Tuesday, May 24, 2016

I've started the build, here's the first piece of Long Steps.

On Sunday I got started on the build of my very own adventure boat.  I get lots of emails from people who are out there having way too much fun, and its time I was out there with them.  Now, I’ve currently got six boats .  Six is not enough do I hear?
Well, lets see,  here's my collection.

Kairos, 43 ft, abut 15 tons, motor cruiser, draws nearly 5 ft of water.  She’s my home, has all the mod cons including hot shower, freezer and fridge, a recliner armchair, a monster big diesel under the main cabin,  and and and.  (And a lot of maintenance)

RIB,  a rigid bottomed inflatable. Not even dignified by having its own name, its about 9 ft long, is the tender for Kairos, stable, hard to row, but stable. It fits the davits on Kairos, is stable, carries a big load, has wheels to assist me in dragging her up the beach and is stable.  There has to be something good about something so ugly. Stability is good when taking friends and family ashore.

Scraps.  All of 6ft and a bit long, weighs under 50 lbs, is the tender for ---

May, soon, when I get around to it, to be renamed “Spook”. She’s an 18 ft on deck, long keeled one and a quarter ton gaff sloop with a cabin that will just sleep two.  She’s pretty, sails really well, and takes over an hour to launch and rig, and an hour the other way when pulling out. I love her dearly but she’s best when I can use her for a several day long cruise.

SEI.  My most recent design and build, she’s 15 ft, double ended, lightweight, rows well enough for me to enjoy an hour at the oars, she’ll be rigged for sail in the next little while, this boats a whole lot of experiments put together. So far its evident that the shape and structure are as I wished, but the experiment with some of the paint primer is not. I wont denigrate the manufacturer as they don’t claim that its good for this use, but I wont list it among my favourite paints.
I use SEI most days, row when the tide suits and among other things pick up as much of the rubbish  that floats down the river from the town upstream as I can.  Plastic is choking our oceans, this is my tiny bit to help reduce that.

PiWi.  Dennys old plywood kayak, this boat is a testament to how well a plywood boat can survive in spite of some less than optimum storage.  Its been repainted twice in 25 years, but the inside had three coats of marine varnish and that’s about it.  She’s getting  tired now, a bit soft in a few spots, but for use on the river where if she were to spring a minor leak I can get into shallow water she’s fine.
I’m doing a little work on her, hope to keep her in service for a while yet.

But I want an “Adventure boat”.  My real love is Sail and Oar,  a genre that’s become very popular in France and England, and is growing in popularity in Canada and the USA.  Long slim boats that row well enough, sail better, and have room on board to camp in some small degree of comfort. 

That plus boatbuilding, and using boats are different hobbies.  Related but different, and if my shop is empty I’m lost. So Long Steps is under way, the build at least.

I built the stem on my day off last week, by the time I post this I hope to have a little more done, and am very much looking forward to my  next “Day off”.

Here are some pics, that assembly just fits on a sheet of plywood, its 2.40m long (just under 8 ft) by a metre high ( 3ft 3in, about).  The bulkheads mount at the steps in the top edge of the spine, that’s B#1,  B#2, B#3 and B#4, which takes the spine back to the after end of the cuddy, the high part being the support for the mast step and the low place aft supporting the cockpit floor in the cuddy area.
Building like this means that in conjunction with all the other bits the boats skeleton clicks together “egg crate” style.  She will build upright using her bottom panel as a base, all the bulkheads/frames erected on that, stringers wrapped around and the planks around that.
The bulkheads have much of the interior framing already on them when they go into the boat, so the inside doesn’t take long to build.

I’ve only just begun, from small beginnings and all that.

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Long Steps, a preview/

Long Steps.

I think that I’ve mentioned before, that in my plans range we have “Tread Lightly” which came from a little poem about how we should treat the earth on which we walk (metaphor), and “Walkabout” which is an English language word for the spiritual wanderings of the Australian Aboriginal people, and that “Long Steps” is the next in the series of names.  I am wanting to travel further, to  see new coasts, to explore new territory both within myself and in terms of where I will sail.
Hence “Long Steps”.

To sail  along the coast of New Zealand is a real adventure, there are wonderful harbours, tiny sheltered coves, rivermouths and amazing beaches to explore.  There are though stretches where there are cliffs and reefs, where a haven from foul weather may be  long way off, and any boat venturing along there needs to have both a cautious skipper and the ability to cope with seriously bad weather.

