This blog is devoted to my John Welsford designed 15' Navigator yawl Ellie. I built her in my garage over a period of 18 months and launched her in 2011. She sports a sliding gunter main, roller furled jib and sprit-boomed mizzen. Her construction is glued-lapstrake over permanent bulkheads and stringers. This blog is a record of her construction and her voyages here in the Puget Sound area and (hopefully) a useful resource for fellow Navigator builders.

Tuesday, August 1, 2023

My new set of sails from Really Simple Sails

After just a couple of daysails, I finally got a chance to give my new RSS sails a real test. A 100 mile, week-long cruise with the Salish 100. The boat is my Welsford Navigator 'Ellie', built by me and launched 12 years ago. This is my second set of sails for my gaff rigged yawl, with some slight modifications from the original plans. I increased the area of the jib slightly. The mainsail uses 4 equal length battens angled towards the throat so they never need to be removed or re-installed when raising or lowering the mainsail. I raised the clew a bit to clear my head. I rounded the foot a bit on all 3 sails. I went with lighter weight cloth vs my original set. I am extremely impressed with the quality and workmanship of these sails! Amazed, actually. I absolutely love them. Ellie performs noticeably better, and not having to deal with battens in the main is a godsend. The level of detail was impressive. Tapered spring loaded battens, leech lines, lacing rope, tell-tales and more were all included and unexpected details. The black stitching on white sails, IMO, is something only a quality sailmaker who's proud of their workmanship would dare do. And they earned it. Hats off to RSS, well done!

For more details, and to download my modified sail plans, click here

Thursday, July 6, 2023

How to make a wood and leather scoop bailer

Are you still using an ugly old cut up bleach bottle as a bailer?

Maybe it's time to replace it with this beautiful, functional, effective, and traditional handcrafted scoop bailer.

Made of wood and leather, it looks about as salty as it gets.  The leather won't scratch or ding your paint and varnish.  The leather forms to the contour of your bilge making it more effective than that old bleach bottle. It will hold about 3 cups of water, but will "throw" almost twice that.  A frightened sailor can move about 25 gallons per minute - that's faster than the roughly 20 gpm of a typical kayak style manual bilge pump. 

You can build one yourself.  The plans and instructions are available by clicking here.  It's an enjoyable little project that only takes a couple hours to complete.  If you're not a woodworker you can purchase one from Duckworks.

Fellow Shopsmith owners: I built this using my Shopsmith 510 using 6 functions - table saw, lathe, drill press, bandsaw, disk sander and horizontal boring. I fastened the leather to the back with stainless steel screws instead of copper nails, so I used the horizontal boring function to ensure their pilot holes were true so I wouldn't have any screw heads protruding at an angle. Gotta love the Shopsmith!

Monday, May 15, 2023

A sturdy step ladder for small boaters

Need a sturdy little folding step ladder to get into your small boat?  I built this one  to replace my previous one that was cobbled together from 2x4 scraps. I used leftover oak hardwood flooring pieces that I got for free. I modified the plans slightly. I used pocket screws rather than dowels for the joinery and took advantage of the tongue and groove flooring to make the top step flat instead of using slats. This thing is solid as a tank and should last a long time. An excellent set of free plans is available from this link 

Super simple Shopsmith bandsaw fence

Today's project was a super simple and inexpensive fence for my bandsaw. I made it from douglas fir scraps, but any good quality 2x4 scraps cut square and true will do. The only expense was for the toggle clamp from Harbor Freight for $6, part number 96233. It hooks on one side of the table and clamps to the other.


How to improve Shopsmith Table Alignment

I have a ShopSmith 510 and I've never been completely satisfied with the way the tables align. The tables on the 510, as you may know, each have 1-1/16" ID table tubes attached to them. The tables connect together with 1.00" OD connector tubes. The 1/16" difference results in a lot of free play, which is supposed to go away when the jackscrews are tightened. Well, no matter how hard I tightened the jackscrews or adjusted the tables, they never aligned precisely. When sliding the rip fence across where two tables join, my rip fence would catch, and clamping the rip fence there, or on a floating or extension table, would throw the rip fence out of alignment.
Why, I wondered, does SS use 1" connector tubes? Seems like the tables would align better if they used 1-1/16" tubing to better fit inside the table tubes. Well, there's only one way to find out.
It didn't take long to find 1-1/16" tubes. Home Depot and Lowes carry schedule 40 3/4" black painted steel pipe, the kind used for natural gas, with an outside diameter of 1.05". Perfect! And at $20 for a 10-foot piece, it's not very expensive either, and not a big loss if things don't work out.
The pipe is available in galvanized or painted black. Both types measured 1.06-1.07" diameter which is a tiny bit too big to fit inside the table tubes. I chose the black painted pipe so I could remove the paint to return the pipe to its 1.05" unfinished diameter. It would be impossible to remove the coating on the galvanized pipe. Waxing the tube after removing the paint will help prevent it from rusting.
After removing the paint, I test fit the pipe in each table. It fit the floating tables and extension table perfectly but got hung up in the main table. I discovered some rust inside the table tube, so I wrapped some sandpaper around the original connector tube and cleaned out the rust. Then the pipe fit perfectly.
I cut the 10' pipe into 4 pieces. I sized one pair to fit the main table with two attached floating tables, and another pair sized to fit the main table connected to the extension table (or one floating table).  I use those configurations frequently  so they work out better than the original SS connector tube lengths for me.  I can also use all four at once to make a 5-foot table.
I'm amazed at the results. Now all my tables align perfectly. My rip fence slides from table to table without catching. The fence stays straight when positioned between tables, and keeps its alignment when positioned on the floating and extension tables. The top surfaces of all the tables align perfectly. An added bonus is the wall thickness of the pipe is double that of the SS connector tubes, so they are virtually impossible to bend and do not sag like the originals did.

