Sunday, October 5, 2014

Catching up on the news

Progress reports. I’ve been away, no excuse really for not having updated the blog other than its been a very busy time away in the Pacific North West.  I’ve lots to blog about,  and will be updating a couple of times a week until I’m all caught up.
I’ve had a couple of people ask how I’m doing health wise, the answer is that I sleep a lot, and the travel knocks me around a bit but I’m steadily improving with regular visits to the haematology clinic, and am gradually regaining fitness.  So, much better than I was, and the prospects of continued improvement are good. Thanks for asking.

I wrote this post intending to upload it that day it, but my camera with the pics ended up in one place, and me in another, then when I got home it was back to the clinic, then catch up with weeks of chores that built up while I was away.
Today I head out for Sail Oklahoma, then the Port Aransas PlyWooden Boat Festival.   Looooong flights, but hey, I don’t get to see all those people very often.

The SCAMP build class is not the only event here in Port Townsend that I am involved in,  the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival is another, and there is usually an event run by the Small Craft Skills Academy .
This year I also had the privilege of being involved in the SCAMP Skills class that Howard Rice was running, a course devised to teach SCAMP Skippers how to better handle their boats, teach them some of the special manoeuvres peculiar to the fat little boat with its unstayed balanced lugsail rig.
This was a three day course, a nice small class of great people and enough boats to have a really good time out sailing (practical, as opposed to classroom work,  “Homework” if you like. ) and even the antics in the classroom were fun.
An example, we had the group standing up and practicing gybing, walking away from the instructor with an arm out to represent the boom and performing the  “S Bend” gybe, same with “Parking” and “Flagging”.  All manoeuvres that are possible with unstayed rigs, and made easier by the soft handling and simple balanced lugsail rig.

Watch  SMALL CRAFT ADVISOR MAGAZINE for an article on these manoeuvres, while developed for SCAMP they are very effective on any boat with an unstayed mast.

Capsize recovery also involved some classroom work,  while SCAMP is unusually stable it is still a small open boat, and the waters here are cold so righting and reboarding is a necessary skill.  One that its hoped that will not be required, but good to have.
Again we “walked” the crew through the drill, then later in the day put each one into a dry suit and got them to “dump” SCAMP one on its side and reboard (Small Craft Advisor magazine allows us the use of SCAMP number one for demonstration and class use, thanks again Josh)

Pulling the boat up, the offcenterboard gives a lot of leverage and the boat comes up very easily.

 We tried a different approach for reboarding, if you look hard you can see a rope "sling" that the "reboarder " has his feet on, this sling to be stowed along the side deck and held there tidy with a tie of knitting yarn that can be broken with a pull. The "sling" was set at a depth that enables the person in the water to get both feet onto it while afloat in their PFD, and then simply stand up and roll forward into the boat.
This is a much easier maneuver than the stirrup that had been the recommended system of getting back into this high sided boat.  Credit to Howard for an idea that will make the boat even safer.

As has happened before, the first few attempts were not successful in getting the boat to stay on its side,  as soon as the crew dropped into the water the boat popped back up, but the reboarding drill was still valid.
In the past we’ve used a “Stirrup” on a line, a system developed by Howard, useful but it requires a precise series of moves to get up and over the high side of the boat and into the cockpit.  This time though he had a better idea, and we’re working up a system that will use a safety line laid along the gunwales, one which can be pulled down and used as a place to place feet, use the strength of both legs to stand up and roll back into the boat.
The class found this very much easier to do than the stirrup method, better suited to those less fit or less strong in the upper body, and our observation  was that someone in heavy wet weather gear, cold, and stressed out by the capsize would be more easily able to get back out of the water and under way again.

Success, Back on board.  Phil McGowan with a big smile, yes thats a drysuit, nothing like really cold water to motivate someone to get back on board as soon as possible.

There has been much talk of the capsize issue, and to elaborate, SCAMP is unusually stable, I weigh in at just over 200 lbs dry, and can stand on the gunwale with almost the whole top plank clear of the water.  Howard once tried to tip number one over in front of several thousand people at a boat show, and failed.  After a number of attempts he got her to 90 deg and much to everyones amusement as soon as he dropped into the water to swim around an right her, she popped right back up on her own.
There are NO other 12 ft sailing boats that will tolerate that kind of use without falling over. But we like to be sure that our fellow SCAMPers are safe, hence the research.

