On the other hand, you could blame the Bodega Bay Fish Fest Wooden Boat Challenge, which I got roped in to last year because the Sonoma County Woodworker's Association sponsored a team, we won, and this year Tom Segura and I worked with a team of teenagers who managed to compete and get around the course without sinking (with only a little input from us), and we won again, with a boat that was twice as long as last year.
At any rate, my sweety Charlene came to this year’s boat building challenge to watch us compete. Last weekend we managed to sneak away from our other obligations for a few hours, and as we sat on the edge of the water in Santa Rosa's Spring Lake Park, watching people hang out in their small boats, and she said “I want to learn how to sail”.
Us being us, rather than spend $500 on a used Sunfish, we’re going to build one.
The criteria are: Big enough to carry two people. Sailable. Light enough to car-top. Small enough to store behind the workshop. A little bit eye-catching, in a good way.
My first thought was to build a Sunfish/Sailfish knock-off. My uncle built one when he was a kid, that I sailed extensively when I was a kid, and it was a lot of fun. There are various plans out there, if you look hard enough you can find a pirated version of the original Sailfish plans that I could stretch the beam on to make it more Sunfish-like, there’s also the Moonfish 14 and plans for the Stevenson Projects Mini-Cup are on-line, but that form-factor is also a committed and wet experience.
We decided we really wanted more of a sedate float around and picnic on the water sort of experience. After much digging, we think we’re settling on some variant of David Beede's Summer Breeze. It’s quite similar to the boats we’ve built for competition (including practice boats, I’ve now built a whole lot of those, with hand tools, in a few hours each), the big difference will be that I’ll use ¼” ply (probably just luan), add a chine log, and spend some real time on gunwales rather than just adding material where the CDX is cracking. So if I can clear space to do other things at the same time, this will be a few days of build time, with the days coming in only because I need to let glue and paint dry, rather than throwing it in the water unfinished and wet.
I want to stay cheap and fast on this, so I’m thinking luan plywood, and cedar or redwood for the other parts, cheap and light, but a few steps past fir in terms of durability. Yes, I do have some massaranduba and ipe in my wood stash, and it would look absolutely gorgeous, but the boat would be heavy.
So I’ve spent two evenings re-drawing the plans from Simplicity Boat's simplified Summer Breeze build notes and various other sources around the web, including the Duckworks Magazine — Summer Breeze page, the Flickr set of jerrycashmanoz's Summer Breeze build, with a centerboard and a decked bow, and a Woodenboat.com thread with lots of good stuff.
I was a bit concerned about the lee-board, and was thinking about reworking it for a daggerboard, but after seeing a video of a Summer Breeze sailing decided that with the right reinforcement the lee board arrangement should work nicely.
I’m starting to plot the whole build out, fitting it around the various other projects I want to move through my shop (and finish with my house), and I’ll keep track here.
-- Dan Lyke, Petaluma California, http://www.flutterby.net/User:DanLyke