Boatbuilding is an art and a science; even when carefully designed and planned, sometimes a boat just won't stay on the surface of a pond. So whenever a new boat is launched and it floats, there is cause for celebration.
I suppose that's why we are moved to bless the boat with celebratory libations. Hail Spawn, Spawn of Frankenscot! May you go fast and bring home your cargo safely!
It's also handy to have a group of friendlies to help when the main halyard slithers up the mast and then snakes itself out again (argh!) so that the sail has to be lashed into place:
With sails up, life-jackets on, and the wind puffing in the high teens, it seemed like an ambitious sort of day to test the boat. Still, why not, as EnsignRumsDown said, why not take off on an unknown boat into a crowded harborage on a day like this?
Thanks to Brent B. and Wendy L. for chasing Spawn around Tampa Bay –– just in case. Here's a quick video of the performance. Sadly, I did not get footage of Morsailesed's trapeze letting go ––either time –– but I assure you there was a mighty splash when it happened.
Work on the boat will continue, of course.
When I was a kid, my mom used to play the "Songbirds of America," a vinyl record she borrowed from the library, over and over at top volume.
The memory is vivid: from, I suppose, the year before kindergarten, when the other kids -– the pack of cousins and friends who spent their days under Mumsie's supervision –– were away at school.
Mumsie was a housewife then, an unapologetic homemaker. She ironed the laundry after taking it in from the line. She waxed the wood floors and prepared hot dinners every night. On some weekday mornings, she met with other housewives for coffeecake.
But she also made a study of wild birds. She went to the occasional meeting of the Audubon society. She carried a fresh paperback Roger Tory Petersen field guide everywhere she went.
I wonder about these two impulses, the domestic and the outdoorsy. She'd crank up the hifi and put "Songbirds of America" on repeat while pottering around the house. To this day, I half expect the sweet "chu-tweedle-ee" or what-have-you of wild birdsong to be followed by an authoritative male voice announcing, "The territorial call of the common Wood Thrush."
Echoing birdsong is part of how a person learns the birds. I break into "chick-a-dee-dee-dee!" more often than is strictly necessary, but I'm lazy. I return to high-tech assistants like the Cornell Ornithology lab website frequently to help me make an identification.
Although she wasn't really impressed by them, Mumsie approved of these innovations: smart phone apps, websites. I think she understood that –– for all the interactive bells and whistles –– all of it is just a short step away from listening to a record.
I jest only a smidge when I say that my favorite skipper leaves the house whistling like the less known eighth minion of Snow White. Heigh ho, heigh ho.
It's been a full few days at Boat Build Central. The process of painting a boat seems as slow as any human endeavor, ever. A metronome count of days:
Spray on one coat of polyurethane. Tick.
Pause overnight (or more) for drying. Tock.
Apply another coat. Tock
Pause for drying. Tick.
For Spawn of Frankenscot, the paint of choice is an automotive two-part polyurethane that OH Rodgers (aka Ninjee) sprayed on. Both guys used rollers and chip brushes to get paint onto the non-flats, corners, and so forth.
Despite my hopes for safety orange, it looks as if the boat will remain basic paper white.
Spiffy nonskid is in place on the topsides...Ninjee chose a specialty product to rough up the paint where crew might need to walk. Coarse and medium silica sand from Imron mixed with a touch of grey pigment masked into place gives the non-skid its distinctive look. This texture covers the bow, the side decks, and is wrapped on the sheer where crew will need it for hiking with a trapeze.
The aft section of the cockpit will require a few of those fetching bathtub safety stickers, as the non-skid does not extend to the "wading pool" on the lido deck. And yes, there's a second coat of paint missing on half of the lido –– the phrase "painting oneself into a corner" comes to mind –– give it a few more days. Tick. Tock.
What makes a sailboat a sailboat? Well, most people can point to that key indicator of sailing-ness: a mast.
And Spawn, too, has one of them there sticky-uppy things. We made a road-trip for a scratch-and-dent Melges 20 mast last spring. No stranger to repairing carbon fiber rigs, Ninjee ground out and re-wrapped the crack that made the mast such a sweet bargain, and let it (Tick. Tock.) cure. A set of shrouds from Marty Kulman of Quantum and a nice new forestay, plus Frankenscot's old spinnaker halyard allowed us to dry-fit the mast yesterday.
Aaaaaaaaand it fits, she concluded dryly.
Derek at JTR re-tooled the hiking racks from Frankenscot for us, smoothing out the curves to fit Spawn. Oh, the metal racks still vaguely resemble ADA-compliant hand-rails, but they make a very comfortable perch and now fit the hull like a pair of bespoke gloves.
With both racks in place, Spawn has a wingspan of just under 13 feet. I'm getting kind of a pterodactyl-at-the-ready vibe...
The Five-Man Electrical Band* sang it up already, but signs. It's hard to resist snapping pictures of them.
My interest in signage is not just local.
The first time was pretty easy: my favorite skipper took an old Flying Scot and made like a mad scientist to create an Everglades Challenge boat.
Of course it had to be called Frankenscot. What else?
This time around, he started from scratch. There was a stack of wood, actual plans from O.H. Rodgers, computer-rendered drawings from Dave Sawicki...and very little idea of what the creation would be called.
When in doubt, call a friend! The naming contest generated something like 66 suggestions, proving again that the internet can rather handily produce brilliance (Ned Johnston's "Irregardless" and Tim Snow's "Jeff's Last Boat VI" seem particularly clever, while there were a touching number of references to the Small Dog and to Jeff's dad, as well as some excellent plays on words).
The arbiter and sole judge of the contest himself however, went with one of the original place-holder names: Spawn of Frankenscot. "Spawn" for stable-use.
A simple name, albeit one with a superhero movie referent that's not quite awful enough (unlike, say, Mothra, or the Frankenstein franchises –– or this charmer, Slithis) for us to adopt as a mascot. Still, it has a certain ring.
Onboard Spawn will be my favorite skipper, WaterTribe name "TwoBeers," plus Jahnny Tihansky, aka "Moresailesaid," and newcomer-to-the-event, O.H. Rodgers, whose moniker among the Challenger gang will be "Ninjee."
Why "Ninjee"? Because of his affinity with the Ojibway First Nation of Ontario, O.H. went to Ojibway for his handle. And in Ojibway, "crazy boatbuilder" becomes "crazy canoebuilder," which translates to "Ninjee Wanadeez Jeemani Kewininee." "Ninjee" for short.
Hip, hip, Hurrah for Spawn and crew!
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