After a few days of welding and grinding, the new carriage got wet for the first time this afternoon. Much to Lance’s delight, it ran smoothely, without getting hung up. All it needs now are the timbers and the sliding gunwale supports and it’s ready for action.
Moving heavy steel H beams and railway track without a crane can be a challenge, but it’s surprisingly easy when you can muster a dozen or so willing bodies. Way’s operator Lance Underwood is in charge of rebuilding the carriage, and organising volunteer work parties to move the heavy stuff is part of his job.
When Underwood isn’t at the Centre he has a busy life as a fisherman and a whale watching boat skipper. He took over the operation of the ways last year from the Centre’s former shipwright Eric Sandilands. Underwood is no stranger to wooden boats, having worked for several years on wooden fish boats in Bristol Bay, Alaska, so he’s learned a few tricks about keeping them afloat.
The new carriage is substantially larger than the old one, allowing it to haul heavier and longer boats and will have several modifications which should make it easier to accommodate fin-keel sailboats.
The ways are a vital part of the Centre’s operations, not only because they provide income and employment, but also because members of the public can watch boats being hauled. They are available to members, who are able to work on their boats under staff supervision, helping to keep the cost of owning a wooden boat down. The ways will be running again in early April.
By David Skelhon
Much progress has been made since the last post in the middle of January. We now have something that fully resembles a boat and just requires final fitting out and painting.
The external chine logs where fitted before the 9mm plywood bottom was attatched. These are somewhat unconventional and Bolger wrote in his notes accompanying the drawings, “The external chine log seems slightly easier to fit than the conventional type, leaves a cleaner interior, adds a minute amount of stability, which certainly needs anything it can get; I don’t think it increases resistance but I can’t prove it yet.”
The chine logs were given a rounded profile on one edge with a router before fitting. They were tapered a little at the ends where they meet the bow and stern, then, together with the bottom, given a protective layer of 9 oz. glass cloth and epoxy which wrapped around them, cut at the hull sides.
The exterior hull sides were given 3 coats of epoxy to seal the plywood and give a surface ready for paint.
An oak skeg was shaped and glued to the bottom after glassing and radiused fillets made to beef it up against side-loads. No fastenings were used.
Oak cutwaters were roughly shaped on the table saw. These were somewhat oversized and were held in place with copper boat nails and pieces of rope until the epoxy set. They were trimmed flush with a block plane and a grinder with an 80 grit disk. Sounds simple but in practice the fairing process took longer than I imagined could be possible, with the oak and epoxy being tough to cut. The plans don’t call for these cutwaters but it seemed a good idea to protect the plywood edges in some way.
Brian and I flipped her over just as Shaw Cable TV were at the Centre filming for one of their Western Canada shows. I never got to see it so I don’t know whether we hit the big time!
The surplus ply above the gunwales was trimmed off with a jigsaw and finished flush with a block plane.
Happily, Brian decided to buy the dory and will be taking care of the final fitting out. He and his wife, Carol, are keen kayakers and enjoy fishing too. After hearing how they pull up crab traps and land halibut from their kayaks I’m sure it will be a lot easier from the dory!
When I’ve had the chance to take it for a row I’ll make a final report.
by David Skelhon
Long-time members of the Maritime Centre may remember “Vesta”, donated to the Centre in 1999 after a long career as a gill netter.
The initial restoration was funded in partnership with Human Resources Canada, as part of a skills training program. She was given new ribs and decks and re-launched in July 2001.Vesta is 32’ long and powered by a 6 cylinder Nissan diesel. She was used for a time as a “showboat” by the Maritime Centre, traveling to events along the coast.
Vesta has been owned by local shipwright Jan Wylie for the last 5 years. Wylie said Vesta was built in the ‘50s and used by Jack Jensen and his daughter fishing Porlier Pass between Valdez and Gabriola Islands.
Wylie said she loves the gill netter lines. She considers Vesta a “river boat” and although she has cruised as far north as Princess Luisa Inlet she admits that, after a particularly rough passage, “Thirty-five knots in Georgia Straight was a bit much for a boat of this design!”
Wylie keeps Vesta at Genoa Bay Marina, just across the bay from the Maritime Centre. She has replaced the old steel masts with wooden ones and made an elegant deck awning. She has been busy at the Centre’s workshop this winter making changes to the interior.