Saturday, May 5, 2012


Here's a shot of the boat with the sail sitting in the lazy jacks. Floatation has been added to the boat in the hopes of making the boat recoverable should a knock down occur.

View of the interior. The blue cushions on either side of the boat are of nylon rip stop material covering 4 inch wide styrofoam. If I was crossing the ocean I'd probably provide different floatation but for a beach toy I think this is fine, relatively easy, and cheap.

Here's a closer view of the interior. Inside the cushion is a 1/2 inch strip of wood attached to the upper edge of the styrofoam. The white PVC "clamps" snap in place over the wood strip which is inside the blue cover. The clamps hold the top edge of the cushions in place snugly up against the inside of the hull. The bamboo floor holds the bottom edge of the cushions in place snugly up against the side of the hull.

Here is a closer view of the PVC clamps. I took a large diameter of PVC pipe and cut it into 1.5 inch wide circles. One can soften PVC enough to bend and shape it by putting it in boiling water. The clamps seem to be pretty sturdy. I pushed and pried a whole bunch on the cushions and could not break the clamps or cause them to work loose.

So lets test it. Here's a view of the boat floating on it's side in about 2 feet of water. The boat is floating relatively high in the water due to the cushions. No part of the boat, sail, or mast is touching the bottom. The boat, when righted from this floating high position contains some water but is manageable.

Without flotation the boat would float half in and half out of the water when on it's side. When righted from the half in and half out position the boat would contain a lot of water and be hard to manage. So I'm basically happy with the floatation for now.

Close up of the submerged cushion. The cushion's clamped edge is submerged a few inches under the water by the weight of the boat. Only the upper cushion edge with the clamps is submerged. The cushion edge near the floor is not submerged. The weight of the sail pulls press the mast downward and angles the boat so the rail is submerged.

Back home the cushions and floors are removed and everything gets to dry out. This is Florida and mold would quickly form without a dry out. Hope you enjoyed that. Till next time.

Friday, May 4, 2012

New Sail and Mast

Well I got busy with work and worked out of state and didn't touch the boat for a long time. Nice to be back and nice to have done some work on the boat and to update the blog. Since the junk rig sail didn't work out quite right, I made another poly tarp sail per the plan's dimensions. As recommended the sail is a lanteen sail. Below is the picture of the unfinished sail. The sail has been cut out of the tarp. The sail edges have been folded over and rope has been sewn into the perimeter of the sail.

Below is a close up of the sail corner where you can better see the folded sail edge with the rope sewn in. There is also a dart in the corner. Two of the corners have darts which allow the sail to have a concave shape.

Below is a view of the finished corners and dart. The corners and dart are reinforce with polytarp and tape which are also sewn onto the sail. Putting in the gromets was fun. I hadn't ever messed with gromets before. Oh, and I should mention it was my mother who kindly sewed the sail for me. The corners and sail seem surprisingly sturdy.

Since it's a lanteen sail I also needed spars. Luckily I was able to get some nice lengths of bamboo at no cost to use for the spars. How does it get better than that? The lengths of bamboo are a little bit too bendable so I doubled them up and lashed them together with zip ties. Yeah, I know, could have used duct tape. Below is a veiw of the sail corner and bamboo spars. The spars are attached to each other in the corner by a peice of rope secured to the spars with hose clamps. I read that bamboo will splinter and break if you drill holes in it and bolt it together. I used pieces of rubber inner tube beneath the clamps to prevent them from sliding around. This seems to be working well.

View of the spars and mast. The mast is a larger piece of bamboo that is approx 11 feet long also obtained at no cost. The plans call for a 10 foot mast. Now that I know that 10 feet is actually enough length for the mast, I will probably trim the extra foot. The sail is hoisted up the mast by a rope through a pully that I've tied to the mast. The bottom spare attaches to the mast with rope and hose clamps. The sails are attached to the spars with zip ties, yea zip ties. I like the bamboo. Gives it a homey look.

