Tuesday, December 15, 2009

They come for the whales

Newfoundland is known for its icebergs and for it’s whales, particularly the humpbacks. For the tourists who come here I can only imagine they are somewhat sceptical that they will see whales if they go on a whale watching boat tour. It’s not like they’re in a small area, or that we have a small coastline (28,956 km to be exact) But I can assure you, There are whales around here, and plenty of them. For those who live in Newfoundland and work or play on the ocean, whale sightings are like moose sightings, common place to the point of nonchalance. It’s generally only the close encounters that get the mention in conversation. “Out fishing today, some whales came close so we took some time to pet them”, That sort of thing. I have seen several species of whales in my life but I still get a thrill when I see any in their natural environment. Greg Smith sent my brother these photos of a couple of Humpback whales playing last August near his home in Trinity Bay.

wave for the camera

The main thing is to remember to bring the camera in the first place and second... batteries.

Gaff Jaws

The gaff jaws that I hurriedly made for Pikake served their purpose, but I failed to realize until after installation that the angle of my gaff was steeper than I planned and built. The main haul up block at the throat was too close to the mast and the screw that passed through the gaff to attach the sail from underneath was also striking the mast causing premature wear. Since my mast gets treated with great reverence, I needed to make changes to my gaff jaws set up. John Welsford sent me a couple of ideas on how to make a suitable set of gaff jaws and one in particular is pretty easy to build. The plans I had purchased for the Pathfinder had included the gaff jaws plans, but since I deviated and didn’t make my mast, boom and gaff from aluminum tube (As per plan), I had to come up with something else.

The new gaff jaws will let me raise the sail easier and the peak will go to the proper angle allowing for better sail shape. I had noticed in pictures taken of Pikake that there was a wrinkle from the end of the boom at the foot up diagonally up to the base of the gaff (not enough peak hauled up)

This will be no longer an issue with the new jaws.

That is a New year project.

The Chuck Box

I’ve finally reinstalled my door to the workroom and put up the wall board. Other household chores now demand my attention as well but in the back of my mind is the chuck box, my boat kitchen. I’ve began some initial design sketches and after a while had to pause and figure out the box’s exact purpose. Most chuck boxes are large wooden boxes with configurations so a person can stand at the box with attached legs and cook their meals. They are also the sort to be carried by two people to a vehicle. There are many styles that can be found on the web, and they are well designed for the purpose their intended, however... Mine is a little different. I need my chuck box to be suited for use on Pikake or other small boat.

What it needs to do;

·Compact in height in order to fit under the deck, and be able to set up in the boat.

· Light enough for me to lift it over the side of my boat and hand off to a shipmate.

· Able to carry all the equipment needed for a camp kitchen such as the stove, dinnerware, utensils, pots/pans and cleaning gear.

· Able to have shelves fold out or attach to sides and serve as a small table.

· Rubber feet to prevent box from sliding on a wet surface.

· Weather resistant, not necessarily water proof.

The design has gone through some changes already with the removal of pockets for attachable legs. Whether on the boat or beach, having the box at a standing working height is not a necessity for me, as long as it’s not right on the ground. This saves weight and some space. One of my most important decisions was to use my trusty ole fuel powered Colman stove. I had thought of getting a new propane stove, but I really, REALLY dislike those disposable propane cylinders and their cost vs cans of fuel is high. (Just a personal thing) Sure I have to fill and pump up the pressure in order to light my stove, but it’s reliable and I know how much cooking time I have left. This stove was my starting point in the box design. Other design points included space for my kettle, pot kit and dinnerware set, all to accommodate the needs of 4+ people. The rest of the space is for everything else that can squeeze in.
Bear in mind that this box is built to suit my needs and may not at all suit other sailor/campers. It is also sized to fit under the deck my Pathfinder.

The first models changed from a large size to a smaller more compact design once I decided what would go inside the box.

I had intended to have the front and top cover to open up like a mechanics tool chest. And use the opened configuration to make a rain shelter to cover the top section where the stove sits. But knowing weather being as it is, a gust of wind would make short work of a nice wooden lid like that.

Once a general layout was figured out, how it all would fit together was the next step. What gets notched, what gets reinforcing blocks if any, and how it opens.... I don’t particularly like the way it opens but it’s all I can think up right now.

This design has again changed to a 2 drawer model since Less drawers means less weight and more can go in the larger ones. I'm still not happy with the front door arrangement but I'll figure something out.