Whiskey Planks coming up!

  • Whiskey planks possibly June 3
  • Rudder/centerboard progress
  • YouTube series on North Star
  • New dock piano, piano concert fundraiser for North Star
  • Richochet arrives at HH
  • Dorothy relaunch May 27

We’ve been having a very productive and satisfying time at the boat shed, with lots of our members taking part, and gaining new members each week! With many hands at work, we’re quickly approaching the Gannet’s 8th and final pair of planks, the sheer strakes. We’ve got the traditional celebratory whiskey ready, and we anticipate that we could be ready to fasten them on Saturday June 3.

We’ve got our rhythm of patterning, rough cutting, scarfing, gluing, final cutting, fitting, and fastening pretty well-practiced, with new hands getting involved, led by newly experienced hands with a plank or two under their belt! We currently have the 6th pair glued in place, with the 7th pair ready to fasten, and have rough-cut the sheer strakes and cut the scarf joint. Glue-up this week, and then shape and fasten next week!

The centerboard and rudder have been shaped, and will receive a fiberglass sheathing. The rudder is 3/4″ plywood, and the centerboard is 3/4″ and 1/2″ plywood laminated together. They’re looking very nice and shapely, and should perform well!

In case you’re not already aware, the Vancouver Maritime Museum is raising funds to acquire North Star of Herschel Island, to carry on her legacy of Arctic history. One of the members of our Heritage Harbour community has been recording stories by our wharfinger Bruce, current owner of North Star, to build awareness of the fascinating history of the ship – please check out Michel Duran’s series on YouTube.

The old piano has played its last notes a couple of weeks ago, after surviving a few years of sunlight and winter storms, with lots of people enjoying its music! It was dismantled (with a lot of hard work by some of our crew!), and pieces of it will be used in various new lives.

But don’t worry – a replacement was quickly found, and a bunch of members of the wonderful Heritage Harbour community stepped up to provide strong backs to move it, a crane truck for transport, expertise to tune it and to share its history, and of course, to bring out its best sounds, playing it with passion!!

There’s a plan afoot to put on a fund-raising concert in July, with Tom Arntzen leading the charge, and recruiting two other professional players to entertain the crowd. Keep an eye out for more information as it comes.

Earlier this month we welcomed Ricochet to the harbour after a through restoration by one of our members. She’s a beautiful addition to the harbour!

An even longer restoration is coming to an end over on Vancouver Island, with the long-awaited relaunch of the Dorothy coming up this Saturday May 27th. Read all about her on the Maritime Museum of BC’s site.

Hope you can join us at the shop to take part in the action!

Progress – Gannet halfway planked

The planking of the Gannet has been marching along in the past 2 months – with the 4th pair of planks fastened to the hull, we’ve reached the halfway mark of the planking! The screw-fastening and patterning system has been working quite smoothly, allowing us to make very satisfying progress.

Planks 2 and 3, patterning and scarfing:

Planks 3 and 4, including filling some of the screw holes with epoxy:

Fitting and gluing plank #4:

This past Saturday we also made patterns for the rudder and centerboard. The dimensioned drawings were transferred full-size to some thin plywood, and cut out. Those will be used to cut the plywood for the real thing.

One of our members, Ben, took on the task of improving our plank clamps recently – we had been using blocks of wood with holes in it to tighten the wing-nut on the clamps. Our old “Clamp Champs” had been adequate for the job starting with Button Swan, but now that we know better, the new Clamp Champ Mk II is a HUGE improvement!! Thanks Ben for your 3d printing skills! We tested a couple of prototypes to get the best shape.

A couple of weeks ago on a warm sunny day, a few of us spent some time doing repairs/improvements to some of our boat equipment, under the patient guidance of Bruce. Button Swan got new rope grommets for the jib sheet leads, and Enke got her tiller whipping tightened up.

Last Saturday we got to see one of our members launch the dory he and his wife built – always fun to see the excitement of a dream come to fruition! Congratulations Willis, and we hope you enjoy the boat!

We’ve been enjoying a great turnout of members each Saturday, and it’s a pleasure to see the enthusiasm of everyone working together on our new boat!

Garboards are fastened

After our last post about fitting the garboard planks (the first pair of planks next to the keel), we came back and cut the gain at the stem, which will get our planks laying flush. We’re cutting the gains half thickness on each plank.

We then laid out the next pattern, this time on the Port side – we’re alternating sides, to even out any accumulated error, just in case we haven’t got the molds perfectly symmetrical. We are quite pleased with the lattice truss pattern method!

The next pair of planks got rough cut, and the scarf joints cut. This is the second pair of planks, and the boat has 8 pairs – we should get pretty good at this by the end!

