Rudder arm part 3

I was supposed to be out sailing today, but a sick daughter shot that plan. Instead I worked on the rudder arm and the boat trailer. I’m really happy with the rudder arm. This is definitely the best wood working project I’ve done to date. The oak is beautiful and the sweep of the curves very pleasing. The mortise and tenon could have been a little tighter, but it should be fine when pegged. The wood sanded up nicely and I got a first coat of spar varnish on it.

bottom of rudder arm

bottom of rudder arm

top of rudder arm

top of rudder arm

side view

side view

Next I got the steel on the trailer painted with some flat black Rust-Oleum. Then it was on to the trailer lights so I can finally take this thing out after dark. I put some outdoor carpet on the crossbars and loaded up the kayaks next.

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Just a few more hours on this thing and we’ll be ready for some great adventures this spring.

To the lake!

All the spring chores are done. I varnished all the spars and re-laced the sail to the yard and boom. I’m playing around with a loose-footed sail this time. I’ve got the two kayaks on the car and all the camping gear packed. We’re heading to Staunton River State Park in VA. The girls and I will spend the next 5 days boating, fishing and playing at the lake.

boats ready

boats ready

Shipwreck on Falls Lake

Another beautiful February weekend with temps in the 50s and low 60s. I did some more painting on Fiona’s shark Toto.

Shark!

Shark!

It’s starting to look pretty good. I really like the way the red gunwale looks with the grey. I also got the back airbox primed and thought I could paint the entire gunwale, but when I flipped the boat upright I realized that I never sanded the gunwale down and rounded it over as I had planned. Couldn’t do that with wet paint around, so it’ll have to wait for later.

One of my goals is to get out on the water every month of the year. I made it out on a nice day in January and since Feb is nearly over (we did get an extra day this year), it was time to get out again. It would have been great sailing today. Wind was steady at 10-15 out of the south, but I only had time for a quick paddle with the first Toto. I launched out of Ledge Rock boat ramp and paddled north along the shore. It wasn’t long before I spotted something odd in the shallows.

Shipwreck

Shipwreck

As I got closer I realized it was the sunken hull of a small cuddy sailboat. I couldn’t determine the make, but it seemed to be pretty nice. It had an engine mount and navigation lights. Cushions were floating free. I wonder if someone tried to go sailing in the tornado weather we had last week. I was eyeing the cleats, fairleads and deck plates wondering if a little salvage was in order.

I ended up crossing the lake in a decent chop and paddling up wind for a while before circling back to the dock. It was a nice 2 mile loop.

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I’m also very excited to report that I’ve purchased some wood for the next boat. I’ll be building a Michael Storer Goat Island Skiff. Matt helped me pick out some big 2×10 southern yellow pine boards that had some clean, knot-free sections in them. I’ll be slicing them into smaller strips to make a hollow birds mouth mast. I also bought a couple of 5/4×5″ syp boards to glue together to make into the solid yard and boom. $60 worth of local wood is a heck of a lot better than spending big bucks trying to get west coast doug fir and we didn’t have to drive all over the state looking for it. The remainders of the big 2x10s will also be turned into a long, skinny bench for gluing up the mast. I’m waiting on my order of Duckworks DWX epoxy (formerly Duckypoxy). It’s much less toxic than normal epoxy and also has UV inhibitors built in. Should be great for the spars and interior of the Goat.

Offshore Adventures

Every year we head down to Emerald Isle on the NC coast before school starts. It’s our end of summer tradition. I can’t believe the girls head back to school in a week. This year I brought both the Terror of the Sea and the Toto down with us, but I never ended up taking the Terror out. The advantage of the Toto is that I didn’t have to go anywhere to launch it. I could pull it down off the car, carry it down to the beach and drop it in the ocean. The first time I just paddled out maybe a half mile or so. The second day I took it 2 nautical miles offshore.

2 NM out

2 NM out

The view from 2 nm offshore

The view from 2 nm offshore

I recorded the trip with the Navionics app on my phone. The next day my phone died so I had to rely on the GPS on my VHF radio for the third trip.

I wanted to see if I went 4 nm offshore if I would start to lose sight of land. I dropped a waypoint at the condo and then 4 nm out and 5 nm out. Once I hit 4 nm I thought that 5 was a nicer number to hit so I continued on. Even at that distance I could still see the tops of the trees on Emerald Isle as well as all the buildings 3+ stories high. The water towers all up and down the island were easy to spot too. You’d have to get a good bit farther offshore to lose sight of land and structures altogether. Today I plotted the waypoints on Google Earth and took this picture.

5 nm out

5 nm out

Kayaking 10+ nm through 2 feet seas with a 5-10 knot wind took me 4 hours and left me a little bit sore. My right hand still hurts and I can feel my lower back as well. That’s the farthest I’ve ever kayaked and certainly the most challenging water. The Toto performed very well. I took some spray over the sides and on a couple of steeper waves I scooped a bit over the nose. I bailed it out with a sponge. I thought about doing another capsize test, but by the time I got that close to shore it was pretty flat water and I was ready for lunch and a cold beer, so I skipped it. I’m still pretty confident that even in those 2 foot seas I could have pointed the nose into the waves and climbed over the stern. I’m almost a little tempted to put a closed bow on the second Toto though. We’ll see.

