Journey's Maiden Voyage

Welcome to! This bulletin board is for builders of the Chesapeake Light Craft-John C. Harris "PocketShip" design, a 15-foot micro cruiser sailboat built from a kit or plans.

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Journey's Maiden Voyage

Postby Pastorjim on Tue Oct 18, 2022 8:25 am

Greetings Everyone...

I wanted to share with you a post that I made on Facebook yesterday... I can't tell you all how much I appreciate each one of you for the wealth of information and help you all have been to me through the building process. The maiden voyage would not have happened without your help... and to all the guys who have taken the time to blog so dutifully... Thank-you! I relied on your help immensely... Thank-you! Also to Chesapeake Light Craft... Thank-you for your help and support and finally to John Harris... Thank-you for being so kind and talking with my son and I when we picked up Journey 9 years ago... and Thank-you for the countless hours of your life that you have dedicated to Pocketship... you have touched my life in a tremendous way! I'm not sure if I have the record for the longest build... But I have to be close LOL

Sunday, October 16th 2022 was a momentous day in the Higdon Family. It all started 9 years ago… Shortly after my sister died... One lazy summer afternoon I was day dreaming about building a wooden kayak when quite by accident, I stumbled upon a website called “Chesapeake Light Craft” and there she was… she was the most beautiful thing I had ever seen and I fell immediately in love. She was sleek and fast with beautiful lines. All I could think of, was the line from one of my favorite movies, “Summer Rental,” “She'll make ya rich, or she'll feed ya to the fishes. If she wants you to dance, sonny boy, you've got to follow her lead.” Yes, I had fallen in love with a sailboat called “Pocketship.”

“This is crazy,” I thought. “What do I know about building a sailboat, or any other kind of boat for that matter?” There was also another slight problem… I have no idea how to sail! I had only sailed once before in my life with my brother up on Lake Michigan… It was a perfect day with perfect weather on a, gorgeous, 31 foot sailboat. “Oh well...” I thought, I have plenty of time to learn to sail. According to the building manual, it would take about 500 hours to build, and working a few nights per week and weekends it could easily be accomplished in about one year. (Famous last words)

So, on November 5th 2013, my son, Ben, and I traveled to Annapolis MD to pick up a pallet of Marine grade plywood, various varieties of hardwood boards, several gallons of epoxy, a set of plans and a massive roll of fiberglass that all somehow managed to fit into the back of my pickup truck. Construction began as soon as I got back home.

Unfortunately, I discovered that Indiana winters in an unheated garage are not very conducive to the hardening of epoxy (an integral part of the building process of a “Pocketship.”) Then, the next year, I discovered that Indiana summers are not very conducive to an old fat boy working out in the heat of an un air-conditioned garage. One year flowed into two years and the progress felt incredibly slow. Everything seemed to take 5 times longer than I thought it should. I had to laugh at the “500 hours to build” suggestion in the builder’s manual because I spent at least that long looking for a pencil and more time than that scratching my head, trying to figure out how to do the next step… You may not know this, but I had a full head of hair before I started construction.

Then, life challenges also began to interfere with the building process… health issues, hospitals, doctors and a move to northern Indiana just to name a few. When I started building I had two grandchildren and now I have four with the youngest in kindergarten and the oldest now enrolled as a freshman in College.

But, year by year, she slowly started to look like a boat. At one point we had a big party at the house where I invited a bunch of guys… They thought I was inviting them over for a cookout, but I really needed them to help me turn the boat upside down so that I could finish the bottom. Then the next year I invited them all again to turn her back over, right side up… I hope that I never see her upside down again!!! With the fresh paint on her hull, she was really starting to look like I had imagined.

Then suddenly, out of nowhere, I received a call that the Bishop had a new appointment for me up here in Northern Indiana, I panicked! I had to get her ready to travel, I had to make sure that she was water tight to protect from the rain, I had to find a trailer to put her on… Oh my goodness… How do I possibly get her up on the trailer, assuming that I can even find one??? It was a mad scramble, Karen did most of the packing up of the house while I worked out in the garage. Finally the big day arrived, one week before moving day. A dear friend had given me a boat trailer that had been out in his field for 25 years. He put new wheels and new tires on it for me and made sure that it was road worthy. Another friend and his son configured the trailer to accommodate the boat and put new lights on so that it would be legal, and after another call to a loyal group of guys who had never failed me… it was time for “Journey” to be born and leave the friendly confines of the garage where she had spent her whole life to that point.

I had to laugh… While I was still trying to figure out exactly how we were going to move the boat out of the garage and onto the trailer… A couple of guys had grabbed straps, a couple of others began to lift and before I could say a word, she was up, out of the garage and seated proudly on her trailer, shinning gloriously in the sun. It was a proud day. Later that afternoon, she survived her first road test and a major thunder storm… she was dry as a bone inside.

