On New year’s eve I finished glassing the forward and aft sections that will become buoyancy chambers.  This is a view with the camera directly in line with the sternpost, looking forwardIMG_1365

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Glassing the interior

I am behind in my writing, but this is what the boat currently looks like:  The port side has been glassed with 10 oz of fiberglass laid on the diagonal and I am getting ready to do the Starboard side.

Half- Glassed :-)

Half- Glassed 🙂

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The molds are out of the garage!

The photos show the molds and the ladder-frame sitting outside my garage,  I am interested in finding a good home for these.  I also have the full lofting that was used to create the molds, this is 32′ x 8′ when assembled from  4×8 sections, plus a separate 5’x8′ body plan.  If I can find a way to copy the body plan efficiently, I am willing to let that go also.  I would hope to get the cost of materials out of these elements, but am happy to donate the time it took to create them to some organization that would put them to good use.  I am interested in the movement to make educational use of boatbuilding, and am very interested in responses from groups in the mid-west that are working on this.

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It looks like a boat now!

It looks a whole more like a boat when it is right-side up.  The toughest part of the process was getting it out of the garage and back in.  The shop is only 20′ x 30′ with a 9′ side door for a boat that is roughly 27′ x 8′.  I have a mini crane at each end fastened at the center of gravity, so once it was out of the shop, it was a one-hand operation to flip it.  Getting it back in the shop, there was a tense moment as the bow lift started to tip going up over the pad in front of the garage.  Quick action by WB forum member Rogan saved the day.




This is a 26′ 7 1/2″ x 8′ boat in my 20′ x 30′ garage.  It has been pulled off the molds with chain hoists and engine lifts.


Here’s Michael the master rigger who brought some load cells to weigh the thing.  Total #810 split almost exactly between the bow and stern lift points.


Mid flip, it is almost exactly pivoting on the vertical center of gravity, so it is very easy.


Rightside up, me and my very tolerant wife.   and Marley the dog.


Going uphill back into the grarage.

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Boat Flip!

I am planning on flipping the boat right-side up this Sunday 7/10/16.  The width of the boat is larger than the height of the ceiling, so I can’t turn it in the shop, we will have to take it out to the alley to un-capsize it.  Contact me if you can come!IMG_1225

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Here is what the inside of the boat looks like at the moment.  The horizontal pieces are to hold the boat at a constant width until I build bulkheads,  seats and lockers that will lock everything in place.

Under the hull IMG_6713

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Off the molds & frame!

Yesterday I pulled the ladder frame out from under the boat.   The boat is now hanging from the rafters in the garage with a couple chain hoists and a tackle.  The frame moved out to the yard just in time for a thunderstorm.

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Update, Spring 2014

This is the first writing in over a year, but thankfully the progress on the boat has been better than that.  This past fall, I decided to do a bunch of fairing before the boat got too wide to reach the keel and garboards without using scaffording.  The Epoxy filler in the photos results from my theory that it would be better to bring up the low spots on the exterior rather than plane the high spots too much and reduce the hull thickness.  The exterior will be glassed and painted, while the interior will be glassed bright in order to reveal any water intrusion which may eventually occur, so I will want to fair the interior with planes and sander, rather than “bondo.”    I ripped a line in the planking parallel to the middle “B” diagonal and about 8″ before that diagonal,  and then continued to strip-plank to a point about 6″ past the diagonal.    Along the way, I celebrated passing the diagonal by laying in two of my original lofting battens as strips exactly on the Port and Stbd. diagonal.  I am now to a point where it is time to adjust the girth again in order that I will land on the sheer in a controlled way.  The sheer is about 8″ further from  my current strip-planking in the bow than it is in the stern, so I intend to make up the difference in a couple steps.  The photo shows blue painters tape along my next rip, while the black paint on the molds shows the position of the sheer.  Meanwhile I have ordered another batch of red cedar to rip strips for the rest of the hull.

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A wild ride..

