My Duck Punt
I imagine reading something you wrote in a magazine is like hearing your own song on the radio. I am finally done with the currach style oars and their setup for Robote. Weird.
Frolic is SO close. Foils need attached, spars need finishing, and the aft deck hatch and slot top hatch. That and paint. Always paint. Hehe.
Anyway, we got to the lake the other day. We took our son’s girlfriend, who had never been to a lake or on a boat.
It was awesome. The kids seem to think they MIGHT want to have a duck hatch, and turn out six pdrs right quick to race with their friends. They are trying to collect funds.
Me? I’m finish my OWN sailboat. And sail this one… Of course I will help them. With advice.
More about the Beach Rollers
I was out of town for a while and missed your reply. Many thanks for it.
Lake Poteriteri is quite remote and indeed no road access. We transported the boat in under a helicoper.
There is a rough hiking trail in, rather overgrown and takes about 12hrs. I have other good photos. The trout fishing in the lake and down the river that drains it was great. We had a wonderful spell of weather – certainly not always that way.
Place – Lake Poteriteri, New Zealand, 4.9m stabicraft helicoptered in, need to bring boat up beach to avoid waves etc when poor weather, which is very frequent. Note also need 5:1 block and tackle.
A mid-Building Season mutiny
Was a time. Service in a Man o’ War was a matter of wooden ships and iron men. Quite the metaphor. Anybody who has seen combat, at sea, can only wonder how they could have maintained discipline on those gundecks during close quarters bombardments. There is no Youtube video, from Nelson-at-Trafalgar. Just romanticized paintings and written accounts. And. Lotsa’ red paint.
I really am dumbfounded when I try to imagine how they “did it.” This was well before generations of psychological/motivational theorists tackled the problem. Heck. A varying percentage of those crews were simply ‘pressed—from the opposing side, no less! But, they did have lots of red paint.
The reason I mention this, is we are facing a sort of “benign mutiny” here at Frankenwerke. There is a growing sense that somebody shanghaied us into this current project. I’m pretty certain the plotters and schemers are very, very, close to the Headshed. In fact, I have begun to see evidence of a fair amount of both plotting, and, scheming. Unlike Nelson, I really don’t think that our Christmas ration of grog and plum duff is gonna’ keep our guys to their duty stations. It’ll be another year until cook can round up sufficient “raisins” and softened shipsbiscuit. Grog has never been a big motivator here in the ‘tween decks of Frankenwerke, either. I think I’ll have to indulge in some red paint, of my own.
That, and I’m pretty sure the plotters will have to be allowed their say. Keelhauling later, of course.
Don’t get me wrong. We’re still able to field a couple shifts a day. The shop lights are still coming on. We’re still producing a pretty high volume of sawdust and noise. Somehow, there’s more glue on my shop coat, and varnish spatters on my boots. Somehow, the scrap bins keep filling up. But. I’ve begun to see the notes actually written from one plotter to another schemer! These guys aren’t even attempting to hide this stuff. Right out in the open. In fact. Somebody has already begun to use a pen and highlighter on my brand new COOT calendar. Apparently, somebody has been scheming on how to escape. I’m quite certain of it.
I could have a complete mutiny in the makings.
I have even seen evidence of actual photos and nautical charts of places that show smiling people, and ice-free water. I have found notations about anchorages, and overland distances, and even stores and equipment—presumably to be purloined from those held in bond here in our Frankenwerke storehouses. This is getting quite alarming, to those of us who must maintain discipline in the face of the foe. That foe, is of course those sinister, Sawzall-wielding fiends who did the dastardly cabin decapitation act that brought me to the current crisis.
I think it’s time to repaint the gundecks.
Bob Guess Donates
I recently donated a model of the LIBERTY a pilot-boat armed top sail schooner to the Great Bridge Battlefield & Waterways history foundation (GBB&WHF). She is 44” LOA (includes bowsprit and rudder) 11” beam, 48” from keel to top of foremast.
This model was requested by two reps of GBB&WHF who want to display the model at the Park & Visitor Center under construction at Milepost 12 of ICW next to the Great Bridge bascule bridge in Chesapeake, VA. Boats traveling ICW tie up free at the visitor center docking pier.
