Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Tilting Masts

At some point in time in the hopefully not too distant future, I will hire a crane and flip the boat over to begin building the decks and superstructure.  At that point I'm hoping to have an idea of where and how my mast - or masts - will be built and installed.

I don't yet.

The greatest complication in the whole thing is that they must be lowered easily.  There are three local bridges of concern with which I'm attempting to avoid concern.  Two of them are railway bridges that presently are easy to have swung with a day's notice, but the third is a highway bridge that can take weeks to arrange its opening.  And the last time they did it got stuck there and really pissed off the unwashed masses.
The railway is also suggesting that a full time operator is overkill and only required during freshette since that is the only time of year the gravel barges need an opening.  Otherwise an appointment arranged at their convenience will do just fine thank-you. The barges can get under when the Fraser is low, though they often scrape off the top of the load on the bridge structure.  Having the paint scuffed on a 100 year old bridge does not seem to be of concern to them whereas a reasonable salary to a single rail worker is.  Being a large, quite pushy corporation that usually gets its way (a coal train now can legally be over 2 miles long, and don't get me talking about oil transport) - the railway will likely be satisfied.  So I must be able to scoot under.

Railway Bridge at Mission

What I have decided so far (or am close to deciding) is that my mast or masts will be hybrids, as outlined and discussed by members of the Junk Rig Association and in the book 'Practical Junk Rig'.  That is: a lower section of extruded aluminum and an upper section of wood - either solid or hollow.  Since weight is a concern I'll probably go hollow.

The hinge mechanism has my thinker working a bit harder though.  A conventional tabernacle has space requirements that may be hard to incorporate in my boat.  I do like the idea of an actual hinge right in the mast.  It has been done before, and a similar arrangement is being considered by Dmitry Orlov for Quidnon.
And living where I live I have access to fabrication and machining facilities where such contrivances can be made up.

All food for thought...that must be eaten and digested soon.

Sunday, December 27, 2015

Polymer Nails

The framing and first layer of plywood is going to be glued and screwed with epoxy coated deck screws and PL Premium Construction Adhesive.  However, the subsequent layers (3 in total on the bottom and 2 intotal everywhere else) will be laminated with epoxy.

This is my solution for holding the plywood in place while the epoxy cures.  I bought an assortment of 15 gauge polymer nails and the nailer to drive them (Omer B17P.763).  The nice thing about theses nails is they can't corrode, and best of all they won't hurt your cutting tools.  So I can nail as much as I want along the chines for example, and rounding them later with a router will not be an issue.

This is a super product line for boat building!

Here is their website:

Saturday, December 26, 2015

A Really Nice Marine Wood Stove

This is the Cubic Mini Wood Stove made right here in Canada (Montreal).  We will likely order the larger one to install in our boat.  They are very reasonably priced, appear to be very well made and will make our boat a very cosy place in the British Columbia climate.

Here's the website:

Friday, December 25, 2015


Up to now we’ve kept pretty quiet about our plans to build a sailing barge among many of our family and friends (though not all of them).  The reason being is that we wind up on the defensive and the criticism and genuine concern for our perceived foolhardiness gets a bit tiring.

One of the most prevalent arguments we have encountered is that if we must have one - why we don’t go out and buy a boat?  And it is true that there are so many boats out there for sale.  Just look on Craigslist or Yachtworld and boats can be found that sit there for sale for months or even years, and at small fractions of their true value.  And to those people whose concept of a boat is conventional I can see their reasoning clearly. 

Most people we know think of boats in two categories – power or sail – and then the subcategories are limited.  For power they will think inboard or outboard, and trailerable or larger.  Sailboats will be trailerable or larger.  Materials in both main categories will be fiberglass and maybe aluminum (good!) or wood (bad!).  And all will have owned – or know someone who has owned such a conventional boat.  We should be - in their minds - buying a bargain priced conventional boat if we should have a boat at all.  Which leads to the next argument.

