The Fleet Burgeons!

By David Farmer – Tumtum, Washington - USA

A boat building party!  Four new converts to Mini Skeetering, all from other landsailers and iceboats, friends I sail with regularly.  John is hosting this woodfest in his cabinet shop in Lakeside, MT, and is eminently prepared, with frames cut and coated, stringers milled, and skins epoxied.  As a result, we have Phil’s boat ready to pop off the jig when he arrives from Portland, in a snow storm, the first of the season.  Feels like winter, an impetus to build with purpose, ice is coming!  Bill Eisenlohr and Tom Schock  show up to contribute expertise and raw labor, having built three of these craft between them.  So far. 

Internal parts go in, deck stringers are wrestled into place, glued and clamped.  Leave to harden, build a few cambered, laminated planks.  Lunch at Perks, the Bozeman boys roll in, in a snow storm, still!  They arrive fully stocked with precut parts, and we immediately throw frames on jigs and the mayhem commences!  We now have five boats in various stages of construction, and as many as nine dusty and determined wood workers scurrying about, back and forth from the chop saw, tablesaw, and bandsaw, fitting the bits, slathering with epoxy and tacking ’em into place. 




Another couple boats to dry overnight, we retire to John and Laura’s warm and welcoming home for a magnificent barbecue, happy chatter, and an early retirement, as we’re wasted,  and tomorrow promises. 

Saturday morning sees us popping two more hulls off the jigs, and the fury continues.  We have now discovered out strengths, and we’re perfecting our assumed tasks, and the speed at which the boats come together accelerates, with each boat taking shape faster than the last.  Jim drives down from Somers, another early adopter of this lovely design, and offers his insights.  Scott works determinedly in his metal shop next door, fabricating the metal parts for runner chocks, mast base tubes, and steering components, some of which will be installed before the strip planks are applied to the decks.   By evening, the last boat is off the jig, with all deck structure in place.   

We’re back at the Eisenlohr’s for pizza, beer and TWO Montana college football games.  Split, one win, one loss.  And desserts!  Laura is hostess extraordinaire!   Again ready for horizontal at an early hour. 

Last morning has the wood shavings flying, with power planers and belt sanders movin’ material, shaping all the deck framing, sculpting those graceful bows.  Phil exits to catch a plane, and by noon Dave, Pat and Lance’s boats are loading into the trailer, and they blast back east, in a snow storm.  Hope they made it! 

There’s something special about building your own boat, in the company of like minded fellows who share this strange passion, to sail on hard surfaces.  Fast!  That grin I’m so fond never left my face for four days, thanks boys!

2 Comments

  1. Is someone at the shop most days? I’d like to come down sometime and see what’s going on. I’d like to build one of these little rockets.

  2. John Eisenlohr designed the boat, and is the spearhead of the class currently. He is Lakeside Cabinetry in Lakeside, MT, south of Kalispell on Flathead Lake. He is there regularly, if not out playing! You can call to confirm his presence at 4506 253 2086. Great guy if you don’t already know him!

    Dave

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