No. 17 - June, 1975


Jack Couture


This is a very simple vane to construct, and inexpensive. It also works beautifully. I sailed many miles last summer while this device did the steering. NO MODIFICATIONS ARE REQUIRED on the boat as the mechanism can be clamped to the motor bracket.


In building and using the vane, you should keep the following in mind:

1)   Make the vane as light as possible.

2)     Be sure it is well balanced on its axis.

3)     Use large blocks to avoid turning friction on the lines.

4)     Sails should be trimmed first and the boat balanced before clamping down the vane. Sail trim and boat balance are very important.

5)   Keep your weight forward in the boat as much as possible. Seems to work best when you are sitting in the cabin.

6)     The vane requires at least 6 knots of wind to operate.

7)     Use full main and jib in 6 - 15 knots of wind, and reefed main and jib in winds over 15 knots. The boat sails well in winds of 25 knots and gusts to 30 knots.

8)     Don't neglect to keep a frequent lookout while sailing! You tend to relax, which is what I did - and almost ran down a black can.

9)     Don't give up if at first you don't succeed. It takes a little practice to learn how to make the vane adjustments. Easiest set-up is about a 12 knot breeze, and 600 to 700 off the wind.




It happened to a friend of mine! When I heard this, I decided then and there to become independent of hoists and lifts and to ramp launch in the future.


Centerboard owners have been ramp launching for years but somehow, that extra 1 1/2' of height (draft?) of a fin keel seems to present problems out of all proportion to that 18".


This will be my fifth season of trailing my T22. I have tried various ways, made most of the mistakes and I think I've pretty well got down to the easiest methods. With the exception of needing someone to hold a line on the boat, I can do all the rest single-handed - including raising and lowering the mast. (See Newsletter no.8, November, 1973)


First off - trailer modifications: (l) Trailer lights and license plate are mounted on a separate bar that is fastened to the rear of the trailer when travelling, and removed when launching. I understand this may not be legal in some states. If, however, this "light bar" is properly fastened to the trailer so as to appear more or less permanent, it should be OK. In five years, I have yet to replace a light bulb.

(2) Fifth wheel - see fig. 1. This is the most important of the mods. Most ramps slope at a fairly shallow angle, and when you need about five feet of water to float your boat off the trailer, you can either back your car down on the end of a line. This fifth wheel is needed so that everything will go smoothly. In Fig.2 the wheel is about to be placed in its socket on the trailer tongue. If I can find a couple of husky helpers (fig.3), we just lift the trailer up and put the wheel on. If I'm on my own, I have to jack up the trailer high enough to allow adequate clearance. You could have this wheel mounted on a flat plate and bolt it on each time. Or, you may have a better idea. What I did was to take this wheel up to the local welding shop, explain just what it was I wanted to accomplish; and left it up to him to figure out. This is what he came up with. A word of caution: this fifth wheel should be nonswivelling. Don't use a dolly wheel; because if you do, half way down the ramp the rig is apt to change direction, which could be embarrassing. Why not use that little metal dolly wheel that fits on the tongue jack? Because it's no good - that's why! it's too small, and doesn't roll properly. If it gets stuck 1/2 way down the ramp, generally the jack bends, or the fitting.


Fig.4: The wheel is in place and the trailer is about to be attached to the car with 1" nylon line. If the ramp is very shallow and I need a long run-off, I use the line single - about 45' long. On a normal ramp, this is too long, so I double the line and just hook it over the ball of trailer. If you're worried about it slipping off, just mouse it with some twine. 1" nylon has a breaking strength of over 20,000 lbs, so you have plenty of reserve, used single or double. I've spliced large thimbles in each end of this line to protect it where it is shackled to the ring on the trailer tongue, or hitch.


Now you are ready to launch. Fig. 5: Give her a little shove to start her rolling and slowly back up your car. If you have done everything properly, it should look like figs. 6, 7.



Another word of caution: Some ramps end rather suddenly - like, with a 5' drop! I once watched a chap go through the whole procedure; but he had neglected to attach his trailer to his car. So, when the trailer came to the end of the ramp it just fell off! Took them the better part of the morning, with the help of two boats and half a dozen helpers, to snag the trailer with a couple of anchors in order to get it back. To be on the safe side, make a depth gauge. I use a wood whisker pole, marked off in feet, which is kept on the boat anyway.


