Our Everglades Challenge project boat -- the Frankenscot -- performed well enough during the first round of sea-trials to earn a few key new parts. Call 'em blades, or foils, or boards, or what you like, but it means that the slab-like rudder and the portly centerboard that came standard on the boat are getting a makeover.
The centerboard, just a clever reader might expect, is a board that can be found at the center of a boat.
Unlike a random 2x4, a standard Flying Scot board (or foil, if you like, or blade) is about 5 feet long and a foot and a half wide, and looks a bit as if it was originally designed out of Lincoln Logs. It's made of wood and fiberglass and can be lifted or lowered by means of a pulley system.
Technical explanation (short form): centerboards serve to keep a boat from slipping sideways.
It's possible for a carefully designed centerboard to act as a lifting foil that can raise a boat clear out of the water as it scoots along. In case you missed the 2013 America's Cup, here's a quick look at a foiling machine that did pretty well (controversy and allegations aside):
Which is a bit beyond the scope of the Frankenscot.
If we get a theme song, however, things might just turn around.
But back to the business of being a modern Prometheus: the plan is to replace the blobby 105-lb Flying Scot centerboard with a lighter one designed for hydrodynamic performance. Something that looks more like an airplane wing, say, than a handful of bricks in a bag.
Zaftig = pleasantly plump, as a full-bodied, voluptuous woman. From the Yiddish zaftik, juicy.
To create this new centerboard, TwoBeers went to the Monster Garage -- or as good as: his brother's Monster Woodshop. Using O.H. Rodgers' schematics, his first step was to create a structural core for the new centerboard. TwoBeers cut 3/4 inch signmaker-grade plywood into strips 1 and 1/8 inch wide.
We turned each strip on edge and (very quickly!) painted epoxy on both sides. Using yards of waxed paper to contain the gooey epoxy, we smushed the strips together and then applied a handful of carpenter's clamps to make sure the whole thing cured tight and square.
Photos? Sorry, the process was rather sticky and the Monster Woodshop has a fine coating made up of 60% sawdust, 10% tobacco ash, 10% dusty spider webs, and 20% unidentifiable shop detritus. The poor camera has already weathered a green wave of salt water this month in the interest of Frankenscot; it took the afternoon off.
The core, once the epoxy dried and the clamps came off (and it had a couple of swipes from the sander) looked a little bit like a butcher's block. But very light.
The next step of the project will transform this flat plank into a smooth wing-shape.
I ran into one of my father-in-law's friends at the collection center for the local battered women's charity recently.
As we stood by the open hatch of my minivan, he couldn't help but survey the boxes and piles of things I was dropping off: the packages of baby-blue adult diapers and the old textbooks, mismatched coffee cups, ashtrays, serviceable kitchen tools, clothes. The remains of a household. The scraps of a daily life.
Naturally, it's not one of my own friends I see. Nor one of my mother-in-law's pals, whose understanding I can rely on -- woman-to-woman, we've all faced this chore. We've teamed up to get the job done for widowed and orphaned acquaintances. More than once. We joke sometimes about the pile we will ourselves leave behind one day.
But of course it's one of Pappa Joe's pals here outside the thrift store. He was one of the guys who visited often during the weeks of Joe's short, sharp decline, and whose practical kindness I remember fondly. Still, he was part of the salty crew of characters -- the Bad Boy Carving and Tuesday-Night Rum-Drinkers Club -- who kept egging on Pappa Joe to continue his testosterone-fueled adventures. The gang who, from my vantage point, anyhow, never permitted a graceful exit off the podium of alpha guys even when Joe turned 65, 70, 80 and looked a hundred years older.
This is the man who shoots the breeze with me in the parking lot while casting an eye over the cardboard cartons and the garbage bags of clothes.
I washed them, I want to say, but no one wanted this stuff. And besides, I want to explain, it's been more than a year. It's just things, and someone else needs to be putting them to use.
