Sunday, October 16, 2016

Report on Saturday Night Special.

A while back I drew up a boat I called the “Saturday Night Special”.  A reference to a cheap throw away weapon used for a single job.  The boat was intended for events such as the Texas 200, was to be a quick build and would have good performance with one or two aboard, and to handle the often very windy conditions that prevail there.

There have been a dozen or so of these built so far, all of them built and finished much more nicely than the original concept entailed, and several of them participated in this years T200.

For those who don’t know it, that’s a 200 mile, five day sail up the eastern coast of Texas, camping along the way in places where one has to be completely self sufficient.  It blows, the hot desert pulling air in off the Gulf of Mexico, 25 knots plus, generally over the stern quarter is common. Blazing sun, big waves, shallow waters, mud, narrow channels, it’s a challenging event, one which attracts a good entry each year  and I’m complimented that so many have chosen my boats in which to participate.

Booby and Kirsten Chilek took their Saturday Night Special on this event, and Bobby has written an excellent story of their journey up the coast.  It’s a very good read,  you can find parts one and two here.

Heres a video shot of the boat under way, moving right along, steady and stable.

Here’s his impression of the boat itself, I'm very pleased and highly complimented, thanks Bobby.

After the way the boat performed in the Texas200, I am thoroughly impressed with this design. The boat is exceptionally seaworthy, in all the conditions we faced that week, the boat never gave us cause for concern and as the week wore on I became less concerned about what waves we might encounter in the bays.  She is very stable on all points of sail, I have come to believe that she will be quite difficult to blow over.  I have had her pretty far over and she just holds there, with the side decks, she is unlikely to take on water when heeled way over.  She is  quite capable of sailing in shallow water, this opens up so many areas that are off limits to others.  She is fast.....I mean FAST.....very capable of planing!  I look forward to getting her to do this more as I really learn this boat.  I love the way this boat is fully decked, and the front and rear storage compartments.  We had everything we needed for the week packed in there.  We could have put in more but were trying to give some nod to weight control.  The boat is light, maybe 250 pounds???  I haven't weighed it, but my son and I can lift in on and off the trailer. I also like the the fact that you can sleep in the cockpit, this is very useful when you arrive at your camp and find it less hospitable than anticipated.
As far as my sail trim problems, I have resolved most of those.  Turns out I changed too many things at once and have returned most of the changes back to design spec.  The main problem is that I just need to learn the lug rig.  Most of my sailing has been with the Marconi rig, I have some gaff experience too, but it wasn't a huge adjustment.  I know this sail is fast because Chuck Pierce has a lug rig on his Mayfly 14. I have also seen John Goodman flying along in his Goat Island Skiff, so there is nothing wrong with the lug rig, there is just a learning curve.  I feel that the curve is well worth it, because it is the easiest rig to deal with on the water I have ever had and one of the quickest to set up when you arrive at the boat ramp.  I am convinced that I could have this boat launched in 15 minutes after arriving with a little practice, this makes the boat very useable.
This is the fastest, most versatile, seaworthy, easy to use,  fun sailboat I have ever had!
And .........I got to sail the Texas200 in it, what a blast!  “


Friday, September 23, 2016

Springtime weather and other stuff. Long Steps progress, sailing SEI at last, and a nice blog to read.

Its raining.  Not a howling horizontal fire hose kind of rain like yesterday, or a misty just enough to get you wet before you realise it but an honest, steady soaking into the ground to get the spring growth going kind of rain.  All day.

I’ve spent the morning in the workshop cutting holes in my boat, making the openings for some of the 6 screw ports that will give access to the compartments under the side seats in the cockpit of Long Steps.  There are two compartments at the forward end that are divided off from the rest of the volume, those access from inside the cuddy, and I’ve put a port in each side which gives access from the open area of the cockpit at the after end.
There will also be a port in the seat tops about halfway along.  Why so many? These are long spaces, and its really frustrating to have something roll so far in that I cant reach far enough to get it.

There will be more, two in the cuddy floor, one in the cockpit floor to access the space aft of the ballast tank, and one in the ballast tank itself so I can reach in to undo the filling and draining bung, and to make an opening so I can fill the ballast compartment with a bucket, then put the port in to seal it.

