If you are a dreamer, a doer, a horizon viewer - come in! come in! Announce yourself and let it be known.
The seed of adventure has been sown.

The goal is to take this boat on a trip that no other Wharram boat has taken.
From Great Slave Lake in Canada's Northwest Territories up the MacKenzie River to the Beafort Sea
and westward to the Bering Sea and south to the inside passage on the Alaska and British Columbia coast.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

It's been about a year since I started this blog and I started posting about building my Tiki 26. Yesterday I finally dismantled the last remaining bits of the platform. It was an intense year. The project pretty much displaced most other things in my life. End of trips, journeys, jobs, careers, building a boat leave you with a void. Particularily when they have been you life focus. The next step will be a difficult one, stepping out into the great blue void.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

I found this interesting website about a sailboat that has successfully navigated the Northwest Passage here in 2007 without the help of an auxillary motor. The boat form chosen - catamaran. Not the trip I'm seeking to complete but a fascinating one one the less.


Sunday, September 16, 2007

I have retreated to the beach for a week of surfing. The swell is building but still tiny off the NW tip of the mainland , Cape Flattery. My 7 year old has discovered surfing and rode my board until she was blue refusing to give it up.

Friday, September 14, 2007

I've been asked what it cost. Here's what I spent to build Tsunamichaser. I budgeted $25k US - what I had sold my Westsail 28 for.

Platform/shed $318.76
Tools (I own many) $1,252.31
Plans $769.29
Office Supplies (photocopies/postage mainly) $40.61
Lumber (plywood and boat wood) $3,186.99
Epoxy $4,632.63
Finishes $394.11
Sails $3,393.96
Rig $2,276.38 This includes things like anchors
Smelly gas engine $1,455.00
Canvas (tramp covers etc) $578.99
Electric $763.62 I bought a really cool LED masthead light for $450
Boat Hardware $1,852.26
Safety $78.49
Galley $241.44
Navigation $179.00
Launch $127.89 - 5 bucks for the boat launch ramp and the rest on a truck/trailer rental to tow my VW Jetta. I was busy picking seaweed from the axles so they didn't figure it out.

Parties and BBQ's about 700

So now you know.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


Tikopia and Aunta

I posted about this on the Wharram forums. For some reason I awoke with an epiphany in the middle of the night. It seems that Wharram's idea of giving back to the islanders who inspired his ideas has come to a standstill. See http://www.tikopia.co.uk/blog/ How could we the builders, sailors and dreamers of Wharram cats change this and have an amazing adventure at the same time. Today 9/11 as a day in history is a good day for starting good deeds. The Tikopia project website seems to be slow moving on this project. There is no way to tell if they are raising any money for the project. Has Andy Smith's yard started building one of these boats? Why can't we, the amateur builders, make it happen? We could all pitch in by building parts and have a boat finished faster that way. Speak to me about this idea if you are interested.

As posted:

Can anyone give an update about the Tikopia project that JWD has set out on. Where have they gotten with donations? Has construction begun? Is there any interest in the amateur builder community for this project?

Wharram talks about giving back to the culture that spurred his imagination about sailing canoes. Over the years, we the builders and sailors of his vessels have gain greatly from his efforts designing boats that spoke to us. Might we as amateurs not build one perhaps two of these and then sail them to the islands of Tikopia and Aunta? What an adventure! We cold sail with a flotilla of Wharrams. I'd be there in Tsunamichaser in a flash. I just finished reading Charles Mann's 1491. I've read Collapse by Jared Diamond and reread the section on Tikopia. As a surfer/coastal liver I'm astutely aware of the now subtle, perhaps sooner than later significant effect of melting/ accelerated calving glaciers on coastlines and islands and all that inhabit these areas.

My vision? To work as a group to build one or two Child of the Sea and sail them to the islanders. We could all work to plan building parts and then transporting these parts to a central location for assembly and departure. This could be an amazing adventure and in a world where sailing has become the exclusive play field of the rich but also one that dissatisfies many we could show that there is another way. Remember amateurs by definition do it for love, professionals, well that is how they make their earnings so ultimately they do it to put food on the table etc.