The Battle of Great Bridge victory on December 9, 1775 along with Patrick Henry’s initiative for the state of Virginia to purchase and arm merchant ships kept the Chesapeake Bay useful to the battle for our freedom. One ship the Schooner LIBERTY fought 20 engagements without being captured due to her speed, maneuverability and shallow draft. She captured two British ships getting needed supplies including gun power, provided intelligence and movements of more heavily frigates and store ships. The LIBERTY was captained by James Barron later to be an admiral who fought a duel with Stephen Decatur.
Building and researching LIBERTY taught me history I never knew, and some will be preserved by GBB&HW.
Bob Guess email@example.com Chesapeake, VA
The Florida 120 is an annual cruise-in-company for small boats. It takes place every year in May, starting on the first Wednesday after Mother’s Day and runs through the following Sunday. The route each year is subject to change, but it typically is in the bays and sounds in the Florida panhandle.
The 2018 event is scheduled for May 16th-20th.
Land Sailing Anyone?
I just wanted to say thanks for being such an inspiration on my boatbuilding journey, and also to Duckworks for being such a great resource. The crew over at the Michalak Yahoo Group have also been super supportive. Jim always says that with his plans you can build a boat and teach yourself to sail, so that is exactly what I did.
Submitted by Robert G Bringle
It’s a Question
When I look around the dinner table,
Or up and down the bar.
When it’s my turn to tell a whopper,
Or, spin a quiet yarn.
Will I be glad, that I was young once,
Or, wonder what I might have missed?
I have just completed a 7ft Wooden Widget Stasha nesting dinghy project, and now plan to make a set of two piece oars, 6.5 ft long.
I plan to purchase Gaco oarlocks and a set of side mounts.
Love your site…
It was a Dark and Stormy Night
A dark and stormy night. Just a bit more.
If you can sit tight for just a minute or two, I was just remembering one of the more ridiculous things I’ve ever done. Either that, or it was just, simply, one of the most fantastic carnival-rides this sailor has ever jumped aboard. One, or the other.
It was at the end of a pretty damn long passage. About zero-two or later. The morning after, the morning after, a couple days after, heading out on a milk run. I have to admit. There does come that point when another cup of cold instant coffee will have absolutely no effect. I’ve known of guys who “call home” on the vhf and have their lady shout at ‘em, and make ‘em keep talking. Anything, to keep ‘em awake for another hour. Maybe, another two. It gets to be a race. And, all the real action comes right at the finish line.
I didn’t have anybody to talk to. I was getting a bit tired of hearing my own voice, for that matter. But, it was down to that. I’d ask myself a question. Talk it over with myself. And, then, we’d manage to come up with a plan. I was talking to the chart, and the hand bearing compass a lot about then, too. I wasn’t exactly lost. I was cock-sure of where I was. It’s just, that the outside world seemed to have made some significant changes since I last passed this way. I was real close. All I had to do was find the channel entrance. Like I was saying. I was in the right place. It’s the channel that had moved.
It’s kind of a complicated place. Well, the rocks are pretty simple. It’s the shore break that sort of shifts with the seastate. Pretty popular with the surfers. They can get a good ride, without much paddling out. Right next to the channel, in fact. About then, I was feeling more and more like I was on a surf board. Except this particular surf board masqueraded most of the time as a 10,000 pound auxiliary sailboat. A fairly big boat, with just about the smallest two-cylinder diesel that could reasonably push it. And, that was much of the cause for consternation, just then. Once committed, we wouldn’t be able to likely turn around and beat feet outa’ Dodge if we’d wandered into the wrong corral. So to speak.
It’s just that I was more and more certain that somebody had moved the corral.
Most of the time, the long, isolated, rock groin sits close to perpendicular to the incoming swell. Most of the time, even on the darkest of nights, you can see the white splash of those big Pacific rollers breaking up and tossing toward the sky. It’s almost like a big neon sign. There is also a pair of flashing lights. One at either end of the jetty. Actually, there are three lights. The middle one does double duty. It marks the right side of the groin, and the left side of the entrance channel. Most of the time.
