Good Sailing makes for Delinquent Posting

Which is a very good thing…

Lots has happened since the emergence post. Right after that post Aquavit and I hit the road north (boat not drink) and smoothly made it to Port Townsend. I handed Aquavit over to the good folks at Haven Boatworks for the replacement of 3 keel bolts. The other two will require the removal of floors, so may be a project for a next year.

While Aquavit hung out in Port Townsend, I managed to wrap up my job (staying with the same outfit, just a new job), finished the tree house with much help from my parents, cleaned up Timber, and managed to get married! We lucked out with the weather at Timber, and after accidentally walking out of the tent when the recessional was played about 10 minutes early, we came back and successfully got hitched.

Two days later with the truck packed to the gills we headed to Port Townsend. About 24 hours of frantic last minute boat projects, including some major slick seam application (wax) to two planks that had checked in the sun, she was hoisted by the travel lift and gently deposited back into her natural environment. Unsurprisingly, she promptly tried to sink. After about 30 minutes in the slings with 2 DC bilge pumps running we were able to back her up to a dock and get a 110 volt sump pump running. It took two days for her to take up enough that we could leave the dock for any extended period of time, which was lucky since we had to rig the entire boat and figure out various systems.

We launched on Thursday and on Sunday headed off for a short sail over to Mystery Bay on Marrowstone Island. Monday we planned to sail back to Port Townsend and pick up some last minute supplies (stove alcohol, human alcohol), but the sailing looked good and so off we headed around Point Wilson. A flying reach brought us through the Admiralty Inlet shipping lanes and up to Whidbey Island. The south-westerly died about half way up Whidbey and left us with large, short, steep swells pushing into the current- but we managed to roll our way up to Lopez. We anchored for a few hours in a favorite hidey hole near Lopez Pass then had a beautiful evening broad reach up to Spencer Spit under the full main and nylon drifter. She sailed beautifully and only leaked a little bit.

At anchor in Mystery Bay

Evening reach up Lopez Sound to Spencer Spit- what a nice drifter! 

We spent the next couple of weeks exploring the San Juans and southern Gulf Islands. Sophie celebrated her birthday with Oysters at Westcott Bay, and we walked bumped from anchorage to anchorage, crossing into Canada with a beautiful sail.

Anchored at Fisherman Bay on Lopez

Sunset on Yellow Island from Jones Island State Park with San Juan and Shaw in the background. 

On the hook at Garrison Bay- English Camp. You might be picking up on a photography theme here! 

Rainy day eating. 

13 oysters at Westcott Bay for the birthday girl. 

Followed by pressure cooker birthday brownies at Stuart Island

Great hiking on Stuart Island, and an early morning switch to a mooring buoy. 

From Selby Bay on the north end of Prevost Island we headed north again, this time with a screaming reach up Trincomali Channel. We had only rigged the first reef point, which wasn’t quite enough when we hit the wind coming through the gap just north of Saltspring. On the GPS we were doing about 10 knots, about 2-3 of which was probably current. We spent the middle of the day anchored in Clam Bay between Thetis and Kuper Islands, where a nice guy paddled out and sold us a beautiful carving. About mid-afternoon we looked at weather and slack tide at Dodd Narrows (a narrow passage with strong currents just south of Nanaimo), so headed north again, this time with that second reef rigged and ready. The sail up to Dodd Narrows was beautiful, blowing about 20 directly on the beam. With both reefs in and the jib up we passed a massive log boom- glad that we were meeting it here and not in Dodd Narrows. The narrows themselves were relatively calm, with very little wind or current. We motored through and took down the jib. Good thing, since when we came out the other side it was blowing hard right off the pulp mill (terrible smell). We aren’t sure how hard it was, but hard enough that with just the main up and 2 reefs in we had the rail fully under and couldn’t look to windward- holding a bearing from the marker off Protection Island to keep ourselves in the channel. Beating into Nanaimo proved a challenge, but believe it or not, the anchorage at Newcastle Island was dead calm. We looked a bit goofy in our soaking foul weather gear with hoods up and the boat covered in salt.

We had Selby Bay all to ourselves

Rainy and windy days anchored at Nanaimo

MVPs for the trip- Harriett the inflatable dinghy (named after my grandmother) and Salty Dan, the borrowed outboard. 

A few days in Newcastle and we headed back south. Crossing back into the US a massive black border patrol RIB pulled up to us. When they asked how we knew each other, we answered that we were married. “How long have you been married,” “well, about 3 weeks.” They clearly hadn’t trained on how to be both celebratory and intimidating.

A beautiful old wood ketch motoring through Lopez Pass at sunset. We later found her in Watmough Bay

We had relatively mellow sailing back through the San Juans, followed by a thumping beat out of Lopez Pass. We decided that Rosario might be a bit much for us so pulled into Watmough Bay. A few hours later the thought of Sophie missing her first day back at clinical rotations for medical school was crossing both of our minds and the Smith Island buoy had dropped by about 5 knots and swung around to the west. We still had the current with us, so pulled out. Directly off of Watmough Head was a breaking tide rip with overhead sized surfable waves. That didn’t look friendly so we motor-reached across the shipping lanes, pinching to avoid a massive Foss tug, then thumped and beat our way up Whidbey with the wind directly on our nose the whole way. The wind went dead calm as soon as we got to Admiralty Inlet, and again we felt a bit foolish in full foul weather gear and 2 reefs in. We drifted into Port Townsend surrounded by everything from high performance trimarans to tiny rowboats, all there for the Race to Alaska (R2AK), which started the next day.

