Wednesday 27 February 2013

Progress, Low Buck and Otherwise

"The broadcast was spreading, station to station..."

   Bad News: It is snowing outside, again, with a dollop of freezing rain goodness.

   Marginally Better Good News:  It is one day closer to Opening Day on the Dock.

   Yeah, that's all I got.

    My name's Brian, and I hate winter.

   *Hi Brian!*
    Before we get into the meat of this week's meeting of Boater's Anonymous, I've got some housekeeping items to deal with:

    The Dock Six Chronicles has succumbed to the siren song (or the inevitable enslavement- your call) of Facebook.  Find us and "Like" us here:

     Dock Six Chronicles on Facebook

   We also have a Twitter feed:

Dock Six Chronicles Twitter Thingy

 Yeah, I have no idea what I am going to do with a 140 character limit, but what the hell, Twitter accounts  seem to be the interwebs equivalent of a penis- half the planet has 'em,  most aren't as impressive as you hope, and the owner is more entertained by it than anyone else.

Oh yeah, one more newsworthy note:  Look to the left.

On the screen.

Your OTHER left.


There's a new merit badge there.  We are now a Top Sailing Blog.  Cool.

We'll fumble through how to make all of this extra connectivity relevant and useful over the next little while. Stick with us, it'll be worth it.


Last weekend SWMBO surprised me with a birthday gathering of Docksters at our local pub, The Blue Elephant.  Friday night she suggested we go out for a drink to celebrate my continued descent into the depths of middle age.  We walk in and find most of the usual suspects holding down a fleet of tables:

     Throw enough booze on the table, and things get interesting.  In true D6C low-buck spirit, Melanie threw together a diorama using materials found on the table.  Throw together a couple of straws, some napkins, the salt and pepper baskets some tape and a Sharpie borrowed from the bar and Wha-BAM!

An impending grounding!  Apparently.

Thanks, all of you, for making the night memorable.

Progress continues on the SUP build.

  With frames cut, the next step is to cut slots to accept the longitudinal stringers that will stiffen up the inner framework of the 'boards.  The idea is to create a sort of egg crate structure, combining stiffness with light weight.  I clamped the frames together into a block , cranked the blade on the table saw to the correct height, and pushed the block of frames over the spinning blade.  Three passes later, all of the frames were uniformly slotted.

  Next step is to drill big holes into each frame.

 On purpose.

  A light SUP is a maneuverable, easier paddling SUP.  There aren't a whole lot of places to effectively save weight on a paddleboard, without building a submarine, except the frames.  The challenge is to build frames as light as possible without making them too weak to carry my not inconsiderable ass.

  Below you can see the end result- notched and lightened frames.

  I didn't toss the dozens of holes I just cut.

  Those wooden discs will come in handy later in the build.

   But, that's another chapter, for another day.

   Next up- building a strongback, and some semi-skilled scarphing.

"Talk the Dock!"

Friday 22 February 2013

New Low-Buck Project: Doubling Down with Double SUPs

    "The waves are warm, the sun is out..."
                             -Miike Snow

   I'm just gonna lay this out there, so we're all clear:

   I'm fat.

   Not chunky.
   Or chubby.
   Or overweight.
   Nor  underheight.
   Or  large-boned.
   Or stout.
   Not husky.

   Just plain old fat.

   I know exactly why.  I'm a writer.  I am also a salesman.  Not to pat my own oversized back, but I am pretty good at both.

   In other words, I spin and sling bullshit for a living.

    In fact, I sling bullshit so well I began to believe my own.

   I manage to talk myself out of exercise and rationalize my extra size by viewing it as a function of advancing age, an inevitable side effect of my lifestyle, and simply a bad roll of the genetic dice.

  Which might actually have a grain of truth if this wasn't what I had been telling myself since I was thirteen years old.

   I realized four things:

   1. I love eating.
   2. I love drinking.
   3. I hate exercise.
   4. If  I want to continue points 1. and 2. I gotta do something about 3.

    Okay, I've got to find some form of calorie-burning activity that I will enjoy.  Okay, maybe not "enjoy," but at least tolerate enough to reduce the size of the toolshed built over my high performance tool.

   Jogging is out.  Too slow, too boring, and I have never seen a jogger smiling.  Ever.  If it ain't fun, I ain't doing it.

  Bicycling is out.  I keep a bike at the foot of the Dock for transportation.  I used it twice last season.

  Spinning is out.  Bicycling to nowhere indoors while being yelled at by a perky 20-something? No.

  Aerobics.  Yeah, no.

