Day two in Disneyland dawned wet, and rainy. Apparently we brought the Seattle weather with us.

We were all a bit tired and slow getting up, but by 8:00 were just about ready to walk to the parks. After putting on some ponchos of course:

After catching some of our favorite rides one more time in Disneyland, it was time to enter California Adventure right as it opened:

With the weather, we had the park mostly to ourselves, and were able to get on rides without any lines. Our first in the park was one of our favorites – Monster’s Inc – and since there was no line we rode it twice in a row:

The teacups had been shut down in Disneyland due to the weather, but we were able to make up that minor disappointment by riding the ladybugs:

Taylor is not a fan of lifesized characters – she had no interest in meeting Mickey Mouse, and even the Red Robin bird scares her. So of course we decided to take her to the princess character breakfast:

Of course she wanted nothing to do with the princesses when they came to our table to talk to her, but she did enjoy being in the same room with them. Aurora was all of our favorites…

… except Auntie Maimai, who loves Belle. And needed to take a picture with her:

The lunch food was pretty good, but the dessert was a definite favorite. Especially the white-chocolate shell:

After lunch, it was time to continue playing in the park. Lightning McQueen was kind enough to let us take a picture with him:

And the weather cleared up enough to relax in the sun:

And then Megan and Uncle Al went on the California Screamin’ rollercoaster. Step one is launch:

Step 30-something is a second drop with a half-twist:

Not to be outdone, Taylor went on all the thrill-rides that she was tall enough to get on:

Matt stuck with the water-sports. And no, the ponchos did not keep us dry:

In the end, we were quite impressed with California Adventure. It was much more fun than expected, and we are convinced that park-hoppers are the way to go the next time we make it down to California.


Easter Sunday, 2010, and we woke up in the Desert Inn and Suites at 6:30 am. That hotel just happens to be directly across the street from Disneyland,and that’s why we – Taylor, Megan, Matt, Auntie Maimai, and Uncle Al – were there. Everyone took some extra time packing or a full day in the park, snacking on McDonalds breakfast sandwiches, orange juice, and coffee… but in no time we headed out.

The park officially opens at 8:00 am, but by 7:40 the gates were open, and we were in Disneyland:

The first ride of the day, and ever for Taylor, was Dumbo. And it was a hit. Taylor loved it so much (or maybe uncle Al did) that we ended up riding a total of four times over the course of the weekend:

The next ride, though, ended in disaster. Taylor was terrified by Mr. Toads’ Wild Ride. Who knew that going on an uncontrolled rampage through a town in a car being driven by a frog, getting run over by a train in the dark, dying, and going to hell would scare a four-year-old. Weird.

But we recovered quickly by riding the teacups. Thankfully, all future disastrous rides were averted by parents’ prepping for what was about to happen:

By mid-afternoon we had ridden on a ton of rides, and seen a bunch of characters, and walked most of the park, and… and…. and we took a break:

By 3:30 in the afternoon, a crowd was gathering to watch the parade. We planned to watch the electric-light parade, but that has been moved to California Adventure, so we decided to watch the early version in case we were doing something else later in the evening:

The parade began… and right around the time we were seeing our favorite characters (like Chip & Dale, Mary Poppins, and of course Minnie and Mickey Mouse), a 7.2 magnitude earthquake hit Baja California:

We felt nothing of course, and immediately after the parade we were too busy collecting souvenirs to hear that all the rides in the park were being closed for engineering checks:

But it soon became apparent as a river of people left the park:

Tay was happy though. She clearly enjoyed her first day at Disneyland, and even got a super-sized lolipop from Auntie Maimai on the way out:

Again, our hotel was conveniently located directly across the street from Disneyland, literally a 6 minute walk from the gates, so we headed back to the room. Dad didn’t get a nap in the stroller, so he took one on the hotel bed, while auntie, mom, and Tay watched some TV. After a couple hours, word on the internet was that all the rides were open again. So we headed back in… and stayed to watch the fireworks:

Well, most of us watched:

The dinghy building project has been put on pause for a few days. I’ve been too tired, and lazy, to do much work on it during the week, and last weekend we spent two full days on another boat project: Re-carpeting our 28’ Bayliner.

On Saturday, we drove to a carpet store and found remnant frieze carpet that matched the decor. It can be described as a light brown (sand) color, with dark fleck, but just as importantly it can be described as “cheap”. We purchased it on the spot, and once they loaded it up in our truck, we headed to the boat to start the project.

Here’s the original, ugly, 20 year old, blue carpet in the main salon:

The first step of the process was to rip out the existing carpet. Not only was it held down by years of foot traffic and use, but it was also under much of the structure in the boat: settees, cabinets, vinyl facades, even heater vents and tables. We spent hours cutting, prying, and pulling the carpet. And cursing the name of the person who invented the 1” long industrial staples that were so prolifically used to keep the carpet down in the corners and tightest areas of the boat:

After a few hours of work though, the existing carpet had been removed. Luckily there was no apparent structural damage anywhere. There was a tiny bit of mold in the galley area that we removed with some bleach, but other than that everything was dry and in very good shape:

Except for the cockpit which became the temporary construction dump:

Then it was time to put in the new carpet. We cut rectangles out to the largest dimensions, brought it aboard, then tried to maneuver the piece to best fit the area, and cut along the seams. We removed the pieces that we could, and cut around the others. We shredded our hands, and even got, dare I say it, rug-burn. But in a few hours’ time, the boat started to come back together:

And by the end of the weekend we were about 90% done. The heater box/step at the door still needs to be covered, the foot-box under the captain’s chair needs to be covered and redone, and the “cave” needs a piece of carpet added to it. But other than that, the cabin is complete:

… until we replace the curtains.

