Saturday, October 31, 2015

Building a Skerry

Halloween Scarfing
  • Day Two: 1 hour
  • Total build time: 3 hours

Happy Halloween! Today, and the next few days are going to be relatively short ones. This is mostly because of the limited space I have available in my shop. 

Before I could get started today I had to run to the store and pick up some acid brushes. I would have thought they would have been included in the kit, but they are cheap so it was ok to stock up. After trimming them back a bit they are perfect for applying the epoxy to the scarfs.

I pulled the weights off of the bottom panel and was pleased to see a good, strong joint. I was a little concerned because the finger style scarfs that CLC pre-cuts in all the panels are very tight, and I was worried that I may just push all the epoxy out of the joint as I slid (pounded) them together, and end up with a glue-starved joint. I guess this is not a big risk on the bottom panel because the bottom is sheathed in fiberglass anyway, but the side panels don't have that reinforcement. With typical wood glue you need a super tight joint for the glue to bond successfully, but with epoxy there needs to be enough glue to create a material gap-filling bond. I hope CLC knows what they are doing! I imagine they probably do, but don't make me get out that Moaning Chair!

I started scarfing up the strakes today, but because I only have room to do one matching pair at a time it is going to take me a few days to get through the three sets of them. Today was #1, the "garboard strake" in the parlance of boat building. Probably a misnomer since stitch and glue boat building is a completely different process than clinker planking, which is where that term comes from. Plank #1 is the one which attaches to the bottom panel, and it's the first one to give the boat it's beautiful, curving shape.

On to the snaps...

Preparing for glue-up

It is important that both strakes have the exact same profile, so during glue-up I "book-match" them, and clamp both scarfs at the same time so they have the same shape. Very interesting to think these long, swooping, flat planks are going to curve into the shape of a hull. So cool!

A simple piece of two by four screwed into the work bench makes a perfect clamp for both strakes at the same time.

The next few days will be more of the same, so I will batch the next group of scarfs into one post to save time. See ya in a few days!

Friday, October 30, 2015

Building a Skerry

My New Skerry Build
  • Day One: 2 hours
  • Total build time: 2 hours

They say that the two happiest days in a boat owner's life are the day they buy their boat, and the day they sell it. Well, I am not sure what that means for a boat builder, but if I figure it out this time I will let you know.

After building and sailing my West Mersea Duck Punt for the last few years I decided I wanted something a little different in a boat. I was looking to get back to a more traditional sailing craft, something with better upwind performance, room for two people, and a boat that could handle bigger and deeper water than would be safe or sane in the Duck Punt. After much deliberation I finally settled on building the Chesapeake Light Craft Skerry from a kit. 

A gorgeous Skerry with a sprit rig, the same rig as on my Duck Punt

A Skerry with a standing-lug rig and tanbark sail, sailing in blustery conditions! This is the rig I chose for my boat build. Very salty!

It took a while to put my garage/shop into boat building shape, but once I had things more or less organized it was only a couple of days before the kit that I ordered arrived. It was quite a few more days though before I finally decided to open it up and see what I had in the box. I was deliberating over whether or not to do a video document of the building process, and I finally decided to keep things simple and just do this journal. If I was taking the time to film every step it would take forever, and I want to get this thing built so I can go sailing!

Today being the first day was mostly spent just getting the parts inventoried. I did have time to epoxy the bottom panel together. As you may remember from the Punt build, with plywood only being 8 feet long and the boat being 16 feet long I had to "scarf" together panels to make pieces long enough to build the boat. CLC is kind enough to provide laser-cut finger-joint scarfs for their kits eliminating the need for hand-cut scarfs, and saving a huge amount of time and effort. You simply mix up some thickened epoxy, coat the joint, and press it together. Everything is perfectly aligned and oriented. It's great! I do need to make a caul though to simplify clamping, and apply more pressure to the center of the joint.

Tomorrow I will glue the side panels (called strakes) together and once that is done I can start stitching the hull together!

The large box is the boat kit, the standing box is the sailing kit, and the square box is the epoxy. The shop was still a disaster at this point. In the background you can see the most important tool in any boatbuilder's shop- "The Moaning Chair." Howard Chapelle had this to say-“In every amateur boatbuilder’s shop there should be a ‘moaning chair’; this should be a comfortable seat from which the boat can be easily seen and in which the builder can sit, smoke, chew, drink, or swear as the moment demands.”

Finally, more room to work!

After opening the box, we see the parts kit. Lots of little pieces to turn into a boat. CLC does a great job with packaging, and all the parts arrived without damage.

