Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A New Beginning

Yesterday I worked on my boat for the first time in... nine years. Wow, where does the time go? I have a son who will turn eleven in a few months. That may explain a little bit. There's also another seven year old. We moved to a new house. We built the new house. Well... we had it built for us, but that still involved a lot of effort on our part. Work. Other projects here and there. There's always a reason to not work on the boat - and once you stop, it begins to accumulate... Stuff. You can pile things on it as if it were a table, but without even taking up valuable table space. At some point, cleaning things up to where you can even begin working is a project in and of itself.

Two years ago, we began building a tree house. (Add that to the list of distractions!) So for the last eighteen months, there has been a pile of construction lumber keeping me away from the pile of odds and ends that were too heavy or awkward to be piled on top of the boat. I suppose I should have taken a picture, just to document the depths to which the project had sunk, but maybe it's just as well that I did not. This summer the tree house is complete. (Well, nearly so.) With the pile of lumber gone, I decided it was time to get back to work. After two weeks of cleaning up, throwing out, dusting off, and finding places for things, the boatshop (okay, it's a two car garage) is ready.

When I began construction in the summer of 2000, I imagined a boat that I would someday enjoy with my kids. Lately it has come upon me that if I don't get things moving again, my kids will grow up before it's finished. I don't imagine I'll find a lot of Big Work Days. My plan is to fit in an hour here, a couple hours there. Time that would otherwise be spent in frivolous pursuits - like reading Horatio Hornblower novels for the third time. Slow and steady progress is the goal, and eventually things will take shape.

As with nearly all of Iain Oughtred's designs, construction begins with a building frame. Station moulds are cut out and assembled on a strongback. I spent a great deal of time and effort making sure everything was square and level. Then the keelson, inner stem and stern posts are assembled, and the planking is formed around the moulds, and glued to the backbone with epoxy. At the time of our move, I had completed six of the seven strakes.

In the beginning phases of construction, the boat is upside down. After the hull and keel are complete, the boat is turned over, and the interior is fitted out. Now, if I had been clever, I would have made sure that the time of our move coincided with the time to turn over the boat. Alas, it was not to be. After the move, the building frame is not quite square, and not quite level. There is no difference to the naked eye, but running a string line through the holes I used to align the frame twelve years ago reveals that some moulds are up to 1/4 inch out of alignment, and some have a slight twist as well.

Well, finding this problem - that's the work I did. Does that count as work? After a nine year hiatus, I'll take it. Fixing the problem? That's a job for another day.

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