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By - Steve Axon - Challis, Idaho - USA


I'm back in Idaho, after a long (3100 mile) drive home across I-40, dodging tornadoes and snow storms the whole way. I missed Thayer because it was too snowy to cross the mountains into Grand Junction, so I stayed south into Arizona, and then drove north through Moab. It was good to see some slick rock again.

"Mirage" is right up your alley, and comes under the category of "dream large". She's a 70' power proa, home built by John Bartlett to run a sea kayak business from. I've seen her a couple of times now in the Berry Islands (Bahama ), crossing shallow banks at low tide, or running the open ocean over to Nassau in 25 knot winds. An amazingly versatile design.


Mirage draws only a couple feet, is powered by two 4 cycle outboards, and features 5 staterooms. John figures she's 1/3 the weight of a 70' catamaran. The low float makes a wonderful platform to launch and retrieve divers and kayaks from. Accommodations are perhaps spartan by cruise ship standards, but the kayaking crowd finds them comfortable.


The next colorful craft is a proa too, though there's only a slight size difference in her hulls. This boat is a full time live aboard for one of those salty characters you can still find in the Florida keys.


The foil wrapped figure appeared on a remote Exuma island we were exploring. He came straight towards us for hundreds of yards, walking backwards with his arms outstretched. The guy never turned his head to see where he was heading. Finally, we realized he was under remote control, with a small VHF radio clipped to his collar, directing his movements. Turns out he was the junior crewman on that mega yacht in the background, and so tasked to be the target as they calibrated their radar. The funny foil get up was to make him more reflective.


"Making Bubbles" appears to be a well thought out home made trawler. I don't know the design, but it sure looks like something Phil Bolger might have drawn up. I believe those outriggers are part of an anti-roll system.

Making Bubbles

This guy cleaning fish with his feet awash seems unconcerned about the crowd he's drawing. This is a daily scene at Staniel Cay.

Cleaning the Catch

"Tida Wave" was a national champion 20 years ago. After years of retirement, she and " Lady Muriel " are being fixed up for another campaign this year. This boat yard is also at Staniel Cay (Exuma).

Tide Wave

We crossed the gulf Stream in late February, on a lovely calm day. Most of the way across, I could see a small power boat a few miles south of us, pretty much matching our course. After 6 hours, I got to wondering who would be out there in the ocean in such a small boat, and what sort of motor boat only made 6 knots? Finally, the light bulb went off, and I hailed "Traveler" on the VHF. Sure enough, it was Don and Gail McNeil, in their Elco 26, headed across for a few months in the Bahamas. I hadn't seen them in a few years, and it was just coincidence that we were both out there at the same time.


See Steve's previous Scenes

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