Tuesday, February 13, 2018


A few months back I built up the boomkin spar out of leftover douglas fir that I had from the other spars, but I didn't do a birdsmouth this time. Instead, I ripped four pieces to length about 25mm x 25mm and then cut off a corner of each and glued them up to make a 4 section hollow spar.

Once it had cured, I knocked off the corners to make 8 sides and then rounded the end of it down while leaving the section that will be inside the boat with 8 sides.  I liked building with the birdsmouth method but I just didn't want to take the time for the boomkin since I'm not as worried about weight (although it is still hollow to shave a few grams).

Fast forward to last week and I decided it was time to cut the hole for the boomkin.  Cutting holes in boats always makes me a little squeamish, so I had to come to terms with it on my own time.  To find the location, I basically laid the finished boomkin on top of the stern and eyeballed where it would protrude to the centerline and cut out a 2 inch hole at an angle in the transom, just above the level of the deck.

Next, I cut the same hole in a few pieces of 6mm ply and then rounded the pieces to make a 35mm flange surrounding the hole.  Then I screwed and glued the pieces to the transom and faired it out with some thickened epoxy.  A bit of cleanup with a rasp and sandpaper made it all look good. 

After a test fit, I tapped the inboard end of the boomkin and installed a 5/16" threaded insert and tapped a corresponding hole in one of the frames to anchor the boomkin.  I found a 5/16" thumbwheel and screwed it in place.

I still have to leather the boomkin where it intersects the hull and soak in some Deks to protect it, but aside from installing the mizzen sheet hardware (a turning block, and clam cleat), I'm checking it off my to-do list.

Friday, January 26, 2018


Way back in 2015, I rebuilt the forehatch on my 1962 Alberg 35 and did a compass rose inlay on the inside of the hatch here.  The way I made the inlay allowed me to slice off pieces like a loaf of bread and I had a number of compass roses that were just sitting around on my desk doing nothing.  So when I got around to making the breasthook this past week I decided to put one of them to good use.  
I began by finding a nice piece of cherry to match the rail (also cherry).  The key to getting the fit right is to lay it on top of the V section of the bow and trace where it meets.  Then I cut out the rough V shape and slowly cut the rail angle down with a shinto rasp so that it would slide into place.  

Most breasthooks have a concave curve facing forward, but I decided to go against the grain and reverse the curve and have it facing aft.  I did this partially because I wasn't really thinking, but I will mostly say that it was because I plan on mounting a cleat (or small sampson post) on the trailing edge of the breasthook and if the curve is concave it wouldn't work.

Once I had the breasthook fitted closely to the inner rail, I started on the inlay.  Having experimented with this sort of thing before I found that placing the inlay in the desired position and tracing the outline of it with an exacto knife works best for me.  After I had etched the outline of the compass rose onto the breasthook, I took a really sharp chisel and hammered it along the lines to make sure the cherry was cut along outline.  Then it was a matter of carefully chiseling out the interior of the cut lines and then repeating the outline chisel to go deeper.  The compass rose was about 6mm deep total and ended up with the compass about 2 mm proud of the cherry.  

When I had it fitting well, I mixed up a batch of epoxy with fine cherry sawdust and glued the compass in.  I let it cure and then sanded it all down before fitting and gluing the whole thing into  the boat.  Once again, I let it cure and then sanded everything down flush with 80 grit paper.

I still need to radius the edges with a router to soften things up and of course lots of varnish, but I think it should work out well.

Wednesday, January 17, 2018


I will be the first to admit that I'm a slacker, but if one were to really drill into my psyche, then you'd quickly realize that this tendency is really driven by my 'ability' to procrastinate when a deadline is not imminent.  If a deadline is far out on the horizon, I can find lots of reasons to avoid working toward that goal.  So when I finally came to terms with the fact that I would not be launching in 2017, and would be delayed until sometime in the Spring of 2018, I decided to take a break.

Since my last post in October, I have done virtually nothing on the boat until this past weekend.  The winter has a way of getting a hold of me and luring me off into the forests and mountains of Northern New England to pursue outdoor adventures.  I am particularly fond of being outside in the forest on really cold days when my wife declares me to be a 'lunatic' as she huddles by the wood stove.  I feel that it makes me appreciate the spring and summer more knowing how nasty it can really get outside.

