Monday, December 28, 2009

Forty Days and Forty Nights

Shimojo san told me several times that when he was young he could build a sabani, even in the days of hand tools, in forty working days.  Well, today was our forty-first day in a row of work (I had one day off to go see the sabani races).  I was told at the end of the day today (December 28) that our New Year's holiday would start tomorrow after we had cleaned the shop thoroughly for Shogatsu, the Japanese New Year and perhaps the biggest holiday in Japan.  We may be off until as late as January 4th, which is the end of the customary holiday, so readers should not expect any new blog postings about this boat.  I do plan on using the time to research two older sabani that are on the island: one in a small, private museum and one of Shimojo san's first boats, which is displayed outside a municipal building.  I don't see any reason why I can't throw up a blog posting or two about them.  I also plan a long post about my life on the island.

Here's how we leave the boat at the end of the day in the event of rain.  The shop roof is not watertight.

What has happened since the last posting is that we finished off the bow and stern transoms, did some more finish sanding inside the hull, installed the inwales and just today fitted the mast partners.

We glued and clamped the stern transom, coming back the next day and installing huundu, trimming it flush with the top of the planking, filling holes and sanding the whole thing.

At the bow Shimojo san and I drilled and hammered right through the bow transom and planking several long cedar dowels that I was given the job of making.  These were made of scrap (sapwood I noticed) and well oiled before we drove them home.  Note that the "heads" alternate from side-to-side.

Shimojo san cut the heads flush and left the other ends slightly long and split these with his knife.  Then he drove a cedar wedge into the split and finally trimmed the end flush.  At the stern the dowels simply ran into the transom through the hull.  The top one was horizontal while the others were square to the planking.  They were not wedged or glued, but Shimojo san wanted a tight fit with my dowels.

We hunted around our scrap pile and found some material for our inwales.  We used the bandsaw and planer to prepare this material.  Lo and behold, we used stainless steel twist nails to fasten the inwales.  Shimojo san often tells visitors to the shop that there are no steel nails in the boat.  There are now…. though the basic hull is entirely fastened with wood and bamboo (and glue).

He used his jogi, or homemade wooden ruler, to "horn" the location of the mast partners.

Then he clamped temporarily the mast from his small sabani and sat back to take a look at it.  He was confirming that the rake was correct, which he told me later should look square to the sheer of the boat.  I plan on measuring this angle when the mast partners are finished.  The length of the mast should be about 2/3rds the length of the boat.

We are using Iejima Matsu (pine) for the partners.  I have got to find out more about this wood, which is very dense, unlike any pine I've seen.  It has a curious, slightly unpleasant smell as well.  Beautiful stuff to work with a plane and chisel, however.

The partners have graceful, sweeping curves in two dimensions.

The word is that our mast is being delivered to us in the form of a young pine tree.  We will cut it to length, strip the bark, shape the base and that's it.  Otherwise we would use cedar and work it with a plane.  Shimojo san's masts are square in section, tapering from the partner down to the step.  Above the partners they are oval in section, slightly wider side-to-side than fore and aft.

There will be multiple holes in our step to allow the mast to have different rakes, or angles.  Shimojo san says as the wind picks up you want the mast to rake further back.  In very low winds it rakes forward.  Sabani also have a curious system of mast wedges (illustrated here with the small sabani in the shop).  In high winds you put the side wedges together to make the mast lean into the wind.  I know of two naval architects who should be reading this blog and I hope at least one of them comments on these sailing arrangements.

The typical arrangement

Mast raked to starboard.

To port.

Increasing the rake aft.

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