Sunday, April 23, 2017


Well I think I will probably launch this boat next weekend. I've exceeded my 1 year target for completion by a couple of weeks. Finishing all the little pieces is consuming every free moment. Today I worked on getting the trailer set up to accommodate the boat; I put leather and buttons on the oars with mixed success; I mounted some blocks/pulleys on the boat; I installed the last permanent board on the whole boat-- a cap to the center board case. Would we be justified calling this a whiskey plank? And... I placed a silver half-dollar in the mast step.

It's a 1935 "walking Liberty" half dollar. And now that there's a hole through it, the only value it has is for luck or scrap.

I still need to finish screwing the seats down. I'm contemplating whether I might need to put a mizzen mast in the middle of the back seat. Perhaps sea trials will illuminate the worth of this idea.

My next posting will likely be from the launching. Praise be!

Saturday, April 15, 2017

Bright Work

It's the mistake of a first-time boat builder: going overboard with bright work. Uncle Doug, the salty seaman who guided me through this journey, says it would be better to paint it all. I followed his advice half-way: I'm oiling the wood rather than varnishing.

Today I got the center board case closed in (the last of the "structural" carpentry; the "whiskey plank" if you will). I also installed the jamb cleat just forward of the mast partner. This will hold the lashing that keeps the mast in the partner. Tomorrow I'm hoping to finish the spars.

At any rate, it's been a year since I started cutting plywood for this project. With any luck I should be able to launch within the next couple of weeks. My goal is to make it to the "Blessing of the Fleet" at the Great Salt Lake Yacht Club, first Saturday in May.

Sunday, March 12, 2017

Getting closer...

It's been a while since I updated my progress. The winter was cold and snowy, which deterred my willingness to work out in the shop. But spring is here now, and I have vowed to finish this before a year is up.

Recently I began painting the interior, and over the last weekend I glued up the inwale. This rail runs inside the boat, and provides a place for the belay pins I wrote about in the previous episode. In the photo (at right) you see the clamps in place on the inwale. There's a bunch of other clutter in the boat as well (as usual). That long stick is to become the tiller (attaches to the rudder, used to steer). The other longer stick will be glued to the opposite side as a inwale as well.

I've also finished building and painting the rudder meanwhile. I think I will install rub rails this week, and seats, and hopefully begin oiling the raw wood that won't be painted. Next week I hope to get the rigging in place. The hull will splash water this spring for sure.

Sunday, September 25, 2016


Last time I posted about the awesome belaying pins my buddy made for me. To return the favor, I made this door mat from a pattern found in The Arts of the Sailor by Hervey Garrett Smith.

It took 50 feet of 3/8-inch manila, and another 20 feet of 1/2-inch around the outside. My first attempt was in 1/4-inch rope, and there 50 feet made a hotpad trivet for the table not much bigger than a doily. This one looks a little lumpy, but I think it will flatten out as it gets stepped on.

Just a small distraction from painting the boat. The weather being colder, I couldn't paint. But this week promises temps in the 70s, so I hope to finish painting the bottom. I'm going with Rustoleum.

Friday, September 16, 2016

A Home-made Boat

Back when I was sailing the fiberglass production model Lido 14, I thought a home-made boat might look amateurish and clumsy. The Lido looked like a professional job. But the more I sailed that boat, the more I decided it had no character, and no soul.

So I'm feeling very close to finishing the new boat, the boat I built myself. I've been told I could have it finished in a week, if only I didn't have to work my day job. And it doesn't look too clunky, if I do say so myself. I've made almost everything on the boat myself. I milled the scantling timbers myself out of 2x8 lumber. I laid the epoxy and fiberglass myself. I designed new elements beyond the plans, like the foreward hatch, and the centerboard. My wife and I sewed the sail together, and I set the grommets.

But this evening I got by with a little help from my friend Cody. He's an incredible wood worker. I was worrying about how to make the belaying pins for the rigging. I want this boat to feel salty, and belaying pins do that. Round things require a lathe that I don't have. Cody, however, also makes his own gear, and he made a lathe that is powered by a foot treadle. And he made my belaying pin in an hour. It would have taken me several hours (and several failures), or else I would have had to pay $12 each plus shipping to order them online. So I don't feel too bad about having something I didn't make myself.

Saturday, September 10, 2016

Fall weather closing in

The mornings are down in the 40s these days, with a cool, fresh bite in the air. Daytime temps are still in the 80s. Once temps dip down below 70F in the daytime it really puts a crimp in the cure time of epoxy. It seems the boat (is she called Romany? Furthur? Calypso? other suggestions?) is sooo close to being done, but there are still a hundred items on the completion list. Installing the inwale, the mooring bitt, the mast step, the skeg, the seats. The whole rudder is still just a dream, though I have the hardware in hand. And then there's all the paint and varnish. Not to mention rigging: installing the various cleats and blocks and lines and sail.

But small slow progress continues. Today I installed the mast partner. That's the part about a foot above the floor that holds the mast. It looks and feels solid, if I do say so. I still need to install the mast step: the part that seats the foot of the mast against the floor. I got another gallon of epoxy in the mail last week, and today I started laying fiberglass on the floor and deck. There's still a couple of hours of daylight, so I might get a little more done as well.

That's not my actual mast, by the way. It's a section of lodgepole pine that I thought about using as a mast, but in the end I glued up a couple of 2x4s (pronounced "tubafer"), and rubbed off the corners until it looked sort of round. But it still gives you the general idea, doesn't it?

Monday, August 29, 2016

Sampson Post

Work proceeds apace as the last days of summer wane and autumn weather lies boding on the horizon. Will this boat float this year?

All sorts of distractions keep me from working on it. Last week my school teaching gig picked up again, ending the long summer days when I could gaze wistfully at the boat shaped thing and ponder my next move. Now I have no more than two hours at a time in the evening to get something done.

Over the weekend I managed to get several pieces cut which will become the supports for the center thwart bench, and also for the "sternsheets" seat. I have no idea why they call it that. Stern as in rear of the boat, and sheets means a control line on a sail, but "sternsheets" somehow means the seat in the back of the boat. It also functions as an airtight chamber for reserve buoyancy.

But the big news today is that I cut and fitted the foredeck (is it too presumptuous to call it a "foc'sl"?) and sampson post. The front deck also functions as an airtight chamber for flotation. Because it is fitted with inspection ports, you could use it as cargo space, but anything you put in there detracts a bit from the reserve flotation. That's why I made the foredeck 4 inches lower than the sheer (top edge), so that I could lash cargo up on the deck.

Foc'sl, inspection hatches, and sampson post
In addition to the foredeck you may notice the sampson post in the middle of the foredeck. "Won't that get in the way?" you ask. Well, maybe so. "Isn't it a little presumptuous, on such a small boat?" you ask. Well, maybe so. But it looks cool and that's all that matters. "What's it for?" you ask. I'm glad you asked. The sampson post is tied in to the framing of the boat below the deck so that you could really tug on it. After I finish all the assembly, I will install a bronze rod, or "bitt" cross-wise through the post. Then I will be able to use it as a towing point, or as an anchor tie-off. The area in front of the sampson post will be dedicated to storing an anchor I think.

With all of this flurry of activity I'm waiting for a good weekend day when I can glue a bunch of pieces into place. I have a gallon of epoxy coming in the mail. With all the pieces cut and ready, that will complete the major construction. All that's left will be rigging, paint and varnish. Stay tuned!