Monday, February 1, 2016

Doryman's Boatyard

The end of January brought temperate weather to the Salish Sea, enough to tempt a groundhog out early. Which means activity in the Doryman boatyard. Some of you who have been around for a while may remember the Doryman Melonseed. Aria has been in the wings waiting for a sail rig. The plans call for a sprit rig but since I'm the designer, an easy administrative decision was made to substitute a balanced lug sail.
Why not simply make the sprit sail I sewed last winter into a lug sail? I think it will work. But not as easy as one might imagine.

Redesign in the works, on rainy days. Stay tuned.

Dryer days mean repairs on the Sam Crocker Stone Horse, Belle Starr. I met an interesting boatbuilder a few weeks back - a fellow older than me with a more traditional training - who insisted a Stone Horse has no chine. I said it's a Stone Horse redrawn from Sam's plans to accommodate plywood construction. He insisted the chine made it some other boat. Very interesting proposition.........

Belle Starr as she looked last September. A Hulk.
Sailing season over early. Not much chine left.

Demolition left very little of the starboard side. Paul looks despondent but he's really enjoying himself.

About a month later the "A" team closed up that gap and once again, a chine emerged.

Plywood construction methods show quick progress toward healing wounds, physical and psychological.

A couple very wet months suspended that initial push but just recently the clouds miraculously parted. The freshly faired Belle Starr emerges whole again. Gotta love that beautiful chine. I think Sam would approve.

These shots are from two days ago, after some intense sanding and fairing.

She's not finished by a long shot.
 But it's a great relief to have gotten this far.

I believe this is one of Sam Crocker's drawings, but I'm not sure which boat. Looks suspiciously familiar though, doesn't it?

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Kiwi Raid and Regatta 2016

Robbie Wightman sent us a "heads-up" about the upcoming Kiwi Raid in New Zealand.
The Raid starts January 29th 2016 at Sandspit and finishes fifteen days later in Auckland. Planned events are scheduled along the way, for sailors and rowers alike. There will be a two day St Ayles skiff regatta at Whangaparoa in the middle. Everyone is invited to join in.
This event is fully catered, so entrants get three meals a day. Accommodation is mostly camping, with good facilities.

This raid begins on the  Matakana River at Sandspit, NZ.
The Mahurangi River opens into Kawau Bay at Mahurangi with access to the destinations of Kawau Island and the Hauraki Gulf in the most popular cruising destination in New Zealand.
The raid ends in the busy Waitamata Harbor, Auckland, NZ

Raid New Zealand was formed to promote, support and facilitate small boat adventuring and raiding in New Zealand. This will be their first organized raid. There are six St Ayles skiffs entered, including two with sail rigs (please see previous post about outfitting a St Ayles Skiff with sail power.).

Thank you, Robbie for the update - Wishing you fair winds and fine weather for the first Kiwi Raid and Regatta!

Saturday, January 16, 2016

St Ayles Skiff, Doineann

Shortly after this blog began, almost a decade ago, I became enamored of Iain Oughtred's Ness Yawl . The Ness Yawl has taken Doryman readers through many voyages. (If you took the time to follow that link, welcome back!)
In the intervening years, Iain, who was then an internet no-show, has become possibly the most popular small boat designer in the world. And once again I find myself drooling over a new design from the Master, his beautiful sharpie, Haiku.
She's exquisite, but that's a subject for another day.
While I was writing extensively about the Ness Yawl, Iain designed the St Ayles SkiffThe Scottish Coastal Rowing Association was formed on 29 May 2010, to encourage boat building and rowing and racing of coastal rowing boats along the Scottish Coastline. Communities were encouraged to become involved in the building of new boats to be rowed, principally the St Ayles skiff.

Doryman was quick to promote this extraordinary design and though hundreds of these boats have been built globally, only two St Ayles Skiffs exist on the west coast of the US, Doryman's cruising grounds. Both were built in Portland, Oregon at the Wind and Oar Boat School .

The first boat off the molds at WOBS (Rosie) lives in Portland, rowed regularly by the team of women who built her. The second St Ayles Skiff to come out of that shop was Doineann (Irish for tempest or storm), built for her proud owner, Julius Dalzell. The following update from Julius is the answer to my suggestion that the St Ayles Skiff might make a great sail-and-oar boat, if only she had a sail rig.