Other considerations are that the boat should be fast.  Not blazingly fast as in a racing boat but the difference between a conventional sailing dayboat which will average 3.5 knots over a days sailing and one that will average 5 knots is going to make close to two hours difference when covering a 35 mile days distance.  A boat that will maintain a good speed on all points of sail and in a wide range of  conditions without stressing the crew is very desisrable when covering long distances day after day.
By not stressing the crew, I mean that it should offer some protection from wind and spray, several comfortable seating positions, a place where the  boat can be helmed standing up, and she should have a comfortable motion in a seaway.
Further on the stress and fatigue issue, the force needed to adjust the sails sheets should be low, the helm should be light, the boat should track easily and be able to hold a course without the skipper at the helm.

Very very important, as she is intended to go into remote areas far from possible assistance this boat has to be such that  she can be self rescued by her solo skipper in case of a capsize or swamping.

She has to carry a weeks worth of stores, gear for cooking and camping aboard including a really effective tent, ground tackle so she can anchor , communications and safety equipment, spare clothing and a bucket.

There are lots more considerations to mull over when I’m chewing the end of my pencil sitting at the drawing board, too many to list here.

Designing or all of the above is a big ask, and the design work started well before picking up the pencil and drawing “Long Steps”.  I’d written all this out, quantified it, estimated weights and spaces, identified out the target  hydrodynamic numbers and the shape required to fit all of that before I started working on the shape of the hull and the rig.

So here is the solution to the equation, Long Steps is 5.850 long plus boomkin and in my case a short “prod” bowsprit for a single luffed spinnaker.  She’s narrow enough to row, has a self draining cockpit floor that’s 0.600 wide by 2.7 long, has around 140 kg of water ballast, a “standing  up” area just ahead of the tiller, and I’m planning to put a swimming pool beanbag in there as well to ease the back and butt. Sshe has over 2 tons of bouyancy built in, all of which can be accessed through hatches for stores and equipment, and of course there is the little  “cabin” which is really a raised storage and bouyancy chamber with a  cuddy, now called the “Cuddly” in the case of my SCAMP design which the idea came from and which is a practical and much loved feature of that boat.

The hull shape is a development of the Walkabout, fast, dry, easily rowed, with the ballast, the offset centerboard and self draining cockpit of the SCAMP.
The rig is the lugsail with mizzen yawl that’s become popular on several of my other cruisers, and, well, its time I stopped rambling and showed you the pictures.

We have below the  body plan showing the shape and structure. The second is the rig, note that all the fittings are listed, they’re all from the Duckworksmagazine catalogue, good gear at a good price by the way.  DW will have the fittings list and can supply a package deal including all your bits of string.
The third page shows, in response to a short thread on my Facebook page, how the lap joints in the planking are made.

Apologies in advance for the poor pics, I went and had them scanned but the Blogspot system wont accept them so its back to an inadequate camera.

Watch this space, I’ve only a couple of sheets of plans to draw now, and will be starting the build very soon.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

A look at my Pilgrim design.


Its Thursday today, here in New Zealand anyway as we get the new day before anyone else.  I’ve promised myself that I’d do my best to get a post up here every Thursday, even if its not about a major happening, so here goes today.

Dinghy cruising is a sport that is growing steadily worldwide, I was just reading today the latest edition of "Dinghy Cruising", the quarterly journal of the Dinghy Cruising Association.  The assn is based in the UK but has members worldwide, is interested not only in the sailing but also the safety, the design, the equipping and the whole philosophy of cruising in small open boats.
You can contact them "here".  Good people, dedicated and helpful.  president@dinghycruising,org.uk  or join their forum "here" to get involved.  forum.dinghycruising.org.uk 
I can recommend their magazine by the way, a quarterly glossy publication of professional standard.

Some of those little boats are minimalist, some are almost luxurious, me, I am old enough to like a decently comfortable bunk, good food, shelter when it blows up and a boat that will take the heavy weather if I've decided that the forecasters are wrong and its going to be a good day in spite of what they say, so I tend toward a slightly bigger boat, and am pleased that the bigger boat is such that my dearly beloved will come with me because she feels safe and comfortable.
But I still like to be able to creep up creeks, into the skinny waters where the big boats cant go, I like to tow at highway speeds and get the boat launched and away sailing in waters that would take me days to get to if I had to sail a bigger boat from home to there, so the compromise is a trailerable but capable boat that I can manage on my own, but which is roomy enough for me and the family when they want to come out for a day.

I’ve noted that there is lots of interest in both Pilgrim and her larger sister Pelegrin with “proper” cabin, and thought I’d put some Pilgrim pics up for your entertainment and information.  There are several of these in and sailing now, and more in build which is great. 

