From 22 inch Model to 18 foot Boat -- Construction Log
Invite: Voyageurs Cruise in May
Arcebus Sailing Log
Before I finished Arcebus, people were always asking me how it was coming along and what kind of boat it was, Both as a scrapbook and a way to keep people informed, I documented the construction process on this page. Now that she's been launched, I'm keeping it out here in case people are curious or want to learn from my experience. One of the nice things about the web is it's strictly voluntary -- if you don't feel like looking at this, you can just leave whenever you want without offending me. If you are interested in seeing pictures of her in action, you can go to my sailing log page, which is the home page for this site: Arcebus Sailing Log.
What is an Arcebus? I came across the word in a novel about resistance to the Spanish conquest of Mexico. It was the name of an early matchlock gun. I picked the name because I liked the way it sounded and because when you look at this boat you see a little bit of an ark and a little bit of a bus.
Whatever compelled me to do this? Boat building/sailing has been my primary hobby for many years. I have 4 homemade boats (not counting Arcebus). So, why did I build another one? I admit it -- I'm addicted. I like the challenge and the satisfaction that comes from building and using your own boat. For me, there is no other activity that is as rife with possibility. For every moment you spend working on the boat, there are ten that you spend daydreaming about the ways you're going to use it, the methods you'll use building it, the places you're going to go with it, and the adventures that you will be able to share with others on it. Aside from a couple of simple kayaks, it's been 13 years since my last boat-building project, 9 of which have been dominated with the intense financial pressure of putting my three kids through college. For me, this was a self-indulgence that I've been dreaming about, but unable to do for many years.
The boat is a hybrid of two designs that I admire. The first is Jim Michalak's Jewelbox. I borrowed his concepts of a 12 foot long, walk-through cabin, self-righting hull, transom bow from which you can step onto the shore, and a pivoting leeboard. You can stay out of the sun and stay warm on cold or wet days. For me, one of the biggest selling points is the containment it provides for children. I have 2- and 4-year old grandchildren and I see this as a great boat for camp-cruising with them. You can see these features in the picture and appreciate their practicality, but you can also see that the hull is far from a thing of beauty. The flat bottom would also pound like crazy when motoring in a chop.
I just couldn't see investing the amount of time it would take to build a boat that ended up looking like that, so I played around with several alternatives. The first try was just a whimsical effort at disguise -- could I make it look a little bit like a Balinese fish boat (or at least a Minnesota musky)? It would be fun to take the grandkids sailing in a big fish. With the help of my sister and brother-in-law, who is an Indonesian artist, we came up with the following alternative.
Jewelbox in disguise real Bali boats
I finally decided the novelty might wear off and I'd still be stuck with a boat that pounded badly in the waves.
I kept thinking about ways to "improve" the hull form and finally focused on a hull that I was very familiar with and enjoyed looking at -- the Nutshell Pram. The Nutshell Pram was designed by Joel White and has been heavily promoted by Wooden Boat Magazine as a yacht tender and small recreational sailor. When I say small, I mean small -- it's only 7'7" long. Still, it has very nice lines, is easy to build and, if stretched out, is not too dissimilar in shape to the Jewelbox. Also, I was familiar with the design and the glued lapstrake construction technique, having built several scale models of the Nutshell Pram as childrens' rocking boats and as baskets and display models. Why not put Michalak's cabin on Joel White's hull?
view from the front
I increased the Nutshell's dimensions pertaining to length by a factor of 2.4 and those pertaining to width by 1.8. This gave me an 18' hull that was just under 8' at its widest point. Next, I made a 1/8 scale model, from which I have taken all my dimensions for the real boat. Here it is:
Arcebus: the model.
I'm hiding in the shadows of the stairway in this picture
As shown on the model, I'm planning to experiment with adding a mizzen sail in the back. Ths will give me a little extra sail area for light breezes and should help provide better balance. The center of lateral resistance (pivot point) is going to be further back than it is on Jewelbox because of the different hull shape. The mizzen will also make it a lot easier to handle the large main because it will help me face upwind when raising or lowering sail. I already have a 60 square foot sail and mast left over from an earlier boat building project (Phil Bolger's Gypsy) which should serve nicely as a mizzen. I think I've worked out pretty well the location of the combined center of effort of the sails and the pivot point of the hull. I may be in for some surprises, though, so I'm planning to leave a lot of room for adjustment in mast angle (rake) and leeboard location. The biggest concern I have is whether the boat will be able to stand up to that much sail. My attitude is I'd rather have too much than too little. I can always reef down and even if the boat gets knocked completely down it will not fill with water. (If all goes as hoped, it will also be self-righting.)
I've decided, too, that I'm going to use two pivoting leeboards instead of a single one as Michalak uses. Arcebus has a much narrower bottom than Michalak's flat-bottomed boats and is going to heel over more when it's sailing. I'm worried that a single leeboard won't have enough submerged area when it's on the weather side and the boat is heeled. This could really be a problem if I need to get away from a leeward shore. Also, having 50-60 pounds of weighted leeboard always hanging out on the windward side is ideal ballast which should help it stand up to the wind and contribute to self-righting capability.
