Tuesday, November 30, 2010

tea and templates for the tillerman

First sail for the season last week, with a son and a couple of his friends, a very gentle sail it was too, squeezed between a near gale and an electrical storm, but we got the best of it and had a relaxing time.

Having started the spar making over the week-end, I turned my attention to the rudder box just for a change of scenery; glued it up and made a template for the rudder foil, to make economical use of off-cuts for the foil glue-up.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Navigator book proof arrives

The first print proof arrived to-day. The book is two hundred and twenty-something pages long and will be available for about $20 when released. I need to read this one carefully, looking for errors and typos and all the other naughty stuff we get up to when we try to say something in writing.
There is a very good section in there written by other Navigator owners- stories of Navigators 'in the wild'- experienced voices much more interesting than mine.
When this one is corrected, I'll send a new version to be processed, and then they'll send me another proof....and then I'll read it and maybe approve it for print...I'm not much of an editor, being much too impatient to achieve perfection. I don't apologise for that though, because that's just how I get things done. The next thing is always more important, somehow.
This book will have it's own blog page, just in case anyone is interested in it. I've finished the book before finishing my boat, and despite some very sound advice from friends who felt that the book should show my finished 'Annie', I feel very strongly that this book should be about the Navigator, not my Navigator.
Some of you will recognise the lovely photo on the cover as being Dave Johnstone's 'Korora."

Saturday, November 20, 2010

not just because birds don't have mouths

The birdsmouth method of spar construction is quite brilliant in the way it enables thin timbers to create a light spar, and it can also save valuable material, but all that machining will also create waste. What interests me even more is that it might be an unnecessary complication that could prevent some people from attempting to make their own spars, especially if they don't own, or are intimidated by a table saw- and plenty of people are, for very good reason.
I'm really interested in processes that enable people, rather than intimidate them, and I wonder if, in part, our current fascination with the birdsmouth method is part of our tendency to look for technical improvements, even when they aren't necessary.
So, I'm building these spars as per plan- hollow the old-fashioned way, and rounded with a plane. I'll have more fun, less machine work and fewer exposed epoxy joints on the spars to soak up the UV radiation, and there maybe just the odd would-be builder that can see themselves achieving a nice mast this way. Using a plane is after all, one of the best things you can do for your mental health. Very few things come close.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Outboard motor mount

Call it 'Belt & Braces', but this Navigator is going to have some options when it comes to, well, when it comes to going. Coming or going, a choice is nice. We have that in our home in lots of ways, like a wood burning stove that can cook and make hot water, but a gas stove or an electric kettle (powered by solar electricity), or solar hot water, or gas boost hot water. Whatever the weather, we can choose. Navigator 'Annie' won't have all that stuff, but the electric pod won't always be appropriate to back up the sails, so we wanted an outboard- with an unobtrusive mount. It can be taken off, leaving a few small fittings on the transom.

This great little unit is from Duckworks, and was a joy to unpack, because it is really solid and well-made. Kevin has one for 'Slipjig' and he recently reassured me that it is very servicable, doing all he wants from a motor mount.

Now if Chuck could just make it so that it produced hot water....

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Navigator flip-side

This very grubby shot, above shows the hatch for the auxiliary motor, and the final gluing of that rear seat panel, having established that I can in fact fish the motor pod out through the hole. I wanted a flush mount in case I want to stretch out sometime, and the fact that there will generally be a bit of water sloshing around in there means that a water-proof cover wasn't necessary. The rear deck has also been fitted, as have it's reinforcing beams.
Hay bales were useful again for the turning. I felt that the method and the size of the hull meant that making a party of the turning was un-called for, so I rigged up a ratchet strap and pulled her up near vertical on my own, and then had Julia's assistance in steadying the hull while I came around to lower it from the other side. As she came up on her side the hull looked bigger, and then when rolled completely over she became quite compact again.
The planking will have a bit of a tidy up, and some has been done since this picture was taken. Going round and round in circles is very peculiar behaviour for a bloke of my age, but that's what happens when you have a rebate plane in your hand and you spot a little bump, which leads to another etc. Fortunately, these are only little bumps that seem only to be visible from particular angles (hence the circling).