I'd love to hear if there is any interest.

Thomas Nielsen tsunamichaser aut yah oo dalt calm

So who wants to sail to the South Pacific with a purpose?

Monday, September 10, 2007

When Power rules the Roost!

I came across this set up in Eagle Harbor. I wonder how the solar panels go to wind? I wonder what all that power gets used for.

To get to where I keep Tsunamichaser, I need to ride my bike and take a ferry. It's a great ride and I like getting to my boat that way. I have her holed up in a protected cove that use to be the home of the world's largest saw mill and the site of a busy ship building industry. Follow this link and you can see an image of it today - http://www.kitsap.biz/virtual_sample/blakely_harbor.htm. Today there are remnants of the the old tidal water mill they used to power equipment and many rotten pilings.
I've got Tsunamichaser anchored deep in the bay where she is away from the wind and other boats. As you can see in the photos below I can get my bike into one of the hulls. It requires removing the front wheel but thats all. If I took the seat off too I'd be able to put the bike well forward.
To get out to Tsunamichaser I launch my tiny dinghy, a Sevlor Trail Boat that weighs just two pounds. It's a great way to go though blowing it up gets you hyperventilating. Of course to get the bike and other stuff on board you just sail in onto the beach. Having put myself on the beach, I spent a few hours modifying some of the rigging issues that were not right from the shakedown. I added a turnbuckle below the roller furling. Easy to do as to support the mast forward, I simply swung the running backstays forward and cleated them off on the front beam cleats. I added a double upright lead block below the Staylocks for the main halyards and replaced the traditional cleat , at the mast bottom, that I was using to secure the down haul with a jam cleat. All these modifications corrected the issues I'd had and improved sail handing.
The weekend was one of those awesome late summer days that make the PNW great. Clear, warm and windy. The sailing was equally great. It was windy enough to require a reef in the main and one in the jib to avoid being over powered. With little onboard and minimal draft, I sailed straight out the harbor on a couple of tacks and entered the clear air beyond. The other boats out sailing were having a good time of it so way ver powered for the conditions and struggling to reduce sail.
Tsunamichaser really flies. I'm super impressed. With the rudders humming and the wind on the beam I made quick work of getting to my planned anchorage for the night. Part way there I decided to see if I could get fuel in a little place that has a dock and boat ramp but little else. There's a store there too but sadly they've given up selling fuel so back I ran to my anchorage. I anchored of Blakely Island behind a nice sandy split to the northwest but ran up onto the beach first. I really like this feature of going right up onto the beach. After hanging out on the beach and talking with some campers I pushed off and threw the anchor over in six or so feet of water, feathered the rudders so she would get pushed off shore by the current and enjoyed the evening aboard. Blakely is a pretty popular spot with boaters so I didn't have it to myself but I was plenty far enough away from other boats.
