I finally got done to the point, and the weather finally cooperated, where it was time to see if the boat that I’d been working on would float, or if she would be a trailer queen. I had built the lofting table on February 15, 2015, and Tammie Norrie was splashed on October 27, 2018, so it was a long build. I invited some family out to the boat club, and the weather, for a change, turned out beautiful.
We choose Mom to commission the boat, but first she had to drink some of the Pusser’s rum used for the commissioning. My wife is at the transom getting ready to unveil the name on the transom. Yes, I know it’s tradition to sprinkle some of the liquor into the water to appease Neptune, but most of us in the crowd aren’t as sure-footed as we used to be, and I was concerned about someone getting wet!
Sandra Catherine and her namesake.
With Sandra Catherine suitably christened, it was time to put her in the water. The water was glass-smooth, so the first trip would be under oars.
For the first trip, I took the boat out solo. No point in running the risk of sinking the crew! She seemed to handle well under oars.
A nice view of that wineglass transom, and the small amount of tumblehome.
The paddle-wheel Colonel in the distance. The paddle-wheel is more for decoration than for propulsion, but it’s still a neat boat.
Later I took Jill out for a row. Sandra Catherine handles well from the forward thwart also. We should have brought Jill a parasol for the complete ambience.
By afternoon a slight breeze had picked up, so we brought the boat in and rigged it for sail.
There wasn’t a lot of wind, but Sandra Catherine ghosted along nicely.
I’ve still got some work to do. For starters, I need to take the boat to the local constabulary and get a HIN number assigned to it. I found out that the tiller wants to be about 6″ shorter (that’s an easier fix than stretching it), and the rudder really needs an uphaul. The boat also needs some floatation bags installed. But she’s been in the water before cold weather arrived, so all’s good.
Earlier this week I sent an email to Iain Oughtred, along with some photos of the nearly-complete Tammie Norrie. He sent me a nice reply:
This is a fine example of the type – a beautiful boat. Well done. Thankyou for the photos. Now you can have some fun for a change. I’ll have a look at your blog – soon as i have a bit of time.
– Iain O”
When the designer says “well done”, I consider that to be high praise!!
The late John Gardner was a boat builder, a small craft historian, an author, and somewhat of a philosopher. In one of his books he writes “The creation of beauty is more joyous and satisfying than mere possession.” Having built four boats now, I not only whole-heartedly agree, but I also used the quote at the beginning of the blog.
What John Gardner did not tell us was how hard it is to get rid of a boat that you’ve created. Wee Lass has been a good little boat, and she deserved an honorable end. My first thought was to give her a Viking funeral, but the local constabularies might have some serious heartburn with that idea. The boat leaks so much that selling her to someone would be irresponsible, yet she deserved better than the chain saw.
Yesterday Wee Lass found a new home. The manager of a local seafood resturant ageed to take her; soon she’ll be hanging in the resturant, enjoying the admiring glances of the diners. It’s a safe bet that my wife and I will be dining there from time to time.
Sunday we put Tammie Norrie on the trailer, which immediately showed us that we need to make some adjustments to the trailer for the boat to ride properly. The bunks sit too high, so the keel is not supported. And of course the lights need to be replaced.
With the floorboards installed, I left them sit in the boat for a week, then pulled them and varnished them. I didn’t want the boards to be super-slick, so I only gave them four coats of varnish instead of six coats like I had on everything else. The floorboards have a nice mellow tint to them.
It’s also time to install the oarlocks. Tammie Norrie will primarily be a sailing vessel, but occasionally potato power will be used to propel the boat, for instance when the wind dies. The oarlocks were re-purposed from Wee Lass, so they already had a nice patina.
Like Wee Lass, Tammie Norrie has two sets of oarlocks. Most of the time I’ll be seated on the center thwart and use the aft pair of oarlocks, but on occasion I’ll have a passenger sitting on the stern sheet. In that situation, I”ll move to the forward thwart to better trim the boat, and use the forward set of oarlocks.
The stemhead needed a little bit of attention, in the form of touch-up paint and when this was complete, a piece of half-oval banding was applied above the bow eye.
