Monday, October 8, 2018

Perishable Skills

English blacksmith Alec Steele used the phrase “perishable skills” in a recent YouTube video to describe the decline of a skill level after not using that skill for a few months. He also applied the concept to patience - as in, rushing a task and having to fix the resulting error. Patience needs to be exercised, just as a muscle needs to be exercised, and practiced to be a useful tool in one's skill set.

So, while it means the same as “use it or lose it,” “perishable skills” is, to me, a more elegant description of the phenomenon.

Now, five weeks out from surgery, I am growing inpatient - I want to get back to Gardens to tidy things up, put some things right that need it, and work on the ‘improvements’ I’ve identified since that one sailing weekend almost two months ago. But, since I am not physically able to get to work in my shop, I must exercise patience while resting soft tissue…

I am also growing inpatient for next year's sailing season. There are a number of events I am looking forward to attending: a planned messabout (including a Scamp Camp, small boat skills training, hand tool demonstrations, and boatbuilding skills) featuring John Welsford designed boats in Sheboygan, WI; a sailing weekend in Les Cheneaux Islands in Michigan's Upper Penninsula; the Sunfish Dinghy Challenge in Virginia; the Mid Atlantic Small Boat Festival in Maryland; the the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival in Washington; day sailing local lakes and other events as they come up!

The knee is improving - just not as quickly as I'd like.

Friday, September 7, 2018

Good News… Bad News…

The good news: Tuesday’s total right knee replacement surgery (scheduled for quite some time) should, in the long run, make me more agile and better suited for small boat sailing and bicycle riding.

The bad news: The rest of the year is lost to all but rehabilitating my new knee and prepping for replacing the left knee in December.

I’ll be making lists and planning the refitting tasks identified during those four, all too short, days of sailing Gardens last month. I’m sure I’ll be asking a few questions over the next six months…

Note: Gardens’ cosmetics were not completed when we took her sailing. Our focus was to get her sailing this summer. Paint and trim are high on the list of next spring’s refitting.

Sunday, August 26, 2018

Still in Awe

We've been home for almost a week following our trip to Michigan's UP to launch and sail Gardens of Fenwick.

Sailed three of the four days we were there (the second day was spent rearranging a bit of hardware and adjusting some rigging)... Conditions were just about perfect: Light air on Day 1, progressively stronger winds thru Day 4. Most photos of Gardens were taken on that first day, so there aren't any real action shots - but there are a few 'duffer' shots (slack downhaul, tight outhaul = big crease in the main). (

Gardens at the dock:
Sailing off the dock:
Light air, slack downhaul, tight outhaul:
Friday workday:
Toasting Gardens:
Me throughout the weekend:
My email to another Pathfinder builder best captures, I think, my reactions to Gardens, the Pathfinder design and John Welsford:

The Pathfinder is SO worth it! John Welsford is a genius!

I find it difficult to describe how it feels to sail a boat I have taken so long to get in the water. None of the ‘flaws’ I’ve fretted about matter. No one else saw them. The boat either didn’t notice them or shrugged them off.

Enjoy your build - but don’t dally: sailing a Pathfinder is so much more fun than building one!


I am still in awe!

Saturday, July 21, 2018

Mast Supports

A few days ago,I asked for - and received - suggestions about transporting (when towing the boat) spars.

Here is my roughed out solution for the main mast:

These will support the main. The mizzen mast and boom/sail/yard bundle will be stowed and secured in the boat.

Jan says the supports look like wind-up keys...

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Gardens' Out-of-Barn Experience

I was a bit nervous about putting Gardens back on her trailer yesterday. Several recent threads (including one of my own) about trailer set up had me a bit anxious. Things went better than expected, which doesn't happen all that much, and Gardens rested easy on her trailer late yesterday afternoon.

Around 5:30, I got the idea to take a short (really) drive just to see how things would go down the road. I mentioned this to Jan, who suggested I wait for the afternoon rush hour of folks heading home from work. Seemed like a good plan so, after those three vehicles (two pick-ups and an SUV) went by the house, I pulled out of the drive, went two miles down to a church parking lot, turned around and came home. Four miles isn't much but I felt much better for having made that little trek.

One minor incident happened when I put the rig back in the barn - I bumped into one of my sawhorses (which was really well out of the way) and broke the lens out of the driver's side light on the trailer (no sawhorses were damaged). After getting the boat & trailer in the barn, I was too tired to change out the light. I figured I could take a few minutes in the morning to take care of that. Right, a "few" was more like 90 minutes but I got it done.

