Thursday, December 5, 2013

Starting To Strip

I started with a 1/2" pine strip. I'd have liked to use a full-length strip, but went for two scarfed together. For this build's scarfs, I decided to try making the scarf joints though the thickness of the strips, instead of across the width. On my O.I, the scarf joints looked good until the epoxy went on, but they stood out a little when finished. This first strip is coved but planed flat on the hull/deck joint side. The usual fretting about straightness.
I have been told, more than once, that "cheater" strips are too difficult to make when using cove-and-bead strips. I decided to try it anyway, since I couldn't see using so much Brute Force  (against that slim first strip) to make the next strip conform to the bow & stern curves. I tapered the bead side of a short strip, and sanded a new bead. A scrap of coved material made a good sanding block.
Glued in. Scraps of beaded material are used as cauls.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Milling The Strips

I decided to actually go for cove-and-bead strips, in hope that they might actually do something for the appearance. As expected, they caused a few "issues". 
Somehow, re-sawing 17-19' boards was easier last year. Vaclav recommends milling the strips a bit over 1/4" in thickness, and its a good plan-but its hard to center the re-saw blade, even when using a thin-kerf rip blade. I made a few blunders, and ended up with strips just 1/4" in thickness, after planing. this made it much more critical to cut the coves & beads exactly centered.
Router table setup for beads. This went fairly well, except that I had to re-check the setup every few strips. At one point, the router bit worked loose & launched!
Same setup for coves, but with the featherboard's positions reversed.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Strongback Complete

I shaped the stations the same way as on my last build. After sliding them onto the beam, I was surprised at how well everything lined up.
Leveling, squaring, and plumbing all the stations actually seems to work.
This Bow&Stern arrangement worried me a little, but I now think its actually easier than what I had to do with the ladderback. One problem was that I could only view it from this side-too heavy to turn over, and the I-beam blocks the view. I think/hope its straight.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Starting The Build

After much cogitation, and asking for advice on a message board, I decided that the best way to go was by the instructions, and build a box beam. My first attempt was with 3/4" CDX plywood. I built it crooked. I thought that particle board would be more dimensionally stable. It came out nice and straight, and weighed a ton. While I was trimming the ends, it fell to the floor and broke in half. I then got a strong urge to try it with an external strongback, but I'm resisting.
I resorted to using my most-hated building material: OSB board. It seemed to be the most dimensionally stable. 
I'm using the I-beam from the o.I. build as a table, and I made plywood brackets to hold it up.It looks straight.                                                                                         

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Plans For Cape Ann Expedition Sport

I just got the plans for a One Ocean Kayaks Cape Ann Expedition Sport. I'm not selling the Outer Island-for a change, I'll have two kayaks. 
The Plans are different. Much "fancier" and more "involved" than Jay's. One major difference is that these plans call for an internal strongback, with no alternate instructions for an external, so I'll have to build a spine, and I can't re-use my old brackets. I considered trying it with a ladderback anyway, but began to feel that the potential for screwup was far too great. 

Sunday, October 13, 2013

Miller's River Challenge

I had been curious about racing for a while, and had decided to try the Nauyag race, on the Connecticut River . Race Day was rainy, so I blew it off. I have a tendency to be stubborn, so I went for another, The Miller's River Challenge, in Orange, Ma.
I had never heard of Orange, Ma, or Miller's river before. Orange is near Rt. 2, between Leominster and Greenfield, a part of Massachusetts I'd never had occasion to visit.
Pretty long drive, after crazy neighbors woke me up at 4:30. Orange is an out-of-the-way, semi-forgotten little town,but kind of nice, not sad.
Driving in on Main Street

It was pretty easy to find the park and launch area.
It was a family-oriented event, lots of tandem canoes. I'd never seen "racing" canoes before-they were tapered at the ends, with a sort of "flare" in the middle, almost like a folded piece of paper. 
I entered the "Single Kayak 3-Mile" race, and saw that there was only one other entrant an hour before start time. It was actually kind of chilly and raw, did a lot of walking around. Went looking for coffee & didn't find any.

