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.

Sunday, November 15, 2015


Went out on our 5 acre pond this morning.  The pond isn't really ours, or when I say ours I mean the area's pond.  Anyway I portaged the pram down the 700 ft or so, with little effort.  This is what that pram was intended for.  It being early sunday morning the place was mine to share with the birds and squirrels.
The really great thing about being out there this morning was the reacquaintance with the virtues of this little boat.  It is small but it does so very well for what it is.  I didn't bring along the CrazyCreek chair that I wanted to tryout in the boat.  I think that it, or something like it will add great comfort while just sitting and enjoying  the view.  I am tempted to just make a wooden seat/backrest for the boat but I really don't want to clutter the space up any more or add weight to it.
With this experience fresh in my mind I think I can imagine how the WEE PUP must handle.  The dimensions are just different enough to make a real impact.
Just enough boat, just
I am pretty happy with this little boat and sometimes it just takes seeing it again, or using it again to remind of just how happy about it I am.
Oh yes, I think every boat should have a set of oars made just for it as well.
I look eagerly forward to this winter's build.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Double paddling

L.F.H.'s double paddle canoe?
While sitting in my fiberglass kayak, paddling upon a placid lake, surrounded by fire like Autumnal leaf expressions, I fantasize about the double paddle canoe/kayak I might build.  I pay attention to the boat I am in and all of it's positive attributes so that I might bring them to the boat that I might build.  I pay attention to the boat I am in and all of it's negative attributes so that I might avoid them in the the boat that I might build.
A ripple in the water disturbs my minds wanderings and I look down into the fresh clean water and see the small sunfish below.  It is as if I am flying above the underwater world of rocks and grass that is below the surface.   I wonder if those fish look up at me the same way I look up at the red tailed hawks and the turkey vultures that seem to be ever present in the skies here.
As I think about the boat I want to build and get excited at it's possibility I realize that I am, at that moment, in a boat, and in a wonderful and beautiful setting, easily paddling along, and wonder why it is that I want something more than what I have right at this moment.  In the next moment I know that I don't need anything more.
Oh I may yet build that other boat, but if it never happens I still have a boat, a good one, and the chance to use it, and that is certainly good enough, not just good enough, but really good.

"It is my opinion that the double paddle canoe gives the most fun for the money of any type of boat a person can poses"-L. Francis Herreschoff

Sunday, November 1, 2015

The power of a straight line

I have been thinking about acquiring another fiberglass sailboat, the Venture 17, to be more specific.  I have found a nice 40 year old example in good condition, for a reasonable price.  The dilemma I face is wether or not to acquire another "plastic" boat, another adequate boat, another compromise, but something that would get me quickly out on the water.
This morning, it being a grey, damp, chilly, Autumnal sunday, and not having any other commitments than the coffee pot, the wood stove, and thinking about boats, I was looking at the picture I have of the Venture 17 and wondering what it was that I found so unappealing about it.  I then looked at pictures of my other boats and the thing became obvious right away.
The Ventures have a plum stern, straight up and down, and look as if somebody just came along and cut off the section to be used as it came sliding out of a sausage grinder or the playdough machine/toys we had as children.  This alone is not such a bad thing and has plenty of practical things to recommend it.  The rudder and outboard are much easier to hang on this kind of stern.  The volume, and thus the useful space inboard carries all the way to the end of the boat.  The water line length is potentially greater.  It could add reserve bouncy astern.  It's easy to construct.  This last bit shouldn't really be a concern for a fiberglass boat that can be molded to any shape pretty easily.
The Ventures also have a straight sheerline, with no rise at the bow or stern.  This gives the aft quarter the visual similarity to a shoe box.  Because the bow is higher than the stern, this gives the over look a rather crude, blunt and unappealing quality when viewed from the side.
I do think that the boat looks just fine in plan or while standing at the dock looking down onto the deck.  The beam and shape from this perspective is very good, I think.
In the boats I designed and built for myself I have always had a bit of shape to the sheer, a bit of arc in the sheer line.  That has as much to do with the nature of a plank of wood bending in 3 dimensions to accommodate the  beam, flare and the ends coming together, as it does with my own aesthetic preference.
The curved line in the sheer seems to reflect something a bit more natural and less humanly forced.  On the transom a bit of angle there gives the idea of continuation and motion and seems more able to interact with the sea than a flat surface would.
So, the end result was that I am putting off the acquisition of the Venture 17, for at least another day.  I won't buy it today because I don't have to, or really want to.  It would be too much of an aesthetic compromise and how I feel about a boat is very important.
While looking at the photos of my other boats, their construction and their launchings, I was reminded of the feelings I had then.  I was excited about them, inspired by their looks, proud of the thing that I had coaxed out of some unrelated bits of wood and glue and fasteners and paint and daydreams.  That is a very different feeling than what I was anticipating having in purchasing another assembly line fiberglass vessel with little in the way of looks or spirit.  I will say that this particular vessel is well kept and probably given it's stewards a good bit of fun, adventure, and pride, or at least it's condition would reflect this.
I have the good fortune to ask a little bit more of a boat than just economy, or just convenience, or just immediacy of ownership.  I have had to wait before, and had to do the work, and had to come up with the craft and suffered the discovery of my own limitations in the application of that craft, and it has all been a positive experience.  So, if I can, I will NOT buy this boat and rather build my own answer to my sailing challenges.  After all it is such good fun just daydreaming of a boat that might be and what it might do with me in it.

