Making the Mast Spars

This step looks impressive and is impressive from the casual observer, but really it’s not that complicated.  Just take your time and follow the right sequencing.

And then when something goes wrong…take a deep breath and figure out how to fix it.  Boat building is really about problem solving, like life and relationships in our life.  The key is in learning how to fix it.


Practice on scraps to get the Bird’s Mouth cut adjusted correctly.  Notice the top cut is too long and the bottom cut is a tad too short (you can see the sliver of wood left in the bottom of the V in you look carefully).


The cut length is good, but the angle needs to be narrowed a bit.  I narrowed the cut from 45 deg. to 44 deg.  and it fit perfectly.


Did I mention obstacles?  This spar broke right over a knot in the wood.  I’m grateful it broke now as opposed to later in the build.  I hardly noticed the knot, but while flexing the spars, I heard the wood begin to break.  This sound lead me to the problem.  With a little pressure it gave way.


And, my replacement Spruce stock contained a split right down the center of the board.  Now what?  Head scratching…


So, I had to open up my own bag of tricks.  With the left over broken pieces in my hands, I decided to scarf them to produce a full length stave.  Now it’s long enough and I’ve used up the left overs.

Once cured, I’ll taper the staves to spec and get ready for epoxy.

It Begins Again…Well, Maybe

After thinking long and hard about building another Scamp, I’ve decided to take the first step.


But, why build another Scamp?

Simply stated, I can’t find another small sailboat I like better.  Scamp has so much going for it.  I want to see if I can improve from my first build.

Are you just going to build it and then get disgruntled and sell it like last time?

I sure hope not.  My goal is to build another boat and then spend time getting to know her and teaching my kids to sail.  I really want to hold this one.

Why not just buy VG Doug Fir for the spars?

Sitka Spruce is approximately 15% lighter than Doug Fir and not much money.  In fact the difference between buying 38 board feet of Doug Fir and Sitka was less than $60.  With this small price differential, Spruce becomes the clear winner.  I want the mast as light as I can get it.  Yet, I’m not tempted by carbon fiber, I like wood.

So does this mean I’m committing to build another Scamp?

Not exactly.  I’m much more comfortable stating I’m committing to building the spars.  I’ll take it that far and see how I feel.  I’ve lost interest before in projects and found them laying around the corner of the wood shop, so I’m taking this opportunity one step at a time.  I’ll build the spars and if that goes well, I’ll consider moving toward the foils.  I’m all about baby steps and small commitments.  Remember, “by small and simple things are great things brought to pass”.

How will I build my spars differently from last time?

  1. 15% lighter, according to internet wood species data.
  2. More hand planing of the mast.  Last time I left it quite chunky  This time I will remove more material, rendering the mast even lighter.
  3. I’ll use a line to secure the block at the top of the mast as opposed to hard attachment, like Jason did with Argo.
  4. I plan to orient the mast block on the aft side of the mast for better halyard alignment (still playing with this).
  5. I’ll take the time to add leather wraps to all contact points.
  6. I’ll slightly oversize the boom (vertically).
  7. I’ll white tip all spar ends for a more historic look.


Parting shot…like my new hair cut?

This is my dad, who I love very much.  He is 79 years old and can still out work me.  We made the SLC trip together to pick up the spruce.  We had a lot of time to discuss building ideas.  He’s a great designer and engineer.  It’s a huge blessing to have him in my life.  Now let’s fire up the planer and make some wood chips.

Yard Keeper Idea

I noticed when raising the sail on Shackleton, there seemed to be a lot of internal resistance in the halyard.  I think this resistance was coming from the halyard loop I tied around the mast to tend the yard.  In thinking through this setup, I’ve come up with another idea that might have merit.

Take a look at the drawing below:


Might this work to:

  1. Tend the yard by keeping it close to the mast, especially when reefed?
  2. Keep the halyard running freely up the mast, lowering line resistance?
  3. Keep the yard/sail freely coming down the mast when reefing or lowering?
  4. Tend a loose halyard from blowing away from the mast when attaching to the yard

It’s just an idea, but one that may prove helpful.  What do you think?  This could be built by laminating two layers of 3/4″ plywood together and rounding all the edges.  Whatever is needed for required strength.  

Voyaging Storage Strategies

Since we’re on this subject, I couldn’t help but bust out another scenario and discussion.

First the criteria:  Supplies for 2 sailors on a 5 day voyage.

I’m thinking my storage criteria for a second Scamp build would be to accommodate a weeks worth of provisions.  Anything longer than that would be a one off with possible resupply along the way.  With that in mind, how much storage would this require?  How much water would this require?  I believe the Texas 200, or any outdoor pursuit recommends 1/2 gallon/person/day.  Let’s use these numbers as we plan our one week voyage.  The math comes out to 5-7 gallons of fresh water…which really isn’t that big a deal.  In fact, when Preston and I sailed off Port Townsend we did just this.  We strapped a 5 gallon jug up under the veranda.  We never came close to using all the water, but it felt good knowing we had plenty.

Clothing for a 5 day voyage wouldn’t take much room.  Food a little more, but not bad.