A pair of mahogony cleats was screwed to the breasthook, and a towing bridle was secured between the two cleats. Likewise, on the stern, a cleat was screwed to each of the quarter knees; these cleats will also capture the bridle for the sheet.
Hanging the rudder was next. The pintles and gudgeons were ordered from Classic Marine in the UK; they are very nicely made but these are some serious bling. Between the fact that they’re cast from bronze, and then taking into consideration the exchange rate between the U.S. dollar and the English pound, the cost of these were about the same as the plywood for the hull!
The castings were slightly narrower than the width of the rudder trunk, so I traced the outline of the casting and carefully inlet the trunk.
With the lower hinge installed, I then held the rudder stock up against the transom to determine the location of the lower pintle.
Finally, with the location of the lower pintle established, I could locate the upper gudgeon on the transom.
The rudder is hung, but not quite complete. Control lines for the rudder blade still need to be installed.
The rudder trunk was purposely designed to utilize the tiller from Wee Lass; I’m pleased with the tiller and not having to make a new one saves me several weekends of work.
The tiller is laminated from ash, has a little bit of ropework in the mid section, and a dolphin carcicature is carved at the front. Why a dolphin? Because I don’t have the skill to carve a mermaid. The dolphin is not my own design, it is very similar to a similar carving shown in The Marlinspike Sailor by Hervey Garrett Smith.
Tammie Norrie will need some nice fenders. Plastic fenders won’t do; plastic fenders should be used on plastic boats. I had some rope fenders on Wee Lass, but they were a little too small to really be effective. I also wanted fenders that I could hang either horizontally or vertically, depending on the situation. The solution was in Barbara Merry’s The Splicing Handbook. I would make a slightly larger version of her bow pudding.
I started with a section of 3/4″ manilla rope, short-spliced together to form a continuous loop, then worked a round seizing on either side to form the ends. Next, pieces of 3/4″ rope were cut to serve as filler pieces, with the ends of the filler pieces stopping about 1″ short of the seizings. These were wrapped around the core and tied off with small stuff. Some extra hands help here. Then a second set of filler pieces were cut, a little shorter than the first, and these were also tied around the fender.
To hold the whole thing together, 1/4″ manilla rope is needle-hitched around the circumference. Start at the center and work your way out. You’ll need a Swedish fid to do the needle hitching. You’ll also need a lot of 1/4″ rope, and a lot of patience. The hitching in the photo above consumed 50′ of rope.
The finished fender is shown above. To hang the fender, I used some small stuff attached to small blocks; these blocks fit between the spacers on the inwales.
Next task is to make some more fenders. I’d like to have four fenders total, but consider two as a minimum before Launch Day.
With the hull varnished, I could start fitting out. First item was to install the mast step:
The mast step has a dado milled on the bottom running fore and aft, so no moisture gets trapped inside the step. I purchased a bronze eye strap from the local chandlery; the block mounted on the step will be used for a downhaul on the boom.
Some time ago I read of a tradition where a gold coin was customarily placed at the mast step. In honor of this tradition I mounted a coin just in front of the step. The coin is a silver dollar minted this year, and was a Father’s Day gift from the children.
Next was installing the mast partner. The partner was leathered to reduce wear on the mast, and held in place with copper tacks. Holes for the belaying pins have been drilled and the pins installed; the pins will be a convenient way to stow dock lines and the anchor rode. The mast partner is hung from it’s brackets with bronze carriage bolts.
Installing the bow eye came next. The bow eye is re-purposed from Wee Lass, and has a single 3/8″ diameter shank. The hole for the shank needs to be drilled on the centerline of the stem, and perpendicular to the stem face. Rather than try to drill the hole free-hand, I made a jig and drilled a pilot hole with a long 1/4″ drill bit. A 1/4″ square dado was milled into scrap and another piece of scrap screwed onto that, so I had a guide for the drill bit. Some mounting blocks screwed to the guide allowed the jig to sit on it’s proper position on the stem. After drilling the pilot hole, the finished hole of 3/8″ was then bored.
