Friday, October 31, 2014

"Gillum Bore" a large Rainbow parrot fish

Here in the Bahamas we still have lots of fish about. There has been a steady decline in the amount of large breeding fish from the pressures of the local fishermen using hooka rigs to dive deep and be able to stay on the bottom for hours spearing these big unwary fish. This is totally ilegal over here but there is no enforcement so on it goes. At present there is also a huge wipeout of fish of all sizes by ilegal Dominican poachers in the southern Bahamas. The Goverment is in collusion with this fishery in payoffs and looking the other way. Americans are doing their part by coming over on their yachts and filling coolers up and going home. Such is life in that the worst thing happening in the environment is us.
Fortunately there are still a bunch of these big ole parrot fish around. In fact we have 4 living in the rip wrap sea wall in front of our place. We do not tell the locals about them because they would be gone  in an instant. When asked by the islanders here if I see any fish out front I always say there are none and never will be because I will spear them first. They understand this so have never checked out our private sanctuary out front. He ,he ,don't tell them.
The locals call these big parrot fish by the name of Gillum Bore. No one knows where this moniker came from. 

Finished carving ready for varnish

Starting life

A speared Gillum Bore . The locals like to make fish cakes from the meat which is very white. They get dark like this when they die.

The live ones out front our place look just like this.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

My GLADES SKIFF style concept.

After I left Hells Bay Boatworks the company designed a skiff that they called the Glades skiff. It's a nice long skinny shallow skiff for getting around the Evergldes and shallow narrow spots. It's supposed to be good to pole by one man and use very low horsepower engines. A nice simple long lean skiff. It is not intended for big open waters, long bay trips and steep chop. With two people on board it will balance out well when poling. 

Today lots of people have followed suit and have been coming up with lots of different variations on the Glades skiff. Now the Geenoe company and many bayou builders have been doing their version for a long time but these new skiffs are supposed to be a bit more seaworthy and maybe look a bit more traditional.

Lately I have met a bunch of guys via emails that are obsessed with designing and building the lightest Glades type skiff to be able to go in really unaccessable areas. Even so much as to drag their skiffs over dykes to get into other areas. Several have sent me pictures of beautiful skiffs they are building.
This whole concept got me thinking lately ,so here is my idea - version for a home built super simple and very light weight Glades type skiff. 

 What I have observed from the skiffs I have seen so far on the internet.

- Lots are very narrow with big engines.
- Most all have spray rail issues , as having been retro fitted. Not wide enough. Not long enough to protect the helmsmen.
- All start with very flat runs and some get into a good vee.
- I can find no good pictures of them running in a good chop with the bow trimmed down so as to show how dry they are in running. 
- Most all look wet in a beam sea. ( most all skiffs are).
- All have their spray rails up very high but these skiffs are intended to fish in very shallow and protected waters so why so high so as to not catch the spray ?
- Most all have very simple interiors. No pretense of carrying everything with you like other flats skiffs.

With these thoughts in mind here is my design.

I will start with the sheer and work down. I feel that in a simple skiff like this you are not going to be carrying a lot  of stuff so only need simple watertight lockers. I like a nice sheer so have broken away from convention here and drawn a slight sweeping sheer. The deck I have lowered to sit on top of the upper spray rail. This deck will be very light over conventional decks . The sheer will be a 11/4" PVC tube instead of a rub rail. This will save lots of weight and is a very strong and resilient rub rail.
 ( see my drawings for this detail).
With the deck lower your center of gravity is lower so you and the boat will feel and be more stable when moving about. Also in the bow it will make a great fly line catcher.

The upper spray rail is a detail that I introduced in the Whipray . This idea came from looking at all the old boats like the Challenger skiffs, Fiber Crafts and others that had spray rails but seemed to always be just not right. In the Whipray it has worked well. Today I would make it wider. So too with the Guide and others. Why not . In the HB glades skiff I would make that one way wider and longer. It looks like little T- REX rails up almost under the sheer.

