Sunday 27 February 2011

Meet The Fleet, Part Tree: The Birth of "Chirp"

"Oh, I'm building a boat to get me out of town, so I'm cutting big tall trees down to the ground..."
                                                                                     -El Torpedo

Here's one from the vault- originally published on Anything Sailing back on 2009, this is the tale of "Chirp."

Low-Buck Dinghy
Alright, get your minds out of the gutter- SWMBO has already made all the Viagra jokes and vastly amused herself when I laid out my plan.
(Okay, I guess i set myself up with that last sentence. BTW, anyone know of a good place to buy AA batteries? We seem to be running short around the house.)

*ahem*  Be that as it may, after pricing inflatables at the boat show, thinking about the pros and cons of inflating/deflating, storage, actual use, etc., I have decided to spend the rest of this winter, or at least the non-drinking portion of my spare time, building a dinghy. 

My goals are thus:
Multi-purpose-  sail, row, outboard propulsion.
Short- I don't want the length of my dinghy to exceed the 8' beam of my boat. I plan to build davits to accommodate it while at dock, to keep the marina nazis happy, but will tow it while underway.
Weight- I want to stay under 75 lbs. for the basic hull- engine and sail rig additional.

I am figuring on a 3'8" beam, 7'6" LOA, 1/4" thick hull, 3/4" thick transom, 14" freeboard. Doing the math, I think I am looking at about 1 and a 1/2 sheets of 1/4", so I should be able to meet my weight projection, and if i do the math right, I am looking at a capacity of roughly 450 lbs with 6" of freeboard.

The plan is to be able to get this bad boy built in under 25 hours total working time, on a $250 budget. Here's how it's breaking down so far:

Hour 1: Alright, I got on the tools today and started making sawdust. Scoured my scrap lumber stash and found a likely victim to be made into a transom, a 3' x 3' scrap of 3/8" ply. I lofted my transom plan, cut the carcass, and ripped the offcuts into 3 " sections which I laminated to the carcass, clamping and weighting the bejesus out of it to give me a 3/4" thick transom, suitable for a small outboard.

Hours 2 and 3: Grabbed a motley assortment of castoffs and built a strongback. Laid a 4x8 sheet of 1/4" luan on the 'back, and lofted the sides of the hull. I have decided to go with a traditional bow for a couple of reasons- I think it may tow better behind the boat while underway, and it also means one less piece to lay out and cut. Laid out and cut the frames for spreading and shaping the hull.

Hour 4: Cut stem piece and very, very simple temporary frames, then cursed, sweated, grunted, pushed, pulled, nudged, wiggled, and screwed the chines, frames, stem, and transom together: 

After pouring some more coffee, I will figure out the rocker, shim the strongback and form the bottom of the hull.

The chines are secured to the transom and stem with #6 wood screws and Gorilla Glue. The frames are temporary and are only screwed in place. Once all the pieces are cut and fitted, then the whole mess will be stitched and glued together, epoxy filleted, sanded, inside seams fiberglassed, and I will probably cloth the whole outer hull, just for durability's sake.

Total cost so far:
2 sheets of 1/4" luan @ 14.70/sheet = $29.40
3 8' lengths of 2x2 @ 4.30/ length = $12.90
1 bottle of Gorilla Glue $5.95
handfull of screws @ 3.75/lb. $1.00 (approx.)
Assorted scraps and off cuts from other projects: $0

So, so far I am $49.25 into this fiasco. If I didn't have scraps for the strongback and the transom, figure another $20 or so.

Hour 4.5: Shimmed the second 4 x 8 sheet on the strongback to conform to the rocker of the chines. This sheet is the bottom of the hull. 

Once I had the shims in the right place and there was no daylight visible between the chines and the bottom of the hull, I traced around the hull, then grabbed my jigsaw, closed my eyes and pulled the trigger. Voila- 

Here's a selection of the tools used sitting in the bottom of the dinghy:

I am NOT a woodworker. My tool selection for messing around with tree-based construction is barely at the home handyman level, but so far I have not run into any real issues. The biggest problem I have is space- my workshop is really designed for building engines and general automotive futzing- I am working in a space that is approximately 7 x 10, with sheets of 4 x8 ply. Space is so tight I have to leave the room to change drill bits. To cut the hull once it was traced, I had to shuffle the chines to port, cut the starboard side, shuffle the chines to starboard and cut the port side. Now that the big pieces are cut, I've got a little extra room whicgh will speed the process and lower the frustration level. okay, coffee is ready, time to get back to it. 

