Saturday, November 30, 2013


In finalizing the design of the salon table for the Venture I have decided not to use the wooden hinges I had hoped to use.  Using wooden hinges would require a larger hinge than is ideal for this application.  As the table and the boat are small and that space is at a premium I have decided to use a piano hinge that I had lying around.
The table leg will fold against the bottom of the table when the table is stowed.  The leg is a scrap piece of red oak and the "hinge ears" are cut offs from the table top.  The leg will be cut to size when the table is put in place.
the leg will go underneath the table.
The table top will be cut along a line six inches from the outboard end, which is about where the hinge sits in the picture.
All scrap wood and parts.
the sea rails are yellow pine.
The pieces at on the other side of the hinge will be a little box/shelf to hold things against the hull that might be a little bit tall, say maybe a cup or glass or condiments or binoculars or.......Inside the box are the holes that will take the bolts that secure the table to the hull flange that was glassed in at the factory I presume.  I chose not to put a back on the box to allow for access to these bolts, besides the hull will work as a back.

I had to use a scraper to take off the finish on the table top.  I think it was a wax stain.  It just gummed up the sandpaper as I tried to use it, the scraper seemed to be the best way to remove the wax and it was quicker.
A neighbor got the scraper for me at an antiques shop.  In truth, when he brought it to me I wasn't sure I'd find a use for it, but now that I know how to use it, and when, I find that I am really happy to have it.  As he said, it is what they used before sand paper.
I have found good satisfaction from using human powered tools in the shop.  The whir of electric motors, to say nothing of the noise of gas engines, is offensive to me and keeps me from hearing the music I have playing or the thoughts running thru my own head.  The trade for the extra work it takes me is not a cost at all to me as it keeps me active and using my body that would otherwise go soft and lazy or injured easily.

Version 1 of a sculling oar notch
to go on the transom.
Made from a scrap piece off a pallet. 
In my continuous search for redundancy and sensible things, I have started to fashion this sculling notch to be bolted onto the transom of the boat.  The oar I have onboard already is about 9 and 1/2 feet long and in my test of how it would work should propel the boat just fine.  This is a first attempt at the notch and I think I may try again with a more rounded notch rather than this one with such hard corners.  The thought was to capture the oar to some degree but I thing this can be done well enough, even better with a round notch.  The piece is cut at an angle to match, to some degree the angle of the oar shaft as it passes the transom.

The sculling oar will be a big benefit if the engine is either out of gas or fails to perform.  With the cold weather it also allows me not to run the engine and have the possibility of it freezing up in the impeller after it is run.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Wooden hinges

One of the winter building projects I am allowing myself to do on Ventura is a folding table for eating/writing at.  The original design had a table and there is still a fiberglassed flange along the hull where it went.  As is my custom, I picked up a table top that was lying in a trash pile, some time ago.  It is going to be the table for the boat.
The thing that is challenging for this project is that I'd like to make the hinges for the table out of wood.  I saw a guy on Youtube build a cabinet door with hinges of wood and now I am wanting to do it myself.
  ▶ Making wooden hinges - YouTube 

I am concerned that a table will have more stress than a small door and will try to make adjustments for that.
Even if I do not have success with the wooden hinges I can still make the hinge out of used and reclaimed parts, as I have a few spare parts to choose from.

I don't have a drill press, well not really.  I have this thing a friend gave me that adapts a hand drill to a drill press.  I am spending a bit of time trying to get it set up to run plum and square.

I did the hinges by eye and free hand with a power drill, we shall see how that turns out.

I love the idea of making many of the new parts out of wood, as there seems to be a lot of it available to me, and I know that the world operated on that level of technology for a long time.  I like mixing the modern fiberglass (but used or reclaimed) boat with wooden and older or simpler parts to fix or replace broken things onboard.

Monday, November 25, 2013

Sailing past the Bouy

Out for a quick afternoon sail today.  The temps were just around the freezing mark, though I thought it didn't feel that cold.  The wind was light.  The local weather stations weren't getting any readings on their anemometers.  The  smoke and steam rising from the power plants and factories was going straight up, slowly.  Still, at the waters surface wind could be seen rifling across the surface and the little boat made way.  Actually we moved right along and even had a few gusts to contend with.  We sailed south a few miles down to the next channel marker buoy and then back.  Beam reach on both tacks.