At least is was pretty before we got to the tide rip. 

Waiting in Watmough Bay with a fish boat. 

http://brickbuildingboatworks.tumblr.com/post/147106345592

Click play to see the big breaking waves off Watmough Head. They were bigger than they look here. 

That’s probably enough writing for now. We were lucky enough to snag a slip for Aquavit at the Point Hudson marina, where she’ll be living for the foreseeable future. We had nice visits with friends in Port Townsend, including a Canadian friend who pushed off the next day headed for Ketchikan in his Farrier F-27 trimaran (he made it in good form and was the fastest F-27). Sophie made it back in time for an Internal Medicine rotation, and I have a bit of time left before returning to my new job, which has thus far been occupied with sailing Aquavit and boat projects. More on both of those topics soon.

Our friend Steve and crew on Fly won the “smoothest exit from the marina” award- unrolling the jib and rolling away! 

In her new slip at Point Hudson, surrounded by the mayhem of R2AK. It’s amazing how many people thought we were doing it. Maybe next year, especially if I can sail someone else’s Folkboat (hint, NW School of Wooden Boat Building) 

Look ma, no hands! She’ll sail a long ways trimmed well with working jib and 1 reef in. Day before yesterday in Kilisut Harbor

And the tree house hasn’t fallen out of the trees yet. 

 

 

 

Emergence

The to-do lists keep getting shorter, then longer, then shorter. Finally they seem to be really getting shorter. Lots of work has been done, some work still needs to be done, but overall, we’re feeling good! Off to Port Townsend tomorrow.

If these show up as links, they go to videos. Otherwise, enjoy!

http://brickbuildingboatworks.tumblr.com/post/144371338100
http://brickbuildingboatworks.tumblr.com/post/144371327300/folkboat

http://brickbuildingboatworks.tumblr.com/post/144371347098

 

Turning around

Ready for the trip north. 

Lotions and Potions

Lots of progress, and a tight timeline.

After more priming and sanding, she got her first coats of deck paint and topsides paint. Then after lots of planing and sanding, the toe rail, rub rail, and cabin trim all went on this Saturday. The deck got a bit more work (chainplates, mast partners). Most of the wiring is run for electronic, but I’m waiting for a hole saw to finish installing it all.

Yesterday saw another coat of topsides paint and varnish on the cabin and transom. I think we’re up to 6 coats on the mast and tiller. The rudder needs a few more coats and it will be ready to go. These long days make for good application of lotions and potions.

Less than 2-weeks to blastoff. We’re booked at Haven Boatworks to have the keel bolts worked on May 16 and set for a June 2 or 3 launch. Yikes! Lots to do between now and then.

Sanded primer. She looks a bit like a fiberglass boat with that rounded hull-deck joint! 

The artist at work. Sophie is responsible for all topsides paint. 

A few hundred teak and oak plugs later and I never want to see these tools again, especially not at 5am. Pesky jobs getting in the way of boat work. 

Toe and rub rails installed. Since then she’s gotten cabin trim and varnish along with another coat of paint. 

 

Character

Around 10pm last night I was balanced on the next to top step of a ladder, one leg extended to counterbalance my flailing arms, swinging a sander back and forth in a pathetic effort to sand the very last edge of the transom without moving my ladder. All that just so I wouldn’t have to move the ladder. The vindication is the fact that I did sand it, and I didn’t move the ladder, and best of all, I didn’t fall of the ladder and break my neck.

A few minutes prior, I’d been more centrally balanced on the ladder and feathering the edges of the fiberglass that lap from the deck about 2″ down onto the sheer strake (top plank). I’d set up the lights in the hoop house so that they shone right where I was working, and from there, down the sides of the cabin. As is my habit when sanding, my mind was wandering.

The sides of the cabin are two beautiful pieces of mahogany with flame and figure. My mind wandered back to those trees. Those trees would have had character, growing in a native tropical forest, bending and wild. A few hours with a chainsaw, assuming 1950s efficiency, and they were on the ground. Who knows how long it took, or how far they traveled, but at some point prior to 1958 they showed up as boards in Denmark, roughly 14″ wide, 1″ thick and maybe 12 feet long. While some of the character of that tree was stored in those boards, in the grain and cellular structure and crotch, most of that character was gone. I hope you’ve felt the character of a tree, the gnarly burl on a maple, majestic aloofness of a Douglas fir, or the cower of a tree with little epicormic branches that sprouted just recently. There isn’t any easy way to write about the character of the tree, only to say that it is generally lost when that tree becomes lumber.

But there those boards were in that Danish workshop- beautiful mahogany but without the character of the tree. They might have leaned in a corner for a few weeks, a few years, or maybe they came straight from a lumberyard and onto the bandsaw. 58 years later here they are on Aquavit, with a graceful curve against the deck and port holes cut with a smiling angle. As I stood on that ladder, gazing down the curve of the cabinside, and further, to the curve of her sheerline, I wondered at the ability of boats to create new character out of so many characterless boards. A beautifully designed, built, and maintained boat is the epitome of character. That character is what made sanding until 11pm worth it.

