Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Its nearly summertime here.

Supporting oneself with the income from plans sales is not easy.  I watch the others in this field and note that pretty much all of them do the design work and plans sales as either part of a larger business that might include doing survey work, or boatbuilding, or something completely different.  But other than living a very simple life, getting the utmost value from every dollar spent, its not really a living.
So I do other things as well as draw and build boats.

I spent many years selling, installing, comissioning and trouble shooting heavy sawmill and wood processing machinery.  I managed a sawmill for a while, ran quality control audits on some companies who made structural laminated wooden beams, and through all that built up a good knowledge of the principles of woodworking machines, how they function and how to fix them.

That’s how I earn my extra cash, that plus my Government Superannuation allows me to travel, to drive a decent vehicle, and to have some choices in life. It does though burn up time that I'd rather spend on important things like boats and boating.

Just recently, the company that I contract to for machinery repairs ran a notice in their monthly customer newsletter that they had this service available, and there has been a good response to that, its kept me out there swinging my spanners and hitting things with hammers rather than writing my blog, so what I’m saying here is “Hey,  I’ve been busy”.

Boatbuilding, and even drawing has been slow of late so the engineering, although time consuming is a nice little business that makes a difference for me.  It’s a distraction from the important stuff though, and I’m getting withdrawal symptoms.  I’ll be drawing this morning, out in the workshop this afternoon  One stringer to fit and I can start fitting up the lower plank on Long Steps. 

That stringer has to go in, and the plank on so I can determine the shape of the (off) centerboard case, it slots through the join where the plank butts up against the bottom panel, remembering that this boat doesn’t have a true keel, its got a long narrow panel, flat from side to side and curved from bow to stern. It’s a big timesaver in that there is no keel structure to build, and the framing is “egg crate” style on top of that, stringers wrapped around and planking applied.

So I’ll be out there this afternoon, its “engineering tomorrow”, and I’ve a job that will take me to Whangarei, a bit over an hour away, on Wednesday.  That gives me an opportunity to drop in and see Annie Hill and how her new ship is coming along.  Its upright now, good progress.

>>>> A few days along from the above.   I’ve fitted and faired off the lowest stringer both sides. It’s a fairly heavy one at 25mm x 30mm, it has to lie fair across some well spaced frames and the heavier section is needed to do that, plus its got a near 80 degree twist from the midships section to the stem so there is quite a bit of material to be planed off.
Done that too, and am busy getting the plank shapes off, that’s not hard, it’s a matter of taking a slice off the side of a sheet of plywood then clamping it into place, tracing the lower edge and cutting, then doing some trimming to fit, and when that edge is right the top edge is simply traced off the top of the stringer and cut.

I need the full plank shape for the plans, so I’ve begun by making the first piece, that’s 2.3m back from the stem, there will be another length from the stern forward and a short length to bridge the gap between the two.  I’ll be making a simple scarf joint with a butt bock behind to hold them together, then taking the full plank off, fiberglassing the inside to beef up this plank. 
It will be glassed outside as well, and the join between the bottom and that plank will be taped with 150 wide double bias tape, the reason for all this is that when beaching the  boat there is a lot of stress on this area, so rather than have a hole punched in it, I’m adding strength where needed.

That first section, the one that many people find quite challenging due to the combination of curve and twist has gone on easily, the long slim boat is easy to lay plywood around as there are no hard curves and that twist up to the stem is spread over the first 2.5 metres or so.  Not a big deal at all.

At this stage I’m leaving the mizzen mast box just dry assembled, until I have the masts I wont know what diameter hole to put through the partner block at top and bottom so it has to wait.  It wont be hard to access later on so that wont be a big deal.

I did though start on fitting the rudder gudgeons and pintles, drilled the holes, 20mm, way oversize, masked them off and filled them with epoxy filler. They’ll be sanded off smooth and flush then redrilled to take the bolts, and countersunk to take neoprene “O” rings smeared with anhydrous lanolin to seal them off.
If I hit something with the rudder the shock wont then break the seal and let water in.

