Sunday, January 3, 2016

The difference in a day

The difference a day makes is between the potential for fun, and calm and satisfying that craving to be on the water, and looking from the shore, longingly and in amazement at the horrible beauty of the ice covered pond.
3rd day of january, the pond freezes over.
A little more than 15 years ago, in the same week of january, my small yacht sat out on the river, bobbing at it's mooring, an ice ball hanging from the pennants.  That was on a sunday, on monday morning as I made my way to work, going out of my way first to check on my boat, but mostly to get the fix I needed, of seeing here there afloat, before I tackled commuting, masses of humanity and the fast pace of the city, I didn't see her in her usual place.  Something else was strange, the river looked odd, oddly motionless.
Over night the wet and moving river had frozen over and my little boat caught in it had been dragged up river dragged, mooring and all.  It was a transforming moment.
I spent a week believing that I'd lost the boat.  Not only did she get dragged up river, but a bit closer to shore and in shallower water.  At low tides she'd be  be grounded and she'd heal over at an angle that made me feel sick to see.  It brought up images of Shackleton's ENDURANCE.
To skip ahead, the boat was fine.  Much to my disbelief, not only did she rise back up with the high tide but a week later there was some free water and she was tide up at the bulkhead of the local boatyard.  She had no damage, none.  The only thing the ice had done was to clean off the scum line on the bottom.
It was a learning experience and I felt I got of very lucky.
So yesterday I had the possibility of going out on the water for a row, no need to start a car just heft the pram down to the pond and enjoy a bit of time messin' about.  But to day the pond just holds longing for a time a bit further away.  So it's to the shop to have my boat time.  Plan, dream, cut, shape fasten conjure up another magic carpet for a time yet to come, Spring and fresh water.

Friday, January 1, 2016

Happy New Year

Keeping with my tradition of trying to get out on the water, first thing, first day, of the new year, I took the pram down to the pond and went for a row.  Lots of cloud cover, temps in the high 30'sf, but comfortable and the water was wet, as oppose to frozen.
It's a good way to start the year, and to plant a seed for what might be in store for the rest of the year.
Happy New Year!
First row of 2016
The more I use this little boat the more comfortable I am with it and the more useful it seems to be.  What I took as instability when I first got in here I now realize was initial instability, like any narrow boat, a canoe, or kayak for example.  She stiffens up pretty solidly at about 15 or 20 degrees I'd guess.
I am actually surprised that I have not come across many more documentations of this type of boat.  For the person on a budget you can't get much cheaper.  The one sheet of plywood that it requires cost $14.00, and the rest was of the wood was gotten from scrap, but an 8 foot 2x4 would probably have covered the chines and gunnels and another the framing, and you'd have left overs.
This boat seems to be a good answer to needing a tender for a small cruising yacht, as would a kayak but this boat is open and could haul a bit more water or supplies to and from the mother ship.
The wooden floor is down in the shop now so I am just about ready to start setting up for building.  I have become convinced that I should do some work on the skiff.  All these books I've been reading about american heritage small boats, especially the Sharpie's, has me thinking that adding a centerboard to the skiff will produce a decent sailing boat.  We'll see.

Monday, December 21, 2015

The warm days of Winter

I was out on the pond again yesterday, in Tartlet.
 There was ice at the shady, shallow end of the pond but the rest was wet and ruffled by the breeze.  Tart is becoming more and more pleasing to me as I, more often, easily lift her to my shoulder and hike on down to the pond.
A sense of quiet grows as I get further from the road and closer to the water.  Once in the boat and on the pond the sound of the oars takes over, though they are barely audible and what I do hear of them is very pleasant.
There is something about the rowing position that is conducive to meditative, peaceful, experience.  I believe it has much to do with looking astern.  There is the sense of discovery as the world is slowly revealed to my peripheral vision, and I am allowed to linger on it as it gently gets farther away.  This is such a great contrast to looking so far ahead to where one might be going, and then as the approach and can capture attention they are more understandable until the moment they suddenly pass out of ones vision.
Occasionally I look over my shoulder, usually one and then, the other.  If I don't do this I run the risk of running straight up into something, but, what's ahead is not the focus, rather something to be aware of.
I think this has a lot to do with my preference for rowing over paddling.