In the Marquesa design I tried to come up with a new look with out having the spray rails go all the way aft. Hal  Chittum in his skiff has come up with a very aggressive spray rail. I like this bold move .I do not like the deep vee part of it for the extra work it involves , the extra weight and where does the water go when it gets in there? Lots of people have been adapting the Marquesa spray rail look with most notably the East Cape company. I like the way their Glide Skiff looks with this adaption. Hals spray rail is getting used too in Spears skiffs. To me this is all good. They work if done right so why not. Now lots of skiff builders have put them on but seem to have lost their nerve about width so have ended up with too skinny a chine. On this skiff it will have a monster wide curved and sharp edged upper chine spray rail that will flow down to the waterline to catch what ever spray is coming up. It will be very wide all the way aft past the helmsman to protect him.

Now here is where I have gone off the beaten track is in the placement of the engine.

All these skiffs have heavy engines on their sterns. Now add the guide on top of it. Up goes the bow .
But hopefully you are not alone. Hey it's nice to have somebody else pole too. 
I have put the engine forward in a small well to move the guide and motor weight to a more central location. This means he will have a better chance of staying drier by being forward of the spray that always seems to come aft. 
The engine will be on a simple pivot mount so it can be lifted out and forward to sit level in the center of the skiff. Nice balance. When running you will use the usual Handel bar rig with your sport sitting on the cooler in front. This is a nice place to be if running in a beam sea . Very dry here. If going into a big head sea trimmed down and the motion is too much then just sit aft next to the guide.
With the engine in this position the skiff will spin on a dime, will run very level if needed which means it will plane at very slow speeds with little tab needed because of where the weight is. Good for small horse power. The engine well hole will have an ever so slight wedge in the hull to not catch the running water going past and  some other details that will keep it dry.

Ok, now you are on the tower polling . I have drawn in a rounded stern that is crowned in its curve so as to be very quiet with the seas aft. Also very easy to pole around. The bottom of the hull will be straight but this will flow into the curved stern .The tower shown will be on a sliding track so you can move forward up to the engines transom area to get your weight centered when alone . Or move it aft with a sport aboard . Will be a very quiet hull poling backwards.
The bottom details are thus, the centerline keel of the skiff has a slight rocker in it fore and aft. This I do for better poling a long lean skiff. Also to let the bow trim up when needed. The single trim tab is to over come this when running when needed. Trim side to side by human weight and save a trim tabs cost and weight. 
I like my little chine-let detail if done right as I think it gives you a drier ride. What it does is when the water leaves the first bottom chine edge is start to curl upwards but the next slightly down turned chine edge now redirects this spray. Look at skiffs running with this chine area filled in . The spray is blowing out away from the skiff. Now look at the old HB skiffs and see the difference. They have filled this area in now on some of these skiffs which makes the boats a bit faster I guess and in a turn more stable.If you fill it in it will be a stiffer turn and this to me is not so much fun.  I also have drawn in my usual reverse spray chine that I introduced in the Whipray design. Today I would be very aggressive in its use and placement in lots of the skiff designs I see. It really works well so why not use it all the way to the bow area ? I will. 

 This boat can be built in foam core strips like Corecell bead and cove or just in cedar strips. It consists of just the hull, a flat cored deck glassed with one layer of 7 oz. cloth on each side. Two hatches with my new two fastening only hinge system that will never leak. No hinges. And two bulkheads. 
Should weigh way less than 300 lbs all up or less with more exotic cloth and resin. My 12' 3" dinghy weighs 130 lbs in just regular resin. This boat will be great with a 15 hp two stroke Yahmaha that you can still buy over here in the Bahamas for $2,300.00. It weighs 89 lbs. your speed with two people will be 18 mph or so. I get 22 mph in my 12' skiff . 
Now if you want to take the engine off and go in a no motor zone I have a Chinese Yuhlo design to skull with to get across deep water . Very simple.

Or ???

If these drawings are not clear on this blog go to my facebook site , they always seem to come out clearer there.

Having ridden in a 12' 3" dinghy for the past 26 years every day running with babies, wife and all our stuff in it trying to stay dry  I have been looking at , cussing at spray for a long time. Hence the big sray rails . Small boats just cannot go fast enough to get past the spray on a beam sea. What you sea here is an improved 12 ' skiff with a stern added to get the length for moderate planning speeds, less gas, very dry and comfortable and to pole well.

