September 2005

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a new tome!

Found out about the existance of this book, “Eighteenth-Century Rigs and Rigging” while doing a little reseach, in my attempts to update some wikipedia entries regarding some of the more esoteric old sail and rigging designations.
i’m keen to see a copy sometime, and see how it expands on the classic Lever’s tome. From the write-up, it sounds like it covers many other rig types (not just classic square rigs), and (gasp!) is written in plain modern english, unlike Lever’s, which can come off sounding a bit antiquated to the novice.

…is from Garden State: “…maybe that’s what a family is: a group of people who miss the same imaginary place.” Hmm.
Easily the best of the bunch of DVD’s i borrowed from this weekend. i must find the soundtrack.


Now, waiting for sails, and with all the pre-arrival-of-sails work done, i’m turning my attentions to a few neat little details on the dinghy.
Last night, between bites of dinner and listening to NPR, i finished double-serving the masthoops. The hoops are made from welding rod, bent to match fit around the mast, with little loops on the ends to attach to the sail. i bent the hoops out of old welding rod, which had the right balance of strength and flexibility i was looking for. i primed and painted the bent hoops, then served them in a first layer of heavily waxed sailthread, then overserved them in a softer nylon twine. Hopefully they’ll last well enough, and not damage the mast.
The boys had mocked my boom-end enough times that i felt i had to finish it up a little better; it had always just been the open end of the aluminium tubing, with a view inside of all the screws and rivets holding the various boom-end fittings in place. Yesterday, i made up a tight-fitting plug out of white oak. i left the plug long, intending to carve it away into some interesting shape, but came up with something different.
When i had a chance to do a little daywork on Adventuress in Port Townsend, i was really impressed by her new main boom gallows, a burly length of oiled and leathered hardwood. The neatest part was a nautilus shell inset into the forward side of the gallows. The shell was cut in half, and set in clear resin, so you could see all the whorls, chambers, and opalescence.
While i didn’t have anything as wild as a nautilus shell, and only a 2″ diameter area to work with, i wanted to try and see what similar effect i could come up with. i used a series of Forstner bits in the drill press to carve a little stepped “stadium” into the cap. i found a shell that seemed to fit the size and shape i was going for, and set it in place. Scott and i set the cap up on a little stand, and carefully poured a few tablespoons worth of high-build tabletop epoxy resin in and around the shell. While i applied resin drop by drop, Scott waved a little flame over the cap with a propane torch to bring all the bubbles out.
This morning, the resin cured, i used a fine-tooth blade to cut most of the protruding shell off, then took off the rest with a fine stone on the grinder. i used a progression of sandpapers to get the shell sanded down flush, then just a bit deeper. What started as a protruding pointed bit of shell was gotten down to a flush spiral of white shell. i continued to grind and sand until the simple squared-off plug became a nice flattened dome. The resin, of course, was made opaque by the sanding, but came out perfectly clear with the second coat i put on today. With a few coats of varnish (the only varnish on the boat!), i think it’s gonna look really snappy on the end of the boom.
The decks are painted Bristol Beige, with a raised trim of teak and mahogany all around them. This makes for a little area to catch water, especially in the corners. i had at first thought of filing little channels into the trim to serve as scuppers, but didn’t like the way i thought it would look, and would weaken the trim pieces considerably. Instead, i drilled holes from the corners of the deck down at an angle to exit through the rubrail. i cut some 3″ lengths of copper tubing, and flared one end of each. The tubing was tapped down through each bored hole, and the flare at the top sealed into the deck with epoxy. i’ll have to wait for the next rainfall to see how well it works, but i think the 3/16″ ID tubing sould be enough to drain what little water accumulates in the corners, and prevent rot.
i’ve carefully stoppered the mainsheet at just the right length to let the boom out as far as possible without actually touching the lower shrouds. Still, the sail is bound to ride against the shrouds somewhere. The totally traditional way to prevent chafe is to apply some baggywrinkle. Now, i’ve made plenty of baggywrinkle on large boats, and although tedious, i’d never call it difficult. For the dinghy, i made up a test length of ‘wrinkle, cow-hitching 1″ nylon yarns onto a bight of waxed sailthread. The scale was right on, and the little bit i made looked good and purposeful on the stay, but at what cost! It musta took me 15 minutes to hitch 2″ of ‘wrinkle, squinting and cursing my fat fingers. i’ve found that 6″ of hitching works out to 1″ of ‘wrinkle on the stay, and i figure i’ll want four 6″ sections aloft, so that makes 144″ of hitching (about 36 hours worth). Uhg. i’ll see what other slightly-less-traditional methods might look good… In the meantime, i have some comfort in knowing that my Vectran shrouds will be far more kind on the sails than standard stainless cable ones.
Oiling continues daily: Amazon GTO on the trim/caprails, rubrail, gaffjaws, and fairleads; Boiled Linseed Oil on the bitts, parrel beads, lanyards, and stainless wire headrig stays. The lanyards and eyes are starting to take on that tasty smooth dark look, with all the crevices filled in, and many parts of the rigging now have a permanent slight stickiness which (in my mind, at least) is comfortable and reassuring in hand. If pine tar was available here, i’d certianly add some of that to the mix as well.
After about a week of being set-up, i tuned the rig again. By now, most of the stretch should be out of the rigging itself; the seine twine lanyards will continue to stretch over their lifetime, but at least most of the spring is out of them now. This go-round, i really cranked in the rig, until a tiny touch of tension came onto the underdeck tie-rod. That was to signal that the rig was tight enough to start bending the hull. i cranked a couple turns into the tie-rod turnbuckle to get the deck back down/keel back up. i climbed up onto an adjacent boat (incidentaly, a Pacific Seacraft 36) to get at the upper works; i lashed the now-stretched upper shrouds to the spreader tips, and hung my West End Yacht Club burgee below the starboard spreader.
This afternoon, as the epoxy hardens, i’ll cut the excess outboard length from those copper scupper tubes, and get that crowning bit up there: the teak trck and bronze pennant staff.

