Looney Tunes Along the Rideau
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by Bruce Hector - Kingston, Ontario - Canada

Loon, a Very Slender Power Skiff by John Bartlett
Loonette a Short Slender Power Skiff by Steve Bosquette

Canada's dollar coin, features a Loon on one sign, Queen Elizabeth on the other. A Loon is a northern water bird, black with a few white marks, that inhabits northern US lakes and southern Canadian ones. It's high, shrill, warbling call is a common sound, that carries all over the lakes, from spring through fall up here in the Great White North. It's call and antics are easily considered looney, and when Canada chose to put one on its new dollar coin a decade ago, the cold, hard buck, quickly earned the nickname the "Looney". What this says about the quintessential Canadian character, is anyone's guess.
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Canada's dollar coin, features a Loon on one sign, Queen Elizabeth on the other.

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Over the winter of 1004 and 2005 John Bartlett created another plywood-epoxy masterpiece, his 24 foot power skiff "Loon". John is also the builder of Turtle, a Bolger inspired 30 footish power sharpie cruiser, seen by all at the 2003 Kingston Messabout, and his magnificent rendering of Bolger's Pelican Trimaran Houseboat, often see in the clear waters about Fort Pierce, FL.
Over the winter of 1004 and 2005 John Bartlett created another plywood-epoxy masterpiece, his 24 foot power skiff "Loon"

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Loon, a 22 foot by 4' beam flat bottomed power skiff draws its inspiration from Phil Bolger's well know Sneakeasy design.

In his interpretation, John dropped the drake tails, the reverse angled bits at the stern. This was to improve handling in reverse, and changes the flavour of the design a great deal. He also chose a simple black and white colour scheme, which looks very much at home in the Ontario, loon infested, waters he keeps it in.

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John's most striking diversion form the Sneakeasy theme is the tumblehome he added at the stern He dialed in about all that the 1/4" ply would allow, and it made a huge difference to the looks and character of the boat. Tumblemome on a small vessel also contributes to the stability as it helps you keep your weight over the flat bottom at all times, especially when fiddling with the motor. Anyways, John definitely got it right, and Loon is a striking vessel from all angles. I want one!

John definitely got it right, and Loon is a striking vessel from all angles. I want one!

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His most obvious change from a "Sneak" was his making it a completely open boat, doing away with any foredeck at all, it leaves a 22 foot long strolling area, and with her flat bottom, Loon is so stable you can wander from end to end with your hands in your pockets. John did away with fixed seats, simply tossing in a few lawn chairs, and set up a lever steering staff, with a custom made wooden extension. His favorite cruising station is seated on the fore rail, peering over the side for sunken Rideau Canal treasure, steering by the extension with one hand. I'll leave it to the minds of the readers, what he (or I!!!) might have in the other hand. Suffice it to say, there's tons of room for a few beverage coolers onboard Loon.

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John's favorite cruising station is seated on the fore rail, peering over the side for sunken Rideau Canal treasure

Performance? Enough to make the plastic and aluminum skiffs around here cry. Loon has a single Yamaha 9.9 4 stroke outboard, hooked to remote controls forward. Ever frugal, John uses the same motor on all his vessels, saving the purchase price of two additional mills. Economy enough to build more boats for his fleet every winter, which he is wont to do.

Performance? Enough to make the plastic and aluminum skiffs around here cry.

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With only one on board, John did a full throttle pass at what appeared to be about 20 knots, or 30 kph. On a short run with three "full sized" adults on board she seemed to run effortlessly at around 15 knots. Wake free and sipping fuel. In fact, I'll wager more is spend on refreshments on each cruise than on gas!

It would be if she were mine.

Steve Bosquette, a Sneakeasy builder, made a half length version he called "Mini Sneak", a twelve foot by four foot beam flat bottom power skiff, it planed with a 3.5 hp! Not with me of course, I'm a tad too big, but with Steve and shall we say, more compact skippers, Loonette (my nickname) did indeed plane about on a miserly 3.5 hp!

Gas? gas? we do'am need no STICKING gas, pass me a brewski!

Other articles by Bruce Hector: