Thursday, March 26, 2020

Soft Shackles

I like the idea of soft shackles. They can replace hardware, they are (I heard) easy to make, and represent another skill that is useful on a small boat. There is a lot of information available about soft shackles on the internet (and my book shelf) but most of it seemed mysterious, particularly about the knots (diamond or button) used on soft shackles.

An inquiry to the John Welsford Small Craft FB page resulted in several good suggestions. Animated Knots, Allen Edwards, and a book, Splicing Modern Ropes were good starting points (better directed than my own research had been). I ordered the book and watched the videos multiple times. I had, I was sure, about 50' of 1/4" Dyneema line that I bought but didn't use and a fid. However, somehow those items disappeared into the depths of the barn and I resorted to ordering new line and fids. I fully expected to find the lost items as soon as I hit "Send" on my orders - but no such luck. I have supplies of other small line, so I decided to practice the diamond knot. That was frustrating. I couldn't get it right no matter how I tried. Waiting for the new supplies seemed like a good idea - at least then I could figure out the first half of making the shackles.

The new line and fids arrived today and I began experimenting. My first efforts were disappointing. But with a little time and practice I was able to complete my first 3" diameter soft shackle using 5/32" Dyneema and a home-made pull tool! The knot IS a diamond knot - but I clearly need more practice! The tails have not been trimmed as I may undo the knot and try again.

I'm encouraged and claim partial success with tonight's effort.

Wednesday, March 18, 2020

New Rigging for Gardens

No, I haven't sailed Gardens so long and hard that she needs new rigging. But my efforts this winter have been aimed at personalizing Gardens to suit my own preferences - esthetic changes intended to please my eye rather than necessarily enhance and improve performances. So, to that end, new rigging. DVX double braid in "Traditional" color. Mizzen spotter, mizzen sheet, main halyard, and main sheet in DVX "Tradition" double braid
Been a while since I whipped any lines, but I'm satisfied with what I did today - the process came back to me easily enough and the results improved steadily. I'll trim the ends down a bit. Any suggestions for heat sealing the ends without mushrooming sharp edges?

Monday, March 2, 2020

Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Places To Go Update - McKay Bay

The next (first recent) update to the Places To Go page has been posted.

McKay Bay in Michigan's Les Cheneaux Islands at the north end of Lake Huron.

Light air sailing:
Looking SE down the Bay shortly after leaving the launch ramp:
The video I included in the update doesn't play - but the full-screen image (at least on my MacBook) looks great, so I'm leaving the image in the post. Hopefully my video editing and posting skills will evolve to the point I can share videos.

Monday, February 17, 2020

Oops, and a Fix

Not a major "Oops" (no boat parts were damaged...). Using and updating Pages would work so much better if I don't hide the updated pages and if I pointed to the new content... I updated the Pathfinder Design page without realizing I had somehow hidden that page and I forgot to say anything about the update on the "Front Page."

So, here goes... I've begun updating the Pathfinder Design page.

I'll do better next time...

Friday, February 14, 2020

Minor Changes to the Blog

Sometimes what seems like a good idea at the time doesn’t pan out. Not because it wasn’t a good idea but because of benign neglect.

For instance, the Pages on this blog:
  • The Pathfinder Design
  • Materials
  • The Shop
  • Progress Notes
  • Places To Go
seemed like a great idea back in late 2011 and early 2012. However, checking these pages this week made it clear they have been ignored and neglected for nearly as long as they’ve been in existence. Some of them haven’t been updated in nearly eight years! One in particular, Progress Notes, is redundant in the context of a chronological blog.

So, I am hiding (as opposed to deleting) three Pages: Materials, The Shop, and Progress Notes. By hiding them, the content (such as it is) isn’t lost to me. Any of those pages could return to life if that seems like a good idea at some time in the future.

The other two Pages will remain for the time being. Modifications I've made to John’s original Pathfinder design will be described on The Pathfinder Design page. I intend Places To Go to become a collection of destinations, planned trips, and reports of the outings. Both Pages will, no doubt overlap and echo “front page” blog posts.

If there is, somehow, an overwhelming demand for the hidden pages, they can be returned to the lineup...

Thanks for listening.

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Name Board Progress

Name Boards:
  • 6mm okume ply
  • Backers are 9mm okume ply
  • Bronze round head machine screws (stainless steel fasteners used for test fit)
  • Color will be same as hull (Fired Clay from True Value)
  • Name will be same color as the sheer plank (Ballfield from True Value)
Work to be done:
  • Trim/fit backers (lower aft fastener missing from photo due to oversized backer)
  • Drill out and epoxy fill holes in sheer plank; re-drill
  • Paint boards and name
  • Install with bronze fasteners
This quote from Craig William Johnson (from a 1/29/2020 post on the John Welsford Small Craft Design FB page) succinctly expresses a long held thought of my own:

As with all boating - every trip teaches you a bit more about your vessel and things that need to go on the list for attention.

