Wednesday, June 28, 2006

A little work on the boat...

While waiting under this state of emergency there have been moments when there has been little to do except work on the boat. Thank God for a project! I find this kind of work good for my otherwise worried soul.

Here I spend a little time at the band saw, as I shape the rudder assembly (one of the chunks of 1/2" plywood I cut a few days ago). Notice that the rudder has two parts... one that will be affixed to the transom (the back of the boat) and tiller (the arm that allows the skipper to control the heading of the boat...
and the other that will be hung from the first with a single bolt and nut. This longer, more rounded piece will the the piece that will actually do the work.
This two-piece configuration will allow what is called a "kick-up" rudder... which will pivot up if we ever run it across shallow water.

I also had a little time to fabricate the first of four frames which will create the "ribs" of the boat. The two 16 foot sides of the boat will be bent around these frames to form the shape of the hull. Here I adjust my table saw angle guide to exactly 15 degrees...That way, I can make the precise cuts needed...And together with some 1/4" plywood cut for gussets... Can make the largest of the four frames. I dry fit the pieces now... and will secure them permenantly with 3/4" screws and epoxy when the epoxy arrives from NJ. This first frame is 42" across the bottom, and 54" across the top... and will create the widest part of our boat.

Noah had more warning!

God told Noah to build his boat with plenty of time to spare before the flood hit! Either God waited too long to tell me, or I just wasn't listening in time! The lives of everyone in our area have been on hold these past 24 hours as a nine county area has been under a state of energency due to copious amounts of rainfall, and historic flooding. Dozens of bridges have been washed away, thousands have been evacuated from their homes, some have even lost their lives. It is alarming to see the power of water... and to sit with people as they wait to find out when they can get back into their homes, and wonder what they will find when they finally get there! Here are a couple of pictures I took midday today as the waters were still rising in downtown Binghamton...
A pegestrian bridge about to be covered by the raging Susquehanna.

The parking lot behind Lourdes Hospital, about one hour before they decided to evacuate all their patients to other area Hospitals. The water was not only covering their parking lots but was 3-4 deep in the lower level of the building at this point.One of our neighbor's homes near the confluence of the Susquehanna and Chenango Rivers with water flowing through it. Not sure how long any home can withstand such force. Please pray for all the families in our area who are staggered by these floods... including our new friends, the two single moms and their three daughters (age 4 thru 14) who are spending the night with us tonight. They fully expect to find all of their belongings destroyed whenever they can return to their apartment. They both live within a block of the confluence of these two rivers... an area entirely under water tonight.

Monday, June 26, 2006

Ripping the 18' Long Gunwales

I found out over the weekend (via e-mail from Mr. Vitromile in Washington) that the epoxy resin we purchased last week is the wrong stuff. I have returned it to the local Home Depot, and have ordered the correct right epoxy from a company in New Jersey. While we await it's arrival, the end-to-end bonding of the 8 foot pieces of plywood to make the sides of our boat will also have to wait.

So, when Dan came by tonight to spend 90 minutes working on the boat, we went to work cutting the "gunwales" for our boat. The 3/4" x 1 1/2" gunwales are the long, slim pieces of wood affixed to the upper sides of the boat, and got their name from the days when cannons were mounted on them. Ours have to be cut from the entire length of our 18 foot 2 x 10! Lumber companies simply don't mill pieces of wood like this! Thankfully, the gentlemen who provided us the drawings for our boat also provided us plans for a nifty little jig to make the job easier. Here's the jig mounted on our circular saw... carefully affixed so that it allows exactly a 3/4" cut.
We take our time with this cut, inching the saw along... and it worked like a charm!

When we were done we had two beautiful gunwales, ready to be glued and screwed to the entire length of the top edge of the sides of our sailboat. For our 16' boat, the gunwales have to be nearly 18' in length because of the bend in the hull. For some perspective on how long 18' really is, here's Dan modeling our first gunwale! As you can see, it was a challenge to get the whole thing in the picture! This gives us the first real sense of the size of our intended vessel!

Sunday, June 25, 2006

A slow weekend...

With Dan's brother graduating from HS, and Leslie and I having a party for family at our new home, we had no time to work together this weekend. I did take an hour to do some preliminary work alone this afternoon though. Dan is most interested in building the boat itself, and using it for rowing and fishing. I am the one interested in using it for sailing. So, I decided to get a jump on some of the "sailing only" parts of our boat.

Here I am cutting out three pieces of 1/2"plywood... pieces that will eventually be the "planer board", the rudder, and the "mast partner". If you've never done any sailing, you may (or may not) be surprised that there is an enormous vocabulary of words used only by sailors and boat builders.

The planer board is a relatively long, wide 1/2" thick board that goes down into the water near the mid-point of the boat to keep the boat from sliding sideways while under the influence of the wind. Without it, you could never sail in any direction other than the direction of the wind. With it you can sail faster at a 90 degree angle across the wind than even directly with the wind... sailing at this angle is called sailing "on a reach" and the accelleration can be VERY exciting! The planer board for this relatively small boat will be a whopping 55" long!

Rudder is a term known by most... the stearing part of our vessel will be nearly 42" long.

The "mast partner" was an unknown term to me until recently. It is the assembly that holds the mast to the boat... and braces it against the torque caused by the wind in the sails. As you can imagine, the placement and the strength of this item is critical. Here are the chunks of plywood which will, God willing, become these important components of our boat.

Thursday, June 22, 2006

Building commences!

Dan and I jumped in making the first cuts! This build requires few tools. Here Dan uses a circular saw to cut the four intial 20" wide, 8 foot long pieces if plywood that will eventually be the sides of our craft. You may wonder how you get a 16' long boat when plywood comes in eight foot sheets. Good question! The answer is, you use epoxy and fiberglass cloth to bond two eight foot sections end to end... and create two 16-foot boards that will be shaped into the sides of the vessel. You'll see that process unfolding in our next posting. Until then, enjoy summer!

Dan and I finally had the time to go shopping today... and here are the results! Hard to believe, but 95% of the materials of our 16' boat is in this picture! We bought four sheets of 1/4" plywood, one sheet of 1/2" plywood, one 2 x 10 x 18', four 8 foot 1 x 3's, some paint, some glue and some epoxy. The only items missing are the 500+ screws (on order), the sail cloth, the rope for line and the hardward for fittings. It's great to finally get this project started!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Our project begins!

Life often forces us into times of major transition. What I have discovered is that there are at least two ways of experiencing these transitions: We can be overwhelmed with the stress that comes with these changes... or we can delve in full bore, and use the requisite energy to explore a new world that seems ripe with potential. It feels like a time that might produce some creativity!

My soon-to-be nephew and I are BOTH in a time of major transition right now. My wife and I have just relocated as I begin a new job in Binghamton, NY. Dan, the fiance of my niece, Heather, is about to relocate to Manhattan, NYC to begin Opthamology School. Neither of us really have the time to start a previously unexplored project... like building a boat... a yet, somehow, it seems like the perfect thing to do right now.

So, we have ordered plans for a 16', car-toppable, sail/row boat. The plans are now in hand, and we are going out this week to purchase the materials.

This blog will document our progress. Feel free to write comments, suggestions, or just offer encouragement (or to laugh out loud at us as we pick our way along!).

Until next time... Dave