Other options: A pair of chest high waders - handy if something gets hung up half way down. . . A bow eye on your boat, which simplifies attaching a line to the boat. Wood chocks to block the trailer wheels while you're getting things ready. A couple of rocks work fine; but sometimes there are none around. . . A ladder. The agile can get on and off the boat while on the trailer; but it is a chore. I once saw a photo of a keel boat trailer with a metal ladder that ran vertically up from the trailer tongue to the bow of the boat. This ladder was rigidly braced and served double duty - as a "stopper" for the bow, and as a boarding ladder.






A GULL'S FEATHER FELL ON OUR DECK (1974 cruise to Lake Champlain)

Don Anderson, no. 363


You can't beat fun - especially leaving on a week's cruise - with the weather smiling broadly in the middle of July. We could even forgive the wind not blowing as we motored across Lake St. Louis headed for the Seaway, passing one of those Chinese Junks just sitting there with its red hanging loose. In no time at all, "Tantramar" was in-the-Seaway and romping down it at 5.6 knots.


We had acquired all the charts to see us down to Sorel, up the Richelieu and into Lake Champlain. The distance to the U.S. border is 125 nautical miles and we were resolved to make it in two days. There is no sense in mucking about in the polluted old Richelieu when we could be happily gunk-holing in Lake Champlain. Besides, we had promised to meet Cliff Sweeney and Donald Campbell in just two days time somewhere near the border. They planned to sail up from Shelburne Marina in Donald's Father's Columbia 28. The clue to making the trip in jig time is to hit the ten locks on the Richelieu between 0830 and 2030 hrs. (2130 on weekends) the second day while the lockmasters are all on duty. "All that and get the mast down, too," I told my two able-bodied crew: son Stephen, aged 11, and Peter Lenihan, of high school age.


Tekakwitha Island abeam. I knew I had seen that name before! Sure! - ­the Wax Museum! The beautiful Indian girl, Kateri Tekwitha, born in

Neil York State came to live in Laprairie because she was persecuted by her family. She built her own altar in the woods and each time she came to pray she was accompanied by a young squirre1 which sat on the branch above. People in her time knew her as the "Lily of the Mohawks”, and the people of our time have immortalized her in the name of an Island, and in the tableau in the Wax Museum.


You sail past a lot of history when you sail our Canadian waterways.


You are supposed to wait for the green light before passing under the railway bridge near Caughnawaga - even If your mast isn't too high. They made us wait a few minutes and then rumbled it up and down a few times (exercising the bridge like walking the dog?) Getting through the Cote Ste Catherine and St. Lambert locks took less than a half hour each. If you forget to pay your $2 you get reminded. I got reminded . We watched while the 800 foot long St. Lambert lock emptied over 6 million gallons into the lower end of the canal - to lower our T22 which displaces less than 400 gallons, the 16' to the level of Montreal harbour. All the vehicular traffic on the road above gets switched over to the upper end; the bridges clank changes in level. Wow! All this for MY little boat, which had just diminished an order of magnitude in size! I could imagine my friends with the socialist malignancy tut-tut tutting over that one!


Through Expo's back yard and abruptly one is in the 2 - 3 knot current coming out of Montreal harbour, and by following the large ship channel one takes advantage of the greater current. Besides, one cannot get under the Lafontaine Bridge over the "Small Crafts" channel at this' point with the mast up. The two channels criss-cross each other on the way down to Sorel.


We stopped at dusk, tying up in the little public harbour at Vercheres. The docking area was populated during the evening by a number of unlikely looking young beards on motorcycles, but quiet down later. The water­front is presided over by a large statue of Madelaine de Vercheres with long skirt and musket.  Remember the story of Madeleine? - Young 14 year old girl who took command of the fort when her parents and most others were away. With four men, her two young brothers and an old man, she held off a band of Iroquois for a whole week relieved by regular soldiers. Peter and I explored the town, and paid our respects to Madeleine.


Often I do not sleep soundly the first night under new circumstances ­and besides, with all those locks on the Richelieu still 30 miles ahead! So at first light we nudged back into the current. The river had another character in the early morning - a slight fog, a light north wind, the many water fowl, and soon the reddish glares of the iron ore operation near Contrecour. It was just a little eerie. By 0700 we were passing through Sorel harbour wondering if the operator would swing the bridge for us this early in the morning. We did not have a fog horn, but Peter whistled with his fingers 3 times, loud enough to wake up all of Sorel. Soon the operator showed up and the bridge began to open. As we motored by he informed us: "You are supposed to blow your horn 3 times! I guess next time we better have one!


