Please visit our home site at

Anke and I live aboard WAYWARD, and wrote about it's design and construction at

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... I'll respond as I can.

Fair winds!

Dave and Anke
triloboats swirly gmail daughter com

Saturday, April 19, 2014


A sea house
A free house
A secret you and me house
A way out on the briny deep
As cozy as can be house!

A street house
A neat house
A better wipe your feet house
Is not our kind of house at all...
Let's go live in a sea house!

-- Apologies to Shel Silverstien


We've been away from home.

Not far away, I'll grant you. SLACKTIDE - emptied for the winter - lies out our front door. We've been caretaking a Lodge for half a year, now. It's a wonderful place, and we're employed by wonderful people.

But it's away from home.

Folks with houses often need someone to look after them for a while, long or short. They'll often tell us, it will give you a chance to get off the boat; to spread out; to stay in a beautiful area; to catch up on movies.

Mmm. We hem and haw. Dance a little side-step.

It's very difficult to explain to our beloved and well meaning friends - who would like to grant us the favor of their beloved homes - that our interest is purely mercenary. A job. Sometimes a favor.

We love our home. 

We love the mobility and freedoms of life aboard. We love cozy. We like our stuff at hand, cleverly stowed or awaiting some, future cleverness. We love the quiet, far from the chatter of media - phones, the internet, the toob - all out of reach in our moments of weakness. We love what we do instead of live in a house... the weaving of our life afloat with the shorelines of our archipelago.

Should the house be in a beautiful spot with a beautiful view? What stops us from spending as much (or as little) time as we wish, anywhere water flows? Our views circling the compass? And we with no more deeds to do nor promises to keep than any other day aboard?

Each moment afloat, the world laps at our hull, sings in our rigging, rocks us to sleep, pours in through our windows.


Monday, April 14, 2014

A KISS of Paint

The pleasures of paint
Colorful Sailboat by Bill Jones

There are only two colors to paint a boat - black or white - and only a fool would paint a boat black.

 - Nathanael G. Herreshoff on How to Express Oneself as an Opinionated Old Fart

One is the loneliest number that you'll ever do. 
Two can be as bad as one. 
It's the loneliest number since the number one.

 - Three Dog Night on Color Schemes

A KISS of Paint

'Tis Spring, and this young man's heart turns to thoughts of... paint.

Paint and painting goes hand-in-hand with boats and boating. Wooden ones, at least. Even the brightest, glossiest yacht sports a fair amount. Paint seals and protects wood, cleans much more easily, brightens dark corners and dresses her up.

It's unbelievable to me how much ink has been spilled debating the proper scheme for a yacht (naturally, I'm spilling my own, here). Opinions (like ol' Nate's, there) run strong and deep.

Color schemes range a wide gamut.

So-called fisherman's finish (stark, raving white) anchors one end of the spectrum. It's cheap and easily applied. No trim or detail work. No edges to cut, anywhere. Get it on, get out there and make money. But One is the loneliest number...

To tell you the truth, I've only ever seen one case of full-blown fisherman's finish, and that guy was himself on the stark, raving side. Fisherfolk in our area use a range of color and detail structures which provide natural trim.

At the other end, are the gorgeous kaleidoscopic flourishes of color usually found in many southern climes, often among the least cash-ready folk. I've often wondered if this is in part due to having access to a cup or two of any given color at a time?

We stick to a more utilitarian (one could say boring) scheme.

The following considerations apply for the way we live:
  • Thermal Dynamics - White reflects well, cooling and reducing thermal flux in wood joints. The more pigment is added, the more stress on wooden structures. This is the science behind NH's proclamation.
  • Glare - White is easy on wood, but hard on the eyes. Sunglasses help, but aren't always handy. Other colors help ease eyestrain.
  • Footprint - It's good to have paint on board when ready to slap some on... the fewer the cans, the better.
  • Clean-Up - Solvent based paints generate (especially) nasty pots of Evil Incarnate. Water-based paints can be disposed of in-the-field with (relatively) little harm.
  • Aesthetics - A little variation, a little trim, a little color are nice, when practical. A white hull, grey decks and whale, and eyes to keep watch decorate the box.