  Yoga is out.  Okay, I'm gonna go off on a rant here.  If you called an activity "stretching," it becomes simply a warm-up for other physical activity. Offer classes in "stretching" and you're gonna be sitting in an empty room.   But, if you give all of those stretches names, wrap it in Eastern mysticism, build a wardrobe around it anchored by $120 pants you now have "yoga", a multi-billion dollar industry.  I'm pretty sure "namaste" is Tibetan for "Western sucker."

  Rowing.  Yeah, I like rowing. I could row.  Chirp was built for rowing.  Quack is rowable.  But, rowing is tricky in a busy marina.  Flapping away while facing backwards is a good way to bounce off of, or get run over by, a big shiny boat. Getting closer, hmmm...

  I picked up a recent issue of WoodenBoat Magazine and leafing through the pages, SWMBO found my solution:

  I'm going to build a Stand Up Paddleboard!  I get the aerobic benefit of all of the lifting, cutting, drilling, sanding, sanding, sanding and more sanding of building the 'board, and then I get the end benefit of using it.

Win/freakin' win!

  So I sat down at the drawing board and crawled the WWW, filling my head with as much info as I could get on SUP design.  I scrawled some ideas on paper, that I would repeatedly rethink, rework, revise, until I came up with an end product that seemed suitable and buildable.

  The nice thing about building a hull the size and shape of an SUP is that the plans can be drawn full scale, so there is minimal lofting required. I borrowed liberally from Chesapeake Light Craft's Kaholo SUP, with additional input from a variety of other designers and builders.  I discovered that board size, board weight, materials and dimensions and capacities were all over the map, so in the end I decided to hew pretty closely to the dimensions of the Kaholo 12-6.

  With the frames drawn, I took stock of the scrap that I had lying around the skunkworks and determined that I could cut the frames from material on hand.  The paddleboard/surfboard plans that I found online spec'd frame and hull material thickness ranging from 1/8" to 3/8".  I decided to build the hull panels and frames out of 1/4" ply for the sake of economy and availability.  Doing the math, and nesting the parts on paper,  I realized that I could build two SUPs with 3 sheets of ply, but building one would take most of 2 sheets.
  So I decided to build two.
  Or at least cut two.  It's good to have spare parts, and, by doubling up the panels, cutting two sets of panels takes the same time as one.  I'll build one SUP to completion and test drive it before assembling SUP Numero Dos.

  With patterns drawn, they now need to be transferred to wood.  Some builders like to use an awl to laboriously pick a dotted line along each line on the pattern.  Others like to go faster, using a sewing tracing wheel:
                                                                                                      - image courtesy

   I used my old standby, carbon paper.
   Lay the carbon paper on the wood, lay the pattern on top....

...trace the pattern , remove the paper and you have a easy to see cut lines:

   Which are then cut...

   ...and then repeat the process with the next piece.  Continue until you are either out of patterns or out of wood.

    Within an afternoon, I had a stack of frames.

   Next step is to notch the frames for stringers and then drill them all full of lightening holes.  Stay tuned.

"Talk the Dock!"

Monday 18 February 2013

Party Time!

  "We're all pretty good to go..."

   Got an invite from the Elkins clan to attend the CYClone mid-winter crew party.

    Free food?

     Free booze?

     I'm in.

       It was a great night with great people, some regular crew on CYClone, some past crew, some with no intention of crewing any boat other than their own.  Port Dover sailors and Turkey Point sailors were just about equally represented, and the fleet was an interesting mix of racer/cruisers and cruiser/racers and day sailers and cruisers.  There was one C&C 35, a J 35, a Corvette, a Hughes 25, an S2 9.2 and a couple of dinghy sailors.

    I got to meet the latest addition to the Elkins herd, their sub-compact sportsdawg, Cooper:


       One thing about them Dock Two racers, they lay out some off- the-chain grub:

  It wasn't until I uploaded this picture of chocolate covered chocolate wafers sandwiching chocolate peanut butter cups that I noticed the ironic iconic can.

   Oh, hey, I'm drinking low carb beer!  I'll have a couple more of these, thanks.

   I was surprised and touched when Yvonne presented me with a gift:

  Thanks, folks- I now have a new primary boat mug.

  It was a great time, at the right time- Only 7 more weeks until we can start splashing boats again!

"Talk the Dock!"

Sunday 10 February 2013

Best Low-Buck Winter Project EVER! Today.

      ".. running up that hill...."
                      -Kate Bush

    I hate winter.

    The water is too hard to float a boat, it is too cold for epoxy to cure, the snow is too deep (lately) for cargo shorts to be comfortable, and returning to the stately Jones manor everyday underscores how much half-assed, half-finished maintenance is still half- finished.
   And still half-assed.


   Jack has got it figured out.

