This blog is devoted to my John Welsford designed 15' Navigator yawl Ellie. I built her in my garage over a period of 18 months and launched her in 2011. She sports a sliding gunter main, roller furled jib and sprit-boomed mizzen. Her construction is glued-lapstrake over permanent bulkheads and stringers. This blog is a record of her construction and her voyages here in the Puget Sound area and (hopefully) a useful resource for fellow Navigator builders.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

A Rough Sail Home

Monday I tried combining daysailing with fishing.  The day started out with a pleasant 10 mph southerly wind.  After a couple hours of tacking I eventually arrived at my favorite fishing spot.  Just as I arrived the wind died, which was perfect timing.  I fished for an hour or so but didn't catch anything.  Then, rather suddenly, the wind came back, this time from the North.  Looks like I'll have to tack all the way home too!

So I put away my fishing gear and started sailing back.  I couldn't help but notice that the wind was increasing rather quickly.  Up ahead I could see whitecaps forming.  I hove to, put on my rain gear and tied in a double reef in the main.  I knew I'd need it, and boy was I right.  I had to sail through the worst conditions I've experienced yet for an hour and a half.  As you can see in the wind chart from, the winds went from near zero to 25 mph gusting to 30 mph in two hours.  Here's some video:

Conditions got even worse so I had to put the camera away, drop the main, and sail under jib and mizzen.  The boat handled the conditions just fine.  Me, I was a little rattled.  But let me tell you, I am so glad I ran my halyards back to the cockpit.  It was so nice to be able to drop the main while remaining safely seated in the cockpit.  I would not have wanted to walk up forward to deal with the main under these rough conditions.
And once again, I continue to be more and more impressed with Navigator's capabilities.

Reef early, my friends.


  1. Good to know she does what JW designed her for. To bring you home safe.
    The winds out here are usually 20+ and the wave action is pretty rough. I chose the JW design because of experiences like yours here. Thanks for the post.

  2. She did just fine. Truly a well designed boat. I looked up the wind report for the time I was out there and added it to my post. I quit fishing about 3:30 and arrived at the marina at a couple hours later. Winds averaged 25 with gusts to 30 during that time. My previous boat capsized under the same conditions. I felt safe in the Navigator but was concerned and glad when she got me home safe and sound.

  3. Thanks for sharing Joel. Been there! Like the Navigator my Chebacco has a jib/gaff/mizzen combo and there are time when I am (very) happy to furl the main and sail on with small sails.
    Vancouver, Canada