Thursday, October 1, 2015

Which way do I go?

As the Fall season settles in I am thinking about what I might get up to this winter in the shop.  I'd like to build a trailerable sailboat, I think.
The thing is that I'd really rather just get my Bristol 27 in order and launched and put her to use, but I am reluctant to spend the money it takes to keep a boat of that size and depth in a marina.
A trailerable would be a good compromise.
I say a compromise because any boat that is trailerable is probably not quite my preferred type of boat to sail.  I have come to know that I really like the heft and capabilities to stand up to the stronger conditions that a displacement boat can offer.
In theory, romantically, I love the idea of an open boat, with an unstayed mast, a centerboard and shallow draft, light enough to be trailered and launched easily by one person, me.  But I have found that the tenderness of a vessel that meets these requirements is not one of the things I appreciate.  I also, love a cabin on a boat.
I don't need a big cabin, a cuddy large enough to retreat to for a small meal or a nap would be enough.
If it weren't for it not having a cabin, I'd probably build this little boat by Vivier
An "Aber" by F. Vivier
I got the study plans for it and I really do like the size and shape.  I suppose I could just design and add a little cuddy to it. I just might.
Vivier's "Eiben 15"
This would be another good choice, even though this rig is a bit more elaborate than I'd prefer.  It is just about the right length, 15', and it has a deep cockpit, being modeled after traditional fishing boats, and it is not to terribly heavy at 1000 pounds.
I think that a strip plank built boat would be just about the right combination of modern building techniques and traditional.  I wouldn't be able to lay up the hull during the winter because the shop is to cold, but that would allow me the time to build the forms and get the design just right, with out being able to rush things.  I could, I suppose, build the sails during that time too.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Plank, Oar, spar? Or all of the above

A month or so ago a crew was down the road taking down a bunch of trees that loomed over a neighbors house.  I got them to drop off the wood and wood chips at my place.  Most of the wood was cut up for fire wood but I had them leave five logs of a Spruce at lengths of 10 feet and they dropped them of for me as well.
I have begun milling the wood for future projects.
10 foot Spruce logs sitting in my driveway.  The one is a
good 2 feet in diameter. (in the background is the
temporary boat barn that has now been up 5 years)
I am thinking of using the wood for small boat spars.  I have built laminated solid spars and I think they work pretty well, though I'd like to try a "birdsbeak" hollow spar for a mast for the skiff.
I think I could also make some long rowing oars with this wood.  There is also the possibility of using it as planking in either a traditionally built boat or a strip plank hull.
The first two planks are about 18 inches by 10 feet by 2 inches thick
 I am storing them vertically for now.  I saw a video on OCH and in it Harry Bryan stores his cedar planks this way.  It allows for easy inspection and there is not much concern for that kind of wood changing shape as it dries. I don't know that I will leave them like this but for now it's convenient.

I am making a lot of saw dust, or shaving. which will be stored and then used as litter for the chicken coop.
 I am using a 16 inch electric poulan chain saw for the work.  It isn't ideal but it works pretty well and, I don't have to smell the exhaust of a combustion engine.  The nice thing about the electric is that when I release the trigger, it's off, and the torque it constant.  This saw was given to me by somebody clearing out there garage and it works pretty well.  I rather save my Stihl for the work where electricity is not available.
It is strange to see it looking more like lumber than a tree.
I had considered buying an attachment guide to help with the work but I saw some videos of guys, probably in the Philippines, doing using a chainsaw free hand and cutting these lovely hardwood planks, so I figured I'd try it.  I am glad that I did because the work has come out fine, or at least good enough for me.  The key is to go slow.  Using a chalk line to mark off the log helps to give continual reference for straight, at least in one dimension.

I'd love to be able to build an entire boat this way, and maybe this is enough wood to actually do it.  I don't know yet.  The next boat I want to build would be my trailerable cruiser, so something in the 15 to 17 foot range.  With 10 foot planks I suppose it is still possible with scarfs, or if I build a strip plank hull.  A strip plank hull seems like a really good idea, It is still a wood boat but no need to worry about seams opening up if it is dry sailed and having a limited supply of long clear wood does not preclude that style of construction.
I have read that Spruce is not the best for rot resistance, but I have it and nothing lasts for ever anyway, and I am OK with that.
I think a good 9 foot set of oars will be the first thing to make, or a new mast for the skiff.  We'll see.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Skiffing it again

