Sunday, July 26, 2015

Lots of fun but no holiday!

Much too busy!

I have been flat out working at SCAMP Camp ( with a side expedition to the dentist to get a broken tooth fixed) pretty much ever since I got here to the Port Townsend area so have been very lax in my postings here on the blog.

We do though have a pretty good Facebook page up and running, thanks to my helpers there, thats Jackie, Pete and Chuck.  Lots to read and lots of pics.

We’re having a lot of fun at the SCAMP build class, halfway through the build class the boats are about on track with all of the frames and internal structure up, and tomorrow (Monday) we’ll be hanging the first pair of planks,  filleting  which is a seemingly endless task, fitting the cleats to which the cockpit floor and seat tops will be fitted  and organising for the second pair of planks.
By Wednesday the boats should be all planked up, “Real” boats, and this crew are doing a nice job of them.  Well done Dana, Bruce, Steve and Daniel.

The photo software “here” is not working the way I want, so please forgive the lack of pics on this post, it wants to do “Cloud” storage rather than keeping them on my hard drive, I’ll work it out.

In the meantime, its Sunday morning as I write, I had a little sleep in, and am now fiddling around learning the new sofware on the Macbook Air I’ve just bought as a replacement for my old laptop.  Nice, it runs for around 12 hours on a charge, great! The old one struggled to get 2 hours.

So I was reading some of the threads over on the WoodenBoat forum, a good plae to “hang out” when wanting some interesting reading, and found three threads on builds of my designs there that will interest.

Suzy Jackson is coming along well with her Navigator build, lots of pics there,

Mal is making very good progress with his Sundowner,

This is a very substantial little boat, lots of space inside, and he’s doing a decent job of it.  Nice work Mal.

There is a good thread on a SCAMP build “here”.  Bruce in South Australia is coming along well with his little boat, and has documented the victories and trials that he’s encountered along the way.

And there is discussion on the big “Pilgrim”  open boat cruiser I designed for myself a while back but never got further than the frames before circumstances meant I had to abandon the build and find somewhere else to live and work.
The pics of Chip Matthews big curvy beauty are well worth a look.
Thanks Chip.

I’ll be back in a couple of days, I promise.

John Welsford

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


I was busy building a garage, I've mentioned it before.  A kitset 6m x 3.5 m one from Trade Tested here in NZ,  it came in several cardboard boxes, not very big ones, and did those boxes  not seem like nearly enough to carry all the bits needed for a building that size.
It turned out to be so lightly built and difficult to assemble that I abandoned the build half way through, it took me a couple of hours to dismantle what had taken me an awfully long time to get built,  then a day to make up a complete pre nail wooden kit from 3x2 wood including five roof trusses, and a day to stand all that up and put the cladding from the kit onto that.
We've now got a robust and tidy building that will withstand a good blow.

The point behind this epistle is, apart from dont buy  one of those cheap garden or garage kits, is that I had some serious trimming of sheet metal to do, and tinsnips just did not cut it ( pun intended of course)

So I want off to the hardware store to find a metal cutting blade for the skilsaw,  not a cutting disc for an angle grinder, this is a sawblade specific to sheet metalwork.
Found one, near enough a hundred bucks.  That was enough of  a shock that I had to go and browse in the aisle where all the toys are ( read, power tools,  I'm a sucker) to get my breath back.

I found there one of those "twinsaws" that are advertised as being able to cut almost anything,  this was very similar to the Ozito brand one in this link   but was the very cheap Bunnings brand XU1  version. $65  .  The saw blade went back on the rack., and I took the twinsaw home with me.

The thing cuts like a Samurai sword production line test dept.  It cuts anything up to about 1/8in like butter, its not a high quality tool and I dont expect it to last forever  but it pretty much paid for itself in an hours work.

I dont think I'd buy this brand if I were serious, but the Ozito one is a reasonable deal and the quality is reasonable for a tool that is not in full time use.

A word of warning though, they're not good for cutting wood, they are specifically built for sheet and light sections of metal.

Interesting tool though, useful.

John Welsford

Monday, July 13, 2015

Facebook, travel and stuff

We’ve  started a Facebook page,  I’d tried to do that a couple of years ago but got annoyed at how many emails it dumped into my inbox and spent ages trying to unsubscribe to no avail.  But since Yahoo made such a mess of their Yahoo groups system Facebook has become much more popular, and it seems the way to go.
With the help of Jackie Monies and Chuck Leinweber I now have a Facebook page that works, and I  am impressed at how many people have joined up.

