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!