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Iteration on the leeboard bracket for AL DEMANY CHIMAN

The leeboard bracket is giving us a tough lesson in the physics of lateral resistance. My first attempts showed flaws in the bracket to clip the board to the single side gunnel. The second attempt, from late summer, is below. I followed the published models and build a bracket that clips to both gunnels.




This system worked well enough at keeping the bracket in place, but I still had the end that meets the leeboard all wrong. I realized two things. First, the bolt was too thin – at 1/4″ it was being bent by the leeboard’s upward, outboard pressure on port tack and upward, inboard pressure on starboard tack. Second, the “face plate” provided too little bearing surface for the board (and the bolt on the outside was too small as well). There wasn’t enough to keep the board clamped in place.

In the Fall, then, I enlarged the “face plate” and made a much bigger knob to clamp in the leeboard itself. The worked much better, but the “face plate” still came apart. In the face of these forces, then, I have now buckled a bit and, how shall we say it… screwed the snot out of it. I am still resisting loads of fiberglass cloth and big metal L joints, but there is more epoxy and bronze than before. I am hoping this will be enough. I find the bracket rather graceful as it is now (scrap white oak FTW!), and don’t want to have to revert to something clunky and ungainly. Physics may overpower, though.



Under sail again! Further tuning the sailing rig on AL DEMANY CHIMAN

It took longer than I had hoped to rebuild the lateen yard so that I could get my skin-on-frame outrigger canoe AL DEMANY CHIMAN under sail again. Recently, though, I finally completed that task and yesterday morning life and the weather gave me an opening to get “the sail canoe” under sail for the second time.


Truthfully, the weather could have helped a bit more – the wind was fairly light and flukey. This said, I did have a nice little sail and made some progress towards having the sailing rig fully tuned and “done.” The new yard did well and the reworked main sheet arrangement was much better. I think I also have identified the right spot on the yard for the halyard.

Left to do is to do some thinking on the leeboard. The boat definitely wants the lateral resistance to go upwind well, but there are two issues. First, the bracket I designed to clip the board to the gunnel just isn’t working. On port tack it was just about pulling up and over the rub rail. I think I am going to need to use a bracket the crosses the hull and clips under the inwale on both sides; this is the more common arrangement I have seen in Gary Dierkingand Todd Bradshaw‘s books.

The other problem is that the board will still not reliably stay down, even after I added leather washers. Not sure what my next step is on this one.

I’ll also be playing with the steer oar to try to improve it. Steering will be something I’ll be playing with further, I suspect.

Annnnndddd my 2012 boating season is underway at last – AL DEMANY CHIMAN’s keel wet again

We had a nice family paddle at our standby put-in of Mason Neck State Park. Mostly overcast, but warm and calm, good for trying out the rebuilt ama. I’ll have to test it more, but my initial observations are that we working the aft end SEEMS to make her a touch zippier (biased observation noted) and, as planned, water mostly stayed out of it. The main hull is also drier thanks to some touch-up of the skin seams at the bottom of the stems. And fun was had by all. Good to be underway again.

Completion of ama reworking for AL DEMANY CHIMAN

Last weekend I was also able to wrap up work on the refurbished ama for my skin-on-frame outrigger canoe AL DEMANY CHIMAN. I had noted previous progress a bit ago, and I had stalled for a while because life took over. Work crises tamped down a bit and the weather improved, I brought the ama to the front lawn of 1 Chine bLog Place for some skinnin’.

The process went smoothly and I was sorry I had put it off for so long. I was pleased I even felt comfortable enough to make some adjustments to approach midstream without fear of things going awry. Here are the results. In addition to the presumed enhancements to seaworthiness, I actually think the ama looks a good bit better too. Next step, we gotta get this boat in the water for the season…


Aft end of new AL DEMANY CHIMAN ama Forward end of new AL DEMANY CHIMAN ama

Update on the rebuilding of the ama for my canoe, AL DEMANY CHIMAN

It seemed a good time to update you all on the status of our various winter projects on the skin-on-frame outrigger canoe, A DEMANY CHIMAN. When we last checked in, I was trying to figure out how to approach the redesign of the ama, especially with respect to the problem of it shipping lots of water. I have pursued the initial approach (despite good advice to the contrary) and am some way along.

To review, I took the ama completely apart and gave everything a good sanding. I had found the bow piece in suspect shape, so I just rebuilt it. I then coated everything with the same polyurethane that coats the skin and lashed it all back together, but for the stringers. I then got some polystyrene and built blocks matching the dimensions of the four sections of the ama (including the stringers in the width) and then split those down the middle lengthwise. I filed / sanded them to shape so that they fit snugly and had the appropriate sectional shape. I am now 3/4 through the final step, which is carving out a channel for the stringers. Below is the starboard side, with one stringer just laid in.


Now I have to do the port side. I’ll paint them all so they aren’t that horrid pink (yes, in its regular life, this foam would be insulating some house).


A couple thoughts are in order. First, working with foam has been a highly unpleasant process. The mess is horrendous and shaping it does not have the same satisfying feeling wood gives. The stuff is obviously soft enough that it is easy to ding up and it snags much more easily than it seems it should. On the other hand, I think it will meet my objectives pretty well. By coating the pieces in polyurethane, waiting for a full set, and then lashing them, they behave like skin-on-frame construction should, but are protected form the inevitable water (yes, there may be wear and, over time, places water will get to the wood, but that will be down the line a decent bit). The stringers will show through and give the appearance they had, maintaining the same look. Finally, the water will mostly stay out, leaving me confident the ama will remain buoyant in a longer, choppy crossing. Perfect? No, but I think this will get me where I wanted to, even if the journey has been a pain.