Next time we shall carry a spare 5 gallon container of gasoline, as we seemed always to be requiring refills at the most awkward places, and we had to plan ahead carefully to ensure that we would not suddenly become stranded. The wind came steadily from the South, and using sails on the Richelieu was impossible for the whole trip. (ED. note: You can't get to Lake St. Francis, either, without spare gas and oil.)


There are ten locks to pass through on the Richelieu. The first one, St. Ours all by itself, is about 11 miles up from Sorel. Then, between Chambly Basin and St. Jean there are 9 more, with a rise of 74'. The lock operators are all friendly types and locking through is not at all tedious. We thought we would just make it through all the locks the same day and be free to start early in the morning on the home stretch for Lake Champlain, still 19 miles away. Howhere, we had to search for gas, and this delayed us just enough so that the lockmaster of the last lock had gone home by the time we arrived. We had to tie up just below lock 9 until he came on duty - about 1800 next morning.


It is while passing through this lock and canal system - Chambly to St. Jean that one meets the restricted overhead room which requires that one lower one's mast. There are two bridges - 29' and 30' clearance and an overhead power cable, which are too low for our required 31'. Probably the best place to lower the mast is just below the swing bridge at Beloeil. When we got stuck at lock 9, we decided to get up early in the morning so as to have the mast back up by the time the lockmaster arrived. Then, when we were about to enter the lock, and isn't marked on the chart, has a clearance of only 29’. This caused some dismay, until we realized that there was adequate clearance at the lower of the two lock levels, and that if we went forward upstream of the cable before the lock was filled, we could pass through all right. So - on to Lake Champlain.


As a portable chemical toilet for a T22, the Pot Pourri probably merits its design prize. As long as that green chemical called "Liquid Gold", or the like, is adequate, everything is under control, and one can sleep the sleep of the just in the fo'castle. But somehow, through inexperience mostly, things sort of got out of control on the second day; and no good place to relieve the situation came to hand before it was time to spend time on the foredeck. No problem! - When bedtime came we just parked our "Pot Phewry" out on the poop deck for the night. Then in the morning, when everyone had emerged, we parked it back inside and hoped for better times soon. It so happened that better times didn't turn up until later on the next day, after some tribulation, which I shall recount. In the meantime, "Old Pot" took on a considerable personality all of its own.


After we had met up with friends Sweeney and Campbell at a Marina which shall remain nameless for fear of never being allowed near the place again, it was decided to empty "'Old Pot" in the shore toilet. Simply pick the darn thing up. Carry it in, dump, rinse and carry it back to the boat again. After all, what’s a portable for anyway? Except that when I got to the proper corridor between tow toilets, the one which had the more male look about it stayed busy for what seemed an interminable time. I stood in the corridor very self-consciously with "Old personality” himself. This just could not go on. I'LL just duck into the other - toilet and 'Old personality' himself (herself?) will become respectable Pot Pourri again.    I


No sooner had I got nicely into the job than a lady with artificial flowers on her hat showed up just outside and stood first on one foot and then on the other. Then (friend?) Sweeney got into the act, and as he passed Artificial Flowers, he remarked, as if in apology: "My friend is having a little trouble. He has been out on the water for a couple of days!" Meanwhile, "Old Personality" himself did not give up so easily - as if determined to attain immortality in the confines of the ladies' powder room. I peeked out now and then to check on Artificial Flowers. Did you ever try to wipe up a smell? With a paper towel? . . . I hesitated long time before confessing all this; but, then, some is good for the soul, and it is a fine opener for some of our experienced cruisers to explain how to handle this detail properly!


We crossed the U.S. border 48 hours after leaving Pointe Claire. The first marina in the V.S. bascombe's, and we thought we should drop in there to report to Immigration. I searched the marina with binoculars. Yes, there were big craft in there, and the way in seemed straight forward - on wither side of the small island. We should have checked the chart, because on the south side of the island the water is not deep enough, and we went aground with a sound like a miniature thunder roll. The keel slid on the rocky bottom. We came to an abrupt stop, and sat there teetering about. Never does a Captain feel so chagrined as when he drives his boat aground! Excitement reigned. Stephen tried to budge the boat with the motor, to no avail. The Captain came up with an unprintable line or two of poetry. Peter jumped up on the foredeck and waved his arms as if he were about to fly in order to attract a wandering boat to give us a tow. Finally, an obliging chap with a small outboard came along. We attached the 50' heaving line to the end of the spinnaker halyard, letting it swing out from the top of the mast, with the idea of heeling the boat enough to pull it off into deep water. If one heels to port, the motor "digs" in deeper, being on the port side of the transom. Our friend gunned his motor, and he and I shot out from beside "Tantramar" while I braced my feet and hung onto the extended spinnaker halyard. "Tantramar" heeled over some, the little boat slowed, stopped, and then started backing up with the motor on full forward. "She moved some!" Stephen sang out. We tried again, and this time Stephen tried Tantramars motor while heeled over, and she came off into deep water.


