|He then told me he was a professional welder
and asked if could go over them. Of course I was
delighted and he did so, conceding afterwards the
welds were perfectly strong prior to his cleaning
them up, just not very attractive. His name is Pat
Kiersey and he has since passed away. RIP, Pat.
Next order of business on the rudder frame was
to grind the welds smooth and sand the entire
There was one more element - a ring of 3/8
stainless bar - added to the very bottom of the
rudder post and shaped into a 'nail head' to
prevent the rudder's being able to rise up out of
the lower bearing in the event of a grounding.
The item was added mid-way through the
foaming. It is missing on the first 'foam' photo
and there in the second.
|Anyway, after sanding and smoothing the full surface of the blade section of the rudder frame, it was coated with West epoxy
using a special method to enhance adhesion to stainless steel. This is a long procedure requiring several coats.
With the plywood panel leveled and coated with plastic sheeting, several cans of 'Great Stuff' expanding foam were applied and
allowed to cure. This took several applications before I was satisfied the foam core was right. Shaping and smoothing were easy,
|Carefully coating the entire structure with three or four layers of 10 ounce fiberglass cloth and taking extra care to double up
each layer over the edges and around the top and bottom completed the building. Several coats of epoxy fairing were added and
sanded to a smooth, attractive shape.
|The next project for the rudder was the
design and construction of the lower
rudder bearing assembly. There is no
telling if it needed to be as big and
strong and I made it. All 1/4 inch
stainless plate with 26 stainless bolts,
5/16 inches by 3 1/2 inches, but for
where it is and what it does, stronger is
better than losing sleep wondering. The
bearing is an assembly 4 by 4 by 5
inches of Teflon blocks all bolted
together and into the bracket.
Charley Hildebrand, a friend from
Gloucester, gave me 2 gallons of a
military surplus epoxy he claimed was
used to attach the outer plates to
nuclear submarines. One can was white
goop and the other was black. It
reminds me of MarineTex and it was
used to bed this rudder bearing mount
and the bow eye made from a stainless
prop shaft. The exposed surfaces of the
bearing mount were coated with it to
|This bearing has always been silky and tight and has never required a minute of maintenance.
In the photo above right you can see the molded in boss for mounting the stern tube and cutlass bearing. Included in the
calculations for location and size of the propeller is the proximity of the rudder and a minimum (10% of diameter) tip clearance.
Take the measurements and do the math and you come up with an 18 inch propeller smack in the middle of the space you see
there. No extra room to raise or lower the shaft, and/or engine. No moving forward or aft (with the prop). It would have been
better had there been an option to mount the prop another 6 or 10 inches deeper - it's a little close to the surface - but no such
luck. As it is, we have been in conditions so rough the prop has come clear out of the water. Unnerving, to say the least.
|Since the boat was only moved briefly under its
own power when first launched, there was no
way to know the gearbox was operating
backwards. It whines in reverse and is perfectly
quiet in forward. Both of these props are left
hand and the engine/transmission package in
Falcon requires a right hand prop.
The cutlass bearing was a whole different animal.
Instead of a new style bronze shell with a
vulcanized rubber insert that supported the shaft,
it utilized about 25 wraps of wax-impregnated
flax cord. The outboard end had a bronze washer
that prevented the wraps from being pushed out
of the packing tube when applying tension
|Ed Wolfe, a friend from Salem, gave me
this old Weedless prop from an ancient
Navy launch. It was reconditioned and
installed temporarily, but never used. It
was pitched way too high at 22 inches.
Falcon now runs great with a 15 inch pitch
Out in the growing junkyard was an old
wooden lobster boat rotting into the
ground. Most everything of use had already
been stripped, but I was able to make use
of the four-bladed prop and the 'packing'
style cutlass casting assembly. I cut two
blades off the prop with a hacksaw, then
ground and polished it into the fine
mantelpiece you see here. This monstrosity
worked excellent, except that the boat went
backward while in forward gear and
vice-versa. The boat made prop wash like a
tug as soon as it was put in gear, at idle.
|to the inside water flow adjustment. I suppose the system worked just fine if the rudder were two feet away or something, but
with my rudder, steering the boat in either direction forced the prop to one side or the other and produced a fairly nasty growl of
metal on metal ringing through the boat. The whole assembly was eventually replaced with brand new equipment, but it was
unnerving listening to that rumble and wondering when the shaft would break off.
When the lumber from the old building was sorted and stripped of fasteners, one of the stacks was this 1 inch pine planking. In
this area of the loft the floor was covered with an inch of Bondo and paint dust due to the many years the building was used as a
body shop. Removing some plywood decking created a hole in the second floor, through which dozens of old fenders, moldings,
headlight assemblies and other crunched car parts were dropped. Then a big floor broom swept the cubic yard or so of dust into
the breeze blowing through the large, opened garage doors below. First thing you know, it was time to salvage the pine planking.
About two dozen planks were removed, carried to the boat shed, cleaned and stacked. They were still so dirty they had to be
planed on both sides before they could be sorted for use. Some were poor quality and riddled with knots. They ended up as
battens and braces on the shed. Others were straight and strong with few and tight knots. Since the wood had been in the
building for some thirty years or so, shrinkage or checking were not an issue.
|New welding rod and a borrowed
welder and the jigged assembly
slowly became one solid piece.
Having some knowledge about such
things, the process stretched into
more time than perhaps necessary by
a constant, 'tack here, tack there, back
to here, over there', system intended
to minimize warping due to heat.
When the frame was completely
welded and cooled, a friend dropped
by to see the boat and when he saw
rudder frame, remarked on the ugly
|All this cleaning and painting felt a little like an exercise in futility after cracking the head. At least it was pretty when installed.
The silly part was taking it apart again to get it into the hull and reassembling it there.
All during this project people have brought me supplies and one such item is a 14 foot section of 2 inch stainless steel round bar
stock. Another was a one inch stainless round bar stock. These two items formed the basis for Falcon's rudder and what it would
look likeslowly congealed in my mind in the weeks preceding construction.
Like every other boy living on a farm, I learned to weld and fabricate as a matter of daily necessity. The notion of a rudder shaped
as half a Valentines Day heart evolved from seeing them in boatyards and the hull sitting in front of me. The 14 foot 2" bar was
cut down to 9 feet and the 1" bar stock got bent into half a heart by sticking it into a hole in the frame of a discarded trailer and
bending it a little at a time. The shape of the rudder had already been drawn on a partial sheet of plywood. Going back and forth a
few times produced the correct shape fairly quickly and a foot of extra stock got trimmed off and used as a diagonal brace at the
bottom. The final shaping came from fitting pieces of 1/2 " square stock bought at a salvage yard into the middle braces seen in
|After stripping it down and scrubbing and solvent washing every last nook and cranny, the block and every part were carefully
taped and painted. I also located the Pathfinder people and got drawings and specs, bought a new Volkswagen Engine Manual
(too late) and cracked the cylinder head installing the injectors. The engines one weak spot - aluminum cylinder head. I patched
it and it held, but I knew I'd be replacing it soon. The engines alone could be had for $200 to $300. The conversion parts were the
pricey items because they are so rare.
|I may never remember hearing about the Pathfinder Marine Engine, but the price was unforgettable. $2000 bought a good used
Volkswagen diesel and all the conversion parts to make it a Pathfinder. Including a brand new Hurth 3:1 gearbox.
Volkswagen made millions of these engines, ranging in horsepower from 48 to somewhere near 100. As far as I know, they
are all able to be converted to a marine engine. I started with a 48 horsepower unit but have since moved up to a 52 horsepower
model. The stronger engine is really much stronger because it produces about 50% more torque over the entire RPM band. One
of the best features of the Volkswagen engine is that it was designed automotive service and there are millions of them available
in junkyards around the world. The new parts are inexpensive and readily available. Make no mistake - these aluminum head
engines are not so robust in construction as pure industrial diesels, but there is no evidence in my experience suggesting they are
not every bit as serviceable. They get excellent fuel economy and run very quietly.
|From there, fitting the engine beds to the complex curves of the hull and bilge was easy. Once sorted out and after many, many
'in and outs', the bottom of the engine beds were ground to a perfect fit against the bilge and the structure was epoxied into place.
All these frames were eventually fiberglassed to the hull.
|Fitting and installing the engine beds is
another critical job requiring a number of
things be underway at once. It was necessary
to have the engine I'd be using, as well as the
gearbox, motor mounts, prop shaft, and cutlass
bearing fitting. The only way to be really sure
the engine beds were precisely right was to
have the engine and shaft in the boat.
Everything depends on the shaft. It is the only
item whose position and angle are determined
in the mold when the hull is laid up.
Everything stems from it.
The stern tube and cutlass were installed and
propeller shaft mounted. The shaft must be
supported on the inboard end so it is centered
in the stern tube and not drooping or
off-center side to side. At this time a piece of
2" x 2" hardwood, bored on the end to snuggly
fit over the shaft and secured to a plywood
panel, served as a mock-up of the engine.
Dimensions for this item were taken from the
engine, stored inside.
|One of the very best things about this time in the building of the boat was how the shed smelled of wood and sawdust. People
pay good money for scented candles that do not measure up to a natural woodworking shop. Working inside the empty hull was a
constant trial of careful stepping as the dusty, sloped sides were tricky to stand and walk on. Floor frames immediately helped
and walking atop them became second nature.
There is a simple and common science to cutting wood to fit inside the many compound curves within a boats hull. It takes a
little while to figure it out and become competent, but it does get to be fun. One of a thousand skills people like me enjoy
All the floor timbers were aligned to be level fore and aft as well as side to side. It demanded a constant check of the hull for level
or the carpenters level becomes your enemy instead of your friend. After adding 7100 pounds of lead to the hull, I had to be sure
it hadn't crushed any of the blocking into the ground or pressed a stand off center.
|Once I was sure the slow cure epoxy was set and solid, I topped it up and
glassed the bilge off.
Something about the keel trunk that I haven't mentioned is the fiberglassing I
did around it during the big project of thickening up the starboard side. It
occurred to me the entire lead keel casting could possibly tear loose from the
keel trunk and plunge straight through the cabin top if Falcon pitch-poled head
over heels over a big wave and landed 'splat!' on her cabin roof, upside down.
This is scary enough without the keel lead tearing free and plunging through
the cabin roof, leaving a giant hole. Not to mention the fact that the boat would
now have no reason to roll upright. Some may think the likelihood of this is
remote, but I think 3 1/2 tons of lead will do what it wants if given the chance.
|Straight out buying lead means spending from $1 to $2 per pound in 50 or 60 pound ingots. Maybe $13,000 to $14,000 for
Falcon, excluding astronomical shipping and handling charges. While I though about how to clear this hurdle, I began picking up
cast-off wheel weights on the side of the road as I walked to and from places in town. Next, I began to buy the buckets of old,
used wheel weights from tire shops. A friend told me he produced lead washers,punched from sheet lead, and I started buying his
scrap. I walked into a local boatyard and found they would use a crane to lift an old lead keel from the water,where it had lived
for many years. I paid $500 for it and got the 2500 pound item back to Falcon. Checking around Marblehead Boatyards, I found
another like deal, only this one cost me about $700, but weighed 5500 pounds. It took a while , but now I had more than enough,
was ready to do it, and only needed to know how.
For two months during the end of winter and the start of spring, I cut, chiseled, hammered, and chopped the two huge lead keels
into manageable lumps of no more than 160 pounds each, to prepare for the casting of the keel.
I built a wooden dam to keep molten lead from oozing back beneath the engine. It would be easy to say I knew what I was
doing,but all I knew was that all the drawings I'd seen showed the ballast stopping short of the engine. I realized this meant the
weight needed to balance the buoyancy and a miss with ballast placement only offered limited opportunities to trim with
equipment or smaller applications of ballast. I built a dam and shrugged.
Beginning by laying chunks of lead into the bottom of the keel, then melting pot after pot, scraping off impurities and pouring it
carefully onto the lumps, one giant lump of lead grew in the bilge. Five pots, of between 35 and 40 pounds each, could be
completed each hour. There was also the continual chore of bringing more lumps aboard and more of the endless buckets of
scraps, wheel weights and shavings to add to the melting pot.
