Thursday, June 25, 2015

Summertime

The boats been in the water for almost three weeks now and I have taken every opportunity to get out sailing.  We've had several family outings on the weekends and I've done a couple of mid week solo sails over the past few weeks.  I really love going out alone because it really helps me get to know how the boat behaves again.  Before the restoration I had gotten comfortable enough to sail on and off the mooring and maneuver through the very tight harbor without any help from the engine.  So far this year, I've been using the main to get off the mooring, but I've had the engine running just in case I screw up.  I'm surrounded by some very expensive boats whose owners would probably not appreciate me running into them and I don't feel totally confident yet to go without the motor when leaving or approaching the mooring.






Thursday, June 11, 2015

First Sail 2015

We had a fantastic first sail last weekend, with the temperature in the low 80s and a nice 10-12 knot breeze.  It was completely uneventful except that nothing went wrong (when does that happen on the first time out) and the whole family had a good time.  With a South East breeze we were able to sail down to Mattapoisett before tacking out to Cleveland ledge and back across the bay to Marion. No marathon, just a great Sunday afternoon sail.  To top it all off, my 15 year old son was excited to get hoisted up the mast to install a wire above the spreader to hopefully keep the birds off.









Friday, June 5, 2015

Salty Again

Finally, the boat is back in salt water.  Last year's soak in Lake Winnipesaukee was done because it was really close to home and I could run up after work to take care of some of the many unfinished projects.  Being close was nice, but I wasn't fond of the squirrelly winds and lack of destinations.  

One of the many projects
that needed completion.
It's funny how launch dates sneak up on you.  Two weeks ago it dawned on me that I had a huge number of things to do before the boat was picked up on June 3rd.  I started making lists and scrambling to get everything done, but of course I didn't quite finish everything.  The big thing I missed out on was getting 3 additional coats of varnish on everything; we got only got one on for a total of 6.  I'm planning on putting another coat on now that the boat is in this weekend, but boat work usually doesn't happen for me once the boat is splashed.

So pickup day on Wednesday was absolutely crazy.  The truck was scheduled to arrive at 1pm and finally crossed the last item off my list at 12:45 when I tossed a half cord of wood blocking the boat shed into my truck.  Jonathan from Brownell Systems showed up before I stopped sweating.  Close call.

Putting the boat on the trailer.
The loading was nerve wracking for me as usual, but Jonathan was completely at ease and had no trouble backing the big truck and trailer into the tight confines of the boat shed.  It took a little over an hour to load the boat and get the mast secured on the trailer's rack and then it was over.  The boat was gone, the shed was empty and I felt a huge sense of relief.  
The next morning I drove down to the Marion town launch and met Jonathan and his crane operator to step the mast and launch the boat.   Another nerve wracking hour for me; there is just something about a 250 pound (guess) mast hanging from a crane above your head while standing on the deck of a boat 15 feet off the ground on a trailer that just doesn't sit well with me.  

All went well though and once we got all the standing rigging attached I started to feel a bit better. The strap from the crane was dropped, the mast stayed up on its own and then it was time to back down the ramp.  I wish I had taken photos, but I was trying to pay attention.  Once the boat was in the water Jonathan gave me a minute to fire up the engine and it started right away.  Then he lowered the hydraulic rams that keep the boat on the trailer and the boat was free.  

I tied the boat off to the dock and thanked Jonathan for all his help and he was off.  I hopped back on board and headed out to the mooring.  It took a while to find it and ended up having Barden's Boatyard find it (it took them a while also).  It turns out that the float was partially submerged so I never saw the number. 
The rest of the day was uneventful and much more relaxing.  I made sure all the cotter pins were crimped (or whatever it is you call it when you bend them around the clevis pin), put the boom on and rigged the mainsheet.  Then I had some lunch and relaxed a bit before heading home.  Next up - Sailing... Finally.


Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Frenetics

I've been neglecting to post here for a while now, but it's not because I've been off skiing or mountain biking somewhere and blowing off boat work.  I've been busy getting the boat ready to launch in two days and I just had a ton of little projects that were either partially completed or just never got to them last year.

First off, I finally finished the new hatch and got it installed.  Most of the work since the last post involved varnishing (6 coats), installing hardware, and final fitting.  All went well and I'm happy with how it turned out.

At the same time I was working on varnishing the brightwork, bolting on the builders plate (finally), and installing a new VHF cable that runs from the radio to the mast.  At any given point in the past month I've had 5-6 small projects going in various stages of completion.

There were a few larger projects that I should have done over the winter, but I just don't get much boat work done over the winter, so once again, I was under the gun once the weather warmed up and I was sure we were going to launch this season.

Last fall I had started putting bead board on the main bulkhead in the cabin, and I had finished the port side but didn't start the starboard side until last week.  It isn't a difficult project, and installing the bead board is quite easy, but cutting and fitting the trim just takes a lot of time.  In particular, the trim board covering the chainplate bolts took forever because I had to get longer chainplate bolts and I decided to use some old chainplates as a backing plate for the chainplate located on the other side of the bulkhead.  I finally got it done and I think it looks a lot better (See before and after photos below).

Bulkhead before
There were a lot of other projects that amounted to a pain in the ass and were time consuming but required no creativity or much skill.  I did consult the considerable talent amassed in the wooden boat forum to determine the best approach to repairing a split along a glue line in the boom.  I just wasn't sure what to do, but in the end it was quite simple to do (open up the glue line with a japanese pull saw, fill with epoxy and plug the end to keep the split from continuing).  Hopefully it will last and I plan on re-building the whole thing for next year.

Bulkhead completed, minus the clock that still needs to be installed.


Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Mud Season

So here in Northern New England we have a dreaded 5th season known as mud season.  It's the time just after the snow melts and just before the black flies start biting.  Mud season is a sub-season of spring and in my case it means that I can't go near the boat until things dry out and the ground stabilizes. Of course there is a lot to do, but mud season gives me an excuse to find other things to do.

I have been picking away at finishing the forward hatch though, and I decided to get all artsy and see if I could do an inlay.  I've never really done inlays before so I cracked open the interwebs one night and found some good youtube videos by 'The Apprentice and The Journeyman'.  Seemed easy enough so I gave it a shot.  I didn't take any photos of the process because I never thought it would come out as nice as it did, but you can see the whole process on the link above.

In any event, I decided on a compass rose with an alternating wood pattern, and I had some leftover teak from the top deck and a chunk of ash from the firewood pile. The ash is significant because it was a beautiful tree next to our house and my wife and daughter's favorite tree.  Unfortunately, it came down during one of the snowstorms this winter and I had to cut it up.  I saved a few pieces and cut them up on the bandsaw for use later on.   The ash will live on.

So with the help of the youtube videos I did some basic math and cut out a bunch of 22.5 degree wedges with a little jig I made for the bandsaw and glued them all up.  The result was surprisingly good, so I took then next step and traced the pattern on a piece of sapele and chiseled out the relief before dropping the glued up compass rose.

I sanded it all down and then embedded it along with a bunch of mahogany strips that I had left over on the underside of the hatch with epoxy.  After a good sanding, I applied the first of several coats of varnish.   Next, once the ground hardens up and I can get on the boat again, I'll get the hardware mounted and adjusted and then it's just a matter of more varnish and I'll be done.





Monday, April 6, 2015

Hatching the Hatch

Getting close now, I almost have a finished hatch on my hands.  This was my first foray into Teak Decking Systems SIS 440 (or any teak seam sealer for that matter) and other than the long cure time, it was easy enough to use.

I started by taping off the teak planks between the seams to minimize cleanup.  I don't think it's needed because everything needs to be sanded down anyway, but I'm sure it didn't hurt.  Once everything was taped off pretty well, I clipped the end of the tube and popped it into a mechanical caulking gun.  I squeezed out the black goo into each of the seams, letting it mound up behind the nozzle (as instructed).  My cheapo mechanical caulking gun doesn't really have the leverage to easily get the caulking to flow and my hand quickly began to cramp.  Fortunately, I have large gorilla hands, but someone with small hands or little hand strength would likely have some difficulty.

I literally had just enough caulking to get all the seams filled, but once complete I took a 1 inch piece of scrap wood and smeared each of the seams to make sure everything was filled and there were no bubbles.  At that point I set it aside for 48 hours and let it cure up.


This afternoon I tested out the caulking with my fingernail and decided it was cured enough to sand, so I took my random orbit sander and 60 grit discs and sanded everything flat.  It cleaned up really easily and didn't take long to get nice crisp seams and that teak deck look.

I finished up by putting a quick coat of varnish on the rails around the deck to get a feel for how the contrasting woods will look.  Pretty sharp!  So, now there is lots more varnish to do and I will also epoxy in 1/8" mahogany strips to the underside of the deck to cover up the plywood and to provide a final layer for additional strength.








Saturday, April 4, 2015

Shaping Up

Progress has been pretty decent with the hatch over the past few days.  I epoxied in the 1/4" plywood subdeck to the rabbets running the perimeter of the hatch and then coated it with a layer of un-thickened epoxy.  Originally, I was planning on laminating in a layer of 6oz cloth, but I was a little worried that the additional thickness would cause the teak planks to sit proud of the perimeter of the hatch.

Basically, the rabbet I cut was 1/2" deep and the 1/4" plywood plus 1/4" teak decking fills that rabbet up with no room for anything else.  It probably would have been fine, but I decided that instead I would laminate a piece of 1706 biaxial fabric to the underside of the hatch before putting on a wood facia.  That would probably be overkill so I may end up just doing a 6oz layer, but I want to get a feel for how stiff the center of the hatch is with both teak and plywood laminated.

Anyway, after I epoxied over the plywood deck, I noticed that the center of the hatch had a slight depression in it.  A straight edge revealed that I had an 1/8" depression.  I want the teak to sit as flat as possible so I mixed up a batch of Quick Fair and troweled it over the depressed section.  I didn't totally eliminate it, but took care of most of it.

Next, I did some shaping at the corners and cut a 6 degree sloping angle from the bottom up on the sides to give it a 'sporty' look.  Not really, but one of the things I didn't like about my last hatch was that even though it was curved to fit the camber of the deck it looked a bit boxy.  I think this should help.

With that complete, it was time to measure and cut the teak strips.  The fore and aft length was easy, just measure total distance between the rabbets and subtract 1/2" (1/4 gap for black caulking on either end), but the side to side proved to be more challenging.  It felt like I was back in grade school and was faced with a word problem that went like this:
You have 10 pieces of wood, each 3 inches wide and they need to be evenly spaced over 21.125 inches.  Each piece needs to have a .25 inch gap between the next board.  How wide does each board need to be?
 The answer: 2.065 inches.

Once I had checked and rechecked my calculations, I went ahead and ripped them on the table saw. Fortunately, I was correct, and they all fit nicely.   At that point it was time to glue them in, so using a tube of Jamestown Distributors Total Boat Thixo (the epoxy that is in a caulking tube and mixes when squeezed through a nozzle), I globbed on a bunch on the back of each strip and squished it in place.  Once I had them all on the hatch, I used rubber tile spacers to keep 1/4 inch between each board.
I stacked a bunch of weight on top and let it cure up overnight.  I'm really pleased with how it turned out; I had never worked with teak decking to any degree before, hopefully the black caulking that comes next will work out too.