First salt

Last weekend I had the opportunity to go on a salt water trip with the Old Gaffers Association (OGA, The OGA the dutch branch of an originally British sailing association, and has approximately 100 Belgian and Dutch members. The event that was organized last weekend (one of the few events that wasn’t canceled because of COVID!) was a short trip from Lauwersoog to Schiermonnikoog, especially for small trailerable sailing boats. It’s a short trip crossing the Waddensea, which is a tidal area with many shallows and a tidal raise of approximately 2 meters.
I was joined by Roel, who came home a day earlier from vacation to be able to come along. Two other OGA members came along as well, so we were a crew of 4. Nice!
As we had to spend the night in tents which we had to bring along, we had too much luggage for the Ebihen 16. Fortunately one of the larger boats offered to take some of our stuff.

On the first day we used the low tide current to reach Schiermonnikoog. Winds were very calm, so we were able to raise the centre board and cross a large sandbank by paddling and using the barge pole. As we reached the island, we picked a spot east of the harbor, between several other vessels, to sail Flotsam on to the sand. After a nice destination-beer, we waited for ebb and made some nice pics. After pitching the tents, we went for dinner on the island.

The weather forecast for the way back promised a challenging sailing day: a rainy day with 4 Beaufort winds from the north east, with a small chance of thunderstorms. Fortunately the latter weren’t present at the time we had to leave the island.
For the way back we used the high tide current to sail back to the main land. I decided to put one reef in the main sail. It turned out as a very nice trip!
Frank, one of the guys of the crew (he and his brother also made a nice Ebihen 16, “Baleine”), made an excellent film, which can be seen here:
Here’s the pictures:

After reaching the banks of Schiermonnikoog I decided to relocate Flotsam nearer to the harbor. We stepped out and walked her the last 300m 😉
Enjoying an arrival beer and a nice boat-chat as the water disapears.
The proud builders showing off 😉
Another OGA member, Florian Bertzbach, made some excellent pictures as we sailed in close range. Thanks a lot for that!

A bit of Friesland

We spent a week camping in Sneek, Friesland. The weather was less than optimal: heavy rain and thunderstorms the first few days…I was glad our stuff didn’t get wet in our tent ;-). As the weather improved somewhat after a few days, I got the boat in the water. At first without the mast to be able to navigate Sneek’s city centre canals. Proved to be unnecessary, as I had to wait for the bridges to open anyway, even without the mast erected.
After retrieving the mast we spent a few nice days on the water. Very nice!

We made a new tarpaulin before our vacation. The old blue one was made of cheap material, which had disintegrated by sunlight, wind and weather.
This one is made of PVC and should last longer than the last one. We planned to sow it together, but a struggle with the sowing machine combined with time pressure made us decide to use flexible PVC glue. Seems to work fine!
Downtown Sneek, moored at a quay.
Typical Frisian lake: the “Sneekermeer”. The weather was convective without wind. Every now and then a small breeze from one of the cumulus clouds.
Moored to one of the free Marrekrite (Google that! Nice initiative.) jetties to enjoy a nice swim.
Motoring out to a local island to go surfing and enjoy an afternoon in the sun. Flotsam was fully loaded: 5 persons, two dogs, a surf sail and towing the surfboard!
Enjoying the afternoon on a local island.

A nice summer evening sail. With autopilot.

Got two nice improvements fixed last week: the jib’s sheet leads are installed, and we installed a line between the aft cleats, to which the tiller can be fixed. I’d like to call it an autopilot 😉

The final position of the jib sheet leads was determined after trying the jib with temporary installed sheet leads during the last sail. The position on Vivier’s drawing proved to be quite accurate.

One thing we noticed during previous sails was that the Ebihen is so light, that when the tiller is left unattended, even when motoring, the boat will surely go off course. To be able to leave alone the tiller for a short moment, we installed a home-made-tiller-tamer: a line between the two aft cleats, attached with rubber bands to avoid high load on the rudder assembly. Roel made a custom cleat with a metal spring in the tiller to clamp the line to the tiller.

The “autopilot”: a spring loaded line between cleats, clamped to the tiller.
The clamp with metal spring installed in the tiller. The line releases aft, so that in case of emergency one can take manual control fast.

We had a nice sail on the Kraaijenbergse Plassen, a local lake that is connected to the river Maas. The nice summer evening was interrupted by a local rain shower, but that didn’t spoil the fun and generated the opportunity for some nice pics. And here’s some footage we made:

Both builders enjoying the autopilot. “Look mom, no hands!”
That’s me, rowing the last bit as the wind dropped to zero. In the background a pretty nice rainbow in an evening sky. Nice!!

First sail 2021

Flotsam has been in winter storage since October, but in the first week of April I brought er back home. In The Netherlands that means that there is a small chance of getting lucky and go on a early spring sail, but this year was different.

Just after retrieving her from winter storage, a crazy winter storm hit Flotsam

Nevertheless, no harm was done. And as sailing was not an option, I started working on several jobs that were on the to-do list. During winter I had finished the proper jib (the one I made last year proved to be the storm jib). As I mounted it on a furler, the leading edge of the jib is a 4mm steel cable. I expected that a proper tight seam and some lashings would fix the sail to the cable, but that proved to be not the case. I had to sow the sail’s grommers to the cable terminals in order to get the furling right.

Not fixing the cable to the sail’s grommer doesn’t work!
I connected the lower grommer with a double lashing to the cable terminal, the upper grommer with a single lashing.

Another job on my list was fitting a piece of hard wood on the aft part of the mast foot. Last year, some chips of wood broke off during mast lowering. A lot of strain is put on there during lowering, and the soft Oregon pine tended to splinter. So I cut out a piece and glued in a piece of hard wood.

Glued in a piece of hard wood in the mast foot.
After shaving it into shape, only an oil treatment still had to be done.

Then the first opportunity for a sail presented itself in may. The first rigging took a bit longer than usual, as several sail lashings had to be knotted and adjusted. But the result was nice: we had the chance to try everything out in a 6 to 8 knot wind. That is….almost everything. I had hoped to be able to determine the optimal place for the jib’s sheet lead on the inner gunwale, but the wind proved to be too soft and changeable.

Temporary jib sheet leads.
The new jib on a furler.
Another new feature: a thin line to prevent the gaff’s span shackle from sliding forward.

Another thing we did was create a few new sheets. Te 17m mainsheet was replaced by a 20m one. The 9m jib sheet was promoted to staysail sheet, and from the old mainsheet a 11m jib sheet was made.

Here’s the result!

Launch and first sail

As promised: pictures of Flotsam’s launch. It was a very nice occasion on a nice summer evening at a local lake. A lot of friends showed up to celebrate the occasion, and have some champaign after one of my daughters baptized Flotsam. Here’s the pics:

Still sitting on her trailer, already rigged, waiting to be launched.
The builder and one of his daughters, who is baptizing Flotsam by spraying champaign over her bowsprit.
Her very first sail! Looking nice…
Moored to the ramp’s dock after her first 15 minute sail.

After the sun went down, we trailered her back home. The next day I loaded some large and soft pieces of camping gear into the hull and drove her to the camping site we were going to spend two weeks later that month. Only a few more days of waiting before I got the chance to try her out..:-)

The day we arrived on the camping site, I unpacked and rigged her and used a very shallow local ramp to launch her. Here are some pictures of the two weeks that we enjoyed to get to know her:

Moored to her anchor, which is lying in the grass.
The small bay was so shallow that I had to raise the rudder to prevent it from running aground.
On the first day conditions were so calm that I could hoist all the sails while moored and take some pictures.
As you might have noticed, the jib is quite small. Due to a miscommunication on ordering the sail material, I received cloth for the storm jib which is 1,5m2 in stead of 3,4m2 for the standard jib. The standard jib will be sowed together later…
Moored in the bay on a windless night during full moon.
And later that week on sun rise.

Finishing up

As the summer holidays are approaching, I broke with the tradition of not having a deadline ;-). I very much enjoyed working on my boat without having the need to achieve goals in time, but now I have the idea that it’s good to finish the project so that we can have a sail when we are on vacation.

So the first thing I did to reach that goal was work on the mast. It was already glued together and planed to a beam with the right measures. After that it was time to chisel in four slots where hard wood is glued in place to hold eye bolts. If put in place before the beam is planed to it’s final round form, it’s easier to drill the bolt’s hole right through the hart of the mast.

Drilling holes for the eye bolts that will hold the jib halyard on the front and the peak halyard on the back side of the mast.

After planing the beam into a round mast, I epoxied two layers of glass fibre in place where the mast band will be mounted.

Epoxy and glass fibre work on the mast.
The mast band will be mounted over the glass fibre sheeting with four screws.

