Capsize recovery test

We made the yearly trek to northern Wisconsin this year for our family reunion and stayed at YMCA Camp Nawakwa. I trailered the Earl Craig up and sailed on Big Crooked Lake.  The water is nice, clear & refreshing.  While there, I also conducted a capsize recovery test.  I had my wife take the video on shore (she also gives comments along the way) and I mounted a GoPro on the mizzen mast.  This will give you a few perspectives of the recovery.

My thoughts: I takes a bit of effort to capsize the Sooty Tern but it is not very stable when filled with water – some 230 gallons I estimate.  The water level is just an inch below the centerboard trunk opening and it took me about 5 minutes to bucket bilge the majority of the water (180 gallons) and another 9 minutes to get the remainder out with my Whale Gusher Urchin mounted hand bilge pump.  Since it was not windy, I did not lower the mainsail.  Eventually I had to tack back into irons and heave-to as the wind came up.  The video is a bit long (6min) but shows what it is like to recover from a capsize in perfect conditions.  I would hate to do this in wind and waves. It would be a different story.


Sailing Video

I took the Earl Craig out to Holmes Lake in Lincoln, Nebraska this morning for some sailing in 10-12mph winds.  Filmed this segment with my new GoPro Hero 5 with the stabilizing gimbal Karma grip.  The Karma sure keeps the horizon level and gives a good sense of the heeling the Sooty Tern has.


Tiller Joint

Being a doubled-ended hull with a mizzen mast poses the problem if a conventional tiller is used.  Thus the tiller arm is connected to the rudder which is connected to a tiller that the helmsman pushes or pulls to steer the boat.  However that tiller arm/tiller connection must move in all directions.  A roped tied between these two pieces served well but recently under the tutelage of a machinist (thanks Dave) I turned out the two pieces needed for this joint.  Dave worked to mill down the 1/4″ bronze plate for the wooden tiller connection.  Here is the result.  Not perfect, but satisfactory for this helmsman.

Maiden Voyage

I have skipped many of the details in the final stages of the build.  I apologize and will fill in the gaps at a later date.

Aug 18, 2016.  I set the date to accommodate as many folks as possible to join in the celebration of the launch of The Earl Craig.  It was a beautiful evening at Holmes Lake in Lincoln, Nebraska with light winds.  A crowd of about 40 friends were there to send their good will to The Earl Craig.  Lance Schwartz of the local television station was on hand to. Lance has a segment call “Lances Journal” in which he does an in-depth look at items of interest around the state.  Thanks to my friend Tim, Lance is doing a story on my boat build.  He was there at the launch and his story will air in a few weeks.  I’ll post the information on that date as soon as I know.

Here are a few photos that were taken and a video I made with the GoPro camera mounted to the top of the yard (the top of the mainsail).  Thanks again to everyone that helped me throughout the build.

Rudder Assembly

I constructed the rudder blade from two 1/2″ thick meranti plywood pieces, glued together.  I shaped the foil using Tom Hamernik’s article in Duckworks Magazine.

I wanted to make a kick-up rudder the the lines controlling the rudder inside the rudder assembly.  I could see all sorts of issues with the lines dangling on the outside of the rudder.  James McMullen has a great system so I copied his set up.  I played with the position of the pulleys and the attachment points to the rudder blade using a plywood mockup, then constructed the assembly.

The top rudder housing is solid sapele and the cheeks are 1/2″ meranti plywood.  I covered the cheeks and the blade in 6oz fiberglass on each side, primed and painted both surfaces.

A rectangular mortise is located in the rudder housing for the tiller extension, which is held in place with a tusk tenon joint.  I used a nice piece of walnut, grown and cut by a good friend and colleague Len at his farm near Lincoln, for the tiller extension.  The tusk is Brazilian Cherry.




Mast Sheave

The foremast sail is raised by a line called the halyard, which runs through the top of the mast.  Two options exist for the pivot point of the halyard at the mast top: simply an enlarge hole, or a sheave (a pulley).  I chose the later.

Mast aligned in mortiser

Mast aligned in mortiser

The sheave I purchased is 5/8″ thick and I needed to cut a mortise with the center pivot 4″ down from the mast top.  Fortunately I have a mortiser…a drill and chisel that makes square holes.  After positioning the mast in the mortiser and squaring the bit, it is simply a task making repeating cuts to produce the mortise. The only tricky part was to make sure the mortise is square with one side of the mast; though the mast is round, the other end of the mast is square.  This square end fits into a mast step.  Thus the sheave mortise needs to be port-starboard in orientation.  I put a level across the mast-step end of the mast to get the mortise correctly placed.


Once this is set up, the clamped mast is moved in small increments to cut the mortise.  Sorry about the movement on the video, but I was filming and cutting the mortise at the same time.


I drilled a 3/8″ hole for the bronze pivot pin and countersunk a hole for the fastening mechanism to hold the pivot pin and sheave in place.  I will drill and tap the ends for a 10-24 machine screw.  After a coat of epoxy, primer and two coats of paint, it will be ready for the halyard.

Brass Keel strip

I lamented over what type of protection I should add to the keel.  My choices included a half-oval brass band (expensive), UHMW plastic (this is not dimensionally stable, changing dramatically in heat and cold which would not be good for a Nebraska boat), wood, or flat brass.  I chose the latter – 1/8″ brass from Online Metals – a reasonably priced solution.

Next I called upon my friends and had a boat turnover party.  We discovered the ten folks could very easily lift and carry a Sooty Tern!

Upside down, I trimmed out the centerboard slot, filled and sanded a couple of holes, touched up the paint and installed the brass keel band.  Drilling the holes and countersinking took a while, as all good things in life.  I used four separate brass strips and bedded the brass to the keel with Sikaflex caulk.  I also put on cover over the centerboard slot – I had an old fire hose and thought the inside later (rubber inside melded to a kevlar covering) would be great but discovered that the centerboard does not slide along the rubber.  So I replaced that with the outer firehose kevlar covering (no rubber) and it works much better.