On the practical side it would also be in my econmic favor to build the boat, if my past builds can be used as a measure.  I also really need to finish getting the shop in order so that I can add the centerboard to the skiff and see what difference that makes in it's sailing ability, and thusly, my enthusiasm for taking her out on the water.

Monday, October 26, 2015


Venture 17
Be careful what you wish for, it might just show up and then you'll have to make a choice.

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)

Thursday, June 4, 2015


I know that there is something elemental missing from these photo's, like water, but one step at a time.  Presenting the Venture 21s.  "S" stands for short rig.
Formerly the staysail, now the jib.  Kinda small but it'll work
The shortened main sail.  Always was short along the foot.
The sail actually has roach to the leech but I don't have the battens in.
Cut and pasted jib, from the first photo into the second and now we
have all working sail up.

It's not a lot of canvas but I ain't racing and at this point in my experience with this boat, I'd rather be under canvased.  (Wink, wink, nod, nod).  I hope to be in the water next week.  Before the equinox would be nice.

My rigging measurements were good

New rigging copper swaged eyes, slathered in lanolin and
covered in heat shrink tubbing.
Workboat handsome, or industrially cute?
I stepped the mast today with the newly made rigging.  All the measures were good.  The turnbuckles were about 60 % open when it was all snugged up.  That should leave some room to take up if and when things stretch out under strain.
It was a breezy day so not only was I wishing that I was launching, but I also had to be careful about raising sails while the boat was on the trailer, which I did to see how things fit.
The small jib which was the staysail is truly small, but, it fits nicely on the forestay.  I have yet to alter the jib and genny to fit the new rig measures.
I also set the main, which was much easier for the topping lift that I added to the boom, but still awkward as the mast is really designed to have the luff, as well as the foot of the mainsail in the groove.  This main has the roping on it to set it this way but lugs have been put along the luff.  I'm not sure why this was done and only realized this now after owning the boat for a year and a half.  Duh!
Anyway, the mainsail's new height is good.  I may end up with a lot of chafe as the leach passes under the back stay and the topping lift.
I took pictures but my phone is having issues sending them to the computer.(piece 'o' shite!)  I'll add them later.
I will say again that it is so much easier to raise this mast now.  I suppose that the 15% of length that is no longer out at the end of it makes a lot of difference.
I'm not sure what is next, maybe launching her and sailing.  There is a thought!  It's been a while.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Jib (staysail) is ready

I had to stitch a new clew onto the staysail that I am using as the jib.  It works pretty well for stronger weather.  I added a patch and then a roped grommet to the clew and we are set to go!
I also moused all the upper rigging points.  So I guess the next thing is to try raising the mast again and seeing how it all worked out!

