Tuesday, December 19, 2017

A Boat for A Friend

I am helping a friend of mine conceptualize a houseboat as a liveaboard for a single person.  Since I have learned a lot by virtue of designing and building Autarkia, I thought that incorporating her successes into the design, as well as a few mods specific to his requirements might lead to something interesting.

This boat is smaller than Autarkia.  Her length minus the motor mount/swim platform is 28 feet as opposed to Autarkia's 34 feet.  She has a 9-1/2 foot beam as opposed to Autarkia's 11 feet.  But she would be built in very much the same way as Autarkia using multi-layers of fir plywood and fir 2by4s.

She is not meant to sail and would be powered with a 15-25 hp outboard.  I would also not have a dedicated steering station, but rather a wireless remote helm that can be used anywhere on the boat (this is a future project I intend to do with Autarkia).  Even though she will not sail, a small retractable off center board would help steering and keep her easier to control in a breeze.

She does not have a utility room as does Autarkia for obvious reasons, but would have a queen size bed on the port side of the fwd cabin, with bookshelves and storage above.  A desiccating head could go under the fwd hatch like Autarkia, that also serves as a step to get in and out of that fwd hatch.

The aft cabin with standing headroom could be laid out in a number of ways, however I am a fan of open concept using furniture that can be moved around as required.  But there would be a built in galley across the aft bulkhead, as well as cabinets above the windows.  The windows are at eye level when seated.

The covered cockpit is self draining with the sole above the waterline.  Deckboxes can house fuel, propane, anchors etc.  A BBQ is mandatory!

There is lots of roof area for flexible solar panels, and the roofs are guttered to collect rainwater.  Water tanks and a chain locker are under the fwd deck.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Here We Go Again

Some time ago I kicked around the idea of rigging Autarkia as a Gundalow typical of the sort that plied the Piscatauqua River in the late 1800's and early 1900's.

The idea keeps coming back to me for the following reasons:

The rig lowers in seconds to get under bridges - one simply lets off the block and tackle at the base of the yard, and the counter-weighted rig slowly descends with a gentle pull on the back-stay.  Shoot in under the bridge and haul the yard back up.  That is it.

Also, we will be making many trips downstream from Mission, and the rail bridge is right in the way.  Without a dipping rig we will have to cross the river and get the bridge swung.  If we go upstream, our destination is likely Harrison Lake via the Harrison River.  Two bridges to deal with there, and the highway bridge requires a wait of up to a week.

This type of rig points into the wind better than a junk rig but it does not reef easily or quickly like a junk.  I've been thinking about that though.  The fact of the matter is, winds here are very light - if we get them at all.  I think in any case a crazy rogue gust can be dealt with by letting go the sheet and lowering the rig.  It isn't like we simply have to keep sailing - we have a motor.  Even with a junk rig - for us there will be a learning curve and we will have to figure out how to use the rig properly in any case.

The stub mast and yard can be made from steel.  The yard would be sections of Schedule 5 and 10 pipe telescoped and welded together.  I have hundreds of pounds of tire weights I can cast into a counter-weight for the base of the yard.

The biggest job will be to sew a sail but unlike a junk sail with batten pockets and such, it will go together faster.  I will have to use proper sailcloth, and borrow a better suited sailmaking sewing machine than my Granny's Singer Featherweight but no big deal.  I also bought a copy of The Sailmaker's Apprentice and have been reading it voraciously - so I think I can do it.

One unconventional thing I may do is to attach the yard to the top of the stub mast with a fabricated U-Joint of sorts, rather than chaining it up there in the traditional fashion.  Since the stub mast will only be six feet off the fwd cabin top keeping it greased and maintained will be easy, and there will be no rubbing or chafing. Still thinking that one through.

I've done some of the engineering and calculations for the pipe sizes, and have figured out how much counter-weight I need at the base of the yard, but will post those details later on should I proceed with this route.

As a matter of interest, the folks at The Gundalow Company have been quite helpful.  Please check them out.