And there was more that preceded the sanding! We sanded the deck, gave it a good coat of epoxy, sanded that coat, then laid down 6oz fiberglass on the deck and 6oz Xynole, a more flexible and abrasion resistant relative of fiberglass, on the cabin. The fiberglass and xynole are fabrics that you saturate with epoxy- creating a clear, hard, plastic like surface. My parents got enlisted (actually borrowed from their project of finishing my tree house- a long story of how it ended up that way), to help with fiberglassing. Pam and I were armed with squeegees and Peter kept busy with mixing new batches and wetting out the edges with a bristle brush. Once Pam realized that the entire boat wasn’t Xynole, which is a real pain to work with, she was much more amenable to the job.

The fiberglass kicked for 24 hours, then got sanded late last night. An early morning coat of primer went on the deck and sheer strake as well as enamel on the mast. I tried a bit of enamel over the xynole on the cabin, but decided to trade for a satin finish paint which will leave the weave visible. Oh ya, and we finished filling in the mast groove. Lots more sanding to come, and perhaps some mind wandering. It can get you in trouble though, especially when you look down and the sander has eaten right through something you didn’t want to sand. Whoops.

The paint scheme is settled, at least until I change my mind. Dark blue hull, green bottom paint, gray deck, cream cabin top and mast tip. Sides of the cabin, cockpit, hatches, mast and transom will be finished bright with as many coats of varnish as I can get on. We have a due date of May 16 to get her finished and driven up to Pt Townsend so that a professional can knock out the keel bolts.

Sophie’s new recipe for Tahini that really sticks to your guts. 5 parts resin, 1 part hardener, some silica microfibers, some wood flour, ground sesame seeds. Keeps you full for a nice long time. We think there is high potential for an advertising campaign. 

 

You can barely see the fiberglass on the deck, but you can definitely see our drips on the cabin! Check out the picture at the end to see if we could sand them out. 

It feels good to have a waterproof boat again. 

I think I’d quit if we had to rebuild the cockpit as well. 

And she’s primed! 

That beautiful transom, with fresh paint around the edges. 

Deck. And the biggest compliment (!?) ever

And we continue onwards. We can even stand on the deck! In fact, I did a little dance on the deck. Which means, we put the deck on. You can see pictures at the bottom.

After the danged goopy primer (which, to their credit, West Marine refunded), we got busy with cutting out the deck, sealing the underside, drilling pilot holes, and painting it white. The idea being that the underside of the deck would be much harder to paint once it was on the boat. We accomplished this with 2 coats of cabin coat paint, which is supposedly quite toxic to mold, mildew, and other black stuff that grows in boats and surely lead to the demise of her 50+ year old deck.

With the deck paint drying Sophie had plenty of time to sand “her half” of the boat. The primer has something a bit wonky with it so we ended up having to hand sand the entire boat with long sponges. Hand sanding is not only great for beach muscles but also lacks the HEPA air filter of the rotex sander. Oh well, we strapped some slightly deficient filters to our faces and set to work. Sophie managed to wrap up “her half” by about 7:30 while I stretched the joy all the way to about 10 pm. We looked like cyborgs who had spent the day at burning man.

Cyborgs

With the boat sanded we  installed the deck section by section, glued to the deck beams with a thin bead of 5200 glue. I used every bugle head deck screw I had, then every other screw I could find in the shop, then a bag of stainless screws I found in the cabin, then went to Englund Marine in Astoria before work (about 100 yards from where Aquavit was hauled out), and bought some more screws and some epoxy. We had used all of the epoxy we had left to begin filling in the mast groove. For future reference, if I’m buying 4 boxes of screws it is worth driving to Astoria to get them at 10% of what a certain big box store in Portland charges. There is also good smoked salmon jerky in Astoria and you can fly balsa airplanes from the top of the Astoria Column once they finish rebuilding it. The epoxy got mixed with microballoons and silica to fill the screw head holes (I know, lots of people say to remove the screws- they’re all sealed with epoxy, the entire deck is epoxy encapsulated, and I can’t get the screws out anyways. They’re all bronze or stainless. Please don’t give me any grief)

In other news, and with a surprisingly light wallet, the chainplates are ready to get installed. The best surprise was a metal fabrication shop in NW Portland that made a new stainless mast step for an incredibly good price. That almost made up for the chainplates.

And, somewhere in here, I got the best potential complement of all time. Potential since I’m not really sure what it means. But I’m going to take it as a compliment anyways- it functions as such for a person who has spent their life in mortal fear of being termed “milk toast.”

Sophie emailed this blog to one of her professors who is a wise old doctor and excellent advisor of medical students. He’s also familiar with boats, and asked Sophie what she would do if she had a day off from medical school. She explained that she had her fiancee were fixing up this wood sailboat. He was interested, so she sent him the blog. The next day she got an email back, “Sophie, your fiancee is a major person (!). ” Sophie thought that might be the most fitting thing she had ever heard. In case said professor reads this blog, we hope that you’ll come for an evening sail with us this summer or fall.

Next steps are sanding the deck smooth and putting a radius around the edge. Then epoxy on the cabin and deck followed by fiberglass on the deck and dynel (a more flexible version of fiberglass) on the cabin. More sanding and then the goal is primer on the deck and new bottom paint by the end of the weekend. Maybe some time for mast / rigging work, re-installing furniture, and beginning to install the 12v system in there. Enough words for now.

