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24 December 2015

Update on WAYWARD

WAYWARD's first day under open sky

Update on WAYWARD

I've got to apologize for the abrupt break in this narrative. And just as things were getting exciting!

Our primary internet access went down, and we've only now cobbled together a work-around. Alas, it's still far from optimal for a number of reasons. Further posts will remain catch-as-catch-can.

So, an update for now, and I'll back-fill to catch up as I'm able.

WAYWARD has been made weather-tight (decks sheathed, hatches, paint and windows). The copper bottom plate is complete, with only the chine angle to go (more about a SNAFU re the angles, later).

In October, we were obligated to switch over from Tyee to Warmsprings Bay (about 12nm distant) for winter caretaking at the latter. Complicating the matter was a hydro power washout that leaves us with intermittent electrical and much compensatory wood-processing over the winter.

After much waffling, we decided not to launch and bring WAYWARD with us. Since she's yet unrigged, wed need a tow both directions, imposing on others for the favor. Given our duties, there's very little chance of working on the boat over the winter. Finally, WSB is a wet hole compared to Tyee, and mold and mildew of much greater concern.

So it's a seven month break from building, for us. We brought sailmaking tools and material, and hope to complete them by our return in May.

Meanwhile, we hear from Tyee that WAYWARD's decks appear to be looking fine after a very wet few months in the open. This is good early news for the experimental sheathing – acrylic cloth set in TiteBond III. It was inexpensive, easy on our health, easy to apply, even under marginal conditions (persistently high humidity) and water clean up. But more on that, later.

Happy Holidays to one and all!

29 June 2015

Hand/Toe Rails from 2x Stock

Flash forward to the finished rail.

And when I eat bananas,
I won't peel them with my feet,
'Cuz I will be a man-cub, too,
And learn some et-i-keet!
- King Louis, from Disney's Jungle Book

Hand/Toe Rails from 2x Stock

A tall, solid toerail is a fine thing on a plunging deck. when you like deck crown as high as we do, it's a positive must!

And, we figure, if we're building such a thing, why not shape it like a handrail?

Handrails give a place to get a good positive grip from anywhere along the sides. If we go swimming - intentionally or not, this is handy. If we stand on the guard for any reason (and there are many), it's handy. If we wish to tie a line anywhere along its length, it's handy. AND they drain water just fine.

They're just plain handy!

2x stock works just great. It's thick enough for good strength, and (carriage) bolt holes don't take too big a bite. It's a wide enough base for good stability without further ado. For reasons unclear to me, a couple of 2x4s have been cheaper than a single 2x8, which is why you'll see us working around the clamps.

We like to cut stock to 3in, with half grip/half hole. That's enough to fit mittened hands with a comfortable grip. Being a bit shorter than 2x4, it doesn't stress the bolts with as much leverage, and we've felt 1/4in galvanized (hot dip) has been plenty. They could easily take up to 1/2in, however, if you prefer beefier.

We prefer to mount ours perpendicular to the deck, so our offcut is square edged... makes a good early cut from CVG for use as batten stock. Later it can be recycled as shelf railing, lattice stock and the like.

NOTE: We splurge on CVG with good grain since it may have to bear a heavy load, and is our 'window dressing trim'. We usually leave it unfinished, letting the red cedar silver out. But any solid lumber would do.

We like 6in minimum ends and give them two or more bolts. We use a 9in opening, which we think of as 'paired' with a 3in post for 12in/pair. Only consideration is that that last post is part of an end.

To figure layout, we use the following approach:

Let LENGTH be the total length of rail.
Let N be the number of open/post pairs (feet) 
    [Or total length of open/post pairs if using other numbers.]
Let P be the post width.


Start layout at one end.

For the rest, I'll let pictures do the talking.

Each rectangle borders two, mirrored openings.
We find the rectangle helps keep us oriented, since the holes space evenly...
Otherwise easy to lose track in the middle.

Here we've started holes from one side...
will flip to finish.

