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Hi Chuck, here is a really nice email fro Burton Blaise up there in Canada. His new Houdini really seems to have hit the spot.
John Welsford

From Burton Blaise.
Hi John:

Further to my earlier e-mail describing my launch of my Houdini - "Jackrabbit". I am happy to report that I have just completed a 4 day camp-cruising session on Lake Ontario. I have to say that my friend and I were amazed at how well this little boat performs on all points of sail and in different conditions. We encountered 4 foot swells and 15-20 kt winds 5 miles offshore, and the little lugger took it all in good stride, riding up the swells and sliding down their backs, never once leaving us feeling insecure.

My friend was especially amazed to see how the large following waves would just lift her stern and roll under, the boat behaving very well and remaining on course. I am amazed at how well she points, and how little leeway she makes (in fact, it seemed to me that at times she would just crab to windward - when close reaching toward a distant object on shore we would fetch up right at the base of our objective, rather than being several hundred yards downwind as often happens in other boats).

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Burton has put wheels on his building jig so he can manoeuvre his Houdini around, outside for the first time the project is beginning to look like a real boat and in this case a quite graceful one. Its about this time in any building project that the urge to get finished and out sailing really starts to take hold!

(click images for larger views)

She also has amazing directional stability, even keeping a close hauled course with the tiller tied off. She certainly is sensitive to weight distribution though, being initially quite tender and rather tippy if one moves about too much (mind you, I'm a pretty heavy guy at 230 lbs!). However, with that first reef tied in she weathers heavy breezes quite nicely, heeling to a point but no further. With prudent handling I am convinced that this little boat is capable of significant open water passages, though I realize that one must never tempt fate. While I had some doubts initially about how that lug rig would perform, I am definitely converted to the handiness of this type of sail.

View from upstairs. This boat is under 14 feet long, not large in length but there is a huge amount of space in there. Burtons comment about being initially tender comes I think from the perception that the boat seems a lot bigger than that when you are sitting in there . He can even get up and walk about in this boat, and that’s not usual in a 13 and a bit foot long open dinghy.
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Anyhow, just thought you might be interested to know that I am highly satisfied with this little boat. I believe that she is converting me to open boat cruising. The wife says I cannot build another for two more years, but I am already starting to think about something a wee bit bigger for when I finally divest myself of that 28 foot fiberglass sloop with the troublesome inboard gas engine. I am contemplating a Pathfinder or 6 M Whaler, which greatly appeal to my sense of esthetics...

Cheers! - Burton

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That’s a view forward showing the raised internal deck that forms the sleeping accommodation should you want to camp out in her. With that great big locker up forward and the area under the deck and seats all sealed off she is very buoyant should the worst happen. And yes, the centercase is offset a little to keep the keel in one piece.
Sail up for the first time, it’s a big rig that gives her extremely good performance in very light weather, while reefed down the stability her wide beam gives means she can handle very bad weather indeed.
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Bow on, although very beamy, Houdini is streamlined and very slippery underneath.
View inside aft, Lots of space in this little boat, I’ve been out with 6 aboard and we all had space to sprawl out in comfort.
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She’s been named “Jackrabbit” Ready to go! C’mon c’mon! Wheres that water?

Captions by John Welsford, photos by Burton Blaise.