Sassy lives on…

I am happy to report that Sassy GAFFER (SunCat 17 #365, 2010) has just moved to new quarters and to a new skipper. A large part of Sassy’s life can be found in the postings this blog. October 2009, as I was about to retire from my professional life, I was looking for the perfect mini-cruiser, one that a 65+ experienced sailor could’ve single-handed with ease both on land and in the water. While attending a meeting in Tampa, I decided to pay a visit to the Hutchins in Clearwater FL. I was already honed in the SunCat, but one hour at the helm of one of their hulls made me place the order on the spot. I returned to Florida in March, and with the Magic-Tilt trailer hooked to the Jeep Liberty CRD I had chosen as her land-auxiliary, through a glorious Appalachian early spring, I hauled her all the way into Ottawa. Since then, she has been one of the prettiest boats in the fleet of the Nepean Sailing Club. We enjoyed together many week-long cruises in Georgian Bay and the Northern Channel and numerous solo sails in Lac Deschênes, some with dinner visits to the Aylmer marina returning to port sailing in the moonlight, and many overnights at the anchor spent under the stars tucked inside the cove at Pinhey Point, or on the lee of Aylmer Island or facing the long beach in Crystal Bay. Sassy was also instrumental in pioneering amateur radio “Portable/Afloat”, allowing in 2015 the certification and activation of Aylmer Island as ON295 for the Canadian Island Activators program, she allowed my participation from that same island in several W/VE Islands QSO Parties, and a unique first-time participation “Portable/Afloat” in 2017, in the ARRL/RAC Field Day event. Sassy is now in extremely able hands and will soon be returning improved and refreshed to the waters of Lake Huron and beyond. Here is to you, Sassy! Have a long and very happy sailing life! 

Sassy Surprise Sail, Sunset and Swim

Hi! This is Sassy. Surprise, surprise… Yesterday, a little after 5:00PM my skipper showed on my deck. He checked the fuel, lowered the rudder and the outboard and even removed the sail cover, and as he started the engine, I heard a huge roar. “Is that me…? – I jolted — is that the sound of my 4 HP Tohatsu…?”. Well, it wasn’t: at exactly the same time, my neighbour, a Regal 1900, had also started her inboard V6 250 HP Volvo Penta… The Regal left right way, but I did not, as after a few minutes of moderating at low throttle, the Tohatsu was cut off and then nothing… The purple-martins were still diving to catch bugs from the surface of the water aft my stern.

Then, around 6:00PM I heard voices around me. A uniquely junk-rigged Paceship PY-23 was also about to undock. Her skipper invited mine to raft in Crystal Bay, and go for a swim.  As soon as they left, I heard my 4HP coming to life again, the four lines tying my port side to the dock were undone and, with my skipper at the tiller, I glided aft and then forward all along the side of the marina. As I turned North around the first red marker, there it was, the open lake, gloriously blue under the sky. The wind was from the South, steady at 5-10 Kts — a lull in comparison to recent days. As I reached the end of the auxiliary channel, ST-eve (the ST-1000 autopilot, my mechanical first-mate) came into action for me to face upwind and hoist sail. Then I bore away to a broad reach, exactly as I had done a week before with a crew of newlyweds… (was it a drop of spray or a tear of happiness that dropped from my bow as I remembered my last outing…?).  I then sailed NW towards the Sun reaching the K4 red marker.

To the South, I spotted a mile away the Paceship sailing parallel to the Ontario shore. So, I turned into the wind close-hauled, first heading SW, then tacked SE. And as I got closer, ST-eve took again hold of my tiller and heard the outboard restart. I headed into the wind and felt my sail come down. The PY-23 had anchored in deep waters facing the shore not far from the E racing marker. Fenders down, I approached her glowing (just painted) green starboard side (her hull used to be red…). My lines were then handed overboard and there we were, bobbing together as the Sun slowly kept coming down. The Paceship skipper and first-mate went overboard for a swim, but my skipper did not (I think he is afraid that his legs will no longer power him up my stern ladder…, I will have to prove him wrong on a future outing). The Sun peeked through the clouds that lined the horizon, flashed at us one last time, and soon disappeared.

