Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Framing the decks

I took the day off punting yesterday to get AzRA's dory Wesley ready to go on the river with us this week. But today it was back to the punt. Zeke and I spent the day cutting strange angles and scratching our graying heads, ending with the finished framing for the ever-so-slightly arched decks. The framing has added quite a bit of stiffness to the boat, so she doesn't wrack nearly as badly as yesterday.

Tomorrow I help pack out the river trip, and Thursday we head to the Ferry for a sixteen-day float, so there won't be much happening with the punt until I get back around Hallowe'en. 

Next up: decking, seats, oarlocks, and trim. Maybe three more days of work?

Sunday, October 9, 2011

It's a boat

Big day in the boatshop. We started by cutting some bizarrely eccentric chine boards in a wacky jig on the table saw. It actually worked first time, to my amazement and delight.

Then Zeke cut the corners off the frames so the chines would fit inside the boat we were about to assemble. Well, we talked about it for a while, THEN we cut the corners off.

Next RJ and I laid the lumber for the sides (scarfed together on Friday) on the floor and drew out the pattern Andy and I made a few years back.

And made a nice clean curve pout of the wiggly approximations.

Then we cut the panels out and pre-drilled them so the holes would hit the ribs accurately.

Next we screwed the transoms and five ribs to the side panels so fast I didn't get a chance to take a picture of the process. John Gray and Cam and Morgan Staveley stopped in to see how it happens.

Excited by the rapid progress and not really ready to stop, we dropped in the inner chines, screwed them in place, and sanded the chine line smooth. Then we dragged out the floor panel, marked and cut it, and slammed it on.

And rolled the boat for inspection and celebration.

It is a mighty odd boat if you ask me. All the curve of the sides and rocker happen in the center few feet, and the rest of the boat's lines are pretty straight. (The exact opposite of a Rogue River drift boat, whose ends have all the rocker and whose center is quite straight.) That means the center of the punt will ride pretty low when loaded. But she'll turn on a dime. The other wacky thing is how flexible she is. Below, Bruce and Zeke, without trying very hard, are twisting a major wrack into the boat. Or maybe that's the whiskey. We're guessing the decking, the seats, and outer gunwale cap will stiffen her up a bit, but even then she may twist a bit when life gets stressful. We can't think of a reason why that is bad, necessarily—but it is peculiar. We tried to put a similar wrack into the McKenzie boat upstairs with no luck. Maybe having the pointy end on the McKenzie makes it stiffer than this strange trapezoidal punt. Hard sayin.' We ain't worried though.

Drop back and punt

Wild Rivers Expeditions of Bluff Utah, the foremost (and only real) San Juan River outfitter since 1957, has asked me to build a replica of the old Norman Nevills San Juan punt. They were a simple boat built in Mexican Hat for use on the San Juan from the Hat through Glen Canyon to Lee's Ferry from the late 1930s through the 1950s.  Here's a shot of an original punt

Andy Hutchinson and I took a bunch of measurements off of a few originals at Nevills's grandson Cam Staveley's place—one living boat and a couple that are reuniting with the earth.

I ordered up a pile of plywood and scarfed up the 5x16 foot floor and the 4x16 foot panel from which to cut the sides.

And laminated up the transoms.

Today RJ, Zeke and I ripped down and planed a pile of Monterey Cypress, and built the two transoms and five frames.

And Margeaux and Chelsea stopped by and got roped into sanding. 

Tomorrow, with luck, we'll pull the hull together.