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cracked_ribs last won the day on July 8 2020

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  1. You know it occurs to me that I never gave a good update on this thread, but the little Catspaw has gotten a TON of use. I ended up moving to my summer cabin last year, which is on a tiny island with no roads or even docks. Every morning for about six months I'd walk down to the beach, pick up the Catspaw and carry it to the edge of the water, row out to my boat and leave the Catspaw on the hook, take the boat across to the big island and go to work, and every evening I'd come home and row back in. I did it in storms, in the dark, tired, injured, hung over, you name it. The boat held up at least as well as the owner. It took a little damage in rough weather one morning - the big boat was bucking around like a rodeo bull and the flare of the bow came down on the cockpit coaming, snapping off a section. But I think that was 5000 pounds of fiberglass getting dropped around 4 feet onto the bow of the catspaw; I can't complain about a little cosmetic damage. I sailed it a lot when I wasn't working and it goes pretty well, considering it's a little eight foot pram. And it keeps on absorbing whatever I throw at it: I left it on the hook for a month because I got busy with some projects here and couldn't get back to my summer place as planned until a few days ago...a handful of barnacles had adhered to the graphite bottom, as depicted below. I scraped them off and let the shore crabs deal with the mess. It's now also officially a three-person craft, as it turns out that spending six months with my wife at a cabin with no electricity requires alternative forms of entertainment. In fact we resorted to this method of staying occupied at the beginning of April so by the time we left, I was trusting the Catspaw to transport a woman whose centre of balance had shifted substantially...one could almost say that with only about 10 weeks to go before requiring an extra seat in the boat, she had become rather unbalanced. The Catspaw, on the other hand, remained quite stable. I would say its most demanding application was shuttling her back and forth on our last trip as a childless couple...she was 10 days out but wanted to get on the water, so we went back to the cabin for a few days and did a bit of trolling for winter springs. By that point she was so off-balance that loading her off the big boat and into the dinghy took about two minutes and I wished I had a small crane, although in case she reads this I'll point out that it would only have been for convenience and it could have been a crane with a very low working load limit, although of course I would deny knowing exactly what the load would have been. Anyway it has had an enormous amount of use (the boat, not the wife) and I still get compliments on it (also the boat although the wife is pretty good also). I'm hard on gear but the Catspaw is holding up well and I would recommend the design to anyone who wants a tough little dinghy with a lot of carrying capacity. And it does work well as a three-person boat. Cheers, Geordie
  2. I would think so...I carried mine anywhere from a few yards to about 200 feet (depending on the tide) twice a day every day for nearly six months this year while I was living on a small island. Every morning I'd get up, walk down to the beach, pick up my Catspaw from the logs I'd leave it on overnight, carry it to the water, hop in, row out to my mooring and get on the big boat and head to work. In the evening, the reverse. I'll admit that by the end of the season I did look forward to high tide, but I would hoist it up on to my shoulder every morning about dawn and every afternoon around dinner and I never had a day when I felt I couldn't, even when I gave my lower back a bit of a strain sometime in June (hauling logs all weekend, then falling asleep in a hammock...holy cow did that ever lock up on me). Anyway if you aren't doing it constantly and you aren't carrying it a really long distance I would say a C8 is pretty handy to carry. I have pulled mine out of the water and picked it up and set it on top of my pilothouse a few times - that's a pretty awkward lift but as long as your centre seat is glued down well, you can grab that with one hand, the close gunwale with the other, and just roll it towards you as you stand up. Worked for me around 300 times this year!
