Monday, December 14, 2009

Steven Clancy's Matinicus Double-Ender

Last Year, I wrote an article for the "Ash Breeze", the quarterly journal published by the TSCA (Traditional Small Craft Assoc.) desrcribing the start of my MDE boatbuilding project. I got a nice email from Steven Clancy who built the same boat 20 years ago out in  Bellingham Washington. Steven sent along some nice photos, and I'd like to share them here!


Steven built his hull from 6mm occume and framed her up with laminated, sawn frames, instead of steamed ribs. This will be my plan as well (the frames, that is). His thwarts and stern sheets are cherry.
Steven did a beautiful job with his peapod, and Matty, as she is called, now belongs to his daughter Brenna, and son in law Ben.  Its time for me to get to work! Can't wait.        

Friday, December 11, 2009

Building The Matinicus Double Ender- Part 3
To view Part 1, click HERE

It has been quite a while since the last post. I should have been planked up, flipped over, and well into the interior by now, but I have been very busy elsewhere for the past six months with work and sailing, not to mention the time spent re-powering the Sebago Canoe Club Boston Whaler; all good things though, and all necessary.

Sebago acquired a classic 13 foot Whaler to serve as a new safety boat/club launch. I had the job of selecting a new motor for the boat, and having it installed. We hung a beautiful new Honda 30, with power tilt and trim, on the transom. "Seagull" has already served race committee duty this fall.

In the last post, I had the garboard planks hung. They were difficult, ornery things to twist into place and fasten, but as they are typically the most difficult of the seven pairs of planks to hang, things have gotten easier as I planked around the bilge and up the topsides. The garboards, (and each subsequent plank as well in their turn), must be beveled at the laps so that the next plank has a place to land, and will lie flat to the next mark on the mold. Lapstrake planks are like facets cut into the round shape of the boat, and each plank overlaps the one below it by a set amount (3/4” in this case). The bevels are cut with a block plane, and checked frequently with a straight edge against the mold.

Checking the bevel with a straight edge.

Also, gains must be cut into the hood ends of each plank so that the edge of the next plank disappears, or lies flush with the one below. I like to use rabbeted gains, possible only with glued laps in plywood. Solid wood planking would have to be treated differently, because the wood would split along the weakened rabbet line.

Rabbeted gain at the stem.

To find the shape of the next plank, a pattern board, or spiling board is bent around the molds, making sure to overlap the bevel planed onto the previous plank. Care must be taken not to edge set the pattern board. It must lie perfectly flat at each mold, or the plank shape will be off when the pattern springs back. Any attempt to force an untrue plank edgewise will create a bunch or wrinkle in the plank, and no amount of coaxing will lay it flat. The pattern is marked from underneath at each mold, and along the upper edge of the plank above, then removed, laid on the planking stock, and all of the information transferred. I like to play it safe, cutting outside of the lines by 1/4" or so and putting the actual plank on the boat for final marking. I use a single, washer-head screw through the lap at each mold. this guarantees that the plank will go back on the boat in the same place when the glue is on. I then take the plank off again, cut the scarf, snad the inside, and mask off below the lap lines with tape to keep the epoxy drips at bay. I use simple clothespin type lap clamps to squeeze the laps together between molds.

The planks twin is then hung on the other side of the boat, then another plank is patterned and gotten out. There develops a rhythm; bevel the lands, cut the gains, pattern the plank, cut it out and glue it on. One thing that I noticed, at about plank four, was that I was getting a little unfairness in the region of the scarf, due to fairing only one half Of the plank (either forward or aft) at a time. I decided that I would be better off scarfing up long lengths of ply, then laying out the entire plank at once. By doing that, I was able to fair out a small hump in the run of plank five, letting my batten sweep the entire length of the boat. Plank five is what transitions the turn of the bilge to the topsides, and is the straightest plank in the boat. I also decided to hot-glue up long lengths of cardboard to use as patterns. By plank five, most of the twist is gone from the shape, and the cardboard lays nicely on the molds, being simply push-pinned on and marked out.

The pattern for plank six is laid out on the planking stock.

I've just finished hanging plank six at this point, leaving only the sheer plank to go. I will still need to fit the outside keel and stems before I flip her over. I'm really hoping to see her right side up by Christmas!

One more plank to go!

Inboard Profile- I'm a little ahead of myself here, but I like to think about what the interior will be like (sometime in the future). This arrangement is exactly like what Walt Simmons has shown in his drawings. I may change things around a little to suit a different rig, perhaps, or put in some minimal decking. We'll see...

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Building The Matinicus Double Ender- Part 2

To view Part 1, click HERE

The keel has been finished, set up on the boat, and bonded to the stems. I have checked and adjusted the sheer marks on the molds with my batten, and will measure the girths at each station in order to determine the plank widths. Walter Simmons recommends hanging the garboard plank first before final lining off of the remaining planks, and this is the way I approached the job. I made the garboard a little wider than the rest of the planks, and let it climb the stems as high as I felt was reasonable. I let the hood ends land above the load water line at both ends. I checked the run of the garboard with my batten as well.

