Wooden Boat Festival 2016

Don’t know why it’s taken me so long to post photos from my recent trip up to the Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival, but here they is anyway.

The festival was great, got to visit with lots of friends, old and new. The “sail by” on Sunday was perfect, light winds blowing off the shore, sunshine and the excellent company of two friends from the marina in Olympia, Noreen and Riley.

I might talk myself into attending next year. 🙂

At anchor in Gig Harbor.

Motoring up Colvos Passage. No wind.

But some nice sunshine every now and then.

Played leap frog with this cool tugboat.

The rest of the journey to Port Townsend was rainy, cold and generally not very photo-worthy. This is early morning at anchor off PT on Thursday, when the weather began to improve quite a bit.

SKYE was positioned a bit better than last time, with access from the dock, over the stern.

Four bowsprits attached to four very cool boats kept me from sneaking out for a sail. 🙂


The other SKYE at the festival. Very cool William Garden design.





Quite a variety of boats, big and small!

Even some furry friends were interested in all the neat boats.

I’ll try to add some photos of the sail-by if I can track them down.

Building A Whisker Pole

SKYE already has a 12-foot pole, for the staysail, but needed an 18-foot one to match the “J” measurement from mast to end of the bowsprit, for use with the drifters or reacher. So I decided it was time to build one.

I already had a bunch of very clear and straight Douglas fir 1x2s, and although I briefly considered buying some Sitka spruce, I found that the few places where it’s still available have prices that made my eyes water. (Not that real Sitka spruce isn’t just about the best choice for spars, and would make for a lighter weight pole, but I think this Douglas fir one will work out pretty well. I hope. 🙂

So here’s a mostly complete series of the photos showing the construction.

First thing was to figure the stave dimensions. I used a 3D program I normally use for my paying job. This section view shows the middle, and end, sizes and the way the bird’s mouth staves interlock. I designed the pole to be about 3 inches diameter in the middle, tapering to about 1-3/4 inches at the ends. The 1x2s, being in reality about 5/8ths x 1-3/8ths, were the perfect size for the staves.

Since my Doug fir 1x2s were only 10 feet long, I cut scarf joints, using the above cobbled-together jig, to make pieces that were about 18 ft., 4 inches long. The parts of each stave were of various lengths so that the scarf joints would not all be at the same point on the pole — a couple in the middle, others at the 25% and 75% mark, and the remainder in between those.

The scarfing jig worked great… just clamp the 1×2 in place and run the circular saw along the guide (with the depth set just a hair more than enough to cut all the way through.)

I glued up the scarfs (with epoxy + high density filler) four staves at a time, using nails in a straight row for alignment and a few chunks of lead (taking a break from trim ballast duties) for clamping pressure.

One way to make sure the scarfs are aligned correctly length-wise is to make little tick marks when dry-fitting to provide a visual guide during glue-up.

After cleaning up the glue ‘squeeze-out’, and planing the scarfed areas smooth, I ran each 18+ ft. stave through the router table, using this bit from Lee Valley. I offset the bird’s mouth cut slightly, which saves a bit of material and makes the glued-up pole already 8-sided as is. Note that I had to leave a small flat area at the top of the long part of the “bird’s mouth”, which was required in order to have something solid to follow the outfeed fence on the router table.

To get the taper, I used a long batten to draw a smooth curve the length of each stave, making the stave about 1-1/4″ wide in the middle and about 3/4″ at the ends. Then I used the first stave as a pattern to mark the others. Quite a challenge cutting the tapers (with a small circular saw)… had to concentrate… follow the line, follow the line, follow the line…..

The Big Glue-Up.  Quite a day — mixed up about a quart and a half of epoxy (using slooow hardener, of course.)  I made some alignment cradles for the middle and ends, which were clamped to saw horses. Lined them up by sighting from the ends.

Turned out to not be the Chinese fire drill I was anticipating. I had first clamped all the staves, birds-mouth notch facing up, side-by-side, so I could just dump the epoxy on the bunch all at once, end-to-end, and spread it out with a big paint brush. Then each stave was placed into the cradles (each marked with a number so I put them in the right order) and they just kinda fell right into place.

Several dozen zip-ties later, it was all clamped up and ready for a 24-hour cure time. (It’s really important at this stage to use a putty knife to remove as much squeezed-out epoxy as possible; around the clamps and along each face. It’s hell trying to remove later after it turns to stone.)

Clamps off, remaining bits or epoxy planed off and each of the eight faces smoothed out.

After using a power plane, and then a hand plane, to take the pole from 8-sided, to 16-sided, to something like 32-sided, give or take, I used this section of a thick cardboard mailing tube, cut to the length of a sheet of sand paper, with the sandpaper glued inside with spray adhesive, to smooth the pole to a circular shape. Good exercise.

With the pole all rounded and smooth, it was time to inlet two flat faces on each end to fit the bronze end fittings. (From Toplicht.)

