First trip through the Ballard locks with the skiff

My son and I went out a  week ago, venturing through the Ballard locks with the skiff for the first time.  I’ve been through the locks on other boats, my first trip being on Weatherly, the 1962 12 meter America’s Cup winner, and I’ve also been through on a Tartan 37, and Melges 24 but this was my first trip through on my own boat.  I’ve seen people do crazy things in the locks, like undoing their bow line first and being turned sideways from the rush of water as the gates open.  Well we didn’t have any drama like that; in fact it was pretty anti-climatic.   We were the last boat in and the gates started to close even before we had our lines secured.   We were down and moving out within minutes. Being so low I couldn’t even tell when the gates opened!

We headed out towards Shilshole  and then headed south around West Point and into Elliott Bay.  We stopped in the water, by Elliott Bay Marina, when we had a nice view of downtown and Mt Rainier,  and ate our lunch.  We watched a small group of sailboats going around in practice circles and a few fishing boats.  We continued our cruise past the grain elevator and along the waterfront, waving at a few people in their Edgewater Inn windows, watched workers driving new pilings for the Pier 57 Ferris Wheel, going as far as the Colman Ferry terminal.   We needed to head back to Elliott Bay marina to pick up my wife and daughter.  We  did some more sight seeing before heading back in for the day.

As we headed back towards and around West Point the wind had picked up and was a bit choppy but the  Skiff cut through the waves like a warm knife through butter.  The skiff is a bit tender at rest but I really appreciate her rough water qualities. She’s also very frugal.  Our trip put a bit over 5 hours on the motor and yet we  used less than 3 gallons of fuel!

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South Puget Sound camping trip

Took the skiff in saltwater for the first time a few weeks.  We went to Joemma State park, on Key Peninsula in south puget sound.  The ramp at the campground is very shallow, both high and low tide, and I didn’t want to get the camper wheels in saltwater but we didn’t have any troubles pushing and pushing the skiff off and on the trailer.  We motored down to Nisqually flats, stopping at Zitels Marina for an ice cream.  On the way home we stopped on Anderson Island and explored the beach and tide waters. 

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10 engine hours and a trip into Lake Washington

the skiff now has about 10 hours on her. With the motor still very new and most of our boating has been at less than half power, still, each trip has been about 2.5 hours and she’s been using just a gallon of gas per trip!  wow.

We went into Lake Washington for the first time on Saturday.  Windy and a lot of chop from the dozens of boats returning from the Seafair Blue Angles practice.  The Skiff handled it fine but I discovered at higher speeds I was getting cavitation.  Once back on the trailer I put the little adjustment bar into the first lower of the three adjustment holes, raising the motor slightly.  The next day she ran full speed much better.

We launched her in saltwater, for the first time, on Monday.  We launched from West Seattle and headed up the Duwamish River as far as South Park.  Back out in Elliot Bay we  watched a few Foss tugs move the old American President Lines ship, now a Matson Line ship, get pushed back to her storage slip at T30 and then surfed a few ferry boat wakes before bringing her back to the ramp

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; fun.

Launch Day!!!

Finally, what started as three boxes of wood pieces, picked up from Port Townsend, Washington on the 18th of January has become a boat and was launched at the Ballard boat ramp on the 24th of July.  She isn’t quite finished, there are the motor cables to secure, etc., but she was close enough to completion I wanted to get her wet.

It was a glorious sunny Sunday and the ramp and waters around Seattle were packed full of boaters.  We had to wait for our turn to use the ramp and then wait for a stalled boat to move.  Our new Honda 20 hp started right up but didn’t want to settle into an idle for several minutes.  Finally we were able to leave the ramp dock.

Our maiden voyage quickly came to a stop when I realized the steering was backwards!  I guess I read the cable install instructions for port-side steering and ran the cable into the gear box from the wrong side.  Very embarrassing but I was able to reverse the cable routing within a few minutes; and away we went.

Because this is a brand new motor I didn’t take her  much above 20% power, and besides there was so much boat traffic around the Ballard bridge, through the ship canal, and into Lake Union that was about all the power I could use any ways.

Other than the steering we had no issues, the motor purred along very quietly, I discovered no leaks in the hull or ballast tank; we had a great time.

Ar one point we putted around the Fremont bridge, looking for a place to tie-up for a lunch break, a older man and woman on a house boat motioned us over.  They wanted to compliment us on our boat and ask about it.  Turned out he is the owner of Fremont Tugboat Company and had lived in the houseboat since 1962.

We spend about 5  hours on the water and only took her out

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because we were getting cooked by the sun.  We had a wonderful time and are so far VERY happy with her.  Now she needs the cables tied down, the seat hatch seals and latches installed; and a name.

The day!  We brought the skiff out of the garage last night and put her on her new King trailer (made in Marysville) and brought her to Ballard to her new home.  The Vanagon, all 90hp, pulled her no problem.  I could hardly tell I was pulling something.

