The Nautical World...

Saturday, June 4, 2011

These are some true Watermen

Check these guys out. Emmanuel and Maximillien Berque. They are twins who have sailed across the Atlantic three times! The last time was completely without the aid of navigational instruments, watches, or charts.

These guys are truly impressive.

Water is Life.


Sunday, May 29, 2011

New Blog!!!

Hey guys!

I want to thank everyone for the support I get when I blog here! Make sure and keep following along.

Last week I was accepted to be an intern for Congressman Ron Paul. I am very excited about this and hope to contribute and learn a lot. Just to let you know, Neptune Nation will always stay non-political. I feel that here at Neptune Nation we unite because of our love of the water and our views on anything else will never interrupt that.

Thanks again, please, tell your friends (or strangers) to check me out,

Water is Life,


Monday, May 16, 2011

Travis McGee on Earth

I think there is some kind of divine order in the universe. Every leaf on every tree in the world is unique. As far as we can see, there are other galaxies, all slowly spinning, numerous as the leaves in the forest. In an infinite number of planets, there has to be an infinite number with life forms on them. Maybe this planet is one of the discarded mistakes. Maybe it's one of the victories. We'll never know.
 ~Travis McGee 

A timeless contemplation from A Deadly Shade of Gold by John D. MacDonald.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Tom Toby, Chairman Special Recognition Award at Texas A&M Galveston Research Symposium 2011

Last Thursday I entered a Research Symposium at Texas A&M Galveston. The crowd of supporters, curious spectators, and judges was awesome! I really had a great time telling everybody about my project and answering all the questions, in fact, I wish they would have never stopped! I felt I was really able to relate my experience in dory building whether their background was in business, science, or anything else.

That really was my goal in this research. I wanted to show the relationship between man and boat and how it pertains to everyone. Wooden boats were the vessels that represented man's first experiments with fluid dynamics--whether it be water or air. Scientists got their start by accompanying a ship as a surgeon. In turn they were able to study the flora and fauna of the far reaches of the world. This analogy can follow every specialization because the gap between man and the water was ultimately bridged by a wooden vessel. I had a great time imparting my passion for all things maritime and deeply appreciate my experience.

Check out the poster I won with here!

By the way, check out Tom Toby's new paint!

Thanks to everyone for such kind words and genuine excitement, and special thanks to everyone who has had a hand in the building process!

Water is Life


Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Jeremy Smith, Friend and Fellow Marine

Today I learned of some really bad news. A friend of mine from high school and the Marine Corps was killed a few days ago in Afghanistan.

Jeremy and I were on the football team together and we used to hang out on the weekends. He was a year behind me and he joined the Marines the year after I did. Once I joined the Marines I lost touch with a lot of good friends but we stayed just barely in contact even though we had conflicting deployments and we were stationed on opposite sides of the U.S..

It always seems that when someone passes on everybody talks about how special that person was. Who knows if they really were? Well, Jeremy really was special, I can vouch.

I was never personally in combat with him but I knew what kind of guy he was. I knew before he joined he would be an awesome Marine. The guys I knew from the football team who joined the Marines weren't the best players on the football team, but we all had the most motivation and the biggest heart--that's what separates you from the rest. As I write this I am thinking of all our other teammates who joined the Marines. I know some that were much closer to him than I was and I know how upset they must be.

You may not agree with the war, the politics, or the situation, but anyone who has been over there knows that it's about something different. It is about the guy to the left and right of you.

Semper Fidelis

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Cats and the Sea, Unsinkable Sam and others...

Cats and the Sea? What the heck does that mean? Well, I'll tell you, but first, let me ramble...

I had two cats growing up, Cleo and Cally. They were great but once a I moved away from home I started to be influenced by the "Dogs are so much better than cats" movement. Did I really feel this way? I mean, I doubt I really even thought about it, but nonetheless, I acquiesced.

This all changed a bit when my girlfriend moved in with me and brought her personal hair ball machine, Spiffy.

Now, the first time I ever met Spiffy was when I stayed at Kelly's house and I woke up at 2 in the morning to her sitting on my chest staring at me. As I refrained from making any sudden movements and she glared me down in the darkness of the night I realized that my interview process had begun. (Meanwhile Kelly's other cat Felix spent the next 5 visits pooping on my socks. His interview methods were slightly unorthodox.) Now, a few years later, I think I can safely say I was accepted. 