So far this season we've been in the water six weeks and we've sailed six times.  Right on target.  We have a batch of nasty weather coming up so we may ruin our average soon.  We'll see.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Skiff wind

We were treated to a warm sunny saturday morning, the first saturday I've had to myself in a long while, so of course, I wanted to go sailing.  The wind was forecast to be light to calm so I thought I'd settle for a row on the river.  Wanting to spend time with my girls, my wife and my dog, I thought the skiff would be ideal for this endeavor.

launching into the marsh
at the kayak launch.
I pulled the boat into the back of the truck.  It took more time to pull the truck up the the boat shed than it took to load and tie down the boat.  I was again amazed at how easy and quick it is to be ready to start an adventure with this boat.

We have never all been in the boat at once and we were a little concerned for how we'd fit.  The dog is not the most willing sailor and fidgets most of the time, straining to see and smell what land based interests she is missing by being in a small boat.  With 2 adults, a dog, a bag with snacks and the sailing rig lying in the boat we set off.  It actually fit us just fine.  Though narrow, the cockpit is long, 7'-6" and flat.  Because I can remove any and all of the thwarts we can have clear floor space, which is just what an old dog likes.

After rowing out from the marsh and under two bridges we decided to raise the mast and see if the light air would pull the boat.
I was also concerned about how this would work with the boat being so crowded but there was no need as it all went quite smoothly.  Because I had got in the bows to row, that was where I was going to stay.  It seemed a bit much to try and swap positions fore and aft in such a skinny boat.  So with the dog amidships, she was deemed the commander, the wife in the stern she took the steering oar and I trimmed the mainsheet which was led all the way forward after it found it's block on the after deck.  This arrangement actually worked out fine.

It turned out that there was enough wind to sail and we made our way up river to the light house on the point on one tack before we attempted our return.  The return was a bit closer to the wind so it took two tacks, but we did sail our way back.  The distance from the launch to the point couldn't be more than 3 miles so a 5 or 6 mile trip took us about 3 hours.  The tide was against us on the return but not by much.  The rate of travel wasn't as important as the fact that we were able to make way in our chosen direction, with no centerboard and steering with an oar, and a pretty good load in the boat.  The fact that it took as long as it did was a bonus in that it allowed us all to spend some time together soaking up the sun and feeling very happy to be where we were.

A dog, a boat, my wife and
a warm fall day.
We saw a few power boats moving up and down the river and one sail boat under power headed down river, but we saw no other boats under sail nor did we see and kayaks or row boats.  We had the place mostly to ourselves and that was just fine

Friday, November 15, 2013

Show me the Money!

Just for giggles I am going to keep track of what my winter sailing season is costing me and post it.  With each sail the cost goes down.

At 4 weeks in the water, and 5 sails so far each sail is costing about $125 a week, or, $100 a sail.

Now I was to charter a boat for myself to sail for a day, on my own, I'd be beating the rates already, best guess, because, I don't know of any sailboat rentals in the area.

At the end of my half a year of slip rental it will have cost me under $20 a week to keep the boat in the water.  Not bad, I think.  But I think one has to consider how many of those weeks will be suitable for sailing and how many of them will I actually get out.  So I will keep a running total going.

It is kind of silly I know, but I want to show how attainable the whole thing can be if one is willing to throw off convention and have some fun.
The yacht that came with the $800 trailer and outboard motor that I bought.
"Bottom paint, We don't need no stinking bottom paint!"
In the cold water growth on the bottom of the boat is much less, almost none.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

CYC, 55'f wind wsw, 12-15 w/gusts....

November, sure it is.  Sure most of the boats are on the hard and wrapped in blue plastic.  Sure it was sunny and breezy and warm in the sun and a great day to go sailing!
With the reef row complete and set in we had a pretty good run around the bay.  I had to change down to the smallest jib and even then the gusts had us healing over pretty well and made the tiller strain.  All great fun.

