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For many years I have dreamed about that elusive horizon; the wonder of what’s around the next bend or just over the next hill.
As an early teenager on a river, in an open canoe, I went around one too many bends and disappeared for a while; not knowing where my wanderlust had taken me scared my poor parents a bit.
In my early thirties I did it again, this time I built some wooden Sea Kayaks and with some friends, paddled up the coast of Queensland, Australia, from Southport to Cairns; about 2000 kilometers and around four months. Scared my parents again, but in fairness it wasn’t until I returned and then told them about things that had happened.
And now, in my late forties, I’ve built an ethnic styled Polynesian double canoe, a Tahiti Wayfarer 21. We’ve called him ‘Wilber’.
We’ve taken him down to the Sea of Cortez as an outrigger canoe and found that for longish expeditions the equipment weight was too much of a burden and it narrowed the weather window to between about 6 and 11 knots, higher or lower winds would either bury him into waves or not develop enough power in the sail; which was very frustrating!
At the moment, in between other commitments, I am finishing off the second hull to make him a double canoe (catamaran) so that the same weight spread between twice the boat will be much more effective,… I hope.
James Wharram and Hanneke Boon from the UK are the designers, they found a very old example on display in a maritime museum in New Zealand and realised the design style would allow the Tahitians the ability to sail their craft to windward. They documented what they could and adapted it to be created with epoxy/fiberglass and plywood.
Now people like me can build a craft similar to an ancient islander people and travel longish distances with all the discomfort afforded to a boat with no cabin and no motor, driven by a Crab Claw sail and a Chinese Yuloh, but looks very cool.
So that is what I’m doing.
On the Gulf of Mexico, from near the Mexican/USA border to the Florida Keys there is a system of man made canals that link various rivers, bays and the Gulf of Mexico itself, it’s called the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and I think I might travel along parts of the GICW and parts of the Gulf of Mexico in my little double canoe and see what it’s like.