Monthly: November 2009

29 Nov


70.8%’s Mailbag


Anna Elisabeth

Anna Elisabeth
Tekening Amals

From time to time I receive unsolicited emails from folks wanting to know if I am interested in their material. I always am. Here’s a couple of recent grabs from my mailbag.

These photos and the drawing come from a Dutchman who wishes to remain anonymous. He originally sent the material to Dylan Winter, of Keep Turning Left, who forwarded them to me as he figured I am the most eclectic sail blogger on the internet, a tag I’ll gladly accept.This boat is described by the sender in this way :

VD 93 is a “Markerrondbouw “named “Anna Elisabeth ” build in 1936 inMakkumin Holland.She is made of steel and designed as a sailing fishing vessel for theIJsselmeer .Lenght 10,5 m beam 3.8 m deep 0.9 and a displacement of +/- 11m ton .

All material,courtesy ‘anonymous’

Howard Potts sent me these photos of his work building skin on frame canoes.

all canoe photos courtesy Harold Potts

Harold Potts sent me a couple of photos of his

skin on frame canoes which intrigued me, and I wrote back requesting he respond with his design brief and a bit of his passion. I give you Howards response:


I'm glad that I have sparked your interest in my canoes. Boat
building can be a solitary activity much of the time, and it's often a
hit-and-miss process communicating to others what is behind the process,
so I'm happy to send you details of my work.

As regards photos I have a collection running into several hundred,
so choosing what to send is not easy. There is also the limitation in
the size of the packet of information that can be sent at one time to
consider. In view of this it is often the case that physical
transmission is the quickest when large amounts are involved - say a CD
or memory stick. [ It's been remarked that transmission by carrier
pigeon can still a viable alternative depending on the amount of data
and the point to point locations ].

Regarding who and what I am: I am a professional engineer, who
retired early in 1991. Part of my career was spent in naval
engineering. At the outset of my retirement I started building model
ships - an activity I still indulge in from time to time. This led to
aiding a friend in design and construction of model yachts -
specifically in the US One meter class. This in turn led me on to the
realization that now that computation costs about one thousandth what it
did 40 years ago, the time had come to introduce mathematics into hull
design. Over the last 15 years or so I have been engaged in this
process. Basically it solves the age-old problem of drawing hull lines
which can be accurately and simply reproduced, as well as ensuring that
the lines are " fair " - that is do not incorporated wiggles in the surface.

Having been part of the design and construction process, it was a
natural transition to start building small boats. Being Canadian it was
natural to choose to build a canoe. My first attempt was in 2006 and I
started building a double-skinned monocoque of my own design of 3 meters
length in my garage. Like many first attempts it ended in disaster. In
2008 I had the opportunity to rent my own workshop, and since June of
last year I have built 3 skin-on-frame canoes - each one different from
the other, and all to my own design.

The first boat was put in the water this year. It appears in the bottom photo
, and shows a friend paddling. You will note the almost flat sheer
line. It is constructed of ash wood and covered with treated hemp
cloth. Note also the series of bumps on the hull surface - these are
the lashings which hold the stringers and frames together. My later
boats use less material in the lashings and are therefore less
prominent. This canoe - called " Little Bear " weighs 50 lb.

The prior photo shows " Little Bear " alongside the next build
which I refer to as " Archie ". Little Bear has the solid plywood
floor, and Archie the lathe floor. The name Archie refers to how the
hull is constructed: each stringer is a circular arc. Archie also has
a more pronounced sheer line than Little Bear.

The second photo shows Archie in the showroom along with some manufactured
kayaks. And the first photo shows Archie under construction - specifically
with the gunwale strap being glued in place. The third boat [ a photo
of which you already have ] - provisionally named " Sparrow ", after a
sparrow flew into the shop and perched on it - good omen I think. She
is also designed using circular arc stringers and has a prominent sheer
and what I think is a natty bow/stern profile. The main difference that
Sparrow has is the use of circular section stringers - the others use a
square-section. To incorporate a square stringer it is necessary to
twist it between the main section and the bow/stern positions, so that
one side of the stringer remains tangential to the hull surface. Use of
circular sections obviates this and makes for easier construction.

Each of the 3 canoes is 14 ft overall length, and their weight is
progressively less each time. Sparrow's frame is at present 30lb, but
the finished boat will be maybe 5lb heavier. This ensures that old
codgers like me can handle them fairly easily. They have good secondary
stability and are intended for recreational use on lakes, and would not
do well in most river settings due to the hemp covering. Being wood and
canvas they are not exactly maintenance free, but will appeal to lovers
of wooden craft, free of synthetic material, and incorporating no metal
except bronze pad-eyes.

