Friday, September 25, 2015

Puddleduck Regatta! Oct 17!

So everyone at our Marina was so stoked about our PD Racer build that Tom, the owner, suggested that we hold our own Regatta and offered to host, so we're DOING IT!!

Here's the Info:

The Middle River Misfits Yachting Association and Middle River Landing Marina is pleased to announce our first annual "Before it gets too damn cold Puddle Duck and small Sailboat Regatta," Oct 17 in Essex, Md.

The Regatta is open to all sailboats eight feet and under, with a special class for Puddle Duck Racers.  Free camping is available overnight for Captain's and their crews at the Marina.  

Boat display and rigging will commence at 10AM with the race at 2PM.  The course will be here on the beautiful upper end of the Middle River, with trophies for overall winner, Puddle Duck Racer class winner, and various other things as we think of them.  Entry into the race is a massive $5.  Anyone is welcome to come and watch under the drinking trees.

Middle River Landing Marina is located at 1901 Old Eastern Ave, Essex, Md, just a bit North of Baltimore Md. For further information, drop a line to

Hope to see you and your boat there.

This is gonna be FUN :)


Monday, September 21, 2015

Little Stuff on a Rainy Day

Grey and rainy here today, so we've been doing a bit of tidying inside, doing a bit of trim work, you know, the usual.

Did some staining and trim on the new Galley configuration….

. . . .also FINALLY got stain on the little table I built for our water filter set up.
Our Galley has always worked well for us, and the double washtub method we've used over the last year has worked beautifully, but the sink did rather tend to collect dirty dishes, then have to be cleared out and cleaned before we washed them.  At a recent trip to Ikea, we ran across this bin that just fit. . . 

See?  Just fits.

. . . so now the bin goes in the sink, and the dishes go in the bin, so all we have to do is lift it out when we get ready to wash them.

All in all, its one of those days where the motivation level is rather low.

As usual, the Cat gets it right:

Magellan KNOWS what to do with a rainy day.

More stuff of significance later.  Right now, it may actually be nap time.  The cat always knows.


Friday, September 18, 2015

Congratulations to Middle River Landing Marina

Congrats to Tom and family and crew.  The marina here was just voted one of the best Home Port marinas in the nation by the denizens of
Not too shoddy seeing as they only acquired the marina in March of 2014.

See, we love this place for a reason.  Check it out.  Middle River Landing Marina.

Nicely done guys.


Thursday, September 17, 2015

Some Galley Revisions

Okay, so this comes under the category of "things I've been putting off for ages because I've been dreading them." . . .or something.  We love our Butterfly Kerosene Stove.  It burns hot and clean, sips fuel, and in general makes for some great cooking.  From the first, though, we realized that there was one problem:  It's nearly 13 inches high.

Here's our galley as it was
Works great, but it's a little high.
It worked fine, but Morgainne just about had to stand on her tip-toes to stir a tall pot, and I kept whacking my head on the vent hood trying to look down into stuff I was cooking.  So on a beautiful fall day and in my right mind and everything, we attacked the galley hearth, disassembling the whole thing, removing the tiles, taking off the concrete board underlayment. . . .you get the idea.

The Demo went better than I'd anticipated.
We cut down the top to make a two level hearth, still tiled and underlayed with concrete board.

Here's the new upper part of the Hearth, suitable for storage and catering stoves.

Here's the new lower level, sans flashing.  It dropped the stove some 11 inches.

Heres' another view.  We'll be putting on flashing and trim today,
But will be leaving the bottom open for a trash bin.

Here's with some of the trim in place.  Not bad, eh?

Morgainne apparently approves!

All and all, as usual, it wasn't as awful a project as I'd feared.  Does that make me more amenable to tackling other projects on which I've been procrastinating?

Not on your life.

Hey more stuff over at Life Art Water and Onboard Cooking coming online shortly, give em a look.

More later,


Monday, September 14, 2015

Puddleduck Build and Splash Pt II

So on a sunday afternoon, after the rains had gone, we completed our little Puddle Duck Racer "Dharma Duck" and got her wet.