I have not been very active blog-wise as of late, like many of the fellow bloggers I like to follow.  It is simply life.  Gets in the way sometimes :-)

On a last note, I made a change to the wood stove installation aboard Autarkia.  I lowered down by a foot and replaced the flue with insulated pipe.  The stove works better now and also heats the nether regions more efficiently.

Here's a pic:

Monday, September 25, 2017

An Informal Sea Trial

We took Autarkia out for a little trip down the river yesterday with our friends Tom and Julia.  Julia is recovering from a severely broken ankle yet did quite well getting around the boat.  Autarkia's large foredeck was a hit!

A points about performance:  She is slow and heavy so takes a little while to respond to the helm.  That said she'll turn quite sharply due to the OCB.  I could get her up to hull speed with the motor revved up to 4000 RPM, but we found that cruising at 2800 - 3000 RPM was a nice compromise for noise and speed.  At that power setting we did 3.5 KTS going upstream against a 1-2 KT current (it varies, and is slower this time of year).  Downstream of course, was a very respectable pace.  Getting to Vancouver in a day would be easy I think.

If I got her pointing straight enough I found that I could leave the helm for minutes at a time and she would keep course.  The foredeck is so pleasant a space, and quiet (you can't hear the engine up here) that I am already thinking of a forward steering station of sorts.  Another future project for the pile - and it's pretty high already.

We were out for the whole afternoon and the engine ran the whole time except for a little stop when we tied up to a log boom for snacks.  We used about 6 litres of gas.  I am very impressed with the Evinrude E-tec 30 HP.

At the Helm

Looking Upstream Towards the Mission Rail Bridge

Municipality - "Not Our Responsibility" Province of BC - "Not our Responsibility" Federal Government - "What mess?"

Getting Snacks

Look Ma - No Hands!

Grape Juice From Tom and Julia's Garden Mixed With Club Soda

A Typical Fraser River Saw Mill

Another Eyesore

Derelict Queen of Sidney 

More Mess

Lot's of Gravel Barges

Friday, September 22, 2017

A Cosy Stateroom

We made another little push to finish up Autarkia's interior with some recent work on the 'stateroom' (sounds a little hoity-toity don't it?).

Anyway, some overhead shelving for books, clothing etc adds to the storage space.  I also put in an LED hidden light strip that illuminates the whole space nicely,  and to add to the illusion of size - a mirror across the bulkhead.  That will encourage us to stay slim and attractive :-)  For safety, I covered the back side of the mirror with Gorilla Tape so that should the mirror be broken (by virtue of me looking into it beyond a reasonable interval or otherwise) the shards will be restrained.

Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Ground Tackle

The windlass is a used Lofrans I got at a ship breaker.  I took it apart, regreased it and it is as good as new with a fresh coat of paint.  The bow roller is for a boat trailer and works well in this application as well.  The cleat and windlass are bolted to the deck with aluminum angle reinforcements on the under side.  The hole in the windlass where the chain feeds through is capped with a piece of plastic and some weatherstripping.  The anchor chain hangs from the cap and its weight holds the cap in place keeping the rainand spray out.

I have 150 feet of 3/8" chain.  Pretty heavy!  

Here is the cap held in place.

There is lots of room for the chain to pile.  The bitter end is shackled to the structure, but I do have a couple of hundred feet of rope as well if I need to extend it.  Those aluminum bars help reinforce the aluminum angles on the deck stringer, and carries some of the load down to the bottom stringers.  I have some rubber mats for the chain to pile on, and if I need to wipe up any water it will collect against a cross piece.  I intend to wash any mud off the chain as I stow it.  We'll see how easy (or not) it is to keep this area clean.

I have a Rocna 13 lb with chain and 200 feet of rode that is stowed in the propane box.  I intend to keep looking for more anchors to add to the collection but for now I think we are good for this area anyway.

