Making a birdsmouth hollow mast for Gwragedd Annwn part VI.

The epoxy glueing the Masthead Sheave plug to the Masthead is now cured.

I quickly sand off the excess epoxy from the joint.  I will re-varnish this spot.  It will be covered by reflective tape later.

Excess epoxy sanded off with 80 Grit…I will finish with 350 Grit.

I going to make up a plug for the mast base.  Because I reinforced the exterior of the mast with epoxy & cloth, I do not need as long a reinforcing plug on the inside as I had planned.  I stuff more aluminum foil into the hollow mast.  I leave just enough room for the plug stem.  I use a plug of aluminum foil to make a “dam” to keep the epoxy from flowing down the mast into the “crumpled for radar reflection” aluminum foil.

I was using these for belaying pins.

I start with an oak hand shovel handle I bought from Princess Auto.

Not needed bits.

  It is almost an exact fit.  I sand off the finish so the epoxy will soak into the wood.  I cut off the rounded top and the excess on the bottom.

Making the mast base plug.

I make up an oak disk, just over 2½” in diameter with a 1″ hole in the centre.   I use my Shopsmith disk sander to round down the shaft of the handle.  (I then sand the bottom of the mast to bare wood)  The disk will fit against the bottom of the mast.

Dry fit of the mast plug.  Grain aligned fore and aft to the Masthead Sheave.

I mix up the epoxy…Two hundred stirs.

I coat all the bare wood with epoxy, including the mast base inside.

After I have coated all the bare wood, I mix wood dust with the epoxy and get ready to glue it all together.

I angle the mast so the base is up and pour the thickened epoxy into it.  The Aluminum foil “dam” keeps the epoxy from going into the “crumpled for radar reflection” Aluminum foil while I get the plug glued in. 

I then wrap the joint with the packing tape to keep the epoxy from leaking out.  I stand the mast upright in the garage with the heat lamp on it.

The paper towel is for a bit of insulation from the cold floor and if there are any leaks.

Now all of the epoxy will flow down around the plug for a good glue-up.

The following morning, the epoxy has cured and I remove the packing tape and sand the joint smooth using 80 grit and finish with the wet/dry 350 grit sand paper (using it dry).
First coat of varnish.  I varnish to the end of the epoxy/cloth reinforcing. 

I now turn to the other (Masthead) end.

Masthead end ready for varnish touch-ups

I give the Masthead end a light sanding with the 350 wet/dry sandpaper and touch up the varnish.

A couple of coats of varnish and I will be done!

Final stats:

The mast is 17″1″ long and 16′ 10¼” to the centre of the sheave.  It is 2½” in diameter at the base, tapering to 2¼” at the masthead.   There is 1½ pounds of (radar reflective!!) aluminum foil in the mast.  The mast weight is (using my luggage scale) 14lbs.

The finished mast…just some varnish drying to do…Then a coat of paste wax.

Three photos of the finished mast in Gwragedd Annwn:

Side view of the mast. Note the reflective strip at the joint, top of the mast.
The mast fits quite well. I will have to adjust the mast step and mast partner for a perfect fit.

When the rains stop, I will rig Gwragedd Annwn with her new lugsail. I believe that I will have to move her mast-step and the mast partner to balance her for sailing…a little trial and error is in my future.

Good rowing to you,


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Making a birdsmouth hollow mast for Gwragedd Annwn part V

The epoxy has cured on the base of the mast reinforcing.  I used 6oz. cloth, left over from Paul’s Canoe build.

Mast outside ready for wet sanding…again, rain was predicted for today, but no rain.

I get out the wet/dry 350 grit sandpaper & bucket of warm water with a little soap again.  I sand smooth the joint where the cloth meets and where I did a little filling.

Not to get too boring, I sand the mast smooth, dry, take inside of the garage and begin to varnish

The varnishing consists of: a coat of varnish, rotating the mast every 30 minutes for two hours to minimise drips, let dry, repeat.  It is the same method I used to epoxy coat the mast, just more coats of varnish (8!)

Masthead Sheave plug assembly dry fit.

I take the Masthead Sheave plug assembly into the house to fit the sheave, washers and pin.  The pin is 3/16″ brass rod.  I got the brass washers from Roy.  

I take the assembly into the garage to cut the brass pin.
Nothing high-tech here.  Mark the pin, push it out a little.  Cut.

After I cut the pin to size, I file the edges smooth.  Ready to epoxy the plug into place.

I sand off any varnish on the base of the plug, so, the epoxy will soak into the wood.
Same with the mast head.

Both the plug and the masthead are sanded down to bare wood.  I set up the mast stand and then mix-up the epoxy.  Two hundred stirs.

Final dry fit.
Dry fitting the bamboo Masthead sheave plug pin.

All is good.

I coat the Masthead sheave plug shaft and the inside of the mast with the un-thickened epoxy.
I make sure to epoxy the bamboo pin and its hole.

After I have coated all the bare wood with the straight epoxy, I add wood dust to thicken the epoxy.  I put the base of the mast on the floor, angling the mast up towards the top so the epoxy will, if anything, run down into the mast.  I fill the mast head with the thickened epoxy mixture.

I insert the Masthead Sheave plug, the bamboo pin and then wrap the joint  and pin ends with packing tape to prevent the epoxy from leaking out.

It is hard to see from this angle, but the mast does angle down to the right.

To have all of the epoxy settle around the Masthead Sheave plug, I place the mast upside down in the centre of my garage.  Gravity will make the epoxy flow down and around the plug stem.  

Mast upside down, joints sealed with packing tape.
The mast is resting on an old sail in a sail bag so the varnish will not be scratched.  A
Heat lamp is shining on the joint.  I rotate the mast every 30 minutes so the epoxy will settle evenly.  

The distance to the inside peak of my roof is just a little over 17″.  The mast barely fits!!!

Gwragedd Annwn’s mast reaches to the peak. Paul’s Canoe in the background. 

Next step is to make the mast base plug.  I have a piece that I will fit into the base.  Tomorrow’s job….the mast is almost finished!

Another view.  That is the Vancouver Wooden Boat Society’s Douglas rowboat being stored.