Hours 5- 7: Tied the bottom and chines together. Instead of the traditional tied-wire method of stitching, I decided to make use of the big-ass grande size tub of zip-ties i bought at Costco 8 years ago and have never used. Then I laid in the forwardmost frame, and spent a frustrating hour and an alarming amount of wood cutting the breasthook and quarter knees. the compound bevel angles damn near made me give up. I did prevail however, by remembering the mantra, "filler will cover it up, filler will cover it up."

I am surpised at how quickly the basic hull took shape. I am further surpirsed that i have gotten this far with all major and minor appendages and digits still intact. Now that the major cutting and fitting is out of the way, i am sort of at a standstill untill i can pick up some West System supplies and start messing around with harmful chemicals. I gotta say, so far it has been pretty damn enjoyable, and i am kind of kicking myself for not picking up enough treestock to build two or three at one whack. Aside from workspace limitations, the material lends itself to mutliple simultaneous builds. I could have lofted and cut three or four hulls at the same time, with judicious use of clamps. Of course, I have no use for three or four dinghies, but this small indoor mid-winter boat-building stuff can quickly get addictive.
BTW, I just ran the numbers through a hull design program i downloaded. If this program is to be believed, I am looking at a payload of nearly 1000 lbs. before she swamps. That is a lot of beer, and beats almost all other dinghies of similar length i have looked at.
Hours 7 - 11: Tore out the breasthook and started again. Rather than trying to get an acceptable result with 3/4" ply, I decided to carve some cleats and install a small spreader frame, then use 1/4" ply for the breasthook itself.

Rethought my thinking, and realized there was a lot I could (and should) get done before pumping epoxy. I built the mid and aft frames, and installed them: Here's the bow frame I installed yesterday and today's midframe: 

To be continued...

Favourite Haunts, With the Usual Suspects

   "Roam if you want to, roam around the world..."

     When the water gets too hard to sail, this sailor goes surfing.  On the web.  Online communities make the off-season a little bit more bearable.

     When I am not here toiling away in the  Dock Six Chronicles nerve center, I can be found at:  A friendly tightly knit international forum of small boaters, big boaters, racers, cruisers, refitters, restorers and even the odd Naval Architect.  Newcomers are always welcome.  A large general community with a wide knowledge base and a dizzying array of forums, boat reviews and articles.  You don't HAVE to read the link in Sailing Dog's signature, but it helps.  Not as much traffic as Sailnet, but great info from MaineSail and Peggy, the Head Mistress, as well as all of the other contributors.  Dylan Winter is a Dock Six kind of guy.  Watch some of his work and you will see what I mean.  I don't generally have anything to do with sites that charge for content, but I happily pay the pittance ($5 or $10) to download the films- it's THAT good. He also has them available on DVD - makes a great gift.  This guy is in the Dock Six Hall of Fame.  (Okay, he would be if there was a Dock Six Hall of Fame.  Which there isn't.  Yet.)  Building a small wooden boat in his basement on Long Island led to buying a slightly larger wooden boat.  In Florida.  The Gulf Coast side of Florida.  Sight Unseen.  And sailing it back home.

    If you have any other quality time-wasting boat links, feel free to fire me an email or a comment, and I'll add them to the list.

From the Inbox

     "...Sailing a reach, before a followin' sea. She was makin' for the trades on the outside, and the downhill run to Papeete...."

    Crosby, Stills and Nash created one of the best modern sailing songs ever written, but the lyrics are often mangled  by karaoke-krazed dirt-dwellers  who have no grasp of nautical terminology.  For this reason, and because there may be a lubber (hi Mom!) out there among the many, er almost a dozen readers, I have taken the liberty of posting a glossary sent to me by a fellow Dock Six Denizen.  Author unknown.  I can't take either the credit or the blame for this one.

Amidships - condition of being surrounded by boats.

 Anchor - a device designed to bring up mud samples from the bottom at
 inopportune or unexpected times.

 Anchor Light - a small light used to discharge the battery before daylight.

