Escargot Build 7

Escargot Builders log


April 13th

I have been working on the boat. Really!   The trailer showed up…. but I am going to have to modify it to meet my needs.  Basically the guy at EZ Loader was wrong about what would work.  This boat will need far more support than what the four little pads on this trailer offer. Might not be too complicated…  but it will take some time.

It is my kids birthdays again.   My daughter is now nine and my son is 12.  This will be a weekend of Easter and birthday parties.  Next weekend will have another party as well.  Last weekend I went to visit my in-laws. It was a fine time, and we explored the snake river some.  Would be a great place for my boat.   Lewiston, Idaho would be a great place to start.

But my mind is somewhat clouded today by news from work.  The downturn in the economy has put my job in danger.  Again.   Several bad news items on the work front today.  Details are boring to all but me… but… this internet crash may take me with it. 

And a job I had applied for about two months ago, just as a backup,   finally came back that I didn’t get it.  So a tough day.   The job had about one hundred applications, and I was one of only four that got interviewed. That felt good and I thought the interview went very well.   But one of the other people had some very strong experience directly in the field I applied to.  I didn’t.    She got the job.

So tonight I think of impermanence.  

We all have so many expectations.  We go about our days with the belief that today will be much like the day before…or better.  It may not be.   When it doesn’t go as we expect… we are thrown for a loop.   My mother is 76… and her health is failing.  She is going blind and becoming forgetful.   I can understand how difficult that must be.   However, there is a twist to her feelings that is worth mentioning here.     She seems so surprised that she is aging.   She says… she hates getting older.    Oh… I can understand that in some ways.   But in others it seems to be a lot like hating breathing. 

No man shall pass through life without getting sick at least once.   And if we survive that illness our bodies will eventually wear out.

We all will die.

I will die.

You will die.

We will all experience loss. We will all loose jobs.  We will all loose people we love, sometimes way before “their time”… for we have no set time.   Impermanence.

So my mind is a little numb… and tired… and I am worried.    But, for some reason, I took solace in impermanence.  I take solace in knowing that this IS part of life.  I know there may be tough days ahead for me….   some days and weeks of worry… and perhaps a day in a few weeks or months where I will walk out of my job for the last time.  If not in a few weeks or months… it will certainly be a few years.  It will happen sometime.

Tonight, before taking our daughter to a play about Winnie the Pooh…. my wife and I talked.  We have some options.  I have a teaching certificate and can always be a substitute teacher if need be.  I will never be out of work totally!   There is a critical sub shortage right now.  There were some other options we talked of as well.  If I loose my job…  it is just one small part of life.   There is much more in life than my job to revel in.

And how does my boat fit in to all of this?

Well, I will need to be careful about money right now.   I won’t be able to buy that new motor I was thinking of.  Would be a little foolish right now. But…..

As I TRY to go to sleep tonight I will think of all that is beautiful in my life right now.   Impermanence is not the centerpiece for a life of depression.  It is the centerpiece for a live lived with a joy for what is now.    It is the centerpiece of a life that sees all that can be… a life that basks in the glow of the wonder of it all. 

March 21

Lately it seems I only write if I am bothered!   Well, I am not bothered about much today, so will try to write something!

Briefly on the work front.   Whatever.  What will be will be.

This has been a very busy time.   Those birthdays, trips to Lewiston.  And this weekend is filled again.  Final birthday event for my son, going to a movie.   But he also has a large science report due on Monday.   That could well take up all the free time this weekend.   And then first weekend in May my wife’s church has a retreat.   If the weather is bad…. it will be horrible.  If it is good…. the world will be great!   But there will be no boat work that weekend!

I have been squeezing in time to work on the trailer.     The trailer came with four small pads.   It just won’t support the boat enough at all.   So after considerable thought, I noticed that the outside of the boat will be resting on the side rails of the trailer for about 7 feet.    If I just mount a two by six on each rail.. and carpet it… the center of the boat will rest on those.  Then I will use two of the pads for the rear of the boat, let about two feet hang off the back, and then I will build a small support for the front of the boat.