The stem head needs some touch up paint, and a half-oval band needs to be placed above the bow eye, but other than that, this chore is done.
The floorboards come next. I debated on what type of wood to use for the floorboards. In their book, “How to Build Glued-Lapstrake Wooden Boats,” John Brooks and Ruth Ann Hill recommend white cedar. I checked the local Purveyor of Very Expensive Lumber and they had some in stock, so Saturday morning I made a trek to the Big City – and also made the owners of my credit card very happy. White Cedar is a very good choice for floorboards; it is rot-resistant and it’s also flexible. You don’t want a stiff board for floorboard stock. The floorboards have some rocker fore and aft, and also a bit of twist near the bow and stern.
Start by milling the stock. The floorboards are 4″ wide so they were cut to rough length and then ripped on the table saw. While ripping the stock, make some 3/4″ square pieces that can be used as temporary spacers between the boards. Next the thickness planer was brought out and the floorboards planed down to 5/8″. Cut and install the center pieces; one fore and one aft of the centerboard case, after first rounding over the edges with the router and making sure the boards are centered on the keelson. The boards are screwed into the floors with bronze screws; no glue or epoxy is used.
With the center floorboards installed, place the spacer pieces next to the boards and place the next floorboard. These floorboards will have to be sprung into position; I used some heavy lead weights to hold down the boards against the floors until I could get the screws installed. The inner pieces are rectangular stock; you only need to cut them to length.
The outer floorboards have a taper fore and aft, so I got a couple of plywood scraps and made patterns of each end. My ability to freehand a smooth curve is minimal at best, and my ability to draw a mirror image of a curve in non-existant, so the patterns were helpful. To draw the curve, I sprung a batten until I was pleased with the curve, then cut the pattern out with a jig saw and sanded smooth. The pattern piece was then placed on the floorboard stock and the curve traced out. Like the inner boards, the outer boards will have to be sprung into posistion, so the lead weights are very helpful.
It’s starting to look like a boat. I’ve still got a bunch of small details to take care of, and some touch up work, but I’m starting to think that I may launch it before cold weather sets in.
I’ve been busy during the evenings varnishing the furniture on the boat. Most of the work is done, but I’ve still got to give the hull one final sanding and then varnish it. Between waiting for freshly-varnished parts to dry, I started working on the blocks. A block is the sailor’s name for a pulley. Tall ships have dozens upon dozens of blocks, of many sizes and shapes, designed to hual heavy loads. Tammie Norrie only has a few blocks, and they carry relatively light loads, so I prefer to make them rather than buy them.
Blocks serve one of two purposes; they either change the direction of a force, or several blocks together can act as a force multiplier. In the first example, I’ll have a line to raise my centerboard. Raising the board means pulling the line forward, which is fine except that I’ll normally be sitting aft of the centerboard. So I’ll mount a block ahead of the centerboard, and run the line back to where I’m sitting. The amount of force I’ll need to raise the board will be the same, but I can apply it from a different (more convenient) location.
In the second example, the luff (leading edge) of my sail likes to be under a lot of tension, which is acheived by hauling the boom down. To apply this force, I will have a couple of blocks arranged to provide a 3:1 purchase (force multiplier). In other words, if I apply a force of 50 lbs on the end of the line, this will result in a force of 150 lbs applied to the boom. However, everything comes at a price, and in a purchase, the price is line length. With this same 3:1 purchase, if I need to lower the boom by a foot, I’ll need to haul three feet of line.
Rope-stropped blocks have three main components: the sheave, which is the grooved wheel inside the block, the wooden shell, which encases the sheave, and the strop, a grommet made of rope which surrounds the shell and provides a way to hang the block. For these blocks I chose to purchase some bronze sheaves from Duckworks (www.duckworksbbs.com). I ordered the sheaves online, and in a few days they were in my mailbox.
First step is to make a pattern for the shells. The shell consists of two sides and two spacers. The sides should be just wide enough to clear the sheave; leave some space above the sheave for the line to run.
I made the shells from cherry. The inside of the shell will be difficult to varnish, so before gluing the pieces together I coated the inside surfaces with neat epoxy. When the glue dries, drill the pin holes using a drill press.
