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

Saturday, December 22, 2018

Solstice Greetings

Sitka in Winter
by Mark Kelly
Prints available here

Everyday Prayer

By the break of day
And the eyelids of morning
By the wayfaring moon
And the night as it ends

I swear

I will not tarnish my soul with hatred
But will offer myself humbly
As a protecter of nature
As a healer of misery
As a messenger of wonder
As an architect of peace

In the name of the sun and its minors
And the embracing day
And the veiling clouds
And uttermost night

I will honor all life
Wherever and in whatever form I find it

On Earth my home
And in the mansions of the stars

-- School Prayer by Dianne Ackerman
(As remembered... follow link for original)

Solstice Greetings

Today is winter Solstice, the low tide and slack of the year.

It's blowing and snowing: bare trees are limned with it while it lies heavy on the conifered slopes. The day has been an opalescent progression of ominous purples, golden eruptions, cerulean blues, scarlet flames and the pure white of gulls dancing with the fulgent black of corvidae. Surrounding peaks shimmer in and out of existence; sometimes rooted to the earth, and at others, floating impossibly high above it all. Toward the low light of day, the wind-tumbled Sound reaches for the sea.

The fire's warm, coffee strong and rich, and the wine is mulled; company good.

We've pulled into Sitka for the winter... our new masts are up but we have been gently reminded by the playful wind that winter is no time for the first steps of sea-trials (had to slip an anchor and run for shelter on our way in). So time to renew long languishing friendships and enjoy such urban delights as libraries, hardware stores, cafes and second hand.

We hope the holidays find you safe, warm and well!


Dave and Anke

Thursday, April 12, 2018

A Look at Box Barge/Scow Sailing

SLACKTIDE sailing to windward in about 20 knots of wind.
For some reason, the fairly extensive white caps didn't show up,
and I apologize for the wind-in-mike effect.

If a pitcha's worth a thousand words, how much fer a movin' pitcha?

A Look at Box Barge/Scow Sailing

If one were to go looking for some video of cruising-sized, box-barge/scows under sail... well... it's thin pickin's.

Despite the fact that sailing barges and scows once carried a good deal of freight in Europe and North America, very little information as to how they sail is readily accessible (okay... google, right?).  One can only infer that their numbers prove they must have been able to compete against curvy dog rivals.

We had extensively sailed LUNA, a fine sailing hull modeled on Phil Bolger's AS29. It's a square sharpie... much like a barge, but with ends pinched in. It's full rocker sets it off from the large, mid-ships deadflat that help keep Triloboats relatively quick and easy to build, and was a common feature of the sailing barge/scows of yore.

We reasoned that the barge/scow form couldn't lag too far behind. But as a precaution, we built SLACKTIDE as a proof-of-concept before committing to WAYWARD, a full-sized liveaboard cruiser. After all, sailing engineless in SE Alaska, ya need to be able to get out of yer own way!

To make a long story short, box barge/scows sail reasonably well. We've had no problems going anywhere we wish, and that involves many places and situations most wouldn't care to take their sailing home, no matter its capabilities.

Things I note about box barge/scow hulls:
  • Heeled, they present a V to the water.
  • Upright, their entry is rather fine (directing water downward for lift, rather than parting to either side... this is true even with relatively abrupt bow curve).
  • Easier aft curves release water well and make for an easier driven hull.
  • More abrupt forward curves don't seem to hurt, and do seem to reduce pounding.

The videos embedded here allow a look at how three models sail. Cast of Characters as follows:

SLACKTIDE (26x7x1) is a Triloboat Junk cat-Ketch with rather abrupt end-curves, intended to prioritize carrying capacity over speed.

SPIRIT (36x12x?ft) is a Civil War Cargo Scow gone Blockade Enforcer, with easy lines prioritizing speed.

ALMA (60x22x4 is a San Francisco Hay Scow Schooner. Her lines are quite abrupt with a long deadflat, prioritizing heavy lading.

So here ya go... a movin' pitcha look at box barges under sail:

SLACTKIDE running under reefed sails in confused seas

SLACKTIDE close-reaching in light air.

SV SPIRIT sailing on several points.
Note the view of the bow waterline... not much fuss.

This hull, compared to the others, is a relative pig to handle, 
yet comes about slow but sure.

