Saturday, May 30, 2020

ALCORT Wooden Sunfish 19 May 20

19 May 20:

The wooden Sunfish was introduced by ALCORT Sailboats, INC. around 1953, factory boats and kits were built until the late 1960s. We have been given permission to develop plans and drawings for the hull, and to build a replica from Laser Performance (LP), who owns the trademark to the Sunfish name and logo. LP builds the modern day fiberglass Sunfish, with over 400,000 built to date by ALCORT, AMF, Loveless and DeGarmo, Pearson and Vanguard.

1953 ALCORT Sunfish ZIP and Skipper, 2013.

Plans will be developed along the lines of the ALCORT Super Sailfish plans, which are available in the SunfishSailor

We took a lot of measurements from our two wooden Sunfish ZIP and CHIP during their restorations, and finally sat down to put mechanical pencil to graph paper. be continued...

Sunfish name and logo trademark by Laser Performance

New Sunfish

Thursday, May 28, 2020

1953 Alcort Sunfish ZIP 11 May 20 TotalFair Fairing Compound

11 May 20:

Faired the screw holes and low spots on ZIP's letterbox repair with TotalBoat TotalFair 2 part epoxy fairing compound. The blue and yellow resin and hardener mix in equal parts to make green, and we use a plastic spreader to apply it.

We try to get the compound as smooth as possible but leave a little extra on top, to be smoothed with sanding.

Log of ZIP.

Pier Maintenance

28 May 20:

Had a 10 foot section of the pier starting to sag, so we replaced the joists with 2x6x10 pressure treated pine, rated for ground contact. Skipper recommended replacing the 4 foot wide planks, as the 10 year old planks had to come up anyway to access the joists. My Marine brain said I could leave the planks and slide in a sister joist from underneath but the sag was too great. After sweating over that for an hour I switched to Skipper's plan, and she got to use her crowbar. The old planks were repurposed as joists for a new Boardwalk behind the Sunfish Shack.

Skipper and SACAGAWEA Skippervised.

Tuesday Tool of the Week: DeWALT Impact Driver

28 May 20:

We bough a new impact driver recently, the De WALT 20V DCD777, and are writing a review for Small Boats Magazine July 2020 Issue. We have a Kobalt 24V driver and like it, the DeWalt is an excellent tool also. We used it recently and drove 25 pounds of 3 inch Grip Rite deck screws, building Skipper's Gun Deck and Boardwalk.

Today's Terms

28 May 20:

Gaff rig - 4 corner, fore-and-aft rigged sail, hoisted by an angled spar that does not cross the mast, called the gaff.

Lateen - fore and aft triangular sail set on a long yard mounted at an angle on the mast. See also Sunfish.

Lug rig - a fore-and-aft, 4 corner sail that is suspended from a spar, called a yard.

Sprit - small diagonal spar that supports upper aft corner of 4 corner sail. Can also be used for a boom.

Penobscot 14 ST. JACQUES sprit rig out for Sea Trials, Functional Test Float (FCF) for v1.0 of sheet and pop up rudder. (Video:

Square rig - 4 corner sail carried on horizontal spars which are perpendicular, or square, to the masts.

USS Portsmouth 1850

Sunfish - 13' 9" pontoon hull sailing dinghy with 75 square foot lateen sail.

Developed by ALCORT in 1952, first models were wooden.

Fiberglass model introduced in 1960, still produced today by Laser Performance. Over 400,000 built.

Favorite boat for the Pirate Skipper.

Yard - a sail spar that crosses a mast, most often horizontal or at an angle. Examples are square rig and lug rig. Drascombe Dabber VICTORY standing lug rig shown below.

FMI: Nautical Terms

Friday, May 22, 2020

Nautical Terms

21 May 20:

A glossary of terms, augmented with images. We'll add a few each week as the mood strikes us. If you have a favorite please post it in the comments.