 Beam Sea - A situation in which waves strike a boat from the side,
 causing it to roll unpleasantly. This is one of the four directions
 from which wave action tends to produce extreme physical discomfort.
 The other three are 'bow sea' (waves striking from the front),
 'following sea' (waves striking from the rear), and 'quarter sea'
 (waves striking from any other direction).

 Berth - a little addition to the crew.

 Boat ownership - Standing fully-clothed under a cold shower, tearing
 up 100-dollar bills

 Boom - sometimes the result of a surprise jibe. Called boom for the  sound that's made when it hits crew in the head on its way across the  boat.

Calm - Sea condition characterized by the simultaneous disappearance
 of the wind and the last cold beverage.

 Chart - a type of map which tells you exactly where you are aground.

 Clew - an indication from the skipper as to what he might do next.

 Course - The direction in which a skipper wishes to steer his boat and
 from which the wind is blowing. Also, the language that results by not
 being able to.

 Crew - Heavy, stationary objects used on shipboard to hold down
 charts, anchor cushions in place and dampen sudden movements of the

 Dead Reckoning - a course leading directly to a reef.

 Dinghy - the sound of the ship's bell.

 Displacement - when you dock your boat and can't find it later.

 Estimated Position - a place you have marked on the chart where you
 are sure you are not.

 Flashlight - Tubular metal container used on shipboard for storing
 dead batteries prior to their disposal.

 Gybe - A common way to get unruly guests off your boat.

 Headway - what you are making if you can't get the toilet to work.

 Jack Lines - "Hey baby, want to go sailing?"

 Landlubber - anyone on board who wishes he were not.

 Latitude - the number of degrees off course allowed a guest.

 Mast - religious ritual used before setting sail.

 Mizzen - an object you can't find.

 Motor Sailer - A sailboat that alternates between sail/ rigging
 problems and engine problems, and with some booze in the cabin.

 Ram - an intricate docking maneuver sometimes used by experienced skippers.

 Sailing - The fine art of getting wet and becoming ill, while going
 nowhere slowly at great expense.

 Shroud - equipment used in connection with a wake.

 Starboard - special board used by skippers for navigation (usually
 with "Port" on the opposite side.)

 Tack - A maneuver the skipper uses when telling the crew what they did
wrong without getting them mad.

 Yawl - A sailboat from Texas, with some good bourbon stored down
 yonder in the cabin

 Zephyr - Warm, pleasant breeze. Named after the mythical Greek god of
 wishful thinking, false hopes, and unreliable forecasts.

Meet the Fleet, Part Deuce.

    "But it's gonna take money, a whole lot of spending money.  It's gonna take plenty of money to do it right, child..."

     (Warning: Low-brow philosophical rambling follows.  This might be a good time to pour another drink and skip the next couple of paragraphs.  I would, except I've gotta write it.)
     I figure every boat is a story. 

     Every story is different.   Some are long and boring, some are short and exciting, some are dog-eared from being well-loved, some are classics no one has paid attention to in years, and some are just pulp romances. Some are intriguing, but the cover is torn, the print faded, they've got some chapters missing,  and the ending is unknown.  

      "Legacy" was that kind of boat.

      In October of 2009, SWMBO and I walked into a barn and fell in love with the story.

       "Legacy" is a 25 foot(ish) mahogany ply cabin cruiser.  She is apparently a modified Herman Oldenburger design, homebuilt by a gentleman (hereafter known as OB, for Original Builder) in Burlington during the mid 1970s, and launched in 1978.  We were introduced to her by the builder's son ( henceforth dubbed BS, for Builder's Son)- as a child he had been involved in the build, and had inherited the boat when his father was no longer able to care for her.  The story that we got is that the original design was for a thirty-two foot long boat, but OB decided to reduce the LOA, so he asked his eldest son (not the son who introduced us to the boat but his older brother, to be known as BB, for Big Brother, because OB is already taken by, well, the OB-  don't make me have to diagram this) to redraw the plans, chopping 7 feet out of the length.  Just as Whiskeyjack is a big 23 footer, Legacy is a big 25 footer.  She carries almost five feet of freeboard at the bow (loosely,  for any non-boaters reading this, freeboard is the height of the deck above the water)  and three feet at the transom.  In other words, that swim platform comes in handy.