 

Where were those screw holes supposed to go? Sophie points out the way. 

On goes the toxic anti-mold paint. We were so well behaved that we used a drop cloth to protect the deck. 

Captain! Which way to the travel lift? 

After about 4,400,000 screws went into the deck. 

And at work last week I happened upon the banks of my favorite river around lunch time. Odd how that happened. 10 points for proper river identification. 

 

Paint

Onwards and onto the boat. This weekend saw major progress on all fronts. It feels like the end is almost in sight, for now (yes, I know, there will always be more work).

Major steps though were that we finished 100% of the hull repairs and faired where it was needed. Sophie sanded the entire hull smooth then taped the waterline and gave her a coat of the worst chunky pettit primer I’ve ever seen. Hopefully it sands smooth. Pam painted the bilgekote and helped me make a bunch of measurements. Peter worked tirelessly on the tree house. Oh, and on the wedding preparation end of things, Pam scrubbed an entire bridge that will get guests over the creek! I also installed the mast partners, removed the mast step, made a new barney post (which it turns out was super rotten), scrubbed and re-installed all the floor boards, epoxy filled the last holes in the deck beams, and varnished a bunch of stuff.

The paint was a bit heartbreaking. One of the things Laird said when I got the boat was that I just had to keep it finished with varnish. The repairs to the wood ended up being pretty significant and the color is nowhere near matching, so I felt like it would be a bit strange to have all of that mismatch. So, with quite a bit of sanding and a bit of fairing, on went the paint.

Pictures speak more than words. The deck is next on the to-do list, as well as sanding that danged primer. Heaps of thanks to all the helpers.

The repaired mast. Rather than a sheave, which invites rot and removes a lot of wood, I’ll hang a block from an eye-bolt. 

A bucket full o tools for some early morning riveting.

Pam the bilgekoter. She did a perfect job (two whole quarts!) and then we covered it all with floor boards. 

Sanded, repaired, and almost ready for primer. 

On goes the goopy primer, courtesy of Sophia the sanding beast. 

A bit heartbreaking to see the bright finish go, but with all the repairs she would have looked like a sewn together teddy bear. This nice view with a sharp waterline makes it feel a bit better. 

And the requisite non-folkboat photo. It’s hard to tell from here, but that’s fir siding on the door side and the far side is all metal roofing now. Lots of progress. 

A big paint test

Most folks will test their paint on a little square of wood. More likely, a few little squares of wood. This one with primer, that one without primer. Maybe a few shades of paint.

I’ve had a troubled past with dark blue paint. In highschool I somehow convinced my mom to buy me a quart of Pettit Easypoxy baby blue to re-paint a 1930s rowboat that had been my great-grandfather’s. After removing some rot and splicing in new ends on one or two planks, I slapped on the baby blue, a white stripe on the sheer strake, and called it good. She’s been in the water once between now and then. Last fall I got motivated and sanded her down hoping to get her smooth and re-painted prior to the wooden boat festival in Pt. Townsend. As a result of trying to renovate a cabin, the boat never got painted and was instead hung in the rafters of the shop. We borrowed a different boat to row around the festival, which was a homecoming of sorts since she was built in Pt. Townsend.

So, when it came to paint colors for Aquavit, I knew I had just the paint test. Down came the blue rowboat. She’s been known as “the blue rowboat” as long as I’ve been around. There is an old picture of her pulled out on a sandbar at the beach when she was white with a green stripe. While everyone in the family refutes it, I’m convinced she was finished bright at some point, maybe with a white stripe as well.

A little bit more sanding and I slapped on a coat of primer. She’s fastened with copper rivets without countersunk heads, just the same as Aquavit, so I wanted to try disguising them a bit with high-build primer. Some sanding later and they were barely visible, at least until she goes into the water and swells up. I ordered a quart of bottle blue from Marshall’s Cove paint in the Seattle area. It’s a traditional finish without the high-gloss of modern paints.

The color is great- a dark dusky blue in a sort of workboat hue. Aquavit will be just about invisible on a rainy day running downwind somewhere along the inside passage. If the blue rowboat were a bit lighter she’d make an ideal dinghy, but maybe that El Toro tipped up in the shed needs a coat of paint as well. We’ll see how far I get.

So, the marathon continues, with a firm end date of May 28 to have it all done. The mast is all back together, sanded to 150 with a coat of heavily thinned varnish on. It will be bright up to the spreaders and cream above there. All of the electrical components are ordered and some have arrived. I’m still looking for a tiller pilot and depth sounder. A very basic 12v DC system will be the last thing to go in.

The goal is to be ready to work on decks next weekend. Sophie sanded the hull last weekend to 80 and started with 150 but the wood was too damp. A bit more heat and we’ll get it smooth. 100% of the wood repairs to the hull are in and just need to be planed or sanded smooth. A bit of refastening this week as well. Good evening work. I’ll try to post more often.

And some pictures…

The Blue Rowboat, blue again. The biggest paint swatch ever. 

Isn’t that a beautiful dusky blue? 

A new style in protection from sanding dust. The edges were done with 150 grit wrapped around a chunk of wood. 

And the surfaces were flattened with 80 grit on a Rotex sander. Don’t you like the war paint? 