In the mean time another woodwork piece of art was produced: the boat’s paddle was made from scrap wood. A light piece of Oregon pine, left over from the mast, was used as shaft, and left over pieces of the harder Iroko from the bilge keels were glued in place as handle and paddle. The final result is looking very nice!

At this stage it was time to get the boat out of the tent. The next jobs required the mast to be erected, which is impossible in the tent.
So the tent was partly disassembled (fortunately the weather was perfect!) in preparation for the hoisting.

With the roof of the tent removed, there was the first opportunity to erect the mast!

The next day the crane arrived at the agreed time, and the Ebihen started it’s first journey…through the air! She landed nicely on her trailer :-))

She was lifted out of her tent and put on the trailer within 90 minutes. Nice job!

Once the mast was erected I was able to measure the exact length for the shrouds. The fore shroud is mounted with a pelican hook without a wire tensioner, so the length had to be determined exactly. I ordered steel wire (the staysail will run up and down this shroud) with gaff terminals on both sides.
As the side shrouds do not support anything besides the mast, I decided to go with Dyneema. I simply ordered 10m online and spliced in eyelets at approximately 20cm short of the chain plate. These shrouds will be tied to the chain plate using a lashing, so the exact length is less relevant.

Determining the approximate length for the side shrouds, and the right angle for the chain plate.

Another job that needed attention was the painting of her name. She’ll be baptized “Flotsam”: first of all it is a nice word ;-), and besides that it is an anagram of the first letters of our family’s first names. The word comes from old English legislation and has a meaning of floating cargo.

Printing the name on the transom using carbon paper.
“just connect the dots”, they said. Proved to be more difficult than expected 😉
The main sail was put together. Here still without the reefing ropes and grommets.

On the night before she will be baptized there was still one final job to be done: screwing in place the brackets that will hold the outboard engine. I decided to go with an electrical Torqeedo. These motors have different proportions as compared to conventional petrol outboards, so I temporarily fitted one in place to check that everything was nice before screwing in the brackets. This job was done so late that it got dark, and we finished the job on the driveway with torches and iPhone lights. LOL.

Next time there will be pictures of her baptizing and maiden voyage!

Spars, sails and metal works

A lot has happened since the last time! In these strange corona-times I’m not traveling at all for work, so I get to spend more time at home. Not that it gets boring home-schooling three kids and trying to get some office work done, but still there’s some time to work on the Ebihen 😉

After the decks were finished, I could mount the inner beams of the gunwale. These were obviously epoxy-glued to the adjacent gunwale beam, but I also used quite large screws to fasten the gunwale to the frames. The whole gunwale looks pretty massive, but in the end it is only connected to the structure via the upper 1,5cm of the hull, so I thought it would be a good idea to add a little extra strength screwing it to 5 frames.
After finishing the gunwale, I saw that the outer joints of the teak deck are hard to reach under the gunwale. I was hoping that it will be possible in the future to replace the caulk when needed, but that might prove to be difficult. We’ll see in hopefully a long time 😉

Stainless steel screw to connect the gunwale to a frame.

Then work on the spars continued. First we did the gaff: after using the electrical planer to get an octagon we used the hand planer for the finer work. It is nice and rewarding job with lots of nice looking and smelling wood curls!
Roel also made the gaff fork of a single piece of mahogany. Very nice piece of work!

The gaff fork is fitted to the end of the spar. It is to be connected by a M8 bolt through all three parts and two screws on each side.

Production of the bowsprit is slightly different from the boom and gaff. The latter are made of a single square beam made round, but the bowsprit is made of an epoxy-glued beam. We started with a 4cm thick by 18cm wide beam, and cut it in half. The halves were glued together forming an approximately 8cm by 9cm beam, making sure the wood grain is positioned so that the chance of bending is minimized (the heart-side to the outside of the beam). The forward part of the bowsprit is then rounded, the aft part stays square.

Dryfitting the bowsprit.
I’m not looking for a perfectly round spar, but finishing the surface with a belt sander belt turned inside out looks nice.

Work on the mast started with sawing the 6 meter beam in three pieces. Two of them are joined in the same as the bow sprit and will form the raw 10cm by 10cm beam that will be transformed into the mast later on.

Epoxy-gluing the mast.

We also picked up work on the sails again. It had already been one year since we were at Frank’s to do the sailmakers course, so we invited him over to do a refresher. He kindly accepted and joined us for a day. Sowing work on the jib was finished, and we started work on the mainsail. All the patches were made and sowed in place, and the first few of the 9 strokes were joined together as well.