With the Sun gone, it was time to break the raft. With one hand on the tiller and another on the GPS my skipper made me cut through the shallows and I re-enter the KN channel rounding the KN6 red marker. Soon after (it should have happened earlier), my running lights came on (and also the masthead light, since technically, I was a “motor-boat” underway). Before entering port, I heard my skipper on the phone calling the PY-23. With the remnant of the sunset behind, she was far behind my wake, slowly coming to port on sail, saving her electric motor for the final steps of her re-entrance and docking approach.

She was ok and did not require me to stay around. So, all lighted up, I slowly returned to my dock, to which I was soon fastened with my usual breast and spring lines. It takes a long time for my skipper to snug me down… Is it my imagination or is it taking him considerably longer than it used to a few years ago…? He was still fitting back the cover of my sail when Kirill, the PY-3 skipper, and Natalya, the PY-23 first-mate, showed back at the dock on my side. They had come to the marina riding their bicycles and had to leave right away, before it got too dark. I overheard their thanks being exchanged deck to dock and dock to deck for a very enjoyable daysail, sunset and swim, which made me feel the luckiest and happiest SunCat 17 in the entire marina (where I also happen to be the only one…).

Soon after (at 10PM), I heard the diesel of the old Jeep leaving the parking lot… The purple-martins were already sleep in their colony houses, and not a creature was stirring, not even a…”, until something rubbed my side below water level… a river otter? a turtle? a big carp…? Perhaps… the Nayad of the Kitchissippi…? Nah! she couldn’t…, could she?

Sailing with Newlyweds…

Fabian and Sofía had arrived in Canada a couple of weeks before, just to be married… and marry they did, in the rain, on July 18, under the branches of a huge Oaktree in the Ottawa Arboretum. Two days before, they had taken into the air… Fabian, who is an accomplished pilot in his native Switzerland, had arrange to pilot one of the airplanes at Rockcliffe Flying Club, and for one hour himself, Sofía and their niece Anya, flew all over Ottawa in a Cessna 172S (Skyhawk C-GKSK).

After their marriage, they expressed the wish to complete an Air-Earth-Water journey by going sailing in Lac Deschênes. The only possible available time for this activity was on July 20 early in the afternoon. However, conditions were borderline with covered skies, gusty winds, and the possibility of storms. So, with some dark cumulus still looming above and some breaks towards the Northwest, Sassy decided to raise to the occasion. Around 2:00pm, with four eager sailors onboard, she undocked and slowly motored out of the marina. At the KN8 marker she turned upwind to hoist sail in steady southern winds. The pin that holds all the lines against the mast was still in place… but Sofía sprang to the mast and swiftly removed it. Then, the sail was deftly hoisted by Fabian mastering together the main and the gaff halyards. Later, he would ask to be reminded to send back to Canada some of those red-cloth labels used in airplanes indicating “Remove before flight”… Then Sassy bore away to starboard and sailed port-tack / beam-reach for about an hour.

After reaching the middle of the lake, as new clouds gathered above, she tacked 180 degrees and headed back retracing her previous course.

Before reaching the KN8 marker the auxiliary was restarted and she turned again upwind to dowse sail. She re-enter port at around 4:00pm. With such an able crew, Sassy made a perfect docking manoeuvre and we all gathered at the clubhouse restaurant to celebrate the mini-sailing adventure with cold drinks and an early dinner… The newlywed had mastered three of the four original elements: Air, Earth, and Water. As for the fourth — Fire — their love for each other will more than provide…

A Second POTA Surprise…

Last January I was surprised with a Bronze award as a POTA (Parks on the Air) Hunter: ( Almost half-year later I got another surprise:

I do on occasions fire up one of my ICOM rigs to scan the CW sections in the HF bands. On many of these occasions the stations that happen to be transmitting and listening are those activating parks acknowledged within the POTA program ( When these “Activators” submit their logs, my call is automatically acknowledged as that of a “Hunter” and so, one day, I log-in in the to discover that, as the popular saying goes: “Silver happens…”

