E.T. Bugaboo Launch Day
by Steven Roberts

The ET Bugaboo was launched in Duxbury Bay at Powder Point, near our home in Marshfield Massachusetts. There was a West Northwest wind, blowing from the shore at 16mph with gusts close to 20mph. This was a little intimidating for trying out a new small craft (I almost bagged the idea of sailing and considered just rowing, instead). Since the water temperature was what you would expect for May, I wore my wetsuit... just in case.

The ceremony went something like:


Dave: For thousands of years, we have gone to sea. We have crafted vessels to carry us and we have called them by name. These ships will nurture and care for us through perilous seas, and so we affectionately call them "she." To them we toast, and ask to celebrate the ET Bugaboo.

All: (glass raised) TO THE SAILORS OF OLD…TO THE ET BUGABOO (sip)

Dave: The moods of the sea are many, from tranquil to violent. We ask that this ship be given the strength to carry on. The boards are strong and she keeps out the pressures of the sea.

All: (glass raised) TO THE SEA...TO THE SAILORS OF OLD...TO THE SEA (sip)

Dave: Today we come to name this lady ET Bugaboo, and send her to sea to be cared for, and to care for the Roberts family. We ask the sailors of old and the mood of God that is the sea to accept ET Bugaboo as her name, to help her through her passages, and allow her to return with her crew safely.

All: (glass raised) TO THE SEA...TO THE SAILORS BEFORE US...TO THE ET BUGABOO (last long sip)


I christen thee, ET Bugaboo. May you and all who sail in you be blessed with a safe journey. (pour champagne on bow)



I'm sure many just care about one thing... "how did she perform". Unfortunately, I can't comment accurately on this based on my 20 minutes of sailing. Had the wind been a bit more tame or the water temperature less cold (or if I at least knew that I could successfully perform a self-rescue and get myself back in the boat if I went over) then I would have been less timid about presenting a bit more canvas to the wind and letting her fly. She floated and I had no problem getting out and back with a few tacks.

You will notice in a couple of the pictures that the bow is riding a little high. This seems to be the case from the pictures of Eric Walburgh and Kerry Swart, as well. I was sitting in the middle of the aft floor. The hull might be better trimmed for single-handed sailing if one sits as close to the center thwart as possible, or if some ballast was put on the forward floor.

Given the conditions, I was not comfortable bringing others out under sail. So, everyone took turns being rowed around the bay.

A spritless ET Bugaboo is ready for her big day

After putting so much time into this boat, I decided that only a semi-traditional christening/launch would suffice.  The attendees for the launch ceremony included my wife, kids, and parents.

Dave leads the group in a traditional "responsive reading"

Lisa christens ET Bugaboo with bubbly

Brenna places a branch of green leaves in the bow

Molly (with a little help from Mom) places her branch in the bow

A final check of the rigging

The first trick is to get in without making too much of a scene

... and we're off

The REAL wind is out here. As soon as I was beyond the point... WHAM!!!!

That will do for today

I need a 3rd arm. By the way, the weighted centerboard worked nicely (didn't float up in its case)

Lisa and Brenna went out for the first row. Lisa tried out the push/pull tiller while Brenna helped row (paddle).

Dave took a spin behind the oars

Ruth was content just being a passenger while Brenna and I ferried here around the bay.

Molly was not to be left out...

... but, she wasn't quite sure what to make of it.

Notes from the following days sail:

What a difference a day makes.

I was feeling quilty for not getting much of a sail in, yesterday. Since I had a couple of hours free this morning, I went back to the water for another shot at it.

Today, it was blowing a steady 7mph from the Northeast... perfect. This is the type of sailing I was imagining as I was sucking in epoxy fumes. A nice relaxing reach across the bay to a little isolated beach where I layed out and had my peanut butter and fluff sandwich and soaked up the rays, then another reach back. I only wish I remembered to bring a book... I might have hung out longer.

On the way back I tried out various points of sail. She flew while running, and didn't seem too shabby beating.

There are two changes that I want to make:

1) lengthen my rudder deployment line and have it rigged so that it is in easy reach. What a pain to have to hang over the back to deploy or release it from the cleat.

2) Taper the gooseneck end of the boom. It is just wide enough that while the sail is out (as when I was running), it digs into the mast.