But he inhales, ponderously, and holds his breath for a long moment before telling me why he's here.
He's careful to explain how he's dropping things off from the other branch of the shelter's thrift store. How things have to get moved between the stores. Rotating stock keeps the customers shopping. It's important.
I feel my shoulders relax as I read the subtext. He wants me to know that he's not throwing out someone's beloved collection of treasure either.
"The goodness of a true pun is in direct ratio to its intolerability." --Edgar Allen Poe, Marginalia.
Infinitive form of verb synonymous with struggling, stumbling, or making awkward mistakes.
As usual, answer below for the chance to win a fabulous prize. And by fabulous, you know I mean "figuratively" fabulous.
Only four books?
Irony aside, it's a start.
There's an enormous stack of books I want to tell everyone to read, right away. Surprising stories. Amazing writing. With a four-book limit, there's a bit of constraint on this impulse.
The theme this time: a crazy little thing called -- well, you know.
Love is a little thing shaped like a lizard./ That runs up and down and tickles your gizzard. Or so they* say.
Persuasion is my favorite of the Austen novels.
In the interest of honesty, I have to say that this cover
<---MIGHT have colored my first reading of the story, back in junior high.
Who knew it was a classic?
Still, I stand by my affection for this novel, even over Pride & Prejudice and Sense & Sensibility. Why? Well perhaps because, unlike so many "romantic" stories, there is a pretty strong possibility that the two lovers will NOT get together. Plus, the emotional connection makes sense: they are attracted not just because of a pair of fine eyes or a lovely face, but because of their history, how they act under pressure, and what they hope to become.
In Fingersmith, the love story sneaks up on a reader. This brick-thick book, set in the 1850s in England, begins with a nod to Oliver Twist and then piles on the suspense and complications of a dastardly plot to steal a family fortune. Betrayal, twists of identity, and the fate of two orphan girls in this milieu that denies the most basic of rights to female people -- this is the best of suspense. Conventional expectations about love and happy endings get a good cage-rattling (or at least mine did) when the story comes to its conclusion.
Endless Love, on the other hand, explores that most traditional of romances: first love of boy meeting girl and losing her. Complete with all the sexual frankness and over-the-top emotionality that makes our teen years a joy to behold (...from the safety of an artillery bunker). Though it was made into a rather dreadful movie with a baby Brooke Shields, the book is feverish, compelling, beautiful, and sad. Hemingway said it: "When two people love each other, there can be no happy ending."
At 120 pages, Abel's Island is a miniature masterpiece about survival and finding meaning in the wild world. A gently bred young mouse is whisked away from his beloved by a big storm, and spends a year alone, trying to escape his predicament. With eloquent illustrations by the author, of New Yorker cartooning fame.
* In this case, the "They" who rhyme lizard with gizzard is a character in a book by Madeleine L'Engle. Not her most famous book, A Wrinkle in Time, but from a novel about the very square Austin family, A Ring of Endless Light. Because there are always more books...
The Frankenscot Everglades Challenge project stayed out of the Monster Garage this week. Instead, we had a planning session or two. We started writing up the big punchlist, and we met with Jarhead, a veteran of seven Everglades Challenges, to begin brainstorming possible routes.
Here's the start of our list:
EPIRB distress beacon, SPOT personal tracker, hull flotation, submersible VHF, cell phone(!), life jackets, rigging knives, LEDs flashlights, running lights, cabin lights, dry bags, dry suits, battery system, bilge pump, first-aid kit, flares & standard Coast Guard kit.
Standing rigging, running rigging, boom kicker or equivalent, reefing system, hardware for boat, spinnaker gear, headsail gear, main sail gear, control gear, tiller extensions.
Roller Furling System & Sails:
Harken 164 Hi-load or equivalent, asymmetrical spinnaker, large headsail, standard roller-furling headsail, main with 2 sets of reef points, sheets.
Oars, seats, oarlocks, spare paddle.