The garboard planks and the next planks scarf joints got glued during the week. The screw-clamping worked well, making a nice tight joint, and the screws came out easily – nice to have that system in place, allowing us to move forward with the next steps!

Flattening the joint for the keel came next, making room for the fir keel that is to come.

Meanwhile, in our tent, the next pair of planks got cut, trimmed, and ready for their test fit. The progress is feeling good, and it’s wonderful to see the hull coming together!

After our work sessions, some of us have been out enjoying our boats, whether it be the club boats or our members’ own boats. We’ve been fortunate to have decent weather for it, even if we do sometimes drift to a stop when the wind fades – in good company, it’s still a great time!

First plank dry fit

After cleaning the scarf joints (with a lot of elbow grease and mechanical assistance), we laid the pattern on the full length plank blanks, and traced out the two garboard planks, the first planks that fasten to the keelson.

We cut the planks using a small circular saw, and then cleaned the edge with a block plane. A few test fits and further trimming produced a very nice fit!

We’re going to try screw-clamping the glued joints, so that clamps won’t get in our way to make the next patterns. We did a dry-fit, screwing one plank to the keelson. That allowed us to plane the bevel for the next plank, which was a very minor bevel near the stern, and a slightly greater angle forward. Some careful work gave us a nice gradual rolling bevel. We should be ready to glue the first plank or two this Saturday!

[ed. SOLD, to a restaurant on Saltspring Island] We have advertised our little Fancy Pram for sale to a good home! Check out the ad, and let us know if you or someone you know wants to take care of her.

If you get Wooden Boat magazine (and if you love wooden boats, of COURSE you do!!), you’ll probably recognize the gorgeous boat on the cover of the January/February 2023 issue. Arnt & Valerie’s lovely boat Anja has an extensive article, with photos by Dale S. Congratulations to all of you on that exciting achievement!!

I did a bit of 3D modeling to try out the extent of decking and seating for the Gannet, then got a bit … carried away, and started messing around with the colour scheme. Here’s where I got (so far).  It has brought up a few interesting discussion topics!

Hope to see you at the shop to take part in this build!

Ready to plank!

Last Saturday we had a lot of fun bevelling the keelson – at one point we had 5 people attacking the board with planes – good times! We got the rough shaping done in short order, and then fine-tuned it and the stem to the proper gently rolling bevel.

After we got the keelson shaped, we took advantage of the gorgeous mid-winter day, and got all 4 boats out to enjoy some fun on the water! The rowboat made a trip to Granville Island for some beer, bread and cheese to welcome the sailors back to the dock – always appreciated!! What a fabulous day!

This week we did a bit more shaping of the stem, then got busy with the pattern for the first planks, the garboard planks.

We tried out the method of patterning where we clamp or nail a thin batten in place where each edge of the plank will land, then hot-gluing short sticks across the gap, effectively creating a lattice truss. We also glued a piece of thin plywood at the stem to get the shape of the hood end. Taking the assembly off the hull, we laid it flat to determine the shape of the plank. Worked like a charm!

Next, we moved on to cutting a blank for the planks, and scarfing and gluing them to create a full-length plank. The boat is 14′-5″ long, and our plywood is 8′ long. We need to join two pieces end-to-end, and the way to do that is a scarf joint, which is an angle cut across the width of the material, and then epoxy-gluing them together. We made a jig to get the proper angle, stacked 4 blanks (2 for each side of the boat) and then used hand-planes to cut the sloped ends.

The layers of the plywood are a great guide to get the angle nice and even – and it looks cool!

We then laid out the planks end-to-end (taking up much of the shop!), applied the epoxy, and clamped them together. The whole process went very smoothly, thanks to several of our members having experience with this type of construction, and it was a great educational experience for the rest of us!

Next week we plan to cut the shape of the first planks, and quite possibly fasten them to the boat!! We’ve had a great turnout of members the last few weeks as the excitement of the new build takes hold – it’s been great fun!!

Backbone is fastened!

We have a backbone on the Gannet build! Last Saturday was spent cleaning and mounting the laminated stem and the plywood transom. Yesterday we cut the keelson using a gorgeous Douglas Fir board provided by Arnt from his stash of church pews.

After cutting the keelson to size, we rounded over the edge that will show in the boat, to avoid splintering the edge. Then we epoxy-glued the keelson to the stem and transom, creating the backbone of the boat. Next up we start beveling the edge of the keelson and stem to accept the planking.

We spread some excess epoxy on the inner and outer faces of the transom, and that gave us the desire to finish the transom bright instead of painting it – I mean, LOOK at it!! Sadly there are some pencil marks that would end up being visible – but that may just provide an interesting patina. We’ll see!