Our solution has been to use latex paints and primers. These have come a long way, due to development for the humongous housing market. Cheap, easy to apply, durable, water clean-up. Seem to get about two years between exterior coats. Interior depends on use, but seems on a par with oil paints.

Flat paint outside 'chalks off' over time. This means it doesn't build up and require stripping every so many years, and naturally provides good 'tooth' for the next coat. All we do is feather edges and spot prime any barespots. 

Gloss paints inside - especially 'Porch and Floor Enamels' once cured are very durable and hold up even under heavy scrubbing. A little harder to touch up, but then, you're out of the weather and not limited to its vagaries. You can not sweat the small stuff.

Color scheme is based on black and white, mixing our own, light greys. Anything else is a 'guest-star' (something we might add when near town, then give the dregs away). Hull and interior get white, name and eyes get black, decks and cockpit vertical faces get grey (doesn't show dirt as much on decks, and verticals cut down glare). This keeps it down to two cans on board.

At the beginning of each season, we start with two new chip brushes each, and store them in two peanut-butter jars of water (tight lid)... one for white, one for not-white. To paint, shake it out on a dry log and go. Brush out at the end of the job, but don't bother to rinse.

And that's it.

Our paint jobs tend to be gritty affairs. Paint suffers from over-wintering, forming a few but ubiquitous lumps. Without fresh, running water, there's always a bit of 'texture tread' that evades the broom. We try to wash things down in the rain, shortly before painting, then let the chips fall as they may. 

Let's say an afternoon of prep a year, and a morning to paint. We don't win blue ribbons, but do pass the 50 foot test.

Good enough for us!


TIPS from Work Boats:

Consider ways to ease free-hand painting. For instance, a trim piece or right angled edge dividing two color fields provides a physical stop. Overlap paint with by the thickness of your brush (or tip), and sweep it on.

Consider making more complex areas (the cockpit, say) monochrome. Sweep it on.

Consider git'r'done for traffic areas or out of sight zones. Pour paint and slather it around. Skip brushing out unidirectionally, from dry to wet, as you might where visible. Dust Bunnies won't be impressed, either way.

Consider oil primer + latex topcoat for best economy. Oil primers penetrate wood pores deeply, rather than 'float' on the surface. Solvents can be recycled in most towns, so its a relatively green option on the first round.

Consider solid pigment oil stains. These are inexpensive, very easy to touch up, and seal well. Take a look at how they hold up in waterfront housing in your area.

Consider resin + primer (apply while resin is 'green'... not completely cured) + topcoat. This has been the most durable paint coating I've seen. First noted it along our dory's tape n glue, then used it on SLACKTIDE's decks. Downside is resin cost, mess and toxicity.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Lehman's Non-Electric Catalog: A Review

Dietz Lantern / Cooker

We're a strong handshake and a helping hand.
- From Lehman's Who We Are

Lehman's Non-Electric Catalog: A Review

You might think that the Amish are among the land lubbinest group of folk to be found anywhere, not to mention land-locked Kidron, Ohio and its environs. And you might be right.

But we Water Rats have a lot in common with them. Or, at least, a lot to learn from them.

The Amish are an enduring community who values simplicity, appropriate technology, independence, DIY, and one another... all themes near and dear to my heart.

More than most, they walk the walk.

So, Lehman's... a company who was originally created to serve Amish customers' interest in manual tools - for carpentry, the kitchen, the garden, for livin' -  but who has found a wider market. In their words:
Since 1955, we've offered simple products that simply work.
  • We value locally made products
  • We honor the past and respect tradition
  • We sell low-tech items in a high-tech world
  • We carry what others don't
  • We stock non-electrical products that are dependable and reliable

Their prices tend to be somewhat on the high side, for any given item, but they are a single point source for a wide range of hard-to-find items. Between energy dissipated in shopping around and multiple shipping and handling charges, the difference is handily overcome.

Anke and I aren't exactly repeat customers. Why? 'Cuz nothing we've bought from them has worn out in a quarter century of hard use. 

Need I say more?