Still At It

I’m still at it! In fact, it’s probably a good thing I haven’t been posting more- it means I’m busy working on the boat. Mostly. As usual, if you want pictures, please scroll through all this gabbering.

After endless moisture battles, mostly associated with too wet, we’ve majorly moved forward. Last post, the boat was relatively intact, but with some rot. I cut out all of the rot in the planks. A good chunk of each shear strake got cut out, as well as chunks around the chainplates and the stem. The rotten corners by the transom got cut out, as did the rotten top of the stem. As of yesterday, almost everything on the port side has been replaced with fresh wood (two tiny pieces where the chainplate bolts go through still need the old nails knocked out). The big part of the sheer strake is replaced on the starboard is replaced, as are the corners of the transom, which are now oak rather than mahogany (don’t worry, it’s just a tiny bit on each side).

Below the waterline I scraped the whole boat, sanded it, and gave her a well thinned coat of bottom paint. I also put a flap sander disc on the dingle grinder (code for angle grinder) and got to work on the cast iron keel. Other than a little spot on the bottom where I got distracted and sanded off about 1/4 inch of iron, it looks great. It got two coats of metal primer and once I can get it warm, will also be ready for bottom paint.

Once I’d scraped right up to the stem and confirmed that there wasn’t any rot I got to work reefing out the seams around the stem and doing my best to extract the old screws. Once everything was clean, the planks sat nice and for the most part smooth against the oak stem- prior to reefing it out they stood about 1/4 inch proud from the stem, the legacy of years and years of additional sikaflex. The planks got refastened to the stem and to the first floor. Once I get some more screws the garboard will get similar treatment as well as the stern. Some caulking around the plank ends and on to fairing it all smooth. I’ve also faired over the exposed copper nails, so have some serious sanding in my future!

Molly and Pam have continued to paint deck beams, and Pam has volunteered for scrubbing the bilge clean and giving it a coat of bilge coat. She’s also generous enough to help me set up a new electric system (the old one was just a hardwired bilge pump). Epoxy and Dynel will get ordered for the deck tomorrow, and our local wood store has nice Meranti plywood. The new chainplates are made and I just need to pick them up.I’m excited about some local paint from Marshall’s Cove, and might go with navy topsides and green bottom paint with varnished cabin and trim.

The only task I’m really, really dreading are the keel bolts. Three have been replaced already. I keep trying to convince myself that I don’t need to worry about it, then I have images of Johnstone Strait, without a keel, and I get back to scheming. Anyone want to volunteer for that job? I’ll make sure to write more frequent blog posts about it, but maybe no pictures or expletive-laden audio.

I wonder how many miles I will have walked from the shop to the boat shed and back, and forth, and back, and forth, and so forth. 

My boat-sized paint test. This boat, which looks a lot like a mini folkboat, is going on 80 years old and was in desperate need of a coat of paint since the last hideous coat of baby blue that I gave her was roundly rejected by the family. So after a little sanding on went the primer. We’ll see how she looks with dark blue and a white stripe and go from there on Aquavit. 

On goes a new plank. It’s nice to have them right over the chainplate where there is such good structure and lots of wood to attach to. The top of the sheer strake has been replaced now as well by splicing on a new piece. 

Ahh- I forgot! The rudder came off and is getting dried out inside (see next photo). The transom got a nice scraping (not sure why I did it before I took the rudder off, would have been much easier without it), got sanded to 120, and a coat of 50% thinned varnish applied to protect it. Don’t worry, that’s not black rot at the bottom, just black old bottom paint where I didn’t paint the new stuff high enough. Isn’t that transom beautiful! 

This picture makes the cabin look worse than it really is. There will definitely be more work to do on the cabin next year, but it’s fairly solid for now. Sanding will clean the wood right up and all of the tongue and groove on the top is sound. A few spots at the aft end and right at the forward end are soft and will get repaired. Look at those nice deck beams that Molly painted! All of the rotten or cracked deck beams are replaced and the screw holes are getting filled whenever I have some extra epoxy. 

I almost forgot about the mast! (visible here on the very left side). I’ve had a habit of doing the gluing right before I go to sleep and stoking the stove as much as I can, making for some sweaty sleeping. All of the gluing is complete, scarfing in two repairs at the spreaders and forestay attachment, and an entirely new top 3-4 feet with a bunch of different sections. The little extension at the top that holds the backstay aft from the mast (I’m sure there’s some yachty name for it) is mahogany and completely sound, so I re-used it. I have a lot of planing in my near future, then it will be time for lots of varnish, some epoxy plugs around fittings, and the new SS mast track that just came from North Sails. 

 

Progress

Progress! It’s true. Scroll past all this rambling if you just want pictures.

Despite endless efforts to get the hoop house to dry out, we (Aquavit and I) are moving forward. A major assist by my great sister and other helpers. If anyone has ideas on getting a sodden boat and hoop house dried out, I’m all ears. We’ve tried a big propane forced air heater while leaving one end open, which is helping, but the propane puts off so much moisture that it’s hard to tell if there’s much difference. Ditches around the entire structure seem to be helping as well.

We started a few weeks ago stripping all of the hardware and paint from the mast. Molly sanded it with a super-soft pad. I got fed up with the separate power cord and vacuum for the sander, so copied a Festool product and sewed my own zippered sleeve- contact me if you want one. They’re super slick.

