Birdwatcher-2 On the Water!

Birdwatcher-2 Sailboat, designed by Phil Bolger

Let's face it. As much fun as a boat is to build, the there is nothing to compare with heading to the water! These photos are a sampling of the water activities for "Wave Watcher." No attempt will be made to have a travelog here, but the question, "How does she sail?" is always coming up and I will continue to add shots to let you see for yourself!

Janet Larkin and Wave Watcher

1 Sept 2006 - It is time to go to the water. But first some ceremony. A group of friends gathered at Fern Ridge Reservoir near Eugene, Oregon, to have a proper launch. Here, my wife, Janet, christens "Wave Watcher" with a bottle of Full Sail Ale, furnished by John and Sandy Potter for this purpose. Photo by John Kohnen.

Wave Watcher launched

Fern Ridge is an easy place to launch from a trailer, and we had no problems. The weather was in the high 90's. It was pleasant to go play in the water. The boat behind Wave Watcher is John Kohnen's "Sage," a Jewel Box Jr., designed by Jim Michalak. That boat is another example of the "Birdwatcher" concept, and anyone contemplating building a Birdwatcher should look at the work of Michalak, as well as other Bolger boats. This is a bit off topic, but worth mentioning. Photo by John Kohnen.

Wave Watcher under motor

The sailing rig was not qute ready to use, so this first day would just be rowing and motoring. I was able to sustain about 2 knots under a short set of oars, which made them seem useful! There was not much to see in a picture! Here we are with the 2 HP Honda pushing the boat over 5 knots. Under sail, the boat should heel enough to keep it off some of the flat bottom. Not so under motor, so the bow wave is easily viewed.

There are more John Kohnen pictures of the Birdwatcher-2 from which these first three were borrowed.

The next week in September, 2006, the main sail was raised, again at Fern Ridge. There was a cold front passing through in the afternoon, which as is common in Oregon, did not translate to a thunder storm, but did bring some rather fine winds of 10 to 15 knots. This gave a good opportunity for sailing. No pictures were taken. The short report is that sailing was great, except for a lack of tension in the luff of the sail. The problematic area was the handling of the Solent-Lug yard while raising and lowering the main. Much assistance has been recieved in improving the yard handling, and this is an on-going area of work, as of this writing in May of 2007.

A non-boating trip used up the rest of September and then the favorite testing area of Fern Ridge lost its water for flood control needs. So, the winter was used to finish up the details of the boat, many of which are covered in these pages. This spring (2007) the focus is back on sailing, as the boat is otherwise finished, or really close! The first spring sail was an informal get-together, organized by Dick Mitsch and Jim Cooper at Foster Lake near Sweet Home. The next three pictures are from this outing. In addition, at the top of the BW-2 main page is another shot from the Foster outing, also taken by Bob Mitsch.

Wave Watcher under sail

At Foster we lacked for wind, but did manage to beat the length of the lake. The sails for Wave Watcher were made by Lynne Fabricant of Sailmaker's Art of Eugene, Oregon. The main with good tension on the luff took on a nice shape. The sails are of excellent quality, throughout. The multi-part down haul is working well. The airs were too light to say much about helm balance, but even without a jib it was not a problem this day. Photo by Bob Mitsch.

Wave Watcher, bow on

It is a fun boat to sail, and I like sitting inside with the "fish bowl" of windows. The next project is to play with a "Sliding Gunter" modification, in the spirit of Yorgos Papatheodorou. There is more on this in David Nichols' excellent book, "The Working Guide to Traditional Small-Boat Sails: A How-to Handbook for Builders and Owners."

Speaking of credits, I want to thank David Lipsey, John Kohnen, Jack Wyman and Doug, the "Oarman" for wonderful ideas and comments on getting the main and yard up and down. Photo by Bob Mitsch.

Back to Building Birdwatcher-2 main page

This was last revised 2 May 2007. Bob Larkin, Corvallis, Oregon