Each one of these has to have a fairly close fitting hole made in the bulkhead or cockpit floor, has to have a doubler fitted behind it to ensure that there is thickness enough for the securing screws, and to make the edges of the opening stiff enough that it cant bow or buckle under the pressure of the fastenings.

That was a mornings work, leisurely work, but work.

I also started on some of the fittings.  The rudder gudgeons bolt through reinforcing pieces glued and screwed to the inside of the plywood transom, total thickness close to 30mm, and those pieces are connected to and braced by other structure in the stern compartment.  I DON’T want the rudder to come loose, so for insurance, plus making sure that water cant get at the plywood end grain I drilled the holes for the 8mm stainless steel bolts that will hold the fittings, then got in there with the little router and counterbored those holes in about 20mm at 20mm diameter, then with epoxy glue mixed with a little bit of microballoons to prevent the mix from running out, I piped them full of mix, forcing the epoxy right through the original holes as well.
I’ve over filled them so they’ll sand off flush, and will when the mix has set hard, redrill the holes.
Why?  Strength plus if I hit something hard with the rudder the shock loading wont disturb the epoxy enough to allow water into the plywood end grain.
In addition to that, each bolt will have a large section neoprene “O” ring between the transom and the fitting, said “O”ring being coated with Anhydrous Lanolin.
I’ll make a countersink in the epoxy, enough to seat the “O” ring about half its depth into the countersink, and when its compressed it will be a totally watertight fit on the bolt, the fitting and the transom.
I took two half days “off work” this week, off the engineering work that is, rigged little SEI on the first day, then was sitting watching the miserable misty rain and the very brisk wind on the estuary thinking, well, you all know the words, when a missive arrived from my friend Paul who lives just down the river a couple of miles. He asked if I was going to sail the boat today? Should he bring his camera?
Ok, it was about 15 minutes shy of high tide, there was a tiny hint that the rain would ease and being honest the gentle indirect light was near perfect for photographer Paul to work his magic.
By the time he arrived I had the boat rigged with a reef tied in, she was slid off the dock and into the water and I was away.

She sails.

The worried look was not justified. She is stable and felt steady even though the weather was not what you'd normally want on the day you sailed a brand new design for the very first time.

Sails good!

She has nice balance, accelerates well, steady and stable, carried that reefed sail in gusts of more than 30 knots ( Metservice official stats said winds up to 45 km H at about that time), she tacked reliably, tracked well and pointed up well.

I’m very pleased.

The sail by the way is from RSS Sails, its an "OZ Racer sail"  very well made, sets perfectly, seriously well priced, available here or from  

 Off downwind, this stretch of river is not wide enough to allow big waves to build up, but the wind is channeled along the length of the reach by the high hill on the other side from the view here.  It was blowing hard, SEI was not in the least bothered by it/

The wind had eased a little by the time this pic was taken and she was about powered up right for the strength of the breeze.  I sailed her in very light winds next day, the river being like a mirror with a few tiny ruffled patches I was coasting from one tiny puff to the next under full sail. All good. I took her out on the midnight tide last night, there is really only water to sail in for around an hour at the top of the tide and the moon was out, so I slid her off the dock and went out down the river a ways.
I might just do that more often.

I'm pleased too that Paul took pics, he’s better than good with that camera, Paul Gilbert! Photographer. Remember him if  you want pics at a special event.

Every now and again I get an email from someone who’s built one of my boats that really lifts my spirits.  I got one yesterday from Ryan and Chris about my little “SCRAPS” design, a tiny yacht tender, built from whats left from other projects, hence the name.

If you scroll back a post or two you’ll find pics of the build as well.  Nice work people, thanks for keeping me posted and thanks too for permission to link from here.

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Howard Rice's SCAMP is in and sailing

You can check it out on the website, that and other video clips are under the "Media" heading at the top of the home page.

He's going to be living on board for much of the next month, sailing her on Lake Michigan to check that everything including himself is all as it should be, then the little voyager goes in her crate and gets shipped south, a long way south to where we'll meet her in Punta Arenas, Chile.  We'll pull her out of the box and set up the boat and rigging, do the inspection thing with the Armada De Chile and our friend Captain Herrero the boss there.  We'll buy and prepare stores, load her up and test sail her and then, ( gulp, I'll be chewing my fingernails) will wave as he sails off into the cold grey green waters of the Straights of Magellan.
Cameras running.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Mast box, plus some work to get SEI ready to sail.