       This is the first Herman Oldenburger powerboat design, and one of the few Oldenburger boats built in wood, I have ever seen.   There are a handful of Herman Oldenburger-designed sailboats on the Great Lakes, most executed in steel.   Here's what  I know about Herman Oldenburger, Naval Architect-  he may have worked in Meaford.
      That's it.  And that might not even be correct.  If anybody has any more information on this largely forgotten figure in Ontario boating,  fire me an email, willya?
     The mysterious Mr. Oldenburger seemed to know how to design a pretty but purposeful boat and OB sure knew how to build one.  I won't bore you with build details like hull thicknesses and center spacing for the frames,   I'll let the pictures tell the tale:

     Inside the cabin, looking back toward the transom:

     The galley, with sink and icebox:

   The companionway door, showing some of the quality of the woodwork:

      A head with a bifold door-  the only solid timber bifold door I have ever seen on a boat.

   The drivetrain is a bit of a departure for a wooden cruiser.  usually, a boat like this would have a big gas v-8 or two stuffed under the cockpit sole ("back floor",  for you lubbers) with a driveshaft or two running back to a propeller or two.  OB took a different path- he installed a four cylinder diesel engine BACKWARDS, with the driveshaft running forward toward the bow.  To prevent the propeller from coming out under the pointy part of the boat, which would be, erm, uh, wrong, a v-drive is installed .  A v-drive is essentially a very simple transmission- using a couple of gears it allows a shaft pointing forward to transfer power to a shaft pointing backward.  Below is a picture of the v-drive taken from in front and looking back.


      All of this front/back stuff means that rather than fitting the engine under the floor, the engine is mounted aft at the extreme rear of the boat, and covered with a house.  The upside is that the three quarters of the engine is very accessible for servicing, the cockpit floor can be lower, the engine weight can be moved aft, and the propeller can be horizontal, rather than inclined, which is necessary with a conventional inboard design. 

  Other boats:

See what I mean? Yes, there is a prop in that picture.  Look to the left of the big bronze coloured flappy thing, sort of in the center of the picture.

 A flat prop means a more efficient prop at low speeds and easier maneuvering in reverse.

    Anyboat,  Louise and I came to an agreement with BS, and Legacy was delivered to Bridge Yachts (our boatyard of choice) on November 1, 2009.   Here is how she looked when she arrived:  

 Nothing much happened until the spring of 2010, at which time we uncovered her and installed the canvas we had repaired over the winter.

    Whiskeyjack's refit was first on our agenda.  Once she was in the water, we attacked Legacy's punchlist:  clean the upholstery, cut out and repair rot, sand and fair hull, sand deck, new paint, new varnish, new curtains, new signal mast, new cockpit flooring, ...
She's not looking too bad.  All she needs here is some striping and registration numbers.  oh yean and sanding and painting the rail.  Oh yeah, and 6 more coats of varnish.  *sigh*

    Is there anything sexier than a varnished transom?

    A before/after/during shot.

    SWMBO put some serious hours into making sure that all the nicks, dings and brusies were faired out of the hull.  Thanks, sweetie!

     Most boat owners will tell you that wooden boats are the  work of Satan. Too much maintenance, too much weight, too fragile, too leaky, just plain too everything.  So what the hell made SWMBO and I think that taking on Legacy was a good idea?

    Go pour yourself another drink, while I figure out how to explain what happened.

Tuesday 22 February 2011

Reason #44 Why Summer is Better Than Winter

    "I get pushed out of shape, and it's hard to steer, when I get rubber in all four gears..."

     Changing  two tires in a gas station parking lot a half an hour from home in July heat is sweaty.  Changing two tires in a gas station parking lot a half an hour from home in February cold is just plain painful.  As an aside, did you know that a Smart Fortwo comes with a nifty tire inflator, but does not come with a JACK?  Neither did I when I left stately Jones manor on a rescue mission to save a SWMBO in distress.  Can you guess which tool I DIDN'T bring when I loaded tools and tires and dogs  into the back of  Lady Liberty and departed on aforementioned mission?

    When SWMBO's  er, enthusiastic approach to  green light launches collides with her laissez-faire attitude toward preventive maintenance, the result isn't pretty.

Monday 21 February 2011

Meet the Fleet, Part Uno.

     "They say I'm crazy, but I have a good time..."

