Monday, September 2, 2013

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Sven Holch recounts the first Sea Of Opportunities program from summer 2013

"Connor, we have you and Wallace Boatworks to thank for literally keeping the surfboat program afloat!  While your job has been fixing it up, my job was to break it! (ahem, I mean USE it). I fulfilled my duties on the very first day by wrenching the bronze rudder track right off the stern and watching it's green, curved, 2 foot form sink 12 feet down into a bed of seaweed. Guess what an old, curved, green piece of skinny bronze looks just like? Yup, you got it, seaweed. At low tide that very afternoon in only 8 feet of water, after an hour of diving on a needle in a haystack with assistant surfboat instructor/local sailor/accomplished rower, Matias Sejersen, we emerged victorious and within 24 hours, Connor had that piece of bronze affixed to stern for at least the next 100 years, thanks Connor! 

It did not, however, deter for one second, an energetic group of 4th, 5th, and 6th graders from making the most of everything the surfboat had to offer. In just two weeks, this dedicated crew learned how to rig it, sail it, row it, keep it shipshape and put it away every afternoon. Some highlights included a visit to the Lifesaving & Shipwreck Museum, sewing their own ditty bags on a rainy day, rowing against the current through the cut in the jetties(then later riding it back through like a very large canoe on rapids), sailing against the current up to the inside of Coatue, racing the outgoing tide to emerge "ungrounded" from our favorite swimming hole, lots of swimming and diving at the end of each day. 

Our Sea of Opportunities took many forms, and we were fortunate to meet with local resources around the harbor, from Chuck Gifford taking us on an informative row in the whaleboat, to the Coatue Ranger teaching us tracking skills and bird identification, to the Coast Guard touring us throughout their "surfboats(s)." And finally, we were treated to a "gam" with local waterman, Alfie Sanford, who invited us to sail alongside his beautiful, wooden yawl, Starry Night. We had the distinct honor to not only get a tour of the elegant vessel that he designed himself, but the green crew were then given the rare opportunity to take her out for a sail! That really capped off an extraordinary two weeks of the inaugural year of the program. What impressed me the most about these kids was how they looked forward to it every day, and how well they took care of the boat and each other while having a lot of fun. I sincerely hope that we continue to see the surfboat plying the waters of Nantucket with an enthusiastic  crew aboard."

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Summer 2013

After a long few months of the Surf Boat soaking up the spring rains, it was finally time to take off the tarps and do some finishing touches.  Pascal Antionetti, over at Nantucket Community Sailing, dropped off the beautifully refinished spars which allowed Eric Holch to sit down and figure out the rigging.  He basically disassembled a Marshall Cat rig and used the ropes and blocks to make something work for the surfboat.  At this stage, a lot of this rigging work was guess work, but in the end we found it to work very well.

I did some final touches on the interior of the Surf Boat.  I added a few more backing blocks to support the thwart brackets, added a block and purchase system onto the centerboard, and drove home a few more screws that needed driving.  Most of my focus, however, was in the launching of the boat and making sure that when she went it, she would not sink to the bottom.  To do this, I allowed some rain water to fill up the boat and sit before draining it out.  This allowed the boat to swell a tiny bit more, but also show me where she was leaking.  I went around with some slick seam and covered the spots that looked like they would be more of an issue.

On a clear June afternoon, Eric Holch, Bill Fredericks, and Pascal Antionetti met me down at the launch ramp to splash her for the first time.  John Stanton and film crew where there to make some movies of the boat going in.

My initial idea that day was to get the boat in the water, make sure she didnt sink, maybe row it around a bit, then get it on the mooring.  Once in the water with the mast rigged and with a little elbowing from Bill we decided that it was too nice of a day to just leave it at that.  We got to row her, steer by the oar, rig both the main and the jib, attach the rudder and get some amazing sailing in as well.

The boats performance far exceeded any expectations that I had.  She actually sailed well and tacked through the wind with no issues and was light on the helm.  I cannot tell you how internally happy that made me feel.  After years of neglect, then months of hard work, an old Surf Boat from the 1940s was now sailing around Nantucket Harbor under my hand.

And soon I was to turn it over to Eric and to his son Sven who would run the two week Sea of Opportunities Program this August, which turned out to be an incredible success.

Short Video from the Surf Boat's inaugural sail!

Summer Fun On The Surf Boat

Eric Holch, Bill Fredericks, John Stanton, and myself take the surfboat on her inaugural sail!

Putting the boat away at the yacht club

Eric's son Sven takes kids out from the Boys and Girls club on during the summer Sea of Opportunities Program 

A close up of the Sea of Opportunities program

Another view of Sea of Opportunities 

Eric takes out family members during the rainbow parade at the 2013 Opera House Cup

Here she sits 

After a successful inaugural summer

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

New Work - Winter 2013

Unfortunately, the Surf Boat has spent most of the winter in lonely anguish in Eric Holch's mother's yard braving gales and snow storms.  We were, however, given a chance this February to bring her in to Rick Kotolac's shop for two weeks of face lifting.

The main goal was to finish up the painting that wasn't finished over the summer, and to being putting all the pieces back together.  When I first towed her over to the shop, I had to pull her through a foot snow drift that had built up off Cliff rd, and she was happy to thaw out in the heated shop.  In two weeks, I got a lot of painting done.  One coat of primer on the rudder and all sole beams, two coats of semi gloss white on the rudder and topsides, and two coats of beetle grey on the interior and cap rail.

The other big job was to install the heavy 100% bronze centerboard that Ron Shepard shaped to Alfie Sanford's specifications.  We ended up drilled a 1" hole as a hinge point and placing a bronze bushing with a 1/2" diameter hole to take the bolt.  Alfie stopped in to help me raise the centerboard into the boat and using a flashlight with a bit of luck, we were able to punch the bolt through the bushing and lock in place the centerboard.

