Welcome 2017

Last year I made it a goal to get on the water at least once every month of the year. I’m happy to report I kept that New Year’s resolution and hope to hit it again this year. Between kayaking, rowing and sailing it should be an easy goal. I’ve already had the Skerry out this month. It was a beautiful sunny, day with winds blowing 10-15 knots. I had a great sail across Falls Lake, but as I was coming in to shore I let go the tiller stick in order to pull up the dagger board and it slipped over the side. My best guess is that it hit the bottom and the forward momentum of the boat translated that into an upward force and the rudder arm snapped right off. It was made from 2 layers of 1/4″ Okume plywood glued together and then epoxied around the rudder head. It snapped right at the epoxy seam. I’ve decided to replace it with a mortise and tenon solution. My buddy, Matt, gave me a good sized board of white oak 1.25″ thick. I used the old arm as a template and cut out the rough shape on the bandsaw.


By the way, I love the vise. It’s a WoodRiver universal vise. I bought it over a year ago and finally installed it today. I couldn’t have done what I did without it. It operates in either this position or laid over on it’s side. It swivels until you tighten the work piece and that locks it in place. It’s a great feature for re-positioning angles on the fly.

I’ve never really worked hardwoods like white oak before. I was a little worried about working such a hard wood. To get the bandsaw chatter marks out of the white oak I tried a couple of different tools, but ended up with my Shinto saw rasp from Duckworks. The rough side ate through the oak just fine, the smooth side cleaning up the marks before sanding. It worked great.

The vise did a great job holding the rudder while I cleaned up the broken wood and epoxy.


Then I took the rudder over to my old drill press and drilled a series of holes to make the mortise. Then back into the vise to clean up with chisels and files.


The oak arm will head to the table saw next to cut it down from 1.25 to 1″. Then to the bandsaw to taper it from 1″ down to 3/4″ at the end of the arm. Then I’ll probably round over the edges with a router before hand finishing.


I also did some work on the trailer this weekend. A neighbor loaned me his welder and I used it to reinforce the bolted on tongue extension I originally added. I also replace the flimsy punched steel winch stand with welded angle iron. It’s much sturdier now. I need the weather to clear up and dry out so I can paint it. Then I’ll add lights back and get the padding finished. It’ll be in fine shape and ready for a good trip down to the coast in the spring.


(Don’t look too closely at those welds. They are pretty ugly).


CLC Skerry

With life getting in the way, there hasn’t been much boat building going on. I still haven’t glued up that birdsmouth mast, but suddenly a CLC Skerry showed up on the local craigslist. A local hobby boat builder was selling it for the previous owner he had built it for last year. It came in complete at $2,300 with the entire sail kit still in the box. That’s cheaper than you can buy the kit from CLC. I couldn’t resist.


I still want to make a few tweaks to her. The oars need to be leathered as well as the spars. The downhaul for the sail needs to have some pulleys to give it some stronger purchase. There needs to be a line in the back over the tiller to keep it from slipping over the side of the boat into the water. I got a set of navigation lights for Christmas that can be strapped to the front. Still need to work out storage for the bilge pump. Eventually she’ll need an anchor for coastal exploration. The new Garmin 78SC will help with that too.

Since I haven’t been boat building, I decided I needed to get some proper fids to tie splices in braided line. I ordered the Selma fid set from Duckworks. It took 4 tries but I was finally able to get a splice around a block for the main sheet.


I used the leather sailmaker’s palm, needles and waxed thread from Duckworks to bind it off.

I also needed a trailer for the Skerry. I started with a simple box trailer that I inherited. I cut the trailer tongue and extended it with some angle iron. I added a winch-stand with punched steel pieces, but it’s a little flimsy. Version 2.0 of the trailer will be properly welded once my neighbor finds his welder again. The boat is flat bottomed so the flat trailer works great. I’ve added side supports and crossbars to carry the kayaks on top.

trailer in progress

trailer in progress

trailer complete

trailer complete

The winch stand is too flimsy to really hold the boat from moving. Over a bump on the way to the lake the boat shifted and slid off the roller.


Took the boat out today, the last day of 2016, for an afternoon sail. Temps were in the 40s. I wore multiple layers with the outer layer being water proof. Winds ranged from 5-15 depending on proximity to shore, etc. According to the new GPS we topped out at 6.4 mph on a beam reach. Much of the time we were doing 4-5 mph. Close hauled we’d drop down to 3-4 mph. There is still some work to be done to tune the sails a bit more, but I felt like it was pointing fairly well.



That max speed is obviously wrong. Should have been around 5.5 per the Garmin which would make sense. The angles on the map don’t look like we were pointing very well, but the wind was really shifting direction around the point.

I stopped to pour tea and eat some crackers near the end of the trip. I started in irons but the boat quickly fell off. By letting the sail fly free and pushing the tiller over we drifted slowly downwind taking the wind over the beam. This worked fine with no waves, but wouldn’t be very comfortable if we were rolling. All-in-all I’m very pleased with the Skerry and I think she’ll be a fine adventuring boat to take camping and down to the shore.


