I know a lot of folks denounce the stuff, but I can say now from experience, that it is, in my opinion, pretty damn cool. I refinished my mainsheet blocks exactly one year ago, and they’ve been out in the sun, rain, hail, cold, heat and more sun… and look as nice and shiny as the day I put on the last coat of clear. The varnishes I’ve tried do not begin to fare as well. Skye’s mast, also Cetol’ed, is equally nice after 12 months.
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.
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.
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.)
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.)
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.
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.
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 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.
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. 🙂
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:
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.)
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
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.
…I don’t know, but at least it will be dry.
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.
…would be confusing.
Added a bow net. Or jib net. Or martingale net. Or widow’s net. Take ‘yer pick. I’m not absolutely certain of its degree of usefulness, but I figured it was worth the effort to find out. It does provide a few more options for foot placement and security (I may also add a center line rope up from the stem), and might help prevent a drifter or reacher from slipping into the water.
I haven’t sold my PT 11… the Avon deflatable was onboard when I bought SKYE. It’s in very good condition, actually holds air, and bags up fairly small. It’s handy for working around the boat from the water — place to sit, and it won’t ding up the topsides. I’m keeping it as a spare.
I’ve made a change to SKYE’s auxiliary propulsion system. Previously, the electric Torqeedo Travel 1003, mounted on the rudder, was used. Worked pretty darn well, from a “can a 3hp electric outboard actually move a 18,000 lb + boat around satisfactorily” point of view. In practice, it proved to have some drawbacks… specifically that it was mounted very close to the water and was thus very difficult to reach from on deck, to change the batteries, tilt up, etc. Also, being an electrical thingy, occasionally getting splashed by salt water, some corrosion of the connectors occurred, which resulted in less than reliable operation. And, though 3 hp did work, it was a might bit iffy at times, with marginal reverse thrust.
So, I investigated the alternatives, and arrived at the conventional gas outboard on a transom bracket — the very thing I was trying to avoid from the beginning. I did not want to add such a — have to say it — ugly contraption to the wonderfully curved transom of SKYE. But aesthetic druthers are only part of the equation, and I needed a reliable, easy and quick to deploy, sufficiently powerful, get-me-out-of-the-traffic-lanes-right-now (to cite a rare but possible case), solution. On the plus side, the outboard (a Tohatsu 6 hp SailPro) is, and the outboard bracket will be, removable, so the clutter on the transom can be cleared away when wanted.
Here’s a couple of photos of the finished installation, and the control box (shift and throttle) hidden in the starboard deck box, in which it luckily happened to fit…
In a pleasant coincidence, the maximum trim angle of the outboard exactly matched the angle of SKYE’s transom, which not only positioned the outboard properly vertical, but increased the total up/down range of the bracket to over 18 inches. The hailing port (“Port Townsend”) will be moving over the port side, under SKYE.
Since the need to move at night, under power, is a possibility, I also needed to upgrade the navigation lights. In addition to the existing masthead tri-color, there are now lower sidelights, a stern light, and a steaming light — all mounted temporarily, since one of the tasks on the schedule for next month’s haul out (in Olympia) is some updating and repairs to the electrical system, plus the mast will be unstepped, which will allow a proper mounting of the steaming light. Again, these are just temporary, field-expedient, and not-for-long…