Thursday, March 4, 2021

Repost - 2000, Sea Trials of AF3 Cream Cheese

Time to relocate posts from my old website to this blog.

Sea Trials, Feb 21, 2000

It was a beautiful day for sea trials: 70 degrees F, 5 kt breeze, very few boats on the lake.

We made a good start at noon, but a few miles down the road I realized I had forgotten the oars. When we got back home I discovered I had forgotten about half of the boat, including oars, mast partner, rudder, tiller and tools. I guess I need to work on packaging the boat.

She trailers wonderfully - very easy motion. I lashed the mast to the deck using fore and aft mooring cleats and some closed-cell packing foam pieces that the kids were playing with.

It took a long time to rig the boat for the first time. Lacing the sail was time consuming, so I will try to keep the sail on the mast in the future. I raised the sail and furled it to the mast before departing.

I had trouble with my rowing stroke, so next time I will experiment with seat positioning. I also discovered that I made the benches too high - on level with the oarlocks, so my oars can rub on the seats on the back stroke. I am going to add a slot for sculling on the starboard edge of the transom. While rowing, the unattached boom was generally in the way of everything. Next time, I'll stow the boom inside the furled sail.

With kids in the bow compartment, we rowed past the marina, dropped anchor, unfurled the sail, rigged the boom, weighed anchor and were off.

Having never sailed a sharpie before, I was a little surprised at her initial stability (even though the all literature discusses this). She's a very stiff boat - as steady in the water as my 21' Drascombe Longboat, which has a very flat bottom for a lapstrake hull (also a shoal draft boat). The kids were very much at home and moved around easily - the toy dinosaurs didn't even get in the way.

I didn't get a chance to check her windward abilities, but it seemed like we were sailing pretty close to the wind. Judging from her performance in light winds, I think she will be really fun! I put in a second row of reef points so I can go out in some of the heavy Chinook winds that we get here in Colorado.

Lake Pueblo, ready to go!

Upwind in a 5 kt breeze. 71 degrees in Feb.

Repost - 1999, Building Log of AF3, Cream Cheese

Time to relocate posts from my old website to this blog.  This is the building log of Cream Cheese, an AF3 16 foot sharpie designed by Jim Michalak that I built in 1999.

Materials and Costs
The cost: $2713
A note about my costs: I had absolutely nothing in the way of boating stuff beforehand except for some leftover line from my last boat. I used lumber yard materials, but I used clear redwood in places. I wound up buying more epoxy, polyurethane glues, paint and hardware than I needed. I could have probably cut $500 to $1000 out of the cost if I had really tried.

  • Lumber: AC Fir plywood, pine 1x4, A-grade redwood for the mast, seats, hatch
  • Fasteners: Silicon-Bronze nails, galvanized deck screws, brass wood screws, stainless steel deck screws, zinc coated bolts and nuts
  • Glue: epoxy, PL premium, PL premium liquid, PL 400 construction, Elmers polyurethane
  • Paint: Homebase brand oil based house paint and primer, Deckworks exterior varnish (I had a hard time getting this varnish to cure)
  • Sail: I didn't have any sewing supplies at all. I calculated that I could have bought sailcloth and supplies for abound $250 (including things like sailor's palm and a gromet die). So Sailrite was maybe 30% more expensive than doing it all myself. I also bought some extra stuff like a bolt rope that never used.
lumber & misc hardware$1009
Raka epoxy & epoxy supplies$247
sails & sail tools (Sailrite - awsome folks)$365
oars (Barkely Sound - great spruce oars), oar leathers from Woodenboat$102
sail rig: lines, blocks, anchor, deck hdw, sunbrella cloth, cusions, compass, misc hdw... from Defender$440
trailer & traier supplies$550

Building total: 170 hours

This was my first boat. I had no problems with Jim's plans or instructions other than my own goofs. The kids and I had fun the whole time, with no major do-overs. Thanks Jim!

1-30-99buy wood & glue2 hr40 degrees
1-31-99mark up bulkheads1.5 hr40 degrees
2-7-99cut bulkheads, glue #12.8(w/kids)4 hr60 degrees
2-20-99bulkhead 22 hr
2-27-99bulkhead 7.53 hr40 degrees
3-13-99epoxy fill panel 2, botched transom (w/ kids)1 hr40 degrees
4-11-992nd transom1 hr45 degrees
4-18-99transom & bulkhead 2 (w/ kids)1.5 hr45 degrees
4-24-99loft & glue sides2 hr40 degrees
5-2-99cut side 1, glue side 21.5 hr55 degrees
5-8-99patch holes w/ epoxy, assemble sides to bulkheads (w/ kids)8 hr60 degrees
5-15-99cut wales & chine logs (w/kids)2 hr70 degrees
5-16-99glue up first layer of wales2.5 hr70 degrees
5-21-99wales + chine log 1 (w/ kids)3.5 hr70 degrees
5-22-99chine log 22 hr70 degrees
6-5-99loft & glue bottom, fair chine logs (w/ kids)4 hr70 degrees
6-6-99cut bottom & mount on hull, fill knot holws (w/kids)6 hr70 degrees
6-13-99sand bottom edges (w/ kids)3 hr60 degrees
7-5-99fiberglass bottom w/ epoxy & tape starboard chine2 hr80 degrees
7-10-99glass tape port chine, repairs & putty, second coat of epoxy3 hr70 degrees
7-11-99glass bow grounding area1 hr70 degrees
7-18-99deck clamps3 hr70 degrees
7-22-99deck clamps + supports & deck beams8 hr80 degrees
7-25-99assemble decks8 hr80 degrees
7-31-99sanding & corners1 hr70 degrees
8-1-99oarlocks & seat cleats7 hr70 degrees
8-7-99oarports & leeboard guards, rudder cheeks (w/ kids)4 hr70 degrees
8-8-99oarports, leeboard guards, seats (w/ kids)6 hr70 degrees
8-15-99seats1 hr80 degrees
8-22-99leeboard & leeboard guards4 hr80 degrees
9-4-99sand & prime (w/ sprayer)6 hr80 degrees
9-18-99prime coat 2 (brush & roller) (w/ kids)6 hr70 degrees
9-25-99prime coat 2, final paint inside4 hr75 degrees
10-3-99final paint outside (w/ kids)3 hr75 degrees
10-9-99finish paint & work on rudder4 hr75 degrees
10-17-99paint red gun'nls & misc sanding2 hr65 degrees
12-23-99paint leeboard1 hrgot a garage heater!
12-25-99sew sailbag, reef patches4 hr
12-26-99sew sail patches, reef points5 hr
12-28-99sew sail patches2 hr
12-29-99sew seams & tape, install grommets (done w/ sail!)5 hr
1-1-2000paint leeboard & misc parts1 hr
1-3-2000paint leeboard & install windows2 hr
1-8-2000cut scarf joints for mast2 hr
1-9-2000cut/glue scarf joints for mast, oarlock sockets, gudgeons, pintles, seats6 hr
1-12-2000mark & slice mast2 hr
1-14-2000slice mast & glue 2 halves1 hr
1-15-2000slice mast, mast parner3 hr
1-16-2000shape & sand mast, mast parner, plug knot hole in mast4 hr
1-18-2000varnish spars & misc pieces2 hr
1-20-2000varnish second coat1 hr
1-22-2000load onto trailer, rigging, ridgepole & a-frame for boat cover2 hr
1-23-2000fitting the trailer, oar leathers, rig leeboard3 hr
TOTAL170 hr

May 1999

Bulkheads against the wall

Side panel ready for assembly (notice the snow)

The bow

Sides and transom assembled

Sides and transom assembled

June 1999

Summer 1999

We later removed these seats - they didn't work out

Fall 1999

Sail in the dining room/sail loft. It took about 14 hours (with only a few hours of previous sewing experience)

Making a scarf joint for the mast. Step 1: Piece in the scarfing jig   

Step 2: Chopping out the excess

Step 3: Planing the surface

Step 4 ready for gluing

Saturday, March 12, 2016

A Core Sound 20 in California - 2015

We've moved from Pennsylvania to the San Francisco Bay area of California.  The new cruising grounds are very different from other places we've sailed.  In the summer, the winds are consistent and strong, usually from North West.  Contrast that to the erratic, unpredictable weather in the Gulf of Mexico coast of Florida, Mississippi and Louisiana.  Mostly light breeze in Colorado.  Steady prairie winds in Nebraska.  Flukey flat or storm in the Chesapeake Bay.  Crazy North Carolina outer banks.

Our first outing was to Tomales Bay, just north of San Francisco in Marin County.  This is a 20 mile crack in the coast of California formed where the San Andreas Fault meets the Pacific Ocean.  Each year the Sacramento River chapter of the Traditional Sail Craft Association meets for a weekend in Tomales Bay.  We met some great people, ate some good food and got to sample Pacific weather under the very controlled conditions of the sheltered bay.