    (Shameless plug here.  Jack is thinning  his fleet .  If you need a Bluenose, now's the time.)

  He doesn't fight the season.

   He embraces it.

     Check it out:

      One  rear motorcycle wheel...

  Bolted to an electric motor, shrouded in a plastic bucket, all hanging on  a fence post...

   ... The front  motorcycle wheel is here, on a fence rail tripod....

... at the end of hundreds of feet of rope...

   At the bottom of the hill, er slope.

   Dude has built himself a rope tow in his backyard!!!

  I'm not sure which is more impressive, the rope tow or the fact that a guy who qualifies for seniors' discounts is snowboarding.

    Keep on keeping on, Jack!

    "Talk the Dock!"

Friday 1 February 2013

Toronto Boat Show, Part 2: More Boats and Gear and Pricey Brew

   "... it's a gas, gas, gas..."
            - the Rolling Stones

     Wandering past, this well executed classic speedboat caught my eye.

   Upon closer inspection, it got even more interesting.

   She's a Bruce 22, built by Montreal Boatworks, a clever concept that gives you all of the benefits of a classic mahogany boat with much less maintenance, as the hull is all fiberglass.She is also available with a conventional gas-powered inboard. She's plenty quick, as she should be, given the history of her designer, Ian Bruce.


   Y'know all those quick flat little sailboats you see scooting across the water, Lasers, Tasars, and Bytes?
Yeah.  Those are his.  He knows a little something about creating quick designs.

   Rossiter  displayed an assortment of their fine craft.  Originally (and still) a swift rowing boat builder,  George Rossiter  ventured into powerboats, creating a stable, dry "semi-traditional" big water runabout with plenty of storage.  It's interesting to see the outcome when an oarsman decides to design a powerboat.

   Ranger Tugs  showed their line of impressive pocket trawlers, from 21 to 31 feet.

 Nice fit and finish, packing a lot of accomodation into a small space.

   Not bargain priced, but it's all there.  Bow and stern thrusters are standard on the larger Rangers in the range, for example.

   Something to think about:  For less than the cost of the Onan generator option on the Ranger,  you
could have this:

  The Bras d'Or 11 is a multi-purpose catboat handmade in Quebec by Richelieu Boatworks .  Row, sail or motor, she combines the traditional catboat rig with a modern hull form.  Looks like a lot of fun, and probably quieter than an Onan generator.

   Having had our fill of 6 digit boats, we started  looking at gear.  I needed a new handheld radio, (more on that later,)  and Hilary was looking for some coated anchor chain and other odds and ends, but first...

   I didn't know Sperry  made so many different styles of shoes. The place was hopping- talking to one of the sales kids, the booth was selling almost 1000 pairs a day.

   Found a cool solar panel idea at the Goal Zero  booth:

  It's a compact, lightweight, modular panel system.  Each panel is rated at 30 watts, weighs only 6.5 lbs. and     multiple panels can be connected to increase output without a mess of wires.

Another cool new item is The Fix .

   The Fix is a cupholder... but it is a nice cupholder.  Chromed and gimballed, it has a 1" clamp to fasten it to stern rails, stanchions, etc.  It has a big advantage over the cheapo swinging cupholders installed on Whiskeyjack:  It will carry a wineglass, as seen above.  Designed and made in Canada, it is an elegant compliment to an elegant boat.

    Every year, it seems like some of the friendliest staffers are the folks who man the booths representing Caribbean travel destinations.  This year was no exception.  British Virgin Islands, Barbados, St. Maarten, and all the other warmer sunnier places along the Thorny Path were ably represented, The best swag award has to go to the folks from Grenada, who handed out small spice bags.  Very cool!

    There were the usual outboard motor suspects on display:  Honda, Yamaha, Evinrude, Mercury, etc., showing everything from 2.5 hp dinghy outboards to 8 cylinder 350 hp monsters:

  Just to give you an idea how big this motor is, I am 6' 11" tall.

( I'm also witty and intelligent.  And handsome.)

(edit  ...And delusional.
         -SWMBO  )

  What was new was a whole new take on internal combustion outboards:
 Lehr  had a booth demonstrating their PROPANE powered outboards.

 Lehr outboards have been on the market for a couple of years, but this is the first time I have had a chance to see one in action.  Powered by either a 1 lb. canister or a larger barbecue tank, the Lehr propane motors offer a lot of advantages over a traditional gas powered outboard motor.  Easy to start, no carb to gum up, no choke to fuss with, and no gas tank to lug around or stow or smell.  Available in 2.5, 5, and 9.9 hp flavours, Lehr offers a comprehensive small boat range.