So now that I have one less boat to focus on, I not only feel a bit relieved, but also a bit invigorated to use the boats I have.  The Bristol is still not an option for sailing, but I can continue working on her interior.  I love being in her cabin so doing this work is a pleasure.
Skiff with Current rig.
The only other sailing boat I have is the skiff.  The reduction of the sail area was a good thing.  The spars are smaller and easier to deal with, and the boat can be out in stronger wind.  On the negative side, the new sail plan seems to have moved the center of effort forward enough so that she really doesn't sail to windward.  Previously I was able to move myself forward and get the resistance underwater forward so she would just make to windward.  I was able to get away without a foil (daggerboard, swing keel or lee board), but now the sails center of effort combined with the reduced area, seem to mean that I can't get the underbody center of effort far enough forward and there is not enough drive from the sail to get her to overcome making leeway.  Or so I am assessing the situation.

I have 2 possibilities, I believe, for remedy. 1) build a trunk and dagger board and install it  2) add a mizzen sail.
The daggerboard option is pretty obvious, but there are drawbacks to it.  First is that the keel on the boat is only 1-1/2 inches wide so the trunk would have to be constructed in a way to compensate for the loss of keel structure.  I have an idea how this could be done, but it does mean cutting a hole in the bottom of the skiff.  It also means loosing the space that right now is pretty comfortable, and this boat has minimal beam so loosing any space is not the most wonderful thing.

The idea for adding a mizzen is that not only would it shift the center of effort aft, where there is more underbody,  but it would add sail area, that was lost, but down low, where it wouldn't cause as much heal in a skinny boat.  I also think that a mizzen might make the boat capable of steering herself, or at least using the trim of the mizzen to balance her out.  On the negative side the mizzen would be one more spar to deal with, two actually counting the boom or yard and it would mean retrofitting a mast step in the after deck.  It would do nothing to improve the resistance to leeway for the underbody, but I think I might be able to gain back the ability to sail just to windward.

A mizzen would be a sharpie sprit sail, with a sprit yard that is parallel to  the waterline, and a sheet lead to the transom.  A standard boom and right angle at the foot and luff would also work.  The mizzen mast could also give a better lead for the mainsheet. Bonus.

mocked up ketch rig w/jib
Well, suddenly it's a lot of sail area.  The thing about adding the mizzen is that it can easily be not used if it proves to be a bad choice, and with out any real alterations to the hull.  If it does work but the boat seems to really want the centerboard still, I can always add it later.  The centerboard might also add some counter resistance to the sails.

The mizzen mast would make a cockpit tent rig very easy, just a line between the masts and a tarp.  Sailing with jib and mizzen only might be an interesting option too.

This boat is really too skinning to be a good choice for sailing.  But, it is what I have right now.  I can still row it and sail it while building the mizzen and sewing the sail.  I would really like a beamier boat for sailing but I would like to enjoy not having so many boats for a while.  I think that this winter I may take on building a real sailing boat in the under 15 foot range.  For now I will just try this and see how it goes.

It is all just messing about.

Friday, July 10, 2015

New adVENTUREs for Venutura!

Yes, it's true, Ventura is now in somebody else's hands.  In a fit of feeling overwhelmed by all the STUFF I have, (8 boats) I put Ventura up for sale.  Just over 24 hours later she gone.  Weird.
I don't agree with the saying that the two best days for any sailor are first, the day he buys his boat, then second, the day he sells it.  It was not a great day or feeling to see the boat being driven away on it's trailer.  We went thru a bit together in a short time.  Each of us came close to ending our days.  It was a rough day for both of us, but we each returned to the water and are here still.  We each have a good story to tell from it.
I think that some young boys are going to be the new captains of Ventura, there fathers will be crew.  I never got her name painted on, only penciled in, and I kind of hope the boys pick a name for her that makes the boat even more their own, though I do think that VENTURA is a pretty great name.
Now what?
Sail the skiff?  Paddle the kayaks?  Row the pram?  Get the Bristol in order and launch her?  That sounds almost too good to be true.  It has been so long, too long since I have sailed that boat.  She really is the boat.  She got me thru some allot.
Well what ever is next, as long as it's 'messing about' it should be good.

Best wishes and fair winds to the new owners of VENTURA.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

The first week of summer

The summer solstice was just a few days ago and today, after 14 months since the knock down, Ventura sailed once again!