 Spending a few hours out there working on the boat is good for the soul and the sanity. I should do more of it.

Sanity, until Sunday last I’d only sailed SEI on the river, its narrow and the currents run really quickly so its tack, tack, tack, maybe two or three minutes apart.  Not enough time to get a real feel of the boat, to play with sheeting angles and tune the rig, move my weight around and see what difference it all makes.
Friend Blair, and new friend Charles were going out in the “real” sea for a sail last Sunday, so I wheeled SEI up the track from the dock to the carpark. Its still too early in the season to get the pickup and trailer down here, wet and soft, I’ve been bogged twice and don’t want to do that again so it was muscle power to get her up there.
Its very steep that track, I gave up carrying her before I got halfway up.  80 kg and nearly 5 metres is a big lump to carry on ones own.  So I put a sausage fender under the bow, pushed her along to the balance point, put a second fender under the bow and pushed, and so on. 
Hoisted her up on the trailer, an ordinary garden trailer with a bit of padding, strapped the rig on and away we went.

Charles with his leeboard "Rogue" still on the trailer, Blair on the beach about ready to go, me heading on out.  You can see the lighthouse off in the distance on the left, its the vertical thing nearest the left of the picture, about 5 or 6 miles I think.  A nice sail on a nice day.
For those who dont know it, thats Rangitoto Island, a, hopefully, extinct volcano that lies across the mouth of Auckland harbour, it was last active somewhere around 900 to 1000 years back. Fingers crossed.
Pic by Emma 

If you’re into Google Earth, we sailed, Blair in his Saturday Night Special and I, from Narrow Neck Beach in Belmont on Aucklands North Shore to Rangitoto Light and back. Downwind in light conditions, and back with just a little more breeze.  Charles stayed nearer the beach, but took some pics of us as we neared him. Thanks Charles.

We're off.  You can see that there is a lot of traffic out there, thats the main channel, handles all the shipping plus there is a lot of recreational craft out there.  Labour weekend is the last weekend in October here and is generally thought of as the beginning of summer.  This day was about 20 deg c, very pleasant.
Another pic by Emma. (Thanks too for the picnic lunch, much appreciated) 

Performance wise? I sailed away from the SNS downwind in light conditions, then Blair sailed past me upwind. I was playing with the trim and sail shape, made it back to the beach before he did but he had been having a relax and not paying attention, plus I was working both tide and windshifts so who knows. In any case both boats are performing pretty well.

Both Blair and I wanted to know how our boats behaved in a capsize, so he hauled “Tomorrow” over. He reports that she didn’t want to capsize, took some effort to get her over.  She floated high and stable but there is a lot of water to move to get her dry,  Watching him right her it was evident that she came up easily and the boat was stable enough swamped to climb over the side so she’s about as I expected.  Good! No worries there.

SEI is not quite so good, I knew she needed more bouyancy, have even mentioned that in the building guide that will be with the plans, recommending that polystyrene blocks be fitted under the centre thwart.  But she was unwilling to tip over, took almost all my weight standing on the rail to get her to lie down on her side. I was able to right her easily, but she floats a little too low to board and bail her so today I’m cutting and fitting those blocks.

Note, did that this afternoon. 

Its our “mini raid “ this weekend, starting mid afternoon from Sandspit, out to Kawau Island, back on Sunday. Details on Facebook, the Dinghy Cruising NZ Facebook page.

I’m very much looking forward to it. Best get to work on that boat, provisions to go on board and my camping gear to organise.

Notice.  Friend David Jasper Robertson had a nice website going a year or five back, it got a bit much, life got in the way and he let it slide. But he’s back again, with a slightly different focus this time, more relaxed and as a story teller rather than as the “authority who tells people how it is”. 

He’s only just got started, but there is some content there which you might find of interest, here’s the link.

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!  “