Unusual for Puget Sound the wind did not lay down through the evening. Towards morning it even picked up and so I ended up on deck fiddling with lines that were making a racket. Then back to bed to dream of some sailing fantasy to the south. I woke and got up with the sunrise excited to go for an early morning sail. The wind was humming at 18-20 with gusts into the mid-twenties so figuring I'd be taking some spray over the bow, I geared up in my drysuit. It turned out to be a wise move as I was taking spray over the whole boat while beating to windward. With the washboards in and the hatches closed, no water came below to my surprise. The current was ebbing and was right against the wind so the waves were stacking up into a short choppy sea of about four footers. Once again I was hugely impressed with how she sails. Not once did I experience the dreaded hull slapping even though I was burying the bows to the rails. The trampoline I made showed its second purpose during this sail in that it broke up the waves, as they hit, into a mist that dissippated before they hit the cockpit. With the wind at tweny I had a reef in the main and soon discovered that I needed a bigger one in the jib too. The camcleats were not holding the jibsheets which let go explosively a couple of times. A bit of a shocker the first time it happened. To prevent this I roller the sail into the second reef point and continued on bouncing over the waves. I experienced the 'hobby horsing' effect that some say detracts from the performance of Wharrams but personally I kind of like it. It's unusual but not detrimental. Sitting at the back of the cockpit it isn't that noticeable and for the most part it follows the waves.
Still in search of fuel for the outboard I sailed to Eagle Harbor skimming through the shallows beyond the channel as the low tide was in the negative numbers. At the public dock, a crowd was gathered around a keelboat that had tide up at the head of the dock at high tide and was now hard aground and leaning in over the dock. The guy was lucky as his mast was between the pilings that the dock is secured to. Otherwise he would have lost his rig. You had to duck to get under his stays at one point. There is no fuel near the dock so I loaded a gas tank in my backpack and one on the back of the bike and pedalled off in search of a gas station. I got some funny looks and some great comments at the Blackbird Bakery where I was sucked in for a coffee and a pastry.
The public dock has a time limit to how long you can stay and can get pretty busy on nice weekends so I left as fast as I could. With the wind holding me against the dock, I hand turned the boat until it was perpendicular to the dock - rudders in, gave a big push and jumped on. With a scurry into the cockpit I had the jib rolled out, the boat turned and off I sailed back to Blakely Harbor. Blakely use to be pretty much an uninhabited back water after the sawmill and boat yards shut down but these days it's becoming home to some big fancy houses. Luckily the old saw mill is a park now so access is still possible. As I was unloading my bike and stuff that was coming with me home, a fellow from the house right beside the park came stridding towards me purposefully. I wasn't sure what to expect when he said "is that a Wharram Cat?" As it turned out he wasn't there to tell me that I could anchor in the bay but rather to gam about boats. He introduced himself, said he was sad when I had sailed out the day before as he liked having boats in the harbor and got my number if there was any issues as he'd give me a call. He himself had a power cat that he uses for commuting to work and a very beautiful Aage Nielsen monohull that he sail off the dock with no fixed motor. He had removed the diesel and now had just a Torqueedo 2.0 electric outboard that he kept in the lazarette in case he got caught out on a windless night. It's powered by two big truck batteries that are charges with solar panels. We ended up talking about how cats will be the wave of the future and how great it was that I could carry my bike onboard. Now if only I could tow my boat behind my bike sort of like Colin and Julie Angus do. See: http://www.angusadventures.com/adventures.html After a good half hour of chatting he remembered he was suppose to be getting the boat ready for a sail and so trotted off across the beach to his boat. Nice to meet avid sailors who are also avid cyclists but then the two traditionally go together.