The laser-cut scarfs on the bottom panel. These are just awesome!

After epoxying the scarfs together, weight and clamps are used to make sure the joint lies flat while the glue cures. I sprung the ends just a bit to make sure the joints orientation is correct without any reverse bow.

Weight added to the middle of the joint to keep things flat. Make sure to use wax paper between the layers or you are going to really need the Moaning Chair!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

The annual San Juan Island Overnighter

This weekend I got out for one of my favorite annual rides, the San Juan Island Overnighter. I have been coming to the San Juans by bike since the late eighties, and I still look forward to this ride every year. This year was one of the best times I have ever had out there!

These days a lot of cyclists are doing rides called "S24O", which stands for Sub-24-hour Overnighter. People leave from work for a ride, camp overnight, and then get up and ride back in time for work the next day. My rides tend toward more of a "SO24O", which stands for Slightly-Over-24-hour Overnighter. I like to take my time, enjoy myself, and not feel rushed to beat a time expectation. I do these rides on my weekend when I don't have to get back to work, and that allows me enough time to enjoy the ride the way I want to. 

I started this year's ride like usual by driving from Seattle up to the Anacortes park and ride on the southeast side of town and leaving my car. From there it was a picturesque ride past Fidalgo Bay into Anacortes on a wonderful bike path along the water. I rode through town and out SR20 to the ferry terminal, where the wait for the ferry ended up being just under an hour. After boarding I tied my bike up to the railing and headed upstairs for a snack and to enjoy the view as the ferry made its way through the islands to Friday Harbor. It is summer, and of course there were a million kids running around like crazy, but I tried to ignore them and just watched the scenery pass by.

Once we arrived in Friday Harbor I rode off the ferry and climbed up Spring Street through the main part of town. It was a spectacular day, warm with a nice breeze, and the perfect weather for riding the island. I decided on a slightly different route this year, meaning to tackle the entire tortuous Bailer Hill Road and giving myself a good climbing challenge. In no time at all I was facing the pavement wall, and took the opportunity to put the Rholoff hub to the test grinding my way up Bailer Hill. The road is so steep it has pull-outs for bikes, just like mountain passes have for cars! I felt pretty good though, and slowly cranked my way up without stopping. From the top I was rewarded with the incredible  beauty of the West Side Road, which looks out over Haro Strait. It's one of my absolute favorite roads to ride. I wound my way along the scenic highway, trying to stay well to the right side to avoid cars while still looking out and enjoying the view, and before long I was passing Lime Kiln State Park. A grueling climb out of the park leads to an exhilarating downhill and my destination for the night, San Juan County Park.

Day one. I turned Strava off while on the ferry, but it still connects as a straight line. And my battery died two miles from the County Park! Grrrrr.....

The hiker/biker sites in the park are spartan at best, just a simple grass hill with picnic benches and fire pits, but at only ten dollars I can't complain. This park is one of the most popular destinations in all of Washington State, and is a very busy place to camp with lots of people making all kinds of racket, so you just learn to expect it and deal with the chaos as best as you can. I set up my tent, fired up my Jetboil, and had dinner ready in no time at all. I whipped up a hot chocolate/Via faux-mocha (a faux-cha?) and headed down to watch the beautiful sunset over Haro Strait and Vancouver Island. After the sun had set and it started to get dark I crawled into my tent, put in my ear plugs, and settled in for the night. Unfortunately, I slept like total crap. The hill makes sleeping a bit uncomfortable, and I just could not get into a position that felt right. Just as I would drift off, the call of nature would wake me, and I would have to get up and go take care of it before crawling back in to try falling asleep again. It was a rough night.

Nonetheless, after waking with a stiff neck and a sore back, after eating breakfast I felt surprisingly refreshed. I whipped up another faux-cha and went back down to the water to check if there were any Orcas to be seen. I was just finishing up my drink and thinking it was going to be a bust this year, when the first whale entered Haro Strait. More and more kept coming until I couldn't believe how many were passing by! I have seen whales almost every time I have camped here, but never so many so close to shore. You could easily hear the whoosh of air as they came to the surface to breathe. They were breaching, tail slapping, spy was just incredible! 

After such an amazing whale show I quickly broke camp and got back on the bike. Today's plan was to ride around the north end of the island, which is a ride I have not done in many years. It is less scenic than the west side, but still passes through beautiful, pastoral countryside. Thankfully there is more shade on the north end of the island, as it was starting to get pretty hot. The miles easily drifted by,  and before long I was back in Friday Harbor. As I rolled up to the ferry terminal I could see cars  disembarking  from the boat that I was going to be boarding, so there was only a short wait before I hopped on the ferry to retrace my steps back to my car, and home. 