Today was Gardens' test-launch. I needed to find out if the centerboard pin leaked at all - because that, to me, is the most likely candidate for a leak - and I've been nervous about it.

Jan went for sandwiches, drinks and other goodies for a post-launch picnic and I headed to Wabasis Lake (a bit west of Greenville, MI) with Gardens in tow. A very pleasant 16-mile drive to the lake was uneventful.

Not too busy at the ramp, which is a nice five-lanes with docks and lots of room in front of the ramp facility. Friends met us there to help and my sister and brother-in-law arrived to witness the event, too.

Finally put Gardens in the water without incident and, she FLOATS!!

No leaks of any kind anywhere. I really can't describe what a relief that was and is! Also very nice to hear a number of compliments from other boaters. After pulling Gardens' out of the lake, the six of us had a very nice picnic lunch which included a celebratory toast to Gardens.

No masts, sails, rigging or other gear today as the mission was to check for leaks. That, and I am still sorting out how to carry the masts and sails. However, I am glad we were not planning to sail today as the centerboard would not lower all the way and that would not have been good out on the lake. Our diagnosis is that the top foreward corner of the centerboard is not clearing the front on the case. We'll check again before pulling the board and reshaping that corner, but we believe that is the issue. And, no, I did not test fit the centerboard in the case early on in the build (like before installing the CB case in the boat).

As far as I'm concerned, today's out-of-barn experience was a huge success! When I got home, I took numerous photos to serve as reminders of what needs to be done (plenty!) to finish Gardens. The next time out will be the official launch and first sail!

Monday, July 9, 2018

Show & Tell

Saturday's Show & Tell for some friends and family was fun on several levels: sharing Gardens in her nearly completed stage and sorting out what rigging needs to be tweaked.

Recent work done: deck cleats installed, spar leathers installed, masts stepped, main sail raised, outhaul installed, motor mount installed, rudder head and tiller in place, and most of the rigging for the main sorted out. I got to show and tell and answer questions several times as family and friends came and went at different times throughout the day - and that was okay.



The downhaul is not yet installed, the halyard set-up needs some tweaking, and the mainsheet hardware needs to be installed. The centerboard case cap needs to be finished and installed, too.



Being able to set sail inside the barn is a plus on hot summer days.



The halyard attachment point need adjusting. It needs to be a smaller loop and moved foreward on the yard.



Since I was test fitting the sail to the spars, I used an odd assortment of rope to rig the sail. I'll keep some of what I used and replace some of the bits and pieces with new and proper line. The rag-tag ends of lashings will be shortened and cleaned up.

The mizzen sail needs grommets installed - and I need a tutorial on rigging (and sailing) the mizzen.

The top decks are painted but the interior needs color coating. Gun'ls and rub-rails need varnishing and there's a bit of cleanup at the bow to be done.

Other than that...

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Testing the Mast Slot

Today was to be a sand & paint day. Warm temperatures, high humidity and very little wind proved otherwise.

I've been carrying on now for quite awhile about my "Mast Slot" idea to facilitate stepping the mast: Concept, proof-of-concept, improving (maybe expanding) the concept, seeing a variation of the idea built into another boat, building it into Gardens... even 'testing it with a stub mast...


But, as they say, the proof is in the pudding when the rubber hits the road, so I was a little anxious to see if the Slot really would facilitate stepping the full-size (length and weight) mast. I was relieved to find that it does, indeed, make stepping the mast easier (than raising it ~20" vertically and then reaching forward about 24" to drop the mast into place)!

In the mast step:

Plug in place:

Toggles on the bottom of the plug hold it in place:

Both sticks installed:

Nice to have full height indoor clearance:

Still some to get done on the mast - a bit of leather on the mast where it passes through the deck, probably wedges for 'final' fit, and more varnish - but it is a huge relief to see an idea come to fruition.

That gray deck color behind the mast is what I'm using for the seat-tops and platform deck. Funny thing about colors: they rarely look like the sample card... The sample card looks light brown but in the gloomier light of the barn the color looks gray... It will be interesting to see it in sunlight.

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Bits and Pieces - Moving Toward Completion

Coamings installed, shaped, and the 'end cap' tying the two coamings together figured out.

Things are still a bit rough but, really, getting closer to completion. That 'end cap' is epoxy coated and will be painted, along with the outside of the coamings, to match the top decks.