Oh yes, and the first few days of spring.

I’ve not had much time in the workshop this week, so there has not been a lot of progress in there.  I did though have a nice three day stay with Denny and our family in Hamilton,  got to see the granddaughters, went to Oropi hot pools with the BOP group for a meal and a soak, and arrived back home to a long list of chores.
As well as catching up on customer questions and drawing work I’ve five engineering jobs on in the next four days so its going to be quiet in the shop for a little longer. It does pay well though, and thats really helpful in funding projects like “Long Steps”.

I've been able to get in there for a few hours though, used that time to build up the main mast box. Its all glued and screwed together now, there are some reinforcing pieces still to go on but this afternoon I got it fixed in place on the after face of B#2.

 This is the mainmast box. Its been carefully coated with three coats of epoxy, all the seams pre primed, and the corners filleted with a small glue fillet, the drain hole drilled and sealed, and the drain fitting screwed into the bottom the mast step box ready to put the last side on.  From here its "let the glue go off, sand its outside corners rounded and then put it in place.
The main mast step box in place, held by glue plus screws through the two layers of 9mm plywood on the bulkhead and screws through the 20x30s on each side of the vertical web / spine underneath.
There are reinforcing pieces to go in yet, plus a fore and aft beam each side at the top.  You can see the far side one sitting there ready to fit, thats not only the support for the top of the mast box but is also the deck support for the cabin top.
This is one of the most highly stressed parts of the boat, and I DONT want it to come loose. 

There will be a very similar one back between the transom and the next one forward.

I had a little win today, Dean Pannett of  lives just over the hill from here, and supplies glass cloths, epoxy, carbon, kevlar and all sorts of stuff useful to a man buiding a boat.  His prices are great, service good, and I picked up some epoxy to keep me going.

Another interesting place, I asked Dean who in town here supplies rolled carbon fibre tubes, and was told about C Tech  who among other things have a standard range of carbon tubes, two of which, although they don’t know it yet, will be holding up the sails on Long Steps in a while.
I’d been told about these guys before but Deans reminder spurred me into looking for their website to see what they do.  I hope on my travels to be calling in there to check them out more closely.

On Thursday last it was the first day of spring for us here in the South and as I want to do more sailing than I got in last year its time I got on with rigging SEI. I’ve had a day off, most of the day anyway, and spent a couple of hours of that prepping the spars for SEI s rig.  Today I’ve leathered both the yard and boom, bolted on the fittings and begun lacing on the sail.
The leathering was done with an oar leather kit from Duckworksboatbuilders supplies ,  I did the oars with the original kit and that’s holding up really well, had some nice split calf ( a grade of leather, fairly light) on the shelf so used the needles, punches and thread left over from the oar kit to do the leathering job today.

White split calf leather, herringbone stitched, double cross stitched at the ends, almost decorative. This should go well with the white sail. The leather is there to stop the chafing where the spars cross the mast.

These are great kits, sometimes its difficult to find the special needles, the heavy waxed linen thread, the tallow and the leather to do these jobs, and in these kits it all comes as one, including a piee of tape measure, good clear instructions and the little punch to make the holes.  I’m a fan.

The sail by the way is an RSS sail, its the OZ Racer sail which can be obtained from Mik Storer

Or Duckworksmagazine.

Nice sail by the way, extremely good value for money.
Mik has some very helpful tutorials up on his site, very useful for setting up and tuning a Balanced Lugsail.

Saturday, August 27, 2016

Southern Cross is in and sailing

Here's the proof.

For those not in the know, "Southern Cross" is Howard Rice's customised SCAMP, built specifically for a voyage of exploration along the southern coast of Chile from Punta Arenas in the Straights of Magellan out into the southern ocean and south toward Cape Horn.
Howard has been preparing for this voyage for some years now, and its going to happen this southern summer.

More "here".

