This log actually started 30 years ago. When I was a teenager
I spent my summers on Fire Island beach in New York. In between
watching girls on the beach and swimming, I saw boats sailing
by on the horizon. Where were they going I wondered? I promised
myself that someday a boy would be sitting on that same beach
watching me sail by. I finally did it in 1980. By then I had also
met some circumnavigators. It was Denise Puleston and Gerry Mefford
that whetted my appetite for blue water sailing. Just looking
around Dennis's house and seeing strange objects from far away
places sparked my imagination. It made me realize that the world
was a big place and I wanted to see it. I learned how to build
wooden boats from my grandfather Stanley Grodeski, so I knew what
I wanted in a boat. It had to be small enough to single hand,
not larger than 40 feet or so, and seaworthy. Now I know that
many different types of boats have circumnavigated and could be
called seaworthy, but the Colin Archer Pilot boat really caught
my eye. Double ended seemed the way to go. I helped deliver a
modern (i.e. wide transom) boat in heavy weather and the steering
watches had to be kept to 15 minutes. The boat was pushed anywhere
but straight ahead by the following waves. I didn't realize how
wide the transom was until I saw the motorbike and all the other
gear that was stored in the lazerette.
There were two problems for me in getting started. Wooden boat
building is not a high-income profession and there were demands
of "Oh lets get a house first". It seemed like a "No Win" situation.
After three houses and a job as boat building instructor at the
Maine Maritime Museum I was wondering if I would ever sail around
the world. Then one day I saw some of my students grouped together
and went over to see what was so interesting. What I saw was the
answer to my problem. It was George Buehlers "Back Yard Boat Building" book. In it was a design for a 42-foot
double ended "V" bottomed sailboat. One obstacle for a traditional
design was the cost of the ballast. At the time, 10,000 lbs. of
lead would cost over $10,000. Also, I would be building this boat
by myself, on a part time basis, and round bottom construction
is very time consuming. George's design was based on simplicity.
Concrete and scrap iron ballast and "V" bottom cross-planked construction.
This was something I could do in my spare time and be sure of
Work began in 1993. I got the backbone from a local lumber mill
"John G. Morse and Sons". I was lucky to have this resource. The
mill has been supplying boat builders for many years. Once the
backbone was together and laid on its side; some of my students
and friends helped pour the concrete ballast. My sister in-law
thinks it will just crumble away but time will prove her wrong.
One of the friends helping me, Wayne Dodge, spent some time in
Antarctica working with concrete. With his experience and some
additional research we came up with a good mix. What makes concrete
strong is the stone. Sand and Portland cement alone are not very
strong. Inside the concrete is railroad track. The total displacement
of the boat is 42,000 lbs. with 12,000 lbs as outside ballast.
Once the ballast cured for a few weeks I hired a local heavy
equipment company to stand the backbone up. To save time I didn't
draw out the entire boat full size; I just lofted the frame shapes.
Next I cut out the frames and floor timbers and bolted them to
the keel. The frame pieces are straight and fairly short so I
could use a table saw to cut them. I decided to plank the sides
next. I took four days off from the museum and with two friends
we planked her up.
Then my life went upside down. That's down with a "D" the big
"D" as in divorce. Iwalani went in to a state of suspended animation.
After re-marrying a wonderful woman, who already had a 33-foot
sailboat of her own, I was able to begin again in earnest. I was
getting older and my teenage dream was getting dim.
The next two years saw great progress. The
hull was planked, the deck put on and the interior installed.
I will be posting weekly updates to this log. Hopefully our
experiences will be of interest to you. There are always things
to be learned in life. As someone once said "If you think you
know it all, you might as well be dead." I am interested in seeing
what systems hold up the to marine environment and round the clock
operation. I want to see what other cultures are like, and why
tropical islands have such an appeal. I hope to answer these questions
and more when we leave Maine in June 2000.