Monday, October 22, 2012

boats & more boats & moored boats...

Not to detract from the mission of this blog, but, I have just added to the fleet a 1972 Mcgregor Venture 21 fiberglass sailboat.  The boat came with a trailer and it's purpose in my life is to allow for some mini cruising, as oppose to micro cruising in the skiff.  She is 40 years old and shows it, but very functional.

Maybe she will get her own blog at some point, but her main purpose is to get me on the water sailing in a non open boat, cheaply, or free of mooring fees, and easily.  I will update on how that goes at some point, like when it happens.

Meanwhile, sewing continues on the mainsail.  I have recently thought about making the mast into a 2 part item for a bit more height and easier stowage in the boat.  We'll see where that thought process leads.

Venture 21, not mine & not me in it, but just like my new addition.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Wind Scoop!

Sailed the skiff today!  Using the "WindScoop" as a spinnaker I did a down wind sail of about 3 miles before turning around to row the return into the wind.  At least the tide seemed slack, maybe.

Using an oar in one hand, for a rudder off the side of the boat I ran the sheets thru the forward oar lock sockets and handled both with the other hand.  Kind of like a kite set up.  I think we were almost planing at moments!  It will be interesting to be in this thing with the main sail someday.

Friday, September 21, 2012

new pics

C. Burger took these nice pictures of Whisp when we visited his Westsail 32.

Fall project

So, Sew!

I am set to work stitching up the sail.  In the end I decided on a Sprit sail rig.  The 7'6" foot will keep the clew at the aft end of the cockpit and leave about 2'6" to the end of the boat to get a good sheet angle.
This will make a good Fall/winter project while I get the shop in order.  A little music, coffee, and maybe a fire on the cold days.  I am not in a hurry and want to enjoy the time just working on the sail.
the stubby mast with it's sail to be laid out!

Hand sewing the sail. 
The shop table makes a good sewing bench.
round stitch, with one layer of corner patch.

clothes pins work great to hold the edge down.
A second hand wind scoop, meant to send air down a hatch, will make a nice downwind light air sail, I hope.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Joy's of Summer

On the first day of summer and 90 degree temperature, I thought, what better place to be than on a cool fresh water lake in my skiff.  So, off I went.

With out fail, each time I come across other boaters, usually at the launch ramps, the skiff gets comment and approval.  It makes me feel good.

I am very happy with this boat so far.  It carries well when rowing, so it seems very easy to row.  The distance that is covered with little effort is impressive to me.

I anchored for the first time and enjoyed some cooling off in the fresh water by hanging off the transom, which seemed to take my almost 200 lbs. with no problems.  I was also able to just drift along at times while hanging my feet over the side amidships and though the boat healed over it felt stable and comfortable.

I did a little more umbrella sailing.  It still makes me smile to be able to do that.  I have taken the luff wire out of the old sail and have to finish deconstructing before I can get to the construction part of the sail.  For now I am happy to just go out and row, just "Messing about".

I have gotten the loading and launching down to a pretty good system now, using a couple of old fenders that I found over the years and the kayak wheelies.  Very quick and very manageable.

Friday, June 8, 2012

Making a sail

In the spirit of recycling I took an old jib I had and laid it out to see if I could use it to make the sprit sail for the skiff.
Sprit Sail from old jib.
I took some cut off battens and some masking tape and laid out the measurements of the desired sprit sail and the juggle things around until I got something that seems about right.

I am now in the process of deconstructing the jib in order to get the parts I need to build the new sail.  I'll be doing it all by hand so it may be a while.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Making it round

The method that Arch Davis described for working a square piece of wood into a round one worked great.  I got to use my Jack Plane, a spokeshave and a sureform.
Drawing reference lines around the circumference of the mast, every 6 inches or so let me see how much wood I had taken off and then I just matched it on all faces of the new sides I'd planed.
square becomes round
this mast is way to thick for the boat.  I am shaping it down to a much smaller dimension.  I really like the wood, knots and all.  It should look great with some varnish.
Round becomes tapered

a stick becomes a mast

Seems short doesn't it?  
The nice thing about the sprit rig is that the mast can be short because the sprit will add the needed height.  I am wanting to build the sail to need a boom just because I think the dimensions of such a sail will look really nice on this boat.
Since the boat is a little tender, a low but longer sail seems the better choice.

Friday, June 1, 2012

Big sticks

Using what I have.  Pine board and Gorilla Glue.
Hopefully it will be a mast soon.

