IMG_1749On July 19, after clearing the paperwork through Canada Customs in Calgary, Alberta, I took delivery of Kit #3, a wooden crate containing the CNC cut plywood components plus sails, hardware, lines and fastenings required to build a sailboat. The Mana 24 is the first kit boat to be sold by James Wharram Designs. The prototype  boat, #1, designed by James Wharram and Hanneke Boon, was launched in the summer of 2016 at Cornwall, England.  Kit #2 was shipped a week ahead of mine to another boat builder in Norway.

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On my return to Saskatoon, I unpacked the crate, moved  it into our garage, and reloaded everything back in the crate until the time construction would begin. I was pleased to see the plywood components had been packaged to facilitate the construction process with parts sorted into various steps as well as port and starboard sides.

Summertime is for sailing boats, not for building them, and I still had my WindRider 17. Little did I know that my sailing was not going to amount to much – other events and the weather played a role in that.

No worries. With the kit at hand, it was now time to get prepared for the winter ahead, assembling tools and locating a heated workshop.

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Mermaids play a significant role in the myths and legends of my Highland ancestors, assisting them in their journey from Ireland to first the islands and then the mainland of Scotland. I am enlisting their assistance once again as I  embark on my latest project, the construction of a 23 1/2 foot catamaran sailboat. I drew this design to grace the bow of each hull when the boat is completed.

The catamaran is the latest one to be offered by venerated designers, James Wharram and Hanneke Boone. The prototype Mana 24 was launched last year, sixty years after James set out on a boat of the same length to be the first to sail across the Atlantic Ocean on a catamaran. His inspiration for that boat and those for which he subsequently became famous was the sea-going double canoe sailing craft of the Polynesians.

This will be my second Wharram designed catamaran. In the 90’s I built a Tiki 21 and sailed it on Brightsand Lake for three summers before loading it in a 40 foot container and shipping it to Ghana. Here is a shot of it sailing onto the Ghanaian shore in 2002.

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Stay tuned for photos and updates during the construction phase. May the Mermaids of the Prairies ensure us fair winds and safe passage.

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12×16 Acrylic on stretched canvas

For over forty years, sailing has been a passion of mine. In that time I have owned five sailboats of various types and sizes. My lone sailing lesson consisted of an afternoon on Jackfish Lake with my next brother who had learned how to sail while in the Coast Guard. He helped me to set up my first sailboat, a home-built fifteen foot wooden craft that I purchased for $500 and we sailed for a couple hours. After that I was at my own devices, relying on sailing magazines and a how-to-sail book that I had come across in a bookstore. This was long before the advent of the internet and YouTube – it was trial and error hands-on experience.

Somewhere along the way in my reading, I encountered a man who had profoundly changed conventional sailing in Europe with his designs for two hulled sailboats inspired by and modelled after traditional Polynesian sailing craft. In 1956 James Wharram and his two female crew members became the first to sail across the Atlantic on a 23 1/2 foot catamaran that he had designed and built. I became enthralled by his designs and his philosophical approach to sailing with an emphasis on stability and low cost construction. In 1999, I completed the construction of a 21 foot catamaran, designed by James Wharram, using a set of plans drawn by his partner, Hanneke Boon. The boat was a Tiki 21, given the number 97 since mine was the 97th set of plans sold by James Wharram Design for that model.  The reference photo for the painting above was one of the few photos taken of that boat, sailing on Brightsand Lake.

Sailing season is still at least two months away, but while we can’t sail, we can paint about it. This one was inspired by a shot taken at the 18 minute mark of the video of last year’s  camping/sailing expedition, the Elbow Run 2016. My brother was charging up behind me like he owned the lake, and it wasn’t long before he surged past me.

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20 X 16 Acrylic on stretched canvas

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Lake Diefenbaker is a big lake – 145 miles from one end to the other. Keeping eight boats in sight at any one time can be a challenge, especially when each sailor is trying to find a whisper of wind.

 

Acrylic on (salvaged) plywood 10″ X 41″

Sailing has been one of my passions for many years. I love the way that we are propelled by an unseen force, sometimes barely moving across the water and at other times driven at heart stopping speed.

I also appreciate the unspoken kinship that exists between all those who sail. These are my sailing brothers from last year’s “Elbow Run”.

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My long time sailing buddy, Darryl, flying his new reacher

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Ken, sailing his “Flying Squirrel”

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Rick, sailing his home Lake Diefenbaker

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Dave, flying three sheets to the wind

8 x 10 Acrylic on canvas

Yes, another sailing scene, and once again drawn from The Elbow Run 2015 on Lake Diefenbaker. We had some fantastic sailing conditions that week and on the Thursday, Rick set the pace. Despite my best efforts, I couldn’t catch him – he had his WindRider 17 flying!! In this painting, I cheated – I was never really this close to him – I just tried to make it look that way! 🙂

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12 x 16 acrylic on canvas

CDN$145