Drascombe Lugger, Webb Chiles favorite ride for open boat ocean crossings :)

Aft - to the rear

Belaying pin - wood or metal rod used to secure a line.

Boom - spar used to control lower edge of sail. Also the sound John Watkinson did not want to hear, of a spar striking the Missus' head, hence the design of the boomless main on the Drascombe Lugger.

Bumkpin - a spar that sticks out from the transom to control a mizzen.

Cunningham - line that controls the tension on luff from the tack corner.

Clew - lower aft corner of a sail.

Foot - lower edge of a sail.

Gaff - spar used to control upper sail that does not cross the mast.

Gaff rig - 4 corner, fore-and-aft rigged sail, hoisted the gaff.

Grommet - small metal rings that teat out of the seams of sails.

Halyard - line that raises a sail.

Head - top corner of a sail or the bathroom.

Hell for Stout - How Hazelwood and Jack liked boats built.

Jib - small sail forward of the mainsail.

Lateen - fore and aft triangular sail set on a long yard mounted at an angle on the mast. See also Sunfish.

Leech - aft edge of a sail.

Line - a rope cut for a specific use

Luff - leading edge of a sail or to let a sail flutter into the wind.

Lug rig - a fore-and-aft, 4 corner sail that is suspended from a spar, called a yard.

Mainsail - the main sail.

Mast - upright spar that carries a sail, usually the mainsail.

Mizzen - small sail aft of the main.

Nautical Almanac - Useful after toilet paper is lost mid ocean.

Outhaul - lines that set tension on luff and foot from the head and clew. See also cunningham.

Peak - top corner of a 4 corner gaff sail.

Pinrail - a rail with multiple belaying pins.

Pirate - someone who will "watch" your boat for you. See also Skipper.

Rope - a length of cord made with natural or synthetic fibers. Rope cut for a specific purpose becomes line.

Sail - fabric that catches wind.

Sheet - line that controls the angle of the sail.

Skipper - a nice lady who will "watch" your boat for you. See also Pirate.

Sliding Gunter - 2 part spars for mainsail, lower mast fixed and upper gaff raised with halyard. Primary rig for the Drascombe Lugger.

1980 Drascombe Lugger banditting the 1994 Navy Regatta in Corpus Christi, TX. Skipper with Jack as crew. Mizzen furled.

Spar - poles used to support sails.

Sprit - small diagonal spar that supports upper aft corner of 4 corner sail. Can also be used for a boom.

Sprit rig - 4 corner fore and aft sail supported at its highest points by the mast and a diagonally running spar known as the sprit.

Square rig - 4 corner sail carried on horizontal spars which are perpendicular, or square, to the masts.

Sunfish - 13' 9" pontoon hull sailing dinghy with 75 square foot lateen sail.

Developed by ALCORT in 1952, first models were wooden.

Fiberglass model introduced in 1960, still produced today by Laser Performance. Over 400,000 built.

Favorite boat for the Pirate Skipper.

USS Portsmouth 1850

Tack - lower forward corner of a sail or changing course with wind from ahead. Shown below is the tack of the sail, with a downhaul line that goes up from the mast thwart, through the tack ring and back down to a belaying pin.

Throat - Top edge of a 4 corner gaff sail.

Yard - a spar that crosses a mast, most often horizontal or at an angle. Examples are square rig and lug rig.


Chiles, Webb. 1984. The ocean waits. New York: Norton.

Chiles, Webb. 1982. The open boat: across the Pacific. New York: Norton.

NC-4 Podcast with East Passage Boatwrights

13 May 20:

Fun podcast we did about the Nancies with Carter and Tyler of East Passage Boatwrights and Tyler Fields Photography.

"Today, we take trans-Atlantic flight for granted; jump on a plane in the early evening on the East Coast and arrive in London, Paris, or Amsterdam by sunrise. But shortly after the Wright Brothers flew in Kitty Hawk in 1903, sights were set to reach Europe by air, and as the world was mired in World War I, this achievement became even more vital to the success of the Allies.