Checking and adjusting the sheer curve.

Each end of the garboard was spiled to rough shape, then clamped to the boat and marked at the molds. I decided I would glue up the plank scarfs right on the boat, rather than pre-scarfing the plywood. This proved easy to do, and saves a bit of material as well because the tapers can be flipped end to end on the sheet of ply. I should mention here that I had quite a rough time with the garboards up forward. I cracked the first plank that I tried to twist around the forefoot, and thought I might have to resort to boiling the ends. I had scrimped a little on the plywood, buying 5 ply, 9mm Joubert instead of the much more expensive 7 ply Shelmarine from Greece. I had only bought two sheets though, so I broke down and ordered the good stuff for the lower planks. This 7 ply material and a closer attention to my clamping methods was a success!

The aft port garboard, cut to shape and taped off for easy cleanup of the epoxy.

I like to use temporary washer-head screws to fasten the garboard to the keel and stem. There are a lot of holes to fill later, but it saves fiddling with all those clamps. The screws put the plank right exactly where it was hung dry, so there is no chance for slipping. The subsequent planks will be screwed only through the laps at each mold, and clamped elsewhere, so there are fewer holes to fill. I will leave in the temp screws in the hood ends, and replace them later with bronze screws.

The first plank is hung!

A close-up of the scarf. I made these 4" long, which is a little better than a 10:1 ratio.

A lot of clamping pressure, and careful placement of the clamps and pads are needed to twist the garboards around the forefoot.

Both garboards are complete!

Now it's time to do the rest of the lining off. Lining plank for lapstrake boats is a real art, and an otherwise good boat can be spoiled by a bad job. I felt that I really needed to see the planks shapes on the boat, so I made a set of lining battens from poplar dressed to the width of the lap, 3/4" in this case. It is common practice for the next plank up from the garboard to be a little wider than the remaing planks, to offer a transition from the wide garboard to the narrower bilge strakes. Also, some thought must be given to the width of the rub rail at the sheer, because that will reduce the apparent width of the sheer plank. I re-measured the girths from the garboard to the sheer, subtracted the width of the rubrail, and divided this by the number of remaing planks. A set of dividers set to this width was then used to step off the planks around each mold and at the stems. I then put on all of the lining battens to these marks, and had a good look at the boat from all angles.

Rather than slavishly following all of the width marks, I adjusted the battens up and down slightly for a sweet flow around the boat, and for reasonably similar apparent plank widths. When I was satisfied with everything, I marked the top edge of each batten at all of the molds and stems. Also, any surface that needed further beveling was noted, and I tuned up the lands on the stems. The next step is to bevel the plank lands on the garboards, and cut the gains in the hood ends. Stay tuned...

Saturday, January 3, 2009


The Matinicus Island Double Ender
Matinicus Double Ender- Traditional Sprit Rig -
Drawing by Jim Luton from plans by Walter Simmons

 Judd Young, Matinicus Is. lobsterman, circa 1904.
Photo courtesy of Walter Simmons

I’ve been thinking for some time now about building a boat for myself that is light and easy to handle solo or with crew, both on shore and in the water; a boat that rows beautifully as well as sails, that is seaworthy, and of course beautiful. Arguably the quintessential Maine traditional small-craft, the double ender, or “peapod”, as the type is commonly known, was once found all over the rocky islands and ledges of that state’s rugged sea coast. Dating back to the late nineteenth century, the peapod was used in the lobster fishery, primarily to haul traps, but some also served as lighthouse keepers boats, and of course were used for other tasks around the water front as well.

Photo courtesy of Walter Simmons

A beautiful Jonesport (Washington County) peapod. I photographed this boat at the 2008 Small Reach Regatta. The owner, Charles Chamberlain, told me that this boat was built by the late Alan Vaitses, to lines found in Chapelle's American Small Sailing Craft, page 219 (fig. 83) . She is gaff rigged with no centerboard.

Each region produced it’s own model, peculiar to the area and the builder, and the builder’s molds would often be passed down through the generations. The double ender in general, and this model in particular, were extremely seaworthy, and rowed or sailed beautifully. The boat I have chosen to build is a historically significant one, having been built by a prominent family, the Young’s, on Matinicus Island for many generations. This model dates back at least to 1900 or so. Walter Simmons, a Lincolnville (Maine) boat-builder, acquired the molds from Merrill Young in the early 1970’s, and set down her lines to paper so they could be preserved. Walter himself has built many boats from these molds, and also offers the design for sale to other builders (he also offers a wonderful Matinicus Double Ender CD, which is both historical record and building guide). So I bought a set of plans for myself, and have started building her.

Before the first piece of wood can be cut, the boat must be “lofted”, that is, her lines must be set down full size in three views and faired or “proved”. Long, fair strips of wood called battens are used to draw the longitudinal curves, while splines and spline weights or ”ducks” are used to draw the tighter body plan and buttock end curves.
Lofting the buttocks up forward.

