True NorthBy Bill MacPherson #608 "True North" (3ar)
I had researched boat plans this spring while working in Africa (I rotate to Angola), and came across your web page. My first reaction was, "what are those grown men doing racing wooden boxes?????" and I kept looking for what I thought would be a "real" design. The more I researched amateur boat building, the more references I found to PDRacer. After reading every single article and link on PDRacer.com and many You tube videos.....I was hooked, and am a proud 'Puddle Ducker'! I lived in Katy from 2005 to 2008 and would have loved to been involved then and made some mess abouts back then.
I started the project back in July and spent what my wife would consider 'too many hours in the shed' working on the duck. As this was my only five week off time home for summer, I had to stop and focus on family camping trips. During this current fall time off home, I made time to get back to the boat and finish it (rush job today to get bugs worked out). I'll create nicer runner and dagger board moving forward but the left over plywood and scraps made out fine for now.
I live on a small island located in the Tusket Islands of Nova Scotia. Conditions were a bit on the rough side for my first test today, with temp at 8 deg C (46 F), winds at 20 mile/hr with some eye opening gusts! She sailed well...after initially being blown ashore with a jammed halyard with my lanteen stuck up.....at least there was a beach I was able to aim for, but the lanteen rig took a bit of a beating as the alloy hinge set (1972 Folbot kayak lanteen sail rig set). The new halyard pulley I installed on the mast had a gap and allowed the halyard to jump the pulley wheel and jam... The irony of the incident was that it happened in a cove and private beech that belongs to my neighbour (a famous wooden boat builder) Dave Westergard http://www.westergardboatyard.ca/ . He would NOT have appreciated the boat nor the trespassing, but he knows me well enough to have shaken his head at the situation. Lucky he was back in Lunenburg working on his twin schooner project.
I corrected the situation and battled the wind to get away from shore: rudder and dagger boards down, sail up with functioning halyard, and off I went. It was a much different ride compared to my old '72 Folbot Super, as the PDRacer slaps over the waves, but it was alot of fun in its own. As I made my first tack, it went from fun to Holey Smokes! The wind was gusting hard and I took the lanteen alloy boom in the side of the head, then realized the one foot wide dagger board may not be wide enough to counter the sail as the boat lifted high sideways as I made the hard tack. As it leaned over coming about, the wind tried to pick it up as well. All at once I was into action countering the tilt, shaking off the boom wallop, and grabbing for the rudder, and then finally peeking under the sail to see if I was headed for land or into the tidal channel.
We have some of the largest tides in the world here in Surette's Island, (Bay of Fundy region) with 13 to 16 foot tidal shifts twice a day. So you have to time your sail adventures on the upper end of the high cycle, as once the tide starts running hard, it becomes a very strong churning river like channel that will suck you out into the bay and give you a good fight to break free. Fun stuff! I launched at a nice spot with water along the grassy shoreline but after 30 mins, the waterline was retreating fast which meant dragging the boat further to land or getting stuck out of the bay as it completely drains.
After a few tacks (I ducked well for the remainder and they were fast, the last tack would have taken my head off and I am DEFINATELY going for Bolger 59 Leg-O-Mutton). I finally made for shore as the cold water and wind was enough to sober me up to playing around and feeling the new boat out on a calmer and possibly warmer day. This may have been my only chance to get a sail before next spring, so it had to be done. I had some good runs into and with the wind, and that was enough to quench the builders first sail itch. I noticed many other duckers sailing in winter conditions on You tube, so I am not completely nuts.
I have documented the project, like many others, and will set up a web site with my personal do's and don'ts, photos, templates for rudder and jigs for angles, link to PDRacer.com, etc. I really had fun with the project. Now, the only person talking about silly men in tiny wooden boats is my wife :) She was getting too sour about the time involved yet again, so I played the Shorty Ultra Light Hobbie card...it worked! Amature water wins every time over amature air! Thanks for that one! :)
Thanks again for the web site, the free plans, and the PDRacer culture that has grown around this simple and fun little water craft. I have seen many other plans for sale on the web, but no club/culture seems to have prevailed around any other designs like I have seen for the PDRacer. It truly is a unique design with limitless possibilities top side. Once you get started, you just can't stop thinking of what to improve or redesign next as you have noted.