Saturday, July 31, 2010

Sjogin decoded!

Sjogin on the hard for her annual maintenance ,

and this season, measuring.

Here's Russ laying down the first 'finger' at the keel bottom.

The 'fingers' are set to critical measurement points, the rabbet, where keel joins to hull, top of the garboard, or first plank up, and at every lap until reaching the sheer, or top of the hull.

Another view, a little further along

The measurements are recorded and the lines for each section are drawn on a piece of ply . It gets a little congested where the lines converge.

A batten, a thin strip of wood, is used to plot the measurements and allow drawing a line of the hull shape at a particular station.

This is how it's done. The jig is laid down on the table to a preset position. The position of the ends of the fingers indicate the various measure points (at the laps). These are marked on the board,

measured, and the measurement recorded into a sort of spreadsheet, called a table of offsets. A table of offsets (shown above) represents a set of numerical measurements in three dimensions which will allow a designer or draftsman to recreate a drawn picture of the boat.

Here Steve's marking the finger points

Here he's 'pinning' the batten to the drawn finger points.

Batten pinned, here Steve draws the line.

And now taking the measurement from the drawn line to a baseline, giving the height of a point on the hull.

Here Steve is pinning the batten to draw a lie for the next to last station, no.9. Stations are cross sections through the hull at measured intervals, and the measurements describe the hull shape numerically.

I rarely like posed photos, but really felt this was an 'historic' moment, with the line being taken off Sjogin to be preserved for posterity. Russ and Steve reluctantly obliged

all images thomas armstrong

A little poetic license taken in the title for this post, actually, Sjogin described, or documented would be more accurate. Sjogin turns heads, both in person and on the internet, and it's easy to see why. Probably built by a retired Swedish ship captain, there's no denying that, whether by luck or by true artistry and insight, the design of this boat distills the essence of Scandinavian working craft and has an ineluctable charm. I am far from being the only admirer who shares this opinion. Back in February, a WoodenBoat Forum thread was started by 'RodB' about how to get the lines taken off so Sjogin could be reproduced. A gentle firestorm ensued, and to date there have been 271 posts on the thread. Several designers were approached, and at least three, Francois Vivier, Paul Gartside and John Welsford have expressed real interest in producing a set of plans for boats built in their attendant styles based on Sjogin's lines, with the intention of adhering very closely to the original lines of the boat, though with possible variations in the material and construction used. These would be plans available and accessible drawn with the home builder in mind. Two of the designers, Paul Gartside and Francois Vivier have already formed pools of subscribers, meaning interested parties who'd like to get a set of plans, and who band together to raise the funds to pay the initial design fee. Inquire if you are interested. Both Francois and Paul have done preliminary sketches based on photos of Sjogin, but in order to actually draw up plans from which a boat can be built, they need accurate measurements from several areas of the boat. This part's not about imagination, but precision, as the intent is to replicate that indescribable sweetness of this boat, this design.
Paul Gartside sent Russ Mannheimer, Sjogin's owner, detailed instructions on hoe to 'take off lines', ie, to take the measurements a designer would need to draw the boat in three dimensions. There are several ways of doing this and the method Paul described is simple and low tech, but the work is exacting.
The bulk of the work was done last Wednesday, by Russ and his accomplice, Steve Martinsen, up from Oxford, MD. The measuring took place at the venerable boatyard David Beaton and Sons, in Brick, New Jersey. Beaton's is a third generation boatyard still building and caring for wooden boats, and has a fabled history, more on the boatyard later. Beaton's is Sjogin's home, and exudes an atmosphere of the past, moving into the future, a real treasure.
I arrived at Beaton's in the afternoon to find Russ and Steve hard at work. They divided the work, Russ using a jig with fingers set to each of the salient measure points, then laying the jig on a board so Steve could measure the points of each of ten cross sections through the hull, and then measure, record and draw the curve. It was interesting to see this process, but I didn't get it all and am probably not explaining it very well. If you'd like to dig into how this process is done, there's an excellent ebook/resource put out by the Museum Small Craft Association. This is the go to text for documenting boats. I'll also recommend investigating this association, a group worthy of your attention.
All in all, a good day, even great, seeing Sjogin documented for all time. That doesn't imply that clones built to her lines will possess the same grace as Sjogin, but all will replicate her seaworthiness, if built correctly and if lucky have a little of her magic as well.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Two Arrivals

Alessandro was towed into harbor, his engine disabled for the record attempt.


