Shipyard Memories #6: The Smaug Blog: Wood Boatbuilding 101, The Big Day: Launching

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Blog entry by shipwright posted 11-17-2010 04:14 AM 5606 reads 0 times favorited 18 comments Add to Favorites Watch
« Part 5: The Smaug Blog: Wood Boatbuilding 101, Decking and Casting the Keel Part 6 of Shipyard Memories series Part 7: The Smaug Blog: Wood Boatbuilding 101, Interior and Stepping the Mast »

Now we are nearing the big day, launching. The hull has been faired and sanded and is ready for it’s finish. The chosen product was Deks Olje, a two stage system where you first apply several coats of an oil (Deks Olje #1) followed by a couple of gloss coats (Deks Olje #2). Very much the way I use Cetol Marine / Cetol Marine Gloss now. The seams above the waterline are filled with a thiokol product and below the waterline with cement.

The finish is on, the bottom is painted with anti fouling and the bowsprit is in place, Just about ready to go.

Smaug sees the sun for the first time. My shop was in an old second world war era hanger that once housed the Stranraers, PBY’s and Cansos that patrolled the west coast looking for Japanese submarines.

Launching day at my shop was always a big party. We supplied food and usually had a dinghy full of ice and beer and the whole town came out to watch. Fortunately Coal Harbour was a very small town. This shot is my choice for “best launching photo ever”. What’s so cool about it is that up in the air, about 20’ above the owner’s head (right where he’s looking) the original photo shows a tiny spec. That spec is the cork that he just popped off the champagne bottle in his hands as the keel hit salt water. Sadly the scanner, try as it would, was unable to pick it up.

The launching ramp here was originally built for large seaplanes, not boats. It isn’t quite steep enough for boats. In this photo the truck can’t go any further and the boat is not quite afloat. We got her off by the boat mover lifting on the front of the trailer while I did tugboat duty with my 19’ catboat.

She nestled into the water just like a duck and seemed very happy to be there. In this shot you get the best look I have of the forward cabin skylight. It is a tricky little construction. It has more than one challenge but the most interesting is that to be right a hatch or skylight like this should have plumb ends, not square to the deck which is rising forward… and it has dovetailed corners. Not that hard, but it gets you thinking. Another feature in this shot is the “catheads”, the 4×4 gumwood spars angling out from the sampson posts to act as bowsprit shroud spreaders. Traditionally these were used to “cat up the anchor” keeping it away from the hull. They frequently had cast bronze cat faces on the ends.

And here’s that stern view that I like so much again. You get a good look here at the rudder head coming up through the pinky stern and the little sternpost at the end of the bulwarks.

This last photo I included because I love the little jewel of sunlight sitting on the rail cap. It was a perfect day and that just seems to have been a blessing bestowed upon her on her big day. The other interesting feature in this angle is that you can see the yellow cedar inlays in the mahogany hatch covers.

Thanks for checking in again . Please feel free to ask questions. I’m having a great time with this.

Next time I’ll show some interior details and then we’ll finish up (just for Hal) with some sailing photos.

Thanks again


-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

18 comments so far

View Woodwrecker's profile


4201 posts in 3779 days

#1 posted 11-17-2010 04:22 AM

Simply beautiful, all the way around Paul.
Thanks for showing us.

View Schwieb's profile


1872 posts in 3664 days

#2 posted 11-17-2010 04:48 AM

Paul, This is in my humble estimation breathtakingly beautiful. The sense of accomplishment must be tremendous. This wold be a lifetime achievement/dream for most of us. I could only hope that you would know how much I for one appreciate your posting this “project”.

Thanks for sharing this wonderful boat with us.

-- Dr. Ken, Florida - Durch harte arbeit werden Träume wahr.

View HalDougherty's profile


1820 posts in 3440 days

#3 posted 11-17-2010 04:52 AM

Beautiful! How long from laying the keel to launching?

-- Hal, Tennessee

View Mark Shymanski's profile

Mark Shymanski

5623 posts in 3916 days

#4 posted 11-17-2010 05:20 AM

Thank you for posting this series, I am certainly enjoying reading and looking! I am amazed at the skill in your hands and the beauty of the product you’ve created.