So up until late last week I had been happily tromping about Central NH like a mountain man, enjoying the single digit temperatures, and ignoring the boat.  Fortunately for the boat project however, a warm front came through and dumped a bunch of rain and melted much of the lovely fluffy snow that had covered the area, leaving a frozen hellscape of icy crust.  After coming to terms with the now annoying conditions outside, I decided to warm up the shop and do another push toward completion.

Most of the jobs now are fiddly things that just require a bit of thought and a few screws to secure bits and pieces, but there are a few larger jobs that still need to be attended to.  The 2 biggest are building the oars for propulsion and building the 3 hatches (1 for the foredeck and 2 for the 'cooler').  I decided to tackle the hatches because I don't have the lumber needed for the oars yet.

When I built the openings for all the hatches, I added a plywood 'lip' to all of them as a placeholder for making them watertight (or mostly watertight) once I built the hatches for them.  I planned on using some rubber gasketing material (TBD), but knew that the tolerances would have to be pretty tight in order to keep things dry in the compartments.

I started on the 'cooler' hatches just forward of the daggerboard trunk. Their recessed nature made hatches a bit of a challenge because the close tolerances needed to be on both the inside and outside frames.  Using 6 mm marine plywood, I cut out the rough shape and fitted it to the recess.  I'll be using a rubber gasket material to fit into the recessed channel surrounding the opening. 

Using the same pine I used for the floorboards, I cut out the side pieces adjacent to the hatch openings and fitted those before moving onto the covering boards for the hatches.  Because the hatches have the 6 mm plywood cover, I planed ~6 mm off the boards that will sit on the plywood covers and then screwed them from the bottom of the plywood.  I still have to epoxy coat the plywood and drill some drain holes to move accumulated water out of the recessed channels surrounding the hatches, but that shouldn't take more than a few minutes.

Moving onto the forehatch, which also has a plywood 'lip' but is not recessed, I cut out a plywood top that will cover the hatch and 'lip' and then milled some of the nice Honduras mahogany that I have be using for some of the trim throughout the boat. I hand cut single dovetails on each corner and was not entirely disgusted with my effort.  They aren't perfect, but will be strong and don't look too awful.  I glued up the whole thing with the plywood top and some plywood stringers to stiffen it up.

Finally, I ripped a few strips of Honduras mahogany to make trim pieces along the trailing edge of the foredeck. It seems to give the foredeck a more finished look and I may add more at some point, but haven't decided yet. 

Friday, October 20, 2017

Bringing it all Together (Sort of)

So I have been slacking ever since I've sort of come to terms with the fact that I probably won't launch this year.  I haven't totally ruled it, but even though this weekend is going to be great weather wise, I don't think there are many warm days left in the year and I'm just not quite ready. 

With that said, I did a mini push over the past few days to get my shit together and get some more of the odds and ends closer to completion.  It all started when I picked up a lathe (Rigid w1200) on craigslist for no good reason other than I happened to be looking in tools and this was really cheap.  It's not a very good one, but it came with a set of tools and I've never done any lathe work before so I wouldn't really know the difference.  I had been thinking about a lathe ever since I saw a nice implementation of a Norwegian tiller arm somewhere out on the interwebs. 

Anyway, I glued up two pieces of sapelle I had laying around early last week and once it cured, I threw it on the lathe and started turning it down.  Originally, I was going to do a round hole through the rudder for simplicity's sake (just cut through it with a hole saw), but as I started playing with the lathe I decided it would be fun to have a square cut threw the rudder and have it taper to round on either side.  Really no reason other than I was having fun with the lathe.  Now that I have a lathe, it's just the most fun toy ever, it's fascinating to watch

Next, I drilled out the rough margins for the square hole in the rudder and then chiseled it out.  It took a while to get the fit right, but I finally got a good tight (but not too tight).  For the backside of the opening, I drilled a 1.5" hole in a piece of cherry and screwed it on so the tiller arm would seat in the hole.  Last up I rounded off the top edges of the rudder to get rid of the angular look it previously had and dry fitted the assembly on the boat.  I still have to rout the edges for a little more smoothing, but I'm satisfied with the overall look.  Ultimately, I will paint the rudder assembly, but will varnish the tiller arm. 