The entire job took one, non-stop, 46 hour session. When it was over, 7100 pounds of lead were in the keel trunk in one solid,
hot, heavy lump. It took a week to cool and shrink slightly. I poured a gallon of tropical blend West epoxy around the edges and it
oozed slowly into the tiny crack between the cooled lead and the thick,fiberglass keel trunk, eventually filling it. Tropical blend
West epoxy is super slow cure, meant to give you some working time while working in hot climates. It winter in New England it's
as thick as molasses, never stops oozing toward gravity, and probably didn't cure until spring.
|The hull designed by Horne was to
have 5500 pounds of unspecified
ballast in the keel trunk. It is safe to
assume that, at that time, unspecified
more than likely meant boiler
punchings, round iron discs resulting
from punching pipe holes in boiler
plates, or similar iron or steel scrap,
poured into wet concrete in the keel
trunk. The weight of concrete is about
150 pounds per cubic foot, and steel or
iron comes in at 490 pound per cubic
foot. Lead weighs 708 pounds per
cubic foot, which is why it is so
commonly used as ballast. Higher
density means the center of the keel
mass will be lower in the boat, giving
higher stability and righting moment.
The boat will be more stable and sail
better. For me, the only choice was
But lead is expensive and not easy to
come by, or move, for that matter.
|All the framework was smoothed and coated with epoxy, and as you can see in the second picture, I used the same method with
the SS threaded rod to locate the cockpit side beams, which were also laminated in place. A degree of this may be artistic or a
matter of taste, but like so many other things, you can't always know if it's right going in, but see immediately if it's wrong. I've
liked the way the finished deck framing looked and after 25 years have no reason to doubt it's strength or integrity.
|This project was often so much fun and so rewarding there were seldom moments of awareness to grab a camera and take there
are no photos in the files. And the photos are in the files. Speaking of which,yes,these are the old style Kodachrome, whatever,
taken with my old Canon A1 and processed at wherever. All the photos had to be scanned and saved on computer. I no longer
know where the original photos or negatives are.
|Though the photo on the right was taken before the one on the left, they look better this way. Four 5/16 stainless threaded rods
on each side, countersunk into the hull outside, clamped with washers and nuts inside, hold the cabin side deck beams in
position during the fabrication and installation of the short deck beams. Each of these beams is notched into the cabin beam and
sheer clamp with a tapered end, epoxied and bolted with 5/16 SS bolts, countersunk to facilitate deck planking. Also notice the
heavy triangular gussets between the main deck beams and the sheer clamps. Those are also epoxied and bolted. The boat is
strong. Optical illusion - perspective - makes it appear the aft dimension is smaller than the forward dimension, but the deck
width is exactly 33 inches front to back.
|First, the hull had to be leveled and squared to the waterline. This involved drawings of the boat, long levels, a hydraulic jack,
blocking, boat stands and a pyramid level (clear hose with water in it). A waterline was scribed and I moved inside. From there I
used a plumb bob and level to outline the cabin sole. This is easier than it might look. You can't walk where the hull is too curved
and you can't stand where there is no headroom. By process of elimination - coupled to a predetermined deck width and outside
cabin height, you soon settle on a cabin sole outline and a cabin deckhouse footprint. The next job was to laminate in the cabin
|Even in winter, there are many sunny days and times when everything is melting. During the very first set of such days, the
correcting fiberglass lay-up was completed. Four layers of new fiberglass brought the starboard side up to the same ridiculously
thick dimension of the port side. I didn't care that the hull was too thick. If you're going to have extra weight, there is no place
better than in the hull. I really like a boat that I will not sink in a collision.
Once it cured properly and I could get going on the real boat construction, I took two of the 22 foot 3 by 8's and made the sheer
clamps. These are beams that run along the sheer on either side and are instrumental in connecting the deck to the hull. Far
more instrumental on a purely wooden boat, but probably just as important on Falcon.