Dogs are very loyal and very open about it, but thats not to say that cats aren't either. And if you don't believe me, let me tell you about a cat named "Unsinkable Sam"...

Unsinkable Sam (originally Oscar) was a cat on board the German vessel Bismarck. When the Bismarck was sunk, Sam was picked up by the HMS Cossack. When the Cossack was sunk, he was picked up by HMS Ark Royal. When The HMS Ark Royal was sunk he lived with the Governor of Gibraltar and then eventually made his way back to England and lived in a sailor house. This cat survived 3 ship attacks and multiple battles. And he isn't the only one, there are tons of others!

Cats were treated like crew members on board. They were given rank, their own kit, entered in the Ship's Log, and even given their own hammocks to sleep in. Don't believe me? Check em out:

Unknown of the HMAS Nizam
Saipan of the USS New Mexico
Unknown of the HMS Eagle
Sarah of the HMS Shropshire
Convoy of the HMS Hermione
Unknown of the HMAS Kanimbla

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is what we call overwhelming evidence. Adorable evidence at that. All of these pictures come from the Imperial War Museum and I got them from a cool website called Purr n' Fur. Check them out for a very complete history of cats during wartime.

Sailors aboard war vessels always traditionally had cats on board. In fact, it used to be a requirement for French vessels to carry two cats at all times. Cats were used for rodent control in the stores and also for companionship. Cats and seafarers have always had a strong connection and they continue to do so. Pick up a few books about people sailing through the Caribbean or Pacific, I can almost guarantee they have a feline pilot aboard. 

Do you have any cool stories? Email me or post something in the comments below.

Water is Life.


Friday, April 1, 2011

The Visibility Network Underground

If you've ever been to Galveston, you know most of the time the beach water looks like a bowl of gumbo. But, every now and then, whether it be because of Super Moon, the damming of the Mississippi, or the presence of a pod of filter-feeding whales, the water clears up. When the water is clear, it is time for Spear Diving!

So how do we know when its clear? You can check the websites, but they aren't accurate, and in the case of G-town, you have multiple parts, Offat's Bayou, Harbour, and the beach. They are not all created equal and they are not always clear at the same times. So, we've assembled a group of guys who like to spear dive (spear fish?) and if we ever see the presence of clear visibility, we send out the call. We head to our phones and start a little old-fashioned phone tree. We are like the French Resistance but more smelly.

I got the call yesterday from my salty friend Seth of JPL Marine Labs. He told me a friend (I mean, secret member of the Visibility Network Underground) told him the viz was at 4 feet or more. That is quite a bit here on Galveston, so I got my stuff together.

I made a trip to the Flagship, took my surfboard and spear out, and went to town. I got two beautiful sheepshead and I stopped there. The viz, when I got there, was more like three feet and a little choppy, so although it wasn't great, if you really want fish, it was perfect. 

Spear diving or spear fishing? I'm sure you can say both and be correct. I like to say spear diving because to me its just as much about the diving as it is the fishing. Maybe I should say dive fishing? Now I'm confused. Well whatever I end up calling it, I would suggest it to anyone. All you need is a nice spear, a mask and fins, and a little bit of training on holding your breath.

Do you have any spear diving stories or suggestions? Post them in the comments below or email me at

If you've never been here before, Welcome to Neptune Nation, where Water is Life.


Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Travis McGee on Cars

People hate their cars. Daddy doesn't come proudly home with the new one anymore, and the family doesn't come running out, yelling WOW, and the neighbors don't come over to admire it. They all look alike, for one thing. So you have to wedge a piece of bright trash atop the aerial to find your own. They may be named after predators, or primitive emotions, or astronomical objects, but in essence they are a big shiny sink down which the money swirls--in insurance, car payments, tags, tolls, tires, repairs. They give you a chance to sit in helpless rage, beating on the steering wheel in a blare of horns while, a mile away, your flight leaves the airport. They give you a good chance of dying quick, and a better chance of months of agony of torn flesh, smashed guts and splintered bones. Take it to your kindly dealer, and the service people look right through you until you grab one by the arm, and then he says: Come back a week from Tuesday. Make an appointment. Their billions of tons of excreted pollutants wither the leaves on the trees and sicken the livestock. We hate our cars, Detroit. Those of us who can possibly get along without them do so very happily. For those who can't, if there were an alternate choice, they'd grab it in a minute. We buy them reluctantly and try to make them last, and they are not friendly machines anymore. They are expensive, murderous junk, and they manage to look contemptuous of the people who own them.
-Travis McGee 

An extremely appropriate excerpt for our modern mess from Pale Gray for Guilt written by John D. McDonald in 1968.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Surf's up? Maybe?

I spent my whole life seeing people surf. On vacations when I was little I would rent giant foamy boards and paddle around in the soupy parts and then brag about my monster waves. I was stationed along the coast for 5 years in the Marines and now have been living near one since 2002. But in that entire time, even though I dabbled in it, I never really learned how to actually surf. I mean I did, but not on the level where I could consistently predict and catch waves. Well, that all changed once I moved to Galveston. After many near death experiences I would say that on a mediocre level, I can now do a pretty decent job.

A few weeks ago, Galveston had a perfect day. I stayed out for hours and even went once in the morning, and once in the evening. It was exhilarating! A 4 foot wave felt like 40, and I haven't stopped thinking about it yet. But now I'm faced with a dilemma. Like a cracked-out bum looking for a rock, I too crave another good Galveston surf day. Will it ever come? 

A friend of mine said that best surf in Galveston is during the winter. Why? Well, in Galveston we have a pretty consistent south wind. This drives the water up on land but then when a front hits (a north wind) it slaps that wave in the face and makes it stand up. Pretty simple, eh? Well with the exiting of winter (or whatever we have down here) that means less north winds, Pretty depressing really. So that I am on my toes for next time, I wanted to learn the basics of how waves work.

The faster it blows (velocity) coupled with how long (duration) and along with how much area is affected (fetch) determines waves. If this is created by a local onshore wind (Galveston) it tends to be messy. If produced by a storm system offshore then it is better, bigger, cleaner. The only remedy for the Galveston situation, like I said earlier, is a north wind after a big south wind build up. The only problem is is that the north wind responsible for the pretty waves is also the thing that flattens it out :(.

They are formed when the wind blows over the water and makes chop. As smaller chop combines with other chop, it gets bigger and bigger, making patterns of waves. A wave has several parts. The crest (top) the trough (bottom) and the wavelength (distance from crest to crest) and the height (crest to trough). The waves are also measured by frequency and period.  Period is the time between crests, frequency is the amount of waves over a fixed point in a given time. Longer period waves tend to be stronger, shorter ones disperse a little easier. By using frequency and period based off an offshore buoy, you can determine (kinda) what is to be expected once it hits shore.

Wave speed is related to its period. The smaller a period, the smaller the wave, the slower it goes. Think about mass and momentum. The longer period waves are bigger and contain more mass and therefore can move at and maintain those faster speeds. 

Bathymetry, beach shape
Bathymetry is the study of the sea bed. When these swells move into areas that are shallow they lose energy quickly. If it were to go from deep ocean right onto the beach then massive waves are created (Hawaii). This is why Galveston is not like the North Shore. But Galveston does have a series of 3 sand bars. When a swell hits an obstacle (sandbar) it will create a bigger wave than a swell moving up a sloping beach. This is why Galveston really has some good days. Also, with all the jetties and groins along the seawall, it creates some "artificial" sandbars that make the waves break almost right at the jetty line. Without these, Galveston may be smooth a flat.

Other factors
Tide, swell direction, refraction, and local winds are other contributing factors. Local winds are a big factor here in G-town. Another one specific to here would be reflection. Anyone who has surfed near the groins can see waves reflected off of them. Sometimes they help, sometimes they just mess it all up. When the wind is coming straight in it is no problem, but if its off to the side it creates a little too much chop.
That was a cold January

In a nut shell, there it is. I wish there was surf everyday, no lie, but I think studying it and waiting for it makes it that much better. In my constant quest to reach true waterman enlightenment, I feel it is these things that help me better understand our relationship with the sea.

