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CS17mk3 — Avocet’s Adventures


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A New Boat, Making 3 — Does “3” Make a Fleet?


I built Norma T in 2020 (CS15) and Joe (Glen L Stiletto — ski boat) in 2021 (it’s almost done).  I’m very satified and happy about my choices, B&B’s support, and the results of my efforts. I was able to sail Norma T quite a bit this summer but I’m wanting to expand to some sail-camping next summer on Wisconsin lakes.  And, both of my boys wish to do the same. I would also love to sail on the Great Lakes: Apostle Islands, Mackinac area, etc.  But, these goals seem beyond what my CS15 should be doing. OK, stay within my reach and enjoy. 

Then, a 17 foot Mark 3 — Avocet — popped up for sale. ? I gave it serious thought. I remember reading the Avocet thread and thought highly of the builder’s work.



(I had also seen this Capsize Camp video featuring Avocet.)

Really?!  Should I just BUY another boat?  It COULD do some of my sailing hopes and goals. It’s well built. It looks beautiful.  My family, I hope, will like this addition to the two boats I built… that are named after my parents (Norma T and Joe.)  I wouldn’t need to spend another year in the garage building and making a mess. OK… let’s do it!!


I agreed to the asking price and began to look forward to completing the purchase. Richard did some touch-up work on the boat and it is really appreciated.  It’s beautifully finished and in wonderful condition. I decided I have made a great purchase and look forward to sailing it when the snows melt in spring. 

Richard graciously offered to dovetail with his work travel, towing the boat from North Carolina to Indiana last weekend where we could meet to exchange boat and check. That meant I only needed to make a day-long drive to get Avocet. THANK YOU, Richard. 

After conversation, we hooked the trailer/boat onto my van, which, by the way, has carried two B&B full-kits to Wisconsin and the wood/materials I purchased from B&B for my ski-boat build.  Richard stands alongside the boat that I hope he is really proud to have built. 



Farewell and continue Avocet’s 2021 migration to…



I made it back to Wisconsin yesterday as the sun disappeared.  My first stop was my younger son’s house so he and his family could see Avocet. The two little granddaughters were the first ones to set foot into the cockpit and to climb into (and ONTO) the cabin. Then, it was onward to my older son’s house for another inspection, this time by my grandson. This is a little photo of the three grandkids during Gramma Camp this summer, sailing with my wife and me on Norma T.  (Hands NEED to be splashing in the water ?.)



This morning, having spent the night at my son’s house, it was time for us to play around with this new-to-us boat. It’s a beautiful day… and about 30 degrees. (The local ski hill opens the day after tomorrow.)


Disassembling the traveling setup, we had to “learn the ropes”… literally.  I’d seen, but not tried out, Core Sound reefing rigs and it took some time to get things set up for raising the mainsail. I think we got things right (there are a LOT of lines.)  I also noticed a lot of nice little extra details placed by Richard into this set-up.  I like it. 


Then, we figured out how to put in a reef. 

I suspect it can mostly be done from the cockpit, the way the rigging is set up. I’m not sure yet how to reach all the sail ties without my son’s approach of climbing onto the cabin.  Then, we went for the second reef. What a great system. 

Onward to placing the mizzen mast, figuring out the various lines (including the completely different-from-my-CS15 mizzen sheet approach) and adding the two reefs. Success. 






Since I was planning to place Avocet into storage this afternoon, it was time to take out the reefs for some photos and put things back to travel mode… for an eight block drive down the street (no tie downs needed.) 






Richard had included a dust cover he had made… again, much appreciated. 


Hooked it back onto the van for the final leg of Avocet’s 1,200 mile migration from North Carolina to Wisconsin. 


… and into the storage building.  

Avocet, welcome to Wisconsin.  This is your winter home. That red CS15 back there is Norma T.  

A water-color image of her:



You’ll meet Joe in spring after the motor controls are installed and the top decks are finished.  (Here’s a current photo of Joe.)



NEXT SUMMER… good boating time ahead!!


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Nope. Everything stays as is. I like it. I especially like the avocet images and cute little “Epoxifer” face on the transom (it’s in the wood, augmented a bit with pencil; it looks like a favorite kid-fantasy character of the builder’s daughter.)90BAC3BD-9796-492B-8E5F-65135A437C27.thumb.jpeg.41d063ae2284b411484a58fb8120ae67.jpeg


Oh, and my son’s family are big Badger fans.

