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August 1, 2002 Issue

August 1, 2002

Yes, Atkin Was a Genius

By Robb White

We launched the Rescue Minor June 20th and she ran most marvelously. There was no ceremony to it. My wife and infant redheaded granddaughter and I just wheeled her down to Lake Lamonia about twelve miles down the road and untied the jackleg lines that held her on the trailer and she rolled off into the water.

The boat sits about an inch and a half down by the stem at rest but it is actually that she is up by the bow.... the toe of the stem is right at the water. It is because the boat is so light. I knew it would be like that and hoped it wouldn't be worse. When my wife and the baby got in up in the bow, she sat right down where she belonged. I hadn't brought the engine house, so, when we fired her up, she cackled pretty loud (about like a Kubota tractor) but didn't vibrate or shake the boat at all. While she was warming up, I checked all around to see how much exhaust water the little Shurflo diaphragm pump I adapted to run off the camshaft was giving (plenty) and what the oil pressure was and all. I think I was a little scared to put the power to the wheel and see what was what.

As soon as the propeller began to revolve, the stem picked up what felt like three inches and the boat began to move much faster than I would have expected from any planing boat at dead idle. Lake Lamonia is one of those lily pad lakes we have down here and there is only a narrow trail through the bonnets out to the clear water in the middle and I had fooled around looking at the engine and let us blow off so that we were heading for the lily pads but just a hint of rudder brought the idling boat right around. I have never seen an inboard boat turn like that.

There ain't no idle zone, so I ooched up on the throttle a little bit and the boat picked up speed just like a regular boat. I gave her a little more and she gave me a little more. I ran her on up and she ran on up. There was no perceptible rise to the bow at all and the wake never changed. The little engine smoothed out so that it was hard to detect any vibration at all when I put my hand on the cylinder head to see if she was warming up or not. The boat steered so stably that I could hold the tiller and walk all around the engine to check on my doings. Which, the copper tubing wrapped exhaust manifold ran cold and the inlet pipe from the keel-cooler stayed cold. There were no oil leaks and no hint of a diesel fuel stench or exhaust but I did have a damned tiny coolant leak from the plastic overflow reservoir. The outlaw graphite ceramic well pump shaft seal never gave a drop and the belt-drive transmission ran smooth as all get out.

Which, I hope I ain't ruined my credibility too bad. She ran 18.6 knots on the gps and that with the 10" pitch propeller that I put on there to make sure I didn't lug the engine while it was breaking in. That wheel let the engine run up to where the governor backed her off at 3,600 rpm. Me and Atkin think she 12-1/2" of pitch and I have that prop standing by ready to put on there. You know, I have the jackleg push-button prop nut and can change wheels by just reaching up under there with one hand. As an aside, that's a wonderful fig. I can take the propeller off a sailboat while she is luffed up in the mouth of the river. I wish I could lay claim to the invention, but it ain't nothing but something like a quick-disconnect like on a garden hose.

The boat ran most marvelously. I would have been satisfied with 12-1/2 knots (my speed) and a slightly tender feel (about like a deep "V") but the boat was so stable that my wife and I could hardly alter the running trim by both us, and the baby, sitting on the same side. She turns about level and, even then, weight distribution doesn't seem to affect the trim. I think the dynamics of the hull that control the wake hold the boat in a tight grip. It feels like it weighs about 10,000 pounds. There was never much wake at all but, like Alex's, there was a sporty looking rooster tail erupting about 8' astern. I have a little clamshell water pickup right behind the prop to give a little supplementary exhaust water at speed, and it is mighty effective (I could probably eliminate the engine-driven pump). The beautiful exhaust-water rainbow around the rooster tail made a most charming sight.

All my fears are put to rest. She ain't tippy at rest and she don't rise up by the bow and try to skitter off on that little pirogue she carries on her belly. I couldn't make her cavitate to save my life and the boat will turn, at speed, shorter than any outboard boat I ever had. I tried to make a wake to run back across so I could see what was what with that, but the boat doesn't make enough wake for a valid test. I ran across the wake of an aluminum butt head-skiff with a nine point nine that was much bigger than the wake of the Rescue Minor. I don't need no wake in no lake to tell me how she'll do in rough water. I know a sea-boat when I see one.

