Friday, February 26, 2010


Yesterday blew pretty hard but it didn't seem so bad from the city condo where I spend my weekdays.

Today I got a call from a boatyard friend that had just gone down to take a look at the boats. He thought I should know that my boat had no cover.

I left work early.

The official reports put wind gusts at 62 but along the coastline (where the boat is) the wind bursts were estimated to have reached the 80-90 mph realm.

On first glimpse it became obvious that one side of the tarp had let go. Not so bad except...

I had become used to the structure being solid and bone dry and was in the habit of leaving everything open for better ventilation. Luckily it doesn't look like anything inside was bothered by the rain/snow/ice that was blowing around. I have taken pains to make the insides 'water friendly' and it seems to have paid off. The new cherry paneling was oiled before installation but it doesn't seem to have been touched in any case. A big 'Whew!'

What failed was pretty obvious.

I would like to blame the poorly manufactured tarp but considering the wind conditions I don't think any tarp could be expected to hold up. A limitation in my design is that wind can get under the structure and lift it up. The small opening is great for ventilation and ease of assembly but it does require a lot of support to hold it down. I have been okay in the 60-70 mph range but this was just too much. Especially for a tarp with such horridly made grommets to begin with.

The structure is fine for the most part. My aft brace that attaches to the aft end of the ridgepole and gives the tarp something to push against didn't fair so well.

and the other half.

There was enough force to push the bottom of the structure around. The stake was no match for the wind.

The aft starboard quarter took a funky wave.

The port side was straight a few days ago...

So what to do now? I cut off the remnants of the tarp and took down the back panel for now. I have my old tarp that is big enough to cover most of the boat. The old tarp is tired but better than nothing. The problem is that it is still too windy and rainy/snowy to pull it up and secure it. I don't know of a local source of a decent tarp in the size I need. I may have to order another one or try to get two more months out of my old tarp.

I am afraid Jenny will have to endure the elements for a few days until I can get her covered up properly. I don't like it but there isn't much I can do in this continued nasty weather. I brought home the unused cherry paneling. It got a little wet but the oil seems to have protected it fine. Not much to do but wait, watch and fret.

Sunday, February 21, 2010

Change of plans

The plan for the weekend was the New England Boat Show in Boston. My rigger gave me some discounted tickets so I thought I would check it out. I haven't been in a few years and I figured I could find some cool deck and sailing hardware I just had to have. I certainly don't go to look at the boats. I really dislike most modern designs which is why I am putting so much into this old boat.

However, I had to spend some time running errands yesterday afternoon and noticed how unusually warm it was. I decided to spend some time at the boat instead. The boatshow can wait.

I finally got some of the cherry paneling in place. I did just the easy parts but it really was a pretty easy operation. I quit before I got to the settee backrests because I want to get the backrests in first and then fit the paneling to the backrests.

Some of the details:

I made sure the first strip was as square as possible.

At the suggestion of a finish carpenter I kept the bottom of the paneling off the settee. If any water accumulates on the settee, however unlikely but it IS a boat and tends to have lots of water around, there is a gap under the paneling so that water won't wick up into the strips. I will apply some preservative oil to the cut ends too.

It will come as no surprise to any Triton owner but the plywood bulkheads are neither square nor straight. Mine bow away from the paneling a bit. There was no way around it but to attach screws to the middle of the panels to pull them into the plywood.

To allow for expansion I ensured a small gap between the panels by using some folded over card stock. That gives some gap so that if the panels swell a bit they won't come up tight against one another and buckle. That was another suggestion from the finish carpenter.

A final suggestion from the carpenter was a small amount of flexible adhesive down the middle of the paneling. The adhesive will help hold the panels in place. The small strip down the middle allows the edges to float a bit with the normal swelling and shrinking.

Finally, with some extra time at the end of the day today I managed to cut out some framing that will become the engine cover.

The frames will support the galley table and outline the engine box. The plan is for the galley tabletop to be of equal depths on both sides. The framing is shortened on the port side in order to maintain just over 6 feet of sleeping area on the port settee.

And that is it. It was great to actually spend time on the boat again after a very slow winter. Here is to hoping the weather continues to improve. Unlikely, I know, but I can hope.

Sunday, February 14, 2010


It is still cold and luckily for me I have some Valentine's obligations this weekend.

I did spend a few minutes with the boat. Everything is good. Jenny sits comfortably and patiently and appears to have withstood the high winter winds just fine. The tarp, which I have already complained about, is slowly coming apart and will definitely not make it another season unlike every previous heavy duty tarp I have owned. remains on my bad list for all the reasons I have already written about and won't bore anyone further.

I spent some time reviewing my interior plans and coming up with hard materials lists. After owning the boat for nearly six years I find myself still tweaking the plans and trying to visualize how it will all come together. There are a myriad of details to consider and I am sure I won't get it all right anyway. I am sure I will wishing I had done it some other way someday.

I had a car repair bill and a heating oil bill come in together which amounts to about three weeks take home pay so I won't be ordering any supplies right away. A few sheets of cherry veneered plywood would go a long ways at this point so I might try to squeeze it in next month.

My big debate right now is whether to launch the boat in the spring or keep it out for the coming season. One the one hand. I would like to try sailing the boat for real. I miss sailing and last season was a bit of a disapointment.

On the other hand, thinking realistically, I will be lucky to sail once every other weekend. That was the case with my last boat and with a full time job plus part-time stuff, other weekend chores, variable weather, etc. I don't see that situation changing much. I hate the idea of having a boat sit for two weeks between day sails. It seems like such a waste of time and resources. For a single daysail once every two weeks a sailing dinghy makes much more sense to me.

If I don't launch I should make good progress on the interior over the summer and have no problems finishing up the sailing hardware, getting a good 8-10 coats of varnish on the exterior teak and such. With an interior I will get a lot more use out of the boat too. With an interior I can make the most of my free weekends by sleeping over on the boat so the hour or two's drive each way to the mooring will be much easier to justify (I am definitely not going back to the nearby Merrimac river mooring) and I can think about spending some real quality time on the boat rather than half day sails here and there.

These are just my thoughts at the moment. I chose the Triton because while I like coastal cruising most of all, I realized that I might have to keep a real job and the Triton is small enough to be a decent daysailer that doesn't demand too much attention if I am busy earning a living. I hope for cruising but the Triton is a nice daysailor too. Maybe I should be happy with my every other weekend daysails and remember how lucky I am to even have this option.