-- "Checking for square? What madness is this! The cabinet is square because I will it to be so!" Jeremy Greiner LJ Topic#20953 2011 Feb 2

View Napaman's profile


5530 posts in 4280 days

#5 posted 11-17-2010 05:37 AM

Ditto Ditto Ditto to all the comments so far…Just truly amazing…this is a great blog too…I know you were “nervous” and wanted feed back on your blogging…I think you are doing a great job of blending in the story with the technical details…I am learning a lot…

One suggestion—-since you posted Smaug as a project—-go back and edit it to add a link to this blog…those who find the project in the future would certainly love this series!!!

You mentioned the boat is still around…how many times did it change hands? Have you ever been asked to over haul her?

I bet that would be fun to get a chance to work on her again—-well maybe not “FUN”...

thanks so much…

-- Matt--Proud LJ since 2007

View FirehouseWoodworking's profile


722 posts in 3476 days

#6 posted 11-17-2010 07:21 AM

Absolutely exquisite!

Here’s to smooth seas and fair winds!

-- Dave; Lansing, Kansas

View shipwright's profile


8166 posts in 3001 days

#7 posted 11-17-2010 07:31 AM

Thanks again for the comments.
Hal, She was a couple of years in the shop although there was probably less than a full year’s work in her. It would take me twice that now. Maybe three times. Once the hull was done we moved on to some other jobs while the owners restored their capital so to speak, returning to work on her in spurts.

Matt, I think she’s on her second owner. I hope I don’t notice next time she comes up for sale or I may be her third. She’s never needed an ” overhaul” to the best of my knowledge. She is only 30 years old after all. Many well built wooden boats last over 100 years.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View Bearpie's profile


2601 posts in 3221 days

#8 posted 11-17-2010 09:09 AM

Thanks for posting a very informative and interesting blog. I truly enjoyed it!

Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

-- Erwin, Jacksonville, FL

View Chip's profile


1904 posts in 4295 days

#9 posted 11-17-2010 02:42 PM

Thanks for the excellent blog Paul. A great read.

-- Better to say nothing and be thought the fool... then to speak and erase all doubt!

View Bluepine38's profile


3379 posts in 3288 days

#10 posted 11-17-2010 05:11 PM

How long did it take to step the masts and get them tensioned. I remember having a storm sail, that felt more
like light sheet metal, we kept praying we would get enough wind to use it instead of setting in the middle
of the lake waiting for the wind to come up again. We got the wind when we did not have the boat in the
water. Had to watch two guys playing with their cat, broke one 25 ft mast and we helped the set up their
spare before we headed home green with envy.

-- As ever, Gus-the 79 yr young apprentice carpenter

View shipwright's profile


8166 posts in 3001 days

#11 posted 11-17-2010 05:58 PM

Thanks all.
Gus, there are pictures coming up of the stepping of the masts. Tuning a traditional rig like this isn’t a one shot deal. When you use deadeyes and lanyards instead of turnbuckles, it is a process that takes place over time. the best time to tighten lanyards is when you have lots of wind on the other side of the boat. Then the lee rigging will be quite slack and easy to snug up…..but you can get a little wet.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View sawblade1's profile


754 posts in 3230 days

#12 posted 11-17-2010 06:23 PM

Your shop looks like a old boat company Kinda blends in anyway LOL :) Beautiful rig I Love boat building , although I never been able to build one or see one being built personally ;) Thanks for the great post :)

-- Proverbs Ch:3 vs 5,6,7 Trust in the lord with all thine heart and lean not unto your own understanding but in all your ways aknowledge him and he shall direct your path

View Div's profile


1653 posts in 3143 days

#13 posted 11-17-2010 09:54 PM

Paul, What sweet lines! Jay Benford sure had an eye. I can understand why you would want to be the third owner. I wouldn’t mind myself!
Really like this boat. And catheads, don’t see them too often. I had some on my own last boat and even used them for a 175lb Fisherman( apart from 65lb CQR’s).

Where could I get a lines drawing? Would love to do a half model!

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

View shipwright's profile


8166 posts in 3001 days

#14 posted 11-17-2010 10:39 PM

Thanks Div. Jay’s still alive, well and designing. You can find him here: Tell him “Hi” from me.

-- Paul M ..............the early bird may get the worm but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese!

View Div's profile


1653 posts in 3143 days

#15 posted 11-17-2010 11:13 PM

Thanks for the link Paul, I’m going to check it out right now…..

-- Div @ the bottom end of Africa. "A woodworker's sharpest tool should be his mind."

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