Alessandro looks happy to be home!

Plastiki in Sydney Harbor with the iconic Opera Hall in the background

David de Rothschild

Plastiki crew, seemingly also ebullient.

the escort

my apologies to the photographers whose images are represented here for my failure to credit

Two arrivals, two goals accomplished. I'd like to congratulate each of these dreamer/doers.

First, Alessandro di Benedetto completed his circumnavigation, smallest boat around nonstop and unassisted, recognized by the powers that be of such things. An impressive, possibly amazing achievement, aboard his Mini 6.50. Dismasted during his initial attempt at Cape Horn, and expected by all watchers to retire, Alessandro persevered, jury rigged, and got on round.
Time taken by Alessandro Di Benedetto to make his trip around the world in the Mini 6.50 sailboat: 268 days 19 hours 36 minutes and 12 seconds. Applaud. He returned to Les Sable d' Olonne to fanfare, with his mom Anne Marie Di Benedetto there on the docks for his arrival. Anne Marie handled much of the logistics for the attempt, and was the email liaison which allowed me, and others, to communicate with Alessandro in the midst of his journey. See my initial post here.
Alessandro made it back to Les Sables on 7/22/2010. My personal congrats to Alessandro and Anne Marie

Brad Hampton of Yacht Pals wrote about the journey, here's an excerpt from after the dismasting:

On April 2, after receiving word from his team, YachtPals reported that Alessandro would have to make for land in Chile. And then a few hours later, we had to retract that statement. Alessandro had notified shore support that he was going to try to jury rig his boat, AND SAIL AROUND CAPE HORN! We double- and triple-checked. Was he serious? Was he crazy? Cape Horn is the nastiest patch of water on the planet, and most sailors wouldn't round it on a perfectly sound boat. Yes, he was serious, and maybe crazy too! But ever-so-slowly, Di Benedetto approached and then rounded Cape Horn, after which he pointed his bow for home.

The final trip across the Atlantic was slow, and held many challenges, but Alessandro crept along, persistently making headway while many YachtPals members watched his progress via his route tracker, fingers crossed for his success. We are now happy to report that Alessandro Di Benedetto has arrived back at his starting point after nearly nine months at sea. Pending WSSRC ratification, he will hold the official world record for a non-stop circumnavigation aboard the smallest boat in history. Bravo Alessandro! When sailors tuck their children into bed at night, they will tell your story, using words like bravery, persistence, and hero.

by Brad Hampton for

David de Rothschild had a very different dream, and project. He set out to raise awareness of our degredation of the oceans, to see and document the almost mythical swirl of detritus forming an 'island' in the Pacific, and to do this with a boat built almost entirely of recycled material. To sail across the Pacific from the US to Australia. He managed the crossing, despite some harsh weather, and judging from the media attention to his landfall in Sydney, he'll certainly achieve his goal of consciousness raising. Whether it will have any real impact on how we treat our oceans is impossible to judge today, one can only hope. His catamaran, Plastiki, incorporated tens of thousands of plastic bottles built into the hull as structural and flotation elements. The boat has many other environmentally friendly adaptations, to wit, in the words of her creator:

"The Plastiki was nothing if not ambitious. We wanted bicycles that would generate electricity, a hydroponic garden, water stills, vacuum de-salinators, a composting toilet, solar panels, wind turbines, regenerative electric propulsion, satellite communications and pretty much anything else that constituted an innovative sustainable “system”. She was to be a floating showroom of non-emitting futurist ideas that were simple, elegant and wholly attainable."

Plastiki arrived in Sydney harbor on the 26th of July to great fanfare and media attention. Hopefully David will be able to leverage his success into increased awareness and eventual action. It's really nice to see someone who knows how to use wealth, bravo David, we expect to hear more from you.

Now where's that plastic bag?