After the epoxy seams were done, the hull was set in the shape it would have for the rest of its existence. But it wasn’t strong enough for that to be a very long time, so it was time to add some strength. Biaxial fiberglass tape is layed out along all the seams, and cut to size:

The fiberglass tape is removed, then a layer of epoxy was applied to the seams. This precoat makes sure the wood doesn’t pull the epoxy out of the tape while it dries which would weaken the joint:

The fiberglass tape is replaced, and more epoxy is applied with a cheap brush to “wet it out”:

The finished seams are then left to dry overnight:

The first step of the fairing process takes place next, as a sander is run along the seams to knock down the highest ridges:

Then another coat of epoxy is applied to the entire hull, this time though, it’s mixed with silica micro-balloons which are literally microscopic glass balls. They make the epoxy much easier to sand:

And then we apply another coat of epoxy:

And now we have discovered a nasty little pattern emerging. Because I once again sand the hull when it dries:

And then apply more epoxy:

And then sand again:

Tonight I applied more epoxy. But at least each time through the cycle, the hull gets closer and closer to the final product:

But I still see some ridges and scratches. So tomorrow I think I’ll sand again…

Once the boat was stitched together with plastic ties, and the measurements were double checked to make sure the boat was square, it was time to “glue” it together permanently. I mixed a batch of epoxy, thickened up with wood flour (fine sawdust) and placed it between the stitches.

I went around the whole boat, smoothed out the edges a bit with a plastic spreader, and allowed everything to dry for a day or two:

Once that was done, I cut all the plastic ties and pulled them out with long-nosed pliers. This is actually very easy, because epoxy doesn’t stick to plastic, so even in the few instances where epoxy covered the tie, I could snip the tie, wiggle it a bit to break it free from the wood an epoxy, and pull it out:

Then I had to fix the only big hole left in the hull at the bow. I cut out a wedge out of plywood, and took the belt sander to it to angle all the edges and allow it to lay flat against the centerline of the bow. I screwed it into a block on the inside of the hull to hold it in place… then I mixed up another batch of thickened epoxy, and spread it on. Once it dries, I’ll grind it down with the belt sander to shape, and likely repeat the process until the bow is shaped appropriately. But for now, the hole is gone, and there is a structure for the epoxy to sit on:

I also needed to clean up the edges of the transom, so thickened epoxy was used there as well:

I had some epoxy left over, so I went around and filled in the gaps where the stitches were, to have epoxy set up nearly everywhere on every seam. Technically, even with the unsealed stitch holes, it’s officially a boat now.  It could be put into the water today and successfully paddled around a lake. But it wouldn’t hold up over time, so we’re not done yet

There’s an elegance in the design that’s almost magical in how the curves cut into those long panels, poorly even, once brought together make a very nice looking boat. In this picture, the panels haven’t even been brought together tightly yet, and already you see the form of a nice keel developing:


You can see how the cuts aren’t very good, but even thought the stitches haven’t been tightened up at all, the panels match up fairly well. One thing to note from this picture, though; look at the area where the side panel meets the bottom panel at the butt block (three stitches up from the bottom). There is a drywall screw holding the side panel against the mid-seat bulkhead, but at this point I’ve got it screwed in too tight, and it’s warping the side panel. Later, as I was trying to get the panels to align, I realized that the screws were deforming the hull. I went around and released them, and the hull almost popped into shape.


After that, the stitches were brought together slowly. The compound, and complex, curves of the bow developed:

And by the end, there was something that looked remarkably like a boat in my garage. Granted, a boat that has a bit of a problem at the bow, but after this picture was taken I kept working on the stitches, and got the panels to within about an inch. That was as much as it would move, but amazingly the diagonals were within 1/8” of each other at that point, and having a boat that is square is more important. I’ll fill and fair the bow later with fiberglass and maybe even a small cutout.


Putting the boat together on the strongbacks was an exercise in learning. The first lesson lesson learned was that the strongback had to end at the bow bulkhead; I had left a few feet of length in front of it, but the sheer rises (er, drops on the strongbacks since the boat is initially built upside down) in such a way that the bow could not be brought together. I cut it off at the vertical uprights and the side panels came right together:

Then, as I was putting the bottom panels together, I tied to force it, and I cracked the plywood… I mixed up a few ounces of slightly thickened epoxy and slathered it all over the damaged area:

After it dried overnight, I stated over, and began stitching the boat together again… this time listening to what people were saying in the builder forum. Start by loosely stitching the whole boat together, then slowly go around and tighten them all up. The boat actually starts to come together pretty good by doing so:

Most of the pictures have been from the bow, so a close-up of the transom at this stage is probably in order:

A few evenings’ worth of work is shown in these pictures, even though it doesn’t look like much.