Mark the shape of the shells with your pattern, then knock off the corners with a back saw. Use the cheese grater (Stanley Sur-form rasp) to round over the edges to the shape of your pattern, followed by 60 grit sandpaper.
I like a lot of bury for the pin, but taper the sides away from the pin to reduce a little weight and give a nicer look. The tapers are marked on the sides, then rough-shaped with the cheese grater and more 60 grit.
Grooves are cut into the shells with a round file; these grooves will hold the strop. The shells are given a final sanding, and then stained to match the transom. Next comes six coats of varnish.
To make the grommets, I’m following the directions in The Riggers Apprentice, by Brion Toss. The material I’m using to make the grommet is hempex, which is a polypro that looks and feels like hemp rope but is stronger and not subject to rot. Cut one piece of line the circumference of the grommet, and another piece four times the length of the circumference. From the long piece, gently unlay one strand. This one strand will become the grommet. Save the other two remaining strands, they will be used for grommets on other blocks.
The three-strand piece will be used as a “mold” for the grommet. Middle the long strand, and lay it along the mold. Starting at one end of the mold, remove one strand from the mold and replace it with the long strand. It works best if you remove and replace a bit at a time, rather than unlay the entire strand and then work in the new. You may need to twist the long strand occasionally so that it keeps it’s lay and stays in the space provided by the strand being removed. I found it convenient to tape the end from where I started.
Join the ends of the mold. Start unlaying one of the two remaining strands from the mold, and replace it with one of the ends of the grommet. When done, do the same with the remaining end.
Use a long splice to finish the ends, and then trim the ends.
On my blocks, I like to apply a serving (wrapping) to the portion of the grommet that will be shackled; the serving adds resistance to chafe. For serving I use black nylon seine twine. Serving is always applied against the lay of the rope. On the left side of the grommet, you can see the strands are twisting down and to the right. So the serving starts at the left end of the grommet, and is wrapped up and to the right.
Finally, the strop is attached to the shell with a round seizing. Directions for making a round seizing are in several books; I like Arts of the Sailor by Hervey Garrett Smith. The first layer of wraps on the seizing need to be tight, so my little wannabe marlinspike is very helpful here. Finish the seizing with a flat knot; the hollow fid shown to the left of the block will be useful for that. The flat knot is shown in Ashley’s Book of Knots, #3385.
I needed to do some clean-up on the sheerstrake. Some time ago when I had glued on the lower rubbing strip, I got a bunch of glue blobs on the sheerstrake. These needed to be scraped or sanded out, and in doing so I messed up the stain on the sheerstrake. Rather than try to re-stain the sheer (which I thought might not be successful), I decided to go ahead and paint the sheerstrake. After masking the lower rubbing strip and the outwale, the sheerstrake was painted red. Why red? Red is my wife’s favorite color, and it’s good to make points whenever I can.
The interior of Tammie Norrie will be bright-finished, which means a lot of parts need to be varnished. I’m putting six coats of varnish on the parts, sanding lightly between coats. I’ve divided the boat into parts, so the task isn’t quite so overwhelming. The long summer evenings are ideal for this work, as I can sand and apply a fresh coat of varnish on a set of parts after work. The first group of parts were the thwart knees, the mast partner, and mast step; the second group were the pieces for the bow seat and the forward thwart. I’m working on the third group now, which are the pieces for the sternsheet. The next group will be the pieces for the side benches and the rear thwart, and finally the interior of the hull and the wales will be done.
Today the weatherman promised rain, which is not good for varnish, so I decided to work on the outwales instead. I had glued the permanent outwales onto the hull way back when the hull was upside down and on it’s molds. The outer layer of the outwale will be sacrificial; it will be screwed but not glued in place. The outwale on Wee Lass has collected a lot of dock rash, which is a nuisance to maintain. On Tammie Norrie I’ll accept that the outwale will occasionally get scratched and dinged. When I get tired of the dings, the sacrificial wale can be replaced.