My thoughts are that I’ll use this blog for mostly technical stuff, tools, ( I’ve another one to report on, have the photos and will do that in a couple of days) building, projects, and such, and use the facebook for more social stuff and interactions with everyone “out there”.

So if you have not caught up with it, here is the link.

Today,  in about 6 hours I’m walking up the hill towing my suitcase, heading for the bus stop into the city where I’ll catch the airport shuttle,  this trip is a long one,  3 months, I’ll be back in late October.
I've several boat shows to attend, sailing events, SCAMP Camps,  Red Lantern Rally, and lots of driving.  I'll be visiting several JW builders, seeing a lot of new places and meeting friends new and old. 
Travel at this time of year is not a bad idea, its summer in the USA, and here we’ve just had the coldest day for more than 60 years, its raining right now and my heater is on full. So I’ve got to pack, tidy the ship and switch all the systems off, go and rob the bank, then its make that walk up to the road and along to the glass bus stop with the amazing view out over the sea.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Spring is just around the corner. Well, several corners and a couple of straights really.

Three minutes and forty four seconds.
Not a lot, you cant do much in that small amount of time.  I can type about 100 words, walk a hundred and fifty yards at a gentle pace, paddle around twice that if I am pushing it along, or brew a cup of tea.

Today I’m working on taking off the plank offsets for SEI, and I can tell you that although it’s not a complicated job, it takes a great deal more time than that. I’ve been on it most of the afternoon and it’s a job nearly done.

But todays time here in the southern hemisphere between sunrise and sunset will be three minutes and forty four seconds longer than the shortest day a couple of weeks ago. The seasons are heading for springtime and we’ll soon be able to tell the difference! 

I will be heading for summertime in 10 days time though, the long trip to Port Townsend has become an annual event for me, SCAMP Camp is a fixture these days, usually run just before the Port Townsend Wooden Boat festival in September this one has had to be scheduled early due to the Maritime Center being booked for our usual time so I am in there in a couple of weeks time being a Schoolmaster teaching people to put their kits together.

It’s a long trip, and most of the airlines go through LAX That place is my least favourite airport on the planet and I’d got to great lengths to avoid travelling through there, so this time I’ve managed to get a decent deal on the tickets with Hawaiian Air, flying via Hawaii then into SeaTac. No I don’t get a stopover, drat.

But its going to be an interesting northern hemisphere summer for me, Jackie Monies and I are touring, from Port Townsend to Michigan, back to Toledo Or for their boat show, then Port Townsend for the Wooden Boat Festival, then wandering south to Oklahoma, Texas and the Port Aransas PlyWooden Boat show.

Once we can get our heads together in PT we’ll be working out where we’ll be, who we can call on, what we’re doing. Our thoughts are to post our schedule so people will know when we’re in their area, stop for a day to meet builders and interested people, talk boats and other nonsense, then drive to the next stop.

All this takes time, more than the 90 days that my visitors permit allows, so I have to leave not only the country but “neighbouring countries and Island territories” as well.  So it looks as though we’re going to Belize, just for a few days. 

Could be a lot worse.

It will be well into spring when I get home to New Zealand again.

Hope to see you somewhere along the way.


Sunday, June 21, 2015

Its cold out there!

Its the shortest day of the year today, here in the southern hemisphere anyway.  Its calm after the mayhem that yesterdays fast moving winter storm caused, and while there is some light cloud its mostly sunny.
The significance of the day though is that  springtime, warm weather, boisterous early season breezes and the promise of summer is just a couple of flips of pages on the calendar away.

Maintenance, lots to do.  Haul, antifoul and paint my ship.  40 ft. of motor cruiser is a lump of a thing to do,  its three years since the last one,  the first since I bought her, and she not only needs her bottom done but the topsides are looking tired as well so it’s a big job.
I do manage to keep the worst of the barnacles off her, have several times put her on a sandy beach an hour before low tide and walked around with a hard broom to scrub and scrape, an hour means the water goes down about a foot so she leans over just enough for me to get well under with the long handled broom, but she’s about through the soft antifouling paint under there so its up on the hard when I get back from the  next trip.