My latest design uses a parametric function for mainframe and
stem/stern profiles which is the result of about 15 years research into
the problem of hull form mathematics. Using these forms, stringers are
deployed between them according to a simple formula: recall that 3
defined points in 3-space will define both a plane and a circular arc in
that plane. So, defining points on the stem and stern post as well as
on the main frame will define a circular arc to which the stringer is
bent. Another design feature is that all the stringers on one side lie
in parallel planes. The form of the sections, or ribs, is therefore the
resultant of the stringer configuration. The diagram I sent you last
time illustrates this and also demonstrates that a fair shape results.

I hope this answers some of you questions. Please feel free to stay
in touch.

Best Regards,

Hal Potts.

Filed Under: Uncategorized

28 Nov


Jigsaw, replica of an 1889 Jersey La Rocque spritsail cutter



Jigsaw’s progenitors in La Rocque harbor c.1890’s

Jigsaw‘s original rig and later adaptation

Her hull lines as taken off The Volunteer by Mike Harrison with help from Alan Buchanan, Mike Jackson and Russell Wyness from Jackson’s Yacht Services while lying at the quay in St. Aubin on the Gulf of Saint-Malo.


All images courtesy Mike Harrison

While researching lug sails I ran across an image of this little gem and was immediately struck by that stunning topsail. I managed to contact her owner Mike Harrison and get some background. Launched in 1992, Jigsaw is a replica of a Jersey Oyster skiff, traditionally built of pine on oak. She was built to lines taken off a Jersey La Rocque spritsail cutter, The Volunteer, built 1889, by Mike and some friends. She’s only 13′ with a 5′ beam and draws 21″. The original boats were rigged double masted with a standing lug but Mike opted for a single mast standing lug with a jib forward. Initially he found the boat the boat a bit sluggish in light air, and after much experimentation solved the problem by adding that beautiful topsail, and reports her performance greatly improved.
There is a more detailed article on Jigsaw in the April 2007 issue of Classic Boat magazine. Initial contact with Mike was through the Woodenboat Forum. Much thanks to Mike and his daughter Phillipa for their ready assistance.

Oyster stuffing, anyone? Happy Thanksgiving.

Filed Under: Uncategorized

27 Nov


On Water


I like water.  Big surprise there, I’m sure most people like water, especially sailors. Water floats our boats, after all.  It does other less important stuff, too– Makes forests grow, produces food, and carves gigantic tourist attractions out in the boonies for our amusement. Water makes the ice in highballs, it is the primary constituent of beer and wine, and if you lose the corkscrew over the side, you can actually survive by drinking straight water until you reach civilization again. Great stuff.

Sailors have an interesting relationship with water.  We prefer to skim over the top, and get cranky when our boats submerge. We throw large quantities of money into building a nice hull to keep the water out, then turn around and drill holes in it to let the water back in. We love the refreshing calm of a nice quiet anchorage, and the adrenaline charge of a boisterous bay or mountain lake. Water outside the boat, good.  Water inside the boat, bad, unless it’s in a tank.  If the tank is full, good.  If the full tank is connected to the head, bad.

Most people never give water a second though beyond turning a faucet or flushing the john, but anyone commanding  a vessel interacts with water in a rather fundamental way. It’s part of the magic of sailing.

The interface between water and not water is an interesting place. I am spending a lot of time trying to master that interface, because I’m always poking and prodding the nooks and crannies of my local lake. I don’t know why, but for me the fascination is not necessarily sailing from Point A to Point B, (notwithstanding all the coolness that entails), but the slow unveiling of a small cove’s nether regions. Or even approaching a dock, or trying not to run over some dingleberry swimming by the launch ramp. To me the thinner the water, the the more jagged the interface, the more challenging the approach, the more fun.

Indulge me in a Melon Farmer digression for a minute. I get to play with the interface even when I’m not sailing, because I live in an orchard. Every two weeks during the summer I have to irrigate.  The Water District tells me when the water is coming, and at the appointed time I wander through the trees to open six valves. When the water arrives, it’s a force to be reckoned with. A typical irrigation brings enough water to cover most of my land with a foot of water; if I don’t manage it, it manages me and I end up watering the driveway, the road, the neighborhood, half a mile of dirt road. Over the years I’ve gotten pretty good at managing water on my land– I built berms and spillways, and can snap the whip and make the beast go where I want it.  Unless a gopher has decided to drill through one of my berms, in which case a few panicked minutes with a shovel usually finds me standing triumphant, albeit mud-spattered and sweaty.  I employ five cats to deal with the gophers, but sometimes they slack off.

