View Full Version : Penobscot 14 first sail - and thank you!

09-13-2004, 01:07 PM
Took "Wee Lass" - a Penobscot 14 designed by Arch Davis, on her first sail this past weekend. Admittedly, the name is not very original, but seems in my mind to suit this pretty little boat.

I've been mostly lurking on the forum for about 2 years now, every now and then popping up and asking some typical beginner's question. I sincerely appreciate all the suggestions and advice you've given me. I haven't always followed every suggestion, but gave it serious consideration before deciding on a different tack. But a lot of the advice/suggestions you gave really helped out someone who is still something of a beginning boatbuilder. For instance:
- The oars I made will probably never be mistaken for Shaw and Terney's, but they seem to work pretty darn well and look a lot better than what I could buy at the local boat store.
- I used an modified version of Todd Bradshaw's single-part mainsheet system. Based on this weekend's limited experience it will work just fine and it was a whole lot simpler than what I had initially planned.
- I shamelessly copied Capn Pre-Capsize's splashguard for the centerboard case, and it works like a champ!
- I also copied the rope becket detail that Lee Baxter put on the front of his Swampscott Dory; it adds a really classy touch and gives a nice place to attach the painter and anchor line.
- Thanks also for providing the references on the rope fenders; I was able to get a copy of the article that appeared in Wooden Boat some years back. The fenders work well, were fairly easy to make, only cost about $3 each in materials, and look a whole lot nicer than than the ugly plastic ones sold in the boat stores.

Made a trip up to visit my brother in Austin, wanted him to be with me on the first sail as he's got more experience than I (I'm also a beginning sailor). The wind Saturday afternoon at Lake Travis was marginal at best, so the first sail was kind of anti-climatic. We hung a trolling motor on the transom to help us dodge the dock and other "targets" at the marina, and wound up using it more than we liked, just because the wind was so low. Still, when just starting out, better too little wind than too much.

Read about the messabout on Lake Bastrop, and it was on the way back to Houston, so we had to stop by. Jon Etheridge launched his new Firefly (beautiful job!), Steve Lansdowne brought his equally pretty Whisp, and Lance (sorry, can't remember his last name) had a really sweet looking double-ended rowing skiff. Jon also brought his absolutely gorgeous catboat. It looks just like a catboat should; beam is about half the length, round bottom hull, barn door rudder, and gaff rigged. It also sails every bit as good as it looks. I was asked if I wanted to rig my boat and sail it, and Steve volunteered to pass on a chance to sail in the catboat so he could give some wisdom and confidence to a rank beginner. With Steve's guidance and a little more wind, the boat sailed much better this time, although I still need some more "stick time." My tacks and gibes were sloppy at best, and I need to learn to read the wind better, as I had a tendency to point the bow too high. But other than inexperience on my part, the boat behaved great. The sail shape seemed to be right and the boat moved right along. Thanks again for the time and help.

I kept a pretty detailed photo-log of the construction process and saved it on ImageStation.com. Building "Wee Lass" (http://www.imagestation.com/album/?id=4286827829) For a more experienced builder, this might be more for entertainment value than anything else.

I'm also enclosing a couple of pics from Saturday's sail. Unfortunately, the camera battery pooped out so we couldn't get any pics from Sunday. Hopefully I'll get enough experience to where I can get rid of that trolling motor.

Thanks again, folks. The boat turned out really nice.


09-13-2004, 01:16 PM

Jon Etheredge
09-13-2004, 01:35 PM
I saw Al's boat on Sunday when he came out to the messabout. He did an outstanding job.

Wee Lass is a real beauty!

Having done such a nice job on your first boat, I can't wait to see your future efforts. So whats next? smile.gif

09-13-2004, 06:12 PM
Turned out awesome, Al :cool:

Steve Lansdowne
09-13-2004, 08:24 PM
I'll certify that Al is more than a sailor than he gives himself credit for. He single handedly chauffered me around Lake Bastrop and I wasn't even a bit scared once. Why, the wind must have been howling at least 10 knots!

Here's a closeup...


[ 09-13-2004, 09:58 PM: Message edited by: Steve Lansdowne ]

Captain Pre-Capsize
09-13-2004, 08:52 PM

She's a beauty!! Now as to the centerboard case cap that you COPIED from me. My license fee for the rights to use it on your boat is quite reasonable... ;) Oh, didn't Arch mention that to you? :D

Hey, you would be better able to appreciate it if you had spent a season mopping up like I did. "Necessity is the mother of invention" as they say.

Imagine me that first season with one hand on the tiller, one on the sheet, one with a sponge mopping up, one with a Coke in it - yes, Captain Pre-Cap needs all those hands!

