Posts

Book Review: Hand, Reef, and Steer

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When I found s/v Ripple at the Center for Wooden Boats in Seattle I wasn't looking for a classic wooden boat, I was looking for a marine Winnebago to putter about Puget Sound with friends and family. I knew what a gaff rig was, but I'd never sailed one. I'm not sure if I knew what a cutter was. None of that mattered: I was in love. Only after having inked the check did I learn the mantra of gaffers: "she's slow and points like a blind hound dog, but the rig is squat and safe and will take care of you." In the intervening years I've cruised through British Columbia and as far north as Inian Island in Icy Strait, Alaska.  I had fingers enough to count the hours of sailing without power on that 88 day trip.  Its the Inside Passage, and sailing days can be scarce.  Did I mention I'm oldish, often single-handing, and lazy?

Recently a sailing friend gifted me a copy of Tom Cunliffe's Hand, Reef and Steer, and the veil has fallen from mine eyes.  This b…

Gold Leaf Name Boards

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Ripple came to me with her name on her transom, but refinishing the transom on an earlier haul-out left her nameless, and my best intentions to renew the proclamation of her identity were defeated by the press of... well... sloth.  In defense of my failure, I did not want to have to re-apply the name to the transom each time I varnished, especially as the overhanging transom made it difficult to read the name in any case.

Name boards are the answer. Mine have been waiting patiently in the queue of winter projects.  The recent loss of my workshop space near the marina finally triggered the project.  Moving my shop to a spare room in our condo meant that any spare moment was a putterable moment. I lost my table saw in the bargain (neighbors being what they are),  but what I gained was immeasurable: a clean, warm shop-space three steps from the kitchen.  Now, instead of a cold, drafty, impossible-to-clean work space, I have a small, compact shop with my workbench, all my tool-boards, an…

Hakai Cruise

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The heavy lifting is done -- painting, varnishing, upgrades to the galley, storage, a new wood-burning heating stove, a rain fly for the cockpit, bronze tiller pilot stanchion, anchor chain deck plate, and a hundred minor tweaks.

Ripple is a demanding mistress, greedy for every attention you might lavish upon her.  But the dividends are commensurately great, and the privilege of her company is endlessly rewarding.

These last few days before departure are a blissful alloy of satisfaction and anticipation.  I wish I had gotten the topsides repainted, I wish I were a better varnisher, but for all that, Ripple is a well-found vessel in excellent condition, and she is ready for the trip.

We will depart Tuesday evening or Wednesday morning, bound for Port Townsend, Bedwell Harbour, Nanaimo, Jedediah Island, and a rendezvous with Terry Noreault in Powell River before pushing north towards the Hakai Preservation Area.


Checklists for Cruising

In preparation for this summer's cruise, I finally got my checklists together, printed, and laminated.

Drive-by (Video) Shooting

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I was out on Lake Washington this past week, enjoying some unseasonably warm sunshine and Jason of YachtVid.com cruised up and chatted me up about Ripple.  He had been shooting a video of a large yacht, asked if he could take some shots of Ripple. I was happy to agree.  The result is this video.  Jason got one detail wrong... my trip to Alaska was not alone, but rather with 5 crew, one at a time.

Thank you, Jason, for a very nice video hommage!

Installing a Wood Burning Stove: Part III

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With the deck iron in place, it is time to work out the details of setting the stove in place and fitting the flue pipes.  The enclosure from the original kerosene heater is lined in asbestos and requires some modification to make it more effective. Basically, the floor of the enclosure needed to be raised and leveled, and the space below converted to a short term fuel storage spot.  A simple carpentry effort made short work of that.

I've re-used the asbestos sheets that lined the space.  Asbestos is very dangerous as dust, but as long as it is stable, it presents no health hazard.  Reusing it involved making a few cuts (dust), but also keeps the material out of the landfill,  so the tradeoff seems reasonable to me.

The alternative to asbestos is to create a heat shield which is comprised of sheet metal (typically copper or stainless steel) offset from combustible surfaces by an air barrier (1 inch is the standard recommendation).  In designing mine, I educed that air space to 1/…

Installing a Wood Burning Stove: Part II

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Cutting a hole in a perfectly good house top is daunting business, but it has to be done.  Fitting a deck iron (which is bronze) is less daunting, but a lot of work.  The deck iron wants to be level and the house top is not, so it is necessary to make a donut that supports the deck iron and levels it.

Taking the angle is simple enough.  Cutting the angle in a 9 inch square block of hardwood 3 inches thick requires multiple angled cuts on the table saw, and finishing with a hand saw.  The only hardwood I had that was thick enough was a slab of walnut.  Walnut is suboptimal for nautical uses (it is not particularly rot resistant), but painted well and properly maintained, it will do the job nicely.



The interior of the donut need not be cut precisely -- it just need to accept the bronze deck iron without leaving excessive space around the walls of the casting.  I wasted the interior of the donut with a drill bit, and then chucked a drum sander in the drill press and ground out the sloped…