Next, we carried the mast from the boat shed, to the cabin. This way I can get it very dry and warm enough to do some gluing. The next step was a solid scrub with super-saturated oxalic acid. It’s the stuff they use to clean teak decks, etc, and apparently very toxic. So I squeezed my hands into some heavy and rather small rubber gloves that I found and got to work. The idea is that the acid removes any black stain in the wood and it’s been largely successful after 2 good scrubbings. I’ve now circled the rot spots, which actually aren’t nearly as bad as I thought they would be. I’m still trying to stomach $60 for a piece of Sitka spruce, harvested from God knows where, but once I have that I’m ready to cut out the rot and replace the wood. It’s hard to stomach such a spendy piece of wood that almost certainly came from old growth when we’re surrounded by productive, sustainably managed forests. Too bad we can’t grow high quality Sitka spruce.

On the boat itself, we’ve finished scraping the faces of all the topside planks and Molly is progressing on the laps, which are a bit trickier to scrape. Again, we’ve identified all of the places that appear to need replacement. The oddest, although it does make sense, is the top 1″ of the sheer strake (the top plank). Since the rest of the plank is fairly sound and you can drive screws vertically with the deck removed, I used a circular saw and ripped off the top 1″ which will get replaced, along with a little bit around the chainplates. I’m trying to restrain myself from scraping the bottom yet.

Other updates- I’ve ground and drilled off two of the chainplates, the other two are high on the to-do list as is the barney post fitting. Once they’re all off I can take them to a welder to get replacements in 316 stainless. The entire deck is finally removed. I’ve filled all the cracks and screw holes back to the mast with epoxy and wood flour and repaired two deck beams- another two got replaced since I broke them during deck removal. Some screws couldn’t get removed since they are driven through the cabin sides so they got ground off (hence the next to last picture with some smoke).

Next up is to finish removing the bad planking, remove the two chainplates, remove the barney post, and get the replacements made. Then on to re-construction of the topsides. My mom has volunteered to prime and paint the deck beams, which is a wonderful job for a smaller person! We have crowned her queen of lotions and potions (eg. paint). I also have some more dissection to do looking for rot in the stem, and hopefully not, but maybe, in the garboards. That could be a real bummer. Before I get too bummed, here are some pictures.

Molly busy sanding the mast- check out the sleeve I made to keep the vacuum hose and power cord together.

Mast transportation in the snow. 

The new slings for storing and working on the mast in the cabin. 

Scrape, scrape, scrape the boat, gently from stern to stem, until you hit a patch of rot, and then you start to scream. (not really, just cuss a little bit) 

A smokey evening in the hoop house after grinding off a chain plate and cutting a bunch of screws with the angle-grinded (fondly referred to in our family as the dingle-grinder). You can see the two new deck beams sitting just in front of the cabin. 

And, in the meantime, our good friends at Weyerhaeuser changed the view along our road. They left a little beauty strip for a few weeks, but after a big wind storm blew down a good percentage of the residual trees, it got whacked right down to the road. 

 

Welcome Winter

A card bearing a picture that my dad took a few years ago sits on my desk. It’s of a bright-finished folkboat with a blue cover on a foggy morning somewhere up north. Nothing like that to motivate me back to work and away from the distraction of reading news about an armed militia taking over the Malheur Wildlife Refuge.

And on that note, with the power back on in Timber, I’m back to work. I’ve even recruited my sister as an “apprentice,” which has lasted through the removal of hundred of rotten screws from the forward deck beams. She also figured out that we could back the screws out on the stern deck, racking up points. I’m hoping she keeps helping since things go at least twice as fast, usually faster, with two people. She claims that she will cash in her points when she has a project that she wants my help on. Fine by me, unless I’m sailing in Alaska. I think she probably needs a tiny timber frame.

About 80% of the decking is off with just a few cracked / rotten deck beams. Unfortunately I broke a perfectly good beam by sitting on it. The new ones are clear VG laminated Douglas fir from our forest: Hyla Woods. 

We also removed all the hardware from the mast, made a diagram of how everything goes back on, and wooded the entire stick. It’s in surprisingly good shape. Rather than fully replacing it I think some scarfed in spruce with ash to replace the tip will work, then get it very dry, seal it, and finish with varnish. A new boom is in the works as well.

Just a few pictures for now with more to come.

Can’t you tell that I’m ready to go sailing? 

Molly busy sanding the mast. About 10 seconds after this picture she declared that we would be using a rotex sander to carefully do this. 

505 Dinghy under snow and ice at the sailing club. The cover that I sewed during our incredibly dry summer seems to be working well! 

And I couldn’t resist, a picture of the completed cabin, elk antlers and all. The counter is made out of a piece of Sequoia that we had to take down a few years ago. The growth rings are over an inch apart in places. 

 

 

 

Getting to work

And so it begins, in a rain storm. The Timber cabin (Hyla Woods world HQ) is finally complete (pictures at the bottom), and I’m on to boat work.

I started at the top by removing the handrails and deck hardware (about 100 trips through the companion way), then using a Fein tool with a scraper to remove 50 years of rubberized paint and canvas from the leaky cabin room. I got that to bare wood and sanded it smooth, then with a heat gun and scraper removed the white paint from the sides of the cabin and around the cockpit. Luckily the paint was over varnish so it came off without much paint left in the wood’s structure- I think the paint was a recent addition. We’ll learn more about removing paint this next week when I enlist my sister to scrape the mast.

