Friday, May 27, 2011

Now I have a fly swatter. Ho ho ho.

The trouble with hitting, or trying to hit, cave crickets with scraps of wood is that I get worried about banging up the boat. And if I end up damaging the boat while attempting to dissuade cave crickets from whatever it is that they do, my rage will be Biblical.

So I picked up a fly swatter. Fly swatters are kind of hard to find. Maybe the Internet has made them obsolete; for all I know there's some kind of e-swatter everybody's downloaded. But I was able to find an archaic "real" fly swatter.

I'm not sure it will be able to withstand the crispy, horned carapace of a cave cricket, but I'm willing to give it a try.

Except that, now that I've hung the fly swatter in the shop, no cave crickets have shown themselves. Which means that either I've found the right deterrent ... or they are planning something.

Meanwhile, Steve and Bruce, in Steve's boat (the same Pathfinder design I'm building), are rocketing across the Bay in Small Craft Warning conditions. Like I said to a friend once: Small Craft Warnings just mean there's finally going to be some good wind!

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Port Sheer

Lately I've been working on the long, gently curved piece of wood that forms the upper left-hand side of the boat. Ugh, just using that lubberly language is like hearing fingernails on a blackboard.

Port sheer stringer. That's better! This is a actually a pair of 18-foot noodly pieces of wood, about 3/4" square in cross section, that arcs from the top outer corner of the transom, out along the side of the boat, and then up and in to the point at the bow. It rolls and spirals, it sweeps down and out and then swoops up and in, a crescendo of fine-grained fir. This defines the shape of the edge of the boat, so it's important to get right.

It's also very difficult to persuade wood to bend in what seems like five dimensions at once. This morning I was struggling with the aft end, where it snugs into a carefully angled notched trimmed into the edge of the transom. What to clamp it to?

Small C-clamp: fail.
Large C-clamp: fail.
Small bar clamp: fail.
Long rope: moderate success.
Long rope with crush-block and bar clamp: moderate success

But not close enough. There's a millimeter of space still to fill, and I'm not going to sink the screw in until that gap is closed ... even though I could get lazy and fill the gap with epoxy.

Just as I threw up my hands this morning and headed inside for coffee (come to think of it, boatbuilding before coffee may have been part of the problem) my eyes fell on Klamp Korner.


Klamp Korner is a magical land filled with the boatbuilding equivalent of rainbows and fat-hoofed unicorns: a section of the workshop filled with clamps of all size. Do I have enough clamps? Never. But I do have The BFC: a six-FOOT pipe clamp I used to use to close up 10-by pieces of oak.

I applied the BFC to the problem at hand. It's long enough that it actually extends all the way across the boat to the starboard sheer stringer. A few twists and the port stringer suddenly saw the light of reason. Gap closed.

Now I just have to figure out how to drill through the clamp, or how to move the clamp to access the screw location.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Cave Crickets Beware

For I have returned to boatbuilding.

After some schedule-shuffling, I was in the shop at 6 this morning for a quick spot of epoxying before starting the day. Unfortunately this was also before coffee, but I figured resin and silica powder are not the ideal taste to combine with dark-roast Sumatra, so I was blinking owlishly while mixing the goop and counting to sixty.

I installed the forward port bunkflat supports as the sky cleared into dawn. It was a cool 55 degrees, but warm enough for epoxy to kick, and now, as I happily watch the temperature climb into the 70s, I am wondering why it is that I can still smell epoxy. Occasionally a nub will lodge on my scalp -- a frequent consequence of bending around pieces of wood and bumping into them.

And now that I've returned to the boat, and cleared away the cobwebs, I am going cricket-hunting with a bat of seasoned locust. Attention cave crickets: stay away from my boat or you feel the business end of what I learned in physics: momentum equals mass times velocity. And I can swing a heavy piece of locust.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Back to Work

Yesterday morning, post dog walk, post coffee-making, but pre-breakfast, I slumped down in my desk chair for a quick look at the news before starting writing. I call it "ritual" but it's really just procrastination. Hey, better than Procrustenation, right? Look that up, kids, it's an allusion.

In any case: Osama bin Laden dead? Wow! I skimmed headlines, scrolled through pictures, sat back and pondered ...

... and then shut the laptop, opened the notebook, and took a sip of coffee. Seventeen minutes available of sweet unbroken writing time. Time to get to work.

Inconveniently for this story, I didn't have much of anything to say, and the story meandered along in its unhurried way. Still: it's one ratchet-click of the wheel closer to completion: the great wheel whose circumference spans months or years, whose curve is so vast it's like the curve of the earth, clicking one tooth further each day.