All I had to do was, simply, stay awake for another twenty minutes, or so. Then, I could manage to toss a couple mooring lines over, and dive below. Just a few more minutes. First, I had to figure out what somebody had done with the groin, and that light. One of those times, when the decision process takes its own sweet time. There was somebody else out there. Another sailboat, in fact. They passed me by, off to starboard. I was sort of circling around, and trying to figure out what somebody had done with the harbor entrance. The one that was “right here,” when we last left port. The other boat obviously knew where THEY were going. That other boat was steaming purposefully for about where I figured somebody had moved the channel entrance from. All I have to do is fall in behind, and follow that other guy. Obviously, HE knows where HE is going. I’ll just follow him.
After a couple days at sea, I had obviously gotten used to the seastate. But, as we got closer to that black hole, where the jetty and channel used to be, the shore lights began to lurch up and down with a bigger, and bigger arc. I do believe, we were surfing. It took just about all the concentration I still could muster to keep that other guy’s stern light more or less lined up with my own jib stay. I started to add revs to that little diesel’s cadence. Before long, he was running flat out. There wasn’t any more he could give, no matter what I asked. The wheel got sluggish. Maybe it was just me that was sluggish.
The other boat’s white stern light winked out. A red and green popped into its place. The nice guy who was leading me in, had morphed to a miserable cur. He flashed by close aboard to port, and then white popped back to red and green. Again. That guy was now FOLLOWING ME. And, I still didn’t know where somebody had put that channel.
Other than that roaring little engine, and my fingers squeezing water from the stainless wheel, it was all kinda’ nice and peaceful. Either, somebody was gonna’ put that channel back where it was supposed to be, or. Just a few more minutes, and we can shut this whole caper down. Just a few more. Familiar shore lights up ahead. Just a few more. Where did they put that damn jetty? And, where did they put that light? That miserable cur, back astern, is following US. I just wish I knew where I was leading him to.
Close aboard to port, the silhouette of the missing light tower was nearly awash in a big, greasy comer. A big, greasy comer, that slid unmolested over the jetty. The silhouette of a light tower, without a functioning light. A breakwater, without water breaking against it.
Just a few more minutes. And, we were tied up. Everything’s OK. Swells so high, they were sliding right over the breakwall. The Coasties better get that light back on. Who woulda’ thought?
The Bucket List
I participated in the Everglades Challenge 2012 then the Ultimate Marathon in 2013. Both times were in my 9′ Nutshell Pram. The first year I was lucky to get across the bay (almost hit by powerboat no one on the bridge) and spent the rest of the time sailing and bailing until i made it to the ICW. The first night the rod for my pintle/gudgeon was worn and slid off into the ICW. The next year I decided to save some money and entered the Ultimate Challenge and if I made that I would just continue on. Things went well until I made a poor decision to try and meet my brother at Captiva Island. I had gone on the outside of Pine Island and had been struck by a strong squall. I was able to make it to North Captiva and should have stayed the night. Instead after recuperating for an hour or so I pushed off with an hour of daylight left. Once I was outside the protection of N. Captiva I greatly regretted my decision. It turned dark and I could not see the waves coming and the wind was still up. Again I was lucky to make it to land and not lose the boat and equipment. At that point I met my brother and said I had had enough.
I determined I need a bigger boat! So I built a Kit by Fred Shell (St Albans, Vermont), “Schooner 21.” It was my plan to enter it in the Everglades Challenge but I need some more time learning how to sail it. This was the first summer of sailing in Lake Champlain. It has wheel steering and has 9″ bilge keels and a skeg and weights ?1000 lbs.- Not sure how to get it up the beach and then off the beach. Fred is no spring chicken but I think he would love to enter a boat in the Challenge. I think I have seen Duckworks advertise his boats? Summers are short up here – especially if you work two jobs. Your statement about the Challenge cost in time and money has also influenced me. I would like to try again but the cost of driving down and back and use of Vac. time seems too much. But I’m obstinate so who knows?
Here are some pictures of my boats:
Just to be clear- I am no craftsman and thank the inventors of plywood and epoxy every time I start a boat project!
We can only have one First Boat
I think you can only have one, first dog. Probably, only one first boat. Probably.
