Clear Lake Sail!

UPDATE! Kyle and I put the boat back in Clear Lake on Sunday, June 24. We sailed from the Main Avenue boat ramp on the east end of the lake around to South Bay, at the south side of the lake. Winds were favorable and the boat performed very well. The link below will show you a topographical map of the area:

Clear Lake, IA

This photo shows a row of sailboats ready and waiting by the Main Avenue boat ramp and docks. The ramp is just off to the right of the photo.


We made it to Clear Lake, IA and had a great time. We had to chase away some raindrops during lunch, but it soon cleard up and became a beautiful summer afternoon. We put in at the south shore, which is a wonderful area with parking, boat ramp, docks, restrooms, and a shelter house. Shelter, however, became the key word as this part of the lake is pretty quiet. It was a little ‘too’ quiet for sailing. In the video, you will see the guys tacking upwind. If you watch the far shoreline you can verify that they are moving.

The whole gang was there and we enjoyed kayaking, as well as sailing. Later, we switched sites to the north side of the lake at McIntosh Woods Park. Kyle & Casey did a downwind run across the lake – much speed and wind! They made the 2.6 miles across the lake in about 25 minutes, pulling up safely to the dock at McIntosh Woods. We struggled with some shallow water that interfered with our leeboard, but , all in all, a great day on Clear Lake!

Enjoy the brief video and the pics!

Clear Lake Bound!

Thanks for all the kind words after our initial splash of the PuddleCat 8-foot sailboat! I appreciate it all very much.
This weekend we are all heading to Clear Lake – where there is always a breeze. I hope to have some good video and photos for the blog.

I have made some changes and improvements, based on last Saturday. The first picture shows an added seat bench on each side. This will move our center of gravity forward. This was sorely needed, and was something I had never considered. We left a big wide wake with our stern so far in the water!

I also moved the halyard block a little further up on the mast. This will have the net effect of getting the sail a bit higher. This will make it easier to duck under that pesky boom when it comes swinging over. The red streamer is just for fun. Hopefully, it will look cool as we plow to windward. If you look closely, you can see dark blue rub rails I added to the sides for some protection from docks.

I had trouble locating all the materials I needed in order to change the leeboard mounting/fastening system, so it will wait till next time. I did add a bungee cord to help keep the board down when underway.

Stand by for updates…………… Onward!

Sail Away!

We did it! The Maid of Plywood PuddleCat got wet today – Saturday, June 16.

The launch was a success. We struggled a bit through the afternoon at Pleasant Creek Lake, as the wind was fickle and tended to die off.

The whole Team Kayak gang was there to support and participate- thanks to everyone!

More later – catch our short video here! Launch


Here it is – sail raised and filling with a gentle morning breeze. We are really looking forward to its maiden voyage tomorrow. Check here for pics and video from that event!

Final Week!

OUTSIDE! The boat is now on the trailer and able to be wheeled outside where there is actually room for the mast. I wanted to rig the sails and all the lines today, but it was a bit breezy, plus I wanted to have some help. Hopefully tomorrow… Enjoy the pics! (Sorry about the fat finger on the lens.)

Boat is even legal now!


UPDATE! Today was a busy and productive day in the boat shop. Early today I put on the final coat of white paint on the deck. Later I was able to apply a coat of spar varnish on the bridge deck and the seats.
The first photo below shows the sail. I spread it out on the lawn and attached it to the spars. Everything looks good there, I am happy to say.

I also attached the cleats and other fittings needed to let the boat operate. This photo shows the finished paint job and the new hardware.

Finally, I worked more on the rudder and tiller. I attached a line cleat on the tiller, along with a line guide to bring a small rope up from the top back edge of the rudder itself. This will allow me to rotate the rudder blade up and secure it easily. The photo shows the rudder stock and the tiller only – not the rudder blade.

Tomorrow I hope to put the boat on the trailer and rig it up outside. Stay tuned for pics!


This is it! I need to make a big push on the sailboat this week so we can splash it on Saturday. So far, so good. Nick & I flipped the boat today. I sanded the epoxy on the topside and put a coat of primer on. Tomorrow will bring a couple coats of the bright white topside paint – then it’s time for all the fittings. The picture below shows just a primer coat over the epoxy sealer.

I am leaving the two side seats and the top of the bridge deck bright – I will varnish over the epoxy instead of painting. The spar varnish will protect the epoxy from UV damage. The photo below shows this better.


Prime Time

Finally! I am really closing in on the grunt work on this sailboat. Today I put two coats of primer on the hull. I roughed up the smooth epoxy surface with some sanding first. This gives the primer something to grab. I was glad to see my roller did not slide around on the surface. It is not going to be a perfect, glass-smooth paint surface, but hey – it’s the underside anyway. I plan a first coat of paint on Saturday morning. I will let the primer harden until then.

I also put two coats of spar varnish on the mast today. Closing in!

The Mast!

Finally – the task I have been putting off is done! I had long ago laminated up my 10-foot mast for the PuddleCat. However, I had done little else other than cut it to rough shape. Today I spent the afternoon with my sander and came out with a useable mast. Tomorrow I will do some finish sanding on it, epoxy it and cover the bottom three feet with fiberglass cloth. This will reinforce the portion with the most stress. More epoxy, several coats of spar varnish, and it will be good to go!

Here it is with my long-suffering wife!

Low Water Levels

I spent some time today at Clear Lake, which is located in Clear Lake, IA. This is a very nice 3,684-acre natural lake in North Central Iowa. The city doubles its size during the summer tourist months.

It was cool this morning, but gave way to a sunny and warmer afternoon. There was not a lot of activity on the lake. One reason is that the lake is very low – low enough that most larger boats cannot reach the water from their lifts. This is largely due to a very mild winter and limited spring rainfall so far. A valet service has sprung up to deal with this situation. For a fee, they will lift your boat into the water for you and, providing you return during business hours, will put it back up on your lift. You simply enjoy your boating experience. Apparently, this service is rather pricey, so many people may not choose to go out for just a quick cruise. In a normal year, this would not even be a consideration, so we could expect much more casual boat traffic.

Obviously, this does not affect smaller or trailered boats, not to mention our paddling or small sailing friends. I hope conditions improve for Clear Lake, as the summer stretches out in front of us!