Monday, November 28, 2011

Skol Deconstruction, part II

The thanksgiving turkey had vanished and the tide of relatives had receded and so with a couple weekend days of warmer and drier than usual weather in the forecast I decided to have another go at the Skol.

A quick session with a Fein multimaster tool had the cockpit tub and decks removed without too much trauma.
This shows how Rondar constructed the original king post for the deck stepped mast.  Basically it's a piece of 4mm plywood sandwiched between a pair of timber staves.  This was in turn bonded to the bottom of the fiberglass hull with glass tape.  Not seen in this photo is the big chunk of mahogany which capped off this king post to help spread the load from the mast.
That big piece of mahogany lived under this domed portion of the fore deck.  I measured and noted the distance from the bow to the center between the two screw holes for the missing mast pivot pin.  The mahogany beneath the fiberglass was rotten.  The additional screw holes, diagonally flanking the ones for the pivot pin, were from fairleads for sail shape controls.
In order to remove the remaining bits of decking from the shear of the hull without inflicting too much damage I used a chisel and mallet.  If you have friends with high class woodworking skills, don't tell them that you use good woodworking tools in this fashion--they'll call you names which shouldn't be repeated in a family oriented blog spot.
I returned to the Fein multimaster to remove the cockpit scupper drain.
The next item for removal was the strong back which tied the centerboard trunk to the transom.  It was filled with foam which provided both stiffening and floatation.
Should I stay or should I go?  No apology to the CLASH.  I never liked that song--what a bunch of whiners!  When Joe Bousquet converted another Skol to Classic Moth spec he decided to keep the original CBT.  He later regretted that decision and wished that he'd installed a trunk which would have permitted the dagger board to be raked in addition to being positioned straight up and down.  I decided to take his advice.
Final decon photo shows a clean hull with all the internal furniture removed.  Joe B. also removed the glass transom and replaced it with a wooden one.  I may or may not do that but for now I'll leave the original one in place since it provides a bit of stiffness to the unsupported floppy hull.  The only tasks remaining before a rebuilt can take place are to repair a few small holes which I've previously noted and trim the winglets off to satisfy the CMBA string test and max beam rules.  Maximum beam for a Classic Moth is 60 inches and this boat is roughly 64 inches wide with the wings in place.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Skol deconstruction

Dear faithful reader:  you may recall that a few weeks ago I dragged home the hull of a somewhat forlorn Mk I Skol Moth and posted before and after "scrub up" pix of the boat.  Since then I've cut away some of the decks and cleaned out the debris.  What follows is an update of the progress thus far.

No wonder this boat weighs a ton!  She's packed chock a block full with squirrel's nests, wet dirt, leaves and water logged flotation foam!

After removing a bit more of the transom decking and getting out the pitch fork and shovel one can see the tube connecting the cockpit scupper with the transom drain hole.  I should have weighed the black bag of detritus.  Must have been 40 lb if it was an ounce.  The scupper tube will also go and the drain hole in the transom will be sealed off.  These have a nasty tendency to leak without warning, silently filling the boat with water--much to the later dismay of  the skipper!  I also now have access to the back sides of the holes in the bottom and transom seen in the earlier post about this boat.  I know purists are howling that I'm detracting from the boat's original spec and that there aren't many intact Skols left, but the decks were already damaged, all the wood hard points throughout the hull for hardware were rotten and the winglets have to be trimmed off to meet CMBA measurement rules.  Purists may take some comfort in knowing that this hull didn't go straight into the rubbish tip.
More debris under the side decks and cockpit tub.  Note to self: never, ever store a boat outdoors with the inspection ports removed!  In this photo one can see the reinforcing "strongback" which ties the centerboard truck to the scupper tube and provides fore and aft stiffening of the hull and supported the now absent false cockpit bottom.
After cutting away part of the main bulkhead one can see the king post for the deck stepped mast.  If nothing else, this little yacht is a good deal cleaner at this point.  With the damp dirt and leaves removed she should dry out a bit before winter.  This project will have to pause briefly at this point.  Thanksgiving is looming upon us and, with relatives coming, Diaristwoman has several "shovel ready" projects with my name all over them.  Stay tuned.