As I’ve worked on the name boards, it occurred to me that this winter’s projects are, for the most part, not aimed at improving Gardens’ sailing performance (however one wants to describe that term). The current winter To-Do list is more about refining, personalizing, and customizing Gardens to address personal preferences (and needs) we’ve identified over the last two summers.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Name, Fonts, Name Boards and Installation

Working on name boards and figuring out how to make them conform to the sheer plank may be getting ahead of myself.

Naming a boat may be easier than figuring out how to display that name. Indeed, the name, “Gardens of Fenwick,” came to me before I began building.

Deciding on a font for displaying the name on the boat is much more difficult. There are a MANY fonts to choose from - one site lists over 10,000! - so deciding on a font took some time.

Here are the font finalists:

CF Boston
CF Boston with unsuccessful attempts to improve the capital G and F
Gothic Ultra OT
And the font we chose is… Gothic Ultra OT
As for installing on the boat, we have two options. First, the name can be painted directly on the sheer plank in a contrasting color. However, my artist/sign painter-in-residence prefers a more controlled painting environment than the side of a boat in the barn...

The second option is to create name boards, paint the name on a flat, well-lighted (and warm) room, and install those on the sheer plank. Kerf-cut bending of solid wood works, but left me searching for another method of creating/installing name boards. On a whim, I cut a 5”x28” piece of 1/4” okume ply to test for fit… and was pleased to see it conforms to the sheer plank with minimum effort. The ply creates enough of a shadow line around the name board for the look I want. The name boards have been cut out, coated with epoxy, and will be faired and painted with the color of the hull. The name will be the same color as the sheer plank. The name boards will be through-bolted with round-head bronze machine screws.

Of, course, the painting and installation has not taken place. Updates as they occur.

Monday, January 13, 2020

Three Things

Tiller Modification: Conventional Rigid to Hinged Tiller
The stub end is still a work in progress and is hidden a bit by the mock-up hinge-fitting-thingy.
A cut down and trimmed 2x4 is serving as a mock-up handle end.
Some refinements are needed but the basic concept and configuration are there.

Shinto 11" Saw Rasp
I’ve read good things about the Shinto Saw Rasp over the years but I never ordered one - until last week. I’ve been using it on the tiller modification and I have to say, I am favorably impressed. Why did I wait so long to buy one?

Name and Registration Boards: Kerf-Cut Bending Test
Following my recent Project Ideas post, Joel suggested kerf-cutting the boards to bend flat boards to contoured surfaces (like the sheer plank). A YouTube search provided a few how-to videos. Yesterday’s test cut and demo using 1x8 cedar was successful! The 1x cedar (7/8" thick) is too thick for my purposes so I'll experiment with 1/2" and 5/8" stock for the name boards.
Still considering design details (size, placement, fonts, colors, etc.) - but those details give me something to work on when I can't work in the shop.

Tuesday, January 7, 2020

Winter-Lite and A Tiller Modification

Winter-lite is definitely here but the holidays are behind us. We've had three light snows (no more than 4" each) - all of which disappeared within a few days of falling, but nothing catastrophic (that will come soon enough). The not-so-bitter cold weather allowed me to cobble together a few Christmas presents in the shop and get them mailed before Christmas. The winter-lite conditions allow me to work in the shop for short periods of time.

The list of tasks, projects, modifications and 'new' ideas for Gardens continues to grow. And, in typical fashion, I began work on the latest addition to the list: A Hinged Tiller. A hinged tiller offers two improvements over Gardens' current set-up: 1) I won't have to crouch or bend over when standing at the helm (surprising how often I like to stand when sailing...); and, 2) Less clutter in the cockpit at the dock or when anchored with the tiller swung up to vertical. I'll keep the existing tiller as a spare.

Having asked for suggestions on the John Welsford Small Craft Design page on FaceBook, I'm basing my new tiller on John Welsford's design for his current build, Long Steps .

Beginning with a mock up of the butt end, based on the existing tiller, I'll work my way up/out to a new, longer hinged tiller with a slightly improved shape.
There should be a suitable piece of ash from the milling of an ash tree taken down on our property a few years ago. Hardware (Jan thinks bronze would look great; so do I, but bronze isn't very likely) similar to what John is using for Long Steps will have to be sourced. The new hinged tiller is far from done but at least this modification has begun.