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Flying Fifteen up for grabs on Ebay

all photos above courtesy ebay

Uffa Fox and Prince Phillip sailing Coweslip
these two courtesy BIFFA,

For sale on ebay, only a few hours left, located CA, is this beautiful if somewhat radical little speedster. Designed by Uffa Fox in1947. Check it out on ebay. Here's some history of the boat from the UK Class Association:

The Flying 15 was designed by Uffa Fox in 1947 and the first hulls built at his Cowes based boatyard. Uffa recounts in his 1959 book, "Sailing Boats" that Jimmy Damant, a Commodore of the Island SC and one of the earliest owners of the International 14, had often encouraged him to; "Design a boat like the 14-footer, but at least 18ft long, that will not capsize. Then you would have a sensible, safe boat, that was fun to sail as well, for the rough and tumble of tidal waters like the Solent."

Uffa eventually drew-up a hull twenty foot overall, fifteen foot on the waterline and drawing nine inches without the keel. The steeply raked keel adds 2ft 6inches to the draft, the rake helping to remove any weed. The original construction was for a 1/8" thick diagonal inner skin and 3/16" fore and aft, honduras mahogany outer skin over 3/8" x 1/4" ribs at 2" centres. The deck was 3/16" marine plywood. The original design weight was 285lb for the hull with a 400 lb keel. Driving this was a sail plan and mast height exactly as for the International 14 of that period.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Bequia Beauty

Plumbelly underway

Plumbelly's launch off the beach in Admiralty Bay, Bequia where she was built.

Sailing down to Bequia from the US, Grenada in the background.

Landfall in the Caribbean, down from New England.



lee bower


Plumbelly at rest.

Tyrrel Bay, Bequia

Patrick and Joel just before Joel manifested his illness in the most visceral way.

It's 5 o'clock somewhere.

Boatbuilding family, Cabo Verde Islands

Jose and Boteline sailing. Cabo Verde

El Jagdida, Morocco

About half the fleet at El Jadida

Building in Morocco

Plumbelly on the hard.

Well stocked, 'bellies belly.


Back in New England

Flush decks

Save for the canvas dodger over the companionway

Goals accomplished, surf's up!

all photos courtesy Patrick DaLilla or David Jones

You can just about hear J. Buffet and a steel band in the background. This very interesting boat turned up in one of those tiny ads in the WB classifieds. I've been to St. Vincent and was regaled with stories of the Bequia whalers by my host, Captain Jack Longley. We were to deliver a 65' steel motorsailer from St. Vincent to the Cayman Islands. This is back in the early 90's. I was able to get away and had quite an adventure. But the story of the Bequia whalers, one of the very few traditional whaling communities still allowed to hunt whales, (up to 4 per year, though they rarely make quota, in open boats w/ harpoon, no mods no motors, sail only) has stayed with me and continued to intrigue me over the years. There's precious little info on them on the web.
Plumbelly is the quintessential Caribbean cruising boat, though I'm sure she fares well in other waters, and I've included some photos from Patrick's adventures across the Atlantic. She was built on a beach in Bequia by local shipwright Loran Dewar and Klaus Alverman, a German ship's captain who commissioned her. Built to Bequian whaleboat lines with the exception that she's not an open boat, but flush decked. I'll let the current owner, Patrick DaLilla, tell the story:

