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.


  1. Sounds great John....stay there the weather here is c$&p :(

  2. You seem to have hit the nail on the head with the Scamp design

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