Central weight for modest planning speeds , dryness and comfort. Aft tower slides on a track from above the engine to the stern for conventional use.

Spray rail and sheer detail. This system I have been using on the sheer for 29 years on my skiffs. Very resilient as we are always banging up against docks and stuff. The PVC strip on top makes a very good non scruff rub bumper. Also very light. Not copyrighted go for it.

New hatch hinge system that I have been using on Hogfish Maximus for  12 years. This would eliminate at least 10 fastenings per hatch to drill out, fit and hope to not leak. Also dead simple to get the hatch to fit level. With rubber washers will never leak. Cannot be retro fitted but can be used on all new builds. I have not copyrighted it so go ahead and use it.

My design office in its usual state .

New Design i'am working on for Tom Gorden and his Islamorada Boat Works . He's commissioned me to come up with a new skiff to compete in the HPX, HB Professional, East Cape, Chittum skiff market.
I'am almost done so will post the process in a week or so.

Our family truckster, Minimus



Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Chris Peterson , Hells Bay Boatworks ... Creating a name brand .

This past month I have had the opportunity to go through all my old photos of sailing, raising our girls, and looking over some pictures of the beginning  days of HBBWs . Rachel and I will be off sailing for a couple of years or more so were taking this time to reminisce.
Since posting some of these old pictures of my flats boat designing and building days I have gotten a very nice amount of responses with thank yous and lots of skiff questions. This has been fun for me .
On my facebook page I have had a bunch of freind requests from avid skiff owners and fisherman. Lots of these guys do not own one of my past skiffs but just want to talk skiffs. This I like doing very much.
From their profile pages I get to see lots of different skiff pictures.
A few years ago coming back from the West Indies to St. Augustine to build a trimaran I collected a bunch of stuff from my time at HBBWs when passing by our place here. I wanted to pass some things on to Scott Peterson who had bought HBBWs  from the bank after it went bankrupt. Scott had reintroduced my name back into HBs history so I wanted to say thanks for this by giving him the original Whipray half model that I had made to take the lines off of to loft the skiff. I also gave him all the original sale brochures , a hat and the photos that I took of building the Whipray plugs and molds under a plastic tarp up in ST. Augustine. Scott and I talked for an hour and he graciously lent me my old mold for the ultimate dinghy. My original skiff had been stolen the year before in the Grenadines
So I got to build a new one. While waiting an hour for Scott to show up to meet me , as he had forgotten about our appointment I got to look around my old shop and talk to a couple of past employees. I have to say my time with Scott and seeing how the shop was being run was a big let down. Was not impressed. 

Fast forward to this year my daughter emails me to look at the HB facebook site and watch the video of Flip , Chris and one of HBs employees listen to Flips version of how we came up with the Whipray design and what HB was all about at that time. This was Chris Petersons promo of re selling the idea of a legend. Flip tells his tale and fortunately includes Hal Chittums name in this. Of course Hal no longer exists in the current HB lore as I guess Chris Peterson is miffed at him for starting another company and dissing HBs old designs to promote Hals new boat ideas. Lots of things Hal has said about our original ideas and his new ideas are true. Did not bother me. I don't agree with Hals new boat construction and all the hoopla that goes with it but I like some of his skiffs details. One thing I find disconcerting for Hal is claiming to spending a quarter mill on R&D for this skiff when he spent less than $35,000.00 on my Whipray design and all the plugs and molds. Inflation I guess ?

By my count Flip tells about 10 little fibs and miss truths in his recounting of how it all came about. 
Some glaring miss truths are , 

