Tuesday, October 15, 2019

Prepping for a New Mizzen Mast

Last week I bought about 23 bf of poplar for a new mizzen mast project. This is more than I need for the mizzen, but I'd rather be safe than sorry...

When I built Gardens' spars, I set up shop in the yard outside to accommodate the necessary lengths. But this being October in Michigan, I'm setting up in an empty bay (which is also long enough for the spars) in the barn so I can work out of the weather. Of course, the space wasn't really empty - so some tidying up was necessary. (First photo is about half way through the clean-up.)

One clean-up task was to get rid of a pile of old rough-cut lath strips taking up space. Easiest way to dispose of them is to burn them but, at 5' long, they were too long for our burn pit (and we don't have a burn barrel). So, I cut them down to size and burned them down to a nice pile of ashes. I left most of the cut nails in the lath and used a magnet to pull them out of the ashes.

The poplar found a home on the 'spar bench' (2 long sawhorses and 2 2x10x10' planks). The thickness planer moved from the shop to the work space. Infeed and outfeed supports were set up. The space was ready to get to work.

Milling the poplar began today. First step is to smooth the faces of the planks. Using a No. 5 Stanley plane, I began flattening the slight crown of the first plank before using the thickness planer. Interesting to note the 5/4 planks turned out to be 11/8 (1-3/8)- which is nice enough but it means more milling before ripping the staves for the mast.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Fixing Warts; Trailer Mods

When I installed the cockpit coamings, I was more than a bit careless with my epoxy work. The warts didn't seem to bother others, but they bothered me.

I expected the clean-up job to be difficult and tiresome. Much to my surprise, the warts disappeared after only a few minutes with a sander! A bit more sanding and the coamings will be ready to repaint.

Gardens' mizzen mast is solid wood and, despite being 5' shorter, weighs nearly as much as the hollow bird's mouth main mast. The mizzen is awkward and cumbersome to step/unstep. While we haven't ever lost control or dropped the mizzen, I decided, quite a while ago, to build a new lighter, hollow mizzen mast. This is one of my fall/early winter projects.

L.L. Johnson Lumber, in Charlotte, Michigan (less than an hour's drive away), has the material in the length (14') I need. I fussed a bit about how to get 14' lumber home - without paying the $65 delivery fee. A friend offered the use of his utility trailer or I could borrow my sister's utility trailer, but at 8' long, those do not readily transport long bits of lumber. My friend commented that it was too bad Gardens was on her trailer... Well, that got me thinking! I hoisted Gardens off the trailer, pulled the trailer out, set Gardens on the floor of the barn, and set about modifying the trailer to carry lumber. I removed the bunks (which I will be replacing), moved the bunk supports outboard on the trailer, and added a cross member to support one end of the lumber.

I'm driving to Charlotte tomorrow for the mast material and while I'm there I'll pick up enough cherry lumber to build us a new bed frame over the winter.

Tuesday, October 1, 2019

Catching Up

It's been awhile since I've added anything to the blog. So, here are a few updates...


Gardens of Fenwick sailing in Les Cheneaux Islands, Lake Huron, August, 2019:

September travels to Coupeville, Washignton, on Whidbey Island for a family reunion:

A short ferry ride from Coupeville took us to Port Townsend for the Wooden Boat Festival. Port Townsend from the ferry:

The Wooden Boat Festival was a lot of fun but since we didn't see everything we wanted to see, we decided we'll have to return next year.

Boarding Assist

Jan and I have recovered from multiple surgeries (me: two knees; Jan: two hips), but we both found it a bit awkward stepping on and off Gardens at the dock. Jan, teasingly, suggested a shower grip type handle to make it easier to get on and off the boat... Right... But then I got to thinking about a solution - and came up with this: A 1.25 diameter dowel; a through-deck hole, and a seat-top socket: aka, The Boarding Assist:

With a socket on each side of the boat, only one dowel is needed, and the dowel will stow in the cockpit while underway. Varnish on the dowel and the cap/plugs (for the through-deck holes when sailing) will close out this project.


A pleasant surprise for me was recently discovering this blog has viewed over 100,000 times! Thanks to everyone who has ever visited my ramblings.

Sunday, July 7, 2019

Main Sheet Block Upgrade

Last year Gardens' mainsheet was rigged through a single block with a becket on the boom and a fiddle block on top of the centerboard case. A spring prevented that fiddle block from flopping around when there was little or no tension on the sheet.

That feature worked well. However, I had no way to sail without keeping a firm grip on the mainsheet. Sailing all day with a firm grip on the mainsheet resulted in serious cramping of my hands. The fiddle block, clearly, does not have a built-in cam cleat, and I did not include a cam-cleat in last year's temporary set-up.

High on the list of upgrades was a fiddle block with a cam cleat. Naively, I figured I could just swap out the new fiddle block for the old one. The two blocks are significantly different in size and, as I soon learned, the new block would not fit the spring. I searched for a suitable spring (local hardware stores, Amazon, McMaster-Carr, Grainger, etc.) without success. Without a spring - or something - to hold the block upright, the block will flop around noisily, bang up the top of the CB Case and generally be annoying.

