Today was our unofficial launching and training day. The weather couldn’t have been better. After some on-land coaching we carried the boat into the water and then took turns rowing, some for the first time. The smiles on the rower’s faces when they returned to the dock said it all. We’re now ready for tomorrow’s official Launching Celebration with family and friends.
On-land training with Stewart our coach
About to get her bottom wet!
Out on the water
Packed up and ready for tomorrow’s official launch
Chris wearing a T-shirt just for the ocassion
On the Glenora ferry
We trailered the boat to the Port of Bath weekend festival where we had the opportunity to do a little “show and tell”. After all the hard work it was fun to sit back, relax and talk with people about our winter project. Lots of interest and many favourable comments.
Answering questions about the boat
Ship’s boat complete with bow mounted swivel gun
Weekend participants building a Lumberyard Skiff
St. Lawrence II youth training ship
All done! It’s been an incredible five months. Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the building experience and the camaraderie of this project. From new skills to working together as a team we all gained something in the process. Now it’s on to the next phase, learning to row this beautiful craft.
The insides outside
Installing the cox seat and floorboards
Floorboards in place
From the beginning of our project we had planned on building the oars. Unfortunately this proved more difficult than we had expected. Trying to source clear, straight lumber at a reasonable price became almost impossible. The ideal wood, Sitka spruce was our first choice but was not available. We looked at clear white pine but that was getting up there in price. So we spent hours at lumber yards picking through the piles of construction grade spruce looking for pieces that were straight and had the fewest knots. Of course there was no guarantee by the time we got them home that they hadn’t twisted into a pretzel. The only solution was to rip long lengths and laminate them together with epoxy, lots of epoxy. We shaped the 13′ stroke oar to the Anstruther design and dimensions but the weight of the finished product was a real concern. The group of us are well past our peak athletic performance and the thought of us rowing with these long heavy wooden oars was not an entertaining prospect.
We abandoned the oarmaking for the time being and looked at getting much lighter racing sweep oars with Macon blades, no longer used for competitive rowing. We contacted a rowing club to see about obtaining some of their unused oars and were very delighted to receive a donation of five carbon sweep oars. Two of these oars probably weighed less than than the one wooden oar we had built. There are two disadvantages to these oars however, they are not approved for use in SCRA events and the oar length at 12-1/2′ falls in the range that can cause oar/back conflicts.
As well as the oars we were very fortunate to have been donated Concept2 gated swivel oarlocks. The challenge was attaching the pins to the gunnels. To take full advantage of this type of oarlock the pins had to be set to 0° both fore/aft and laterally. Not that easy to do with gunnels that are angled outboard and a different angle at each location. Aluminum brackets, fastened to the gunnels, had vertical holes drilled for the pins using a drill press. Bevelled washers made from 1” solid aluminum rod, drilled out in the centre, were placed under the shoulder of the pin. The mounting brackets were longer than necessary so we could add braces from the top of the pin to the bracket if more support is required. This setup is similar to what is being used on the Irish coastal boats. An added advantage of this oar and oarlock combination is the ability to feather the oars when rowing.
We realize that we will not be allowed to compete with this setup as the the rules apply now. Our boat has kabe holes in the gunnels opposite the oarlocks so we will be able to rig it for the regulation wooden oars as well. Unfortunately we will not be able to attend the Skiffie World’s this year but if we are able to make the next event we will make oars and oarlocks to the latest design to train with. It has been interesting to see the creative and innovative ideas that are being developed, such as the wooden swivel oarlocks and hollow oars.
Our decisions to use these oars and locks will allow us to get out on the water sooner, at less cost and hopefully the boat will be easier to row by everyone.
Drilling for the oarlock pins
Bevelled aluminum washer between pin shoulder and mounting plate
Second coat of primer
White inside and out, but not for long. We’ll be painting the interior a light beige semigloss which should look good with the varnished thwarts, floorboards and gunnels.
On the weekend of May 25th and 26th we’ll be showing the boat at the Port of Bath Marine Heritage Festival celebrating the lakeside history of the Bay of Quinte & the Great Lakes. There will be historic ships & boats, guest speakers as well as workshops on boatbuilding, blacksmithing, sail and rope making. We feel this will be an excellent opportunity to meet and encourage other groups in our area to get involved and build Canada’s second St. Ayles skiff.
Additional thwart supports glued to planking
After installing the thwarts we found there was quite a bit of flex in the plywood, probably due to the fact they were only screwed, not glued. To solve the problem we added some additional braces to the sides of the hull. That seems to have solved the problem. I’m sure if the thwarts were epoxied in place that would be the strongest, however, we would like to be able to remove them for refinishing or to replace them with solid wood in the future.
The last sanding before painting
We’ll be able to pack up the sanders after today. The interior got its final sanding before painting. Four coats, four days and after that the gunnels, thwarts and stems get a bright finish of of Sikkens Natural. The floorboards, cox seat and tiller have all been done.
Brackets to secure the oars when we’re trailering the boat
Because our boat will be launched from different sites around the area we needed a way of securing the oars during transportation. We made two brackets that will straddle the thwarts and clamp the oars in place.
We’ll be out there soon
The boat is about two weeks away from getting her bottom wet. Looking out over Picton Bay it isn’t soon enough. The weather has gone from winter to summer with a couple of days of spring. We moved the boat to another location today where the interior painting and brightwork will be done.
Duncan installing the thwarts
The oak slats for the cox seat were reclaimed from the shipping pallet the kit arrived on
Chris checking out the cox seat
Drilling for the oarlock pins
The boat sees daylight
This week we are finishing off the last of the construction details before the paint and varnish brushes make an appearance. There were nine of us in the shop today and everyone was kept busy. Supports for the cox seat and floor were glued in place, frame extensions were finished, floorboards were sanded, thwarts were sanded and fitted, the rudder fittings were positioned and the trailer winch post was installed.
Bob on cleanup
Greg drilling trailer winch support
Jim and Sandy fitting cox floor supports
Barry finishing off frame extensions
Tony fitting thwarts
Don sanding floorboards
John sanding thwarts
The flooring guys
The floorboards are almost finished. We used 4″ x 5/8″ western red cedar screwed to white oak battens. Each of the sections will be removable so the bottom of the boat can be sponged dry.
Western red cedar floorboards
The trailer assembly was completed today enabling us to move the boat from the building frame onto the trailer. The transfer was very easy with the shop’s overhead track and hoists.
Final assembly of the trailer
Boat suspended in slings awaiting the trailer
Trailer and boat meet