We had a good time running this skills course, presentations by some of the class members contributed, the class members themselves were a great bunch of people and  its an event that I hope I can attend again.

A daysail out to Rat Island out at the entrance to Killisit harbour between Marrowstone Island and Indian Island off Port Townsend. A day of practical "homework" after the classroom and dockside classes.

On the middle weekend of SCAMP Camp, that’s the build class of course, we had a gathering for SCAMPers which included not only the boats and students from the SCAMP Skills class, but also the participants from the kitset build class. That’s the subject of the next posting on this blog.

In the meantime, I’m having a very quiet time  before the hustle and bustle of the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival which starts on Friday next.

A reminder, these programs, both sailing and building are run by the Small Craft Skills Academy,  ,  have a look through the site, bookmark it and watch for the next update which will have details of next years courses.

See you there.

John Welsford

Monday, August 25, 2014

SCAMP Camp is over for this year

SCAMP Camp is over for this year. The plywood kitsets and all of the consumables were delivered two weeks ago , the benches and all the consumables set up, one of each of the building jigs and shop manager Scott had everything  ready to roll. Two weeks later 6 boats were wheeled out by their excited owners.
Its like watching your children leave home when the trailers are all loaded and the cars head off out of  the North West Maritime center with the fat little boats following along behind.  New friends head away to finish their  boats, hopefully to be back next year to participate in the next “Red Lantern Rally”.

This course went really well, we as instructors have learned from previous courses, we’ve developed the sequence and the methodology for assembling the kits, have bought tools that speed things up, Scott Jones of the Maritime Center brought his organisational skills to the class and it went so well that we could afford the time to take the middle weekend off to attend the inaugural Red Lantern Rally.

To explain, the SCAMP, being designed and promoted as a small boat with camping capability has a red hurricane lamp as a sail emblem,  hence the “Red Lantern Rally” which is an annual event for SCAMPers .
Held in Mystery Bay off Kilicit Harbour on Marrowstone Island in Puget Sound this attracted 11 SCAMPs and about 50 people including the crew from the SCAMP Camp build class and some from the SCAMP Skills class run by Howard Rice and I in our other roles as sailing skills tutors

Its been an intense 3 weeks,  I’m very glad of a quiet few days helping my host Pete Leenhouts with his project,  he is keen to get the Bolger Clam Skiff he’s building for his brother out the door so he can move the part built SCAMP he’s bought into the workshop in order to complete it, learn to sail it, and then head for Texas for the 2016 Texas 200 ( oops, was I meant to let that cat out of the bag?  Too late now Pete, you’ll be expected on the start line!)
I expect to be there to chase him down the course, I’ve had an offer of a boat to be built to my experimental “Saturday Night Special” design  (I do hope it works), and hope too that the fates conspire to enable it to happen.

 The classroom at the North West Maritime Center is a really nice place to work, well lit with natural lighting, wooden floor to ease the aching feet, plenty of space and a wonderful view out over the water to remind us why we're building boats.  A geat place, 10/10!

This shot was taken first thing on Wednesday morning, a lot of progress to show  for only two days of work.  Here we see the centercase, fiberglassed inside, with frames 4, 5, 6 & 7 set up on the bottom panel, the water ballast tank being that space behind the first frame in this pic, and the panel being held up behind is the port side mate to the starboard side seat front that forms one side of the offset centercase . By that evening the transom was on, everything glued in and the forward frames and bow ready to set up.

Back to Port Townsend, I have to say thanks to the North West School of Wooden Boatbuilding who have run the SCAMP Camps here in Port Townsend.  They have contributed a great deal to the development of the SCAMP class, to the SCAMP kit development and to the way that the build classes happen. 
This years course was the last one that they will be involved in, and the ball will in future be carried by Small Craft Advisor Magazine, Howard Rice and myself through the “Small Craft Skills Academy” (link above) and will be run at several different venues  around the USA and possibly other countries as well.
Thank you NW School, thank you interim Director David Blessing, thanks to the school board and staff, and thanks to then Director Pete Leenhouts for supporting the class and the SCAMP.

