Saturday, November 13, 2010

Year End 2010: Addendum (newest boat projects)

Here are my newest boat projects. I made mahogany louvered paneled doors for the companionway opening. They are oversized right now and the vertical stiles will probably have about 2" cut off each side when I can custom fit them to the boat in the spring. Should give another classic touch to the boat even when they are opened up against the cockpit/cabin wall.  I cheated on the construction a bit; I call it my Chinese manufacturing method. This is where the true woodworkers out there will cringe but instead of cutting complicated grooves with a router to fit all the slats in I just nailed them into the smaller vertical strips you can see using my nail gun with two 1" SS nails in each end.  It turned out actually to be quite sturdy. The slats are mahogany door stop that came already milled with a nice rounded edge on one side.

The second project is a simple mahogany slat floor for the footwell sole. It is already finished with 5 coats of urethane so that is why it is darker than the doors. I did look at making a traditional grate but I would have had to buy a $100 dado blade for my table saw to cut all the necessary grooves and plus construct a complicated jig for doing the cutting.

A couple of weekends ago we had a very strong winds on Lake Winnipeg where our cottage is and where "So True" is stored for the winter. Winds gusts were up to to 90 km per hour and the waves did a lot of damage on some shorelines. Several lakefront towns had flooding one or two streets in from the beach and part of a concrete/wood boardwalk was washed away on Grand Beach.  We decided to go check that "So True's" portable garage survived and were pleased to find out that everything was still secure. This gave us more confidence that the boat's winter storage should be uneventful.

I have had some very useful correspondence from Pete McCrary who participated in the first Pocketship fleet with his boat. As you may have read earlier I have abandoned my electric trolling motor auxiliary propulsion experiment and will purchase a small outboard in the spring. Pete has done a neat cutout on his transom to accommodate a Tohatsu 6 HP SailPro extra long 25 inch shaft outboard. He provided me with several photos and a couple of design sketches.

The drawing shows the propeller shaft of the 6 hp about 4 inches higher than as actually installed.  After installation the bottom of the shaft assembly is just about even with the rudder winglet.

He has also tested out a 2HP Honda and reported the following:
The prop was only about 8" below the waterline.  But she pushed us along pretty good at between 4 and 4.5 knots.  At first it was pretty choppy, but even when rocked by larger wakes the prop never spun out of the water.  It's just fine for day sailing.  For overnight cruising, I'd take the 6 hp for the extra range and margin of safety.
Our cruise was about 2 hours and we just ran out of gas 100 yards from the ramp.  Tank volume is just 1 liter.  We refueled with our spare gas can.  It looks like the extra 4 hp gets you about one more knot and right up close to the hull speed.  She might not make much [if any] headway against waves and a strong wind.
Based on his sea trials it sounds like that for my intended use the Tohatsu 3.5HP could be a reasonable compromise between the 2 and 6Hp models concerning both weight and power. I have not yet decided if I will use a cutout as Pete did or buy or make a motor bracket.

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Sailing Season Wrap-up and other goodies

YES, we finally did get sailing on September 18th!

Here, you can see it was a beautiful calm day; almost too calm.

The next day, not so calm, and officially the end of our very brief sailing season.

The previous sailing day, fortunately, went very smoothly (practice makes perfect). No rigging problems, a smooth launch, no dock/boat mishaps, and a nice leisurely cruise in light winds. The electric trolling motor behaved for leaving and returning to the harbor but my trolling motor experiment is now concluded and I have decided to purchase a small 4 stroke outboard for next spring. Right now the Tohatsu 3.5 HP long shaft looks to be my first choice.

Here is proof that we were actually on the water, a nice view looking forward from the cockpit.

Another view looking forward but with a bit more wind in the jib. The harbor is visible in the background.
Proud captain enjoying the mild late September weather. You can see the rope for the tiller lock I purchased. More details later in this post.

On our next sail I plan to bring my camera which has a wide angle lens and hopefully shoot some photos that show more of the boat. In our limited sail I was impressed by Pocketship's handling and stability. I am anxious for spring now to test her out in some stiffer winds. Our plan is to arrange to have an experienced sailor help us out on our first spring cruise to gain some sailing confidence.

And Now Some Things I Learned This Year

1. You need to be careful re-trailering the boat to make sure the keel lines up with the keel trough on the trailer or doesn't slide/float out of the keel trough. Next spring I am going to increase the height of the keel trough by adding a 2x4 to the existing sides.

2. Wherever, possible, all hardware should be through-bolted instead of just screwed in. I had screwed in fairleads for the gaff halyards pop out from the strain of hoisting the gaff. Now, they are bolted through the cabin roof and are much stronger.