Good rowing to you,


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Making a birdsmouth hollow mast for Gwragedd Annwn part IV

We have had over 20cms (almost 8″) of rain at the house.  It has been very rainy and more rain is predicted.  I decide to wet sand the mast tomorrow.  Well, it is now tomorrow and it is supposed to rain all day today.  I was all set up to wet sand the Mast and Masthead plug in the rain.  Would you not know it…no rain today, but the temperature is just over 13° C.

Wet sanding the mast in the not raining.  I am using 350 grit wet/dry sandpaper.

I have a margarine container with some hot water with a little dish soap.  I really want the varnish to stick to the mast, so I am making sure that the mast has a good bonding surface…the soap will wash off any “anime Blush” that there may be on the mast.  

While sanding, I find a seam that still needs to be filled.

Well, there is a change of plans.  I am going to fill a few minor flaws that I have found while sanding.  I will live to varnish another day.

I mix up a small amount of epoxy and a touch of sanding dust and go around the mast, filling the few flaws that I have found.  To keep the epoxy in place, I put a piece of packing tape over the epoxy.  Sort of like a band-aid.

Fixing a few minor flaws.

Well, this is a change of plans.  I decide that since I cannot varnish the mast until the epoxy cures, I might as well go all the way with my other “idea”.  Generally, the base of free-standing masts are reinforced on the inside, as there is a lot of stress placed on the mast base while sailing.  I am going to wrap my mast base with epoxy & cloth to reinforce it.  This will also keep the mast from being damaged where it goes through the mast partners (the thwart).  I will still leather the mast at thwart level. (about 16″ up) to reduce chafing.

A layer of cloth for the base of the mast.

I used 6oz. cloth left over from “Paul’s Canoe build”.  I am putting epoxy & cloth from the mast base to about 27″ up.  

Cloth epoxy saturated.  As before, I am rotating the mast every 30 minutes or so.  No epoxy drips yet!  I have brought my shop “plant-pot” heater over to keep the epoxy a little warmer to speed curing.  
Just for fun, I throw a coat of varnish on to the Masthead sheave plug.

I intend to wrap the Mast/Masthead plug joint with silver reflective tape when I am done.  Hopefully I can wet sand the mast base, the filled minor flaws and start to varnish tomorrow.

Good rowing to you,


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Making a birdsmouth hollow mast for Gwragedd Annwn part III

Fitting & shaping the Masthead Sheave Plug.

The glue has dried enough for me to work on the masthead sheave plug.
Side view, top rounded with the bandsaw
I rough cut the shaft, giving it eight sides,  I fine-tune the fit using my Shopsmith 12″ sanding disk.
Back and forth from the mast to the sanding disk until I get a good fit,  Part of the problem is that the mast, due to the taper, is actually gets bigger on the inside as you go down.  

To solve the increasing inside diameter issue, when I epoxy the masthead plug in, I will stand the mast on its head, the epoxy will flow down around the masthead plug shaft, filling any gaps.

The procedure will be to push an “epoxy plug” into the mast, (remember, the mast is filled with crumpled aluminum foil) pour in epoxy & wood dust mixture, tape around the joint, stand the mast on its head, The epoxy & wood dust will flow down around the masthead plug.   I have 17″ of height to the peak of my garage roof, so my mast will just fit.

Snug fit for the masthead plug shaft.
I start shaping the masthead plug
Next  I will cut off the corners to make the plug 8 sided
Before I get too far, I will drill the plug  for the masthead sheave…using one of the flat surfaces.
The drill bit is the same diameter as the sheave axle hole.
Test fitting of the masthead sheave.  The final install will have stainless steel (maybe copper) washers to hold the sheave in the middle of the slot.
I would like to use a copper rivet  to hold the sheave in.
Sanding the mast smooth.

When I made the mast, I used a belt-sanding jig to round the mast.  The result was a round mast, but there are lots of cross-grain sanding marks.  I am going to now re-sand the mast, with the grain, to end up with a smooth finish.

I mark the mast with a pencil circle…I will sand each stave and the marks will tell me which stave I have sanded

⅓ sheet random orbit sander with 80 grit sandpaper.
The lump in the upper right of the above photo after sanding.

This part is where I “sand-off” an afternoon…the procedure is to move up and down the mast, sanding as I go…Each stave takes maybe 10 passes of the sander to sand off the cross-grain marks.

Pinning the Masthead plug.

After I have sanded the mast with 80 and then 150 grit, I pin the masthead plug to the top of the mast and sand it flush with the mast.

Masthead plug faired and sanded.  

I now brush off the sanding dust and vacuum the mast & masthead plug.

‘poxy time!   Cold Cure resin.

I take out the Masthead sheave plug to epoxy separately.  I re-arrange my mast supports, one on each end.  I use a metal bar, inserted into the top and bottom of the mast to hold the mast in the brackets.  This way I can rotate the mast and epoxy all its sides.

Masthead sheave plug ready
Plug ‘poxied.

I clamp the Masthead Sheave plug in a vise to give the top part a coating of epoxy.  I will not epoxy the shaft and the bottom of the plug.  When I epoxy the mast and the plug together, I want the epoxy to soak into the wood on both pieces.

Epoxy coating the mast

I am epoxy coating the mast for two reasons.  One: While sanding the mast I had noticed that some of the joints were not filled…the was sanding dust in the joint.  To insure that all of the mast stave joints are epoxy filled, and Two: to seal the wood so no water will be absorbed.

The mast is coated with epoxy resin.

The screwdriver is used to help turn the mast 180°.  Why do this?  Gravity makes the epoxy flows around the mast and settle on the bottom

Epoxy drips on the bottom of the mast

My solution to drips is to rotate the mast 180° and then brush the drips out.  I rotate the mast every 30 minutes until the epoxy is too set for the drips to form.

I also brush off the drips that have formed on the Masthead sheave plug.

A Note:  after turning my mast a few times, I decide to epoxy coat my Traditional Small Craft Association membership card…I just got it in the mail today.  The epoxy is now a little stiff, and does not flow over the card evenly, but now the card will last forever.

TSCA is a great association, you should join too.

