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Four great new boats from the desk of Klaus Schmitt

Our friend Klaus Schmitt wrote again with four new boats showing his delightful ability to blend traditional workboats and yachts. This collection includes a sweet little cruiser he calls “34′ Double-ender,” a catboat done for a friend called KAT (quick: guess the friend’s name!), a tug-yacht and a trawler-yacht. Great, great stuff, as always.

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I hope someone will build one of these. These designs need to have real water under their keels!

A nice power dory

While on vacation at Cuttyhunk Island recently, I was kayaking through the harbor and found this beauty tied astern of a cruiser in the mooring basin. Nice dory. I don’t know much about her, but she looks fun. I wonder how she rows?

Dory

The Charles W. Morgan sails again – the trip home

CHARLES W. MORGANWhen there is breaking action in the traditional / classic / historical boat world, you can expect Chine bLog to be on the scene. Well, sometimes. We may even write a timely post about it. It so happened, though, that when the last surviving whaling vessel and oldest commercial ship still afloat (launched in 1841), Mystic Seaport‘s CHARLES W. MORGAN, sailed down Vineyard Sound and across Buzzard’s Bay to its port of birth, New Bedford, MA, we were there. As you may know, the Seaport recently completed an extensive renovation of the MORGAN (video), and she is, as I write, touring southeaster New England, again on her home waters after many years tied to a pier.

After an initial trip to Martha’s Vineyard, the MORGAN headed for New Bedford on June 24th. She came down Vineyard Sound under tow, crossing to Buzzard’s Bay via the wide and deep Quick’s Hole, between Nashewena and Pasque islands. Emerging into the Bay, she set sails and crossed to New Bedford as she should, under canvas. Happily, we could be there alongside her for this part of the journey due to the initiative of Captain Jono Billings of the M/V CUTTYHUNK, who ran a special trip to see this historic voyage. Some pictures of the ship, the setting of sails, and the free-sailing MORGAN are below. Continue reading The Charles W. Morgan sails again – the trip home »

Frames for the Merlin Yawl – an exercise in lamination

Merlin yawl, bow view
The onset of the U.S. tax season brought on the worst procrastinatorial tendencies here at Chine bLog Central, causing the main body of the editorial staff to shun the computer for weeks. This ordeal astern, however, I can report, at last, on another day building the Merlin Yawl at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum’s Apprentice for a Day program.

I had left her with just a couple planks in place and returned to find her fully planked, with just some fine tuning of the sheer needed (1 block plane + 2 minutes of work). Inspecting the hull, I found a partial set of graceful, laminated frames fitted inside but not yet attached. Each of these frames for the midsections is a single, sweeping piece running sheer to sheer (see the first image below). They are really an impressive sight.

I briefly got up close and personal with one, in a scraper-and-hardened-epoxy kind of way, before heading to the table saw to start creating the next couple of frames.

Each frame is made up of roughly a dozen 1/8″ strips 1 1/2″ or so wide. We milled them from mahogany.

All these frames are laminated in place, so after slathering each set of strips with thickened epoxy, we wrapped them up, bent them into the boat at a pre-set location, clamped the heck out of them, and wedged everywhere we couldn’t clamp. The pictures give a sense of the process (I hope) and show the results: a couple frames laminating in place, maxing out the boat shop’s clamp supply.

A fun – and messy – day!

I saw a more recent picture that shows the interior painted, so the building of this great boat proceeds apace. I am REALLY looking forward to the launch in June. We’ll have full coverage here at Chine bLog!

Planking the Merlin Yawl – another day apprenticing at CBMM

Merlin Yawl with a couple planks Last Sunday I got out to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum again for another Apprentice for a Day outing. Planking was the order of the day, as the lovely Merlin Yawl gets her skin.

I arrived to find the garboard planks glued in place and the starboard first broad strake glued and clamped in. I was pleased to hear that the garboards went on well against my planed keelson, with a minimum of filler goop required (and those spots weren’t mine; that’s my story, and I’m sticking to it!).

