Saturday, February 19, 2022

Dual Spinnaker Poles for Flying Fifteen

 The 2022 race season is approaching.  I need to get some upgrades to up my chances this year.  The dual pole spinnaker launcher device is what I am aiming for and I bought two carbon fiber 1.25" tubes from Utah.  But they are going to come in late so lets rig something up to see how this will work.

The North American FF association head, Tim O'Connell sent me plenty of info on the application on his fifteen so that will be the starting point.

Utah Tubes
Aft pole ends turned in Delrin

We will develop this part to sit on current ring but able to be removed if all goes south.

Tuesday, August 25, 2020


4034 has been out trying some racing.  Single handed it will keep you busy.  But flying a spinnaker is another story.  I am looking at 505 set ups and trying to add that to this boat.  Too risky to solo with all the ropes.  Now how to design that in.  The rope paths are a bit...

A sad day with the passing of Julian Bream.  Great classical guitarist, Lutist.  Thanks for the great music!

Friday, July 31, 2020

Well so much for that welding job!  I cracked the lower welds on the main cross beam so lifted the boat and pulled the trailer out.  Welded cross member then faced off with a serious corrosion issue on the main pipes.  The seam weld of the 2" x 2" box tubing is failing along the seam.  I re-welded the entire damaged area and re-coated and painted it up.  Need to redesign the trailer in the future and make another or buy one from the UK.

Sunday, December 9, 2018

Well it has been an interesting 2 year.  We moved to California and brought the boat along with a little bit of pain and stress.  The sailing here is nice and the water access is more simple than Hilo.  We will have to see about getting into some of the local racing before long.  For now it is time to close this weblog and make the final post for the Flying Fifteen Pacific construction of USA 4034 - Galilee. Everyone's opinion is that the boat sails very nicely, smooth on the wind. That is three years of work, perhaps 6-9 months of full time work. Construction essentially ended in September 2016, however, there is on going tweaks and I need to get the spinnaker system running. I discarded the devices, molds, strong back and special tools for the boat, setting them to fire or reusing as a chicken coop.  Sadly all of the tools were sold as well for moving.  But the offset scales and station layout panel is still on hand so who knows :)

I have placed the following links to construction videos and documents.  They are easy to miss in the pile of past posts in the blog and I must admit I never organized it very well.

Chapter 1 video: Keel, Rudder, Hull

Chapter 2 video: Hull internal, P&B sail rig, Trailer

Chapter 3 video: Water
Working on it, guess I will post again.


Comments for those who want to build:

This project started in the public library in Hilo, Hawaii where I came across a book illustrating 50 boat designs.  I had been searching for an opportunity to do some steam bending of wood, an interest that had festered with me from 30 years earlier while attending a wood furniture class taught by Mike Cooper at De Anza college in Cupertino, California.  {And here is all I will say about that, a link to the amazing work of the 'Mad Man of Lodi':}

One of the designs illustrated  in the book was an Uffa Fox 'Lively'. The details of the hull construction (c. 1940s) in the plans were intriguing.  Doing a search later on the web for Uffa Fox whom I had never heard of lead to a site listing his many boat designs.  That is when I first saw the Flying Fifteen appearing among his other flying series boats.   If I was going to invest the time I wanted something substantial when it was over, not a project to be sent to an attic or unused storage space.  Our carport was 20 feet in depth so the FF would just fit.  Then I ordered the plans from the UK and after they arrived I put them in the closet for many years...

In my head the 'project' would not die.  Finally in the spring of 2013 I pulled out the keel drawing 97/2, the item that had mystified me more than any other aspect of the boat.  How to acquire this lead to many ideas and options.  Direct purchase from the UK, backyard casting (with a blast furnace...yeah right!), flame cut steel plates...eventually we built a plug and arranged for iron casting in California where a foundry was interested to assist.  By September the iron keel had arrived back in Hilo from the foundry and we were now committed.  It should be added that at this point I intended that the boat be built to the class specification to allow entry in races if the possibility were ever to occur.

I was asked several times during construction about the plans for this boat.   I assume that Uffa's loft table, the keel and rudder drawing, and the FF rules document comprise 'the plan'.  There are no detailed step by step plans as in building a balsa glider or such.  From these documents I generated cad drawings for the boat but only to the degree that I could proceed with construction (with much focus on the keelson laminate).  An unfinished drawing set was generated (available by request) but all the essential structure details for shop work were laid out.  Then I made much use of the Ian Nicolson book 'Cold-moulded and strip-planked wood boatbuilding' that I came across in a back street bookshop window display in Port Townshend, Washington.

You will eat and digest the loft table and the rules.  You will probably search the web as well, over and over again.  I spent quite a bit of time trying to figure out the rigging and fit-out and ropes looking at 'many' boats on the web.  The final line and hardware plan was detailed in drawings in the document set above although at this time I do not know how close it is to being right and I imagine a seasoned fifteen'ers eyes might glaze over trying to figure out 4034 - Galilee.  I still have many ropes and lines in my package ordered from a marine store that never went on the boat...they are still nice to hold though.

