Friday, March 28, 2014

Skiffs, sloops, and runabouts

Our very snowy Winter seems to be over at last.  It is, after all, officially Spring. However, one of the byproducts of the winter was a bunch of days on which school and ISM were closed.  This has set us way behind on the completion of the four SAILOR program Harbormaster skiffs.  To pick up the pace and have the boats ready for Spring rowing, instructors Dave and Jen, as well as several WoW volunteers have been devoting time to skiff construction. Their efforts are paying off, as good progress is being made and the skiffs are coming closer to completion.

Jeff shows Jen how to drill bolt holes in a skiff skeg.
Jen takes over, and another skeg gets ready for installation.
Lots of pieces need to be cut, both for planking and for the cross-planked bottoms of the skiffs.  Volunteers Joe and Bob took on that task, and roared through a pile of white cedar in a day.

Bob selects boards while Joe gets ready to joint their edges.
A properly jointed edge keeps the water out.  That's pretty important in a boat.
Dave assesses the next board to be machined.
Dave rounds over the edges of a skeg prior to installation.
The orders of the day for the next session with the kids.
In addition to the skiffs, Newt and volunteers worked on several projects for Misleading Lady.  Newt has been doing finish work on the acres of brightwork she will display.  He is finishing the boards on the bench, with mahogany stain, two coats of sealer, and the first four of 8 coats of varnish.  Then, he installs those parts that will be permanently attached (bulkheads, seats, etc.,) fastening them with countersunk screws and bunging the screw holes. Then it's a matter of staining and sealing the bungs, and proceeding with the remaining coats of varnish. It is a time consuming, labor intensive job.

Newt works on bungs in the engine compartment forward bulkhead.
The bleary eyed bung setter. That's a lot of holes.
Meanwhile, Bob took a break from skiff work to machine and hand sand many feet of wood which will soon comprise Misleading Lady's ceiling.  Like everything else on this vessel which will be stained and varnished, the ceiling must be carefully sanded to be absolutely scratch-free.

Bob gets ready to sand another strip of ceiling.  Note completed pile on right of table saw.
The 22' Oughtred Grey Seal that was in the shop for ballast and engine installation this winter is now tied up at the floating dock outside WoW's window.  This was accomplished by a whole gang of staff and volunteers last week.  She was lifted off her stands using the shop's two gantries, rolled into position by the sliding doors, and her trailer was rolled underneath.  Then, she was towed to Butch Greco's dock in Essington, PA to be put in the water.

Ready for the trailer
A full crew of supervisors watch Lee fasten a strap to the trailer.
Ready for hookup.
In she goes at Butch's in Essington
Jeff, and John S joined owner/voluteer Charles and his wife on a three hour cruise up the Delaware. The engine performed flawlessly, and the boat, named Lagniappe (LAN-yap) is now tied up at the ISM dock awaiting rigging. Rigging is underway back in the shop, where it is much more pleasant to work on early Spring days than is the dock.

Throat halyard block will be attached to strop on mast.
Shrouds and forestay fastened to mastband and taped.
For a traditional look, steam bent oak mast hoops will be used.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Things take shape

A great deal has been happening in the shop over the past several weeks. Foremost is the progress being made on the four SAILOR program Harbormaster skiffs. They have begun to look like boats, as planking is well underway.  Transoms, keels, garboards, and one or two other planks have been glued, screwed, and riveted in place. If spring ever arrives, they will be ready for rowing in the basin.

Dave fits a plank to one of the skiffs.

Another day, another plank
Getting ready to rivet, the plank lands are bedded in Sikaflex
Planks are rabbeted and screwed at the stem.
SAILORs began mass-producing the frames that will be needed for the skiffs. They are cut from white oak, rounded over, and notched to fit. Soon, they will be fastened in place.

Cutting out frames on the bandsaw.
Crews of volunteers are making good progress on the Beetle Cat project.  All the frames have been replaced, as has the white oak transom. The boat has been flipped allowing a better view of the planking. Initially, we planned to retain the planking, but a close inspection led to the conclusion that it will be better to replace it. Existing planks are good enough to use as patterns for the new ones, but not good enough to sail again.

The new transom held in place with clamps and a strap.
We began unscrewing the planks, starting with the garboards. The planks will be removed and replaced two sets at a time in order to protect the shape of the hull.

Garboard planks removed, and keel rabbet cleaned up a bit.

Newt has been devoted to sanding, staining, and varnishing Misleading Lady for what seems like forever. There are a tremendous number of surfaces that must be finished bright, and Newt is carefully matching the hue of the wood. Many coats of varnish have been applied, and many more will follow.

First coat of varnish on a cockpit bench.
Misleading Lady originally had a bench for the pilot, but the original no longer exists.  Jeff is doing his best effort to mock up a seat in plywood.  It will eventually be rendered in mahogany.

Jeff's bench.  The cushion is a nice touch.
Charles' Grey Seal is fast approaching her date with destiny -- the big splash. The engine is fully installed, plumbed, and wired. House wiring including bilge pumps, running lights, and anchor lights is done.  Final coats of non-skid paint are being applied to decks and soles.  Once she is in the water, rigging can begin.

A very salty starboard running light
John S. and Joan discuss intricacies of sailing.