So, I now need to get the motor installed, get her licensed, and them she’s ready for the water!  I will test her first in Lake Union but hope to quickly get her out in Puget Sound.

The last few weeks haven’t been worth writing about as it’s been boring stuff, like sanding the interior.  Well, last Thursday I finally was ready to paint the interior.  I used System 3’s WR-LPU, water bourne topcoat; the same as I used on the hull.  I decided to simply roll and tip the interior (and not spray like I did for the hull).  It worked out quite well although there are a few drips and some dust.  I’m not too worried about it.  This isn’t a show boat, it’s suppose to be a boat to be used, and I figure the cables, etc. will cover up the few drips and that the dust pieces will get worn away from use.

I”ve been waiting for the paint to cure this past week but I did start to build out the boat yesterday.  I added the steering, the throttle control, and the deck plates.  Tomorrow I head to White Center, to Sorensen Marine to pick up my King trailer and in the evening I’ll head to Edmonds, one last time, and transfer the boat to the trailer and then take her to her new home by Fishermen’s terminal in Magnolia!

Anke and I were talking about possible names last night and we’re thinking  “Kiros”, or perhaps “la sauvette” would be nice; which both mean ‘the decisive moment’; made famous by HCB.

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I figured 6 days since I  the last coat on the the hull she was cured enough to be flipped;  and continue working on the topside.  So, we rounded up another guy and three of us flipped her.  At only 400 pounds she doesn’t weight that much but she is bulky; still it wasn’t too difficult to get her flipped.  I had borrowed new stands from Russell but the cradle we had been using just needed the resting pads adjusted to work for her upright as well.  This cradle has wheels on it so it’s nice for moving the boat about in our tight work space.

So, now comes the finishing of the top side.  I started today to sand the bow deck, I also bought the steering system and wheel, the deck plates, so once the sanding is done we will cut the hole in the console for the steering, drill the screw holes for the deck plates, and then time to coat the top with WR-LPU.

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I painted the hull yesterday.  I was nervous about this step of the boat building process; and I had mixed results.  I had read conflicting stories about using System 3’s WR-LPU.  Some people had no problems,  others had orange peel, even the coating coming off (because they didn’t follow instructions and used non-clogging sand paper or tac rags (both which contain wax), etc..  The problem-finish stories were mostly from people in high temperature, low humidity areas; not a problem yesterday in Seattle.  It was 68 degrees and 70% humidity in the garage; pretty much perfect conditions for this waterbourne coating.

So, the painting well ok, but it could have gone better.  First, I followed System 3 suggestion and used a HVLP sprayer with a small needle size.  They recommended a 1.00 mm needled size,  I used a 1.3mm; which I thought might be too big.  Instead I had the opposite problem.   I had the problem of not being able to get the volume high enough out of the gun.  I  slowed my spraying speed down,  in an attempt to get more product on the hull, but I now think it also dried too quickly.   In hind sight I should have stopped and gave up on spraying, another option would have been to dilute the coating, say with 10-15% water.  Again in hind sight this might have helped.

After the 3rd coat dried, I decided I better try rolling the next coat on.  I think this worked much better.  While the sprayed layers consumed 20 ounces per coat my final rolled on coat used 32 ounces.  I applied the first coat without the crosslinker; the last 3 with.

So, the next step, after allowing the coating to cure the balance of the week, is to flip her and finish up on the top side!  I drove to Port Townsend Monday and returned the building cradle, picked up a pair of stands Russell is letting me borrow, plus I picked up the floor boards (the new one piece design), the windshield frame, and the hatch kit. 

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starting to paint the hull!

Finally, I’m starting to paint the hull.  My schedule didn’t allow as much sanding as I had planned last week, and the skeg took longer to sand I thought as well.  When I mentioned my new painting plans to Russell Brown yesterday he said “well, you can always paint it later”, but by the end of the conversation he said he was curious, thinking it may actually turn out quite nice, and was looking forward to seeing the finished job.

So, today I painted on the Epifanes primer, tomorrow I will paint on the enamel, and then I hope on the weekend to spray on the System 3 WR-LPU clear gloss.

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I spent several days sanding the fiberglassed hull smooth and something approaching 100 sheets of sandpaper to do it!  Here’s the hull with the skeg attached and trimmed, ready for a second coat of epoxy.  Once that dries I will sand the hull once again, this time with 220 grit sandpaper and then she’s ready for painting.

I’ve gone around and around trying to decide what to use for paint.  I was pretty much settled on Interlux “Perfection” 2 part PU paint but once we fiberglassed the hull I hated to see all that lovely wood painted over.  So, I have decided to use System Three’s WR-LPU Linear Polyurethane.  This is a 2 part waterbourne paint that can be either tinted or left clear; which is what I intend to do.

I understand it can be difficult to apply but when applied in cool humid conditions it goes on quite well.  I’m planning to spray it on, using a hvlp spray gun.  If all goes well I hope to apply the first coat on Saturday or Sunday. 

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