Thursday, July 17, 2014

A Dream Becomes A Delight

Approximately 560 man hours over a 10 month time frame ended this morning with a sail. And I didn't miss any of the TV most people were watching.
What else can I say? Too much to tell, but a dream from boyhood and satisfaction from labor was realized on the Mattaponi River at West Point, VA. How can I report on this maiden voyage? There is so much to tell and then so much that simply can't be relayed. Suffice it to say that Una floats like a feather, moves with grace, and slips along on a breath of air. She is, quite simply, a delight.

Iain Oughtred designed a superb little vessel. I took the better part of the morning rigging Una to confirm I had all the pieces. I dreamt I left the mast last night. Almost left the mizzen. Here are the beauty shots before travels, before I wacked her with the anchor after telling myself I couldn't, and before she rubbed a pier. Now she is seasoned and ready for adventures.

Rigged for confirmation.

Rudder sheave pins still to be finalized.

Mizzen boom at clew.

Mizzen at tack/goose neck.


Ready to roll.

The trip to West Point was uneventful. I didn't notice the trailer was following though I stopped twice on the interstate shoulder to satisfy myself that all was AOK.

At the ramp, the traffic was constant with boats coming and going. Re-rigging took maybe 20 minutes. I had to back the trailer until the brake lights were submerged. We'll see how long they last. On Off Center Harbor Geeoff Kerr has his lights on a 2x strapped on top of the boat. That is more visible from the rear and keeps the lights out of the water. We'll wait on that alteration.

So, I rowed out into the river, set the anchor (16# Bruce with 10' chain), and raised the mizzen, sheeted it hard, and then raised the main. All was simple and worked like a charm until I worked the shear while raising the anchor. Now the boat is christened.

There wasn't much wind. Hardly any most of the time, but puffs came and went to experience th boat's potential. Since the main extends only 2/3 of the way aft in the cockpit you can stand up with the push stick and slide along. The stick was counter intuitive after years of dinghy sailing, but by the end of the sail it was almost second nature (until I swapped hands, but that will come too).

I've a laundry list of "improvements" for Una. Some are finicky. Others are necessary and known, but not deciphered until she hit the water. Perhaps I'll elaborate at a later time … or not. I expect to be sailing a lot over the next few months into the Fall. What a boat! I'll leave you with a few pics from the water. Adios-

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

What's In A Name?

Boats can be very personal things. Some, of course, are utilitarian vehicles. A jon boat may perform with or without identity. (I do wonder if it might receive better care and attention if given a name.) Other boats are very much vessels for dreams and adventures. These become part of your life. Why else for eons have sailors referred to ships as "she"? 

So, after almost 11 months invested in this bateau, how can "she" go without a name? I half thought about reusing my recently sold Moth boat's "Chica," a short, cute, affectionate, and unassuming appellation for a sweet little boat. However, Chica was her own "person" and to reuse the name would betray memories with her. She was a lovely boat and part of her does in a sense live in this new boat. 

A pretty boat deserves a pretty name. Oughtred's design has classic lines derived across centuries. Its ancestors sailed in waters from Norway to Denmark, Scotland to Ireland. This heritage prompted me to look for a Gaelic name. A simple name. A pretty name.

I began with "Oonagh" which is Scottish, Irish, or Gaelic. The spelling did not appear pretty and I was certain some would pronounce it "Oonagg", not so lovely. Instead, I settled on the Latin variant, "Una" meaning "one, pure, holy". Other meanings imply "unity and truth". The Gaelic meaning even implies "hunger". These deeper meanings may saddle the boat with too much. Of course people have to know them. I prefer the broader and more general meanings. 

Now I have a simple, pretty, and feminine boat. She's very near completion. On the eve of her maiden, I give you …

Little remains to be done: One last trip to the hardware store remains for some stainless screws, the trailer has been fitted, and the interior parts are installed. We're going sailing this week.

Bow shot.

Stern quarter.
Forward bulkhead and nestled oars blades.

Not the oarlock detail. Not wanting to lose them overboard or have them rattle while hanging on chains against the hull, I yanked the core out of some paracord and put on a wood bead as a stop. The cord is sewn on the oarlock and is just long enough to allow the oarlock to rest on the seat brace. We'll see how it works. Another option is to place a leather pocket or strap under the seat edge.

Sunday, July 6, 2014

The Sailing Life Well Blogged

Since I'm maybe one more post (1 week) from completion of this Sooty Tern, I thought I'd point out a couple local sailors who have, perhaps unknowingly, kept the dream going for me at times when the build became drudgery. On more than one occasion I've hit a wall and an email notified me of a new post from either of these guys. A quick read got me realizing I wanted to be where they were doing what they were doing. For those who follow blogs on small boat cruising, these two perhaps are not news. Both sail in my home waters, the Chesapeake. Both have boats of comparable "Sooty" size. And both have a real camera eye and the ability to tell a tale (I'm guessing mostly based on truth).

The first is Curt Bowman. His blog is Thin Water Annie. His boat is a wood built Drabscombe Coaster from Maine. Actually, he came by for a visit just last week to peak at my boat's progress. He's a very good chap. Curt also paints and is an accomplished artist. Here is a "self portrait" of him with his boat.

Curt and Annie.

The second blogger is Steve Early. He and his boat "Spartina" spend more time exploring the shores of the Chesapeake and Pamlico Sound than anyone I know. Spartina is a home-built John Welsford design called a Pathfinder. His blog is The Log of Spartina. Steve has a career in photography and his entries are always entertaining and wonderfully pictured. I've yet to meet Steve, but I know people who regularly spy Spartina sailing across the waterfront in Norfolk. I'll catch him one of these days … soon.

Spartina at rest.

I truly appreciate the stories these fellows share. Their enjoyment of sailing is a journey and I aspire to have such simple, real, and pure adventures they regularly log. Thank you guys.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Brass Bling and Splicing

Got the crew in the driveway the other morning to flip the hull. Devising a mattress of old tires and moving quilts to roll the boat made me just nervous enough. Dropping the project at this stage would not be good.

Adding brass.
Mounting the brass really puts a finished look to the boat. It will be removed for one last (third) coat of paint. I may add some varnish on the interior as the chance of dust settling on the surface is reduced.

Bow stem bending.
Transom gudgeon.

End to be tapered.

Bow eye.

Bow stem conformed.

Bends in the brass were achieved by brute force, a smooth faced hammer, a woodworker's vice, and blocks of hardwood. There is simply many test fittings and a tad sanding on the stem to get a good fit. You must be careful not to bend on one of the screw holes. There the half oval will fold (Ah, experience).

I will file round and tapered the few ends that are exposed.

Got the mizzen boom jaw leathered. I could have stitched the protection on, but elected to use copper tacks.
Jaw leather.

Great scissors.

When I bought extra thick leather for the oars, I grabbed these super scissors. Cuts leather like paper. Always helps to have the right tool. I still wish for a bandsaw.

Lastly, did up a few splices: some 3 strand loops for boom and yard fittings, the double braid down haul, and anchor rode. Some are better than others. Later-