26 Hours Aboard Shackleton

Having read about many adventures of others around the world, I decided to create my own micro expedition before snow falls, ending my sailing season with Shackleton.  The goal was to accomplish several small tasks I personally had not previously experienced.  I wanted the location to be close and convenient.  This was about learning as opposed to seeing marvels sights.  I chose a small nearby lake 30 minutes from my home.

Micro Expedition Goals:

  1. Sail, motor and oar approximately 6 miles to the far end of Ririe reservoir
  2. Utilize my anchoring system
  3. Cook, read, swim, urinate and sleep all while onboard Shackleton
  4. Neatly organized all gear into their respective places on the boat
  5. Test heater and candle lantern
  6. Test new tent enclosure system
  7. Hang on the anchor overnight (a first for me)
  8. Sail out the second day
  9. Have my wife pick me up at the opposite end of the reservoir

DSC00476Winds were very light to nonexistent all of day one.  I rowed approximately 1 mile and then fired up the jenny (Suzuki 2.5 outboard) and motored smoothly along at approximately 3 knots (just guessing here).

DSC00470 By placing one filler board across the seats near the veranda, I was able to steer Shackleton by simply shifting my weight from Starboard to Port (I locked the motor and tiller arm in a straight forward position).  This was awesome and allowed both hands free to eat lunch and just look around while my little tug boat slowly wound it’s way up and through the channels.  DSC00467The top went up within the first hour.  The shade it provided was a welcome benefit from the heat of the this rare hot October afternoon.  DSC00463Lunch was a California sushi roll from a local supermarket.  DSC00505Once into the cove, I deployed the anchor.  This is the first time I have ever droped an anchor off Shackleton.  A lot to learn here.  After untangling what was suppose to be a straight forward anchoring system, the anchor seemed to set firmly into the muddy bottom of the cove.  In the photo above, note the blue line attached to the main anchoring line by a brass ring.  This allows me to retrieve the anchor line from the cockpit.  It worked beautifully.  DSC00492I’m not the only crazy one in my family.  My dad, after seeing me building the Scamp, chose to build a skiff modeled after the Chesapeake Light Craft Peeler Skiff.  He of course, built from his own plans in his own head.  He was born that way.  Ham ‘n Egger Extraordinaire.  I, on the other hand, needed plans and kit to complete the Scamp.  DSC00486He motored across the reservoir and found me in the secluded cove, tied up along side and boarded Shackleton for a nice afternoon visit.

DSC00500We talked about life and memories.  He reminisced about a few of his High School buddies having recently died.  I told him I loved him, then he was off, motoring back before sun down.

DSC00508I used a new alcohol stove from Flat Cat Gear to prepare my dinner.  I love alcohol stoves and will do a full review of this system at a later date.  The filler board provides the perfect cooking platform.  The footwell (allowing full leg extension) makes it very comfortable while preparing the meal and eating dinner.   DSC00511Actually I only needed to boil water for tonights preparations.  Hot cider herbal tea was my drink of choice. DSC00514The balance of the meal was Italian Sausage, cheese, crackers and an apple. DSC00513As the evening wore on, I watched the shadows grow longer across the cove and felt the temperate begin to drop.  It was time to snap on the tent enclosure and prepare for nightfall.

DSC00519As the evening turned to night, I lay flat on my back and watched the stars spin slowly around the overhead windows as Shackleton gently surfed back and forth on the anchor line.  Without any sign of civilization in sight, I felt somewhat vulnerable in my small craft alone in this distant cove.  The sounds of water lapping up on the side of my boat became amplified in the quiet night.  I even envisioned Navy Seals sneeking up on me, like in Captian Phillips.  I laughed out loud.  Then my mind went to different scenarios like:  What would you do if you were forced to evacuate this little craft?  Could you swim to shore?  What would you do once you got there, without clothing or shoes?  I would probably freeze to death and wouldn’t be able to walk ten steps without bloodying my feet.  I decided then and there, that I would ever-after prepare a small bail out bag containing shoes, clothing, granola bars and a wool blanket.  This bag will reside next to me during future adventures at sea that I could grab in the event of a forced evacuation.  Slipping in and out of consciousness, I had a relatively restless night.  But it was my first night ever alone, secluded and hanging off the anchor in my small boat.  With some additional preparation, I think I could get used to this.

Day two I was awakened to the sound of an oncoming outboard motor.  It was hardly light enough to see, but a small john boat passed fairly close and stopped at the edge of the cove.  Hunters, looking to hunt these back waters for deer.

