Well, since you ask, yes, I mast.

Okay so enough with the play on words. And yes, that is my truck, and no, I wasn’t likely quite legal that day. Let me explain.

It was cost prohibitive to air freight lengths of lumber as part of the Mana 24 kit, and even more so to transport the aluminum tubes that make up the two masts for the boat. Thus began a search for a local source that could supply the tubes as spelled out in a message for JWD (James Wharram Designs):

“The masts we intend to use on the Mana are plain aluminium tubes grade 6082 -T6. 

“The mizzen mast is a 3” x 10swg (75mm diameter tube with 3.2mm wall thickness) and is 4m long.

The main mast is 4 1/2” x 10swg (114mm diameter tube with 3.2mm wall thickness) and is a total length of 7.3m (24’).”

After converting that to North American standards this was the result – required was a 24 foot tube with 4 1/2 inch outside diameter plus a 13 foot tube with 3 inch diameter, each with 1/8 inch wall thickness. Since Grade 6082-T6 aluminum tubes are not readily available in North America, the suitable equivalent is Grade 6061-T6.

I also learned that such pipes come in 20 foot lengths. That presented no problem for the mizzen mast but what about the main mast? Designer, Hanneke Boon, of James Wharram Designs assured me that the solution is to splice four feet of the 4 1/2 inch pipe onto a full length to get the required 24 feet. That process will be the subject of a future post, no doubt.

In March I found a local supplier, A.S.A, who agreed to order in 2×20 foot lengths of Schedule10  four inch pipe (outside diameter 4 1/2 inches) and one 20 foot length of schedule 10 three inch pipe (outside diameter 3 inches), each with a wall thickness of 1/8 inch.

The company was unable to deliver the pipes to our address, and hence, with the assistance of my brother’s bed extender once again, I transported them myself from the north industrial area of the city to our home in the south side. I did a quick measure before I set off to get my cargo. The distance from the front of the truck box to the back of the bed extender is 10 feet 2 inches – just slightly over half the length of the pipes. So that meant that gravity was in my favour – sort of, with the extender acting as the fulcrum.

With my heavy duty ratchet straps holding the pipes down, and with an ample red flag taped to the end, I set off from the warehouse, taking care to remember my long load whenever I encountered a sharp turn. Mercifully there were only a few of those, and I returned home without incident and equally importantly without attracting the attention of the local traffic constabulary who might have had some words for me.

With timber secured and tubing for masts at hand, we waited until the “Cat Kit” would ship.

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Due to the cost of air freight from the UK to Canada, James Wharram Designs suggested that I source the lengths of solid wood required for building the Mana 24. That sounded like an excellent suggestion and it was, but it did lead to a surprise. I was surprised to learn the market for lumber had changed considerably since I built my Tiki 21 during the 1990’s. Mahogany lumber was not available at any of the lumberyards that I called in the area. Even the clear Douglas Fir specified in the plans and which is grown in Canada was  not available from local lumber yards in Saskatchewan.

After many phone calls and considerable searching on the internet, I found a supplier in Edmonton who could provide me with clear Douglas Fir, mahogany and iroko as stipulated by the designer.

On May 1, my partner and I headed west, and after the 5 1/2 hour drive, pulled up outside the warehouse housing W.G. Chanin Hardwoods. The owner, Gary Chanin, had recently broken his leg and was hobbling around the best he could on crutches and with a cast on his leg. We quickly learned that this is a one man operation, and we had to exercise patience while he attended to customers who were there ahead of us,

This provided me an opportunity to snoop around a bit. What I saw still amazes me. In this dark warehouse space there is a collection of exotic hardwoods from around the world that made anything I could have imagined pale by comparison. The photos, shot on my iPhone in poor lighting, only hint at the treasure that is contained in that building.

Gary finally got to us and showed me a pallet of clear Douglas Fir, still wrapped in plastic, which he had recently received. He invited me to pick out the pieces that I needed while he took car of other customers. The shipment was all one inch rough sawn lumber in varying widths and in lengths up to thirteen feet. It took some time for me to select sufficient boards to meet my requirements and load them on my mid-sized truck. Fortunately I had borrowed my brother’s bed extender and that made it possible to carry the long pieces.

