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Thread: A Phoenix III in the North Channel

  1. #1
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    Default A Phoenix III in the North Channel

    So I took another trip to the North Channel this summer--this time aboard my brother's newly-built Phoenix III (designed by Australian designer Ross Lillistone http://www.baysidewoodenboats.com.au/).

    Last year I sailed a big loop (about 240 miles in 20 days) of the North Channel in my Bolger Pirate Racer (see THIS THREAD), but this year my brother was able to join me, and we only had a week. We planned to drive to a launch point in Ontario, and sail around the Benjamin Islands and the Whalesback Channel together. One problem: there was no way my Bolger skiff would keep up with my brother's Phoenix III, and my new boat wasn't even close to being done as planned. Didn't matter--turns out the Phoenix III is perfect for cruising two. Here we are ready to launch from the municipal marina in Spanish, Ontario:



    We planned to start heading east the first evening (easy to do in a region with prevailing westerlies) toward the Benjamin Islands (I only got to spend a day there last year and wanted to return; beautiful rocky islands, perfect for small boat cruising). But, rowing out of the marina, I managed to break an oar before even hoisting the sail--phooey. While I spent an hour driving around Ontario looking for oars, my brother managed to epoxy the oar and wind the break tightly with 1/4" line soaked in more epoxy (you can just see the repair on the starboard oar in the photo below--a great trick that worked flawlessly, though I was skeptical at first). We camped ashore at the marina to let the epoxy set, then headed out the next day, finding a beach outside Shoepack Bay to swim at:



    Ross has designed a great boat: almost neutral helm, fast, good looking. Instead of the rig Ross designed, my brother used the mast and sail from his self-designed skiff--that's about a 60 sq. ft. standing lug, boomless. Worked perfectly in the Phoenix III.

    Kept heading east, tacking (even in a region with prevailing westerlies, we found headwinds) up the narrow channels behind Hotham Island; found a campsite for the first night in a tiny cove:



    The cove, as all good Canadian coves ought, came with its own resident beaver, who spent the night eyeing up the Baltic birch plywood on the Phoenix's decks, and slapping his tail on the water in hungry anticipation:



    More to come...
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 01-07-2016 at 03:54 PM.
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    Jagular Goes Everywhere: (mis)Adventures in a $300 Sailboat. Book release November 2014.

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the North Channel

    So, Day 2--we completed our tacking eastward up the narrow cottage-lined channels behind Hotham Island, continuing on toward Fox Island in a foggy drizzle:



    We found a nice deserted cove on the north side of Fox Island just as the drizzle became a cold downpour, and stopped ashore to wait it out.



    And yes, you can rig a fairly decent rain shelter from a 60 sq ft polytarp lugsail (a good thing, because my breathable "waterproof" rain jacket apparently works in reverse--lets water in, but not out). After a couple hours of hard rain, we dried out our gear and got ready to head out in light winds to the aptly named West Rock (just west of its neighbor, East Rock, which itself lies just off Fox Island's eastern tip):



    Where I discovered that a marooned sailor can swim pretty fast if he has to:



    Actually, 3 megayachts went by throwing 6-foot wakes while we were ashore here; my brother hopped in the boat to row out to deeper water so it wouldn't get bashed about (good thing, there were huge breakers smashing along the rock when they hit) while I jumped off West Rock so as not to be smithereened, then swam out to the Phoenix to see how hard it is to board from deep water. Not hard, even without a boarding ladder. In cold water or any kind of waves, of course, it'd be harder, but I was surprised how easy it was to get back aboard.

    But those yachts! We saw them miles away, cruising along at speed, throwing those huge wakes, causing helacious disruption and burning energy like crazy! And us in our little sail and oar boat, slipping along mostly unseen and completely unheard. Big boats--not for me...

    More later,

    Tom
    Last edited by WI-Tom; 08-05-2011 at 01:42 PM.
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    Jagular Goes Everywhere: (mis)Adventures in a $300 Sailboat. Book release November 2014.

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the North Channel

    Thanks -- very nice.
    If there are no dogs in Heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went. Will Rogers

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the North Channel

    Watch those beaver Tom. I was in Hauer Springs wildlife area south of Hayward this spring and had one crawl into my 10 foot Old Town pack canoe. It came in the front and I went over the back. After I flipped it out of the canoe and ran to shore it followed me for about 20 yards into the woods. 20 minutes later the canoe drifted to where I could get it and get out. DNR suspected it was rabid but it couldn't be found two days later. Damn Android phone was in my pocket as I wasn't planning to get wet. First time I ever had one get agressive.

