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Tips for Building  & Sailing Dream Catcher Pond Skiffs

Welcome to the simple, fun filled world of pond boating. 

You'll find your boat is easy to assemble, a joy to sail and fun to experiment with.

            Your kit contains all you need to get started. For tools you’ll need a pair of pliers and wire cutters (or nail clippers,) scissors, and a lighter or matches. The sketch to the right shows the names of the different parts of your skiff. 

You can paint or varnish your hull, or leave it bare wood for now, and put finish on it later.

 

 

The mast to boom connection, called the gooseneck, is made from a length of mono filament line. Holes are predrilled. Using a lighter or match, melt one end of the line into a ball. Thread the unmelted end through the hole in the boom end and then hold it flat against the side of the mast. Now put the line through hole in base of the mast. Trim the line to 1/4" 3/8"  long. Now melt this end, being careful to leave the melt ball slightly shy of the mast.

 

 

   The sail is slipped over the mast (or upper spar for lug or lateen rig) and secured at the end with a ball headed push pin. The pin passes through the  flag streamer and then through the tip of the peak of the sail. Press it firmly into the center of the mast end. This allows both the sail and the streamer to pivot freely. The optional streamer is both decorative and informative as a wind “tell tale” helping you judge wind direction.

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The "sheet" (the line from sail corner) goes through the slot at the end of boom and to the cleat post. You can use it as an outhaul to adjust the sail tension... tighter for higher winds and looser for lighter winds. 

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The curve the sail makes is called "camber" and it is similar to the curve of an airplane wing. It creates lift and is what gives your sail its power.

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Insert your mast into the mast step hole appropriate to the rig. (see sketch) No glue is necessary. The mast will swell slightly in the water and hold it tight.

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Some rigs use a brass hook eye to attach a line to a spar. The 1/16” Dacron “main sheet” (line from the boom) goes through the hook eye and an overhand knot is tied at the end. Melt the end with a match or lighter after cutting it. Tie a knot in the other end too. The hook eye is positioned on the boom (or gaff or spar for the lateen and gaff rig) and squeezed gently with pliers to secure it.

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Your keel is weighted by two washers held in place by a magnet. (see diagram) You can use your weights all the time, or only when breezes get brisk. With them your boat is self righting, so will almost always recover from a “knock down” and continue sailing. The only caution is that with ballast in place your keel can sink. There is a small hole near the top for tethering it with fishing line if you choose.

 

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Keel fitting:

Your keel may need a little sanding to fit the slot on the bottom of your hull. Put the sandpaper on the edge of a table and press the end of the keel against it. Slide it as shown in the sketch - do this on both sides to create a slight taper. Test its fit in the slot. Don't force it, when it gets wet it will expand slightly and tighten. You can also round its edges if you like or even sand it into a "foil" or wing like shape, thickest point being about 1/3 from the leading edge and tapering aft. Leave the slot area full thickness. Also don't put finish on the end that goes in the slot or it wont swell and tighten.

Sailing Basics & Points of Sail:

Pointing, also known as “close hauled” or “beating” - sail is trimmed in, keel amidships.

Reaching - across the wind is the fastest sailing direction. Trim sail at 45 degrees, set keel near the rise of the hull bottom.

Running - downwind, sail out at 90 degrees to the hull, keel set far astern, (to the back.) While sailing downwind, the boom can cross the boat quickly which is called a “jibe” and can be hazardous on a “real” boat. (Tell Stewart Little to keep his head down!)

The way sailboats make progress to windward is to zig zag with the bow crossing through the wind, which is called tacking.

Watch the weather, stay safe, and have fun!

Keel positioning:

The keel is what allows your boat to sail in directions other than downwind. Careful attention to its position will allow you to control your boat in many conditions. Notice in the drawing below the approximate position for each sailing direction. Near the rise of the bottom is a good starting point. Your boat came with a magnet and two “ballast disks” (fender washers) that help your boat sail in higher winds. When the ballast is in place (magnet in hole & washer on each side) the keel will not float. There is a small hole you can use to tether your keel to your bow eye with fishing line. I have never had a keel fall off, but there is always the possibility. You can also glue your magnet into your keel if you choose. Be sure to use water proof glue like epoxy or “marine goop.”

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If you have a Penny Puddle Pal it's a cinch to put it together.

First you can decorate the hull and the sail if you like. Permanent sharpie markers are good for this. The hull can also be painted with acrylic, latex or oil paints. Follow the directions of the paint maker.

Insert the mast into the mast step hole, and the cleat post into its hole. Slip the sail over the mast and draw its string (main sheet) into the slot in the cleat post. The keel goes into the slot in the bottom. You can glue it in or just let it swell up and tighten in its slot.

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