sailing


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The Mana fits on the trailer very well, with the outside of the hulls sitting within the outside of the trailer’s wheel wells.

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Retaining pins are removed to enable the trailer to expand

James Wharram Designs, the boat’s designer, had sent me photos of the  trailer they used to carry the prototype Mana to its first launch. They lashed temporary crossbeams between the two hulls to stabilize them and then placed the masts on top of them. I followed their example, placing the four panels that make up the centre platform upright between the masts. The proper crossbeams were then placed lengthwise on the trailer frames.

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Note that the bunks are still in trailering position in this shot

Once the hulls are pulled apart, crossbeams set in place quickly and are held down by straps and over centre cam buckles.

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The trailer has now been “expanded” wide enough to drop the front crossbeam in place, and the aft crossbeam is still resting on the trailer

With both crossbeams locked into position, the four sections of lightweight honeycomb platform are put in place. The motor mount is the last part of the puzzle to be added.

 

Next comes the masts. Using the mizzen mast as a temporary gin pole and the trailer winch as muscle, the main mast is raised.

 

Next the mizzen…

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Time to splash…

 

And voila, the Mana 24 Kit #3 is in the water, waiting for adventure.

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Note: this series of photos was taken during the first assembly and launch of the boat. There have been some improvements to the trailer adaptation since then, including paint. More changes are planned for next season.

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In an exercise of writer’s privilege I am going to jump  ahead in the story. A number of people have inquired about trailering the Mana, indicating this is an area of interest for folks who might be considering the construction of one.

Before the boat kit even arrived in Canada, I had purchased a trailer. It had been previously used to carry a 21 foot pontoon boat until said boat was flipped in a windstorm and destroyed. Someone’s loss was my good fortune. The trailer is galvanized and features oil bath bearings. It had seen very little use and I considered my self very fortunate to come across it at a good price.

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After my experience with the Tiki 21, I wanted to be able to assemble this boat on the trailer and launch it ready to sail. That criteria presents a challenge – the Mana when assembled has a width of 12 foot 8 inches and the laws of the land stipulate that a trailer and its payload not exceed 8 foot 6 inches in width. I remembered that Stiletto catamarans built in the 1980’s used a telescoping trailer to get around the problem. Fortunately another sailing enthusiast with whom I was friends on Facebook had recently purchased just such a boat and trailer. I asked if he could take photos of his trailer which he promptly did (thank you again, Jim). With something to copy, it remained for me to buy some steel and get to work.

That led to a rather humorous scenario. My purchase at the local branch of Russell Metals consisted of one 20 foot length of 1 1/2 inch angle iron plus one 24 foot length each of 1 1/2 inch and 2 inch square steel tube . A multi tonne hoist, clearly accustomed to lifting loads many times heavier, was used to lift and place my meagre purchase on the trailer so that I could bring it home.

Once home, the fabricating work began. For the next few days I put away my wood working tools and got out angle grinder, welder and drill press. I went through quite a few thin cutting wheels in the process. IMG_2703

The Stiletto trailers use rollers for the inside tube to roll on. Small bearings, purchased at my go-to place for odd ball items when I’m fabricating, Princess Auto, looked like they would serve that purpose well.

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Bunks that mirrored those provided in the kit were bolted in place and braced.

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It was time to add a boat to the mix. With the help of my sailing buddy and his very strong roommate, the hulls were moved out of the garage and loaded onto the trailer.

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The next post will show the trailer in action, and I will discuss some of the changes planned to improve the launch and recovery process.

 

As I expected, once the build got into serious production, the blogging stopped. Priorities, you know. The build is more important than the blog. I did start writing a draft after  one hull was essentially assembled but didn’t get beyond the draft stage and soon I was well into the second hull. I posted photos periodically on my Facebook feed but not everyone is on Facebook. I believe it is important to share the building process with those who may be considering such a project – I am hopeful that my experience will act as encouragement for others to become “boat builders”. Boat building is a noble undertaking, I believe, one that is uplifting and at the same time, humbling.

So here it is  – many months since the last blog post on the construction of the Mana kit #3. I have decided to take the approach used by another Wharram owner, Stewart Coates who along with his partner Zaya, sails a Tiki 38. Stewart is a prolific blogger who shares accounts of his travels often a year after the event.

The Mana story continues…

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When we left off , I had just moved into my new digs early in October, with preliminary assembly of some parts enabling me to set up the starboard hull  quickly.