With something on the order of 36 feet of fiberglass sheer on each side of the boat, and the very hard and stiff 2 by 2 1/2 inch
clamps I'd made being entirely unwilling to flex and join to the sheer, I had to come up with a suitable way to solve several
First, Mr. Horne designed the hull to have a recessed deck, some 10 or so inches below the sheer. I would not be willing to
sacrifice so much space below,so the deck would be as high as possible. Second, the actual sheer line that resulted had to be
perfectly smooth and graceful. It is a major factor in the good appearance of the little ship, and kinks or other silliness would not
do. Third, how the hell was I going to produce a sweet, beautiful sheer using two stubborn pieces on each side?
The answer came in a possible solution using a technique I'd never before tried; scarfing the 4 ornery clamps into 2 40 foot
clamps. I carefully cut 26 inch tapers into the ends of all 4 22 footers and rigged them perfectly straight, then joined them using
West Epoxy. When cured, I suspended the first one over the spot it would be installed on the hull, using short pieces of line to
the trusses. Then attached block and tackle to the ends and began curving the clamp, as though stringing a bow. Amazingly, it
seemed to be working. I got the full curve into it and was about to lower it into position when the scarf joint failed explosively.
The sound was like a rifle shot. The violence of the energy release knocked me off my feet as the two separate pieces and all the
tackle flew around and rattled down into the bilge with me. I was unhurt, as was everything else. The joint had simply parted
along the adhesive. Back inside the shop, I cleaned up the joint and glued it again,only this time I added one more element. Right
at the feather edge of the long, fine taper, for about 2 inches, I wrapped a single layer of 0.020 inch stainless steel safety wire. I
pulled it tight with each wrap and terminated it flat and strong. I repeated the process with the other one as well.
|The hull I went to Rhode Island to investigate was a
Creekmore 47, a sloop with a straight sheer, a fair bow and
entry, and a hideous after-body between the keel and
What caught my eye was this other, old mold, of a fat girl
with a sweet sheer, a full keel, and a clipper bow.
I asked the business owner about it, and a hull made in it,
and he directed me to one which was available.
He was a true 'Snake Oil Salesman' and neglected to mention
just why this particular hull was lying about unused
and,apparently, unwanted. I discovered for myself after I'd
bought the hull and had it delivered to Lynn, Massachusetts.
|Some research showed the mold was made by a guy named Hans
Otto Horne, in Florida, sometime in the early 50's. He described it
as an 'improved version of 'Spray', the vessel Joshua Slocum built
in a pasture in Fairhaven, Massachusetts,and sailed around the
world between 1895 and 1898. The transom WAS much better
looking than that on 'Spray', other than that, I cannot, with any
accuracy,say if the design is,in fact,'better than 'Spray'. I will,
however, tell you that my boat, 'Falcon', sailed awesomely, and I
saw her at 8.2 knots - by GPS - in following seas, and 7.2 knots in
flat seas, on a beam reach in 15 knots of wind.
The problem with the hull I bought was that the goobers who did
the lay-up installed both of the last layers of the scheduled lay-up
on the same side. Since these layers were of the heaviest coarse
strand mat and woven roving available, the port side of the hull
was a full 1/8 inch thicker then the starboard side. The
hull,massively thick to begin with,now had 3/4 inches of solid
fiberglass on one side, and 5/8 inches on the other.
|This is how the hull looked when delivered. Dark areas are fabric overlap, and the right hand side of the rear view clearly shows a
lighter starboard side, even on this cloudy day. The ensuing investigation showed the cause. I corrected it with plenty of the same
material used to lay up the hull,and a drum of resin.
There were developers working the Lynn Waterfront at the time, and one of them, a friend at the time, traded off some assets for
my help in his frame-off restoration of a 1959 Cadillac. Among the benefits was my use of this spot to build the boat, just a few
feet from the water in Lynn Harbor.
The second was whatever wood I could salvage from a 50 foot by 100 foot two story metal building due to be demolished. The
building contained a second floor, all wood, which supplied me with; a.) 120 Douglas fir beams measuring 2 1/2 inches by 7 1/2
inches by 22 feet long, b.) about 40 sheets of 3/4 inch plywood, 4 feet by 8 feet, c.) 100 22 foot 2 by 8's, and, d.) an uncounted,
but very big, stack of 1 by 8 pine boards 16 feet long.