And after about of week of Cetol for the middle, and gloss white for the ends, it was finally all done, and in place on the front of the mast (above two photos.)

Mast And Butterfly Hatch

After a week’s delay, the mast was stepped, and it all went very well. Managed to avoid dropping a clevis pin overboard, which can be an expensive goof. Tested the new tricolor out and it appears that I wired it correctly, to my surprise. Nice to be a sailboat again — though I suppose I should put the sails back on before saying that.

I did, however, manage to mis-lead the jib halyard. This in spite of double-checking and triple-checking everything while it was on the ground. I’ll have to go aloft to fix that one.

Also, on a sunnier day, re-installed the refurbished butterfly hatch. There were a few places where the varnish had failed, so I removed all the hardware and bar rails, used a heat gun and sander to remove the old finish, and applied Cetol, like the mast. I think it turned out looking fairly good.

Calm In The Midst Of Chaos

SKYE’s a tough boat. Can even withstand the onslaught of a webcam-induced gale. 🙂  (Click to enlarge.)

(The marina webcam has a habit of going a bit daft every now and then as the software tries to stitch together the multiple images into a panorama, and fails miserably.)

A 90% Day

Today was scheduled for stepping the mast; all the various mast maintenance and modification tasks have been completed. I started early to avoid the heat, and got all the standing and running rigging attached, in the right place, and even in the right order. Cleaned and lubed the turnbuckles, touched up the paint, varnish and Cetol here and there, and generally made the mast all ready to move out of it’s parking spot in the yard, and hoist.

It all went really well (this is the 90% part)…

The halyard fairleads on the spreaders. Still using Spunflex line — it’s worked out very well, so far.

The new steaming light / deck light combo. L.E.D. and very low current draw. I decided to run the juice up one of the lower shrouds, rather than try to attach it to the exterior of the mast all way down to the deck in some way. I also painted the white cable black to blend in with the rigging. We shall see how well this work out.

The likewise new L.E.D. tricolor. Also an Aqua Signal, it fits the same base screw pattern. The old one still worked fine, but it did use more amps, and the plastic cover had become cloudy and crazed (and surprisingly costly to replace.)

All the standing rigging and halyards have to be tied up neatly (relatively speaking) for hoisting, and off the ground so the mast can be rolled to the crane. Lots of strings and wires. Pays to stand back and double check everything every so often — don’t want to run the topping lifts outside the lowers, or lead the main halyard where the jib halyard should be, etc. Very easy to make a real mess if you don’t take your time to make sure it’s correct.

Nice to have it all done and looking good. 🙂

About the remaining 10%…    All that was left was to motor SKYE on over to the boatyard dock from the marina. The outboard, however, vetoed the idea by deciding it just did not, no way, no how, want to start today. Ran fine not long ago. But not this day. (Probably fuel system related.) I had to cancel the mast stepping, and reschedule — for a week hence. (The boatyard is super busy this time of year.)

Oh well, as they say. It’s only $3 a day to keep the mast in the yard, so not too bad on that front. I’ll use the time to continue various other projects. Since the mast is going be in the yard, all assembled with various expensive bits of bronze which might, um, ‘go for a walk’, I’ve removed the turnbuckles and anything else easily removed. Maybe not necessary, but it can’t hurt. And hopefully the birds will treat the mast kindly, as well. 🙂

Working My Way Down The List…

It’s been way too long since I posted. Sorry ’bout that. A combination of many things to do, plus some paying work, plus some medical annoyances. And I keep forgetting to take my camera with me. 🙂
Anyway, SKYE was hauled out for a while at Swantown boatyard, where I tackled a few items:

Scraping, sanding, bottom paint, topside paint, boot stripe paint.

New name and hailing port graphics (vinyl). One of these days I’ll get around to making a carved name board which can be removed and replaced easily for painting. Gold-leaf lettering would look mighty snazzy.

Stripped all the hardware and varnish off the mast. The varnish I tried a couple years ago (Le Tonkinois) did not hold up well, plus the mast needed a good going-over — to a higher level than I did back then. I’m also adding a separate storm trysail track which will cross over the gooseneck and allow the trysail to be stored low and ready to raise. Shocking how expensive good stainless steel sail track is. And I’m replacing the tricolor light with a new LED version, and adding a proper steaming/foredeck light, also LED.

Although SKYE is back in the water, I’m awaiting some acceptably nice varnishing weather for the mast. And since this is the rainiest winter on record (and it ain’t done yet!), I rigged up a cover. It’s secured under the mast so it can’t take flight, and it holds the plastic (which I wish came in white) clear of the mast so the coats of varnish can dry properly. Should be good bird protection as well. (3/4″ PVC legs, and 1/2″ PEX tubing for the arches.)

Typical day at the boatyard. Seemed like all but a few were like this. Yuck.

