Thursday, August 22, 2019

27 Sportfisherman Tower Begins

The 27ft Sprtfisherman being built by Kevin Agee in Seaford, Virginia, is moving into the final stages. Work has started on the tower, with the metalwork being done by professionals. Kevin has been working on the non-metal components that will be attached to it. I will let the photo captions tell the story.
Foam cored fibreglass roof  being laminated over the hoop of the tower. The hoop has been wrapped in plastic to keep it clean. At this stage the top surface has been glassed to set the camber.
Bottom of the roof, with trenching formed with a router for conduits and recessed lights.
Roof trimmed to final shape and pods added for aftdeck floodlights, almost ready for glassing.
Upper helm pod being glued up from Coosa board. This will be on a hinged crows nest that will fold down in front of the tower to reduce height for trailing.
Completed upper helm pod, ready for hardware and electronics, then mounting on the crows nest.
Hardware for cabin doors and hatch dry-fitted ahead of final finishing. All fastener holes for hardware are being drilled over-size, then filled with epoxy. The cured epoxy is then drilled for the fasteners, keeping the plywood or foam core sealed against leakage and rot.
The console has a recessed panel for key controls and switches, with a hinged cover. The sapele mahogany helm pod, shown in my previous blog entry about this boat, will be mounted to the left of the panel. Electronics will be mounted in the surface above the wheel.
Dry-fitting the trim tabs to the transom, below the wings of the engine bracket. They must be set at the correct height and angle to operate correctly.
The sapele mahogany toerail has been sanded and sealed with three coats of epoxy, Another three coats of epoxy to go, followed by 8-10 coats of varnish.
The bow capping of the toerail has worked out really nicely, hand-shaped from a section of sapele mahogany plank where the grain would sweep part-way around the corner.
This design won't be on our website until after Kevin's boat is in the water and sea trials have been completed. To see our other design, go to our main website or our mobile website.

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

DH550 Catamaran "Valerie"

"Valerie" is the newest DH550 catamaran, launched in Durban, South Africa, a few months ago. Now she is in the Seychelles, awaiting her charter licence. Within a few weeks she should be licensed and available for crewed charter among these gorgeous Indian Ocean islands.

DH550 "Valerie" relaxing in an idyllic setting.
"Valerie" with Argie 15 as yacht tender.

A closer view.
Starboard aft cabin.
Galley on port side of saloon.
Settee on starboard side of saloon.
Inside helm and nav station.
Fast, comfortable sailing.
"Valerie" was built from a kit from Exocetus Marine in UK, who supplied a fairly comprehensive kit. It included CNC-cut components for hull, deck, bulkheads and interior joinery, as well as deck hardware, machinery, electrics and many other items.

"Valerie" will have a website in a few months. Until then I can forward any enquiries about chartering her to her owners.

To see our full range of designs go to our main website or our mobile website.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

Consoles of 27ft Sportfisherman

In my last post about Kevin Agee's 27ft sportfisherman project I was cutting the parts for the pod on which the helm will be mounted. Kevin glued the parts together while I was away at the Wooden Boat Show in Mystic Seaport, CT. Then last weekend I completed the shaping and sanding. Last week Kevin applied six coats of epoxy, to be followed by at least eight coats of varnish.
The helm pod, shaped with hand tools then sanded, ready to receive epoxy coatings.
Helm pod with the wheel in the approximate position.
The sapele helm pod with epoxy coatings. Many coats of varnish to come.
Kevin has been working on the anchoring system for the leaning post and console and on the hatches that will give access to the fuel tank plumbing connections. The tank will be anchored to the hull structure under a large removable flush panel in the deck below the console. Hinged plastic watertight access panels inside the console and leaning post are fitted into the flush panel for quick access.
Hinged wateright access panel over front of fuel tank, inside the console. A similar one is inside the leaning post, over the aft end of the tank.
The console and leaning post will be bolted to the deck with 2x2x1/4" aluminium angle brackets. These have been cut to fit the spaces, then acid washed before coating with aluminium primer/barrier coat, then paint. The aluminium tank will receive similar protective treatments.
2x2x1/4" Aluminium angle anchors for the leaning post and console, after acid-washing.
Now they have been coated with a sprayed aluminium primer/barrier coat.
Kevin has also laid out and cut the holes for the many rod holders that this boat will have in the sidedecks. Two on each side will serve as mounting positions for the rather nice bait board supplied by Stainless Boatworks in Australia. The others are angled incrementally to fan out the rods along each side.
Console and leaning post in position for checking fastener positions for bolting to the deck. Rod holder holes have been cut through the sidedecks.
This model of bait board has been supplied by Stainless Boatworks in Australia, dropping into rod holders in the sidedecks.
The holes for this hardware will be sealed with multiple layers of epoxy resin for waterproofing, before painting hull and deck.