What else is left?  


windows and frames

painting and sanding one side of the boat.

finishing some framing on the inside and on the two outside rear benches.

Making a door for the front hatch.

Mount the outboard bracket.

Getting the boat on the trailer.  I will ask for help from my kind neighbors.  Looks like it could be as late as the start of June before the boat is ready.   Maybe even later. Ack.  But I will float the boat BEFORE all is done.  

NEXT summer I will cut the roof to make hatches on the roof by the door. This is what the plans call for.  But for now, no.

May third

My escargot project…. fourteen months in the making…. made it into the water tonight!  Has a draft of maybe seven inches… maybe eight with a couple of kids in it.  This is with outboard in back.   Floats perfectly level.   Made it off the trailer no problem.   I will share more of this a bit later this evening.   Only down side was my 9 year old daughter got seasick inside the boat within five minutes… just sitting at the dock! 😉

We went no further. No boat license yet.. and more work to do… plus need to mount the outboard lower. 

The boat will probably be named Shambala.

Must run.. more later!

May fourth

Just a few bits and pieces about my Escargot project.

The trailer proved to be something of a challenge, in more ways than one.

First, I brought a picture of my boat to a local trailer manufacturer.   Without hesitation they said I need a special trailer that replaced four sets of roller bunks with four sets of short pads.   He said the pads would pivot in four directions following the contour of the hull.   So I went for it.

When the trailer arrived I knew it would take more work.   The pads were just too short.   I didn’t want to support the entire boat on four 18 inch pads, especially since they could not make it out to the sides of the boat.   The rails get in the way.  The boat is 73 inches wide and the space inside the fenders is 74.  It is a tight fit. 

So…. I decided to add some bunks of my own running down the sides of the frame right next to the fenders.   I haven’t measured.. but they are about 8 feet long.   I used u bolts to attach them to the frame.  I countersunk  the heads and cut them off so the heads are just beneath the surface of the 2 by 6’s.   Then I carpeted them. So now the entire center section of the boat is supported along its edges on the pads.  I then slightly elevated the back short pads to to follow the sharper rake of the back of the boat.   The front is unsupported, but seems to be fine that way.   I know it is hard to visualize, but when I get pictures I will post them.  My digital camera is on the fritz.

Getting the boat itself on the trailer was a little tough.  The plans say the completed boat will be about 750 pounds.  Well, I did add about six inches in height to the boat.  For whatever reason the boat just seems heavier.   So how to raise the boat 20 inches to get the trailer beneath it?   A few neighbors came over and we tried several schemes.  One of them had a huge two ton engine hoist that we thought would work, but the legs of the hoist just got in the way.   There was NOTHING over the boat to hoist from and I didn’t want to build some huge structure. 

So…. we ended up using a floor jack.  A neighbor and I would jack up a corner a few inches and add a small stack of short two by fours in a sort of Lincoln log pattern.  We would do that to each corner of the boat, just a few inches at a time.  

When I say corners, I really mean the corner of the flat center section of the boat.  The curved ends were left in the air.  

Eventually the boat was sitting about 16 inches high on a stack of four Lincoln log piles.  We then pushed the lowered tongue end of the trailer under the boat until it hit the first stack of Lincoln logs.   We then put the floor jack under the boat edge just behind the stack, knocked the two stacks out… and pushed the trailer in as far as it would go.  At this point the boat is about half way on the trailer.  Then we got about 8 guys to come over and we just slid the boat up on the trailer the rest of the way.  


A sidelight.  We put the boat too far forward on the trailer.   Way to much tongue weight.  Felt odd to drive.  It happened because of my positioning of the short pads.  So yesterday when I floated the boat, I took the opportunity to pull the trailer back up and reposition the pads.   This allowed me to have about two feet of the boat hanging off the end of the trailer.  This gives it a MUCH better sense of balance.   Next time I will move it about 18 inches or so… should be just about right.  At that point I will position the winch mount at the right spot.


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MAY Seventh

Last night I went to my friend Dale’s house.    He helped me, oh, I should say …he made the window frames.   They measured 30.5 inches wide by just over 18 inches  tall.   I needed four of them. Dale used to work in a company that made windows.  I believe he was on the customer support end, but learned a lot about making windows.   Now he is building houses for a living.  Using his chop saw and a table saw we cut the rails and stiles and cut out the lip where the glass fits into.   Then, after more than two hours,  we only had time to glue up ONE window.  But it fit right in to the opening I had cut.

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When I first cut the window frames my neighbor Leonard, who worked as an artist for Ford, said they were just too big.  Now that I have a frame in place… I wonder if they are too small!!  The frames are pretty big!     But they look good and are probably just the right size for strength.   

This is getting exciting…. and the kids are getting excited too.

May Tenth

Today we went for our first real outing.    I must say I was nervous.  Really only nervous about, oh, three things.    First, that my used outboard motor would quit.   No reason to think it would, but, the idea of having NO back up power made me nervous.  Second, I was nervous about wind.  Everyone who sees this boat says two things: The motor is too small, and the wind will have it’s way with me.  Third, if any of those problems arose, my wife would get a little overly….. oh… concerned.

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So we waited until late in the day… when there would be no competition on the ramp and the wind was dead calm.   It was a beautiful day, Mount Rainier was glorious in the background, the lake was as calm as I have ever seen it, and the lake was almost deserted. Wonderful day.  

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I pulled up to the ramp and positioned the bumpers, the lines, paid my four dollar launch fee, taped on some hand written registration numbers and let the family out on the  dock.   Backing the boat into the water was no problem.  Not a challenge for me. My wife and son were on the dock to handle the lines.  The boat slid right off, I pulled away, and parked the trailer.  When I came back my son had tied the lines to the dock in such a way the entire side of the boat look like a spiders web.  Must have been 35 knots or so!    Took me a while to get the lines undone.. but he was pretty proud of the way he had made sure the boat wouldn’t get away!

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I positioned my wife forward with the kids… and got in back.  Started the motor.. let it run a few minutes.. and we pulled away from the dock.   My boat was doing it’s thing!    It was working!   People on shore who had asked about the boat let out a cheer and so did we!   So many months of work… and the trip was a delight.. a perfect day…. and the boat was behaving perfectly.  It was level… the motor was purring… it turned on a dime… what few waves there were it rode gently….  it was just plain fun.   ALL were enjoying it.  Jessa sat in front with Karen while Alex walked around in the cabin looking out the two window holes that have been cut so far.     We stayed within a short distance of the dock. Karen had a meeting and we were both concerned about the motor.   All went perfectly!

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One problem I guess.   I really think I need a long shaft outboard.   Got a short shaft.   The boat rocks back a bit when underway.  Understandable given the shape.  This lowers the motor in the water so low that the bracket is slightly dragging in the water.   Yet, when we are at a stop the boat can rock enough in the waves to pull the water intake out of the water.  I am sure that if all of us went forward in the boat the propeller would be out of the water part way.      Plus, to be honest, that nagging feeling of an outboard that was built when I was about eleven years old….. as my only power…. 33 years old.     Even though it is remarkably clean looking.   I just want to get a new motor…. and a long shaft.    A little unsure of what power to get. I will ask the small boats group.   Plus.. as we were pulling into the dock… I backed off on the throttle and the motor quit.  Ack!   And it wouldn’t restart for about ten pulls.    It did eventually, and all was fine.   Probably needs an idle adjustment… but still…..

May 14th

Thanks to Vince, Chris, Don, Chuck, and any others who gave me their thoughts on my version of the Escargot.

