Please visit our home site at www.TRILOBOATS.com.

Anke and I are building our next boat, and writing about it at ABargeInTheMaking.blogspot.com. Access to the net comes and goes, so I'll be writing in fits and spurts.

Please feel free to browse the archives, leave comments where you will and write, and I'll respond as I can.

Fair winds!

Dave and Anke
triloboats swirl gmail daughter com

Sunday, June 28, 2020

SIP RIP: Deciding Against a Ply / Foam / Ply Hull

Adding inboard layer of 1/4in ply
Next space to my right has fitted foam ready and waiting
Two areas to my right, the inboard face of the hull is exposed

This guy oughtta be wearing his ear protectors!

I think I'd better think it out again!
-- Fagin, from Oliver! lyrics by Lionel Bart

SIP RIP: Deciding Against a Ply/Foam/Ply Hull

A friend of ours built a shop with reclaimed Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs). It flew together, was obviously superbly insulated and was strong and stiff.

But commercial SIPs aren't typically geared for marine environments (though I wish they were). Custom orders are possible but too spendy for us. With tape n' glue construction, these would be the bomb. Sigh.

DIY ply/foam/ply adaptations seemed within our reach, and they were. We've now built two boats with two approaches, and both worked out (WAYWARD's example). But, looking back, we've (pretty much) decided not to do it again.

Insulation (R-value) is awesome and totally stopped condensation. Positive buoyancy is a benefit we hope never to call upon. But...

Here's a list of cons:
  • Framing is necessary, finicky and expensive.
  • Through-hulls need blocking (in advance or retro-fitted).
  • Installing foam and inner ply is time consuming and adds cost.
  • Voids (which can rot or mildew) are difficult to reliably avoid.
  • They can't be disassembled for inspection.
  • Foam takes away from interior volume.
  • Foam adds fire hazard with toxic smoke.
  • Foam is a pile of plastic waste that can never be "disposed of properly".
Framing deserves special note, and is what truly tips our scale.

Its purpose is to take fasteners for furnishings (vs. epoxy welding or tape n' glue which we prefer to avoid), tie the inner skin mechanically to the outer, join panels and seal edges (as around window cut-outs). It must be well-planned, precisely installed and devil take those who change their minds. Corners are particularly aggravating, and may need doubling up.

So what's our alternative?

We now lean toward two layers of ply, laminated (we like an LPC such as Gorilla Glue for this).

Condensation is much reduced by 1in of ply, and 1 1/4in (using one layer of 3/4in for accepting fasteners) takes it down to near none. While insulation is relatively low compared to foam, it's still adequate. Strength is high. Buoyancy is still positive, though reduced. It weighs a bit more. Cost is oddly about even (pound for pound, thinner ply is generally more expensive).

Best of all, interior framing is eliminated... you can fasten anywhere into the wall or drill right through it without blocking.

TriloBoats are intended to be quick and simple as possible. We've found that ply/foam/ply in the hull sides run against that grain. While the results are good (at least in the shorter term), we feel that the net benefit doesn't pay for the effort.

Should we build again (please O Great Spirit, NO!), we'll continue to use a SIP approach for the main deck but go to a solid wall hull.

So R.I.P., S.I.P.s.

Sunday, June 21, 2020

Hunkered Down, Sorta

Peering over the berm near high tide


 Social distancing. I've been preparing for this moment all my life.
-- Emblazoned on a T-shirt


Hunkered Down, Sorta

For the last several weeks we've been hunkered down in one of our favorite spots.

It's a small tidal estuary, protected by a berm which has been thrown back by winter storms. We float for an hour or two as the tide floods and ebbs. The residents - including the bears - keep their distance as well.

We pulled in with the idea of seeing how the (COVID) 're-opening' will go. One of the peculiarities of this place is that, for all its remoteness, we have a decent cell signal. Thus, when we peer over our berm, our view is wider than usual.

It seems clear that we are nowhere near out of the woods.

No vaccine. The virus is now well-seeded, relative to those early months. Contact tracing and quarantine authority are inadequate. Global (and U.S.) case rates are rising at a 'flattened' but still exponential rate. Many, many Citizens of the World, I salute thee! But re-opening?? Early results don't look promising.

Meanwhile, we are knocking down a number of projects on and around WAYWARD.

Chief among them is paint, but as yet, we've had no day without at least some rain. We're working on a prototype Power Fin (Atsushi Doi concept dumbed down in our usual way... more to come on this). The new sails need to be grommeted and mounted. The rudder system needed some work (lacing just isn't standing up to WAYWARD's heavier forces... we're adding at least one gudgeon/pintle). Spring cleaning calls as summer begins.

You know... the usual.

So here's wishing all of you health and happiness and a happy Solstice!