And below is a veiw of the whole thing. I took the boat out for a spin in winds of 10 knots and had a good time. The boat moves and steers well in light air. No problems with the new rig. I like it. Will be interesting to see what it's like with more wind sometime. If you noticed the absense of the dragon, don't worry, he's fine and will be along another time :)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Launch Day! Woohoo!

Here we are at Sunset Park the local beach/boat ramp with the boat on the trailer. The mast is on top of the van and all other equipment is in the van. I started building the boat a little over a year ago but was out of state working for seven to eight months, so figure a net total of maybe six months build time.

To first step is to remove the boat from the trailer. I slide the boat half way off the trailer and set one side of the boat down on the ground on top of a heavy mover's quilt. Next time I'm going to set it on the floatation cushions and leave the quilt at home so there's one less thing to bring. The photo shows one side of the boat on the trailer and the other on the ground. From this position it's easy to roll the boat over to the upright position.

This photo shows the boat rolled over to the upright position with the wheels slid under the bow. From here I lift the boat up at the aft end and roll it to the waters edge. I prefer this method of getting the boat to the water over backing a trailer into the water and find it relatively easy to do although I wouldn't want to do it with a heavier boat. The sail in the back ground is a from a Sunfish sailboat.

It hits the water for the first time. Wow it Floats! Only a few inches draft, pretty cool. Since it doesn't leak I decided to move along and get it rigged it for the first sail.

It took me an hour to remember how to put the thing together and to fuss with every detail. Ugh, untangled ropes, experimented with various control lines, and put the mast up and down a three times because I forgot something, doh. Got the rudder mounted, mast up, lazy jacks attached, lee board attach, sail up, and the mainsheet figured out. Boat is about rigged, including the dragonhead on the bow. :)

Here's a close up photo of the dragon head mounted on the bow. Are you crunchy? Do you taste good with catsup? Beware of the Dragon!

So my ma and girlfriend piled into the boat with me and we took her out for a spin and had a nice little ride. A Sunfish tagged along to keep an eye on us in case of a problem. Nice of him, he did that on his own initiative. With three of us in the boat it handled fine, moved well, and seemed to point well enough. Coming about seemed slow but it may be that I need to get more familiar with the nuances of this boat. Overall, the boat seemed good and it was great to get it out on the water. This photo shows me sailing solo.

When I sailed the boat solo I found out that my weight alone is not quite enough to balance the sail/mast weight. Yes, that means I dumped it twice. :) Luckily the water was shallow enough for me to walk it back to shore and bail it out. With three people aboard there was no problem keeping it upright. I have a few options... Lighten the junk rig mast/sail, add amas so it's trimaran, and or try out the lighter lanteen mast/sail that is suggested in the plans. What might be cool is to build removeable amas so I could sail it as a trimaran or a mono hull and use either the lanteen or junk rig sail/mast. I could sail the boat in a couple different configurations. We'll see, thinking about it for now. The very next thing is to try to add floatation in such a way as to make the boat recoverable from a knock down.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Chinese Junk Rig Sail

The plans for Featherwind allow for a Sunfish sail and also include a sail plan for a lanteen sail of different dimensions than the Sunfish sail. The Chinese junk rig sail is what really grabbed me though so I'm going to give it a try. I'm building my sail from plans for a 78 square foot junk rig sail found on Duckworks magazine website which is about the same square footage as the Sunfish sail. Since the junk rig sail is easily reefed, I added an extra panel at the bottom of the sail for a total sail area of 94 square feet so when the wind is very light I'll have some "extra" sail I can hoist. The photo shows the 16X10 or so white poly tarp that I cut my sail out of. In this photo the sail has been cut out and is surrounded by the left over tarp.

The sail plan calls for a dart to be sewn into the luff and leech for each batten. The luff is the side of the sail that is attached to the mast and the leech is the side of the sail opposite of the luff . The darts will give each panel, (the sail area between the battens), a concave shape and this is desirable as it improves performance over that of a flat sail. The final photo below shows a view of panels and battens. This photo attempts to show the darts drawn on the sail.