After the epoxy cures, the next step is to give the mast and masthead plug a light sanding, then varnish them.  It will be easier to varnish the plug and the mast in the rotating rig separately.  I will glue them together after a few (too many) coats of varnish have been applied…probably one a day for a week or so.

Good rowing to you…and always know where you are.


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Making a birdsmouth hollow mast for Gwragedd Annwn part II

Yesterday I filled in the small flaws in the birdsmouth mast.  Today the epoxy is still too soft to sand.  Today I am going to start work on the Masthead plug with the sheave.

Masthead plan.  I am making it out of some white oak I have left over from the leeboards.
Three pieces for the masthead plug.  The centre blank is ⅝” thick, the two outside pieces are ⅞” thick for a total of  2⅜”.  I will work the plug down to the 2½” masthead diameter.
The sheave is in the upper right of the photo.
I am using Titebond II to glue up the masthead plug.
Masthead plug clamped up…I set aside to dry.

I have read a lot on the internet about stuffing your hollow mast/spars with crumpled aluminum foil so your small boat will show up on radar.

What the heck??, I buy four boxes of heavy-duty aluminum foil at the dollar store.  

75 square feet of crumpled foil goes into the mast.

Crumple, crumple, crumple.

I use a left-over piece of aluminum pipe to stuff the foil into the hollow of the mast.  I will need to leave room for the Masthead plug tail and the plug for the bottom of the mast.  About 18″ for the masthead, about 24″ for the mast base.  I stuff from both ends of the mast.  I use a broom handle to gauge how far the foil is stuffed in.

Stuffing the bottom of the mast.
Stuffing the masthead end.
The painters tape marks the “how far to stuff the aluminum foil in” line.

Well, I now have ≈ 75 square feet of crumpled aluminum foil in the centre of my birdsmouth mast.  I wonder if it will work, and give Gwragedd Annwn a good radar reflection.

I am so enthused with this idea that I will take my yardarm, hollow out the middle, stuff with aluminum foil and re-glue.  Probably I will only be able to get 35 square feet or so of crumpled aluminum foil in the yardarm…but, hey, the more foil the better!  Tomorrow’s project.

Good rowing to you,


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Squamish to HSC II – by Kayak and Rowboat

Google Earth map of the trip:

Squamish to HSC II

For the second time, the Urban Oarsman rowed from Squamish to the Hollyburn Sailing Club.  This time, the write-up for “The Spreader”, the Club newsletter was written by fellow paddler, Ken Parr.  This is Ken’s account of the trip.  I added a few “additions” in italics.

Squamish to West Vancouver –by

Kayak and Rowboat by Ken Parr

On the Labour Day long weekend, a group of HSC adventure seekers
put into action a plan to spend some quality time abusing our bodies
over a number of days, on the water of course, from Squamish to HSC
world headquarters in West Van. The plan was simple…  Leave

Load up the kayaks Friday night and then pick everyone up Saturday morning.  I will tow Gwragedd Annwn to Squamish on her trailer.  Steve, Rueben and Maciej loading the double.

Squamish in the early AM, and paddle hard, with 2 nights of camping
along the way. Our route going south was to go West around Gambier
Island, and would eventually, over 3 days, be about 82 kilometres.

Paddling out the Mamquam Blind Channel at the head of Howe Sound.

Our equipment for this adventure was safe and robust. We had GPS
and ample safety gear, maps and backup systems. Mike of course was
Captain of his “battleship”… the tested and sturdy “Gwragedd Annwn”,

Gwragedd Annwn with her electric trolling motor and bow solar panel.

complete with steel (actually bronze) keel to do battle with the barnacles. The rest of the crew had kayaks… plastic and fiberglass. Meals were simple: Maciej and Rueben were great chefs for communal feasts;  drink was adequate; comradery was high; laughter and smiles were abundant.
The weather was fortunately warm and mostly sunny.  There was a Strong Wind Warning for the Northern Howe Sound (for both Saturday and Sunday) and the winds were as expected and predicted.  The winds were forecast to build in the late morning until reaching their peak in the afternoon. Mike got hit by the outflow (actually inflow, into Howe Sound between Bowen and Keats Islands) winds on the morning of the third day.  At times the waves were sometimes about 4 foot. 
On Saturday Sept 1st we left Vancouver about 6AM, and drove to
Squamish (in two cars, my FJ and Steve’s minivan.  I arrived first and offloaded the two single kayaks and launched Gwragedd Annwn at the Squamish boat ramp.  Gwragedd  Annwn was fully loaded, so, I left right away.  The kayaks are twice as fast as I am and they will catch up and pass me shortly)  with the help of kind family members, we off loaded our gear
at the public boat ramp. After stuffing things away in all the nooks in
our boats, Maciej, Rueben, Steve, and Ken set out going South.

We caught up to Mike in his row boat at Watts Point on the east
side of Howe Sound.

Watts Point rendezvous. 

We then paddled to the west side across choppy (and windy, the wind was so strong that I could not make headway against it.  I took shelter along the west shore of the sound)  seas to Zorro Bay, arriving about lunch time. This proved to be a delightful bay, sheltered, pretty, with a pebble beach, and part of the Sea to Sky Marine Trail. (I arrived much later, using Gwragedd Annwn’s electric trolling motor to make headway against the strong inflow winds)
After a relaxing lunch and Maciej’s tasty sausages,

Mike caught up with us after battling against the head winds. We
waited a few hours for the wind to die down some before we left on the next leg to Islet View, a small campsite overlooking Anvil Island.

Bernd, the contra explorer, joined us while we were resting at Zorro Bay, en route North, to our delight! He left West Van early on Saturday, and rendezvoused with us, on his way to Squamish, all in one day!

Bernd stops in Zorro Bay on route to Squamish.

After a brief chat and some group photos he continued north and
arrived in Squamish at 6pm.  Bernd made us feel that our achievement of mastering choppy seas going South was a little more than a warm up for him traveling about 60+ km hugging the coast… all in one day!

Steve and Ken at Islet View campground with “The Islet” in the background

We had paddled about 20 km on Saturday, our shortest leg. We had a lovely pasta dinner made efficiently by Chef Maciej, and nestled into the camping
spots for some well-earned sleep.