A boat is a poor investment.  The old adage gets presented to us that ‘a boat is a hole in the water into which one throws money’.  And that is quite true for most conventional boats.  The larger ones tend to be system intensive with complex engines, dual steering stations, pressurized hot water, diesel furnaces, macerating heads, complex electronics, stainless steel rigging, Dacron sails and the list goes on.  All of that stuff breaks or has to be maintained and it is not cheap.  Throwing money indeed!

So the task of even describing the boat we MUST build – for there are none out there to buy though they exist – is a frustrating experience.

When we talk of simple composting toilets that one can make for less than $50 and how they are superior in every way to a conventional flushing marine head the reaction is disbelief and some disgust.

When we talk of the simplicity, ease of use and comparative low cost of a junk sailing rig our message is meaningless to them for the lack of reference unless they actually sail, and then those who do - even if they have heard of a junk rig - can be prejudiced.  And that prejudice will not come from experience but hearsay.

When we talk of plywood/epoxy construction it gets a bit better since SOME people (within our circle) are aware of this very desirable method of construction.  Otherwise, and for the rest, it is a wood (bad!) boat.

When we say barge (for lack of a better term) the image evoked is that of a work barge or gravel barge.  The same goes for the word ‘scow’. 

If we say ‘sailing houseboat’ the image evoked is that of a Shuswap Lake floating party pavilion with some kind of sail on the upper deck between the bar and hot tub.

If we say ‘flat-bottomed’ they say ‘it will pound on the waves’. 

If we say ‘no pressurized hot water’ the image evoked is that of complete discomfort and any attempt to show that a simple shower using a garden sprayer with water heated on a stove cleans one’s body just as well as a half hour shower at home – minus the perceived luxury of doing so – we are looked upon with pity.

So without going on about it and working myself up over it, I think that showing them rather than telling them will be the only way.

To that end I made the first part of our boat today.  It is a forward side panel that I will use as a stringer template as well.

Merry Christmas Everyone!

Thursday, December 24, 2015


It has been a long time coming.

Here is the boat I have (just this morning) begun to build.

She (no name yet) is just shy of 34 feet long with a 10 1/2 foot beam, and 6'4" headroom down the center.  All framing is 2x4 structural fir, except for the roof longitudinal beams that will be Indonesian mahogany, a pile of which I obtained cheaply and will be further used for hatch coamings, interior trim and so forth.

The hull, sides, decks and bulkheads are 1/2 inch marine fir.  Sides and decks will be 2 layers and the bottom 3 layers. Roof will be a layer of 1/2 inch MDO with another layer of 1/2 inch fir.

Framing and first layer of ply will go on with PL Premium and epoxy coated deck screws.  Subsequent layers of ply will be epoxied and nailed with Raptor polymer nails.  The whole exterior will be epoxied and covered with Dynel.

The layout is spacious and commodious.  Down the companionway stairs (easier for us as we age) to the starboard galley.  A composting head is located in a compartment big enough to accommodate it, but no larger.  Forward of that is a work surface that folds up to reveal a sit down shower that can double as extra storage and a place to allow wet gear and clothing to drip dry.  Through the bulkhead to the salon with dinette, wood stove and large settee.  Insulated and laminated marine windows allow sitting eye level views of the outside.  Forward of that is the stateroom with queen size berth and a hatch to provide access to the forward deck and egress from the boat when nosed into a beach.

My plan is to make as much as I can in the garage at home (e.g. bulkheads, curved stringers, etc) and then transport them a short distance to the yard where assembly will take place.  I will build the hull inverted and finish it up to the point of bottom paint and then get a crane in to flip it.  We'll complete to exterior paint and then transport the boat home and level it up in the driveway for fitting out.  That way I can save some space rental.  Getting to that point should be relatively quick - at least that is what I am hoping.  Below are some self explanatory pics.

More to come...