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the North Channel

    Quote Originally Posted by Iceboy View Post
    Watch those beaver Tom. I was in Hauer Springs wildlife area south of Hayward this spring and had one crawl into my 10 foot Old Town pack canoe. It came in the front and I went over the back. After I flipped it out of the canoe and ran to shore it followed me for about 20 yards into the woods. 20 minutes later the canoe drifted to where I could get it and get out. DNR suspected it was rabid but it couldn't be found two days later. Damn Android phone was in my pocket as I wasn't planning to get wet. First time I ever had one get agressive.
    Yes, its worth remembering just how much damage small animals can inflict.

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the North Channel

    I was in Hauer Springs wildlife area south of Hayward
    That's right near my neck o' the woods--ever done any sailing/camping on the Chippewa Flowage? Beautiful country, loved the free DNR campsites on the islands there.

    And you can bet I didn't go swimming near any of the beavers we saw--if they're dangerous on land, imagine meeting one underwater...

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    Jagular Goes Everywhere: (mis)Adventures in a $300 Sailboat. Book release November 2014.

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the North Channel

    We finished the day by sailing along the south shore of Fox Island; the chart showed a tiny horseshoe bay. Even knowing it was there we almost missed it:



    It came with a nice jumping off rock:



    Next day we arrived at the Benjamin Islands and spent the day swimming, poking around, and gathering blueberries (a task made more urgent by the discovery that half of our food was waiting back in the truck, along with almost all the stove fuel). My Pirate Racer was small and temporary enough that I could beach it, even on rocks; the Phoenix III we usually anchored just offshore with a shore line from the bow, stepping off into shin-deep water:



    Luckily the berry harvest was good:



    Ah, the harsh and demanding life of those who dare cruise in small open boats:

    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    Jagular Goes Everywhere: (mis)Adventures in a $300 Sailboat. Book release November 2014.

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the North Channel

    It looks horrible.
    R
    Sleep with one eye open.

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the North Channel

    Nice Tom. But that water looks too cold for us southern boys to swim. We going to see you on the beach at Ft. Desoto with a boat any time soon?

    I'm still waiting to hear the whole story of your little problem with ICE last year.

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the North Channel

    At some point, we were invaded by a one-footed mother duck and her scurvy crew, who pillaged almost half of our remaining food supplies (fortunately, my brother informed me, they got my bagel, not his):



    Don't let their cuteness fool you, they're a violent and rapacious lot:



    We finally escaped the Benjamins, and headed back westward. By now we were down to a single package of no-name Maria Biscuits, and I was plotting how to convince my brother (who is highly resistant to backtracking) to stop in at the truck to resupply. It was, of course, the first day we encountered westerlies; in fact, the Phoenix III spent the entire week sailing to windward, sniffing out headwinds unfailingly. But no problems; it's so much faster than my Pirate Racer that we covered more ground beating than I managed broad reaching and running last year.

    Getting back to Spanish involved sailing through a narrow cliffbound passage known as Little Detroit:



    Now just a few miles separated us from the waiting supplies...
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    Jagular Goes Everywhere: (mis)Adventures in a $300 Sailboat. Book release November 2014.

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the North Channel

    Quote Originally Posted by John Bell View Post
    Nice Tom. But that water looks too cold for us southern boys to swim. We going to see you on the beach at Ft. Desoto with a boat any time soon?

    I'm still waiting to hear the whole story of your little problem with ICE last year.
    Hey, John,

    thanks for chiming in. The water was actually pretty nice, mid-70s (F) I'd guess. Crystal clear and deep. As for the Everglades Challenge (that's what you mean by Fort DeSoto, I assume?), maybe 2012 if my brother wants to do it in his Phoenix III--my Alaska won't be ready by then. But sometime, I suppose, I'll pony up the entry fee and give it a try.

    As for ice last year, you must be referring to my allegedly magical ability to provide cold beers for Chuck and Jim Michalak every night? No big trick there; I just snuck a case of Leinenkugels into Mike Monies' cooler aboard his Laguna. That boat has some serious room. Or did you mean something else?

    Later,

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    Jagular Goes Everywhere: (mis)Adventures in a $300 Sailboat. Book release November 2014.

