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Core Sound 15 #162 — Building the “Norma T”

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No doubt, I’ve always had the boat-building bug... it has never been far from my thoughts. This is my first genuine opportunity since my two boat-builds as a kid. And, building the Norma T has been a very satisfying process. 

I’ve had a sort of odd, new feeling in these past few quiet non-building days since Gramma Camp.  I feel... well... retired.

It is a feeling neither good nor bad, just different  This is a wonderfully opportune time of my wife’s and my lives.  There is no question that a variety of life-things could have prevented both of us from being in this place; I never lose track of that reality and that always makes every day a sweet thing. Making stuff is nearly always satisfying to me, so who knows what that might be as the future unfolds. 

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Motoring around the pond during Gramma Camp!  🙂   Just enough for the kids to start getting used to the Norma T.      (My daughter joined us... what a great Gramma Camp helper.)

Today: My son’s family came up last night and we took everyone out for a sail. I love that this small boat feels so comfortable for four adults and a couple kids. Note my sailing position, feet up and

Week 10 — Day 47 & 48: It’s transforming Into a Sailboat   Back at the building of Norma T.  In these two days I was able to finish the main mast tabernacle and it’s installation as well

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I understand that my sails have just been shipped from B&B... so, the Norma T goes back into the garage to finish installing the rigging. 
Next week looks like nice weather... it might be possible to have some initial sailing days yet this fall. Yay!  😁



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I spent a couple days installing the rigging.  Lots of dumb little errors and a bunch of trips to the hardware store were part of the process. 


I only had three pieces left to install this morning along with the obnoxious task of reaching way under the bow deck to sightlessly install washers/nuts to the bolts for the stand up blocks... and somehow tighten them. Some weird contortions were needed for a big person to do this. 

Half way through installing the last three rigging pieces, a FedEx guy came walking up with a box of SAILS!



Quite an effort to open the well made shipping box, but I eventually prevailed. 




To the right of the mizzen sail is a sail bag for a flaked sail... nice. 

I put the sails aside, finished the installations, cleaned up the inside of the boat, had some lunch, and was getting set to learn how to put everything together. But, the Green Bay Packers was about to kick off their “empty stadium” season, so I decided that a beer and popcorn were in order. I watched the Packer’s first couple of possessions... field goals... meh. (They won 43-34... my sails took all of my afternoon attention.)  Hearing 70,000 fans when only the players were in the stadium was weird. 



OK, next, make sure all the rigging is coming together correctly. FFF6C55E-CE7C-48CF-9015-209833529FD5.jpeg.911aefdef3efebd003c4ec5678c59f32.jpeg




Seems to be ready for the sails. 
I put in the eight battens. 

One sail was raised... B7A62916-E0C6-44F3-8304-A4E7273C1254.jpeg.27a8dec6eeade542d89c4fd918c41e9f.jpeg


Then the other...




I found that that the sail lugs were getting caught in the sail tracks. I removed both masts to pay some attention to the rivets, some of which were a bit misshapen when I installed them. (I should have requested from B&B the use of a 1/4 inch spacer used to reach into the track for pop rivets; I had fashioned a spacer from a spring pin; it was adequate but was the culprit for the lugs getting caught.)

My efforts paid off and the sails went up much more smoothly. A little more attention is still needed... later. 

I think this whole cat-ketch system seems like something I will enjoy and can be managed by others in my family. Good times are ahead. 

Even though there are frost warnings out tonight the daytime weather looks good this week... at least good enough to use the boat. Nothing else on the schedule and all systems are GO!



My wife was camping with our girls this weekend. She came home in the evening and I’m showing her how the system works. 


I put things away for the night and tried out the sailbags. They seem great. Instead of stuffing the sails into a bag, the battens stay in, the sail is neatly flaked into a flat bag that is as long as the width of the sail.  Straps on the bag can be used to curl it into a tube. Neat system. 

So, this week begins the actual sailing phase of the a Norma T boat project. 🙂

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Flaking your sails adds years to their life.  