Next came the deck. Starting at the bow I used a drill, jig saw, hammer, screw driver, Fein tool, vice-grips, lots of skin from my fingers, and minor creativity. First I cut out holes between the deck beams in the 1/2″ish tongue and groove pine decking. Then I would crack  the remaining decking with the vice grips, leaving all the screws in the deck beams. Then the screws got unscrewed with vice grips since the slotted heats were rusted smooth- all four kajillion screws. Finally the decking was removed from the sheer strake and around the cabin with the hammer and screw driver. So far the starboard side is done to the back of the cabin and the port side back to the cabin with some cleanup left around the sheer strake.

Like opening up any fun package, there might be a few surprises. Not too many here- someone had poured epoxy into a void in one part of the deck. Some cracks in the deck beams and a tiny bit of rot around the mast partners. A backing plate that came off of the sheer strake where a poorly placed butt-joint got rotten from the chain plates. I did break one deck beam, whoops.

It was fun to think back on some Dane screwing every single screw into every single deck beam in 1958. If that boat builder had been 30 when the boat was launched they’d be about 87 today.

And, some pictures:

The boat tunnel. 

The newly wooded cabin, a mess of extension cords, and the remnants of the foredeck. It looks worst than it really is. 

With a light inside the boat, looking through where the fore-hatch used to be. 

The cabin front door with a new light and fir trim

And inside with the wood stove just simmering along. 

 

More to come!

Still not Aquavit

Although Aquavit, the liquor company, did “like” my last boat picture on instagram! How’s that for an accomplishment.

So, back to Oregon, where it’s gotten rainy, cold, and dare I say, fallish. You may be wondering, with all of this nice weather, ample free time, and strong motivation, why on earth isn’t Ben posting any pictures of his boat work?

Well, I must admit, I haven’t been allocating a whole ton of time to boat work, yet. Instead we’ve been occupied with a couple of pre-existing projects. Primary among these was a cabin remodel. As part of the cabin remodel (which is now done except for the sink) I cut the bedroom out with a chainsaw, leaving a large, open and quite enjoyable room. More photos of that to come, and potentially some video of my father’s chainsaw version of bathroom remodeling. But, with no bedroom anymore and the potential of a female visitor (my fiancee will be done with medical school in approximately 3 years), I decided to build a tree house. It does need to be done before the three years are up though, and I want to close it in so that I can put in some extra insulation we had left over from the cabin. So, in went the 6 windows: 2 huge, 4 medium. The huge ones were a story on their own, but we were all so busy grunting and issuing expletives that we never took any pictures.

What on earth is going on here?

Precarious window instillation of course.

Okay, I promise I will do some work on the boat and write a post about it before I sell any other boats or build any more treehouses, or at least before I write a blog post about it. Also, if anyone ever comes across a used Sardine or Tiny Tot wood stove, I’m in the market for one to serve double duty in the tree house and Aquavit.

Thinning the fleet

Not quite about folkboats, but in the same vein.

Last week I said goodbye to a Pocock cedar single rowing shell that I was lucky enough to restore a few years ago. She was the perfect boat for Wallowa Lake, the local water body where we used to live. She is also a true work of art, built in Seattle out of some of the most beautiful wood I’ve ever seen: Western Red Cedar hull, mahogany and ash frame, Yellow Cedar combings. The craftsmanship of the boat is incredible, and she rows to match it. Luckily she headed up to Seattle to a new owner who plans to row frequently.

Here she is the second time in the water in who knows how many years. Needless to say, there was some significant wobbling on the first row or two and tightly clenched muscles of a certain variety. Nothing quite like 26′ feet of speed that’s only 14″ wide to keep you excited.

 

Settling in

Winter has finally arrived, with Portland’s wettest day in 4 years on Saturday (source- my mom) and more in the forecast. So many sad, sodden little tricker-treaters, a few flooded streets, and broken down public transportation.

Meanwhile, I was floating down the Rogue River, also sodden, but enjoying the scenery, pumpkins decorating riverside rocks, and the fact that I made it to the river despite a broken timing belt and drive belt on attempt one, and horrific traffic on attempt two. I was feeling pretty good though, since we’re nearing completion on the cabin (mostly thanks to hard work from my parents), and the Folkboat is now securely under cover. I still need to make doors for the ends, which will be part of a second greenhouse cover we had sitting around, but the pooling from last week seems to be a thing of the past. I added some reinforcement and pulled the cover nice and tight. A few pictures of the cover, two of the inside, and two from the Rogue below. The greenhouse is from Steve’s Greenhouses in Castle Rock, WA and I’d strongly recommend them for anyone wanting to grow a wooden boat.

I also sprayed the inside of the boat with raw linseed oil with an anti-fungal / mold additive last week. I poured some more up by the stem just for good measure, most of which has made its way aft. I’ll shop-vac it out this week and maybe apply a bit more. Apparently this is what the danes do prior to winter storage (most Scandinavian boats are stored out of water). An alarming amount of oil made its way between the planks, making me think a little bit more about hardening up (tightening) the rivets. This sounds like an absolutely awful job so hopefully she’ll tighten up when she goes in the water. Some “slick seam,” a snot-like substance that you work into the seams, might help.

