Friday, October 23, 2009

Plywood to Pocketship in less than 2 minutes

As promised here is a little video of "So True" from a pile of plywood and epoxy to a boat on the water. The music is the boat's namesake song "So True" by the Black Seeds.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank everyone for their generous compliments about the boat and blog. I will continue to make some posts especially when we get back on the water in 5 or 6 months. I also intend to post a few things I would do differently if I had a do-over on my Pocketship construction.

We will be away in Australia for 5 weeks this winter visiting my son (who lives there now) and my daughter (who is there on an an extended visit of at least a year). My son and his wife are purchasing a 32 foot boat to live on so I am sure I will have some boat maintenance/projects to keep me busy when I am there.

Additional thanks to the friends, relatives, neighbours, and ex-colleagues who assisted in flipping the boat twice and getting it on the trailer. More thanks to those of you who posted help on and Pocketship designer John C. Harris who was always speedy and very helpful in his responses to my emails for technical support on my build.

Finally, the biggest thank-you to my first mate who brought me down to earth when I was becoming boat building obsessed and was able to remind me this was a fun project that I shouldn't be getting stressed about.

My brother very thoughtfully purchased this Rolex Yacht-Master II watch for me in celebration of the launching of "So True". I friend of his was in Hong Kong and brought it back for him. I don't think he really spent $33,000 on me but it is the thought that counts. But, it does look authentic down to the smallest of details; so if you don't tell anyone that it's a replica no one needs to be the wiser :-)

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Crazy Canuck Christening Chronicle

Air temperature: 9 degrees, chance of rain : 70 %, water temperature: let's just say the lake isn't frozen over yet. Perfect day for a boat christening!

October 19, 2009 --- The Christening Adventure

The Curtis Pocketship emerged from her garage cocoon of the last 7 months on Saturday, and after 2 full days of final rigging, was ready to head out to the lake on Monday, October 19 for her maiden voyage.
We left at around 10 A.M. full of excitement and some trepidation not quite expecting some of the problems that were about to befall us on this adventure.

It started while still in the city with a lady frantically waving and yelling at us from the car beside us. We quickly realized that it was not a case of road rage but that she was trying to signal us that our boat was about to fly off of the trailer. Luckily, it wasn't that drastic but the tie down straps had come loose and one of the bunks had slipped down slightly. A stop at Canadian Tire and an hour later the bunks were adjusted, new ratchet tie downs were installed and we proceeded to the lake with no further problems.

After opening up the cottage and turning on the heat we drove the trailer to the dock and ramp a kilometer away.

The lake was calm with only a slight breeze, perfect we thought for our first voyage.

The five minute rigging for sailing and launching on the ramp dragged out to 2 hours as we struggled to put up the mast. The gaff insisted on getting tangled in ropes or trapped under the boom gallows when we tried to raise the mast. Finally I undid all the lashings and completely removed the main sail. After several abortive attempts my first mate found the spot where she could help push up the mast enough so I could get that final bit of leverage to get the mast in to the tabernacle and tighten the jib halyard.

Slowly I installed the main sail, re-did the lashing, only to find that the pin for the throat halyard just wouldn't close because the shackle was too far bent apart. Did a temporary lashing, hoisted the gaff, only to find that the boom gooseneck I custom ordered from Racelite doesn't have a shackle for the tack grommet on the main sail.

Another temporary lashing and were finally ready to put the trailer on the boat ramp. Boat launching hint: don't remove the tie down straps before putting up the mast. With the tie down straps the boat is steady as a rock but without them there is a slight distracting rocking back and forth on the bunks as you work on doing the rigging.

Launching the boat is not as easy as our 18 foot powerboat which you can just drive off the trailer. With a bit of experimentation we realized the first mate would have to hold a long painter while I backed the trailer into the water and stop slightly suddenly to let inertia drift the boat off the trailer.

After some careful maneuvering to the dock being careful not to scratch the hull since I forgot to pack a fender bumper I tried to install the rudder. I cannot install it while the boat is on the trailer because the keel trough is too long; something I will correct in the spring. Lake Winnipeg is a sand bottom so the water is quite murky and it was a hit and miss affair trying to get the bottom pintle in to the bottom gudgeon when you are doing it blind.

