Monday, February 28, 2011


After hours of planing, filing, sanding and measuring, TARDIS is ready for the bottom. This was not easy, and like everything else I do, it took longer than anticipated. But, it's finished and I'm ready to move on to the next step of the build. Since my garage is now full of boat, plywood and boxes, I have to move to the driveway to scarph and glue the bottom plywood. WeatherBug says that we are in for a warm and sunny week, so I will begin the work on the bottom.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Chine logs... nightmare!

It's always good when you can learn from the trials or mistakes of others. Hopefully, someone can learn something from me today.

Never having the need to bend wood before, I didn't know the best way to go about it. I first tried to see just how much the chine logs would bend without steaming. I quickly found that steaming was a must. As usual, I went to the internet. In every video demonstrating how to bend wood, the pieces were tiny compared to my chine logs.

Wanting to use the cheapest method for steaming, I used the dryer vent, camp stove method that I saw on one of the videos... it did not get hot enough. It would probably work on smaller diameter wood, but not for chine logs. They bent great for about 30 seconds, and then cooled off and stiffened up. I ended up ripping the chine logs in two and laminating them in place.

I've been told that installing the chine logs is the hardest part of the build. Man, I hope so.

Things I learned this week:
Wood breaks easily.
Steam that same wood and it will bend without breaking.
Epoxy softens and loses it's holding power under stress, when steamed.
While bending steamed wood, work fast.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Slow and steady

One day, I had a new sail I'd made for iDuck spread out on the lawn to attach to the yard and boom. My neighbor came across the street and was asking me about the little boat. His comment was, "I could never do anything like that, I would mess it up." It's a good thing I didn't have that attitude, we would not have these boats.

Before I built iDuck, I had never tried to build a boat. We don't have a big shop with fancy tools. Our tools are just basic stuff you can buy at Harbor Freight or one of the big box stores, some old and some new. But, if one has the "want to", they can get a boat built and have a lot of fun.

If you are just joining in, this past weekend, I was to install the starboard sheer clamp and the chine logs. The sheer clamp went on very easily. After turning the paradox upside-down, the curve was very scary. "How am I going to bend the chine log to that shape?" Since I didn't have the tools handy to steam them, and it was late in the afternoon, I decided I would see just how much I could bend them without hearing those feared creaking noised that wood can make. Apparently, not much. So, I laid awake for hours that night designing in my head, the steamer that I would build.

It is now Tuesday morning (cough, cough, snort), and I have not been as productive as I had hoped. But, I have figured out the design for my steamer, and will try to get the steaming done tonight. Tomorrow, I will post my progress with pictures.

"Be bold and courageous. When you look back on your life, you'll regret the things you didn't do more than the ones you did." H. Jackson Brown, Jr.

Friday, February 11, 2011


I went to the lumber yard the other day to buy lumber for the sheer clamps and chine logs. I needed four 8 foot boards because 8 feet is what I can carry in my Jeep. Looking through the stack, there were no 8 foot, but there were some 16 footers. The guy helping me said he could cut these two 16 footers, so I said that was fine. I came home, ripped the boards and then scarphed them, ending with 15 1/2 foot boards. After getting them glued up, I looked back at them and saw the humor: I picked out 16 feet boards, had the man cut them in two, just to bring them home and glue them back together.

When I first became interested in boat building, I was reading about how to build a 13' mast. It said to scarph two pieces of lumber. Okay, I didn't know what that meant, so I had to consult the dictionary.
Scarph: A method of joining pieces of wood by tapering their ends.
Okay, but how do you taper the ends? Through researching boat building forums and Google, I learned how to make a jig and cut the scarph on my table saw. I took a piece of scrap plywood and screwed a short 2x2 at the angle I wanted, and clamped on the lumber I wanted scarphed. Simple, and I get perfect cuts every time.

When it came time to scarph the sides of my paradox, this was a bigger challenge. It could not be done with a table saw. Again, I did research and found that there are several ways to do this. I clamped the two pieces on a table, used the power planer first, then the file and sander. Plywood is easier to see high places because the lines that are made when cut at an angle.

I didn't do a perfect job, but I got it done. I always use epoxy to join the two pieces, and then sand and fair the joint. Scarphing is not as scary as it was the first time.

Next on my "to do" list, is make and install the sheer clamps. I got them both cut, and glued the one on the port side. Everything went well. I started to bend the one on the starboard side for a dry fit... and CRACK! It splintered and broke between bulkhead #1 and #2. WELL, CRAP!! I decided it could not be glued, I will need to make another one. That is my task for today. The weather is warmer this afternoon, so I can get back to building. If all goes well, I should be ready to turn it over by Sunday. Check back on Tuesday and I'll let you know what progress was made over the weekend.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011


With all the cold weather that we have had, my thoughts have turned to the warm days, being on the water, and our experiences.