This design is not on our website yet. See our other designs on our main website or our mobile website.

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Sailing the Argie 15

I designed the Argie 15 in 1988 for the Argus Newspaper Group in South Africa. They named it after the street corner sellers of their newspapers, the Argie Boys, as a dedication to them. In the more than 30 years since many hundreds of these boats have been built and they are to be found in 60 countries.

I was the first person to sail an Argie 15, the prototype that was built by journalist David Biggs. He produced the weekly DIY supplement for the newspaper and commissioned the design as a DIY project for his readers.
That is a young me at the helm, journalist David Biggs as crew, on the maiden sail of the Argie 15 prototype.
We sailed among the moored boats of False Bay Yacht Club, in about 8-10 knots of breeze, with the boat behaving beautifully. Many boats were built from the articles in newspapers and magazines, as well as plans bought from us, generating a strong following.

I didn't get to sail an Argie 15 again for nearly 30 years, when we launched our own boat three years ago. In all that time I only heard good reports about the handling characteristics of boats to this design. Then, a few months ago, a new builder asked me about the comments that he had read of these boats having lee helm and how to remedy it. I had not seen these comments and told him that I would do some testing with my boat when on a planned sailing trip to North Carolina in June.

That sailing trip was a few weeks ago. I went out by myself in light and fluky conditions that gradually built to about 15 knots and gusty afternoon sea-breeze. This gave me opportunity to test in a range of conditions.

I like to sail from well forward in my boats in light conditions, so I fitted my long tiller extension, a 6ft length of bamboo connected to the tiller by a short length of flexible hose on a pivot bolt. This would enable me to sail from anywhere in the cockpit, from far aft through to sitting on the centre thwart. I had seen in photos that some owners helm from aft, alongside the tiller, so I needed to test this position although I knew it would create problems.

This proved to be the case, with fore/aft trim having a big effect on helm balance. With weight aft, she trims bow-up and the bow gets blown downwind because the centre of lateral area moves aft. The hull should float close to the attitude shown on the sail plan to get the balance between sails and underbody correct.  If sailing alone, sit well forward, alongside the daggerboard. With other people aboard and sitting toward the front of the cockpit the helmsman can move aft, as seen in the photo of the prototype, keeping the boat fairly level. Just because you can sit next to the tiller is not a good reason to do so, trimming the boat level is what is needed.

Trimming the boat so that it heeled to leeward or windward also had a large effect on the helm balance. Sailing in steady light breeze while sitting on the windward side gave me lee helm but sitting on the leeward side gave me weather helm. In light but gusty conditions, sitting on the windward side, I had lee helm in the lulls and weather helm in the gusts. I then sailed downwind, standing in the middle of the cockpit, with one foot on each side of the cockpit. This allowed me to push down on either foot to change the heel angle. With the rudder on centreline I was able to steer the boat to either side as much as I wanted, with my feet. Pushing down on the windward side heeled it to windward and gave lee helm, pushing the bow toward the leeward side. Pushing down on the leeward side did the opposite.

This results from changes in the shape of the immersed portion of the hull with changes of heel angle. When heeled over to leeward, which is the correct attitude when sailing, the leeward side of the hull becomes more curved and the windward side becomes less curved. The neat symmetrical hull shape when upright changes to somewhat of a banana shape when heeled and that banana shape turns the boat toward the high side.

At the same time the centre of the sail area, through which the wind drives the boat forward, moves off to leeward of the hull. The drag from the water, holding the boat back, stays at the hull. This results in a lever with the sails pushing forward at the one end and the hull holding back at the other end. This causes the boat turn to windward, i.e.to have weather helm.

Those two effects from heel that create the desired weather helm will also work in reverse. Heel your boat to windward instead of to leeward and those effects will move to the other side of the boat and give you lee helm.

The effect of fore/aft trim and heel on helm balance is common to most boats of all sizes that have a fin keel, centreboard or daggerboard. I used these affects on my Didi 38 "Black Cat" to maximize boat speed in light to moderate conditions. In light breeze I had most of my crew to leeward on the foredeck. As the wind increased I gradually moved crew aft and to windward, one person at a time, thereby adjusting the amount of weather helm by changing the fore/aft trim and heel angle. It works exactly the same in a dinghy like the Argie 15.

The take-away lesson from this is that you can adjust the helm to suit yourself, between lee helm, neutral and weather helm, by moving weight around the boat. For the Argie 15 the main points are:-

1) It should not be sailed bow-up but it does not mind sailing bow-down. In light conditions I would sail it bow-down but would trim it level fore/aft for most other conditions. In strong conditions downwind I would get weight further aft, as is normal with most boats.

