Pedal to the metal and ready for decking.

This past week I got to play with metal.  Wow, this is cool stuff when it doesn’t burn/cut/poke/shoot sparks at you. 

More on that in a bit. 

Just when you get your head ready to do something, it’s helpful to stop said head and scratch it.  Is there anything that Must Happen before this process?  In the case of installing the deck, the answer is, “yes, yes there is.”  Here we’ve got the beams faired, the covering boards are on, the decking is cut and varnished on one side… seems like all systems are go.  But wait, after the deck is on, we’ll put canvas on.  And where does the canvas go?  Into a little dado along the covering board.  And how will that dado get there?  We’ll rout it in, using a fence running along the inner face of the covering board.  So, since the decking gets installed starting from that same edge of the covering board … gotta do the dado first before the decking gets in the way.  But wait, there’s more!

We’ve been getting some updates from the folks who are designing the rig for Madcap and one of the things that they wanted was a pair of running back stays.  These require some serious fastening in the aft end of the boat, and luckily, we haven’t put the deck on yet.  Installing these suckers would have been impossible if the deck was in the way.

So, let’s get the dado done.

There we go.  One long groove carefully routed into our beautiful covering board.   Continue reading “Pedal to the metal and ready for decking.”

Spring has sprung

Here in Newport it’s sunny, warm, ever so slightly breezy.  It’s the kind of weather that’s been bringing people out all week to scrape and repaint their porches.  People are clambering all over their boats, touching up the varnish, putting on new bottom paint, getting to all those projects they could put off during the winter because it was too damn cold.  Or wet. Or far into the future.

Well, these past few days, the future is here, and everyone knows that the hordes of tourists will soon blanket the town.  Sure the streets will be a log jam, but they’re here to see and be seen, and they’ve got money to burn.  Shops are opening back up.  Everyone’s sprucing up their store windows, and Ben & Jerry’s is open again. 

But the best part of all this is the biking.  I headed down to the south of the island today


and spent some time reading Atwood Manley’s wonderful book on the canoe builder J. Henry Rushton. Continue reading “Spring has sprung”

All over the boat

I mentioned the jumpers and half beams before. Well, this is what I was talking about.

You’re looking at the starboard side of the boat here. The quarter knees are in the foreground, and the mast partner is that big hunk of oak at the top of the photo. The jumper is also white oak, and it braces the mast partner against the bronze strapping that runs from the sheer clamp to the mast step.

THere’s the strapping, right under the end of the jumper. You can also see the metal knees that brace the oak deck beams attached to the mast partner. You bet, it’s a ton of bracing all in this small area of the boat. Good thing, too. The amount of strain on the partner is huge, and this is a race boat, it’s meant to be driven hard. Continue reading “All over the boat”

Goo yes, gap no.

Turns out that the little tiny gaps in our covering board joints won’t be filled with varnish so that they disappear. They won’t ever be filled with anything ever again in fact, because we coated every joint with 5200. It makes sense really, and I’m guilty of hubris for thinking that somehow my nice joinery would be impervious to the forces of sun and salt water with the addition of a few coats of varnish and a tight fit.

Warren gave me the sour milk face when I suggested that we didn’t need to bond those joints with that permanently adhesive and flexible stuff, and that’s all I needed to go back and coat the both sides of the joint liberally before jamming it back together and screwing everything down.

You can see a little squeeze out here. We cleaned it up and that joint is now impervious to the elements. For that advantage, we lose a bit of glamour as you can now see a tiny line of 5200 along the joint. The pragmatist in me says that’s excellent, it shows that the joint is sealed. The furniture builder in me says it looks like an open joint that someone fixed with putty. Continue reading “Goo yes, gap no.”


Back in 2006 I started this whole process with the eventual goal of working as a shipwright, and along the way I’ve actually gotten paid to do boat carpenter work. All of these experiences have been incredibly valuable, and the money has helped to make this whole venture possible. I’ve approached them with a few specific goals in mind:

  • get experience
  • learn as much as I can
  • make some cash
  • think about how these experiences lead to the eventual goal of a job that I want.

Today it paid off in spades. I was offered a job starting as soon as I get out of school working on a new build of an Olin Stephens design six-meter named Cherokee. There’s a little bit about it here. Here’s a quote from the IYRS blurb about it:

This new build will rigorously conform to historic design and construction standards necessary to compete in the 2009 Worlds. This design is sanctioned by the 6-meter Association of North America as a replica. Only one copy of any given design is allowed and only once it can be proved that the original yacht is no longer in existence.

That will keep me here in Newport through October I think… it’s going to move fast. We’re talking about 4-5 months start to finish.

Later on in the day I got a call from the guy who’s in charge of maintaining the USS Constitution… yes, Old Ironsides, docked in Boston harbor.

He also offered me a position! Either all this work is paying off, or folks are desperate for people to work on wooden boats for not too much money. Or both.

Since I already said yes to Cherokee, I had to turn this one down, but there may be space still open come October… I liked the fellow in charge of the boat, and working for the Navy (yep, it’s a civilian Navy job) has some real benefits like insurance and retirement. We’ll see… living around the Boston area is hard financially. Luckily the train system is excellent.

The downside is that I’m still an hour away from my sweetie throughout the summer, and Boston adds another hour to that.  Damn.

I’m ready for teleporter technology now. Honest, any time soon is fine by me.

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