Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Getting Back On-Line after Nine Months of House and Workshop Building

I imagine that those of you who have been good enough to monitor my blog and website over the years may have been becoming concerned that I'd never write again! Well, we've been going through a year-long (maybe more) process of subdividing our land, selling a house, building a new workshop and building a new house. It has been an exceptionally demanding process, as many of you probably know only too well.

However, we have moved in finally, and the job list is down to a dull roar and I'm regaining my feet. I'll be writing more over the next few days, but there is a new website format on the way (it is happening - trust me - I've already paid the money!). The new website will incorporate this blog and promises to be more user-friendly.

In addition to a modernised format (I did the current one myself, and it looks very untidy and dated), there will be "Buy Now" buttons and a shopping cart, plus other things to make life easier for everybody, I hope.

Regular readers will be aware that I've been promising to publish a number of almost completed plans, about which I've spoken at different times. One of these which is a favourite of mine is Whimbrel

Balance Lug Rig

Gaff-headed Yawl option
The thing that has been preventing me from finishing these drawings has been the apparently simple process of illustrating the method I propose for the free-standing, folding mast to operate without having a tall, bulky and ugly tabernacle. The construction process I've had in mind is very simple, but structurally sound and efficient. However, the structure does not render well on a standard profile/plan/section style drawing, and I struggled to come up with a method of describing the system.

Several days ago I decided to bite the bullet and do a hand-drawn perspective of the important parts of the internal structure without the hull planking and framework (for clarity). Here is a sneak preview so you can get the idea. Plans are definitely, finally, not far off...

The new drawing

Just a fun sketch showing the gaff rig set up for a quiet night. This rig can be used with or without forestay and shrouds.

Friday, February 14, 2014

New Video of Phoenix III

This video was shot last Tuesday by Paul Hernes, using a camera mount above the transom of his Phoenix III. The conditions were quite light, and Paul was doing a good job of harassing Rich Sutton in his Welsford Navigator until a channel marker got in the way.

 Paul was using a Joel White Poohduck Skiff rig on his boat. As far as I'm aware, Paul has three separate rigs for Phoenix III, and uses them interchangeably, as was the idea when I drew the multiple rig arrangement for the design.

Here is a photo of Paul's experimental Poohduck Skiff rig. The sail area is small, but Paul is a light-weight and he seems to like the rig.

The original Poohduck Skiff built by Rick Sutton...

...and the same rig set on Paul's Phoenix III
Phoenix III is a versatile boat, and being relatively small, experimenting with rigs costs very little.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Sailing Flint

Flint is one of my favourite designs, having shown that she is one of those unusual craft which can work effectively as a rowboat, a motorboat, and as a sailing boat. You can read more about her in this post and several others which you can find by using the search function of the blog.

Flint, showing a handsome profile....

.....and her deep and sharp entry lines

Here she is with a very heavy load, doing 6.1 knots (by GPS) with a Yamaha 2 hp at reduced throttle
At the request of a number of people, I designed three different sailing rigs to go into Flint,

Flint's standard rig
but before any of my sail-plans were tested, a number of Flint customers had gone their own way with successful results.

Alec Morgan's widely travelled Flint, here displaying her surprisingly successful Crab Claw rig
First off the mark was Alec Morgan, who has travelled extensively on South Queensland waters here in Australia, regularly departing and arriving through ocean surf. Alec made a Crab Claw rig using polytarp, with surprisingly successful results. There is no daggerboard, and the only lateral plane is supplied by the sharp entry lines up forárd.

Flint on the east coast of USA showing off her ex-sailing canoe rig
Above is a photo of Flint being sailed by a gentleman on the east coast of the US. I'm ashamed to say that I'm unable to locate the man's name at the moment, but I remember that he had sailed her with satisfaction in a number of locations.

Brian Guzas built a Flint in America, and he was one of a number of people who asked about the possibility of rigging her with an un-stayed balance lug rig. I did some extra drawings for such an arrangement, but I had to lose the forward rowing location in order to fit a foredeck, buoyancy compartment, and mast partner. Brian finished his boat, and here are some photos of the result.

Brians boat, Keel Basa, displaying her foredeck and buoyancy compartment

Brian looking relaxed

Keel Basa running downwind with her free-standing rig
Very recently, I've finally had the opportunity to test sail a Flint with the standard rig fitted. She was built by first-timer Adam Smith, who has been using her in her rowing and electric motoring configuration with great satisfaction. Adam is an innovative and determined character, and he decided to make his own sail, using material from an old catamaran or Sailfish sail. Not only that, but he sewed the sail by hand!

I helped Adam rig his boat, and I very diplomatically (I think) told him not to expect too much from his home-made sail, but I had to eat humble pie, as the boat performed extremely well on her first sailing outing.

