Let’s start out with the description of the Honker design by describing a typical cruise that one might anticipate going on with this boat.
My own two sons are now ages 14 and 10. We all like to fish and explore some of the more out of the way areas in the Northwest where we live and for years, I have been aware of a place on the West Coast of Vancouver Island called Barkley Sound. This year we decided to have a go at exploring this area by boat. My choices were to take one of our larger boats and spend 3 days travel time (dependent on good weather) just to get up to Barkley Sound. Or we could trailer our Honker up behind the family pickup on gravel roads and launch in the sound itself at a place called Alberni Inlet and motor around the Sound beach cruising.
This trailering trip would take only one day to get there and allowed us more exploring time in the Sound itself. Also with our weather being as fickle as it is up here, the chances of being able to pick a window of 3 to 4 days of good weather was far more likely than if we had taken the larger boat and we could do the whole trip in 4 or 5 days instead of just traveling up and back in the larger boat in the same period of time. We could spend nights on the shore camped in a backpacking tent and each day could be spent fishing and exploring our two favorite things to do.
For our purposes, the Honker is ideally suited, being a light weight shallow draft vessel that with a 60 horse outboard, can race along at 30 knots or can idle for hours while trolling for salmon or bottom fish. We can cook the fresh caught fish each night for our meal and all that cooking could be done safely on a small propane barbecue carried on board the boat. Each night the Honker could be beached and the anchor rode carried up the beach and tied off to an accommodating tree or large rock. The split cockpit of our own Honker allows us to carry all camping gear and clothing in a waterproof, lockable, separate compartment. Room for the three of us and our fishing gear would be easily accommodated in the aft cockpit.
Carrying 24 gallons of fuel in four 6 gallon tanks gives enough range and fuel to keep us going for the time spent on the Sound. And just for my own peace of mind, a Jerry jug of 5 gallons capacity was carried just for emergency use. This 5 gallons alone would provide us with an additional 70 miles of running time, enough spare fuel to get back to civilization without worrying about picking up more fuel along the way.
A small vacation done in a vessel like this Honker is inexpensive and easy to do at thelast minute without a lot of preparation or planning. In fact, most of the gear we took was carried as survival packs and loaded into the boat in a matter of minutes. Two medium sized coolers filled by a stop at a grocery store along the way kept us in cold beer, pop and snacks for the trip and doubled in utility by allowing us to put fresh fish caught in the Sound and made Mom just a bit the happier for allowing her troop to go up into the wild and spend some quality time together.
Using a boat this way points quickly to the strengths and weaknesses of a design, and I’m happy to report that the Honker passed with flying colors. Her beachability was the most important quality, and the capability of carrying all gear in a separate storage area and not being underfoot during the day worked to perfection. The fuel and water situation worked out well also and the 5 gallon Jerry jug of extra fuel was not tapped into.
This little Honker has allowed us more useful boat for the dollar and hour of labor to construct than just about any other boat I can think of. I’m looking forward to this years adventures with her and my boys. We are all thinking about a longer even more ambitious trip this year, perhaps we might tackle the Queen Charlotte Islands. Now that would be a real trip!
I’ve even been thinking about building the small pilothouse/cabin that is shown here for the Honker giving us some foul weather capability in case the local weatherman screws up and really runs us afoul of a good mid summer storm for this year’s exploring. Take a look and you will see a real versatile boat that can provide you with a fine platform for playing on the water in your own areas.
— Sam Devlin