The sacrificial wales are made from cherry. I started out with a 2-by plank of cherry, and rounded the edges on one side. With some help from my wife, the plank was then run through the table saw and ripped to 3/8″ thickness. The process was repeated until I had enough strips to do the job.
The piece of cherry I had wasn’t long enough to make a single strip from bow to transom, so I cut three pieces and scarfed the pieces at each of the oarlocks. This is another instance where you can’t have too many clamps. Once the wale pieces are clamped in place, silicon-bronze screws are used to hold them in place. Later the sacrificial wales will be removed and varnished before installing for the final time.
It’s been a while since I’ve made any progress, so I guess I better get back to it. The mast partner and mast step come next. To secure the mast partner to the hull, I made two cleats from cherry. These will be epoxied to the under side of the inwales.
Since they’re attached to the underside of the inwales, I made limber holes so that water wouldn’t collect in the space between the inwale and the sheer. The shape of the cleats mimics those used to secure the thwarts.
The mast partner is also made of cherry, and hung under the cleats. I had considered mounting the partner on top of the cleats, but that would make the top of the partner almost flush with the sheer, and I didn’t like that look.
Bronze carriage bolts are used to hang the mast partner. Dad’s drill press was used to drill the hole for the mast; it will be leathered after the partner is varnished. I’ve also drilled the holes for four belaying pins. Belaying pins don’t seem to be used on modern sailboats, but I’ve got them on Wee Lass and found them very useful for keeping docklines and the anchor rode coiled and out of the way.
The mast step is made from a block of ash and screwed to the keelson. A dado is cut fore and aft along the bottom to allow drainage. Tradition says that a gold coin should be placed under the mast; I’ll deviate a little and place the coin alongside the mast.
I’ve delayed shaping the stemhead; it’s time to do that now. First I made a pattern that looked pleasing and laid it out on the stemhead.
The stem was cut off to the correct height, and a series of saw cuts made to help remove the excess. A combination of chisel and saw was used to cut the rough shape, followed by rasps and sandpaper.
A little more sanding and fairing and the stemhead will be ready for paint.
Just a little bit of work to update here. The beams that support the sternsheet, side benches and bow seat have been varnished and epoxied in place. I rounded all the edges of the planks for the sternsheet, side benches, and bow seat, and have them temporarily installed. They still need to be finish-sanded and varnished, but that will come later. With the exception of the mast step and partner, most of the serious woodwork is complete, though I still have a lot of small bits to make and install.
Elissa is an iron-hulled barque, which was built in 1877 and has since been restored and calls Galveston home. I’ve visited her several times, and she’s a beautiful ship. This weekend Elissa had some very nice company, as several tall ships came to Galveston as part of the Tall Ships Challenge. So of course I had to go.
As luck would have it, a wet norther blew in Friday night, so Saturday was drizzling rain for the most of the day, and the temperature kept going down instead of up. Despite the weather, there were a lot of people at the event, which is a good thing as maybe Galveston will host Tall Ships again.
We parked our vehicles at Texas A&M University on Pelican Island, and rode a water taxi across and down the harbor to the Tall Ships festival. The pilots on the water taxi gave a good tour of the harbor during the 15-minute ride. The view from the window of the water taxi shows a gloomy day, with light rain through most of the morning.
Despite the nasty weather, there were a lot of people at the event. Those people in the picture are standing in line to board the ships. The ship in the background is the Oliver Hazard Perry, which is a fully rigged ship. Details on the Oliver Hazard Perry and all the ships participating in the event are here: http://188.8.131.52/events/tallships/participating-ships
Another long line, this time waiting to board Oostershelde, a three-masted schooner.
The Picton Castle is a steel-hulled barque, similar to Elissa, although Picton Castle is about a half-century newer than Elissa.
Old meets new: the bow of Elissa is on the right, the stern of Oostershelde on the left, and a Carnival cruise ship in the middle.
Another photo of Oliver Hazard Perry (and another long line of people).