Salvaging the wood became a massive undertaking, though well worth it, and when it was over I'd removed enough nails to make
a 55 gallon drum impossible to move. One of my friends leech relatives succeeded in getting most of the plywood and a few of
the 2 by 12's, but I made enough of a fuss at him to protect everything I needed, plus some.
|Grading and sorting the lumber by potential uses, I utilized the leeches unused carpentry shop in the adjacent building to mill
the elements required to build a protective shed around the cradled hull.
By the way, long before this I had sold/traded the 22 foot O'Day for a 28 foot wooden 1954 Winthrop Warner Cambridge Cadet.
This was a great boat and sailed fantastically. Not to mention my ability to actually stand up inside. Eventually, I sold that and
moved onto the ground beneath Falcon's fiberglass hull.
Familiar with New England winters, and especially with the exposure of coastal areas on the Atlantic, I resolved to build a plastic
covered shed able to withstand a winter or two. Turns out it was two. I built 7 trusses on the ground, one at a time. As I finished
each one, it got hoisted up by me, alone, I was always alone and seldom, if ever, had help from anyone (I actually prefer it that
way), onto the boat. The feet would get set where I wanted them, then I tied (only the first, center one) with rope and hoisted it
vertical, tying it off front and back.
As I finished each truss,they would get stood up and secured to the others with 1 by 2 strapping I cut from the pine planks. The
center three trusses were all maximum width. The number 2 and 6 trusses were narrower, and the number 1 and seven were the
narrowest, for a slightly 'football' shape. The more strapping braces, the stronger it got, until it was stiff and rigid.
|Plain staples on plastic don't offer much
security,but I found some old canvas on the
property and tore it into strips, which I placed
over the plastic while attaching it to the
Winter was fast approaching and I still hadn't
done a thing to the hull. I added a small lean-to on
the back of the shed to get me off the ground and
out of the weather.
I found a place selling extra heavy duty tarps and
bought one. It was white on one side and black on
the other, 20 feet wide and 40 feet long. My plan
was to put it black side out for the winter, and
white side out for the summer.
|It worked out better than expected. An added benefit was that I'd salvaged some 8 foot fluorescent light fixtures and when
installed inside, reflected off the white in winter and brightened the place up.
The cold of winter was coming and I had to get busy, closing up the back and the front of the shed. I extended the front just a
little bit more to include the fiberglass bowsprit on the hull, as well as the stairs I was building to accommodate the scaffolding
I'd already conceded had to be. This meant doors and more.
|Officially, winter was here. It just hadn't snowed yet. A large pile of lobster pots
in winter storage can be seen directly behind the shed. If you've heard a rumor
about lobster pots stinking like low tide, take my word for it, it isn't a rumor. On
the up side, they don't smell once they're frozen.
Sixteen and eighteen hour days closed in the shed with heavy, clear plastic.
Canvas strips stapled on, then wood battens nailed over the canvas strips proved
the right combination to survive winter storms. The heavy tarp got tightly
lashed down as though a hurricane were coming. New England winters are not
the bitter cold Alaskan winters, but the wind and Nor'easters are vengeful
bitches. It held, and warmed the shed, making it pleasant to work and bright
The scaffold around the hull, closing in the ends of the shed and making the
huge doors for the front were done with a mild sense of quiet desperation. It
was cold and windy and snow could come at any time.
|Growing up on the Coast of New England exposed me to all sorts of boats, and I had plenty of time enjoy some of them.
Sometime in the late 50's/early 60's, a black and white television show called 'Adventures In Paradise' is what probably cemented
my admiration for gaff schooners. Whenever I thought of 'taking off' to see the world and adventure on my own, it had to be in
an old, traditional gaff schooner.
That was before I knew all 'old, traditional gaff schooners' were made of wood. Well, specifically, before I realized old wooden
boats were inevitably infected with rot, corroded fasteners, mold, mildew, vermin, and on and on. Undeterred, my new plan
included a boat 'not rotting to death'.