That was a wonderful milestone in the progress of the boat build!

Beautiful Wintertime

Well, that’s been a very snowy December!! Duane and Michel have shared videos of their walks on the dock:

We had a great turnout for our Christmas party on the 17th – plenty of food and a good time, gathered ’round the boat moulds!

Before the festivities took over, we got some work done on the stem, doing a dry run of clamping the lamination strips to the form. Since then, a few of our members got together at Arnt’s shop to do the glue-up, as it needed more space and heat than we have available at the shop.

Tomorrow we’ll work on cleaning up the glue, and preparing to mount the stem on the strongback, and potentially cutting the transom.

Hope you have a happy New Year!

Gannet construction method

I forgot to mention one little thing in that last post – we’ve reconsidered the material choice for the boat, and have decided to build the hull in glued lapstrake plywood.

What brought that about was a discussion of flotation, and wanting to get it figured out right from the beginning. We talked about using foam or air-bags for flotation in a conventional clinker hull, but the conversation kept coming back to maintenance and ventilation. In the end, a suggestion was made to do it in glued lapstrake plywood, with built-in water-tight compartments. That should give us a lightweight self-recoverable boat.

After all, the plans we’re working from are designed for that method, and it will let us gain experience in another type of construction!

Boat shape

We had a busy few weeks building the molds and stem, leading up to very productive day on Saturday, getting all the molds set up on the strongback!

Over the last few weeks, we cut the patterns, and built the 8 molds for the Gannet. There were a few challenges to overcome, but in the end, the molds seem to be quite fair – laying a batten over the molds reveals some minor adjustments needed, but not bad.

The stem was also worked on during that time, and we’ve got the outer stem rough-cut using Black Locust. Next Saturday we plan to laminate the inner stem using Douglas Fir.

We’ve got a small model built, to get an idea of the shape, and to help describe the process to visitors. It’s also useful in planning the proposed half-decking, and seeing what that will do to the cockpit – we’ve realized that it would become more cramped than we’d like, so we’ll be reducing the amount of decking while maintaining appropriate flotation chambers.

The lights are up and the Grinch is on the dock, ready for the Christmas season – and we’ll be having our party on the dock this coming Saturday December 17th after our work session – do come down and raise a glass to a good year! Please bring some food to share, and a beverage of your choice. Contact Georgina for info or to let her know what you’re bringing. Hope to see you there!

North Star of Herschel Island

Exciting news from the Vancouver Maritime Museum, which is raising money to acquire the North Star of Herschel Island for the museum’s collection, ensuring and enhancing her presence in our harbour!

Thank you to those of you who have donated to our Arctic campaign. Your support is deeply appreciated and directly funds the museum’s efforts to refresh our Arctic galleries.
We are writing to you again because of an exciting development regarding the North Star of Herschel Island; we have received a significant pledge of $100,000 from a local resident towards the acquisition of this vessel!
Built in 1935, the North Star worked the Arctic simultaneously with the St. Roch, so much so that they have been called “sisters of the ice”. Currently moored at Heritage Harbour, this ship carries the story of her Inuit owners and their contribution to the community they made as operators in the Arctic. The North Star is the last sailing representative of the Western Canadian Arctic fur trade and serves as a reminder of the success that Inuvialuit trappers had in that era.
As part of our Arctic Exhibition Revitalization plan, our goal is to create a one-of-a-kind floating exhibit that speaks directly to the Inuit experience. But we still need your help to make this historic project happen. We are a small charitable organization, so being able to respond to significant opportunities like this requires the support of the community. Not unlike the acquisition of the St. Roch, this is a pivotal moment for our institution. The unique and exciting opportunity to obtain the iconic vessel, the North Star of Herschel Island is a time sensitive and once in a lifetime event.
By donating before the November 30 deadline, you’ll be a vital part of ensuring the legacy of this vessel carries on for generations. Help us keep this historic ship in Vancouver so we may immerse students, kids and adults with Indigenous maritime heritage. 
This ship is a testament to Inuit ingenuity and survival and its stories deserve to be told alongside the St. Roch. Donate today and help acquire the North Star of Herschel Island!
Thank you for being an important part of the VMM community.  
Donate today!
P.S. We are excited to now offer special benefits to our donors. Use the button below to learn what your gift could mean for you!
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“We anchored near Tuktoyaktuk when we hit shallow water. A boat came out to welcome us and I saw that there were many white people in the boat and I thought there was only one Inuk with them but when they came up to our boat, it was the other way around. These people were all Inuit and there was only one white man with them.That was the first time I had ever heard Inuit talk English. The white man in the boat was the Hudson’s Bay Company manager” – From the Reminiscences of Joe Panipakuttuk, Inuit hunter and guide