First Sail of the Season

Yesterday, Monday, June 20 2022, Sassy undocket at 9:00am ET, motored out of the marina, hoisted sail at the KN8 GRG marker and sailed long tacks upriver in NW light winds. Then, as the wind died mid-afternoon, she doused sail and returned to port on her auxiliary accessing the port channel at the KN6 red marker. Here are some pics to mark the occasion:

Motoring out of the marina
The blue yonder…

Sailing in light NW winds
Leaving the Ottawa skyline behind, with the sail out, the outboard up and Old STeve (ST-1000) at the helm…

Mast, Sail, Chart and the Tohatsu 4HP fuel stopcock

And here she is, at her dock slip with her mast already up and the sail and bimini fully functional.

I have also upgraded theCanada Coastal Charts in the GPSMAP 78 from BlueChart G2 HXCA015R 2015 to BlueChart G3 HCA600X 2021.

I rechecked the settings for the fuel stopcock on the port side of the Tohatsu 4HP: While using the internal tank it needs to be open (in the vertical position). However, in this position it does not allow any gas to reach the engine from the external tank (unless, of course, the bulb in the fuel line of the latter is used to pump fuel into the internal tank, something which is only possible with the fuel stopcock in in the open (vertical) position). With the stopcock in the open (vertical) position, the engine stops once the internal tank is empty, even if the external tank is connected. Operating the engine with the external tank requires the fuel stopcock to be in the closed (horizontal) position.

POTA VE-5644: Pinhey’s Point National Historic Site – First Activations by VA3PCJ/QRP/P/Afloat (on FD 2017).

Sassy Gaffer anchored inside Pinhey Point, picture of June 25 2017.

On June 24-25 2017, I participated in the ARRL/RAC FIeld Day as a 1C (QRP/portable/afloat) station operating from the deck of “Sassy Gaffer”, a ComPac SunCat 17, sailboat anchored inside the little cove at Pinhey Point, in the Ottawa River ( This eventually led to the following article in the RAC TCA Magazine: “Portable Afloat: Bringing Together Amateur Radio and Small-Boat Inland-Water Sailing” (The Canadian Amateur (TCA Magazine): Vol.45, Num.5, pp.48-50, September-October, 2017).

Encouraged by Bob VA3QV — with whom, way before POTA existed, we had shared many “HF from the Park” QRP/P activations — I started to “hunt” for POTA activations. I soon realized that one of my preferred spots along the Ottawa River, at Pinhey Point Historic Site, was not registered in the Hence, I decided to contact the Country Administrator (Mapping) for Canada, Pierre Jolin VE2GT, who after reviewing the information provided, assigned to it the POTA identifier “VE-5644” ( Pierre also directed me to send the ADIF logs of any previous activations to the attention of the POTA Regional Coordinator for Area 3.

I submitted the full log of my participation as a 1C station in Field Day 2017, and a few days later I received a message from Matt Brown K2EAG, POTA Regional Coordinator (K3), indicating that the contacts had been uploaded and that they would be reflected on the POTA site, where I was credited for two valid activations (of ten or more QSOs): one with 23 QSOs on June 24 and another with 27 QSOs on June 25.

Depending on the weather and Sassy’s skipper’s health, I hope to return this year to POTA VE-5644 for other QRP/Portable/Afloat activations, and likely also as a 1C station in FIeld Day 2022.

73 de Jose VA3PCJ/VE3DTI.

Gaffer’s Thirteenth Season…

Sassy is back in the water… for her thirteenth season. It took a bit of extra effort, as on a first attemp two days ago, already floating at the dock of the ramp, the Tohatsu refused to start no matter what… Hence, out she came from the water and back to the yard in Blackburn Hamlet where she had been all winter, and the engine got shoveled back into the car, and hurried to the shop in Guelph, where it did not take long for Dave from Aim Marina to breath new life into its single cylinder… Back then to the yard to fetch the boat and again to the Dick Bell ramp for Sassy to return to the water. This time the engine started right away and Sassy happily puttered all the way from the ramp to her slip in the dock…

Once the mast and sail are unwrapped and up she would be ready for a first sail upriver…