Sunday, March 1, 2015

BoatBuilding: A Mad Mothist does a Bottom-ectomy

On modifying my Classic Moths I've rebuilt decks, rebuilt daggerboard trunks, added buoyancy tanks, glassed interiors, but I've never grafted a new bottom onto an existing Moth - performing a bottom-ectomy so to speak. British Mad Mothist, Jim Champ, former Cherub sailor, dinghy historian, amateur dinghy designer, current International Canoe sailor, and webmaster of the International Canoe website is doing just that to a fiberglass Skol he purchased.

I'll let Jim explain his project in his own words.

"The back story is I picked up this 1970'ish Skol Int. Moth because I needed something to sail while a health problem was stopping me sailing my Int Canoe in most conditions, and besides, I'd always fancied one. The fact that I am now about 5 stone too heavy even for a vintage Moth didn't deter me.

Anyway, the boat came out of someone's garage roof, and I completely failed to spot, under the layers of dust, that at some stage the boat had been sliced off at the waterline and been given a new wood bottom, replacing the original glass. This was no problem until after a season's use it became apparent that the wood bottom had been allowed to rot back in the day, and some crucial bits were now leaking badly as the water had re-penetrated.

So I ended up cutting off the wood bottom, and I'm now building a new one, and learning about cold moulding while I am at it. Shape wise its roughly based on a Cherub I drew in about 1974 but could never afford to build.

What have I learned from this project? Not to be afraid of cold moulding, and when you do it use plenty of strips. I originally was trying to use quite large panels in order to minimize the number of accurate edges I had to cut, but actually getting the sides of the strips accurate is surprisingly easy given a small sharp plane and a block and sandpaper. Its definitely right to have too many strips rather than too few. Getting the length right on a very 3d boat, on the other hand was a nightmare, but in any rational new build that wouldn't be an issue. 2mm ply was definitely much easier than 2.5mm veneer, having tried both, but if you use ply you can't varnish because the smart money is you'll go through the outer layer in some (or in my case, many) places when fairing up.

I did the boat partly in 2 * 3mm and partly in 3 * 2mm. The junction between the two was something of a pain and in any case I carried 3mm too far forward. The last bit of 3mm was definitely excessively 3d. I'm sure the boat is somewhat asymmettric in that area because with the panels at 45/45 ish, bending the last bit was problematic. The first layer has a much bigger impact on final shape than subsequent ones, and in the transition on one side the first skin was 2mm and the other 3mm. It would probably have been better to suffer the horrendous cost of the 2mm ply and done the whole boat in that. If I were doing a new boat it would be 2 * 2mm ply all over with a glass skin inside and out, uprating the inner skin appreciably in the slamming area round the bow by adding inner glass over skin and stringers, not under stringers.

This was the first project I used a router on which was interesting. Vision really was a major problem, I guess my shop isn't that well lit because I found it really hard to see what the cutting edge was doing. For a long accurate cut to put a rabett in the glass topside (ouch, terrible thing to do to a cutting tool) I stapled a batten as a guide right along the boat and that was a major win. The other thing that helped with a router was to get a marker pen and colour the area I wanted to remove, which made it soo much easier to be confident about what I was doing. I still had a few slips in the wrong places though. 

Some photos...

Looks like Jim was able to cold mold over two stringers per side as well as the topside stringer junction.

Finished hull. The Skol featured a self-draining hull. George A, fellow Classic Moth bloggist over at Mid-Atlantic Musings, has also deconstructed a Skol back to a bare hull. Click here to read about his Skol project.

Friday, February 27, 2015

Zippy Moth: 8 station offsets

Plans de voiliers classiques Moth

I had it on my to-do list forever but I finally got around to generating the offsets for the Zippy Classic Moth (a modified French Proust design) as 8 stations, which should match the frame placement for a home build.

Offsets for Zippy can be found by clicking here.

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Down the Mine Twofer

We just got another dollop of snow this morning in the Mid-Atlantic (nothing close to what they are dealing with in the Northeast). To buck me up before I go out to shovel the driveway, a duo of sailing crash and burn videos.

First up, that old chestnut of dinghy disaster, the Olympic 49'er. This time the performers are a Canadian team (the acceleration once they get the assymetric trimmed is jaw-dropping - at about 2:04 into the video).

Click here for more 49'er shenanigans.

Splash's & Crash's from Ferguson Sailing on Vimeo.

Next up, a plucky and persistent junior team having their difficulties around the course in their RS Feva during the 2015 Bloody Mary. Good thing they are wearing matching dayglo-green knit caps.

Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Offsets for the French Fragniere Moth Classique

Moth Classique

When I have some spare time I try to load a Classic Moth design onto the computer (usually with modifications, but hey, this is the beauty of the Classic Moth!). This time I have the offsets for the French Fragniere design, designed in the late 1950's and equivalent in design progression to the North American Mint or Cates design (which we classify as Generation 1). The Fragniere is a simple V-shape design with lots of rocker. The most unusual characteristic is the V-shaped transom bow which may not be at its best in open water but gives the design a distinctive look. This was a very popular design in France and should present the competent amateur with a straight-forward building project (except for the curved transom bow as shown in the plans - which would take some planning).

