Sunday, January 20, 2013


"The Donkey" has its maiden voyage!

We finally had a weather window with sun, light breeze, and warm (for January in Seattle) temps in the upper 40's, so I decided it was an auspicious day to finally put the Punt in the water and see if it floated. Of course the first hurdle was trying to get the beast on top of my car! Funny as it sounds, the entire time I was building the boat I had no idea if I could get it on top of my car or if I was going to have to buy a trailer to haul it (which I most certainly did NOT want to do.) Although built with lighter-weight building techniques than the traditional West Mersea boats, this boat is still MUCH heavier than the light weight versions put together by Dylan Winter, or Stan Richardson, so to say I was worried was no exaggeration, particularly after trying to move the boat around during the build. Stubborn, just like its namesake!

Well, I found that it WAS doable, albeit with a lot of muscle and swearing. I eventually found that I could swing one end up onto the trunk of my work truck (actually, my Kia Spectra) and slide it up onto the Yakima rack without too much trouble. Not easy, but I got it up there, and taking it down with gravity was going to be much easier. Whew!

It became very apparent at this point that my paint job left a lot to be desired, and I left a lot of paint everywhere the boat touched. Well, I won't have to worry about dragging it across the beach now! I still think I should just strip the paint and take it to an auto body shop and have them spray the damn thing. Ugly little Punt...

It was pretty damn exciting putting that boat in the water! As I first pushed off, the boat just went! I could tell that it was going to move through the water pretty easily and be an efficient design, as a lot of hard-chine boats are, in the right conditions. But once I got going...I could not make the damn thing do what I wanted it to! I wanted it to go left, it went right. I wanted to go upwind, it fell off. I thought, "What the hell, this thing sucks!!!" Of course, I was making every mistake that was possible to make and it wasn't the boat's fault at all, I just had to figure out how to sail it. This boat is completely different from any boat I have ever sailed, and I love that about it! 

First, balance is EVERYTHING. I was sitting way too far back and once I moved forward, the boat was able to come up on the wind with no problem. The Opti sail is totally new to me too and handles differently than a Marconi (triangular) sail, and that took some getting used to as well. Still, it is a wonderful sail once you understand how to trim it. It wasn't until I got home that I realized I had rigged it wrong and had inadequate luff tension (the front edge of the sail,) so I am anxious to get the boat back on the water and see how the correct rigging improves the sailing performance. 

Well, that brings us to the funnest part of this blog so far...the maiden voyage videos! Never having used one before, or even really testing this one, I mounted a GoPro camera to the bow, pressed "record," and hoped for the best. I admit, they are not the most exciting videos ever made, and I am no brilliant film maker like Dylan Winter, but they are something I am fond and even a little proud of. There are two tacks showing the boat speed in around 3 to 5 knots of wind. It was a beautiful day and a happy ending to a long process. I hope you enjoy them!

Thanks for following along as I muddled my way through this boat build! It was a lot of fun to do, and the blog was a lot of fun to share with you. Who knows, maybe another boat build will be in my future...


  1. Congratulations Rusty! What a perfect boat to get sailing with. Nice smooth video's too. I found your post on PocketYachters list. Do you ever get up to Port Townsend? The Shipwrights Regatta is on February 23rd and your ship would be welcome, I'm sure.

    All the best, Jeff

  2. tank you for your is a nice A belt sander post.

  3. I have followed your Duck Punt build from the beginning and have enjoyed all of your posts. Congratulations on getting the punt launched. It took me several attempts to figure out the nuances of sailing a Duck Punt. Balance is the key as nothing works well without it but once balance is achieved you can do a lot of maneuvering just by making a small balance shift.

  4. Congratulations Rusty. The boat looks great and I'm looking forward to hearing more about how you go about sailing a craft like that! Just curious: what lake are you sailing on there?

    1. Hi Joel,

      I am sailing on Greenlake, in Seattle, WA.

  5. Nice blog ! Thanks for sharing with us your boat building experience. I'm in the same process building a Michalak's Piccup Pram and your blog is definitely a great inspiration.

    Fair winds.

  6. How's the boat treating you a year after launch? Curious to know what you've learned since finishing it!

    Hope all is well!