To the Ocean

I’m really excited that in just a few days all three boats will be on the trailer heading to Nags Head. I’ve been doing a bunch of little work on the boat to get ready. I drilled 5 holes in the boat and filled them with epoxy to make waterproof bushings for holes for lines. I removed the cheap plastic cleat from the front of the boat and drilled a large hole to tie a short painter. I drilled two more holes on the dagger board case to attach a piece of shock cord to hold the dagger board down. Finally I drilled two holes in the aft bulkhead wood to tie a line across the back of the boat to keep the tiller from slipping into the water when dropped. While I had the epoxy out, I filled the rudder mortise and then sanded it back to get a tight fit on the rudder arm. It’s not a perfect fit where the mortise and tenon come together, but it’s very tight now. The pin is decorative at this point. It’s not moving on its own.

I finished off the trailer by putting down 2″ of foam on the bed of the trailer and screwing down the outdoor carpet to it. I’m still thinking about the best way to tie down the kayaks on top. Right now I’m just using dock lines and truckers hitches. The good thing about that is that when they are off there’s nothing getting in the way of the skerry, but it’s not the fastest thing. Debating whether to keep one up there all the time for fast access to the water.

 

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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.

Rudder arm part 2

It’s been a mild winter and is supposed to be 70 with a nice breeze this weekend. It’s time to get this rudder arm finished up. Tonight I shaped the arm into a taper from the full thickness down to roughly 1/2″ at the tip of the arm. I also started cutting out the tenon. There’s more trimming to do before it will fit the mortise, but it’s a good start. I hope to have a rough fit tomorrow. It won’t be fully done by Sunday, but hopefully close enough to get on the water and sail.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

A leeboard, rudder and a sail

Put a bunch of time into the boat today. This morning I gooped on some silicon and screwed down the decks. Then I bolted on the leeboard and attached the rudder. The girls also did some initial decorating of the oars.

Decks attached

Decks attached

Hatch cover

Hatch cover

leeboard attached

leeboard attached

rudder installed

rudder installed

polytarp sail

polytarp sail

The sail is a 68 sq foot lug made from 5.2oz white tarp material from PolySail International. It’s a great cheap way to get on the water fast. The whole kit was about $100 and came with double stick tape, rope edging, duct tape, grommet kit, etc. The sail has a 5’10” luff, a 12’2″ leech, a 9′ head and an 8’9″ foot. The leech is hollowed a few inches and the head and the foot both have several inches of rounding to account for spar bending as well as giving the sail some shape. We don’t want a flat sail. Hopefully it does the trick. I based my rough estimates on this very nice set of plans for a slightly larger sail. The sail dimensions I followed come from Jim Michalak’s Piccup Pram. The head and the foot are shorter and you end up with a taller sail to get close to the same sq footage. It means that the yard and boom don’t have to be as long and will fit on the boat better when down on the deck for rowing, etc. The height will give it better movement in light air and it should reef down nicely in heavier wind.

The pre-launch checklist is looking better:

  • second coat of paint on the hatch covers
  • assemble and paint the dragon
  • second coat of varnish on the yard and boom
  • girls decorate oars + top coat with varnish
  • add hardware for rigging

 

Total time: 84 hours
Total boat cost: $534
Total tools cost: $200

Rudder

Got the bottom of the boat primed tonight and started assembling the rudder. I was thinking of putting a second coat of paint on it, but got impatient. I may still put another coat on it, but it was fun to see it go together.

 

rudder assembled

rudder assembled

It’s a clever design. The rudder blade can ride up (or be pulled up with a rope) in shallow water and the lead weight will cause it to drop back down in deeper water. The tiller is held on a bit of a shelf so it will stay up off the rear deck of the boat, but it can also flip totally over the other direction and fold down flat along the blade for easier storage. I’m looking forward to testing it very soon.

Last night we put a second coat of paint on the decks and painted the other side of the leeboard. A little more paint on the side of the boat and the leeboard will be ready to bolt on as well. It’s all starting to come together.

 

Primer!

The first priming of boat parts has begun. I put the initial coat of Kilz on the rudder blade, stock and the tiller.

priming the rudder parts

priming the rudder parts

April is rapidly coming to a close. It’s high time to get some primer on the rest of the boat too. The weather for the weekend looks great for painting. I can’t wait to get this thing in the water and get some camping in.