     There's a clapped-out old cliche about boats that goes something like, "a boat is a hole in the water you pour money into."  This well-worn line is usually trotted out by dirt-dwellers who have decided to pursue far more worthy  pursuits, like golf.  Or gardening.  Or riding a Harley.  Or all three.  And then they usually laugh, which looks really ridiculous when you are wearing a leather jacket and holding a Callaway driver in one hand and a garden trowel in the other looking like an odd re-boot of  the dude in Grant Wood's "American Gothic."  Okay, I might be exaggerating.
     ( But is there anything more cringe-worthy than seeing your now-retired third grade teacher perched behind her husband on a Road King, blinged out in chaps and a t-shirt which reads "If you can read the back of his shirt, I've fallen off!"?  I'm just gonna let that image hang there, while you go and get a fork to try to pry it out of your skull.  Go ahead.  I'll wait.)

     I am one of those odd souls who genuinely enjoys boat maintenance.    I fix what's broken,  I improve what needs improving, I fix my improvements, then I improve my fixes.  Basically, I enjoy working on a boat as much as I enjoy sailing a boat, which is the first sign of a serious addiction. Soon it leads to building boats, and restoring boats which inevitably leads to collecting boats, and once you reach this stage Betty Ford won't even accept your family's calls because they know there is no hope of a cure.  Luckily, I have a wife who is either codependent or an enabler, or suffers an addiction of her own, depending upon who you ask.  We put in equal hours of sweat equity and equally reap the benefits.  I hope I make her half as proud as she makes me.
    (Can you tell I might have screwed the pooch on the Valentine's Day bouquet front?)

     I have been playing with boats off and on since I was nine years old, but was in remission for a dozen years or so  when my wife decided that we needed a sailboat.  That was in the spring of 2008, and in short order we became the proud stewards of "Whiskeyjack"  a Georgian 23 built by Vandestadt & McGruer in Owen Sound, Ontario.
     Yeah, we'd never heard of a Georgian 23 either.

     Vandestadt & McGruer was responsible for some of the most iconic  sailboat designs of the 60s and 70s.  The yard produced such successful designs as the the Siren 17 micro cruiser, the Sirius 21 and Sirius 28 cruisers, as well as designing boats for other builders, notably Grampian.  Surrounded by all this success, the Georgian 23  seemed to get lost in the shuffle.
     It is a bit of an odd boat, either a little big boat, or a big little boat, depending upon your point of view.  A Georgian 23 packs a lot of features normally found on larger boats into a small package, which means that sacrifices had to be made in the process.   One of them is aesthetics.  The boat has 6'1" headroom in the cabin, which on a boat with a 20 foot waterline and a three foot draft means you have a boat that some feel is a little awkward looking dimensionally.  All Georgian 23s came with wheel steering on a moulded pedestal, which also provided a mounting point for the mainsheet, and most had outboard power.  An inline galley, small enclosed head  and berths for four or a VERY friendly five round out the package.  A Georgian 23 is a good small family cruiser, pokey, porky, but forgiving and comfortable.  Most were delivered with a very basic equipment list, and most of them stayed basic throughout their lives.  Whiskeyjack, however, was different.  That is how we ended up with her.

     When we started boat shopping, Louise (henceforth known as SWMBO*)  and I put together a list of what we wanted, what we needed, and what we would like to have.  Wheel steering was a need, decent headroom was a need, (tall teenage son),  a private head was a need (typical teenage daughter),  furling jib was a want, a bimini and a dodger was a want, an inboard was a want, an autopilot was a dream and an inboard diesel was way beyond our meager budget.

     Whiskeyjack ticked all of the boxes on the list.  Her original owner, and subsequent owners had all been as crazy as we soon realized we were, for they invested far more in this little boat then they would ever get back.  Yeah, she wasn't the prettiest belle at the ball, and her frock was a little worn, but she came with a hell of a dowry.

    Here's how she looked at the beginning of our first season of ownership:

     Over the following years,  we added, subtracted, fixed, modified, refitted, and outfitted to make Whiskeyjack our home away from home.  A cockpit grate, cockpit table, chart board, davits, battery monitor, chart plotter, top end engine rebuild,  fresh paint and non-skid later...