- I did not make the half model in front of him .  
- The photos I gave to Chris Peterson , they did not come from Flip.
- I am a boat designer and builder but not a flats fishing person, so why would i need to hook up with these two to build three skiffs when I could do this on my own at any time. I have never owned a flats skiff.
- When we started HB none of us had a clue about Vacume bagging. Thanks for the allocades Flip, but i'am no genius .
- When I sold out to my three HB partners I was making over six figures in salary with company sales going through the roof with very little company dept. The company failed after I was bought out and left. 
 I could go on. But why? Does not make a difference to the skiffs being built. But if you are buying into a name brand it would be nice to know how it all really came about. You are spending your hard earned money to be part of this.
I contacted Chris Peterson about this via email and said that a lot of what was said was off ,I could live with it but that the part of us partners not being good businessmen was not to my liking.
Chris emailed back and said it was Flips version and he had nothing to do about it. But he would like to know my version and he would post it on his web sites. 
This started a few emails back and forth with me sending him my story to read and the photos of  the early boats in my career to explain that Chris was alining himself up with a dubious tale.
This I did before posting on my blog, to give him first shot of what really went down with all the paperwork and photos to go with it. I had written my history down 2 years before but had not had the time to post it here. I felt it would be great for the current owner of a company that was being promoted as the end all to flats fishing would want to be part of this. I offered him copies of all the original lines drawings and all the info I had of HB. The very essence of the beginning of the " legend". For free, no strings attached.He never emailed back after receiving all you see on this blog. 

I have not heard from him since.

When Chris Peterson bought Hells Bay he bought all the building processes,  the ideas , the experience of  Flip, Hal, myself and the employees that made Hells Bay a major player in the flats word. This he did with a bit of money. 
The interm owner, Chris and who ever makes decisions in designing there has changed the bottoms a bit, made different models, but what makes Hell Bay Boats work is how they are built. Lots of other boat company's now benefit from this building , design, and engeneering process. I'am proud of the part I played in this. I really like seeing all the clones and the use of these past ideas. Some are getting it and improving on HB.
Today Hells Bay Boatworks is a major name brand in the industry. This has been accomplished by very good advertizing , marketing, and the money it takes to make this happen. It's not cheap.
 It's very nice to see all the clout of HB going to all these good causes.
I wish the best for the Petersons and HB but till this company comes out with a new ground breaking design by their pro staff they are just living and reinventing the past.
And so are all the other company's that are making facsimiles .

Flip Pallot , Hal Chittum in the first production Hells Bay Whipray at 12:00 at night at the boat ramp in Tittusvlle dying to go for our first ride. I just finished rigging the skiff. The photos are taken by me as Rachel was on the boat with our kids. We were still living on the original Hogfish.

Flip and Hal untying the skiff

Hull number one of the Whipray. The skiff you see with Flip in on HBs facebook site is the hull I built in St. Augstine.

The  real Founding Fathers of Hells Bay Boatworks. Hals wife Jamie owned 26% but stayed out of the picture .

This is a picture of Flip on HBBWS facebook page today that states he is the founding father of Hells Bay.
This is the skiff I built under the tarp. It would be nice if Chris Peterson would tell the complete story of HB instead of rewriting it.
Boy that old skiff is sitting low in the stern , but Flip is a big guy. See the low Chines.

Whipray hull # 1 which was the prototype at Frank and Liz Steels Fly shop in the first few weeks of moving to Tittusville and starting up HB. This is the water tank that we had just done at the Huston Shallow Water Boat show. 

Starting to build the predecessor of the Whipray on an island in Marathon Florida.
My daughter Lillian in this picture turns 20 next week. Give me a project and I will build it anywhere.

Myself , Tom Gorden , and an onlooker while we bag the first HB skiff. My Bilabong is starting to show!

Stan Nash and I making patterns for the first skiffs.

A bit of the past, now what shall the future hold?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Today's motor home on the water.

I like to sail on boats that I can see and feel the wind. By seeing the wind I can see the ripples on the water, by feeling the winds I can tell when running down wind at night how far the wind has veered by the feel of it against my ears and neck. I also sail to see and enjoy the pure energy of how a vessel moves along by the force of the wind. When entering a Harbour under sail all my senses are on alert to avoid shoals ,other boats and to see a possible wind shift.
So my sailboats are very clean of gear on deck and around the cockpit. At sea I can rig in a second a nice sun awning from the boom gallows to the aft railing supports that were made for this. When it's blowing hard I take this awning down and now have a clear view. When going to weather in rough going the wind vane steers the boat and I can just sit in the doghouse and watch the world go by. 
Coming into port in nasty weather I done foul weather gear and just deal with it. At anchor we have a very nice awning setup.

