After a three month pause in construction waiting for warmer weather, work got started again in mid-April. Over the last few weeks the interior of “Sea Spirit” was completed and she is now ready to accompany her sister “Sea Shadow” on the water. Excitement has been building ever since it was announced a second skiff was to be built. We’re all looking forward to some friendly competition, less time waiting on the dock for our turn to row and also getting more people involved.
Other than the exterior hull colour scheme there are only a few minor differences in the boats: douglas fir for the stems instead of white oak and pine for the floorboards replacing the western red cedar. The footstretchers were redesigned to make them more easily adjustable and have a greater range. New wooden oars using a simpler construction and offering more flexibility were built before the first planks were hung.
A ceremony is being planned for the end of the month to celebrate the launching of Canada’s second St Ayles “Sea Spirit”. In the meantime we will conduct sea trials and attempt to get ourselves back into shape for this season.
Each day we work on the boat, “Shadow” the Quality Control Inspector, pays us a visit. He has a keen eye for details as he checks over our latest progress. We are a little suspicious of his motives however, especially since the inspections always occur during lunchtime.
The colour scheme for our new boat was put to a vote, keep it the same as Sea Shadow or reverse the colours. It was unanimous, the new boat will be dark green with a white sheerstrake.
We had hoped to have the outside of the hull painted before the weather turned cold but unfortunately Mother Nature had other plans. To stay on schedule we needed a warm location for a couple of weeks to complete the work. What could be better than a brightly lit greenhouse filled with poinsettias and warm enough to work in a T-shirt. A big thank you to Greg Moore of Lockyer’s Country Gardens for the use of the space.
The last set of planks were hung last week. Nice to have that part over with and move on to fitting the outer keel and stems. If the weather holds we are hoping to put on a couple coats of primer.
A problem we encountered on the first build was aligning the planks at the stems. Even with the plank landings marked on the stem it was hard to make sure the port and starboard planks were level with each other. This time, to make it easier and ensure precise alignment, we attached temporary screws or nails into the stems so the planks could be pushed down into place and the gains marked.
To make it easier to glue up the planks we built a 22′ x 2′ planking table out of a couple of sheets of plywood and some 2 x 4s. With this setup, two sets of planks could be glued up at once, enabling us to have all the planks done in three days.
Beveling the Frames
On Sea Shadow we beveled the frames after they were attached to the molds. This was a tedious job, always having to check and recheck the amount taken off with a batten attached to the molds. This time we wanted to see if we could make it easier by beveling the frames on the bench instead. Using a block of wood the same thickness as the frame and a batten we measured the amount that needed to be removed off the frame at each of the plank landings. Frames #4 & #6 require almost no bevelling but on frames #2 & #8 the bevel increases closer to the sheer. Once the frames were marked, a right-angle grinder with a coarse sanding disk was used to cut the bevel.
What a difference a year makes. Last year we kept Sea Shadow on a trailer and launched at different sites in our area. Coordinating the outings was not easy and sometimes we were hard pressed to come up with a full crew. This year the boat is kept on a dolly at the Waupoos Marina and we have two outings each week. Typically 10 to 15 people show up each time, and Sea Shadow will leave the dock 3 to 4 times with a different crew. On Sundays we row 10K around Waupoos Island, trying to beat our previous time. This year also saw a growing interest from the women, their numbers now equal the men and keep increasing. The other development was the very successful change-over to wooden oars from the carbon fibre.
In July we were invited to Lake Champlain for two days of racing at the Lake Champlain Maritime Museum. They put on an outstanding regatta with five St Ayles in attendance, the largest North American gathering to date. The SCR website and the North American St Ayles Association websites both had excellent articles on the event.
With both the interest and the number of participants growing, there was only one way to meet the demand, and that was to build a second boat. Work got started a few weeks ago with the fabrication of the stems and setting up the building frame and molds. Another set of wooden oars are nearing completion and might be ready in time for sea trials before this season ends. Today we picked up the planking kit and the lumber for the inner and outer keels. Tomorrow we will cut out the planks and clean them up in preparation for gluing. In another week week we’ll be hanging planks.
We’re all looking forward to next year with two Canadian boats on the water.