Sunday, February 22, 2015

Oarlock Resolution

 UNA's winter "To Do List" is actually shrinking. Most of the tasks have been subtle refinements like loops for the reefing crinkles along with rings and snap hooks for easier use of that gear. The previously used cunningham hooks dropped out repeatedly when reef lines weren't tensioned. Flailing hooks while raising or lowering the sail are never good. Scratch that off the List.

Dynema loops and bronze snap hook.

Mainsail reefing tack and micro block.
Other improvements like the tent and associated canvas storage bags will keep things neat and functional. One item on the list was not one I relished taking on, but it needed to be done. As a sail and oar boat, one of UNA's strengths should be rowing. After several sessions behind the oars, I finally come to the realization that my little boat needed a better set up. Despite all the testing and fitting of oarlocks in the garage during the build, the in the water test was lacking. At first I attributed the deficiency to my lack of skill (some may still be that). The main reason? The inboard gunwale mounted oar sockets did not get the horns high enough for the oar to clear the outboard edge of the gunwale if one really horsed on the oars and dug deep.
First try: angled sockets.
Angled again.

 The solution was to raise the sockets 1/2-3/4". I did not see an elegant solution with the current angled sockets, so I removed them, fared the gunwale, fashioned new pads from cherry scraps, and fitted standard sockets to them.

New cherry pad temporarily mounted.

Old mounting holes plugged.
 I thought the new sockets would be more locked in if semi-recessed. With nearly 10' oars, there is a tremendous load exerted on this part of the boat. A barbed drill bit and some chisel action helped pare the pad down.

Socket recess.

 The old sockets will go toward the dinghy "Gigi". She hangs in the shed now ready for some sanding and paint. Warmer temps are needed for that.

 Socket pads are now epoxied onto the boat. Varnish coats will have to wait for some warmer couple of days. Epoxy was coated inside the body of the pad as well as inside the hole now in the gunnel for the socket and horn to protrude and weep any water that might otherwise collect.

I think this will be a big improvement. The focus can now be on slimming the oar shafts down a tad for a springier pull and thereby lighten the outboard ends for better balanced sculls. Cheers-

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Boat Hooks to Crochet Hooks

Last Fall my daughter went for her first sail in UNA. She was quick to take note of the 8' long boat hook I made from oak and red cedar. She suggested that I could cut the hooked end of the pole off for her crocheting use! Alarmed at the idea, I defensively I manufactured for her 3 hooks of various sizes mimicking UNA's. I had trouble tossing the hardwood scraps from the build and here they got some use. However, apparently the largest hook wasn't large enough, so a fourth hook made use of what was the bumkin cut off and some oak scraps. I'm now officially out of that business.

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Pushing the Season

An unusual warmth and breeze proved too tempting this morning. Temps were in the mid 60's. I can't recall sailing this early in the year before, unless the Caribbean counts. With winds at 10-12 mph conditions looked perfect. So, we hooked up UNA. Hauling south for about an hour from home got us to Lake Chesdin. Built as a reservoir for Chesterfield County, it has good depth and much of it remains undeveloped shoreline. Some had rock outcroppings with pines reminiscent of Maine.

The SE end of this long water has 2 public ramps separated by a small pier. It all worked quite well. 30 minutes to rig and off we were for a wonderful afternoon. The crystal blue skies and warmth of the sun felt fantastic while slouched in the cockpit watching cormorants, terns, and great heron take wing along the way. An occasional whiff of wood fires only added to the scene. A few coves beckoned for another visit, perhaps for an overnighter.  The lake is fed by the Appomattox River. We sailed in that direction for about 1.5 hrs to weather to turn and reach back for about an hour back to the ramp. There were perhaps a half dozen bass boaters seen along the way. They too wanted to stay in practice I suppose. All was a needed break from the winter doldrums here. Take a look-