Monday, April 25, 2022

Slow progress does not mean a slow boat

Charlie Fuller's Mint design Moth out of the garage.

 Long term readers of this blog will recall that I got this Moth from an ocean rowing club up in Massachusetts back in 2019.  I examined the boat, made lists of things she'd need before racing, and speculated on her history but did nothing beyond that.  In 2020 the pandemic kicked in and with the boat stored in New Jersey I had limited access to her.  That has since changed.  Most people by now have had their shots, so earlier this month I asked my across the street neighbor to help me move the boat from where she was suspended to a small dolly which allows me to pull her out of the garage and work on her as time permits.

One of the first jobs was to make a new streamlined boss for the new mast step.  The photo above shows the boss and the step.  I took the original boss and traced it off on a piece of mahogany (a broken Sunfish dagger board).  The mahogany was a bit thinner than the original step so I epoxied a pair of tracings together.  Bill Boyle took my layer cake and round-overed the top edge.  William Duffield accurately drilled the various screw holes so that they would pick up the existing holes in the fore deck.  I have a bit more refining to do so that the new boss is in contact with the crown of the fore deck.  Once I'm satisfied with the fit I'll add epoxy and screw it down permanently.  The mast step pin is from a Taser class boat.  

With the mast step in place I could move on to rigging a carbon fiber wind surfer mast with a simple three stay rig.  The rig in this photo is temporary.  The shrouds and bow stay, left over from another boat, are all too short.  I'm using stay adjusters and extension tangs in order to step the mast.  Making new stays of the correct length will involve revisiting high school math (Pythagoras's Theorem) for calculating the hypotenuse of the triangle created by the distance of the heel of the mast from the shroud chain plate (side a, measurable), the distance from the heel of the mast to the hounds fitting (side b, measurable) and side c--the unknown hypotenuse--the required length for the shrouds.  The same strategy can be employed to derive the length of the bow stay.  The luff groove is plastic awning track epoxied onto the back face of the mast.

One of the enduring mysteries surrounding this boat, which I detailed in the earlier post, relates to her old IMCA hull/sail number.  The very first Moth of this design is Nr 1335, was built over the winter of 1953/54 to compete in the 1954 International regatta.  So how could this boat have an earlier number?  The sail which came with this boat also carries the number 1296.  To further complicate things, years earlier, Charlie's younger brother Clayton (age 95 at the time) gave me a sail bearing Nr 1581.  Clayton believed that boat itself had been lost during a hurricane which swept up the New England coast in the mid-1950s.  I have since dismissed Nr 1581 as a red herring.  How the Fuller brothers came to have that sail is not important, other that it is misleading.  Period photos exist showing another boat using that sail number.  Additionally, looking at the old class records, the first handful of boats in the 1200 series (Nr 1200 - 1225) were issued in 1949.  The next batch (1226 - 1258) were issued in '50.  1259 - 1268 were issued in '51.  1269 - 1281 were issued in '52 and 1282 - 1295 were issued in '53.  Charlie Fuller is listed as being granted number 1296 but there's no date.  Just a mysterious "x" after the number.  Perhaps the "x" is a place holder.  Perhaps Charlie was issued his number but then delayed construction after seeing the Moth which Bill Lee was building at about the same time and would soon be granted the number 1335.  I will never know the real answer to this mystery--all the folks who knew are no longer with us.  What I do know is that Bill Lee loaned his building molds to Harry Cates and Harry help Charlie Fuller build this boat.  As an aside, Harry later built a copy of Bill Lee's design for his own use.  Harry named that boat "Top Banana", a reference to the swooping shear line of the design.  Locally, in Florida," boats of this design were called "banana boats".

Not knowing much has never stopped me before, so I removed the boat's plywood floor board to see if there is a number carved into the keel.  The webbing thingies are toe straps for hiking---held in place by tiny Nr 6 bronze screws (!).

Unlike Nr 1335, there was no number hiding in plain sight.  I was a bit disappointed, but as I turned the floor board over I discovered this---

The boat's number, the boat's name, the builder's name and the year built--rather faint--"1955".  So, although it is nonsensical, I now accept that this boat, built two years after Mint has a hull number earlier than Mint!  The boat's name is a bit strange-- "B. B. Baby".  I google searched that name with the year 1955 and the most plausible pop culture handle of the mid-1950s that I could find was a popular B. B. King rock 'n roll song, released in 1954 called "Bye! Bye! Baby".