by Brad Raby firstname.lastname@example.org
Be sure and read: part 1
& part 2
|Over the 4th, my wife and I took a trip down from our home on the chain of
lakes which is our home. We live in northern Michigan near Traverse city which
is the home of some of the most beautiful waters and of course is the center of tourism
for downstaters known as fudgies hereabouts. What makes the 4th interesting, is the
number of people who are out there on the water. Many give meaning to the title of
00's. Owner operators of boats. Luckily, we had no mishaps even though some
were in a real party mood.
|We live above the Bellaire dam and had to portage through town and put in just
below the dam to go down the intermediate river. A friend who lives next to the ramp
said we would not make it as the river was too shallow here. I like
challenges. First I pulled it out of my river using my lawn as a launch. My
first impression is, the boat is a piece of cake to launch and retrieve. My trailer
has no guides yet and it still was easy. A small fishing boat is about as
|However, my amateur like welds gave way when cranking the boat
back onto the trailer and I will have to beef up the winch stand.
||The first test was getting down the river which is shallow. With the
motor up we navigated without hitting bottom going or returning. The boat can go
anywhere there is knee deep water. After this river, there is a moderate size lake
and another river which leads to a second lake. This was just plain pretty.
The real test with the wind up was navigating the narrows leaving this lake and
entering torch lake. The Topaz was easy to keep
|under control, my only worry being the number of boats maneuvering
to get into the dockside bar in an area that is hardly two boats width.
|Once on torch lake, we were in our element. Miles of clear aqua water
looking like the Bahamas in clarity. Waves were choppy and the wind was off our
starboard bow made even more confused by the occasional large wake of a faster boat.
The bow always remained buoyant and high and dry. At moderate speeds or high she
was well behaved.
|What was surprising was how well she handled a wake from the side. She
of course would respond to it, but dampened the motion very quickly. We toured the lower
end that afternoon, picking up friends, daughter and grandkid for the fire works that
night. Through ten that evening, we had nine people aboard, two large coolers and
assorted gear and still did not feel crowded. During the works all but two were on
the foredeck enjoying the show. I will confess that the boat is
|sensitive to weight distribution. I noted that the group was
crowding one side and we were really listing.
||The next day we took another couple down the Torch River to Elk Rapids and
would have continued into Lake Michigan except for another dam dam. Elk lake and the
river is a two hour trip and another wonderful lake as it is very big. This guest
was a knowledgeable boater and was very impressed with the Topaz performance. At any
given time, even with the wave action, there were at least two laying or sitting on the
foredeck. This is turning out to be a
|wonderful design feature. Jay feels that this boat can go
anywhere you might want to take her within reason. His girlfriend who grew up with
boats remarked on a couple of occasions when I was rafting or getting into to some tight
dockage's at how maneuverable the boat was. My impression are that as a motor vessel
traveling some distance, it is great. Shutting the back door, keeps what noise the
Honda makes down to a purrr. All you really notice is the nice sounds of water against the
hull. Sailors like myself do not like the sound of motors. I may even go one
step more and completely enclose the Honda.
|A rough estimate is that I burned about one gallon per hour which included
fast hull speed, planing and a lot of slow river work. Speaking of which, when in a
no wake area like we were, you will go faster than other boats because the boat leaves
little wake anyhow. I am going to set the idle even slower as I kept having to take
it out of gear to avoid running into slower motor boats. When loading, the narrow
hull is sensitive. Sit two on one side and one on the other, and it will list.
Not a problem, but could be when storing gear. For instance I have two gas tanks,
each offset to either side. In the future, I will keep gas in both and drain them
equally. Do we like the boat, an emphatic yes.
|Now to the real neat part. I hope the Bolgers are reading this part.
I would estimate that well over a couple hundred people shouted complements as to
how beautiful the boat was. Ranging from, "there should be more boats like this
on torch lake" to where can I get a boat like that. Many, many others just
waved wildly and gave thumbs up. Quite a number wanted to know what year the boat
was or suggested that it must be a restored antique. It was fun to admit that it is
|2000 design. I thought only older folks would like the
design. Haint true, the kids came up and admired as well as complimented as well.
What a response to the design. One of my guests told her son to stop by our boat
when he was on the lake. Her instructions were, "just look for the classiest
boat on torch lake". He jet skied directly to our boat and having never seen
it before. This is a beautiful boat to own and a great way to draw attention if you
are into that sort of thing. Of course, I had my equally beautiful wife in a bikini
on the front to help.
||At the time of these pictures, the boat resembles closely what it will look
like when finished. The day after these photos, the top was finished and
painted. As well as the top roof beams on the exterior varnished. This makes
a major difference in the looks. Also, molding inside has not been done yet, as well
as shades on the side windows. Speaking of which, you may notice a few ways I
treated the windows. The two middle ones are stationary above the settee. The
|foreword settee windows hinge foreword. All the rest of the
windows that open other than one other, are removable. None of the windows at this
point have finished edges yet. When looking into the foreword cockpit, it is obvious
that fairing and painting still is not done yet. The settees exceed the designers
specs as they are 6 inch foam with tufted backs. Very much like a couch in a living
room. The back can be maneuvered back against the wall to widen the settee for
sleeping. Four drawers under the settees also swallow a great deal of gear-bedding
|Looking forward in a couple of pictures, the raised floor that holds the seats
is apparent. This is also not in the plans, but works well. The seats are
screwed down after taking off the wooden covers. No, I can't put them back on as I
told my wife I had no need for them. Near the boat is our camp fire pit. The seats
themselves are office chairs from Sam's club. They cost fifty dollars which is
cheaper than marine seats. By extending the
|raised floor foreword, I created a great deal more storage space
under. Some will note a oh oh in the foreword bulkhead. A mis-measure which
will be dolled up later. The dash is still under construction and will have a
leather like cover when finished.
||In this picture the rear ladder is clear. Somehow, I neglected to
get a picture of it up in place. It really looks awesome with the white edging in
place. The rear stained glass oval window is also not in the plans. This was
pushed on me by the women. Nice touch however. Take note of the brass railing
fore and aft. This really sets the boat off. I am already experimenting with
protecting it so that tarnish does not set in. On one rail, I
|applied clear coat which might work. Looking from the front,
with me aboard, it is obvious how high the bow is. I have had it in rough chop and
high wakes many times with no water aboard. This with four people sitting in the
|Connie constantly claims she loves this boat. We go up our river and
around the lake on the spur of the moment. I would rather take this boat than any
other I have owned. For it's size, she maneuvers very well. Speed is
personal. It will go faster than 20 mph, but we prefer going slower. When the
back door is closed, little noise comes foreword from the 75 hp Honda to indicate it's
there. When docking, the large engine is a dream. The boat can be stopped on
a dime or pivoted in her own length. The down side of owning the topaz is the interest it
generates. I am now scheduled to give rides to half the neighborhood at this point.
Sometimes one has to sacrifice.
I hope to follow up with the
actual finished product under power. This should be in a few weeks.