Sunday, February 28, 2010


Spent yesterday afternoon in the shop. Scraped and edgebanded FISH STIX rudder and centerboard. Began working on the gaffs for her and the tuck-ups. Used the spar gauge to mark the 45º chamfers on the two gaffs that Bill had tapered last week. Got one almost all the way planed. Want to make a few check gauges cut from scrap plywood so they don't get planed or sanded too small. 1 3/4", 1 5/8'', and 1 1/2" ought to do it for the gaffs.

Today, painted at the lab and my shop, gentle yellow, a nice color and name. Boss has been doing electrical for the last two days which makes her grumpy. Got to order the secret ingredient to complete URCHINs refit.

Check out SILENT MAIDs new bookcase and navagation storage space designed by John Brady. The photo is his. You can see her new shelves on her blog.

Saturday, February 27, 2010


Doad and I
June 25, 1985

Found a picture of the second boat that Pete & I built. She is a Manuel's Dory designed by Tom Hill.
We tented it in VT and spent a week with Tom at his workshop and completed most of her. It took me three more weeks to paint her. She became our "station wagon" boat carrying loads and acting as a breakout boat for kayak trips. Peter paddled and I would row the wagon. He'd come over for lunch and a stretchout in the big boat. I'd still like to rig her for sailing.

Two Chicken, One Fish

All for the one pot pressure cooker style and four SILENT MAID crew members. Putting the pot on when you start the glow plug and then do veg prep should make best use of Wally's slow start up time. Steam is very hot, use pressure cooker safely.

Chicken Marengo, Napoleon's favor

Start glow plug, turn Wally up all the way, put pot on heat, add chicken skin side down. While those are warming (the diesel takes a while to start up), peel the skin from onions meanwhile. chop greens coarsely, move chicken over to side, add pasta and water, swirl to coat, replace chicken on top of pasta. layer vegetables on top of chicken, ending with tomatoes and their juice. Cover, bring to pressure, steam 10 minutes, remove from heat. let cooker cool to depressure.

1 tsp olive oil
4 chicken thighs
sea salt and fresh ground pepper
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
1/2 cup water and
1/2 box of Farfalle (about 1 1/2 -2 cups) dry pasta
1 cup of pearl onions
1/4 cup Italian parsley
1/4 fresh basil
8 leaves red Swiss chard, stems removed
8 oz. baby portobello mushrooms
14 oz. can of petite diced tomatoes
4 oz. small pimento stuffed olives, drained

Coq Au Vin (and potatoes)
Start glow plug, turn Wally up all the way, put pot on heat.
Fry bacon and chicken in bottom of pot, sweat onion, add rest of ingredients.
Cover, bring to pressure, steam 7 minutes, remove from heat, let pot cool to depressure.
If you want, thicken juice by removing meat & potatoes, add 2 tablespoons of cornstarch mixed with a little water to juice and stir while on heat until thicker. Spoon sauce over chicken.

4 slices of bacon (use precooked or panchetta for less fat)
3 onions, quartered
4 chicken pieces
8 oz. button mushrooms
1 cup red wine
1 cup chicken stock
1 garlic clove
1 teaspoon rosemary leaves
1/2 teaspoon thyme
1 pound fingerling Yukon Gold potatoes (or baby reds)
salt & pepper to taste
2 tablespoons of cornstarch

Cajun Haddock and Sweet Potatoes
Turn on Wally, put pot on to heat. This one is very quick. Peel one large sweet potato, Cut into coarse julienne (like shoestring fries) Thin slice onion, snap beans, quarter tomatoes. Oil bottom of pot add onion and garlic, swirl to coat. Add potato, beans, fish and tomatoes. Cover, bring to steam, process 4 minutes, cool quickly with cold water, open carefully and eat.

1 teaspoon olive oil
3/4 lb white fish like haddock or cod - sprinkled with
Creole seasoning (for this trial I used "Magic" all the same stuff, but less hot for our wimpy Yankee tongues. Southern crew can add Tabasco later)
1 large sweet potato
1 teaspoon chopped garlic
2 cups green beans
4 plum tomatoes (or 14 oz. can w juice)

These were all really yummy. Nice, quick, hot, underway should serve in bowls rather than plates. It is easier to wash the bowls anyway because you can stack them in the sink to sterilize. The plates are too big. All of these suffer from plating options anyway because of the cooking method. If you keep the steam time reasonable - it is a matter of balancing the starch, meat and veg times - you can retain a lot of favorable texture. Got to get the meat done, pasta -al dente, and veg crisp. If you let the steam go too long you get great flavor, but it might as well be pureed. Coming up is one pot vegetable lasagna. Any and all suggestions from crew are welcome now. Send in you comments, requests, and preferences. I am working on vegan stuff too for our lone vegan sailor.