Monday, September 4, 2017

A Visit From a Fellow Blogger and Sailing Barge Builder

It was a delight to have Dennis Donohue come by and visit us aboard Autarkia today!  Dennis is building a Triloboat and has been blogging it here:  http://dennisdonohue.blogspot.ca/

Nice guy and definitely a kindred spirit!  So good to make a new friend...

An Improved Steering System For the Outboard

When I launched Autarkia last October it was under pressure and duress imposed by the city to get her off the property.  Hence some things were rushed and one of them was the steering system for the motor.  I had to be able to power her from the boat launch into the harbour a few hundred yards away.  So I rigged this very simple tiller bar to the motor that worked rather well.  Well enough in fact, that I used it once again to take her out and test out the off center board this summer.  What I noticed though, was I zigged sometimes instead of zagging.  You see, with this setup you moved the tiller bar left to go left and visa versa.  Makes sense when you think about it, but quite counter-intuitive for someone used to tiller steering with an outboard motor or a rudder.  Another drawback was that you couldn't let go without it wanting to change course.

Here is the original setup.   the tiller bar was hinged at the edge of the deck and in the pic the motor is turned all the way for a right turn, with the top of the tiller bar pushed all the way to the right.  The linkage to the motor was with some aluminum bar and a ball end.

So I finally pulled that out a couple of weeks ago and replaced it with this:

The steering shaft is 5/8" keyway bar stock I got at Princess Auto, along with two bearing blocks; one for the top and one to go through the deck.  The upper support was made with some ABS plastic I had, mounted and bedded to the cabin bulkhead with aluminum angle and SS bolts.  I parceled and served the shaft with tarred seine line and will varnish it.  Also I have yet to make a a boot for the bottom end to protect the bearing.

I made the steering crank with some steel bar stock and had it welded to a weld-on hub - also from Princess Auto.  The knob was cut out from a 3/4" piece of HDPE plastic I had.  I simply used a hole saw to get the round shape.  I chucked it into a dril and sanded the edge a bit.  It now spins on a 1/4" SS bolt.

The bottom end of the shaft has two more weld-on hubs spaced a couple of inches apart, over which I was able to very snugly fit a piece of heater hose.  It made a dandy drum.  Poly rope and bearinged  garage door pulleys complete the arrangement.  Since the photo was taken I tweaked the placement of two of the guide pulleys.  That piece of white PVC pipe is a tunnel for the fuel line running from the deck box housing the tank down to the motor.  I store no flammable liquids inside the boat.

Here is the starboard side.  The burlap bags are filled with 2x4 cutoffs for the wood stove.

I fed the rope through pex pipe fittings in the sides of the motor well and bedded them in with polyurethane caulking.  Also, I smeared lithium grease on the rope where it passes through the fairleads.

I haven't taken her out yet, but have run her tied to the dock at all power settings.  The motor turns from lock to lock with a little over two turns of the crank.  It is as smooth as butter.  The motor also stays put when you let go.  I am quite happy with it and when it breaks it will be easy and fast to fix.

The Mate approves!

Monday, July 17, 2017

Pondering the Post-Apocalyptic and Whether I Will Need Bridge Swings

I have finally abandoned a requirement I imposed upon myself from the very beginning of the Autarkia project.  And that was to have a mast that can fold down from a tabernacle, so that I could easily get in under the local bridges.

This stemmed from fears of a post-apocalyptic Lower Mainland BC, where in this chaos - if bridge swings were still possible at all - they would be controlled by trolls and overlords - requiring me, in the dark of night, to stealthily sneak under.

There!  I now admit that I have gone overboard in a train of thought mostly born and fed by reading to much Dmitry Orlov, James Howard Kunstler, and others.   No, I am not a doomer.

That said, I still believe that we are in for a heap of trouble nonetheless that will include predominantly a financial crisis.  I predict though, that most infrastructures (including those involved in transport) will remain intact and functional.  So, the bridges will still swing.

So to move on with getting Autarkia a sailing rig, I intend to have her masted at least this year.  I am presently making inquiries and getting quotes for a steel tube, and the cost of getting it hot dipped galvanized.

Details to come....

