Friday, June 28, 2013

Gettin' wet

We piled the pram and the new boat into the back of the truck and headed for the lake.
like pancakes.
 Perfect weather for a first time out in a new boat.
Liz and her new boat.
The boat is small and with that size comes some definite limitations.  Liz seems to like it.  It seemed very tender.  She didn't complain.  It also seemed squirrelly.  I think that I will add a skeg to the underbody to help it track better.
First time out
The boat doesn't seem as small when she is in it.  With her in it the boat draws about 2 inches, maybe 3.  She has to be very aware of where she sits to trim the boat a tiny bit down in the stern seems to make it track better.
The micro canoe.
I got in and tried her out.  Very tender, not a trait I appreciate in any boat.  Otherwise it seems to be about what I expected.  I think I could have increased the beam a bit and decreased the freeboard to get that extra bottom width.  I think that the pram has much more stability because of this added 6 inches on the beam, and carrying the width farther out to the ends.
The boat will do what it was made to do just fine.  It will be an easy way to get on the pond.  Liz portaged the boat just fine.
Happy girl in a boat built for her.

My little boats stirred a friends memory of this.

"Wynken, Blynken, and Nod"

Wynken, Blynken, and Nod one night
Sailed off in a wooden shoe —
Sailed on a river of crystal light,
Into a sea of dew.
"Where are you going, and what do you wish?"
The old moon asked the three.
"We have come to fish for the herring fish
That live in this beautiful sea;
Nets of silver and gold have we!"
Said Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.

The old moon laughed and sang a song,
As they rocked in the wooden shoe,
And the wind that sped them all night long
Ruffled the waves of dew.
The little stars were the herring fish
That lived in that beautiful sea —
"Now cast your nets wherever you wish —
Never afeard are we";
So cried the stars to the fishermen three:
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.

All night long their nets they threw
To the stars in the twinkling foam —
Then down from the skies came the wooden shoe,
Bringing the fishermen home;
'Twas all so pretty a sail it seemed
As if it could not be,
And some folks thought 'twas a dream they'd dreamed
Of sailing that beautiful sea —
But I shall name you the fishermen three:
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod.

Wynken and Blynken are two little eyes,
And Nod is a little head,
And the wooden shoe that sailed the skies
Is a wee one's trundle-bed.
So shut your eyes while mother sings
Of wonderful sights that be,
And you shall see the beautiful things
As you rock in the misty sea,
Where the old shoe rocked the fishermen three:
Wynken, Blynken, and Nod

written by American writer and poet Eugene Field and published on March 9, 1889. The original title was Dutch Lullaby.

Maxfield Parrish

His and Hers

So Liz's boat is finished.  I really like it.  All the wood and varnish make it look special.  I am eager to see her in it and on the water.

I decided to change the rowing situation on the pram for the 4th time, I think.  Brought it up to the shop and worked on it then took the opportunity to see both boats together.
His & hers.
In some ways the boats are very similar and in others so very different.  I have enjoyed watching the evolution of my building style and methods.  I suppose I am giving myself a education that moves in baby steps over a long period of time.  I have built 3 boats over a year and a half, all of similar type, but each different in the particulars and the intended use.
Pram & Double paddle canoe
I took off the red oak oar locks that were on the pram for 2 reasons.  First, the red oak just looked out of place on the boat overall.  Second,  If I was to use the double paddle option then they would be in the way.  I had always intended for the oar locks to be removable so that either rowing or paddling could be chosen.  Now I have a 1-1/2" x 3/4" x 12" thole pin that bolts to the frame with a bolt and wing nut for easy removal.

My fleet is growing.  Seems a bit crazy at times to have so many boats, but I am sure they said the same thing about Imelda Marcos and her shoes, and we know she was as sane as any of us, right?  I think that building boats is like any addiction, "Hi, my name is Richard and I am a boat-aholic".  Actually it feels more like a therapy, the way painting a canvas or throwing a clay pot, or playing guitar, are therapeutic as well as artistic.
I think I am ready for the next phase of my apprenticeship.  I am not sure what that is but it feels like I have done the "One sheet of plywood, flat bottom boat" and of my own dimensions and could move on.  Maybe a multi chined boat, maybe a stitch & glue, definitely a longer boat.
I like that these boats are inexpensive to build, really cheap, and use very little "milled" purchased wood.  The plywood is a guilt trip for me to some degree.  It takes a bit of manufacturing and shipping and cutting to make a sheet of plywood, as well as some chemicals that aren't so nice.  I think these boats already have a limited life span because of the type of plywood, glue and finish I am using, so I go ahead and use the Plywood.  If I could build a traditional planked boat, or dug out, all with found materials I would, but then again, I don't know that I could build the type of boats I would use with that method, so then why build at all?  I have built 3 boats and used 5 sheets of plywood.  I think that's OK.  I don't feel too badly about it.
I think about building for other people but I don't know that anybody would want one of my boats.  They are easy enough to build and I think people should just build their own if they want won.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013


Liz's boat.  I am pretty happy with the way it came out.  The test will be how it works for her.
first coats of varnish

The floors have gotten varnished too.  I decided to just varnish the entire boat.  There is something very, very pleasing about the wood grain and the gloss finish.

