus, many of you have already made a contribution.

Please consider an extra donation to this extraordinary organization in this extraordinary time of need.

A stitch in time, if there's still time.


Click HERE to visit Doctors Without Borders donation page.

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

On-Board Economics: Toward a Gift Economy

Painting by Alexi Berry

May no gift be too small to give, 
Nor too simple to receive, 
Which is wrapped in thoughtfulness, 
And tied with love.

-- L.O. Baird

economy - from Greek oikonomia, meaning household management.

On-Board Economics: Toward a Gift Economy

There is the world-at-large. And then there is the world-on-board. Two very different spheres.

In the greater world - like it or not - economics are reduced to matters of money and commodities. Like the old joke: 

Me: Would you sleep with me for a million bucks?
You: Heck yeah!
Me: How about for twenty?
You: What do you take me for?
Me: That's been established, now we're just haggling over price.

This sad exchange resonates through every economic transaction we make Out There.

But aboard? This is - or I hope it is - an economy of a different order! Household management. Not based on money, but on gifts.

So what distinguishes a gift? Total lack of strings, especially the expectation that a gift will be given in return. And, in our opinion, gifts should be from the heart... providing their own satisfaction to the giver.

 In a loving relationship, the urge to gift the other is strong. If that urge diminishes, the domestic economy slows, and indicates that counsel and/or change is in the wind.

Anke and I have three modes, and expect a fourth:
  • Everyday Mode - Our home is safely harbored, and we have "no deeds to do, no promises to keep" (from 59th Street Bridge Song (Feelin Groovy) by Simon & Garfunkle). In these times, we favor a state of Taoist anarchy.

    We think of this as a Gift Economy. From each according to their mood; to each with gratitude. Neither of us have specific jobs or roles in the Gift Economy, and no gift incurs a debt (wouldn't be a gift, then, would it?). For chores, deals are struck according to mood, with gifting often playing a role.

    And it's amazing how an exchange of gifts inspires more.

    TIP: For multiple chores, we use a trick learned from the movie, The Man Who Would Be King... one partner divides in two, even heaps, and the other chooses the heap.

  • Underway - Normally this is very similar to everyday mode, but archical... one of us is Captain at any given moment. Captain makes the decisions, mostly after consultation, and remains in charge until handing off the responsibility, or the anchor is securely down. Gifts still ebb and flow as conditions allow.

  • Crisis Mode - Things are NOT groovy. We HAVE deeds to do and promises to keep. Manure hits the windmill.

    Suddenly, we become Marxists under a Captain: From each according to their ability, to each according to their need. Gone are the small gifts, and much of the consultation. When the Captain says jump, the crew jumps.

    And, so far, we've pulled through.

We find that, for ourselves, these three work far better than common alternatives. Father or Mother knows best. You scratch my back, I'll scratch yours. Tit for tat. Equal division of labor. Equivalent contribution. All of these seem so often to degrade into resentment.

It's possible that our free and easy ways work better without having children. But I'm not sure of this... we've been around and responsible for children for considerable periods, at times. They appear to bloom under this system. It's true that, in their case, the Gift Economy is faux - we adults have an underlying authority over minors that all are aware of - but if not abused, it seems not to be resented. Crisis Mode is a more frequent occurrence with kids involved, but generally short-lived.

It's certainly true that, as LINKs (Low Income, No Kids), we certainly have the luxury of time to work out the kinks!

As I mentioned, a fourth mode approaches:
  • End Mode - Chronic, terminal crisis, when things aren't going to get better. We've not yet faced this, between us, but it's coming. This is when gifts potentially grow large and 'expensive'. Where the overt, mutual exchange may well falter on one end.

    When a lifetime of gifting has been practiced, and now inspires the greatest of gifts.

We've seen this between others, and aspire to their grace.

A couple of pretty good eggs