A possible solution presented itself while I was cleaning out the garage a couple of weeks ago. Moving a collection of long unused pool noodles (we don't have a pool...), I wondered if a piece of pool noodle might work to hold the fiddle block upright. Well, in the shop, it does! A 1" slice of noodle (with a slit cut to facilitate installation) does just what I need it to do: hold the block upright and allow the block to move as needed. A couple wraps of tape secures the slit (electrical tape may replace the current masking tape...).

The block will soon be installed on the CB Case top. Almost ready for sea trials.

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Back to Work on Gardens

After ten weeks of back spasms, treated by chiropractic care, modern medicine and, at last, physical therapy, I am finally getting back to work on Gardens. I had hoped to have been sailing her by now, but we do what we can... My "winter" projects are just now getting underway...

Last year, Gardens sailed with a 12V 34Ah battery (for the trolling motor) just sitting unsecured on the aft seat. I didn't care much for that arrangement, so I built a battery box (shown as a work-in-progress).

But, there's not a significant difference between a battery sitting on the seat and a battery in a box sitting on a seat. I decided to use the space below the aft seat, replaced the access hatch with a larger hole, and installed a lip/rim/whatever to hold the box and pretty up the cut-out. Shown here in the early stages of the project.

The battery fits in the box.

The box fits into the cut-out. The lid is a nice, snug friction fit.

The trolling motor cables fit in the slot in the lid. And the whole thing is removable for access to rudder hardware.

Other projects in the works...

Tuesday, March 12, 2019

Winter’s Retreat and New Kit for Gardens

Second week of March and winter has begun its retreat… mid-30s for two days, 40s today and tomorrow, with the promise of 60s on Thursday… Hope springs eternal…

My knees are recovered enough to let be get out to the shop… unfortunately, the frozen snow drifts across the barn entrances won’t let me in! So, rather than actually build a few items, I’m left to thinking and drawing sketches for a No. 2 Camp Box; a Day Box for misc gear (GPS, VHF, Binocs, etc); a Battery Box; attachment points for those low-profile fenders; and a Compass Box.

The barn needs attention, too. One roller on a large (unused) slider door came off its track in last week’s wind storm. The door is hanging by one roller and has opened a decent sized hole in the south side of the barn - directly behind Gardens!

Gardens is well covered with tarps and the tools were stowed in tubbies but I need to get out there soon for a temporary fix to the door.

In other news… UPS and USPS have been busy delivering more bits for Gardens’ kit:
  • 12 lbs Danforth Anchor
  • Air Horn
  • First Aid Kit
  • Low Profile Fenders
  • Hardware and Line for Lazy Jacks
  • Hardware for Grab Lines along side decks …and more
And, there is more shopping to do…

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Creating A Bucket List

I haven’t really ever had a Bucket List. I think that is so because when I hear the term ‘Bucket List,’ my mind interprets it as ‘Epic Adventures Mere Mortals Cannot Accomplish.’ And I, being a Mere Mortal, cannot accomplish epic adventures… Recently, however, I began to realize that the idea of a List isn’t limited to Epic Adventures.

Perhaps now is the time to create my Bucket List! Nothing too epic - well, maybe one. No particular order. No particular timeframe.

My Bucket List:

Dinghy Delta Ditch Sailing Event. Sacramento Delta, California. This is a 30-mile downwind small boat race from Rio Vista, California up the Deep Water Channel to Sacramento, California. It is hosted by the Lake Washington Sailing Club in Sacramento and takes place each year in mid-August. I became aware of this event nine or ten years ago when I was building my Goat Island Skiff in Sacramento. Life lead me away from the West Coast before my GIS was completed but now I look forward to sailing the event in Gardens.

Sailing Gardens on each of the Great Lakes. The state of Michigan touches four of the five Great Lakes and it seems like an obvious endeavor to sail on all five. What I have in mind is not just poking out into each lake for a few minutes and then scampering back to shore. Michigan, Huron, Erie and Superior each have islands that are easily reachable for a daysail or a camping weekend. I’ll have to explore the charts for Lake Ontario to see if there are similar opportunities there.

Sailing across Lake Michigan. It is roughly 70 straight-line miles across - and, of course, more than that when sailing. This is the Most Epic item on my List. Originally can to mind earlier this winter so planning for this has begun. Outfitting Gardens this spring will be done with this adventure in mind, which will of course benefit the other sailing adventures on the List.

MS Buckeye Breakaway Bicycle Ride. Following two knee replacement surgeries last year, this two-day 150-mile bicycle fundraiser ride, from Brunswick, Ohio to Ashland, Ohio and back, is on the list (yes, I’ve completed this ride before but with the new knees, I need a fitness goal).

Community Boat Building and Sailing. Using Mik Storer’s OZ Goose box-boat as a platform and based on the Philippine model of community boat building, sail training and racing, I’d like to introduce people to boatbuilding and sailing. I have an OZ Goose kit waiting to be assembled and a set of templates to facilitate subsequent builds.

So, that’s it. I’ll add more as I think of them but I suspect my list will involve sailing, biking, and travel more than anything else. I’ll provide details as each of these comes to fruition.