The other thing I’m starting to think about is hardware that might have a long wait time. Chainplates should be easy to get, but the fitting on the top of the barney post seems to be rusted past repair. If anyone has ideas on a new one without getting an expensive custom-made deal from Port Townsend, I’m looking for ideas. It’s basically a hoop that fits on the end of a 3″ by 6″ post- you can see the part I’m talking about in the picture looking aft through the cabin- it’s the fitting on the top of the post in the cockpit that the mainsheet attaches to.

 

Sisters

Which one is the Folkboat?

They look pretty similar! On the left is the Folkboat, built in 1958 in Denmark. On the right is a 14′ double ended rowboat that belonged to my great grandfather, built around 1933-4 by August Nelson in Portland, OR. The construction is almost identical, and the shape isn’t far apart either. My dad took the two photos and put them side by side. The blue rowboat is getting a little fluff up, put on hold by other projects, and the Folkboat is just beginning a fluff up.

Home sweet home for Aquavit

After I’d committed to this project, I started scheming the best way to protect the boat while I work on her without letting her dry out too quickly, which can cause cracks, checking, twisting, etc.

Drive around Oregon these days, and you’ll see a hoop house before too long. For a while in the mid-2000s, nurseries were the largest agricultural industry in the state. With the recent legalization of another green, leafy plant, I’m guessing that they’re growing something other than ornamentals.

Anyways, I ended up getting a 30′ by 12′ wide by 12′ tall hoop-style greenhouse. It will have a dirt floor and is well shaded, which helps with the moisture issue, and is close enough to the shop to run electricity.  I got it from a guy named Steve in Castle Rock, WA, and apparently his business, which was initially a retirement project, is booming due to pot legalization in both OR and WA. It was so easy to set up that even the most aggressive marijuana user could probably handle it.

The boat situated in the middle of the soon-to-be hoop house. The deck was an excellent scaffold as we put up the hoops and the cover. We rolled up the ground sheet to keep it out of the mud. 

And out of the rain! Still need to add purlins down the top to support snow load, tighten and attach this cover, and put on a second cover that will fill in the ends. Then back to work on the cabin for a month or so until it’s done. After that, full speed ahead on the boat. 

Boat moving

The weekend’s challenge included the final boat move. After driving from Astoria I had wimped out on driving the truck, trailer, and 5k pound boat combination down a steep gravel driveway, so had left her parked on some flat ground above the driveway. Now, it was time for the move. Our approach included ratcheting the surge brakes all the way on, about 20′ of chain, and a caterpillar tractor that was conveniently on site and had been used to level the site for the boat. Our approach included my dad (Peter) on the tractor and my mom (Pam) communicating, spotting, and taking these pictures.

It’s not every boat adopter who can convince their parents to help move a boat, build a cover for it, fix up the adjacent cabin, and let you live in their basement! They’re also experienced sailors, having gone across the S Pacific and introducing us to sailing as kids, so I’m hopeful that they’ll give the Folkboat some exercise once she’s finished. Otherwise it will be buddy boat cruising with their Drascombe.

 Here we are figuring out good hand signals for slow down and stop (the tractor doesn’t have much of a range of speed). 

We made it down the hill! The steep and very wet driveway is just behind the tractor. The tractor is attached to the back of the trailer with about 20′ of chain. Luckily the trucks brakes held the load and we only came up against the chain once. 

Now for backing up- due to leveling the spot, the ground was very soft. Of course we did it on the second rainy day of fall, so the ground was complete gumbo. The tractor is back there in case we need to pull the trailer through the mud. 

And in place! With the help of some wide board under the truck’s rear tires, we backed her right into the middle of what quickly became a large greenhouse cover. Here you can see the side walls. You can also see how far the tires sank into the mud. Success!!! 

 

More photos to come of the hoop-house cover.

History

There are great resources out there on Folkboats. The best is probably a book by Dieter Loibner called “Folkboat Story: From Cult to Classic.” The original design came out of a Scandanavian design contest. A number of lines were submitted, but the committee didn’t pick any one design, instead they hired one of the designers, Tord Sunden to combine the design into a people’s boat. Similar to the Volkswagon, these boats were supposed to be durable, comfortable, safe, and affordable. They didn’t even end up with high emissions like those diesel VWs.

The Folkboat ended up even more successful than the initial committee could have anticipated, and lead to a number of similar designs such as the international folkboat, british folkboat, and contessa. The famous Jester, a junk-rigged folkboat, was sailed to a second place in the inaugural OSTAR race in 1960 by Blondie Hasler, and competed in a number of other single handed trans-atlantic races during her long life.

While I don’t think Aquavit has too many single-handed transpacs in her future, hopefully she’ll get out for a little cruise before too long. Here are the lines.

Home again home again

A hair raising drive later, and we made it to the driveway. I think the surge brakes might have even worked. Believe it or not, I got the trailer registered and bolted on the license plate at the Astoria boat yard. Next- off comes the mast, out come the sails, and up goes the hoop house that will cover her for winter.

Haulout

After some fiddling with straps, Steve pulled back on the travel lift levers and up she went. For future reference, 8’6″ between the straps with the front strap right behind the chain plates and the back one even with the jib cleats.