Surviving doldrums

The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines Doldrums as such:

  1. a spell of listlessness or despondency
  2. a part of the ocean near the equator abounding in calms, squalls, and light shifting winds
  3. a state or period of inactivity, stagnation, or slump

This winter has certain been the first and third. With warmer weather on the horizon, I decided to stop dragging my feet on the sails for the Puddle Duck. As with everything else in life, this first run is a learning experience.

Before I start getting into the build, I want to acknowledge David ‘Shorty’ Routh and David Gray of PDRacer.com and PolySail International respectively. Both have great resources online, and they also were forthcoming with advice over email. So, Daves, if you read this: Thank you, sirs.

Being a poor college kid, a PolySail kit was outside of my budget. So I opted to make this first sail myself. (For the next PD, I might splurge. We’ll see.)

Materials:

Here’s how it went down:

I cleared as much space as I could in the basement, since my garage is a sloppy, icy, salty mess. Then I started unfolding the tarp, and getting it stretched out as much as I needed for the sail.

Not the ideal work space. Make do with what you got, right?

Not the ideal work space. Make do with what you got, right?

Then attempt to use a far-too-short 1×1″ to make the luff curve.

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Then draw out the leech and foot using the tape measure and 1×1.

Trigonometry, I hate you.

Trigonometry, I hate you.

Second guessing myself, I decided to move the luff line back 2 inches. You can see the original lines nearest the wall. This shot has the tape along the curves of the luff and foot.

Double stick tape in place, ready for cuttin'!

Double stick tape in place, ready for cuttin’!

All cut out along the outside of the tape edges.
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Starting to look sail-ish...

Starting to look sail-ish…

I put a v-dart at the tack to give the sail some belly. On my next one, i think I’ll be adding a much deeper dart. Here’s the double stick tape adhered to me with the pattern for the darts: It’s a 12″ piece that will be cut on the diagonal, so when the tape is laid next to the dart, it gets folded in. Nice and neat.

Removing my hand from this was harder than I want to admit.

Removing my hand from this was harder than I want to admit.

Up next, the reinforcing rope. This runs the length of the sail to give it strength, and also works as a means to control the shape. I picked this up on the cheap at the local hardware store this morning. Also, 100′ means I’ll have plenty to make additional sails.

Twisted. Just like my back after sitting on the basement floor for hours... :(

Twisted. Just like my back after sitting on the basement floor for hours… 🙁

I anchored the rope about 8″ past the bottom of the tack, and started sealing the double stick tape over it. In hindsight, I could have likely gone halfway into the tape with no issues. Perhaps the next sail will have a different style. Once I got a rhythm down, I was able to seal up the rope fairly quickly.
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Super sweet action shots!

Tucking the rope deep into the fold.

Tucking the rope deep into the fold.

Pulling the backing off the tape and smoothing as I go.

Pulling the backing off the tape and smoothing as I go.

Aww yeah... Smooth.

Aww yeah… Smooth.

Once I made it all the way around the sail, I realized I would need to connect the ends together somehow. But what way? Knot? Lash? How about a splice? It’s been years since I’ve done a splice, but with the help of the internet I managed to get it done. I started with the left side, which looks janky, the right is a bit better. Either way, I pulled as hard on it as I could and it held fast. That’s all I was after.

If anyone wants to donate an Ashley Book of Knots, I'm totally willing to receive one!

If anyone wants to donate an Ashley Book of Knots, I’m totally willing to receive one!

I added a bit of extra vinyl tape for support at the head. Molly picked brown as the color of choice, in reference to the Browncoats, in keeping with the boat’s Firefly theme. The tack and clew still need to be finished off with more tape.

Stripey, how stylish!

Stripey, how stylish!

So what’s left for the sail? Not much, tape and grommets. Sadly, the grommets that Molly was nice enough to purchase have gone missing. Those need to be found, or new ones will need to be purchased. Aside from those two relatively minor delays, it’s looking pretty much like a finished sail!

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    Puddle Duck To-Do List:

  • Finish sail.
  • Assemble rudder, make sure it’s heavy enough to sink with the current weight.
  • Add blocks and cleats to the tiller.
  • Mast step and deck
  • MOAR PAINT
  • Go sailing!

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