Wednesday, September 13, 2006

Final Cost Analysis

The Nutmeg was designed many years ago to be the "$200 boat"... a solid sail/row boat that could be built on a shoe-string budget. The design was first sold with that in mind in 1995. Obviously, with inflation and the incredible increases in lumber costs in recent years, I had no expectation of keeping below that total in my costs. Nonetheless, I have been interested in keeping track of the total costs. One of the reasons I decided to build my own boat was because I really didn't want to spend thousands on a new boat. It was always a goal of mine to build a boat that we could enjoy for years without going broke. So, I have kept reciepts and have taken a few minutes to summarize the total costs of this build.

I could have saved a lot of money if I had been willing to make my own connectors and patch together some hardware from scraps, as many builders do... and I could have really lowered the overall cost if I had been willing to make a sail from a $20 tarp from Lowe's. On the flip side, I could have spent many hundreds of dollars on a new sail that someone else made for us... and missed the joy of knowing we had sewn our own! In the end, we decided to have the entire boat building experience... and sew our own sail from material that will last... having the quality without the cost!

So, here's the final shopping list:

4 sheets of 1/4" plywood 53.92
4 1X3X8's 5.16
1 sheet of 1/2" plywood 17.96
1 18' 2X10 19.45
1 gallon exterior all-weather paint 15.48
1 quart colored exterior paint 6.99
100' Nylon Rope 8.97
400 3/4" screws 13.88
100 1 1/2" screws 7.74
Fiberglass cloth 5.97
Epoxy 40.64
Bolts/Nuts/Washers 12.45
Putty/Filler 3.92
Gudgeons, pintles, cleats, etc. 24.68
12 yards Sailcloth and sailtwine 89.76
Grommets and swivel blocks 13.82

Total, plus or minus of few bucks... $340.79

So, all in all, I think I am way ahead of the game!

1. I had more fun building this boat than any other project I have ever done!
2. We now have a boat we can sail in, or fish in for years to come.
3. I have a better relationship with my nephew and my sons because of the time spent working on this boat.
4. We're only out $340 bucks!

I think it was a great deal!

Saturday, September 09, 2006

Last details and the Long Awaited Launch!

Anticipating a Saturday, September 7th launch there were a number of little things left to do to prepare. First was rigging of the sail. Here you see the "foot" of the sail. We used a simple wrapping technique... starting at one end and simply pushing the line through each grommet, then wrapping it over the foot-spar on the way to the next grommet. Another option is to tie each grommet off seperately with short pieces of rope. For now, this technique seems to work fine.
Now both spars are rigged, and the sail is folded for easier carrying back outside. Here's a closeup of the way we tied off the corners of the sail.
And here's a shot of the entire sail.
Next was the rigging of the rudder assembly and rudder. I purchased gugdeons and pintles to provide for the hinging action of the rudder. There were designs in the boat plans to make your own and save some money. But I decided to go with the materials that I knew would work well the first time... rather than depending on my sometimes not so excellent wood-working skills.