There is a lot of drawing and re-drawing to get all the views to agree. Move a waterline here, it affects a diagonal there, or changes the body curve somewhere else. In addition to the lines, many construction details such as stem profiles, keel widths, and bevels are generated.

The finished full-size lofting.

Once the lines are fair, and all views are correlated, the building molds can be lifted from the full size body plan, and the backbone can be built. The lines for this boat show a hull with fairly slack bilges and a moderate rise of floor, which coupled with her hollow lower waterlines, will produce a form that is very easy to push through the water. She will be tender, though, particularly when lightly loaded, and will not have a high top end speed. But she should row effortlessly, and her flare will provide a healthy range of secondary stability. I should point out here that I've added a mold station forward and aft of amidship, as I felt like the original spacing was a little far apart for the Occume planking that I will use. This is not as simple as just erecting new stations within the lofting. The original stations are fair to each other, but not neccesarily fair to the new ones, so I had to go back in and re-check everything, refairing some of the waterlines and diagonals as needed. In the body plan view below, the new stations are shown in blue ink, and extend up to my construction baseline.

The body plan.

One interesting note about peapods is that they were often rowed with the rower facing forward and standing up! It is much easier to navigate rocky ledges while looking where you are going rather than where you’ve been. And when it comes time to haul a trap, you’re already on your feet. This requires a long and very strong oarlock, quite different from the normal variety.

Walter Simmons made new patterns for these locks, and is having them cast in limited quantities at a foundry in Maine. He sold me a pair, and I’ll be very interested to try them out when the boat is done. I can see myself on some misty, winter morning, pushing through the marsh along with the buffleheads and mergansers.

These boats were traditionally built of cedar on steam bent oak frames. The keel and stems were also oak. While many of the double enders were smooth-planked or “carvel”, some were also built lapstrake. The lapstrake boats were quite a bit lighter, though they all were rather heavily built for long service. I am building mine lapstrake, but with glued occume ply instead of riveted cedar. I may still use the steamed frames, but I might choose to use more widely spaced sawn frames, joggled to fit over the laps.

There are two keel types to choose from as well. In one type, the keel is set vertically, with the rabbet for the garboard plank land chiseled out by hand. This is sometimes called a “scantling” keel. The other type is the flat plank keel. This type of construction is typical for wherries, but was sometimes used for the double enders as well. The flat plank keel is much easier to fit a centerboard to, being quite wide on their inboard surface amidship. I will use the latter, built up from two 12- millimeter layers of occume ply laminated together. There is additionally, another 12mm external shoe, which sets proud of the garboard plank, and brings the backbone structure to a little less than 1-1/2” thick. This applied shoe creates the rabbet that would be chiseled in on the vertical keel.

Gluing up two layers of 12mm occume for the plank keel.
It takes a lot of clamps!

Laying out the keel shape.

Once the keel has been laminated, its shape must be layed out on both inboard (top) and outboard surfaces. There is quite a rolling bevel to be cut down the length of the keel, with a lot of wood to be removed. I used several different hand tools in the process, but the bulk of the wood was removed with a power plane.

Full size stem loftings are transferred to mylar.

The stems and their knees are quite hefty. I got mine out of some old construction grade fir that I salvaged from a dumpster. I first made thin ply patterns picked up from the mylar stem profiles, and arranged them on the stock to best advantage, working around knots or other defects.

Aft stem and knee are cut to shape on the bandsaw.

The knee notches into the stem, and I glued this joint with epoxy. The two pieces are also bolted together with bronze carriage bolts, and the whole assembly will be glued and bolted to the keel as well.

The drill press is set up to countersink and bore for
the bronze bolts that connect stem and knee.

We're ready now to transfer the lofted sections to our mold stock. I used mylar again for the transfer, pricking through the lines at intervals with a sharpened awl onto particle board, and then connecting the dots with a batten. I sawed out the molds and trued up the edges with a block plane. I built my strongback from 2x6's jointed carefully and squared up, then screwed to three saw horses spaced about eight feet apart. I use a laser for this procedure, and I like to get the tops of the strongback pretty true before setting up the molds. The vertical centerline and load waterline is marked on all of the molds, and they are then carefully leveled and plumbed, then screwed down to cross spalls set up at the proper spacing on the strongback. There is a string line stretched down the center of the strongback, and the mold centers are brought in line with it as well.

The laser dots can just be seen here on the waterline.

Some builders carry their stems down to the floor, or otherwise extend them so they can be centered, but I've always used a stem mold screwed perpindicular to the first station mold (and last too in this case). I find it more convenient to set up that way, although the stem mold is in the way somewhat.

Molds and stems are set up, ready for the keel.

Holes are cut around the mold perimeters with a hole saw to facilitate clamping of the planks. The next step, after the keel is shaped and glued on, is to bevel the molds and check the overall fairness of the set up. Then its time to line off for planks!

Stay Tuned....