Sail rigs delivered, launched, and being shaped

Drop in Sail rig, ready to go with custom canvas sailbag.

Yawldory Elyssa just launched. We built the masts and spars.

Caledonia Yawl birdsmouth-hollow mast designed by Clint (giving the 'evil eye' above) and built in-house by Steven Bauer and the CY owner.

One of our favorite projects is making birdsmouth-hollow masts and spars, but even more rewarding is working with great sailmakers who specialize in small boat sails. We work with them to have the sails made to fit the spars and lace them, make the lines, attach blocks and hardware so that someone can get a complete, drop-in rig from us and go sailing. It is very rewarding. Just delivered was a complete sail rig in a custom canvas sail bag by Mobile Marine Canvas. Just launched was a wicked-light set of masts and spars for the Yawldory Elyssa by Roger Long. The first sea trial was very successful. The masts are spruce made with the birdsmouth construction. Being finished right now in the shop is a new design for a hollow mast for the Caledonia Yawl. We have modified the original mast drawn by Iain Oughtred to be lighter and stronger for Birdsmouth construction. The tolerances involved are a little finer than working with solid masts, because the stiffness and strength of the mast will be a function of overall diameter, wall thickness, and wood type. All these factors, including the on-water use of the mast/spar, are considered when we design and build a mast. The important thing is that the load in the boat is what will exert the stresses on the mast. This load comes primarily from the weight, heeling moment, and crew of a small boat, more so than the wind strength.

Mast making at Shaw and Tenney

The second iconic work spot of the summer was 2-weeks of mast building at Shaw & Tenney. Shaw and Tenney has been in business since 1858 making gorgeous paddles and oars as well as masts, boat hooks, etc for boats. Sometimes they get interesting orders like for this project building four 8" diameter laminated, Douglas Fir masts for a high-end playground in NYC. They asked me to come up and help them take on this project and I was happy to do it.

The masts were all cut, rounded, and sanded by hand. They weight a few hundred pounds in the rough and were a challenge to put through the planer. Their dimensions had to be very accurate. Like any mast, once the piece is 4-sided and tapered, we can start 8-siding as we are doing above with a small skilsaw. After 8-siding this way, the mast was brought to 128-siding with nothing but patience and my favorite power planer. After two days plus of the power planer, when I that machine down for good, I can recall my hand vibrating for several hours.

The final rounding was done with custom shaped foam blocks, a trick from boat school that I use on a lot of projects. This was followed by finish sanding with the Festool. The result was some very nice masts! It was a wonderful place to work and watch the masters do their trade. One of the guys has been making oars and paddles for 25 years. To watch him work was quite impressive. I look forward to doing more business with S & T. Recently, they chose Clint Chase Boatbuilder as their official builder of their beautiful Whitehall.

After this project it was back to Portland for an overnight to see the family and pack for the next iconic week: Wooden Boat in Brooklin, Maine. I was to make my teaching debut at the Wooden Boat School.

Yawl should know the conundrum of getting a tiller 'round the mizzen mast

The details of how to design a yawl so that the tiller gets around the mizzen is an interesting topic. There are a number of tricks:

Using a line steering system: Here you can see Michael Storer's Beth Sailing Canoe with the tiller forward of the mizzen and the lines connecting to the rudder, which is out of the picture.

I'll add that there are a number of ways to do line steering. My Deblois Street Dory has line steering coming into the boat from a rudder yoke but there is not a remote tiller as in Beth. The Coquina is another example of line steering in which lines are attached directly to the rudder and pass through the transom, via a pulley system, and the steering line goes around the perimeter of the boat.

Using a long push-pull tiller: Here you can see James McMullen's Oughtred's double ender.

Using a curved, laminated tiller or split tiller

Using a normal tiller with an offset mizzen

For the Goat Island Skiff, we go with an offset tiller as in this model by a customer:

The other methods I mentioned just won't fit the situation we have in the Goat Island Skiff, mainly because there is not room for a split tiller and we want to keep the solution simple. We are deciding about just how much to offset the tiller. You can see above that the tiller will hit the mizzen before 45-degrees. The big question is how much room do we want to give the tiller to swing. In the pictures, we decided to test a 45-degree swing. That puts the mizzen a little further off the centerline than I'd like. This boat is very light and pushing a tiller than hard over makes the rudder act like a brake and the risk of losing so much speed that you can't get through the tack is something to consider. Then again, we don't need it so close that things feel claustrophobic. In the picture above of the offset mizzen, notice how little offset the mast is...the tiller must touch the mizzen pretty early. Does that give enough steerage for the helmsman when the push the tiller in the mizzen direction?

We'll have a solution soon after a full-scale mock up. The way we are doing this, collaboratively, is something I do on many projects. It always gets a better result because many thoughts and ideas can be sifted through. The more the merrier. Whatever the solution I draw up, the mizzen can always be moved a little more or less off the centerline according to the skippers preference. The important thing is to maintain the rake of the mizzen, which has been determined. My point is, that collaboration with designers, customers, and other folks with experience through the forums and boat shows can be an advantage in getting many thoughts onto the table and generating the best solution.

Update on Projects

It has been awhile so this is a quick overall update on projects:

* Goat Island Skiff kits can be cut anytime. Marketing for kits will begin by late Winter time and CNC cutting will be part of the plan. Meetings with CNC companies will happen early winter. I am taking coursework in Rhino/CAD to enable me to create files, modify files, and give them to CNC cutters.

* The Deblois Street Dory lines and offsets are finished an available. Hull #1 is being built by a customer here in Portland. Construction and sail plans are being produced now and plans will be available this winter. Kits for the D St. D will eventually be produced for the kit catalog.

*Frolic, the Flying Fifteen is as it was upon delivery. The keel comes off in the next week. As this is a personal side project, progress on it depends on how much customer work is going on at the time. Clearly, we have been busy with customers, so Frolic sits awaiting her complete restoration.

*Carbon fiber blade-Spruce oars are underway and will be part of a line of custom and semi-custom oar and paddle offerings that will become part of our specialty line of products. An online shop will be part of this endeavor, but probably won't be set up until early Spring in time for the Boat Shows. The blades are epoxy, vacuum-infused carbon fiber for total lightweight blades and balanced oars.

* Another specialty is Birdsmouth mast and spar construction for craft up to 22'. In the shop, staves are being cut for a Shellback Dinghy and Goat Island Skiffs. We use beautiful White Spruce and Sitka Spruce. We'll be combining the two species to make beautiful masts. Clint will have a line of mast types to choose from revolving around Birdsmouth construction, with different wood species to choose from for the spars.