With the auxiliary power trolling motor in place we slowly cruised out of the harbor past the breakwater. Remember the calm water I described when we first arrived at the dock hours before, well the wind had now shifted from the north to 20-25 kph and the swells and chop was starting to pick up. No problem, let's put down the centerboard and start some sailing. The centerboard wouldn't move and when I opened up the inspection ports on the centerboard trunk I could only push it down about half way without having a stick to get it the rest of the way down.

The wind was picking up some more so we decided discretion was the better part of valour on our maiden voyage, doused the sail, and headed directly into the wind and waves back to the safety of the harbour using our little trolling motor. By now, we were both a little colder, and it was time to attempt to re-trailer the boat without having to step into the water at the dock. That was easier said than done but I managed to tightrope along the trailer, connect the fully extended winch strap and jump to the dock. I could only crank up the boat most of the way so that I could remove the tightly fit rudder which would not lift off while in the water.

Putting down the mast went smoothly but it was now 5:30 ( we had expected to be home by mid-afternoon) and we still had to tarp and pack up "So True" for her winter hibernation.

Despite sounding like a series of misadventures on are her maiden voyage we were thoroughly thrilled with how the boat looks and handles on the water. Talking to our son later, he reassured us that the first few times out will be a learning experience and to look at the positive side. No one got hurt, no one got wet, nothing got broke, and nothing was lost.
Overall, it WAS a successful first sail despite some minor setbacks.

Here are some more photos and comments from our most excellent day:
How do you keep that darn gaff from flopping all around before you completely hoist the peak halyard?

I look like I am praying here back actually I am following the trajectory of the cork from the champagne bottle barely visible in my hands.

"So True" gets her official champagne shower with lots of extra going into the lake so as not offend Neptune.

You can see the prototype trolling motor mount necessary to get the motor prop low enough in the water. A newer version or at least giving this one a makeover will be another spring project.

Finally, a picture of my first mate of 35 years, and photographer for our first time on the water. You can tell that it is now colder and even in the shelter of the harbor the water conditions have changed from when we first arrived at the dock.

A closer look of how nice and stable Pocketship floats. A world of difference between her and the International 420 dinghy we took sailing lessons on in the spring. Pocketship barely rocks when you step in to her from the dock and walk around. On the 420 just putting the rudder in you always felt you were about to tumble in to the water.

"So True" all wrapped up for her 6 month winter sleep.

Next post: A slideshow of a Pocketship from a pile of plywood to floating on the water in less than 3 minutes.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Birth of the Curtis Pocketship

With the cooperation of the weather (barely) the Curtis family Pocketship finally emerged from its home of the last 7 months.

In this photo it looks like I am loading the boat on to the trailer all by myself. If I didn't have a sloped driveway where the trailer wants to run away in an instant you probably could maneuver Pocketship to the trailer solo.

Here are my helpers, holding back the boat so it wouldn't slide down the trailer too rapidly. In the video you can see them hoisting it up to the trailer so that I could start winching.

A group shot of some of the usual suspects who helped flipped the boat twice and load the boat on to the trailer. Starting on the left, myself, then my brother Jeff, ex-teaching colleague Eugene, my next door neighbor Terry, and another teacher Harald.

Proud first time boat builder

The boat looks considerably different and more impressive when you can stand back and view in its entirety as compared to the restricted views in the garage.

Carefully making sure the mast pivot gets installed in the correct location

Jib self-furler works slick.

Installing the main sail and testing if the gaff rides up and down the sail track easily. It does but the track does need lubrication as advised in the manual.

"The halyard is dead ended on the side of the mast above the track, leads down through this bullet block, through a Harken 092 cheek block screwed to the mast just above the track, thence to the deck" That's easy for you to say! Here you see me in one of several puzzling moments trying to sort out where all those ropes go.

Rigging is now all complete on what I am quite certain is the first finished Pocketship besides the prototype. Weather permitting, it is out to the lake tomorrow for the christening and a quick sail before having to wrap the boat in a large tarp for winter storage. I promise lots of photos of the christening and first sail.

Saturday, October 10, 2009

Best Laid Plans...