So the boat is basically done, but for a few more coats of "shiny".

I like that this boat, these boats that I have built, won't last for ever, maybe not even the rest of my days.  the wood and the varnish allow for some moderated aging.  All things should eventually crumble and decay.  The pleasure of building a boat is such that I think lots of people should get the chance to do it, so the idea of handing down a boat to another generation becomes less appealing to me.  Let my children have the experience on their own.  Let me have it again when the time comes, when these boats are beyond repair.

Friday, June 14, 2013


Got the bottom glassed up today.  I used 3 oz. glass clothe which is half the weight of what I have previously used.  I chose this weight because I wanted to toughen up the bottom but wanted the boat as light as possible.  3 oz. is very thin.
3 oz, glass clothe is very thin.
 I masked off the bottom of the boat and fitted the glass to the bottom.  Usually I wet out the wood with epoxy first, but this stuff is so thin I decided to just pour the epoxy right on top and then work it out and thru the clothe.  This seems like it should be fine.
As I was doing this I decided to put grounding keels on the boat.  These will give some small protection when on the ground and will give the frames inside the boat something to rest on other than the thin bottom.  They may also add a bit of directional stability, or tracking.
Glass on grounding keels epoxied and weighted in place.
I am just using epoxy to attach the grounding keels rather than gorilla glue and screws as I have done in the past.
I didn't get a chance to trim the extra clothe when the epoxy was partially cured, as I usually do so I may have to do a bit more sanding after I cut of the excess.  I am busy for a few days so all should have plenty of time to cure.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

Ready for Glass Armor

I glued up the gunnels and sanded them all down.
Gunnels On.
cedar floors/seat are 3/8" by 1-1/2" by 24", screwed to frames.

I then decided to make the floors using the cedar stock I had.  That turned out pretty nice I think.
I have finished off any shaping that needed to be done and sanded the whole boat down.  I suppose it is ready to be finished off.
It's a canoe!
Now I can see what the boat turned out to be.

When I was done I walked past a board that was leaning against the wall and I got a wild idea.  I drew out a shape for a greenland style paddle and cut it down to size with a draw knife and a spoke shave.  It isn't a good piece of wood and not very practical but it was fun to do and let me see how it looks on the boat.
Ready to paddle!
I am not sure about the finish.  I'd kind of like to leave it all bright, varnished, but I am not sure how that will hold up.  I was very careful to be neat about pencil marks and scratches this time and it certainly could just be varnished.  I will glass the bottom and then decide.
I think I have decided not to put a keel on it.  I think it will sit deep enough in the water to not need one.  I can change my mind later if it turns out not to track well.

Wednesday, June 12, 2013


I started putting in the inwales yesterday.  I decided that rather than have them meet up flush to the thwarts and breasthooks and stem, I'd have them tapper off at their ends.  This makes it a little easier and in the end will look just fine.
the inwales (3/4"x1/4" yellow pine) will be glued in as well as screwed thru to the
outwale with 1-1/4" ss screws.
 These inwales are mainly there so that I can fasten thru them to the out wale and make a sandwich of the plywood sides, for protection and strength and the layers of different wood will look nice when finished.
the small pieces in the bow will just be glued in place

The thick gunnel adds a visual heft to the boat that it didn't have before.

Monday, June 10, 2013

Another rainy day

Another rainy day makes for very leisurely work on the boat.  Today I caulked the seam between the stems and the sides on the inside, so that I might attach the breast hooks and not have to work around them later.
Seams caulked with clear (it dries clear) house caulk.
 I then proceeded to attach the breast hooks that are now shaped and sanded.  They are attached with 4 screws each and G-glue.  I probably should of varnished them before attaching but I do like to do things the hard way sometimes, or so it seems.

breast hook attached.  Note the shape of the stem.  I have since cut
down to the dado.
I also cut the stems down so that they are 2 inches proud of the sheer and matching the sheer line.  The cedar is such a soft wood and shapes easily, but that means it will also get abused easily.
Almost ready.
I guess next I will put in the inwales.  I decided to do them in sections so each side will have 5 separate pieces.  Once that is glued in place I will screw thru it to the gunnel.  This will keep the plywood and cedar sandwiched between the tougher yellow pine.

Friday, June 7, 2013

Inside job

Today was a rainy day, just right for working inside, on the inside of a boat.
the thwarts and floors and breast hooks all
being test fitted
I tried to make use of some scrap for the floors but I think they may be a touch to thin.  They are a bit flexy.  I might try 'em anyway.  The thwarts are 36 inches apart, far enough apart, I hope, to not make it hard to get in and out of the boat.