Today's group of sailors think in a different way. These people were raised on tv , computers , video games and commuting by car long distances while talking on the phone and listening to talk show hosts that are bitching about something. These people are used to being in enclosed areas on the way to work, at work and when they get back home. One day they decide to become a sailor - cruiser and start on the computer looking up what they need to live on a boat that will make them feel at home.
This trend has brought us the Island Packet crowd, the huge Room-Ma-Ran catamaran crowd and all the other group of sailors that want to stay under cover till the last instant when one of them has to go forward and lower the anchor. Otherwise they want to stay in what is the equivalent of a sailing motor home. In the typical cockpit of one of these vessels you will have a steering wheel that is over shadowed by a huge GPS system flanked by the VHF and loud hailer . To see around this getup one must stand up on tip toes to see over. Now the compass is in there somewhere but this crowd has the GPS full map system so who needs to look at that , all i need is my waypoint book .
Sailing under a fully enclosed Florida Room like you see on the intra costal where they enclose half the property and pool area under a huge screen cage . Side flaps down , the little window to maybe look up at the set of the mainsail but who does that and the sun might find me so it's closed.
What the whole sailing experience comes down to is seeing the goose neck of the main boon and maybe the genoa tack at the bow.
Sensory deprivation at its best. But hey the sun can't find you under  all this crap.
At night with the GPS TV show going on all night vision is gone . But the good this is they're in the safety compound of the FLORIDA ROOM.

I'd rather experience the sea that I sail on. 

Today's floating CARAVAN-MOTORHOME at rest . They have missed the channel completely . The wind is in the east coming from their stern . They have set the anchor to leeward in the channel they should have been in. Three more of their tribe are consoling and trying to figure out what to do. 
In passing by in our dinghy going home I suggested to put a kedge out to windward and put a strain on it so when the tide floats them they will be heading into the wind and not drifting into the channel and onto the leeward rocks. They got off fine.

But i'am sure they missed the channel because they were not looking at it but at their GPS TV show
Enclosed in the saftey of the FLORIDA  ROOM.

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Building skiffs in the Bahamas

27 years ago my marriage to Lawanda ended. Quite simply we grew apart. She wanted a more stable life and I just wanted to keep on looking to see what was around the next point of land.
We had that year finished building the Hogfish and had sailed to Spanish Wells in the Bahamas to start a boat building company there to build out board powered skiffs to be used in the lobster and scale fish industry's there. Spanish Wells is known for their great fishermen, and farmers but had never had a boatbuilding economy. Boat building in the Bahamas was done in the Abacos mostly in Cherrokee , Man O War Cay, and sporadic one off boats in the out islands by individuals. In Man O War cay the Alburys had been building dinghys, skiffs, power skiffs and large custom yachts for several hundred years. All in wood. In the last century the Alburys in several different family's had moved into fiberglass 
Boat production . Willard Albury had the most sought after hull in fiberglass at this time. His main market was in Spanish Wells for the Crawfish industry. Tourism in rental boats had not been started.
The Alburys had been building for many years one off carvel planked skiffs . The wood crooks and knees they needed had become scarce. Also good planking pine was hard to find. They made the move to fiberglass.
I had been coming to Spainish wells since 1977 . Lawanda and I had bought a piece of land there in 78 . I loved the people and fell in with them easily as I loved spear fishing and building boats. They always had boats to repair and fish to kill. We settled into a routine of sailing over from the Florida keys in June and I would work on skiffs to get them ready for the August Crawfish season. I was able to go away for several August fishing trips that would last for 3 weeks. In doing this I was able to spend lots of sea time in all the Abaco skiffs, from wood hulls to the 3 models that were built in fiberglass.
 The Alburys are excellent builders. Their fiberglass boats will last forever. Just beautiful.
My buddy's in Spanish Wells were always after me to come over and build skiffs for them. The Alburys were a year behind in orders. Every year boats were lost and the wood boats were dying off.
The year before Lawanda and I had lost our Morgan 34 at sea .( another story) . We had built the Hogfish so this seemed like the perfect job to get us back on our feet and in the Bahamas full time.
Work permits were not a problem. 
When Willard Albury went from wood to glass he picked what at the time was a big hull at 18'3" long with a nice vee. These boats had when built in wood a spray rail that ran the length of the boat that was 11/2 " wide the whole length. In going to glass he tapered it as it neared the bow. These skiffs also had very tight radiuses on all edges. The boats have a very distinctive look. They are built in solid glass to massive dimensions.
What the locals asked me to do was come up with a bigger longer skiff. More vee as Willard's skiff at certain angles would " spank" . The boats slid in a turn, make a mold for a center console , do each boat as a custom order to fit the client ,make it look the same and could I soften the edges a bit.  
Having been in many skiffs at that point fishing and traveling around in up to8' seas for days on end I had a good vision.
The new boat was19'4" long , deep vee with lifting strakes, freeboard the same as the smaller skiffs, but the spray rail was wider and ran all the way to the bow.
During the start up of this project my marriage ended with Lawanda. She moved to the states to do her thing. I ended up with the Hogfish and all our dept. 
While building the plugs for this skiff I looked up one day to see Rachel looking over the sheer in the skiff hull I was fitting the stringer plug in. 
Long story short it was love at first sight. 26 years later and lots of adventures we are now getting ready for our next cruise. If you do things well in life you get to live many different lives.
After launching hull number one it went off to sea the next day for 23 days. When they came back the word was this was it. The next day we had orders for 29 boats with deposits.
Willard Albury switched to building rental skiffs .
153 skiffs were made from the molds I built. Today half the skiffs in Spanish Wells are these boats and the other half are the modern Panga boats which are better suited to the industry now.
Rachel and I stayed there for 2 years, had our daughter Kalessin and when she was 6 months gave notice and sailed away for ten years. 
We eventually came back and built our home here. I like it here because every one has at one time or another been to sea in my skiff. If you sail into the harbor here just ask anyone for Chris the boat builder. They'll tell you what's up with my life .