With the boat painted, the sole beams were ready to install one last time and the floorboards on top of that.  With the floorboards down, she really has a sense of completion, and you can finally get an idea of how you will sit and what it might be like to row her.  Although it is my guess that this will be an altogether singular experience and will have to be executed to fully appreciate.

I brought the boat back to Eric's yard, covered her up with the tarp, and although she still sits alone to bare the brunt of mother nature, she seems a little happier now.  Soon the warm weather will come, and all the loose odds and ends will be put together, and the surf boat that was originally launched in the 1940s will row once again.

New Photos - Winter 2013

The Surf Boat spent most of the winter like this...

But was moved into Rick Kotolac's shop for two weeks in February.  Here the topsides have been sanded

Another coat of semi gloss white was applied to the topsides and the rudder primed

After the ice crud was cleaned out of the interior, I was able to apply the first coat of Beetle Grey

The interior 3/4 of the way painted

And all the way painted

While the paint dried, I took some time to work on the centerboard.  Here you see the bronze bushing we are using as a hinge point

The bronze bushing

A view of the bronze centerboard that local Ron Shepard made for us

Here is the centerboard bolt in place with washers and O-ring gaskets 

The interior was sanded once more and a 2nd coat of grey applied.  Then the sole beams were installed

Another coat of white was put on the topsides

And the floorboards are installed

And here she sits once more, awaiting warmer weather 

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Summer finish work

Cotton and Oakum are pounded into the seams under the waterline

Alexa Stern helps paint the floorboards 

Seam compound is spread into the seams ontop of the primed cotton and oakum

Screw holes are filled with fairing compound 

The new oars are brought out of their boxes and tested for fit

The rope chafe guards are pretty cool!

The old drain hole is covered

You can see here that she is holding water!  A sign that the cotton and caulking is doing its job.

The new drain plug thru hull is installed

Two fresh coats of green bottom paint are rolled on

The topsides are primed with red lead

The first coat of semi gloss white is brushed on to the topsides by Alexa Stern

Here she is on the trailer with one more coat of topsides paint to go!

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Week 13-14

It felt really good to get the salvaged pieces of centerboard trunk re-attached to the new mahogany keelson we put in.  Again, I glued the salvaged pieces together with the added security of 8" dowels and a thickened epoxy mixture.  As the glued dried, I was able to begin fitting the rest of the sole beams and cleats associated with them.  In a few days, I had them all fitted and installed.  The next step was to to bring out all the floorboards and see if I could figure out their order.  It was pretty easy to find where each piece fit, since they are all unique in size and shape and after a little fitting here and there, they seemed to fit pretty well.  They were then removed and the interior was given a final sanding before the first coat of Red Lead Primer was put down.

This was about as far as I got before we were kicked out of our shop space on Bartlett Road, and after an extra week in the shop (thanks Rick!) it was time to bring her outside again.  Bringing her out into the light really revealed how much the boat had dried out in the heated shop.  Some of the seams between the planks under the water line had grown to over a quarter of an inch.  The plan was to put her in the water for a week as soon as possible to see how much those planks would swell up again.

While we debated the best course of action for launching, where we would put the boat, and wether we wanted to wake up at 5am on saturday morning for the high tide, I was able to get a few more coats of primer on the bare sole beams and thwarts.  A new oak thwart was made to replace the one which had broken and an 1 inch cleat was glued onto the top of the centerboard box to take up for the salvaged wood shrinking.

We settled on a 5:30pm launch time on Friday and Alfie met me down at the launch ramp with Mike Pierce's boat to pull her over to the yacht club where she would sit for a week.  She filled up with water right away which posed a small problem for getting her off the trailer, but after a little tug from the motorboat and a little muscle from me, she was pulled off without a scratch.  Alfie towed her to the yacht club with about 4 inches of freeboard and I met him over there and tied her up to the dock where she would sit safe from wind and weather for the next week.  I noticed tighter plank seams by the next day, and after a week, most of the boat had swelled up nicely.  There are a couple areas with some minor gaps, but overall I am very happy with the outcome.

I put her on the hip and towed her back to the launch ramp where Pasquel met me with the trailer.  It was more difficult getting her back on the trailer then it was getting her off, but with the help of 4 bilge pumps and some tricky trailer work, we were able to get her most of the way up onto the trailer and out of the water without putting too much stress on her.

Now that she is out of the water again, we will begin the process of putting new cotton and oakum in her seams and sealing them with seam compound.  I have two more weeks before I leave to go sailing on the IMPALA in the Mediterranean and I hope to get most of the boat put back together and painted as much as I can.

Week 13-14

Gluing up the rest of the centerboard box with epoxy and bedding compound

One side complete with clamps keeping pressure while the glue sets off

The port side gluing up with most of the new sole beams in place

Once the beams were finished, I brought int he floorboards to make sure everything fit.  A little tweaking was needed here and there, but overall it looks pretty good.

Floorboards and beams removed for painting.

I moved the boat out of our shop after getting an extra week to work inside

1 coat of red lead paint below the sheer clamp

A little cleat is added to the top of the centerboard trunk and another to support the new oak thwart.

Here is the new thwart prepped and ready for primer

beams and thwarts getting a coat of red lead primer

The surfboat is launched at high tide with the help of Alfie Sanford on the motor boat

She is floated away from the trailer

And towed over to the yacht club

Where she sat for seven days swelling up

After a week, I hip towed her back to the launch ramp noticing how nicely the planks had swelled!

At the ramp at childrens beach.  She is a little lower in the water after a week.

Here you can noticed how tight the planks seem.

Pasquel offers his help in hauling her out

and in rigging four bilge pumps 

Ready for cotton and caulking!