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

Monday, January 27, 2014

Agile Boatbuilding

Agile Boatbuilders at work on a WACKY LASSIE
by Fritz Funk

Numquam ponenda est pluralitas sine necessitate.
    [Plurality must never be posited without necessity].

- Occam's Razor from William of Ockham 

Entities must not be multiplied beyond necessity.

- Occam's Razor as put by John Punch of Cork

   [Keep It Simple, Sailor].

- Occam's Razor, razored by ???

Agile Boatbuilding 

As you may have noticed, I'm  a sucker for rules-of-thumb. 

The best of them are pithy and mnemonic, like KISS. The kind of thing you don't have to scratch your head over, yet which remind you to get back in the groove from wherever temptation has led. When it's a list, it's the kind of thing that every item you remember is going to advance your cause.

Jeremy Ulstad is a boat rat / renaissance guy with a toe dipped in the world of Information Technology (his blog). There, he encountered the Agile software development concept, which he adapted to boatbuilding:

Agile Boatbuilding:
  1. Make it Cheap
  2. Make it Fast
  3. Make it Work
  4. Make it Right

This brief checklist will take anyone a long way!

Let's take it again, with a little commentary:
  1. Make it Cheap - Economy is a make-or-break factor, for most of us, especially we dreamers who are looking toward a DIY launch into the fringeways of the the world.

    Cheap means money, of course, but more broadly, it implies life energy... the time and energy we put into earning money, spending money on things, assembling things into dreams. Just designing the durn things and counting the nails can be draining.

    Make it Cheap!

  2. Make it Fast - As St. Larry the Cable Guy says, Git 'er done!

    A bane of the DIY builder is getting bogged down in detail. Ambitious shapes, complex interiors, needless gew-gaws and gimcracks... finish! How many boats have foundered before launch on the reefs of Bristol Fashion?

    It's the world we want to experience. Our boats are but means to glory. Don't get bogged in trivia...

    Make it Fast!

  3. Make it Work - None of the above means we can avoid the bottom line... stuff has to work. Our lives depend on it. Sails have to go up and come down. Anchors set and retrieve. People in, water out.

    Simple, well planned, robust construction is the key. Fail-safer approaches. Simple solutions for simple tasks.

    Make it Work!

  4. Make it Right - By now, we've checked off one through three, and likely launched. This stage is the long, slow, delicious rest-of-our lives stage.

    Field testing takes place in the field. Sea-trials, and then voyaging. Not till then will we be able to fully assess, address and debrief our solutions improving as we go. Getting into the field is the vital step. Go forth and...

    Make it Right!

And a last word for the road... one of the Agile core concepts is respond to change  rather than slavishly follow a rigid plan.

Not bad advice for any voyage!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Diet for a Small Boat

Complimentarity for Complete Proteins
See Diet for a Small Planet by FM Lappe

We're not just what we eat, we're how we eat.

Diet for a Small Boat

Okay, not so much a diet as a handful of strategies for feeding oneself on a shoestring.

A lot of the info available for self-sufficiency focuses on land-based homesteads. Horti- and agriculture, often coupled with animal husbandry techniques don't translate as well to seasteading. 

Our distinguishing characteristic, as cruisers, is our mobility. We're not tied to any particular piece of land, but have access to a range of resources. We want, therefore, strategies that allow us to feed along the way. We want to avoid, or at least minimize those which tie us to a particular time, place or economy.

The following are a number of strategies that we're doing, dabbled in, or hope to try. Like most things in our life, it's a work in progress. You'll note that some are diametrically opposed to others. What they have in common is the promise of easing us out of the consumer economy, and toward a more subsistant lifestyle.

Guiding Philosophies

  • Nomadics -- Gotta eat and run!
  • Wildivoracious -- Eat wild, when possible.
  • Locovoracious -- Eat local, when possible.
  • Opportunivoracious -- Eat what presents itself.
  • Omnivoracious -- Broaden the palette.
  • Neo-Primitivism -- Do what can be done by hand.


  • Neo-Primitive aka Paleolithic Diet -- Fewer, high-quality carbohydrates and more proteins.
  • Vegetarian -- Potentially more energy efficient by orders of magnitude.
  • Vegan -- See New Age of Sail by Dmitry Orlov.
  • Raw Foods -- As adherents ask, "What's so different about humans, among all other animals on earth, that we require cooked food?"

Food Sources

  • Gathering (Wild)
  • Gleaning (Fringe)
  • Fish, Game and Others
  • Guerrilla Gardening
  • On-Board Gardening
  • Barter -- Includes barter for 'money'.


  • Fermentation -- See Wild Fermentation by SE Katz.
  • Protein Complimentarity -- 2 part grains : 1 part legumes (and other combos).
  • Sprouting


  • Drying -- For the weight-conscious cruiser!
  • Pickling
  • Brining
  • Smoking
  • Canning


  • Biomass -- Wood, peat, etc..
  • Biofuels -- Let's say, liquid fuels processed from biomass.
  • Solar -- The gift that keeps giving.


We've tried all of these, and most of them have become staple approaches. 

They're easy, fun and tasty. Each of them takes us one step further afield, lets us stay out longer, and reduces our dependency on the monetary economy. They help tie us into local networks of gardeners, fisherfolk, home cooks and friends at large.

Food is something we all need and love...