Starting to line up for the 3-mile race. I actually misunderstood one of the organizers, and thought that the canoes and kayaks would start separately. I was supposed to be at the starting line. It was rather embarrassing to scramble in with everybody watching and waiting. 
There were only three kayaks in the race. A guy in a green 'yak took off like a shot. I was paddling next to a very nice & friendly older gentleman all the way to the halfway buoy. 
After rounding the buoy, I was thinking that Mr. Green kayak was the one to catch. While I was thinking that, all of a sudden, and for no apparent reason, he flipped! I and the other Single Kayaker went over to help. His boat had no flotation, and filled up while he was trying to get in. We pulled it to the bank. 
That put me in an "ethics quandary". Were we both supposed to stay with him? The Lady suggested that I go down to the next safety checkpoint & report, so I did. That left me alone on the river. They took my picture as I crossed the finish line, but I didn't know if it would "count" or not. When The Lady finished, she seemed to make it a point that I had also helped. So, I won the race by virtue of staying in my kayak.

    I decided to drive home via Greenfield and I-91. I got a pleasant surprise on rt. 2-"French King Bridge",a very high crossing of the Connecticut river with scenic views.

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Guitar From Kit

I had been wanting to get a new electric guitar, but I keep leaving the music stores empty-handed. Nothing seems to feel right, and I can't make myself "settle" on something.
I also have some kind of shyness/intimidation problem about trying them out in the store. What I really wanted to do was borrow the things for two hours and try them at home, but that's not an option.
I started looking into kits. I somehow figure that if I put it together myself, it will be more "mine".

This is a "Saga" kit. Its supposed to resemble a Paul Reed Smith. Observations:
The woodworking is pretty good, but not perfect. The body is rather heavily coated with sanding sealer-if I wanted to clear coat , it would not show a very strong grain, and be a slightly gross yellowy-blond color, so I'm going to paint.
The neck, fingerboard, and fretwork look really good.
The hardware looks a little bit "cheapo", but its replaceable.
I gave the back of the neck 4 wipes of wipe-on poly. I decided to leave the shape of the head stock well enough alone.

I also buffed the frets while the masking tape was still in place, although they were pretty good as received.
Painting the body. I decided to paint it "like a car", using automotive paint. gave several coats of sand-able primer, sanded, then went for glossy paint. Auto paint is a pain, the kind where you have to do all coats within 1 hour, else you have to wait four days before sanding.
The minute after I took this picture, I managed to drop the body on the floor. Almost back to Square One.
Used multiple coats of primer, and much sanding to correct the dings I put in by dropping it.
I repainted, waited an excruciating six days, and gave several coats of clear coat.
Now I have to wait a whopping two weeks before buffing it out. I'd better build a kayak or something. The brand name of the kit is living up to its name.

While doing all that waiting for paint to cure, I decided that The head stock shape was too "flashy" or "modern" or "macho" or something, so I gave it a new shape. Reminds me of something you'd see on a Danelectro:

After all that waiting, finally started final sanding & buffing. I went to auto parts stores for Ideas about how to get the best finish. I ended up using a foam pad on the buffer, polishing compound, and wax. It looks like a car.
I had been thinking that the painting & finishing would be the most tedious part. The most tedious part is still going on.
Initial setup came out lousy-super high action, and worst of all it didn't work. The tuners were nearly useless. The volume control acted like an on/off switch, tone control did nothing, and the pickup selector didn't work. I decided to take to a Reputable Repairman, who didn't seem to want to touch it. he did, however give me good information about what its problems were. The neck angle was "wrong", so I shimmed it with matchbook covers. Huge difference! I took a shot at filing the nut grooves, thought I may have gone too low, so learned the plastic-dust-and-super-glue trick. Filed, sanded & buffed the frets.
Now, for the electronics. I found wiring diagrams online, none of which coincided with the number of wires on my pickups. I went online and chose DiMarzio pickups through the dazzling array available. Wiring these also took two tries-the online diagrams assume knowledge I didn't have.
I also got Grover tuning machines. They were easy to install, and work well.
The finish doesn't look like the typical nitrocelluose job, but it looks o.k..
It took about five times longer than I expected, and I learned a great deal about guitar construction and setup. All in all, I don't think I'll be building another....