Putty on the plug.

Spraying primer on for final fairing.

Plugg mover around for more space. Waxed.

New shop built. I built all the plugs and molds on a sloping shop space at the water front as they took forever to build the shop. Was a pain to level every thing up.

Mold ready to pull. I like to core my molds. Nobody would belive that it would come loose.

Made my day!

My young workers 15&16 years old. Spanish Wells is a white community of Bahamaians that have lived on this island for 350 years. The young boys at the time would finish school at 15 . By 16 or so they would find a fishing boat to go away on. 

Moving into new shop

Laying up hull # 1

# 1 going in 

Production going on. The young Black Bahamians that worked for me were 16 years old when they started. After I left they went on to build 143 more boats with my training over a 14 year period.

Rachel Married me on the beach here. Her only request was that I wear a belt. We were bare foot when married. In cutting the first piece of cake her mom had brought this small wedding cake knife for me to use, I pulled out this cutlass and  did the job the proper way.

Hogfish sailing and sitting, Alert, Paradox, Little Cruiser

Saddle Back Cay Exumas

Tommy Goodwin stops by for a visit

Virgin island sailing, always wind

My dad visits on his Vega " Adios" 

Rachel taking down the jib as we sail up to a dock in Nassau

We sailed the hogfish in and out of every anchoage.

A bit of breeze

Rachel with a real Hogfish

The Cassio wrist watch still keeps almost perfect time with the same battery after 26 years.


Yep we raised our girls aboard from 6 weeks old.

Rachel peaking over the cabin as we leave St. Bart's 

Hogfish below

Hogfish girls 

Jim Melchers "Alert"

Pure Hogfish

I love the simple sprit boom

Matt Layden and Mindy Bulduc

Sailing up a narrow channel 

Alert trying to catch Hogfish

So simple, but what a box

Paradox along side for the night after a big blow

Matt and Paradox

Kalessin talking to Matt 

HFM and Zoey a Paradox built by Glenn Maxwell

I have had a little time these past few days to dig these pictures out and post. Rachel and I are closeing up our house as we will be taking off sailing on the HFM for the next several years. I share these small glimpses of our past life in hopes that it will give inspiration to find your own adventures.
Our kids are all grown up now so it's just Rachel , Bequia the sea dog and me. 
Hope to see you out there.