Ken hits the rocks (hay).

Mike, one of the ‘Ol Men in the Sea’, anchored and slept on the water.

Setting up my “Skydome” tent on Gwragedd Annwn’s deck.

The Otters or seals seemed to want to play in the night, and we occasionally woke up to splashes … or maybe some curses that the bloody anchor had dragged with the tide!

Dawn, day two.
Sunday sunrise.
I set out at dawn, trying to row during the calm of the morning…I forget my lifejacket on shore and have to row back for it, much to the amusement of the kayakers.  They will catch up to and pass me soon

On Sunday (after Mike had rowed away) we had a hearty breakfast, complete with Maciej’s delicious camp coffee, and then set out for
Sir Thomas J Lipton park on Gambier Island. Surprisingly,
we had very flat seas for the first part of the day. It was like paddling on a lake.

The Kayakers catch up to me and pass me just North of Gambier, Due West of Ekins Point.

The final half of the 31 km leg was through choppy water around the Western side of Gambier. We lunched at a comfortable beach on an island at the South Western tip of Gambier, and then made our way North
into the bay where a lumber carrier built in 1919 – named after Sir Thomas J. Lipton of Tea Clipper fame – rested, her remaining hull still poking out of
the water to welcome us.

Historical sign at the Sir Thomas Lipton campsite.

The campsite across from the Lipton was spacious and comfortable.

Mike rowing in.

Rueben made a lovely dinner and we finished with lively conversation and bottles of wine and spirits to complete a wonderful day with smiles.

Sir Thomas Lipton campsite supper.  Note that Rueben is using a TRANGIA stove, probably the best camping stove ever made.  The one I use is over 40 years old and going strong!
Going to pack it in for the night.  I will anchor Gwragedd Annwn and then pitch the “Skydome” tent.

Monday Sept 3rd was Labour day… and labour we did. Another 31 km was recorded.
Maciej left early to get home in time for a pre-planned family event.

Maciej packing up early to make a family event. 

Mike left early to begin his long row home. Both encountered kinda gales at 7 AM – along with an Orca pod sighting leaving Gambier.

A pod of Orcas swam under Gwragedd Annwn.  New Brighton Beach is in the background.

The rest of us had a more relaxing start at 8 AM and by then the wind had subsided and paddling was easy.  

Avoiding BC Ferry

We managed to avoid the Ferries and then stopped off at Whytecliff Park for a light lunch.

Whytecliff park lunch
Getting passed by kayakers again!

The kayakers caught up with Mike near Lighthouse Park

Kayaks, a “passing” fad.

and shared stories of Mike greeting Orcas earlier swimming a few feet from his boat. Seas then became a little rougher and large 4 foot rolling waves provided some excitement with tired muscles trying to stay above water on the home stretch.

Rough seas near Lighthouse Park (Point Atkinson light)

Kayakers arrived by 2 in the afternoon and Mike amazingly was not far behind.

Gwragedd Annwn lands at the public boat launch, it is a little more sheltered than the HSC Dock.

We all had smiles on our faces (and water in our boots)

Wet landing.  Emptying the water out of my boots.

that we had indeed succeeded and could then stop the bloody paddling in favor of relaxing to heal our aching arms and blisters on our hands! What a trip! Along the way we saw some great views… beautiful scenery, historic spots, seals, orcas, and lots of other sea life. A big highlight was getting to know each other much better, and to sharing some very magical time.

On the hard at the Sailing Club.

Tide Tables for the Squamish to HSC row:

With the tide table, I can figure out the rise or fall of the tide when Gwragedd Annwn is anchored.  I can then anchor her in enough water so she will not ground when I sleep.
for example, if I go to sleep at 9pm on Sept 1st and sleep for nine hours, the change in depth is a drop of (max) 2.3 meters or about 7’6″.  If I anchor in 3 metres or 10′ I will still have almost 2½’ or 70cm of water beneath Gwragedd Annwn’s hull

A few notes on the wrecks in West Bay, Gambier Island. 

In West Bay is the wreck of the Sir Thomas J Lipton of Tea Clipper fame. The name plate was gone, but there was no mistaking the rotting remnants of this piece of nautical history. If you are interested, look at the very end of West Bay.

Remains of the Sir Thomas J, Lipton

The Sir Thomas J. Lipton was built at Brunswick, Georgia in 1919 as a lumber carrier in anticipation of a post World War I building boon in Europe which failed to materialize.  She was 209 feet in length with a breadth of 42 feet and was schooner rigged with four masts.  She had a yard for a large Square sail on the foremast. 

By 1924 the lumber trade had vanished and she was laid up at Astoria, Oregon where she remained until 1940 when she was acquired by Island Tug and Barge Co. of Victoria.  She was then converted to carry hog fuel which was used to heat the boilers in pulp mills.  Most of her deck planking was removed and bulkheads at least ten feet high were built all around the opening. 

In 1941 or 1942 she was beached in West Bay (Gambier Island) to keep the log booms from going aground on the shallow beach where her remains now lie.  Her wreckage can be observed at low tide, with her port side uppermost and her bow pointing North.  The words “Island Tug”, which had been painted on the above mentioned bulkheads, could be seen from far out in Howe Sound. (not visible when we camped there)

Another source lists the Sir Thomas J, Lipton, 1358 tons,schooner, 1918, 217405, LPHM.  Apex Navigation.

Sir Thomas J. Lipton (schooner)

The 1,588 ton four-masted schooner Sir Thomas J. Lipton built at Brunswick, Georgia in 1919 and transferred to Honolulu in 1921 for the Northwest Lumber trade, was acquired by the Island Tug & Barge Co. of Victoria and transferred to Canadian registry as a barge. The vessel had been laid up at Astoria since 1924. Gordon Newell, Maritime Events of 1940, H.W. McCurdy Marine History of the Pacific Northwest.

Citation: Tacoma Public Library

The big steam tug Lorne, built in 1889, may be located in West Bay, Gambier Island.

