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By Baden Cross - B.C. - Canada

To Part Two

To Part Three


Part One of Three

A sunny Friday afternoon in Gowlland Harbour on Quadra Island B. C. Canada saw the launch of another one of John Welsford's Pathfinders. Started some 9 months earlier in the cold month of January
2010, with 2 or 3 hours tossed in a day amongst regular working time, PINTAIL rolled down the launch ramp and into the water amid the chaos and celebration of onlookers.

However, to have a successful launch, one must first build the ramp. No problem, grab those 6 x 8 beams laying over there in the corner, scrounge some planks from the old wharf down the bay, a bag of screws and some non skid and your done (plus a couple of big boulders at the bottom to keep it from all floating away.)

Then it was a matter of the 'twist and turn' to get car and trailer down to the ramp amidst all the helpful folks who just can't resist waving their arms, pointing this way and that to ensure you are heading in the right direction. This usually led to stopping the whole parade, getting out and silencing everyone to have a good look for yourself.

Once down the ramp, she slid gracefully into the water and immediately came to life as a small gust of wind caught her broadside pushing her towards the shoreline rocks. Not just yet, I thought, I'm sure I'll have ample opportunity to kiss the bottom when we're gunk holing along some remote shoreline. A short line to the waiting zodiac prevented any initial embarrassment and she was towed over to the docks amongst healthy cheers and raised glasses. The one elderly lady who keep insisting on " where's the champagne?!" was later no where to be seen at the celebratory dinner but assured was 'resting' in one of the cabins close by.

A Boat for the Seasons

Scrutinizing the Wooden Boat 2009 'Small Boats' magazine last November, John Wellford's Pathfinder caught my eye. Living in the Pacific Northwest requires boats that are exceptionally seaworthy and able to pack some gear when planning a week or so on the water combined with shoreline camping. Winds are notoriously southeast or northwest depending on the colour of the sky; dark grey heralds the rain and sou'easters with bright blue most often shared with the nor'westers. This is consistent most of the year and due to the 'shape' of the inner coastal waterways, the wind (outside the flat calm stints of summer days) is most often either on your butt or on your nose which leads many sailors to opt out for the sheltered wheelhouse of a converted fishing troller with reliable power and seaworthiness'. They "never really get to sail much, anyway" during the "boating season" especially if sailing anything larger than a 25 footer. This is where sailing something in the 16 to 24 ft range fills in nicely being able to navigate in the lightest of winds, tack and jibe in shorter spurts and actually make ground to your next camping spot. The Pathfinder, coming in at just over 18 ft with what appeared from the study plans, a good blend of sea keeping, stability and storage, was worth a try for a build.

To be continued...

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