Some boats get a new home and I change my thinking
July 15-16, 2011
One thing about being a boat builder: You end up with boats. A
few years ago, I built a Bolger Teal and a very skilled friend finish
it out. After we played with it a bit, I stored it away. Life went
on and I started building a PDGoose, but lost interest in having
to trailer a sailboat and started the Skin-on-Frame stuff. Now I
had two boats in storage. Enter boating friend James M, of Missoula,
Montana. He said he wanted boats, I had boats I didn't need. All
I had to do was get them to him.
As I prepped for the 600 mile trip, I discovered the PDGoose and
the Bolger Teal might be the perfect pair of designs for the home
builder. They fit together very nicely on the modified Harbor Freight
It was a gorgeous day for driving (get the pun? I had to drive
up the Columbia River Gorge) I love this shot: The Columbia is running
so high, all the dams were spilling water, so you see the kilo tons
of water pouring through the spillways, representing kilowatts of
power, and at the same time, see the new wind generators up on hills.
We are living in a utopian time of cheap energy. Tell your grandkids
Wheee! only 330 miles to go! I have lots of family in the Tri-Cities
area, but I had miles to go before I could sleep.
I arrived at Mike's (yellow shirt) place at 8pm and slept like
a log. The next day, we met James at the fantastic Food for Thought
restaurant and brought him over to look at the boats.
Mike also has a Teal, not quite as pimped out as James's new boat,
but still very nice.
Mike has his Teal set up for rowing and wanted to protect the oars
he'd made. I suggested wrapping the shafts so we had a quick wrapping
We loaded up and took the boats to Frenchtown Lake, just down the
road. James's girlfriend, Tessa, joined us. This the first time
that boat has been in the water in nearly three years.
There she is, fully rigged and under the command of her new captain.
Notice the pure envy of the natives in the background.
And off she goes, smooth as silk in very light airs.
I went over to pay the park fee (we'd snuck in) and I saw the ranger
handing out fishing poles and bait to anyone who wanted to borrow
them. Way to go, Montana! That's the way you run a park service.
Oh, oh oh, ain't that beautiful? I have a short video, too: Two
Teals Racing. Notice neither boat is using the stock Bolger
59sqft Leg-o-Mutton sail. Good - that thing is a terror on those
boats and is, in my opinion, the reason you rarely see a Teal on
Later, I took James's Teal out while Mike and Tessa followed. If
you've read anything I've written about the Teal, you know I do
not recommend it as a two person boat. Mike proved me wrong. In
fact, I have reshaped my entire thinking on the Teal and now consider
it a very nice design - so long as you dump the original sail plan.
I took out Mike's boat (he uses a push-pull tiller) and liked it
very much. He flies a 49sqft Balanced Lug while James's boat has
a more complex rig of a 39sqft gaff with a 9sqft jib. (I like this
picture because of the dragonfly in the lower left corner)
Mike decided to capsize test his Teal He dropped the rigging and
dumped the boat.
As you can imagine, this drew some interest from the natives.
Finally, after much effort, we determined a stock, as-designed
Teal is unrecoverable. I strongly suggest any Teal builders add
airboxes in the ends - the edge of the butt joints make for perfect
airbox setups (build one, you'll see what I mean.)
The wind had died, so Mike decided to hit the sweeps and go for
a row. In my opinion, he is sitting too far forward by a few inches.
Teal builders who want to row might want to consider putting their
rowing station just aft of the frame.
It's a good thing Mike went to the sweeps - James was caught in
a dead calm. I have video of this, too: Perhaps
the first time one Teal has ever towed another. (previous comments
not withstanding, look how nicely Mike can row that baby.)
If you'd been looking closely at the previous pictures, you might
have noticed a weather system developing in the background. Soon
it was lightning and thunder, then big winds and slashing rains.
We'd already loaded onto the trailer before the worst of it hit,
but that squall was a doozie.
And here we are at the end of our story, a little Teal from Oregon
finding a new home in the mountains of Montana. Congratulations,
James and Tessa.
I've not been a fan of the Teal design. It is a clever, economical,
and efficient use of wood, and it truly is the biggest boat you
can get out of two sheets of plywood, but as designed, it is (my
opinion) unsafe. I can live without built in floatation and airboxes
- canoes and kayaks don't have it - but I cannot abide that tall
sail on a tall mast on such a small boat.
After sailing these Teals newly designed sail plans, shorter masts
and slightly less sail, I think the Teal is a very smart little
sailboat. Add in some fore and aft airboxes and you've got little