Trailer Issues and Solutions

I trailered Shackleton over to Port Townsend and back last week.  We had an excellent time, but I learned a few things while trailering Shackleton this far over the road.

First Issue:  The front bumper pads rubbed against the pram bow.

DSC00420This is from one trip to Port Townsend and back (1,750 miles).  Though the front pads seemed like a good idea, in practice, they perform a disservice.

DSC00416So, I went to the wood pile and pulled out a scrap piece of UHMW.  I routed the edges and used a counter sink bit to set the 1 1/4″ SS screws.  I’m hoping the carpet, will allow some give in the UHMW as the bow makes contact with it.


DSC00421All mounted up read to place back onto the trailer.  Will it work?  Only time will tell, but there should be less friction for sure.

Second Issue:  The trailer seemed to squeak while trailering.  I thought I would try to lube the leaf springs to prevent the squeaking.  Here is what I noticed:

DSC00416This side looked correct, with the leaf spring running between the upper and lower bolt.

DSC00417This side, however, has the leaf spring running below the lower bolt.  This didn’t look right so I called Carnai Trailers to inquire.  Yes, they agreed it was wrong…but also stated it was impossible.  Their manufacturing processes are so good that this simply could not be.  Well, that’s why I sent these pictures to them before I placed my call…so they could see that it was wrong.   My request to Carnai was for them to pay to have a tire shop simply jack up the trailer, remove the bolt and lower the frame.  They said they would not pay to have the spring relocated.   Remember, it was impossible.  Finally, they would gladly look at the trailer if I just pulled it to Spokane.  This was not only impractical but flat out ridiculous.  After hitting them over the head with the simple logic of how ridiculous this was, they finally agreed to pay for the fix.  Truth is, I’m going to fix it myself, but it didn’t leave a very good taste in my mouth regarding Carnai Trailers.


You have to get acquainted with your gear.  Look closely at it…if it doesn’t make sense, something is probably wrong.  It will continue to take some time to work through all the little details that I want to get right.  

CB Bolt Water Intrusion

While sailing Shackleton, I’ve had quite a bit of water coming through the CB bolt into the BH 4-5 area.  I attempted to silicon the bolt head, but to no avail.  Then while talking with John Welsford at the Skills Camp, he said all such problems can be easily fixed by using an O-ring.

DSC00416This is the first version.  Clunky, a bit ugly, no O-ring and leaked like a sieve, but it did keep the bolt in place.

DSC00416Parts of the new system.

DSC00419I will epoxy these two pieces together.  The bolt head fits into the circular hole and the lower piece prevents the bolt from working it’s way outward.

DSC00418The O-ring fits between the cap and the CB case.

DSC00416Like this…

DSC00417Genuine bicycle grease can’t hurt anything, and I figured it would keep the O-ring in place while I screwed on the cap.


This is much nicer looking than the first cap, is secured with three screws and hopefully will solve the water intrusion problem.  I had to temporarily remove the vault lid (containing the fixed ballast) to get straight access to the cap.


 Thanks to John Welsford for suggesting this easy fix.  Doesn’t it just look much nicer?  Can’t wait to see if it works.

Rudder Downhaul Fix

After loosing my rudder downhaul line on an oyster bed off Marrowstone Island, I knew I needed a more secure fix.  Well, how about epoxy?


Line lead into the rudder, taped off ready for epoxy.

DSC00423I don’t think this will be coming out again.  I’ll now clean up the overage and reattach to rudder head assembly.


Disadvantages:  Will require a drill bit to replace the line.  Hardly replaceable in the field.

Advantages:  Uber secure, not much to go wrong.

Now for the 49 Changes

DSC00516OK, folks, we have a problem.  The problem is, after seeing all these totally cool wooden boats, you come away with a completely different understanding of what this fantastic little micro cruiser can do.  Then you start dreaming, then you come up with #49 things you want to do to improve your boat.