First broad strake The first task was the port-side first broad strake. The prior day’s crew had marked it out, but we started by cutting it (yours truly on the jig saw) and then trimmed it off with hand planes. Happily, my cutting was fairly solid and we had light work here.

The test fit proved fairly successful. Some judicious clamping, pushing, and well-aimed mallet blows, and we liked the look of her. Off came the plank, on went the epoxy, and – boom – both first broads were on.

Picking up marks for second broad strake By this time, the starboard first broad strake had completed its clamp regimen and we could turn to the second broad strake on that side. First we fit a batten along the marks for the next plank, with the batten inside the marks. We then cut up scrap planks to lay between the batten and the first broad strake, joining them with butt-blocks and hot-glue. We then glued on scraps that pointed to either or both the batten edge or a line 3/4″ inside the first broad strake representing the overlap of the second broad strake. By moving this template to the plank stock and connecting the tips of the pointer pieces with a batten, we got the plank outline on the plank stock.

Scarfing plywood From here, the team split tacks. While some worked on cutting and planing this new plank, I took on preparing more plank stock. And that meant scarfing plywood, something I had not done before. Me and a nice, long plane got to it. It is a little tough to tell from the picture, but the sheets are at a bit of an angle to each other to account for the sweep of the planks. Additional scarfs will continue this sweep; hopefully they’ll get a couple planks out of the completed stock piece (the sheets are fairly narrow).

Gain for lap at stem Finally, to finish this productive day, I went back to the boat and did one bit of final prep for the starboard second broad strake: cutting the gain in the first broad strake at the stem. While a saw cut helped set a nice edge, this was mostly work with a chisel and, for my first time, a rabbet plane. It came out pretty well, I think.

So, another great day as an apprentice. I definitely learned some useful tricks and got practice in areas I hadn’t touched yet. This boat is going to be great and I am eager to see her afloat. Now I have to negotiate for another day or two out there… At very least, she launches on June 8th and I am hoping it will be a fun family outing.

Update from the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum boatyard on the ROSIE PARKS

Skipjack under repair When I have been out to the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum I have kept tabs on the restoration of the skipjack ROSIE PARKS. Longtime readers first saw pictures of her in tough shape in 2007 (see right).

By this time last year, there was much better news to report: ROSIE PARKS was well along in a proper restoration. The other day, happily, I found her where she belongs: in the water and looking sharp. Here’s to a great job by the Museum waterfront staff!

ROSIE PARKS afloat

Rollin’, rollin’, rollin’, plane those rolling bevels…

You Editor-in-chief here at Chine bLog spent the day over at the Chesapeake Bay Maritime Museum‘s Apprentice for a Day program again today, and, as always, I had a great time. In my haste to get to making sawdust and shavings, I didn’t catch the name of the design [Editor's note added after publication: it is called "Merlin Yawl" and was designed by Kees Prins and Bill Bronaugh] for the boat the program is working on this year, but, unlike most of the others, this is a new design, not a traditional Chesapeake boat with traditional construction. This boat does, however, have a traditional style, but it will be done using lapstrake plywood construction. Today’s focus was the backbone.

Let’s look at the design. She is a bit whale-boatish in appearance, roughly 17′ LOA and 7′ abeam. She is called a yawl and has yawl proportions, but, as is generally the case in small, open boats, she is technically a ketch (mizzen forward of the rudderpost).

17' yawl - lines

Looking at the lines, you can see she’s pretty. Even if she was drawn in 2013, she would look at home a century or more earlier. We here at Chine bLog are generally fans of her basic look: double-ender, plumb stem with a nice round in the forefoot, and somewhat raking sternpost.

17' yawl - sail plan

When I entered the now familiar building shed, I found the strongback and molds set-up with the keelson laid down and attached to the inner sternpost. One guy was shaping the inner stem. Keelson, showing rolling bevel My job was to finish shaping the keelson, then two layers of 5/8″ (I think) angelique plywood [Editor's note: our bad - it is okume] laminated together and cut to shape in plan view. One guy had started to plane the bevels in, and I took over the task today. If you look at the lines, you can see there is a bunch of twist in the garboard at either end, and I had to get the keelson beveled to receive that twisted plank. This is to say, I had to plane in a pretty crazy rolling bevel along the length of the board. You can get some sense of the job from the results pictured here.