What is your relationship with the sea, and how do you interact? Post your responses in the comment section below. 

Drop me a sonar ping at for a suggestion of what you would like to see on here in the future.

Water is Life



Monday, March 21, 2011

The Scow Schooner

We all know about tall ships like the Elissa or Star of India, and we are all very familiar with small boats like sharpies or the Banks dory (if not read all my previous posts, ha!) but they all earned their reputations from places other than Texas. So what is a boat that can claim some heritage, or impact rather, on the Gulf coast of Texas?

There were a few I found but one that really caught my eye was the Scow Schooner.

Scow Schooner off of Galveston

The Scow Schooner was a vee-bottomed, two-masted (fore-and-aft rigged), ship that was used mainly to lighter larger ships so that they could pass over the bar without running aground. 

Ok, let me explain a few things first. What is passing over the bar? It has nothing to do with becoming a lawyer, but instead it refers to the sand bars that run along the Texas coast. Along the Texas coast there are a series of three, constantly shifting sand bars that are a ship's worst enemy. As time passed, and ships grew larger and they drew more water, making the shallow sandbars even more treacherous. This was a drawback to ports such as Galveston. In order to mitigate or eliminate this threat, "lightering" boats would meet the ships before they approached the bar and take some of their cargo in order to make the ship "lighter" (hence the name, lightering.) Now, the boats could safely pass over the bar without running aground. Today, the north and south jetties are in place. This moves the sediment and the sandbars to deeper water and eliminates the threat, all due to something called the Venturi effect, but that topic is for another day. However, lightering is a process still used today, especially for oil tankers.
This is my office. Pictures, Images and Photos
Present-day lightering operations

So, along the Texas coast, lightering operations were extremely important, and the boat of choice? The Scow Schooner. Because of the flatter bottom, the Scow Schooner drew very little water. Also, because of the flared sides, as the weight from cargo increased the draft  of the vessel, the waterline increased, thus giving it added stability needed for hauling heavy cargoes. The Schooner rig could be easily managed by a small crew and the use of a centerboard instead of a fixed keel allowed her to go in extremely shallow waters. They were log planked (thick, side to side planking) which made her very rugged and lasting. All of these characteristics were perfect for carrying out such a rough task. 

So what do we have left to work with today? Well, for starters, Howard Chappelle, in his book American Small Sailing Craft, Their Design, Development, and Construction, has recorded several of them. This is a real treasure as he personally pulled the lines off these Scows himself. This defies the trend in maritime history that tends to ignore the Gulf Coast and be very "Northeast-centric." He also includes the Scow Sloop (just one mast), which brings us to our next one.

In a small publication called Ships, Seafaring, and Society: Essays in Maritime History by Timothy J. Runyan of the Great Lakes Historical Society (follow the link, read it for free), there is an article called The Laguna Madre Scow Sloop by Edwin Doran Jr.. He paints an awesome picture of the use of these boats all the way into the 1970's! The men who used them for fishing did not rely on engines at all, in fact most of the sloops didn't even have them. At the Texas Maritime Museum in Rockport, they have one on display. It was made by an old fisherman who just used offsets that he had memorized--pretty impressive.

Well are there any originals left? There are a few, but the most historic, most well-preserved would be the Alma. She was used on coastal voyages up and down California. Although not necessarily used for lightering, she was used for hauling large bulk cargoes like hay or bricks. If you look at the picture below, notice the height of the hay. The booms and even the wheel were moved up in order to facilitate this. Also, there are several preserved in New Zealand. Apparently, in the 1870's a former captain from the great lakes moved to New Zealand and recognized that the Scow Schooner would be well-suited for trade. The rest is history.

 Alma of San Francisco. Notice how the booms and tiller have been adjusted to the height of this cargo. 
So for those of you who have always wondered what boats are native to Texas, the Scow Schooners (and sloops) were exactly that. Their rugged design and flexibility in use is a testament to the unique situations of the Texas Gulf Coast. 

A while back, there was an attempt in Anahuac to rebuild one. I think this may have died on the vine after Hurricane Ike because their website and phone are AWOL. But could it be done down here? I know it can, and if you know a way to help me make it happen, hit me up at

Water is Life


Monday, March 14, 2011

Oars, row hard, row fast! How to make 'em!