"When I bought my boat in Maine six years ago, people told me that she was famous, built on an island called Bequia and sailed twice around the world. At the time I preferred to consider her more “tried and true” than famous. But as I guided my (by now) beloved little boat back to her birthplace after her 28th crossing of the Atlantic, I couldn’t help but revel in her amazing history.
PLUMBELLY was built on the beach in Admiralty Bay under the shade of the palm trees in the place where Tommy Cantina’s now sits. An eccentric German architect and ship’s captain named Klaus Alverman wanted a small yacht to cruise the islands in, and he set out to build it with the help of Bequian shipwright Lauren Joe. They built the boat in the local tradition: hewing carefully selected timber from around the island into the shape of a modified two bow fishing boat. Her full body inspired the name as a passerby commented “look like she got a big plum in dee belly mon!”
She was launched in 1965 and a few years later set out to cross the Pacific Ocean. She had no engine, no electricity and no self steering device. After four weeks of sailing sheet to tiller with the bow down, PLUMBELLY arrived in the Pacific islands sporting a beard of algae on her bowsprit. While resting in Tahiti, a big red double-ender came gliding into the harbor with a wild eyed Frenchman at the helm(could this be Moitessier? ed.). The man had just sailed two times around the world non-stop. The two men became friends and Klaus obtained a design for a simple wind vane from him. He built the wind vane in New Zealand and it is still working it’s magic today.
PLUMBELLY and Klaus returned to Bequia to a heroes’ welcome; the first Bequia boat to be sailed around the world. For those in Bequia that know the story of PLUMBELLY there is a gleam of pride in their eyes when they speak about it. This is my second time in Bequia with the old girl and I’ve yet to meet someone over thirty that doesn’t know the name. And it’s not just in Bequia. In places as far afield as Senegal I’ve had people ask me, “That’s not the PLUMBELLY, is it?” “Bet your boots it is. The one and only!” People just smile and shake their heads.
When Klaus finally stopped after twenty odd years of sailing, PLUMBELLY ended up in the hands of an American science professor in Massachusetts. She was used for day sailing and coastal cruising until an adventurous young man from Maine bought her and once again pointed her bow in the direction of faraway lands. Now I am the third in a line of owners from Maine (actually I’m from Ohio but I bought the boat while living in Maine) whom PLUMBELLY has carried safely across oceans.
I once read that art is an expression of Humans’ love of labor, and people have described Klaus’s relationship with PLUMBELLY as “a grand love affair”. In the case of the Bequian shipwrights it was a love born out of necessity, for nothing less than a sort of love can create a vessel seaworthy enough for whaling. In PLUMBELLY, Klaus created a working monument to this fading tradition, a swan song which fused his love of construction and love of the sea. She is a vessel that has turned into a legend in the waters that she plies, always popping up to the delight of everyone who ever dreamed of just getting in a boat and going."

Design & Construction
PLUMBELLY was designed and built in 19the Bequia West Indies by Loran Dewar and Klaus Alverman. Launched in 1965, she was designed with a spoon bow, round bilge and a deep full keel. She has an attached rudder and a canoe stern. PLUMBELLY was designed and built for offshore sailing. The hull is constructed of 1" pitch pine in the topsides and 1" Silver Balli in the bottom all over 2 1/4" x 2 1/2" tropical white cedar sawn frames. In some areas the frames are doubled. All frames are on 11" centers, the floor timbers are 2" and 3/18" sided on varying centers. PLUMBELLY has an interesting keel structure: the keel is an iron box that is fabricated with baffles and 1 1/18" iron bolts welded into the inner web structure. The bilge area has been filled with concrete for additional ballast. Her decks are also built of planked 1' pitch pine over 2" x 3 1/18" deck beams on varying centers. She is flush decked with a small trunk cabin at the companionway with sitting headroom. Her mast is solid and round, stepped through the deck and lands on a mast step in a reinforced toerail. It is then drilled to take a lanyard from the dead eyes in the rigging. PLUMBELLY is gaff rigged and flies a topsail with a jack yard.

PLUMBELLY's interior is quite simple: there is a general storage area forward, followed by the cabin. The cabin has a platform with cushions on either side and a storage box in the center that doubles as a table. Aft to port is the small navigation table and an area for some electronics. Aft to port is the galley which has a two-burner kerosene stove and a fresh water pump that uses a jerry jug for a water tank. (Kerosene is also used for cabin light.) Aft of the galley is an area for the batteries. There is then a small companionway that leads to the cockpit.

Surveyor's Commentary
Over all the boat was found to be in good condition. She has had good care and maintenance over the years. The vessel was built to high standards and it is reported that Klaus Alverman sailed around the world in her. This vessel was designed and built for this kind of offshore sailing.

This boat is currently being offered for sale by David Jones Yacht Brokerage and has full specs listed on his site. David has a keen eye for interesting boats and I may do an article on his brokerage, located in Camden ME. The asking price of the boat is 20K, she's well found and has lots of equipment for cruising. If I had the 20K...
Patrick also mentioned, in response to my query, that he's lived aboard for 3 years. She's lying in Rockland, ME.