So happy to see sails in Norma T.  She looks extra fine now.

When I lived in Michigan, I would sail through October.  I was usually one of the last to haul their boats out.  Those fall days are golden.  Most boaters are gone, the water temperature is a whole lot warmer than April or May, and the fall colors are the bonus.


If you want some cat ketch sailing tips, send me a note on FB Messenger.

(Don Silsbe)

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First Day Sailing the Norma T

I did a few more things this morning to ready the boat for the road... don’t want to lose a mast or something else. 


I decided to use my little Toyota Yaris as tow vehicle.  It pulls the boat just fine, even out of the water at the landing, and probably gives other drivers a chuckle to see such a silly car doing this. 


The Wisconsin River flows through our town and the flowage should be big enough for some sailing. I rarely see sailboats here, but hey, it’s available and convenient. There is another good sized flowage that many use for sailing just north about 8 miles (behind the next dam up the river.)
I spent some time at the landing area deliberately (slowly) rigging the masts and sails. Yesterday’s practice helped but I still needed to refer to a picture from yesterday to remember which side of the mainsail the sprit ends up.  Even at a deliberate pace it really didn’t take very long for me to assemble everything for launching. 

Success. And I didn’t even get my feet wet. It fairly easily rolled off the trailer.  I know many do not like immersing the trailer axels but this might be as much as this trailer will do without replacing the wood bunks with roller bunks. 

I know the wider waterline stripe is a little high but it has the aesthetic I wanted. 


I motored out a ways before raising the sails. I don’t think I’m ready to “sail off the dock.”


So, I guess I’m sailing. I like this.



The wind is gentle today, 5-6 mph, occasionally being a bit stronger.  A good place for me to start. 

At first, it didn’t seem that the boat was tracking very well and wouldn’t turn into the wind for a tack. As I was beginning to be blown near the shore I used the motor to get back into the middle area to try things again. 

Then it occurred to me... I hadn’t lowered the centerboard. Oh yeah, there’s that. Great maneuvering improvement happened. 😁  Just another of my many dumb moves in this whole boat process. At least I do learn... sometimes. 

I tacked back and forth down the river (upwind) to the bridge, learning how to do this a little more smoothly.  Then I turned to a run, letting the wind push me back.  Gee, I was feeling a little hungry; maybe it’s about lunchtime.  Nope, it’s after 2:00.  I must be having fun. 

I lowered the sails when I approached the landing area and motored up to the dock. Nope, I’m not ready to sail in either.  The boat nicely came onto the trailer and, again, I didn’t need to get my feet wet.  The winch was only needed for the last foot or so. 

I really like the sailbags.  I can lay them opened on the seat under the sails as I remove the lugs from the track and flake them right into the bags. 


Then, the bags are zipped up and cinched into a tube shape with the straps. Neat. 


All ready for a return trip home. Again, even being deliberate in my takedown process (trying to avoid dumb errors) it only took a few minutes. 


🎶Happy Birthday to Me 🎶

Yes, it is my 67th birthday today.  When I turned 50 I decided to work full time in my profession until at least 70... because I like my work and because I thought I would need extra working time for retirement to be possible.  Last December provided a chance to reconsider that plan and I decided to retire as 2020 began. 

Could I have had a better 67th birthday gift today than to be at this place in my life and to have my first sailing day in my new boat?  I’m a happy guy today. 

The weather this week looks like nice September sun and breeze. Tomorrow’s forecast includes 15 mph winds. Hmmm... a bit more sporty?  Maybe I will learn about reefing. 

Here’s a short little video of the sailing of the  Norma T.



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Congratulations, she looks great. 


You mentioned that you forgot which side of the boat the sails go. Just to help you remember, I always rig the main to starboard and the mizzen to port. Why? I could have done it either way.


The mizzen is easy to reef solo being smaller and is close to the helm. The mainsail rigged to starboard allows you to heave-to on the starboard tack giving you the right of way over other vessels while you are not under way.


