|In Which We Build a Boat
||[Jul. 3rd, 2007|09:36 pm]
Following Ratty's dictum in The Wind In The Willows, that there is nothing, absolutely nothing as wonderful as mucking about in Boats, I signed our family up for the Center For Wooden Boats' Family Boatbuilding Workshop, where we build a dinghy in four days. Our motto going into this insane venture was "If we can build it, ANYONE can build it."
Day One, we arrived, energetic and eager to start, bristling with tools (ouch!). There were supposed to be three families, but one never showed. So we and the Other Family, a dad, a son, and a cousin (all handy with tools, unlike ourselves) started off, measuring and drilling. By the end of the day, we had screwed the sides of the hull to the stem (the wooden piece at the very front of the boat) and to the transom (the flat bit at the back where the name usually gets put, and the rudder gets hung) and wired the two pieces forming the bottom of the boat together, and then wired them to the sides. We also attached the breast hook (ow!) and the stern knees, which provide stability and strength at the back corners and the front. Then Patrick, our instructor, mixed up some epoxy which we spread over the wired seams, we covered that with fiberglass cloth, and clear resin, and we went home, leaving behind a decidedly Boat-Like Object. We adjourned to the Old Spaghetti Factory to stuff our faces and name the boat. Very kindly, the others agreed to my suggested name, Tenger, which is the Mongolian word for sky. I like to think of this boat as the first boat in the Mongolian Navy.
On Day Two we fitted the seats. I managed to drill through the hull of the boat. Though I correctly installed the gudgeons (the sockets that the pintles slide into) or the holes that the rudder is attached to, for you landlubbers. Patrick assured me that I hadn't ruined the boat, and indeed, we patched the spot with epoxy and it looks just fine. We also pulled the wires out of the boat. Some needed to be heated with a barbecue lighter to melt the epoxy enough to pull them out. Then we patched the holes with epoxy and covered the outside seams with more epoxy and fiberglass.
Day Three (Monday), Edd had to go to work and Get Stuff Done for half a day. So Katie and I were on our own. The very nice Other Family, showed up with half a dozen Other Relatives each handier than the next, and they got an immense amount done. Katie was getting bored and I was grumpy and tired. She played and sat around and complained about being bored. I wasn't very sympathetic, especially when she blew me off whenever I did have a task for her to do. At last she went over to the nice lady running the Native American basket weavers booth, and she showed her how to weave a heart out of cedar bark. Meanwhile I finished the sheath for the daggerboard and some other bits and bobs. Edd showed up and helped with the oarlocks and some other stuff. The day ended with more epoxy and fiberglass, this time around the daggerboard sheath. We went home fried and tired.
Day Four (today, Tuesday), Edd took Katie to work. I started the day off solo, plugged myself into my iPod, and worked to a wonderful eclectic mix of throatsinging, and folk music, with the odd bit of rock and roll thrown in. Things went much better today. I glued and screwed the daggerboard handles and the daggerboard cover (for when you want to row instead of sail). Patrick tapered one end of the mast for me, bless him. I tapered the other end, enjoying the steady rhythm of planing. I also cut the tenon for the sprit with a chisel, feeling very carpenter-like. Edd and Katie showed up in time to help rig the boat and add the skegs. Then we took the boat to the the docks and launched it. It took on a little water probably via the skeg holes, which had been only recently glued. But otherwise the Tenger floated like a duck.
We proved less competent at sailing the boat than building it. I'd forgotten how to use a tiller, and we discovered the hazards of a lee shore the hard way. But eventually we managed to get the hang of sailing her, and had a pleasant cruise. Then we pulled the Tenger out of the water, and watched an Umiak skin boat built by a scout troop in Kent get launched with much ceremony. Bringing the Tenger home was a bit more of an adventure than we'd planned on. We had to stop twice to re-tie her to the top of the car. But we made it home safely. Now we need to sand and paint the Tenger, and buy a car rack or a trailer to transport her safely to the water and back again.