Please note, we have a very generous donor who will donate a dollar for every dollar we raise toward the video production, if you'd like to see the movie please consider putting in a few bucks to help us get it filmed and produced. Every dollar you put in, with our donor helping, becomes two dollars.

I went to Chile with Howard back in March to check out facilities and what we had to work with in Chile, had a great time and got a lot of background material videoed. We have a base, a place to stay, made contact with the Armada de Chile who were very helpful, and David Nicholls of Lutra Productions and I are very much looking forward to being there when Howard sets sail.

Friday, August 26, 2016

A piece at a time.

Building yourself a boat is not so much a huge job, as a whole lot of small jobs.  So I've done a few of those over the past week and the project is looking better all the time.

Started the epoxy coating this week,  I’d coated the inside of all the parts of the main mast step box, had some epoxy left over so pumped another two pumps of epoxy into the container, mixed it up and used that to put a coat on most of the area around the stem and frame one. I’d prefer to use paint but that would mean I couldn’t glue to it, so for that area its easier to epoxy it with a section of paint roller on a stick.

 The parts for the mainmast box, the sides are 9mm plywood. Once assembled this area will be very difficult to access for repainting so I"m making a good job of the coating. Three coats of epoxy, and that will be sanded and painted with two part polyurethane paving paint which is very resistant to both abrasion and UV so should last well.

Made up the components for the mast boxes for both the main and the mizzen this week. As I’m planning to have some carbon fibre tubes made up for mast and spars, rather than the full depth ramp for the heavier wooden mast the one for the main has the “SCAMP” type ramp to help me get it in there and up, and its that step and box that needs to be set in place first.  The stringers that run alongside it at deck/cabin top level also brace B#3 and B#4 , and they cant be put in until the mast box is in place.  A good fit is needed here plus they’re screwed from inside the mast box.

I had a visit from Callum, one of the students from my last boatbuilding skills course, I’d offered to run some wood into stringers and such on my sawbench, the Pelegrin that he’s building takes around 120 metres of 20 x 25 for its stringers, a bit more here and there for other parts, and ripping all that with a skilsaw would be labourious in the extreme.
He’s good company and we had a pleasant chat after the job was done, and I was hugely pleased to find out that a neighbour of his had a heap of Kauri for sale.  Her late husband had collected it, and she was looking to sell it all off. I bought some off Callums trailer, and will be going over there in a couple of weeks to check out the rest, thanks Callum. That’s saved me having to go shopping at the expensive lumber place.

I’ve fitted up the seat front on the port side, that’s stiffened up the structure a lot and I’ll be making the pattern for the seat top next.
There were two full plywood sheet length pieces 400mm wide left over from scarfing up the bottom panel, and I’m hoping that they’ll be deep enough to be the offcentercase sides.  If not, the rowing seat support stringer will be used as a doubler so I can add whatever extra is needed to the top edge.
The ‘case cant go in until I have the stringers and lowest plank on but in the meantime I can make it up, plus the ‘board and its pivot. ( PS. I think that they'll need about 40mm added.  No problem, thats easy).

The cockpit on Long Steps is 3.2m long (almost 11 ft).  Thats including the area under the cuddy roof and the area aft of the raised cockpit floor. Aft of that is an area with no seats, just floorboards under which acts as a drain well for the bilge pumps and venturi, its where my bean bag will go and gives me a place to stand when sailing to rest my behind from sitting on plywood seats.
The ballast tank forward end is at the bulkhead nearest you, the one in the middle is a support, and the one at the after end is the next one. About 120 litres of water, thats close to 250 lbs of ballast which should help her stand up and go in a breeze.

I want to use the seat tops to brace B#4 through to B#7 so they wont move when the stringers are being wrapped around, and its much easier to fit them now than when the hull is further along.

Another little job to do.  I'll be building a battery box in here, it needs to be such that the weight of the battery will be carried by the bulkheads rather than the bottom panels as bumping along the road on the trailer with that weight sitting on 9mm plywood wouldn't be good.

Its late afternoon now. My little dog cant speak, apart from describing the outer covering on trees (Bark) and the drink made from grapes (Whine) but he can communicate very well and  he’s telling me its past time he took me for a walk. If I don’t go he’ll "growl" at me. Can't have that!
Back later.