"Hi Michael,
It has been sometime since our last communication. As you may recall, Doineann was the second St. Ayles skiff built by the Wind and Oar and Oar School. My wife and I decided upon retirement, in July 2014, to move to a favorable locale, in Cathlamet, Washington for a variety of reasons, not the least being the beauty and boating opportunities of the Lower Columbia River. A significant aspect of our new abode was the availability of a large shop. Today it is a home and restoration facility for small craft.
Of course Doineann is one of the permanent residents. And yes, we did proceed to design and make a sail-rig for Doineann.
Before proceeding with the story, you might be impressed to know that we have a regular crew rowing Doineann, most having little prior rowing experience. We find that performance is outstanding regardless of wind or chop. She slices through anything with little fuss. Totally enjoyable.

We started with an e-mail exchange with Iain Oughtred himself. Iain warned that the craft was designed for rowing, not sailing, and would be tender, so recommended a small lug sail, maybe something around 90 sq. ft.. Iain stated that the existing keel might be sufficient to support lateral stability with minor leeway. He wasn’t sure how she would tack because of her wide turning radius.

We decided to go low budget. After considering many sail designs, our choice was an 85 sq. ft. balanced lug.
The mast was a used item acquired from a builder. Quite the specimen, ugly but it works. A sail was ordered from Lee Sails. I insisted that the sail be mounted without use of fittings or attachments. No screws, nails, brackets or drilled holes. In other words, no intrusions that would impact the original design.

The mast partner we devised uses the kabe support at the forward rowing station, using the kabes and pins incorporated into each rowing station at the gunnel. The mast step slips into the floor boards below. So, on a fine August day, we took to the river for the first sail. In a fresh, accommodating wind, her response was beyond expectations. She went like mad with five adults aboard. The existing steering rudder, though designed for rowing, performed well.The boat was not tender, in fact quite stable regardless of wind on any quarter. We had a ball!

Tacking was a challenge. Because of the long keel, she took her time. Speed would drop off and we would be in irons, propelled in reverse. Throwing the rudder over steered her in reverse through the tack. The sail would again fill and we were off. Too much rudder did nothing but enhance the stall, acting as a brake. The answer to a successful tack was two fold - lots of speed going into the tack, and finessing the rudder. A slow tack became doable.

The materials I used for gaff and boom are too light. Currently another gaff and boom are under construction. Three strips of tight grain fir to be epoxied and shaped.
So, Michael, that is the Doineann story to date. My expectations for the craft are progressing!"

Thank you Julius for that update. It's obvious you love your boat and it's easy to see why.
Of course the St Ayles Skiff is a one-design racing machine, so Julius was careful to keep the design legal for racing. He looks forward to the day when more St Ayles are built and racing here in the US. (me too!)

Meanwhile, the Haiku is calling me. Isn't she a beauty?

Thursday, December 17, 2015

The SibLim Club

The day I launched my sailing dory, Mistral, my soon to be good friend, Rick Johnson showed up with a copy of Annie Hill's Voyaging on a Small Income. Hard to believe that in twenty years of creating and building a cruising dory, I'd never heard of Annie or her travels on Badger.

In an attempt to make amends, I currently follow Annie's life in New Zealand aboard her junk-rigged Fantail. What I really love about Annie is her sense of community. She has just begun building a new boat for herself, the first in all her years of sailing that will be built strictly to her own specifications. I will be following this build with avid interest and thought you might wish to do the same. I'm sure Annie would approve of a few more members of the SibLim Club.

Thank you, Annie for taking us on yet another voyage ethereal.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Winter Sailing

Beaufort 6. The first red flag goes up the pole on the waterfront. Long waves begin to form. White foam crests are scattered across the bay.

Martin waits patiently aboard Clover. The winds are obviously increasing, so we'd better get going. As we motor out of the boat basin, there's not another boat in sight.

Some airborne spray drifts over the foredeck. Neoprene gloves lay dripping in the cockpit after having been blown off the dock into the water. Cold hands and face indicate better than any calendar that winter has set in. This blustery day heralds the first Sunday sail for us this month. Our friend Claire catches us passing in front of the ferry dock.

Soon, cold hands are forgotten in the joy of the day. Spindrift blurs the definition between sky and water. Clover scuds along at a happy six knots. There's no where to go, we're already there.

The sea heaps up. Some foam from breaking waves blows into streaks along the buried rail.
Beaufort 7 indicates a near gale. We take cover back inside the breakwater, congratulating ourselves on a morning sail well done. Looking forward already to next Sunday's congregation.

When a sailor sees a sky like this, it's recommended to take cover. Why does it give me such a thrill? (The man must be out of his mind.)