This photo is a close up of a couple of darts drawn on the sail. The horizontal line marks where the gurney flap will be located. The gurney flap is part of the sail that extends past the battens on the leech of the sail. It's five inches wide and tapers off to zero towards the upper part of the sail. The gurney flap is said to improve windward performance of the junk rig sail.

Once the sail is cut out and the darts are sewn in, one needs to sew nylon pac cloth to the leech and luff. Six hundred denier nylon pac cloth is a tough sturdy material and is what I used. I have to say thanks to my ma for doing the sewing for me on her sewing machine. The sail needs to have the pac cloth sewn to the leech and luff because when you hoist the sail the poly tarp alone wouldn't be able to take the stress from the weight of the battens. This photo shows pac cloth sewn onto the poly tarp. In the foreground is the top of the sail. On the right is the leech with pac cloth and on the left is the luff with pac cloth. The sail seems very sail like even though it's polytarp.

This photo shows a close up of a d ring. The D ring shown in the photo is sewn to the gurney flap in line with a batten. There is a D ring for each of the five lowest battens and a rope is attached to each D ring so the sail can be can be trimmed to different points of sail.

Now I have a sail with darts, pac cloth sewn on the luff and leech, and D rings attached to the gurney flap. Now I have to add the battens to the sail. The battens are attached to the sail in pairs by screwing the battens together with the sail sandwiched in between. This photo shows the wood pieces for the battens and yard right after I cut them from a larger piece of wood. I painted them the same chocolate color as the mast.

Finally I get to raise the sail and have a look.

Bamboo Floor

The plans for Featherwind do not include building seats or a floor as it is a very simple light weight boat. I'm good with sitting on the floor and I like the space that is left available by not putting seats in. But I do remember sitting on the floor of a canoe and not liking it very much when some water would come aboard. So I decided to attempt to add a floor to this boat. The simplest light weight solution I could come up with is a bamboo floor. I think that the bamboo also adds to the Chinese junk theme I'm doing and I like the appearance of it. The floor is removable for cleaning or if it turns out I don't like this floor after all. This photo shows a view of the bamboo pieces laid out in the hull on top of the frames to get an idea of how it's going to look.

The bamboo comes from a roll of bamboo fencing purchased at a national chain store. This was the cheapest bamboo I could find and it comes in a four foot length which is just about perfect. My idea is to have the ends of the bamboo sit on top of the three frame pieces. This gets my butt off the hull bottom by a couple of inches and should keep me dry when a little water splashes in as the water will be below the bamboo. The diameter of the bamboo varies from piece to piece but is an inch or more in diameter. It's pretty strong and doesn't bend very much. The floor is in two sections, a front floor and a back floor. The bamboo's four foot length works perfect for the front floor but is just a tad shy in length for the back floor. I added a piece of wood or a ledge to the back frame to solve this. This photo is of that ledge on the back frame. I attached it with epoxy because I didn't want to drill holes in the frame to attach it with screws. It did support my weight, so far so good.

I also had to add two small ledges on the port and starboard side of the mid frame where the gussets are located as the gussets interfere with the bamboo resting on the frame. Hopefully the picture explains this better than the verbal. Here is a view of my two mini ledges. By adding the two pieces of wood I now have surface on both sides of the gussets for the bamboo to rest on.

Here's photo of the completed front floor. Besides the four foot lengths of bamboo I also used cross pieces of bamboo to reinforce the floor. Doing this felt like it added a lot of strength and stiffness to the floor. It's all tied together with light weight rope like a raft. The front floor fits nicely around the mast base.

Here's a photo of both floors completed. You may notice that the floors do not go all the way to the sides of the hull. I intend to add cushions to that space and decided running the bamboo all the way out to the sides is not needed. By the way, I don't actually plan to sit on the bamboo but instead on a flotation cushion or some other more comfortable arrangement.