A hearty thank you to the owners who were kind enough to send these pics to me! 

Pilgrim was designed to be a really comfortable dayboat / camp cruiser, one that would be much more capable than most open boats and which would be able to cope with serious blue water along an exposed coast.

 Reports back from those who are sailing this design are very favourable, the owners tell me that she’s a treat in rough water and high wind as well as being much faster than expected in very light winds.  She is dry, handles well, and has a huge amount of space including a big flat sleeping space for two and storage for enough to keep those people comfortable and fed for a couple of weeks away.
Writing this has been almost enough to persuade me to build one for myself, but I’m working on Long Steps which is based upon a whole different philosophy and intended for a quite different purpose.

More information "here"   http://www.jwboatdesigns.co.nz/plans/pilgrim/index.htm


Upside down, being planked up.  That tricky area around the lower stem is made much easier by planking it up with two layers of thin plywood rather than trying to force the 3/8in ( 9mm) plywood that the rest of the boat is planked in, around that tight curve.  There is more than a hint here of the space inside this big comfortable boat.
Inside, looking forward.  Lots of room for airbeds and sleeping bags if you are into camping out, or a couple of deckchairs if you are wanting  comfortable day out sailing.
You can see that the main part of the centercase is hidden under the bunk flat and down inside the external keel, water ballast is an option shown in the plans and the tanks are where those two rectangular hatches are, the benefit being that the boat is lighter to tow on its trailer than with the lead ballast that is otherwise used.  A 2 litre 4 cylinder car will tow this boat quite comfortably.

Inside looking aft, big comfortable seats with good leg space, the seats and backrests are angled for comfort, the seat on the "other" side is just the right distance to put your foot against when the boats heeled over a bit, and you can see that there is storage in all of the air tanks that provide a huge amount of bouyancy.

Sailing, moving along nicely in a gentle breeze, there is enough sail area there to make good progress even in very light weather, while she still handles the rough with little fuss.
Coming through, you can see that the boat is deep enough to offer very sheltered seating for both crew and skipper.
Moving on.  There is the option of an outboard motor well, or mounting it as shown here. Note the very clean wake, no energy lost there.

Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Boatbuilders skills course

Ran it last weekend. We had a great time!  I enjoyed the happy, friendly group of guys I had here for the weekend, there were lots of laughs, a lot of pertinent questions, they paid attention, learned well, were apt pupils and good company.  The little workshop in the boatshed here by the river was just about the right space for five students and myself, and we had a good time at break times sitting in the saloon of my old ship chatting while eating lunch.
My estimate of how much time we’d need for each subject was close, close enough so we got through all of my “curriculum” with time enough for Q & A at the end and I’m particulaly pleased to have made more friends.
Here is a report written by Brian Hogg who’d flown in from Wellington for the weekend .  He sails the 6M Whaler “Emeraude”  http://www.jwboatdesigns.co.nz/plans/6m_whaler/index.htm
orginally built as a gaff sloop for Pat Quinn by Peter Murton http://www.murtons.co.nz  but now rigged as a gaff yawl.  Brian comes from “mainstream” single masted performance yachts and is having a ball learning about the two masted rig and sailing in open boats.
Here he is out sailing, a video taken by Richard Schmidt out in his Navigator.

 Brian, John, Tim, Tim and Callum with me on the right talking about scarf joints. 
 Making explanatory sketches on a piece of plywood, we're about to do the scarfing of plywood, which is scary until you actually do it then its easy peasy.

One of the nice finishing touches on any boat is to hide the screw heads under a matching plug of wood. Here I'm explaining how those bungs are cut, how to size the original hole to suit the plug cutter and how to get them out of the wood you've cut them from.  There is more to it than there appears but like a lot of things, once you know, its easy.

Many thanks to Paul Gilbert, Marine photographer, for the pics.