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the North Channel

    Managed to sneak in a stop to resupply, then headed out westward through the Whalesback Channel. Our second night out, a long day of light winds (beating, of course) around the south side of John Island, led to a perfect sandy beach just at sunset. Later that night, a full moon made for some nice pictures:






    The next day we sailed to the western edge of the Whalesback Channel, debated going on to the Turnbulls but instead found this nice beach just outside of Beardrop Harbor:



    After sidestepping a giant snapping turtle lurking under some driftwood at our landing spot, we set up camp here (very easy for 2 people to beach the Phoenix by shoving a fender under the keel and rolling it up; two fenders would make it a 1-person job) , then rowed out through Beardrop Harbor to the Whalesback itself, a tall rocky island with the best blueberries and best jumping-off rocks of the whole trip (that rock just to the right of the boat made a nice 18-foot jump). And the eastern edge of the island offered a perfect little deepwater harbor:

    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    Jagular Goes Everywhere: (mis)Adventures in a $300 Sailboat. Book release November 2014.

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the North Channel

    Tom,

    Thanks very much indeed for posting your story, and the wonderful photos. It is so gratifying to see the design doing what she was designed to do. I'm interested to hear how the non-standard sail went - one of my aims was to have a boat which could carry a variety of different rigs, and your brother's example is well within the spirit.

    Ross Lillistone www.baysidewoodenboats.com.au

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the North Channel

    Quote Originally Posted by WI-Tom View Post
    :



    Tom,

    That has to qualify as the sail and oar boat picture of the year (so far at least)
    Alex

    "A man who is not afraid of the sea will soon be drowned, for he will be going out on a day he shouldn't. We do be afraid of the sea, and we only be drowned now and again" Aran Islands Fisherman

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the North Channel

    Ross,

    thanks for commenting. I'll try to convince my brother to email you with his own thoughts, but he's usually not much of an internet guy. I'm glad to have the chance to show off the Phoenix III, though; a beautiful boat, perfect size to cruise 1 or 2, very fast, seems to glide along in perfect balance so easily that the speed is deceptive. And though it seems to favor sailing rather than rowing, with a wider transom than my whitehall, it rows REALLY easily, even though the oars we were using were far too short for the boat. I can't really imagine anything that would improve that boat, unless you wanted to roll up a bunch of $100 bills in the plans package when you mail them out...

    As for the alternate rig, my brother just finished the hull this spring and didn't have time to make your rig yet. Turns out, though, that the mast from his previous boat is the same distance from the daggerboard as the mast in the Phoenix III is from the centerboard, so he thought it might balance. It did--perfectly, with just the slightest touch of weather helm. In fact, the boat moves SO easily with that 60 sq ft lugsail that I doubt he's in any hurry to add a lot of sail area. And the simplicity of a boomless standing lug can't be beat--I've become a lugsail convert myself after using a spritsail for a while, now a lug. I think he has a spare polytarp and plans to make a bigger standing lug to try out this summer yet.

    Either way, you've got a real winner of a boat.

    I almost chose your Periwinkle design for myself, which is very close in size and rig to the boat I did choose, Don Kurylko's Alaska design. So many good boats, so little patience for building on my part...

    Later,

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    Jagular Goes Everywhere: (mis)Adventures in a $300 Sailboat. Book release November 2014.

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the North Channel

    Tom,

    That has to qualify as the sail and oar boat picture of the year (so far at least)
    Thanks; we both shot lots of different takes that night (isn't digital photography great?); full moon, pink light, perfect. Then dozens of photos later, my brother turns to me and says:

    "Do you happen to see the, um... the end of the bow line?"

    Nope. The whole boat almost floated off into the sunset without us. Luckily the water wasn't too cold to go fetch it.

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    Jagular Goes Everywhere: (mis)Adventures in a $300 Sailboat. Book release November 2014.

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the North Channel

    Great story and great photos, Tom! Thanks for sharing... I have a Phoenix III in the shop that is days away from being ready to turn over. This inspiration is helpful!

    I'm definitely filing that broken oar trick away for an emergency... pretty slick.

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the North Channel

    Tom,

    I'm very grateful to you for the feedback. The design is, as with every single boat, a collection of compromises. I spent a long time agonising over whether to have a second rowing station forward, or opt for a centreboard with the shape and area that I thought was required. In the end I settled on the board as designed, in the hope that the better speed and performance to windward under sail would mitigate the lack of a second rowing position when carrying a passenger. I must say that the rowing performance with one on board (or with two/three and some creative weight distribution) is everything I could have hoped for.