Here is my list:

  1. refinish bright work (it failed completely)
  2. fix rudder downhaul (failed on oyster bed debacle)
  3. re-rig #1 & #3 reef points
  4. re-rig lazy jacks (add adjustability)
  5. run thicker downhaul line
  6. run longer halyard line
  7. add oar locks
  8. buy oars (break down version from Gig Harbor)
  9. fasten oars onto seat longitudinals
  10. add foot well
  11. add hatch aft of foot well
  12. router seat sides to accept filler boards
  13. build filler boards
  14. secure filler boards to transom
  15. attach anchor against transom (ready to deploy within 5 seconds)
  16. build anchor rode locker, secure biter end of anchor line.
  17. rig anchor retrieval system to boat
  18. add 1 additional fuel bottle (1 liter Nalgene bottle)
  19. clearly mark both fuel bottles with duct tape for clarity
  20. secure small funnel to each (2) fuel bottle
  21. design Bimini (Sergei, Tyler and a rain storm totally convinced me of the merits of a Bimini)
  22. build new boom (1″ taller to better accommodate reefing hardware)
  23. simplify toilet, bail bucket and garbage into one small bucket, secure to boat
  24. organize veranda:  tow lines, fire extinguisher, lantern, shoes & jackets all hung neatly and securely to bulkhead #3
  25. add compass
  26. add safety flairs
  27. add music
  28. add (2) VHF radios
  29. rework all storage items, dry bags, dry boxes for better organization
  30. lube engine swivel mechanism
  31. store extra prop & pins
  32. create tool kit for all simple repairs
  33. add leather to spars
  34. add transom stainless eye for simplified towing (quicker attachment & removal of tow lines)
  35. add wing nuts to mast boom crutch for fast removal, fore and aft
  36. add thin yoga mat cushions to seating
  37. add sponge and tether to boat
  38. add small dust pan and hand broom, secure in hatch
  39. add water boots & storage bin (I now have a no shoe policy inside the boat)
  40. replace all dock lines & tow lines with braid (3 strand comes unraveled)
  41. redesign bow of trailer to minimize rubbing
  42. rebuild CB cover to accept O-ring to prevent water intrusion
  43. replace life jackets with simple design (pillow back design on current jackets get hung up on main sheet)
  44. add O-ring to CB bolt for water tight fitting
  45. router finger holds in skegs
  46. add grab rope to center board for easier retrieval
  47. add 5:1 retrieval block and tackle
  48. buy (2) pneumatic rollers with foot pump for beaching Shackleton
  49. buy a dry suit for a Yellowstone Lake sailing expedition in 2017 (come join me)

I plan to blog about each and every change I make.  The capability and versatility of this little micro cruiser just continues to impress.  

Palooza Crooza 2015

Following the Skills Camp, we attended the Palooza Crooza.  We had not idea what to expect.  DSC00682  We used the lid of our pizza box to take notes at the captains meeting.  This proved very helpful as the week went on.  It provided tidal information and destination details critical for our survival.

DSC00629Hanging out at Matt Matt’s bay after a long hot sail.  We were tired and worn out by the heat of the day.

DSC00512Lou Zamperini would have loved to have this much food aboard his life raft in the Pacific.  We probably could have live 90 days on this stash.

DSC00628The Jet Boil cranked the boiling water with aplomb.  However, the real chefs of this cruise cooked real food, not the processed food we brought.  Next time, I’m going to step up my cooking game significantly.  DSC00599It was a lot of fun to sail with all the other wooden boats.  Two Scamps and a Belhaven 19 in hot pursuit.

DSC00662We got distracted and found ourself washed up onto this oyster bed.  Trust me, we do not have these in Idaho.

DSC00664 DSC00663  Never seen so many oysters in my life.  Notice the crab, I should have cooked this up for dinner.  DSC00669 These guys know wooden boats.DSC00667 There all gorgeous boats, meticulously maintained.  DSC00668 I loved the Great Pelican.  Tons of room and a real salty look.  DSC00666 DSC00649 Peppered jerky made a great snack.  I’m dawning my wool sweater, trying to look as salty as an Idaho boys knows how to look.   DSC00635The overnight spots were beautiful.

DSC00619Notice the bags everywhere.  We were not organized, but hey, we were there. DSC00622   First mate taking a snooze.DSC00586 DSC00560Summary:

Many thanks to those who put on this great little cruise.  This was our first sailing trip to the Puget Sound.  We never would have attempted this without the support of the organized group.  We enjoyed great conversation with all the other sailors and learned a lot just observing how they rig and roll for such an adventure.  I hope to return next year with another one of my children.  

Problems with Bright Work

At the Skills Camp, I noticed my bright work started to look odd.  Now this is not the sort of thing that brings joy and comfort to one’s heart.  No, in fact, It causing feelings of frustration and overall doubt in the goodness of the varnish Gods.

How could it be…I tried to follow all the steps and do a good job.  But, there it was…as clear as the nose on your face.  My finish was failing.