Wren on the beach

A beautiful Egret replica

On Sunday afternoon after the gathering had broken up, we decided on an upwind sail to the mouth of the bay and possibly into the Pacific.  The mouth has a reputation for nasty swells during an ebb tide and I decided pretty early on that we wouldn't attempt the bar crossing.  We made it all the way to the edge where we were met with a stationary wall of fog.  It was an eery thing to sail in and out of the wall. 

The wall of fog 

Saturday, November 8, 2014

2014 Watertribe North Carolina Challenge

Last year we attempted the Watertribe North Carolina Challenge, but it was cancelled due to strong winds.   In late September, we tried again with our latest boat, a Core Sound 20 mark II newly christened Wren.  This time we made it. 

The North Carolina Challenge is a 100 mile race through the rivers and sounds of the North Carolina Outer Banks near Beaufort, NC.  It is attended by a motley collection of kayaks and small boats from all over the US.  Watertribers adopt "tribal names" (I am Sharpie and Julie is Hillkiller) and in this post I will refer to the participants by their tribal names. In response to last year's cancellation (the first and only) the race organizer, aptly nicknamed Chief, updated the rules to account for severe weather conditions.  Thus, at the 7:00am captains meeting, when faced with a small craft advisory and 20+ mph winds pounding the beach, we were discouraged from starting but could use our own discretion.  We were also offered an alternate starting point that was more protected than the open surf.  About half of the boats decided to launch from the beach. 

Core Sound 20, Wren, leaving the beach
Julie and I decided to go for it.  Unfortunately, I had made the mistake of watching SOS and DancesWithSandyBottom (Alan and Paul Steward) in their Core Sound 20 Dawn Patrol  sail off same beach in similar conditions in 2013 - they made it look easy.  By contrast, it took us three tries to get off of the beach.  We almost made it on the first try, but just as we were making it into the open water the rudder bottomed out on a sand bar and popped out (I had forgotten to put in the retaining pin).  Back at the beach, SOS suggested adding a bit more sail so we could power through the surf, but I was reluctant.  Second try, we took a less favorable eastward tack and the waves kept pushing us backward.  On our third try, the wind picked up a bit and that was enough to get us out.  In retrospect, I believe SOS was correct in suggesting more sail.  We may also have had our sails a bit too flat.  Some of the smaller monohull sailboats (Class 4 in Watertribe lingo) used oars and paddles as an assist but I think this probably would not have worked for us.

Wren on the beach, ready to start.

Sawhorse (a.k.a. Meade Gougeon with his beautiful sailing canoe)

Race start

Kayaks ready to start, ferry in the background

Oyster Pirate and Commodore with their lapstrake dory

Once we got out past the breakers we sailed upwind for 10 miles into the Neuse River.  We overtook SkinnyGenes and SkinnyJeans in their tricked-out Thistle which they had reefed down to a tiny triangle on the mainsail.  They were getting so much water over the side that they had to bail continuously which made us appreciate our self-bailing cockpit.  Once we hit the Neuse river, we settled down for a leisurely 25 mile downind ride to the mouth.  The Jeans/Genes, now a mile or two behind, raised a spinnaker and started to overtake us.  Our average speed was about 7 mph, but I knew from experience we could be averaging closer to 10 mph if we were to shake out a reef.  But Julie and I were a bit tired from the exertions of getting off the beach so we decided to relax and enjoy the ride.  We waved and cheered as the Thistle overtook us and sailed on.

SkinnyGenes and SkinnyJeans passing us 
in their Thistle in the Neuse River

Every Watertribe event has a set of built-in filters that limits the size and shape of boats that can enter.  The beach is the first filter - everyone must launch from the beach with no outside help or equipment.  The Harlowe Canal is another filter.  It is seven miles long, as narrow as 20 feet, overhung with a canopy of trees and spanned by three low bridges.  Boats traversing the canal must be able to lower their masts and row or paddle the entire distance (sometimes against the current)  The first bridge is the lowest and this year the water was so high from rain that there was only about 5' clearance.  We soon found out that even with our masts down, we couldn't fit under the bridge.  After further dissassembly, we still stuck out about 2" too high.  I was able to lie on my back and push the bow down so that we slid under the bridge with only the occasional scraping sound.

Going under the first bridge in the Harlow Canal

Once past the bridge, we were lucky to have the tide with us the whole way.  The quiet and stillness were a remarkable contrast to the earlier wind, waves and spray. Julie took over rowing right after the first bridge and as DeadCat passed us in her Kayak she made a comment about women doing most of the work.  I smiled gratefully.