Same with the little yacht “May” as well, living on a trailer she is not antifouled, but there is much maintenance to do there, even under her sheltering tarpaulin the varnish has peeled and some of the paint cracked, the interior is musty and there is a bit of mould, the rig needs attention and, well, more work.  I want to cruise her this summer, so its time to make a plan.

Paint, paint rollers and brushes, thinners, scrapers, sandpapers and sanders,  scrubbing brushes, all the tools and materials need to be assembled ready for the big days,  the ship will be done in one intense weeks work up on the hard, two ladders, a scaffold plank, mask, tyvek suit, gloves etc.  I’m not looking forward to that but little “May” can be done a bit at a time. Sanding, varnishing, and as the warmer weather dries out the lawn up where she is parked I can take the rig down, assemble it on the grass and make the changes I want.

So there is a shelf and a toolbox up there in the boatshed, devoted to the spring maintenance.  The toolbox has all the sanding and painting gear plus protective clothing, one end of the shelf has the paint and varnish for the little yacht, the other for the ship.  I’ve got quite a lot of it including $450 worth of antifouling,  but there is more to get.
I’ll go and see my friend at Burnsco the boat chandlery about that, but am sorry that they don’t sell bulk elbow grease.  I’m going to need some.

But today I’m going to fit the rowlock plates to SEI. Nothing fancy this time, she’s not a boat that I anticipate rowing for hours at a time, so I am not going to fit my “patent” tufnol lined sockets, just a bronze strap top and bottom of a hardwood block, drilled to suit the rowlocks, and through bolted.
The hardwood came from a shipping pallet, its oily wood, hard, I’ve no idea what species but it is very tough with interlocked grain that should wear well, and like everything else for a serial boatbuilder it was there when I needed something so that’s what got used.
I’ve oars to build for her as well, they’ll be long ones at 9 ft. Again they’ll be simple with narrow blades that wont need to be feathered when rowing to windward and be sturdy enough to push the boat off with.
Stowing  a pair of 9 ft oars in SEI is going to be  a pain, they'll be either in the way or hanging out the end of the boat,  I'm thinking of getting myself a pair of Chuck Leinwebers clip together oar sleeves,  this will allow me to make the oars at the correct length, then cut them in half and with these sleeves, clip them together when needed. I have been using a pair of his paddle ones, and they're very good, those allow me to use the paddle at my usual 45deg left handed configuration and my visitors can use them just straight which is easier than feathering, allows them to concentrate on no falling out.  
The oar ones are shown "Here".

I've lots to do before springtime. Not a lot of time in which to do it!  On the 14th of next month I’m on the plane again for what has become an annual pilgrimage to Port Townsend in the USA. It’s a long trip this time, so my spring will be spent travelling rather than doing all the work that’s stacked up at home.

All of the above adds up to the fact that its time I got out of my nice warm bunk and got on with it.


John Welsford

Monday, June 15, 2015

Cruising, from a small boat perspective

Camp cruising

I love camp cruising, began my cruising career in a then 40 year old open 14 ft sailing dinghy with a damp kapok sleeping bag, a very old and temperamental kerosene stove, two spoons, a can opener and a bucket.  We had a tarp which got slung over the boom, and generally tried to get the boat up into the head of the harbours or estuaries where she would settle fairly upright on the mud overnight.
We had no outboard motor, no cellphones of course, and were frequently late home.  Not just an hour or two, sometimes several days!  If we could we’d find a phone box and ring one or the other set of parents knowing that whichever we’d talked to would phone the other.
I recall one trip where we were trapped about 40 miles from home by a change in the weather that brought a headwind too strong for us to handle, a headwind that  stayed for days, so we eventually caught a bus home, sitting alone at the back to spare people the smell of our unwashed selves.

A week later, bathed, laundered, rested, carrying a bag of food and praying for for a change in the weather we caught the bus back, dragged our little ship out of the mangroves and sailed her home.

My friend and I were 15 years old, parents and school seemed ok with our disappearing for a few days now and again. Great memories, but these days I prefer to be a bit more comfortable. Dry, warm, better fed, and with space to lie flat, stretch out and sleep well.