3. Instead of having to purchase a $50 track stop for the main sail a regular $1.30 track slide can be used that is simply tied to a cleat on the mast.

4. A tiller lock is definitely handy.  I purchased the Cansail TillerLock. Only $39.95 and made only of stainless steel and navy brass, no flimsy plastic parts like found on many other versions. Installation was very easy. I just put in 2 small padeyes (through-bolted, of course) at the stern of the cockpit seat sides and attached the rope on one side with a simple clasp if you want to remove the tiller lock rope quickly for more room in the cockpit.

The tiller locks in position easily and quickly and was very useful when motoring out of the harbor or hoisting the sails.

This is probably the last blog entry until spring. "So True" is all winterized in her portable garage which hopefully protects her from a long and cruel Manitoba winter.

Some random thoughts...

I have been following the progress of several other Pocketship builds and have found that their trials and tribulations are very similar to my experience. Reading the blogs brings back fond memories.

I am contemplating building a 2 person kayak next year to keep me out of trouble. Mill Creek 16.5 plans are on their way as I write this post.

Photos of the first Pocketship fleet are available here.
I am interested what outboard is on the newest Pocketship because it appears to have a extra long shaft that does not need an outboard motor bracket on the transom.

The Pocketship prototype was only 150 miles south of me this summer in Fargo, North Dakota on its Mid-West tour. Originally, I thought the closest it was getting was 500 miles away in Minneapolis.  Well, maybe next time we can meet up to have the first international Pocketship fleet.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Missed it by that much...or Would you believe our non-sailing adventures still continue

If I was a conspiracy fanatic I would almost think that Poseidon himself was preventing us from our first sail on "So True". As posted before, the first half of summer was a no go for sailing because the flooded cottage lot from torrential rains prevented us from pulling the boat out of its brand new protective portable garage.
Finally, on August 6th, the lot was dry, wind conditions looked good, and we pulled the boat out to go down to the boat launch and dock.

Everything looks fine in the picture but what you cannot see are the thunderclouds rolling in from the opposite direction. With much pent up frustration and some anger I sadly backed the boat back into the garage and crossed my fingers for better weather the next day. No such luck, the winds were far too strong for these novice sailors who are now having trouble remembering what we learned in our beginner sailing lessons more than a year ago.

We were unable to get to the cottage over the next 2 weeks as my mother-in-law fell down the stairs in her house and was in the hospital. Fortunately, she did not break anything but suffered some nasty cuts and bruising on her head. Her recovery is proceeding well so we decided to spend 2 days at the lake, catch up on our cottage chores, and most importantly get the sailboat out. On arrival Saturday, weather conditions looked perfect for us, a slight breeze that should cause no problems at all.

Checking some final rigging before backing down to the launch. Hoisting the mast using the spinnaker halyard has made the rigging process much less of a struggle.

Pulling the boat back on to the trailer after realizing I had the bobstay trapped through the trailer winch.

Finally in the water and all set to go. This boat is so much more stable than the dinghies we learned in. When you step on board she barely moves. While we were getting set a powerboat came to the launch and parked behind us and then used a rope to walk the powerboat to its trailer. I simply grabbed their rope for them and walked along "So True's" cockpit, up on to the foredeck and into the the anchor well and barely rocked our sailboat.

We then hopped aboard "So True" and prepared to motor out of the harbour using the trolling motor. On "So True's" christening sail the trolling motor appeared to work admirably but I guess I hadn't really used reverse yet.  In the confines of the boat launch and docks on both sides, reverse simply spun me around in uncontrolled circles. There just was no control and then we actually spun around slowly and ended up accidentally ramming the dock. It was a slow speed collision and we were still set to head out until I noticed the shackle holding the bobstay in place had popped off during the encounter with the dock. Even if I had a spare with me I would need to trailer the boat again to attach it. Therefore, we packed up and went back to the cottage determined that our bad luck was behind us and that tomorrow would be a better day.

I don't know if this picture gives you a true indication of what a "better day" turned out to be like. Winds were Force 5 to 6 and these waves breaking at the dock are 6 to 8 feet tall.
Someone had managed to back their car half way off the dock and it was taking a real pounding from the waves.

The video below shows the waves breaking right over the car. Some of the waves were large enough that they moved the car. Definitely not quite a day for us to be out sailing.  When we came back an hour later the the car was gone, either towed off the dock or disappeared into the lake.

We are still optimistic about sailing next weekend, although we are getting a little nervous that our sailing abilities are diminishing from lack of practice.