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Yuloh 2.0 and Beyond

For full recipe see Some Thoughts on the Yuloh by Slieve McGalliard

Yuloh 2.0 and Beyond

A while back, I wrote this post on our yuloh implementation. Since that time, we ran across Some Thoughts on the Yuloh by Slieve McGalliard, R&D Director of the JRA (Junk Rig Association). Very good thoughts, indeed, including a general recipe induced from drawings and photos of Chinese Junks and Sampans.

Turns out our approach was in the ballpark, but was significantly improved by following this recipe. We don't seem to move appreciably faster, but maintain speed with considerably less effort.

That's a good thing, in case you were wondering.

Yuloh 2.0

The diagram above shows a simplified version of the McGalliard recipe (check out his article for his full discussion and geometric construction method). 
Note that the decimal fractions used in the diagram have percent and fractional equivalents. For example, 0.66Y = 66% of Y = (2/3)Y.
The Yuloh's overall length - designated as Y - is 60% of Hull Length. Personally, I have a feeling that the height of transom is more likely to be a relevant figure. Eastern, yuloh powered vessels tend to be high sterned relative to modern western hulls. Check your results against common sense.

The '30% to WaterLine' distance determines the position of the Loom, relative to the water surface and angled at 45 degrees.

By moving the Loom fore or aft, the Fulcrum point along the Loom (2/3rds of its length from the Tip) determines the upper endpoint of the Fulcrum system. Adjust position until the Fulcrum height and angle agree with your situation.

Once the Fulcrum position and height are determined, operator height is adjusted, if possible, until the loom is slightly above their head. Height can be raised by standing on a platform or plank (more on this, below).

The Lanyard is fixed near the end of the Loom (or to the lower end of a right angle pin, offset from a straight Loom) and led to deck level and made fast. The original recipe calls for about 14 degrees, but we find a steeper angle (8 to 10 degrees) more comfortable.

Note that the aft, upper face of the blade is flat, while the lower, forward face is rounded (cambered). This develops low pressure on the forward side, developing hydrodynamic, forward thrust.

Details we favor are still those presented in the original post.


The chief difference between our first try and this one is that we now scull using the Eastern system:
  • Facing the Loom nearly athwartships, we place our aft hand on the Loom, about shoulder height... it remains more or less relaxed, riding the Loom and acting mostly as a 'damper'.
  • Our forward hand grips the Lanyard at about chest height and does most of the work - alternately pushing and pulling as we rock our torso back and forth.
  • We can change the 'pitch' of the blade by moving our grip up or down the Lanyard. Low makes for a steep pitch (good for 'shovelling' the stern around in a turn, feathering the blade or lifting clear on the backstroke). High makes shallow pitch for short, rapid strokes (good for accelerating from standstill). Medium for cruise control.
This method increases our leverage, puts more joint-forgiving play in the system and allows for greater control with less involvement from wrists.


I tend to think the numbers are more like guidelines, really.

The difference between perfection of efficiency and pretty good, as usual may demand a price. For example, to adjust one's self to the derived loom height by standing on a platform is inconvenient, to say the least. A shorter Loom and lower Fulcrum height might drop a fraction of a knot, but keep the cockpit clear of contrivances.

I'd personally sooner juggle solutions - fitting the proportions to our hull and layout - than to fit ourselves to the numbers. So far, it's not been an issue for our situations and the recipe as given, but (like Eastern vessels) we're high-sterned for our length.

I'm just sayin'...

And Beyond

Many of the 'improved' sculling systems I've seen over the years lack KISS, a prime ingredient in DIY and carefree cruising. So I really perk up when something comes along that is KISS, elegant and powerful!

Atsushi Doi is a Japanese inventor with due appreciation of traditional virtues. He's come up with several simple sculling inventions whose performance is impressive.They go by names such as ADScull, Ve-Scull, I-Scull, Ro-Scull and PowerFin. Several have been patented.

Not sure we'll ever get around to trying these out, but they bear thinking about!


Here's an article (translated from his site) to get you started.

To get a feel for the potential, here's a sample video of the PowerFin in action, pushing a Layden LITTLE CRUISER to 2.8kts: