Tag Archives: rowing

Launching a merry wherry for two

My friends Justin and Anne-Sophie have been working feverishly over the last few weeks to launch their two person Merry Wherry. They named it “Ohé Matelot”.

My daughter was particularly excited to be part of the inaugural launch. She helped roll the boat down from the Grin technologies headquarters down to the water at Hinge island park on the south shore of False Creek.

The most impressive things were the beautiful four part paint scheme of the hull and the LED lights imbedded in the hollow cedar and fir oars.    


walking the boat down Ontario street
last minute wireing for the oar LED lights
Hinge Island park has one of the only beach access points to the water

“Ohé Matelot” comes from a French song that all children learn


One thing I noticed participating in the launch was that although the sea wall brings people close to the water it keeps us high above the high tide line and in most places separates people from the intertidal zone. Hinge park is one of the few places in False Creek where one has access to the water. I think there is an opportunity to provide more access to the water and opportunities to launch small watercraft on the water’s edge in False Creek.

Starting a new adventure: building a small boat

The idea has been brewing in my mind for many years. I’ve been pondering a way to reconcile my love of simple self propelled travelling with having two young children. I want to be able to share the experiences, while not inoculating them from every wanting to do it again when they are older. So my wandering mind has settled on a plan that will satisfy many requirements.

I would like to build a small wooden sailboat.

  • Seaworthy enough to sail up and down the inside passage from Vancouver to Cortez Island and maybe even up the inside passage up to the Broughton Archipelago or Prince Rupert.
  • Capable of taking my whole family with camping equipment and food for several days
  • Able to sail in light to strong winds
  • Able to be rowed comfortably by one or two people when there is no wind.
  • Capable to accommodate sleeping aboard when in still water with a canvass boom tent and plenty stowage for equipment and food.
  • Beachable, so that people and equipment can easily be brought to shore in remote locations.
  • Can be stored on trailer on land or in the water
  • A small motor well or mount when conditions and distances warrant.

So these parameters in themselves do narrow down the possibilities somewhat. But the key determinants of narrowing it down to a smaller list might be the subjective design qualities. The intangible special sauce that mixes function and form into a beautiful seaworthy sailboat. The final element is one of size, how small is too small for a family of four? Would an open boat on a typically rainy west coast day be too miserable for my family? Does the boat have to have a cabin or could we manage without?

Caledonia Yawl
The Caledonia Yawl sail configuration I chose