 A few days later the boats have been planked up, the outer rubbing strakes are on and here we are putting the inwales on. They support the side decks and the coamings ( seat backrests) and add considerable strength to the boat.
Most of the places inside the boat that will be difficult to access later have been sealed with epoxy resin, the glue joints reinforced with epoxy fillets and items such as the centerboard pin are in place.

 10 working days after we all trooped upstairs to brief the class we're loading the trailers and watching the guys prepare to tow home, some travelling thousands of miles to get back to the the temporary shipyards, otherwise known as Garages, where the boats will be completed.

 Ready to hook up and head out.  Both rewarding and sad, new friends left behind,  but all of us hoping to see each other next year at SCAMP Skills, or the Red Lantern Rally.

See you later guys!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Boatbuilding at SCAMP Camp.

Port Townsend has become a sort of second home,  I’ve been here several years in succession now courtesy of the SCAMP Camp boatbuilding program and help from  the likes of Helen and Pete Leenhouts who host me while I’m here,  Josh Colvin of Small Craft Advisor Magazine and lots of friends who make the place so welcoming.
I find that I know where to buy the things that I need, right down to knowing which aisle in the supermarket has my favourites, and where in the hardware store I’ll find the bits and pieces that I need.

When I walked into the coffee shop next to the Maritime Center where the class is based I was addressed by name, same with the Point Hudson Café across the other side of the water, and the waitress at the Banana Leaf Thai restaurant smiled and welcomed me back. That’s a great feeling, I don’t get that at home in New Zealand other than at my favourite bookshop in Cambridge ( Wrights bookshop in the main street by the way, good place!)

I pitched in to help Howard Rice with the SCAMP Skills class, four boats and I think 8 or 9 students. A good group of people, and we had a blast! Lots of  time on the water, some classroom time to look over theory, safety demonstrations, and a little voyage or two with a picnic lunch. Great fun, and a perfect primer before heading into the North West Maritime Center for the beginning of the boatbuilding class we call SCAMP Camp. 

 Phil McGowan in his drysuit, ready for man overboard practice. The water is cold up here.
While the boat is very stable and resistant to capsize, it is an open boat so its still possible to tip one over.  Safety being paramount we're experimenting with reboarding techniques and that line along the side is part of the experiment. It works a treat and we're looking at refining it and incorporating it in to the SCAMP Credo.

 Four SCAMPs lined up on the beach at Rat Island across from Port Townsend, two boats make a race, four make you work even harder, but all in good humour.
We’re building SCAMPs of course, the little 11ft 11in camping cruiser designed for Small Craft Advisor Magazine, a boat which is very close to achieving 300  plans and kits sold.  The boat is close to cult status now, and due to the efforts of Howard Rice the class is also a registered national class boat with US Sailing which is remarkable for a home built boat. ( Yes, Gig Harbour Boats make a fiberglass one, but most are plywood home builds).

The class is going really well, shop manager Scott Jones had the place well organised when Howard and I arrived on the Monday, and between us and a very good group of people we’ve made really good progress.
At the end of day five we had just hung the lowest plank, two more to go on each side then we’re into the smaller pieces before dry fitting cabin sides, top and the decks.
 Happenings in the classroom, if you had to go back to school what better subject could there be.
This is the morning of day three and the pre cut kitsets are going together really well.  At this stage the centercases have been fiberglassed inside and assembled, they are installed and frames four through six are in, the seat fronts and stern transoms are on, and the next step is to assemble the mast box and frame/bulkhead four ready to drop the stem in and B#4 and mast box onto that.
We used the Makita builders cross laser level  featured a while back in this blog to keep things straight and level,  its a major time saver! Well done Makita San.

We're also using a Ryobi cordless brad nailer, a brad being a small finishing nail, and thats another major timesaver. I'll give you my detailed impression of that later on.

I’m finding that I’m doing much better than last year, have not had to excuse myself for a break each day to stay on my feet which is a big improvement, although I can tell you that I’m sleeping like a log at night and will be pleased to have a day or two off at the end of the course.