Tsunamichaser at anchor

Bike and boat - all the transportation you need!

Cooking dinner on the Jetboil

Sunset over the Olympics

Bike in boat
Tsunamichaser sails great and I wouldn't want to make any major changes to what I did. There are some subtle ones though and lots of tweaking to do.

Plan on having ventilation in the habitable compartments under the decks - they sweat bad.

My hatches leak - most do but I wouldn't want to be taking major weather over them. I'm thinking of adding a small flange around the coaming and then making "spray skirts". Kind of the way kayaks have a neoprene cover under the fiberglass deck hatches to cargo areas. Sailing while standing in the windward hull works great. Since I can open my hatches half way I actually plan on having a spray skirt too.

The Nissan 6 rocks. With the ultra long shalf you can be bucking in short chop or big boat wake and it does'nt come near the surface.

My cockpit is great but again the storage boxes leak as I just have simple lids. I don't think I'll do a major rebuild. Again I'm thinking of a soft cover under the wood seats with a water resistant zipper - aka duffel bag style.

The biggest issue is how to attach an anchor. I need to do some research into how to anchor a multihull. I don't want to have the anchor pulling on the forward beam in the center so I need to use some form of bridle. Right now I tie off on the end of the forward beam and lead the anchor through a snatch block attached to the large eye pad I have at the bow. I'm really happywith the way I set up the bow compartments. Using the forward compartment (fill it most of the way with foam and add a sub deck and install a drain hole) for the rode works great. I can't get the anchor in there so I take it off. I attach it with a beefy locking caribiner made of stainless steel but a better solution needs to be dreamed up.

Saturday, September 08, 2007

I'm off on a short two day trip to the boat to work on a couple of things and go sailing. I'm thinking of taking a run out into the Pacific next week to see how that feels. More on that later.

Thursday, September 06, 2007

What to do next?

I've run into a small snag, where to keep my boat. At the moment it is hanging on the hook but I can't leave it that way, not in my local waters. I've been looking for the last couple of days for a place to moor it dockside but there are too many boats and not enough spots. The waitlists are long, years long in cases. So what to do. Of course I can just take off and go sailing. That's a good option! Time to get serious with a plan.

Tuesday, September 04, 2007


The 26 is pretty minimal. Not much headroom and pretty much at the habitable limit when you stick two adults in a hull for any period of time. That said my wife, daughter and myself hung out for three continuous cold and rainy days on board holed up below. At times we were all in one hull reading or playing games. Condensation is a problem. I think that when I deal with the condensation problem, life will be easier. We dealt with it by sticking our sleeping bags in bivy sacks and going with it mountaineer style. Nobody is a complainer. It's mountaineer style. Feel cold, don your parka and fire off a chemical heat pack and stick it on your belly.

I've slept in a lot of dubious places and lived in some too. Once on a motor cycle trip it got so cold that I slept under the bike hugging the transmission for its heat. When it cooled down I fired it up to get it hot again. I like comfort but roll with it when it's not there. Being cold, wet and miserable is good. It makes you appreciate life and the comforts that are possible.

My whole ethic around this boat is that it's a camping experience. When I pondered what boat to build I drew cross sections on a wall of the Tiki 26, the Pahi 31 and the Tiki 38 all on top of each other. I also chalked out the boats at deck level in a school playground to get a feel for relative size. In the end I went with the smallest one I thought that could work. Why?

I wanted to be the builder and I wanted to be done in 9 months - it took me ten and a half.

I budgeted $25k US, I spent about 20 all told - 11 or so on the boat, 5 on crap and the rest on tools and sandpaper.

I wanted something I could physically move around by hand on my own or with one other person. I seem to be on the mark.

In the end the driver was the type of trips I'm planning and that I wanted to be able to walk from the boat if I ever got sick of it. You know just leave it where ever and not look back. $25 k felt like an ok number to throw away if I had to. One bad nights roller in Vegas for some.

On comfort here is what I've observed. You can be miserable on any size boat smaller than a cruise ship but if you are on a cruise ship go for the most expensive cabin - lots of windows. I want simplicity. On my last monohull all I ever did was fix stuff or maintain systems - I'm in it now for the sailing and the surroundings not the boat. I don't have systewms and I don't want them. Ok I have a battery, a switch box and a mast head light!

I've observed too many cruisers who blow their budget on a big boat because they get big boat-itisis and when they get to paradise sit on board hating it because they can't afford life ashore. I want to get there with little fuss and like the old AMEX commercials go ashore with my card and have a good time. Hotel room, drinks, a big meal. If the crew don't want to make the passage they can fly.

Right now I'm dreaming about sailing to Mexico for the winter. Hole up on the Sea of Cortes, rent an apartment, eat good food, sail, bone up on my Spanish and surf on the west coast of the peninsula. I'll ditch the boat on the beach with the fishermen's Pangas not in some American-style marina with security cameras. If someone steals anything, then they probably need it more than I do.

So is a Tiki 26 comfortable? You bet. My wallet feels pretty good!