This photo shows how the bamboo floors are attached to the boat. They are tied to the hull with a piece of rope at each corner of the floor section. To remove the floor I would only need to untie the ropes that hold them in place. The rope goes through the limber hole in the frame and around the bamboo. No problems with this arrangement so far.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010


I was pondering what to do about a mast. I thought it would be cool to attempt to build a hollow birdsmouth mast. It also seemed like it might be a bit of a project to build one. While I was pondering this I searched on Craigslist and found a hollow wooden mast offered for free. I'm in the state of FL and the mast was located in IL. Fantastically enough my mother was visiting IL and was near the mast. I got my ma to pick up the mast and put it on the roof rack of her SUV and bring it back to FL when she returned from visiting. I figure with this kind of luck I should be able to win the lotto. So here's a pic of the mast packaged as it arrived with the boom and stay wires duct taped on.

The mast is about nineteen feet long and about four inches across at the base. I removed the sail track and stay wires that were attached to it and sanded it down. It had some old varnish on it which had mostly flaked off so getting down to bare wood wasn't much of a problem. The original Bolger plan for this boat shows a sloop rig with a mast about this long so I figure this mast could be fine for this boat. After I get my junk rig sail built I'll see if I can reduce the length of the mast.

Here's a pic of the painted mast. I went with a chocolate brown color which matches the color of the dragon head I'm going to mount to the bow. Going to use the same color on the yard and battens.

This pic shows two pieces of brass hardware that were also given to me with the mast. The brass piece attached to the mast base fits onto the brass mast step that is attached to the boat.

This pic shows the mast in place. Stepping the mast by myself, that is putting the mast into the boat, is no problem due to the light weight of the mast. I'm very happy that this mast is easy to handle.

I'm going to try to get away with out using stay wires on the mast. We'll see how it goes. Here's a pic from a distance of the boat with mast. Shiver me timbers!

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Returned: My Darling Boat, I Missed You

Ahhh finally back. It's good to see my boat again. I found that the boat had gotten specks of mold on it as things left outside in FL will often tend to do. The boat was covered with tarp during the seven months I was gone but that did not prevent the mold. I may move the boat to a slightly less humid location in the future to see if the that helps. The mold washed off easily with bleach and water.

I also found a few problems with the paint on the outside surface of the hull. One problem as shown in this photo, was that the wood used for the center runner was green enough that in my absence sap had bubbled up through the paint. A more experienced wood worker would have probably known the wood was too green but not I.

Another problem, as shown in this photo, was that some of the paint must have been put on too thick and did not dry fully. It seemed dry when we picked the boat up and put in on the trailer. The photo shows a bare spot of wood. This is from the strap used to secure the boat to the trailer. It looks like the paint wasn't cured and the strap was able to dig into the paint. So I inspected closely and found a few small problems in the paint on the outside of the hull and decided to give the hull a light sanding and another coat of paint.

A photo of the runner in primer. The sap scraped and sanded off pretty easily. Not a bad job at all.

This photo shows a few spots in primer. I painted the hull with better paint from my favorite paint store and was careful not to coat too thickly. So the hull is now repainted and ready to go again. I'll have to keep an eye on the sap situation on the center runner. I hope it's all sapped out. Not a biggy if not though.

I added indoor outdoor carpet to the 2X4 bunks the boat actually contacts while resting on the trailer. This is too protect the paint on the boat from the abrasion that occurs when I slide the boat on and off the trailer. I also cooked up a piece of pvc pipe with a foam pipe insulation insert to further protect the boat and make sliding the boat off the trailer easier. Haven't tried it yet so lets call it experimental for now.

I built my wheels that I'll use during launching. The plan is to put the wheels under the back half of the boat, lift the front of the boat and walk/wheel it into the water. The boat will float and I'll remove the wheels. The wood is a 4' long piece of pressure treated wood used for fencing. It was on sale for only two bucks for an 8' length. Good deal. The wheels were just laying around having been removed from some long forgotten lawn mower. The axles are 10 inch lag bolts. The bolts are tightly inserted into holes I drilled in the ends of the lumber. Added the indoor outdoor to the wheel thing to protect the paint on the boat. The 2x2 end blocks also covered with indoor outdoor should keep the boat centered on the wheels. I tested this in the driveway and it seems ready for a wet run. Approaching that first launch. :)