Moldy Strongbacks

 

(to start of project)

Mounting the molds on the strongbacks is a tedious process. Everything has to be plumb and square and level; which is hard to do since the molds are only attached along one edge at this point. Everything wants to wiggle. Clamps help, an angle gauge serves as a jig to set the 12” waterline to the same height on every mold, and shims adjust the elevation until screws are driven in. Once a batten is tacked along the top, and a few strips are run up the sides, everything will lock in place.

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Molds

 

(to start of project)

Wallpaper paste doesn’t stick. At all. Neither does tape. Staples do. So does Liquid Nails.

I was planning to build some nice proper sawhorses, as my old slap-together set won’t hold screws anymore. I came across these plastic ones in the building supply store, and at $15 each I figured I wouldn’t lose much if they were junk, and there are times when you just need an extra one quick. Well, they’re totally awesome. There are notches in the top sized perfectly to hold 2×4 rails, and they have a shelf on the bottom to hold tools, and hooks on the side for T-squares and such, strong as heck, weigh nothing, and fold up to about 2” thick when you put them away. Totally awesome. It’s nice when something so simple can make you really happy.

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Southwest Mountains

 

There’s a mountain ridge, runs southwest to northeast. It’s where the bad weather comes from, a shoulder against winter. Wet and cold spill over the rim in slow motion, flowing down through the bare tree tops into hollows and coves, where houses are huddled inside by fires to keep warm.

All week the ridgeline has been hidden by low clouds, clear below; clouds that sometimes rain, sometimes mist, later sleet or snow, but never much.

The top of the ridge could be gone. Maybe it will just be changed somehow, and we won’t know what is different, it will just feel different. I saw a fox this morning, and an owl last night. Both had somewhere to go.

 

 

Strong Backs

Chapelle and Barto Plans

(to start of project)

 I’ll be working from a combination of printed plans along with measurements taken from boats of other builders, in addition to a few modifications of my own. Besides the one page Chapelle plans, I have the more complete set of plans from Wooden Boat Magazine by Marc Barto. I’ve also talked to Roger Crawford and taken measurements from his boats, as well as several other amateur and professional builders, all of whom you’ll hear more about later.

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Allegory of the Cave

wire frame boat model plan

Wireframe Boat

 

(to start of project)

In the complicated calculus of my conscience, there are many things I have to do to earn the right to do something I really want. I know, I know. But that’s just the way it works.

Therefore, before spending a year or more of time and money building two boats for me (okay, and the family), there were certain things I was going to have to do first. One was wait until my daughters were in college, because high school is not the best time for a father to disappear on his two teenage girls. The other was to make a viable studio workspace for the lovely T, my artist wife, who has been forced to use the dining room table and various closets as a work space for years. Patient, she is. That meant finishing the basement, referred to hereafter as “The Cave.” On the plus side, I would get to use The Cave first for the boat project, before turning it over as art studio.

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A Little History

Howard Chapelle melonseed skiff melon seed plans smithsonian
Chapelle Plans from the Smithsonian

Funny how things circle back.

It was the mid-1930’s, at the business end of the last Great Depression, that a young, not quite gainfully employed naval architect named Howard Chapelle signed up for a job with the WPA. Everyone needed work, and the government was creating jobs and funding them as fast as anybody could think of them. Someone in FDR’s administration came up with an idea to put the nations destitute naval architects to work. It was to be called the “Historic American Merchant Marine Survey/” Along with a lot of other projects that came out of the WPA, it would turn out to be an incredibly valuable storehouse of historic documents; though, with humble beginnings and a short life, it’s eventual cultural value would not be evident for quite some time. Of the two largest work programs created by FDR – the CCC and the WPA – it was this one, the WPA, that received harsh criticism as wasteful and unnecessary, particularly from the conservative opposition.

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