Mast and spars
Flying Boat Shelter
I replaced the turnbuckle with a rope and pulley system at each end
so that I can lower the shelter in high winds and subsequently weathered many storms and a
Minnesota winter with no further problems.
Those sheets of plywood had to become long planks. I used Dynamite Payson's method of scarfing -- butt joints held together with fiberglass tape. Lay out some wax paper, wet down a 2-3" wide strip of fiberglass on the wax paper with epoxy, lay down the plywood so it butts in the middle of the strip, apply epoxy and fiberglass to the top of the joint, cover with wax paper, and apply weight to spread the epoxy out and get the the edges of the planks are in the same plane. Here is a picture of the first bottom layer of the boat after applying tape and epoxy. I have placed just about every heavy object I can get my hands on over the joints. Because of the number and length of the joints here, I only did one side at a time.
Carrying the finished panel
Spiling the Planks
I glued the garboards on immediately after fabricating them, but the top two planks were only temporarily fastened. After building and fitting them, I removed them and glassed them on both sides before gluing them on permanently. It is much easier and cleaner to sand and glass them when they are lying flat on saw horses than when they are hanging on the hull.
Xynoling the Bottom
Here I am pouring more liquid gold into the black hole
Timeout for a Wedding
Permanent Frames at the Cabin Ends
My second back-up plan is an old 5.5 horse Evenrude that I'll keep
in the stern storage compartment for emergencies. That should be enough to maintain
hull speed in just about any conditions.
That was my original concept -- the picture below flash-forwards 2 years to show the curved yuloh that I actually installed which allows me to operate it within the cabin. I found the little curved tree for the shaft while canoing in northern Minnesota. The yuloh pivots on a trailer-hitch ball mounted on the transom. The socket is a sawed-off trailer hitch receiver lag-screwed to the yuloh. A removeable pin is used to secure the receiver to the ball, while allowing it full range of motion. Note: In 2013, I added a hinged 3' extension to the blade to give me more power while still fitting inside the boat.
Ready for Turning
Turning it Over -- Saturday
morning, September 5
Examination by my long-suffering
A figurehead might be a nice touch Bon Voyage!
Annika and Camilla (grandkids) are ready to go sailing
October 9 -- An unheard-of 3 consecutive October days of 80 degree weather inspired me to put down 3 coats of epoxy on the floor. Now I don't have to worry if I get a little rain water or snow melt in the inside. The dark mahogany color of the garboards make for quite a contrast with the birch planks above. I selected the lighter lauan below because of its interesting grain pattern.
to hang it up until spring of 2004
One more thing -- I found a trailer! Took a drive in rainy mid-November to the the biggest new and used boat dealer around and found the perfect trailer for Arcebus for $300 (it pays to shop in November). This is one solid trailer, with just enough width between the fenders. Yippee!
That's all until springtime -- thanks for visiting.
Second Summer of Construction. No, I didn't finish it then, either, but I came close.
done in 2004 was more tedious with fewer dramatic results than in 2003. The best
thing about it was that my 25-year old son, Aaron, worked with me on it about one day a
week. That was fun and a huge help. We are looking forward to doing some
voyaging together next year.
This past summer, we installed the cabin top and decks; built the lee boards and rudder; installed seats, mast partners, mast steps and outboard motor mount; cut the window openings; made a canvas cover for the cabin-top slot; sanded, painted, varnished, and oiled (and sanded and sanded and sanded).
Still to do: Install the windows; finish putting reefpoints on the sail; install a boomkin for the mizzen sail (a spar that sticks out the back end to which the mizzen sheet is attached); finish rigging the sails; and attach the deck hardware. Here are some pictures of what she looks like as of November 2004.
The motor mount, shown in the picture below, is a heavily-built box that slides up and down on two hefty aluminum channel irons that are attached to the transom. The seats, shown in the interior shot, can fold up, providing enough floor space for a queen-sized air mattress.
We buillt NACA foil profiles into the rudder and lee boards by gluing on wood strips of graduated thicknesses. After a little research on the web, I put together a spreadsheet for calculating and graphing the strip thicknesses and the bevels.
The kick-up rudder is weighted with a 20 lb. chunk of scrap 1/2" aluminum that was routed and glued into the middle of the rudder. For extra ballast, I added 50 lb of scrap 3/16" stainless steel sheet to each lee board. This weight should be in an ideal position for ballast -- equivalent to an 80 lb. crew member hiking out. As a little experiment, I left the lee boards flat on the outside, with the NACA foil only on the inside surface. I'm hoping that this will promote some airplane wing-type lift to windward, although I've been advised that I probably won't be going fast enough to have much effect. If nothing else, the wood strips and stainless steel (covered with fiberglass and epoxy) will add extra rigidity and strength to the lee boards.
Uh-oh -- I'm already feeling queasy
I bougnt some used self-tailing winches on E-Bay that came off of a 1974 26 foot Pearson. I mounted them on the cabin-top for raising and lowering my leeboards, which each have 40 lbs. of scrap stainess steel in them.
Will the rig balance? ... that is the question.
The yuloh is ready to try, as is the cabin roof. (Of course, it doesn't look like I'll be using the two at the same time.) The yuloh is from a very-curved little pine tree I found while canoeing on a lake up north.
E-Mail me, if you like. (firstname.lastname@example.org)