We still needed the mahogany.  This required Gary to expertly shuffle many different piles of lumber around with his forklift until he found the correct pallet that held some lovely pieces of mahogany. Once the two required pieces had been extracted,  he then had to return everything to its allocated space.

This left us with only the iroko – one piece was all that was needed. In my multiple phone calls preceding the trip, Gary had assured me that he could supply me with iroko – something that other suppliers had not even heard of. I am quite confident that somewhere in those stacks of lumber, there are some iroko pieces but Gary admitted to me that he did not know where and suggested that he substitute something similar.

Considering that the day was quickly coming to a close, I conceded with some reluctance. Gary produced a lovely piece of Burmese teak that he assured me would be more than adequate for my needs. Without asking the price, I agreed and I loaded  the board on the top of the other boards. While Gary went to tally the bill, I proceeded to tie everything securely and attach flags. It was only after he presented me with the invoice that I discovered that Burmese teak comes with a premium! That one board, measuring approximately six inches wide and ten feet in length, cost just over $250!

 

 

IMG_1749On July 19, after clearing the paperwork through Canada Customs in Calgary, Alberta, I took delivery of Kit #3, a wooden crate containing the CNC cut plywood components plus sails, hardware, lines and fastenings required to build a sailboat. The Mana 24 is the first kit boat to be sold by James Wharram Designs. The prototype  boat, #1, designed by James Wharram and Hanneke Boon, was launched in the summer of 2016 at Cornwall, England.  Kit #2 was shipped a week ahead of mine to another boat builder in Norway.

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On my return to Saskatoon, I unpacked the crate, moved  it into our garage, and reloaded everything back in the crate until the time construction would begin. I was pleased to see the plywood components had been packaged to facilitate the construction process with parts sorted into various steps as well as port and starboard sides.

Summertime is for sailing boats, not for building them, and I still had my WindRider 17. Little did I know that my sailing was not going to amount to much – other events and the weather played a role in that.

No worries. With the kit at hand, it was now time to get prepared for the winter ahead, assembling tools and locating a heated workshop.

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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.

Sailing season is still at least two months away, but while we can’t sail, we can paint about it. This one was inspired by a shot taken at the 18 minute mark of the video of last year’s  camping/sailing expedition, the Elbow Run 2016. My brother was charging up behind me like he owned the lake, and it wasn’t long before he surged past me.

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20 X 16 Acrylic on stretched canvas

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12″ x 16″ Acrylic on stretched canvas

 

Enough time has passed that a generation have reached adulthood without seeing the six grain elevators once situated beside the CNR tracks running through Maidstone, Saskatchewan. Like the majority of elevators on the Canadian prairies, they were decommissioned and demolished years ago.

As a youngster, I often accompanied my Dad when he was hauling grain from our farm located fourteen and a half miles north of the town. Dad had built a wooden box on the back of a  two ton Ford truck and in that, we made the trip. This was a big improvement over the days before my time when my Grandfather and his neighbours used horses and wagons to do the job. Riding in the truck with Dad was always a good time. Occasionally if I was very lucky, Dad would take the time to buy us ice cream cones as a special treat.

Years later, when I had a go at farming, I hauled my own grain from my place five miles further north,  past my Dad’s farm, down through the Big Gully and back up, and on into the town. If I began early in the morning and if everything went well, I could sometimes make three round trips in one day with two hundred bushels of wheat or canola on each load. However, if there was a snag, like a loader that wouldn’t start, or a truck that got stuck, or a line-up causing delays, or a side trip to get machinery repairs, or groceries that needed to be bought, that meant two trips with perhaps enough time at the end of the day to load the truck for an early start the next morning.

With the elevators now gone, grain is hauled by semi-trailer to high through-put elevators located much further away. It has become “big business” – no time for ice cream cone treats for youngsters anymore.

When painting this, I referenced a numbered print drawn by friend and very well respected local artist, Velma Foster. The print hangs in my Mom’s home in Maidstone and brings back memories for me every time  I see it.