Chesapeake Light Craft Waterlust Expedition Sailing Canoe, Designed by Dillon Majoros
We had planned a short vacation in Maine in Acadia National Park at the beginning of the summer and the last weeks before that were a rush against time to get the sailing canoe finished. We adorned the deck with the wooden onlay of a sea turtle and named the canoe Hanuna, a native American name for a mythical sea turtle which according to legend became the foundation of the North American continent. Being Europeans, living temporarily in the US, we wanted our boat to have a specifically American name.
“Oh my god, this thing is really tippy“ – that was our reaction when we watered the boat for the first time at our campground at the Northern tip of Somes Sound which splits the Acadia Island in the middle. At the end of June, the water was still very cold. So, at our first outing with the canoe and two Kayaks (the canoe can carry 2 persons if one sits on the aft deck) we sailed under reefed main and were very careful not to risk a capsize. Slowly we learned to maneuver the boat and to balance the wind induced healing sailing down the sound. We had a picnic lunch on one of the rocky shores and in the afternoon sailed safely back to the campground with the Kayaks in toe which was great fun.
Since then back home I have explored many parts of the Chesapeake Bay with Hanuna. One day I even clocked more than 8 knots on my GPS going downwind with more than 10 knots of wind and way too much sail up, because I hadn’t reefed in time. No wonder I capsized a little later in an accidental jibe. Which taught me some lessons: Reef early. Always tie down everything in the cockpit of a sailing canoe, because eventually you will capsize and things might float away and get lost. On the other hand the canoe doesn’t sink because of closed compartments which provide flotation. It is very easy to right, a tug at the daggerboard is enough to get it up again. I had no problem reentering the boat after the capsize, but it takes some time to bail it out because the open cockpit extends well under the aft deck.
Two photos above by Ben Thacker-Gwaltney
All in all I am very happy with this boat. It sails very well and gives you a very immediate connection with the water and the forces of the wind. It is well balanced and people always stop me to admire her classic good looks. The only downside I can think of is that it is not as practical to transport as I believed. The Waterlust people carried their two canoes on the top of a huge SUV, but you have to have a real sturdy and big truck to do that and you need help getting the canoe up and down, it is too heavy to be carried by only one person. For any normally sized car and for single handling you need a trailer, which means the skinny hull is not really an advantage for transportation.
Due to the additional mizzen rigging is not as fast as it could be with only one mainsail – although there is an additional mast step further aft so that people living in windy areas can use the Waterlust as a catboat with only a main. I am down to roughly half an hour at the ramp before I can get the boat into the water. And for me the added safety a mizzen provides is ample worth the longer rigging time.
The weekend at the MASCF 2017 in St. Michaels still held some surprises even after the beautiful cruise. At the race on Saturday I took third place in the traditional rig category (invented by the creative jury after the race), although I had badly miscalculated the start in what was the first sailboat race of my life. And Hanuna got another third place for boat construction in the kit boat category. What more could you want?
The author is a newbie to sailing and caught the boat building bug in the summer of 2016. He has since built a CLC Passagemaker Dinghy, a CLC Petrel Play Kayak, and the Waterlust sailing canoe reviewed in this article. In his other life he is Washington Bureau Chief of the German newspaper “Die Welt“ and reports about American politics. He lives in Bethesda, Maryland and sails mainly in the Chesapeake Bay.
Sailing photos by Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum, Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival and the Maritime Model Expo. www.flickr.com/photos/cbmmphotos/sets/72157656410504890/with/37517442640/