  3. Thanks very much for the reply - I am sort of kicking the idea around although I have not done any welding in years and have never welded aluminum at all. Still I am not too bad with a torch and I am pretty confident I could get my head around a MIG setup. My best friend is actually a welder, although he lives on the mainland and probably couldn't be relied on for actual welding work, I am pretty sure he could help me get rolling. I have a set of Marissa plans here and my intent was to build a normal version but when I think about an aluminum one I just think that would be a fantastic platform for fishing here - just hauling crab traps alone, the ruggedness of aluminum is kind of tempting. And since guys often end up putting 40-60 horse motors I think an extra couple of hundred pounds of hull weight might not be too much of a problem. With the lighter framing, as you say, the increase might not be too great. I hate to pester with questions that are a little outside the original design but how do you feel about the spacing of the stringers in terms of supporting the aluminum hull? Glassed ply is pretty rigid - do you have thoughts about whether intermediate longtitudinal stiffeners might be necessary, between the stringers say, or between the inboard stringer and keel? My understanding is that the framing of aluminum boats is ordinarily almost entirely longtitudinal, to avoid the "starved horse" look as the plates get pummeled in, but then the Marissa already has four stringers and a keel, plus the chine steps which I think would be quite rigid...just ballparking it in my head the egg crating of the hull looks like it would support the slightly floppier aluminum pretty well, certainly more so than if it had been designed with a single stringer per side and no keelson (if I am using that term correctly). Instinctively I feel that if the transverse framing was rebated so that rather than contacting the hull, it only connected the longtitudinal supports, and that if the side stringer was turned into something like a 2"x .100 stiffener, the whole structure would be very close already. But maybe even the transverse frames are fine as is, I'm not sure. There are some aluminum boat manufacturers around me...maybe I will request a tour and see if I can gather any ideas about how they are framing up their lighter boats. I might also pick up Stephen Pollard's book on aluminum boat building. Well, thank you for humouring my idea...if you have any further thoughts on it I assure you I'll be paying rapt attention!
  4. This is kind of an idle question, but locally to me aluminum is by far the most desirable boat material. The thought occurs that the Marissa, being plywood panels rather than cold moulded, could in theory be welded from aluminum. I did see where someone had built I think a CK17 from aluminum and it was quite heavy, but I wonder if a Marissa could be done from 1/8 with longitudinal stiffeners in place of the existing framing and end up fairly similar in weight? It might be the the stiffeners would need tighter spacing but then again, maybe not. Anyway just curious to see if any builders or prospective builders had taken a look at the idea in any depth, or if anyone at B&B had ever looked into aluminum as a medium.
  5. On the centerboard, I just glued the seat down, drilled a small hole inside the trunk slot, then ran a router through it. Small holes in the frames I did with a Dremel and a small burr grinder.
  6. Looking good! Fond memories of wood shavings and tight spaces for me.
  7. I can't really tell you which is better; I did mine as per the plans and it did work well. One thing that might be specific to my use though: I spent about five months this year in a boat-access only place and commuting to work, I used my Catspaw to get out to the mooring where I kept my big boat. What I found was that every morning and evening, when I picked up the Catspaw to carry it up or down the beach, I ended up picking it up by the centre seat and by September I was starting to hear little pops and cracks when I'd pick it up. So depending on my workload over the winter, I would personally be inclined to replace the cleats with fillets, but then run fibreglass tape over each one. BUT: I think my boat has had harder use than the vast majority ever will, getting rowed and picked up and set down every day, sailed on the weekends, and left floating in the bay ten hours a day from Monday to Friday. Making me question the decidion to finish it all fancy-like, of course, but when I built it I didn't realize I'd be moving to my cabin for half the year and working on a different island.
  8. My GENERAL and LIMITED knowledge of glassing suggests to me that the main advantage you get out of 1208 vs just 12oz biaxial would be the thicker skin of the composite. Essentially, all composite hull construction is about beam theory...you have the fibreglass skins and the hull sandwiched between them. Just like an I-beam, the skins are taking most of the load, the inner one in compression and the outer one in tension. If you want to strengthen the structure, you can either thicken the skins, or you can place them further apart by thickening the wood between them. The mat would probably do a bit of both...the skin would get thickened but also the biaxial would be separated a little more by the thickness of the layer of mat underneath. Plus you would get some random directional stiffness, I guess - I don't know enough about CSM to comment very intelligently on that but I'm sure Graham knows what he's talking about. I wouldn't replace 1208 with just 12 because the calculations done on the hull may have shown that it needed 20oz total of glass. But 18oz biax would probably replace it really well. Two layers of 12 would be overkilling the replacement. I have seen many situations in which a design specified something like "24 oz total biax over chine inside and out" but the designer didn't really care if you used 2x12oz, 4x6oz, 1x24oz, etc etc. Well, 1208 is 20oz/yd stuff. I think as long as you are close to that 20 number, you are very likely fine (given that you are not using woven in place of biaxial or something). Hope this helps. Also hope this is actually correct because it's not like I do this professionally.