Vince, I did do some modifications to the design along the way. Most I tried to think out, others just seemed to happen. For now, the inside of the main living space does NOT have built in seats or a galley. I wanted to put a floor in the boat so I wasnt tripping over stringers and so that my kids could sleep on floor. I basically needed sleeping room for four. The boat was design to have sleeping room for for three. I will probably never do an overnight with the entire family… but I would like to. I am going to try just rolling up the bed rolls during the day and sitting in garden chairs. They should be a lot more comfortable. However….This means I lost the storage area under those seats.

Also… I won’t have the bike seats to sit on like the original, so I needed to put seats in the back. So I built in bench seats on either side. This will also give me room for the gas and such. Helps me to regain some of the lost storage from inside the boat. The center floor section is built pretty close to the original. The bulkhead IS raised a bit there though. I thought, at the time, that I wanted a little more stiffness there. I now know that wasn’t really needed… but no harm done.

I did find a nice little 6hp Nissan, like Chris got, for a comparitively reasonable price. Sort of. Will use the Merc for now, and save for the Nissan later perhaps.

So the work continues this past weekend. Window frames are about done. Registration plaque built. Rope ladder done. More sanding done to prepare for painting soon. Next… interior fitting!

Thanks for all the kind words and ideas.  Now this is REALLY getting exciting.   Thinking of building a boat?   If I can do it, so can you!!

MAY 16

I have kept up the work on the boat.   All windows frames are clamped and glued together.   Goofy me, but I went to Dale’s house and cut out all the pieces.  Took us a couple of hours.  The car was loaded with stuff for the dump.. so I kept the pieces in the front seat.  Well…. ugh.. somehow one of the window frame pieces just… disappeared somehow.   Isn’t in the car now, after the dump run.   Sheesh.   So I cut a new one.    Basically, we used two by three lumber, cheap stuff.  Then we cut in the channel for the window, then cut to length, and finished by making the stock thinner.. ripping it down a quarter inch in thickness or so.  

As to the windows themselves… I was going to make them some sort of stained glass design.   My father had done stained glass… and when he died he had a lot of green glass in his shop.  I thought I might use that somehow.  I miss my father, and wish he could share with me some of what I have been doing… including this boat.   In some ways using that glass would be nice.  I guess I do feel his spirit in me.   What makes me feel I can build a boat?  My father was a good model in that way.  He built the house our family of seven lived in…. a big house that was his first ever.  He did stained glass, blacksmithing, played bagpipes, and on and on.   He wasn’t afraid to try.    When he died, his boss wrote a letter to him, and sent it to us.  Most touching thing I have ever read.   Talked of how my dad was a real renaisance man and how he respected, even envied that.  Someday I will find and share that letter with you.   Meant a lot to me.   Here is a link to a park that is dedicated to my father.   Here is what the site says about my father:

“The community knows much about Cecil Lowe, who died in 1984 at age 61. He asked us to remember these children, and other disabled children who live to adulthood. He asked us to give them quality lives. Cecil Lowe, Director of Special Education with Bellevue School District for 19 years, was a pioneer in the movement to obtain a free and appropriate education for all children. He was instrumental in starting the preschool program for disabled students at Sherwood Forest Elementary School, and he was al so a strong advocate for disabled people in the community and throughout the State. Cecil Lowe’s colorful personality and caring is also fondly remembered by his family and friends. Cecil Lowe should be remembered by us all. “

This picture of the sculpture in his park looks remarkably like him!  He would have been proud.  Like all father son relationships, ours was not perfect.  It was rather complicated.  He was complicated.  Those who find out I am his son either say, “I want to shake the hand of Cecil Lowe’s son”, or “Your Dad didn’t have a clue”.  I guess you can say that my father was not afraid to do what he thought was right… even if sometimes it was wrong.   It usually wasn’t.

What would I say to my father today if he were alive?    Honestly, like all kids, I would want him to be proud of me.  But really more importantly, I would want to tell him I was proud of him.  I also wish I could tell him that I understand some of his frustrations.  I understand why he was rough with me sometimes… but I wish he hadn’t been.   I understand how hard it must have been sometimes to be a parent of five on a teachers salary.   I understand how alone he must of felt at times, given how he felt men had to act in his day. And I respect, and honestly don’t understand how he could be such a remarkable person given his upbringing.   His mother was evil.   My father didn’t see his mother for at least 30 years.   Shortly before he died he went to see her.  In spite of all he had done in his life… practically her first words to him after all those years were something like, “you are still ugly”.  She wanted him to leave because he looked old and that made her feel old.  Perhaps I should say his mother was sick.  So very sick.

The story of my family tthrough the last couple of generations reads like a depressing movie in some ways.  Suicides, alcoholism, mental illness, virtual prostitution, drug abuse.   But, each generation has helped the next generation to be just a little better than they were.  May I do the same for my own children.  May they do the same for theirs.

Back to the boat.

I may bring my boat to the Center for Wooden Boats Festival in late June.  Link here.  In many ways having a deadline like this will help to keep me on target.   Especially since the designer will be there!  I wonder what he will think of the modifications I have done?   It seems most designers are used to that! EVERYONE seems to change plans just a touch!

Actually, I was thinking about that the other day.    There was a man who lived across the street from me as a kid, Mr. S I will call him.  In his way he was a kind man.  But in his way he was also a very rigid man.   When an Asian moved into the neighborhood in the early sixties Mr. S went around the neighborhood with a petition for the neighbors to sign asking the Asian man to move out.   Maybe it was the late fifties.  My father did not sign it.  The man eventually did move.   I wonder if the reaction of his neighbors had anything to do with it?

When another neighbor kid from the next block down was driving down our street too quickly… a danger to the kids… he just had some of his buddies from the phone company turn our street into a dead end.  He just had the truck sink a few telephone poles into the end of the street.  Mr. S finished it off with some cross pieces.    Instant dead end.

Mr. S was also very tidy.  I mean, you could eat off the floor in his shop if you were so inclined.    He literally swept the street in front of his house.  Everything had its place and there was a place for everything… a very neat and tidy place.   A simple place.   A place without ornamentation.   A place without change.  A place of perfect order.   Mr. S never built a boat.  Mr. S could not build a boat.   No man like Mr. S could rish such a thing.   Building a boat is not about order, and perfection.  Mr. S has a metal lathe with belts that went to jack shafts on the ceiling, a metal lathe of absolute wonder.   So big, so clean, so perfect.   He had shelves of screws in jars, shelves of neatly labeled drawers and boxes.    Table saws, hand saws, planers, sanders.   Yet Mr. S never built anything really.   Everything he did was to keep order.  To repair that which was no longer perfect.  “Bry”, he would say, “Cleanliness is next to godliness” as he cleaned off something he was repairing.  He could repair about anything.   But Mr. S could not build a boat.

People who build boats like chaos.  By that I mean people who build boats eschew too much order.  They prefer the random interactions of the waves lapping against the side of the boat as they sleep.  They like the dancing flames of a fire, seeing beauty in the perfect lack of order.  People who build boats can’t follow plans to the letter. Not in their nature. 

There is more to these people who build boats.  Another neighbor, Mr. L, he didn’t build boats… but he could have.   His calling was cars. The neighbor men used to joke that he liked working on motors so much that he threw a little sand into each motor just as he finished it so that he could be assured that he would be able to work on it again soon.  He liked to add something special to each motor.. something that was his little idea of how to get it to be just a little better than all the others.  Boat builders like to do that, too.   If you want a boat that looks like someone else’s, you may as well buy a factory boat.   If you are going to take the time to build your own… make it your own.

Mr. M next door was a banker.  A very successful one.   But this man did not bend.   When he walked his legs were straight… he practically couldn’t bend over to pick up his dropped keys.  He bought a new BMW motorcycle, to the shock of the other men in the neighborhood.  But motorcycles take some fluidity.  He dropped the bike within the first week, messed up his leg, and sold it.  He never built a boat either.

Now really, the only man on the block who DID build a boat was Mr. A.   He built his own kayaks before kayaks were “cool”.  HIS reasoning?  It  was cheaper.   What a wonderful man…. but oh my god he was cheap.  His only cars were bought at Police auctions.  He had a “business” where his kids were his only employees and they were only employees so he could cheat the IRS.    Now, I don’t mind paying my taxes.   Truth be known I have strong socialist leanings.   But… I guess that is something else that runs through all us boat builders.  We just don’t want to pay someone else to do something WE can do.

Tomorrow I will stay home from work and work on my boat.  My boss told me to take some unofficial days off.  Sort of a comp time.   My future at work is still unclear.   Nobody has said a thing for a long time about all that.   I guess I should take comp time while I still have a job to take comp time from!

To do:

window frames

sanding hull

painting hull

finishing floor of boat

finishing rear benches

finishing head and storage area

wiring boat.

May 27th

Much done since I last wrote.  The Center for Wooden Boats is having its 30th annual show exactly one month from now and I am going to be in it.  They let you sleep at the dock, and even let some boats stay through the fourth of July, which would be fun since Seattle does one of its two fireworks shows from there!   Could be a fun evening for the whole family.  

I have painted all the red parts of the boat.   I was so sick of sanding I just couldn’t do any more.  Well… didn’t want to anyway.   So I painted one side and it looked kinda bad.   I sanded it a bit and put on another coat and now I think it will look fine.   Was discouraged for a while though.  I will probably put on three, maybe four coats of the red.  I will later go back and do the same on the black part of the boat.

I have started putting in the rear benches too.   Will get more done on that today.   I have finished the frames in the side of the boat that accept the windows.  I also am about done with the window frames themselves.   I Just some more sanding, painting, and then fitting with glass.  Will do that about last I expect.  

Done little to interior.  Will try to make some progress on that before boat show.  At least I would like the floor in place.   Would take about three evenings of work to get that done.

I have gone out boating about four times.    I would say the six hp motor is just fine.  I DO need a long shaft outboard though.   My family has gone with me on all outings, all out of Lake Washington.  All has worked as planned.  The boat does fine in the wind, fine in waves from larger boats, although when loaded up in the front with a few adults, it will lower the front of the boat into the water.   Today I went out with just Alex.    He was REALLY getting into driving the boat.  Kids are not really in control of much in their lives.   It must feel good to control something.. even a boat!   He drove most of the way.  We took off from the old Sand Point Naval AIr station, and drove across the lake to Kirkland.  Didn’t stop there, although it would be fun to do some time.   He wanted me at the forward end of the boat so he could be TOTALLY in control and report things to me.  He did well and I was proud of him.

So, for anyone thinking of a boat like this… it does just fine.  It also gets LOTS of compliments.   Every time I take it out, which has been four times, people come over and want to know more.  Most, but not all, are complimentary.  I recall once, last year, when I was visiting the boat show as a guest I told a guy who had a boat there what I was building.  He said, “Why?”, in a way that clearly implied it was a stupid choice.  😉   Nobody has been as rude as he was… but you can tell a couple of people just don’t get why you would want a boat such as this.  However, almost all, young and old alike, really do like it.  

Gotta run… Alex just jammed a disc in the CD player. 

May 28

Sanded the upper cleats so they are ready for painting. Sanded the forward cabin above the forward deck so it is ready for painting.   Sanded the forward deck itself.   Also sanded my coat of red paint to prepare it for another coat of paint.  However, the rains have come, and I knew I couldn’t paint.   The boat moves along!

Here is a link to a map of our journey two days ago to Kirkland. Lake Washington is a good size lake. Here is link of my part of it.  I live in what is labeled as Morningside, I lauch from Naval Air Station, and went to Kirkland.   Here is link of entire lake.  Big lake. 


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