By Kevin Riley - Fern Park, Florida - USA

My latest boat is a Bolger Elegant Punt with a lateen sail and dagger board. I built her stitch and glue style of BC pine with tape on the chines, epoxy all over and graphite on the bottom. I am sure she is a bit heavy for an Elegant Punt, (she weighed 104 lbs on a bathroom scale).

Her name is Aimless. Her first time in the water under oars without a rudder she moved along nicely at first. She then did a series of three sixties even with the dagger board. Hence the name. Now with full sailing rig she is quick to come about, but not aimless. For rowing I tie the rudder amidships to a cleat. I am sure a skeg would help. I am also more into sailing than sanding and do not plan to add a skeg anytime soon.

I have two sail rigs for her. The first is a somewhat flat nylon 45 sq foot "sailboats to go" lateen. This is a sleeved sail mounted on electrical conduit for spars. This is my light wind rig, a frequent condition here in Central Florida. My other rig is a 41 square foot Duckworks dacron lateen on tapered home depot pine closet pole spars for heavier weather. The Duckworks sail definitely has a better shape.

I have had her out on Lake Maitland in 10-20 knot winds with the smaller rig. It was a wild and wet ride. At times the wind blew the tops off of small whitecaps, over the 3-4 inch high coaming and into the boat. Of course I had to keep my weight to windward to keep her on her feet. I don't know how many degrees she was heeling but it was pretty far. I had to brace myself up on the high side of the boat with my legs and continuously play the sheet in and out to keep from going over. With all that she was still able to tack into the wind. She didn't sail quickly to windward, but she did sail.

There is only one public launch on Lake Maitland and the wind was behind me at the launch, so it was down wind out and beating into the wind all the way back in. Off the wind I had a high boiling wake behind me. I prefer gentler winds with more relaxed sailing but I wanted to see how she would do in heavy weather. It was windy enough to make sailing on any point of the wind risky and wet.

I also have a "bimini",it's a Walmart umbrella hose clamped to a Wallmart cane with the handle cut off. The cane gives me height adjustment. The end of the cane is inserted into a piece of plastic drain pipe bolted to the back of the thwart bulkhead. I have installed Styrofoam wrapped in poly tarp under the after deck for both emergency flotation and for a backrest when sailing. I have also added similar flotation under the thwart and to either side of the dagger board case. For rowing I use the traditional thwart which also supports the dagger board case. For sailing I sit on the floor in a semi reclining position with my legs in front of me up on the thwart. It is surprisingly comfortable and I almost fell asleep one nearly windless day on Lake Virginia.

Overall I am pleased with the boat's performance. I was out on Lake Virginia with a laser one day and of course it was much faster but only a little closer to the wind. A little more sail area might be good in light air, but I'm content to sail her as is for now.


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