You can see the gudgeons installed on the transom. If you look closely you can see a light pencil mark to ensure these are lined up properly with one another at a 90 degree angle to the ground.
Here's a closeup of the pintles, which I have carefully installed along the edge of the rudder assembly. It was a bit tricky to make sure these were spaced properly. The pintle to the right is a bit longer than the other... which makes it MUCH easier to slide them on the gudgeons!
Here's a closeup of the tiller installed on the top of the rudder aseembly.
And here you can see the tiller and the tiller extension... hinged for easy use from any angle.
And finally, the entire assembly in place. Thankfully, it swings freely. Notice that the rudder is "kicked-up". This is an ingenious part of the design. It is attached to the rudder assembly with a bolt and a couple of washers... and is tightened just enough to allow the rudder to stay in place under the water... but loose enough so that it will kick up if we accidently run into some shallow water.
Well, it's Saturday morning in this shot, and Josh is home... so we've put the boat outside for one last check over before heading for the lake. We have put the mast in place, and hoisted the sail. This allows us to make some last minute adjustments. She looks ready to go!
You may remember that one of the ongoing discussions between Dan and I early on was the "car-toppable-ness" of this boat. Late this week I built a couple of carpeted extensions for our van's roof-rack. As you can see, we have put the boat up and have it tied in place. The sail spars are so long (the longest is 14 feet, 7 inches remember!) that we had to stuff the sail up underneeth... inside the boat. It actually sits up in there very nicely.
Suffice it to say, Josh and I did find the boat quite cartoppable. It'll take some practice to put it up there alone... but that's for another day!
So, we were off to the lake for the much anticipating launching. And, wouldn't you know it. Dead Calm! That's life! High expectations are sometimes met with real disappointment! But we were not easily discouraged! It was a beautiful day... and we decided to wait it out a while. So, we ate some lunch... and as we did the breeze picked up a little.
Here we are rigging the rudder, the leeboard, and the sail.
And now, we're ready to launch. Thanks to my wife Leslie who was there to take pictures!!!
We're in the water! And it floats! And though there was still little wind, the boat seemed to use it quite efficiently. It carried us quickly away from shore! You can see here, I am lowering the leeboard as we sail away.
Everything was going along beautifully... for about 5 minutes, until we got a decent gust of wind, when suddenly stuff began to go a bit wrong.... No pictures here...

But, the sail assembly came crashing down!!! We quickly realized that it was because someone had done a poor job of tying the knot holding the pulley to the top of the mast. Yes, it was me! Unfortunately, we couldn't fix it on the water... so we had to paddle back to shore without the aid of the wind. Here you see us arriving back for the fix. My loving wife said, "Oh well, at least we'll have a fancy sandbox for our grandchildren!" A lot of encouragement there, huh?
Much to my spouse's surprise, it didn't take us long to get everything back in place... this time with a knot tied by my experienced boy scout son... and we're in business once again! I may be a bit prejudice, but I don't think it's a bad looking little boat. As you can see, the sail has a nice shape with the wind in it! We sailed around for 20 minutes or so... the wind was beginning to pick up quite nicely... and the boat was responding like a dream! When suddenly, in the distance, we heard the sound every sailor dreads. THUNDER! We knew it was supposed to storm today... but it wasn't supposed to hit till late afternoon. I love weathermen!
So, due to some masterful steering by Josh, we were able to sail back into the wind to get back to shore just in time for the rain to hit. Les got a nice shot here of the huge raindrops as we dropped the sail, and headed for cover.
Alas, our maiden voyage was over. It poured!
So that the end of our first sail in our boat. There are definitely a few kinks to be worked out on the boat to make it sail smoother. But overall, it was a blast... and we are thrilled with our boat. Can't wait to take it out again!

Monday, September 04, 2006

Sail, grommets, painting trim...

I had to be away for some training last week, so the boat was on hold for that time. However, my wife Leslie was fast at work sewing the sail, and by Wednesday she had the entire thing done! Which is really a very incredible fete! She's got some sore fingers to show for it, but it's really a thing of beauty as you'll see in a few moments.

The next step in preparing the sail for rigging is to give it some shape. As you may have noticed if you've ever seen a sailboat in action, a sail typically has some shape to it as the wind fills it. In other words, when viewed from the side, a wind-filled sail is not flat, but has a bow in it. I don't know about you, but I had never given any thought to HOW a sail got this shape, until it was time to try to make it happen! OK, now I'm a little nervous...

It turns out that a sail gets it's shape by cutting two of the edges of the sail in a curve, rather than straight! According to the plans, our sail has 5" of "roach" along BOTH the "foot" of the sail (the bottom), and the "head" of the sail (the leading edge of the sail). This means that we had to somehow draw a curved line from the middle of the edge of the sail to a point 5"down from the corner on each end. It's tricky to do, and unfortunately I took no pics of the process. Suffice it to say that I used a narrow 7 foot long piece of 1/4" plywood, and bent it in a 5" deep curve, to create the edge for marking. Below you'll see how the roach came out.