This 'armbuster' half inch drill lives up to its name...
We quickly learned to do most of the cutting with it,
but finish off with a more docile 3/8in drill.

Here we're beginning the plunge-cut/handsaw pass
connecting the half-hole at each end of an opening
(we see full holes since the pieces are mirrored).

Edges routed with round-over bit and hand sanded.
A bit of rasp-work, here and there, to clean up any rough bits.

Clamps off and done.

06 June 2015

S/V WAYWARD... A Name for the Way


           1. Toward the Way.
           2. Questions authority; insubordinate. 
           3. Difficult to control or predict.
           4. Neither entirely conventional nor respectable.

      Technically from ME away-ward

S/V WAYWARD... A Name for the Way

A long time ago, before I first set foot on board a sailing vessel, before Anke, I drew a picture of a Curvy Dog and wrote: I shall build a boat and name her WAYWARD, and we shall sail away.

Yeah, yeah. Sappy, I know. But it was a promise to myself that helped see me through a dark time.

As we built our various homes, I kept that name in the running, though it didn't appeal to Anke.

But one day, as the new boat began taking on enough shape to really feel her spirit, Anke idled over the list of names scrawled in the margins of the plan, and this time WAYWARD caught her eye, prompting What a great name!

We gave it a month of fair trial to be sure. And now we are.

Looking it up, one finds some less-than-complimentary meanings. But they all pretty much paraphrase as the meanings listed above. These much better match resonances to which we attune.

All but the first, we like to think, are secondary descriptors of ourselves. We question authority at many's the turn, and evade it where we can. We can be hard to pin down, and can't predict our own path from one day to the next. We're dots toward the thin end of any bell curve. We're no paragon of propriety.

But our favorite meaning indicates the WAY... the Road, the Tao, the Watercourse Way. Toward the Way.


16 May 2015

Finished with Finish... For a While

Starting to feel like home...
Walls will fill, eventually, with artwork, pictures and maps

to break up that stark, raving white.

Anke on the settee... sitting room and bunk form an open, social space.

Dinette makes down into a snug double bunk or generous single.
Table was prep-o torched before finish, a technique shown us by friend JC Thomas.

Finished with Finish... For a While

One of the things you should never, never do is move into a construction site. Dust gets everywhere, tools mingle with the cutlery, stuff gets moved again and again, and, and, and...

So of course we did.

Not our first time, either. LUNA was only roughed in when we moved aboard at launch at the end of one November... neither paint nor heat as winter came on.

Now, it's summer coming on. Boat only partially decked and coppered. Plenty of sawdust yet to permeate our belongings.

Slow learners.

But ya do the necessary, and roll with the world as it surprises you. And it ain't so bad, after all. Mostly.

Last night we spent our first night in our new bunk. Lit a candle and sipped a little wine in celebration. Slept like babes and woke to that lovely feeling of being in our own home.

We can only imagine the movement of water beneath and around us. The darkling world silhouetted beyond our windows. The promise of a woodfire to blunt the morning's chill. But our imagination is alive and well...

And, now, we need a little bit less of it.

A quick video tour of the interior, to date

10 May 2015


It'll never be this spiff again!
Hatches should be ready in a few days.
Bookshelves will fill that big white patch on the bunk wall.


Progress of late seems to have slowed to a crawl.

Spring is picking up with construction personnel and the chores surrounding them. The last big tides of the year had us out beach logging. The garden has to be gotten going, no small task.
Also, the new owners of SLACKTIDE were on their way (now arrived), so much of this last month was given over to getting her ready for them.

And that means getting the new boat ready for ourselves. With people coming and going, and SLACKTIDE no longer ours, we'll want a space with a little separation... a little privacy. A place of our own.

When I was a boy, a favorite TV show was Branded, with Chuck Conners. Unjustly accused by the Army of cowardice, his hat is knocked off, epaulets torn from him, his buttons cut of, his sword broken.

I may get my Quick and Dirty insignia trampled for this...