Making the patches.
My wife and I working together on the main sail.

Another new chapter in the making of a wooden dingy is to mount all the metal parts. Here is the forestay chainplate. I drilled three holes in it so that the 5x60mm bronze countersunk screws would fit nicely. I prepared the bow by drilling holes of 4mm for the screw and 6mm for the shaft. That proved to be rather small: as I screwed in the upper screw I already had the idea that the fitting was quite tight, and as I screwed in the lower, it hit another screw we installed over one year ago to hold the false stem in place. The shaft broke off, leaving the rest of the screw in. Before the epoxy cured (I dip screws in epoxy before screwing them in to minimize the chance of water getting in) I drilled the stuck part out, leaving a rather big hole. The next day I filled the hole with the thicker epoxy before screwing a new screw of the same size in.

The lower screw was mounted using a lot of epoxy.

Further metal parts were installed on the aft part: two hinges for the rudder, and a third half hinge mounted on the transom to support the axis.

The lower hinge mounted on the backbone. I mounted it upside down to lift up the rudder high enough for the tiller to go over the transom.
The rudder mounted, and lifted in the upper position.
I had the mainsheet horse made out of stainless steel pipe. I had to measure up the length of the vertical pieces and the size of the mounting plates, as Vivier’s drawings didn’t show the right sizes. Haven’t been able to detect the reason for that….
Mainsheet horse fitted nicely, with good room for the tiller to be installed.
Finally, also some roping work to be done. Here’s the centerboard rig, with two eyes spliced in, mounted on a wooden “test centerboard”.

Teak deck and mast support

After consulting some experts and reading up on how to lay a teak deck, I decided to go with 9mm thick, 100mm wide teak boards. To get a robust look I mount the boards right up to the hull without any boards as frame around the edges. I was advised that for such a small deck it would be possible to skip the milling of the boards to form a joint: separating the boards by 8mm would also do the trick.

8mm chocks to guarantee joint size
Chocks with a 8mm spacer below and a screw through the middle to fix the teak boards in place as the glue cured.

So we made a lot of 8mm sized chocks to guarantee the joint size, and started sawing the planks. It was a lot of puzzling to do to minimize the loss of material. Teak is expensive!
As the planks for both aft decks were made, we started gluing them in place.

To get an idea of how much glue per area is applied, I made a pattern. Also handy for creating an even layer.
At the bottom of the joint, the glue is still visible.

The glue cured for about a day before the chocks were removed. After that, the joints were freed of a bit surplus glue here and there.
The next step is to prepare the sides of the joint to make sure the caulking sticks to the teak boards. The fluid that is used to do this needs to evaporate for at least one hour before the caulking can be begun.

After filling the joint with caulk, it is pressed down a bit with a putty knife to make sure it reaches every corner of the joint and doesn’t have any air bubbles in.

I left the caulk cure for a week and then stripped the surplus with a knife. The whole surface was then sanded with grain 100 to get a smooth finish. Here’s the result:

The starboard aft deck is finished, work on the port side is still in progress.

Before laying down the teak on the front deck, the mast support was glued in place. It is a few pieces of left over iroko, epoxy glued in place to support the mast and to hold the belaying pins. On the inside of the mast support a few small strips of mahogany were glued in place for two reasons: the plywood core of the foredeck is protected from wear, and with the strips it is possible to get the right diameter for the mast (I didn’t have the right diameter drill. 88mm needed, 95mm available 😉

Drilling a hole in the fore deck to support the mast. A temporary piece of wood its screwed in place to hold the drill in place while drilling. I placed the drill perpendicular to the waterline so that the hole is in the direction of the mast, not perpendicular to the deck.
This is what the foredeck looks like after finishing the mast support, belaying pin holes and teak deck.

The caulking had to be fixed on three or four places as it hadn’t properly adhered to the joint’s sides. The solution: cut the faulty bit out, clean the joint and reapply a bit of caulk.

Here’s a detail of a joint where the caulk didn’t properly stick to the side of the teak board.

Boom, rub rails and gunwale

On one of the first nice days in spring, we decided to take the piece of timber for the boom plus gaff out, and saw it in two pieces. The easy part was to cut it to the right length, the harder part was to cut it into two equal sized pieces of approximately 70mm by 70mm by 4 meters. The saw we used couldn’t saw 70mm deep, so we had to cut one side, turn the beam upside down, and cut the other side.

