Thursday, September 29, 2011

Better late than never...

 AP photo by Rick Bowmer

The Corps of Discovery (AKA the Lewis and Clark Expedition...) Overwintered in a fort they built near the mouth of the Columbia River from December of 1805 though March of 1806.  The fort was named Fort Clatsop after the local Clatsop Tribe of the Chinook Nation.  During the winter, the explorers traded with the local native Americans for supplies and information that helped keep them alive.  In the spring when they were ready to leave, however, the Corps of Discovery did their hosts a great wrong. 

As they prepared to leave, they discovered that they were short one canoe needed to head home - so they stole one from a local tribe.  This was a significant ethical departure for the expedition, because they had agreed not to steal from the native American peoples.  This was also a significant insult to their hosts as the canoes were considered a sacred part of their culture as well as being a valuable mode of transportation.

Now, over 200 years later, the decendants of William Clark have decided to set things right.   They commissioned the building of a 36 foot replica canoe named "Klmin" which translates as "moon".

Seventh generations later, decendants of Clark including Lotsie Clark Holton and others travelled to Oregon to give the canoe to the Chinook People.  It was celebrated with a 5 hour ceremony that included the exchange of gifts, blessing of the canoe and its launching.

AP Photo

Ray Gardner, chairman of the Chinook Nation's tribal council, says the gesture is a “good place to begin healing.”

AP Photo

OK, a little late, but a fantastic gesture!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Thursday, September 22, 2011


This is one of those posts that I figure a lot of people will identify with.  As the weather is getting colder, We've started to think a little more about the bedding at home.  My DW and I share a queen-sized bed and we have a fitted sheet on the mattress and a down comforter in a cover on top of it.  In the summer time, we usually forgo the comforter and just use the cover.  To say that DW and I have different thermostats is an understatement.   In the summer time, she seems to shed heat while in the winter, her fingers and toes can be, well, downright icy.  While I'm sure that she'd disagree, I tend to be too hot in the summer and comfortably warm in the winter.  She likes to take advantage of the fact that I'm warm by heating her freezing toes on the backs of my calves.

While I am often accused of hogging the comforter,  this seems to go both ways.  Sometimes I am responsible and sometimes she is.  I think it all boils down to who is tossing and turning more.  It really shouldn't matter as we use a king-size comforter on a queen-sized bed, so there should be plenty of the comforter for both of us to share.

I have considered trying this:

...but figure that I'd wind up like this:

Then again, this post could get me the extended stay at the Fido Hotel...

One bad habit that DW and I both share is reading or working on a computer/iPad/iPod in bed.  In the winter the thermostat is set to a lower temperature fairly early in the evening, so we tend to retreat to the bed to stay warmer in the evening.  Still, we haven't resorted to this (yet) :

Sweet dreams!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Lest We Forget

Those who are lost.

Those who serve.

Who we are as a people.

That there should be peace.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

If at first you don't succeed...

I'm trying to decide if the appropriate term to use here is "determined",  "stubborn" or just plain crazy.  As you may recall if you are a regular reader here, we've been working on some skin-on-frame kayaks.  They're based on a Tom Yost design, but we've altered some of the design to suit our needs.  One of the things I don't care for about Tom's boats is the use of stacked plywood laminations to create cockpit rims.     The solution that I came up with was a laminated hardwood rim and hatch cover arrangement.  Oh yeah, and I also wanted them to have a little swallow-tail detail like on a Shaker box lid.  (As and engineer, I can attest to the fact that "anal-retentive" IS spelled with a hyphen...)

The learning curve started last fall and was steep.  First, I used plywood forms which were much too narrow to support the wide (1-1/4") strips that I was laminating - they warped across the width of the strip.  Second, I used strips that were too thin - about 1/8".  They required many layers and didn't laminate nicely.  Third, I learned that I couldn't just soak the strips of cherry and mahogany that I was bending in hot water and expect them to take the curve - I had to steam them.  (Major Detour - time to create a steam generator and steam box set-up...)  Fourth - clamp the pieces you are laminating OFF the forms you used after steaming if dimensions are not critical - you will get fewer gaps between the strips.  As I've noted - a lot to learn here.    While it seems crazy to go to this much work, it isn't we were always trying new methods.

Insanity: doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.
- Albert Einstein

The first few laminations that I made for the cockpit and hatch cover were OK.  I probably could have filled the gaps  that were in a few spots with dookie shmutz and moved on.  However, I am a bit of a perfectionist.  (If you can't tell from the scrap pile at the top.

So, last weekend, I did another steaming session with some new cherry.  I'm pretty pleased with the results.  Below is the cockpit rim - three layers of 1/4" thick by 1-1/4" wide cherry.  There are three pieces in the rim and they're scarfed together at the ends of the strips.  I'm pretty pleased with the results.  When the glue sets (probably by tomorrow night)  I will clean them up, steam and form  the narrower rim strips to hold a spray skirt in place.  Once this cools and dries, I'll glue it up, clean and varnish.  (Note the LAREpile of clamps on the floor - this had a clamp every 3-4" around the rim keeping it in place as it set!)

While you can't see the nice wood (it's covered with tape) - the inner rim for the hatch cover came out rather nicely.  The tape is holding a thick piece of scrap that is bent around to act as a spacer so that when I bend the hatch cover's outer rim, it will be spaced so that it will fit over the inner rim without interference.  The thicker laminations really show a good result on this part - it is nowhere near as wavy as my first pieces were and it, like the cockpit rim, are a good deal stronger than my previous attempts.

I'm certainly hoping that my patience and what I've learned here have paid off.  From what I'm seeing, I think it has.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Tuesday, September 6, 2011

Tech Tip Tuesday

Today's Tech Tip Tuesday is about sharpening your own skills by helping others.  You never know what you might learn...

I always try to do my best to help out other boat builders.  Sometimes they're students in my class, sometimes they're people building their own boat who have a question.  It truly varies.  As a teacher, one of the things that I've learned is that students all come from a different backgrounds with different experiences.  As such, they all seem to look at the building process and questions that they encounter from different points of view.  As I've mentioned before, I often think that I learn more from my students than some of the woodworking instructors that I've had.

I got a call from a man who lives nearby and is building a Chesapeake Light Craft hybrid kayak kit - a Shearwater 16, I believe.   He'd done a great job on the tack-and-tape hull and was just getting ready to start stripping the deck.  Having never done any strip construction before, he had some questions about the process.  While CLC makes some decent manuals and offers a good technical support line, sometimes there isn't a substitute for a bit of face-to-face discussion over the parts and tools.  At any rate, I offered to meet him at his shop - a space in a local mill building to see if there was any support that I could offer.

At any rate, we went over some of the questions that he had and deciphered the intentions that the folks at CLC had when they wrote the manual.  It was a very pleasant visit and  as usual, I heard new questions and the same questions expressed different ways.  It gives me a bit of practice and be better prepared for understanding a question that a student might pose to me. 

Go out and sharpen your own skills and do a good deed all at the same time!