Friday, February 26, 2010

Menu Explorations

In the midst of transmutation of the elements. Chard, olives, portobellos. Here's why. During the last fall's cruises on SILENT MAID, I learned to adjust to the diesel stove. In the first cruise, I didn't know if we would have a stove at all since it hadn't been hooked up yet, but by the end of the first day motoring and sailing in 30kt wind John Brady (in companionway photo) had the little guy operating. Hot dinner that night. I had packed simple things to eat and a backup stove from my backpacking gear just in case.

It rained and was cold for three days of that transit from Toms River to Philly. The hot food was very welcome. The stove is a Wallace and has two hot spots under a glass top, one cooler than the other. The first thing I learned to do immediately on waking, was flip the glow plug switch on and start the coffee water. It takes a good 30 minutes to get water boiling from a cold start, so no lazing under the covers for cookie in the am. Once the little guy, Wally, is hot, he keeps pumping out BTUs, so my goal was to get the crew fed in less than an hour and heat dishwater. Most of what I brought to eat last fall had been hastily gathered and semi-prepared the night before sailing. Preboiled noodles, chopped onions, peppers and potatoes nuked in their travel containers, hard boiled eggs.

It is way fun to cook for a group that likes to eat and as I got to know my shipmates, their food choices and likes became the gangplanks for the next meal. This spring while SILENT MAID has been in the shop, evenings have been spent experimenting with food for cruising. Making a passage safely from point A to B, means a comfortable crew, well fed and rested. MAID required a lot of looking after in those first trials since some systems had not been hooked up yet. Swaying up the sail and reefing provided lots of exercise for the deck crew and the helmsman expended energy on the wheel. She is a catboat. This year she'll be a catboat with autopilot and electric winches (and a glow plug that will heat) because of the new alternator bracket.

On the last cruise in November, I brought the pressure cooker from home, mostly because it has a locking lid. I had made a large pot of vegetable chili with bison. That was a convenient transport container ready for reheat. An oven would be a nice addition, and harking back to scout days, a folding or dutch oven charcoal one could be used for rolls, cake, cookies and biscuits at anchor, but not under way. One pot is the choice under way. The pressure cooker cuts cooking time drastically. Usually things take about a third to a quarter of the time needed to stew, boil or braise.

Thursday, February 25, 2010

Bow Tie

There is something elegant about a bow tie
especially on a boat.

Sanding and Metal Work

TORCH has Calvin sanding her foredeck.

FISH STIX got rolled over and had her trunk routed and trimmed, she had a new sternpost installed and rudder and centerboard work. Paint was composed of all the less than half full cans blended together. Flat red for trim, cream colored decks and grey-green topsides, I'm thinking a bronze green bootstripe and red bottom paint. She will need the squid on her stem eventually.

SILENT MAID got a fine new alternator bracket and work done on her blackwater tank and vacuum head.

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Tuck Up History

Tuckup History
These pictures are photographs of photographs from the collection of John Brady, Workshop on the Water.

Sandbagger, not a tuck up.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Bird Mouths