Photo 1 shows the original SS tube alongside the new pipe, and how the tables now align perfectly.  See the gap between the tables?  That gap can be eliminated by grinding off the little "tabs" on the main table, which improves sliding the fence across tables even more.

Photo 2 shows the pipe diameter after removing the paint and waxing.
Photo 3 shows the type of pipe I purchased from Home Depot.


Saturday, January 28, 2023

Three "Nearshore Anchoring" methods for small boaters

During last year's Salish-100 small boat cruise, I did a presentation and demonstration of the three "Nearshore Anchoring" methods that I frequently use.

Nearshore Anchoring is a way of anchoring your boat in knee-deep water so you can go ashore while keeping your boat safe and accessible.

The three methods I presented are:

  • The Bow-Drop method - a quick and easy method for brief lunch stops
  • Clothesline anchoring - a longer term solution that copes with tidal changes quite well
  • The Anchor Buddy - my favorite method that I use probably 90% of the time. It bridges the gap between the first two and works in most cases

If you would like a PDF copy of my presentation, click here.

Friday, March 11, 2022

Time for some new sails

Ellie's original sails are 12 years old.  They were getting wrinkled, baggy, and the batten pockets are worn out.  Time for a new set of sails!

My new set of sails were made by Really Simple Sails.  They do fantastic work and I highly recommend them.

This also gave the the opportunity to make some improvements to my original sails.  I'm not a sail designer, but I do own a copy of The Sailmaker's Apprentice, which I bought at the Port Townsend Wooden Boat festival directly from the author Emiliano Marino himself.  He even autographed my copy.  This book is fantastic.  It contains more than anyone could ever want to know about sailmaking.  

Ellie sports the gaff yawl mainsail shown on plan sheet NV12.  This rig uses a horizontal, conventional boom.  Even though I raised the gooseneck a bit higher on the mast, the boom still hits me in the head and sometimes it appears to droop.

My first improvement was to raise the clew by about 200 mm.  That'll save my noggin, eliminate the droop, and I think it'll look more attractive when it resembles the trim of the jib and mizzen's foot. I also added a bit of a curve on the foot which I think looks nice.

Next, I changed the reef lines to run parallel to the boom.  This was done so the boom remains at the same angle with each successive reef instead of angling higher with each one.  This will improve safety by keeping the boom within reach when tying in a reef.

The biggest change on the mainsail was with the battens.  The top two battens were full length and are angled relatively horizontal.  Every time I furled and unfurled the main I would have to remove or insert these battens.  This was very annoying, unsafe, and wore out my batten pockets.  My improvement is to angle the top two battens towards the throat.  Now I can drop the main into the lazyjacks on the boom without having to remove the battens at all.  I also made all four battens the same length for convenience.  In fact, I now leave all four battens in the sail permanently.  After dropping the main, I simply bundle the gaff, sail, and boom together and slide the whole affair into a sail bag.  I leave the outhaul and reefing lines attached too.  This reduces my setup and take-down time quite a bit.

My original sails are made from 6 oz cloth.  They were heavy.  This time I'm went with lighter weight 4 oz cloth to reduce the weight and because the winds where I sail are generally mild.

As for the jib, I enlarged it just a bit.  I noticed that the dimensions for the jib, as shown on the plans, do not match the jib as drawn.  The jib as drawn is slightly larger.  It's not much of a difference, but Ellie has sufficient weather helm so why not.  The new jib will have a wire luff for roller furling, as does the current jib.  This also allows me to see the foot of the jib where it was always hidden from view behind the mainsail.

And finally, the mizzen is unchanged, except I angled the battens slightly so it looks like the main sail.

Here are my sail plan drawings in case you're interested.

You can download my new sail plans here.  (1.8 MB PDF)