Saturday, July 7, 2007

First Launch!

After seven months of working on Life Goal #9, I started working on Life Goal #10 this afternoon. This goal is to learn to sail, and it was a great day for it in Southern NH.

Until today, I have only been an armchair sailor, reading books, magazines, and Internet sites about the sport and art of sailing. I was very happy that I did at least have an 'academic' understanding of what to do, and what to expect. I have to say that the 'physical' experience of moving over the water, under the power of wind in my sail was MUCH more fun!!!

I chose to launch my recently completed Jimmy Skiff™ in a tidal river which flows into Great Bay, and then joins the Piscatequa River, and flows seven more miles to the Atlantic Ocean. The reason I chose this location for the 'shake-down' cruise was that this is where I was a year or two ago when I was kayaking with a friend, and an older couple raised the sail on a similar size boat and silently, and nearly effortlessly, glided away. This was the catalyst for the ambition which brought me to today. For anyone reading this, if you have never sailed in a small wooden boat, I highly recommend it!

When the wind tapered off, I gave the oars a try. This was great fun too! My son took a turn and rowed himself around a bit, then I gave my daughter a ride, while I rowed from the forward seat. Then my wife joined me, relaxing in the aft seat while I happily rowed along. I think that the Jimmy Skiff™ is even easier to row from the forward rowing station, with a passenger in the aft seat. What a pleasure! I think this little boat will get a LOT of use from me and my family, hopefully for a very, very, long time to come.

Since this was a boat building blog to document the construction of the CLC Jimmy Skiff™, it is appropriate that today's post will be the final chapter. I will still reply to comments or questions posted by readers of this blog. Please note the index links below to help you to navigate through this blog site.


Joseph Murphy said...

Awesome! Just stumbled on your site and read it from beginning to end. Congratulations on completing a beautiful boat, and thank you for sharing your experience with the world.

Joe, who hopes to build his own boat someday
Annapolis, MD

Ron Paro said...

Joe, Thank you so much! I felt that since I learned most of what I needed to learn along the way from others on the CLC and Wooden Boat forums, and other web logs, this was my way of 'paying it forward'. I hope you are able to do the same some day! -- Ron

Doug said...

Ron - great job on the boat and blog. Sorry to hear about your father, as well.


Ron Paro said...

Doug, Thanks so much! - Ron

Bob Easton said...

Wonderful job Ron! I just found the blog and read all of it. Your careful craftsmanship is obvious and the extra details add refinement to the design. Beautiful results!

I found it interesting that you bound oak to other parts with epoxy. I've read that oak and epoxy don't get along well. Of course, that might have to do with what loads and stresses are applied. I think you used oak in very low stress areas.

Enjoy sailing her. Looks like fabulous fun!

THANKS for showing us the progress along the way.

Ron Paro said...

Bob, Thank you for the kind and generous comments!

The choice to use oak for the gunwales and the skeg was actually not my first choice for these parts. I had bought cypress for the skeg and the inwales, but when I cut the board into the widths I needed, the wood warped excessively. I had bought mahogany for the rub rails, but I miscalculated when ripping the board to width, and ended up with one of the lengths being too narrow. (I forgot to account for the width of the saw blade)

Since it was late on a Sunday afternoon, and the only local place to buy wood that was open was Home Depot, the choices were...
a) Maple
b) Poplar
c) Red Oak
d) Wait until the following Saturday, and go to a lumber yard.

I didn't like the idea of losing a week's time, so I chose to go to Home Depot. Since ignorance is bliss, and I found sufficient board feet of nice-looking straight grained Red Oak, this is what I went with.

Sometime after I had finished these parts of the boat, I too read that oak and epoxy are not a good combination, and that White Oak is what is used in boat building, not Red Oak. It is said that Red Oak will rot quickly in a marine environment.

Well... After a season of heavy use, I am happy to report that the epoxy held the oak just fine, and there is not even a hint of anything that remotely resembles rot anywhere. The gunwales were sealed with two coats of saturating (thin) epoxy, and four coats of marine varnish. The skeg was sealed with the epoxy and covered with two layers of 6 oz. fiberglass, filled with epoxy, then three coats of marine enamel paint. I am very pleased with the durability of the oak. It has taken some pretty good bumps and bangs without getting any dents or gouges.

Since the boat is kept on a trailer, and under cover, I don't think that I will have any problems with the oak rotting. If I do, I'll just remove it, and replace it with White Oak.

I got out sailing 15 or 16 times this summer, and had a fantastic time learning to sail in many different locations and conditions. I am thinking about adding to this blog to recap some of this experience and the modifications and maintenance done along the way.

