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!

Monday, August 22, 2016

Uncle Richard

A sailboat needs a sail. This little boat I'm building called for a "balanced lug sail" which means the sail hangs from a spar ("yard") which crosses the mast. This yard hangs in a balanced fashion. Lug sails are four-sided trapezoids. This sort of sail is rather old fashioned, but the style is making a resurgence among sail-&-oar types. It is simple and easy to handle, particularly single-handed (as in one fellow on his own-- not with one hand tied behind the back).

Balanced lug sail in Wyoming. Courtesy chip-skiff,
Because the lug sail is sort of old-fashioned, I had no luck finding a used sail. Most modern production boats use triangular sails, like the old Lido you heard me cursing in earlier posts. So I couldn't really find a used sail. And when I asked sail makers to sew a new one, I got quotes in the $500 range. That seemed exorbitant to me since I bought a used sail outfit for the Lido for only $200. What's a fellow to do?

I called Sailrite! This outfit cuts sail panels for standard patterns and sells the cut sailcloth ready to sew up. And at half the price of buying the sail ready made! They send a kit complete with thread, seam tape, grommets, and instruction. For an extra $40 they will sell you the tool to set the grommets.

My good wife agreed to sew the panels for me. It made for eight hours of relationship-building quality time as I supervised and shuffled pieces into the machine. So much of sailing, and boat building is not really about sails or boats at all, but rather about managing the interpersonal dynamics that allow these activities to happen.

Richard Cheney (circa 1972) with the glider he launched at age 9.
Uncles are good people to have around. I have three brothers, all of them good uncles to my six daughters. They get it from having experienced the benefits of having uncles in their lives when they were children. My father also had uncles as he was growing up, and they facilitated his adventures. In our last installment we met Uncle Doug, who helped me with fiberglass on the boat. Today we meet Uncle Richard, a brother to Doug and my father.

Richard had a mother the like of which all little boys might wish for: my Grandmother. When Richard was 9 year old (1958), she helped him sew and fabricate a hang glider. He launched the glider from a bluff in Kaysville, Utah, and simultaneously launched a lifetime of flight. As an adult he joined the Air Force reserves, and built a business in supplying sails and wings for boats, parasail gliders and ultralight craft.

My new sail! 72 square feet of adventure.
Naturally, once my sail was sewn I took it to Uncle Richard to set the grommets. After all, I'm a bargain shopper, and there's no need to buy the grommet tool if Uncle Richard can help me out. He looked at the sail and said, "Are you sure you want a second row of reef points?" I said, "yup." He advised that I consider the second row of reefing like a four-wheel drive. When you get stuck in 2WD, you use the 4WD to get unstuck, and then you go home. You don't use it to go deeper and get stucker. So when I find myself tucking in that second row of reefs, that's the time to head for shore and wait it out until the wind dies down.

Naturally, as soon as I got home with the sail, I had to start making a spar to hang it from. Watch for more details about yards, booms, masts etc.!