The Next Step

Six o’clock on a Saturday morning in May is an unlikely time for me to be up with my wits about me, but it is one of those “wake up with an idea” days. I started by writing some notes for the blog entry on my yellow pad since the computer goes to sleep at 10:00 pm and does not wake up until at least 7:00 am.

There has to be some peaceful time that a screen does not beckon. If the screens don’t sleep, nobody sleeps. In an personal poll of kids at the office, I concluded that screens are the most common reason for daytime attention deficit. Now that’s disorder.

I planned to go back to sleep, but when I heard the birds singing, and looked out to see God’s salmon and slate backdrop, it seemed that an afternoon nap could correct any later energy deficiencies. Then the ball of fire lit up the small opening under the clouds. That was a bold welcome to the morning.

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It’s time to take a new step forward with the boat also, as the defining contour lines of the front end are now shaped and set in epoxy. This requires more creative planning, as I am at the end of my last list of things to do. For thinking, I sit on the old folding chair, which lost its back a few years ago, and has been useless for entertaining upstairs as long as I can remember. I have a yellow writing pad, and a piece of scrap plywood for a makeshift desk and start a new page for the instruction manual.

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Some of the big challenges to be done are the cockpit framing, dash and trim, interior epoxy and glass reinforcement to the bottom, creating the deck with the forward two-seat compartment, and building the transom side extensions. They each have their own special challenges, which are a little bit scary.

I am not sure which thing to do next, but in some ways it doesn’t matter. As the old Chinese proverb goes, “A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” You can imagine that day 2, 3, or 28 or 137, for example, also begin with another single step.

Sometimes you just have to start moving, even if you’re not sure of the best path. There is learning in the mistakes, and many of my repeat parts served as patterns to improve on the next try. Just out of curiosity, I did a little figuring to see what step I am on. Here’s how the number of parts in the boat to date added up:

White Oak keel, runners, chine and transom                   22 parts
Yellow Cedar frames and stringers                                     130 parts
Marine plywood corner gussets and hull planks             168 parts
Dowels to reinforce cross frame joints                              170 parts

This 490 pieces does not include a couple of dozen failed first attempts. To complicate matters, only about 8 parts are square on all corners. Fortunately, I am not on someone else’s schedule, as you are never really lost if you’re not out of time.

So then, I decided to focus on finishing the transom framework. Each part has several angles needed to fit well on both ends. I start with oversized pieces, and gradually cut and sand to the best fit I can. Fortunately, epoxy is forgiving as it is good at gap filling, exceptionally strong and waterproof.

Below is the cardboard pattern to make the side of the motor well, and temporary stringers are extended back to create the lines of the stern.

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This photo shows the curved frames to support the side of the motor well.

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Below is a plywood side in place with a cardboard pattern to build the stern shape. The next photo shows the remaining extension frame parts.

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Then, I notice the clutter of a group of tools getting in the way of progress. So for a few minutes, I clean and organize. For one thing, it is hard to make a mistake when you are cleaning up, and it can also be reflective.

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Most days, life is like that and needs a little clean up. Confession of sin is the broom for the soul.

2 thoughts on “The Next Step

  1. Thank you for the update and especially for being transparent enough to remind us that not everything works the first time we try it! This doesn’t mean that we’ve failed but that we need to learn from our previous attempts and keep moving forward.

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