The Navy tasked the Curtis Aircraft Company to accomplish this feat, and with help from the boat builders of the Herreshoff Manufacturing Company and Lawley & Son, a revolutionary design of a flying boat was delivered — The NC, or the “Flying Nancies”. In this episode we talk with retired Marine Corps pilot and small boat builder, Kent Lewis, about the merger between these great companies and their groundbreaking achievements. Listen in!"

Tuesday, May 12, 2020

Tuesday Tool of The Week: Bailer aka Sponge

12 May 20:

Bailer: 1) A lightweight bucket used to move water from inside a boat back to its natural habitat. 2) A venturi drain system found in Sunfish sailboat cockpits. 3) A porous material used to absorb liquids. Usually found in the bucket, the cockpit of a Sunfish sailboat or the lazarette of an O'Day Day Sailer II. See also Sponge.

Tuseday Tool of the Week

Automotive: The Right Tool for the Job

12 May 20:

Automotive: The Right Tool for the Job (Ref:

"Peter Egan of Road & TrackThese hilarious automotive tool definitions have been floating around on the Internet for some time now with no credit to the author. Sensitive to such things because people have plagiarized and out-and-out stolen stuff that I've written, I decided to track down the author. Much to my surprise and pleasure, it was none other than Peter Egan, one of my all-time favorite automotive writers. This piece originally appeared in Road & Track, April 1996 in Peter's column, Side Glances. The original column has a half-page introduction and some additional definitions, so I recommend you try to obtain that issue of R&T. It was also reprinted in the book, Side Glances, Vol. 2, 1992-1997 by Peter Egan, published by Brooklands Books Ltd., a wonderfuil collection of 66 or Peter's columns.

Hammer: Originally employed as a weapon of war, the hammer nowadays is used as a kind of divining rod to locate expensive car parts not far from the object we are trying to hit.

Mechanic's Knife: Used to open and slice through the contents of cardboard cartons delivered to your front door; works particularly well on boxes containing convertible tops or tonneau covers.

Electric Hand Drill: Normally used for spinning steel Pop rivets in their holes until you die of old age, but it also works great for drilling rollbar mounting holes in the floor of a sports car just above the brake line that goes to the rear axle.

Hacksaw: One of a family of cutting tools built on the Ouija board principle. It transforms human energy into a crooked, unpredictable motion, and the more you attempt to influence its course, the more dismal your future becomes.

Vise-Grips: Used to round off bolt heads. If nothing else is available, they can also be used to transfer intense welding heat to the palm of your hand.

Oxyacetelene Torch: Used almost entirely for lighting those stale garage cigarettes you keep hidden in the back of the Whitworth socket drawer (What wife would think to look in there?) because you can never remember to buy lighter fluid for the Zippo lighter you got from the PX at Fort Campbell

Zippo Lighter: See oxyacetelene torch.

Whitworth Sockets: Once used for working on older British cars and motorcycles, they are now used mainly for hiding six-month old Salems from the sort of person who would throw them away for no good reason.

Drill Press: A tall upright machine useful for suddenly snatching flat metal bar stock out of your hands so that it smacks you in the chest and flings your beer across the room, splattering it against the Rolling Stones poster over the bench grinder.

Wire Wheel: Cleans rust off old bolts and then throws them somewhere under the workbench with the speed of light. Also removes fingerprint whorls and hard-earned guitar callouses in about the time it takes you to say, "Django Reinhardt".

Hydraulic Floor Jack: Used for lowering a Mustang to the ground after you have installed a set of Ford Motorsports lowered road springs, trappng the jack handle firmly under the front air dam.

Eight-Foot Long Douglas Fir 2X4: Used for levering a car upward off a hydraulic jack.

Tweezers: A tool for removing wood splinters.

Phone: Tool for calling your neighbor Chris to see if he has another hydraulic floor jack.