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Fisher's Island

No, I didn't paddle there. We took the ferry.
I have tried to paddle to The Dumplings at least three times. Each time, I turned back because of rough water & boat traffic. Normally. when I have to cross a channel, I wait a bit for boats to go away, then sprint across. The problem is, that as the water gets rougher & more "confused", and I'm going slower, "sprinting" is not an option.
So, we took the ferry from New London, on a Friday. A nice little ride, got a closer look at The Dumplings. 
Fisher's is a different kind of place. I have always read that there is a ton of money there. Most of the folks on the ferry looked pretty "toney". The ferry pulls into a picturesque little cove, but is was different than  New English ferry terminals- no shops, restaurants, rentals, or other businesses. It seems as though they feel that if your'e on F.I. at all, you don't need anything, so no one is trying to sell it to you.
Most people in Connecticut act as if Fisher's Island doesn't exist. I have lived in Connecticut my entire life, and this was my first visit. I can't think of anyone else I know who has ever been there-strange for a place 3 miles away! The reasons I can think of are:
1. It is not the most visitor-friendly place. Its not unfriendly, but they don't seem to want tourism. Most visitors would conclude that there is "nuthin on it", and "nuthin to do". Although no one was unpleasant, I felt like I was interloping in a suburban neighborhood.
2. It belongs to New York. It is of new York, and about New York. It looks and feels much more Like Long Island than Connecticut. 
3. It has an "away from it all" feeling, that some would welcome, but other would find "stark"
We decided on a walk to the beach. Soon after leaving the terminal, were found ourselves on a rather peculiar avenue. For some reason, I expected it to be all winding lanes, with huge manicured lawns in front of mansions.  This street had sidewalks, and large, dull brick houses, some in need of a little maintenance. There was a odd theater, standing alone, with no parking lot:
We walked down a more winding road to the beach. Lots of vines and wild growth. My friend observed that all of the lawns looked as if they had been mowed the same day-like one landscaper had a monopoly on the business? 
Nice beach! Deserted, no footprints, super-clean. In fact, I think we saw a total of three pedestrians and two cars, all day. 

Nifty balanced cairn.
This shelter surprised us. It must not be all that hoity-toity here, if this is tolerated. On the mainland, it would be filled with beer bottles and graffiti

Nice tide pool.

Heights & bluffs started to make it look more like Block Island or Martha's Vineyard.

These concrete thingies are trying to hold the hill back. I think they are losing.
Little Gull Island Lighthouse, with Plum Island to the right. Believe it or not L.G.I. is listed as a Geocache, on the premise that "a photo of it cannot be taken from land", and therefore, you must travel by water to take one. A photo proves that you have been by it. Well, I borrowed my friend's zoom lens, steadied on a rock as best as I could, and went for it.

In general, an okay little outing, definitely different.

We boarded the ferry at sunset. We were treated to the spectacle of a huge blood-red harvest moon rising over the water. It was the first time I'd ever seen the actual disc of the moon rise over the water. It rises fast!

I couldn't get a good photo of the Moon from the boat. This is how it look once back in New London.