It is really starting to look the real canoe, I think.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Nice bottom!

Woke up this morning eager to take the clamps off.  Immediately started cleaning up the edge with a plane and sureform. I rounded over the bottom edge of the plywood to make a softer turn for the fiberglass that will cover the bottom and up to the chine.  This is the way I did it on WHISP and that worked out pretty well.
Bottom on and planing down to the chine.

The plywood on the bottom has some spots where it has delaminated.  I think this is a result of stress and moisture or, it could be a quality control issue.  I am not worried as that area will have an added layer of fiber glass to protect the bottom and the epoxy should help with the plywood lamination as well.

The cedar floor frames are a bit beefy but they are light.
 This is the point when I get really happy.  It is actually a boat now and can float if I wanted to put it in the water.  How cool is that?  I built another boat, and of my own design!?  It is very gratifying to look at it.  Can't wait to see Liz in it and  to see how it floats and paddles.

Liz's boat.  I think I may leave the stems proud like they
are.  It kind of helps it look not so short.
While having my coffee this morning, I came up and idea for a kayak style boat I'd like to design and build.  It would be about 12 or 14 feet long, about 2 foot 6 inch beam and be kind of an unsinkable boat.  It is like a sit on top but a little bit more husky.  One of the things I don't like about my glass yak is that the cockpit is very small and getting in and out is not so simple as just standing up.  I also don't like that I can't relax, lie back and enjoy the surroundings easily.  That is something about kayaks in general that I am not so thrilled about.  But my idea is a light weight, roomy, double paddle boat that I might be able to carry on my HP challenged Vanagon, to nice, warm blu water and feel comfortable in.  Liz's boat could do it but it is not meant for that kind of water.
I think I will build a model.  I guess I should order a pizza so I can use the box to build the model ;)

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

"Rudder, we don't need no stinking rudder!"

Took the skiff to the lake today for an evening sail.  I love this boat.  This was the first sail since the mast partner mishap and repair.  The new set up is great so far.
It took a few minutes for my body to remember how to sail this boat.  It is more like surfing than sailing in some ways.  Steering with my body position and, or, weight combined with mainsheet trim takes not thinking about how it works and just doing it.
What  I am coming to believe is that the boat has lee helm because of it's slight underbody all being aft in the skeg.  This explains all the other tendencies that come with moving about to one side or the other or fore and aft.
Though it may just confuse things I think I will build the rudder I had thought to build.  I'd like to see how that works out.
For now, I am just glad to be sailing again, and ecstatic that it is in a boat I built.

Bottom's up

Today I got the bottom of Liz's boat cut out and attached.
bottom ready for attachment
 I set the remaining piece of plywood, 2'x8' , on top of the chines, clamped it down at the middle then traced out the shape on the outside.  Then I flipped it over and cut it out with the electric jig saw.  I cut just outside the line to leave some wood for trimming up and shaping later.  At the very middle of the boat the bottom is exactly as wide as the boat.

I was in a mood so I got to glueing it up right away.
Bottom glued and screwed to the chines
The weights were used to press the bottom down on the cross frames.  A screw every 6" and Gorilla glue should be more than sufficient to hold it on.
I am very happy about my choice of the bevel angle for the chine.  It seems spot on, the bottom sits very flat on the chine.

Get my mind back on business

Now that the presentation at the Library is over I can get my mind back to things that feel more normal.  The presentation was fun and I really enjoyed the people I met, but it did kind of harken back to things from the past with the set up, performance like feeling, and I haven't had to deal with that in a while and can honestly say, I don't miss it.
It was nice to have the casual and friendly feeling of just a bunch of people getting together to talk about boats.  It should happen once a month maybe, but at a nice pub or club house.  It probably does, I'm just not there.
I can get to putting the bottom on Liz's boat now.  That will be exciting, at least this moment always has been.  It's the moment when the wood and screws and glue actually become a boat, and can float.
BUT FIRST, I am off to the water to enjoy and test out the new mast partner sailing rig.  I would be happy just to row today as I have been inspired by a woman named Sarah Ouhten.  She is rowing from Japan to Canada right now.  Check her out.  She is way cool.
Thanks to all who attended the presentation last night!  We had a good turn out.  I really appreciated the friendly faces and the warm relations.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Liz's boat a pleasant distraction

Today I got the frames in so that I can now put the bottom on.  The frames fasten to the chines so that the weight of a person is distributed to there.  I cut them from cedar and put in limber holes for the water to move about thru.  Each frame has a screw in the end and glue.

(reclaimed decking) cedar frames for the floors

Limber holes for the water to run thru, though this boat could just be tipped over
easily enough
After tonight is past I can get back to thinking only about this boat and that will be a relief.