Friday, November 18, 2011

The resurrection of Moth Boat 264

Back in 1998 I was contacted by a young sailor who had an old Moth Boat that had been his initial introduction to sailing but now was excess to his needs.  The boat had been stored in his parent's back yard up until a week or so before he called me.  When they pressed him to do something with the boat or junk her, he moved her to the marina where he kept his big boat and then towed her out to a spoil island in Dredge Harbor (a cove off the Delaware River near Riverton, New Jersey) and then pulled her up on the bank.  When he called he said "you can have her if you beat the local vandals from burning her on the island."  A day or so later I met him at the marina and we made the run out to the island in the 8 foot dinghy which served as the tender for his sloop.  The dinghy had a 2 or 3 horsepower motor which with two of us aboard provided just even oomph to propel us against a stiff headwind.  The timing of this meeting was in late fall and we met up in the late afternoon so daylight was quickly becoming limiting.  After arriving on the island we found the boat--the local kids had pulled her higher up the bank for some reason but had not inflicted any new damage.  I could see at once that the Moth in question was a very old one, probably dating to the early 1930s and thus was worth saving.  The US Moth Class started in 1929 and this boat may well be the earliest surviving example.  She was heavily constructed and a thick layer of fiberglass did nothing but add more weight.  With a good deal of effort we managed to drag and push her back down the bank and into the water.  She floated but in the dim light we could see that she was taking on water.  We rigged a tow line and after several frustrating pulls on the starter cord the little engine finally barked to life.  With the old Moth in tow, it was all that little engine could do to get us the mile or so back to the marina!  We made it but then the next problem was getting the hull out of the water and onto the roof racks of my old Jeep Cherokee.  Luckily another boat owner happened by and we pressed him into service and the three of us managed to lift the boat (now partially filled with the Delaware River) out of the water, over a railing and then with a lot of cussing and panting up on the roof racks.  The racks visibly bowed under the weight but there was no going back at that point.  I lashed her on and followed the owner back to his parent's house for the sail, rudder and other odds and ends.  Remarkably, I made it back to Maryland without incident, and the next morning enlisted two naive neighbors into helping me get the boat off the racks and onto a dolly.  Over the next few weeks I removed the fiberglass so that the wood could dry rather than continue to rot and took a few photos to document the boat.

Note the plank on frame construction and the wide seam gap visible on the outer edges of the garboard planks.  There was no caulking in the seams.  This boat was designed to be sunk in the spring until the planks swelled and "made up" the difference.
A look at the centerboard trunk.  Note the wooden cleats.  Most of the surviving "hardware" was made by hand.
Here is a view of the "transom" style bow.

This is the rudder blade which I believe is correct for the boat.  The hardware is a collection of brass and bronze sheet formed by hand.

This is the centerboard.  The hole for the pivot pin can be seen at the extreme lower left end of the blade.  Note the slab of  lead which was cast into a hollowed out area in the lower right hand corner of the blade.

A closer look at the lead cast into the centerboard to keep it from becoming a "pop tart".

The Dacron sail which came with the boat dates to the early 1970s, the time period in which the American Moth class adopted the Australian rig and the "squashed bug" insignia in favor of the circle-M insignia. Local New Jersey sail maker, Brad Linthicum, built the sail to suit the boat's original low aspect rig but used the insignia then in use rather than the one which is correct for the boat's age.

Right from the beginning I knew that I would not restore this boat but instead seek a good home for her.  It took a number of years but two years ago Arch Farmer from Elizabeth City, North Carolina approached me at the Nationals and asked about the boat.  Arch and his brother had a similar Moth in their younger days and wanted to restore old Nr 264.  I agreed and they drove up one sunny fall day and took her away.  A few weeks ago Arch sent me a few photos of their progress.  I think the results are splendid.  See if you don't agree.  I look forward to seeing this boat back on the water.  She'll never be fast but she'll be marvelous never the less. 

The Farmer brothers have retained as much of the original boat and construction methods as is practical.  They have made a few major departures including using plywood for the bottom instead of individual planks.  As a result, she'll be stiffer, lighter and less prone to leak.

They've made a nice job of the planked deck.

A view of the new deck from the bow end of the boat.  Arch and his brother hope to have the boat raceworthy in time for next year's National Regatta in September.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Cape Cod: Day 2, Part 2

After leaving the Millicent Library, Clayton directed us to Fort Phoenix which is  now a state park.  Fairhaven (and Fort Phoenix) are on the east side of the Acushnet River estuary which in turn empties into Buzzards Bay, an arm of the Atlantic Ocean.  The famous whaling town of New Bedford occupies the opposite side of the harbor.  The fort dates to the beginning of the American Revolution and the first naval battle of that war occurred within sight of the fort when 25 Minutemen aboard the sloop SUCCESS captured two British ships on the 14th of May 1775.  However the British returned in September of 1778 with 4000 troops and burned the town of New Bedford, the fort and several homes in the town of Fairhaven.  The remainder of Fairhaven was spared the torch by the arrival of the Wareham Militia under the command of Major Israel Fearing.  The fort was enlarged prior to the War of 1812 and  helped repel boats loaded with troops launched from the HMS NIMROD in the early hours of the 13th of June 1814.  The fort was decommissioned in 1876.  OK, pencils down; your history lesson is over.  Let's take a look around.

A captured British cannon from the Revolutionary period.
The Royal Navy's "broad arrow" mark is clearly visible on the barrel.
There are several of these 24 pound guns which date from 1828.  These were put in place in 1861as part of an upgrade of defenses during the Civil War. These are fired every year to mark Fairhaven's Independence Day celebrations.
One can walk across the harbor from Fairhaven to New Bedford via this promenade/bridge. The sky has that fall look.

We didn't walk the walk, but we did drive over to New Bedford after Clayton suggested a visit to the New Bedford Whaling Museum was in order.  It seemed like a good idea at the time.

After reading this sign I was all set to go in.
Argh! The White Whale!
OK! I'm ready to go in!  What's this? They've just gone to winter hours and are closed on Mondays?!!!  What sort of Halloween trick is that?  Long time readers of this blog know of my mixed success with Museums.  Curse you, red giant squid!  I will return...
Across the street from the Whaling Museum is the Seaman's Bethel.  Of course it was closed on Mondays too.