Snap-On Gasket Scraper: Theoretically useful as a sandwich tool for spreading mayonnaise; used mainly for getting dog-doo off your boot.

E-Z Out Bolt and Stud Extractor: A tool that snaps off in bolt holes and is ten times harder than any known drill bit.

Timing Light: A stroboscopic instrument for illuminating grease buildup on crankshaft pulleys.

Two-Ton Hydraulic Engine Hoist: A handy tool for testing the tensile strength of ground straps and hydraulic clutch lines you may have forgotten to disconnect.

Craftsman 1/2 x 16-inch Screwdriver: A large motor mount prying tool that inexplicably has an accurately machined screwdriver tip on the end without the handle.

Battery Electrolyte Tester: A handy tool for transferring sulfuric acid from car battery to the inside of your toolbox after determining that your battery is dead as a doornail, just as you thought.

Aviation Metal Snips: See Hacksaw.

Trouble Light: The mechanic's own tanning booth. Sometimes called a drop light, it is a good source of vitamin D, "the sunshine vitamin", which is not otherwise found under cars at night. Health benefits aside, its main purpose is to consume 40-watt light bulbs at about the same rate that 105-mm howitzer shells might be used during, say, the first few hours of the Battle of the Bulge. More often dark than light, its name is somewhat misleading.

Phillips Screwdriver: Normally used to stab the lids of old-style paper-and-tin oil cans and splash oil on your shirt; can also be used, as the name implies, to round off Phillips screw heads.

Air Compressor: A machine that takes energy produced in a coal-burning power plant 200 miles away and transforms it into compressed air that travels by hose to a Chicago Pneumatic impact wrench that grips rusty suspension bolts last tightened 40 years ago by someone in Abingdon, Oxfordshire, and rounds them off.

Grease Gun: A messy tool for checking to see if your zerk fittings are still plugged with rust."

See our Tuesday Tool of the Week List

Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Gun Deck for Skipper's Quay

05 May 20:

We took a break from restoration to upgrade Skipper's Quay with a Gun Deck, she needed a place to place her cannon. Spoiler Alert: She also needs a cannon.

Our shoreline seawall was damaged by Hurricane Ivan, pretty much removed, and previous owners left it to the elements for 7 years. Here is a photo of 2019 repairs in progress. As a result the shoreline started to recede about a foot a year as tide and wind took its toll. We purchased the property and began a series of repairs, brought in some rip rap in 2016 to stabilize the shoreline retreat and last year we had the seawall rebuilt using better tech, sheet pilings with deadman anchors placed 12 feet back into the yard. Speaking of yard, 16 dump trucks of dirt and sand came by to replace the shore that had been lost and rip rap was placed along the seawall.

The new quay made a huge difference and we saved about 10 legacy pine trees along the way. Little critter marine life established itself quickly in the shoreline rip rap. One issue surfaced though, wind driven tide splashed into the yard for the first few feet and killed the grass, and resulting erosion started to take some dirt out into the bay. We slowed that down with a french drain along the edge of the quay, but there was still a splash zone that would carry river rock as far as 12 feet up into the yard.

We put on our thinking caps and decided that a cap over the french drain would dissipate splash energy, and Skipper designed a wooden deck to place over the french drain. We decided to call it the Gun Deck. We pressed CYANE's trailer into service for a trip to our marine lumber store for some 2x8 and 2x6 pressure treated pine. Through the years we have found that boat trailers make good lumber haulers, lots of spots to tie down the load. We also needed screws. Lots of screws.

Phase I and II complete. We added a toerail so Skipper doesn't pitch off of the Gun Deck into the bay.

Might have bought Skipper some new tools along the way. An impact driver makes a huge difference driving screws over a regular drill. More on this DeWALT model 787 later.

We also bought a new Kobalt circular saw, the depth adjustment on the old Kobalt had worn out and it was becoming a hazard to cut boards without the proper depth setting. Amazing how much better a new blade cuts!

to be continued...