We also got the inner stem in (that’s program manager Jenn Kuhn checking it out) and, ultimately, glued it and bolted it to the keelson.
Keelson and inner stem - before

I did the shaping of the keelson from this fitting (at left) to the roughly finished result below. I am fairly happy with the results.

Keelson and inner stem - after

With that done for now, the last prep was cutting the slot for the centerboard. My handiwork here too.

Centerboard slot

Another guy spent much of the day doing calculations to line off the planking. They will be carrying on with that tomorrow, and I am sorry to miss the task. I got a bit of a flavor of it and picked up some tips. #1 – don’t forget to calculate in the rubrail! They’ll have to backtrack a bit on that tomorrow. I would surely have missed that and ended up with a puny sheer plank.

Battens for lining off

I tried some new things, learned some good lessons, and had a great time. I can’t wait for round two in two weeks, when planking will be the order of the day! Stay tuned for more on this lovely boat.

Fascinating “This American Life” piece on the launch of underwater archeology

Our colleague Andrew Cohen popped in the other day asking if we heard a This American Life episode that re-aired recently about “shipwrecks or something.” We had not and he was good enough to send it. What we got was a fascinating fifteen or so minutes hearing about two men who basically created underwater archeology starting in the late 1960s. One took a chance dive on a wreck in Turkey and, 50 years later, they are still unraveling clues about what they came to discover was an important Byzantine ship. Along the way the rewrote our understanding of Byzantine shipbuilding and commerce. This story is definitely worth a listen.

A nice collection of traditonal boats from Vietnam

Chine bLog friend David Witzel was recently in Vietnam with his family and agreed to serve as a special corespondent for us, capturing pictures of traditional Vietnamese boats. Happily, he found some nice ones. We don’t have the backstory on them, but they are nice to study anyway.

Mekong River
River craft from along the Mekong, including a ferry and perhaps some liveaboards.

Vietnamese long boats on the Mekong

The ferry looks like she might be wooden Continue reading A nice collection of traditonal boats from Vietnam »

A quick musing on epoxy use – or overuse – in wooden boat building

The most recent issue of WoodenBoat includes part I of a three-part “how to build” piece on the Phoenix III, a cute sprit-rigged day-sailer from the desk and shop of Aussie Ross Lillistone’s Bayside Wooden Boats. As is generally the case with these pieces in WoodenBoat, the boat is pretty and fun-looking, the article clear and interesting, and the detail on target for the need. Mr. Lillistone clearly has a nice eye as a designer and we are sure he is a great boatbuilder. We don’t want to impugn the big-picture here at all; again, we really like the looks of the boat.

One bit in the article really bugged us, though, and we are interested in others’ opinions. In writing about setting up the transom, Mr. Lillistone writes:

The transom edge, like the bulkheads, is simply cut square, relieving the builder of the tricky process of cutting compound bevels on its edges. The planking will contact only the outer corner of the transom. This is no cause for worry, since the gap will be filled with thickened epoxy when the hull is being planked. After the planking is completed and the hull turned upright, this joint will be further reinforced with a large radius epoxy fillet and double-bias ‘glass tape, making it exceptionally strong.

We would fully expect the method described to do the job, but does it strike anyone else as crossing a line from being accessible to being sloppy and leaning on a crutch? We here at Chine bLog are all about getting as many fine boats like the Phoenix III built as possible and that clearly means knocking down barriers to entry. Epoxy and ‘glass methods like stitch-and-glue, lapstrake-plywood, and the like are valuable ways to do this. We find ourselves getting ruffled, though, when we are leaning on epoxy so much that joinery is getting tossed out wholesale. Yes, the bevels present some extra work, but it’s hardly the trickiest task one faces. We would be curious to hear what you, our readers, think of this. Is there a line of artistry the we should try to hold or have we gotten curmudgeonly here?