The photo at the top of the post shows the keel along with bulkheads 1, 2 and 3 attached. In the next photos, the bottom panels were then slotted onto the bulkheads and temporarily held in place with the ingenious use of tabs and wedges.  The stem and stern posts were added, and stitched in place using zip ties. The precision of CNC cut components ensured that the bulkheads would be aligned correctly. Zip ties inserted into pre-cut holes made quick work of pulling the various components into a shape clearly resembling a boat.

With the boat turned right side up again, it was placed into cradles thoughtfully supplied with the kit. It was time to start gluing things together.

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One of my favourite stories from my summertime job in a Vancouver Island sawmill in 1967 was the joke that workers liked to pull on naive newbies to the mill. They would tell the unsuspecting victim that a certain pile of lumber had been cut too short and would then send him in search for the “lumber stretcher” to remedy the problem. The unfortunate victim would go from one area of the mill to another, asking for the device, only to be told that he should try in yet another place, until he had covered most of the mill and someone would relent and let him in on the joke. Fortunately for me, the mill workers thought that a farm boy from the prairies would have too much common sense to be caught by such a prank and they didn’t pick on me!

Boat building does have a similar problem to that posed by the mill workers – how to make short boards into longer ones in order to build boats beyond the length of available lumber. Various methods have evolved in the history of boat construction, including the scarf joint (which we will encounter in a future post). The advent of CNC directed routers, able to cut out patterns with great precision, has enabled one modern version of “lumber stretching” that the Mana “cat kit” incorporates – the jigsaw puzzle joint.

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On the Tiki 21 that I built in the 90’s and on most of the modern designs from James Wharram Designs, plywood panels are joined, end for end, in a butt joint with a piece of plywood epoxied over top of the joint. This method is effective and requires no specialized scarfing equipment or expertise but it does not leave a smooth panel on the interior of the hull. The jigsaw joint used on Mana 24  gets around that limitation – a 100mm strip of fibreglass tape reinforces the joint instead of a piece of plywood.

 

The puzzle joint ensures that the joined panels line up correctly. I followed the advice from JWD and placed MDF board above and below the joint along with plastic sheeting, weighed things down overnight while epoxy cured, and the results were a nice smooth, 23 foot long panel.

 

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Mermaids play a significant role in the myths and legends of my Highland ancestors, assisting them in their journey from Ireland to first the islands and then the mainland of Scotland. I am enlisting their assistance once again as I  embark on my latest project, the construction of a 23 1/2 foot catamaran sailboat. I drew this design to grace the bow of each hull when the boat is completed.

The catamaran is the latest one to be offered by venerated designers, James Wharram and Hanneke Boone. The prototype Mana 24 was launched last year, sixty years after James set out on a boat of the same length to be the first to sail across the Atlantic Ocean on a catamaran. His inspiration for that boat and those for which he subsequently became famous was the sea-going double canoe sailing craft of the Polynesians.

This will be my second Wharram designed catamaran. In the 90’s I built a Tiki 21 and sailed it on Brightsand Lake for three summers before loading it in a 40 foot container and shipping it to Ghana. Here is a shot of it sailing onto the Ghanaian shore in 2002.

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Stay tuned for photos and updates during the construction phase. May the Mermaids of the Prairies ensure us fair winds and safe passage.

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12×16 Acrylic on stretched canvas

For over forty years, sailing has been a passion of mine. In that time I have owned five sailboats of various types and sizes. My lone sailing lesson consisted of an afternoon on Jackfish Lake with my next brother who had learned how to sail while in the Coast Guard. He helped me to set up my first sailboat, a home-built fifteen foot wooden craft that I purchased for $500 and we sailed for a couple hours. After that I was at my own devices, relying on sailing magazines and a how-to-sail book that I had come across in a bookstore. This was long before the advent of the internet and YouTube – it was trial and error hands-on experience.

Somewhere along the way in my reading, I encountered a man who had profoundly changed conventional sailing in Europe with his designs for two hulled sailboats inspired by and modelled after traditional Polynesian sailing craft. In 1956 James Wharram and his two female crew members became the first to sail across the Atlantic on a 23 1/2 foot catamaran that he had designed and built. I became enthralled by his designs and his philosophical approach to sailing with an emphasis on stability and low cost construction. In 1999, I completed the construction of a 21 foot catamaran, designed by James Wharram, using a set of plans drawn by his partner, Hanneke Boon. The boat was a Tiki 21, given the number 97 since mine was the 97th set of plans sold by James Wharram Design for that model.  The reference photo for the painting above was one of the few photos taken of that boat, sailing on Brightsand Lake.