There are two historic period sites, both located in West Bay, Gambier Island, containing five heritage wrecks,  Site Di Ru-066 is the wreck of the Thomas J.Lipton, a four-masted lumber schooner of about 201ft. (64 m) length, 1205 net tons, built in 1919 in Georgia, Alabama, and converted for use on this coast as a wood chip barge (Stone 2007).  The wooden hull was driven ashore and abandoned sometime after 1940, and remains a conspicuous, partially submerged, structure lying along the shore in West Bay.  Site Di Ru-069 consists of four unidentified wooden wrecks some of which are exposed at low tide, down to 7 mbsl to the shallowest wreck component. The wrecks are described as two scows, a vessel (62m by 15m) one mistakenly thought to be the Lorne, but now thought to be a deep-sea barge, and a smaller vessel (Stone 2007).

Additional photos courtesy of  Steve Britten, Ken Parr, Rueben Schultz and Maciej Sobczyk

Squamish to the Hollyburn

Sailing Club.  A great trip

Good rowing to you.


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Making a birdsmouth hollow mast for Gwragedd Annwn

Now that I have done my test sails and found that Gwragedd Annwn is a good sailer, I am going to make a new mast for her…a birdsmouth hollow mast. The old mast is about 2′ too short, the new mast will be over 16’4″ long.

There are a lot of formulas for determining the size of your strips. My mast will be 2½” at the base tapering to about 2″ at the top.  I used the one on the Duckworks site.  My strips will be a little bigger than ½” by 1⅛”.  I will try to get the most out of my Douglas Fir beam.  Depending on the test sailing results, I may make a boom for the rig.

The first step is to rip up the strips for the birdsmouth mast.

The first step is to rip up my 3½” by 3½”  by 16’4″ clear Douglas Fir beam.

I will first rip it into 3 planks.  I want to get 6 strips out of each plank, for a total of 18 strips.  I need 8 for the mast and 8 for the boom, if I find that Gwragedd Annwn needs a boom to sail well downwind.

I set my circular saw cutting guide to cut the beam into three equal pieces.

My 10″ Shopsmith table saw will not cut through the beam in one pass and trying to line-up in and out feed tables does not work…I decide to use my circular saw and the edge guide.  I spend a lot of time setting up the saw and the guide…the saw adjustments are not very precise, but, I do my best.

The routine was to make a cut, turn around and make another cut on the opposite side, then roll the beam over and make the two cuts on the (now) bottom side.

Despite trying my best to set up the saw correctly, the cuts do not quiet line up….
I split off the three boards, just over 1⅛” thick.
The next step is to rip the boards into 9/16″ strips.

My son, Paul (of Paul’s Canoe) helps me rip the strips.  I set up the Shopsmith to rip the boards into equally sized strips.

Paul in-feeds the planks and I out-feed the strips.  I end up with 15 equally sized strips and 3 that are narrower…a slight mis-measurement.
Fifteen good strips and three narrower ones.

Fortunately, I only need 8 strips for the birdsmouth mast.

A lot of good, expensive fir turned into sawdust.
The next step is to cut the birdsmouths.  I set up the Shopsmith to cut a 45° bevel cut.  I used a 2 by 4 to lengthen the fence.
Test pass.  The idea is to have the bevel cut just on the inside of the strip.  This one is too far to the side.
After a few test runs, I get the correct bevel and the Shopsmith is now set up.
The good test cut.
The Shopsmith is set up.  I have two support stands, an infeed one and an outfeed one. (in the picture, to the left of the finger boards)
Picture of a strip before cutting.  The finger boards hold the strip to the fence, and gravity helps hold the strip to the table.  Infeed support in the background.
Ripping a strip.  The cut only goes ¼” into the strip. (outfeed assistant in the background)
The strips are all cut, the nine best ones are on the left.  I pick the best eight for the next step.
I camp two sets of strips, birdsmouth side down, together to make the taper.   I use a hand-held planer, taking off  1/16″ with each pass.  I mark a line at 1′, 2′, 4′, 6′ 8′ 10′ & 12′ from the top of the mast.  I then mark 6″, 12″ and 18″ from the bottom.  I start at the 1′ mark and plane to the top, then the 2′ mark, then the 4′ etc. and do the same from the bottom. I then resort the strips, clamping the eight strips together and using my belt sander, even out all the strips so they are the same.   I just have to keep the sander level.

I end up with a ⅜+” taper, from about 2½” to 2+”.

Strips tapered and sanded to be the same.
The next step is to make a mast form.  I mark out 7 mast mold stations in a 2 by 4 and cut them out using my drill press with a hole saw.
Half way there.
After I cut out all of the centres I will cut out each form
Sanding the cutouts in each form
My form is on three sawhorses, it consists of two 2 by 4s.

A little string (not shown) aligns the forms on the 2 by 4s.  

The mast form and the birdsmouth strips.  A little packing tape on the forms and it will be  ready for glueing.
As always, a test fit to make sure that everything works.  I can pick the mast up in the middle even though it is only held together by four strips of masking tape.
Ready to go, I will use hose clamps to hold the mast strips together.  I also have surgical tubing,  zap-straps, rebar tying wire and rubber band to clamp the birdsmouth strips together.
I mix up the cold-cure epoxy (two hundred stirs) and start brushing it onto the strips.

The shop temperature is about 10° Celsius.  That is why I am using Cold-Cure Epoxy.  I will have a lot of working time at this temperature.

  The first coat will be the “soak-in” coat.  I will then thicken the next coat to help keep it in the joints and not leak out when the strips are clamped up.
The thickened epoxy glue looks greyish in this photo.  We used Popsicle sticks to spread the thickened epoxy, insuring that the epoxy would stay in the bottom of the birdsmouth “V”.
Still have a little “spreading out” to do here.
Hose clamps, surgical tubing  and zap straps.  The build went very easily.  Paul and I put the first strip in the form, then placed the second strip into the glued-up birdsmouth “V” grove.  The epoxy held the strip in place…took about 20 seconds to do each strip.  the final two strips was the hardest.  I used a box-cutter knife along the joint to align the strips and then locked them into place.  Paul held the mast together as I put a hose clamp on each end, using a cordless screwdriver with a hex-nut bit to tighten the hose clamps.
I then went back along the mast, evenly putting on seven hose clamps.  Paul and I aligned the mast, trying to get is to be straight.   The best way was to look along the top along a strip line.  We adjusted the mast by tapping it with a dead-blow hammer and adjusting the sawhorses.   We then wrapped it with surgical tubing, clamped it with zap straps.  Where ever there was not good “squeeze-out”  I used the rebar tie-wire to pull the strips together.