sail on

Just heard back from Quantum. The bill for the three working sails will be $976. Well, hrmm… James said anything under a grand would be a deal, so i guess i oughtta feel satisfied with that. The quote was for a worst-case labour scenario, and may end up less. Still, at that price, i should just get them to make it a $1000 even and get ’em to make up that tops’l while they’re at it. Hell, for that much money, why should i set needle to palm at all? Damned if i’ll let ’em charge me extra for my pennant either.
Kevin has relented, and now supposes that 3.8-ounce will be heavy enough for the jib and stays’l. He’s still leaning towards 5.9-ounce fabric for the main “for longevity”. But on a sub-50-square-foot sail? Well, they’re the experts, not i.
The best part of the news is the arrival time! i’d been expecting several weeks, but it looks like the sails could be ready as early as next Monday. Overall, dealing with Kevin and Dave has been a pleasure; they’re totally willing to accomodate all my little sail needs (tiny panel widths, weird mitres, shaped patches, miniature hanks, unusual beckets, etc.). Dave wants me to be there for the latter stages of construction, to make sure all the details are just as i want them, and to see what finishwork it may be better for me to do on my own. They are definately NOT a traditional sail loft, but pretty stoked about the project.
This is the first gaff sail they’ve ever built here! Normally, i’d be a little concerned by that, but they’ve figured out a great way to get around any problems. Instead of trying to traditionally cut the sails (read: edge curves, broadseams, tapers, etc.), they’re getting their Annapolis office (which has done a few small gaff sails) to mold the sails on their 3-D software, then cut shaped panels on their laser table. This way, not only are Dave and i spared some serious head-scratching, but Dave can also sew constant seam widths (which is certianly faster). This also makes it easy to accomodate two other unusual requests of mine: First, i wanted narrow panel widths; sailcloth these days comes in wide widths (50+ inches for the specialty tanbark sailcloth i’m using), but i wanted narrow panels (

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