One may notice that I haven’t touched this blog since my sabbatical ended.  New Year’s day seems like a good time to take stock.  I greeted the school year with joy and anticipation, and the fall has been very different for having had the change.

My Stagecraft class is always a delight and it has been enrolling very well in recent years.  Other teachers may understand the challenge of having a class that follows an inverted Gaussian curve:  This term I had excellent students and some very challenging ones with few in the middle.  This makes it difficult to decide what to teach on any given day, but in individual work, each student can be very exciting.  I was reading yesterday about a range of genes which correlate with risky behavior and which, SUPRISE! correlate with ADD / ADHD.  File this in the overstuffed folder, “Rediscovering the Obvious.”

This fall we did a world premiere of a new adaptation of Alice in Wonderland.   Conceived as a treatment that celebrated the language of the original, we also did workshops with a local circus-arts group to incorporate some interesting movement.  Given the mostly ‘story theatre’ approach I didn’t expect to be building much scenery, but as sometimes happens, the props were murder to create.  In our treatment, most of the cast were in pants and suspenders and had shtique consistent with them being 19th century stagehands.  The theatre was the “Wonderland” which Alice entered and the cast/ stagehands then changed the sizes of doors, moved keys out of her reach, and generally created all the locations she experienced.   This all came out well.

The bulk of the rest of this blog is concerned with a boat I started building, and truthfully nothing but dreaming has happened on that front since August.  Every morning I take my coffee out to the front porch and read something while I wake up.  I read “Science News”, “Smithsonian”, and “National Geographic” about half the time, and the rest of the time I read and re-read books and magazines about boatbuilding….  dreaming…

The other thread of the past sabbatical was to get back to designing professional theatre and dance.  I am happy to say that this has resulted in invitations to continue designing with some of the groups I created for.  I was not able to accept all the invitations due to the full-time job, but will be designing the 40th anniversary dance concert of the “Chicago Moving Company” in March, and a Gala season by Hedwig Dances in June.

I am happy to say that my school has re-created a web-presence for department production photos which is easier to understand and navigate:    https://www.latinschool.org/podium/default.aspx?t=151186

Happy New Year!


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Open House

By which I mean open shop.  This Saturday 9/15, from 10am-4pm I would like to invite neighbors, colleagues, friends, and future friends to share what I have been doing on sabbatical this past year.  Post below or email me if you don’t know the address.

Did you know that in the 1880’s Chicago recorded 20,000 ship clearances per year?  The smallest of these was about the size of the largest charter sail boats you currently see on the lake, and this number was crammed into 8 months of the year.  Do the math!   I have researched and started to build a boat which would have existed at the time, but, as the waterborne equivalent of a pickup truck, it wouldn’t have even been included in the number above.

Mackinaw Boat

In order to build this thing, I have learned a bunch about Naval Architecture, some of which is detailed in the Pages of this site seen in tabs above or to the right.  This stuff is terrifically interesting from the standpoint of Math and Physics and I hope to be able to share it with classes which might find it relevant.  Historically, these boats were open but used ballast stones, which means that if they ever capsized, they would sink immediately.  I want to see how these boats sailed, but I am not interested is being so “traditional” that I drown at it, so while I am using a historical hull-shape, I am updating the construction methods and ballast to make the boat survivable in the event of a knock-down.  I didn’t know how to do this when I began, and hired a professional Naval Architect to help.  I can now share the tools he uses, which include some surprisingly simple applications of a standard spreadsheet.

In addition, I spent the year getting back to some of the sort of professional lighting and projection design work I did as a free-lance artist before I began at Latin School in 1996.  Posts on these topics are in the Tech Theatre tab above and elsewhere on this site.   It was fabulous to get back among professionals and get back up to speed with the current state of the art.

Dance of Forgotten Steps

The best thing that came out of the year, however, was the reminder that I love teaching at Latin school, and I love the stimulation of he interaction with students and colleagues.  Despite my occasional grumbling to the contrary, I am not ready to retire to be a boatbuilder in the woods somewhere.

Please come if you can.

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