I was engaging in a bit of reminiscing, while attempting to make an observation on one of the Duckworks comments threads. The topic I was chasing was about the durability of foam boats. Kinda esoteric. But, what a Pandora’s Box, that opened up.
I suspect this was about the third boat that I either built or Frankenized. Not the first. But, it was my first real live sailboat. Factory-built. Bought new from a local supplier of such ephemera, as such a Styrofoam sailboat would have certainly been, back about the time ’59 Chevys were first sprouting those gawdawful wings, down aft. I don’t remember the retail price. I do know that it totaled every red cent I made off mowing lawns that summer. And, from babysitting. Yes. Pre-teens used to carry that sort of responsibility, just fine, thank you very much! Probably about during that rite of passage from elementary school to the more-grownup junior high. Someplace around the 6th or 7th grade.
That little spit kit came covered with soot, from some rack or shelf in some dusty warehouse. So, she was probably “old stock” by that time. But, once scrubbed and caressed, she still had the mold marks at what would have been the deck to hull joint in a yet-to-come (widely available, that is) production boat. There was this spindly mast, and thinwalled tubes for an itty-bitty lateen sail. The rudder was made from a bandsaw-cut quarter inch plywood piece shoved into an aluminum tube that that served as pintles, gudgeons, and tiller. That rudder blade was already developing a curve. The tiller soon developed a stress crack at the un-reinforced hole punched big, fat, and wide to accommodate the “tiller post.” I replaced just about every part of the boat, and we moved toward something more closely akin to the black and white photo essays in either Popular Mechanics magazine, or the full-color spreads in Boys’ Life, that I pored over, in those days. Over the next summer or two, what came to be named “Wild One,” for a rock song that regularly blared from my first transistor radio (“Six Transistors” proudly emblazoned on the front, to be specific) gave more than her share of spills, thrills, and adventures. I’m guessing she was about 8 or 10 feet long. Shaped a lot like a classic Hawaiian long board.
This is the boat that I “sailed” out in the back yard on windy days and taught myself the rudiments of sail trim and got a first inkling of the points of sail that had only been in books up to that time. I found that I could sorta’ approximate the shift in apparent wind by pivoting the hull on the grass and trimming the main. Almost immediately, it came obvious that this rig needed MORE POWER. And, so the Frankenadventure began in earnest.
The original mast was probably about 6 feet long. That canoe sail was not weatherly enough for my taste. So, I invented a Marconi cat rig from the original aluminum spar and a closet pole. Likely shaped with a piece of 60-grit sand paper and my Scout knife, to get the wood to fit inside the newly appointed aluminum top’ms’t. Everything came from the sort-of-local hardware store shelves. We also went anyplace we damn well pleased on our bikes, in that dusty netherworld. Those heavy and clunky galvanized “pulleys” were held on with zinc-coated ring bolts of varying diameters. Even the gooseneck came from the hardware store. The hook screwed into the end of the wooden closet pole boom that pivoted OK in the ring bolt drilled through the base of the now-about 16-foot tall mast, worked more or less OK on the backyard lawn. It later taught the value of a downhaul on windy, and deep, and cold Lake Crescent. That same mast penetration resulted in a rather unfortunate dismasting on equally-cold Priest Lake. That one came a lifetime later, as a high school sophomore, camped out with my best friend, for a week in the wilderness. The boat was our only link to civilization, other than a wet, cold, rainy, muddy trail of about 10 miles down-lake to the nearest resort. An early lesson in metal fatigue—as the nice fellow with the cabin cruiser powered by a mythical Merc seventy-eight-A, that reputedly developed an astronomical 65 horses, suggested matter of factly. This one even started reliably, and ran smooth. A transformative rescue for a boy that was rapidly shifting to total infatuation with everything automotive, and of course, everything female.
High school girls had absolutely no interest in recreating the adventures of Horatio Hornblower on the bounding main. So, it became cars, and girls. Another rite of passage in those days. The deal was that every “red blooded American boy,” was required to be standing in line at DMV when they opened for business on his sixteenth birthday. There was simply no other option than to pass both the written test and the driving test, the first time. To do anything otherwise was to relegate your seat on the locker room bench to someplace below whale doodoo.