On a side note, the Pocketship prototype was only 500 miles away from us this weekend in Minneapolis.
Maybe, next year when CLC is on a Pocketship tour we can meet up and have a fleet of Pocketships in the water.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

A Proper Home

"So True" now has a deserving storage home. Constructing a real garage at the cottage for my Pocketship would have cost more than the boat so I opted for one of those portable garages. On one trip to the cottage I assembled the frame over top of "So True" and on the next trip installed the cover.

Final assembly was just in time to be tested by multiple thunderstorms and more monsoon like rains.

The cottage lot had just about dried enough to pull the boat out and now I am back to square one as you can see by the photos. 

After the garage was up I had time to clean up "So True" from all the water and dirt that had mysteriously made its way through the tarp that was previously covering the boat. Cleaning the boat was like a scene from the movie Arachnophobia; I am sure I killed dozens of undiscovered species of spiders.

I am anxious to get "So True" out on the water before I completely forget everything I learned in our sailing lessons last spring. On the other hand, if we get any more rain I will be able to sail her right on the cottage lot. 
We are planning to have a swale dug to help with drainage problems on the cottage property as there is a ditch we can connect to that drains to the lake which is 100 yards away.

For those interested the portable garage is a Shelter Logic 12 x 24 x 10 foot garage designed for trucks and SUV's and has an 8"6" door height that easily accommodates Pocketship's tabernacle and mast height. It was on sale for $549 and hopefully will survive our winter snow loads.

I really, really,  really want my next posting to be about actually sailing in "So True". Ironically, apart from all the rain, wind conditions on the lake have been almost perfect for us beginner sailors.

Saturday, June 26, 2010

Furry Pirates and Landlocked by Water

It's hard to believe it has been 8 months since my last posting. I could make excuses about being busy at Christmas, visiting our kids in Australia in February and March but it just comes down to being lazy.

"So True", the world's first completed Pocketship after the prototype, survived being covered with a tarp over the winter and I had actually kind of forgotten what a beautiful little design she is. After her short maiden voyage last October I have been anxious to get her out for a real sail but the weather has been rather uncooperative.

There have been very heavy rains this spring and much of the cottage lot has standing water making it impractical to pull out the boat's trailer without creating huge soggy ruts on the lawn. Hence the landlocked by water in the title of this post. Read on for more photos and also details on furry pirates.

I do promise to post sailing photos and videos as soon as we can actually get the boat down to the nearby harbour.

The water in front of the boat...

The water around the boat...

The water on the supposedly high ground of the cottage lot. For us it is just an inconvenience but for the local farmers it is the third year in row that some of them will not be able to sow their crops because of the saturated fields.

I did manage to get the sails fully up and do some minor rigging adjustments that I found were necessary from the boat's inaugural sail. I discovered John C. Harris' (Pocketship's designer) instructions for raising the mast easily by one person lifting the mast up from the cockpit while another person on the ground pulls it up the rest of the way by using the spinnaker halyard attached to the top of the mast. I also sawed off part of the keel trough so that the rudder can stay on the boat rather than being attached and removed every time it is launched. In the wet conditions it has been difficult to clean the boat without tracking mud into the cockpit. Hopefully some respite from all the rain is in the future.

And now for something completely different, the furry pirates story. When we opened the cottage this spring one of the roof vents was damaged from what I thought was winter ice and snow. I replaced it only to find the next weekend that the new vent had been completely chewed through. I assumed it was squirrels but when replacing the destroyed vent with metal vents I looked in the roof opening to discover a nest of baby raccoons. The photo shows the mother raccoon giving me the evil eye when I looked in the attic to investigate. Wildlife management informed us that we would have to trap the mother before making any attempt to crawl in the attic and remove the babies as the mother can be quite dangerous and vicious when protecting her young.
The mother raccoon ignored the trap baited with sardines and instead spent 2 nights chewing her way out of the attic through the metal vent. Conveniently for us, we had disturbed and made things uncomfortable for the mother and she evacuated the attic with all three babies.
If we had trapped the mother and babies it would have been our problem of how to dispose of them.

A photo of me and my son in front of the 36' Pearson that he and his wife are now living on. He is now out of this marina and at a swing mooring at the Southport Yacht Club on the Gold Coast, Australia. I did get to do some minor cabinet work alterations done while I was there on our visit in February and March.

The entire family in our Australian apartment that was right on the beach. Left to right, my daughter Dana, her Kiwi boyfriend Paul, my wife Gab, myself, my son Trev, and his Australian wife Ali.

There is not enough room for 3 vessels on our cottage lot so the old stinkpot is up for sale. The sailboat and jetski should be enough to keep as busy.

Until next time, and I promise it won't be 8 months.