Contruction of the Eastport Pram is underway. As was the case with PocketShip, the first step is to lay out the parts on the plywood. This is done by transferring the full size plans to the plywood using a punch awl, and then playing a giant game of connect-the-dots with a pencil. The Eastport Pram's plans are fantastic. Most of the parts are arranged on the plans the same way they are supposed to be arranged on the plywood, so there isn't much jiggering the plans around to get everything to fit required. Just roll 'em out and mark away. Kudos to CLC...these are really well thought out. As a bonus, since this is a much smaller boat, laying out the parts didn't take too much time (compared to the 50+ hours required for PocketShip).
Some quick jigsaw/circular saw work was all it took to cut all the parts out, bringing me to where I would have started if I had just bought the kit. Next up, epoxy started flowing as I glued all the transom and take-apart bulkhead doublers together. Also, taking a lesson learned from building the Pram's 1/2-scale sibling, the CLC Cradle Boat, I've decided to pre-coat interior surfaces with epoxy and sand them prior to stitching....hopefully that will make things easier down the road.
We have a lot of cool, gray, wet days here in the Pacific Northwest. But the sun does come out from time to time. And it turns out that when it does, living through the gray and the drizzle is well worth it. The daylight hours are long. The most sophisticated man-made climate control apparatus can only dream of making achieving the temperatures and humidity that we get naturally. The wind carries the fresh smell of the sea, with just a hint of sweetness of land that it picked up as in funneled in through the Strait of Juan de Fuca and tumbled down in the the Puget Sound basin. All around, the waters turn a sparkling blue, the greens and browns of the land pop out, and sparkling white snow capped peaks form the backdrop. Yes, sunny days in the Pacific Northwest are nothing short of idyllic.
Of course, the natural thing to do when blessed with such a day is to take to your boat and surround yourself in the glory of it all. Yea verily, it would be ungrateful, almost immoral, not to enjoy such a blessing by gliding about under a full spread of canvas!
Yet the perfection of the moment is always fleeting. For, at least during the spring, these days never come on a weekend, and the tug of responsibility that comes with remembering that work comes again tomorrow compels one to return to the dock. Which is well, because lacking coercion, it is quite likely that one would never turn for home.
"With the days getting longer, I decided to make my first attempt at an after work sailing adventure on a beautiful Spring day. I snuck out of work a little early and had the boat in the water by 4:30pm. The weather was sunny warm...62 deg F, with a fresh breeze out of the S. Nearby Paine Field was reporting winds at 12kts, but down in the harbor it was feeling closer to 18kts. Jetty Island provides little protection from southerlies and thus I encountered a bit of chop as I headed down rive. It became rougher as I got closer to the saltwater. Winds, tides and currents combined to create fairly active waters as I exited the river, with steep wind waves of ~3-4'. Solitude took the waves well, sending spray flying as she plowed headlong into oncoming waves.
"As I pushed on, though, things became even rougher, and the boat started pounding as she dropped off the crests of the waves. I changed course slightly to take the waves over the port bow, in hopes that it would ease the ride, but to little effect. Whitecaps dotted the agitated waters of the bay. Deciding that I wasn't really interested in using both hands to try to get the sails up while using at least on foot to try to keep Solitude's nose pointed into the wind while having the boat drop out from underneath me every 10 sec, I gave up on the idea of sailing and turned for home. I put the helm hard over, Solitude spun on her heels, caught the now-following seas and surfed nearly all the way back into and a ways up the river.
"I headed for the dock at Jetty Island, were I took advantage of the less-than-ideal conditions to practice a number of docking maneuvers in adverse conditions...and concluded that more practice probably wouldn't hurt.
"When practice time was over, I tied up at Jetty Island, carried my dinner ashore, walked over to the west shore. I ate on the sandy shores, watching bald eagles, enjoying the warmth of the day and watching the water on the baydance and sparkle. The Jetty Island dock in only a few hundred feet from the boat launch on the mainland...today proved that your destination doesn't have to be far away to have a great adventure."
As we inch towards better weather, I have been dreaming about the many exciting adventures that I'd like to have with Solitude III in her first sailing season. Daysailing is great, but this boat is made to go places, to cruise, and to see experience the world from the unique perspective of a small boat. I can close my eyes and picture gliding into an quiet anchorage in the San Juans, dropping the hook, rowing my tender ashore, and romping about. Of course, there is one minor issue with this dream. I don't have a tender.
One could easily question the need for a tender for a boat that is under 15' on deck. But Solitude III feels like a much larger boat, and beaching her every time it is time to go ashore just seems wrong somehow. So, despite the nonsense of having dingy that is over half the length of the mothership, I've decided to start construction of an Eastport Nesting Pram.
The Eastport Pram is a John Harris-penned 7'9" rowing and sailing dinghy. The neat feature about the Nesting version of the Eastport Pram is that you can unbolt the bow, stow it in the stern, and have the whole affair package down into 4'9"x4' rectangle. Not small enough to store aboard Solitude whilst under way, but it should allow me to transport it in her cockpit when headed to the boat ramp.
From plans plywood will spring great adventures. This will become a boat.
Although it is available as a kit through Chesapeake Light Craft, I have chosen to build for plans. It sure would be faster and easier to start with the kits, but after the precedent set on Solitude, I'm not sure if I can seriously contemplate building from a kit again.
So, here goes... I have already ordered plans and plywood. I still have epoxy left over from the PocketShip build, so this should be a good opportunity to use it up.