Spar making has been a real challenge for me. Just cataloging and planning lumber needs and keeping the inventory straight is a lot of work by itself. Keeping all the different spars straight along with their mathematics required a table of information.
There are all kinds of defects that show up after rough stock is surfaced. Resin inclusions, small knots, dings from handling, squirrelly grain, splits, checks and so on are some of what was showing up. Board feet are being eaten away in kerf and remainders, imperfections, scarfs and the like. We sorted through the pile last night and sorted out all the staves to scarf because of flaws. Ed dug out the scarfing jig which will trim up the ends of the staves after they are rough cut on the bandsaw. Most all the good staves were birdsmouthed. Here is the process it took to get this far.
First all the mast measurements were tabulated and the amounts of board feet calculated. Then Jeff made a trip to the lumberyard to pick out the stock. Sitka spruce is not carried in the local yards, so it was a long trip. He had to recalculate lengths and widths and board feet based on availability when he arrived there and and then had to load the stock for the trip back into town. Jeff is my hero. We unloaded the truck into the shop and I resorted the pile according to the needs of specific masts and spars. All of this lumber was restacked under SILENT MAID so it would be out of the way.
The next work night the planks were surfaced using the big parallel planer. Ear muffs and glasses are a good idea. Constant checking of dimensions kept me moving. The next step was to joint one edge square. If the board was too crooked, a chalk line was used to snap a straight line which was either bandsawn or hand planed, not perfect, but closer to straight so it would go through the feeder.
Next the power feeder was enlisted to drive the stock evenly across the cutter head and perpendicular to it. The power feeder is a heavily built machine imbued with certain manly features. It taught me several important truths, some of which I already knew, but have now been refined and firmly embedded. The last time I set it up it only took about ninety minutes including rest breaks and mental health refreshers. It does an amazingly consistent job when operating, so it is desirable that the product is consistently good rather than the other way round. I have failed to mention that my hero, Jeff, is again involved with simply moving the behemouth. The good old power feeder takes two strong, burly guys to carry it from one cast iron perch to another. My job was to move and rebolt the bases between locations (once on the jointer, twice so far on the table saw) and guide the support leg into the receptacle. Once it is mounted, * a few moments of adjusting each of it's six axes and then snugging it down, then repeat from * for a number of times proportionate to your level of intimacy with said mechanical monster.
In between all these steps, the pile of lumber has been repeatedly restacked and sorted into the troll size space underneath the world's most beautiful catboat. A place of honor to be sure, but definitely created for short-statured, hard headed persons.
The jointer was arrayed with the glorious green power feeder, in and out feed rollers adjusted for height and level, and a path cleared for the twenty foot long boards. The TSCA guys ran over 300 feet the first night and I completed the stack the following day after resetting the machine. I think we are getting on friendly terms. The stand was moved on bolted to the table saw. My pal Murphy had definitively made a brief here, since the one socket, open, or hex head wrench that was required were all on vacation some place else so this actually took longer than aligning the cosmology of the green giant.
The axes of all planets in alignment, the staves were cut in short order, again completed in less than twenty-four hours. Another resort and transfer to under the beautiferous minor catboat TORCH, with even less headroom than her big sister, had the sorters seeing stars. The following week had the usually outstanding favorable ratings of the chief henchman reduced to rubble since by relaying the fact that steel nuts and washers sink into the sawdust beneath the table saw when dropped, you-know-who-dropped one when changing out the blade for the dado. A few moments of consultation with the only other living being who had actually seen the operational set up, had the set up completed in record time. Adjustment were made and voila! eight chunks cut from the test stave actually came to together well.

Monday, February 22, 2010

Much Got Done Monday

Again an energetic crew worked diligently on sanding FISH STIX, cutting dadoes, planing gaffs, leveling the workbench again, and helping laminate the back of her centerboard.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Centered on Boards

Watched the Master and his Henchman decide what's next on SILENT MAID. FISH STIX was getting her prow worked on, decks sanded, and her centerboard faired and scraped more.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

SILENT MAID has a new blog


photo by Andy Slavinskas

Centerboard Series

Stripped the edges on FISH STIX centerboard and filled air pockets with fairing compound.

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Rabbit, Turtle, Horse?

The instruction label on the green monster for your amusement. JBach and I cut the rest of the mast staves today. Afterward, we were looking at the pile and then we were regaled by a shop story I hadn't heard before. It seems as though a group of volunteers cut up a bunch of staves to use to sticker a pile of rough cut lumber. Not only were the staves cut into short pieces they had already been tapered and cut on both sides to the Herreshoff 22.5º. One expensive mistake, both in cost of Sitka spruce and in shop time. Darn those volunteers, always trying to be helpful.

A spar gauge made by Pete to make guide lines for 8s and 16 sides spars.

TORCH has this odd split in her sheer plank. There is paint in it, tension split? collision compression?

FISH STIX deck sanding. The original fish stick, a push stick for the table saw.

SILENT MAIDs custom fridge lid.

Monday, February 15, 2010

MAID Progress

SILENT MAIDs fridge is coming along, gutter is in on the starboard side. port to come.

FISH STIX centerboard about to be laminated. Ned's spars transferred to the Workshop on the Water. Hey, It was really nice to see you Ned!

Monday Holiday

Presidents Day just means we could start earlier.

Paul and Pete tamed the green monster and with Ron, cut enough staves for six masts. Awesome teamwork here!

Mike rounded FISH STIX boom, while I measured, cut and planed the tapers for three gaffs. Still have to do the side tapers. Ed finished shaping the centerboard cap. Peter and Mike both made new spar gauges for 8s and 16s.

Sunday, February 14, 2010

Valentine be Mine

Painted URCHINs centerboard with primer. Pulled up all the staples on FISH STIX rudder and glued on one cheek. I want to cut the mortise for the tiller so it will move like URCHINs and one could sail standing up without having to bend zee knees. Sailing ISOBEL was an exercise in deep knee bends, still will have duck under the boom.