It is a wonderful boat and, as Alex said, "Atkin was a genius".

Looking Ahead ..

Bob Hicks, Editor

I have from time to time on this page remarked on the part that many of you play in making this magazine what it is, with its unique appeal to some of us in today's world of boating who derive simpler pleasures from our small craft than those of the overt consumerism that the manistream boating public blindly pursues. A letter from reader Bill Marsano of New York City offers an expalantion of this appeal

"I confess at the outset that this Letter to the Editor is written under false presences for it is in fact a Letter to the Readership of MAIB, long may it wave. I take as my text the commentary signed by one Bob Hicks, Editor, in volume 20, No. 1. Readers will little note nor long remember what it says there, so I repeat the salient portion: 'I am pretty comfortable with the magazine as it is because I've kept it simple and straightforward and never have been driven to trying wallpaper graphics layouts to hold your interest. Plain vanilla it is. It has been the ongoing support from many of you who provide much of the content every couple of weeks which has been vital to our being able to offer to readers real world sto-ries about messing about in boats well outside the consumer mainstream madness.'

I for one am not much for 'moderm'; if you want to know what 'moderm' is, try listening to the music. Nevertheless I propose major, even sweeping alterations to MAIB: 1: Hyphens ought to be used more often and 2: The free classified ads, so great a service to the boating gang, should absolutely require that the sale price be disclosed. I take it hard that anyone would offer goods for sale without disclosing the price, especially when tak-ing advantage of free ad space. Here let the renovations end.

I have been looking into MAIB for a half-dozen years now. When I began it was (as this superannuated gent recalls) a bit clumsily printed and the photos looked as if they'd been carved out of potato blocks. Improve-ment, in printing quality or my prescription, has been steady ever since, and I take this oc-casion to ask the readership whether it is aware of what Bob Hicks has achieved with MAIB. It is that very rare thing called a 'community of readers', and it is not to be found in the above-mentioned' consumer mainstream mad-ness'.

It is this community that makes MAIB the most dangerous boating publication I know of. I can buy any number of slick-printed two-pound-an-issue mainstream sailing mags from Hearst and the like and be persuaded within minutes that boating is utterly and absolutely beyond my scope of skill or finances. Two minutes with MAIB, on the other hand, puts me among friends and co-conspirators and could have me in a boat of my own by season' s end if I don't watch out.

As a 40-year veteran of the magazine racket I know whereof I speak. I have written for several dozen magazines and a couple of newspapers; I have been on the staffs of about six magazines. In the end I ceased dealing with almost all of them because of loathing and contempt: They failed to establish such a com-munity, instead preferring to publish Gold Lists, Top Tens, so-called Readers' Polls and other editorial flim-flam designed to spend readers' money on their advertisers. Let me not seem too idealistic here: I also abandoned those publications because their publishers were obscenely greedy and disgustingly cheap while their editors were almost invariably unskilled, lazy and stupid.

So all of this babbling from your correspondent is to call readers' attention to the very rare community that MAIB has created and to encourage them all to acknowledge, share and support it. You will not see its like again."

It happens that at this time I am casting about for ways to increase our readership, to reach out to others who might find what you have on these pages. A major source of new readers is the large number of gift subscrip-tions many of you buy for family and friends, usually around Christmas time, but also at other times appropriate to your own circumstances, such as birthdays. I am very grateful for this manifestation of that support that Bill mentions.

There is another no cost way you might support our effort if you like, and that is to send me names and addresses of anyone you might know who you think might possibly enjoy the magazine. I will send each a sample copy for them to decide about its degree of interest to them. Those of you on the intemet can email your suggestions to us at, which is our sub-scription fulfillment address. Postcards or notes can be mailed to us at 29 Burley St., Wenham, MA O1984-1943.

Why this circulation promotion effort now? Well, we face ongoing costs of doing business which leave us a narrow margin of net income on which to survive. Building up our subscriber base from its present 4,500 is one way to widen this margin. Our US Postal Service has again jacked up its rates, so soon after the last increase, which is trimming that margin significantly. I gotta do something!

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