Monday, August 19, 2013

Return To Knight Island

Its becoming a Yearly Routine. Its just challenging and far-away enough to be limited to a yearly ritual.
Same campsite same Resident Ranger, new kayak. It seems as though the Parks Department has slipped a bit. When I arrived at the Ranger House, there was a makeshift dock made of three submerged picnic tables. He wasn't home, so I went to my campsite. He arrived there shortly driving-get this-a small pay loader. That's what they gave him to ride, instead of an ATV.  There was no firewood at my site, and I had to go back to the Ranger Station on foot, get a cart, and scrounge for fire wood.
There was a gibbous moon last night, so I actually could see what I was doing. No raccoons! Maybe they prefer it darker. Tent sleeping still doesn't really agree with me, so I was up at dawn, after fitful rest. However I got too see and photograph something cool:
With a clear view, miles across the lake, I got to see the actual disc of the Sun rise over the horizon. It comes up fast!
The conditions for the  paddle back to North Hero were nearly as rough as the first time, but it didn't stress me at all,either because:
A. My new 'yak  handles rough water better
B. My rough-water skills have improved
C. I was mentally prepared for  it
D. All Of The Above.
I tend to think it was 60% "A", and 40 % "B"
On to Burlington for breakfast. I was thinking that I wanted a hearty meal in a classic diner, drove around a little, and found exactly that.
I have a bit of a "thing' for neon signs with letter missing. at night, this is "y's DINER"
It was one of those real diners, where the counter requires a step up, and the curved ceiling is three feet over your head. 
I also happened to stop off in Barre, and followed the signs to the Rock Of Ages Quarry. Not quite what I expected. I didn't expect that I'd have to pay for a tour on a school bus to see it, so I didn't.

Monday, July 29, 2013

Selden Neck-A Hot Summer

I had planned to camp here on 7-19, bu it was brutally hot, and I couldn't see myself spending the night in a tent. I hiked and looked for geocaches until the heat got to me, then I jumped in the river.
Returning in the early morning on a cooler day.

The hiking here is a little rough. Lightly-used trails marked a bit more sparsely than usual. Lots of knee-deep ferns, which hid obstacles and held lots of morning dew. I DNF'ed  a couple of caches simply because the underbrush was too tough.

The trails were so lightly used, in fact, that many webs were spun right across the marked trail. I unfortunately barged right through a couple of these.

I found this meadow right about in the center of the island. Seems to be the site of an old residence.

Several very old White Oak trees. 

I got a few more caches this time, but got tired & soaked with dew. I am starting to realize why people go caching more often in the winter.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Ram Island Again

I seem to have a Yearly Pattern: build a kayak in the winter, and do every paddle that I did last year again, in the new Kayak.
So having taken up a new the new hobby of geocaching during the winter, I use it for a reason to repeat my paddle routes of last year.
This time, I returned to Ram Island for a cache. The cache is placed on one of the small "extra" islands to the north of where the house is. I was pleased to see that the connecting sandbar was underwater at high tide, and The Mean Doggies did not appear.
I enjoyed the paddle, nonstop from Esker Pt. The OI sprinted across the busy channel nicely. Landing earned a few new scratches.

 Cache was an easy find. These two "little" islands don't seem so "little" when you're on them.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

Messerschmidt Pond

Today was my first real "shakedown cruise" of the Outer Island. Last Saturday, it was 50 degrees and drizzling rain. Today was 85,  sunny & breezy. Off to Messerschmidt Pond in Westbrook.
A typical small Connecticut lake. Not much to distinguish it from Rogers or Cedar-water lilies,  a few small put-ins, weedy shallows, and an island.
The boat seemed speedy.  My GPS showed a top speed of over 6 mph, and easy cruising at 4.    
I paid especial  attention to the tracking. I found no bias to either side not having to do with the wind. I had been warned about "lee cocking", which I had taken to mean "turning away from the wind". It seemed more like the entire boat made leeway, a bit like a sailboat, but nothing that I couldn't compensate for. 
Did a nice cache on the island.
Also had a bit of the same phenomenon I used to experience when I skied-expecting to be just as good at the beginning of the season as I was at the end of last season. 

Saturday, May 25, 2013


I'm surprised at how much it looks like my old Shearwater.
I pushed myself hard to complete it by today. Weather forecast was not good. Turned out to be 50 degrees, light rain, but we went for it anyway.

Getting rained on

Obligatory "trophy" photo:

I had spent a lot of time & energy fretting about the seat, cockpit foot pegs, etc, but I felt immediately comfortable in it. It seems more nimble than I had expected it to be. I think that reducing the length while keeping the design  rocker measurements the same had the effect of "more rocker"-it seemed to turn more easily than Jay's. Its also fast, but in a different way than the Shearwater. It has a less-fine bow entry, and longer waterline length. It seems to "glide" further.