The problem began when Orrie - our friend/employer/host - introduced us to PRISM, a water-based, clear finish. The floors of the cabin were finished with it, and they look beautiful some five years down the road, despite the grit and gravel from the beach out the front door.

Just wipe it on with a rag, he says. No sanding between coats, he says. Nothing to it, he says. True enough. Application is a piece of cake.

But any clear finish means a LOT of finnicky prep work!

Sanding, caulking and trimming exess, tweaky filling of gaps with sawdust-thickened glue, sand some more. Elbow grease, and fingers abraded to the pink.


But the result is - by our standards - awesome. No one would mistake it for a yacht finish, but neither is it our usual slap-dash.

The ceilings, and soon the hatches and table, gleam with warm tones ambered by the finish. Best of all, the gorgeous cedar framing, which we had painted over in LUNA, is gleaming in plain sight. Gloss white paint sets it off and makes for light, easy to clean lockers and lower surfaces.

Over time, paint tends to take over more of our boats. A woodstove is hard on clear finishes, and we're not the kind to refinish. At least I don't think we are. Didn't think we were varnishy types, either, but seems we was wrong. Creeping vanity.

Guess it's worth it.

Adding a bead of cedar-dust thickened Titebond III to cover 'unsightly', trimmed LPU glue.
Mix in Ziplock and take a snip from one corner... squeeze out like cake frosting.

In some cases, we'll swipe along with a finger to make a small fillet.


13 April 2015

Pilothouse Windows

Pilothouse sides, windows roughed in

Pilothouse Windows

Slightly warmer temps have us back at outdoor work.

One of our favorite parts of boatbuilding is getting to the window cutouts. They transform a valley into a vista with a puff of sawdust. Our imaginations are taxed at a lower bracket, and we can practically see beyond our shed walls and across water.

After the sides were installed and framed, we cut the corners with a 3in hole saw. Then, with a flush cut router bit, cut the perimeters.

Note the hole cut is a skosh offset from framing
to avoid damage.
This is what results. If we were real router jockeys, we might cut all the way to the tangents, right through that little pointy bit.

But we're not. It's durn hard to see what we're doing for fine starts and stops, so we bail a bit short and clean up by hand.

With a sharp knife, trim each edge to fair, then bring the middle flush. Takes about a minute per.

BTW, this is a Mora knife. I prefer their laminated blades, but they're no longer dirt cheap. Their non-laminated, stainless blades are still great and can be found for under $10!

Here's the completed curve, shaved fair.

Once all are complete, it's ready to sand and finish before the plexi-glass gets installed.

These will be sliding windows, maybe with a double-glazed panels. Down in the forward cabins, they'll be double paned and fixed.


Growing up, Anke was never allowed to sit on the family's kitchen counters. So naturally, sitting on the counters is an integral part of our pilothouse/galley view.

From here, we get a 360deg view and a vantage forward, over the mid-deck. We'll be installing the primitive, remote steering system from SLACKTIDE. It works well enough that we only have to leave shelter if setting or reefing sail. Mostly, we hope she sails herself.

Meanwhile, we sit on our counters, looking out our windows, the green world flowing by...

15 March 2015

Navigating Foamy Seas of Fabric

That's some chalkboard, "Einstein"!

Every point on the mollusc is treated as a space-point, and every material point which is at rest relatively to it as at rest, so long as the mollusc is considered as reference-body.
From Relativity by Albert Einstein

Navigating Foamy Seas of Fabric

To those of us used to the Newtonian absolutes of 'rigid' plywood, turning to fabric is to enter the undulating reaches of Einstein's relativistic universe.

Fabric is visibly flexible. Roll out a strip of it, and it may lay straight. Or it may curve like a banana, one way or the other. Or snake both ways. It can fold, hump and pucker, too, leaving its two dimensional plane. Hang an end over an edge, and it has the tendency to siphon itself to gravitational equilibrium. Fortunately, in the era of synthetic threads, we don't have to worry about shrinkage in the temporal dimensions!

Foam - at least the cushy sort - isn't much better.