First things first though:

Boat has to have a name, right?  Glad I live with an artist, or this would look like a Steadman illustration.
There we go.  Slightly offset due to the offset rudder.
The leeboard goes on.  We used the lid of a paint bucket as a bearing surface between the board and the boat.

Pivoting Leeboard
We laid out the sprit and then laced the sail to the mast.

Love the simplicity of the sprit sail.  If we see the need, we might add a lower sprit as well.

The lacing pattern took some figuring.
Then the gudgeons had to be mounted to the stern and the offset mast attached.

Because of the deep rudder, the gudgeons couldn't be mounted without the boat on her side.
Yeah, it's a group effort.

Attaching the offset mast with sail in place.

Then it was off to the water.  If you build one of these, make SURE to build in some handles, cleats, tethers, something. . .the little boat with end air boxes gives you very little ways to carry it, much less lower it into the water.
Fortunately a lot of good friers make for light work.  The boat is a handful unless you add handholds btw.

Off to the splash.  Note the lines tied on the fore cleat for lowering.
Of course, we had to lift the bottom over dockside cleats and faucets, which was a pain.

Yeah, I know its heavy, but mind the faucet!!!
Scary angle going in.
I had only two requests:  A) that she float and B) that she float upright.
Paddling out from between the docks.  She's VERY light on the water.
And then we pulled the sheets and the sail went tight.
I did not expect the boat to be this quick under sail.  Wow.
We did wind up moving the leeboard forward about a foot as
the boat had a bit of a lee helm.
So there you have it.  The Floating Empire now has her own tender and sailing dinghy, Dharma Duck.  There's still a bit of tweaking to be done:  The very long rudder has a tendency to float out of the gudgeons, which has to be addressed, and I'm still not happy with the way I have the lines rigged, but the boat was a great , 6-day project, it sails quickly and well, and we're really proud of her.  Many, many thanks to all the folks that helped us make this happen.  Good friends make things fun and easy.

Stay tuned.


PS hey more stuff shortly at Life, Art, Water and Onboard Cooking, check em out.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

Puddleduck sailboat build

Sorry we've been a bit remiss of late in posting, but we've been building a sailboat!

As we go into September and October, we go into some of the best sailing weather of the year here on the Middle River.  Not wanting to miss it, we decided to do something about it.  The decision to build us a Puddle Duck was also driven by the need of some kind of box tender for work on the outside of Floating Empire.  So off we go.

The Puddle Duck Racer (PDR) is an interesting craft.  Based loosely on the Bolger Brick and a few other designs, its become this fun and fanciful class of sailing dinghies worldwide.  Since the class is only defined by the bottom 10" or so of the hull, the variety and creativity of this little boat is amazing.  Check out for both the plans and some great ideas.

The vessel is a cheap, quick sailing scow, with a bit of rocker and a box like hull.  So, as usual, with limited funds and more time than sense, we tied into it.
The chines are overkill, but strong and easy.  Cutting the curve with my anemic jigsaw was not, sadly.

We began by cutting the pieces from 3/8" exterior plywood, laying out the very limited lofting required to make the rocker of the bottom.  Piece of cake.  Knowing A)  the quality of wood around here and B) my penchant for haphazard carpentry, we decided to cut the chine logs in one piece from two 2"X8"s.  This not only would save a bit of time and save me the headache of trying to bend the knothole ridden matchsticks they sell in most of the lumber stores around here to the rocker curve, it would also give us a nice rail down either side for seating.  We finished framing in the two sides, then connected them with a couple of 2"X3"s, the one at the bow cut in a bevel to match the angle of the bow plate to the bottom.  This went far better than I'd expected.  Just snapped a line on the board, set the angle on a circular saw, and I managed to hit it pretty much right the first time.
yeah, it's a box

We attached the bow and stern plates, using a bit of gorilla glue, then recruited some of our slip mates for the attaching of the bottom.
Our friend Chris lending some weight to the bend.

The bottom of this thing is just a single sheet of plywood.  We gooed the bottom of the chines with PL Premium, started at one end, and screwed the sheet down in 6" increments with epoxy coated decking screws.  It all went rather well, actually.