I investigated everything over the years; cold molding, fiberglass, steel, and, of course, modern wooden boat construction. I read
lots of books - some of which only whetted my appetite to get to sea (Sailing Alone Around The World, by Joshua Slocum) - and
eventually settled on a fiberglass hull. The search for the 'right' fiberglass hull was on.
Many of the first ones found were based on modern sloops and, frankly, clumbsy, inelegant clunkers which neither looked good,
nor, I suspect, performed well.
|1986 - 1988
|Working full time, writing novels, and aching to move on, I bought an O'Day 22 Sloop and promptly moved aboard. I motored it
out of Lynn Harbor one July 4th holiday weekend and learned to sail, taking it up the coast to Marblehead and
Manchester-by-the-Sea. I had a very good time and anchored out for three nights, getting my first taste of sailboat cruising. I was
Searching where and how I could for plain, empty, solid fiberglass hulls I might afford, the search narrowed as planning a gaff
schooner on each prospective hull displayed, with cold insistence, that the cost of the bare hull only represented about 1/9th the
cost to complete the ship. I abandoned the notion of a 50 foot hull and tried several projections for 30 footers. Gratefully, the
results showed building a 30 footer would be 1/4 the cost of a 50 footer.
I adjusted my head and search parameters and found a hull I liked in North Kingstown, Rhode Island.
|This picture was taken after the first
winter. By this time, the plastic on the
shed had sun-rotted and was all torn
away, making for a great summer shed. A
short time later, as in the shots below the
Caddy section, new plastic was installed
and a hole was cut through the big doors
to allow the bowsprit to stick through.
By this time the main framing was
nearing completion, as were the
laminating of the forward cabin arch beam
and the aft cockpit arch beam.
Preparations to melt the lead into the keel
were under way.
Always being worked while other stuff
was under way, was the accumulation of
lead to convert into my keel ballast. I
collected wheel weights, buying them
from tire shops, salvaged two keels,
bought lead scrap from a guy making lead
washers. Eventually, I had enough.
|Plastic surrounded the little lean-to in the back while twin small doors and twin tall doors made up most of the front. It snowed
just days after I finished closing it in. I was so glad at having beaten the snow that I gathered some old paint destined for the
trash and scrawled a colored banner with a silhouette of Falcon's profile on the front doors.
|In case I didn't mention it, I was no longer employed in a regular, full-time job,but was making 'side-money' working the Cadillac
I thrashed on the shed, its doors, and the scaffolding, also spending time storing things in the little shed, under the boat, and in a
small spot inside the shop. Wood left outside had to be covered from the elements and I needed warmer clothes.
|The second time - during which I used more and
better suspension lines - it never did anything
scary. I bent it as much as I wanted to, lowered it
into position,even tapping it here and there to
produce a flawless and attractive sheer, and
clamped it into place.
Once located, I used epoxy with filler, and 5/16
inch stainless steel flathead screws, nuts and
washers, every 8 inches from front to back.
After trimming the edge of the fiberglass to match
the sheer clamps, I went straight at making and
installing the main beams across the deck. This
was some of the most fun you can have building a
Everything is notched and fitted, glued and bolted
with SS hardware. A few beams were laminated
and epoxied in place. During this process, the
layout was predetermined by what would fit.
|Already sticky with resin and fuzzy with a million glass fibers, a proper prep into the surface around the top of the keel was
ground and a half inch thickness was built up on either side of the top of the keel trunk. This creating a one inch bottleneck and
brought the hull thickness to a full 2 inches there. Such an operation may not guarantee the lead will stay in place, but when
you're right there and have the materials, it seems a prudent exercise. I used epoxy to fiberglass over the keel, just because it
bonds much better than polyester resin.
Few pictures of me working on the boat exist, as I was always alone and doing the picture taking of what was going on myself. I
hope it is not too vain of me to include it, as I think it looks good and there is a grain of truth in saying you might want to see
who is doing the talking. I am including the only two pictures I've found. The first is how I looked for the first 15 years after the
military. The second was ashort time later,after I 'lost' the unibomber look. Notice the duct tape jeans repair. Yeah, that's for real.