Sure, the boat got re-rigged and modified just about completely. But, by then, she was becoming one of a burgeoning fleet. I guess you could say, that I had several “first boats.”
And, the only pictures that survive, are only in my head. I’ll bet, you have a similar album.
Italked to you at the PTWBF and promised to send pics of the Seil 18 I built with plans I bought through you. Didn’t get into the water until late fall so experience and pics limited.
Coeur d’Alene, Idaho
Long Ago, and Far, Far Away
Ever have somebody ask you an obvious question, that sort of intrigues you; and then when you start to answer, you really don’t know what to say? Yeah. Me, too. Just the other day, that obvious question was, “…what was the world of small boats like when you first got started?”
Gee. Old Guy, here’s your chance. Tell some stories. New audiences are increasingly hard to come by. Should be an easy thing. You do have about 65 years of near-constant-contact with this topic. Should be easy. And, I brought this one on, all by myself. Same old complaint: boating as a lifestyle is all but dead. I had rather audaciously offered that rant to an, apparently, enthusiastic small boat sailor. A fellow that sounds a lot like myself—maybe about four decades ago. He says he gets out regularly. Rain or shine. Alluhtime. Like I used to. Kinda’ like I still do. Anyhow.
Back about the time that Truman was canning MacArthur. Some of us still remember his speech to Congress about how old soldiers just fade away. Back about then. I taught myself to row. My grandpa built an 8-foot flat iron skiff. Plywood, on lumber frame. Heavy. Short and squat. I LOVED that little spit kit. Painted white, with a red bottom. You know. Lead-based alkyd paint. That little girl spent much of her life in the water. Year ‘round. Tied off to a dock made outa’ logs. In fact, by the time I was 12 or 14, that dock had two or three new layers of logs shoved under the ones that had become soaked-up. I even, built at least one of the platforms added to the top—to keep it high enough out of the water so grandpa could sit out there on that pine bench. The one that never got painted, and had a shelf under the seat for jars of salmon eggs, and cans of worms. We dug the worms outa’ grandma’s flower beds. We had this stick. A worm stick. It was cut to a “rattle pattern” on one side. Pointed on the end. You just shoved it in the ground and ran a piece of broom stick up and down the serrated side. Grandpa said that it was the vibration that drove the worms out of the ground. You just had to be patient enough to wait until they got free from the dirt. To avoid pulling them in half. Maybe you see, how this is a tough question.
Boats really weren’t for “boating.” They were for working. Boats were for catching fish. Boats were for towing logs from the swampy end of the lake. Boats—and just about all people—had jobs to perform.
I learned to row so that I could take grandpa trolling. He was Really Old. Like, about even FIFTY. Really, really, old. And he said that he weighed over two hundred pounds. Yeah, yeah. I know. I know.
He’d sit in the stern of that little skiff and I’d man the oars from the midships thwart. Bow pointing to the sky. Barely inches of freeboard aft. I’m not sure why, now. We never drowned. No life jackets. I think he sat on one of those kapok cushions. We never capsized. Nobody ever said, “beeeee careful!!.” We just shoved off, and went fishing.
After grandpa was done fishing for the time being, and went in the house—as only old people did—I had that ship all to myself. Grandma said I could go anyplace on the lake, as long as she could still see me from the kitchen window. At the time, I really did wonder, how that was gonna’ matter. After all. I had the ONLY BOAT. Who was gonna’ come and save me, if I got into trouble? Really, now?
And, that, my friends, is how this lifelong fixation with things that float and take me on adventures got started. A gruff old man, smoking an endless chain of Marlboro-filters in the square end of a tiny rowboat. A skinny kid pulling manfully on a couple store bought oars, with real- leather, leathers, and buttons tacked with several dozen carpet tacks round and round the loom of those storebought oars. Dozens of holes in those storebought oars to soak up moisture and decay and one day break. Break, and send that skinny little kid tumbling into the eyes of that little ship.
The same day, that skinny little kid taught himself how to scull. You know. With the one, remaining, unbroken oar. At least, not broken, yet.