After cutting the rounded edges of the sail, it was time to install the grommets. If you are like me, and have never installed grommets, you need to know that it takes a special tool to do so! Here you see the two sides of a grommet, and the two pieces of a grommet tool.

Now I've loaded the two sides of the grommet into the two parts of the tool... and here's the hammer I used to pound them into shape.
As you can see, I doubled the sail material for strength, and installed the grommets about 1" from the edges of the sail...
and about 15" apart.
And here you can see the spacing of the grommets... and if you look along the left edge of the sail, I think you can see the rounded edge... or the "roach" of the sail... which, God willing, will take on a smooth bowwhen it catches the breezes and propels our boat!
Next it was time to paint the trim. I haven't shown you here, but since my last post, we put two full coats of white paint on every surface of the boat. We decided to add some interest to the boring white paint by adding a little dark blue trim. You can see here we have chosen to use the blue on the sail arms, the mast, the rudder assembly and the leeboard.
Again, I neglected to take pictures of some steps in the process. The only part of the hull that is getting blue trim are the gunnels, quarterknees and breasthook. I started with the boat bottom-side up... taped off the gunnels... and put two coats on the part I could see. Now I have tipped the boat over, and have taped off the gunnel to create a straight line along the inside edge.
Painting the breasthook... and the front, top of the gunnel.
Here you can see the side of the gunnel, already painting, and the top just starting to get a coat.
Abracadabra! Using the miracle of modern technology... in an instant, two coats have been applied, the tape is off... and the boat is trimmed in blue! This quarterknee came out nice, I think.
A side view... not bad lines, if I say so myself!
A view looking down the length of the boat from the front...And finally, from 45 degrees behind. I think it's ready for hardware... and a launch this week! Take a good look at those clean white surfaces... something tells me it's not gonna stay quite this clean for long once we start climbing in and out! And to think, it all started with this!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

The Last Epoxy, Sail Making and The Painting Begins!

With my son Josh home, much has gotten done this week. In fact, the progress seems miraculous these days! Maybe we'll get in the water by Labor Day... just a month late. The only bad thing I can think of related to Josh being home is the fact that there is someone other than me to man the camera! That means you are forced to see me in some of these shots! Sorry about that!

Here I am applying the last of the epoxy resin. There wasn't a lot left... and we decided to use it all up to strengthen some weak spots, and provide one more coat in some areas where water might potentially find it's way in. Here I am applying some eopxy.
The last step before painting the hull!
Our sail material came in this past week... and we finally had time to lay out our sail. The plans we bought came with a drawing of the sail dimensions. As you can see here, we used some string and some 10 lb. barbells to lay out the dimensions on our driveway.
Then we began to unroll the sailcloth across the string line. We could clearly see the string through the fabric. Here Josh is laying a long straight edge along the string-line, and marking with a pencil, so we know where the outside edge of our sail will be.
After marking, Josh cuts the fabric... allowing a couple of inches for seem... and error. We've learned to always allow for potential human error! This boat building can be might humbling!
Finally, we had the sailcloth cut into the rough shape of our Lateen sail rig.
The unfortunate thing is, NOW this beast needs to be sewn together... which proved to be no simple task! The material is a synthetic sailcloth... some kind of polymer. It is very strong, and yet extremely light. The problem is, it is HARD to push and pull a needle through it! The "sailtwine" recommended by the maker for sewing it is like thick dental floss... with a load of wax on it. The thickness of the floss adds to the difficulty of sewing! After some experimentation we found a workable technique. We use a small piece of leather on our thumb to push the needle part of the way through... and then, if you look closely in this picture, you can see me using plyers to grip the needle and pull it the rest of the way through.
It's a long, tedious project, but it can be done. And I am thrilled to tell you that my wife Leslie has gotten very involved in this process. She spent many hours over the last 24 hours sewing. And miraculously, the sail is already 3/4 of the way complete! Just one more long stretch to go! Sadly, Leslie refuses to let me photograph her helping us. So you are forced to look at one more pic of me! All I can say is, it's hard on the knees and back. Because of this, Leslie, Josh and I have been taking 30 minute shifts... any more hobbles me!
And lastly, today, between office work and an evening meeting, Josh and I put the first coat of paint on the boat! We are starting off with a coat of an acrylic, latex, water-base primer/sealer. Here you see Josh starting off with a little of the trim on the inside of the boat.
Under the Maststep is the hardest spot to reach!
Here I am rolling on the last of the inside coat. Looks nice doesn't it?
Now we've flipped over our vessel, and Josh has got the roller this time. Goodbye ugly color inconsistencies!
It goes on quick and easy! In fact, we go through a full gallon of primer/sealer to do the hull... inside, and outside.
Top and bottom...
And, we have put a coat of sealer on the rest of the pieces of the boat as well... the sail spars, the mast, the rudder assembly and the leeboard.
This finished our day. Tomorrow, barring rain, we'll put the first top coat on the boat, and maybe even finish up the sail!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Quarterknees, Breasthooks, Filling and Sanding...