It was good that you got sail her in light air. she is a spirited boat and can capsize, it is easy to do if you are inexperienced.. If you need to remember one thing with a cat ketch, the main is your safety valve.  When you are sailing upwind on a fresh day, if you release the mizzen in a hard puff you will swim. Releasing the main reduces pressure forward giving the boat weather helm making the the her come closer to the wind taking power out of the rig.


Good sailing

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Thank you, Graham, for the information and tips on making all this work as well for me as possible.  And I appreciate your citing the dual realities of: 

“...she is a spirited boat and can capsize, it is easy to do if you are inexperienced.”

I certainly am hoping for the fun of having a spirited boat, and it is always good to combine that kind of hope with the sobering need to be thoughtful about what could happen with the spiritedness.  (Careful what you hope for??)

I guess the fun part of exhilarating experiences is walking the line between “boring” and disaster.  It’s sort of like that with a lot of “fun” activities, like my favorites: alpine skiing, bicycle trail riding, and riding motorcycles (roads and trails). Disaster is always a potential and it’s more desirable to be on the non-disaster side... but it’s fun to brush up to the margin.  I recall a Winston Churchill line from early military service when he discovered holes in his jacket from a daring action of his, “There is nothing more exhilarating than being shot at... and missed.”  

I write all this with today’s morning weather alert on my phone while contemplating taking the boat out today for a second try:


Hmmm... maybe if I put in the reefs before launching?  Ah, the fun of risk... while trying to be smart and able enough to avoid disaster (and perhaps most importantly, the wisdom to decide whether to try something or not 😁.)  At least with sailing a Core Sound, a capsize can generally be recovered from (I’ve taken a few looks at the Capsize Camp blogs... good stuff to make use of.)


Last thing — just because my Fantasy Football team (the Padres) is usually a mid level team in my league, although last year they mostly occupied the bottommost ranking — this is week one’s final scoring:


Yes, the Padre’s CRUSHED ‘em!!


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  • PadrePoint changed the title to Core Sound 15 — #162 “Norma T”

A Sportier Sailing Today

Today was my third sailing of the Norma T.   I plan to sail each day this week and weekend; the weather looks consistent. This time I went to a lake about 8 miles north (a larger flowage on the Wisconsin River well suited for sailing... there is even a sailing club on the lake.)  Winds were more lively today than my first two sailings.  I’ll attempt to exploit this nice fall weather... after all, I already purchased my season passes for alpine skiing so the seasons will be changing soon. 

Today, for the first time, my wife joined me, along with three neighbors.  (They happened to be there when I pulled my minivan into my driveway in April, returning from the B&B shop with the CS15 kit... they also kept up with my building progress.)  Wow, five people in the boat today and more wind than earlier this week. How will things go?  How often will I make blunders in the whole process?  

I was still befuddled putting the sails onto the masts before launching. Now, which side of the sails do the sprits go to?  I did it right the first time, then second-guessed myself and made a change, realized I had it right the first time and changed again. When finally on the water and raising the mainsail the sail stuck at about six feet up.  Oh no!!  😮 I thought it was a lug sticking in the track until I realized the snotter line ended up over the top of the sail (from all my “fixes”) and stopped the sail. Aaurgh... I’ve gotta get this straightened out in my brain... 🤪 (I think that now I can get it right the first time tomorrow.)  For the Mizzen, the sail went up, but got stuck at a low position and wouldn’t go higher... what the...??  Oh yeah, the down-haul line is cleated. Aaurgh... 😂. But, the centerboard at least was lowered. Learning through mistakes continues to happen.  Maybe having guests was distracting for me... sure... I’ll take that excuse. 😄


OK, it all came together in not too long and we were sailing... very nice and quite fun.  Plenty of wind and wave action to give some excitement and splashing.  The boat seemed to handle the five of us just fine.  Gusts that came along were quickly adjusted to and nobody was nervous. It was a great introduction for them. Two of my guests had never been on a sailboat (the mom and son):


I had the two kids do most of the tiller work... they both seemed to think that was cool. 