A sorta’ straight, alder sapling. And, a well-worn oilcloth table cloth.
That old tablecloth was pulled tight, folded over, and nailed up, to the underside of a purpose-built picnic table. The table came from the Ward’s catalog. Galvanized screws, and pre-cut two-by-fours. Planed and corners relieved. The tablecloth had seen service, inside, for-nice, back before Ike got his fifth star. Those nails still had bits of tar and roofing felt under their heads—like a boy’s fingers, after building a fort from the same stuff. That stuff clings for days. Sure. You remember.
That sapling. Cut down with a “borrowed” kitchen knife. Limbed, and peeled, and still sticky. Turning red, like they will. Trussed up, like a recalcitrant Christmas tree, with “borrowed” bits of sisal hemp. Three strands, twisted into what Real Seaman call “line.” Landlubbers call our cordage, cables, even smallstuff, rope. Eye spliced over a crotch in the, now, truck. Two shrouds, and a head stay. Eye spliced. Just like the diagrams in that old Sea Scout Manual. The one with the cracked binding, and faded hand writing on the publisher’s title page. Over-n-under-n-over. I found it in a box of letters. Up in the attic.
That old table cloth. Red and white checkerboard. No need to pull the nails out. It just pulled away. Except. To keep it attached to the mast, it took those bent and broken old roofing nails. The ones with the waffled heads, from somebody’s hatchet. Like that one with the too-big handle. The one with the big chip out of the face. The one with the nail puller cleft in the head. The one stored in that rusty, once-galvanized bucket with that oily chain and clevis’, and that fractured link. Something about pulling a stump, with an old Ford. Kids only, ever really, heard the full story from around the corner. Through a furnace duct, maybe. Old people did some pretty exciting stuff. They climbed mountains, and crossed oceans, and fought wars. Old people had all the fun. Except nobody seemed to know much about how a sailboat was supposed to work. Only dandys, playboys, and rich guys ever went sailing. Real, Workingmen, took an occasional Saturday off to go catch fish for the table. Only playboys, they said.
A sticky, reddening, alder sapling. Three eye splices. A peanutbutter sandwich rolled up on too much wax paper. A fair wind. Japan’s off in the way the sun set last night.
I heard about that. Thru the furnace duct.
No Matter Where You Go…
No matter where you go. Well. There you are.
Barely, past the middle of January. It rained. Rained HARD, all night. I think God had the celestial Zamboni machine going all over the place here in Almostcanada. There’s no place for all that cold water to go. Kinda’ brings on thoughts of, well, GO-ing. Someplace. Someplace, else. Someplace, warm. And, the weather newsgirl on the local station has just given me the bad news. It could be even colder, just about every place I could think of driving to. There could even be frost on the drink holders festooned around the Tikihut tablesaw. Ice, snow, descending wind chills, cold, cold, cold, just about every place you might care to, go. It’s wintertime, here, in the good ol’ US of A. So. Here’s what I think.
I think, it’s long past time to gather up your shipmates, and begin planning that first voyage of the new Boating Season. That’s what Jamie the Seadog and I have been doing. Between bouts of snowplowing and icedam un-damming. And, I do think we have the perfect set of tools.
Speaking of tools. I couldn’t even begin to imagine how a guy could do this sort of thing with one of those “mobile devices,” I see advertised in the Wards catalog they let you leaf through over at the suttler’s store. The storekeep leaves it open on his yardage goods table. Over where the ladies can sort through the gingham and muslin that came in from the East, before snow closed the pass. Anyhow. I’ve seen the advertisements. I’ve even heard talk. But.
Just about nuthun’ beats a good, old fashioned road map. And, a good old fashioned cruising guide. Most of mine are plenty old. And, I do suppose they’ve gone out of fashion, as well. But, near as I can figure. The rocks are all pretty much where the authors left ‘em. Besides. I can tell you with a fair amount of authority. Never been a cruising guide published, that didn’t show sunshine, and non-frozen water. Ever notice that? Every cove and every channel is competing for your business. Just like that good old fashioned Wards catalog. Every page, just tugs at you. “Take meeeeee!!”
I just can’t decide. Where I want to go first. It all looks so good. And, well, warm.