Just Gorilla glued up the mast.
4 laminations
   3/4"x 3"x 8'-8", yellow pine
this should work out to be:
1 3"x3"x8'-8"
That will be worked down to:
2-3/4" at the partner----1-3/4" at the top

Or so the plan goes.

I may try and do some kind of mechanical seizing along the mast, as well as the glue and varnish.  It isn't a tall stick and I can get away with that because of the sail type and shape.  The sprit will be about 11 feet long, but it can be a little "bendy".

For the design of the mast, or how I will shape it, I am referencing an article in WoodenBoat Magazine(#224), by the boat designer/builder Arch Davis, ( in which he builds a "simple mast" for a 12 foot peapod.  The wood I had was the pine though I probably could have scared up enough doug fir , which he thinks is a good choice, if I looked hard enough.  I kind of liked the idea of using the salvaged wood of the same type I've used already.  If it doesn't work I can try the fir.

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Second look

I got to go out today for a second solo row and learned a little more about the skiff.  First, I am happy with this boat.  It is just a little tender, but stiffens up when the gunwale gets close to the water.

Although the boat turns pretty easily, it tracks very well for longer straight line rowing and it carries it's momentum nicely.  It is easy to row.

At one point I was laying on the foredeck, with my head over the bow, watching all the perch, sunfish, and bass that seemed to be hanging out with the boat like the dolphins do on the ocean, and it was just stable enough to relax up there.

I get the feeling that the boat will sail well when we get to that point.

She leaves no wake behind her, but for my sloppy use of the oars and the sound of a little bow wave is very pleasant when I am really pulling at a good steady pace.

We got a few very nice comments from people at the launch.  When the first thing somebody says is, "Did you build that?"  I wonder at how bad it might look, but the next thing they say after I tell them that I did build it is "You did a really nice job", or the other guys reaction was "really?, wow, nice job".  Then all the "guy" talk follows, how much did it cost, What's it weigh, what's it made of, and usually does it leak?  I can happily say that no, not a drop.

The truth is, I like being able to tell people how little it cost and how easy it was to build and the Jim Michalak's name and the title of his boat building book that I got the plans from.  I'd like to see more wooden, homemade boats than tin or fiberglass production models.  It feels good to have built a boat.

I am getting better at getting the boat in and out of the truck and to the water, even though I dropped it about 2 feet from the bed of the truck to the cement today.  No apparent damage.

I hope to build some longer oars at some point.  The 6'6" ones I have are a foot shorter than I think I'd like.

I feel as though the choice of boat and the modifications I made where all very good.  I'm a happy guy
Whisp even got in Wooden Boat Magazine (online)

Friday, May 25, 2012

Sail rig possibilies

So in trying to get to determining what the sail rig is actually going to be for this boat I have been pouring over pictures and plans of many boats with many rigs.  I have come to the conclusion that I want this rig to be a) simple  b) visually pleasing and in agreement with the aesthetics of the rest of the boat c) Small enough to be out of the way when not used, but large enough to be worth having d) It needs to be gotten from materials I already have.

Fortunately, I have a few old headsails from my cruiser that can be given use here.

The umbrella or parasol works on most of these points, but needs a second person in the boat.
The balanced lug seems a good choice, but I am leaning toward the sail being bent on to the mast, as in the sprit rig.  The sprit also leaves the possibility open for a small headsail to be set flying, which might be nice on very light air days.

Although the this rig would probably require a boom, another spar in the way when not in use, I might just get by without it if I lead the sheet to the stern or use a removable boomkin instead and thus not have to worry about being hit in the head.  I could always add a boom later if desired or just for occasional use.  The dimensions seem just about right, and the shape is very pleasing:

Sail dimensions

Sprit Rig

  • Luff: 6' 3"
  • Foot: 9' 3"
  • Leech: 11' 0"
  • Head: 4' 4"

Found this at:

I laid out an old headsail yesterday and by the measurements I took, I think I can get this sail from it, plus a small jib, possibly.

I have maybe just enough wood from the packing crate, in the right lengths to lay up a sprit and mast.
It is not the clearest of wood but with the laminating it might just serve.  It sure will look nice when shaped and varnished.  I could use some of the cedar planking for the sprit, it's not strong but it is light.

So I'd need:
-a mast that was 8'6", minimum, 2-3/4" dia. at the partner.
-a sprit that was approx. 10'-6" , about 1-3/4 dia. at mid length

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Whisp, she is Launched!

The QT lines are very pleasing to the eye. (photo D.Raymond)

Launch Day today!  Beautiful, Sunny, warm, cool breeze, clear fresh water, very good friends and a great little boat.  All the things a guy wants to make him happy.