The first of four spars I decided to make, is the boom. It isn’t suppose to be perfectly round, it rather is a 60mm by 60mm square with radius 20mm rounded corners.
I found it very important to mark the centre, vertical and horizontal axis on both ends of the beam. It allows you to mark the centerline on the side you’re working on, guaranteeing a straight boom.
First I planed the middle section of the boom to the mentioned 60x60mm, then decreased the diameter on the front side to 50x50mm and to the aft side to 54x54mm. To get the four corners in the specified radius, I marked a 12mm line on both sides of a corner, allowing me to plane a 45deg bevel. With that done, the rest was planed by sight to get the radius 20mm.

Here the beam has been sanded, and reefing combs and clamps installed.

I also found a local metal workshop that can deliver the centre board, bowsprit fitting and the mainsheet horse. Work on the later two is still in progress, but the centre board is already produced using Vivier’s CNC file.

To fill up the upper part of the space below the front deck, I used a two component, closed cell polyurethane foam. After gluing the front deck in place, I drilled a hole, mixed the two components and poured it in in the 60sec it needs to expand and harden.

The first rub rail that was installed was the lower one. Installing the lower before the upper rail guarantees space for the clamps, and eliminates the need for screws.
It was a rather time consuming job, as both the left and right side of the boat receive a lower rub rail, an upper rub rail plus four beams that form the gunwale. That makes twelve 5 meter beams that are epoxy glued in place, one at a time. Trying to mount more than one beam in a single go was too challenging, as there is a lot of tension on the beams when installing. The only exception to that rule is when installing the small (8x10mm) beam that goes on top of the hull (sheerstrake): this one was glued in place together with the bigger beam on the inside of the hull.

On this picture, the third beam on the starboard side is installed.

The fourth beam that is installed on one side of the boat, is the upper rub rail. To facilitate the later installation of the chain plate, a hole was cut out before gluing the rail.

Here is a picture of work in progress on one of the beams of the starboard gunwale: after finishing work on the front end of the beam, we installed the still too long beam with clamps on the front part of the hull. A piece of tape marked the right position longitudinally. As work on the back end of that beam was started, the tape provides a good indication of how much length can be sawed off to get the right length. This method proved to be good if applied conservatively!

Before installing the inner beam of the gunwale, the space between the hull, the gunwale and the front deck was filled with some spacers covered by a thin beam of mahogany. These works were all finished now, except the actual installing of the inner gunwale. This beam is all finished, ready to be mounted, but the actual gluing in place will be done after the teak deck is installed first.

Beamshelf and seats

After painting I prepared the beamshelves for installing. A beamshelf is a piece of timber that runs parallel to the hull, and is fixed to all frames starting from bulkhead 2 and ending in frame 7 (in the front locker). It is used to hang stuff on, for instance lines or fenders. The challenge in fixing these beamshelves proved to be the force needed to get them in the right place for gluing and screwing them to the frames. On the picture below you can see the beam and pushing clamp I used to push both beam shelves in their final position at frame 6. The pushing clamp was loaded to it’s limit…

This is where the starboard beamshelf is mounted to bulkhead 7. I covered the hole with a piece of timber to make it look nicer. The yellow tape was to protect both the wooden frame and the paintwork from the epoxy glue stains, but it only worked on the paint. The timber shows some epoxy stains, which aren’t easily removable by sanding.

After mounting both beamshelves I started working on the seats. The aft seats are as designed by Vivier, the front seats are my substitute for the rowing thwart, which I omitted. The aft and front seats are at a small angle, following the hull’s line, so I invested some time to make a nice seam. As you can see on the picture, the inner plank of the aft seat is covering a piece of the inner plank of the front seat, so that needed some work to to make a nice fit. After that was done, I glued together the four planks of the aft seat.
My longest clamps weren’t long enough, so I improvised a bit with two clamps to cover the width of the seat.

I produced all four of the seats like that, with the most hours spend on the outer planks, as those needed shaping to follow the curve of the hull. After putting them in place to get a view of what it would look like, I didn’t like the straight lines of the seats. So I tried some different lines with a piece of yellow tape, and decided to saw the front seats to a curve that is following the curve of the hull, and fitting nice to the straight line of the aft seat (and aft deck). After the seats were fixed in place with screws, I sawed out the seats along the curve, and covered all screws with wooden plugs.

After the seats were finished, the Ebihen looked like this.
Also note the slots that run along the beamshelf at the front seats; the allow the fixing of fenders or lines.