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.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Sail Oklahoma 2011

This last weekend we took the Pathfinder up to Eufaula, OK for the 2nd annual Sail Oklahoma which is a great event put on by Mike and Jackie Monies.  This year they hosted the 2011 World's Puddle Duck races, so people with PDR's from across the country converged there to race.  The main attraction for me was the fact the John Welsford would be there as part of his tour of the US and some other Welsford boats would be there as well, but it was a lot of fun to see all the different PDRs and watch the races.  Graham Byrnes and Jim Michalak were also there as were boats of their design, so what a great gathering.  

Lake Eufaula is a nice, big lake with lots of gently sloped sandy beaches and I would have loved to be able to stay long enough to explore it, but we were only able to stay 2 nights.  

We launched from a ramp a couple of miles away from the event and sailed over to the beach.  The weather was really excellent for this gathering.  The wind was steady between 15-20 mph during our first sail, with some pretty serious gusts on occasion.   I reefed the mainsail and we flew over to the beach.  

I'm used to the fairly steep shorelines in Canyon Lake, so as I was trying to coast into the beach we kept slowing to a halt 30 or 40 feet from the shore.  It took me a few tries to realize we were dragging the centerboard in some very fine mud that far out.  When we finally made it in, I jumped out expecting to land in about 2 feet of water like I usually do and almost hurt myself as I landed in about 4 inches of water.

Having John Welsford in the country is a rare event, so I made an effort to see him both at Canyon lake and Inks Lake during his visit to Texas.  In Oklahoma I was able to get him to go for a quick sail in between races. He was racing the Kiwi PDR that he designed and he tied for 2nd place, which, considering he had never sailed a PDR before, says a lot.  

The following video, which is very poorly shot, is I think the first time John had stepped aboard the PDR.  I wish we had gotten some footage of the actual race.

Here we are discussing something really important just before I got John onto the boat.

I had no shame and asked him how to properly tie the lashings on my side stays.

I am not an idol worshiping kind of person and I don't have posters of John up on my shop wall or anything, but I have to admit it was a really exceptional experience to have him aboard after spending a couple of years building the boat and the last year learning about sailing it.  In his talk at Canyon Lake, John said that boat design is about relationships.  Seeing him interact with people, I can understand what he means.  He works really hard to connect with everyone interested to talk to him about boats, he speaks well and is really clear with his ideas, and he is in his element out there with the boats, helping to rig them better, helping to sail them better, and just looks happy to be there and to help where he can.

Here is a photo of John and I pushing off.

My daughter begged us for a ride, but I convinced her to wait for the next one.

Here is a bit of video of our sail.  I still had a reef in the mainsail from the breezy conditions earlier, but by now the wind had died down quite a bit.

Landing on the beach , I think you can see a big grin on my face, and maybe even a bit of one on John's.

I'm including all pictures with John on my boat.

After that we went for a family sail.  The wind was up a bit more than my family is used to, so as the Pathfinder healed a bit, they had to work out just how to feel ok about it.

Among the other Welsford boats was George Cunningham's brand new Houdini.  I knew George's name and his boat from the jwbuilders forum on yahoo, so it was really interesting to meet him and see the boat in person.

And a bit of video of John and George sailing in.

Here are three Welsford boats lined up, the Pathfinder, Scamp and Houdini.

The red Scamp was built by Mike Monies (one of the hosts of Sail OK).  Scamp is a very tough 12' sailboat that can handle a lot and Mike's is a really nice example.

Finally on our way back to the ramp we had another fun sail.