Patience - Picaroon II
Patience is a Picaroon II designed by the much admired Sam Rabl, who is credited with having inspired the backyard boatbuilding craze in America in the middle of the last century.
This diminutive cabin cruiser, of the type commonly known as a "tabloid cruiser", has all of the features of larger displacement keelboats in a small package. My particular iteration of this design was built in 2006 by Jamie Little (New Brunswick). She is planked in white cedar strips covered with fiberglass-epoxy, has beautifully varnished spars and wears bronze jewellery.
I was smitten by her last year on a kayaking trip with my wife, and couldn't help taking her home. Actually, we had been thinking about keeping a small cabin boat for the odd week-end cruise in the Thousand Islands: visions of lying at anchor in a marsh-bordered bay at Grenadier Island, diving off the boat into the crystal clear waters, then at night, enjoying the comforts of a cozy cabin in the lantern's glow.
On crisp Fall days I saw myself tucked inside with a small heater and a cup of tea, banging away on my laptop to rehash my summer cruising experiences - you know, in the spirit of Maurice Griffiths.
Her cabin is surprisingly spacious and comfortably accommodates two adults with their gear. For cooking I use my camp-cruising galley box, which gives off a warm varnish glow. Onboard is a porta-potty which slides into the forepeak, but is only used in the event of a dire emergency (I prefer going ashore to attend to that inevitable business, as I don't fancy having to deal with the potty contents!).
This little boat has a full steel-ballasted keel (total hull weight about 3000 lbs) and measures 18' LOA with an 8' beam. She draws only 2'10", and so, remains a reasonably competent gunkholer. She sports a huge high peaked gaff main and a small jib (both made of Oceanus sailcloth by Michelle Stevens in Lunenberg), and has lots of strings to pull on for those who like that sort of thing. The lazyjacks are an absolute wonder - there is nothing like releasing the halyards at the end of a sail and just watching that large main flake down onto the boom, no need for sail ties or any further bother until you are made fast to the dock. Needless to say, with her proportions she sails more like a catboat than a sloop - not the best pointer, especially in light airs, but she sure can reach and run!
As for going upriver with the wind on the nose, the little 7 HP Farryman diesel putt putt's her along nicely. She is amazingly stable and solid on her feet, even in a blow, and pushes through the big swells like any of the other big keelboats I've owned.
Burton Blais, 2011