  9. Minor update... I've been super busy moving cities and changing jobs so no boating over the winter, but I did get a tiny spot in Wooden Boat Magazine!
  10. Oh, my name is Geordie; pleased to meet you. It's a sad thing...I don't really blame parents for worrying after their kids but I am also totally convinced that if I hadn't spent a lot of time taking risks when I was younger, I wouldn't be capable of what I am now that I am older. I mean sure, I broke bones a lot as a kid, and got plenty of black eyes and bloody noses and more stitches than I can count, and I admit that one of my fingers is shorter than factory spec, but at the same time by taking those hits when I was young and healed quickly and was motivated to be back playing sports before the end of the season, I grew to be pretty resilient and independent. I don't think those are traits we value enough in kids today and as a result they don't really develop them. Anyway not to go all New Yorker think piece on you, it just struck me how the Mark Twain childhood you're describing OUGHT to be the gift we give our kids, instead of a new iphone.
  11. He really was a character. You'll get to know him if this thread goes on a while. He's settled down quite a bit now, although he's never really adapted to domesticated existence. He came to my wedding, for example, but stuck around just long enough to see the vows, then left for a long hike, came back briefly for dinner, and left again. But I have no problem with that. He's a decent guy with lots of great knowledge, he's just not particularly interested in people. But he's good with machines, fantastic at math and, surprisingly, extremely funny if he chooses to be. You wouldn't think it because he so rarely speaks; people expect him to be socially awkward. But he's actually quite engaging if he decides to talk, he just thinks almost nobody is worth his time. Over the past few years (possibly not coincidentally as I have gotten better with boats myself) he's taken me more seriously and I talks to me fairly often. In fact, I called him today for some details on the blue and yellow boat. I also wish I had a better picture of that boat but I don't think I do; we didn't take a lot of pictures as a family. Probably with enough time at my parents' place I could find something but it was a very beamy little hardtop with a single chine and quite a shallow V. My dad really liked it, actually, and I think he only stopped using it because he the more kids there were, the less money he had and we were pretty poor. I'm not sure if he ever had a trailer for it, either; I think it stayed down at a little marina near our house which I'm sure he couldn't justify for long. I can barely remember it as our fishing boat but I remember having to step carefully inside it because it didn't really have much of a cockpit sole, just some boards placed loosely in high-traffic spots. My dad, of course, was very good at navigating around inside it but I was too young. It was set up for salmon trolling more than anything, with downriggers on either side and a great kicker bracket with about a 2" laminated ply surface to hang the kicker on. "It was a Brandlmayr design," he told me today. "Really floated well. Great boat in really rough water." He didn't know anything about this Brandlmayr character but I can only assume that would be John Brandlmayr who designed the Spencer Yachts sailboats. I'm not having any luck turning up information on his motorboat designs but there might be someone at boatdesign.net that would know. Evan Gatehouse is another local naval architect; he might have some knowledge. I'll try to find out. He used the same boat to sit out a storm a couple of years prior; I don’t remember anything about it myself but I heard about it from my older sister and got more details from my dad today. He’d anchored in around fifty feet of water with a very long anchor line and waited there, just in the lee of a small island, hoping the seas would slack off some. He later told me he thought the boat itself would make it but the engine wasn’t strong enough to motor against the wind, and that a sailboat just a few hundred feet away had been halfway through a reef when the wind picked up and knocked them flat. They were already in survival gear and managed to get the sails down and the boat upright, and motored up to the