Saturday, August 11, 2012

Nesting Dingy

The inflatable dingy we used as a tender was getting a little threadbare and since it had no motor, it severely limited our options for use. An inflatable can be very difficult to row in the trade winds.
I decided to build a nesting dingy and after a little research online I settled on the Chameleon nesting dinghy designed by Danny Greene. If you would like a set of plans click his name for the link.
Mr. Greene returned emails promptly and a set of plans arrived within ten days which I thought was very quick considering he lives in Bermuda and I'm in Hawaii!

I have never built a "stitch & glue" dingy before and thought it would be a fun project.
This one would be built outdoors, without the comforts of a shop.
The dingy is 10' 4" overall length, about 4' wide, and is reputed to row and sail well.

We started the project at the Ala Wai boat harbor.
My Alberg was in her slip thirty feet from the truck so we had power available while we started the project. The plans were well written and the grid pattern was laid out on the sheets of plywood and we cut out the pieces per the instructions. Many thanks to Jeff, Nick, Wallace & Christine for the extra hands and help cutting, holding, zip-tying, etc. Its a challenge working with light pieces of plywood in twenty knot trade winds!

Once we had the pieces all cut out we started to assemble it using some utility rope to "spring" it together. We were rookies and it took some trial and error to figure out how best to approach it but before too long it started taking shape.

We filleted the seams with west systems epoxy and 406 colloidal silica. We loaded it on the tailgate and let the fillets cure overnight.

The next day we split the halves and cut the tie wraps off and did a little fill & fairing with the dingy placed on the dock box. In hindsight it would have been better to drill the holes for the tie wraps closer to the edges of the plywood so that the fillets would not have to be so wide in order to cover them.


Monday, August 6, 2012

Sailing Hawaiian Waters

Growing up on Vancouver Island and learning to sail on small engine-less sailboats at a young age, I developed a healthy respect for mother ocean and her many moods. Eight foot tides and ten knots of current thru the many channels and narrow passages were the norm, often with a heavy fog thrown in for good measure. One quickly learned how to read the tide and current tables and plot vectors and keep tabs on cross track error when underway.

   In Hawaii there are only three foot tides and the currents move along at a mere knot or two.
The weather is for the most part clear and beautiful with a constant trade wind blowing 20-25 kts.
The channels and harbors are clearly marked and well lit.
And with those lovely sailing conditions  I was surprised to hear at least one distress call go out on the VHF every day for a boat in trouble! There are several a day for lost persons participating in various water sports but with the huge population of inexperienced tourists visiting the island that's understandable.

   What surprises me is the large number of experienced sailors that get into trouble here. Most have hundreds of hours experience, sailing in more difficult conditions than we have here.
The seas around Hawaii are steep and rough, and I think those steep swells combined with the gusty trades is what leads to most of the problems.
The laid back island style and pleasant weather can lull one into a state of cheerful complacency. Then when sailing out of the harbor all it takes is a jammed halyard and a gust of wind in the channel and you are driven onto the rocks. Its a good idea to have an anchor ready on every approach or departure and have the sails set where you want them before entering the channels.
Though well marked the channels are narrow and they are not the place to be messing around with hoisting or dousing sails.

I watched this unfortunate sailor get a sail halfway up in the channel, then the engine quit and the sail billowed and they were on the rocks! The large swell beat them hard into the rocks and the skipper had to be carried away on a backboard.  By the next day the boat was a loss.

Many vessels Make mistakes near Diamond head. Misreading the light for another and hitting Diamond Head Reef or turning into Hawaii Kai thinking its something else and hitting the reef as this fellow did.

Every Friday night they have a big fireworks display on Waikiki Beach and many boats head out to watch them. We were watching the boats return after the display and watched in horror as this boat took the marker on the wrong side and came to ruin on the reef beside the Ala Wai channel.
The hull drifted into the harbor the next day after the surf ripped the keel off.