What I’m getting at is this:

Might one have ample storage capacity by:

  1. using the front bow area for clothing, sleeping bags, pads and tent
  2. using the lazarette for anchors, line, beach rollers, block and tackle and wet clothing
  3. using 2 dry bags under the veranda (one lashed to each side) for clothing and food
  4. using  a 5 gallon jug of water strapped to the center line under the veranda
  5. using two 6″ round hatches installed in the front face of the seats (under the veranda) for first aid kit, flares, emergency items, radio, camera gear and cook kit

If this is sufficient, one would not need to cut any holes (other than small ventilation ports) into the seats or the sole of the boat.  Am I crazy or on to something?  I’d have to think this through over a period of time, cuz often I get carried away to excess with any good new idea.

Shackleton has moved on without me!

It comes as bitty sweet that I inform all of you that Shackleton has moved on to a new owner.  Jim Wilson of Portland, OR takes the torch and continues the legacy of Shackleton.  I wish Jim all the best in his adventures with my well loved micro cruiser.

Why did I sell Shackleton?

I am currently building another boat, a Skiff America 20, which I feel better meets my needs as a family man with a wife, 4 kids at home and 2 in college.  I truly enjoyed building and sailing Shackleton and believe she is a fine vessel.  However, I don’t have room for two lovers in my life.  I’m a passionate guy, and only have room for one girl at a time.

I was indeed torn between two lovers, feeling like a fool, love’n both boats was breaking all the rules.

So, Jim takes over as Shackleton’s new captain and I move on to another chapter of my life.

If any of you would like to see my new build, you can check it out at:

Happy sailing to all and I hope to see you out on the water,

Brent Butikofer


Shackleton is for Sale

Fellow sailors and friends,

With the boat building bug having bit me again, I need to create room for my Skiff America 20.  This means that I’ll need to sell my beloved Shackleton.  If you have ever wanted to own a Scamp, this might be your chance.  If you want to build one, I totally get it.  I loved building mine.  If, however, you’re more of a sailor than a builder, you can buy Shackleton and take her to all the remote places you’ve dreamed about.  The decision to sell Shackleton has been a gut wrenching decision for me and one I have struggled with for some time.  I hope Shackleton can be owned by someone that loves her as much as I do.


Here’s the details:

Less than 20 hours total sailing time

Neil Pryde sail
Norhtwest Canvas sail cover
Suzuki 2.5 outboard, new
Ritchie compass
Carnai galvanized trailer
Ancor system
Break down oar system
Custom full cover bimini

I’m into this build well over $15,000 in hard costs

Willing to sell for $12,000

You can contact me through the blog or reach me at:  208-589-1222

Build Blog Complete


Fellow sailors, after completing Shackleton and conducting a few sea trials, I am now moving all future posts to my adventure blog.  It’s a new blog focusing on cycling, sailing, woodworking and all micro adventures in my life, with cool gear review.  It can be found here.

Many thanks to all of you for your comments, friendship and helpful suggestions.  Hope to see you all out on the water.




Glassing Skegs

Epoxy finally arrived.  My build is going to take approximately 8 gallons…way more than I expected.  No, I’m not wasting it or overcoating the parts…it just takes more than you think when you slow down and do it right.  DSC00064DSC00067 One small slit near the bend allowed the glass to fold down nicely.DSC00066DSC00069DSC00070As Simeon pointed out to me in an earlier comment, Red Oak is very porous.  Based on this information, I thought about rebuilding the skegs out of White Oak, but felt proper finish work would yield sufficient sealing properties to the wood.

My plan is to:

  1. Place two 3″ strips of fiberglass over each skeg.
  2. Thicken the final strip of glass with colloidal silica (to act as a hard wear surface).
  3. Use a large fillet where the oak meets the hull.
  4. Roll graphite epoxy over the glassed skegs and hull as a final barrier to water.
  5. Keep an eye on the wear surface of the skegs (this should be easy with the graphite as a wear indicator).
  6. In keeping with the ‘ham n egger’ philosophy…I’ve decided not to install UHMW over my skegs.  Hopefully, the additional preventative steps I’m taking will prove sufficient.  Time will tell.

Things keep moving along…hoping to be in the water by mid June.

Fiberglassing Hull

Fiberglass finally arrived…glassing the hull begins.  After positioning the glass several different ways over the hull, I settled on the approach that made the most sense to me.  I would glass the entire hull panel first, without any seams, and then glass the plank panels.

DSC00037DSC00039The 50″ glass covers all edges with a 2″ or more overhang on all sides.DSC00038Cut out for the CB slot.DSC00040The blue tape line shows where I stop the overlap. This provides a strengthening wrap of glass over the hull chine on all edges.DSC00041DSC00044DSC00042 The overlapping glass around the stern and panel #1 joint.DSC00035Tape removed and excess glass trimmed off.  DSC00036Overlapped edge after trimming glass with razor blade.


I like the 2″ wrap concept.  It adds an extra layer of glass over all the hull chine seams.  I will now wrap planks 1 & 2 (with one strip of glass), overlapping this hull chine seam.  I’m amazed at how much epoxy this step took…it seems I’m always ordering more epoxy.  After finally inspection I did notice a few waves in the glass.  They were not there after the first coat of epoxy, but after coming back 8 hours later for the second coat, I noticed them.  I suppose there is nothing to do now but sand after filling the weave.

  It’s all good.