When I was 14 years old I wanted a sailboat so badly that I took our hard chine fiberglass 8′ car topping dinghy that my dad used a couple of times for fishing and tried to turn it into a sailboat. I cut a hole in the bottom, glassed in a dagger-board case, put a brace for the mast across the gunnel, and made a mast of 2″ by 2″ spruce. My 8th grade shop teacher helped me make a sail. I think it would split 140 degrees on a beat to windward on our local lake. It was hopeless as a sailboat. But I was hooked.
I saw some plans for a 16′ sailboat in one of the old sailing magazines, I can’t remember which one, called a Petrel. I had to built one, so I sent away for the plans-I think they were about $35. I got a summer job the next year building El Toro dinghy’s to raise money for the boat. My mom had some bookshelves made out of Philippine Mahogany, 12″ wide by 12′ long that I could use for the frames. We had a barn with a a wood fired stove that I could use for heat, so I bought the plans and got started. I did a terrible job, and it took me 7 years to get it finished [I graduated from high school and made it through college in the mean time]. For some reason I painted it blue, dark blue for the hull and light blue-green for the decks and cabin top.
I bought a mast and sails off of a Tanzer 16′. I got it finished and sailed it around Puget Sound a couple of times. I took two trips through the San Juan Islands, leaving from Anacortes. The second trip we took the boat all the way over to Sidney BC on Vancouver Island. We were the smallest boat on the water, and I took the picture below as we went through customs. If you click to enlarge you can see the Hotel Sydney sign of the building behind the dock post.
No lifelines, no toe rail, no roller furling. But it was made of wood so we figured even if we turned it over it would float. I guess my sailing partner had a great time because he went back with me for a second trip.
It had a slab of 1/4″ plate steel for a center board and it didn’t sail very well either. I think it weighed about 600#, as compared to a Tanzer 16 at 450#, so that didn’t help either.
Fortunately we had some good weather and some nice sailing.
Now I was really really hooked on sailboats. I was about 22 years old, with no money and no job. I had a degree in Philosophy from the University of Washington [class of 1977]. But I had to have a boat.
I just found the old plans online. It was from Boat Builder. I see my boat was quite a bit different from the plans.