  SWMBO hates the ritual of starting the outboard on Quack  as much as I enjoy it.  She loved that she was able to start the Lehr demo motor on the first pull.

  Price-wise, it's about 25-40% higher than a comparable new gas powered motor.  But, with propane being cheaper than gas, and lower winterization costs, the difference can be made up pretty quickly.

Personally, I think this is an ideal dinghy motor for many sailors.  If you have a diesel auxiliary the only reason to keep gasoline onboard is for the dink outboard.  With a propane outboard, you no longer have to find a place to stow a gas can.

  Bridge Yachts  is our local Lehr dealer, and Ed tells me they have sold a bunch of them.  When the water softens up enough to float a boat, I'm going to try to wrangle a 2.5 hp for a day to review whether it lives up to the hype.

Speaking of big engines,  you gotta like this eyecandy:

  As mentioned earlier, I was searching for a new handheld VHF to replace my Uniden Atlantis that crapped out shortly after it's third anniversary.
    It turns on, it lights up, it scans through the channels, but no volume and no squelch.  I opened it up, poked prodded and looked thoughtful and then closed it up. The verdict from the dealer I bought it from was that it would be cheaper to buy a new one than to fix mine.
    And it gives me a new piece of gear to review.

    For review purposes, and keeping with my "low-buck" ethos, I decided to buy the lowest price 5 watt handheld I could find.  I budgeted $80 for this purchase.

That meant Radioworld .

    If you are looking for bargain priced electronic gear, the Radioworld booth is the place to go.  I bought a Midland Navico 1 radio package, (including rechargeable battery, ac adapter, 12 v adapter, boom mic headset and waterproof pouch,) for $60 plus tax.

Boom.  Mission accomplished, with enough left over (barely) for a can of Muskoka Pilsener with lunch.

Look for a "First Impression" review of the new radio in an upcoming post.

  Speaking of lunch, we decided to adjourn to the Henry's Fish  booth for perch.  At this point, a quick rant about food pricing at the Boat Show.

  It is CRAZY!!!!!

   Two pieces of fish and warmish french fries, a thimble of cole slaw, and tartar sauce in packets served on a sagging paper plate:  $15.

   Not a typo.  FIFTEEN DOLLARS.

  A can of beer was $9.

  Again, not a typo.  NINE DOLLARS.  A CAN.

After lunch we visited the Nautical Mind booth and picked up a couple of books, then SWMBO headed off to see Duma, the Wakeboarding Dog perform.


Is this a game face, or what?

  While SWMBO hung out with Duma, I checked in with Wally at his seminar on cruising Cuba, and got a kiss from Aduana.

       Along the way I caught a candid snap of Derek Hatfield re-enacting a big wave sneaking up on him...

     and a better shot of the model of his ride, the Open 60  Spirit of Canada.  Check out the canting keel.

    Having seen all the dogs, people, boats and bits we needed to see, we decided it was time to head back to the shed.

    Passing back through the Marketplace again on our way out the door, we stopped at the Triton Marine Products booth.  I had a quick chat with the likeable owners, and got some free samples of their cleaner to test and review.

    Later, we adjourned to the Chartroom at the Westin,

and were joined by Bruce, who clearly and easily wins the Ironman award this year.

   As every good tale starts, y'all ain't gonna believe this...

    we first met Bruce and his lovely wife June in person at last year's show.  They are currently spending a few years circumnavigating on their Bristol sailboat.  Last I heard, they were in South Africa, and Bruce had a spot of trouble when he attempted to prevent their 45' 14000 lb. sailboat from rubbing against a concrete pier...
    ... with his hand.
      His hand lost.

     Bruce posted on Sailnet that, for obvious reasons, he would not be attending the Show this year.

    As I am enjoying my second beer at the Chartroom, I hear a quiet voice behind me.  I turn and see a vaguely familiar scruffy looking figure with his arm in a sling.


    Not expecting to see him, I am embarrassed to admit I didn't immediately recognize him.  D'oh!

   He had literally just flown  in from South Africa and was having his hand reconstructed in Toronto.  Staying with his son in the family's dirt home in Mississauga, he had to come to the hospital for a dressing change... and decided to stop in for a beer first.

   This is what the toughest guy in the room looks like.

   Get well soon, Bruce.  Thanks for the great company and the great stories.  We hope to see you, and June as well, next year.

    You can follow their adventures on their blog, onainia.blogspot. .

     What I found interesting this year is that a badge pinned to my shirt seemed to earn me more, and better, swag.  Beyond floaty keychains,  we got product samples, watertight packs, dog treats, even an issue of Good Old Boat. Hey, that's worth $8 right there!

     It almost makes up for the $9 beer.

    "Talk the Dock!"