It was a very nice day though I could have used just a touch less wind, but in the end it was just fine.  Trying to get this rig back together and sort out everything is tedious and time consuming.  One really needs to be happy just "messing about" in boats with a trailer sailor because so much time is spent getting the boat to the water and ready to go, then doing the reverse at the end of the day.
Our sail was only about 2 hours, but it was enough time to take the boat thru it's paces.  We raised both main and jib.  We reefed the main.  We tacked.  We jibed.  We docked and we used the motor.  It is all working again.  The only thing we didn't really do was anchor.
I have along "to do list" after the sail.  Mostly things I forgot, some important, some not so much.  I forgot to put on the rigging for the reef point, that was very annoying.  I made it work with spare line onboard, but heavily chastised myself for not thinking it all thru.
The out board was a bit inconsistent as we left the dock and eventually died, but we had decent wind so we just sailed.  On the return I ran it for a while and it eventually evened out and ran the entire time we needed it.  This was the first time it has really run since it was IN the river.  I did maintenance it after it's sinking but hadn't really run it very long since.  I think it will be fine.
In truth my enthusiasm for this kind of boat, this kind of sailing isn't very strong.  I miss my full keeled cruiser on it's mooring.  But I will make due with what I have right now.
It was good to be back on the water and even sailing with in sight of where I took my very cold swim, the one that was almost the last thing I ever did, was fine.   I really only gave it a thought for about 2 seconds, maybe 3.
There is a lot of summer ahead.  Todays sail only cost 10 dollars at the launch ramp.  I have to do quite a few of those to equal the cost of a slip for the summer, so that makes spending the 10 bucks a lot easier.  Let's see what the summer has in store for us.
Fair Winds!
Although I am thinking of having a new mainsail built for Ventura and using her as much as I can I will say that if anybody needs a very, very cheap boat and trailer I am open to selling her.  I have too many boats right now and I really miss sailing my Bristol

Thursday, June 18, 2015


We took the skiff out to the lake yesterday.  After stopping at the park ranger's office and buying our permits for the year we put in at the boat launch.  We rigged the sail and set it.  The wind was light to none existent at times but it did move us along most of the time.
The old, larger sail.  It was often times too much but it kept the boat moving
in the lightest of breeze.
The new smaller sail is really a bit too small, but it does keep me from worrying about being knocked down and makes transporting, and handling the spars much easier.
I have recently discovered that my enthusiasm for getting out on the water has diminished.  This began about 4 years ago, I'd guess.  I think the hassles of dealing with marina's and clubs was one part of it.  Clubs seemed dominated by the member's personalities and often times I found that people had a lot of issue's that really affected my time sailing.  I wanted to sail to get away from that kind of thing.
The marina's seem overly crowded.  The more boats, the more money for the marina.  It seemed that many boaters in the marina's came to the water with the same attitude of hurrying that they have on the highways.  This is another thing I tried to escape by going sailing.
Even using a small boat, like the skiff, that I can throw in the truck can seem overly complicated.  I think that yesterday having to stop and get my annual permits added to this feeling that I takes so much time and effort just to get the boat under way.
When I used to keep my boat on a mooring I never felt this way.  When I arrived at the Club or boatyard I went straight to the dinghy dock and dropped my bag in, stepped aboard and I was on the water, rowing, which, I considered an enjoyable and integral part of going sailing.  I rarely had to use a motor at all because I could just sail off the mooring and back up to it upon return.  Maybe I was spoiled by this great situation, but I still would prefer it and believe anybody who really likes sailing would too.
I have yet to launch the Venture 21, though she does seem ready to go, mostly.  I need to finish up some details like setting up the mainsheet, and putting on a piece of line for the outhaul on the main, but really she could be put in the water today.  Today my excuse is questionable weather.  Really it is just lack of enthusiasm for hooking up the trailer, driving to a launch ramp, rigging, getting the boat in the water by myself, and then motoring away from the ramp in order to sail.  All of this only to have to reverse and repeat before the end of the day.  All of the energy and stress of getting the boat to the water and back kind of overshadows my joy for sailing, maybe because I know there was/is a better way.  Maybe a trailerable isn't for me.  But right now my other option is the larger deeper boat in a marina and that means crowds and engines and expense.  On the bright side is that even on windless days (except weekends when the place can have a street fair/trailer park air to it) I can just sit on the boat and enjoy being there.
All of this makes me feel bad, and the best antidote, I have ever known in my life, for feeling bad, is to be on a seaworthy boat, close hauled away from the maddening crowd, and no pressure of having to return if I choose to stay out because I have everything on board to do so.
It was good to be on the water yesterday.
The best cure for lack of enthusiasm for sailing,
is to go sailing.
(Waneeshee and her happy Skipper)