To tame the mollusc, we need an external reference... in our case, the straight edge of a long-ish table in the caretaker's cabin. Line up one edge of foam or fabric with that (and keep it aligned) and smooth it flat, and we've imposed a reference edge and a planar surface. After that, it's just a matter of layout, cut, fold, and sew to the lines.

Of course, folding is something we seldom do to plywood.

Spatial visualization of flat stuff folding into shape tries the imagination. Some folks have developed it more than others. But really, unless you're a genetic sport, it starts out hard. Practice makes perfect. Like learning a new dance, the first attempts tread on toes. First one is a mind-bender; second is not half-bad; third a piece of cake.


As in all things, we looked for the KISS approach. No piping, fancy shapes, zippers (velcro, instead), etc.. We sewed a single join around the perimeters. At the corners, where excess gathers, we fold under as one would wrap a package in paper. Here and there we tack any floppy excess with thread and needle, or dart it out, as seems indicated.

A confused sea

Tips n' Tricks (from the Ignorant):
  • Bobby pins can be used to secure hems for sewing... not as prickly as pins.
  • Hot Melt Glue can often be used to tack things together... be sure to press the 'dots' flat before they cool!
  • Woof and Warp (the long and cross threads in fabric) are freebie square and parallel... follow them and it's hard to go wrong.
  • An Electric Knife cuts foam cleanly... the double bladed, turkey carvin' kind.

Dinette, cushions, left
Settee cushions behind
Folded Bunk (upside in), with ice blanket showing
Loose fit will snug up when finished with Hook n Loop

Salon Seats and Backrests:

These were all variations on a theme. Simple boxes in simple wrappers.

The only complication was that we wanted to use a second type of fabric for inboard faces. It was from SLACKTIDE's bunk, and we like to carry a bit forward from each boat. Also, we under ordered the blue nylon seconds by about a yard.  8/


Pretty simple in retrospect, but we burned a lot of braincells on this one.

First, our 60in cloth has to be joined to cover the 72in x 78in bunk. A longitudinal join, we figure, runs up where our sensitive upper bodies lie, like a miniscule bolster. A transverse join runs across our shins/calves, and seems much less intrusive. So that was our choice.

Our foam is open cell. Moisture travels downward and condenses at the first cool surface (the plywood bunk deck, in this case) and soaks the mattress from the bottom up. One semi-fix is to raise the mattress on a low lattice for airflow under, which evaporates and transports moisture. But also, we laminate a layer of close cell foam on the upper surface. This keeps moisture to the upper surface where it can harmlessly evaporate. Plus it firms the total foam, which we like for sleeping.

Next problem is that, to access the under-bunk storage, the bedding has to fold in half around the long axis. If the foam is a single block, this is AWKwaaaaard! But if we cut the foam into two blocks, then, if not compressed equally, we get a cliffy rift along the centerline.

Our solution was to cut the foam in two along the long centerline, then glue the close cell foam in a contiguous sheet to both surfaces, crossing the divide. We left the first foot to either side of the divide unglued.

Our cover unfolds to resemble a couple of bicycle panniers; two pockets topped by a flap that tucks between open and closed cell foam into that first, unglued foot.

The entire cover is made from a single strip 'scrolled' from one flap, down the divide face, across one bottom face, up the side face, all across the top face, down the other side face, across that bottom side, up the divide face and tucked between foams. End faces sewn together pillow-case style along the mid, end face (not shown). Whew!


The fabric and closed cell foam form a longitudinal hinge for folding the mattress over. Meanwhile, since it spans the divide, it eliminates that cliffy ridge. Result... works like a charm and comfortable!

Looks like we made harbor.

03 February 2015

Mid-Deck: Puttin' on the Lid

I went to the Kitchen, lifted up the lid,
Stole me a mess o' that shortnin' bread.
I wunk at the pretty girl an I said,
"How'd ya like to make a li'l shortnin' bread?"
-- From Shortnin' Bread

Mid-Deck: Puttin' on the Lid

Well, mid-winter progress has been slow. Not steady. Slow.