Ideas welcome – beginning the redesign / rebuild of AL DEMANY CHIMAN’s ama

AL DEMANY CHIMANs ama in my shopAs I have noted before, one of the biggest issues I have found with the skin-on-frame outrigger canoe AL DEMANY CHIMAN is that the ama isn’t working out. The shape is a bit off and it ships too much water. Having completed a number of smaller maintenance items since calling an end to the season, I have begin the winter’s major project: redesigning and rebuilding the ama.

My first step was last night. I unscrewed the “sheer clamps” and the pulled off the skin. What I found was a bit distressing, if not wholly unexpected: there has been water trapped beneath the skin and the frame doing what water will do. Moisture in frame of AL DEMANY CHIMANs ama You can see that dark area where the oil I put on the bow piece didn’t help (or wasn’t enough). The part above that was quite wet, and that is from rain somehow getting in (or, forbid, leftover from a month ago – shudder). The line where the skin met the bow piece is distressingly evident, though this is more mildew. The bigger issue here is that the two planks that make up that piece have separated (note the slight hitch in the “sheerline”). The afte end is better off, but has a few issues of it’s own. Bow of AL DEMANY CHIMANs ama without skin

So this leaves me with the question of how to proceed from here, as I have to approach this project with an additional variable. Factors I am thinking about are:

  • I need to reconstruct the ama so that it does not ship water
  • I want to preserve the skin-on-frame look as much as possible
  • It is unlikely that, with the skin-on-frame medium, I can keep all water out
  • If I make the ama a good deal more watertight, but not 100% so, I’ll end up with more of the issues noted above
  • A new ama that is fully watertight and water-protected may not go as well with the rest of the boat

A bit of a quandary, eh? My current thinking is to unlash the frame, coat every inside surface with the same two-part polyurethane that coats the skin, partially relash, add foam to fill the inside, and reskin the ama. My guess is that this approach leaves some vulnerability to water damage, but hopefully holds it off a good bit. Any other ideas or approaches you all would recommend? Please comment below. Many thanks,

A celebration of a boating season

On Sunday afternoon I took AL DEMANY CHIMAN out for probably the last time this season. It was a stunning Fall day and there were only a few other folks out with me on the Patuxent River. There were some birds about and a couple fish jumping, but, for the most part, things were quiet and autumnal. As I put the boat back on the car and drove home I reflected on what a great boating season it has been.

The story of the season was obviously AL DEMANY CHIMAN. This was her first full season in existence and she gave me all I had hoped she would. From the first paddles in May, she continued to prove light and easy to transport. She took the whole family out and did fine (except for the part where we all leaned to starboard) and even carried my boss and colleagues. From there she carried me and five days gear around Muscongus Bay, ME in what will go down as one of my great voyages. This is the adventure she was built for, whether I had articulated it or not, and she served me fabulously.

The heat of summer and my desire to complete the sailing rig slowed us some,but when September arrived, AL DEMANY CHIMAN became my social yacht. I had some great outings with friends and, a couple times, with friends and sons. She proved a great draw and a fun boat for talking or for fishing.

Throughout all these interactions, I was thrilled with the reception AL DEMANY CHIMAN got. I have been so touched by the clearly sincere compliments she has received. People have been drawn to her and it has been thrilling to see and hear.

It will now be a long wait for the Spring…

Sailing rig details for the skin-on-frame outrigger canoe AL DEMANY CHIMAN

AL DEMANY CHIMAN, fully rigged

As I work away on refinements to the sailing rig for my skin-on-frame outrigger sailing canoe AL DEMANY CHIMAN, I wanted to show off a few more details of the rig as it is. I posted a variant of this view before, but I think this is a better picture. It gives a sense of the overall layout and the different rig elements.

Here is the steer oar and its chalk. This set-up worked reasonably well, though I might eventually want to put some weight on blade end.


This view shows the hiking plank and mainsheet leads.

AL DEMANY CHIMAN sailing rig

Finally, some detail on the finished blocks, which I hand made from paduak.

Hand-made block for AL DEMANY CHIMAN

I can’t wait to get her going again next season.

Skin-on-frame outrigger canoe AL DEMANY CHIMAN fully rigged


She’s all ready for show…

It’s official – the skin-on-frame outrigger canoe AL DEMANY CHIMAN is a sailing canoe

For the next 24-odd hours Chine bLog is reporting LIVE from the 2011 Mid-Atlantic Small Craft Festival at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum in St. Michael’s, MD. As I type on my smart phone, a lovely folk trio is playing in the background while folks eat and mingle. A whole fleet of amazing boats is already here, and I’ll be sharing some in the AM.

The biggest news, from our perspective, is that the skin-on-frame outrigger canoe AL DEMANY CHIMAN finally got under sail today. That was the afternoon’s goal and we got it done. As you may recall, “DEMANY” means “sail”, so she has fully taken her name. Results? Well, winds were light, but we completed several tacks and had no catastrophic issues. That said, we have some work to do. The leeboard is not behaving well at all and was minimally useful. Design flaw there. The configuration of steering vs. sheet will also take some getting used to. All told, though, we’ll call it a success.

Stay tuned…

[UPDATE] The sailing rig did not fair so well during the blustery next day. While still on land showing off her rig, the yard snapped (building flaw) and the mast partner lashing failed (design flaw). Neither was catastrophic, but we’ll need to deal with these issues before we get back on the water under sail. A guy who was next to the rig when it broke looked at me like my brother just died and said a sincere “I’m sorry.” It was a bummer, yes, but I regard the whole boat as an experiment and a learning experience, particularly the sailing rig. I will learn from this and fix the issues and we will be back. This boat CAN sail – we proved that.