2) It should not be sailed heeled to windward. Crew don't have to sit on the windward side, they can sit wherever needed to get the nicest feel for the helm in light conditions. In stronger breeze the boat will naturally have weather helm and will need the crew to windward for stability. Again, this is the same for most other boats.

There are also sail adjustments that can affect the helm. More power from the sails increases weather helm. Sails that are full (lots of camber) generate a lot more power than sails that are flat, so they create weather helm. Increase power in the mainsail for light breeze by slacking the foot to increase camber. With a jib that has the forestay inside a sleeve at the luff there should be a line at the bottom of the luff, tying it to the eye of the stay. This line is used to adjust the tension of the luff, which adjusts fullness of the sail. Tighten the line to flatten the sail and loosen it to make the sail more full for more power. If you have Cunningham lines rigged on your boat for jib and mainsail you will use them to adjust luff fullness.

Whether you have an Argie 15 or some other dinghy or small keelboat, you can test these principles on your own boat. When you know the characteristics of your boat you will improve its performance and your racing results.

To see our range of boat designs, go to our main website or our mobile website.

Monday, June 24, 2019

Woodwork of 27ft Sportfisherman

I haven't posted about Kevin Agee's 27ft sportfisherman project for more than a month but work has been continuing. I took some time off for camping, surfing and sailing at Cape Hatteras with my surf buddies but Kevin stayed hard at work, sanding to achieve that perfect paint finish that he wants. The whole boat is now one colour, the light cream of the final coat of high-build epoxy. Next will be the finish primer to seal the epoxy in preparation to receive the high gloss finish coats.

In the meantime, I have been working on the pretty bits, the woodwork that will be bright-finished to set them off from the painted surfaces. Kevin bought 9-10" wide sapele mahogany planks for the toerails, from which I was able to select sections with grain patterns to flow the grain around the curves of the bow. He also found a 12" wide plank of figured sapele mahogany for me to make the helm pod.
All one colour, of high-build epoxy.
Flush lid of the fish box. OK, I fibbed a little, the lid is still a different colour.
Shaping and dry-fitting the pieces of the toerail. Kevin and Michelle glued this next day. The parts slipping and sliding on wet glue made the gluing operation a lot less fun than my experience when dry-fitting.
The finished bow capping of the toerail. It has been glued, edges radiused and sanded to a smooth surface. My high school woodwork teacher, who gave me a failing grade, would not believe that I made these high quality wooden parts without his help.
Scarph joint between two sections of toerail

The completed toerail, awaiting epoxy coatings and varnish
Cutting the components of the helm pod. Once glued up the completed pod will be shaped to a softly rounded shape.
The helm bod will form the base on which the wheel will be mounted.

I will have another break from the boat this weekend while Dehlia and I exhibit our designs on the Wooden Boat Show in Mystic Seaport, Connecticut.

This design is not yet on our website but will be there as soon as plans are ready. That will be after the launch and seatrials. See our range of designs on our main website or our mobile website.

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Wooden Boat Show

Next weekend sees the 28th annual Wooden Boat Show, at Mystic Seaport in Connecticut. This is a great event in a wonderful venue, with a wide variety of wooden boats to view, or even go for a ride. We will have our Argie 15 on the village green, as well as a display of our designs at our booth in the main tent.
Our Argie 15 on show at the 2017 edition of the Wooden Boat Show
Mystic Seaport is a living museum, showing life as it was in a New England seafaring community hundreds of years ago. It includes displays of many aspects of life in that community, from milling wood for the shipbuilding operations to the drug store and doctor's office. Rides on a variety of traditional craft are also available to visitors.

This is a gorgeous part of the world and we always enjoy our annual visit there. Come to the show and drop by our booth and Argie 15 to talk boats. The show runs from Friday 28th June through to Sunday 30th and we will be there for the duration.

Friday, May 24, 2019

Road Trip to Sail the Didi 29 Retro "Arabella"

It was my 70th birthday 2 weeks ago and I was surprised by my family with a totally unexpected visit by my sister Dorothy and her daughter Robynne from across the Atlantic, come to participate in the festivities and to help make it a very special occasion. Winding down Dorothy's trip, she and I made a brief road trip to North Carolina. We started off down the Outer banks, where I hoped to find some decent surf. The weather stymied that one with strong onshore winds, so we wasted little time feeling sand between our toes, visited the Graveyard of the Atlantic Museum in Hatteras and arrived at the ferry dock to board for Ocracoke to find rows and rows of cars waiting ahead of us.

