A Visual History
The Building of Aslan
|Aslan is ready to go on her trailer. I finally decided if I waited until everything was completely done to my satisfaction, I'd never sail her. So I tried to find experienced sailors to help me on my first time out. My future son-in-law Dennis was willing, if his schedule would allow. My brother-in-law Guy and Dustin, a boat-builder friend, were also willing. Figuring that I might get one if I invited all three, I got all three.|
|Along with Dennis, Guy and Dustin, we invited every one else we knew.
My parents both showed up, as well as my sister. With my daughter
included, and my wife, that made for a pretty good launching party.
Then Al, my neighbor who sails a 42' Catalina, saw us and joined in.
10 people in all, just to launch a little Weekender!
Dustin, who has the Weekender plans and is building a scale model pending his decision to build a full-size Weekender tries to figure out how I attach the rudder while I tighten the turnbuckles.
|My dad made it to the launch, which I was very happy about (see my essay, The Question for why.) Not being a fan of boats so much, he preferred to be on the part of the dock on the concrete (he claims he'll get sick on a floating dock!) We may be able to blackmail him; as a life-long tee-totaler, this picture might shock the rest of the family. But not to worry, that's the Martinelli Sparkling Apple Cider we brought along for the christening of Aslan.|
|We loosened the straps and started backing Aslan into the water for the first time. This shot captures the moment her stern started to hit the water.|
|Time to make my little speech and christen Aslan:
"We toil for months to build a boat,
Everyone laughed a bit, but I screwed up the rest, forgetting to say the dedication part before pouring the Martinelli's. Arrragh! It was to end with:
"In honor of Lewis and his Lion who is the lamb,
|Realizing I missed my opportunity, I simply handed the Martinelli's bottle to my mother, who looks very natural holding it. I'm beginning to wonder about their long-standing reputation as sober folks.|
|Backing up the rest of the way, until Aslan's stern floats up, I unhook the winch cable, Dennis grabs a line, and I give her a little push.|
|And off she goes! She floats! Right side up! And
doesn't seem to list a bit!
Exclamations abound, mostly dealing with surprise that she floats so well in the water. I suspect it has more to do with the Stevenson's construction technique, where the monocoque plywood structure is self-aligning. There are very few Weekenders that list because of it, even though there is a wide range of experience and skill among builders.
|As I drive away to park the trailer, my wife snapped this shot. The day was overcast and we never really had a strong breeze. But you can always count on Channel Islands Harbor to have some wind, even if it is slight.|
|The "chase crew" is ready. When everyone showed up, and my plan to get some "on the water" shots by having my wife in the kayak, we ended up with a shortage of PFDs. Al came to the rescue in his Boston Whaler in the background and loaned us a couple of extras. My wife Jan is in the rear of the kayak and my daughter Leah is in front. We were worried that the Weekender wouldn't hold four adults very well, so we determined someone had to be the "odd man out" for the inaugural cruise. I needed someone who knew how to sail, of course, but any of these three guys could have helped. Dennis volunteered to go out on the second sail with Leah and Jan, so Guy, Dustin and I boarded the boat.|
|I finally got the outboard started. The first 10 pulls I didn't have the fuel on. Then I think I flooded it with the next 10. So I ended up pulling the rope quite a few times before it finally started. With just me in the boat, you can see I don't have the outboard low enough OR the trim is wrong (I'll adjust the trim for my next sail to see if I have to move the outboard mount.)|
|So the first crew heads out. I found if I clip the peak halyard
to the boom, I can use it as a topping lift (as long as the gaff is tied
to the boom as well.) Doing this gives you quite a bit of "headroom"
for motoring out. Because this was the inaugural voyage, and the
launch ramp is in a calm area, we decided to motor out to raise the sails.
Actually, I wanted to raise the sails right away, but the guys who knew
more decided we should wait.
The ramp at Channel Islands Harbor faces almost directly into the wind, and its a fairly narrow channel, so the thought was that it wasn't conducive to learning how to tack.
|I'm fat, but Guy's big. We both weight about 240, but he has several inches on me in height and has a larger build. Putting both Guy and I toward the stern lowered it enough so the outboard could keep from cavitating. Dustin could basically go anywhere on the boat, and it wouldn't make a difference in trim, but Guy and I had to make sure we coordinated our movements.|
|Seems like it took forever to get out to the wide channel. None of us knew how she'd sail. I moved up to the mast to help the mast hoops up over the hinge, while Guy started to pull the peak and throat halyard. Dustin took the helm for this operation.|
|I switched positions with Guy to pull the halyards. He went up to the mast in case anything got hung up, but once the mast hoops are above the hinge, its pretty smooth action.|
|The gaff is up, holding the top of the sail at about the right angle. The peak halyard, which operates the outer end of the gaff's angle, should be adjusted so that any wrinkles are from the very top of the gaff down to where the sail is attached to the gooseneck. Almost there.|
|Of course, there had to be some sailing instruction now that the sail is up. The outboard is kicked up into the "neutral" position to reduce drag, and Guy is giving me some finer points on how to sail.|
|At first I tended to move zig-zag fashion, and alternate falling away
and pointing too much into the wind. But pretty soon you get a feel from
the tiller that matches what you're seeing in the sail ... its hard to
explain, but pretty soon the boat starts speaking to you. Without
the noisy outboard, you hear the sounds I love so much ... the breath of
the wind filling the sail, the comorants slipping under the water for a
fish, the seals soft bark. Two were in the harbor today, giving us
curious stares with their huge eyes, then slipping down under the
water (probably giving us a closer look from the safety of the depths.)
Wind was very light, and the Weekender ghosted along nicely.
|My outboard has dipped back into the water, but the sail trim is right, so Guy gives us an "OK." I was worried that the outboard would interfere with the main sheet when tilted up, but it doesn't. I just have to use a line to hold it in place better.|
|Al motored up and got a good shot of all of us, Leah and Jan in the kayak, and Guy, Dustin and I in Aslan.|
|We have another roll of pictures to be developed, and Guy took some
distance shots of us with the jib up and flying. I'm anxious to see
those, which will come in about a week. I'll post them here, as well
as a more detailed account of the things that seem to work well, and the
things that showed themselves to be problematic. The motor mount
works, but needs some adjusting. I'll make real plans for it, as
I think it would work with nearly any small outboard under 30 pounds.
The mast hoops are a failure, and will need to be replaced. I will
probably go with black ABS couplings, as the wood tends to bend and twist
too much (the glue on the iron-on edge banding is too soft.) There's
a few things like that that I need to report on.
I suppose now that she's launched, these are "maintenance items" and not "building items." But I'll continue to update this page until they are worked out and finalized.