Saturday, November 12, 2011

hard wood, hard frost

I dropped by Yukon Lumber  yesterday afternoon to see what kind of wood was available and get some ideas for my off season work on Spartina.  I just wanted to look and think a little bit, but my friend Alan, who works there and helped me with wood selection and advice on building Spartina, got a hold of me and started asking questions about what I needed to do and why.  Soon I left with a nice thick chunk of African Mahogany.

My plan is to cut a slot in the foredeck so I can raise the mast by putting the foot of the mast in the step and walking it forward into the vertical position.  You can see this kind of slot in the foredeck of the Pathfinder Cavita, above.  Once raised, the bow stay and shrouds keep the mast in the proper position.

As it is now I have to raise the mast into the vertical position and lift it up and over the deck, then lower it down into the mast hole.  This is fairly easy to do, as long as there is not too much wind.  But three times over the last two years I have rigged or unrigged the boat when the wind was blowing in the 15 to 20 knot range.  Raising the mast, with all the halyards attached, and keeping it vertical in that kind of wind is difficult.  At Rumbly last year, when I was launching for my Fall sail on the bay, I had to wait 30 or 40 minutes for a lull in the wind before I could put the mast in place.

Having the slot will allow me to avoid that kind of problem.

While I do like the idea of the slot for raising the mast, I do not like the look of the gap in the foredeck.  The slot on Spartina will be deeper than the one of Cavita, the mast on Spartina's yawl rig is forward of the mast position on Cavita's sloop rig.  In Spartina's case the slot would be over 14 inches deep, leaving the foredeck as looking a little "unfinished."

Plus I have a sentimental attachment to that particular piece of the foredeck - that is where I pinned Dad's photograph on the day we launched Spartina.  He had helped build the mast and some of pieces of the boat, but passed away before it was ready to sail.  I brought along his picture for the first sail.  His photograph was there just for that first sail, but I can still see the small hole left by the pin.  Just seeing that tiny mark reminds me, as much of the boat does, of Dad.  I don't want to get rid of the piece of wood.

What I will do with that piece of foredeck, once it is cut out, is use it as a base to build a cap that can be set in place into place once the mast is raised.  It is the same idea as the cap I put on the centerboard trunk a couple of years ago.  In this case I'll cut the mahogany into strips and those will be the top of the cap, finished bright and matching the nearby coaming.  The cap, I think, will look nice.  Plus Spartina will be easier to rig.

There was a freeze warning for last night.  It is mid-November, the first hard frost of the Fall arrived on schedule this morning.  Yet the forecast is very nice for the weekend - blue skies and and low 60's today, a few clouds and high 60's tomorrow with a nice southwest wind.  I hope to be on the water just a little after dawn.

As the end of my sailing season approaches I'll have to rely on reports from friends like Curt, who just completed a nice cruise down in Florida.  You can read his stories from the trip here.  Sailing the barrier islands of Florida is on my list of things to do.  Thanks, Curt, for posting about the trip.

I will also cope with the coming winter with my daily visit to in Oriental.  Above is there a screen shot of the site from today, a beautiful image of the full moon.

The Spring cruise is looking more and more like a Carolina trip.  Maybe a visit to Cape Lookout (hopefully getting there by sailing "outside" from Beaufort Inlet) and Ocracoke.

Fall will be Chesapeake Bay, the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal and Delaware Bay.  I've talked to Bruce, who is doing some planning for the trip.  We both concluded, separately, that Lewes, Delaware will be the end point for the trip.  Now we have to walk backwards from there, in roughly 30 miles legs, to find the starting point somewhere on Chesapeake Bay.



Jim said...

Have you considered a tabernacle rather than a slot? It accomplishes the same thing without losing the watertight integrity of the deck. It would also allow you to drop the mast and use the entire mast for a tent rather than just the boom. Also, the slot would lower the forward end of the mast into the cockpit while the tabernacle would keep it elevated above the cockpit.

Steve said...


yes, a tabernacle crossed my mind. The mast is a hollow birds mouth mast with solid plugs at top and bottom. I'm not sure the mast would have the structural integrity for a tabernacle - I would probably want to build a new mast for a tabernacle.
As for as watertight integrity, a slot with a cap would not change anything - water can and does drip down through the mast hole as it is.
I'm still rolling all this around in my mind. Thanks for passing on the idea.


JimB said...

A friend has the tabernacle on a Eddy & Duff Dovekie. You could raise and lower the mast standing in boat while floating. Very easy to do.

Anonymous said...

You could just cut it at the appropriate length and install a new plug with plenty of epoxy paste. I've been mulling that very question over on my Pathfinder (which I need to get building on again). Also thinking of building the coaming in an arc rather than the forward point to make it easier to attach a dodger for those wet outings.

Perry Burton said...

From the moment I started my Pathfinder I had a tabernacle in mind, and planned accordingly. When I put a cabin on my boat this past year I modified it yet again. I never regretted making the change and it makes setup so much easier. With little modification to your mast you could have a tabernacle. the base can be from steel, stainless, or hardwood. If you recall several years ago on my maiden voyage with my Pathfinder, I lost the port stay! yet the tabernacle kept the mast up, though I quickly pulled the sails down. And this is a Sloop and your mast is lower than mine... something to consider. GO FOR IT!
Perry Burton