Now we get to the tricky part.  There was no money laying around for fiberglass and epoxy, and I hate dealing with the toxic stuff anyway, so how to seal this?  Casting about, I ran across an article from a 1950's Popular Science describing how to waterproof an older wooden boat using glue and canvas.  We decided to give that a shot.
Basic cloth and glue seam.
Here's the full side, seamed.

We filled all the cracks with a mixture of Titebond III and sawdust, painted on a pretty thick layer of the Titebond III on the cracks, and then did a "dutch mend" to stick down a strip of muslin cloth on the seams, then saturated the cloth with glue as well.

Once that dried, we did a coat of primer on the whole hull, then two coats of a good exterior latex house paint.  The interior gets caulked and then gets the same treatment.
Two coats of good exterior latex over a coat of primer.

The Zebra mussels have been godawful here this year, so we figured antifouling paint was a must, and the guys at the marina were nice enough to give us a partially used container to play with.  We taped off the possible waterline and gave it two good coats of an ablative antifouling paint.
Taping off the suspected waterline for bottom paint.
*sigh* This stuff is vile.

We also hit the rudder and leeboard with the same stuff.
If it's gonna live in the water around here, it's gotta have bottom paint.

We gave the boat a pretty deep rudder and leeboard.  I think a lot of small vessels are somewhat wanting in the rudder department, which makes them kinda uncontrollable in light air.  We gave both the blades a bit of a shape with an angle grinder sanding attachment to reduce drag a bit.
An angle grinder with a sanding attachment lets you do some nice shaping.  Wear a mask.  I *cough* kinda forgot to do so *cough*cough*cough*

A week or so ago, one of the slip holders threw out a damaged mainsail from their 24, which I liberated from the dumpster.  We cut the sail, conveniently already equipped with grommets and the like, down into a top sprit 50 square feet or so, using Tear Mender to lap and seal the cut edges.

Part of the design is to include floatation, which is typically expressed as sealed air boxes either on the sides or bow and stern.

Bow airbox, completed
Stern air box under construction.

And, of course, we are artists, remember?

How else would the boat know where it was going?
Here's looking at you, Kid.

So today it's raining.  Today we'll get the sail and sprit together and make ready.  Tomorrow, in good weather, we'll splash for the first time.  Photos and maybe video shortly.


(PS minor update:  Well, we know it'll hold water.  From the rain last night and this morning, it was full of about ten inches of it.  That's good, right?)

(Update to the update, just had email from Shorty from  We now have a hull number.  It's 956, if you're interested. Huzzah!)

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Turning the Corner

Well, the first of September is now passed.  We've had three murderously hot and humid days here, not a breath of wind, but you can feel it:  the fall is coming.  We turn another corner, move into another season, and begin, at least aboard Floating Empire, to contemplate the changes that will bring.

I always have mixed feelings about the fall coming.  It's beautiful here, with pleasant days and cool nights, spectacular changes to the foliage, massive harvests from local farms, and a change of shift in the bird population.  The Ospreys leave.  The Bald Eagles return to patrol a river full of geese and ducks.  Its lovely.  It's also the gateway to winter--never my favorite time of year--and the cold.  I'm from Florida, folks.  Cold is not my friend.

There will be changes, though, to which I look forward.  After a summer of parties and boats and people, the marina will grow quiet, the mornings still and devoid of motors firing up.  The evenings no longer full of voices.  By the end of summer, I'm ready for the quiet.
You can feel it, even through the heat.  The Fall is coming

I hear the other boaters talking of "winterizing" their vessels, of pulling them out of the water and storing them on the hard, draining water tanks and flooding the engines with antifreeze.  To a livaboard, "winterize" means something quite different.  It will mean sealing the drafty windows, loading in more onboard water storage, and doing all the exterior maintenance of which we can think so to avoid the wet in winter.  It will mean digging out the kerosene heater and lanterns, moving the summer clothes to storage and trucking the blankets and comforters and coats to the boat.

Not yet, though, not yet.  There are still a couple of months of pleasant weather.  We'll be building a little sailing dinghy, a Puddle Duck Racer, to take advantage of the best sailing weather of the year here  (actually, we're starting that today.  There will be pix.) There will still be parties and dinners outside and barbecues and leisurely cruises on the bay. There's still time.

But the Fall Equinox is coming on hard.  We turn the corner.

Happy Mabon.