I ended up with some sort of clamp every 4″ or so. 

Thick rubber bands and nails make good make-shift clamps too.  Good squeeze out on the left, not good enough  between the two sets of rubber band clamps.  A good place for the tie wire.

I turn on the shop heater and warm up the mast.  The overnight temperature is predicted to be -2° Celsius.  The shop will stay at about 10°Celsius overnight.

The next morning, the glue is no-longer sticky to the touch but still soft.

The mast looks pretty straight.  I should be able to fair the mast to be straight to the eye.  I think the glue-up has been a success.  The next day I strip off all of the clamps and get the mast ready for final shaping.

The birdsmouth mast stripped and ready for final finishing…I will let the epoxy cure for another few days.

I use my shop scale to weigh the mast…a little less than 14lbs!  

The weather is predicted to warm up.  It will get to 8°C today and will stay about that warm overnight.  I will continue to work on the mast in a few days.

A few days have passed and the epoxy is cured enough to work with.  The first step is to knock off the biggest lumps so I can use my power planer.

Ready for 8 then 16 then 32 then round!!!!

The mast blank seems  to have a few “bends” in it.  I will see what they look like after I begin to plane off the sharp edges.

I power plane off the sharp edges,  I take four or five runs with the power planer, making the blank eight sided.  
I use the 12″ disk sander on my Shopsmith to sand smooth the top and bottom of the mast blank.  
I can make registration marks on the ends to control the rounding of the mast blank.
I have planed off all the “sharp” corners, this is now a 32 sided blank.  The hand power planer is sitting on the stool on the left.  Nice grain pattern at the base!
I get out my old inside-out belt sander jig.  I started out using the cordless drill but I soon ran out of battery power, so I finished up with my old ½” corded one.
All of the sanding/shaping is done…there still seems to be a “twist” in the top of the mast.  The base is at the bottom of the photo.
There are a few small “flaws” in the mast… I will cut them out and fill with epoxy & sanding dust.
Flaws filled and covered with packing tape so the epoxy filler does not leak out.

I will again let the epoxy cure for a few days.  Next step will be to sand, this time with the grain to get the mast smooth for varnishing.  I will then make a plug for the bottom and a masthead insert piece with a sheave in it, glue them in, let the epoxy cure.  Then, more sanding.

The mast diameters have ended up being 2½”  at the base,   2⅝” between 18″ and 24″ from the base and 2¼” at the top of the mast.

Pretty happy with the way this is turning out.

Good rowing to you, 


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A dipping lug sail for Gwragedd Annwn. Making the spar/yardarm, fitting the rudder, leeboards and the forward deck box, side buoyancy chamber access hatches.

The first step is to buy a clear, straight piece of Douglas fir for the spar.

3½” by 3½” Douglas fir for the spar.

The yardarm needs to be a little over 10′ long…this piece will be long enough.

Step one is to knock off the corners and go to eight sided.

I use the circular saw guide to cut off the corners.

I will use the power planer to make the spar sixteen sided.

I use some shock cord and my workmate to hold the spar for power planing, rotating  the spar after each pass.  I can move the shock cord enough to get the planer past it on each pass.

After the rough rounding, (16 sided then 32 sided) I use my sanding jig to fully round the spar.

A sanding belt and this driving wheel chucked to a drill complete the sanding jig.

If you go to my “A Sailing Rig for Gwragedd Annwn…The Mast”     post, you can see how I make the jig.

finished spar with a few (7! soon to be eight) coats of varnish.

Now, on to the Mast:

Two unsuccessful dumb sheaves need to be filled for the new cobbled together lug sail.

The new dumb sheave is drilled into the mast and is faired smooth.

Fitting the mast step base.

The base is epoxied to the bulkhead and onto the keel.  It is also screwed to the bulkhead from  the inside and into the keel.

I will line the mast hole in the thwart with leather later.

The first time I made the belaying in hole too large.  I filled the hole with epoxy and re-drilled it.

The two belaying pins, made from surplus gardening tool handles.

I am going to add inspection ports to all of the buoyancy tanks.

New inspection hatch on the port side of the stern tank

Starboard inspection hatch marked out for cutting.

Inspection hatches fitted and glued in with sealant & screws.

From  cruising experience,  I decide to take out the forward inspection hatch and replace it with the deck box.  This will give me greater access to the dry storage in the forward buoyancy tank.

Forward deck box being used as a cutting guide.  I traced around the bottom of the box.

The old inspection hatch cut out for the installation of the deck box.

Bow storage box, bottom cut out, epoxied into place.  Heat lamp to help curing.

I us my small router to cut a circular grove into a thwart for my stove.

The base of the Trangia stove fits perfectly.  Now I can cook at sea!

My wife bought the Trangia stove new almost 40 years ago. (and has used it on a lot of hiking trips since then!)  Still works like a charm.  Boils fast, simmers slow.  A great stove. (You can still buy them from MEC…they do not offer the “kettle”option any longer but, you can order a kettle from the manufacturer) Now, I can take the thwart, flip it so the groove is on the top, put the stove in it and start cooking.  The thwart will fit anywhere along the two buoyancy tanks.

Old big jib sail I bought off of a friend years ago…Too bad he had cats!

I bought a old Elna sewing machine because it could sew through six layers of sailcloth from the jib.

The Elan sewing machine I used to sew up the cobbled together Lug sail.  I cut the top and bottom off of the sail and hemmed it up using the Elna.  I kept the bolt rope in the sail, sewing it to the top, The bolt rope was already in the luff and I sewed it into the foot of the sail.  The black disks in the tray allow me to do very fancy stitching…I only straight and zig-zagged.

In this photo, you can see that this is a jib with the top and bottom cut off and hemmed.