I do have a concern about this boat.  It seems to have very strong weather helm.  Even with the main flogging and only the jib drawing the gusts can have the boat rounding up into the wind.  I haven't tried sailing with just the jib, which I will do next time out to see if she still seems to have weather helm.  Don't know what I'd do if she does.
On the positive side though she does round up when the wind is overpowering, rather than being knocked down or running away down wind.

The only other challenging thing about this boat is that the tiller is hard to get away from for a moment.  Today I tried using a bungee cord stretched across the cockpit and wrapped around the tiller.  This is easy to adjust or over power if I need to and actually allowed me to go forward long enough to shoot this video.
By the time I returned to the marina boats I had seen in slips were now sitting on land, banished from the water for the season.

Not so many years ago I was pushing the sailing season too.  One night, during the dark,  the river iced over and my boat got caught out in it.  It took a week before the ice was clear enough to get to the boat, and by that time the boat and it's 300lb. mooring anchor had dragged quite a ways up river and towards the shore.  In truth, nothing bad happened to the boat and a few weeks later when the river ice flow was clear enough I got to sail down closer to the ocean and the salty water that wasn't frozen solid.  The trip down was great and adventurous and I had 2 good friends on board to share the excitement with.  We took turns at the bow calling out ice hazards.  It was an experience that I wouldn't trade, not even all the worry about loosing my boat as I watched it heel over and ground every low tide, all the time worrying that the ice would consume it.  I learned a lot about my boat, ice, and my attachment to things.

I don't want to have any drama this winter, but I do want to have fun sailing, adventure sailing, and even a chance to learn more about my boat, the water, and myself.
The entire CYC membership.

CYC, Contrarians Yacht Club!

The Flying Dutchman, 1896
Albert Pinkham Ryder, 1847-1917

In true contrarian form the CYC is not really a yacht club, as it does not have an actual physical club house or own any land or special rights to the water, and it doesn't have a membership other than myself!

I find that I almost always end up doing things contrary to convention, outside of  the normative way and therefore, often on my own.  It is not with a purpose other than to do what seems to me the most logical and effective and enjoyable way of going about something, but even so, I end up having to go against the tide, as it were.

So with my new found joy at having started my sailing season as most all of the other boats in the area have been hauled out, pressure washed, had engines winterized, as well as water systems, and then wrapped up in plastic to keep that put away damp perfume in them until springtime, when all that plastic that covers the plastic boats will be removed and thrown into a landfill, I have decided to initiate the CYC, The Contrarians Yacht Club.  It's membership, should anybody else be so perverse as to want to take part in this, will exist where it does and in no central location, but being that all the waters of the earth are connected, even the fresh water lakes thru condensation and rain, snow this way we are all connected.

Club logo and burgee design yet to be determined!  For that matter, the club charter is yet to be determined too, but in contrarian fashion, maybe we shall have no charter!  I would like a burgee though.

The motto of the club is "Simply Messing about with Convention, in boats", or something to that affect.  Really the idea is to get on the water when ever possible and to enjoy it.  The look of the vessel you choose to get out in is not as important as the fun & adventure it can provide.

Quotes from Famous former members of the CYC:

'Desperate affairs require desperate measures.'
Lord Nelson

'There is no way of dealing with the Frenchman  the establishment & wealthy Yachtsman but to knock him down – to be civil to them is to be laughed at. Why they are enemies!'
11 Jan 1798, Lord Nelson

Audre Lorde was not actually a sailor, as far as I know, but in contrarian fashion, she gets remembered here anyway because what she says makes sense!  Joshua Slocum might just be the best example of a CYC member.  Lord Horatio Nelson was very strong on duty to his nation, but he gets a place in the CYC for not being a wimp and not giving in.
I found this on the internet. Might be hard to read so this is what it says
"Wow, Look at that boat!"
"she's a racing machine"
"I'd sure like o have a boat like that"
"Wonder what the owner is doing today"
Another supreme example of a CYC member.
"A ship is safe in harbor, but that is not what ships are for"
John Shedd, 1859-1928
“I am continuing non-stop because I am happy at sea, and perhaps because I want to save my soul.”
Bernard Moitessier, about resigning from the Sunday Times Golden Globe race.
So, I am embracing my seemingly constant tendency to sail to windward, go against the tide, wear unfashionable shoes, choose other peoples discards for my treasures,  row rather than motor, sail rather than motor, walk rather than motor, motor rather than fly, write rather than text, choose an alternate tuning........The Contrarian's Yacht Club is born!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Adding a Reef