Monday, April 2, 2018

(Almost) DIY 'Spun' Honey

DIY Spun Honey
Photo with recipe by hardlikearmour

"Well," said Pooh, "what I like best," and then he had to stop and think. Because although Eating Honeywas a very good thing to do, there was a moment just before you began to eat it which was better than when you were, but he didn't know what it was called.
― A.A. Milne, Winnie-the-Pooh.

(Almost) DIY 'Spun' Honey

I've always had a yen for 'spun' honey (aka whipped, creamed, churned, set and fondant honey).

Spun honey tastes just like regular, but behaves much better. It is generally much more viscous than liquid honey, so is much less prone to drip and run all over the place. This DIY version is even better behaved!

I was lauding spun honey's virtues to a cruising couple of friends, while lamenting its higher cost. They had a solution!

Turns out the 'spin' in spun honey serves to mechanically break down large crystals as they form. It may even be a structurally alternative crystal to that pesky kind that turns it into a gloopy glop of sugary chunks. This alternative crystal is smaller, and therefore uniform and much finer.

My friends take a wide mouth container and fill it with liquid honey, then seed it with a spoonful of spun honey (commercial, or from your last batch). Holding at about  57degF (14degC), stir every few days for about a week, until it has thickened to a lugubrious, uniform paste. Cap and use!

In many cases, we'll start by heating liquid honey in a double boiler to quite hot to remove all crystals of any kind, then cool it until it's warm (not hot) to the touch before adding seed. Too hot and you'll break down your seed crystal. Once converted, store in a cool place to keep it firm.

The result is a docile spreading honey that stays put.

Guilty Pleasure

Since I was a kid, I loved spooning honey and peanut butter. Powerful energy kicker for a cold day at the helm.

DIY spun honey is perfect for this... take a quarter dip of honey on a spoon, then a full dip of peanut butter.

Pop it in your mouth and bliss out!

Tuesday, March 20, 2018


WAYWARD under sail...Photo by Peter Frost

Spring is sprung,
The grass is riz.
I wonder where
My paintbrush is?


Finally a picture of WAYWARD sailing!

The Lion of March has turned sheepish away up here in Warmsprings Bay (Alaska). Unseasonable warmth and light winds make for pleasant turns around the bay.

In this pic, we're approaching the dock.

The mains'l (forward) is close-hauled and the mizzen (aft) is eased in anticipation of a 270deg turn in probably fluky breezes. When the wind is forward, the main is trimmed to drive us, and we can haul the mizzen in with a hand on the boom. When the wind is aft, it's the eased mizzen which drives us with the fores'l blanketed. Either way, we have good control and a range of options without the distraction of over-hauling or -easing line.

Since it's a tight corner, we'll send one of us ashore in the dory to catch a line. Sail in, round up, tack and dock (in steady, onshore wind). Or, if it flukes us, we'll settle for sail in, round up, nose the dock and warp alongside (cranking the stern in with the sculling oar against the bow line if practical). If it had been woofy, we might drop an anchor, row a line to the dock and warp in.

The rig (split junk mizzen) is in prototype, right now. The draft is set via 'Thai Style' lacings between individual panels at 8%. This worked out perfectly, so we should have just built the full sail from the git-go without all those inefficient gaps. Oh well. Eventually, we'll change the sheeting geometry to flatten the mains'l leech... all required curvature is cut into the sail, so (unlike a flat cut sail) twist is detrimental.

Adding the curvy shape to the sail is considerably more work than flat cut, and it doesn't look its best in very light to no wind (sags). But it points considerably higher, or alternatively, draws more powerfully at any given windward point. Since the mizzen is flat, it doesn't point as high, and the main is accordingly drawing powerfully at a wider angle. The net effect, however, moves us along noticeably better.

Real sea-trials are quite a ways off, however. We'll have something substantial to report a year from now-ish, from a longer boat with a bigger, split junk mizzen.

Stay tuned!


PS. The photographer, an experienced blue water sailor and delivery skipper came out with us the next day, and we turned command over to him.

His comment... this is the Cat's Ass!

This means a lot, to me... for all my years on the water, I've only once or twice sailed aboard another's vessel. Our boats are limited to a lifeboat conversion and a series of square boats, under-rigged by choice. So I don't have a lot to compare with.

Pete says the boat feels and handles well in the five or so knots of wind we had. I can vouch for the rest.

Not winning races, but hearts?