Why not make the most of it?

Monday, January 13, 2014

Inside Steering: Get Out of the Rain, Silly!

Click on image for unobstructed view.

Get out of the rain, Silly!
-- Mom

Inside Steering

Despite years of good advice from Mom, I spent years sitting in the cockpit, at the tiller, in the rain. Now that I'm a nominal grown-up, I tend to apply a stronger term to myself than 'Silly'.

Pure laziness. One of our mentors showed us the general principal during our first year afloat. When I finally got around to setting it up a couple of years ago, it took all of an hour. 


The basic principle is that a single line pulls against springy tension supplied by the opposed bungee. When relaxed, the tiller is pulled hard over, toward that bungee. When tensioned, it can be fixed anywhere, all the way to hard-over on the pull side. Given this range, we can perform any (steering) maneuver from shelter.

Loops at the tiller cleat (or ball... see tips, below) are very quick to engage and disengage. Thus you can kick the system 'out of gear' at a moment's notice.

The bungee in the pull line acts merely as a shock absorber.

Less friction in the system makes the pull lighter, and fine tuning easier. 

We use a caribiner on a grommet at the pull-side corner post, fairleads and a copper plumbing elbow glued in place as a bulkhead through-lead (angle it slightly upwards, inboard to keep rain out... it can be corked for extremes or winter storage). These choices mean we have to turn and face aft to pull comfortably (easing out is easy). Consider reducing friction (see Tips, below).


As a bonus, a slight variation converts it to a lashing system:

The long bungee can be replaced by a line with an eye-splice (loop) in one end. Loop goes over the tiller cleat. The tail rounds the corner post and affixes, mid-line, with a rolling hitch (Scouts call this a 'taut-line hitch'). This can be adjusted to fine tune the lashing position.

The pull line is set up a bit 'up' (to windward) from center balance position, and the rolling hitch is adjusted to pull to balance.

So lashed, SLACKTIDE will sail herself for hours on all points, so long as waves are relatively small. Then we have to babysit the tiller for the occasional deviation, when we're kicked out of balance (lashing at a balance point isn't 'self-steering'). Just slip off one or both loops, adjust course and reset.

KISS, cheap and reliable enough!


CAUTION: The boat may be steering herself, but she's NOT watching where she's going! That's still our job! Keep an adequate lookout at all times.

  • Substitute blocks or HMD for reduced friction. If you want to get tricky, a wheel or lever at the inside station can supply mechanical advantage.
  • Substitute a bungee with ball termination for tiller cleat loops on long bungee and lashing lines... tension can be micro-managed by wraps of this line, anchoring ball under nearest horn of cleat. None to a few turns covers quite a range in small, half-turn steps.
  •  Make sure that easy seating, adjacent to the tiller is possible... this may require elevating the tiller, slightly, to let lines clear your lap. Installation will vary according to cockpit layout.
  • Lashing may not work as well for boats with fin keels... the problem is low tracking. Consider a drogue to enhance track steady, and whether it's worth it... another system may be advisable.
  • Splicing bungee to line is tough going... seizing with small stuff works well and looks salty.
  • Where possible, run the pull line as much out-of-the-way (close to walls or corners) as is feasible... don't want to trip over it, and a line on a deck can roll and pitch you.

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Cruising Mind

Three Worlds
M.C. Escher

Ah, for just one time I would take the Northwest Passage
To find the hand of Franklin reaching for the Beaufort Sea.
Tracing one warm line through a land so wide and savage,
And make a Northwest Passage to the sea!

-- From Northwest Passage by Stan Rogers

Cruising Mind

For a third of century, now, Anke and I have been tracing a convoluted line across our home waters of SouthEast Alaska in small, engine-free sailboats.

When the wind is fair, we reach or run down the long, straits, fjords and sounds, usually close along shorelines. Marvelling at the detail sweeping by, unfolding mile after mile. Seldom pausing to touch and taste.

With the wind against us, we zig and we zag. Long tack out on long tack in, touching close only at the inshore turns. We console ourselves with the long view. The open and close of mountain, valley and lanes of the sea. Drinking in sweeping transitions from abyss, up the timbered slopes to snowy scapes, each as perfect and aloof as the other.

And when the wind fails, we creep along, exploring every crook and crevice. Getting to know the barnacles by name. Rowing ashore to investigate any prickle of interest.

The world spills in through our senses, writing itself into the very annals of our minds.

Our minds become a chart, of sorts. 

One composed of the myriad points of contact with specific places along the coast. Profiles of headlands. Lines of sight and their relative motions. Currents and plants and scent and the look of stone. The play of light and shadow as seasons roll, one into the next.

Memories and mind connect each point of contact. Fill in the gaps with imagination and experience. Project beyond in surmise and speculation. Weave each lone word into a story, or better, a yarn.

Like a ball of yarn in the labyrinth, our minds - as much as any paper chart - guide us where we will.

Tracing one warm line through a land so wide and savage...

The land is not so savage, any more, though plenty enough so to curtail the lives of those unwary  or unlucky. And wide as ever. There is plenty of white, uncharted space -- terra and mara incognito -- in our minds' chart.

As we sail on, will our minds fill until they reflect our world perfectly? The multi-layered boundary between our selves and our world dissolve?

Until, one day, we are as still... as at one... as fully immersed as that fish in a'swim Three Worlds?