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She looks great and while I liked the building of Skeena, I like your "budge to the front of the get sailing line" approach! 


A couple of reefing observations on your pictures. The tack of your sail should be in about the same spot no matter what reef you have in. This keeps the windage low. It may be an optical illusion, but the sails look like they are running high in your pics. I could be wrong.........

On Skeena, I pulled the sail to the top and made a mark on the sail track where the downhaul hook attaches. I then lowered the sails to each reef point so that the new downhaul tack grommet location matched the un-reefed location. Next I made a permanent mark (I find spray paint used over a masked are works best, sharpie wears off) to set the halyard to when reefing.


If done this way, the sail will be lowest and that will make tying in the reef lines manageable from standing in the cabin and reaching up. I think standing up on that cabin top is a really bad idea, especially single handed. 


I have Skeena snuggled away in the barn right now, but I'm planning on 2022 being a record year for sailing, knock on Okume. 


Take Care,


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Helpful thoughts, Steve. I shall remember this for next summer. I’ll make plenty more goofy errors… I’m only getting started. ?  You should have seen my first on-water-in-strong-wind reefing attempt last summer… when I tied the sprit into the reefed slab. “WHY does the sail look so weird?”  ?.  Errors are a way for learning to happen… but they also make one feel kinda foolish. 

Oh, and I was OK with my son standing on the cabin… it was only in his driveway. ?

Looking again at the photos, what you described about height of the tack and making a line on the mast makes perfect sense. I never thought about it before and will do this first thing. Thank you, Steve. 

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  • 5 months later...

Some Catching Up

in the middle of April, I got Avocet out of winter storage and moved it north to my house. I also picked up Norma T with a second trip downstate.  (Photos are the same spot at a rest area.)





With a lot of time being away in April, May and June (camping with family — once in snow — and vacationing with my wife) along with working to finish building my ski-boat, I didn’t get Avocet out onto the water to sail more than a couple times.

I felt like I needed to become more familiar with Avocet and develop techniques and skills in readying the boat to sail, raising the masts, dealing with the 20+ lines that are part of the boat’s setup and rigging.   I want to be able to go solo on everything: setup, launching, sailing and loading back onto the trailer. I asked my wife, Joan, to come with me on my first non-sailing attempt at launching it off the trailer into the water.  She mostly observed and held the lines.  Oops, I didn’t close the Anderson bailer in the ballast tank.  Sigh.  A mistake that will help me remember that detail in the future.  I’d rather not learn EVERYTHING through blundering. ?

Since Avocet will be in my sailing club’s boatyard until fall I wanted to figure out how to effectively cover the boat. A rule of the boatyard is that masts must always be up (part of the agreement with the dam/utility company… so the boatyard wouldn’t become a “storage” lot… as I understand.)  How ‘bout if I had the main mast standing and had the mizzen mast horizontal on cradled to support the tarp cover? Can I get by with that arrangement?

I built a removable cradle for the side of the main mast’s tabernacle and then turned a 3’ wood upright that fits into the mizzen step and added to it a double cradle to hold both masts for transporting.  It’s similar to what I did for the Norma T.  With the main mast upright I now have a solid ridge for tarp covers. 

Here, both masts are in place in the cradles and tarps are secured — the boat was ready for our month-long vacation — but this is the idea I have for a cover while in the boatyard. 


I “sailed” in my yard a number of times this spring to become more familiar with everything. Again, lots of lines to coordinate and remember how to get in place. 


One technique I figured out: I found I can use the main snotter attached to a rope going to the front of the trailer to hold the main mast securely upright while I go below to place the nut onto the mast bolt. The bolt is removable and goes from the anchor well through the bottom of the mast into the cabin to receive a nut.  I prefer to have the mast bolt permanently fixed into the bulkhead in a way that it fits right in to place when the mast is raised. The nut for the bolt is then placed from the anchor well. This would avoid going into the cabin, leaving the mast sort of  “on its own” while I place the nut.  Not sure whether I will change it. The point is that even in this arrangement I can quickly do this “2 person” job by myself. 

