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Featured Boat

December 2022  MUDDY PAWSE

By James Michaud

Labour Day weekend of 2019 I ventured north to attend the second Junk Rig Junket in Maine. One of the boats and the smallest was a Mirror owned by Chris Shelton. I was particularly interested in his boat because several months prior I had read “The Unlikely Voyage of Jack de Crow” by A. J. Mackinnon, his tale of his journey through parts of Europe in a Mirror.

Chris and I spent the better part of day one sailing around Joy Bay.

I was smitten with this small boat and its junk rig.

On returning home I sat down with my computer and did a search for Mirror sailboats. I wasn’t looking to buy nor did I need another boat.

But I somehow managed to buy a Mirror. I didn’t know how fortuitous this decision would be. I started restoring her straight away. kept the boat outside as I started scraping the old flaking paint off. I used a heat gun and putty knife, being careful not heat it more than needed.

Didn’t want to damage the plywood or compromise its glue.

Though not the most difficult task, paint removal is also not the most exciting thing you will ever do. The boat was moved into the garage for the remainder of its restoration. Sitting on sawhorses the outer hull was a joy to work on. It was at a comfortable height and there was no bending over involved. The inside however was a mini hell. I had to bend over and reach for each step of its repair. Building the mast step was hell. It was built in front of the forward bulkhead. I installed two small round hatches to access the interior. Through these I was able to reach in to make the mast step. But not without straining and contorting my arms and body into all sorts of unnatural positions no man my age should do. Earlier I said that buying this boat was a fortuitous decision and here is why. During the restoration the world was struck by COVID. I was so grateful of my situation. My financial situation was unchanged, I have a yard to go into and a dog who keeps me company. And a boat project to keep my mind and hands busy. I was very fortunate. I am somewhat embarrassed to say that I designed the sails. What I did was digitalized a photo of “Hum”, a dinghy on page 209 of the Practical Junk Rig. Then using the program; SketchUp, I overlaid a photo of a Mirror. Next, I scaled “Hum” to be the same dimensions as the Mirror. The mast lined up with the exact position that Chris Shelton had placed his mast. And also located at the second mast step on the Mirror, used when sailing with the main sail only. The mast scaled was the same height as an old mast I had built for a boat I no longer have. Now all I had to do was make some templates for the sail’s panels and get sewing. I was so pleased when the sail was completed. It looked like a professional had made it. But when I raised it on the mast something looked off. It took a while before I realized I had sewed the panels back to front. The bulge was at the rear, not the front like it should have been. Disappointed I disassembled the top two panels from the bottom and resewed the sail. The sail being a trapezoid this correction did not solve the problem. I had to make other corrections each time becoming more proficient at ripping out stitching and removing grommets. This project took way more time than I expected. I did have some interruptions that I couldn’t control. Along the way I acquired two new titanium shoulders and few other repairs. I have to say that the boat’s restoration was more successful than mine.

She sails beautifully, though. I have just started putting her through her paces this year. I am looking forward to sailing her in heavy winds with another person. All in all, I enjoyed the journey of restoring this little boat. I have learned so much about the junk rig that I am considering updating my Com-Pac 19 with the rig. I would like to say I have finished Muddy Pawse  (that’s her name) but I have not. I still have things I want to tinker with. Adjustments to some of the lines. I may even make a new sail out of lighter cloth. And that is one of the junk rigs many merits, being able to change and invent ways of rigging unique to your boat and your way of sailing. I think it makes for a very human way to sail.

 Our Featured Boat (or "Boat of the Month") Archive is here, and the forum discussion for comments and candidate suggestions is here


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       " ...there is nothing - absolutely nothing - half so much worth doing as simply messing about in junk-rigged boats" 
                                                               - the Chinese Water Rat

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