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By Thomas Hamernik - Chicago, Illinois - USA


After about three years of part-time work, seemingly endless winters and more than a few interruptions, I finally launched my Pathfinder Friday (Aug. 6, 2010). There are still a few odds and ends to complete, and a list of projects to enhance both the boat and the experience to undertake. But, I scheduled a vacation day, told a few friends and stuck to it.

So, I spent a couple of hours at the sailboat rigging area while my family and friends found other ways to occupy themselves. Please ignore any blue tape seizings or dangling lines that may be visible in the pictures.

We launched from the public ramp at Williams Bay on Geneva Lake, just across the border in Wisconsin, about two hours north. It’s about a mile wide, and seven or eight miles long – big enough for a first outing. We got lucky with a sunny day in the mid-80s, and winds just under 10 mph (though a bit unsteady).


I invited Chris Feller, a fellow boat builder, to join me, my wife Audra, daughter Ava, and son Henry for the initial launch. Chris is an experienced sailor, familiar with Geneva Lake, and is sensitive to the boat builder’s anxieties that come along with launching a new boat. Despite three adults and two children (and a pile of gear that never got stowed properly), we had plenty of room. At one point both kids were stretched out, sound asleep, and the adults still had plenty of room to be comfortable.

Ava at the helm

Two other friends were nice enough to take some time away from work to come celebrate the launch, bringing their own boats along, providing platforms from which to take a few photos of the boat on the water and under sail. That's Dave Seaberg in the Pearson 30 in the background of several shots and Mike Sandell in his Michalak Fatcat2 cat-rigged boat.

All went surprisingly smooth. The boat was very well behaved and it was fun to play around with the split rig. Despite our inexperience with the yawl rig, the boat was determined to go 5 knots. I’m looking forward to some more wind and getting the sails in nice trim on a broad reach!

Geneva Lake is home to both sailboats and an enormous number of power boats. We had ample opportunity to sail through confused chop and wakes with no pounding and minimal pitching – very nice and comfortable motion.




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