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.