When I first moved to Arizona, I decided to build an underground greenhouse.  It’s not as silly as it might sound– My plan was to use the earth to moderate some of the fierce heat of the summer. So I dug a huge hole by hand in the side yard, a hexagon 15 feet across and six feet deep. (I like digging holes, okay?) The neighbors would come by to check on the progress and scratch their heads over the nut digging an underground greenhouse. My project was going well until I had a berm break one day.  A big berm break. I watched probably two thousand gallons of water, leaves, grapefruit, cat poop, bugs, and god knows what else pour into my greenhouse until I had a nice little inland sea going. Oops.

I gave up on the underground greenhouse idea after a couple of repeat gopher-induced floods. Three dump trucks of dirt later, the hole was filled in. The neighbors were confused. They asked my why I filled the huge hole up.  “because it’s done,” I replied,  as if I were stating the obvious.  The neighbors backed away slowly.

A word of advice: Don’t  build an underground anything on the same land you flood irrigate. Trust me on that.

Anyway, sailing is kind of the same thing (except there are fewer dead bugs and grapefruit). You have to manage water.  Lots of water. Fail to manage water, and it doesn’t matter how well you’ve set the sails. Managing water means not letting too much of it into your boat, of course, but also making sure that you actually have water where you need it, and gently interacting with those places lacking water.  Any schlub can throw a bunch of fenders over the rub rail, and blast away with the engine when coming in for a landing.  To me, a big part of being a sailor is being able to do the same without needing fenders.  or even an engine (when I’m feeling frisky). 

I’m still working on it.  I hardly ever have to pull thorns out of the hull any more. And I still buy epoxy in little tubes, from Home Depot. So I must be doing something right.

Filed Under: Uncategorized

24 Nov


A VOYAGE OF PLEASURE: the Log of Bernard Gilboy’s Transpacific Cruise in the Boat, “Pacific” 1882-1883


Webb Chiles, author of several books on his sailing adventures may be best known to my readers for his near circumnavigation in an open Drascombe Lugger, chronicled in The Open Boat and which I wrote about here. Webb is an intelligent and gifted writer, poet and photographer, and you can access much of his work at his website. Webb has the laudable distinction of making several of his books available in PDF for free download. Others may be accessed via my amazon bookstore in the sidebar. Today he graciously sent me a heads up about this latest post in his Journal:

Evanston: fools

Monday, November 23, 2009

I seldom read sailing books any more; but recently a small boat sailor and reader of this journal generously sent me a copy of A VOYAGE OF PLEASURE: the Log of Bernard Gilboy’s Transpacific Cruise in the Boat, “Pacific” 1882-1883.

I had read this slight volume of only 64 pages several decades ago. Naturally I had forgotten many details and found interest and pleasure in rereading it, particularly from the perspective of greater years and experience.

In 1876 Alfred Johnson made the first solo Atlantic crossing in a 20’ dory, sailing from Gloucester, Massachusetts, to Abercastle, Wales, in just under two months, with a brief stop in Nova Scotia.

Johnson named his boat, CENTENNIAL, and said his voyage was to commemorate the nation’s first hundred years.

When I completed my first circumnavigation in 1976, a journalist wanted me to claim that I had done so to honor the Bicentennial. As readers of STORM PASSAGE know, this was not true and I refused.

Inspired by Johnson, Bernard Gilboy, a professional seaman, had an 18‘ schooner built in San Francisco specifically for his voyage at a cost of $400. He considered this the smallest boat capable of holding provisions for the five months he thought his non-stop passage would take.

Her length of 18‘ and beam of 6‘ were almost identical to those of my open boat, CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE; but the PACIFIC had a keel and a draft of 2‘ 6”, as apposed to unballasted CHIDIOCK TICHBORNE’s 12” draft with her centerboard up and 4‘ with it down.

Gilboy somehow squeezed into his craft: “14 ten-gallon casks, read more

Thanks, Webb.

Bernard Gilboy’s story is also featured in Bill Longyard’s ‘A Speck on the Sea’. Bill’s book is available from both the SCA Bookstore and my booklist.

Is anyone competent enough to comment on this rig?

Thanks, Webb.


originally posted on 70.8%




Filed Under: Uncategorized