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27-July-02 Boat Finished.

I spent the last week or so finishing all the modifications to the Little Squirt. The battery mount is installed. The Solar Panel is set up, and the new aluminium mast is ready to go and so am I. I generally sail in a little alcove of Gander Lake. It is sheltered and about 5 km long before you reach the main part of Gander Lake. Today I am going all the way to the end of Gander Lake. About 35KM one way. Impossible dream. Probably but if it were easy any one could do it.

I got up early, kissed the wife and the original squirt who is now a little over one year old. Neither of the girls in my life were too happy about me disappearing for the day, but a guys got to do what a guys got to do. I arrived at the dock with Little Squirt at about 0849. The winds were light and the sun was shinning. It was a beautiful day.

I put the boat in the water and set up. For the first time I had few problems setting up. I lost the rope once leading to the top of the mast and that was the only problem. When I launched the boat started drifting into shallow water while I was setting up the rudder, but I just used the motor to go to deeper water and finished setting up there.

By now the wind has picked up a bit. It wasn’t heavy but it was heavier then I was used to and going the worst possible direction. I would have to tack the 6km to the entrance to the main part of Gander Lake. I figure I could have used the motor, but pride was involved. The engines was for emergencies and manuvering in tight quarters only. I was sailing out.

The wind direction was a pain. When tacking one way the boat went quite fast, but to tack back to the other side I was actually sailing slightly down river from where I wanted to go. I had finally passed a small island I use as a marker which is about 1.5km from the launch point when I noticed that the tape along my home made sail was coming off at the bottum along the boom. I hoped that I could continue sailing under I reached Glenwood Park where I had planned to stop for a break, however that was not going to happen. The tape continued to peel off. If I allowed it to continue the bottom part of the sail was going to come loose completely. I took down the sail at 1000. I went the rest of the way to Glenwood Park under engine.

I reached Glenwood Park at 1012. I took a reading of the battery at 1028. It said 12.58V. 12.6V was 100% charge so I was set there. I got some rope and a plastic box to secure the sail and set off to continue under engine alone. I left Glenwood Park and continued on my way at 1035. I figured I would fix the sail when I stopped for for a break, and took a picture before I left. After all the sail wasn’t doing me a lot of good anyway because of the direction of the wind. I decided to go the whole way at power level 3. Any faster used up the battery too quickly. Any slower would lead to insanity.

I reached a nice little beach at 1122. My battery was at 12.47V. 12.4 is 75% so I was still in good shape. Now I get to the embarrassing part of my story. I opened my tool box and found that there was no duct tape. I could not fix the sail with what I had. I had a choice. I could go back or continue on with the engine alone. Reaching my goal was no longer possible. The trip would probably take days instead of hours. I decided to change my goal. After all I was out for fun. Not to prove anything. I would now motor to the opening to the main part of Gander Lake. A note to remember. I did not bring a rag to clean out the small amount of water from the bottom of the boat that collected there from my shoes when I walked the boat out from Glenwood Park. I had to use my shirt. Ah the pain and horrors.

I saw a little beach I thought would be a nice place for lunch a little while later. I started to motor towards it when I realized the blade of my motor was hitting bottom. That was when I discovered a great thing about electric motors. Instead of breaking a sear pin or causing other damage when a electric motor hits something the blade just stops spinning. I tilted the motor out of the water and walked the 100 yards to shore. It was mostly knee deep but sometimes it almost came up to my waist. It was now 1203 and my power level was now 12.40V which is 75%. I was now about a kilometre from my goal.

Picture of Little Squirt Resting Lunchtime

When I was getting ready that morning Charlotte, my beloved asked me what I wanted to bring for lunch. For a first cook out of the summer there was only one answer. Baked Beans. The ultimate outdoor food. I collected some driftwood from the beach and started a tiny fire. The goal was too make a fire as small as possible. Just enough to cook the beans in my aluminium frying pan. I cooked my beans unwrapped my buttered bread and started to eat my lunch. While I was eating I watched a speed boat go by with a happy couple in it. They probably came from the other end of Gander Lake. My goal. They could have done it with ease. However while eating my beans I realized that the ease they traveled took away from the joy of success. They cruised back and fourth on the pond while I was having a adventure.

I finished my lunch and put out the fire. I then covered the area with small rocks, and threw the left over wood around the beach. I wanted to leave no signs of my visit. I picked up my garbage and packed everything away. No one coming after me would ever know I was there. I consider that to be the proper goal for any camper. Before I left I took a reading on the battery. It was 1240 and the power level was at 12.48V. I had gained .08V from the solar cell in the short time I was eating lunch. For anyone not familiar with trolling motors that is a fair amount of juice.

I relaunched at 1247. I did not bring the wooden oars when I had left that morning. Instead I had bought a collapsible Paddle I had owned for my inflatable kayak. Rather then walk the boat back out to deep water. I took one of the sections which form the handle. It made a nice short pole I could use to push the boat back into deep water. I then continued on my way.

I travelled a little more and was now within sight of my goal. However I was not to reach it. The current and wind were both against me. I could see by looking at the shore that I was not moving. I could only reach my goal by using power level 5 which is full power for my engine. I have learned that level using up juice at a scary rate and I still had to motor all the way back. I decided to turn back. I would conquer this goal next time. I motored back to the dock I had started out from that morning with no stops and arrived there at 1544. My voltage when I bought the boat ashore for the last time was 12.12V. That was somewhere between 25% and 50%.


  1. Bring what you need to do repairs on every part of the boat. You can’t predict what is going to break.