I started building a John Welsford Pathfinder in July 2008. The boat was completed in Oct, 2010.

This blog now records our use of the boat, but documentation of building the boat can be found in the archives.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Texas in December

Had a nice sail with the family this weekend.  We were initially becalmed for about 40 minutes, then sailed over to an island and beached the boat to take a look around.  On the way home the wind picked up.

A few pictures from the sail:

Monday, November 29, 2010

heaving-to in a yawl

Got a nice shot of the boat ready to sail yesterday.

The mizzen is set when launching.  It isn't big enough to be a problem unless the wind is really up, and with it sheeted in, the boat will swing quickly around to point windward when walking it over to a dock.

One of the advertised benefits of a yawl is that when sailing, you can slack the main and jib, sheet in the mizzen, and lie directly into the wind while you do whatever needs to be done (like reef the mainsail with it sitting comfortably down the middle of the boat).  This isn't so easy to do with a lot of other sailplans.

As I was trying to reef my mainsail yesterday after the wind suddenly went from about 5mph to above 15, the sail kept pulling me over the edge of the boat because I wasn't actually pointed directly upwind.  The boat was drifting backwards at almost 2mph according to gps, and I noticed the rudder was hard over.  Immediate concern, with whitecaps forming around me, was to do something before I drifted to shore, so I didn't even realize that the rudder lying over like that was turning the boat as I sailed backwards and causing the main to lie well off the centerline.   I took the mainsail down, which was probably the thing to do anyway.

Lashing the tiller midship would probably have allowed the boat to stay head to wind and made reefing easy.   I made a quick tiller-control today that is very simple.  I have used this idea on one other (larger) boat and found that for just occasionally needing to stiffen up the tiller, it works great.  I think I found the idea in a Duckworks article.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

centerboard cover

My dad came out on the lake with me today.  He looks right at home on a boat, but we need to get better lifejackets.

Today we made good use of the centerboard cover I made recently.  The wind kicked up quite a bit and we sailed with just jib and mizzen, easily running around at hull-speed.  The chop was steep enough (though you can't tell from the picture above) to spray us pretty often, but very little made its way up through the centerboard case.

The cap is just a snug fit onto the case.  I haven't decided if it needs to be secured better, but today seemed to indicate it is fine as is.

Friday, November 12, 2010

More Wind

I had some experience with higher winds and waves today.  The Pathfinder will easily hit 6 mph with just jib and mizzen up, she will heel quite a bit going to windward in 15+ wind with just 2 sails, but always very much under control.  I learned when to put up a reefed mainsail and when to leave it down.

My camera died, so no pictures or video today. 

Monday, November 1, 2010

Sunday, October 31, 2010

Lake Travis on Halloween

The ramp I usually use on Lake Travis was closed today so we went to Cypress Creek where we had to tack up through a 2 mile long cove to get to the lake.  The wind is channeled into the cove so you are almost always trying to move directly upwind.  That, plus the fluky wind that comes with the hilly terrain made a slow entry to the lake, but once out, we enjoyed some good 10-15 mph winds.

Total distance sailed 11.3 miles.

Friday, October 29, 2010


The Pathfinder is very easy to sail single-handed.  It is also pretty easy to get on and off the trailer and to and from the dock with a long rope.

I started with 1 reef  and quickly set the full sail.  Wind was 5 to 10 going out and 5 to 0 coming back.

Today's sail was 10.6 miles.  Canyon Lake seems smaller now.

Monday, October 25, 2010

2nd sail, 7.6 miles

new video

I have the onshore video of the launch now...you can see how easily this boat moves both under power and sail.

launch video

And from the 2nd sail, more onboat video:

Sophia at the helm.

Moving nicely

Sunday, October 24, 2010

2nd sail

Took the family out today.  More wind forecast this time.  I put two reefs in the mainsail to be extra careful since the boat is still untested and the kids were onboard.  We really didn't have that much wind, mostly around 10mph with some gusts up to 20, so the the reefs were overkill.   The boat still ran around the lake nicely with a 6.4 mph maximum (according to gps)  even with that tiny reefed mainsail.  Mostly in the 4-5 mph range.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sailing Video

Chuck Leinweber took this short video on the boat while we had a gentle breeze blowing.


Sunday, October 17, 2010

Boat Launched

The boat was launched Oct 17th.  We scheduled the date about a month ago.  Amazingly the weather was absolutely perfect for a first sail, light winds with occasional extended periods of about 10knts.

Chuck Leinweber of Duckworks met me for the launch.  Chuck is a super nice guy, very laid back, unassuming and casual.   He invited a couple of other boat builders who were also extremely friendly and relaxed.

The boat performed excellently.  Exactly what I wanted.  Super stable, easy to handle, lots of room.  The boat accelerates to its max speed with not all that much wind.  Didn't have any problems tacking, jibing, working upwind, etc. 

We weren't in any real wind or waves today, but I got a feel for how the boat will handle, and I have no complaint.