The big news about SCAMP Camp is that Howard and I are looking hard at the possibility of other venues, Port Aransas in conjunction with next years PlyWooden Boat Festival being the leading contender at present,  and if that goes ahead we’d be planning to run a sailing school academy class as well as other skills classes in conjunction with it.  That should be fun, we’d be needing super slow hardener for the  epoxy resin though as its much hotter there on the South Eastern corner of Texas than it is here in the Pacific North West.

We’re off in a few minutes to attend the “Red Lantern Rally”.  SCAMP, being a camping capable small boat has a red hurricane lamp as its sail emblem, hence, the name of the rally.  We’re expecting 10 or 12 of the fat little boats there, and it looks like being a lot of fun.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Birth notice

The new baby has arrived.

I'm in Port Ludlow Washington in the Pacific North West of the USA. Travel is great, they say it broadens the mind but I find that I eat more than I should so in my case it broadens the belly.  Its really nice to connect with familiar places and friends, but there are times when being so far from home is not where you want to be. 
Like this morning, Daughter Sarina has been waddling around heavily pregnant, was a week overdue when I flew out and I’d been a bit concerned as to the well being of mother and baby.
But baby  Kiani  Denny Maia Clark arrived very early this morning. So I’m a granddad again, another little girl to love and spoil.
 Congratulations to Sarina and husband Alby, and a hug for 5 year old big sister Aysha.

( I can still fold nappies ( diapers ) as well as the next guy, I suspect that might be useful).

My friend Chuck Leinweber once said to me that if he’d known grandchildren were going to be so much fun he’d have had them first.
There is a lot in that.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Its a long way to Tipperary

It’s a long way to Tipperary the old song says,  but I can tell you that the cheap flights from Auckland to Seattle makes for an even longer journey,  Auckland to Brisbane, Brisbane to Los Angeles, LA to Seattle takes around 24 hours  including “terminal time”. 
Brisbane is not so bad, they have a transit area so there is no need to go out through Immigration and customs then back as LA forces passengers coming from Vancouver BC ( Canada) and transferring to a flight out to NZ or Aussie as they did to me a few years back. But they do run everyone who’s just come off the plane through the security scan and inspection again, as if they’d not done that to get on the incoming flight.  Ah well! Nowt I could do about it and the officials were polite and efficient.

LA international airport though lived up to its reputation as one of the worlds worst regarded major airports, there were over 2000 people in the queue for immigration and customs, it took an hour and a half to get through that, and as I know the place of old I’d asked my travel agent to book flights such that I had extra time between incoming and my connection so I had plenty of time to deal with the vagarities of the place and not miss my outgoing plane to SeaTac in the north.
As usual the place was filled with great crowds of stressed and unhappy people, and that’s just the staff! Queues of 50 or more at Starbucks and Burger King so no chance of getting even that kind of food. It was to be 3 ½ hours more flying to get to the next chance of refuelling myself and no food on that flight so it was back to my reserve packet of muesli bars and a bottle of water from a coin machine.

So I’m here in Port Ludlow, home of several friends including my hosts Helen and Pete Leenhouts. I’ve about got over the jetlag, coming from New Zealands winter where its dark at about 5 30 pm to here where its still light at 9 30 is as much of a shock to the system as the time zone difference,  the body keeps saying its not bedtime yet and its very hard to get up in the morning.
That will only last another day or so, and I’m in summer which is nice.
It will be springtime when I get back home which will be a treat, this will be a good summer with lots of time out on the water.

I got out on the water the very day I arrived here, Petes friend Ed Davis has a little 12 ft aluminium boat with a 9.9 hp Honda outboard on it, and goes out hunting Dungeness Crab just off the shore where he lives, so I got a ride out to help pull traps.

 Pics by Pete Leenhouts. 

Those are big crabs, shells about 150mm across and two full handspans across the legs,  they are capable of breaking fingers if they get you with their claws.
Nice to eat though, boiled with a little butter.
Thanks Ed,  and Pete.
I sleep better with a full belly.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Travel in the morning

Its off to SCAMP Camp again, the clinic has given me a conditional clearance, in practical terms that means that I'm ok and my health insurance is valid as long as I dont try running an iron man or competing in a 6 day cycle race.
Good, I doubt that I'd be putting either of those on my list of things to do anyway.

So its pack, shut the ship down, electrical and gas off ( thats the lpg for cooking type gas) . Both diesel tanks taps off, shore power disconnected, seacocks off, fridge emptied and propped open mooring lines doubled up and fenders all checked.