I think the photos say it all, it is unlikely "So True" will launch this weekend. There didn't seem to be much point putting the boat on the trailer to do the final rigging in the unseasonable weather. Perhaps, if the weather returns to normal ( daily highs of 12 , no snow, cool, but sailable) there is a possibility of christening the boat next weekend. If not, I will have to be content with putting her on the trailer, completing the rigging, storing her under a tarp for the winter, and then impatiently waiting until spring to put her on the water. The video is a quick walkaround of officially, the first finished Pocketship besides the prototype. Maybe with some luck, she will still be the first one in the water.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Swaging through the shrouds

Sorry about the title, my mind has been spinning a bit sorting out all of Pocketship's rigging installation. Things are starting to sort themselves out and the goal is still to have "So True" on the water this weekend (or next) whether it is snowing or not!
As you can see the name lettering from the local sign company turned out nice on the ribbon striped tiama transom. The lettering was only $40 cash and they did it while I waited. As a bonus, they said they could print three of them on the same sheet of gold vinyl so I have two extras that I can put on the bow if I want to.

The gudgeons and pintles installed with only slight modification to spread out the lower pintle and they appear to be quite sturdy. Supposedly they are rated for a 20-22 foot boat.
Sail track is installed as are most of the cleats, cam cleats, and blocks. The masking tape in the photo separates the glossy white from the non-glare no-skid paint I used on the cockpit , cabin decking, and anchor well. It will receive a final coat in the spring when temperatures are more conducive to painting and also when I won't have to walk on it for a few days when it is drying. Some of the rigging is more easily completed once the mast and tabernacle is in place. For now, I will be bolting the tabernacle in place with larger and extra bolts rather than also gluing it to the cabin wall. This is not so I can remove it for storage in the garage but because the epoxy probably wouldn't cure well in the low temperatures we are experiencing now. The Pocketship manual suggests making the tabernacle removable for storage for a standard garage door height but you would also have to remove the boom gallows which is slightly taller than the tabernacle form what I can tell. I will probably glue my tabernacle in place in the spring when I do the touch up painting and varnishing on the boat.
This is the economy tool I used to swage the bobstay and shrouds. One end of the shrouds is not complete because I decided to put the mast up first to get a more exact length for the shrouds rather than just scaling it from the plans. I have read that technically speaking, putting on the nicopress sleeve is not really swaging but the company does call the device in the photo a swage-it tool.
The trailer is now modified and ready to accept the boat (though I am sure there will be some trial and error fine-tuning of the bunk height). John C. Harris, Pocketship's designer, says the boat can be transferred almost solo to the trailer by winching it place but I have a sloped driveway so I will have to round up the usual suspects to assist getting the boat on board the trailer.
The forecast for the proposed launch on Sunday or Monday is only 6 or 7 Celsius. But heck, it was only 10 the evening of our first sailing lesson in the spring and we capsized into water the same temperature. Maybe photos of "So True's" maiden voyage will be interesting with snow flurries. At least, the champagne should stay cool.

Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Fastener Nightmare

I spent yesterday morning sorting out the boat hardware and figuring out all the stainless steel and brass fasteners I needed to purchase. Then it was off to the local Big Box Depot and spend an hour trying to match up all the correct nuts, bolts, and washers. Stainless steel and brass fasteners are not cheap, everything cost at least $150 total.

The brass deadlights are now installed and also the dorade box vent cowls. The bow eye is in place and the nuts are hand tightened but I need to borrow a couple socket set extensions to tighten the nuts. Working in the forward bulkhead compartment and reaching in through the inspection port was to say the least a little awkward.

This photo shows the stainless steel tubing fitted and cut to the correct length for the boom gallows. I must have measured 10 times before cutting the holes in the seatback decking for the tubing. It was a tight fit but the gallows seemed to be straight and true. As mentioned in the manual the stanchions for the tubing that are mounted on the cockpit decking inside the storage astern must be trimmed with a cutoff wheel or else the hull sides interfere with the stanchions lying flat. Even then it is an extremely tight and awkward fit and if I had the foresight I would have simply moved the holes in the boom gallows about an inch closer and would have had a much simpler installation. WARNING: Do not permanently install the boom gallows while the boat is in a standard garage. The height of the boom gallows from the keel is about 82". A standard garage door is about 80 inches so if you install the gallows at this point you will have an interesting conversation piece in your garage for awhile.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Magic Companionway Hood

I guess I should be satisfied with the fit of the companionway hood. It was a little stiff so I sprayed some waterproof, odorless lubricant and now it slides open just by gravity. The companionway sea hood has 4 coats of varnish but on inspection you can probably spot some areas that I scuffed or scratched during installation. This was not unexpected and I will put the final finish coat on once all the hardware is installed.