DSC00422Notice the cloudy sections.  These began to appear all over the boat.  At first we thought it might be blush, but as the week went on, I noticed I could rub off sections with my finger nail.  It appeared to be an adhesion problem and it was spreading.

So, what to do?  At first I was in denial…saying things like, ‘It’s a work boat, who cares’, but the more I looked at it, the more I realized, I care.  It just wasn’t right.  I have worked too hard on my boat to not care.  I want my boat to be right.  There was only one thing to do…scrap it off and apply it again.

DSC00430I engaged the boys to remove all the deck hardware.

DSC00428 And I began scraping.DSC00436And scraping…

DSC00442 And sanding…DSC00443And more sanding…

DSC004388 hours later, the boat looked like this.  I had achieved a nice dull finish to the entire boat.  In places I had gouged into the wood, so I decided to apply a thin coat of epoxy to the entire bright side.

DSC00447By the end of my Saturday, the boat looked like this.  It was a long day, but I feel so much better about it.  I’m tired, but pleased.


Lying awake at night contemplating the root of the problem, I’m not sure I sanded between my final two coats of varnish.   I honestly can’t remember, but I’m placing the blame on not properly sanding between the coats.  Without proper sanding between the coats, there would be nothing for the varnish to bind to.  However, now that the bright work is ready for finish varnish, I have decided to use a high gloss varnish this time around.     I love the look of the satin finish, but I’m not convinced it provides the same level of UV protection as high gloss varnish.  

Why not just paint the bright work?  Phil asked me this very question on the loading ramp at Point Hudson Marina.  Well, I just can’t bring myself to smear paint over all this beautiful wood.  It seems a bit sacrilege to me.  Remember, I’m a woodworker and I love the look of real wood.  Shackleton also weighted in and asked to be left bright, so bright it will be.

Scamp Skills 2015

DSC00529Last week fulfilled a long time goal of mine.  To attend a Scamp Skills course while sailing my very own hand built Scamp.  After 15 months of building, I was finally ready to realize this goal.  Furthermore, I had the chance to take Preston along with me.  This years Scamp Skills did not disappoint.  Did I get my life long memory?   Yes, I did.  

First let’s start with a few basic questions:

Question:  Why not just slap a motor on a boat, get out on the lake and go full throttle?

Answer:   Because you would get to the other end of the lake in 10 minutes and wonder what to do next.  Where is the adventure in that?

Question:  Why mess with all the lines, rigging and hardware, the set up time and other gobbelty goop?  Isn’t that all just a lot of work?

Answer:  Yes, but it’s worth every second.  It’s educational, it’s quiet, it’s natural and it’s fun.  It’s travel like Christopher knew.  In this fast paced world who needs more fast paced hobbies.  Sailing slows you down and allows you to think, absorb and take in your natural surroundings.

The educational list for sailing is long and impressive: 

  1. Geometry
  2. Physics
  3. Appreciation for nature
  4. Keen sense of wind direction
  5. Patience
  6. Mechanical advantages of blocks and tackle
  7. Knots and how to tie them
  8. Adventure
  9. Map and compass
  10. Preparation
  11. Self reliance
  12. Problem solving
  13. Navigation

The list could continue, but you get the point.

Now for a few photos

DSC00516Shackleton sitting quietly in her slip in Point Hudson Marina.  

DSC00514First mate (Preston) ready to try his hand at sailing.

DSC00518We had 5 Scamps attend the skills course.  All very beautiful boats…I was so impressed with everyones work and attention to detail.

DSC00562There is a lot of wooden boat history in Port Townsend. I have seen this symbol many times in photographs. It was fun to finally stand by it and realize we are now part of the history.

DSC00558Some of the boats are quite simple.

DSC00549While others are quite elegant.

DSC00538We had a large group for breakfast each morning in the local cafe.  Lot’s of good sailing stories being shared here.

DSC00555These are the two ring leaders.  John Welsford (Scamp desginer from New Zealand)  in the back with Howard Rice pointing the way.  These guys were great teachers and very knowledgable.  I don’t know where I could’ve gone for a better sailing experience.


Was it worth the money?  Yes

Was it all I thought it would be?  It exceeded my expectations.  Sailing with Preston and Howard on Shackleton made the entire trip worthwhile for me.  

Would I go again?  Yes, if Howard will sail again with me.

Finally, my sincere thanks to both John and Howard for taking time out of their personal lives to put on such a great skills class

DSC00596This is what it’s all about folks.  You only live once…get out and create a memory today.