So if you plan to sail these waters, don't let the warm weather and laid back island life lull you into complacency when under way. Be ready to 'let go" the anchor when near channels and bays and be sure of your position at night. If you aren't one hundred percent sure you know the channel at night then heave-to until morning and make the approach in daylight. The numerous shore lights can make the approach very confusing at night, even when you've run the channel before.
Its quite disconcerting to be in the channel at night and hear your spotter on the bow who is guiding you towards the next green channel marker say "wait, it just turned yellow! Now its red!"
My butt cheeks clenched tightly together for a moment while we searched for the real channel marker and distinguished it from the numerous traffic lights.

The Islands are a beautiful place to hang out and I am enjoying my time here.....once moored snugly in a safe harbor. I snapped  this sunset shot in Keehi Lagoon with my phone.

Cheers, Don

 Blogging "island style"  _~ _ /)___

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Old Rivets

I like to walk the deck before every sail and set my eyes on all the pins, buckles, etc.... pull the rigging wires in little circles, testing how much play they have.... make sure shes sound before heading out. As I was inspecting the mast base I set my eyes on the boom and noticed one of the rivets that fastened the boom to the goose neck was tweaked a little sideways. I inspected the rest and was shocked to see that three of the five rivet heads were gone! That left just one intact rivet and the tweaked one holding it together...not good!
How did I miss this on previous deck-walks! It was a reminder to take my time and be thorough in the inspections. I inspected the other rivets on the boom and the heads looked good but we decided to replace em all to be safe. Jeff and I spent the evening replacing the rivets at both ends of the boom. Even though the aft end looked good I would never trust it without pulling it apart and inspecting it for corrosion etc.

After that I looked up the mast at the long row of rivets fastening the sail track.  I hope I don't have to replace all of those!
Today I broke out my assender setup and inched myself up the mast a foot at a time on a special rock climbing rope. I wanted to inspect the rest of the rivets and fittings up the mast, if some of the forty year old rivets were bad.....what of the rest?
I got to the spreaders and immediately spotted some problems. The top rivets securing the port spreader plate had failed and the plate was separating from the mast. the starboard side looked intact but a thin gap that was not there before was evidence they were stretching out and needed replacing.
I swung around to the sail track and spotted six rivets with heads missing.
Ok.....a major rivet refit is required before sailing!
I descended on the grigri to the sailing tomorrow as planned......sigh.
If you have a "classic plastic" vessel with old rivets be sure to inspect them before every sail for potential problems. When things go bad under load it can really ruin ones day!

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Things That Worked - Kiwi Grip

Kiwi Grip nonskid paint has really impressed me. Almost a year in the tropics and it has retained its color and its non-skid properties and its holding up very well. Being a one coat - one step product I give it high marks for ease of application and durability.
Their special roller produces a nice texture but does throw little threads of paint when rolling out the product, even when I rolled it fairly slowly. The solution was simple; ensure that you mask adjacent areas very well. We used a paper and tape dispenser and papered at least three feet from where we were rolling out the product and that solved the problem.
I wrote about the application process in previous posts. Here is the link for those interested.

Cheers, Don

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Things That Worked

As I get time I will write about the products we used and how they performed on the voyage, and how they have done now that the boat has been in the water for almost a year.

Disclosure: I am Co-Owner of (under construction) and sell or intend to sell, many of the products I will be reviewing. That said, I will give an honest assessment of what I liked or didn't like and how the products performed.

Feel free to ask questions.

Cheers, Don

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Dog House

I was planning to live on the boat in Hawaii but when the Marina heard I had a dog it was clear that Goldie was not welcome. Non-live-aboards are allowed to sleep aboard for three nights a week and they said she was welcome aboard as long as I didn't spend that fourth night....if I did we would both have to go!
So we had a place to live three nights a week. Now what to do for the other four nights of the week? I didn't want to pay the going rate of $1,600 per month for a no frills studio apartment for only four nights a week.
I looked on Craigslist for a camper to put on the truck and was not surprised to find they don't exist in Hawaii.
I had never seen one on the road here. Oh sure they have lots of campers listed....but they are what we from the mainland call a "canopy". Here a canopy is a fabric beach shelter.....a camper shell goes on the truck. So I decided I would knock out a cheap, simple camper made of plywood, similar to the one I had on the mainland but without the appliances etc.
The boat would be used for daily living, I mean.....visiting.....not living.......and the camper would  be a place to "live" four nights a week. The camper would be a perfect doghouse for Goldie to hang out in when I'm working. Heavily insulated to keep the sun off with plenty of ventilation.