Friday, March 2, 2018

Hope Ain't a Tactic

Catfishin' Clip from the movie, Deepwater Horizon

Wish in one hand; s**t in the other; see which fills up first.
-- Folk Wisdom

Hope Ain't a Tactic

The movie Deepwater Horizon depicts the events and poor decisions preceding and exacerbating one of the outsized, normal accidents of our age.

In this clip Mark Wahlberg, playing Chief Electronics Engineer Mike Williams, presents the seemingly obvious:

If you go fishing for trouble, you'd better gear up.

To embark upon dangerous pursuits, it helps to arm ourselves with knowledge, tools, skills and practice, practice, practice. Err on the side of caution. Get our heads in the game.

All too often, hope is mistaken for a tactic.

We plunge ahead, counting on fair weather. On our reflexes. On our instincts. Our guts. Our ability to wing it. On rescue. We imagine that these will pull us through. Often enough they do. But now and then things go south in a hurry.

And we're caught out.

Recently, I heard blind risk described as putting a paper bag over one's head with a bucolic scene painted on the inside. Running through that imagined or wished-for landscape is bound to end poorly.

We can't rule out risk, and even seek it in measured doses. After all, most of the worthwhile pursuits in life are inherently risky. Risk is something we accept as the price of living large.

But stupid risk. Blind risk. The kind of risk that predictably cuts short the pursuit of happiness. The kind of risk met with mere hope rather than preparation...

I mean, c'mon!

Saturday, February 10, 2018

Leaning on Love

Lovers in Old City
by Vitogoni

Lean on me
When you're not strong
And I'll be your friend
I'll help you carry on
For it won't be long
Till I'm gonna need
somebody to lean on.

-- Lean on Me by Bill Withers

Leaning on Love

One time, we got into some bad water. Under the belt, this time, rather than the keel.

We were visiting Anke's family in Germany in our early years together. Family had work or school, weekdays, so we took to bikes and toured far and wide. October in the Old Country. Camping and eating cold (fires are frowned upon).

In one beautiful stretch near the Swiss border, we'd gone through our water. We were in a Naturschutzgebiet; a nature preserve, and for once, no civic water supply. But we were following a small, pristine looking river upstream, that ran through woodlands. Our map showed it originated in hills within the preserve, exiting its boundries at a point well downstream.

Anke was parched, and decided to drink.

I hemmed and hawed a bit... Germany is settled pretty much cheek on jowl. This preserve, while locally a big deal, looked to my Alaskan eyes like a stonethrow in each direction.

But what's good for my goose... I took a few sips, and it was wonderful.

Next morning, we continued upstream, thinking we might take a look to see what produced so much water from such a small watershed (can you see it coming?). We rounded the shoulder of a hill. The river should have, too, heading up a small valley. Instead it went the other way, toward the boundary of the preserve, and we soon found ourselves pedaling among cows and sheep. You know... upstream cows and sheep.


We monitored our bowels all day, while slowly cycling higher in elevation. No problems... must have dodged that bullet! At the end of the day, we had a long coast down to the Rhein, with the Alps towering above us in full, evening roses and blues... alpenglow in all its glory.

We stopped in a town and asked about a camping spot. A very nice woman offered for us to stay at her campground, which had just closed to paying customers for the off-season. Still had power and running water!

Well... it caught Anke that night. Both ends with me trying to position a blanket between.

Next morning, I was still feeling okay. Since there was power, I had an idea... how 'bout I cycle in and buy an immersion heater (a little, electric coil you dip in a cup or pot to heat it) and some soup packets?

Right. Good plan. But my German was still not much better than a monkey's, and Anke's English, while plenty for conversation, didn't cover an immersion heater. Took us a couple hours of charades and 20 questions and little drawings before she finally exclaimed, "Ach ja! Ein Tauchsieder!"

Right. Tauchsieder. Dip-Boiler. Not an easy word to pronounce. Took me another half hour to learn it.

So I'm feeling a little... fluid by now. I wobble into town, and, depending heavily on the kindness of strangers, locate a shop with a window full - I kid you not - of dip-boilers in all sizes. Turns out they're fairly common in Europe.

Well, I make it back before installing myself  on a throne (bathrooms luckily still open). We sip soup and mint tea for three days, which runs through us like a river, as it were.