A beautiful week here on Galveston Island and the 175th anniversary of Texas Independence and we are well into Texas History Month! If I get some time later I'll post up some Texas history.

So, I have been rowing the channel lately, but on borrowed oars. My friend Seth of JPL Marine Labs made them. They were stout and beautiful. He used an epoxy lamination process and came up with something nice. He was commissioned to build them for a fellow boatbuilder and now his boat is launched and he needs them. Long story short--I lost my loaner oars :(

But with every hatch closed another one down the p-way flies open (and needs securing) so I set about building my own.

In these plans they leave them square near the handle

That picture right above is the plans/template I'm using. I got it off A.B.B. or Amateur Boat Building website (click to follow). The plans are a pretty inventive and cheap way to make your own. Just grab a 1"x6"x7' (I enlarged mine to 8') plank of oar-worthy wood (southern pine, ash, etc.) draw and cut out the pattern. Then take the excess scrap and glue it back onto the main part. Make sure you don't skimp on the glue, plenty of clamps, and let it cure for at least a day (I have found that when using Titebond III if you let it weather a few days, it is indestructible).

Untapped beauty

You will end up with something like the picture above. A gnarly, ugly, hunk of wood that you would never in a sober mind imagine would turn out that resembles anything close to a caveman's club, let alone an oar. But alas, your patience shall be rewarded, grasshoppy!

You take this blank and put a centerline on all four sides. From there you make another mark between the outside edge and the centerline. There will be two marks, one on each of the centerline. Do this on both the top most and bottom most portion of the oar, connect the lines, and repeat this on all four sides.

This is my back porch workshop!

Now the fun. Grab your planer and shape it down to an octagon... eight-sided polygon... a stop sign... get it? Then repeat the same process with all the new faces, or do what I did and eyeball it and make the eight sider a sixteen sider. By that I mean plane all eight edges down to create a shape with sixteen. At this point you can sand it and plane it down until a perfect circular oar.

before and after of the handle

On the face of the oar, plane down the outside edges to about a quarter of an inch.

Before shaping and after initial
cut. Once you sand them, they
get purty real fast!

Now sand everything down (inclunding the handle) and you're done. Lot of work, but a very good product. I will put some finished pictures of mine once I finish shaping, sanding and varnishing them. If you are interested in purchasing any, shoot me an email at, and I'll quote you a very reasonable price. I'm not trying to make money here, I just love to do this stuff!

Questions, comments, concerns? Write me, Brett

Water is Life!


Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Elissa 1877 Barque, It's a Sailor's life for me!

Just wanted to shoot a quick post out there to reflect on that sweet girl ELISSA of Galveston, Texas and how she is still plowin' through those waves over a hundred years after her keel was laid.

Unfortunately this year while dry-docked they discovered some seriously corroded iron plates that need to be replaced in order for the Coast Guard to give her the "hominus dominus" to go out on daysails. The problem? The iron plates are the historic part of her (as opposed to the new steel ones.) Though this may seem like a "who cares? replace them" situation, to really respect the archaeological, preservation aspect, the iron part is the legacy.
Salty Sea Aggie Crew
But alas, I am confident she will be restored to a sailing condition because I doubt you can keep her off the seas, she has been in way worse spots before.

There are a couple of views from the Royal and the cross trees, it gets pretty high up there, just look:

Seth of JPL Marine Labs

On the Royal

There she is. She is beautiful, she is unique, she is one of a only a few left in the world. There is nothing that can explain the feeling of her rolling on the waves while you sit atop the yard looking at the ocean with the harbor sprawling beneath your feet. It's hard to imagine that just one hundred years ago our ports were filled with stretched canvas and rigging.

If you want to find out more about the Elissa check out more here.                  
Water is Life.


Check out the new JPL Marine Blog!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Who is Tom Toby? Thank you Blogs of Note!

Thank you all for visiting, and thank you Blogs of Note for naming me, eh, Blog of Note!
Tank yoo Blogs uf Note!

With all this new visiting, I have had a few people ask me the story behind the name "Tom Toby." Well, what a story it is, sit back my friends...