Thanks again - Ron

Bob said...

Nice boat ! I an building a LYS

I hope to put a sail on it as well and found your blog via the wooden boat forum. We sail a Laser and a CL16 in the Ct river and up in southern VT. I love your finish work.

Bob C.

john minion said...

Nice looking boat and great site.
If mine turns out half as good as yours I will be delighted !.
Based in England & ordered full kit for sailing from "Fyne Boats", based in Kendal, Lake District.
I chose this boat because it reminded me of smaller one my father built me when I was young. He passed away 18 months ago.
Kit received last week but was tentative at starting and was researching.
Your site has answered many questions, plus given some great tips not in the manual. So much so this week, bottom and side panels now glued ready for stitching. Cutting the hull for daggerboard I am now more confident of !.
The rigging though I am still unsure about, which rope leads where, where to position cleats etc (More used to my other boat - speedboat - glass fibre with a 115hp on the back !!)
Once again, great site and a mine of information for boat builders.

Ron Paro said...

Thanks John M., I'm very happy to hear that this blog is still inspiring others to go ahead and build.
If you have any specific questions, or would like to see more details of the rigging changes that I have made this season, send me a Email at
I would summarize advice like this...
* Take your time and enjoy the process.
* Practice any new techniques on scrap materials before attempting them on actual boat parts.
* Don't get overly concerned with achieving a perfect finish. If you are going to use the boat, you will get scratches, scrapes and bumps. I just view this as adding character, because each scratch has a story behind it.
Best wishes - Ron

James said...

A very inspiring blog like you said and you are still going strong in 2009. Your boat is beautiful, and your blog is very well laid out. Your site has gotten me over the trepidation I had of building a boat. Thanks again.


Ron Paro said...

Thank you James!

Dean Taylor said...

Ron, I am in love with your Jimmy Skiff. What a great job. It was so much fun reading about your project. My son and I are about to build a small skiff from Uncle Johns and after we wet our feet with that, I think the Jimmy Skiff will be Project #2.

I hope you're enjoying Life Goal #9.

All the best from Canada.


Ron Paro said...

Thanks Dean, I'm about to start my third season of messing about in this small boat, and am very much looking forward to it. The Jimmy Skiff is a great boat for learning to sail, as I can imagine that most small skiffs would be. The small, light boats are easy to handle on the water, and on the land, and are very responsive to the elements and their crew.

I'm sure that you and your son are in for a very good time together as you build and use your boat(s).

Enjoy! - Ron

Anonymous said...

Hey Ron,
I am thinking of building a Jimmy Skiff and your blog is excellent. I am wondering what the sail area is in square foot for the leg-o-mutton rig? Thanks Jack

Ron Paro said...

Thanks Jack, the sail I built is 70 square feet, but the stock Jimmy Skiff sail, and the one shown in the CLC plans is 58 square feet.

The difference is the roach area on the aft side of the sail, which is supported by three battens. I also added a row of reef points, so that when the sail is reefed, I estimate the sail area at about 50 square feet.

I worked with Jeff Frank at Sailrite to specify the sail design. He was very helpful. The reason I went with the larger sail is that we typically have pretty light wind during the summer months where I sail. This arrangement has worked very well for me.

If you do decide to build the Jimmy Skiff, I'd love to hear about it. See my response to John Minion above for my email address, if you want to see more about how I did the rigging. - Ron

sysadmn said...

Congratulations on a successful build, and many happy days airborne. Your boat is a work of art!

Christian said...

Ron, my son and I are building a sailing skiff (12' Mud Peep -a Devlin design.) I'm interested in the kickup rudder you made; can you give me details, especially how you hold it down? Thanks, Chris - Houston

Ron Paro said...

Thanks sysadmn.

Chris, how far along are you and your son in your build? I'm sure that you are creating memories to last a lifetime. The kickup rudder was pretty simple to build. The rudderhead is made by laminating two 9mm cheeks on the outside of two 6mm inner spacers. The inner spacer fills about 2/3 of the space between the cheeks, and the top of the rudder blade fits in the space below the spacer. A stainless pivot bolt goes through the center of the rudder blade top, and the 9mm cheeks. I put a star knob on one side so that I can hand tighten to hold the rudder blade in place, up or down. See pages 176 and 183 in Stitch-And-Glue Boatbuilding by Chris Kulczycki.

Send me an email if you would like me to send some additional pictures showing the details of the rudder or anything else.

K2Luthier said...

Awesome work! My wife will not thank you when I eventually break down and buy some wood.. (c: