Saturday July 22, 2000 was a landmark day for my Cabin Skiff project. Although there is still a lot of work to do it was time to wet its propeller and see if it would float. A few of the items that still remain incomplete are - painting the hull sides, adding the handrails on the cabin top, installing the berth doors and the carpet.
Although most of these items would be simpler to complete in the shop I decided that the best cause of action would be to wait on these for now. The problem is that once on the trailer it will not clear to go back in the shop door. So once it is out - it is out.
Why move it out now? The logic behind this is that I didn't want to install the doors until the carpet was in. And I really didn't want to do the carpet until all the painting was done. Since I want the blue paint I am going to apply to the sides of the hull to cover down to the water line I needed to know where the water line would be and I could not determine that until I had it on the water.
Also, it has been nine months since conception (project started on 10/26/99) and it was time for my new baby to leave the womb (shop) and pass through the birth canal (garage door) and take it's first breath of air in the outside world. In the photo above we have just wheeled it out the door.
Once outside we needed to load it on the trailer. This went very well with just the help of a friend and my wife. The blacktop area that connects to the side of the concrete slab behind my building sets about 6 inches lower. This allowed me to just back the trailer up to the edge of the concrete and then roll the bow of the CS on to the rear of the bunks. We wet the carpet on the bunks and also added some liquid dish washing soap to reduce friction..
I attached the wench strap to the bow eye and just pulled it on with very little effort. When the front of the cradle holding the CS was at the back of the trailer we used a rolling floor jack to support the rear of the CS and disassembled and removed it. The floor jack just rolled with the CS as it was pulled on the trailer.
As you can see it is now loaded on the trailer and ready to go. The plan was to make a quick trip to the gas station for fuel, stop at home and grab some sandwiches to take along for lunch on the water and head to the river for the maiden voyage. I had decided to for the first few outings to use the 6.6 gallon portable tank that came with the engine rather than my built-in tanks.
The reason was three fold - first I wanted to keep everything as simple as possible and it would be easier to monitor the fuel system using just the portable. Next, I wanted to keep very accurate track of the amount of fuel used. I have installed a fuel flow meter and knew I would need to calibrate it. The only way I could see the exact amount of fuel burn was to completely fill the tank at the start and then refill at the end. And this brought me to the last reason, I really didn't want to have 30 gallon of fuel in the main tanks for the first few runs. The effect of this much weight at the transom is still up in the air. So to me the portable made sense.
Unloading at the ramp went well. I was absolutely amazed when the brand new - never been run (I bought it in the crate and installed myself)- Honda 50 fired and ran perfect on the first hit of the starter. No cranking, no sputtering, just fired and ran smooth! I moved away from the ramp area about 75 yards and waited for my friend to drop in his Allison (20ft - 150 hp - 80mph+) and taxi my wife out after she parked the trailer. Oh yea - our wives does all the trailer work. Us guys just crawl in the boats and they back us in and then go park. How can you not love girls like that!
The Kaskaskia river was not at its best. In spite of the "drought warning" published by the National Weather Service early this Spring we have had lots off rain. The level of the river has been up and down and it is really muddy. On this day it was just a little over normal pool level BUT he current was the strongest I have seen it in years. Plus since it was Saturday there was quite a bit of pleasure boat traffic which chopped it uo a little. We put about 11/2 hours on it during the afternoon. Early Sunday morning I got up and did some fine tuning on several things. By 10:30 we loaded in some gear and were off for another run.
Our friends came along again in their boat (nice to have someone close by in case of a problem). We decided to make the 18 mile run downstream to the lock at the Mississippi River and then run up it about 3 miles to a large sandbar. There we would celebrate the occasion by cooking some chicken wings and spending the afternoon sitting in lawn chairs and watching the barge and pleasure craft pass by - our favorite way to waste a few hours. I have been spending almost every free minute during the last several months working on the CS so it was really nice to just sit and relax and watch it float about on the anchor line.
here it is just off the sand bar on the Mississippi. I will get into
more detail about my impressions and the performance of my Cabin Skiff
but I have decided to be fair I want to give it some more time. I
will say it is quite different from any boat I have had before. For that
reason we need to get to know each other a litle better before I offer
any comments. More to follow.