Waterlust Canoe – Part Two

BY Clemens Wergin - Bethesda, Maryland- USA

Chesapeake Light Craft Waterlust Expedition Sailing Canoe, Designed by Dillon Majoros

The next day the wind was still blowing out of the South, so we had to beat upwind all the way back. In the beginning that seemed to be nearly impossible with not much more than a whisper of wind. I decided to motorsail“, using the little propulsion the wind would offer and enhancing speed by cycling the Hobie drive. The Waterlust usually has no problem tacking against the wind, except in very light air. That’s when the Hobie drive comes in handy. With two or three pushes it helps you through the tack. Fortunately, then the wind started to pick up.

Some of our group decided they didn’t want the hassle of a day of upwind sailing and started their motors. Not an option for me. I don’t have a motor for the canoe, it would be cumbersome to install anyhow and I also don’t want it. I guess I am a romantic after all and smitten by the idea of doing this by natural and human propulsion only.




The Waterlust’s balanced lug is known for not going to windward as well as other rigs. Certainly the marconi rigged O’Day was going faster and slightly better to windward than we. But I found the canoe still made very satisfying progress. Better than the Drascombes and some of the catboats and almost as fast as Kevin Brennan in his very well tuned Welsford Navigator “Slip Jig“, which is a gaff yawl. Finally after more than 15 Nautical Miles of tacking, we arrived in St. Michaels where in the meantime a crowd of small boat lovers had gathered for the weekend, many with self made boats like mine.

I had been attracted to the Waterlust canoe first purely by looks. It was almost a year earlier when me and my two daughters had come to one of the monthly meetings at a creek near Annapolis which Chesapeake Light Craft offers to try out their different designs. We had come for a Kayak that I wanted to build for my girls in the winter. And it was then that we encountered the Waterlust prototypes which were put into the water for the first time. CLC had partnered up with the people of Waterlust who wanted to sail down from the Chesapeake to their base in Miami to raise awareness for marine biology with their beautiful videos. We fell in love with the canoe design at first sight.

The traditional lapstrake hull recalled the sailing canoes which had been developed in Britain in the second half of the 19th century and which opened up sailing in coastal water to people with lesser means. At the same time the Hobie Drive seemed like a very clever and modern idea for additional propulsion.

A few months later I bought a kit of a slightly revised version of the prototype that CLC started to offer. It came with only a rudimentary manual of 28 pages which outlined the sequence of the building process in drawings. Given that I had by then a CLC sailboat and a Kayak under my belt that didn’t proof to be a problem. And whenever I had a question I shot an e-mail to Dillon at CLC, who was the most helpful person you can imagine and who put me through the motions.

It took me 3 to 4 months to build the canoe, a very rewarding experience. I was surprised by the precise and tight fit of the CNC cut pieces which came together effortlessly with CLC’s stitch and glue method. The whole boat is made out of plywood covered with epoxy and the bottom and the first plank as well as the deck get covered by fiberglass set in epoxy inside and out for additional strength.

My girls had loved the color of one of the prototypes, so they insisted on the original’s Totalboat foam green mixed with white to achieve an intense aquamarine color. I had ordered the cream colored sails made by Fowler and the kit came also with wood for the spars. But I had to search for all the hardware and rope. I chose Tufnol blocks and cam cleats as a compromise between prize, traditional looks and practicality, which I ordered from Toplicht in Germany. At R & W Rope I found control lines made out of modern materials but offering a traditional look and feel. At the wooden boat festival in Mystic, CT, the guys from R & W even showed us how to knot traditional rope fenders, which we finished on the spot under their supervision.

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/

Part One – Part Two – Part Three

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