Jeff asked what the plan was.
Plan? I said. I plan to build a camper.
"But how, whats the plan?"
No plan, gonna wing it, start from the base and add whatever seems to work as it takes shape.
Ok,... sounds good, he said. With a healthy dose of scepticizm in his tone.

I thought we'd start with 1/2 inch plywood for the floor and seats and go from there.
I bought a bunch of 2x2's to use as framing and several sheets of plywood and some glue, screws, etc. I decided on 2x2's for framing to allow 1-1/2" of foam insulation to keep her cool inside.
The added weight of the wood was no problem as the rig would not have the weight of appliances and water / holding tanks that a regular camper has.
The base (floor and up to the seats), front, back, and bed platform over the cab, would be built with 1/2 inch plywood. The sides and roof would be thin 5mm plywood.

Jeff had to work so I drove to a remote beach park & local tent camping place and started the project.
I built from the floor up to the seats and was pleased with the results.
Plenty of people came by to have a look and ask what I was building.
A camper, I replied.
Ah, oh, I see,...they said, clearing not understanding what a camper was.
Very few people knew what a camper was or looked like. This was a remote "locals" beach park and few tourists or haole's (what the locals call white folks) made it here.
After tiring of repeating the explanation over and over I decided to just call it "the doghouse".
Yup, building a doghouse for her (pointing at Goldie) so she has a place to hang out when we go snorkeling, working, etc.
"ahhh cool.....lucky dog! most said. As it took shape some added "hey you could use it for camping to you know, would be perfect for it!" I smiled and agreed.

It started to rain and I drove to the local Home Depot store where they had covered parking and continued to build. We went to the beach park to build when we needed to make dust or paint, and stayed under the covered parking the rest of the time. The staff at Home Depot got to know us well and always had kind works of encouragement as it took shape in their parking lot.
It was handy to have a fully stocked hardware / lumber store a few steps away.
Every item we used was bought from them, from wood to tools. If they didn't mind me building it there I certainly didn't mind buying all the supplies from them.

Jeff helped often, spending his days off and mornings helping me. It would have been very difficult to erect the walls and square up the frame without his help. I am grateful, thanks Jeff!

A white elastomeric roofing compound was rolled on the roof and their special 4" wide polyester fabric was used over the seams and edges as a solution to the expansion and contraction problems at the joints. It worked well and the white color helps reflect the heat.

We put in 48 x 12 inch opening double pane windows in the sides. Petty theft is a huge problem here and we kept the windows narrow to reduce the temptation to break them and try and crawl thru. The back of the camper has a narrow sliding door reinforced with steel backing behind the tracks so that it cant be kicked in. A steel plate will be added at the bottom on the outside so it can't be pulled or pried out. Two large barrel bolts fasten the door from inside. Both have locks on them. It would be very difficult to get at the locks and impossible to get cutters or pry-bars on em. It is as secure as I can make it.
Its a long way from finished but is well under way now. There will be some fill and fairing later when I have access to power at a future date. It was built with hand saws and a cordless drill. Near the end we also used a cordless sawzall which helped speed up the process.

 The start!
The Floor

Building at the beach park

Ships come and go while I build

Raining, take cover!

 1/2" plywood foundation done

Painting and walls going up

Jeff, head shaved for Halloween, he was "Mr Clean"

Goldie enjoying the temporary Lanai

Roughing in the forward bunk

Goldie enjoys the trades blowing through

Closing it in
Roof coating applied

first of many coats of paint

roughing in the windows

Windows in

slide up door