Our Self-Rigged Sailing Canoe

The 17-foot Old Town sailing canoe that we learned to sail in the 1970s was perfect for camping on the shores of the distant Bahamas. It was small enough for the two of us to lift in and out of the water, but still big enough to carry our camping gear, food, water, clothes and a typewriter. Granted, it did not have enough room to carry us as well. But that is another story.
Author:
Publish date:
 Michael near Cayo Coastal Island

Michael near Cayo Coastal Island

The 17-foot Old Town sailing canoe that we learned to sail in the 1970s was perfect for camping on the shores of the distant Bahamas. It was small enough for the two of us to lift in and out of the water, but still big enough to carry our camping gear, food, water, clothes and a typewriter. Granted, it did not have enough room to carry us as well. But that is another story.

 Ida in Shell Key, FL

Ida in Shell Key, FL

Since those early days, we’ve graduated to a 19-foot square stern Grumman canoe, which we use for beach-cruising and coastal camping in both Florida and Cape Cod. The 119-pound Grumman has the heaviest carrying capacity (1,100 pounds) of any boat my husband, Michael, and I can lift on and off our car and carry to the water’s edge. It also has a tough frame and skin, which is essential for skidding over sharp rocks and oyster bars. Although our boat has been in service since 1954, when it ran freight on the Mississippi River with a 20hp engine and a planing plate, it still has no dents, gouges or leaks.

We rigged the boat ourselves with a sliding gunter rig described by Todd Bradshaw in his book Canoe Rig. Besides making leeboards, thwarts, a mast step and rudder, we also modified a set of Sunfish spars to hold the 73ft2 reef-able sail. Yes, we could carry more sail, but we like to see under the boom, and 6 knots is fast enough.

For camping trips we crafted a snap-on cover that has skirted openings at the fore and aft seats, so we can still steer while protecting our gear from rain, sun and spray.

 Prince Edward Island, Canada

Prince Edward Island, Canada

Our canoe holds two week’s worth of gear for cruising Florida in winter and Cape Cod in summer. From Buzzards Bay we regularly car-top the boat to various locations along Cape Cod. We sail from Wellfleet, along the marshes and beaches to the Long Point Lighthouse at Provincetown. Waquoit Bay, with Washburn Island, is a marsh and beach-picnic cruising favorite. For shorter trips we sail across the Cape Cod Canal to Marion or through the bay to Woods Hole.

Though our Florida home is inland, we’ve taken our canoe for sails, paddles and occasional week-long cruises along both coasts. We’ve canoe-camped along the Big Bend canoe trail on the Panhandle, car-topped to St. Augustine to sail inside the barrier islands and cruised out of Flamingo for a week in the Everglades. This winter we launched off the southwest coast for some days of sailing Pine Island Sound while tent camping on Cayo Costa Island. At all of these sites we have sheltered waters into which we can launch and retreat, and best of all, miles of beach and shore to ourselves.

all photos by Ida Little

Cayo-Costa-Bayside_5324

Ida Little and Michael Walsh are the authors of Beachcruising and Coastal Camping which they update regularly at beachcruisingandcoastalcamping.com

Related

TOTW_PromoSite

SAIL's Tip of the Week

Presented by Vetus-Maxwell. Got a tip? Send it to sailmail@sailmagazine.com No chafe, safe stay  If you’re leaving the boat unattended for a longish period, there’s a lot to be said for cow-hitching the shorelines, as this sailor did. They’ll never let go, and so long as the ...read more

belize600x

Charter Special: Belize

It would be hard to imagine a more secure spot than the Sunsail base on the outskirts of the beachside community of Placencia, Belize. The entire marina is protected by a robust seawall with a channel scarcely a few boatlengths across. It’s also located far enough up Placencia ...read more

DSC00247

DIY: a Top-to-Bottom Refit

I found my sailing “dream boat” in the spring of 1979 while racing on Lake St. Clair in Michigan. Everyone had heard about the hot new boat in town, and we were anxiously awaiting the appearance of this new Pearson 40. She made it to the starting line just before the race ...read more

01-oysteryachts-regattas-loropiana2016_063

Light-air Sails and How to Handle Them

In the second of a two-part series on light-air sails, Rupert Holmes looks at how today’s furling gear has revolutionized sail handling off the wind. Read part 1 here. It’s easy to look at long-distance racing yachts of 60ft and above with multiple downwind sails set on roller ...read more

HanseCharles

Video Tour: Hanse 348

“It’s a smaller-size Hanse cruiser, but with some big-boat features,” says SAIL’s Cruising Editor, Charles J. Doane. At last fall’s Annapolis Boat Show, Doane had a chance to take a close look at the new Hanse 348. Some of the boat’s highlights include under-deck galleries for ...read more

amalfitown

Charter Destination: Amalfi Coast

Prego! Weeks after returning from our Italian flotilla trip last summer, I was still feeling the relaxed atmosphere of the Amalfi Coast. It’s a Mediterranean paradise, with crystal-clear waters, charming hillside towns and cliffside villages, plenty of delicious food and wine, ...read more

image005

Inside or Outside When Sailing the ICW

Last April, my wife, Marjorie, and I decided to take our Tartan 4100, Meri, north to Maryland from her winter home in Hobe Sound, Florida. This, in turn, meant deciding whether to stay in the “Ditch” for the duration or go offshore part of the way. Although we had both been ...read more

MK1_30542

SailGP: There’s a New Sailing Series in Town

San Francisco was the venue of the biggest come-from-behind victory in the history of the America’s Cup when Oracle Team USA beat Emirates Team New Zealand in 2013, so it seems only fitting that the first American round of Larry Ellison’s new SailGP pro sailing series will be ...read more