Our original plan was to button up the exterior of the boat by the end of autumn, then spend winter puttering on the (heated) interior while coursing through sail and upholstery projects at the cabin. But no. Our boat remains unenclosed and therefore unheated, and the cabin has been teeming with construction personnel. In other words, both our work environments have been only available in fits and spurts.


Still, we've managed to creep the mission a bit.

I favor two kinds of deck in a Triloboat; flat, sloped decks at the ends (more of these in future posts), and a curved, constant section mid-deck.

Sheet materials, when curved, assume one of two sections; conic and section-of-cylinder. When longitudinal  edges are parallel sections-of-cylinder result.

In the mid-ground (2nd and 3rd from front) are two bulkhead arcs
defining the shape of the mid-deck.
The darker hued one is the template, from thin ply.

A box barge/scow from sheet materials lends itself to parallel sheer lines, both in plan and profile. Consequently, section-of-cylinder decks are the easy choice. If a curved sheer is desired, fauxworks are possible, but multiply complexities through adjacent structures.

All longitudinal lines across such a deck run flat, straight and true, with layout and construction ultra-KISS. The sections of such a deck (as if sliced like a loaf of bread) are constant... a single template can be used for the deck arc and the hull which it covers. Transverse members follow identical curves at any point along the deck's length. In this case, the outboard foot on each side was allowed to run straight, resulting in sloped planes. This eases bending sheets, and simplified the one foot wide side decks along the Pilothouse.

For this boat, we're using ply-foam-ply (aka SIP) construction. Since heat rises, insulated overheads are especially effective, and - if nowhere else - make an attractive return on investment in warmth and condensation avoidance.

Generally speaking, in any arced, composite deck, the lower panel will be the thicker to equal thickness, relative to the upper. Both are working in compression, and the lower (following a smaller radius, tighter curve) bears most of the weight. The top layer mostly has to be thick enough to stand up to point loading (dropping an anchor, say) and spread loads without deforming the filler material (foam) between layers.

In our case, we've been happy with 1/2in lower and 1/4in upper, separated by 1 1/2in foam. This saves 25% of deck ply weight for about 125lbs, all of which is high in the hull. That's the equivalent of a small adult on deck.

We sized the first layer, using the mid-line as reference, and trimming to land on bulkheads. Full-width edges land on the sheer logs, with about an inch of overlap (1in/ft of crown). Bulkhead upper faces are insufficient landing for single layer construction, but by the time all layers are added in ply-foam-ply, there's plenty of total surface area. This layer is glued to the hull structures with 3M5200. We glued, and fastened along the mid-line, then bent the ply down and fastened, working our way outboard.

Glue was to have been water-based TiteBond III, but it has been defeated by winter cold/wet. So Gorilla Glue (Liquid PolyUrethane) is doing the job. We try to work at temps above 35... despite warming the glue, if the ply is too cold, GG goes to heavy honey consistency, and it sucks up considerably more. Bad news both in terms of supply and $$.

We're using the left hand option.
Note the But over the wide 2x framing overhanging the hull side.

Longitudinal framing is 2x4, with 2x5 along the outboard edges. Framing provides nailers for the ply sheets, helping to keep close contact between ply and foam. Down the mid-line, the port and starboard sheets butt along one of these. Outboard, they overlap the 2x5 which is extends outboard to form eaves.. later, strips will be added outboard to complete the ply run to eave edges. Caps will be added to the 2x5's outboard edges to provide a stable basis for the eventual fabric/resin coating.

Transverse framing is built up from two layers of 3/4in (= 2x). We glued these up, using the salon bulkhead as a jig, then cut them to fit between longitudinals.

Slightly over-bent to spring back about true.
We put a nail at one end to maintain position while allowing sliding as ply strips bend to spec.

Note the plastic to protect the blkhd from glue drip.