Today was my 30th sail in the Terror of the Sea. I met Matt out on Falls Lake with some pretty light winds. We meandered around the lake at an easy pace, sipping on some soda waters and snacking on some pretzels. I got a few good pictures of Matt’s Melonseed before he had to head back to the dock.




I kept wandering around the lake and the predicted wind finally started to fill in. We got moving pretty well and I decided to head toward a couple of buoys on the North side of the lake that mark a shoal area. I zipped over the top and didn’t see any shallows and then decided to jibe. I was being pretty lazy and didn’t center myself in the boat. I pulled in the sail so it didn’t go flying over to the other side, but with my weight on the wrong side of the boat it was enough to send us tipping toward the drink. There was no stopping it and Rocket started getting nervous as the spare life jacket, flotation cushions, dry bag, chips bag, oars and cooler all started sliding to one side of the boat. In a flash we were over and swimming. I pulled Rocket around with me to the far side of the boat and started trying to climb on the leeboard. It took a couple of tries, but I finally got the boat righted. I got Rocket back into the boat which had a good 6″ of water in it and saw that a boat cushion, a paddle and the bag of chips were floating away. I almost started to swim after them and then realized the boat would sail off without me. I got into the boat and with one oar and sail managed to come about and pick up the other oar and boat cushion. There was too much water in the boat to sail, so I dropped the sail and started to bail. The biggest bailing bucket was the cooler, so I dumped all the contents into the boat, dumped the ice overboard and started bailing. It probably took 10 mins to get the water out of the boat. I totally forgot about the collapsible bucket I had in my dry bag. Need to keep that more readily available. With the majority of the water removed we got the sail back up and headed after that rogue bag of chips. We caught it a short time later with no further jibes and started heading back across the lake. The wind really picked up and we had a good fight into the wind and waves to make it back to Rolling View. It was a great adventure, but I learned that I really need to tie things down better and make sure the dry bag is more tightly closed.

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.



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.



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.


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.

Winter sailing – first sail of 2016

With dirty snow still lining the edges of the highway, I headed up to Falls Lake for an afternoon of winter sailing. The temps were in the upper 40s heading toward 50F. The wind was blowing out of the south light, but steady. I got to the Ledge Rock ramp at about 1:30 pm and was tacking into the wind shortly thereafter. I wore jeans, wool socks, a long sleeve thermal undershirt & wool sweater, rain pants and jacket with a wool hat. I brought along winter gloves and used them about half the time. I wore my big rubber boots to make sure my feet stayed dry at the ramp. The southerly breeze meant I was taking it on the nose and had to make 15 tacks to get into the main body of the lake. Then I made a nice close reach southeast down the lake before tacking about for an awesome run to the west toward Rolling View. At one point the wind really kicked up and I even jumped up on the rail. I had spotted another sailboat and was hoping to meet them mid-lake, but they tacked back toward the ramp at R.V. With my monocular I did manage to see that it was a Buccaneer with 2 guys aboard.

lots of tacks

happy guy

happy guy

After that it was time to run on home north to the dock. I practiced a few jibes along the way and then stood up for a while. The sky was a super blue. There were lots of gulls and cormorants on the water and black vultures circling over the eastern shore. It was a fabulous afternoon for the first sail of 2016.




23rd trip for the Terror

I logged my 23rd trip in the Terror of the Sea today at Falls Lake. Winds were very light. I had to sit on the “wrong” side of the boat to heel it over to keep the sail full. Top speed 2.5 knots. Avg speed 1.0 knots. 1.5 NM total. It was nice to be out on a beautiful day even if it wasn’t wild sailing. Temps were near 70F today and you just can’t complain about sailing in a T-shirt at the end of November. I still hope to get another trip or two in during Dec, but today was my 19th trip on the water this year. Not bad considering I didn’t start the year until April due to a cold winter and trying to finish the first Toto. Looking forward to doing some winter kayaking too.

Dressed in White

I was hoping to have the exterior of Toto #2 glassed today, but as I was finishing the final sanding I found a couple of stitching holes that never got filled as well as a few screw heads that needed some putty. I mixed up another small batch of the System 3 fairing epoxy mix and smoothed out some other spots as well. I have to say that the fairing compound is a little addictive. I can image coating a lot of the hull several times over to get that perfect smooth surface, but I’m building quick and dirty boats here, not production hulls. I want it to look a little homemade. After waiting a few hours for it to cure I did the final sanding and then laid out the fiberglass.

Dressed in White - ready for epoxy

Dressed in White – ready for epoxy

I’ll need to steal a few hours from work one day this week to roll in the epoxy. Looking forward to getting this boat in the water this fall.

On Friday I went for a nice 3.5 NM paddle on Falls Lake. I launched from the Beaver Dam location where there are no power boats allowed. Nice quiet afternoon on the water.


Falls Lake on a Friday afternoon

Falls Lake on a Friday afternoon


Last night I had a quiet night at home so while watching some Sci-fi I tied off a new Monkey’s Fist. This is another in my series of MFs tied around a tennis ball. Nice size and weight for throwing without injuring someone on the dock. This one was made from an old dock line that came off my dad’s boat from years ago. It’s got some nice weathering to it.

New Monkey's Fist

New Monkey’s Fist