Hypothermia kit, fire-starter, watch, boat-repair gear, sleeping pads & bags rated to at least 40°F, watch-caps, tech performance clothing, bug netting, tent or equivalent.
Cooking & Food:
Compass, GPS/Navigation, GoPro camera.
And here's a tiny snippet of FrankenScot going upwind in some weather. Ben Moon of Ronstan is crewing for TwoBeers:
Tempus fuigit. Time flies.
May I please reclaim minutes spent:
1. Waiting for the number above the counter to match the number on the paper ticket in my hand: Deli counter, DMV, Apple Store, I'm talking to you.
2. Watching that YouTube tutorial on "wobbling." Like I need to add this dance move to my arsenal.
3. Refereeing any discussion about where anyone else is going to sit in the car.
4. Also, while it might be a valuable 21st Century skill, I would take back that time I spent with Nicole Richie recently on How to Take an Awesome Selfie. I'm not Nicole Richie; my selfie is never going to be that awesome.
5. Drug-store Purgatory: trying to pick the right hair conditioner. Seriously? A bottle of goo is not going make that much difference. Even this one.
6. Playing Tetris, Candy Crush Saga, Word Scramble. They are banned from the desktop, but they just keep sneaking back into reach.
7. Trying to navigate voice-mail mazes. Damn it, if you want to call it "customer service," people, it ought to end up providing me with some species of service!
8. Picking hair conditioner. Yeah, got me again. And still, no bottle of goo will transform my hair into something rich and strange. Even this one.
9. Reading pretty much any magazine article about making myself more attractive by the application of money to my person. Most of my early teen years can be reclaimed if only I could get these hours back.
10. Meetings. I am not going to be unrealistic here. Can I just have a single minute back for every ten I spent inside airless conference rooms while someone on the other end of the speaker-phone explained one more time what we hoped to accomplish during our time together? I'll use those precious minutes to sleep. For reals.
11. Bonus complaint. Hard to explain how this one vacuumed up minute after minute, but feel free to enjoy. If you -- well -- if you have a minute:
In every project, a fork comes along in the road. A time to decide whether to commit or break it off.
So far, TwoBeers has kept the investment in our Everglades Challenge boat, Frankenscot, to a minimum: a free boat, leftover parts, hand-me-down stuff from a lot of good buddies.
Still and all -- a person gets impatient waiting for that fork, at least they do in our house.
So it was a relief to finally float the Frankenscot, even with the old, low-tech rudder and centerboard, even without figuring out floatation for the hull, even without hooking up all the stuff...to get an idea of whether the creature was going to sink or swim.
Thanks to Paul Silvernail of Masthead Enterprises and to Chris Morgan who took a turn on the Frankie while I played videographer.
Frankenscot performs very much as expected: the extra width translates into a much flatter program upwind, the asymmetrical kite feels like pure horsepower AND lifts the plow-shaped bow of the boat, and while the Lightning jib is a bit of a flop for actually sailing upwind, we liked seeing the GPS readout into double digits off the wind. The boat feels roomy (jacuzzi for six?) with the seats removed, and the modern bailer looks sharp.
We celebrated with a beer or two and brainstormed with the usual gang while watching America's Cup coverage.
Frankenscot, our Everglades Challenge boat-to-be, continues to evolve. The last couple of weeks have included plenty of boat-building activity, but most of it of a fussy and non-thematically-related nature.
The standard Flying Scot mast is a hefty chunk of extruded aluminum. Because we plan to rig a trapeze (no, not with spangles and leotards -- nautical. Like mountain-climbers.), we figured the FrankenScot's mast might need a little extra something.
<------ Like these spreaders.
Spreaders exist to push the stays outward from the mast, which allows for greater control of how the mast deflects and where it bends. Spreaders function in something like the same way as a pier on a suspension bridge -- to distribute the load without having to construct a whole dang mountain.
The racks are ready for sea-trial..