U.S. Customs and Immigration was very cursory. "Three aliens," he said, and asked how long we planned to stay.


We sailed south during the next two days, leisurely enjoying ourselves. The first night we rafted up in Trombley Bay, took movies, swam and ate a gourmet meal.


The second night we anchored in Spoon Bay on the east shore of Valcour Island. We had company. Two other boats sought out Spoon Bay to spend the night. One of them was an ancient looking 2-masted boat single handed by an equally ancient looking chap who spent at least a half hour carefully setting out two anchors.


I wanted to try an experiment sometime to see how manageable a T22 would be when deliberately heeled over, as an alternative to taking the mast down when there is not quite enough vertical clearance. Our experiments, which were carried out with lots of shouts and laughter, attracted attention. Soon the old chap on the double masted came over in his dinghy in some alarm, thinking we had holed our boat and were heeling her over to avoid sinking while we affected repairs. We reassured him and invited him aboard for night caps. He told us that In the Caribbean the natives often fill a rowboat with water and use it as an out rigger weight to heel their sailboats for careening. He turned out to be quite an experienced old salt, and we enjoyed gabbing with him until long after Stephen's bedtime.


Valcour Island is uninhabited, and has been declared a parkland sanctuary by U.S. authorities. Spoon Bay has that fresh, inviting, sequestered look- with clean water and wild life. Next morning Stephen found a gull's feather which had dropped on the deck during the night.


The faint but insistent sensation of history comes to one repeat6dly on the Richelieu. One passes Fort Chambly, and then near the border, Fort Lennox on Ile aux Noix on the Canadian side, and Fort Montgomery just across the border. Some of the locks are quite old and decrepit, and the gates are opened by hand-turned winches.


Valcour Island has a niche in history, too. In fact, an event which happened around Valcour Island had a lot to do with the shaping of the present political relationship of North America, and it all happened over the very route which Tantramar had just followed for the past few days.


It was 1776, the year after the Revolutionary forces under General Arnold and Ethan Alien had swept up the Champlain Valley, captured Montreal and besieged Quebec City, which was about the only British stronghold left effectively in what is now Canada. Then, in turn, Guy Carleton, Governor of Canada, broke the siege of Quebec. The revolutionary forces were forced to withdraw all the way back to the fort at Ticonderoga with one ship, captured from the British the previous summer. Carleton was forced to stop at Chambly as no ship of any size could get up the 16 miles of rapids to St. Jean, and he dared not venture into Lake Champlain without an adequate fleet. So the two sides squared away, and each spent the summer building a small Navy. While the Revolutionary forces built ships at Crown Point, Carleton took ships apart plank by plank at Chambly, hauled them to St. Jean by wagon where they were re­assembled, and built a few new ones as well. Finally, Arnold sailed south and right past the island before Arnold showed himself. There ensued a scene in which both side committed mayhem on each others' brand new ships - Carleton committing more mayhem than Arnold. But after dark, Arnold muffled his oars and, following the shore very closely, sneaked by the British ships in the dank night mist. After this, both sides withdrew to their corners - Arnold to Ticonderoga, and Carleton to Ile aux Noix near St. Jean, for the winter. That is the story of the naval battle of Valcour Island. 198 years later, in nearly the same place, the scene was so peaceful, and the seagull dropped his feather on our deck!


After NERC '74, our holiday was over! Dock and Coal at Plattsburgh wanted $2.50 per foot to lift us out. Shelburne Marina would do it for $33. We did it ourselves at the ramp in Burlington, and trailed back to Pointe Claire on the trailer we rented from Mike Nicoll-Griffith. You can't beat the combination of lazily cruising around Lake Champlain with an exciting Regatta, and the hospitality of the Lake Champlain Yacht Club which hosted NERC '74!


When I cleaned the boat for launching this spring, I found the gull's feather in the forward berth where Stephen had slept.