Up and over, then round and round...

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Power Resistor versus Mamba Max

The round black thing (as we call it in the trade) above is the resistor or I think maybe even reostat (probably just jumped way out of my league here) that normally lives inside the head of a Minn Kota motor unit. Apparently it reduces motor speed by complaining and whinging and making a fuss, with a result that the battery gets really bored and feels a bit flat well before it should.

These, on the other hand are pictures of MAMBA MAX, who just rolls over and cons the motor into doing less work by tickling it or something, and in the process the battery stays interested for longer. Combined with a neat little thing with the disturbing name of a "Servo Tester", it will also allow me to turn the motor on (in good 1960's fashion) and also make it go backwards.

As a bonus, I've put it on my teak CB case top for decorative purposes to make this post look more useful than it probably is.
There are also efficierncies that can be improved by using different impellers, or propellors. Apparently model aircraft ones are very efficient, but they don't cut weeds as well...I'm going to avoid that one for the moment, because it is very easy to get carried away with experiments, forgetting that it's just about going for a sail after all...

The mamba max thing (SKU16184) is from Castle Creations, which I found at RCCrawler.com

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

electric pod

The thinking behind all this mucking about with an electric pod is that when using our current boat, the outboard motor is one of the bits of the experience that I like least. Typically, we find a ramp at a sheltered place, motor out of that place, sail, and then repeat the motoring process. It's nice to have the capacity to move the boat in the event of rigging failure or loss of wind, but the fuel, the noise and the fuss and drama just don't fit the rest of the experience. Then when I get home, I have to run the motor in a bucket to clean it out. Boring.
I quite like pottering slowly. In fact moving slowly is something I'd like to learn to do more frequently. I'd also like to learn how to relax and not feel guilty about not achieving stuff, and not getting things done. Learning to sit still is one of my ambitions. Maybe one day, I'll even sit still long enough to get some line on my rod and fling the hook into some water. And wiggle it about...or whatever it is that people do when they fish.

So this Minn Kota mutation is not about hoping to move fast, but to make the two ends of a sailing trip more beautiful and peaceful. But I don't want an ugly plastic thing hanging off the end of the boat, so I'll stash it under the seat in a way that enables me to replace it with a flat hull plug when I don't need it- but maybe it will let me explore some quiet water with my one true love in peace and quiet, perhaps with a glass of something appropriate to the moment. I do believe in moments. They are one of the few things that I can believe in. And glasses. I believe in the power of a glass to expand the intensity of a moment. But not too many glasses- that is the secret, knowing which glass is the last for the moment.

More mundanely, it will also be a pleasure to be able to re-charge the batteries with home made solar electricity.

So I took courage in both hands and cut the head off a brand new Minn Kota 55lb thrust motor and have frankensteined it to a wooden fairing that will hang from a hole cut in the perfectly waterproof bottom of the boat that still hasn't met the water. The head is lying in absolute disbelief on my workbench since its decapitation. Who said the French Revolution was over? The aristocrat of electric outboards has been cleaved, beheaded, bisected, poleaxed. I cut it off, and it was a pity that my wife was not there to knit and chuckle heartily at the event.

The other complication is that these motors have speed reduction achieved through resistance, apparently. I needed to prove to it that there was no point resisting, so I've found some gadgetry from radio-controlled cars that will provide a more efficient method of controlling speed and direction, and thereby make the battery more efficient. I didn't discover this though. The real inventor was Denny Wolfe- he did this to his Arctic Tern and wrote about it on the Woodenboat Forum. I did draw my pod design a couple of years ago for the Waller 540 I built, but I never had the courage to carry it through until I saw that he had taken a very similar idea, but he KNEW WHAT HE WAS DOING...(despite that I still found it hard to cut the motor in half)