There was more... The part about the scary man who initially led Anke to the campsite owner (me 'guarding' the bikes as Anke disappears into a dark alley with this rough looking guy as night comes on). The owner who let us stay on as long as we liked, drove down to offer blankets and home made apple schnapps (both declined, but with great appreciation... bless you, Frau Wolfgang, wherever you are!).

When it was more or less over, we dared our first venture through town on foot. Arm in arm, leaning each on the other,we scouted each next facility before leaving the last.

We remember this as one romantic interlude among the many.

It's something, facing a storm in the gathering dusk with safe harbor still ahead, to know one is not alone. To know that our strength and courage are aligned. To know that our fear and weakness will be heard and backed up. To reach for a hand in the darkness...

To lean on love.


The little town where this all went down is called Stuehlingen ('shtool-eeng-gen [hard g like get]). It became a verb in our couple-speak; We steuhlingen our way through a difficult period with lots of love and alternating, mutual support.

Since writing this, we took in Casey, our new partner. As you might imagine, this required some deep adjustments for Anke and me. We stuelingened our way through them and kept our feet, sailing on closer than ever.

Happy Valentine's Day to you, too!

Monday, January 22, 2018

Tumble Hitch: A Useful Knot for Rowing Out an Anchor

                                               This side takes load...                    Pull to spill...
                                               Make fast to tender                        Lead near to hand
Tumble HitchFrom

The wooden dowel represents the anchor's shank

Seek the wisdom that will untie your knot.
-- Rumi

Tumble Hitch: A Useful Knot for Rowing Out an Anchor

Rowing out an anchor in a gale or more of wind is serious business.

After considerable experimentation, the method we settled on is as follows:
  • One of us takes position at the bow, one in the tender.
  • The anchor and chain are transferred to the tender.
  • Line is paid out from the boat as the tender works to position.
  • The line is made fast at the boat (by signal or pre-arrangement).
  • Chain is paid out from the dory by hard rowing against the fixed line.
  • At the perfect moment, the anchor is thrown from the tender.
  • Anchor is set from the boat.
Sounds simple, right?

Well... we find that sitting toward the tender's bow depresses it to lower windage, while the stern lifts high and acts as a riding sail for easier rowing into the wind (avoids blowing off, beam on).

Tossing the anchor and last bit of chain over, clear of oars, locks, one's own feet and the gunnel is no mean feat. It can hang up in a number of ways that all fail more or less dangerously.

Enter the Tumble Hitch - a variant of the Highwayman's Hitch.

The latter was said to have been used by thieves who tied their horses with this easy-to-tie, quick-release hitch for a fast get-away. Only problem is that it's not very stable and can capsize and release prematurely. The Tumble Hitch was devised in 2004 by Dan Lehman as a more stable solution.

What's unusual about both hitches is that, where others take one or more round turns around whatever they're hitched to, these open like a hand releasing. For anchoring purposes, that means a clean, anti-fouling release without unraveling any round turns.

The Tumble Hitch doesn't slip quite as readily as the Highwayman's... consider a smoother finished, braided line similar to the one shown. Laid and 'textured' lines have enough friction to require one or more harder pulls to release.

So here's the drill...
  • Make fast to the tender, slightly aft of center, with the line end that holds strain. 
  • Tie the hitch around the anchor just behind the flukes, let hang a foot or two below the tender's bottom.
  • Lead the spill end up and slack to a point handy to the oars(wo)man
  • Row on out to position.
  • Pull the slip end to release.
We haven't tried this yet, in any harsh weather. But initial tryouts are promising.

Definitely feels safer!


Here are some animated tutorials for the Tumble Hitch:

Friday, January 12, 2018

TriloBoat DIY: Owner Designed and Built

CERES by Erik Andrus

If it looks like a boat, it will pretty much behave like one.
-- Harold "Dynamite" Payson

TriloBoat DIY: Owner Designed and Built

The beauty of the TriloBoat approach is that pretty much anyone can design a decent boat, armed with nothing more than common sense, graph paper and a pencil. After that, pretty much anyone can build one.

That being said, it takes a dream, determination and resources - both internal and external - to pull it off.

The beauty of doing it all yourself is that you know every twist and turn of the decisions and compromises that led you to a vessel which exactly suits you. Or at least represents your own, best shot at it. In making it so, we become expert in our own vessel. Learn for the next round.

