February, 2017

Cedar Key

I’m late getting this out this year, sorry. Rooms are filling up faster than usual because there are fewer of them since the hurricane wiped some out. The Island Place site says that they’re still not open. Faraway Inn seems to be full up so Helen and I booked a room at the Beach Front; that’s the big pink two story place right on the corner. Their down stars rooms are not back in business, only the upstairs rooms. Should be lots of parking for the boat trailer.  For information and availability of rooms go to the chamber site, they have a list of the places to stay.  Dave


Drastic measures were called for

It’s been two full months since the first lakes froze, with regular snowfall messing up the surfaces within days of them skimming over.  I snuck one day in on Diamond Lake in December before it got dumped on, and I’ve been scanning the four state area since then for some clear ice, without result.  We had three weeks of temps between 0 and 20, which created thicker ice than I’ve ever seen here around Spokane, followed by three or four days of warm and sunny, which was just barely enough melting to dispose of the snow on Sprague Lake.  So when Frank gives me the call, that the weather service is calling for cold, sunny and winds in the high teens, we take that leap of faith, that there MIGHT be a usable surface, and head west.  First glance looks discouraging, the whole lake is white, no clear ice at all.  But Frank’s scouting has discovered four or five inches of refrozen snow atop almost fifteen inches of clear ice, bumpy with one to two inch hard snow drifts.  A challenge, to get the boats running fast enough to develop the necessary apparent wind to power thru the crud.  But it’s blowing fifteen plus, so once we find a smooth patch, the boats leap to speed, delivering the rush that redeems all the suffering delivered by this unforgiving sport!  The trick then becomes finding smooth (relatively!) ice at either end of a reach to carve a clean jibe, and nurse her back up to speed.  Once there, focus on course, trying to thread between the bigger drifts, looking for the path of least resistance, and working to keep the machine under control.   When really booking, we’re bouncing across the high points, with the bigger drift launching us free of the surface, clattering back down, requiring quick steering corrections.  Between constant sheeting in and out, continuous steering effort,  and the non stop gut clenching to deal with the hammering the body is receiving, we’re wasted after three hrs on the ice, and we stash the boats in the tules, ’cause the prediction for tomorrow is more of the same!


These are the most brutal conditions the Mini Skeeter has seen so far, and I’m hugely impressed.  The new springboard, and the well designed plank absorb shocks very well, and all the hardware and attachment points held up beautifully.  I kind of expected the aluminum runner chocks to suffer or loosen up, but a careful inspection post Day 2 revealed nothing loose, other than one runner bolt needs a new nyloc.  The surface was about as bad as an ice-sailor is likely to put up with (desperate folks!), and Scooter came thru shining!  Thanks John!!!

Dave Farmer

Epoxy Balance

Hello Chuck

I hope your home in Texas is warmer than here.  I have had a moment to write up a description of my super simple balance.

I know there were already similar devices published in your magazine, but I think none was as simple as this one.

I never use anything else than this thing to measure quantities,  even when absolute accuracy is paramount. The devise is adaptable for any dosage, as shown in an example.

It is a fact that inaccurate dosage of hardener and binder is the most common mistake made when working with Epoxy.

See: Epoxybalance-2

Bernd Kohler


Hi Chuck,

I thought of a new column for Duckworks. I would call it “What If” mostly it would be me writing in to ask “what if i do this” different ideas i come up with in my building ideas. im sure others would write in with their goofy ideas also. for instance i was looking at my Normsboat the other day and asked myself, what if i cut the top off along the top of the gunnel on Norm and turned him into an open boat? what if i used 2 sprit sails on the open boat?

im kidding mostly really, about the column anyway.

see you later.


Playing the cards we’re dealt.

I can’t predict the future.  Other than, we can all expect it to get here right on schedule.  Things like the Spring Equinox have been printed onto the wall calendar for quite some time now.  My rather exuberant plan to hold six mini-cruises over a period of seven months, has been printed in bold type from March to September.

This whole “modest proposal” thing was based upon a more or less coherent plan.  It’s all supposed to swing into motion, in one short lunar cycle.  There’s a small problem.

From where I’m literally sitting right now, the snow is piled up above the window sill.  More of the white stuff will likely land on those piles sometime this afternoon.  That’s not the real problem.  It’ll all melt, and likely soon.  That’s, the real problem.

Our first “planned” cruise is supposed to be on the Pend Oreille River.  Starting just below the Albeni Falls Dam.

We can fully expect that spillway to rippin’ with snowmelt—from every front yard and mountaintop between here and the Continental Divide in west-central Montana.  Not a good place to be in a pocket cruiser.  The currents will likely be 6 knots and above.

Plan B.

The March cruise will go on, at the appointed time.  The place(s) will have to await developments.  I will make a survey of local lakes within a radius of 50 miles from the otherwise-intended start point.  I’m gonna’ have breakfast at AJ’s Café in Priest River, Idaho.  That’ll be at 0800, Friday, 17 March 2017.  St Patrick’s Day.

When I’ve finished breakfast, I’ll tow Miss Kathleen off to an accessible body of water for the weekend.  That could be Priest Lake to the north.  Spirit Lake to the southwest.  Maybe Hayden or Fernan to the south.  Maybe, more than one lake.

So. The invitation still stands.  Join me for breakfast.  Bring your boat and food, equipment, and long woolies to hold you over for a weekend on the water.

As always.  Safety and fun is the object.  But, you have to hook up, and head out for either one to matter.


(509) 447-2197


It’s What Shipmates Do

Beau and I took our last tractor ride, just this morning.  It’s five-below out there.  Cold enough to freeze a salty tear.  Now, he’s sitting on my lap.  The Doc says it won’t be long now.  There’s something I wrote for him—and for me—a few months ago.  I’ll share it with you.  Now, while we just sit.  And wait.   I guess you could say, we’re still on watch.

It’s what shipmates do.


Bosun, the sea dog, he’s dying.

And, we both know.

We sit and muse on voyages done.

Bosun, he still checks the weight of wind.

It’s what shipmates do.


He comforts me, from his own pain.

He’ll shove off on morning’s tide, and leave me on the pier.

He’d follow me, on any ship.

He’d, cross any sea.

It’s what shipmates do.


Bosun, he licks the hot tears from my cheek.

Not, one of us knows how to stop.

We’ve come so far and seen so much.

Bosun, he talks to me, without saying.

It’s what shipmates do.


Here is another of Herb’s old catalog scans…

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