My Buddy Huckleberry

As the season closes, Huck and I stole a brief sail across Mobjack Bay and back yesterday. Believing he is still a lap dog, he made for a nice heater as we pushed to weather.

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We’re still assessing the new sails. The stainless steel slides are not right for bronze or naval brass T track. They still snag slightly when raising and lowering. Either I need to file round edges on each slide or replace them with naval brass, if those can be found. Such is the challenge of ordering sails at a distance. Add it to the winter projects.

At 10:30 wind fluctuated between 5 mph or less. LUNA still moved along. Maybe the bottom isn’t as slimy as I thought.

By noon the breeze built to 12-15 and we really chunked along.

Short and sweet.

Steampunk Sailor

Yesterday, my daughter and I took a short, brisk sail with LUNA up the East River, stopping by “Ed’s Cove” on the return for lunch on the hook. The menu offered hot tomato soup, ham wraps, beer and sunshine in a protected cockpit. No one else was around. No one. Granted it was mid-week, but too many boat owners put their craft away after Labor Day here. So many wonderful days are missed. You can have July and August in my book. From September up until Christmas frequently is truly the best sailing time of the year. The water’s summer heating holds its inertia well into November. Yesterday was beautiful … ah, so is today.

Here’s one of my favorite sailors working out music for the picnic.

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Wind In The Willows

Old Bay Club members Barbara and Harris couldn’t have been any better hosts this past weekend. They invited the “Club” to their house. True, and that after last year’s visit. In attendance were 8 boats and 12 sailors. Some arrived Friday afternoon for a sail down the James, oysters on the beach, a fire, cocktails (beware of Dark and Stormies) and a beautiful sunset.

Saturday was a dream sail in the marshes of Grays Creek near the Jamestown ferry landing at Scotland. Took lunch on a sandy spit with Dennis and Jim while watching Barry in his 1947 Lightning glide back and forth. The others took lunch at a small restaurant in the creek. H & B win the race home. For the record, Barbara was at the helm.

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Sunday’s sail was brisk. Winds in the upper teens. I climbed in with Barry under full sail. We were quick to sit on the rail of his sprite Lightning and eventually doused the jib to carry on. The fleet was reduced to Harris and his Caledonia, Doug and Kevin with their Marsh Cats, Dennis in his Wisp and Tom and Francie in their Sea Pearl. Couldn’t have asked for a better weekend or folks to share it with. Here are some phone clips as proof.

A Friday Night

Sorry, nothing raucous to show here. No overhang thrills. Just a simple overnight sail. With winds at 12-15 and gusting to 20, LUNA beats up the East River under full sail. She puts her shoulder into it without protest. Not far past Put In Creek, we turn downwind, pass the magnificent Bruce King ketch “Chanty” (there’s some varnish), and set out into Mobjack. We reach toward Ware River,  before tightening up to beat up the North River. Sails are lowered across from an old 1848 neo-classical home named Elmington. It owns the largest magnolia tree I’ve ever seen. Perhaps its age matches the house. I set the anchor in 5′ of water. The sunset highlights a beautiful golden tree line. Cocktails and a quick dinner compliment.

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Sack time for this rowdy Friday is 20:30. The night is still. Stars are blazing at 02:00. At 07:15, dawn brings a flock of crows who are bent on waking the roosters to their job. They do eventually. The orchestra is complete with a few dogs giving their say. As coffee brews, I wipe down the dew from the cockpit. A feathery mist lifts off the water.

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With mizzen and main raised, I haul the anchor. No mud. Must be sandy. I put away the brush. We ghost out of the river to meet a fresh breeze back into Mobjack and reach to East  R. Opposite the marina, we flatten the mizzen, head to windward and go forward to drop the main. It lowers 18″ and then sticks repeatedly. No yanking of the halyard persuades otherwise. So, I toss the anchor, drop the jib and am just able to hoist my lead tail up the mast with the bosun’s chair to reach the snag above the spreaders. Wouldn’t this be a perfect time for one of those powerboats to roll by? Well some idiot did decide to swing by at full tilt to see what was up. If my hands were free, I’d have “waved” back. I’ve sent the main and mizzen back today to remove the shackle to slide connection for webbing. That should fix that problem.