There is just something fascinating about dolphins. I don't believe they have special powers. I don't believe they are smarter than humans, but they are fun to watch in the water. Before Dale and I started sailing, I had never seen them up close. Galveston Bay, where we usually sail, has dolphins and can be seen on occasion.

In 2009, Dale and I joined our friend, Eric on Escapades as crew for the annual Harvest Moon Regatta. We sailed from Kemah to Galveston and then to Port Aransas via the Gulf. We spent the weekend at Port Aransas. On our way home, as we sailed through Aransas Bay, a pod of dolphins joined us. I didn't get my camera, which was down in the cabin, because I thought by the time I got back on deck, they would be gone. After about 4 or 5 minutes, they were still swimming with us, so I ran and got the camera. They were so close, I could have almost touched them. This day will stay with me forever. Here is a short video of that time. Enjoy.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011


The last few days, it's been way too cold to work on paradox. I don't have any news on the build, so I thought I would share one of our sailing stories.

It was Memorial Day Weekend of 2008. We had been sailing with our new friend, Eric, for about four or five months. Eric is the owner of Escapades, an Irwin 41 ketch. This is a nice cruising boat and very comfortable. Eric asked if we wanted to take a trip with him since Dale had a couple of days off. We jumped at the chance.

The first day we sailed from Kemah to Galveston and then we headed down the Intracoastal Waterway for Freeport. This was our first time on the ICW, also known as "the ditch". We motored some, because the angle of the wind would change with every turn the ditch made, and the trees on the banks would blanket the wind. It was sundown and we decided to anchor in what is known as "$30K Cut" just east of Freeport. After an early breakfast, we set out for Matagorda. The trip was very relaxing, and we were learning first hand how to negotiate passing the many barges that call the ICW home. We went through a set of locks crossing the Brazos River and dodged tree branches as they floated by, on our way to Matagorda. There, we docked Escapades on the bulkhead at the marina. After a delicious meal at a nearby restaurant and a hot shower at the marina head, we settled down for a restful night which consisted of a movie and then sleep.

The next morning, we woke to a 25 knot wind that had us pinned to that bulkhead. After a lot of work (that's a story for another time), we finally got off that bulkhead and headed back down the ICW. Eric noticed that the engine was overheating. I took over the wheel, and Dale and Eric looked at the engine to see what the problem was. The heat exchanger hose had a hole and was losing water. This was not something that could be fixed while on our journey, so a decision had to be made. We shut off the engine and put three sails. The wind was strong and she loved the angle. We were sailing at an average of 7 knots down the ICW. It was exciting.

Eric wasn't sure what we, as newbies, could withstand. He didn't want to turn us against sailing with what might become a hard trip. He gave us three options and let us decide what to do.

1. Limp back to Freeport, dock the boat, rent a car and drive back to Houston.
2. Call Tow US, be towed all the way back to Kemah. That would have been very expensive!
3. Go ahead and sail to Galveston. We would not get there until about 1 in the morning.
Dale and I looked at each other, and without hesitation, we said, "It's a sailboat and we have good wind. Let's sail to Galveston." Well, being the newbies that we were, we didn't find out until later, that NOBODY goes down the ICW at night! The wind was strong, which means the barges have to head into the wind to varying degrees depending on their load. If they are running empty, they take up most of the ditch. And, yes we did encounter some running empty.

When we arrived at the locks, we had to start up the engine to circle and wait for our turn to go through. In order for the engine to not get too hot, Dale had to continually pour fresh water into the heat exchanger, one cup at a time. There is only about a six inch clearance between the heat exchanger and the top of engine enclosure. This was a hot and tedious job, and the water was leaking out about as fast as Dale was pouring it in. But, Dale kept the engine running long enough for us to get past the locks and bridges we had in our path, with only a few burns on his hand.

After the sun went down, it got DARK, but we had enough moonlight to see the shore line and stay in the ditch. The ICW cuts through Chocolate Bay. This is about 3 miles marked with floating markers. They are not lighted. Dale and I got flashlights and we shone our light on the buoy as we approached them. When Eric saw it, he would yell, "Got it." As we sailed on, we would find the next marker. That's how we made it through Chocolate Bay and then again when we got to Offatts Bayou at Galveston. We did get to Offatts about 1 o'clock, anchored, opened the hatches and that was the best sleep Dale and I have ever had.

The last day of our trip was easy back to Kemah with the wind at our back on Galveston Bay. That was one of our many fun trips with Eric on Escapades. That next Christmas, we gave Eric a plaque that says:

ATTITUDE: The difference between
an ordeal and an adventure.

That weekend, we had an adventure. There is nothing more satisfying than knowing you have accomplished something that most would not even try.