Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Bears Ears

When I got back from the San Juan I did not have the heart to put those two beautiful boats back up in the cold dark loft. So they are now on display under my house and greet visitors coming up the walk. Come and visit them--they are super friendly.

Salt has always been one of my favorite foods. When I first saw those wacky lamps made of a big chunk of pink Himalayan salt I thought they were kind of cool, but a bit pricy. So when I saw giant chunks of the stuff at the feed store I bought a big lump and put a little 2.5 watt LED in it. It's my morning companion while the espresso cooks. I'm not sure it supplies all the magical properties of the expensive ones, but it makes me smile. It even made the sky turn orange in solidarity this morning.

I guess I'd better catch up on boat construction. I get so carried away building the damned things that I forget to scribble stuff down. Back to work.

Since this is destined for commercial abuse for (hopefully) many years, we are armoring the hull with frozen snot, aka fiberglass. Here are Rocket and Janek squeegeeing resin into some badass 25oz biaxial cloth.

We decided rather than mask off the sides of the boat to keep from gearing goo on them, we'd just keep rolling and do the sides while the resin was still soft. It worked nicely.

We flow-coated it shortly thereafter and the following morning glued on the rubber chine strip--which helps protect the glass chine from minor bumps and abrasion.

Then it's ups-daisy and time to frame up the hatches.

We are going with kinda stout Port Orford cedar. It doesn't weigh much, but it's mighty strong. How does one tactfully say that there seems to be an inverse proportion between the modern passengers' increasing heft and their diminishing lack of agility? Anyhow, decks need to be stronger than they used to be; seats wider; storage area more commodious.

Fasten it on, grind it off to nothing again. Cutting in the gutters around the hatch lids. Some of it can be done before construction, other bit have to take place in situ.

On with the decks.

Solstice sun dagger hitting the decks.

With the decks on, we glass them to the sides of the boat. It's important to have temporary gunwales clamped firmly in place so that the sides know which way they are supposed to point while the fiberglass hardens.

Then comes the tidy and relaxed process of glassing the decks and bulkheads. More like panicked chaos, but hey. They look good.

My favorite way to spend a holiday. Alone in the shop landing fiberglass. "Here comes Sandy Clothes..."

With the decks sanded, I went ahead and painted the outer walls and neck edges with their final color, Tequila Beach.

Than I rolled her over and hoisted her up to the warmer air for a day or two vacation.

Back in the factory, Janek and I banged out the hatch lids. 3/8" plywood
rimmed in ash. Then fiberglassed.

It takes almost an entire thirty-pack to do this. And some tequila. The thirty pack holds the hatch lids up in the air. The tequila keeps me motivated.

Unable to procrastinate much longer, we clamped on the gunwales and rolled her outdoors for viewing at different angles. The old nautical conventional vision held true. No matter how good it looks in two dimensional drawings, once you add that third dimension, the bow and stern always appear to be too low. After an hour or so of nudging them up and down, turning it around, and nudging some more, we settled on what we thought  was perfect.

I transferred the new lines to the other side of the boat, and back to the lofting and the side panel pattern, so now we have solid plans for a free-form build of this lovely boat.

Next we do the horrifying move of cutting the sides to the chosen gunwale line. Man, I hope we got it right! Then we notch the ribs to accept the inner gunwale, carefully fit that in place, clamp on the outer gunwales and bolt it all together. Janek made a movie of the bolting operation. Look at that old guy move around! Not dead yet.

By god, I think we got that gunwale line right. Love that Briggs curve.

This evening we applied the non-skid texture to the decks and added a red perimeter stripe. She's really looking like dangerously like a boat. In Martin Litton's longstanding tradition of naming boats after great natural areas being despoiled by man, I've decided to call this one Bears Ears.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Road Test

Every now and then it seems worth while to get the hell out of the boatshop and see if the damned things float. And maybe even have some fun. Last weekend Kate and her beau Brian invited me up to the San Juan (BringYourOwnBoat) (actually, bring both boats), to take Kate's as-yet-unnamed woodcut McKenzie and my wee Bernie out for a spin. A nice wintery float on slow but reasonable water. Hell yeah.

We spent the night at Kate's folks' refuge in Bluff and hit the boat ramp at Sand Island as early as the frigid temperature would allow. Kate's magnificent carved boat needed a little something to take the edge off before getting wet for the first time. So did we.

It's always so exciting to see if the arts and craft project will actually turn out to be a boat. Little Bernie had been on a few flatwater excursions before but Kate's boat was a virgin to the wet stuff.

Yes, that's ice. Frozen water. Really cold crunchy stuff.

Although I had rowed Bernie on calm water before, this was the first time I got to see how he/she handled in swirls and currents and waves. Better than my wildest dreams. I am in love. So, as it turns out, are Kate and Brian.

But of course the real point of river trips is camping. So we picked the spot most likely to hold our cloud-cover sun the latest in the afternoon, and give us the earliest shot at morning sunbeams. 

Because the boats were so light, and because the river might actually freeze us in overnight, but mostly because we simply could, we dragged the boats up over the bluff and into camp. Which allowed Kate to make a few more prints off her woodcut project / boat. 

The clouds lifted overnight. 

But it's still really cold. And there's still a fire...

Cold toes and big smiles.

Kate spent a bit of her career as a boatman on the San Juan, so running the dreaded Eight-Foot is not too big a deal. With water. In the summer. In a raft. But winter in low water in a wood boat seems to work okay too.

An aerial view of Bernie and I in Eight-Foot Rapid. I am amazed with the speed Bernie pivots and moves. Such a delight.

Coming up on Mexican Hat Rock.

That bit of purple ink toward the stern of the boat is where Kate made a print that night prior of the Raplee Anticline. In the background on the horizon is the anticline itself.

Afternoon sun at the takeout.

I think we'll call this mission a success. Turns out it doesn't have to be either a gorgeous art object or a fabulous boat. It's best if it's both. (Bernie too.)

If you missed the origin of these boats, here are their stories:

Kate's Boat: Some Assembly Required

Bernie: Little Swampy, and then Bernie