I put eyelets every foot or so along the top edge.  I kept the rope luff on the sail and sewed it to the top and foot of the sail.  I guesstimated the curve to go against the yard.

Fitting the mast to the sail.

Lug sail laced to the yardarm. (sitting on my other boat, “Snowdrop” a clinker Turner lifeboat)

OK, so I hoist the lug sail and see how well it fits!

Looks a little too long, I need to cut off some of the bottom or get a higher mast.

I mark and cut off some of the sail at the bottom and re-hem the sail.

You can see in the photo where I have marked the centre of effort of the sail.

Here is the final sail fitting, I have sewn on a Canadian flag.  The sail is now about 85 square feet.

I still have to make a rudder for Gwragedd Annwn.

I use a Taser rudder for parts.

Using the Taser rudder as a guide, I glue up some 4/4 oak for the rudder blade.

The streaks you see is the epoxy glue.

Rudder blank being fitted to  the stern of Gwragedd Annwn.

I fit the blank to the stern of Gwragedd Annwn, using the rudder pintles to fit the gudgeons to the transom of Gwragedd Annwn.  The gudgeons are bolted to the transom.  ( the pintles are bolted to the rudder as well)

After everything is fitted, I dissemble and varnish the rudder.

I make up a new tiller as well using the old Taser hardware.  The hose in the picture is part of the dust removal system in my shop.

Gwragedd Annwn’s temporary “test leeboard”, an old Enterprise centreboard.

I will tie the test leeboard to the gunnel to determine where Gwragedd Annwn’s centre of lateral resistance is and where the leeboards should go.

I now have enough done to take Gwragedd Annwn out for a test sail.  Will she actually sail well?

I take all of the gear down to the Club, fit it to Gwragedd Annwn and out we go.   I forget the camera and GPS.  No bailer either.  I row her out past the fishing pier and hoist the sail.  There is between 5 and 10 kms of wind.  I have a bit of a hard time hoisting the sail high enough to keep the luff tension tight.  Will have to fix that…a two to one hoist?  Theoretically Gwragedd Annwn has enough lateral resistance with her hull shape to sail without a centreboard or daggerboard or leeboards.  I watch her stern wake….I can see that she is slipping to leeward. I attach the makeshift daggerboard and try again.  This time there is no discernible drift visible in her wake. I move the makeshift leeboard forward and aft to find Gwragedd Annwn’s centre of lateral resistance…where the helm feels best balanced.  She sails well, feels fast for the wind speed, and tacks easily.  I feel that her rudder could be a little bigger.  After an hour or so, I head back to HSC…The sailing test has been a total success!!!

Sadly no photos……

Based on the success of the sailing test, I am going to get a “real” sail made…Sadly, my local sailmaker has retired and his shop is closed.  I look for lug sails  on line and find that the Goat Island Skiff lug sail is almost the exact same size as my sail, probably within 5% or less.  The sails are a deal!  I order one from Duckworks in Port Townsend. Most likely will have to make a new taller mast and a longer yardarm.  The centre of effort of the sail may be significantly different than my sail so I cannot fix my leeboards permanently. I will have to wait for the new sail, make a mast and yardarm to fit and re-determine where the leeboards should go.

There are things I can work on now…..

I will make the rudder blade bigger…Oh, yea, I have to make the leeboards too.

Gluing up the “good” leeboards.

I break a clamp gluing up the leeboards.

The two leeboards roughed out, ready for foil shaping.  The convention is to have the leading edge rounded and the trailing edge tapered about 3 to 4 times as long as the leading edge.

Between the two of them, there will be more surface area in the water than the cobbled-together leeboard I tested Gwragedd Annwn with.

I round the leading edge of the leeboards and taper the trailing edge about 4 to 1.  Sand and varnish. (many times)

I  remove all of the hardware and cut the rudder down the middle and biscuit joint in a middle piece.  I also glue in a piece for the rudder hold-down bracket.  I am gong to move the tiller bracket , so I fill in the bolt holes  with bamboo skewers and epoxy.

The rudder also needs a tiller extension, so I make one.

I have a tiller extension fitting from another boat.  Tiller extension fitting in top centre of photo.

Some of my salvaged fittings.

I cut a tiller extension to mirror the tiller I made before.

Varnishing the tiller extension.  Might as well put a few more coats on the tiller as well.

Rudder and tiller final.  That is a Halloween decoration castle in the background.

Everything is ready for another test fitting…I do not have the new sails yet, however, I can still do some test fitting…

I take the leeboards down to the Club and tie them onto Gwragedd Annwn.

I have to come up with a better attachment than this…I make a plan!

I stare at the leeboard for a while and come up  with this attachment support.

The rope (or could be a 3/8″ bolt) fits through the top of the support.  It could be attached to a cleat on the support.  I add an additional 3/4″ piece on the outboard side of the support.  this will allow me to shape the support to allow the leeboard to parallel the keel and not the curve of the hull where the leeboards are.  Again, this will depend on the test fitting.

The support blocks glued up next to one of the two plant-pot heaters I use to keep my shop from being damp.

I shape the leeboard supports and give them a coat of varnish, assemble the leeboards:

One of the leeboard assemblies in Gwragedd Annwn for the second test sail.
I have screwed in two blocks for the main sheet…I am using two main sheets, one on either side of the mast.  This is the starboard main sheet and block.

Port main sheet and block.
The leeboard assembly in action.  The “tab” fits into the space between the inner and outer gunnels.  I can adjust my centre of lateral resistance by moving the leeboards forward or aft.
Gwragedd Annwn and her dipping lug sail, ready to launch.
Gwragedd Annwn sailing in light winds with her dipping lug sail, Starboard tack.
Gwragedd Annwn on Port tack.
Gwragedd Annwn is sailing quite well.  I am very pleased.  With her boards down, she makes very little leeway.  She has become a sailor!!!  I am pleased enough with her performance that I will make a new mast and yardarm for my new “Goat Island Skiff” sail.  When I have the new mast and yardarm made, I will do some more test sailing to determine where the best placement for the mast and leeboards are. 

Expeditions await!!!