I just finished reading "The Rudder Treasury" and "The Compleat Cruiser".  Both were great winter reading.
Happy Solstice!  Happy Winter!

Wednesday, December 9, 2015


     Last night I took the basic lines measurements of the WEE PUP and then drew a boat plan that was built like my pram.  The lines drawing looks good, and not so much different from my TARTLET.  The two boats are the same LOA, but the beam of the PUP is a few inches greater,  and on the bottom, a lot fuller.  I am considering building this hybrid, I'd call it TART, just to reference the first boat.  The reason I'd think about building the boat in this style is because it is a nail and glue with a chine log, rather than a stitch and glue as the PUP calls for.  This way I can build it in the cold of winter, if it ever gets cold, because the polyurethane glue I use, GORILLA GLUE, can be used in the cooler temps whereas epoxy needs the 60 degree minimum.  It is sometimes to keep that room above 60 in the really cold times.
I also really like the direct simple building method.  I use both fasteners, screws, and glue to affix the plywood panels to the solid wood chines and frames.  This both glues the surfaces and works as a caulking of a sort, since the GORILLA GLUE, foams and expands.

When Winfield Thompson had his first WEE PUP built the boat builder asked "Where would you like you tub delivered?".  It is kind of tubby, but the lapstrake sides help to let you know it's a boat.  With the version, that I am thinking of, it would just look like a tub.  Well what can I say, after all, TARTLET, looks like a coffin, truly.  If you were going to build a coffin that is what it would look like.
Despite the not exactly elegant look of this boat to be, it should serve very well it's task, if it's predecessor's utility can be used as an indication.  TARTLET is a great boat for the pond.  This boat is to be light and easily portaged, just like TARTLET, but fuller and more seaworthy for use on the river, and capable of carrying a passenger.

I found a forum on the use of Luan plywood for boat building.  The gang on the WoodenBoatForum  didn't think Luan of much use in boatbuilding, or most of them did.  There were one of two who realize it's limitations and use it anyway.  So, I'm not alone in this attitude.
It's been a few seasons now and those boats all seem to be holding up well.  They are treated pretty well, being stored in the barn and dry sailed.  I'm not timid with them though.  A few days ago I rowed the pram full tilt, right onto a log that was just below the surface and covered in barnacles.  The scraping sound along the bottom was a bit sickening, but late when I looked at the bottom the fiberglass armor (3oz. clothe) was barely scratched, in fact I had to look twice to find it.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Warm days of December

the strange warm weather that we are having here this season has some benefits.  The pond has not yet frozen over, though there is ice in the shallow shady sections.  We've been getting down there in the pond boats every few days.
Those little boats, though an educational experiment, have been really good for just this use.  They are small and light, so they are easy to portage down the trail to the pond and the small size makes the pond seem bigger, or big enough to be interesting.  The right boat for the right body of water.
While some people are moving up in the size of the boat, I seem to be moving to smaller and smaller, kind of.  Different people get different things from boating, and have different ways of experiencing it.  I have not ever taken my boats so far from home, but I do use them, not as much as some other people, much more than many.
It is now about 2 decades that I have been sailing and keeping boats.  Seems like it all started not so long ago.  I hope that is a good sign.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Double paddling

My wife took out her micro double paddle canoe today, the last weekend in November.  The two boats I built with the single sheet of plywood challenge that I put myself up to actually taught me a great deal.  By watching and experiencing the problems that boats with these dimensions have I have learned a bit about what I did wrong, and how I might have done it better.

The 5 acre pond was lovely today, with a slight breeze and nobody else around.  Even though this boat has it's flaws, it is so easy to portage down to this bit of water, it seems kind of just right.
Tomorrow the is the last day of access to the lakes for the season, so I'd like to get there with the pram before I give in to the calendar.

