Monday, January 30, 2012

Cockpit Conundrums

I’ve noticed that when my work comes up in social situations the conversations tend to be brief. But I have it on good authority that there is some indication one or two of you are actually reading these posts—which is, of course, encouraging. I would describe my reaction as just shy of surprise when I heard that. Perhaps what I had attributed to a less than compelling topic of conversation has more to do with my shortcomings as a conversation partner… but you’re reading, at least a few of you, so for the time being I’ll keep writing.

Yacht restoration is a curious endeavor. My impression is that archivists, fine art conservation specialists, and other restoration professionals have had the benefit of formal education specifically tailored to the restoration process. With the exception of graduates of the International Yacht Restoration School in Newport, Rhode Island, (which, by the way, has a fantastic reputation) the rest of us in the field of yacht restoration are on our own. We’re here because we like pulling things apart and putting them back together, because we’re methodical, and because it’s fascinating.

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Worth Doing Right

WoodenBoat Magazine used to run a feature section called Matters of Detail. I always lingered on that page. The descriptions were brief and usually accompanied by a photo of some especially clever solution to a common boatbuilding challenge exquisitely rendered in oak or bronze.  Something tells me Maynard Bray was behind it but I could well be attributing one of his colleagues’ good ideas to him. Anyway I haven’t seen the Matters of Detail section in a while. Truth be told it never quite seemed to fit in the magazine. I remember it as a welcome non sequitor in the middle of the issue. In a way it was the first boat blog; little testimonials to people living out the axiom if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.
But here I am writing a boat blog from the design office at Rockport Marine. The shop bays here are a revolving museum of some of the finest wooden boats ever conceived. There are some 50 odd men and women creating these matters of detail here every day. You could argue that here in the design office it’s a big part our job to scheme these things up.

Trade publications have been generous in featuring our work in the pages of books and magazines, but the sheer quantity makes it impossible to feature this level of detail in an article. So I’m going to poach the idea and use some of these design office blogs to feature the details that go into these projects.

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Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Home for the Winter

Rockport Marine is the winter home to many offshore cruising and racing boats that have participated in the Bermuda Race or have crossed the Atlantic. Tom Kiley, service manager and rigging expert at Rockport Marine, has been a Bermuda Race inspector for 20 years. He can be found on the dock in the warmer months preparing our storage boats for the sailing season, offering advice and troubleshooting any rigging issues.  All our customers know him for his practical advice and he is an invaluable asset to anyone preparing for a race. 

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Monday, January 9, 2012

Under the Skin

There is no doubt that everybody loves the traditional plank on frame sailboats of a bygone era. The challenge is to keep the authentic looks of that era while making them modern in performance, safety, and manageable for a small crew.  Many of these 1920s era boats were day sailors, with a crew staying aboard to polish the hardware and assist the captain while day racing in the Solent or the river Clyde in Scotland.

Nowadays the modern classic yacht is an ocean going vessel, has all the systems of the new designs but must be hidden between the skins, under the sole or other out of sight places. The trick is to do it right once, have it totally reliable and invsable but accessible.

Hidden between the skins on the starboard side of the 83’ Fife-designed schooner ADVENTURESS, there are no flexible hoses and hose clamps; all non-corrosive metal pipes handle the fluids with seacocks at the hull. Wiring is all secured every 6” and labeled at the beginning and end of every compartment.

ADVENTURESS will be launched in 2012 and join the ever-growing list of updated classic yachts now sailing with modern systems neatly hidden between the skins.

-Tom Kiley

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Thursday, January 5, 2012

No 3D Glasses Required

How do you build all of the blocks for an 83’ gaff schooner without access to the machinist, the fabricators, or the boatbuilders (who are respectively already too busy, too busy, and way too busy to take on additional work before launch)? It’s a pretty tall order but we may have found a solution in steriolithography files, overnight 3D printing, multi-axis milling and computer numerically controlled (CNC) routers.

While we haven’t completed any blocks yet, stay tuned — the test run looks promising. The ash shells are made right down the road at Tim Marchetti’s shop. Tim uses a CNC router to produce parts to our design. We sent him a few boards of Ash and a 3D computer model of the completed block assembly.

He took it from there to generate a tool path for the CNC router to follow.  It wasn’t more than a day or two later that Tim called to say that our parts were ready. The intricate shapes arrived complete with precision holes bored for the sheave axle pin, coin, and perimeter rivets. Each piece is a perfect duplicate and entirely interchangeable with the next. This should significantly reduce headaches and speed up the whole process come assembly time.

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