Hope to see you on the water soon,


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Paul’s Canoe Part Twenty-six. The launching of Paul’s Canoe

The canoe launch is today, Father’s Day, June 17th , 2018, at the Hollyburn Sailing Club.

Paul carries the canoe to load onto the FJ.

Paul easily picks up and carries the canoe.

Onto the roof racks.

I have taped towels onto the roof rack crossbars.  We centre the canoe and I tie it down.  The now bolted-in bow and stern rings work well..  Feel very secure.

The bow and stern lines are just the right length to tie to the FJ.

Two green ratchet straps, (the ones used to hold the strips to the station molds) secure the canoe….It could be a little further forward?

Unloading at the Sailing Club.

Aside from all the admiring glances, an uneventful drive to HSC.  Paul and I unload the canoe and place it on two kayak stands.

It is a light carry into the Club.

We put the canoe onto the kayak stands (now canoe stands). This club has everything you need to get out on the water…

We get the paddles and I park my FJ in the Ambleside Park parking lot.

Paul’s paddle is 66″ long and mine is 63″ long.  (Paul is 6’2″ and I am 5′ 9″)  Today will be a good time to test the lengths for comfort.  Paddle length is always a bit of a guess.  Today we will fine-tune the lengths.

Showing off the paddles.

We get our life jackets on and take the canoe to the beach.

…To the beach!…

Paul will take the first paddle solo.

Paul is not one for a lot of ceremony.

We place the canoe in the water and Paul gets in…

Getting in, waiting for the swell to moderate.

And away Paul goes…No flip, no dump, no hesitation.

A successful launch!

Paul takes the canoe for a test paddle.  Looks good!

The canoe is a little stern heavy.

Paul has good balance sitting on the seat.  He could be a little more forward.

Paul tries sitting on the floor of the canoe just forward of the seat and the balance is perfect.

Paul does several circuits, trying out different sitting positions and both paddles.  He is quite pleased with the results.

The canoe tracks well, feels quite stable and is easy to paddle.

Paul and I are happy with the canoe, still unnamed.  Paul feels that his paddle is too long and my paddle is maybe a little too long as well for him.  We will take about 6″ off of his paddle and re-attach the handle.  We will come out again soon for another paddle trial.


My wife and I take the canoe out for a spin.  The balance with two paddlers is perfect.  The canoe looks level.  No photos of that paddle.

Canoe paddle handle detail.

Paul’s canoe will be ideal for two paddlers and their gear.  An expedition canoe.  Paul did want to do some tripping and this canoe is the one for the job.

A quick rinse before we go home.

Final stats for Paul’s Canoe:  Overall length:  15′ 3″.  Width to outside of gunnels:  35¾”,  Width to outside of hull: 34¼” Depth of hull:  11½”, final weight 60 lbs.  Bow height 19″.

Good paddling to you,


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Paul’s Canoe Part Twenty-five. Making the paddles.

With the canoe finished, Paul and I start work on our paddles.  In speaking with fellow Vancouver Wooden Boat Society member, Ian McGrath of Great Northern Craft, I tell him about the paddles.  Ian has some paddle blanks and will sell us two.  This will save me the hassle of sourcing wood for the paddles.   We get the blanks with Ian’s “Otter tail” design drawn on.

The paddle blanks cut out to the “Otter tail” design.

The lines on the paddle blanks indicate where the biscuits are.

Paul intends to do some longer trips so we have chosen “Otter tails” for long-distance paddling.

Paul marks the blade edge.

We will use the belt sander to shape the blade.

We start out by clamping the blade and working the sander.

This is really awkward.  The workmate keeps moving and it is hard to put any pressure on the sander.

We have to come up with a new plan…

I have seen old photos of workers sanding oars.  We decide to clamp the sander and work the paddle.

This way we have more control.  We can put more pressure on the sander.

I shape my blade down to a ⅛” edge.  Paul leaves his a little thicker, closer to 3/16”.  I suppose that Paul will be rougher on his paddle than I intend to be on mine.

The new system works a lot better.  We start out with 80 grit and finish with 120 grit on the belt sander.  We use my ⅓ sheet sander, with 220 grit paper, to take out the 120 grit scratches.  We then go to the random-orbital sander with a 240 grit pad.  Hand sanding with 320 grit finishes the job.

One blade shaped, one to go.

I use a ¼” round-over bit in my router to rough shape the shafts.  No photos of that.  We finish sanding the paddles by hand.

Cutting the slot for the wedge.

We put on the handles.  We square up the shaft at the top, cut a notch, and wedge the handle on, (with a little glue of course).

Ready to tap in the wedge, wipe up the excess glue.

Because Ash has such open pores, we will epoxy coat the paddles for a smoother finish.

Epoxy coating will also make the paddles tougher…The same method worked for Gwragedd Annwn’s spoon oars.

When the glue is dry and the handles are sanded, Paul mixes up six shots of resin and hardener.  We roll on the epoxy and brush out the bubbles.

Brushing out the bubbles.

We leave the epoxy to set…then four or more coats of Varnish!!!!

Epoxy cure time. (Actually looks just like Varnish cure time!)

The routine for Varnishing will be a light sanding followed by tack-clothing, a Varsol wash then a rolled-on coat of Varnish brushed out, until we run out of Varnish.

Second coat this morning.

I know what you are thinking…I am just posting a bunch of pictures taken at the same time.  I am not, varnish drying just looks the same in every picture.

Third coat this afternoon.

The stuff on the workbench changes.

Put the fourth coat on last night, fifth coat this morning.

Fifth coat in the morning.

Brushing out the bubbles.

Fifth coat to dry, sixth coat this evening.


…Three coats later, (Eight coats in total) I take out the eyehooks in the handles and plug the holes.

I cut off the tip of a bamboo skewer and using varnish, plug the hole.

I will give the bamboo & handle a light sanding and a few more coats of varnish to glue in the bamboo plug.

Both holes plugged…ready for use!!

The official launching of the canoe will be on Father’s Day, June 17th, 2018, at the Hollyburn Sailing Club, 1326 Argyle Ave West Vancouver, BC, at 9:30am.

See you there!



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