Jackrabbit II - Exploration 18

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Jackrabbit II, this is the gal which displaced my Houdini. She is an Exploration 18, and I'm proud to say that she was designed and built by Jean Grenier of Levis, Quebec. Based on traditional British inshore workboats, she's a double-ender with a gunter rig (aye, and a mind-bogglingly huge main!).

At 18' LOA, a 5' beam, fiberglass hull with a wooden interior structure, and fitted with a steel centreboard, her dry hull weight is specified as about 600 LBs. She's no light weight, despite her appearance, but rows decently once you get her momentum up and sails like a witch. Her most remarkable feature under sail is her delightfully light helm (she has a very delicate looking slender tiller which is very fit-for-purpose).

She was conceived by Mr. Grenier as an expedition type boat to carry young people (and we "young at heart" types) on camp cruising adventures in our lakes and rivers, a market that the builder felt was under-represented by boat manufacturers in Canada. I believe that to date there are only a half dozen of these in existence, so she is a rare bird indeed.

I have enjoyed only a few short trips in her, most notably on the Rideau lakes with my little son. She also initiated me to saltwater sailing, as I took her to Brooklin (Maine) a couple of years ago to participate in the WoodenBoat-sponsered Small Reach Regatta.

It was quite a blast sailing with my little son in the fog-bound waters of Penobscot Bay. Imagine those wooden boat purists allowing a fiberglass boat in their midsts! Maybe they didn't realize that she was like one of those "vampire with a soul" protagonists so prevalent in movies and television these days - a dead thing with a wooden "sole".

I owned her for two years and then sold her to make room for another venture, as I continually refine my criteria for the perfect camp-cruiser, but that is another story....

Burton Blais, 2011

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