The Tom Toby was named after one of two privateers in the Texas Navy of the Revolutionary time (1836-1837). The Texas Navy at this time consisted of 4 schooners bought by the government, the Invincible, Independence, Brutus, and Liberty. This force was augmented by privateers Terrible and Thomas Toby.

So who was the Thomas Toby?

Well long before she was named Thomas Toby, her planking bore the name Swift. What a befitting name it was, she was a Baltimore Clipper notorious for her harassment of Spanish shipping in the Gulf. In 1836, she was purchased by New Orleans businessmen and fitted with brass cannon. The cannon were taken off of a Spanish vessel, their names were El Canal and El Fuerre. She was outfitted with more gear and Captain Nathaniel Hoyt (formerly of the Brutus) was placed in command. Her name Thomas Toby was to honor Tom and Samuel Toby, Texas purchasing agents based in New Orleans.

Thomas Toby roared around the Gulf for about a year, wreaking havoc on Mexican shipping. She proved to be an extremely valuable asset but was lost in a strong storm that hit Galveston. This was the same storm which also sunk the Brutus. There was scuttlebutt about her being purchased by the Republic of Texas but if anyone is familiar with Texas history, they know that Sam Houston was not necessarily a man of his word when it came the the Navy.

The writing is a little wobbly, but perfectly straight when drunk

So there it is, make sure and check out the Texas Navy and Texas Handbook online, that is where I got most of my facts.

Once again, thank you for all my new views and followers, keep checking back, many exciting things are about to happen!

Water is Life.

Brett Lindell

Email me comments!

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Presenting, TOM TOBY!!!

What an amazing feeling. I spent months talking about her, months working on her, and she is finally done.

It just couldn't have been a better day. There was a lot to do and with the help of a bunch of great friends, it turned into something I'll never forget.

I "soft" launched her at school and rowed over the the Pelican Bridge beach. Rowing was tough, my thole pins were proving troublesome, and I was not quite ready for the difference. So, I arrived a little late but I don't think it mattered. I was greeted by the biggest group of friends I could imagine. My friend Josh started a bonfire on the beach, and I had sent some official Royal Navy Grog over to start it off. I was really worried about being so late but then I realized I provided rum so I don't think anyone was complaining.

I beached her and greeted my friends and then we toasted. To Neptune, the four winds, and proclaimed her Tom Toby! Tom Toby was the name of a privateer vessel who served with the Texas Navy during the revolution.

Then, liberal amounts of grog, rum, and beer were passed around and it turned into quite the party. Absolutely unforgettable.

I want to thank all my friends, teachers, family and Kelly for everything everybody did, big or small. I could not have done this without y'all's enthusiastic support.

So what do I do next?

Well, I have to make some oars, fix a seal and fix the oar lock situation but after that I'm a bit lost. Definitely going to step a mast soon and stitch up some canvas, then we'll see how she moves under the wind!

But what is the future of Neptune Nation? I have some ideas, some very exciting. All I know is that to me Neptune Nation has become a source of inspiration about our relationship with the water. I think I want to explore that, and I encourage you to do so with me.

Thanks for everything!

Water is Life


If you want to learn more about the Thomas Toby, go to The Texas Navy website, great stuff!
Check out my friends green, sustainable, sailing research vessel here on Galveston at JPL Marine Labs!
And check out my new add to a Maritime History blog at Maritime Texas and his Civil War Blog!

Thank you Blogs of Note!!!

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

It is here! Dory Launch FEB 23 5:30 p.m. Location TBD!!

Thanks to everyone!

I will be launching her (my dory) on Wednesday early evening at 5:30 p.m.. It won't last long but I will be doing a traditional toast to Neptune and the four winds. Location is TBD right now but will be either at TAMUG Boat Basin or right across the channel. I will update this as soon as I finalize logistical concerns.

I gladly welcome anyone to attend!

Water is Life.


Monday, February 21, 2011

Boat Soup!!!

I guess my idea about not putting pictures would make me post more is wrong. Still being a dirtbag about posting but, you know how it goes. :P

In about half an hour I'm off to the boat to do some painting, well er, boat souping. What is boat souping? Boat soup is a combination of turpentine, linseed oil, pine tar, and Japan drier. This was how boats were traditionally painted. Work boats like the Banks dory would also be given a coat of paint on the outside for durability. 

