Google analytics

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Design exercize: Peaches, an 11 foot catboat

by John MacBeath Watkins


The idea here is to design an easy to build catboat that will also be inexpensive. The sail is a Laser practice sail, which saves at least $300 over a similar sized sail. This means keeping the waterline narrow enough for the boat to be pushed by 7 square meters of sail. We don't want the crew to have to hike too hard, so I've given it plenty of flare above the waterline to put the skipper's weight out there without too much stress on the stomach muscles.


The boat is stitch and glue, with two panels a side, and I've managed to get the panels to develop with fairly low stress. In fact, there's less stress in the panel that forms the bottom and the catboat bow than there is in the side panels. Still, you'd best build with 4 mm okume plywood, which is light, fairly flexible, and comes from sustainable plantations. One problem is that the boat is too wide to fit into my 1997 Nissan's bed, so I'd have to cartop it. All-up weight is going to be around 100 lb., and you only have to lift one end at a time, so that shouldn't be too bad. Cost of construction with the sail should be less than $1,000.

Now, I just need free time (I work six days a week), a space to build it, and a bit of cash to make the thing...well, they say man's reach should exceed his grasp, else what's a metaphor?

Update: On the advice of Tom Price, I've raised the freeboard, and I think that makes the boat better:



Tuesday, June 16, 2015

The charity of crows

by John MacBeath Watkins

My good friend John McCartney had an elderly cat who could eat only the softest of soft cat food, and didn't finish what he was served, so John would put the rest outside to be eaten by crows.

The crows were appreciative. John would put the bowl out, light a cigarette, and contemplate the crows at their dinner, a very soothing activity.

Then, the cat died. He achieved great age for a cat, and had a good life, so it was a fond farewell. It was the crows who really suffered, because there were no longer cat food leftovers to feed them. But crows adapt and survive, and they found food.

But they never forgot John's kindness to them, and still tended to hang around when he went out for a smoke.

One day, a crow walked up to him holding a worm in its mouth, and dropped it at his feet.

Now, there are different ways to interpret this. Perhaps the crow meant, "See? Food. Remember food? Why are't you feeding us?"

But I prefer a more anthropomorphic explanation. I prefer to think the crow was, in effect, saying:

"You know, we remember how generous you were to us when you had lots of food. We realize that you've fallen on hard times and no longer have dishes of extra meat to share, and well, me and the flock, we had a bit of a whip-'round, and, well, long story short -- here's a worm."

It's a bit like the story of the ravens feeding the prophet Elijah.
1 Kings, 17:6
And the ravens brought him bread and flesh in the morning, and bread and flesh in the evening; and he drank of the brook.
But was it the flesh of worms?