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Dunderdale Pearl, Fleckerl

Whether you've built one boat or many, the day their chrysalides shed is infectiously gay.
Ralph Merriman began his Dunderdale Pearl a handful of years ago, and with a couple health setbacks, finished her yesterday. He asked friends to help move the Pearl, Fleckerl from his patio shop, through the living room of his house to the driveway, where a new trailer waited.

We've followed Ralph's build from the beginning. When asked how many boats he's built, he'll modestly tell you he doesn't quite remember. I know for a fact he's built six skiff type boats and he suggests he's built another six kayaks. Prolific and precise, that's Ralph.

Ralph has already made Fleckerl's masts, rudder and centerboard. The permanent lead ballast is cast. New fully battened sails lay in suspension. Hardware has been dry-fitted.

With the help of at least twelve volunteers, the Tom Dunderdale Pearl, Fleckerl emerges to the light of a wet Fall day into the element of it's design.

Next installment will be a demonstration of Fleckerl's wind and water waltz.

Initial Instructions from doryman on Vimeo.

Test Move from doryman on Vimeo.

On the Trailer in the Rain from doryman on Vimeo.

In case you don't know what a fleckerl is....

To be a devil's advocate, I ran back and took a quick shot of Ralph's empty work space with the intention of catching him with nothing to do.

He headed me off with a photo of the same space the next morning with a strong-back set up for a new kayak.

Go, Ralph!

Congratulations on another fine boat build my friend.

Thursday, October 15, 2015


A quick update on Belle Starr. Since the last post on these pages, a substantial amount of repair has been done in quick succession. Belle is fortunate to have many admirers and I am fortunate to have as many dedicated friends.

Paul showed up for two days to drive a work crew on the installation of two panels, enclosing the starboard side and reforming the chine. Prior to his arrival I had repaired three major bulkheads - the interior furniture that defined the chine. In this boat, plywood bulkheads take the place of frames and there is one every two feet, some of which are cabinets or seats that double as structural members.
The panels were made from two sheets of mahogany plywood scarphed together and ripped lengthwise. The panels were then screwed in place and spiled to the existing hull. Installing an almost sixteen foot "plank" is very satisfying. Two of them fitted together filled most of the huge gap in Belle's hull. Of course there is a lot left to do - smaller holes to be fitted, lots of patching and fairing, but I feel much has been accomplished with the help of neighbors and friends. Belle Starr is no longer a muddy wreck on the beach.

Many thanks to Paul Miller, Heather Hicks, Martin Schnieder and Lynn Watson for their invaluable help.
Belle will float again.

Paul has documented the process on lumberjocks. Photos courtesy of Paul.

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Down But Not Out

News travels fast so many of you already know, Belle Starr went on the rocks. That sounds a bit like one of my sly jokes, but it's not.

A winter force gale swept through the Pacific Northwest the last hours of August, leaving thousands of homes without power. Belle Starr rode high and secure through the first heavy gusts but chaffed her solitary anchor line as the storm crested.

Two hours after we'd made a positive visual check on her position from shore, the Coast Guard called and said she was on the beach. At an extreme low tide, that's where I found her, in sand pocked with barnacle encrusted rocks and only a couple boat lengths from a rip-rap jetty.

After watching the tide come back and the surf rise while assessing all options, I called Vessel Assist. In most cases I would much prefer a self-rescue but it was clear I didn't have the resources this time.

Vessel Assist at first told me the seas were too high and they couldn't approach the wreck. We must wait for the wind to die down, possibly another six hours according to predictions. But barely had I digested this news than their boat appeared just 100 yards off shore. They deployed an inflatable and a diver swam a hawser in-shore. With the boat leaping in the surf, the diver lassoed the bow bits and Belle was towed carefully off the beach. I'd been told she was breached, though she made a mighty effort to float, so soon she lowered herself in thirty five feet of water to spend the night on the calm sand below.

The salvage crew told me that while they were working, gusts had been clocked on their boat at 80mph.

Break of dawn the following morning in a calm, flat sea, divers wrapped Belle in a cocoon of air bags until her cabin deck was above water and she was towed to the travel-lift in the boatyard.

She's on her trailer now. My very good friend, the superlative shipwright Paul Miller from Cowichan Bay, BC,  drove south Wednesday to help me cut away the damaged portions of Belle and prep for repairs. He's started a thread on his favorite social media, lumberjocks:

Paul is having way too much fun.

Belle Starr now looks like a cut-away view of herself. There is a very good chance she will be back together and weather tight in a month.

Please stay tuned..........