I'm sure you've noticed the change in the site. I'm doing some re-visioning of my site concept. If you have any ideas or know anyone who makes web sites, drop me an email.

Water is Life.


Tuesday, February 8, 2011

No jazz, just results

Ok, so I realize, I am extremely derelict in my posts this month (and last month)...

But I can't help it, school and boatbuilding leave little time for anything else. So, I have decided that if I stop requiring myself to post pictures every time then I would be more likely to write what's going on.

I have some great results right now. If you look at the pictures previous to this post you can see the dory has been planked. What I have spent the last two weeks doing was the gun'ls and other 'deck furniture.' My friend seth told me that would take a bit of time. Of course I didn't believe him, but he was right.

I have cut myself, cussed, and broken more things in the last two weeks than I have in the entire build. But alas, she is coming to a close.

Tune in for more, email me with questions @

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Weeks away from mega-launch!

What is mega-launch? If you have to ask, you aren't ready...

If you haven't figured it out, my boat is about to bust out like an alien from a space ship worker's chest. I spent a little time today making a cleat to go on the transom. I used the excess laminated poplar and, like everything else, it is a big pain in the ass. That is one of the only drawbacks to lamination. If done properly, all of the grains of the pieces contradict each other, so that makes for a tough time planing or sawing it. I ended up using a combination of hammer, chisel, saw, and then belt sander.

I am prepping some videos as we speak because one of my most successful ventures was scarphing together some boards. Check it out:

I am a proud supporter of Titebond III

I tried a few methods at first. I tried sawing, cutting kerfs (sp? kerfs are little cuts), chisel, yada yada. I eventually ended up making a scarphing jig and using a router with a straight bit. God bless the router, what an amazing tool. Next blog will be a semi in depth look at scarphing!

But first, let me give a few honorable mentions to some helpers around the shop (I only have pictures of a few, so far)

Castro amidst a beautiful sunset
                                   Matt and his better half Sarah

 And Salty Cap'n Seth poppin' a wheelie

Others not pictured are Josh and Austin. Austin cleaned up the shop because he is a nut case and Josh provided me engineering expertise. Also, I have to mention Mr. O for lending me clamps and Jocie for lending me a bunch of other stuff too. Also, the most important, my lil queen bee, Kelly!!!

It's good to have friends :)

Check in often, check in soon!


Monday, January 17, 2011

The Dory, Raw and Uncut!

I have been gone for quite some time, but behold!

                                                               the glory of the dory!!!

Like the new butterfly emerging from a chrysalis, the dory has taken form...

Ok so the last few weeks I have been extremely derelict in posting my boat build. For this I apologize, but anyone who has become deeply obsessed with a project knows that any spare time one may possess is quickly used up. Since school ended I have been at the boat from 9-5, sometimes even later. Add a high-maintenance girlfriend (I will pay for that comment) and a the new Call of Duty: Black Ops online and you can quickly see that I have been stretched thin.

Let's take a look back at what she looked like:

If you look at the extreme right you can see a transom knee!

Nothing but  wooden basket "some even quietly referred to her as the emperor's new clothes..." (Inside joke about the Elissa, email me if you want to know!).

With school, beatings, and exams, I really struggled to get that much done. But I had my work cut out for me, well not really, I still had to cut it out. I added the transom so that I could begin the fairing and the planking.

Blood, sweat, tears, wood glue

The transom, or tombstone, has been left unfinished at the top. I have left the excess on in many pieces so that I can always have it to make adjustments. I never read about this technique but I found it was very beneficial and allows me to customize my boat as I go along.

There she is, one last picture of the glory:

There she is her her raw and basic form. I know I have omitted the planking stories, but soon grasshopper, soon.

Like I said, extremely basic, but now she is technically a boat. Can she float? Well I don't know yet, I still have a little more finishing out before I water test, but I bet (hope) she will.

Thanks to all my friends who helped, your efforts will be rewarded with free boat rides!

Check out my friends at JPL Marine Labs and another great blog about tall ships Sailing Monster

Email me if you want to lend a hand or for questions in general!