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Main's done

I got the main all put together and it came out pretty good, I think.  I hand stitched the new patches and used aluminum pop rivets for the head board (I reused the old head board) and then pounded in a grommet for the halyard to attach to.
Re-cut. shorter, stronger....
and hand stitched
I did have to put 4 of the sail slides back on but I used 3 of the old ones and one new one I had lying around.  I put in on the mast, as the mast is by the shop on saw horses and it seems to fit just fine.
Now on to the jib that has a torn out clew.  I think I will add a patch and then a roped grommet for the sheets to tie to.
Memorial day is this coming weekend, unofficial boat season beginning.  I have no intention of being on the water this weekend because it is usually madness.  This also means I am in no rush to get these projects done other than needing to move on to others in the shop, oh yah, and I'd like to go sailing again someday.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Re-cut the sails for "short rig"

The Venture 21 was considered a pretty quick boat in it's day.  It certainly seemed to move thru the water easily when I started sailing Ventura, even though the main sail was not the original, and about a foot and a half shorter along the foot, and two feet on the luff.  Now with the mast being about 3 feet shorter from the damage and the repair, the sails a little bit tall.
I am cutting the mainsail down by about a foot, and I need to loose about a foot and a half off of the jib and genny.  The staysail will continue to work as is if I fly it on the forestay in heavy weather, as I did before because the boat didn't have a inner stay rigged as was the original sail plan.  I will in fact rig an inner stay so as to assist the new rig.  I hope to set is up in the fashion of a running back stay so that it can easily be set and slacked for tacking.  It's an idea.

Old main, cut down, patch to be added, reused headboard
In re-rigging the boat I have had to raise and lower the shorter mast a few times and the few feet of lost length has made the job very much easier.  Yahoooo!  I am not overly concerned about the lost sail area.  On the main sail the loss will come from the head of the sail, a portion of the sail that has very little drive or area.
The jib and genny are a bit of a different story.  I don't really want to just lop off their tops, so I am considering putting a grommet for the tack up a foot and a half from the original and adding reefing nettles, and continue to use the original clue.  The sails could always stay "reefed" but the original area would be preserved.  Why I want to do this I am not really sure.  Partly because I am concerned about getting a good shape of the head sail if I recut it.
It is good weather for sitting in the shop with the big doors open and hand stitching the sails.  It is better weather for actually being sailing. All things in their time.
I found that a sail maker I have used before would build me a brandy new main sail for under $500, including shipping.  It is VERY tempting, but mostly because I am lazy.  The old main never set very well, was blown out and old, but, I do own it already and this boat is about spending NO money(which I have failed at, but it is a boat so I can't be to hard on myself can I).  If after launching the boat seems to have a good place in my life then I might splurge and order a new main someday.  For now it is snip, snip, stitch, stitch.
If I ever do order the new main I think I will have the change the insignia from V21, to V21s, to signify the short rig.

"New" Standing rigging

My new standing rigging is finished!  After much research, and a bit of stepping back to look at the big picture, I decided to go with the "nico-press" type of fittings because it was inexpensive, I could to the work myself, I didn't need expensive new tools or machines, and I could reuse a bit of the material I already had.  I fully realize that many might be critical of the use of this type of fitting, and I might be to, if I were setting up a boat bound for open water or even strong weather, but in this case the boat is to be used for recreational, fair weather sailing, and having "made" the rig myself, I will be more mindful, and aware of the conditions of both the rig and the weather.
Had I been using this rig a year ago, I might have been more conservative about what I put the boat thru, decided to quit sooner, or not gone out at all, and saved my self the experience of being very, very cold and wet. (on the good side, I now know what that is like.  Ignorance can breed fear, and knowledge allows for better judgement, I hope)
SS thimble, 2-Swaged copper sleeves on lower shrouds
coated with anhydrous lanolin, then covered in shrink wrap tubing
Some info on this rigging technique:
-1x19 S.S. doesn't want to bend the short radius of the thimbles.  It seems that the sharp bend may compromise some of the strength of the rig.
-1x19 S.S. requires 2 copper sleeves, each swaged 3 times along their length.
-I made sure that the sleeves did not actually touch the thimble, or each other.  I did this to promote a full compression of each swage.
-The end of the SS wire stuck out of the lower swage, but was covered by the heat shrink tubing.  Before the tubing was applied the entire fitting was slathered in anhydrous Lanolin for protection.
-I used a swaging tool that uses 2 bolts, tightened down to compress the copper sleeves.  This tool was the least expensive(a priority in this boat), smallest (so that in the future it can be kept on board my larger boat for emergency rigging), and it was simple.
- I checked the swages with a micro meter to see if they fell in the specs that I found on a forum thread about home built airplanes and this type of rigging.  the tool was pretty consistent with the thickness of the finished swage and that dimension collaborated with the aviation specs.