      In the fall of  '09,  I convinced SWMBO to look at a boat I had seen for sale.  We didn't need another boat, we weren't looking for another boat, but I had the feeling this boat might need us.... to be continued.

*SWMBO- She Who Must Be Obeyed


Sunday 20 February 2011

Location, Location, Location.

     "Two thousand miles I've roamed, just to make this dock my home..."
                                                                                             -Otis Redding

     The Port Dover Harbour Marina is a largish facility boasting well-lit, well-kept docks with electricity and water, all within easy walking distance of the washrooms, pavilion and ice machines...
 except Dock Six.

    Dock Six has no water, no electricity, no pavilions, and the solar lights mysteriously disappeared prior to the '09 season.  Want to take a shower? Tie on your Rockports- from the tip of Dock Six  it is a 1 kilometer walk around the marina, past docks 5, 4, 3, and 2 to get to the bath house. ( Luckily the facilities are pleasant and clean with good water pressure and lots of hot water.)

    In fact, based on the evidence, Dock Six may be entirely fictional, a myth, a low-rent northern Margaritaville.  Look at the picture at the top of this post, (shamelessly borrowed from the Marina's own website)-  Dock Six is nowhere to be seen.  Check out Google Earth- Again, nuthin.  Navionics charts, C-Map, Garmin?  All show water, where 60 slips exist in real life.  I'll prove it.  Below is photo documentation of the dock's existence:

            Anonymity has it's perqs.  Fewer (okay, no)  amenities means lower slip costs, fewer people means less noise, and the lack of water and power means that few boat owners overnight on their boats.  In fact, throughout the season we are often the only people on the dock after sundown.   Speaking of sundown, I think we have the best sunset viewing in the entire place:

               We also have a straight run out of the harbour mouth- no narrow fairways to navigate.   If you are a habitual boatwatcher like myself, there is the added bonus of every boat in the marina passing by.  I've picked up a number of rigging tips and refitting ideas simply from watching other boats sail past.  Also, on an admittedly less charitable note,  if a slipholder's return to the marina  is, er, Coast Guard- assisted, we get to witness the "Sailpast of Shame."
    Yeah, it's a bit of a walk to the shower, and we have to be more conscious of our water and power consumption than those who have dockside umbilicals, but the benefits outweigh the liabilities enough to keep us, and most of the other slipholders returning to Dock Six season after season.

Saturday 19 February 2011

Introduction: It's 5 o'clock Somewhere.

   "Please allow me to introduce myself..."
                                  -The Rolling Stones

    Welcome aboard!   I'm Brian, and, when the water isn't too hard to float a boat, I live here on Dock Six at the Port Dover Harbour Marina in lovely Port Dover, Ontario.  Sharing the adventure is my lovely wife Louise (the "l" in "bljones"),  and our trusty mutts Inky and Finnegan. Joining us on the dock is  a varied cast of misfits, outcasts, oddballs, clowns, curmudgeons, crazies, coots, racers, cruisers, liars, lovers, old salts, young punks, sailors, fishers, SeaRay pilots  and even a couple of respectable citizens.  In other words,  a collision of lifestyles and life experience that makes for a unique and interesting boating community.
    Our summer home is "Whiskeyjack", a 23 foot long Georgian 23 sailboat.

   Alongside "Whiskeyjack" is "Legacy,"  a classic homebuilt wooden cabin cruiser  that we use as a "guest boat"

      There are worse ways to spend the summer.  Remember summer?  You know, that season with the sun and the heat and.... (sigh).

       Meanwhile, as I type this,  the wind is howling, the temperature is south of freezing, snow is drifting to the ground,  the boats are covered with tarps in the boatyard, and we are exactly halfway between last autumn's haulout and this spring's splash.  For northern latitude sailors this is the deepest, darkest day of winter.  That makes it the perfect time to dredge up memories of   warmer, happier times, with good friends, good winds, and good laughs.  Over the next few weeks I'll bring you up to speed on who we are, why we are the way we are, and how we all got here.  Then, once you've got the history of the Dock Six Sailing Club and Rum Drinking Society, I hope you'll continue to follow our adventures this season and beyond.  Maybe I might even find the answer to a dilemma I'm facing.  More on that later.
        So grab a beverage, cop a squat  and join us for a sundowner.  It's  5 o'clock somewhere.