Leaving the first Bridge
Julie at work
ALittleDinghy and Ozone passing us in their Shellback Dinghy
DodgebirdII passing us in his Laser II
Once we got past the trees we raised our mast and glided silently through the marsh into the Newport River.  We followed DodgebirdII's sail into Beaufort on a comfortable beam reach in protected waters and as the sun set we approached the Beaufort drawbridge.  As we waited for the next opening, the bridge tender radioed me to ask a question, "Captain, all of these little bitty boats have come by today.  Is there a regatta or something going on?"  I tried to evade the question, because we Watertribers don't like to draw the attention of the authorities, but he persisted and I eventually admitted that "yes, we are together".  When the bridge opened, the tender warned an oncoming boat "be careful, there is a little bitty sailboat coming through before you."

We drifted in to checkpoint one on the Beaufort waterfront at around 8:00pm just as DodgebirdII was heading out.  After chatting with Chief and BeastOarman for a while we sailed over to the other side of the creek to anchor among the cruising sailboats.  An hour later, with a hot meal in our bellies, we settled down in our comfy cabin, lulled to sleep by the songs of the Rolling Stones and Jimmy Buffet wafting across the water from a nearby bar.  

Anchored outside of Beaufort, beach music in the air 

Watertribe NCC 2014 - Day 1
We awoke at 5:30 AM but took our time getting going.  I thought I saw WildBlue's yellow Sirocco sailboat pass by, but decided it couldn't be him because there were two people onboard and he was sailing solo.  I later learned that he had taken Panidias at the last moment as a crew member and there were lots of good stories arising from that collaboration.

Dawn came warm with 15mph breezes from the north.  After a 10 mile beam reach we entered the core sound and began our long, 25 mile upwind beat.  It was thrilling to see at least eight Watertribe sails on the move.  We didn't know who all of the boats were until we swapped stories after the race, but from what I've pieced together, the field was roughly as follows:  Hugging the western shoreline were WildBlue and Paindias, Sawhorse in his canoe, Ozone and ALittleDinghy in the Shellback, CleanSlate in his Triak, AmaBouy and DockWater in a Hobie Tandem Island, and a few kayakers.  Taking longer tacks across the sound were ourselves, Dodgebird II in the Laser II, GrumpyCat and TweetyBird in their Hobie 16, VagueRogue and TlaloqueScramblonic in their Jet 14 racing dinghy.  We looked for the Jeans/Genes but we later found out that they were out of the race because of a rudder failure.

We started the day with partially reefed sails but by 3:00pm we were double reefed and pounding through short, steep chop.  We had sailed the previous day without water ballast, but had decided to fill the tanks in the morning before setting out.  It was good to have the additional stability and we never had to hike out on the rail, even when the boat was heeled hard over. As the day wore on and the wind picked up, our upwind performance grew worse.  

Tacking up the Core Sound
I later spoke about our tacking performance with Roo (aka Graham Byrnes, the designer of the Core Sound 20), and SOS.  I learned that I still have much to learn about sailing this wonderful boat.  For example, one problem was too much weather helm.  Roo told me that I can raise the centerboard a bit in order to pull the center of resistance farther aft, thereby relieving the weather helm and giving us better VMG (velocity made good).  

Around 5:00pm Julie and I had a long discussion about what we would do if we didn't get out of the Core Sound by dark.  We decided that we didn't want to risk getting caught in one of the numerous pound nets at night and would have to spend another night at anchor.  We really hated this idea - the next day would be exhausting because we would have to get up early, finish the challenge and then drive home all in one day.  Also no hot showers that night!  Luckily we just barely made it.
Pound nets in the Core Sound
At 6:15 we clapped and cheered as we we passed the last pound net and entered Cedar Island Bay on a six mile tack to the finish.  As we approached the dock with the last rays of sunlight, we passed SeaHawk in his kayak finishing up the 300 mile Blackbeard Challenge, which by all accounts had been a brutal race with lots of difficult weather.  He was so set on making it those last few hundred yards to the dock that I don't think he even saw us.

When we touched, we were cheered on by waiting Watertribers and I let out a whoop of joy.   

Approaching the finish

Help from welcoming Watertribers
Dockside stories - I want one of those beers!
We were happy to have finished without any serious mishaps.  Many of the smaller boats and kayaks were not able to finish because of equipment failures, large waves in the Neuse River or strong winds in the Core Sound.  The weather had favored large boats and we were the largest of the bunch.
Watertribe NCC 2014 - day 2

We slept very well that night.  The next morning we had a great time swapping stories and then made the 11 hour drive home, glowing with pride of accomplishment and strength of new friendships.

Cedar Island Sunset
More pictures can be found here