HOME
BUY THE BOOK
 
forum
 
Table Of Contents
forward
PREVIEW CHAPTER 18
PREVIEW CHAPTER 41
PREVIEW CHAPTER 44
 
 
MY PICTURES
Jody
Linesplan
Boat Construction
Voyage Begins
Miami Haul-Out
The Islands
Dream Under Sail
just Me
My Dream and Beyond
 
 
got a question ?
ASK ME !
 
 

 
  


 

CHAPTER 18
Shipwright

Jody's absence created a void in my life now and I filled it with the building of Dream. Progress had been slow up to now, because I had been splitting my time between Jody and Dream. Now that she was gone, I tore into Dream, bound and determined to have her done and in the water by the time Jody returned. We had some sailing to do; I had promised her that.
It was still way too cold in the garage, so I moved all of Dream's keel members and marine plywood to the basement of Walter's house, where, through the rest of January, I assembled her keel and skeg. I had to build a frame to keep everything in center when I sheeted it in plywood. With this jigsaw puzzle completed, we moved into February, and I returned to the garage. I slowly fitted the keel to the backbone, careful not to shave down too much wood. In the end, her keel mated perfectly to the keelson and it was time for the ribs.

February brought warmer temperatures; the mercury finally moved up to the freezing mark or slightly above. We had a couple of two-foot snows in January, but that was now pushed aside, waiting for the spring thaw. During those cold nights in the garage, I would stare at the map tacked over the window. My route went through the tropics and I prayed to God to let this be my last winter up north. It was still too cold to steam-bend the ribs. I had tried one night and all the steam did was condense against the walls of the box. The box never got anywhere near hot enough to allow the oak ribs to bend over Dream's mold. I switched over to a boil-out tank, made from an old piece of aluminum down spout. It wasn't as good as the steam box, but it worked.
I had capped one end and built a frame that supported the tank at a 30-degree angle. This tube was filled with water. At the bottom was a two-burner propane camping stove I borrowed from Mr. Lommel. Igniting both burners would eventually bring the water to boiling temperature. I could only do this on weekends because initially it took hours to bring that amount of water to boil. I could only do three ribs at a time and as they came out and were bent around the mold, the next set would go in, and I'd have another hour wait.

It took a lot of propane canisters but we were getting there. Dream had, port and starboard, 26 ribs and so this process dragged on. Halfway through completion of this phase, Dream took on the appearance of a birdcage. I thought that looked pretty neat. I was taking pictures every step of the way, and though day to day it didn't look like much had changed, when the roll of film was developed, there was quite a noticeable change as Dream came together. I had never had any visitors after Jody left. Except for Steven, no one else saw Dream come together.

My nights and weekends were the same. After work, I walked to the garage and worked through the night, often not ending until midnight. Weekends, I virtually lived there, only leaving to get something to eat or go back to Walter's house to sleep. No one saw much of me. I was long gone before they got up in the morning and came home long after all had gone to bed. The next door neighbor would see the garage light on through many cold, late nights.

Mr. Paye also had a sailboat; we had met in the fall when I first started Dream. He later told me he couldn't believe the hours I spent that cold winter working on Dream. I hated the cold, but I was under Dream's magic spell and it went unnoticed. I was hell bent on having Dream in the water before Jody's return.

The only breaks in this routine were when I received a letter from Jody. She would describe her latest adventures and give me a rundown on her daily life in Spain. Those nights, I borrowed Steven's truck and went up to Wall’s to give Jimmy an update on our little jester in Europe. Jimmy always looked forward to my visits and we spent long hours reminiscing. I also gave Jimmy updates on Dream's progress and showed him photos as we made our way through each stage of construction. All the ribs were in place by the end of February and, after securing them to the keelson, the keel and skeg were fitted.

Dream grew in form each day. I took down the cedar boards and started cutting the planking. Each plank was cut and shaped, and had to be hand-fitted into position. The sheer strakes were placed first. This is the edge where the deck fits to both sides of the hull and is done at the same time, port and starboard. What one side got, the other side got next. This kept the boat true on the mold so no twist would develop in the hull. Each night at least one strake was fitted and Dream's hull began to take shape.
There was a strong aroma of cedar, and it was a welcome relief after a day of smelling grease and machine oil at Bay Auto.