It was a great week at the beach and I’m happy to have some ideas of the limits of my kayaking capabilities. The next camping trip might be from Swansboro out to Bear Island and exploring the salt marshes around there.

 

Nose rings and capsizes

I’ve been watching the videos of Bill Thomas putting together his stitch and glue Fox canoe at the Off Center Harbor site. I had been trying to decide how to attach a line to the front of the boat. Putting a cleat on seemed like overkill. Bill’s solution is to pour an epoxy plug in the nose of the boat and then drill a hole through it. Through this you tie a small circle of line to which you can tie on longer lines as necessary. This is not a handle to pick up the boat (but it doesn’t need one). It’s just a spot to tie on a painter. So today the boat went up against the house and I mixed up some epoxy. Boy does it stir up much thinner in 90+ F then it does when I was building it in the spring.

Boat sure does look long when leaning against the house.

Boat sure does look long when leaning against the house.

epoxy nose job

epoxy nose job

Yesterday I finally got some good paddling in as well. We took the DS1 and the Toto to Beaver Dam at Falls Lake. Friends took the DS1 out for a long sail (hoping they buy it from us) and while the kids were playing on the beach I paddled the Toto around. It feels good. You can really get it moving easily and by leaning to the side you can really get it to cut a quick circle around. Jim Michalak’s write-up on the Duckworks site for the plans has the following quote:

She has a buoyancy/storage chamber aft. It will keep your shoes and stuff dry while you splash around and I believe it has about 180 pounds of buoyancy volume if the hatch cover stays watertight. (But you can’t “self rescue” in any boat like this without very special training. It’s best to stay within a short swim or wade to shallow water.)

This had me a bit nervous so I decided yesterday was a good day to do a capsize test. I’m 6′ tall and weigh 170 lbs. I decided to go over the side in about 6′ of water so I could easily get to shore if needed. When I went over the side, the boat barely took on any water at all, so I held the side under to partially swamp the boat. I would guess that there were about 3″ of water in the bottom of the boat – a significant number of gallons. Then I swam around the backside of the boat and pulled my chest onto the back. From there I was able to straddle the boat and move forward to regain entrance to the boat. The water was calm – it certainly would have been more difficult in waves, but I’m excited to know that I can regain the boat without having to get to shore even in a partially swamped state. This process was easy enough that I would feel comfortable jumping overboard in the middle of the lake for a swim on a nice summer day. Having a bailer to remove the water before trying to climb back in would have also made it easier as well. I plan to keep a kayak pump handy.

I’m looking forward to doing more paddling soon and some minimalist camping in this little boat is not out of the question.

 

Carolina Wren

The kayak has been hanging in the garage for all of one day and already a carolina wren has decided that the air box would make an excellent place for a nest.

carolina_wren_2

 

Sorry, fella, you’ve been evicted. Cleaned out the nesting material and rigged the hatch cover on a bungee cord so it stays on even upside-down. As much as I love birds, the new kayak is not the place to raise your babies.

 

Kayak hanging & a day at the lake

Today I got the garage cleaned up and mounted a pulley system to hang the Toto from the ceiling. I’m pleased with the way the pulleys operate smoothly, lock in place while lifting and drop the kayak all the way to the floor. I wish our ceiling were a bit higher. Even with the webbing straps shortened and pulled up as high as it will go the boat hangs just over 6′ in the air. As long as I don’t bang my head on it, I’m happy. It’s off the ground, out of the way, and ready to drop on top of a car at a moments notice.

new home

new home

new pulley system

new pulley system

 

Yesterday I took a half day off from work and went to Falls Lake. It was the first time testing out the new boom. It worked like a charm. It was a beautiful 80F, dry and breezy. I spent 3 hours tacking around the main part of the lake. Rocket was nervous at first after our last crazy adventure with 20 mph winds gusting to 30, but after a while we both got into the groove of it and he would happily sit up on the decks watching the world go by.

Sailing buddies

Sailing buddies

Rocket searching for the Lock Ness Monster

Rocket searching for the Lock Ness Monster

Shore break

Shore break

The mighty dragon with a great new boom

The mighty dragon with a great new boom

I forgot that Matt still had my main sheet from our last adventure. Fortunately I had a long length of paracord. It was a bit slippery and skinny to hang on to, but when I wrapped it once around the cleat on the tiller I could hold it easily with my thumb and it would still release quickly if needed. I think I might use the paracord from now on instead of a thicker mainsheet.

After experimenting with the lazy jacks I’ve decided they are not worth the effort on this small a boat. I do like having the halyard attached to the mast though.

I’ve also learned more about rowing and would prefer rounder oars in the oarlocks so that I could feather the stroke and also have the oar blade at a slight angle so keep it seated firmly as it moves through the water. Next time…