Love,

Dave and Anke

Edge of NoWhere, Alaska



Sitting dry at low tide

Safe behind 'harbor' walls

Saturday, June 13, 2020

Buddy Boating: Cruising in Contrast

Bristol Channel Cutter

Yeah, but you sail where no sane people go!-- Our Sailing Buddy

Buddy Boating: Cruising in Contrast



A dear friend lives aboard - and with his sweetheart sails - a Lyle Hess designed Bristol Channel Cutter (BCC). And we all went buddy boating for a bit.

Now, Lyle Hess cutters were my first nautical love. I fell hard through the writings of Lynn and Larry Pardey who sailed SERAFFYN engine-free around the world, back when the world was a wider place.

To me, these are the epitome of Curvy Dog. Fast, weatherly, seaworthy. And breathtakingly beautiful. Over a period of half a century, they have proven themselves outstanding cruiser / sailors.

Yet we ended up taking another road. Despite a general similarity of displacement, plan area and volume, our two boats represent near polar opposites. They take the high road; we take the low... and along the road, plenty of room for thought.

Where to start? Maybe at the beginning?

These cutters’ virtues make them difficult to build. Their fine waterlines, full bilges and firm buttocks… wineglass sections, tumblehome, sheer and sweeping keels… all add up to some serious boat wrightery. That comes at a cost in skill, time, effort, materials and outlay of filthy lucre.

Us? Box it up to go, please. Cheap, but with mucho bang-for-the-buck. Heavy on boat wrongery… let’s say we travel paths seldom trod.

Deep keels and a high proportion of ballast make Hess cutters fast. But shoal waters are only available if the tides run high. That heavy ballast takes away from what may be carried.

We skim the shoals and sit flat when the tide goes out. Without all that extra lead (we get our stability from the boxy shape) we carry literally a ton more books, tools and supplies (which means we can stay out for months if not years on end).

Sailing with the wind, we were the slightly faster boat (our waterline length is about 30ft to the other’s 28). We winced a bit at their pitching, yawing and rolling in the 3ft following sea… our ride is ‘shippy’ in comparison. Still, we were quite aware that if we’d been sailing into the wind, they’d smoke us. But they'd have to work for it (junk rig tacks with tiller over... no sheet handling).

As the wind dropped, we turned inshore… even less wind, but if we needed to scull, far less distance to anchor. They stayed further out (motor back-up), and reached our destination a bit ahead of us.

We skimmed into the shallows and dropped a pair of anchors, drying out between tides. The view of the the surrounding mountains was panormamic, and that of the tidal meadows (deer, bear, mustelidea and birds) was up close and intimate.

After the tide rose high enough to clear a shallow bar, they motored in and anchored in a favorite spot. Indeed, were concerned that it might be taken. It had just the right depth - not too deep for their all chain rode and manual windlass, yet deep enough to stay well afloat through all tides. They had protection from wind from any direction, at the expense of a view.

It doesn’t get any more reliable than that all chain rode. But I wondered if a second anchor with nylon / chain rode might not free up their preference for just-so anchor depth and all-round protection (to avoid having to re-anchor). Well… that pointy bow… it just doesn’t allow room for doing much more.

I suppose we might contrast our accommodations at this point…

The BCC is ingeniously but traditionally laid out. Her galley is, by our standards, cramped. Her salon is two facing benches… one has a fold-out double bunk outboard, and the other locker and bookshelves. The two together make up a space about 12ft long by a social 7ft (idle bunk and lockers squeeze the active space of their wider interior). Lighting comes from an overhead hatch and small portlights. Forward is a workshop / head, which one enters via a small gangway… well separated with full privacy and standing headroom under a raised hatch.

Our social space is 20ft x 8ft with a generous galley / workspace, bench seat opposite a dinette and a very generous double bunk / lounging space all of which are open to one another. Lighting comes via two overhead hatches, large galley windows and even larger windows running along the sitting / bunk areas. The side windows, especially, open the interior into the wider world for a sense of spaciousness. Our head is a composting double bucket system with little to no privacy (which can be arranged or found on deck if our guests are shy).

Poking around, their 7ft dinghy (which fits well on their cabin top) takes a few minutes to launch and retrieve. It does very well with one person, but drags a bit with two. Her beautifully fashioned oars really grab the water, but shoals - especially cobbly or rocky ones - threaten their exquisite varnish which is quite a chore to restore.

Towing our 16ft shorey costs as much as a knot to windward, but is ready to go any time, and rows fast and far, even when heavily loaded. Her oars are fugly; the simple ply blades are worn from years of grinding bottom and most of the paint has left them. But free for 20 years with no maintenance prorates pretty well.

*****

Looking across at one another’s boats and despite seeing the qualities of the other, we each, I think appreciated our own all the more.

Our boats very much reflect the way we roll, both on the front end - we choose a boat to match our purpose and style; and the follow on - our boats determine how we go forward.

Know thyself, my friends, and to thine own selves be true. Choose wisely!