This is one of the few photos of a Fragniere I could find on the Internet. Unfortunately with this deck view you don't get a visual of the hull shape.

(Click the pop-out icon on the top right-hand corner to open the file in another tab. From there you can print or download the file.)

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Header Photo: Australian Vee Jay Dinghy

The previous header photo was of the Australian junior class, the Vaucluse Junior, aka the Vee Jay, or simply the "VJ". A 12-foot dinghy, the Vee Jay was originally designed in 1931 by Sydney boatwright Charles Sparrow to a design brief for a junior sailboat given to him by local sporting-goods store owner, Sil Rohu. It was a simple low-angle V-shaped hull, plank and frame construction, readily built by amateurs. The pre-World War II hulls had a small cockpit, similar to the North American Sunfish class.

What makes the class stand out was it's transformation after World War II. The adoption of plywood in the late 1940's considerably lightened the hull and sailors started adding planks; the first plank (sliding seat to North Americans) added in the late 1940's but not coming into common usage until the 1950's. The second plank was added by the West Australians in 1958. The small cockpit disappeared, replaced by a self-draining surfboard deck. Combined with a small flat kite (shike), this junior dinghy had enormous power and speed in a breeze - unlike any junior trainer, before or since. (Historian Chris Thompson points out this Australian penchant, after World War II, to incorporate performance upgrades, even to supposed one-designs, even when all the previous models became immediately obsolete, was one of the main drivers in the evolution of Australian lightweight high-performance dinghies.)

The class collapsed in the 1980's under the hegemony and homogenization of fiberglass junior trainers (namely the 420).

I have taken most of my information and photos from the Vee Jay website. For those who wish to read more I would direct them to click on this link to their website. I would also like to thank Aussie, John Fairfax, for also filling in the history and providing photos.

Some additional photos.

The first design by Charles Sparrow was named Splinter. Deciding the first hull was too tender, Sparrow drew up a wider modified hull the same year named Chum from which commenced the VJ class. The original boats had a gunter rig.

Two photos of the simpler, 1930's hiking Vee Jay.

The squat sail plan was easily handled by lightweights in the typically strong Australian breezes.

To me, the most iconic photo of the Vee Jay, "Warren Nupier in Impala"

A promotional brochure with the Vee Jay at full crack, under kite.

This photo shows the final development of the Vee Jay before the class died out (the boom looks shorter with a straighter leech mainsail). There was a recent movement, documented on the Vee Jay website, of bringing back the class with a more modern sail plan, but that hasn't seemed to gain much traction.

A photo lifted from South Gippsland Y.C. of a restored Vee Jay racing at their 2015 Classic Wooden Dinghy Regatta. This is a one-planker, just for the skipper.

A 1950's video showing two juniors rigging, launching, and sailing their Vee Jay.

Ed. Sea Story

"As a young sailor, during the 1970's, I came across a Vee Jay on Annapolis Harbor. I saw this strange craft buzzing about the Harbor, two sliding seats, as we sailed our International 14 out to the starting area. On our way back after the racing, we encountered the same double sliding seat dinghy and sailors again. this time entwined in the fishing lines of two irate fishing boats, the air turning blue as the skipper was working desperately under his rudder. Inquiries on shore had the sailor as someone from the Australian embassy. I never saw him again; most likely the encounter with the fishing boats left a bad taste in his mouth.

And another sea story I've pulled from the comments... from Northwest sailor Mike S.

"When I moved to Oz in 1965 with wife and daughter in tow, aged 21, I couldn't afford a boat, but someone was selling an old VJ with cotton sails and twin planks for only 10 quid, so I couldn't resist. It was a hoot albeit pretty rough around the edges, and as I didn't have a crew I jury rigged a trapeze (stitched my own canvas harness!) and sailed it singlehanded from the trap. Great fun on Lake Illawarra with steady 15-25 knot breezes every day. Its demise happened during a race, I got a crew and we sailed with the planks, some time during the race the wind piped up, and the old plywood started to open up, with us slowly sinking. We abandoned the boat, climbed aboard the rescue boat and left it to float to the shore. I went the next day and brought it up, but it was too far gone.....Had a metal daggerboard as I recall....

Click here for the post about the other Australian pre-WWII class, the Len Morris scow Moth.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Short Video of a Galway Hooker

Mesmerizing "rockin and rollin" downwind in some breeze off the coast of Ireland. I like how the skipper steers from a relaxed, sprawled position (which probably isn't relaxing given the pull on the rudder... just looks that way).

An Faoilean from Pat Tanner on Vimeo.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Music Whenever: Valentines Day 2015

In the ancient history of this blog (2009, 2010), I used to post a couple of love song videos for Valentines Day. It was something that fell by the wayside but, for 2015, at least for this year, I'm bringing the tradition back.

Click here if you want to see my previous Valentines Day posts.

Let's start with the popular Passenger (aka Mike Rosenberg) "Hearts on Fire".

Adam Baldwin with the slow-dance tune "Love You With My Eyes Closed".

ADAM BALDWIN - Love You With My Eyes Closed from Southern Souls on Vimeo.

And a R and B tune; Lee Fields and The Expressions, "You're the Kind of Girl".

Oops! My lovely wife is questioning me about an unexplained charge that just showed up on our credit card bill. Gotta go!