My return to sailing as an adult was part of a campaign to beat depression through simple adventures I could access without a car. I’m sure others can identify with taking to the water when it’s time to shed our earthly cares. I wanted that, and I wanted my tow vehicle to be a bicycle…so, in 2013 I started hauling lightweight boats to the water and sailing. Ever ambitious, I gave my new passion a name: Bike Sailing. And the fullest vision of Bike Sailing is not being limited to returning to where I put in, because I sail with a complete ground transport system on board.
I feel a bit like the vegan in the joke “How do you know there’s a vegan in the room?… They’ll tell you.” It’s true. Being car-free is a big part of my identity and it’s behind all of my design choices here, so I have to put it out there early.
Ultimately, wind waves, max ebb tides and the spray-induced chills of San Francisco Bay don’t care whether I’m car-free, nor do they care about my mental health. I’m either prepared and able to harness the wind, or I’m not. I had ambled the line of being prepared with my first two craft, often a pit of fear in my belly each time I approached the dock, while nonetheless having exhilarating sails that would lift me for days. With each bike/ boat system I tried, I was pleasantly surprised by the ease of biking to the water and then forced to take what I could get in terms of seaworthiness. Could I keep the uplift of those smaller, lighter boats and lose the life-endangering aspects? Feeling it was only a matter of time before I got myself into a really bad situation, I started dreaming about a boat that would be seaworthy in a chop; that could carry my folding bike without it getting bathed in seawater each time; that could fit a friend or two, and that would still be beachable and bikeable! I got my answer earlier this year when I launched my 17-foot, 320-pound bike-specific sailing/rowing dinghy: the First Mod. With the First Mod I am essentially pushing bike-ability to its limit and gaining seaworthiness in return.
Craigslist had come through for me once before, and for months in late 2018 I scanned for larger used boats that could be made to work. But as I cross-checked the sailboat data, I kept seeing displacements in the range of 400-600 pounds for the Hobie Vagabonds, Chrysler Mutineers and Catalina 16s I was finding. I grew convinced that Bike Sailing demanded a custom craft. I needed to build something light and with an integrated trailer system. I liked the Argie 15 (Dudley Dix) enough to buy the plans, but settled on the Ross Lillistone First Mate because of its side deck, which felt more dignified and comfortable than perching on a gunwale. The other thing I liked about the First Mate was the beam—narrow enough to ride in bike lanes and dodge park bollards. For most of 2019 I was building in a side room at my Oakland business, Rock The Bike, with part-time assistance from one of my employees.
The result is a modified and scaled-up Ross Lillistone First Mate design, with an unusual and translucent G10 hull. It’s the third boat I’ve used for bike sailing and the only one built from scratch. It weighs 320 pounds loaded up for a sail—twice the weight of my previous fiberglass 13-foot Banshee production boat, and four times the weight of my original bike sailing system—an inflatable 12-foot Sea Eagle kayak with a SailboatsToGo portable sailing rig.
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Upgrading the Potter 15 Centerboard
When I bought my Potter 15, Blue Knot, in 2014, it already had more than 25 years on its clock.
REMEMBERING MY POTTER 19 TANBARK
In the mid-1980s, Joe Edwards flew me out to California to try out our new boat.
The Sea Trials of Minimus II
Since our first article about Minimus II, our minimalist, four-masted voyaging catamaran (SCA #117), we’ve taken her offshore for initial sea trials. On our second outing, we spent two days and a night offshore from the coast of Oregon.
The Importance of Capsize Testing
I was glad to see your recent article on the back page regarding one person’s experience with a capsized boat (Artful Sailor #122). I’m so glad he did this testing on his boat and I agree with his conclusions.
ESCAPE TO QUARANTINE SHORE THE TEXAS 200 IN 2020
It is almost dark. The sun has finally hit the horizon as I tack down Matagorda Bay towards Pass Cavallo.
SMALL BOAT CRUISE: Moosehead Lake, Maine
There’s adventure in leaving a place you know for a place you don’t know.
Sweet & Simple
Fred Shell shares some of what he has learned over nearly 40 years of designing, building, and sailing small boats
As the sailing season comes to an end on northern waters, I find myself pondering the modern sailing scene.
Boat Review: Salish Voyager
Gig Harbor Boat Works releases a new design aimed toward adventure
That’s odd, I said to myself. It hasn’t rained, yet there’s a cup of water in the bilge.
IT’S RARE TO FIND AN OCEAN-GOING YACHT THAT CAN DRY OUT ON THE BEACH, BUT DISCOVERY’S REVISED 48S MAY HAVE BROUGHT THE SWING-KEEL BACK INTO FASHION
WAS AN ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE ‘BOT’ THE SECRET TO EMIRATES TEAM NEW ZEALAND’S AMERICA’S CUP SUCCESS?
CRUISING IN THE FAST LANE
NOT ONLY THE FIRST FOIL-ASSISTED SUPERYACHT, BUT THE FIRST CRUISING YACHT WITH A FOIL, THE 142FT CANOVA IS A GROUNDBREAKING PROJECT IN SO MANY WAYS, SAYS TOBY HODGES
LOA 23.80m 78ft 0in • Beam 6.00m 19ft 8in • Displacement 31,000kg 68,400lb • Draught 2.50-4.00m 8ft 2in-13ft 1in • Sail area 280m2 3,010ft2 • www.vismara-mc.com
MINE'S THE PORSCHE - ON TEST // ELAN GT6
IT’S NOT JUST ABOUT THE BADGE: WHY PORSCHE BECAME INVOLVED IN THE DESIGN OF ELAN’S NEW FLAGSHIP
PIP HARE ON WHEN TO TURN BACK
JIMMY'S ELECTRIC DREAM
JIMMY CORNELL REPORTS ON HIS NEW CATAMARAN, ABOARD WHICH HE PLANS A FOSSIL-FREE CIRCUMNAVIGATION
CRUISE THE WORLD... WITHOUT A BOAT
ELAINE BUNTING GETS TIPS FROM CREW ON HOW TO HITCH-HIKE YOUR WAY AROUND THE OCEANS, AND FROM SKIPPERS ON HOW TO TAKE ON EXTRA HANDS
Securing for sea
Attaching gear to lifelines and stanchions is generally not wise and sometimes dangerous.
Why two retired apple growers sail
I grew up in northern Vermont. Spent lots of time on lovely lakes, but never sailed.