First Choose a Design
By Arian and Isobel who bought our Strike 18 trimaran and trailed it across Canada from BC to Ontario
So here was our first trip!
I should preface a bit, by explaining why we bought the boat. We are mainly interested in multi-day outings, exploring different coastlines, and spending plenty of time on shore. We aren't very experienced at sailing, we mostly come from a background of mountaineering and other land-based exploring. But last year, we did a canoe trip around Franklin Island in the Georgian Bay of Lake Huron. This was amazing, and when looking at the maps I could tell that with a stronger vessel, we could explore many beautiful, unspoiled areas farther to the north. So I started checking around, one thing led to another and we are now the owners of this lovely sailboat.
We were pretty excited for this first camping trip. We headed north to Lac St-Jean, which is one of the bigger lakes in our province. Mostly it's surrounded by private cabins and beaches, but there is a large reserve named Pointe-Taillon National Park on the northern side. When we got there on Saturday morning, winds were very light, so we decided to head to the small town of Peribonka, just north of the park.
When we got to town, we were surprised by how tiny the marina was and the narrowness of its boat ramp. There were some older marina dudes hanging around, they watched with interest as we set the boat up as fast as we could. There was a steady stream of boaters waiting to use the single small flat area close to the boat ramp. Thankfully we had praticed setting up several times before and everything went up without a hitch. I have to say, once you get the hang of it, the Strike is really pretty simple to set up. We backed her into the water... the ramp was so narrow... we had less than a foot of space on either side of the outriggers. Luckily we had no mishaps and soon we were ready to go.
The winds were from the south, still very light but with the main and genoa up we made decent headway. We rounded Bouliane Island and headed southeast, following the coast until we had left the all of the canoe campers behind (he, he). We finally got past an off-limits protected area and spotted a nice beach. At the outlet of a stream, a long sandbar had formed perpendicular to the coast. The lee side of the sand bar seemed a great spot to moor the boat.
I anchored the boat, once to windward and once to shore.
The beach was quite lovely and we got down to business - mainly drinking wine.
The evening was perfect, drinking, swimming and general relaxation were on the menu. On the boat, I tried to set up a little nylon 'tent' that Richard gave us, but I couldn't seem to figure it out, probably due to the wine. But it did the job and kept spray and dew off the interior for the night.
Right now, the ideal cruising cover I'm thinking about, would be making an extension to the existing hard-top cabin to reach back about a third. Then finish the remainder with a rag-top type of enclosure. We could then roll the enclosure forward (or push it forward, accordion-like) for fair weather sailing, and pull it back into place for rain or for closing the boat down for the night. I might work on this next year, or I might just modify a tarp and live with that for a while.
During the night the wind and waves picked up. In the morning I woke to see the boat pushed up on shore. I should have put the second anchor point offshore instead, making a V against the wind and wave action. As we'll be camping on rocky shores somtimes, I might buy a second anchor to add to the mooring possibilities.
The forecast was very poor for Monday (rain and heavy winds), so we reluctantly packed up. After all the effort to get there, another day of sailing and camping would have been the tits. But that is life here in Quebec - combing free time and good weather is exceedingly difficult, so you have to go with what you get.
Launching the boat off the sand bar was a blast. We raised the main and attached a line to the bow. Then I walked out along the sand bar and the Strike followed along quite docile, it was much like flying a kite, except that we ended up hopping on board
As we got under way, I noticed something interesting, which I now wish I had tested a few more times. In the first moments, before we had anything down (either daggerboards or rudder) the boat stayed naturally pointing into the wind, instead of falling off. But what was interesting was that instead of being blown back by the wind, she seemed to advance, slowly but steadily, straight into the wind, leaving the shore behind. We really should have used this beach for practicing landing and taking off a few more times.
Something I like about Richard's daggerboards is the 'soft' manner they are held in place, with wooden wedges. This 'soft hold' allows the daggerboard to shift a bit when you run aground, softening the impact, and is still plenty strong for navigating.
One thing I'd like to improve is the rudder. Either make a new one or buy something. A setup that seems nice is the Dotan 25 rudder. Does anybody have any experience with it? They seem to have had mixed reviews in the past, but maybe they've improved? It would be nice to know whether that fancy snap-up action is reliable over the long run.
We had a lovely time sailing on Sunday, winds were moderate so we got out more into the center of the lake where the bigger chop forms. It was just great when gusts would make the boat accelerate and power through the waves. Just love how the design of the boat, with its wings and deep sitting area, make for a very dry ride, even when everything else is getting wet.
So we explored further down the coast and had lunch on another beach, before finally turning back to Peribonka. We took the boat out at another small marina, about 3km east of town, which had less traffic and more flat space but another very narrow ramp like the one in town.
That may be it for this year,I have a very busy autumn ahead. Have to find a barn space I can rent for the winter. Sorry Richard but we'll be violating your rule : "If you own a boat and don't take it out every ten days then why do you own a boat." :D
A few other thoughts
- I'd like to rent a 4hp engine and try it out. I realize that it's a lot of extra weight, but in the areas of the Georgian Bay that we'd like to visit there are long narrow rock channels, sometimes only a couple of dozen meters wide, that go on for very long distances, sometimes for kilometers! So we may do long bits of motoring. A 4hp engine on low power is quiet, advances well and consumes little gas. On open-water trips though, like this last one, a little old 2hp 2-stroke was perfect.
- One thing I appreciate about trimarans with fold out wing-style (like Farriers and Scarab composite tris) is that you seem to be able to put them in the water folded up, and then do your setup on the water. This would definitely simplify things on busy mornings at small marinas. Also, narrow boat ramps would be less stressful. The Strike is quite wide with the outriggers down.
- At 18 feet, the boat seems a perfect size. Even to a novice, everything seems so well balanced... sail area, outrigger size, cabin space. It is so great to be able to move around while under way and not be confined to a sitting position.
- I hope to eventually make a slat-style bed (like a thick bamboo slat mat) that would span the benches and thus create a large sleeping area in the cabin. Sleeping aboard, a nice option for longer trips? If only the outrigger lowering mechanism was entirely outside the boat.... we'd have another six inches and I could lie down straight. No need for a 19-foot boat Richard! ;)