My name is Dan Balkin and I live in Buffalo, New York
Which Tiwal model do you have?
I have the Tiwal 3 and last summer was my second summer with it.
How did you find out about Tiwal?
Well strangely, I was in a tyre store having my snow tyres put on and they had an old magazine, it was probably four or five years old and there was an article in there I can’t remember, perhaps Men’s Journal. At any rate, they had an article about the Tiwal in there, it just grabbed my attention. I was fascinated.
Where do you sail ?
What I really love about the Tiwal is the versatility of being able to take it virtually almost anywhere. I still sail it quite a bit on Lake Erie. The border’s been closed but when the border to Canada reopens there’s a lot of lake access in Canada. I also sail it on the Buffalo side of Lake Erie and the Finger Lakes are not that far away from us. I just love to go there and sail the boat, it’s just beautiful and I also have the opportunity to sail on Lake Ontario this summer. We were in Cape Cod for a week and I brought the Tiwal. It was my first experience sailing in the ocean. I felt like Christopher Columbus, it was just fabulous. The other thing I love about the boat is to take it on vacation.
How do you use your Tiwal?
Normally I sail it solo but for instance our children are in their early 20s and when we were in Cape Cod this summer, they joined us on vacation. It was the first time I had gone out with someone else on the boat and I was very pleasantly surprised, for a ten and a half foot boat (the Tiwal 3) how easy it was to put two sailors on it. Especially one of the features I really like about the boat is the way the boom is angled, it allows the boom to tack, swivel and swing without any problem at all with two sailors on the boat. Solo is typically how I use it though.
How do you transport your Tiwal?
I have a station wagon and I normally just put the seats down and put the boat in the back. If I’m going on a trip, I did buy a cargo rack for my roof and if I put the hull up there first and then if I’m alone I usually just put the pieces bit by bit back in the roof rack with the other bag, the rudder etc and that seems to work out really well.
How is it going so far?
Fantastic! I could not be more pleased with the boat. I was a laser sailor and to be honest, I’m not an ultra serious sailor. I’ve done a little bit of racing but my profession was a high school teacher. I had the summers off so I’m kind of a « sail by the seat of my pants » sailor. I was able to sail a lot during the summer but I’m not a well-trained sailor per se so that gave me the opportunity to get just a good feeling for sailing and I loved the laser and I was pleasantly surprised when I got the Tiwal. I would say it sails somewhere between a sunfish and a laser. I was really surprised by the performance of it but the way that hull really stiffens up at 11 psi, it truly feels like just a fantastic sailboat and there’s plenty of sail there, it’s exciting to sail in a nice breeze.
Which characteristics did surprise you?
I would say that: just how well it sails. Also its stability, the boat is really very very stable. I’ve taken it out in 15-20 knot winds and, as I said, I don’t pretend to be the greatest sailor in the World but I really have not had any difficulty with it at all. Also the fact that you can reef the sail which I have very rarely done but that’s a wonderful feature: that reefable sail is also something that is just fabulous with the boat. When I first got the boat, I was sailing with the sail reefed because I just wanted to get a feel for it and that also made me feel more comfortable at first, just to feel the characteristics of the boat and then after that, I’ve just let it down and let it rip.
What is your best memory with your Tiwal?
I have a few: probably this summer being up at Cape Cod with my children. We rented a beach house so I was able to leave it. it had a nice place that I could put it behind some shrubbery so I felt safe with it at night. At any rate, going out with my children and just sailing along in Cape Cod and looking at all the beautiful homes and the beaches and just being out on the ocean, I felt like I was in heaven and my children really enjoyed the experience too.
They were so happy we brought the boat. I also just enjoy in general to bring it anywhere new. It’s always exciting to me and then just to sail along and look at the beautiful scenery, between the natural scenery and often the beautiful homes on the lakefront wherever I am, so I enjoy both.
Will you come to the Tiwal cup?
I think so, you know I’ve been thinking about this. I think that’s something that is a bucket list item for me. I’ve been thinking about it. Yes, I think I will.
Where would you dream to sail with your Tiwal?
Lake Como in Italy. When I was young, I lived in Europe for roughly five years. As many people know, Europe is just incredibly beautiful: places where they have mountain lakes and the ocean too, the Adriatic, etc. I would like to sail on Lake Como, I’d love to sail on the Adriatic and I’d also like to sail off the European Atlantic ocean side too, and in the Mediterranean… so I mean really everywhere!