same lee as my dad where they waited it out on anchor. "I lost that anchor in the mud there. It dragged to deep to pull up," he said. "But there was a lighthouse keeper there named Shelco Fox who dug it out for me at a low tide not long after. I'd holed up there before in storms and he fed me steak and peas. I thought he had it made. On the way back in the next day, I caught a nine pound coho on a wireline pulling a planer with a pretty simple hoochie rig. It worked well." The engine he had at the time was a 40 Johnson that he described as "really unreliable". All his motors came from an auction house and he’d buy them for a few dollars, rarely more than ten or twenty, and get them running while they were bolted to a workbench next to a garbage can full of oily water for them to run in. Some did well but others never ran very well and the first one on the blue and yellow boat gave him all kinds of problems. Coming from that perspective, I guess a running motor in eight foot seas must have seemed like all the safety he’d need. Not long after that, he began taking me with him sometimes. He didn’t have the blue and yellow boat much longer, or rather he didn’t continue using it; it stayed under the deck for a long time while he tried to figure out the reliability issues with the motor. He'd taken my older sister fishing on it; she was a toddler and wanted to name the boat the "Wild Spider". My dad, not being much for sentimentality, didn't name it. He did remember my sister's first fish she caught from that boat, a small rock cod. "It was too small to keep, maybe eight inches long. I threw it back without thinking. I remember there were tears," he said. "She was very upset. About four years old. Lot of noise." In the meantime, he bought what he called a “car-topper” which was a 12’ aluminum Springbok with a 9.9 Johnson. He drove a 1968 Volvo 4-door with roof racks, the aft roof rack being a rolling bar with grippy rubber surfaces on the outer foot or foot and a half. My dad would pick up the Springbok and carry it to the back of the car, then set it down at about a 45 degree angle. resting on the pads of the roof rack and the transom. He’d walk around behind the boat and pick up the transom and just roll the whole thing forward, then put the outboard in the trunk along with a couple of tanks of gas. He rarely used a whole tank but the one effect I think being out all night in a storm had had on him was that he took way more fuel than necessary, every time, forever afterwards. We used to fish the car topper in all the bays around town but most often right down at the foot of the street I lived on. There was a concrete break down at the beach, like a curved cliff surface, to keep the beach from eroding. It was about eight feet of vertical drop, and curved enough that there was maybe a foot of overhang. Every few hundred feet there was a staircase down to the lower area, which was a walkway about ten feet wide and sloped fairly prominently towards the water. After that was a three foot drop to the gravel beach itself, assuming the tide was out. If the tide was in, the whole walkway could be covered and if it was way out, there’d be fifty feet of sand and round gravel and beach glass you could run around on. My dad would park the Volvo up near the closest staircase, and lift the car topper off the roof racks and carry it down to the water, then go back for the motor, and I would take the oars, rods, and tackle. The oars were made from spruce lifeboat oars he’d bought at an auction, hexagonal or octagonal in section, I’m not sure which. He’d cut them down by about two and a half feet, to about eleven or twelve feet long. He was a strong rower and hated the 8 foot oars that had come with the boat. We fished with light spinning gear, using homemade lures. I still use those lures today; one style I'd guess is about two ounces and one about three and a half. They're basically Stingsildas and they cast well and jig well. We'd pour them at the workbench next to the garbage can of oily outboard water, heating the lead in a heavy steel or iron smelting pot on a coleman stove, pouring them into an aluminum mold my dad had gotten made up at a local foundry. Later, after they cooled, they'd get coats of white spraypaint, decoration with permanent marker, and little slices of flasher tape. Watch included for scale.