I believe that Brian Toss mentioned that most of the boats he'd seen rigged in this way were in the UK.  He didn't recommend these fittings very highly and seemed to think they were the wrong "tool for the job".  I wouldn't disagree with him ultimately, but, I think that they will serve fine in this application.  Most of the negative comments I found on the forums about pressed copper sleeves seemed to be about the way the finished fitting looked.  I actually like the work boat kind of look they have.  It is even more attractive because the look reflects that I did the work myself.

Using this tool with these parts required really taking my time setting up and making each swage, three for each sleeve, two sleeves for each eye, two eyes per stay, six stays, plus a few practice sleeves.  I have to enjoy each moment of the work or I will rush to be done and botch the job.

Now on to recutting the sails.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


I got a delivery of rigging gear today.  I got some wire rope for the stays and shrouds, some thimbles, some copper crimp sleeves and a tool to crimp them with.
I took some measurements on the boat, of the mast and did the geometry to get the needed lengths of the new rigging.  I will use some cable clamps on the bottoms of each stay on the first attempt at raising the mast and then when I know all the lengths are right I will to it all up with the copper sleeves.
This is my cost efficient way of rigging the boat and should be fine for the kind of sailing we hope to be doing.

The mast step is back on the boat and I replaced the damaged wire lifelines with rope, which I prefer anyway.  I also put some new line on the rudder for lifting it out of the water.
I am varnishing the wooden keel winch bridge but it is ready to be put onboard.

I think I will go without a bow pulpit for now.  There actually is a bit of work to be done to get Ventura ready to go back in the water, but it is only now that I am feeling like working on her.  The winter was just too long, snowy and depressing.  The weather is great spring time sailing weather right now.  It would be nice to be out there using the boat rather than working on her.  Oh well.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

A year on

One year ago today Ventura was out on the Hudson and I was in the Hudson.  Funny that the weather today is probably just about the same wind wise, strong gusty, not to be trifled with.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

winter reading

"Racundra's First Cruise" by Arthur Ransome, yes, the Arthur Ransome of "Swallows and Amazon's" fame, seems to be a not very well known earlier work of Ransomes and it is hard to understand why.  It was a great read for anybody who cruises in a small boat.  In it are lines that seems as though they are perfectly fit to quote and the first page of the book is just the thing to make a small boat cruising sailor forget any appointments he might have had and instead just sit, read, and turn pages.
I purposefully took my time reading this book, a chapter at a time, as it is a small book and I know enough to be wary of consuming the entire thing in one sitting and then wondering what I was going to do about the anticlimactic nature of still being snow bound for another few months of winter.
I highly recommend this book, if you can find it.  The worn 60 year old paperback copy I found was not inexpensive, but it is one that I suspect I will keep on my shelf and return to each winter for many years.
The book is a log of his cruise, just as advertised, not with any great plot line or moral, but it is more like what most of us experience when cruising, we leave a port, venture to many others experiencing weather, people, meals, the suns rise and set, changing winds and then eventually a return to the port from which we began.  For a cruiser being able to be there, if in mind only, with Ransome, all those years ago, is a pleasure in the middle of a winter when he may not be able to be out on his own cruise.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

LEMon Skiff

Almost done!  I need to finish up the oars.  I may also change the rowing thwart as I think the build would be easier with the middle station incorporated into the framing for the thwart.
Lemon yellow picture, Lemon Skiff!
the picture just came out this way, honest.
Here is a less yellow pic.
Not much rocker but really simple to build.
Note the oars and the pad on the transom for an small motor.
Thole pins over bought hardware makes this boat very cheap to build too.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

LEMon skiff

This is the model, so far, of the boat I have come up with for my brother to build in his garage.  It is for use fishing in his local lakes, to be transported in the back of his pick up, propelled by oars only and to be easily built in his garage with simple tools, fasteners and adhesive.
scale model of the LEMon skiff
(My brothers initials are L.E.M.)

seems that no matter what the scale. wooden boats require
lots of clamping!
Building scale models does have the benefit of being able to work in the house, which is warmer than the shop!  It is also more conservative on materials.