Monday, September 03, 2007

I feel like a chapter of my life has closed and I can't wait to turn the page and start the next one. Yesterday I sailed Tsunamichaser into a small bay where I have left her temporarily while I figure out what to do next. She is sitting deep within the bay beyond where others can go. To get home I tramped for two hours along country roads and then caught a ferry to the land where I live. It is the first time I have not been near by her for almost a year and it feels strange. This coming week I will try to find a home for her nearer home.

Partly I came home to my house as I had to get my daughter back for school and partly because I have a massive clean up to do. I have a trashed backyard to straighten up. I garage/shop that I left in tatters and a house with bits and pieces and tools everywhere. What a job. Worst of all we had two disasters happen while we were gone. The refrigerator stopped running at some point during the early part of the trip. For two weeks everything in the fridge and freezer cooked. My wife came home to a stench of death. She dealt with that! (trooper!). In the midst of that the sewer blocked. I guess the house felt jealous of all the attention the boat got. Today I snaked out the sewer - not a fun job but that solved the problem though there was an overflow of ripe sewage at one point. N ow I'm not digressing but I have been thinking about simplicity. That is what I like about the final assemblage of my Tiki 26. It is so simple and sails so well. With a few modifications it will border on comfortable. Everything is minimal. Lights - solar powered with integral solar panels. For task lighting - head lamps with rechargable batteries and a solar powered recharge panel. For mellower lighting - candles. Navigation - all handheld. Cooking - a camp stove and a JetBoil. Tools one small tool box, spares and equally small tool box, water a selection of water bottles including one three gallon jug and the rest 1 gallon or smaller stashed where ever. Food the same. There is pleny of room with all the compartments available. It is not space but weight that is the limiting factor.

Now I know that I have things to fix or modify. Some of it stems from the rush at the end. But by launching when I did I finished wondering what would be the best choice and got to the testing stage - way more informative.

On sailing, I am impressed by the performance of this boat. Who ever said a cat, particularily a Wharram cat can't point or tack doesn't know what they are doing. Yesterday was a nice breezy one (maybe 15 knots) in the afternoon. As I sailed from where I dropped off my daughter and personal gear, I sailed through the fleet out enjoying a Sunday afternoon sail. I was able to point higher and sail faster than the monohulls I snuck up on and then passed. To the crew of the generic 38-40 foot cruiser/racer who snickered as I had to back up to make a missed tack - yes I saw your jaws dropped as Tsunamichaser suddenly went from sailing backwards to leaping ahead enough that it threw me backwards and I looked on too in amazement at my rooster tails. Your sails probably cost more than my whole boat!

Late summer in the Pacific Northwest, particularily the inland waters, are fraught with light winds. The Nissan 6 pushed me for 17 hours to get home. Depending on the current, boat speed ranged from about 4 to almost 9 knots at 1/2 throttle. In those 17 hours, I burned about five gallons of gas. That amounts to about 1 liter per hour or less than 1/3 of a gallon per hour. It seems to be a good outboard for a Tiki 26.

What is spectacular about the Tiki 26 is how much bigger the ocean has become. In my keelboat, a Westsail 28, I needed to navigate carefully to avoid running a foul of the bottom. In the Tiki, it is more casual- relaxed even. You want to see what is happening in the shallows I wouldn't want to have an accidental grounding still but I keep it simple. I carry only a hand lead and otherwise rely on the signs all around. Kelp, color of the water, surface ripples. This is in touch sailing - read the elements instead of the instruments. Coming back I crossed a rocky bar that only kayakers would normally venture to explore. I floated in a bed of kelp marveling at the waters below. A little later I was rewarded, as the picture below shows of a grand visit. This majestic whale chose Tsunamichaser to explore. It came by swimming closely and surfaced just as it past the boat. I was stopped and drifting so my daughter and I could watch. With all these great experiences, that is how the ocean has become much larger. Large enough that I can't wait to venture out and explore some more.

A male Orca cruises by a drifting Tsunamichaser at less than fifty feet from the stern.

    Spot Track

  • Track Tsunamichaser
  • Spot Track
    Click link above the Spot to see where Tsunamichaser is.