After two doses of hot cocoa, I weighted anchor and headed for the main bay for some morning sailing.  The wind had picked up and I intended to sail my way back to civilization.  The Scamp is a good sailing vessel and requires little headway to come-about.  It is a graceful little birdie that wants to fly.  After sailing for a couple of hours in 15 mph winds, I dropped the sail and secured the mast, boom and sail for transport home.

What I learned:

  1. Scamp is a competent overnight boat for one or possibly two (if on a honeymoon).
  2. Scamp is a competent small motor cruiser (just keep the outboard as small and light as possible).  I prefer gas as there is no worries about battery levels and the distance I can travel.  It’s easy to take a little more energy with you if you are using gasoline.  I ran what seemed like forever on 1/2 Liter.  I take (2) 1 Liter nalgene bottles of gasoline with me, which seems to be plenty.   Here’s the point, I never worry about the amount of energy gas will deliver, it’s always constant.  Batteries don’t allow this level of peace of mind.  Temperature, partial charges and decreased capacity lay wait to decieve you.  For these reasons, I prefer gas.
  3. Anchoring is easily accomplished off the bow when utilizing a line retrieval system.
  4. Mr. Buddy heater is overkill for this size boat, yet a UCO candle lantern is a bit small.
  5. A back rest for one of the filler boards would provide a nice rest for the lower back.  Mine was definately sore after 26 straight hours aboard Shackleton


It is by doing that we gain experience.  Pick a safe local lake, plan your adventure and go see what you can learn.  I had a great trip and look forward to many more.  

The Bimini

I saw Serenity’s bimini in Port Townsend and knew instantly I wanted one.  Well, here it is.  This represents hours of design work and multiple discussions with numerous canvas tailors.  DSC00442I decided my first night under the bimini should not be at sea, but rather in my driveway.  This keeps things safe as I begin to learn about this new enclosure.  I even used the pee bucket.  My neighbors have serious concerns about my relationship with my wife.  DSC00475Bimini in the open configuration.  Notice the absence of straps to tension the bimini.  With the addition of the horizontal bar and the short vertical bar, we don’t need tensioning straps.  By going strapless, the boat becomes easier to board and it improves access to the outboard motor.   DSC00457Fully enclosed configuration ready for a right good storm.DSC00464Both side panels have velcro windows for ventilation.  DSC00465 The windows roll back and secure with a velcro strap.DSC00466Both windows on each side roll out of the way for mosquito free hot weather camping.  What appears to be puckering in the fabric along the side of the boat is actually the support poles and mounting hardware along each side.  The hardware fastens to the top outside edge of the oak strip at the top of the coaming.DSC00463The front window offers great star gazing at night.DSC00462DSC00460 The back panel has 2 large windows and 2 small cutouts near the bottom for the traveler to cross the transom.  DSC00459DSC00471 Each panel zips off from the top and surrounding panels,DSC00470 and snaps along the bottom edge.DSC00468 DSC00467At the beginning of each zipper lies a snap to prevent the zipper from opening.DSC00453 A Mr. Buddy heater kept me toasty warm on its lowest setting.  I also tested a UCO candle lantern but this seemed to provide not enough heat.  There is plenty of ventilation provided by the handholds I cut into the veranda sides and the traveler slots cut into the back panel.  DSC00452 Interior shot looking aft.  There’s a surprising amount of room in here.  DSC00447The height of the bimini allows upright sitting to read “Into Thin Air, by John Krakauer.


The entire bimini (minus the side panels) folds aft and lays atop the transom covered with a boot.  If this proves to interfere with my mainsheet, I will have my tailor make a boot that covers both sides as well as the back portion.

DSC00458 DSC00459 DSC00460 DSC00461


I plan to sea trial the enclosure this weekend on a local lake.  I’m happy with how things turned out and the apparent function the bimini offers.  It’s what we designed.

I chose Top Gun for the material.   Waterproof, but a little stiff in cold weather.  By running the support poles on the aft side of the oarlocks, full access for rowing is provided by removing the side panels or simple unsnapping the bottom edge of each side panel where the oars exit the sides.  I can motor, row or camp fully or partially enclosed.  I do not plan to sail with the top up at this time.  Maybe if I do the Texas 200 I figure out a way to accommodate the sailing lines.  It wouldn’t take much…just not sure I’m comfortable sailing with the top up.

Full report coming next week after my overnighter