This black trampoline (no, not like that. It's the nautical kind of trampoline.) provides a rigid, light, but (potentially) comfortable spot to perch. The material is a vinyl-coated mesh, designed not to stretch, while the lashing is a high-tech Spectra cord, rated to hold something like 800 pounds.
Since TwoBeers has modified the former Flying Scot pretty far from its workmanlike beginnings, he plans to test those modifications sooner rather than later. So he fitted a standard Flying Scot rudder back onto the boat.
It's a beaut. ----->
Depending on how the sea-trial goes, there might be a shaplier rudder in Frankenscot's future.
For sails, there's a Lightning spinnaker, an SR-21 genniker or two complements of Josh Wilus and the local Doyle Sails, a standard Flying Scot main (reef points to come), and a Lightning headsail to try.
If the project continues, the jib will eventually roller-furl, and the standard blocky centerboard will be replaced with something with curvier and more hydrodynamic.
We emerged blinking from Customs and Immigration at the Marsh Harbour International Airport, pole-axed by the intensity of the sunlight.
In the Bahamas for a wedding, Jeff and I meandered to the taxi stand, where a young guy assisted our luggage into the back of a mini-van driven by an older man in a neat black suit.
We settled onto the wide back seat and the van peeled away from the terminal at about 13 dusty miles an hour.
In that friendly, implacable Caribbean way, the cabbie introduced himself as J----S---- and asked us where we were from, what we did for a living, how long we’d be staying. And was it true that our hometown was indeed a good place to buy a used limo?
Cars passed us on the right, on the left, zooming, flying by. But J----S--- held firm to a top speed of perhaps 22 mph. I was surprised when Jeff offered him names of several limo services in our hometown. “They can probably give you an idea of where to get a good used one,” Jeff suggested. Always with the hidden depths in his still waters. Who knew my husband had an opinion about and knowledge of the livery trade?
As J---- S--- continued to pilot us carefully across town, I took note of the Bible dotted with yellow sticky-notes, the starched collar of his shirt, and the aluminum walker crammed onto the narrow dashboard.
We were here for a wedding? he eventually inquired.
We were. A friend of ours would be marrying a girl from Nassau, over in Hope Town.
“My wife and I just celebrated our 49th wedding anniversary,” he said, and I took a quick look at his grey-flecked hair, trying to do the math.
“The secret is,” he said, pulling carefully into a parking space at the ferry dock, “To say ‘I love you,’ every day.”
He popped open his door and wrestled with the aluminum walker before swinging his single leg onto the white-dust driveway of the ferry docks. I hopped out to join Jeff in fetching our own luggage from the back of the minivan. Lifting open the back hatch, I was taken aback by the sight of J---'s prosthetic leg -- complete with shoe, like a two-toned riding boot ready for the hunt -- standing upright next to our duffle-bag. I nudged Jeff and he nodded.
I could barely wait to tell the story -- how this one-legged taxi driver (perhaps the slowest taxi-driver of all time!) with his neat black suit and his warm accent offered up such sweet advice for marriage and happiness. I was thinking it was a sort of narrative gift from the funny old world. And for toasting newlyweds --! But when I tested it out with some friends from the wedding party, they interrupted me.
Oh, was it J--- S---? they asked, J--- S---- from over the way? Oh, yes, they said, we know him.
Of course they did. Five thousand people on the big island where everyone flies through or comes through by ferry. It would be surprising if they didn't know him.
That sizzling noise? That would be the sound of hot air escaping from the silly balloon of a story that wasn't actually picturesque or funny after all. I should know by now that Jeff's better at toasts than I am.
About the Blog
A lot of ground gets covered on this blog -- from sailboat racing to book suggestions to plain old piffle.
Trying to keep track? Follow me on Facebook or Twitter or if you use an aggregator, click the RSS option below.
Old school? Sign up for the newsletter and I'll shoot you a short e-mail when there's something new.