In this post, I'm featuring three Owner/Designers who started entirely from scratch to shape and finish their own creations. All three projects are linked in the right-hand side-bar... if you haven't been following them, I'd sure recommend looking through their archives!

I'm proud to have been a small part of each of these fine vessels. And pleased to have become friends with the fine folks behind them!


Erik Andrus is a farmer of organic rice on the Vermont shore of Lake Champlain. He had a vision of an engine-free cargo boat built and run by fellow farmers to carry organic produce down the Hudson to markets in New York City.

To that end, he designed and built CERES (images above and here) along the lines of a TAB (Triloboat Advanced Barge... profile and plan view curves very nearly match). The sprit yawl rig is traditional to Thames Barges. It is powerful, handy for short crew, can be quickly raised and lowered and the mains'l sprit doubles as a cargo boom.

CERES was built for a reasonable sum (around $20K, far less than estimates for the market equivalent for a commercial vessel). She served two successful seasons, with the Vermont Sail Freight Project (VSFP), whose profit margins handily paid for her construction.

Unfortunately, both CERES and the VSFP languish in the on-going search for that rare individual who can be skipper/entrepreneur/administrator.

Is that you? Contact VSFP, here.

Image result for ceres vermont sail


Image result for autarkia sail

AUTARKIA by Alan Jones

AUTARKIA is designed by Alan Jones and built with his wife, Lori. They plan to live aboard and cruise for extended periods on the waters of British Columbia.

Currently, they are detailing a very cozy interior, with luxurious room for two, and plenty for friends or family.

They're working toward a sailing rig that can be easily dropped for Fraser River bridges. One of the intriguing possibilities is Gundalow Rig, traditional on bargy hulls.

One of the things I enjoy about AUTARKIA is the number of simple, out-of-the-box solutions Alan comes up with. For example, his LED interior light mountings.

You can follow their project, here.

Image result for autarkia sail



CORNCRAKE by David Reece

CORNCRAKE was designed by David Reece and built by the whole family to serve as a camper cruiser in sheltered waters of the East Coast (sailing out of virginia).

Note the effective use of paper, rather than any sophisticated CAD drawing. Most of the vessel's shape is determined in the profile drawing (side view).

I was especially happy to watch the two young girls participate, handling their jobs with competence and good humor. After experience like this, they'll not ever fear to work toward a goal. They'll know the feel of tools in hand, and the confidence to use them.

CORNCRAKE is currently put up, ashore, awaiting the family's return from an extended stay with family in Uruguay. When they return, she'll likely get junk rigged to replace the temporary, triangular sail she sports, now.

I mean, does this boat and crew look like fun, or what???

You can follow their project, here.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

A DIY Portable Pram

Ken Simpson's CPB-1 Lightweight Folding Pram
Pic from Christine DeMerchant

I love to go a'wandering
Along the mountain track.
And as I go I love to sing,
My knapsack on my back.
- I'll spare you the Fol-de-roos!

A DIY Portable Pram

Many's the time we wish we could haul our dory up to a lake, but swoon at the prospect of lugging our dory uphill and over dale. Or wish for a second ride ashore. Or to float some firewood while we go exploring.

Ken Simpson, a retired engineer of some renown, has some solutions for us.

His site, Portable Boat Plans, offers a number of simple ways to get on the water quickly and have a lot of fun for little outlay. His designs tend toward the minimal, often sacrificing performance for economy and portability. But in the sizes he deals in, the sacrifice is small and the gains considerable.

His Lightweight Folding Prams, CPB-1 (free plans) and updated CPB-2016 (plans available for purchase), are of especial interest.

These two prams are built with coroplast, the corrugated plastic sheet material used for such things as political signs. It is relatively strong for its (light)weight, and, once the edges have been waterproofed, its corrugations trap air for positive buoyancy (it floats). Edges are waterproofed and joined with Scotch(TM) TOUGH (duct) Tape, making construction a snap. Minimal stiffening components are cobbled up from common hardware store items.

The result is a boat which weighs less than 20lbs and stows and carries like a portfolio!

Imagine a fleet of four of these, tucked away on board, ready to be used for kids and other company. As tow-boats for transporting a haul of groceries. As in, "Let's go climb to that mountain lake and paddle around!"

If we pull out all the stops, these might top out at around $100 each. By comparison, a packraft might cost around $600. 

That's a lot of bang for the buck!!