Crawling around on the cabin roof felt insecure even while on the trailer, let alone on water and waves. I installed some stainless grab bars onto the cabin. It feels much better moving forward on my knees while using these secure handholds. 


I had found a brown tarp in the boat. The builder, Richard, had begun fiddling with making a tarp-tent for the boat. I noticed eye straps on the hull and matched lines on the tarp to them.   There is also a line on the mizzen mast that connects to a short line at the aft end of the main sprit.  Maybe this is what he had come up with. Since the tarp covers the companionway and some of the cockpit, it might be a useful thing to have available while camping aboard. 




At the end of May, with the lake water not so frigidly cold, I finally challenged myself to take a couple solo sails for a few hours. Winds were calm and everything went well. I bought a Honda 5hp outboard this year and really like having it for Avocet. 

Meanwhile, I also helped The Weezer this spring (she is a now 10th grade girl across the street) finish building and rigging her Spindrift 10, built from a kit.  I just heard from her that she now has a trailer and she had taken it out once while I was on vacation this month. I’m looking forward to seeing what her boat is like on the water.

She grew up a lot during the time of this whole build project, she’s even driving now.  The Weezer essentially did all the work as I showed her how to carry out the building tasks.  It’s a great kid-project and it’s something she can always be proud of accomplishing during high school. 



That’s all for now. Next, I’ll post a “report” about my third sailing of Avocet, this time with my wife aboard to try out the boat for the first time and to experience her first race with my sailing club (a VERY friendly group.)


No, it didn’t go so well but had a “comedy of errors” quality.  ?

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Yep… still 20 minutes left to watch. Fun to see Avocet referenced. Richard had some great innovations to the rigging and did a beautiful job building the boat. I have great appreciation for having the chance to own it. Now, for more successful sailing. ?

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Cascade of Errors… Finally: “Abort!!” ?


My local sailing club organizes friendly racing on Tuesdays. With all my family activities in May and June I didn’t have a chance to participate yet (OK, two weeks of vacationing at Lake Tahoe was part of that… can’t complain.)  Finally, nice weather and a free Tuesday. I asked my wife if she would like to come with me to sail on Avocet for the first time and to see what the racing on Lake DuBay was like. With great optimism we set out. 

The next day, a friend asked in an email, “Hi Ted, I didn't get a chance to talk to you last night.  How did the sailing go?”


This was my emailed response. (Enjoy!!)




