“Notes from the Tiki Hut” – July 2017 Boatworks

by Dave Lucas – Bradenton, Florida – USA

We’ve been keeping busy so far this summer; a few medical problems have slowed some of us up a bit but we continue to struggle along. Boat building can get addictive; once you get into it you have to keep going.

But first I’ll start with this. This crazy man is going for the speed record in a three wheel bike. He tells me that he didn’t crash and burn and die and needs a bigger hill. Here’s where the crazy part comes in; many of you know him, he’s Bob Hicks, the 87 year old publisher of “Messing About In Boats” and ex motorcycle racer. See what I mean?

My giant fantail launch “Queen Anne” is coming along slowly. I was on the disabled list for a while for screwing up my right shoulder lifting plywood. I don’t seem to be getting any smarter. I’m finally getting to the fun part; designing and building the inside. She’ll have a modest vee berth, a big main cabin and a big bathroom in the back. I have to be flexible with my designs because what I think will work and what will really work are usually not the same. As I mocked up the cabin I saw two major changes I have make, it’s no big deal, I never expect things to go the way I thought they would.

Wally has two floating projects going on; his big Garvey with cabin and a floating dock to tie it to. He’s just about to the rigging stage, Howard and I will be helping him with that stuff. Howard made this steering wheel out of really old red cedar. It’s different from anything you’ve seen before.

The two Scamps are coming along. Not as fast as you ususlly see here at the shop but there are some reasons. Richard’s, the unpainted one is slow because Richard is not retired and can’t spend all his time playing here. Jim’s green one would have been much farther alone except like me, he’s been on the disabled list so he didn’t get out here much for a couple of months. He’s back now and hitting it hard. I still recommend to you guys who’ve been building the same kind of boat for years to get out of your comfort zone and do one of these; they are small but incredibly complex, all you have to do is follow the plans and you’ll be fine. (I say that with a shit eating grin on my face.)

Jimmy is to the point of making and installing his centerboard and trunk and we got to play with melting lead. We could have poured it directly into a hole in the board itself but it’s already been glassed so it’s neater to mold a circle and insert into the board. Lead is really easy to work with, we use a fried turkey propane stand with a pot for the lead on top. Lead melts at a low temp, 650 degrees, so it’s no big deal. When you pour it on a piece of plywood you get bubbles from the wood heating up, again nothing dramatic or dangerous, but you need to tap them down with a hammer to get a smooth surface. You want to make dam sure that none of it sticks above the top of your piece. Lead is easy to work with, it cuts easily with a band saw but it does not like to grind. The grinder will fling little bits of lead all over the place. This 8 inch by 3/4 inch disc weights about 14 pounds.

We decided that we needed a shower house back in the woods and this one is really the deluxe model. We all helped out with some of the work but John did the majority of it, especially the designing and hard stuff. After seeing this I want to shingle my house like this. Richard is responsible for the artistic designs. Wally is setting his blacksmith shop out by the boats you see in the background. He’s forged some of the fixtures for the place. He let me turn the crank to make the fire glow really hot. I told you that we’re just a bunch of kids.

This is what my front yard looks like. You’re looking at the house and Tiki hut under the trees. It’s a one way view, you can see out but you can’t see in. Richard’s rehabbed coaster swing is perfect on the floating dock. We were sitting out there yesterday watching some kids try to make a Sunfish sailboat go in the fluky winds that happen with all of the trees. It comes from all directions all the time and will frustrate you to no end.

Tom David from up North in Nantucket had a boat that he liked, sort of, “Grub” he called it. You can see in the first picture how it looked, plum bow, slab sided, no style and it was wet. So instead of getting another boat he fixed the one he had. I’ve never seen this done to this extent before and think it’s brilliant. He just added on to the existing boat with a double hull and now has some real style and flair. It’s perfect for him and he has the only one in the world like it. Anyone can buy a boat but only you can make it just what you want.

Voyageur in race from Joe Haley

I’ll wrap it up with this one. We all have stories of boats we’ve sailed on and gone to cool places. Well I think Joe Haley (or Joe Comet) may have us beat. He crewed on this one, Voyageur for a time back in the old days. I can’t imagine sailing a long distance in a boat like this. He’s a pilot and flew when you had to flip the prop to get it going. I think he flew a route over to Tom’s island, Nantucket for a while, come to think of it I think Steve Brookman did also. They pay you to do this?

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