Keeping everything flowing and “supervising” in the more brisk wind kept me from taking pictures, but I did make a quick video... until a couple gusts gave us  some heeling 😄

We had some good laughs. 

I added a B&B sticker to each side of the boat when I got home.  I feel very good about my kit purchase and the boat I was able to build. I’ve had it out only three times, and by golly, I’ve received notice and inquiry each time, even several times an outing... and there was hardly anyone around. People stopped or walked up to me for a bit of conversation about the boat.  Amazing. 

I’m having fun. 


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Your rigging time will drop dramatically soon.  It took me 1.5 hrs the first time; now it is down to 25 minutes (CS 20.3).


It is always fun sailing a new boat with company aboard.  Glad to see it went well.  Impressive to see how well the boat handled that many people aboard. 

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Even when I rigged the boat today I had some moments of befuddlement 🤪 trying to envision the mainsail/sprit/lines arrangement.  I finally realized that my “fixes” from yesterday’s rigging kind screwed up a few things. (I had done yesterday’s “fixes” when trying to raise the sails on the water... with four other people sitting in the boat waiting to sail 😄.)  I do find my confusion in these steps comical and the rigging process is getting better.  I’ll shoot for 20 minutes to set up the rigging tomorrow. 

On a good note, the halyards quickly pulled up both sails today very nicely with no catches or sticking spots. I recall reading that you did a bit of work on the tracks to smooth things so I expected I’d need to spend a little time on this. I smoothed some of the rivet heads, resanded the joints of the tracks, hand-sanded the sharp edges on the sail lugs (very helpful) and sprayed white lithium into the tracks.  Smooooth. 

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I took the boat out this afternoon. The day was cooler (frost warnings tonight just north of us) and a blue sky... but not a lot of wind.  That’s ok because this first week I’m mostly working on getting all the various processes working well... and not forgetting too much stuff... like forgetting to raise the centerboard BEFORE pulling the boat onto the trailer (I’m glad to have the cleat that releases when there is excessive force.)


Today, I had a chance to learn about the Anderson bailer 😄.  After preparing the sails and rigging (described in the previous post) I launched the boat, tied it to the dock, parked the car, and sat down in the stern seat to start the motor... WHAT!!??  How did all that water get in?? Well, maybe it was only an inch or so, but still... how?


“Oh, I see, the Anderson bailer has a little bubbling fountain coming up. I must have bumped it open or something ‘cause I know that I hadn’t opened it purposely since yesterday’s sailing. Well, water IS supposed to drain out through the bailer with a little speed, right? The motor’s running now so I’ll cast off and bring it up to, say, half throttle or so (I’m still breaking in the new motor) and see if anything happens. Hey, cool, there’s a little whirlpool forming in place of the little fountain... I guess it does work!  Self-induced problem... solved!”  (The little Anderson bailer is on the bottom, next to the mast.)


Today’s wind was intermittent, causing the boat to heel for a few minutes with nice bubbling sounds... to quietly and slowly moving, giving me a chance to look around at the scenery and think deep thoughts... like “any rippling water heading my way?”


The wind provided sufficient amounts of contemplative time that I lowered the sails and motored in.  (I remembered to raise the centerboard today.  🤪)


With a late afternoon sun lighting up the leaves that are starting to turn I took my motorcycle for a ride when I got back home. Great day... great ride... and to have back-to-back sailing time and riding time... nice!  I think I’m starting to get a handle on this retirement thing. After supper it was time to put my afternoon toys away for the night. 


I noticed on Sunday, when I got the sails up for the first time, that my sprits seemed a little long and particularly that the mizzen sprit could interfere with the mainsail.


After an email exchange with Alan (thanks again, Alan) I finally decided that I should actually check the plans. (I know, guys can have a natural aversion to referring to directions and maps. 😁)  I saw that both sprits were substantially longer than what the plans called for. 


NOW I remember my plan way back in the building process. Since I didn’t trust my ability to make proper pins (as in: maybe I need more than one attempt, thereby eating up the available wood) and not really understanding how the sprits work, I planned to shape/varnish the sprits and adjust the length after the sails came. I kinda forgot that last part of my plan from 4 months ago. 