I invited my wife to join me last night to see what our new 17’ boat is like and to see what the LDBSA races are like.  I had successfully sailed Avocet a couple times before our vacation and I was looking forward to sailing last night… though things were a bit wild at the landing with lots of launches… and wind and waves. 
I motored out and ALMOST got the mizzen raised… until the halyard somehow released at the sailhead and zipped up to the top of the mizzen mast, letting the sail pathetically ooze back down the mast.  What??!!
“Hmmm… can I manage to unstep the mast, lay it flat, and kind-of feed the step-end out past the transom enough that my wife can reach the end of the halyard at the top of the mast?”
Well, I did manage to muscle it out and extended the mast base well past the transom (after having pulled the sail lugs out of the sailtrack) and Joan was able to reach the end of the halyard. 
The halyard’s attaching process on my new boat is kind of slick. Instead of tying it onto the sail, a little ball is at the end of the halyard. You poke a small bight of halyard through the head’s cringle and poke the little ball through the loop and pull out the slack… slick, but it DID let go.  Hmmmm…
So, let’s put the mast back in place (I tried doing it sitting, for stability, but I had to stand again. (Did you know that there were some waves last night???). Mast replaced, sail lugged back on, now to reattach the halyard… which became caught up on mast fittings and twisted around the mast… Aaurgh…
All of this while trying to steer with my outboard into the waves…. which required constant adjusting.  Alas, while paying full attention to the whole process of fixing things, I had let the boat go broadside and it turned downwind. I corrected it by turning back into the wind… by completing the circle around… which — when I started to raise the mizzen again — I realized that, additional to a bunch of mizzen and sprit lines becoming hopelessly tangled, the sail itself — flapping rather wildly and sometimes enveloping my face while the loose mizzen sheet kept wrapping around my feet and legs — THE SAIL HAD BECOME WRAPPED around the mast once (because of the full turn)!!  Hindsight as I write this reminds me that the mizzen mast could have been twisted by hand 360 degrees… but, as I think this I realize that all the lines would have stayed in place… that wouldn’t have solved the problem to say the least. Instead, I announced, “That’s it!  I’m done!  Let’s lower the sails and motor on in.”
Defeated, we headed back to load the boat back onto the trailer. A weird part of that process: coming in, I successfully caught the cleat at the end of the dock and tied on an aft line. I was thinking that, with the wind and waves coming straight in as they were, the bow would naturally swing easily toward the dock. BUT NOOOOO… (an old Belushi line) the bow goes straight out 90 degrees from the dock, straight across the waves. And STAYS there. WHAT!!!???
Through some experimenting and significant efforts, I managed to get out onto the dock and started getting the recalcitrant bow moving a bit toward the dock… starting to get there… when the tied aft line’s trailing end, which I hadn’t realized fell off the dock into the water, got itself wrapped into the propeller and stopped the motor.  The bow now easily came into the dock and was secured. 
“Oh, the motor was running… oh yeah, and still in reverse… that explains why the bow was doing what it was doing.”
Disaster or comedy?  I think I learned a few things, and, as soon as I finish this email, I’m heading to the boatyard to straighten things around, take the boat out for a while, and then get it back under the tarps. Then, I need to ready the van for family camping this weekend. If all goes well, I might even take out my 15’ foot boat this afternoon. We’ll see. 
Hope you enjoyed my little description of sailing last night. ?
(Oh, and the email response to my “report” was a suggestion to THROW OUT AN ANCHOR to provide time and calmness…  ? didn’t even come into my mind… more learning has just occurred.)
(And, it should be noted that my wife was calm throughout my frustrations and occasional expressions of my frustration. ?)
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Other than some frustration… it really was a funny chain of events last week. Then again, I like slapstick comedy. 
I had taken Norma T for a sail yesterday… first chance this year. I “planned” a flawless setting up process and raising of sails… and mostly achieved that… until I pulled the halyard for the mainsail and noted it was hanging up at the snotter… which had a line crossing over and stopping the hoist. It was a second halyard I use for a pig stick or topping lift.  I had lugged-on the sail to the wrong side of the line.  I pulled the halyard out (not needing it) and the problem was fixed. 
I do find these silly errors to be funny… eventually.  And, I try learning from mistakes. 
For instance, I DID THROW AN ANCHOR this time. ?

Tomorrow: A First Overnight

With nice looking weather (and one or two guys also heading out tomorrow for an overnight on the lake) I plan to try my hand at sailing Avocet into the evening and anchoring out for the night. 
I wonder if I’ll LEARN anything. ?

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First Overnight on the Water

It’s a nice evening on Lake DuBay in central Wisconsin with enough wind to make it interesting, and with favorable direction for the few miles up the river to an anchor place.  It’s my longest sail on Avocet and my first time to anchor it to sleep in the cabin. The cushions are splendid. 


All went very well with the setup… well, I didn’t quite put the snotter and halyard in the best position relative to the main sprit… but no problem. 

Dennis, an active leader of the local sailing club, also took his boat out tonight’s got and, after we sailed together,  is anchored nearby. He completed building his Bolger Chebacco last year… beautiful workmanship. 





I mostly kept pace with him, then he unfurled his jib and moved a little faster. He will likely send a few photos of my boat from his and I’ll post them. 

After anchoring I got both sprits up and out of the way along with the sails. I am now trying out a fold-up camp chair in the cockpit to write this while also munching some corn chips and queso.  

Yep… it’s a fine evening.  ?


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Sailing is defined as hours and hours of boredom, interrupted by moments of sheer terror.  Sounds like you had a defining moment.  Keep on sailing and learning, my friend.  I’m just glad that Joan remained calm.  That’s the most important thing.

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A Bit More on My First Overnight Sail


My first overnight aboard my new boat, and doing so with a friend in his own new boat, felt a little we were a couple kids sleeping in their new tents in the back yard.  Gotta keep feeling young.  ?

