Sunday, August 31, 2014


Arrived back at the Farm today after being gone for 10 days visiting Atlanta. Two things about that city: it is too hot for me and it is far too crowded and congested for me (guess I'm not a city kid any more). Time to turn to on Gardens!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

A Bit Outside the Box

John Vigor is well known to small boat sailors as a prolific writer whose works includes numerous books and the Non-Denominational Boat Denaming Ceremony. Mr. Vigor also writes a blog and his blog post yesterday Amateur Boatbuilders Can Do Better generated some spirited discussion on the DuckWorks FaceBook page.

Some thought Vigor's premises (amateur boatbuilders can do better than build simple/crude boats; amateur boatbuilders do this because they lack the confidence to build complex/fancy boats; amateur boatbuilders can produce professional-like results trading time for skill; simple/crude boats do not easily find new homes (limited resale value) are elitist and offensive. Some thought the simple/crude characterization of some designs meant boxy and ugly. Some thought those premises are spot-on in describing a general failure of amateur boatbuilders to live up to their potential; and thought these premises necessary for introspective analysis of (and by) the amateur boatbuilding community.

My initial reaction fell more or less with those who felt the remarks to be elitist. There was something a bit snarky about Vigor's remarks. There was a bit of defensiveness in me as I read the piece. After all, while I envision perfect joinery, what I see in my mind's eye just doesn't come out of my hands - and I am okay with that.

I could (and did in a hurriedly typed draft) take Vigor's premises apart one at a time, it seemed to me this morning that I had missed the boat, so to speak, about the post. I realized some people like to build - for them it is about the process of building a boat and these are the builders who turn out those impossibly-good-looking-works-of-art and craftsmanship. Some folks like building a boat and getting out on the water. These are the builders who turn out solid, functional, work-boat quality boats that get used - a lot. And, there are those whose interest is in getting out on the water as quickly as possible; their boats, while functional and well-used, often raise eyebrows (at the other end of the spectrum from the works-of-art boats). Nothing wrong with any of these folks or their approaches to building boats.

My impression this morning is that John Vigor is, however inelegantly, expressing his preference for high quality workmanship - which has little to do with how simple or complex a design may be. His use of simple/crude vs. complex/fancy designs confused the issue and was interpreted by some to mean ugly vs. pretty designs. But I do think he missed his mark by insisting that lack of self-confidence is the main (really the only factor he addresses) factor why amateur boatbuilders choose to build "simple/crude" designs instead of "complex/fancy" designs.

We all know our own limitations. We all push our own envelopes and are sometimes surprised with a new skill or a better-than-expected result. The Maid of Endor is a fine, complex and fancy design. I don't believe I am selling myself short by deciding not to build that, or any other, particular design. It is beyond my capacity to build but my self-confidence is not the limiting factor. Time, space and materials are greater limitations on my choice of designs to build.

Sure, amateur boatbuilders can do "better"… as can every doctor, lawyer, dishwasher, ditch-digger, hobbyist or professional - you name it - out there. But what is meant by "better"? As for introspective analysis, I think we all do that all the time, particularly when we are building on our boats.

Monday, August 25, 2014

On the Road Again

This morning finds us in Atlanta, GA - perhaps better referred to as Hotlanta - visiting with the three-month old twins - who have grown considerably since arriving in May. Good family times.

Of course, being here necessarily means Gardens is waiting patiently. The to-do list waiting for our return include:
  • Stem, Skeg and Centerboard slot surround (fit and install)
  • Hull work (Sanding, fairing and painting)
  • Bottom work (FG, fairing and painting)
  • Spars (milling BM staves, gluing, shaping and varnishing)
If I can manage all of that before the too-cold-for epoxy/paint weather sets in (mid- to late November), I'll be happy.

In the meantime, we'll enjoy the grandchildren and complain about the heat and humidity in Hotlanta.

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

It Should Come As No Surprise...

And yet, I was surprised, impressed and pleased after installing new blades in the Ryobi thickness planer. I swear it even sounds different - better - than it did with the old (and visibly dull) blades. Don't know if that is even possible but it seems that way to me.

Gardens scored a new outboard motor mount late this afternoon! Timing is everything: DuckWorks posted on FB they received a couple of the previously out of stock Race-Lite Motor Mounts and updated the post to say there was only one left. I grabbed my Mac and wallet and placed my order. DuckWorks sent a confirmation email and Chuck's subsequent post confirmed the purchase.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Odds & Ends

Travel (Cleveland, Fremont, Ann Arbor, Chicago, Atlanta, Oklahoma, Duluth and Denver) is picking up which means boat work is necessarily slowing down. And we haven't been able to do all the traveling we planned this summer: We missed the sailing vacation to the Upper Peninsula. Progress comes in fits and starts between trips but there is progress.

And, even though it is August - with warm temperatures and high humidity - I know cold winter weather is lurking on the horizon. So, there is motivation to get as much done before temperatures drop too low for epoxy and paint. As the saying goes, I'll have to make hay while the sun shines…

There are two thickness planers in my shop. One is a basic Ryobi I bought used three years ago. It has served me well but it needs new blades - or it needs the existing (two-sided) blades changed around - and a good cleaning. New blades have been ordered and I will check the existing blades before installing the new ones. The other planer is a Delta planer with more bells and whistles than the Ryobi but the lifting mechanism is stuck (the planer sat in the barn for at least four years before I found it last fall). No amount of penetrating oil and leverage has budged it. The plan is too take it apart, figure out why it is stuck, correct it and reassemble the planer. One hesitation is, how do I get it properly aligned when reassembling it? Then it occurred to me, the planer is useless now so I can't make it worse... That little project may wait until that cold winter weather shows up later in the year.

Having completed this year's Pedal to the Point bicycle ride, my brother and I decided we want to do the Courage Classic, a three-day event, in Colorado next July. So, now I need to figure out how to train for the hills/mountains and altitude of Colorado here in the flat lands of Michigan. I need to get cracking on that as the Courage Classic is only 48 weeks away...

Travel, boat work, wood work, tool maintenance and bicycle training... plenty of odds and ends to keep me busy!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Pedal to the Point - Done!

This year's Pedal to the Point bicycle ride is history. 72 miles on Saturday and 61 miles (because my legs of lead gave up 10 miles from the finish) on Sunday. I'm a bit stiff and sore this morning but that will soon pass. I know that had I trained more/better for the event I could have finished Sunday's route. I'll have to keep that in mind as I prepare for a three-day event in Colorado next July!

One boat task begun before I left for Ohio: fitting the external stem with some sanding (maybe grinding is a better term as I used my 4½" grinder) of the bow of the hull. I'll finish the fitting when I get back tomorrow.