    As for the rig, the original 104 sq.ft sprit-sloop rig was designed to provide sparkling performance in light conditions, and be readily reefable. In addition, the rig works well with the jib (which is set flying) removed. There are two other rigs in the plans, with my favourite being a 76sq.ft balance lug. Your comments about the performance with the 60 sq.ft standing lug add conviction to my feelings. The builder of the first Phoenix III, Paul Hernes, uses both the sprit-sloop rig and the balance lug rig - he often starts a day of sailing with the bigger rig, and then after lunch, sets the balance lug as the afternoon breezes strengthen. Both set on the same mast, in the same location.

    Your photos are inspirational - not just because of their quality, but also because of the type of activity that they demonstrate. I've been spending too much time building and designing, and not enough time where I should be - out on the water. I guess that applies to a great many of us. I'm with you entirely about the superiority of small boats over large - to paraphrase Larry Pardy, "Do it simple, but do it now".

    Please encourage your brother to pass on comments - if not, would you mind sending me a PM to r.lillistone@gmail.com as I'd love your permission to use a photo or two on my website?

    Thanks again,

    Ross Lillistone

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the North Channel

    I have a Phoenix III in the shop that is days away from being ready to turn over. This inspiration is helpful!
    I think you're going to love your new boat when you finish it; good luck with the rest of the build.

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    Jagular Goes Everywhere: (mis)Adventures in a $300 Sailboat. Book release November 2014.

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the North Channel

    In general a good sail n oar boat will tend to be of narrower beam, reduced freeboard and slack'er bilged. Together with an overall length of 14-17 ft, this makes it a squeeze to get to sleep on this type and size of boat. One of Phoenix's excellent and unique features that Ross designed in was the side thwarts sliding inwards when needed. This together with the rowing thwart and aft buoyancy chamber creates a sleeping platform for a doze aboard or an overnighter when a tent isn't practical. Its a great feature (among many on this boat). It also means you would have a comfy seat facing forwards when sitting in the middle of the boat, not crouching in the bilge at times.


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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the North Channel

    Yummy yummy.
    The Phoenix has been on my (not very long) building list for a while and it just happened to move up a bit. Its nice to see a birch deck. I would have thought that it would be looking to pale. But I actually like it. Very light and elegant.

    Just one question.. Have you ever had problems getting on and off the boat when gunkholing where you have cliffs. I ask because one of my favorite sailing places is the Swedish archipelago, where it can be impossible to find shallow water and sand beaches. Just slippery cliffs

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the North Channel

    Just one question.. Have you ever had problems getting on and off the boat when gunkholing where you have cliffs. I ask because one of my favorite sailing places is the Swedish archipelago, where it can be impossible to find shallow water and sand beaches. Just slippery cliffs
    Well, slippery cliffs are tricky, but the picture below shows the trickiest landing we had, and it really wasn't too difficult:



    It would be a little harder singlehanded, but with one of us at the oars to keep the boat off the rocks, it was pretty easy for the second crewperson to crawl forward and step off the foredeck, holding the mast as a handhold. Even with the slick varnished deck it was pretty simple that way--with 200 lbs on the foredeck, the boat tips, obviously, but it only tipped so far before it hardened up and just felt stable and secure. In calm conditions, of course...

    I suppose the trick singlehanding would be to anchor off from the stern and gradually give yourself enough slack to step ashore--that's what we did, actually, but it was easier having two of us. But then, North Channel granite isn't slippery unless it's wet. Then, forget it. I swam over to a 20-degree slab and had to crawl up it like a beached whale it was so slick--and even then I barely made it!

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    Jagular Goes Everywhere: (mis)Adventures in a $300 Sailboat. Book release November 2014.

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the North Channel

    Thanks for the reply.
    Ive gone into rocks and cliffs singlehanded many times on a Albin Vega 27 which weighs 2,5T. As you say, bow first with a small special ladder for that purpose and with the anchor in the back. But I could imagine that a dinghy would be very tippy. What about going in with the stern first with the rudder taken off. Wouldnt it be easyer?
    The problem with cliffs and saltwater is that they are so slippery below the waterline. Its like soap.

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the North Channel

    Yes, I'd probably try stern-first if I were by myself; the unshipped rudder/tiller combination is unwieldy, but actually stows very nicely alongside the centerboard case mostly out of the way. But though it was tippy going over the bow, it only tipped to a certain point and then hardened up considerably. I never felt the boat was going to go over. Now, I may have felt like I was going to slip off the varnished deck, but that didn't happen. This time...