Herman Melville fans can break out their copies of Moby Dick and read about this sailor's chapel.  This is the very one that Melville describes in his novel.

The museums might have been closed but the shlock shops were open.  I liked this USA map cunningly contrived from state license tags.
Across the street a shop offered this well done replica of a Beetle Whaleboat.  Note the similarity between this whaleboat and the peapod under construction at the Beetle Boat shop.  The Beetle family has been in this neck of the woods a good long time.

Not wanting to leave New England without a visit to a clam shack, we stopped off at Barnacle Bill's.  The chowder and lobster rolls were delicious!
The day was waning and it was Halloween.  We dropped Clayton at his house and thanked him for a great day out!

We returned to the warm embrace of the Earl of Sandwich Motel and, after drawing the drapes against the night's chill, steeled ourselves for the morning's long ride home with a bit of wine and cheese.  Adieu, dear reader!

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Art, Beetle Cats, Model A Fords, more Art, old cannons, Moby Dick, Lobster rolls--a busy day out.

My head is spinning just thinking about the busy itinerary which former Moth Boater Clayton Fuller had lined up for us on the Monday morning of our Cape Cod adventure.  Recall that Clayton, who will turn 95 this November, sent me the 8mm movie clip of Moth Boats racing down at Miami YC in the mid-1950s and also the lovely old Egyptian cotton Moth sail a few months ago.  We met Clayton at his home in Wareham and quickly got on the road for a busy day of guided touring.  Clayton first took us to a park in the town of Onset where he showed us his "Aquene"

Clayton Fuller shows Elisabeth his bronze statue of "Aquene".  The statue, dedicated in 1989, was at first controversial due to the bare breast presentation.  Attempts to clothe Aquene, including a bra which Clayton still has in his collection of Aquene artifacts, where part of the early reaction to this work of art.  Clayton indicated that things have since calmed down and Aquene enjoys the passage of the seasons unmolested.

Next on tap, Clayton guided us to the Beetle Boat Company, formerly located in Padanarum,  Massachusetts is now located in Wareham.

Michelle graciously took the time to give us a very thorough tour of the Beetle Boat Shop.
In the fall the Beetle boat shop collects customer's Beetle Cats and cleans and stores them over the winter in a pair of sheds.  There were several hundred Beetle Cats "resting" for the winter on the day when we visited.  More were coming.  I need a boat house like this!  Click to enlarge the photos.
The boats are cleaned and the centerboards and rudders are removed for painting and varnishing.  Each blade is tagged for return to the proper boat in the spring.
Here is the work room where spars are sanded and revarnished.
Along with building and maintaining Beetle Cats, the Beetle Company also builds custom boats like this Herreshoff Alerion.  The Lyman lapstrake runabout is in for winter storage and maintenance.
Another shed full of Beetle Cats waiting for spring.
One of the employees is building this peapod on his spare time.  She's reminiscent of a Beetle Whale Boat.

A close up of the peapod showing the clamps used to hold planks in place during shaping and fastening.  The shop had that wonderful smell of cedar.
Need a cedar skiff?  Beetle will make one for you.
We enjoyed our visit to the Beetle Boat Shop but it was time to move on.  Clayton had many things for us to see before the sun set.  He directed us to the town of Marion to see his son-in-law's A-model Ford trucks.

Clayton's son-in-law Charlie with two of his three model A trucks.  The truck on the left was restored from a derelict which had been buried by a falling tree and left under it for many years.  This truck spent its entire life in the eastern Massachusetts area.  The Model AA on the right came from Montana.  Both have been restored to Apple Pie order.  Charlie also has an A-model roadster pick-up which he refers to as his "summer car".

Next Clayton took us to the Millicent Library in nearby Fairhaven.  This library, built in the Italian Renaissance-style, was donated to the town by Henry H. Rogers, a nineteenth century industrialist in memory of his daughter Millicent who died at age seventeen in the year 1890. Millicent was fond of poetry and so her father decided that a library would be a fitting memorial.  Mark Twain visited the Millicent and described it as the "ideal library".  More can be found here:

The Millicent Library

The Millicent library houses a collection of memorabilia from the rescue of Manjiro Nakahama in 1841 by a Fairhaven whaleship.  Manjiro eventually returned to Japan.  A very interesting account of Manjiro's story can be read here:  The samurai sword on display is a replacement for one presented to the library by a descendant of Manjiro in the early 20th century.  The original sword was stolen from the library in 1977.

The library has a fine collection of Geisha dolls.  Here is a representative example.

This stained glass window shows us a depiction of Millicent Rogers portraying Erato the Muse of Poetry.  Note the carved paneling.  This, friends, is one special library.

This statue of the Messenger of Love by Caroni was first displayed at the Columbian Exposition of 1893 (aka the Chicago World's Fair).

Column detail.  My library back home isn't like this!
We could have stayed all day at the library but the sun was waning and it was time to move on and see other wonders on Clayton's agenda of which I'll relate on my next post.