The second thing I got done this week was to get the bilge pump installed in the port seat tank.  On a boat this size having a mounted bilge pump isn't really necessary, a bucket will do, but I wanted something that could drain water under the deck without having to remove them.  The pump is a Whale Compact 50 and was the biggest one I could find that would fit in the space I had.  It has a removable pump handle and a cover that makes the whole arrangement look tidy.

It was still a tight fit, and getting the hose routed from the bilge, up into the seat tank was awkward.  I had previously dry mounted the pump itself prior to painting, but not with hoses attached so it took a bit of work to get it all set.  In the bilge itself I mounted the hose to a strum box with a 3 pound lead weight and butyl tape to hold it in place but be movable if necessary.  I ran the discharge hose from the pump through the port seat tank to the stern where I installed a discharge pipe as high up as possible near the rudder.  I finished it up by sealing up the access plate with caulking and screws to keep it watertight. 

Finally, I reinstalled the seat tops that I had spent a few afternoons applying way too many coats of Deks Olje oil.  The pine I'm using for seat tops soaks up Deks like crazy.  Anyway,  kind of a mish-mash of accomplishments for the week, but it all had to be done and there's lots more of the same to come as I get closer to launch.

Sunday, October 8, 2017

Floors and Round Things

I'm so close to finishing this boat I can taste it, but no matter how hard I try, there is always another thing to do.  This weekend I picked away at a bunch of little things but the big win was getting the floors cut and installed.

I'm not using anything exotic, just the same clear premium grade pine that I used for the seat tops.  This task was pretty straight forward, but I did spend a fair amount of time marking out the curves along the forward portion of the deck area.  Once I cut and dry fitted all the boards I ran the router over them with a roundover bit to eliminate any hard edges.  Then I refitted the boards and tapped each one with a countersink bit and screwed them to the frames. 

The only exception is the center floor that I will not be screwing down so I can access the strum box for the bilge pump and inspect the lowest point of the bilge.  I will fasten this floor with some sort of button toggles on the underside to keep it in place, but I'm not 100% sure how I'm going to do it yet.  Once I figure it out and implement it, I will pull all the floorsboards out and have a marathon oiling session with Deks Olje D1 as I did with the seat tops and spars.

I really like Deks because you can get everything oiled in an afternoon.  The application process goes like this: wipe or brush on Deks onto the surface you want to oil, wait 15 minutes and do it again, and again, and again, etc...  You keep applying it until the wood stops absorbing it and then you leave the last unabsorbed application on the wood for 30 minutes and then wipe off.  The only other thing you have to worry about is that it shouldn't be put into service for 3 days.  It gives a nice satin finish and gives the wood a nice glow. 

In other news, I finally got around to installing the seven round deck plates throughout the boat.  There is one in the forward compartment, two adjacent to the mast step, two big ones amidships in the watertight seat compartments, and two in the aft compartment along either side.

Monday, October 2, 2017


Not much to say on the topic other than I mostly finished up the interior painting this afternoon.  I used grey bilge paint in the areas that will be covered by floorboards and and put two coats of white primer followed by two coats of Kirby's Marine Paint (#32 Sand, low lustre).

I hadn't planned on using Kirby's, but I have heard a lot of people saying good things about the paint so I checked out their site and found that their prices were right in line with Brightside Polyurethane and the color range was much wider, so I ordered a free color chart.  Computer monitors tend to change the color a bit, so I try to always get something real and in person if possible to see it in natural light.  

Two days later I received the color chart in the mail along with a hand written note from George Kirby Junior thanking me for my inquiry and that he hoped we could do business in the future.  You don't get personal service like that very often anymore, so I thought I'd give it a try.  It didn't hurt that their shop is in New Bedford, MA which is just a few hours away and shipping usually only takes a day.

I won't go into the details of painting because it's about as much fun as watching paint dry, but I will say that I really liked the flow and coverage characteristics of the Kirby paint much better than some other paints I have tried and it smelled very different, more like turpentine or something old time-y, rather than made in a giant factory somewhere.   We'll see how it holds up, but so far so good.