That is me trying out the standard rig for the first time. A pivoting tiller extension would be helpful.
In the gusts she was easily managed, and the flaring sides kept her surprisingly dry despite the lack of side decks.
Neither Adam nor I are light-weights, but the boat sailed fast and remained dry in the gusty conditions. The water was a lot more choppy than the photos indicate.
The sailing experience was highly satisfactory, and I was also very pleased indeed to find that the very light rig (made possible due to the stayed mast, which is only 40mm (1-5/8") in diameter), stores away to one side in the boat with minimal interference.

Flint can be built from only four sheets of 6mm (1/4") ply, plus a small amount of 12mm (1/2") ply for rudder, daggerboard and transom.

Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Sprit Rig Virtues and Details

Of my published designs, two of the most popular (Phoenix III and First Mate) make use of a sprit rig with a small jib set flying. You can read some of my comments about the rig in this post from May 2012.

Phoenix III showing-off her sprit rig and flying jib
Despite the simplicity and effectiveness of this rig, I receive a large number of enquiries about the details of setting and reefing, and it appears to me that many people are unsure of how to benefit from its virtues. This is a real pity, because the sprit rig can set a very large sail area from a very short mast, and is a rig which is ideally suited to small boat cruising. In addition, if set properly, it is a good sail for windward work.

Phoenix III tacking away from a Pooduck Skiff in a battle to get up-wind
For me, one of the great joys associated with small craft is experimentation with rig variations, and learning how to make rigs which use an absolute minimum of store-bought fittings. There are plenty of old books about traditional seamanship around, and time spent learning is a good investment.

Below is an except from Phil Bolger's book, 100 Small Boat Rigs (Copyright 1984 International Marine Publishing ISBN 0-87742-182-X)

Back to the 17th century. What I've said about spritsails in Rig 23 ap­plies. By adding a jib to the basic boomless spritsail, some extra area is added in an efficient form, without any multiplication or lengthening of the few short spars. The jib is a good airfoil in its own right, and the draft off it improves the drive of the mainsail. The position of the jib is perfect for a leading-edge device. The spritsail is prone to twist on ac­count of the difficulty of keeping the peak up tight. But the jib compen­sates for the twist to some extent. Taking the jib off doesn't affect the balance of the rig as much as might be thought. If it's sheeted correctly, 10 or 12 degrees out from the centerline, the pull of the sheet tends to swing the bow into the wind. The forward position of the sail has a sur­prisingly small tendency to knock her bow off the wind. By the same token, if you want to make a boat weathercock downwind, as in a broken-down powerboat that won't steer if she gets broadside to the wind, a loose-footed staysail is not the best sail to make her do it.

This is one of the few sloop rigs that can be weatherly without backstays or standing rigging of any sort. The spritsail's mast is so short that it can be built very stiff without its weight overpowering the boat. With the sloop rig the mast is stepped farther aft than in a cat, so the weight of a heavy mast does still less harm.

Moreover, the head of a spritsail is in tension, even when it isn't set up as hard as it should be, and that holds the masthead. The peak halyard of a gaff sail has the same effect, but it's not as powerful because there's less trouble keeping a gaff sail properly peaked: the angle of the halyard to the top of the taller mast of the gaff sail works at a better mechanical advantage. The halyard is also slipping on a sheave, with the vector of its force dividing the angle of the standing part and the fall, while the throat of a spritsail can be lashed, or even shackled, solidly in place.

Of course any cantilevered mast has some give. A big boat with this rig would need something by way of a backstay to get the most drive out of the close-hauled jib. In the 15-footer cartooned, with a 13 1/2-foot mast and sprit, and a jib of 18 square feet, the backstay isn't crucial. The rig is auxiliary to the oars, and since it is a spritsail, the spars can not only be stowed in the boat, but stowed out to the sides to be out of the way of the oarsmen. This is the most powerful and weatherly rig that can meet that specification. The fact that it's a cheap rig, easily built, strong and reliable, easy to maintain, and readily repaired with makeshift material, is an incidental bonus.

For those of you who would like to learn more about the rigging and versatility of a spritsail, there are three exceptionally good illustrated articles available in back issues of Woodenboat Magazine  #89 and #165.  The magazines are available as instant digital downloads for only a few dollars each, and I recommend them to you. Here are links to both issues: -

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Phoenix III in Woodenboat Magazine

In late September this year, I was approached by Woodenboat Publications to see whether I would be prepared to write a "How to Build" article about Phoenix III. I was delighted to be given the opportunity, but the catch was that the manuscript, photos, and drawings had to be submitted in two weeks.