I still get to go camp cruising. I very much enjoy it.  A week in a small open boat brings me so much closer to the elements than other forms of cruising. Sometimes I’ll camp on shore, but of late the pressure of housing being built in even the far reaches of the harbours means that many of the little spaces that were so suited to pitching a tent are no longer available, so I build and play with boats that have a sleeping space built in.

I prefer to stay dry, properly dry not just less damp than usual, so a decent shelter is part of the equipage.
Its  a somewhat fraught subject, there is much debate as to what fabric, what configuration and how to do the detail work.  As my next build is to be a serious open sail and oar cruiser I watch for debate on this subject in the hope that I’ll pick up some useful ideas.
Rick Thompson built one of my Walkabout sail and oar cruisers in a rowing only version a while back, has done an exceptional job on the build and has been very active both in using the boat and in participation in internet forums.
I was very interested to see his posting over on the WoodenBoat forum on his building of a quick erect tent for his boat, he’s meticulous in both research and methodology, and his tent is one of the best I’ve seen.

I’ve borrowed a couple of his pics and posted them below, nice work Rick, thanks for posting that information.

Go and have a look at the thread for the detail on how it was done.

Saturday, June 13, 2015

News from the boatshed.

A grumble and other things.

Just recently over on the jwbuilders yahoo group, there was some discussion about temporary shelters in which to build a boat.  There were some good suggestions, and some that don’t apply here in NZ, but one of the things that came up was a reference to the very cheap kitset garages and carports available from several distributors of same.

I’m back home on board my ship again after a couple of days at my Ex’s house.  In exchange for another consideration I had volunteered to assemble a kitset garage that she’d bought.
Its one of “these”.

I’d hoped to use the completed space to get a couple of projects done, ones that are not easy when out in the weather here in New Zealands winter but that hasn’t worked out well.
In the little time that I’ve been able to put into it, I’ve put the foundations in, got three walls assembled and stood up, have a little of the roof on and have decided that it was not going to work the way I wanted.
It’s a nightmare of a thing to build, its so lightly framed that getting it straight and true is very difficult, the whole thing is in my humble opinion so light and flimsy that its not a good deal at all.

In fact upon asking around I’ve come across several other people including two who build this sort of thing for a living who are of the same opinion, so if you’re looking for a shed, I’d suggest that look very hard before you make your choice.

So I’ve bought a heap of cheap 45 x 70 framing lumber, drawn plans and today made up five roof trusses. Harder work physically than I’ve done for a while, but they are done.
In a week or so I’ll be back and will pre cut all of the studs and plates for the walls, and if the weather (dead of winter here in the South) co operates will have the old structure down and stripped, the idea being to put the wooden frames up and clad them with the tin from the kit.

She’ll have a decent  garage in which to put her little car, and I’ll have the use of my old shop again for 12 months.
The shop here where I am living is nowhere big enough for all the machinery I have in the old shop and I’ve nowhere else to put it. I’m ok with that for the most part but gosh I miss that big bandsaw.
And the buzzer (jointer).  And the big Drill press.  And the thickness planer, and the dust extraction system, and and and – Oh well, I think that its time to get the kayak out and go for a paddle.

Design wise, John Owens of JOWoodworks is working up a prototype for a kitset version of  SEI, and today I am going over the plans and the hull of my own boat to get the “as built” measurements into the plans.
I’d tried on the drawing to pinch the hull slightly midships  to reduce the length of oar required to row her easily, but the planks would not easily take that shape.
Another demonstration of the old engineering saying that goes “in theory there is no difference between theory and practice, but in practice there is!”.
 So I’ve a little work to do.

John Owens is hoping to have that boat at Sail Oklahoma and the Port Aransas PlyWooden Boat show,  see you there.

About subject matter on this blog. 

It was originally started as a place for me to chat with my friends and some of those who are building from my plans, and its been going for quite a while now.  Readership is fairly high, around 5 or 6000 page views a month and its been useful to be able to refer people to posts where I’ve already written on a particular subject.
On reading through the statistics, I note that the posts that attract the most readership, are those on somewhat technical matters.
Some on boats, some on machinery or tools, and some on design.  Understandable, so I’ll be working on that in future, more tool tests and I have a couple of interesting ones coming up, as well as more design work.

I’m still trying to put up a post each Friday, but don’t bet on it, sometimes life gets in the way.

See you next week.