Launch Day!  The best she'll ever look.  And now,
for the use and abuse and adventure that
she was built for.
Everybody got to take her out for a try, and nobody fell in the water.  The boat doesn't leak!  In fact, it rows pretty easy and tracks pretty well.
My lovely wife did the honors of with a bottle that was left over from
our wedding ceremony 3 years ago.
First row, my sailing friend and his wife.
He was my first real guide into boating.
My neighbors and friends even came out
and rowed very ably.
Ya, he's a trusted friend, he's got my wife and my boat.  (photo D.Raymond)

I will definitely get to work on a mast and sail.  We found that a parasol and an oar in the sculling notch can to pretty well for a beam reach and taking off wind.
Our Down wind parasol (parasail) or umbrellaker.
I used an oar in the sculling notch and got great steering
Rudder, I don't need no stinking rudder!  (photo D.Raymond)

I will have to give some thought to a critique of the boat on it's first day out.  Got lot's of nice comments from people passing by and showed at least two different people Jim's book on how to build this boat.

I am really looking forward to doing my version of Swallows &  Amazons on these lakes that are filled with little coves and islands and fish and snakes and clear sweet water.
QT"x" flat iron skiff, "Whisp"
Ready for adventure.

Happy to be 'Simply Messin' About'

Monday, May 14, 2012

More Vid

Here's another piece of video (not video, it's digital isn't it)

The squeak is not the dog but the oar.  I have yet to put the leathers on the found oars that I am using on this boat.  I need to sand and paint them too.

We are on the Hudson river here in Stony Point at Grassy Point park and launch.  Under the bridge is a nice marsh a great place to spy on Bald eagles at the right time of year.

I think it's a boat

It's all put together now.  All the parts have at least a base coat of finish.  I guess it's a boat now!

The varnish shines nicely in the sun.

The mast partner got a layer of fiberglass on it for reinforcement. ( kind of sloppy work though)

I like the blonde wood but it is a little bit heavier than the cedar.

Testing on my neighbor's pond

Add caption

Still need a rudder rig.  (do you think the skeg is fat enough!)

After testing it on the Pond we put it in the back of the truck and went to the river.  Two of us and the dog and it rowed easily enough from either the forward or aft station.  The dog still can't sit still in a boat.

Took it to the river to see how it rows.  It rows just fine.


Row your boat,

Gently down the stream!!!!

Launch and Naming ceremony yet to come!

Monday, May 7, 2012

Buttons & sockets & Dogs

The buttons, or catches for the hatches,
have been worked out and put on.  Simple solution, a bit of wood and a screw to make buttons that turn.
Aft compartment with catches for the hatches!
I am trying to figure out what to do about toe rails.  I like the color of the cedar in this application, but it isn't very tough and it doesn't seem to bend easily.  The yellow pine would probably bend easiest, but I really like the contrasting dark color of the cedar and the teak I have thought about.  The teak is the least likely as is is reclaimed, like all this wood, and I don't have any suitable pieces.

Fore hatch & mast step and partner.

I plan to drill a hole on each side of the mast partner opening to take pins or simply take line for securing the mast.

Most expensive single items on the boat are the bronze oarlocks, & sockets.
The paint is also a high price item.
I am not sure how good an idea it was to use these oar lock sockets, as they go thru the gunwale making a hole 1/2 the it's width.  If the gunwales break here then I will know it was a bad idea.
I am going to use sockets that mount to the inside of the gunwales for the forward rowing position.
I couldn't carve a figure on the stem so Chilly decided to stand in.
It was such a nice day that I had to roll the little boat out of the shop and just look at it.  Chilly actually seemed pretty comfortable lying in there.  One of the reasons I am building this boat is so that I can go out for a row and bring Chilly along.
testing out the sleeping arrangements
 Varnish, a method for securing the thwarts and I think it's time to get her in the water.  Very humid and rainy for a while so I don't know how much varnishing I'll be doing.

Anxious to get this thing to the water soon.

Thursday, May 3, 2012


Down to the details and they say that's where the devil is!  I decided to use some of the reclaimed yellow pine for the coamings.  The cedar weighed less but I was worried about it being strong enough in an area that might get some abuse.

Forward coaming and mast partner
 I have yet to make the mast step.  The sail rig, if it ever gets put together will be for light use, nothing that is meant to make the boat go screaming along at all, more of a fair wind assist.
aft coaming
 The sculling notch in the stern should be places to one side to be really practical and I might make up another piece to do just that, though the symmetry of the placement in the center is pleasing.
stern coaming/taffrail