Today I sewed in some reefing points for my mainsail on the Venture.  I hand stitched the patches and hammered in the grommets.  I then put a seizing on the grommets too.
reef grommet on the luff

I also made patches and sewed them on for the reef points and gaskets.  Outside the shop it was breezy and a few showers rained down.  This all made for a good time to be sewing.  The patches all came from and old sail off of another boat.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Snug in a the cabin

Small craft warning out on the ocean and the sound.  Here we have big gusts that heel the boat in it's slip, with no sails on because I have pulled the mainsail off to add the reef point.  I watch a wind vane turbine on another boat whir and sound as if it is going to take off, then it goes still and spins.  The dark grey clouds that are rolling in from the west are dropping tiny bits of moisture, some frozen.
watching a few flurries come down!
I brought the mainsail down to set it and finalize the mark for the reef point on the luff, but it is too windy to try to even put the sail back on the boom and mast.  So I snug in below and watch the sky roll by, listen to the clanking of the halyards on distant boats, and feel the boat come up on it's mooring lines as the wind pushes around the slip.  It's cold out but I am snug down in the cabin.  This is the thing that makes a boat for me, the cabin to retreat to.  Most of my sailing time is spent above decks and it sometimes seems silly to care at all about a cabin, but when it becomes important, it means everything in a way.

From down below I look around and ponder the projects that I will get to eventually to make the boat more comfortable.  A table to write and eat at, a galley area that will keep cooking items contained and ready, cushions for a bunk and for a seat, an awning over the boom to keep out snow and rain.  All these things will make the little boat a little home, a turtle shell, a home to take with me where ever we go.

This boat is a few feet longer than I'd like it to be.  My first boat was a 19' Cape Dory Typhoon.  I started at a pretty high level of sail boat.  This is a real step down in some ways, but in others it is a step up.  For instance the Cape Dory, which I named Uncas, had a draft of 2'6".  You really don't want to beach a boat like that and it is just past the draft that trailering becomes an easy option.  Ventura on the other hand could beach easily enough and launches easy too.  The Typhoon was in really great shape and in truth I never really ever needed more boat than that little 19 footer.  I love my Bristol 27, mostly because it is a larger version of the very same hull and rig from the Typhoon.  I know how to sail those boats like they are a part of me.  This little Venture 21 will serve us well, I think.  It is a bit small down below, but big enough to have a galley, a table, berths and room for miscellaneous gear storage.  Any more room and that would mean more weight and complexity.

As most any boat owner does, I always turn and look back at my boat when I am leaving her.  Partly to give one last check to see she is sitting, tied up, and put away properly, but really just to admire her.  It is a bit of a challenge with this boat as she is in such sad shape, and not just from neglect.  Her lines are not very elegant.  Her stern ends abruptly after a mostly straight run of the sheer from midships and there is no rise up out of the water.  I will have to learn to love her look because of what it means practically.  The plum stern and out hung rudder means more room in the boat.  I would value that more if the boat was 17 foot LOA rather than 21'.   As I said, she is a little more than I need, but one shouldn't look a gift boat in the waterline.  That actually has a practical side in that berth's are charged by the foot.  Actually, I think I'd only save about $25 dollars for a 17 footer as the minimum rate is for a 20' boat length.

As I look at her I can imagine the wooden toe rails that will get added next summer and the paint to the hull.  The little bit of wood should improve her looks a bit as well as our footing on the foredeck.  Wood handrails on the coach roof will do much the same.  If I can find a cheap (free) option for a stern pulpit I'd like to add this as well.

Until til I get to these projects I am content to know that the view from the cockpit while under sail and the view thru the companionway up at the sky are just as nice as any other boat out there.