Day two

Mr. Hanky, loaded and ready to go!

From the park-and-ride I head north along the east side of Fidalgo Bay. I loved this road sign, it cracked me up!

This wonderful pedestrian bridge is the scenic alternative to a nasty stretch of highway, and traverses Fidalgo Bay.

A little history of the bridge

A really nice paved bike path leads us into the quaint town of Anacortes.

An easy ride through Anacortes on 12th Street leads you onto Highway 20, and then down to the ferry terminal. Stay on the left side of the road as you ride to the ferry holding area in order to avoid the millions of cars queuing up. 

After making your way onto the ferry, you have to tie your bike securely to the railing.

The upper deck of the ferry provides a fantastic view on the way through the islands.

The unfortunate but aptly named Bailer Hill Road. Yikes...

You know how photos never make hills look as steep as they actually are? Can you imagine how steep this road actually is?!

This sign is no joke. Unless you are a strong rider, you will need this!

Very worth the climb though. The views around the west side of the island are simply spectacular. That's Port Townsend in the distance across the Straight of Juan de Fuca. 

Deer are everywhere. I hope the drivers are careful!

Not a bad view from the campsite.

A crappy iPhone snap of one of dozens of Orcas that passed by the campground this morning.

Fun roadside sculptures

Watch where you are going!

Typical idyllic views as you ride around the island

Yes, this is a camel. A CAMEL!!! Someone on the island has a freaking camel. Believe it.*

Spring Street is the main road through Friday Harbor, with many cute shops and places to eat.

The last time I was here there was a fire in this spot, burning down a historic building called Downriggers. It was a big part of the waterfront, and a sad loss.

Very exciting to see the Adventuress out cruising the waters of the San Juans

What a fantastic weekend on the bike, in one of my favorite places in the world, the San Juan Islands!

*Ed. note: DROMEDARY camel!! (signed: the wifely editor)

Thursday, July 30, 2015

The 2015 Redhook Recap

The 11th Annual Redhook Ride of 2015

This year's Redhook ride was so much fun! 

Every year I am wondering what is going to happen. Will it be total chaos and mayhem, with people sleeping on the side of the trail or in some stranger's yard? Will there be blood and broken bones, as has happened in numerous years past? Or will it meekly slip by with no drama or disaster? And most importantly, who will be TBD*?!?!?!

This year's ride was a great balance of good people with good energy. We were worried that the weather was going to suck and rain us out, but the rain never came, and the cool air was actually really nice, especially considering the warmth of some of the costumes. Oh, the costumes! With no planning Zanna started pulling stuff out of her closet, and people just threw things on. It was so hilarious, and took the ride to another level of fun and energy that it had never had before. We were just cracking up at how ridiculous and funny people looked. And as the night went on, parts of costumes moved around and traded riders, meaning you never knew what you were going to be seeing from one minute to the next. It was awesome!

As always, it took a while to get people moving, but once Garret got his enormous trike rolling, the crowd filled in behind. Many stops were made along the way to keep everyone hydrated with adult beverages. Several trailers were full of beer, and ride-by passes meant most people didn't even have to stop to get a beer in hand. Garret's new ride was pumping tunes at concert volume, and many smiles and high fives were traded as we made our way down the trail. With such a fun crew, the ride to Logboom Park passed by far too quickly.

Arriving at Logboom, we collected the riders who were working late and meeting us there, and after a bit of a rest we were off again. The ride on to Redhook also passed much too quickly, and without much in the way of casualties. People were feeling really good by this time though, and everyone was looking forward to more food and drink. When we finally arrived at Redhook we locked the bikes up outside, and descended on the place.

Like every year, the staff at Redhook are always put out by us showing up, even though we call in advance to let them know we are on the way. I guess almost 30 riders in various bizarre costumes can make you worry that you are going to be dealing with a bunch of drunk a-holes, which we are, but it is after all a bar! We took over the outdoor patio, even though it was "closed" and the lights "didn't work," and made it our own private party. 

After a couple hours of eating, drinking, and socializing, it was time to get back on the bikes for the return trip. As usual, Boo laying down a little rubber meant it was time to ride! The lights lit up the night, and the bikes started wandering down the trail. This is where the Hook virgins always get in trouble. They don't realize that 30 miles of riding really cranks the alcohol into your system. I took my usual position at the back of the group riding sweep, and looked out for this year's TBD. Joining me at the back from time to time was Boo, Ian, and Sweet James, who in years past has had his own chances to take TBD honors. This year he was mostly sober though, and between the four of us, like lions following a herd of drunk gazelles, we waited for the carnage to happen.

