A skiff is a shallow, open boat with a sharp bow and square stern. After building some skiffs of various designs and having the opportunity to observe them over time, I have found details that have worked nicely that might be a value to others. Continue reading →
A grapnel or grappling hook is a device with curved tines or “flukes” attached to a rope used for retrieving overboard objects. For pleasure boaters, a grapnel should be small, lightweight and made of non-rusting materials. I think every cruising boat should have one. The only ones I could find were too large, or were a folding grapnel anchor, not a retrieving hook.
To get what I wanted I had to make my own. I settled on a treble configuration and chose galvanized steel. Although plenty strong, this grapnel is intended for light service, up to about 40 lb, which is about as much as the average person can lift with a line anyway. Continue reading →
Cover Photo: One of LADY B’s first sails on the Saginaw River near the Gougeon Brothers boat shop.
Lady B is a sailing sharpie I launched on August 20, 2009. On one of the first sails, I asked Jan Gougeon to come along with me to see what he thought of her. That sail brought back many memorable sailing moments that Jan and I have shared over our lifetimes. Jan Gougeon grew up on Donahue Beach and I on nearby Aplin Beach. The two beaches were separated by Wenona Beach, a magnificent amusement park built at the turn of the century. We were in the same kindergarten class. It wasn’t long before we were both in boats we’d built: Jan in his 13′ Dart and I in my 8′ pram, the Pal. Back in those days we built using bedding compound and lots of screws. We carried coffee cans to bail our leaky boats. Around 1955, Continue reading →
Kayaks are versatile craft. I’m a lucky guy who has had decades of pleasure cruising, exploring, fishing and simply relaxing on many different streams and lakes throughout Michigan and Canada in my stripper. Comparing the investment dollar per pleasure derived, my kayak wins hands down over all the other water craft I’ve owned. In her wake I’ve been taught many lessons, albeit some the hard way. Here are a few I thought worth sharing. Continue reading →
Tubes are used on boats for hard tops, T-tops, Biminis, dodgers, bows, bow and stern pulpits, rails, canoe and kayak paddle shafts, boat hooks, and so on. Composite tubes built with epoxy and reinforcing fibers offer advantages over metal in terms of light weight, custom shapes and sizes, and corrosion resistance. Composite tubes can be faired and painted to produce a seamless appearance to match the boat, or left to show the carbon fiber. I’ve been experimenting with approaches to building a variety of composite tubes. Following are some things I’ve tried (some that worked and some that did not) that you may find of value if you want to produce composite tubes yourself. Continue reading →
Ice hockey sticks are exposed to cold temperatures plus high shock forces from contact with the puck as well as with the ice and skates. Hockey sticks can be wood/fiberglass laminates or composites of carbon fiber or aramid. The stick blades often chip and split with use and have to be repaired (or else replaced at $50–$150 each). A customer who repairs and maintains hockey sticks for a local team had been using a conventional epoxy for repairs and found that it often chipped under such use. Continue reading →
Here’s another use of the lost foam method to produce a custom part with a molded interior cavity. In this case, the part was a mast head fitting to hold an internal sheave and provide a route for the halyard to pass. This method can be adapted to a variety of other applications, as demonstrated in Fabricating an Airscoop. Continue reading →
Pouring a thick coating of epoxy onto a table top can produce a unique effect. With a ¼” thick coating, you can cast a variety of objects in the epoxy for decorative accents. Coins, fabrics, sticks of wood, memorabilia and photographs have been used in this decoupage application. Here are a few tricks to make things go more smoothly. Continue reading →
The sharpie’s main reason for existence for over a hundred years is its fine operation in shallow water. However, the conventional sharpie rudder is notorious for causing squirrelly steering, often becoming totally ineffective when the craft heels more than 20°. Most sharpie sailors simply accept the handling aggravations of the conventional rudder in trade for its wonderful steering ability in the shallows. I decided to resolve the traditional faults in steering by installing a special rudder and steering system that has evolved and is used on some contemporary boats. This system will yield maximum control over a wide range of wind and sea conditions while retaining the sharpie’s shallow water virtues. Continue reading →