Backing plates for deck cleats fitted, installed, holes drilled and cleats installed. Yes, after tomorrow the cleats will be removed, the holes drilled oversized, filled with epoxy, drilled to size and the cleats reinstalled, but for about 36 hours the temporary installation will work.

There is a lot more work to be done but installing those cleats today made Gardens somehow more real, completing her closer, and sailing her more than just a distant possibility.

Monday, May 28, 2018

Coamings: Dry Fit

The coamings have been cut, trimmed (and trimmed multiple times, butt-joined, sanded, faired, sanded and now, today dry fit and ready for installation.



The blue tape in the cockpit area marks the location of the carlins (hoping to improve my aim with the drill). The blue tape on the foredeck marks where I'll scuff the epoxy coating before gluing the coamings in place. A side note: the decks (fore, side and aft) that are now epoxy coated (and look pretty good finished bright) will be painted along with the outside of the coamings.

Actual installation would have taken place today but for the weather. Afternoon temperatures in the 90s made me nervous about the epoxy going off before the entire coaming could be pulled/clamped into place.

So, tomorrow morning is the planned installation. And, the coamings are the last 'big' components to be installed... really getting close.

Sunday, May 20, 2018

Getting Closer

Lots of nearly ‘invisible’ progress this week.

Seat tops and platform deck prepped for paint (sanded, epoxy, sanded, epoxy, sanded). Decks sanded and epoxied (almost ready for paint…)



Decided on a paint color : a light tannish brown called Eagle Ridge. The small sample looks more gray than brown in the photo… After a lot of what-ifs and maybes about color, we realized we can always re-paint if we don’t like it.



The cockpit needs work and the coamings need to be installed. Mast step and step base have been pre-drilled for installation and both need epoxy before going into the boat.



Mast/coaming anchor block fitted to foredeck and ready for installation (one more check to make sure mast fits the slot… )



Monday, May 14, 2018

Busy Again!

After three-plus months of doing nothing, I am suddenly very busy!

Gardens: working on the interior; sanding decks, fiddling with the coamings, prepping the mast step for installation, prepping for paint, and much, much more.



Karen Ann: refinishing the foils, sanding the interior, new varnish, cleaning the exterior, getting the trailer road-ready, checking the rigging, and much more.



OZ Goose Project : Yep, since I don't have enough to keep me busy, I'm planning a community boat-building project based on the Philippine phenomenon.

(No images of the OZ Goose Project as yet, although work on Karen Ann and the OZ Goose Project will be documented elsewhere.)

Monday, May 7, 2018

Light of Day

Gardens emerged from the barn today so a big clean up of the boat bay could happen today.



The clean up involved the removal of plastic sheeting suspended across 2x4s 12' above the floor. It was placed there years ago to protect vehicles from pigeon droppings... After the pigeons departed (we have no idea why), raccoons took over and decided the plastic sheeting was great as a latrine... Needless to say, it was not a pleasant chore but we got it done: remove the droppings, pull out the sheeting, remove the 2x4s. My theory is that without the sheeting and the 2x4s to walk on, the raccoons can't use the overhead space as a latrine...

With Gardens out in the open, I decided to see how the mizzen mast fits. And it does:



I didn't test the main mast in the mast slot as that mast step is not ready. I left the yellow webbing used as slings to lift Gardens in place.

Gardens went back into the barn. Elmer Gantry lifted her off the trailer and set her back on her supports. The trailer went to another part of the barn and things are very much as they were this morning - except for the big overhead clean up changed the overhead space and gives me clearance to raise the mast inside.

Yes, there is a lot more to do but the sight of Gardens out of the barn and on the trailer is inspiring...

Wednesday, May 2, 2018

Weather, Shoulder and Gardens

Weather has improved.

Shoulder is improving.

Work on Gardens has resumed.

Work on the coaming has gone from door-skin pattern stage...

to the real 9mm ply pieces...

Despite using patterns there is a good bit of fitting to be done - for several reasons: the patterns were only used to draw the outline of the pieces on the ply - so the 'line' on the ply actually described a 'larger' piece; I still had to cut accurately; and the bottom edge of the ply needs to be beveled to sit flush on the cockpit seat tops.

So much more to do... but I am glad to be back to working on Gardens.