It's been two weeks plus since our last post. We were away on vacation for 8 days. Since we returned, we have been working hard... just have been bad about updating the blog! Tonight we make up for it!

I am happy to say that my son Josh is home for a couple of weeks before college begins again (he was in Seattle all summer)... and that he has been able to join me in finishing this boat! Dan has now left for Optometry School... but will be home on weekends, hopefully to be present at the time of our maiden voyage! You will see Josh in many of these pictures taken over the last few days as we have made major progress on this boat.

The first step shown here is Josh doing some heavy sanding to level out the back corners of the top of the boat, for proper fitting of the Quarterknees. The quarterknees are triangular pieces if 1/4" plywood that pull together the back of the boat, create handholds for lifting, and give a surface to place hooks for tying lines. The sanding is heavy because the angle of the top of the transom does NOT match the angle of the gunwales!
Hard to see it here, but we have a nicely prepared surface now.The quarterknee in place without glue and screws...
Applying glue....
And now attached with glue and screws.The "breasthook" meets the same purposes at the front of the boat... over the stem. Here it is in place, with the screw holes puttied.Another step we completed this weekend is the block-set that will hold the leeboard in place. We drilled a hole in the side of the boat, just forward of the 10' mark. Then we glued a 4" X 4" spacer block on the inside of the boat...As well as an oblong chunk of 1 X 2" on the outside of the hull. As you can see, the thickness of this piece matches the thickness of the gunwales and the chines. The 3/8" bolt will hold the entire thing in place... including the leeboard.
Another need we took care of was sealing the seams between the boat bottom, the hull sides and the frames. We used some water-repellent gap filler that can be painted over. You can see the seams filled nicely here.
One of the more tedious needs to "fill" is the puttying of some 300+ screw heads over the outside and inside of the boat. Here you see me mixing some putty. I spared you the pictures of filling the 300+ holes!
And then, it began! One of the most time consuming parts of this whole job... SANDING! Josh and I spent many hours sanding over the last few days. Here Josh is sanding the bottom of the boat. You can see many of the screw hole filled putty spots now sanded out smooth.
Sanding putty....
Sanding the sail spars...
Sanding the rudder...
Sanding the leeboard...
Sanding the top edge of the hull and gunwales...
Sanding the inside of the hulls... and perhaps we went a little overboard with the sanding...
Sanding our Bassett Hound Cody...
Don't worry. No animals were injured in the filming of this blog!

Thankfully, we expect to have just 1-2 hours of sanding left... before it will be time to paint! We'll show you that later this week! Until then, have fun!