It started with Luke, a Redhook virgin, who was having trouble with a Thule rack and pannier that he had recently purchased. Several times it went into the rear wheel causing a crash, before finally catastrophically being caught, breaking several spokes, and throwing him to the ground. In disgust he finally tried to strap the thing onto his back with the one broken strap, and rode away into the night, the first of many adventures for the evening.

As we caught back up to the group, we saw several lights illuminating Robert, Garrett's brother. Although he has experience on the Hook, it was Robert's birthday and he had been doing it up right. I asked if everything was ok, and he said "Yes, just a little blood." Now we're  getting somewhere! Blood was running out of the side of his knee, and his right knuckles were bleeding as well. He had gone down on the pavement of the trail, and was paying the price. He didn't seem to be in too much pain though (one of the benefits of riding drunk, I guess) so we all got organized and rode on, trying to catch up with the rest of the group making a beeline for Logboom.

We finally rolled into Logboom and the next party location. More alcohol was being consumed, and it didn't take long for clothes to come off and the skinny-dipping to commence. It's always great at Logboom because it's dark and people feel comfortable running around naked and jumping in the warm lake water. Those who weren't swimming were either drinking, or smoking a now-legal substance, so I knew we were in for more adventures.

Eventually, we decided to get back on the bikes. This is where the ride always breaks down into the ones who want to stay in a group ride, and those who are trashed and just want to get home as fast as they can, at any cost. The fast ones took off and we never saw them again, and the rest of us started dragging ourselves slowly down the trail. Garrett was like a trike-riding machine, endlessly pedaling at a steady speed with blinding lights and loud music. Gab, baked out of her mind, had turned into a moth, and was uncontrollably following the lights while riding one inch behind Garrett's trailer the entire way back, with her equally baked friends singing along to every song as they followed close behind.

As we were riding away from Logboom it didn't take long to see that Suz, another Hook virgin, was in serious trouble. She, much like Mattypants in years past, could not ride a straight line down the trail. Ian provided light for her (my lights had died by that point) and we rode just behind her to make sure she didn't get into serious trouble. She crashed four or five times but amazingly ended up relatively unhurt, with the exception of some bruises, scrapes, and a bent handlebar. A couple of the times that she rode off the trail I was thinking that she was going to eat it really bad, but she was able to hold it together and stop the bike without going over the bars. It was amazing. So, even though Robert had the most blood, and Luke had the most bike damage, this years TBD goes to Suz! Congrats on your victory...

Of course, we still had that gawddamn hill to climb to get back up to Casa Furneeklenny.

hate that hill...

-The Ride In Pictures-

Ratty greeted us from Garrett's garbage can. 
Apparently he went swimming without a lifejacket. 
Bad idea Ratty.

Danticlaus starting the afternoon in high style

Alex took the Redhook to a whole other level. Granted it was a level I wasn't sure we wanted to visit, but once the uncomfortable feelings passed he became the darling of the Redhook Ride.

Garrett laying down the LAW, as the big banana

Suz was a Hook virgin, but stepped up to the plate without fear. 
Little did she know what she was in for...

Zanna, displaying the ride's best sentiment

Gab, displaying the ride's best sentiment....wait a minute! What the?!

Maxwell, uh, well...I just don't know what to say. Creepy, in a horror movie kinda way. Yeesh. 

Casa Furneeklenny provides a perfect launching point for the ride.
And, it's a great place for a bbq to get us started right!

The chaos commences when/if Garrett gets that huge trike rolling up the hill.

After leaving Casa Furneeklenny, we make our way to Logboom Park to pick up the riders who are too lame to do the whole ride with us, and to take a break before the push on to Redhook.

A panorama of Logboom. We take over the place!

 Danticlaus has all the sick little boys sit on his knee and confess their sins. John's confessions were enough to put Danticlaus into mental trauma therapy for years to come.

At Redhook, Danticlaus and Zanna. Wow. Um, wow.

After leaving Redhook, we light the bikes up and cruise!

Then it is back to Logboom for skinny-dipping in Lake Washington. 
No, there are no pics of that!

The lights on the bikes are pretty amazing! Garrett's light show was visible from space.

This was shot after that F-ing climb back up to Casa Furneeklenny. 
Garret sums it up nicely!

And finally, just because he is so awesome, I give you our bbq entertainment...Benny! 

*Total Body/Bike Destruction