Sunday, April 15, 2018

For One Brief and Wonderful Day…

Thursday was beautiful. Temperatures in the mid-60s. Sunshine. Very light winds. It was great. And I got to spend three hours working on Gardens! Yes, working - not just puttering around tidying up - on Gardens.

The deck was prepped (sanded, wiped down) for another coat of epoxy.

The mast block/coaming anchor was cut to size and fitted but not installed (not quite ready for that).

Photo
Photo shows the block in an early stage of development.

The template for the coaming was finalized. It may need a bit more tweaking but it is close enough to the proper size that I can lay it out on the plywood to determine if I need another piece of 9mm ply.

Photo
Again, the photo is from early work on the coaming and doesn't show the transition to the foredeck. (Didn’t have my phone with me Thursday afternoon.)

So, on Thursday I felt great. I was pleased that I could work on Gardens without any ill effects to my shoulder. I was pleased that, after four months, I was able to make progress on Gardens. I was looking forward to getting more done this weekend.

And then, the weekend arrived: Friday was cloudy, windier and 20 degrees cooler than Thursday. Things got worse on Saturday: A Winter Storm Warning was issued. Temperatures hovered around freezing. Winds of 25+mph made the temps feel colder. Rain, sleet and snow took turns making life miserable. Saturday night and Sunday produced more rain, sleet, freezing rain (the kind that coats everything with ice) and snow. For the time being it looks and feels more like mid-January than mid-April.

But for that one brief and wonderful day I was back at work on Gardens. I'm looking forward to getting more done as the weather improves.

Sunday, April 8, 2018

Soon...

Nine-plus weeks out from surgery and the shoulder is improving rapidly. Not improved enough for boat-work but improving nonetheless.

I’ve been doing a lot of reading over the last nine weeks - nothing too serious, mostly just light, fluff reading for entertainment. I also enjoy watching videos on a number of topics: woodworking (Matt Cremora, Paul Sellers, Samurai Carpenter), blacksmithing (Alec Steele), and various tutorials (Sketchup).

Recently, Alec Steele has been returning to basics, focusing on Fundamentals, Hand Tools and Practice. I find this is as applicable to woodworking (or any other endeavor) as it is to Alec’s blacksmithing, so I plan to further develop my skills with hand tools - not to the exclusion of power tools, but to improve my overall skill set. I plan to incorporate hand tool work more into the completion of Gardens and other projects. My primary focus is, however, finishing Gardens.

So, the projects listed in my most recent post have not been worked on at all, but the calendar is calling… sailing season will be here soon (no, really!) with events to attend (preferably with a boat!) and races to be sailed (again, with a boat!). I need to get back to work on Gardens - and Karen Ann, my GIS. Soon, my friends, soon…

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Healing, Thinking and Projects

It has been seven-plus weeks since my shoulder surgery. The weather is improving (although the recent east winds have been nasty), the shoulder is getting better (range of motion improving faster than my strength) and I’m getting antsy. However, arm/shoulder strength is a limiting factor right now - using a hand plane is not possible yet (to give you an idea). About all I can do right now is think about what needs to be done and make lists.

Thinking can lead to changes . For instance, I installed a mast slot to facilitate raising the mast.

(Due to technical difficulties, the photos to be inserted here are, for some reason, unavailable.)

The small balance-lug-yawl sail plan puts the mast just aft of BH-1. What if I want to sail with just the main (without the mizzen)? Not sure I really want to, but what-if? According to the sail plan drawing, it looks like stepping the mast just foreward of BH-2 would move the CE of the main very nearly (within millimeters) of the CE of the balance-lug-yawl plan. Seeing this leads, naturally, to the idea of building a mast step to accommodate both mast locations, So, guess what just made the projects list?

Speaking of the project list, as soon as possible (this week?), I will begin work on:
  • Fabricating and installing the new and improved mast step,
  • Figure out the location and set-up of a motor mount for a trolling motor,
  • Figure out what size trolling motor is needed/suitable, I
  • nstall the mast caps,
  • Clear the overhead space above Gardens (so the masts can be fitted)
  • Sand the gun’ls and rub rails
If I can get to any one of these listed projects this week, I'll be happy.

Sunday, March 11, 2018

This is the Year

Five plus weeks post-op and the shoulder is improving - no where near fully functional but much better than it was five weeks ago. Thursday’s visit to the surgeon should have me out of the sling and on to the next level of PT.