Monday, November 16, 2015

A short sail

After having such a lovely time in the morning rowing the pram around the pond, and getting inspiration from the amazingly pleasant weather, I decided that I needed to take the skiff out to the lake and reacquaint myself with her.
Sliding her into the back of the truck, I was reminded of how handy this boat is.  I drove to the closest of the lakes and launched there.  The breeze was up so I prepped the sailing rig.
Lake sailing.  This is the original cut of the sail
that is larger than the current sail.  The sprit is shorter now too.
We sailed the down the Western shore of the lake, the wind was out of the south.  A few little gusts kept me paying attention, especially as the water is cold again, and, there was nobody else on the lake, or it's shores.  When I reached the north end of the lake, where the sand beach is, I changed heading, gybing easily with the sprit rig and sailed across the wind skirting the beach along the entire north end to the eastern side where the dam is.  I beached the boat, dropped the sailing rig and rowed up the eastern shore.
On the southern end of the lake there are two large coves, or bays and I rowed up into the western bay and set the sailing rig back up so I could finish my circumnavigation with a sail back up the western shore to the launch site.
After hauling the boat from the water I spotted a set of antlers and the head of a deer swimming across the bay to get to the land on the other side.  He didn't need oars, but he could have easily set sails on that rack.  It was great to see him come out of the water and shake off before hopping right into the woods.
It was a nice way to end my sail.
Sailing along the sand beach was great fun and had such a different quality than sailing the  rest of the lake.  The beach was the lee shore today and the waves washed up on it making a sound and sight as if it were a much bigger bit of water I was upon.  Sailing along, with the bottom insight, sloping and sandy and the beach moving by quickly, was a bit exciting.
I have come to realize how much more pleasant it is to sail this boat with a minimum of complications.  The lovely rudder I built for it is not an improvement over using the oars as steering oars, each perched in it's after most oarlock.  It easy to switch between the two, or to just start using them both to row.  I still miss the ease at which the boat moved in light airs with the larger sail, but I do enjoy being able to sail in stronger wind.
I did not try to sail to windward at all, and being of the mind to row to wind kept me from worrying over a thing that this boat does not do well.
It was a very lovely day, a very "boaty" day and all in the middle of November to add.

While rowing the skiff I found that I should probably take the time to make a new middle thwart, just a bit wider to accommodate my big fat backside.  I made the thwarts the way I did, loose fitting so that they could be adjusted until the optimum position could be found, and so that the could be easily removed for sailing or lying on the floors.  This has all worked but I do sometimes wish that they were fastened tight so that there was one less thing to fuss over.  The middle thwart, the rowing thwart, needs to be about 6-10 inches farther foreward than I originally thought.  This would also have the affect of moving the bow down a touch, which would be a positive improvement.
I have decided that one of the things I don't like about this design is that the bow sits proud of the water.  This does certainly cause it to pound into the waves and it also gives much more area for the wind to get hold of her.  Instead of a sharp fine entry to the water she has a wide bottom that does help her to plane up over the water and makes her more maneuverable, but at the same time, takes away her ability to track.
In looking at the GOAT ISLAND SKIFF, which is a well reported sailing skiff,  I think it has less rocker, although  the stem doesn't quite make it down to the water, it exposes much less of the flat bottom to the oncoming water.
I do realize that by putting the sailing rig on this boat I was trying to get something out of it that it was not intended to do.  That being said, I have had some success getting her to sail.  She did better in lighter airs with the bigger sail, obviously, but she also seemed to go to weather a tiny bit better with that larger sail, probably due to the affect of the wind on the hull being so much less able to cause leeway.  But off wind and across the wind and in stronger wind, the current sail is much more comfortable to use.  I think it could be a bit longer at the foot, though the sheet lead would quickly become an issue, but it needs no more height on such a narrow beamed boat.
Although I do want to build a boat specifically for sailing and it may not be much different in form from this skiff (MAYBE THE GOAT ISLAND SKIFF)  I may still get the centerboard drunk installed and build a taller mast.
It was good to be out in her again.  It had been a while.  It was truly wonderful to have gotten to sail her.

The most pleasing sound of the day was when I heard the first bubble of the water along her hull as her sail started to pull and she began to make way.