I have never built a boat, and I probably never will again but I strongly suggest anyone considering it to do so.  Although three years passed during the construction of 4034 I would estimate there were perhaps 9-12 months of actual 8 hour/day effort put in, perhaps less.  It would take less time if you plan better on the steps...or if you just watch this video:

For a first time I was aware of ongoing inefficiency in the execution.  The blog can be used to highlight the process.  The cold mold process if you work with a team can proceed very fast.  I was determined to lay at least 3 plys per day during that period from Autumn 2014 to March 2015 (280 slats in all), slow I know but done mostly single handed and other things to take care of.  As many as 12 were done in one day.  The steps are repetitive and require some finesse but it can go quick.  After seeing the boat construction in the video I can see that I fit the strips too precisely.   The aft section of the flying fifteen puts a bit of difficulty in the task due to a tight bend around the gunwale.   Designing a strong back with foresight (appropriate clamp positions for straps) would have saved setup time as we moved along.

The keelson is solid African Mahogany built up from 8 mm thick planks as one laminate.  It weighed about 30 lbs before shaping.  This wood is somewhat soft, as well as brittle and planers can rip up the grain.  I chose the best straight grain then scarfed pieces together in full >20' length strips prior to one large laminate glue up.  I steamed the bow area to avoid cracking as well.  If you re-saw all your own wood be sure to use a 3/4-1" blade.  I used that on my 14" band-saw after awhile and it was fantastic. You can see that the individual laminates were built up from edge glued as well as scarfed thin planks.  They take a bit of work.  All scarf joints were staggered as well so none share a common region along the keelson length.

The interior frames were built from 3mm marine ply using an adjustable jig that took 1 hour to make and was very quick for frame production.  Urea formaldehyde glue was used for these laminates.  The ply was cut cleanly on a table saw and some scarfing was done to use up cutoff pieces that had accumulated from the molding period.  Here lies the shame in that one of my primary reasons for building this boat was to practice steam bending of frames and this laminate method pretty much threw all that out the window.  Well there were plenty of small steam jobs along the way.

The bulkheads, side deck walls, deck beams and mast gate structure were built from 6 and 12 mm marine ply.  The upper edge of the hull at the sheer was lined with solid African mahogany.  The decks are 6mm marine ply except the side decks, which, were cold molded marine ply the same as the hull skin.  The console is marine ply and steam bent oak.  The aft cockpit arch was marine 2x 3mm ply laminated.  I did not consider that control line points might transverse load the deck but so far it seems quite rigid and you can stand on the area.  I bolstered the front hull with some stringers glued right to the inner skin due to its flatness.  In the aft bottom hull area between stations 5 and 8 the hull is quite flat.  Carbon fiber fabric was added for some rigidity on the outer surface and fared in with epoxy.

Early on this project I had a discussion with an experienced sailor regarding the spars and rig.  I was not too interested in buying parts and fitting it all together but we discussed these details anyhow.   After some cost studies we concluded it was best to go with the what Pinnel & Bax offered on their website: mast, boom and rigging kit with sails.  This proved to be a great move and saved unknown amounts of time.  They sent just plain beautiful and well made sailing equipment and sails.  If the boat ever has a chance to race in a real FF pack it will be much easier to measure and certify as such.

Going back and looking at the weblog now is eye opening, hard to believe it all happened. Handling a 400 lbs keel and a 400 lbs boat alone and safely takes time although I am sure many laugh at such a lite boat.  The most valuable advice I could give is to breakout each sub project and see what tools, jigs, equipment will be needed and when to have them ready.   I say this as there were several periods of idle trying to figure out the next build step and readying the jigs or wood etc.  Cold moulding is long and tedious.  I tried many different stapling techniques and never really settled on good stuff.  (10,000 staples is a lot of staples).  This and the keelson lamination are great party/work party opportunities.  Try to build somewhere that has no mosquitoes (it may sound like a joke but there should be an accounting for lost time due to slapping, scratching, zapping, poisoning or giving up due to mosquitoes.  In Santa Barbara I can count the days between sightings of flies).  Boats should not linger in the shop, they should be on the water.  But the amount of maintenance needed also factored in to what sort of boat to build.  Galilee needs looking after but it is easy and mods are on the way.    Building a boat seems a distant luxury now...but eyes are on a seventeen or twenty.

I still need to make a last video of the construction work, Ch. 3 - Water, so in time... 

To the sailors of old, to the sea...

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

We are moving to California and so the boat is coming along where it will sail in Santa Barbara.  So before that I decided to mount the spinnaker chute.  A tape of fiberglass coupled the edges at the exit and struts supports its length back to the cockpit.  About this same time I discovered an old movie of flying fifteens being that really could have come in handy.  I think I am overbuilt a bit!  This is what the Kircubbin club was up to.

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Matching a nice day with good winds.  A bit lite but boat handling is getting easy.

Modified the trailer to give an extension.  My truck got stuck in the water.

Thursday, September 8, 2016

The mast step is still a busy place and will need ongoing refinement to run all those lines.  The mast ram is a bit weak so I will increase the capture on both directions.  Launching the boat is a lengthy process but it is getting better and our latest sail after moving the mast base forward and raked back removed much of the weather helm.  This thing is pretty smooth.

Covered spinnaker chute.

  Foot straps installed using fire hose.  

An A frame for supporting the mast while we paddle under the bridge.

Mast rake measurement.  It had to come back 8 inches to align with Wily Wonka.