There is still a winter chill in the NE wind but spring - and warmer weather - is in the offing. I walked out to the barn today to say hello to Gardens and figure out what’s next… Almost too many tasks yet to be done and yet, I’ve got a list that will keep me and a helper busy once the surgeon and therapist give me the go-ahead.

As an added incentive to getting Gardens launched and outfitted is the invitation to take her to Les Cheneaux Islands in August. That has been a standing invitation for three years now… Deke's report of his successful Everglades Challenge experience in his Pathfinder, First Light, is also inspiring.

This is the year to finish and enjoy Gardens.

Sunday, February 25, 2018

Idling Along

Temperatures are rising, snow is melting and I’m still resting soft tissue as I recover from shoulder surgery. PT, three times a week, is going well - but slowly. Therapist says it will be early May before I am close to recovered enough to think about “normal” activities.

Meanwhile, I have plenty of time to read and to think (about Gardens, woodworking, my shop, a pending boat project, travel and probable knee surgery). Curiosity about using aluminum tubing for spars lead to some on-line research. While tubing would, no doubt, be faster and more convenient than making wood spars, the prices I have found for the tubing is - to me - prohibitive. I'll keep an open mind but for now I will plan to make wood spars (for that pending project).

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Off-Topic Again

Weather has nothing to do with the complete absence of work on Gardens. Surgery to repair tears in my right shoulder rotator cuff has disrupted boat work for the next five weeks or so. While I cannot do much of anything physical, I can think about things (and thinking might be worse…).

So, I wrote up a mini-rant about the impracticality of someone else building a very light weight composite mast for their boat for an exorbitant amount of money…

and thought about it…

and decided that whatever anyone decides to build for themselves is their business and deleted the mini-rant.

Sunday, January 21, 2018

Cross- Thread

After cold temperatures last week, we are enjoying our second January thaw. Mild (mid-40s) temperatures and sunshine make us feel much better - and spring is only a month-and-a-half away!

While I putzed around in the shop yesterday and today, I didn’t really accomplish anything - my shoulder has a way of letting me know when I’m doing too much, which, these days really isn’t much at all. So, I’ve been surfing the internet and found a few photos of me sailing my GIS at Stony Creek Metro Park, a bit north of Detroit, with the Creek Fleet Sailing Club in August, 2011.

Creekfleet Sailing Club

The cover photo shows my Goat in the midst of the fleet on a very light-air evening. If you click the Photos link, click the Archived Online Photos link, and scroll through Summer 2011, there are a few more photos of my Goat

If I had seen these photos before, I had forgotten them… Fun to see.

Sunday, January 14, 2018

Waiting

Despite a quick foray into near spring-like temperatures mid-week, no boat-work or woodworking ensued.

So, what do I do while waiting for the shoulder repair? Reading books (this week a history, a who-done-it, and a Stephen King novel), researching the next boat (yeah, I know, FINISH Gardens first!), resting soft tissue (aka napping), catching up with on-line small boat forum posts of interest, overthinking what needs doing on Gardens, and pondering the imponderables…

One of those imponderables is the internet forum phenomenon of people posting to threads when what they post adds nothing to or - worse - detracts from the discussion. Internet forums (regardless of the topic) are great for staying in touch with like-minded (sometimes not-so-like-minded) people, seeing what others are doing, problem solving, sharing project progress, asking questions and sometimes (too often) disagreeing and arguing. But, really, posting for the sake of posting without really contributing to a thread - and I don’t mean “thread drift” (accidental or otherwise)?

Okay, off the soapbox…

Looking forward to the intersection of a mended shoulder and spring. Could be a long wait…

Sunday, January 7, 2018

Plan B

Going into the winter, Plan A was to finish Gardens and launch her in the spring. That was Plan A even though I was anticipating knee replacement surgery in early winter.

In early December I was diagnosed with a torn rotator cuff, which was confirmed with an MRI. Surgery on the shoulder is set for January 31. The surgeon says full recovery will take three or four months depending on how diligent I am with PT. I plan to be very diligent - but that gets me to knee surgery in May, or possibly June. And that recovery will have me ready for the second knee replacement. Aging is not for the weak…

Plan B is to focus on these medical concerns and do what I can on Gardens as recovery allows. So, progress will be slow (yes, slower than it has been!) and Gardens’ launch may not happen until spring of next year.

In the meantime, Gardens waits patiently in the barn...

Have patience my friends. I’ll continue with the blog - although my posts may drift a bit from work on Gardens.