The Windwalker

The Windwalker's History

The Windwalker hulls were built by Joseph Nicolosi in St. Paul de l'Ile aux Noix, Quebec, as a dream project, to sail to his native France. Joseph and his wife Denise are accomplished world sailors, having sailed from Australia to Canada via the Indian Ocean, the Red Sea, coming through the Suez Canal to the Mediterranean, and then across the Atlantic to Canada.. This they did in a 36??? foot monohull sailboat with their sons. The reported stability and speed of trimaran sailboats intrigued Joseph (as it has me for the last 40 years), enough so that he started construction in 1996 of this trimaran, a Norm Cross 35 design. It was christened the "Triskell" and launched in 2002 in the Richelieu River south of Montreal. The Richelieu drains Lake Champlain northward into the St. Lawrence seaway, and is connected via locks to the Hudson River flowing south. Joseph was motoring south to Annapolis where he was planning on having a mast stepped and rigged, when he had an unfortunate accident and fall, badly injuring his back. With that, Denise and Joseph made the decision, "Our sailing days are over." Both are in their mid 70's, a few years older than myself.

Joseph put the Triskell up for sale on the internet in 2002, and I found the advertisement in early November that year.

I had just returned to the family ranch here in North Idaho from a speaking engagement trip to Wyoming the last of October, and received an email "Build the boat" from my son Casey, who has his business in England and Europe. This indicated that I was to start building another trimaran of my own design, which had been a dream of his and mine since we completed the Barefoot Expedition by Canoe from North Idaho to New Orleans in 1984. I had previously built 3 other tris since 1962, and lost the last one, a 43 footer, in bankruptcy in 1982. It was the "Spirit of Freedom."

My immediate response to Casey's email was "What?" ... He replied, repeating himself, "Build the boat." and I replied, "OK." That is how this project in the Spirit of Freedom started, very cryptically.

I mulled this over for a day or so, worked over the design that I had done in the computer with VersaCad, mulled it some more, and started looking on the internet at other trimarans, happening on the ad for the Triskell.

Mulling some more, I came to the realization that at my age, nearing 70, it did not make a lot of sense to start a 3 year construction project when we could be sailing and actively engaged in research, so I sent an email to Casey, "Do we want to build or sail?", sending him the data on the Triskell, which is nearly identical in lines to what I had designed .... His reply, "Sail", so I proceded to contact Joseph about seeing the boat and the possible purchase.

Joseph and Denise were at that time in Vancouver, B.C. visiting their daughter and her family for the holidays and would not return to the Montreal area until after the New Year 2003.

As I was familiar with the design, having sailed a 35 with Norm in the 60s, prior to building the first Spirit, and no matter what trimaran we acquired, I had a unique rig in mind to increase the sailing efficiency and simplify sail handling. I began designing the rigging for the boat through the remainder of November until the first week of January, 2003, at which time, I travelled to St. Paul, inspected the boat and began the actual purchase. While there, I asked Joseph if he would like to accompany us on the voyage, as it would be an honor to have him with us. His reply, "I will not say no now, I am healing well, but I need more time. Ask me again when ready to sail." What a great thing it would be if he is able accompany us.

As it is far too cold in that area to build anything on the boat during mid-winter, I returned to Idaho to begin acquiring the mast materials, and getting quotes for the rigging, sails, and sail handling equipment.

The rig is a totally unique Aft Mast Cutter/Ketch. To verify my design thinking, I programmed this "Aft Mast Sailing Calculator" and this "Wood Mast Bending Calculator"

The sailing calculator has a sketch of the rig, the thinking behind the calculator and the sail plan, and the merits of the rig.

I spent most of February designing and building the jigs and fixtures to taper the mast pieces, and to make true scarfs for joining them into the 40 foot length necessary. On cold days when work in the shop was impossible, I spent inside building up a new computer for the boat, as we will have satellite communication on board for navigation purposes, telephone, and internet so this page and my other pages can be maintained on the web.

Finally, about the first of March, I made the first cuts testing the jigs and fixtures as I began building the mast crutch and jack, which will be completed here at the ranch. The 40' Douglas Fir mast will be built on site at St. Paul during mid-April/early May from prime lumber shipped from western Canada, with rigging completion scheduled for June 1, Grandma Hardison's 90th birthday, and the 19th anniversary of the start of the Barefoot Expedition. (It didn't happen as many things delayed the project.)

The Richelieu River and Lake Champlain will be free of ice by then, and we will proceed out the locks south to the Hudson and open water, making the first trial sea voyage from there to Delaware Bay, before turning north and east toward Iceland and Europe.

When fully equipped with a mini-laboratory, the Windwalker will be the field research vessel for Casey's ethno-pharmacological Research Foundation for medical research amongst the native peoples of the world.

In the yard at Marina Gosselin, St. Paul de l'Ile aux Noix - 2002

In the Richelieu River - 2002

Love and Peace, Barefoot

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