So, tonight, I did a little “mohel” operation on the sprits:



A little “painful” to cut off the varnished ends but it had to be done to make things kosher.  😂😂


I’ll see if I can make my rigging processes go more efficiently tomorrow. Can I dare shoot for 20 minutes or less... and still get things right?  Stay tuned for the next episode. 

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Good call on cutting down the mizzen sprit; it can cause a capsize if it catches and traps the main when tacking.


I did have a joint on the sail track that didn't align well.  It was my fault; the rivet gun broke just as I was getting ready to rivet the intersection of two tracks (by the way, B&B's new sail track make getting this joint aligned even easier, as the small radius on the underside of the track helps register the track onto the mast).  I was able to adhere fine grit sandpaper to a sail slug and sand out the small misalignment.


Keep the pictures coming; enjoying them.

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Another day of sailing today?  
The sun is out and the sky is blue.  Great!

I should probably look at the weather:



I don’t mind the cool... but zero wind and Max Wind Gusts up to 5 mph!!  Too much for me. 😁  

And why add a direction to the “no”wind?  Well, maybe that’s for the gusts.


Today, then, is good day for some “driveway sailing” or at least practicing stuff and working out some details to smooth out my set-up and take-down processes. 


Having “circumcised” both sprits last night I wanted to see the effects. There is now more margin between the mainsail and mizzen sprit. An improvement, no doubt, but maybe I should shorten the sprit a little more. (It’s still longer than the plans.)


The mainsail sprit now looks way too long to me. It is also longer than the plans indicate but for now it doesn’t seem like a problem. 


I also changed the lashing for both ends of both sprits. 

This driveway time is finally straightening out my brain relative to the rigging and sails. I’m not feeling befuddled as I ready the sails and put everything back to road-travel shape. I’m feeling more confident in this and am developing patterns that can be consistent and quick. 

Another project I did today was to make some marks on one side of the sails to assist in flaking them correctly for a good fit back into the sailbags. When I got the sails on Sunday they were already folded to nicely fit the bags and thus, flaking creases were established. It seems to me that keeping the folding the same would be helpful, but, when moving the sails from the sail tracks to the bag the creases are a bit hard to spot and keep straight. 

I wanted some markings at both ends of all the creases to make the process more efficient and quicker. My wife suggested making small marks with a Sharpie. Great idea, I thought. I added to her idea using red at the end points of the “inside” creases...


...and blue marks to show the “outside” creases...


I think that will make the flaking process a lot easier and consistent. 

While I was writing this post, a neighbor walking by stopped to ask about the boat. He is a long-time sailor (he currently has a 20’ sloop) and is a member/leader of the sailing club based at the lake just north of us (the one I sailed on twice this week.)  It motivated to send the club an email of inquiry. I’ll soon send them an application and the $15 membership. WOW, is sailing expensive! 

For a small additional fee the club offers members summer space in their secured lot that is near the boat landing. They also have weekly races, social activities and other special events. Sounds fun. 

Today, not being any good for sailing time, was a great day for a bike ride with my wife. This afternoon we rode almost 18 miles on the southern half of the Green Circle Trail.
Our city has built a beautiful 26 mile loop and numerous additional spurs and bike paths. Most of the Green Circle winds through woods and along rivers. 


I even did a little one-handed video as we went down a hill to the edge of the Plover River. 


A lot of the trail follows the Wisconsin River:



Note the beautifully flat “water-ski” surface of the Wisconsin River today... evidence of no wind:





I put the boat behind my van tonight and readied it for a three hour drive south tomorrow morning. Two of my kids and their kids will meet us at a state park lake for a first time experience sailing the Norma T.  We motored the boat with the grandkids on the nearby pond during August’s Gramma Camp.  Tomorrow should be fun even though the winds are predicted to be mild; the temperature will be warmer. 


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  • PadrePoint changed the title to Core Sound 15 #162 — Building the “Norma T”

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