When the weather precluded outdoor work, I disassembled, stripped, sanded, refinished and reassembled (whew!) the four main sheet blocks, staysail halyard block and the two lazy-jack mast blocks.

There’s more (like the aforementioned new hatch, obviously), but I need to take some more photos, so they’ll wait for next time.

One more item: There’s another Lyle Hess 32 being built locally (on Lopez island) that I just read about:  http://hunterbaywoodworking.com/lyle_hess_cutter.php

New Hatch Progress

Hatch removed. (I’ll put it up for sale on craigslist. Those things aren’t cheap — maybe someone needs one.)

And I just wanted to thank whoever installed this metal hatch way back when for not using 3M 5200. I think I would have turned to strong drink had I found it so. Dolfinite was used instead, which made removing the flange easy with just a tap or two from a mallet.

Now the fun part… returning the opening to it’s original rectangular size and shape, building the hatch and coamings, installation and finishing.

Stairway To…

…I don’t know, but at least it will be dry.

Having fallen off a ladder once in my life, I’m not crazy about the darn things. So I built a set of stairs up to deck level. Much safer, and easier to carry tools and stuff up and down.

Then I installed some flexible PVC pipe hoops, and covered it all with a 50′ by 30′ tarp. I also extended the hoops over the stairs.

The whole deck is covered. Sure will be be great to not have to stop work because of rain. Probably a bit warmer as well. (I’d like to say thanks for the idea to the folks from Harbinger — a Westsail 32 — who provided a good example last year with a similar white tarp setup.)

One of the items on the work list, and an important one, is to remove a certain metal hatch from the aft deck. It’s a decent hatch, mostly water-tight, but it’s not exactly in tune with the design of the boat.

Hatch whose days are numbered circled in red. 🙂

Port Hadlock To Olympia

Eighty-six or so nautical miles. Three days of sailing or motoring, with stops in Kingston and Gig Harbor.

The weather was generally great, with a north wind just when needed.

Sailing with main, staysail and yankee jib along the southern end of Admiralty Inlet. I saw six knots a time or two. The breeze eventually died out, and I motored the last few miles into Kingston.

The staysail, and the yankee with all the new hanks I sewed on. Raising the yankee added an instant knot plus to the boat speed. I like that sail.

I stayed three nights in Kingston, first because of a day with rain and no wind, and the next because of a bit too much wind. The following day, however, was forecast for 10-15 knots from the North, all day. So off I went, sailing with the staysail poled out, and making a comfortable 4.5 to 5.5 knots, with the Monitor windvane doing an excellent job of maintaining course. Quite a gadget, that Monitor. I like it. I’ll have to give it name, I guess, which seems to be obligatory. 🙂  I also rigged a preventer / vang for the boom (seen on the lower right corner of the image above.)

Here’s a bit video. (I should have turned off the VHF — sorry ’bout that):

Passing Seattle. Far enough away to not hear the noise. 🙂

There were very few other recreational boats out, but one came close enough for a picture.

Passing Blake Island state park. Quite a neat place. I anchored there and went ashore last year on the way north.

I didn’t have to alter course to avoid a ferry the whole trip, which is like catching all the green lights on the way through town.

It’s a bit faint here, since it was a pretty hazy day, but that’s Mount Rainier just becoming visible in the distance.

Also difficult to spot were the various “speed bumps” floating in the water. Branches, clumps of brush, and the occasional great big honking log, pictured above. It looked to be about 16″ in diameter and a good 12 feet long. Had to keep a very good watch ahead.

Passing Point Robinson on Vashon Island, where I turned from my downwind, southerly course to a beam reach to the west. (Turned right, in other words.) And after a short while, the wind quit — blocked by the island.

But after a bit more motoring, I arrived in Gig Harbor, which is a really cool place. Nice restaurant there, by the way: (El Pueblito).

The next day I caught the start of the flood tide through Tacoma Narrows (7.6 knots… wheeee), but the whole day was near windless, with only an occasional bit of wind ripples on the water. So the new Tohatsu got a long workout, moving SKYE along at a steady 4.25 knots or so. After about seven hours, Olympia came into view. The last few miles it steadily got warmer; had to shed my heavy jacket as it became t-shirt weather.

The next morning, the mast was unstepped at the Swantown Boatyard dock. They have a new travel-lift with a special crane attached which makes dealing with masts much easier and quicker than before.

As SKYE was hoisted skyward, I saw that the bottom paint I applied about 16 months ago did a pretty good job. Mainly a bit of slime and bits of grass.

What did not work so well was the special “transducer anti-fouling paint” that I carefully applied. Probably explains why the speed readout was not working. 🙂

So SKYE is on land for a bit, while I tackle some projects best done in the yard where access is easier. It will be great to have her close to home now, instead of a long (albeit scenic) two hour drive away in Port Hadlock.

All in all, a great trip. I leaned a number of new things about sailing SKYE and improved my handling of various sail combinations.