Sunday, July 9, 2017

Off Center Board Installed and First Test

Yesterday, My son Wesley and I brought the board down to the boat.  It is quite heavy, and the two of us huffed and puffed a fair bit to get it from the pickup truck, up and over the dyke and down the ramps to the dock.

I had previously turned the boat around so that the starboard side was against the dock so we could set the board in place.

Since the board, despite the weight, has a fair bit of buoyancy, it was not too difficult to get the bolt through the hole in the hull.  I smeared everything with lithium grease.  Once the nuts and washers were in place it was easy to push the board under and haul it down vertical with the line tied through a hole in the leading edge at the bottom.  There is a similar line on the trailing edge to use as an uphaul.

The bolt hole is reinforced with some angle steel lag-bolted to the stringer.  The only load on this fitting is the tension on the bolt.  The board bears against the gunwale at the top, and at the chine at the bottom.  Both are very beefy structures.  With the bolt snugged down tightly the board is very stiffly held in place.  Yet, I believe that it will 'give' sufficiently should it collide with an obstruction.

After the install Wesley and I took her out for a little test outside of the harbour.  Compared to when we brought her in last October, the boat was much easier to handle.  At speed, she turns on a dime without skidding at all!  Sharp turns to starboard have avery tight radius that is only slightly larger turning to port. Nonetheless, she is a heavy boat and there is a some delay in her response.

We will take her out again soon, and document it with lots of pics and maybe some video in an upcoming post.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

More on the Off Center Board

Work on the board continues albeit in bits and bites.  It has been one of those jobs that has dragged on since starting last winter.  Just as a recap, and so you don't have to refer to older posts, Autarkia's off center board will be a single board, as opposed to lee boards that wing out, thereby needing one on each side for either tack.  This board will bear the lateral loads in either direction for either tack.

Because I had a lot of structural fir 2 by 4s I decided to laminate the board from those.

I glued them up with PL premium and used epoxied deck screws to hold them all together.  The board overall was 8 feet long and 2 feet wide.

I achieved the foil shape by rough shaping each individual piece with the table saw, and once glued up final shaping with a power plane and belt sander.

For a leading edge, and for ballast, I epoxied in a length of 1-1/2 inch mild steel bar stock.

I didn't do anything else to it until recently so here is where we pick up.

I fiberglassed the whole thing with epoxy and 10 oz cloth, doubling on the edges.  I made a steel bearing plate for the outboard side, epoxied it in along with galvanized lag bolts, coated the whole thing with more epoxy and painted it.  The pivot bolt is 3/4 inch diameter.

I am in the process of painting it now.

Here is how it will mount to the starboard side of the boat.

Once I have made a final determination of where exactly along the side the board will be mounted, I will install the reinforcement on the inside of the hull.  That consists of 3" by 3/16" steel angle about a foot long, that will be through bolted to the paired 2 by fours under it.  The pivot bolt I already have installed on the board was longer than I needed, so I will make spacers with some HDPE I have.

Since The upper part of the board will bear against the rub rail I will make a bearing plate from some more HDPE that I will fasten to the rub rail with bedding and counter sunk screws.  The lower part of the board that bears against the chine will be made with some Teflon I have, and will be bolted to the board itself.

I will make some spacers from HDPE to go between the board and the hull.  When I drill the hole through the hull, I'll coat it with epoxy.

The board has holes drilled and coated on the leading and trailing edges at the bottom to accept lift and downhaul lines.

If I make a rudder, I will likely use the same technique, although I'm going to experiment with a steering oar first.

And now for something completely different - our new fridge!

We bought this fridge from Costco online.  It is Canadian made, runs on 12DC and when running typically consumes about 33 watts.  It has two compartments - one larger and one smaller (compressor is underneath) for a total of 2.4 cubic feet.  Either compartment can be run as a fridge or a freezer or both as one or the other.  We've had it in for a week now, and the solar panels and deep cycle battery are doing just fine with it.  And we haven't had that much sun!

Lorri is pleased