From Brian.
“May 2016
What a great weekend we all had immersed in boats and boat building essentials in the company of a few other guys keen to learn from John.
Personal safety was the first topic in the workshop on Saturday morning and included such things as the correct gloves and masks to use and what to do around the various power tools.
Next epoxy resin, glue powder and its properties and the applications and properties of the various sorts of the epoxy fillers got us started up the learning curve. Whilst on epoxy techniques John showed us a clever and easily made tool to accurately measure small quantities of resins for those wee jobs. Once measured out accurately we mixed the resins with another very simple and useful tool that again any of us can make in our own workshop, which also doubles as a versatile applicator.
During the weekend we created a number of different joints, fillets and structures using our newly gained knowledge of those resins and fillers. For example we created curved a laminated beam and learnt a very precise technique to easily set it out accurately. I had no idea there was so much to learn about creating laminated curved beams and the various amounts of spring-back that occurs. Moving onto joints John made filleting (joints not fish!) look easy and before long we all were able to produce both tidy fillets and tidy taped joints, the latter finished on Sunday to neatly disguise the edge of the cloth.
John also led us through the murky waters of sharpening woodworking tools, specifically chisels and planes. Before long we were all using the grindstone and oil with an increasing degree of confidence. Along the way we learnt about the correct type of grinding wheels to use to square up high speed steel blades and the correct stones for tool sharpening and the techniques to hold the blades at the correct angles
A great thing for me personally is that I have come away from the week-end confident that I can create reasonably sharp woodworking tools from my sorry collection of chisels and planes. Talking of planes I had no idea there was so much involved with setting them up correctly or how good they could be a when set up correctly. Armed with the knowledge of what distinguished a good plane from the not so good (aka my useless one!)  I jumped on Trade me on the Saturday night and grabbed three old planes at a good price, including a wee block plane, much coveted by my class mates!
A discussion on preservatives, sealers, paints, glue and the old enemy dry rot got the whole class up to speed on this technical topic and gave us insights that will lead to all of us doing a better finishing job on our boats.  A constant theme through the weekend was the good the bad and the ugly among power tools of all kinds as we looked at different tools and how they can be used. A revelation was Johns explanation as to why my (cheap nasty old) jigsaw wanders all over the place. Band saws and how to set them up and what makes a good one took a little time but several of us are now likely to acquire one as a result of what we learnt.
And then of course we got on to sand papers of all kinds and the best ways to use each. There is even a ty[e of sand paper you can see through while at the other extreme John’s sheets of 40 grit would make good roofing iron !

Scarfing solid timber, using a wooden guide  tool you can make to simplify the process, had us fascinated. That demonstration was  followed by a simple but clever process to make accurate scarfs with plywood which rounded out the day on Sunday.
Lunch times both days (with excellent but basic man food) were also learning and discussion times covering a wide range of topics from trailers to tabernacles through to stress doublers.  To sustain all this learning we had plenty of tea and coffee with excellent baking courtesy of the nearby supermarket and Johns food assembly talents!
In addition to all kinds of skills we learnt  from John he also told us about such  diverse things as how to set up lazy jacks to how to easily remove blobs of hardened epoxy from your workshop floor. Apart from staggering up the steep learning curve in John’s small riverside workshop all weekend, a few of us got to row John’s latest sailing/rowing dinghy, called SEI after the Japanese whale. Anything less like a whale would be hard to find and it was a certainly a joy rowing the dinghy on the evening river. ..Thanks John !

In summary last weekend  with John and the other guys was one of the most instructive and enjoyable two days I have spent in years.
Each of us attending the tutorial weekend were at very different places in the wooden boat spectrum. Some, like me, had never built a boat while others were already on a first or subsequent build project which meant we peppered John all weekend questions from all over the compass. And we all came away brimming with new knowledge and enthusiasm to put what we have learnt into practice.
If anything to do with wooden boats excites you I recommend you join in with one of John’s fantastic essential skills weekends.

Cheers.  Brian Hogg

A few minutes ago I opened my emails, and found that Callum had sent a nice summary of his weekend, thanks Callum for the compliments, I'm looking forward to following your build.

Hi team.  
I attended the Introductory Boat-builders Course run by John last weekend and found it to be very beneficial.
The course covered the basic tools required for boat-building; how to sharpen planes and chisels; epoxy resins; joints; and how to make a stitch and ply boat water tight.
The small number of participants meant that there was plenty of one-on-one tuition and that the course was very personable.    I found John to have an encyclopedic knowledge of the subject and he passed this knowledge on in a way that students of all levels could understand.  The students themselves were an interesting bunch and their varied backgrounds meant that they also contributed constructively to the lessons.  For me, the course demystified the process of boat-building and has given me confidence to begin building my first boat, the Pelegrin.  I would like to thank John for running a fantastic course.

Callum Wicks

Back to “Me”.  I”ll be running the course again on the weekend of June 4th and 5th.
Same curriculum, same time and same place.  9 30 am  to 4 30 pm on Saturday, 9 am to 4 pm on Sunday.
There will be time to go over any specific points of interest, plenty of time for questions and answers, and as Brian said, the course has something for  raw beginners through to those who want to refine their existing skills.
I’ve three spaces not  yet booked, and yes can pickup from the airport shuttle.
Email me for the details if you’re interested.

John Welsford.