[ 09-13-2004, 09:54 PM: Message edited by: Captain Pre-Capsize ]

09-14-2004, 09:48 AM
Great job. I enjoyed your photos on imagestation. Bring her on up to Alberta and we can sail our Penobscot 14's together. They look like twins, where one twin (mine) is much uglier than the other. Congratulations.
Paul Mower

09-14-2004, 10:26 AM
What a fine craft you have built! Congratulations for seeing it through.


09-14-2004, 10:20 PM
Jon, not sure what the next (boat) project is going to be, but I'm already starting to plan/daydream. Gonna have to wait awhile though. SWMBO has been very understanding and not interrupted the boatbuilding with too many honey-do projects. But she's had plenty of time to make a list...
Also need to make some room in the garage. I've got an ugly fiberglass boat on one side and a pretty wooden boat on the other. Anybody wanna buy an ugly fiberglass boat?
Paul, I've seen pictures of your Penobscot, and it's not ugly by any means. On the contrary, very nice. Nice truck, too.
Steve is too kind about my sailing abilities. I think maybe he's just happy that I managed to miss the nearby swimmers and his boat when it came time to come to shore.
Seriously, it was a pleasure meeting Steve and Jon. Both are really nice fellows, and build beautiful boats.
Okay, Captain, so maybe I didn't "copy" your splashguard idea - I just flat out stole it! :D But like I noted earlier, it works great. Wish I'd seen that bit about the license fee on Arch's web site, though...

Peter Malcolm Jardine
09-14-2004, 10:45 PM
That is a truly lovely design, and a damn fine execution. I'm sure you will have many happy days aboard her. Congratulations. smile.gif :cool:

Captain Pre-Capsize
09-15-2004, 03:55 PM
I'm not sure if you picked up on it or not but the bottom of the removable cap is faced with a rubberized mat. I got it at HD and it is sold by the foot as a shower stall padding for shower installation. It is very thin and gray. I just glued it to the wood with Titebond 2. Mostly it prevents the piece from slipping around on top of the CB case as it wouldn't make it water tight. But as you noted it is a vast improvement over nothing at all!

All the best and enjoy the rest of the season.

09-15-2004, 08:33 PM
I didn't know about the rubber mat on the bottom of the cap. I've got a small rectangular piece screwed onto the forward end of the trunk, mostly to cover up the screw holes from the cleat that was there previously. The after edge of that piece has a bevel cut onto it. The center piece, which is removable, also has a bevel cut into it, and is held in place with a piece of shock cord. Not water tight by any means, but I wanted the centerboard to be able to slide up easily if I ran aground on an oyster reef (been there, done that on my plastic boat). I "proof tested" the system this weekend when I forgot to raise the centerboard when pulling the boat onto the trailer. Worked just like I intended! The cap slid forward, as did the centerboard, and no harm done to the boat. Thanks again for sharing a great idea.

L.W. Baxter
09-15-2004, 09:12 PM
hmmmm...I need to make some of those fenders. After one season of use, my dory already needs paint...

One question on those fenders: Are they supposed to drag along in the water like that when you're underway? tongue.gif :D

But seriously... man, you really did it up right. Here's to a little healthy obsession!


09-15-2004, 09:38 PM
Good catch, Lee, the fenders are not supposed to drag in the water - neither is the trolling motor, and that I'd like to get rid of. Between the weight of the motor, the battery, and my 200 lbs, the bow sits a little higher than it should. Next time I'm out and the wind lays down, I'll try to remember to try rowing with the sail rig up - see if the sail rig is in the way of rowing. Dropping sail while on the water doesn't seem like a good option just yet - might get see how well my PFD works!
The article on making the fenders was in the March/April '92 issue of Wooden Boat. The article was written well enough that I could figure out how to tie the crown knot with a minimum of false starts. It's not very complicated.
BTW, I really admire your Swampscott Dory. Beautiful job. The Swampscott was my second choice, after a whitehall type. The Penobscot showed enough whitehall influence to sell me on the design.

L.W. Baxter
09-15-2004, 11:05 PM
Well, maybe we should form a Mutual Admiration Society... :D

Rowing with the sail rig in place can be a little awkward. But after several outings this summer, I picked up the knack. Also picked up a lump on the head when my poorly lashed-up boom came down while I was whistling along. Good thing it's a hollow spar.

It plays in the key of "G", by the way....

09-21-2004, 09:57 PM
A little too close to home....