I posted some photos in my earlier post that I wrote while at anchor (above) and, of course, they were only of my friend’s boat. He took a couple photos of Avocet and I just received them:





In the morning (I slept well, by the way) I decided to head over to Dennis’ boat. He anchored a ways out.  Because I didn’t know if my battery-powered light would burn all night (first time it was used) I wanted to be within 200 feet of shore where, in Wisconsin, an anchor light isn’t required.   Dennis had been visited by a DNR person last month while at anchor and this is 4th of July weekend… busy.  (Also, the registration numbers had just been delivered and I hadn’t placed them on the boat yet… just didn’t want the attention.)

Another first… I “motored” over to the other boat with my — also just arrived — drill powered outboard.  “What is that?” you say?


Quite a while back, in a thread about electric motors for propulsion I suggested tongue-in-cheek another option powered by a cordless drill. ?  It is a funny looking product, cheap, and it looks like it kinda works. After letting that drill-powered device swim around in my brain for a year or so, and thinking that it might just work for my neighbor girl across the street who has just finished her Spindrift 10 build, I bought one, thinking that if nothing else it might work for her to move her boat around if needed. So really, I did it for the kid… right?  ? 

Here is my motor, ready to try… oh yeah, I was munching on some chips and cheese… just wasn’t ready for cooking up anything more challenging yet. ?

It worked.  I could easily maneuver the boat around and steer over to and alongside of the other boat for some conversation.  Among other things, I learned that Dennis was in the Coast Guard and had, among other things, been on a Lake Michigan buoy tender.  (I once was invited by a Great Lakes buoy tender captain to join him for dinner with the boat’s officers in his stateroom… fun connection to make.). Also, I learned that Dennis’ introduction to sailing was nine months on the Eagle.  He described climbing the rigging and hanging over the yardarms to haul in sails.  That’s one way to become an effective sailor. 

I decided to motor all the way back to the landing since my new Honda 5hp had not even burned through the first tank of gas — a 1/3rd gallon internal tank.  To start, I’d see how far the drill-powered device would take me.  Here’s a photo from where the battery ran out. Not bad.


If the kid across the street doesn’t want drill motor, I think my grandkids would enjoy having it around to give them another job , such as getting us away or to a dock or just goofing around a little. 

Don Silsbe and I are planning to cruise with Avocet in Grand Traverse Bay during the first week in August.  He wondered if the cabin bunks would be level, allowing us to sleep either head forward or feet forward… or rather: heads close together or some space apart. ?    I did not try sleeping feet forward but when putting my phone level onto the bunk platforms they seemed to range from zero to one degree of tilt. I found that an impressive piece of design.  

While I was heading back to the landing a sea plane was zipping around the lake and around me. Then the plane did a number of take-offs and water landing. Fun to watch. 


I discovered what was weird with the snotter line… the halyard had caught up on the snotter’s port anchoring point, causing it to overlap the snotter and made it not work as smoothly. Sigh.  Always something to not get quite right… but another “learning” occurred to try to remember.

Fun little adventure this weekend… glad I did it… even if it was a bit like pitching my tent in the backyard. I’ll do this more. 

To close, I took an ASA 101 class at Lake Tahoe quite a few years ago. It was taught by an ex marine who had done a lot of various things in his life, among them living aboard and cruising in his sailboat.  He just posted a photo of himself that brings out some of the pirate in him.  Aaaarrr…


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Thanks, Ted, for checking the level ess of the bunk.  This past week, I watched the movie Planes, Trains, and Automobiles”.  
When I got to the bedroom scene (between John Candy and Steve Martin), the thought of sleeping cheek-to-cheek in Avocet was making my nose twitch.  LOL. 

It takes many times to learn the ins and outs of a new boat.  I’m looking forward to our cruise next month!

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  • 6 months later...

Just a foreshadow of an Avocet Adventure…

After Don Silsbe made a bunch of modifications to Avocet, he set out today for a Florida trip and I will fly down in March to do some sailing with him. (I’ll try to get Don to post stuff about his trip.)


This link below is to the thread Don created to describe his modification work on Avocet this winter:


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I just realized I did not post anything about Avocet’s visit to the 2022 Messabout. I got there early and thoroughly enjoyed the sailing and chatting with a lot of the participants. These are videos that my phone and I made of the event:





And one more video of my two sons and me camping overnight on a local lake in July.  My boys used Avocet and I used my CS15 (Norma T.)




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