Dan Taylor's home-built Phoenix III sailing in the Pacific North-West USA
(photo courtesy Dan Taylor and Nik Warden)
The writing didn't worry me too much, as I had plenty of material on hand. My major concern was that the plans for Phoenix III represented my very first attempt at using CAD as my drawing medium, and I had to teach myself as I went along. The program used was AutoSketch (from AutoDESK - the makers of AutoCAD) which is a very simple 2D product I use to this very day. Rather than relying on a sophisticated computer program to automatically produce drawings from 3D modelling, I determine the shape of my designs using a variety of methods - from carving a half-model to 3D modelling in DELFTship Professional. Once I have a three-dimensional shape which satisfies me, regardless of the method used, I take dimensions and draw the final CAD plans one line at a time in exactly the same way as I would on a drawing-board - it is just that I use a mouse instead of a pencil, and a screen instead of paper.

The original half-model which provided the starting point for the design

Drawing the lines of Phoenix III a long time ago.
I was not satisfied with the presentation of my early CAD drawings and had for a long time intended to re-draft the Phoenix III plans - not to alter the shape of the boat - just to make the plans more professional. The opportunity provided by the editors of Woodenboat left me little choice, as they wanted a complete set of building plans to accompany the three-part article, and I needed to consolidate the drawings from the previous 30-sheet (A3-sized) presentation to a smaller number of sheets, but making sure that the text and dimensions on the A1-sized sheets would be readable when reduced to the size of a magazine page.

The redrafting process took me about nine or ten days of intense effort, with most days starting early in the morning and running through until about 11pm. After that, I wrote and/or re-edited 16,500 words of text in four days!

One of the new plan sheets
In the same manner as previously, I offer plans in either metric or imperial editions, and they are available in an A3 comb-bound format or as A1 rolled sheets at a substantially higher price due to the printing and postal costs. In both instances, the plans are identical except for the scale of the drawings, with the A3 edition being the standard. As soon as I have a new website published, I will also be offering pdf download editions.

The first part of the three-part article is now on the market in Woodenboat number 236  . You will be able to build the boat directly from the magazine if you wish - all you need to do is to purchase Woodenboat issues number 236, 237, and 238. Certain items will be missing, such as full-sized patterns for side deck hanging knees, boom jaws and oarlock blocks, but the information required to determine their shape is provided. However, the editors (and I) recommend the purchase of a full set of plans if you are serious about building.

Here is a link to a low-resolution video clip of Phoenix III sailing in light conditions, viewed from outside the hull. Despite the low image quality, the clip is worth viewing in order to see how the easily-driven, lean hull slices through the water. Video courtesy of Rick Sutton and Paul Hernes


Thursday, October 3, 2013

Scram Pram - Video Copyright Issues

Some of you may have had difficulty viewing the video I posted on youtube regarding the Scram Pram test sail. Mostly, it seems to effect mobile 'phone reception, but I have made an edited version with the music and music credits (which I printed in full) removed. I hope it works.

Here is the edited VIDEO with just the sailing sounds, complete with the wind distortion, from the camera.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Scram Pram Sailing Test Video

Well, it has been a long time since I last posted, but many things have been going on and so I've had to do some "load-shedding" for a while. In the meantime, things haven't been standing still, and among other changes, I now have a new building shed which is 12 metres (40ft) by 9 metres (30ft) under roof,and 12m (40ft) by 6 metres (20ft) enclosed. The shed is insulated against our fierce summer heat and is built to withstand cyclonic winds. In addition to normal (for Australia) 240 volt single-phase AC power, I've got 415 volt three-phase AC hooked up to a couple of outlets. I just need some money now so I can purchase a big 3-phase compressor!!

Shed nearing completion - three big 3 metre Rolla Doors for flow-through ventilation (and drive-through with my truck and trailers), a couple of big windows, and three big spinning roof ventilators. I'm in Heaven!

Being beaten-up by a jealous local thug, while at the same time being protected by my vicious Toy Poodle called Brandy

Both of us very tired, but also very happy!
Since the photos were taken I've moved in a lot of gear, and most importantly, built a 12m x 600mm workbench down one entire side. I've laser-leveled it, and run a 4" dust extraction pipe underneath the length of the bench, with multiple blast-gate equipped inlets spaced regularly.

In February and April I posted some information about a Jim Michalak-designed Scram Pram which I had been working on for a customer/friend, Greg Flemming.  You can see them HERE and HERE

Anyway, my part of the job was finished quite a long while back, and the boat, Nellie, has been in my care waiting for Greg to complete a move and then pick her up for internal finishing and painting. A couple of weeks ago some wooden boat friends were camping out at a local lake, and it was too good an opportunity to miss, so with Greg's permission - encouragement, in fact - I took Nellie for some test sailing.

She performed very well indeed with her Jim Michalak homemade sail, and during the filming we had no water-ballast in the tanks. In the shots from outside, I was sailing the boat by myself, but in the shots taken from aboard you can see that I allowed some local pirates on-board. I did subsequently fill all of the ballast tanks, and she continued to sail superbly. It was nice to be out of the sun and spray, and I can assure you that the boat ventilated effectively from the sail down-draft.

Have a look at the VIDEO and see what you think.