The SNAFU did nothing to remove the glow of the perfect sail. In fact, it was a point of accomplishment in an odd way. The time on the water was grand. Here’s some video.

Cape Falcon’s F1 Kayak (part III)

DAY 9: (4 hrs)

  • cut, milled, shaped and glued 1/2″ x 1/2″ stringer to gunnel. Dowelled every 18″ for added security.
  • made form for cockpit coaming.
  • cut coaming material from oak. The circumference is +/-7′ so a longer steam box is needed. This one I’ll make from blue foam sitting around.

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DAY 10: (5 hrs)

  • made a foam steam box for larger cockpit coaming pieces.
  • put “boat soup” (equal parts pine tar, turpentine and tung oil) on boat.
  • steamed oak strips for coaming. The sharp forward nose of the coaming kept breaking. Will add a block for this and tie coaming into it.
  • used ringed bronze boat nails to hold rim together.
  • ordered ballistic nylon and 2 part urethane coating.

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DAY 11: (5 hrs)

  • decided to add some floor slats. I wish I had added them in the few SOF fuselage kayaks we’ve built. I don’t want to stretch or distort the skin once applied. This may be particularly a problem where your heels contact the hull. These were thinner than the ribs, but spanning only 6″ between ribs. Lashed in, the floors should provide additional rigidity.
  • also pulled the coaming, drilled skin threading holes every 2″, sanded and coated it.
  • the fabric and goo have arrived. Must wait for the boat soup to dry. Should have added some japan drier. By the time we can get back to the project, all should be dry.

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DAY 12: (4 hrs)

  • decided to remove the outer most floor slats. They will telegraph and distort the bottom, not by much, but I don’t want to increase drag.
  • installed the foot pegs. These are the best of the 3 I’ve now used: Harmony Sidelock Footbrace System. I’ve through bolted them after checking their location by sitting in the kayak. I like the ease at which they can be adjusted and the rounded edges of the pegs themselves. I have also used both Sea-lect and Attwood adjustable pegs, but I prefer the Harmony so far.
  • drilled all the holes in the gunnels for leather tie downs and stem grab holds.
  • added a plastic deck hook under the foredeck for bungee cords to hold a bilge pump, water bottle, thermos or whatever.
  • put on the last coat of “soup”. This time using Japan Drier in the mix. That gets the drying moving.
  • Next up: covering and coating.

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Here is a walk-around video:


Total hours thus far: 66 hrs. One more kayak post and we’re done.

Cape Falcon’s F1 Kayak (part II)

DAY 6(4 hrs)

  • used poster board strip to get correct rib lengths.
  • rough cut rib material from oak.
  • dimensioned ribs through thickness planer and rounded with router.
  • cut ribs to length, eased ends for mortise pockets and set in bath to soak a few days.

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DAY 7: (6 hrs)

  • manufactured a steam “box” from 4″ ABS pipe, plastic hose, towel, tee shirt and kettle on a propane grill burner.
  • placed soaked ribs in sets of 3 in steam. Added a pair after using a limbered up pair. This kept work flow going.
  • Rib 16 splintered. Rib 1 in the bow broke 3 times. I used 1/4″ oak, 3/16″ oak, then bamboo and finally created a “V” shaped rib from previous broken ribs. Pre-soaking the ribs seemed to help prepare the ribs vs. placing the ribs dry into the steam box.
  • Once the ribs were in place, I removed several of the molds. Removal required cutting some in half.
  • I’m glad I had the molds for reference. A 1/4″ difference in proper rib length can distort the hull shape.

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DAY 8(4.5 hrs)

  • drilled and pinned 1/8″ dowels into ribs at mortices.
  • discovered several ribs had cracked or frayed at the keel line. Lacking enough spare material, I milled more, cut it to lengths and steamed to put in place. That rib #2 took 2 tries.
  • removing the molds and flipping the kayak, I lashed the keel first. Then each chine afterwards.
  • I now have a beautiful “basket”.
  • the frame weighs 16 lbs 10 oz.
  • will now order the ballistic nylon and coating.

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Total hours thus far:  48 hrs.