After visiting the ships at the Seaport Museum for a while, we returned back to Texas A&M on Pelican Island. By this time the rain had stopped for the most part, but it had gotten windy and cold. Two visiting ships were berthed at Texas A&M; the Lynx, shown above, and When and If. Both of these ships were giving day sails up and down the harbor, so I jumped at the chance to sail on Lynx. The ship is a reproduction of a privateer used in the War of 1812.
When and If (above) was commissioned by General George Patton of World War II fame, who is said to have remarked that When the war is over, and If he should survive it, he and his wife intended to sail around the world. Ironically, Patton would survive the war but be killed shortly afterwards in an auto accident. With the strong breeze we had blowing, both Lynx and When and If were sailing under reduced canvas.
On board the Lynx under sail. I’m looking at the boom on the foresail; the staysail ahead of that is boomed which I thought interesting. The RIB tender hanging alongside was a little anachronistic, but necessary for safety reasons. Under sail, Lynx seemed to be fast and maneuverable.
Since Lynx was a replica of a privateer, she had to have a cannon. We fired a salute as Lynx passed the tall ships at Texas Seaport Museum. Even the cannon had a lot of rigging!
The best way to view a tall ship is from another tall ship. I’m peering through the rigging on Lynx looking at Elissa. Elissa is not only the hometown ship, she was also the oldest ship at the event.
Meeting When and If on one bell.
Despite the crummy weather, I had a great time. It was neat to see all the ships gathered together, and sailing on Lynx was a bucket list item. I hope the event turned out well for Galveston, and they host Tall Ships again.
I’ve been a little lax in updating the blog, so I’ll try to catch up. On the last post the sternsheet and side benches had been installed with pattern stock. The beam that supports the sternsheet was also made from pattern stock; now it’s time to make the beam for real.
The beam has a decorative curve on the bottom edge, since it can been seen. For a “workboat” finish, the beam could be left plain, but the designer shows a nice decorative beam, so I had to give it a try. My artistic ability is about nil, but I do have some space on the mylar sheets from when I lofted the mold, and just as important, I have a big fat eraser. Half the beam was laid out on the mylar, and with a batten I laid out a curve I thought was nice. After looking at it for a while, the curve wasn’t so nice after all, and out came the eraser. Several iterations later, I had a curve that I was satisfied with. It was easy to use an awl to transfer the pattern from the mylar to the beam, then flip the mylar over and do the same on the other side. The end result came out pretty nice, I think.
Next, the designer shows a half-beam that supports the side bench. (Somehow the designer must have known of my rubenesque figure.) The half beam is located mid way between the sternsheet beam and the aft thwart. The half beam is supported by a stanchion that straddles the end of the floor. A small cleat was glued to the hull to support the half-beam. The half-beam is intentionally left long; it will be trimmed to final shape after the permanent side benches are cut and fit.
Next I moved forward and started working on the bow seat. The bow seat is the same “park bench” style that was used on the sternsheet and side benches. It is supported by two beams. Small cleats are glued to the hull to support the beams, just as was done for the sternsheet beam and the half-beams. The aft beam will be exposed, so it also has a decorative curve which mimics the one on the sternsheet. The forward beam will be hidden from view, so it can be left plain.
Again, a flexible batten and the all-important eraser are the critical tools for this task.
The tape in the photo above helps me lay out the position of the forward beam, which will be installed next with matching cleats. When done, the pieces of the bow seat are made from not cheap wood.
With the pattern pieces made of the sternsheet, side benches, and bow seat made, it’s time to lay them all out and figure how much and what sizes of cherry I’ll need for the permanent pieces. A trip was made to the Purveyor of Very Expensive Lumber; hopefully that will be the last trip I’ll need to make for a while. It’s a very nice place, with some very nice wood, but I can’t afford too many trips there.
With the lumber purchased, the permanent pieces were cut out. The pieces for the bow seat were mounted temporarily with dry-wall screws. Before I mount the pieces permanently, I’ll need to varnish the beams and epoxy them in place.
Back aft, the cleat holding the sternsheet against the transom was epoxied; but I’ll need to varnish the sternsheet beam and half-beams and epoxy those in place. I’ve still got quite a bit of work to do before I can start thinking about splashing, but it’s starting to look like a boat.