Topsides painting is now complete and the rubrails need to be varnished. The mast and spars also need a couple more coats of varnish but I am now ready to start installing all the hardware and rigging. There are a few small spots of the white that I want to touch up but as with the companionway hood I thought it would be more efficient to wait and see what kind of damage I do to the paint drilling all the holes for the sailing hardware.

As you can see I have not painted the cockpit deck with the non-skid Interdeck yet. You are not supposed to walk on it for a couple of days so I will wait until I have most of the hardware installed.
I am more optimistic about a mid-October launch for my Pocketship and am now curious if mine will officially be the first Pocketship to be christened since the prototype Pocketship was launched.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Right side up again

The boat was successfully flipped over again and moved back into the garage for topsides finishing work last Tuesday. I had sanded most of the fiberglass previously so I was ready almost immediately to start painting.

I test fitted the bowsprit and made the adjustments that were not possible when the boat was facing the other direction in the garage.
You may remember in a previous post my difficulties with the tortured rubrails at the bow. My worst fears were realized and after the stress of flipping the boat the rubrails pulled apart on the first foot of the bow. It appears with all the struggling I had pulling the rails together that some sections were joint starved of glue. It has now been repaired and I have left some stainless screws in place for reinforcement.

The topsides now has two coats of primer and one coat of finish paint. I am using Brightsides white on most of the topsides but I am using non-skid white Interdeck on the cockpit bottom, cabin decking, and bottom of the anchor well. The Interdeck is also non-glare so the sun's reflection won't be blinding; which wouldn't have been much of an issue during this year's disappointing summer.

The companionway hood is now glued to the cabin and since I constructed it entirely out of varnished mahogany I am not going to put a fillet around the edge. The fit turned out to quite tight when screwed in from the cabin decking but for complete water tightness I will put a small bead of clear marine caulking along the edge. You can also see that the tabernacle made from the leftover ribbon striped tiama used on the transom turned out nicely. The manual suggests that the tabernacle could be made from 1 inch timber instead of 3/4 inch for extra strength. I figured using plywood should give me at least the equivalent strength of 1 inch timber.
A couple more days of painting and it will be on to all the rigging and hardware. With a bit of luck with the weather So True's maiden voyage could be in a couple of weeks.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Time to Rock and Roll: Part Deux

Hull painting is now completed. The Interlux Brightsides Sapphire Blue went on much nicer than the VC Performance Epoxy. Tipping off with a foam brush after rolling on the paint was not quite the hectic rush as with the bottom paint.

My waterline looks straight and as can be seen by the reflections in the photos the blue paint dries to a nice gloss finish. Boat flipping is scheduled for Tuesday night and I can then start painting the topsides. Most of the fiberglass on the topsides is already sanded so I will be able to almost immediately put the primer on the topsides. Varnishing of the companionway hood and spars is still underway.

I picked up the trailer last Friday and have installed the keel trough. I selected an EZ-Loader EZL80B 15-16 galvanized model that is rated for 2000 pounds. This is quite a bit more capacity than needed for Pocketship (800 lbs) but it was the trailer that best seemed to fit Pocketship.

The smaller capacity trailers also did not come with the drop axle and therefore I should save a little height when my Pocketship is trailered and launching should be a little easier. The trailer weighs just over 400 lbs which is about 150 lbs heavier than the aluminum Trailex model used with the prototype Pocketship. On the other hand its cost was only $1539 Cdn as opposed to the at least $3200 the Trailex one would have cost (plus the Trailex one comes as a kit that you must assemble).

It is now official, after much deliberation and consultation, and reminders that the captain has final say in naming the boat (especially since he has built the boat), the name of the boat will be:

So True

This means the boat will have its own theme song "So True" by the Black Seeds.