[Illustration: Fig. 17. Before the Wind.]
[Illustration: Fig. 18. Topsail Lowered.]
[Illustration: Fig. 19. Skating against the Wind.]
[Illustration: Fig. 20. On the Port Tack.]
One more sail deserves mention. It was Bill’s idea, and it came near to ending his career the first day he tried it. It had no spars at all, but was merely a strip of cloth of somewhat triangular shape. The upper side was tied to the head, and the two corners to the wrists, while the lower portion was tied to the ankles. This converted him into a huge white-winged bat. Bill had to try it at once, even though the rest of the sails were not finished, and a very comical spectacle he made as he flapped his wings in his endeavors to tack. When the wind was too strong for him he had merely to drop his arms and thus lower sail. At length he became tired of holding his arms out at full length, and I got him a stick to put over his shoulders and rest his arms on. But that stick was Bill’s undoing, for coming around a sudden bend in the canal he caught the full force of the wind, which knocked him flat on his back before he could disentangle himself from the stick and lower sail. It took us some time to bring him back to consciousness, and a very scared lot of boys we were for a while. However, the lesson was a good one, for after that we were very cautious in experimenting with sails that had to be tied on, such as the Danish rig and the lanteen rig, before Reddy invented the mast step.
It was not until the day after Christmas that the sails were all completed, but then there was scarcely any wind blowing and we could not attempt the expedition to the island.
[Illustration: Fig. 21. Bat Wing Sail.]
SNOW SHOES, SKIS AND SWAMP SHOES.
The next day, Sunday, it began to snow, and we realized that our chance of skating up to Willow Clump Island was spoiled. All the afternoon it snowed, and the next morning we woke to find the ground covered to a depth of eight inches and snow still falling. But who ever heard of a boy complaining because there was snow on the ground? Here were new difficulties to overcome, new problems to solve, and new sports provided for our amusement. There was no disappointment shown by any of the members of the S. S. I. E. E. of W. C. I., as they met in the woodshed immediately after breakfast to discuss proceedings for the day. There seemed to be but one way of reaching the island, and that was by means of snow shoes. Bill had only a vague idea of how snow shoes were made.
Chair Seat Snow Shoe.
The first pair was made from a couple of thin wooden chair seats which we found in the shed. They proved quite serviceable, being very light and offering a fairly large bearing surface. The chair seats were trimmed off at each side to make the shoes less clumsy, and a loop of leather was fastened near the center of each shoe, in which the toe could be slipped. This shoe possessed the disadvantage of being too flat and of picking up too much snow when used.