The day after graduation, we started up on the Cherokee project. The original plan was to drive up to Maine that day and bring the Concordia Yawl down that David (the project manager) and I would be living on for the duration of the project. No such luck. The museum opened on graduation day, and we really needed to get something going on the Cherokee asap. So, we’ve delayed the boat trip, found temporary housing, and got right to work.
Here’s the space where we’ll be building Cherokee:
The view out of the front door isn’t half bad either:
I haven’t decided what I’ll do with this blog just yet, but there a couple of things I do know:
I’ll be in charge of the Cherokee blog over at the Museum of Yachting. You can find it here. In fact, I’ve already started it!
This may morph into a larger version of the Cherokee blog, perhaps with a little less tact. After all, when I’m writing the Cherokee blog I become a part of how the museum presents itself. I have to watch my goddamn mouth over there for instance.
It may turn into something else entirely… perhaps stories of clever ways that boatbuilders are solving the problem of how to make a living doing this job.
Feel free to drop me a line if you have something you’d want covered. And, no, an all-porn format is right out.
I wanted to make sure that folks knew that Madcap did in fact make it into the water with the launch day entry, but whoah doggie, was there a lot of activity in those last few days. It’s been a few days since the launch, and I’m just now getting around to organizing the photos, my life, etc. So, without further ado, a deer, a female deer, here we go.
A while back I’d made these running backstay bolts along with the 1/8″ bronze plates that they go through.
The purpose of the plate is somewhat decorative and somewhat protective. The plate helps to prevent water from entering the boat through the bolt holes. They also look nice, and dress up an otherwise plain bolt. The original plan was to weld the plate from the underside to seal the plate / bolt joint. In our case, the hole that the bolt went through was just a tiny bit bigger than the bolt diameter, so even with the underside sealed, it looked like there was a gap that water could enter through. So, we had to weld the top face of the plate to the bolt as well. If the plate had been any thicker, this would have been easier, but the thin plate was very tough to work with. The heat from the MIG welder tended to blow through the thin plate if we weren’t super careful. The solution was to quickly lay down blobs of bronze weld, and then grind it all down to a nice fillet.
Sounds easy, yes? Welcome to an entire day of work. Here’s a hint when grinding metal: wear a glove, any kind will do, even a thin latex glove. Otherwise, you shoot tiny slivers of metal into your hand.
After a little while grinding with the die grinder, you get this:
Of course, this reveals voids in the weld (the black spots along the bolt edge on the left arm of the bolt there), and that means you have to go back, fill the voids with another weld, repeat. Round files, flat files, sandpaper and a wire wheel all help to shape the weld into a decent looking fillet.
It’s far from perfect, but it’s a lot better than where I started. A little chisel work on the toe rail,
and they get installed.
After they’re set in place, it’s down under the rear deck
behind Jason’s excellent seats, and into the very cramped space where the legs of the running back stays come through the swallowtail plate.
That’s a standard sized clamp light by the way, just to give you an idea of scale here. The metal swallowtail is a little taller than my hand with the fingers extended. The point is: cramped. I trimmed off the ends of the U-bolts as they came through the plate. Unfortunately, some bone head one day decided in their wisdom to pick up my U-bolts and just saw on the threads a little. I have no idea why. They were sitting in the metal area, clearly were boat parts, and it appears that they turned on the band saw and made a couple of little nicks with the saw on the threads. What. The. Hell? This meant that the nuts didn’t want to go on very well, so I actually re-threaded a couple of these in place.
I think I’m ready to work with a crew of professionals.
Nevertheless, we got the backstays in, and they looked quite nice, particularly after we varnished everything.
Warren helpe re-cut the bootstripe to a better shape on Friday, and we painted it in the morning.
And at last, the deck was completely clean. Tom, Mike, & Jason got the deck hardware installed, and it looked great.
All the Beetle cats were rigged to go as well. This is where the shop really looks spectacular.
And then it was time to take down the scaffolding.
Finally we could see the whole boat without anything in the way.
She really is a pretty boat.
Members of the family who have owned Macap since 1949 were in the shop to watch her get finished up. They were completely sweet folks, and we heard many stories of their times on her. They had donated Madcap to the school because they knew that they couldn’t take care of her properly anymore, but they had a very deep connection with this boat. It was bittersweet, like giving a child up for adoption, but they met the people who had bought her, and they got to meet the crew who worked on her, and that helped somewhat. Still, all eyes were not dry, and for good reason.
But these are the people who were responsible for this boat being in such good shape when we got her. If it weren’t for them, this would have been a 2 year project, minimum.
And then the truck came
And out she went at last.
Man she looked small going out that huge door. My family showed up that afternoon and they were thrilled to see how a hydraulic lift truck worked. I admit, it’s pretty cool.
And then, there was nothing else to do really but clean the shop, pack up my tools, and go to dinner. Wow, An almost normal work day!
Launch / Graduation day was all the more special because it didn’t rain when it could have. But more than that, there were tons of old and new friends who came down fot the event. My parents, my sister and her husband, my oldest friend Lyons, my buddy and ex-boss from Mystic, Walt Ansel and his wife Carol, my friend Laura, and the divine Ms. Holly (who took many of these photos). It was a regular love fest.
Walt had many nice things to say about Madcap,
And Lyons was generally helpful as usual. Here he’s helping to make sure that no weasels get on the boat. One boat weasel can ruin your day.
Lots of folks showed up for the ceremony, despite the impending deluge.
And the hall was dressed up with many of Madcap’s racing and yacht club flags.
That’s Clark, the program director, at the podium. Behind him are the instructors and some of the school staff. Warren is on the far right, and Lew is just to the right of the podium.
And zoom, it was over, we all had our certificates, and it was outside to launch our boats.
Of course, all Holly photographed were the dogs.
Kidding kidding kidding. By this point, my camera batteries had died, so every photo from launch day was hers.
We started by launching Odessey, an MBOD from a previous year that some of our class worked on near the end of the year.
Followed by the Bulldog class Spot. Half of the 2nd year class restored her earlier in the year and did an outstanding job with her.
And lastly, Madcap was trailered into the water very slowly. She sat high in the water without her mast and rig, but she floated very nicely. Here we are starting to guide her around from the ramp to the dock.
It really was a great day. All of Madcap’s new owners were there, and relatives of her original owners even showed up. It’s things like this that make it clear that we’re not just working on a boat. We’re part of a much bigger series of events, and it feels like a real honor at these times.