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    Jagular Goes Everywhere: (mis)Adventures in a $300 Sailboat. Book release November 2014.

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the North Channel

    Keep it coming Tom! I always enjoy reading about your adventures. This one reminds me of a kayak trip I did in the same vicinity--Killarney to the Key River. Still have the maps. Next time I'll start on the other side of the huge park and cross over by water if I want to go to Killarney. Now I know why the road was a recent addition...the lake is a better way to get there@

    Dan

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the North Channel

    Dan,

    good to hear from you again; I guess it didn't work out for sailing northern Wisconsin earlier this summer; hope you had a good summer. Yeah, the North Channel is great, isn't it? I have to get further east next time. If I get my new boat done, I'm considering sailing over from Door County/Green Bay and just keep going east until I hit the far end of Georgian Bay or run out of summer. I haven't seen Kilarney yet.

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    Jagular Goes Everywhere: (mis)Adventures in a $300 Sailboat. Book release November 2014.

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the North Channel

    The problem with cliffs and saltwater is that they are so slippery below the waterline. Its like soap.
    Well, the North Channel rocks felt like greased soap below the water, so I know what you mean. Looks like you have some beautiful cruising grounds there, too.

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    Jagular Goes Everywhere: (mis)Adventures in a $300 Sailboat. Book release November 2014.

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the North Channel

    A sticky! My first one; thanks for that.

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    Jagular Goes Everywhere: (mis)Adventures in a $300 Sailboat. Book release November 2014.

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the North Channel

    I thought I'd try to revive this thread a bit with some pictures of the Phoenix III under sail. These are not from our North Channel trip (we only had one boat), but from an earlier weekend trip to the Willow Flowage, a relatively remote lake system in northern Wisconsin.

    Here's a shot of "motorsailing" in light winds:



    Some of our neighbors:



    I was just talking to Ross Lillistone (the designer) by email again--he must get tired of hearing how much I like this boat. I really can't imagine anything that would improve this design.

    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    Jagular Goes Everywhere: (mis)Adventures in a $300 Sailboat. Book release November 2014.

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the North Channel

    Again, this is not one of Ross's designed rigs, but only because my brother didn't have time to make the rig before the trip. This is the mast and 60 sq ft boomless standing lug rig from another boat, a 12' skiff. It worked perfectly in the Phoenix III.

    The real rig would either be a 104 sq ft spritsail sloop, or a 76 sq ft balance lug. But even with only 60 sq ft, this is a FAST boat. It moves really easily.

    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    Jagular Goes Everywhere: (mis)Adventures in a $300 Sailboat. Book release November 2014.

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the North Channel

    I really hope this design gets a lot of attention. I haven't heard of too many people in the U.S. building it, and I think they're really missing out. Light, simple, great for daysailing or cruising two, good for one to sleep aboard, it rows easily even when loaded (my 8-year-old nephew managed to row it pretty well even in stiff headwinds with an adult and another child aboard). And beautiful!



    So if you're wondering what to build--well, stop wondering...

    Tom
    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    Jagular Goes Everywhere: (mis)Adventures in a $300 Sailboat. Book release November 2014.

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the North Channel

    And one last post--a map showing the route of our week-long North Channel trip from this past summer:

    You don't have to be prepared as long as you're willing to suffer the consequences.

    Jagular Goes Everywhere: (mis)Adventures in a $300 Sailboat. Book release November 2014.

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the North Channel

    Tom, thanks for the new photos. My Phoenix III should be launched this spring with a summer of Maine island-hopping to follow. Guess I should put together a build thread at some point... sounds like at least one fan of this design would be following it!

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    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the North Channel

    Quote Originally Posted by jon m View Post
    Tom, thanks for the new photos. My Phoenix III should be launched this spring with a summer of Maine island-hopping to follow. Guess I should put together a build thread at some point... sounds like at least one fan of this design would be following it!
    You can't put together a thread without PICTURES.... matey.

    I still haven't seen this thing right-side up. I'm withholding your grog allowance.

  35. #35

    Default Re: A Phoenix III in the North Channel

    I, too, am building a Phoenix III -- thanks in no small part to this thread and, in particular, the pictures in post #12. I'm not nearly so far along as Jon, though. Just have the strongback built and the molds cut out.

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