  12. I don't really know how long this thread is going to run. I have a lot of stories from growing up but not everyone will find them interesting. But a lot of them revolve around boats and the ocean and my dad, who loves boats and fishing and the ocean in general. I grew up about a block from the ocean, in a town on the west coast of Canada. My dad was there in protest; he’d been a prospector in the past and never really adapted to the idea that he had somehow ended up with a family and a house that couldn’t be packed up and carried away on a horse or mule. But he had also grown up on the shore of a big lake and was a fantastic swimmer and excellent boatman, so even though he’d been forced to accept a lot more human contact than he wanted, at least we were really close to the water, and so fishing was always an option. This would have been in the early 1980s, and money was really tight. My parents had bought a house for a whopping $27,000 and interest rates were apocalyptically high, there were three kids, and the only income was my dad’s meager salary from a job that involved some kind of survey work in the archipelago of islands just northeast of us. I don’t really know exactly what he did because when I was a kid if I spoke to him he would stop me immediately with the explanation “I don’t like the sound of human voices.” I think he took the job mostly so he could spend time in the islands. He knew a lot about measurements and maps from his days prospecting, which I believe was similar but much more difficult, and as such he’d usually get sent out to the islands for a few days, knock the work off in an afternoon, and then spend the rest of the time fishing. I didn’t know this at the time because he never spoke back then, but around the time he turned 70 he started to relax his stance on talking to people and we’ve had quite a few conversations since then. Anyway, the point is, he was quite a skilled boatman. He had a 14’ home build, glass on ply with a stick frame, like something out of Popular Mechanics. He didn’t build it himself; in fact he hated working with wood, which has always surprised me since his dad was quite skilled with wood and I enjoy messing around with it myself. On top of that, we used wood for heat and he was pretty good with an axe, and also used a lot of wedges and a sledgehammer to split wood with impressive precision. And prior to splitting, he’d buck the wood up with a big 42” bow saw, never a chainsaw. He had a pretty good old Husqvarna that his dad had given him but he didn’t use it: too loud. But for whatever reason, despite rather extraordinary amounts of sawing and splitting, and literal tons of wood used every year to heat our coastal Canadian home, built with all of the technology 1927 had to offer, he hated carpentry. And so he must have bought the boat, which was blue and yellow and was pretty beamy with a fairly flat bottom – if I had to guess I’d estimate the deadrise at the transom as no more than 10 degrees and probably closer to 6. I don’t have any good pictures of it; I think the only picture in which it is present at all is one taken on the docks near where I grew up. As in all of the pictures of my dad, he is holding a fish. This is the same boat he used to weather out a gale in the waters around ten miles from my house. The area is protected from one direction, and not too much fetch most ways, but you get really nasty seas if the wind is in the northwest. He’d been out fishing and the wind picked up and he was stuck out there overnight, idling his engine to keep the bow into the waves. He made it in early the next morning when the seas backed off a little. I was young and didn’t really understand what had happened. I barely remember it but I can remember my mom being afraid and sitting by the phone late at night and looking out the windows over and over. I think the coast guard had looked for him but I’m not sure how that went; either they didn’t find him or they did and he wasn’t interested in rescue. When he came home he was indifferent. Years later I asked what it had been like and he shrugged. “Eight footers,” he said, “better off waiting.” I pressed him for more detail. “But handling that little boat in eight foot seas…that must have been difficult. What did you do?” “Nothing. It's a stable boat. Just kept the bow into the waves.” “So if I run into similar seas, what advice would you give?” “Just keep the bow into the waves.” “That’s it?” “Don’t run out of gas. If the motor quits, you’re done.” "Did you go all night on one tank?" "No, I had to change it out once." "What was that like?" "Hard."
  13. You know, this is great. You think about the things kids used to be able to do and how adventurous you could be and it's hard to imagine getting away with it all today. But without these hijinks, how could we have grown into men that could handle boats on uncooperative water? This thread has convinced me...I'll post up some stories about growing up on the coast here.
  14. Yeah that boat is a real beauty...I have been through your entire flicker account one pic at a time; that's a heck of a build. The door seems like it would be really hand at the dock all right!
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