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

Friggin in the Riggin

As I near the end of the build and approach some semblance of a launch date I realize how many little things I still need to wrap up.  So many in fact, that I feel a bit like a mental patient who hasn't taken his meds in a week or so.  The shop looks like hurricane Irma hit it and I'm getting a bit crazy.

As of my last count, I have the following major projects in a partially completed state:

  1.  Daggerboard
  2.  Rudder assembly (the whole steering thing in fact with Norwegian tiller)
  3.  Floorboards
  4.  Interior fairing and paint
  5.  Sails and Rig

There are lots of other things that I know I won't get done before my first test launch this fall, but the projects above are 'must haves' if I want to get the boat in the water and test it out before winter inevitably hits Central New Hampshire.  Being a backwards kind of guy, I decided to focus on #5 (sails and rig) this week.  On paper, it seems like I had this all wrapped up a while ago, but if you do a little math, having a bunch of spars I built that are hanging on a wall does not make a completed rig.

In between other projects from the week before, we had a good stretch of weather that gave me the opportunity to protect the spars using Deks Olje D1.  It's a combination of oils that need to be reapplied from time to time, but it is way easier than actually varnishing and gives the spars a nice warm satin finish.  We'll see how it holds up, but it's easy to apply and looks nice so far.

In the previous post I also mentioned leathering up the chafe areas on the spars so I had that taken care of as well, but that was about it for rig.  All the lines, blocks, sails, and everything else that makes a rig a rig needed to be done.

The sails had shown up several weeks before from Michael Storer's Really Simple Sails (He designed the Goat Island Skiff which is a similar boat to the Campion Apple).  I had taken them out briefly only to verify that the measurements were correct, but waited for the spars to be Dek'd before doing anything with them.

I am a total newbie when it comes to lug rigs (or any traditional rig for the matter), so this is all a learning curve for me.  A yard always meant something you grow grass on and make your kids mow; but now there are two on the boat.  Very confusing, and there seems to be about 10 million ways to rig a balanced lug depending on your budget.  I've spent almost every night for the last month researching the rigging procedure and asking questions on the woodenboat forum and other resources.  Now the time had come to just jump in and find out what sucks.

I had decided to use a mast traveler based on a bunch of posts recommending it in the woodenboat forum.  The traveler is basically a steel hoop with a hook to hold onto the yard and a halyard tied to the top end.  They don't bind on the mast and make the whole rig very easy to disassemble.

My welding skills are pretty weak, but it looked like the kind of project I could do.  I went through a number of iterations before settling on a design that I could live with and actually worked.  I used stainless steel rod but the weld is just regular steel so I coated them with rustoleum to keep out some corrosion.  I still have to leather the rings, but I think they will do fine.

Onto the sail, I started by lacing up the mizzen to the yard by tying each end off tight (the throat and peak) and then lacing the grommets in between with nylon cord that came with the sail. Pretty easy, but I'm sure it will need to be adjusted once I actually sail this thing.  Next, I tied off the tack and clew to the fore and aft ends of the boom.

For the mast I through bolted a Harken Carbo 29 cheek block to the aft side and ran Dynema line through it and tied it off to the mast traveler I made.  I tested it on our back deck by tying the mast to picnic table benches and hoisting the sail.
Amazingly, it didn't look terrible and despite me wondering how the yard would raise up above the mast, it did in fact do so.  Once you see it done, it makes total sense.  I added a cleat to the mizzen mast on the starboard side and moved onto the main mast.

The main was almost the same just bigger.  The only difference was that I used another Harken Carbo 29 cheek block through bolted to the aft end of the boom and a clam cleat just forward of that to make an easily adjustable outhaul.  Then I tied the tack to the forward end of the boom and ran a line from the clew through the outhaul block and made it fast in the clam cleat.

Finally, it was time to bring it all together.  I pulled the boat out of the shop and stepped both masts and raised the sails for a dry sail.  Again, I was amazed that it all worked and looked halfway decent. I showed some of the photos to Michael Storer (see above) who is an expert on balanced lug sails and he gave me a few pointers on what could be improved, but it wasn't a disaster.

I still have to rig the main sheet to the boom and setup the boomkin and sheet for the mizzen, but I've mounted the main sheet swivel base on the daggerboard trunk, so I'm pretty close to crossing this project off the list.