We cut the foam with a Japanese saw (very thin blade; cuts on pull stroke), checking with a Quick-Square to ensure a right angle cut. Most framing ended up plus or minus 1/16in. We went for tight, but not too tight fits. They seem to work best when considerable pressure is required to force them down into place, but not so much that they arc up and away from the lower ply. Foam edges compress slightly, and the glue acts as a lubricant. No kerfing was required to accommodate the bend (may need some for the tighter radius Pilothouse).

Note: Be sure not to push the dry foam all the way down... it's WAY hard to get back out!

We dry fit each piece, averaging the differences at each end, and used a rasp to fine-tune any over-size. Any small gaps are filled by the expansive Gorilla Glue. We had one biggish gap (about 3/16in), which we filled with a glued slice of foam.

At assembly, we smear glue onto the upper face of the lower ply and framing edge faces. Insert foam. Smear upper face of foam and framing. Position upper layer of ply (prefit and marked for nails), and fasten from the mid-line, working outboard. Clock starts ticking with the first glue, and we have about 20 minutes per 'sheet' (including foam).

If there's any gaposis (squishy release sounds when you depress ply between frames), extra measures are needed. Clamps can't work... an extreme possibility is a long screw driven through ply-foam-ply and into a 2x block on the low face. Work fast, though, as the glue will be setting up, making any gaps permanent. To date, we've managed to use live weight; simply squatting in place until the glue has set up. Good time to make up for hasty, glue-job irritability.

So... as of this writing, we're half-way on the mid-deck. Two weeks (and maybe more) private time is on our horizon. All we need is a little more, unseasonable warmth.

Who knows? Maybe we'll get a lick of work in!

Completed to s'brd, foam fitted port and aft, empty bays awaiting foam port and fwd.

04 January 2015

The Winter of Our Discontent... Well... Sorta

Sunrise at a decent hour.

Now is the winter of our discontent
Made glorious summer by this son of York;
And all the clouds that low'r'd upon our house
In the deep bosom of the ocean buried. 

-- William Shakespeare from Richard The Third

The Winter of Our Discontent... Well... Sorta

Still waiting on 'glorious summer'. But gotta admit that winter has its own pleasures.

Our project has come a ways since last you heard from us (posting on that, soon), but we're slogging against low temps and wet. Meanwhile, many of the winter chores are coming due on the caretaker side of our arrangement (sawing wood in freezing weather). Construction personnel come and go, with varying degrees of unforeseen social and site-related interactions. The holidays sapped our will with temptations and gratifications.

In short, we're 'slow as molasses in January'.

But we're in a gorgeous spot, overlooking two of the shoal, intricate waterways we love. To the southwest is unlimited line-of-sight to the horizon. To the west and south snow enshrouded peaks and ridges soar over the dark conifers of our foreshore. The animals of winter delight in the paradise we all inhabit, feasting, socializing and playing in sheltered nooks.

So we're picking away, as we can. The bottom is complete and coppered, and the boat lowered off the jigs. The mid-deck is soon to be completed. We've started upholstery projects near the fire. Even managed one coat of clear on the salon and bunk overheads.

Meanwhile, a batch of spruce wine turned out tasty. Our fire is warm and our hearts joyous.

Tipping a cup o' kindness your way, dear Readers, and wishing you well for the New Year!


Dave and Anke

PS. This just in... a head-to-head of the Split Junk Rig we're planning vs Bermudian. Thanks to RWL at for the heads up!

About Me

My photo
Anke and I live aboard WAYWARD, our T32x8 ketch. We sail by wind, tide and muscle in the waters of mid- to northern Southeast Alaska. We try to maximize the joys of life, and minimize the chores. ........ We live between the communities of SE Alaska, but drop in to visit with friends. Lately, we've worked, every other winter, care-taking Baranof Wilderness Lodge in Warmsprings Bay. This has given us a window on Web. ........ We're working toward a subsistence lifestyle, somewhat impeded by addictions to coffee, chocolate and cheese. ........ We think TEOTWAWKI is looming, and while we won't be ready, we'd at least like comfortable seats.