Lock 'er up and I'm on the bus.

I've secure parking here, free of course so the prospect of $5 a day long term parking does not appeal. So I catch the bus, two changes and it will take about 3 hours, but its free on my Superannuants Gold Card ( for non NZers, we get a special card on our 65th birthday that gets us a whole lot of special discounts as well as free rides on public transport during off peak times.  Very handy)

I'll be posting regularly while away, will introduce some friends, show you whats happening at SCAMP Skills ( sailing ) and SCAMP CAMP ( Building) classes, show off any really nice boats I find and "talk" about whats happening in Port Ludlow where I'll be staying, and Port Townsend where the classes are being run.


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Another tool test, and some other bits and pieces.

Tool test.

Now and again I get power tools for testing in return for writing up publicity stories for magazines, on odd occasions I’ve gone back to the suppliers and told them that in all conscience I could not write a positive report on the tool concerned so would prefer to not write one, and I’ve always ( so far) had an ok response to that.  I guess it adds to the credibility.
A recent one was a little 3.7v l.ion battery screwdriver which was as near as useless as any power tool I’ve ever used.  Now not all of those small screwdrivers are the same, I’ve read credible reports on some of the better “name” brand ones that suggest that they are quite useful for light work, but the one I was handed recently, not so.
I was very pleased though to have in my hot paws a Makita TD090DWE impact screwdriver.  I’d watched others using them and had several people recommend them to me, but had been convinced that the much quieter driver/drills suited me better.
I picked this little monster up and was immediately impressed by the way it sat in my hand, comfortable, light and better balanced than the much longer drills with their gearboxes and chucks.

Now a good friend had recommended these to me, but I’d felt quite happy with the several cordless drills I have on the rack.  All but the Ryobi one that is and that lives back with my ex for me to use on things like fixing her curtain rails.

When I first used the Makita impact driver, at first I found the fast rotational speed difficult to manage.  It spins the screw really quickly until the screw begins to load up, then the impact drive starts to rattle like a racecar wheel change and slows right down.  Yes its got a variable speed trigger but its very sensitive and it took a while to get used to it, and the noise.

But that said, I tend to reach for the tool that I like rather than the one nearest, and as I get more time with this tool I am liking it more and more.  My trigger finger is adjusting ( hands up ponder!) and if I’m doing a long row of fastenings I put my “hearmuffs” back up where they do good.

This little thing will drive monster screws into almost anything,  I used it the other day to build a set of shelves ( again, for the “ex”, the “honey please do” list is still functional it seems) out of 18mm plywood, and the 2in twinstart screws needed no pilot holes, just push on the point and pull the trigger. Whirr, rattle rattle done, countersunk and all!
The little lithium batteries will run for a days work, and charge in half an hour or so, there are two in the kit so you wont ever run out of battery if you remember to put the down one back in the slot.

I find that I like it, I like the light weight, the clip in chuck which makes a change of  the hex bits very quick, it’s a very nice tool of about the right size and fit for building small boats and handy for the “honey do” list.

I don’t think I’d have a reason to buy the bigger one, I’m not putting steel siding or roofing on, and the 10.6 volt unit does almost everything else with a light and comfortable tool.

One more thing, SCAMP Camp at Port Townsend last year was great, some lovely people as always at SCAMP Camp, and Thom Davies was one of those.  We talked about many things Thom and I, tools among them and somewhere along the way I must have mentioned that I was hoping sometime to get myself a leather handled Estwing 16 oz finishing claw hammer. They are not common in the hardware stores, much too light for most uses but ideal for small boat builders.
Thom found one, and sent it with a friend who was coming to NZ.  That was an unexpected treat, its in my hand most days and I think of him, and that “camp” whenever I touch it.
Thanks Thom, very much appreciated.

 Such a nice tool to use, perfect fit to the hand, just the right weight and balance.

I’m off to the next SCAMP Camp in less than two weeks, it was a bit doubtful that I’d be fit enough this year but I went to the haematology clinic for what I hope was the last time yesterday and am cleared to go, there are some conditions attached but I’m ok to travel and to undertake “light work” part time. Sitting on my chair in a sunny corner and telling others what to do might fit that.