Number 1, September 1994
This is the first ( and possibly the only) CHEBACCO newsletter. The response to my intial mailshot was wonderful in quality, but rather underwhelming in quantity! My mailing list currently stands at eight and covers the globe very satifactorily – including Australia and New Caledonia as well as the US (NY and NJ). I fear I am Europe’s only representative in the Chebacco community.
The future of this newsletter depends on you, the readers. As you can see, it is made up of contributions I received in response to my mailshot, as well as my personal news. The possibility of more issues depends on whether you write to me telling me what you are up to; what may seem trivial to you could be of great interest to the rest of us, so don’t be shy! For example, let us know if you are currently building , or just dreaming over the plans. What version of Chebacco are you working on – hard chine, lapstrake or Chebacco-25? As you know , the drawings don’t come with a building key, so tell us how you are to build her. What materials are you using? Have you strayed from the plans in any way?
Send future contributions to me:
88 Grove Road,
As you know, this newsletter is not a money-making scheme, so please feel free to copy it to anyone who might be interested – it’ll save my postage costs!
The next newsletter will appear as soon as I have enough material to make it worthwhile.
Turning Over a Chebacco Hull (almost) Single Handed
A couple of months ago I arrived at the stage where my hard-chined Chebacco hull was complete and ready for turning over for fitting out. She had been built in my bcak yard with a tree to one side and a hedge to the other. The hull had been built on stocks of reclaimed timber, about a foot off the ground.
One approach to this problem is to get half a dozen gorillas (or their nearest human equivalent) to support the hull while you crawl underneath, knocking away the stocks and dragging them out from under – hoping that the gorillas don’t get tired or bored meantime and drop everything on top of you. Once the stocks are away the team might be persuaded to flip the hull over without dropping it on its thin sheerstrake – although this can be tricky as handholds are not plentiful on the outside of the hull. The main expense of such a technique is a keg of beer to reward your patient strongmen.
This method sounded a bit nerve-racking to me, besides which it isn’t always possible to get all the gorillas you need at a mutually convenient time. I decided to try to do the job myself by rigging up a scaffold (gallows?) from which to suspend the boat while the stocks are removed ad ropes to pull which will turn the boat over.
The scaffold consists of two arches, or portals, which are placed over the hull, about 5 feet from each end. Each portal has two pulley sheaves let into its cross member (top) through which a long rope loop is threaded, going around the hull.
Because Chebacco’s hull is very beamy, I had to raise it , stocks and all, by about a foot, so that the sheerstrake would clear the ground when the hull had rotated through 90 degrees. I did this by levering one side of the stocks off the ground using a 12-foot length of 2 by 4 as a lever, and while it was raised, my long-suffering next-door neighbour inserted concrete blocks under the legs. I repeated this operation on both sides until the hull was sufficiently high.
The next step was to complete the rope loops around the hull and through the sheaves on the scaffolds. I used three eighths inch diameter polypropylene rope for the loops and knotted them using a carrick bend, which is less likely to slip or come apart than a reef knot or bowline. The knots have to be placed so that they will not pass through the sheaves as the hull turns over.
Trestles were placed under the stem and transom in order to prevent the hull crashing down if the rope loops gave out when the stocks were knocked away. The stocks were knocked away and dragged out from under the hull without mishap, leaving the hull hanging upside down under the scaffold.
I pulled gently down on the rope loops, which obediently ran through the sheaves. After about 80 degrees of rotation, gravity took over and the hull swing (too) quickly over into its right-way-up position; about a ccouple of feet off the ground. The 2 by 4 lever and heaps of old car tyres were brought into play to allow the knots to be undone and the hull lowered, one end at a time, to its final resting place on wooden blocks.
News from Builders
Gil Fitzhugh, of Morristown NJ, is building a lapstrake Chebacco-20. His chosen method is to build a mould from temporary bulkheads and ribbands placed where the strakes will overlap. In this way he is able to ensure that the lands will form fair and even curves before starting to cut out the strakes. The method is described in Tom Hill’s book, “Ultralight Boatbuilding”. The main snag with this method is that the permanent bulkheads need to be fitted after the hull is lifted from the mould and turned over.
Another good idea from Gil is the way he built his (inner) stem. It is laminated from mahogany and includes the mast step. In other words, it extends all the way back to bulkhead #1. Gil’s keel, too, is laminated; the front and rear sections from (I think) 3/4 inch thick fir, and the cheeks either side of the centreboard from 3/4 inch oak. The laminations are horizontal.
The wood’s expensive, but it’s available locally . . . Epoxy has made it possible for Klutzes like me, who aren’t in a hurry, and who aren’t building in quantity, to make a good boat out of wood that Nat Herreshoff or Colin Archer wouldn’t have bothered cutting up for the fireplace.”
I must add though, that Gil’s photos of the keel and mould show that his workmanship is anything but “klutz”-like.
I understand that Gil is to use sapele marine ply for the hull. I guess the result will be a real gold-plater when it hits the water.
Peter Gray of Queensland, Australia is well advanced on the construction of a hard-chine Chebacco. When he wrote to me in June, the Hull had just been finished and he hopes to finish the boat around Christmas this year – a good time to launch in Australia, I should think.
Peter is using exterior grade ply, WEST system epoxy and stainless steel screws and bolts. He’s also scouring second hand boatyards for authentic fittings.
Allan Bell of Fairport NY is currently dreaming over plans for a lapstrake Chebacco which he plans to start constructing in a year or so. I hope he will find Gil Fitzhugh’s experiences (see above) helpful when the sawdust starts flying.
My own Chebacco is a hard-chine one. She’s built from Far Eastern marine ply. This is pretty inexpensive (about $30 a sheet if you buy it in quantity) and has alarmingly thin outer veneers. I used the same stuff for a skiff I built 6 years ago and, coated with WEST epoxy and 2-part paint, it has been entirely satisfactory and hasn’t needed repainting in all that time (apart from the odd ding). For tree wood I’m using reclaimed red deal (a fairly resinous pine/fir) which is reasonably durable when it is coated with epoxy – and pitch pine (longleaf yellow pine) for floors. I’m using copper boat nails for almost all my fastenings. I have built the hull strictly according to Phil Bolger’s plans, right down to the hollow keel. I finished the outside of the hull with one layer of 6 ounce glass cloth in three coats of epoxy and 2-part paint on top. Under the waterline I used standard antifouling paint applied directly on top of the epoxy.
The fitting out of the hull is almost complete now. One snag I came across was that the half inch ply for the cabin top was tough to bend and resulted in some sagging of the framing. If I was to do it again I’d probably laminate the roof from two layers of quarter inch ply.
One final point – I used 22 sheets of ply for the entire boat. Brad Story does it with 15 but he makes the keel and floorboards out of tree wood and, on his gold platers, the coamings and cabin sides are made of solid mahogany (about 3/4 inch thick, I think).