Although Dream was a wooden boat, I deviated from the traditional method of caulking her seams. Instead Dream's planks were glued edge to edge. Traditional wooden boat construction is fine with the seams caulked with cotton. When the wood got wet, it would swell, causing the seams to close together against the cotton. Shortly after the boat was launched, the seams would close tight and form a waterproof seal. This system is fine and had been in use for more than a thousand years. Its drawback was that there was a lot of periodic maintenance.

With the coming of new materials (i.e., fiberglass and epoxy resins), new methods were introduced. What I was doing is called hard jointing. Unlike the traditional methods, Dream's hull was rigid and had no room for movement. To keep the wood from absorbing water and subsequently swelling, a coat of fiberglass mat and then cloth was placed over her hull, deck, and keel, completely sealing her from the water. She was actually was two boats in one, one wood, the other fiberglass. This is an expensive way to build a boat, but its strength was superior to any other method. Dream had to take me a great distance and it was my life that was on the line. Needless to say, nothing short of the best in this area would do. The fiberglass coating also allowed for a virtually maintenance free boat. Except for cosmetic hull and deck painting, and annual copper anti-fouling paint for the bottom, nothing else needed to be done.

Throughout the month of March I worked on the boat. Each day there would be a little more of Dream. I hit the "turn of the bilge planking" and this was slow going again. The planking shapes were critical, as we no longer were doing the hull sides. This is where the hull sides turn and become the bottom. After that the planking eases into the keel. Each of these planks took hours to fit and most nights I could only get one on.

One Friday night, April 7, 1978, I had gotten off work and, after stopping off for coffee and a sandwich at the deli, headed for the garage. I was anxious to get there. I sat on the worktable and ate. Sipping my coffee, I stared at Dream. I had six more planks to go, three to a side. I vowed to myself that I would finish the hull this weekend. With that, I got to work, cutting and fitting her last strakes. By two a.m., I was making simple mistakes because I was so tired. I gave up and walked back to Walter's. I never remembered my head hitting the pillow before I collapsed into a deep sleep. When my eyes opened in the morning, it was still dark out. Slowly I got back into my work clothes and returned to the garage.

Julie is a morning sleeper, especially after a grueling week working in the city. Steven is a morning person and usually got up to watch the dawn arrive as he sipped his coffee. He was surprised when the lights came on in the garage at the bottom of the hill. He knew I was close to finishing the hull, so with a thermos of coffee and two cups, came down the garage.
I was grateful for the coffee. As he poured, he said, "Almost done, huh?"
"It's today Steven. I'm not leaving until the last one goes in." He told me he and Julie were going into the city for the weekend to visit friends and would return tomorrow. I told him the hull would be finished and to come in and see her. He promised they would, and looked forward to it. It had been a long hard winter, but spring was at our doorstep and as the plants and flowers were coming alive, so was Dream. Leaving the thermos of coffee behind, Steven went back to the house and I went back to work.

All through the day and into the night I worked. I took no breaks; I didn't need to. By midnight, I was fitting the last plank on the portside. After I cut and fit this last one into the keel, I sat back on the worktable, lit a cigarette and just looked at my handiwork. I was dog-tired, but all that remained was the starboard side.

For the next three hours I continued. The last plank was especially slow to fit because each edge fit up against something. It had to be perfect. Finally, at 3:30 a.m., Sunday morning, April 9, 1978, I screwed in the last bronze fastener. Dream had over 2,400 bronze screws; each was put in by hand. I was near collapse, but Dream's hull was done. I sat on the table looking at her. She was beautiful, despite the streaks of glue, sawdust and dirt that marred her appearance. Sanding would strip that away quick enough. Dream had been conceived in my mind and then carefully laid out on paper. All winter, piece by piece, I had built her; now here she was.

In all fairness to everyone, when Dream was first openly discussed, she was only on paper and only in my mind could she be pictured. They all thought of rowboats or other such crafts. That was in large part the flak that Jody and I received, but now Dream was real. Dream now sat proudly for anyone to see. I had read all the books and there had never been anything like her, not even Sea Egg. And she was mine!

I had brought a sleeping bag with me just in case this marathon session went into the wee hours. Pushing pieces of wood and tools aside, I spread it out on the worktable and crawled in it. Dirty, covered with glue and sawdust, I lay there, euphoric. My last thought before I fell asleep was, “Boy, do I have something to show Jody.”


 


 

HARD COVER - ISBN 1-4208-4054-1
SOFT COVER - ISBN 1-4208-4055-X
-----
Dream12.com
COPYRIGHT 2009