Innocent us, we did not expect a flood of people to be visiting this tiny barrier island. I expected to arrive at the ferry dock and be boarded 15-30 minutes later, then a short crossing, time to get lunch on the tiny island before boarding our reserved ferry to Cedar Island. Wrong. After sitting in the queue for a long time, the very accommodating NC Ferry staff let us jump the line to catch the next ferry, or we were not going to make out 4pm ferry. That short crossing to Ocracoke is actually about 4 or 5 times the straight-line distance because the ferry has to wind back-and-forth through the channels.
Satellite view of Ocracoke Inlet, Courtesy Google Earth. The Hatteras ferry dock at extreme right, Ocracoke ferry dock at extreme left. The sand banks and channels move around and the ferries have to zig-zag through them. 
So, we had a drive-through tour that really didn't do justice to the very cute little town of Ocracoke, arriving in time to check in for our next ferry, without lunch. The ferry route to Cedar Island was more direct and parallel to the barrier islands, in deep water.The main entertainment was a variety of seabirds soaring behind us and looking for food to be churned up by the propellers or tossed in the air by passengers.

Once on land we saw the results of the coastal areas that were devastated by Hurricanes Florence and Michael last year. Homes destroyed, most that survived now being jacked up 6-8ft to get them above future flooding.Trees still on top of some homes, no longer habitable. And our hotel still undergoing reconstruction, with water service disrupted at times and cold water coming out of the hot taps. But the beds were new and very comfortable, so we got a good night's sleep. In the morning, a short ferry ride and drive to a marina in Oriental.

"Arabella" is very pretty. She was built by professional boatbuilder Bruce Mierke as his personal sailboat, to our Didi 29 Retro design. He customised his build to suit his own needs, so she has a shorter cabin and some different detailing.
"Arabella" in her dock, retractable bowsprit withdrawn
Lifting keel in raised position, hauled up by a tackle system led to the cabintop winch.
Lifting rudder in a casette. Bruce modified this from my original design, to give some steering when the rudder is partially raised. There is an outboard motor well but Bruce has an electric pod drive installed.
With the short cabin, Bruce has kept his halliards at the mast .
The bowsprit retracts and pivots on an inboard traveller on the foredeck, with control lines led aft to the cockpit.


"Arabella" hard on the wind.
Very neat high-peaked gaff rig with nicely-shaped mainsail. All spars are carbon.
So, how did she sail? Wind was very light, around 4-5 knots most of the time. On the flat water that we had, she sailed close to the wind at 3.5-4 knots, with little wake and an easy helm. She cut through the occasional powerboat wakes of the ICW with little fuss or loss of speed. Once cracked off, we pushed out the bowsprit, set the top-down roller-furled asymmetrical off the end and rolled away the jib to allow the spinnaker to breathe.

She powered up and reached at just a touch under the apparent wind speed, topping out at more than 8 knots boat speed in 9 knots of apparent wind. That put her boat speed at well above the true wind speed in which we were sailing. She did this with no fuss and very easy control. The speed gave the feeling that the wind had picked up but with the bag stowed and back on the wind under main and jib, we still had the same light breeze as before. She just gets up and goes. She will reel off the miles if used as a small cruiser.

"Arabella" has the smaller of the two gaff rigs that I drew. This one is suitable for most small crews, for racing or cruising. The other gaff rig is larger and will need a larger and more experienced crew. We also have a Marconi rig with square-top mainsail.

See our full range of designs on our main website or our mobile website.

Wednesday, May 15, 2019

27ft Sportfisherman

I may not have been paying enough attention when I started posting about the 26ft sportfisherman project of Kevin Agee. When we first discussed this proposed design it was to be about 26ft, so that was what I called it. But it grew a bit between first discussions and agreeing the final lines. It is actually a bit over 27ft from stem to transom, so it is now the 27ft sportfisherman project. And that project is now moving into the final finishing stages.

Having glassed the console, next we took a skillsaw to it. That was not to destroy it but to form a concealed switch panel with hinged cover to protect it from the elements.
Console after cutting to form the switch recess. The removed part will be used to form a hinged cover.
This is the infill piece that will fill in the hole in the console, with the switches mounted in the horizontal surface. We made this from 15lb Coosa Board.
The infill piece has been glued into the console. When finished it will hold the electrical switches, including the key-switch for ignition. 
Work has also started on fairing and priming the deck and rubrails to ready them for final painting.

After two coats of high-build epoxy applied by roller, the deck is ready for sprayed fairing compound.
Kevin took delivery of his new double-axle trailer, which had been set up by the supplier to suit the hull bottom. We jacked the boat with trolley jacks, supporting it on boat stands and axle stands, then dismantled the cradle from underneath. Pushing the trailer in under the boat was an interesting process, with trolley jack and axle stand playing leapfrog with trailer frame and axles.
New double axle trailer.
Jacked and supported on boat stands and trolley jack, the cradle was dismantled.
Safely on its trailer, the new boat came out of its shed for the first time.
Showing its lines in daylight.
For the first time we are able to step back and look at the transom and engine bracket.
Launch is still a few weeks away. Plans won't be available until after she is wet and has done some sea-trials. See our full range of designs on our website or mobile website.