Saturday, May 17, 2008

Wharram Tiki 21 For Sale in Colorado

If anyone is looking for a Wharram Tiki 21 in the U.S. that literally needs nothing and is ready to go, you could scarcely find a better one than Element, the example I restored for my own use in 2006 and sold last year to Bill Cotton, of Fort Collins, Colorado. The restoration and refitting of Element is well documented on my blog at:

The sailing season is short on the high mountain lakes of Colorado, so Element has not been heavily used since Bill bought her last summer, and should still be in the excellent condition she was in when I sold her.

Here is a short video clip I took while sailing in the Mississippi Sound last year just before the boat was sold. In this video I'm steering from the leeward hull, averaging 9-10 knots on a reach near the north coast of Horn Island. This was taken during a great 4-day beachcruising trip in May, 2007.

The Tiki 21 can be easily beached and draws only 14 inches, which is quite handy in areas like the north coast of the Gulf of Mexico. Element comes with a custom road trailer, opening up lots of sailing possibilities from inland lakes to any coast you care to drive to.

Below is a photo of Element with her current owner, Bill Cotton, the day he bought the boat from me. Below the photo is his description of the boat and his contact information.

This boat was beautifully restored by Scott Williams. It comes with main, jib, and spinnaker, a 5HP Nissan 4-cycle OB, a deck tent, trailer, ground handling equipment including two hull dollies and tow bar. It is a great sailing boat; goes well to weather, ideal for shallow water sailing as no center board or dagger board, no deep extending rudder. I have had it up to 15kts. It is very stable. It handled well with no hull raising in 50kt+ downburst. Located in Colorado. “Some assembly required!”; cell: 970-222-6812. $9000.

Thursday, May 8, 2008

Priming and Painting a Backwoods Drifter

This week I've been in the process of prepping the Backwoods Drifter I've been building in my spare time for paint and varnish. This boat, which I'm building for a customer, was originally going to be delivered unfinished, but since he was not in a particular hurry for it, the owner decided to have me go ahead and do the painting and varnishing.

I had the first coat of primer on it a couple of weeks ago, before I went to south Florida to work on another boat. When I got back to it this week the primer was sanded and another fill layer of fairing epoxy applied to smooth out various minor imperfections in the fiberglass sheathing. I use a compound of about 50/50 phenolic microballoons and silica for this fairing mix. This makes a relatively easy to sand filler that is still hard enough to make a good substrate for paint.

After sanding this final filling coat down to 80 grit, I then cleaned the surface of dust and wiped with denatured alcohol before applying another coat of primer. The primer used here is Interlux Pre-Coat, a product designed to be used with the one-part polyurethane paint I'm using for the project - Interlux Brightsides. This primer comes in white or gray. I used the gray for this hull as it will get dark green topcoat. Below is a view of the primed hull. The interior at this stage coated with 2-3 coats of pure epoxy, and has yet to be sanded smooth for varnishing.

Yesterday I applied the first coat of finish paint, the Interlux Brigthsides in Sea Green. It was put on with a brush after first sanding the primer to 120 grit. This first coat is just a build coat to get a good base color. It will be sanded with 220 and overcoated at least 2 and probably 3 more times, using a foam roller for application. I was not worried so much about dust on the first coat, so it was done in the garage. For the final coats, the boat will be moved outside and painted early in the mornings when there is no dust in the air. The process takes time, as you must wait until the next day to sand and recoat. Instead of sanding this coat today, I turned the hull back over to work on the interior.

Sanding and varnishing the interior will take several days as well, as only one coat per day can be applied. The epoxy coatings must first be sanded smooth to 120 grit and since it is a clear finish, no fairing compounds can be used. It takes much longer than fairing the painted exterior. Because of the bright interior, all the fillets and glue joints are made with epoxy thickened with wood flour and silica, a mixture that is quite hard to sand when cured.

A high-build varnish does a lot to smooth out the surfaces over the epoxy as well, provided enough coats are applied. I use Z-Spar Flagship varnish for surfaces such as this that will be exposed to a lot of U.V. light. On a boat like this that will likely be stored inside or under some sort of shelter, 3 or 4 coats of this varnish will last for years. By the time the 3rd or 4th coat of varnish is done, the first coat of paint on the hull will be well cured for sanding and I can proceed with the final exterior coats.

Although it's dusty here, you can get some sense of how the hull will look with the dark green topside paint and varnished ash rubrails. The plywood is all BS 1088 Okoume, which also finishes out on the interior to a pleasing mahogany color. With any luck with the weather, I'll have all the necessary coats inside and out within the next couple of weeks.

More on the Backwoods Drifter design here.

Sunday, May 4, 2008

Update on Reuel Parker's Latest Build

Back in February, I posted here about how I had the privilege to meet one of my favorite boat designers - Reuel Parker, while I was in Florida working with David Halladay on the beginning of his Tiki 30 project. Well, I've just returned from another work trip to south Florida last week, and this time David and I had the opportunity to visit with Mr. Parker two more times. These visits led to lengthy conversations with the designer about his latest project and boatbuilding and sailing in general.

As when we met him in February, Reuel Parker is working 7 days per week on his latest boatbuilding project - the 45-foot sharpie schooner, Ibis. Ibis is coming along nicely and much progress has been made since I saw the boat the first time. When we arrived one evening at 6:00, thinking maybe Reuel was ready to quit for the day, he was in the process of fitting the starboard bulwark/toerail and was not planning to stop for at least another hour until we interrupted him with an offer of a cold bottle of ale. Remembering us from before and and realizing that we had a genuine interest in his boats and were not there just to bullshit and waste his time, Reuel opened up quite a bit more and really showed us around the boat, explaining how and why he was doing certain things.

The photo below shows Ibis at the stage of construction she was at on Monday, April 28. The interior is mostly done, the houses and decks are completed and sheathed with Xynole polyester cloth, and the bulwarks were being installed.

Reuel describes the new design as a longer version of a 36-foot double-ended sharpie schooner based on the Straits of Juan del Fuca mackeral-fishing sharpies of Washington State in the 1880's. The new sharpie is 45' on deck, 10' beam, 2'6" draft, 15,000 lbs displacement, with an unladen trailer weight of 12,000 lbs. She is a bald-headed gaff schooner, with self-tending sails. She has a new-design centerboard made of steel and lead-ballasted which is a foil-shaped fin when down. The boat sleeps four in two private cabins, has a hot-water-shower, solar-powered refrigeration, and carries an incredible 300 gallons of water and 80 gallons of fuel. Auxiliary power is an Isuzu 3LD2 diesel (40hp), which will propel her at speeds over 8 knots using less than .75 gallons per hour.

You may notice from the photos that the cabin houses appear a bit high in proportion to the hulls compared to some of Parker's designs, but he said this was a compromise to achieve standing headroom for him (5', 10") in a sharpie of 45-feet. The boat is designed for living aboard and extended cruising, and standing headroom is highly desirable for this purpose. Visually, the extra height of the cabins will not stand out too much with the lowering effect of the high bulwarks he is installing and the contrasting paint scheme of cabin sides.

This boat is coming together at an amazing pace for one man working alone, but Reuel Parker clearly knows what he is doing when it comes to boat construction, and he doesn't waste time during daylight hours. He has also perfected the art of building large, high quality vessels with mostly ordinary construction-grade materials, eliminating the need for exotic hardwoods and other materials with the "marine" designation that so dramatically increases the price of boatbuilding. Parker's methods and materials are described in great detail in his books: The New Cold-Molded Boatbuilding: From Lofting to Launching and The Sharpie Book

Below is another view of Ibis, from the port quarter, showing the foremast tabernacle. Both masts will be fitted in tabernacles, as the boat is designed as a "maxi-trailerable" vessel.

Parker's definition of a "maxi-trailerable" is: "These vessels are 46' and under in length, 10' beam, shallow-draft, and 15,000 lbs or less. The concept is to provide cruising boats that can be stored on 40' 3-axle trailers, eliminating the need for slips and boatyards, which are rapidly turning into condos all over the American waterfront. The boats can be towed by a tow truck without permits or escort vehicles, or can be towed privately with only a wide load banner (no escorts). "

I think he is right on target with this design concept, as I see this same thing happening close to home here on the Mississippi Gulf coast as well. Since Hurricane Katrina destroyed so much of the waterfront, taking away the grand old mansions and the boatyards and marinas that were already in short supply, the casino and condo developers are snatching up every bit of property they can buy. The dock space problem is not going to get better, and slip rental fees are bound to keep rising. This is why I chose the Tiki 26 as a design to build after I lost my deep draft cruiser, and this is also what appeals to me so much about Reuel Parker's shoal draft designs. It's a good thing to own a cruising boat, rather than letting a cruising boat own you, but if the boat has to be in the water it's entire life and has to be maintained in boatyards, you really don't own it.

David and I returned again to Reuel's building site on Wednesday morning, to deliver some teak that David promised to bring him in exchange for a copy of his book: The Voyages of Fishers Hornpipe.

Although Reuel doesn't normally use teak on his boats, he did mention that he would like some pieces to get out the hand rails for the cabin tops, and David has teak practically running out his ears in the Boatsmith shop.

This second visit last week was even more interesting than the first, as Reuel invited us into his design office where the walls are covered in boat drawings and photographs and nautical books are stacked high in every available space. Since I had sent him a copy of my book On Island Time after meeting him in February, and also a link to my website, Reuel knew about the web design work I do and the blogs I am doing for my Tiki 26 project and David's Tiki 30 and other projects. He said he would like to get the construction of Ibis on his website somehow, and so now we have agreed to work together to create a blog on the construction of this vessel. This should be good news to the many Reuel Parker fans out there who are hungry for more information on his designs but have found little available on the web.

The other good news for those interested in Reuel Parker designs is that he was considering signing up for PayPal so he could accept credit card sales through his website, and upon hearing from me that I had good experiences with the method of payment, he has done so since Wednesday. You can now go to his website at and purchase all of his catalogs, books, and boat plans using a credit card through PayPal. Reuel Parker is more than ever interested in making his designs more accessible to those who are interested, and I am looking forward to working with him on the new Ibis blog to bring photos and descriptions of his work to the web so that the world can watch as this sharpie schooner comes together. Look for more on this here on Scott's Boat Pages, and when the blog goes live I'll post the link, as well as create a link from

"A boat is freedom, not just a way to reach a goal."
Bernard Moitessier - A Sea Vagabond's World


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