Time continued to pass… the next 3 years went by in a heartbeat. In that time, I managed to almost die from Covid, I had 2 kidney stones, cataracts in both eyes and all while learning to serve a new church. “You don’t suppose that it’s going to be another year do you?” I asked Karen... As always, she was encouraging and said that she thought there was still time left to get her in the water this year. So with that reassurance, I spent as much time as I could over the past month working on the boat. The manual was 287 pages long and I was down to just 12 pages to go. Then I was down to 23 steps left, then 10, then back up to 30 as I remembered little details like fire extinguishers, life jackets, and throw able life preservers (seat cushions.)

Finally the date was set, Sunday October 16th… The weather looked good, the boat was ready, and I was as ready as I was ever going to be. After countless hours and a great deal of blood, sweat and tears… the day was finally here. The trip down to Lake Monroe went perfect, no issues at all. Once there, I undid all the straps, untangled the spaghetti mess of lines and raised her mast. She was ready to go. Me, on the other hand, had a thousand questions… What’s going to happen? Will she float the right way up? Will she float off the trailer at all? Will she leak? Will everything work as planned? Will I ever be able to get her back on the trailer again???

I told my son that success would be judged on 4 criteria… Are we able to get her off the trailer and floating upright… Does the motor start and propel us across the lake… Does the boat keep the lake water out sufficiently that we don’t sink, and finally are we able to get the boat back on the trailer when we are finished.

With all of that in mind we gathered at the boat ramp parking lot and after a brief Christening Ceremony, and appropriate toasts with Sprite (my drink of choice)… and with the words “I Christen thee Journey” We were ready to back down the boat ramp and trust her to the sea… uhhh the lake.

The launch went flawlessly, she went skimming across the lake just as I had imagined she would a thousand times in my dreams. We dropped off passengers and took on more and back across the lake she went. Everything was perfect. I smiled at Karen and said… “You know how much you love to sit on the shore and look at the boats… Now someone else is sitting on shore watching us!”

The only challenge was putting her back on the trailer. It didn’t go well, and we will be purchasing my son Ben a new pair of shoes… But once we figured out what was going wrong, and with some masterful driving skills by my daughter in law Crystal, we were finally able to get her back on the trailer and up to the parking lot.

If I had to do it all over again, would I? I don’t know. I could have bought 3 used sailboats for what Journey cost and I could have been sailing 9 years ago… But love is a strange thing. Logic and love don’t necessarily go hand in hand. I loved that little boat the first time I saw her in a picture, and now, each time I walk by her, she still takes my breath away. But you have to work at love and it takes a lot to make a relationships work. “She'll make ya rich, or she'll feed ya to the fishes. If she wants you to dance, sonny boy, you've got to follow her lead.” All I can say is that I look forward to following “Journey’s” lead for many years to come.
Journey Sailing2.jpg
Journey Sailing2.jpg (75.49 KiB) Viewed 2499 times
Journey2.jpg (50.04 KiB) Viewed 2461 times
Journey Ready to Launch2.jpeg
Journey Ready to Launch2.jpeg (46.21 KiB) Viewed 2496 times
Posts: 22
Joined: Thu Sep 26, 2013 3:09 pm
Location: Indiana

Re: Journey's Maiden Voyage

Postby slash2 on Tue Oct 18, 2022 10:42 am

Wow! Congrats, she’s a fine looking boat!

I think your boat name explains why we choose to build something that takes so much time and is relatively expensive. It’s the journey. I certainly have learned a lot on my boat building journey so far, not just about boat building, but myself. I am good at throwing things together but terrible at the finishing process, but this boat demands you spend a lot of time at that stage and it’s made me slow down and get in the flow.

It’s encouraging to me to see these posts of launchings; I look forward to being there myself!
Steve Sawtelle
Posts: 153
Joined: Fri Jul 09, 2021 2:27 am

Re: Journey's Maiden Voyage

Postby craig on Wed Oct 19, 2022 9:39 am

A beautiful boat and a great writeup. I'm glad you started the journey and I'm even more glad you finished it! You'll get used to launching & unlaunching, sailing, handling on the beach, etc. It just takes practice to get the muscle memory. Good luck and I hope you can find your way to the lake very often!
Titania, launched January 2015
Posts: 284
Joined: Fri Feb 21, 2014 1:04 pm
Location: Chapel Hill, NC

Re: Journey's Maiden Voyage

Postby Creekboater on Sun Oct 23, 2022 7:18 am

Congratulations Jim! One of these days I’ll be there, God willing.
* Jimmy Skiff II
* amateur for sure (builder/sailor)
* impossible to insult my intelligence
Posts: 110
Joined: Sat Nov 13, 2021 6:58 pm

Re: Journey's Maiden Voyage

Postby Hooky on Wed Nov 16, 2022 2:10 am

Well done Jim, love your story, congrats on completing the “Journey” and I hope you and the family enjoy sailing her.
Please share your adventures and send more sailing pics.
Regards Terry from down under
Posts: 76
Joined: Sat Apr 30, 2016 5:49 am
Location: Australia

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