Dreaming of Another Scamp

As I sit in my den, looking out toward the South on a cold Idaho blustery February afternoon, my thoughts are with a boat called Scamp.  I thought you already built and sold a Scamp, my mind says.  Well, yes that’s true…but we’re just being honest and yes, my thoughts are with yet another Scamp.  Why another one…I did that once.  Well, I guess because I want another one and long to go sailing again.  But, wasn’t it sort of a pain in the butt?  Yes.  Wasn’t it frustrating to show up at the lake and have too much or too little wind?  Yes.  Wasn’t it frustrating to sort out all the lines and unwrap the lazy jacks from my neck?  Yes.  So, why do it?  Because there is just something about sailing that I can’t seem to shake.  It’s more poetry that perfection, more rhythm that efficiency, more authentic than artificial.  It’s like stepping back in time 2000 years.  A boat you build from your own hand, sail with the wind and howl at the moon.  Who doesn’t want to do that?  I do.  Life is too planned, too stiff, too certain, too predictable.  Let’s have some adventure!  Let’s build another boat.

Why not Long Steps?  It would be easier to row, easier to self steer and it looks really cool.  Long Steps is undoubtably a really neat boat, but I feel it’s too long and too complicated for me.  I have a small lake 1/2 mile from my house where I plan to do most of my sea trials.  It’s only 1 mile around the lake, hence very small.  Yet, at this small little insignificant lake, I could learn a lot about sailing and a Scamp would fit perfectly on this small lake.  Rigging time would be less than a Long Steps and frankly, I just don’t want to allocate the time to build and take the room to store Long Steps.  Remember, I now have a Skiff America 20 residing in my garage.

Yes, I really want the simplest, easiest, most seaworthy competent little sailboat known to man.  All these requests point directly at a Scamp.  It’ll be complicated enough, trust me.

I’ve already indicated on this blog what I would do differently next time.  No sense in reiterating that again here.  Let’s just keep it a dreamy feeling at this point.  Nothing concrete or etched in stone, just a desire to build another neat little sailboat.

My wife asked me to wait for 1-2 years before building another boat, but I learned there’s wiggle room.  What does that mean…wiggle room?  Well, she also said, last weekend, after a great dinner and date, that I could spend my allowance on anything I wanted.  Allowances are non negotiable, unrestricted funds.  So, if by chance, I wanted to build a mast out of Sitka Spruce, the funds are there and waiting.  Wow…that’s sort of exciting.  To build another mast.  And, this time out of Sitka Spruce.

The real question now is, would I rather build another Scamp or get a small teardrop trailer to pull on jeep rides through the mountains?  Remember, I live in Idaho.   Both items won’t fit in my garage.  So, it’ll come down to one or the other.

If I commit to attend annual Scamp rallies and see new sights with a Scamp, the Scamp would probably win out.  A boat can take you to amazing places and as my motto says,
“Never Stop Exploring”

Why not build one with me?  I’ll blog about each and every step.  You build one at your house, I’ll build one at mine.  Then some day we’ll sail together.  Randy, are you in?  

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.  

Palooza Crooza 2015

Following the Skills Camp, we attended the Palooza Crooza.  We had not idea what to expect.  DSC00682  We used the lid of our pizza box to take notes at the captains meeting.  This proved very helpful as the week went on.  It provided tidal information and destination details critical for our survival.

DSC00629Hanging out at Matt Matt’s bay after a long hot sail.  We were tired and worn out by the heat of the day.

DSC00512Lou Zamperini would have loved to have this much food aboard his life raft in the Pacific.  We probably could have live 90 days on this stash.

DSC00628The Jet Boil cranked the boiling water with aplomb.  However, the real chefs of this cruise cooked real food, not the processed food we brought.  Next time, I’m going to step up my cooking game significantly.  DSC00599It was a lot of fun to sail with all the other wooden boats.  Two Scamps and a Belhaven 19 in hot pursuit.

DSC00662We got distracted and found ourself washed up onto this oyster bed.  Trust me, we do not have these in Idaho.

DSC00664 DSC00663  Never seen so many oysters in my life.  Notice the crab, I should have cooked this up for dinner.  DSC00669 These guys know wooden boats.DSC00667 There all gorgeous boats, meticulously maintained.  DSC00668 I loved the Great Pelican.  Tons of room and a real salty look.  DSC00666 DSC00649 Peppered jerky made a great snack.  I’m dawning my wool sweater, trying to look as salty as an Idaho boys knows how to look.   DSC00635The overnight spots were beautiful.

DSC00619Notice the bags everywhere.  We were not organized, but hey, we were there. DSC00622   First mate taking a snooze.DSC00586 DSC00560Summary:

Many thanks to those who put on this great little cruise.  This was our first sailing trip to the Puget Sound.  We never would have attempted this without the support of the organized group.  We enjoyed great conversation with all the other sailors and learned a lot just observing how they rig and roll for such an adventure.  I hope to return next year with another one of my children.  

Scamp Skills 2015

DSC00529Last week fulfilled a long time goal of mine.  To attend a Scamp Skills course while sailing my very own hand built Scamp.  After 15 months of building, I was finally ready to realize this goal.  Furthermore, I had the chance to take Preston along with me.  This years Scamp Skills did not disappoint.  Did I get my life long memory?   Yes, I did.  

First let’s start with a few basic questions:

Question:  Why not just slap a motor on a boat, get out on the lake and go full throttle?

Answer:   Because you would get to the other end of the lake in 10 minutes and wonder what to do next.  Where is the adventure in that?

Question:  Why mess with all the lines, rigging and hardware, the set up time and other gobbelty goop?  Isn’t that all just a lot of work?

Answer:  Yes, but it’s worth every second.  It’s educational, it’s quiet, it’s natural and it’s fun.  It’s travel like Christopher knew.  In this fast paced world who needs more fast paced hobbies.  Sailing slows you down and allows you to think, absorb and take in your natural surroundings.

The educational list for sailing is long and impressive: 

  1. Geometry
  2. Physics
  3. Appreciation for nature
  4. Keen sense of wind direction
  5. Patience
  6. Mechanical advantages of blocks and tackle
  7. Knots and how to tie them
  8. Adventure
  9. Map and compass
  10. Preparation
  11. Self reliance
  12. Problem solving
  13. Navigation

The list could continue, but you get the point.

Now for a few photos

DSC00516Shackleton sitting quietly in her slip in Point Hudson Marina.  

DSC00514First mate (Preston) ready to try his hand at sailing.

DSC00518We had 5 Scamps attend the skills course.  All very beautiful boats…I was so impressed with everyones work and attention to detail.

DSC00562There is a lot of wooden boat history in Port Townsend. I have seen this symbol many times in photographs. It was fun to finally stand by it and realize we are now part of the history.

DSC00558Some of the boats are quite simple.

DSC00549While others are quite elegant.

DSC00538We had a large group for breakfast each morning in the local cafe.  Lot’s of good sailing stories being shared here.

DSC00555These are the two ring leaders.  John Welsford (Scamp desginer from New Zealand)  in the back with Howard Rice pointing the way.  These guys were great teachers and very knowledgable.  I don’t know where I could’ve gone for a better sailing experience.


Was it worth the money?  Yes

Was it all I thought it would be?  It exceeded my expectations.  Sailing with Preston and Howard on Shackleton made the entire trip worthwhile for me.  

Would I go again?  Yes, if Howard will sail again with me.

Finally, my sincere thanks to both John and Howard for taking time out of their personal lives to put on such a great skills class

DSC00596This is what it’s all about folks.  You only live once…get out and create a memory today.