I really enjoyed the threads written by Bob Quick on the family boatbuilding project at the Port Townsend show, and the launching of "Splinters" by Mike Devour. Here's my version of the same tale.
Yesterday evening I got a call that my supervisor's father had passed away after a long battle with cancer. My super is not much older than I am, but his father's passing was almost a blessing. Within the hour, I also got a call that my stepson's father John had not shown up for work yesterday, and everyone suspected the worst, as he's already had one heart attack. Fortunately, everything turned out alright for John, he just decided not to show up for work and not tell anybody, or answer the phones.
I immediately thought of last Saturday, when Dad and I took Wee Lass out to Offatt's Bayou, near Galveston Bay. We started out rowing, but as the morning wore on, the wind picked up and we had a nice sail. Dad's fly fishing hat got knocked off by the boom during one turn (Lee - the boom is light, and tuned in the key of "B" - for "boink!"). Maybe I really knew what I was doing, or maybe just lucky, but we turned the boat around and sailed right up to the hat to pluck it out of the water before it sank. For this outing I decided to try and do without the trolling motor. The wind laid down a little just before we came to dock, and I sailed right up to it without any bumps or bruises. Again, that may be more luck than skill. The boat handled great, Dad was impressed with it, and it's hard to tell whether he or I had more fun.
Need to do this more often, and make as many memories as possible with Dad while I've got the chance.

Captain Pre-Capsize
09-21-2004, 10:48 PM
Amen to all of that, Al. Memories is what it's all about.

As to picking up that hat in time it reminded me of what I read about a Man Overboard Drill. If somebody or something goes over the skipper has to do but one thing. Gybe. It takes you right back to where you need to be.

Funny how me of all people keeps this lesson foremost in mind. Gybeing is how the Captain got his name and gybeing is how the Captain is going to keep his name! :D

06-09-2007, 10:01 PM
Great Boat, you shold be proud. Am I right in saying that you chose the Lug sail rig?? If so, how do you like it. I am building one right now, and I think that is my first choice. Thanks

06-09-2007, 11:01 PM
Welcome to the forum, Murphype. You'll find a lot of good help here.

You're right, I chose the lug rig and I like it. It probably doesn't perform as well as the gunter sloop, especially in very light air, but it holds it's own, and it's much simpler to set up than a sloop. Perhaps not as simple as the spritsail, but I think the boomed lug performs better than a spritsail. I like having the boom especially when running downwind, and the boom also gives you more options for rigging the sheet. So the lug was a good compromise between ease of setup and performance.


Tom W.
06-10-2007, 08:37 AM
Great pictures on imagestation. You have given me some ideas for my Penob 17, I like your efficient rig. The gunter rig I use takes some effort to set up, but once it is up it sails great. In fact, today was to be the day for our initial sail for the year, but alas it is raining hard right now, forecast is for improvement. We'll wait and see.

06-10-2007, 08:50 AM

She looks beautiful.

Also thanks for reinforcing my resolve and commitment in building my Penobscot 17.

PS Where did you find those details of the rope fender construction ?

PS Ditto for centreboard case cover? :rolleyes:

06-10-2007, 02:56 PM

Rick Starr
06-10-2007, 03:13 PM
Congratulations! Lovely work!

06-11-2007, 08:42 AM
Well, the Penobscot is in the middle of it's third full season, and it's getting a lot of sailing time. (Down here, the sailing season lasts from about early March thru the end of November, and I can row the remainder of the year.) It's been a great little boat - very stable, easy to sail, handles wakes from powerboats and jet skis without any problem, and easy on the eyes.

Rum Pirate, there was a how-to article in Wooden Boat, I think from about 1992, that showed how to make the rope fenders. They're not difficult. I've got a hard copy of the article and scanned it into a pdf file at the house. Send me a PM with your e-mail or snail mail and I'll get you a copy. The centerboard case cover was an idea that I shamelessly stole from Captain PreCapsize; he used something similar on his Sand Dollar.

Since launching, I've been making small improvements (or at least additions) here and there, hoping to make it an even better boat. I've tried to update the Imagestation album.
- Made a new mast a foot longer than shown in the plans. The extra length didn't seem to affect the heeling moment any, but got the boom up a little higher which greatly improved visibility on the lee side.
- Making a boathook was a good idea; staining the shovel handle I used to make it look like mahogany was not. As the boathook gets banged around, it would wear off the stain. I've since taken all the stain off and varnished it natural.
- I've added a downhaul to the rudder blade, it's simple and works well. But due to the severe rake in the transom and the geometry of the rudder, I haven't figured out a way to run an uphaul that I like.
- The parrel on the yard started out as a simple line, seized on one end of the yard. When raising the yard, a couple of half hitches on the other end of the line secured the parrel. It was simple, and worked well, but was not much fun when fighting the wind. I replaced it with a toggle and eyesplice, it works just as well and is quicker to set up or take down.
- I leathered the hole for the mast in the partner, and added a couple of belaying pins to keep the dock and anchor lines from laying around in the bottom of the boat. Keeps things a little neater. The anchor is pvc coated, so it doesn't scratch up the bottom of the boat.
- Next project is to add some small wood cleats to the boom for a two-line reefing system. My current practice is to run 1/8" line from the reefing grommets on the tack and clew thru an eyelet, back to the grommet, and tie off. It works, but it's not quick, and something that definately needs to be done at the dock, not on the water. I'm looking for something quicker and easier.