The cut out panels need to be “glued” together to make a longer panel. These plans use a very simple method of creating long panels, called a butt-block. Essentially, you “butt” the two long pieces end to end, slather together some thickened epoxy on and around the joint, put another piece of plywood on top, sandwiching the epoxy in between. Put a weight on it and let it dry; overnight you get a simple seam that is stronger than the rest of the plywood panels:

Step one of the fairing  process: sanding the edges of the panels to smooth out my bad saw-cuts, and to make the panels mirror each other. This technique is very forgiving – you don’t need to be a good (or, thankfully, even fair) woodworker. In fact, small gaps in the seams between the panels are preferred to a tight fit since the boat gets all its strength from the epoxy and fiberglass. The wood is just a structure to hold the epoxy in place, essentially. But you don’t want a boat that’s warped or lopsided – so you need to get the port and starboard sides to mirror each other. I took the panels, clamped them together, and ran a belt sander across all the edges to get them “close”. I’d say at the worst spots the difference is 1/4”, but 90% of the time the panels line up within 1/8”.


I’m essentially building it single-handedly, and that’s possible because this boatbuilding process is so forgiving and simple. As an example, when you start to assemble the boat pieces, you have 4 10’ long plywood panels, a transom piece, and three bulkheads. Trying to keep all of those together during assembly could be difficult, without some “help”. To give the loose pieces some structure before they are glassed together, and help keep the panels and bulkheads aligned and square, the boat is built on a grid of 2x4s called a strongback. I built mine out of a pair of 10’ 2x4s, connected with 16” 2×4 cross-braces:

The crossbraces are strategically placed at the bulkhead locations – vertical 2x4s (not shown in the picture) are nailed at these spots, and the bulkheads are screwed into them. This will give an internal frame for the bottom and side panels to attach to that is straight and level – and also raised up off the floor to make it easier to work on. In this picture, the bulkheads are not attached, they are temporarily clamped onto the strongback to see what the basic look of the boat will eventually be:

Once the bulkhead panels are attached to the strongback semi-permanently and correctly (upside down so the bottom panels can be attached), the whole hull is stitched together with cable ties, and glued in place with epoxy. Thus, the stich-and-glue boatbuilding technique.

A new year. A new project.

A few years ago I built a stitch-and-glue canoe. The intention was to have a fishing platform for local lakes – but I found that a canoe is not the best platform for fishing, especially in windy conditions, and getting it on and off the trucks roof-racks was a pain. So it is almost never used. But I enjoyed building it, and always intended to build another small boat. Now that Taylor is a bit older, and is showing interest in boats herself, having a stable, little homebuilt boat wouldn’t be the worst thing.

Also, since we sold the sailboat and bought our powerboat, I sometimes miss the ability to go sailing. Not enough to go back to large sailboats, as I like the powerboats cruisability and fishability (even though we haven’t caught a salmon aboard; but that’s another story). The idea, instead is to have a little trailerable dinghy that can be used to fish and sail on local lakes (replacing the canoe) as well as sit on davits on the back of our boat when we go cruising. Then, we can launch it once we are safely moored to a dock, buoy, or anchor, and sail around.

So I recently bought plans for the V-10, a sailing and rowing dinghy that looks to be just the right thing. For the past few weeks I’ve been clearing out the 3rd garage, which has been used as pile-on storage since we moved into the house. I bought hanging racks to store the Christmas bins, fluorescent overhead lights, an overhead extension cord, epoxy supplies, and plywood. I was all ready to go, so last night I got started:

First step is to transfer the dimensions of the plans onto the plywood. This is fairly easy provided you are slow and careful. First you measure the distance from a known set of points on the plywood, and place a mark. You repeat this process every foot or so. Then you put a nail at each mark to hold a flexible batten which “connect the dots” on a nice curve:

Scribe a line along the edge of the batten, remove it and the nails, and you are done with that edge:

Last night I got the port-side of the dinghy marked. Next is the starboard side, and the seat frames. Then we will start assembling some of the pieces:

Stay tuned…

Happy Thanksgiving!

Tonight we hosted our 4th or 5th thanksgiving dinner. Every year we try one or two new dishes, and sometimes they are successful, and other times not so much. One of our successful experiments has now become tradition: Bar-be-que’ing the turkey. Last year I bought a rotisserie for the bird, and it turned out perfect, so today we did it again – and once again we were reminded why it’s the only way to cook turkey. Fantastic!

We had a three different experimental dishes, and all three were successes this year.

First, we made a pan gravy: Simmered the neck along with a package of turkey backs for a few hours, added a rue, and finished it off with white wine, salt and pepper. This was important because when you bbq the turkey, you don’t get the drippings for gravy, and we needed to recreate it. The pan-gravy was very good, and an easy replacement.

We also made Bok Choy with Miso. We stole the idea for this side dish from a recent dinner at McCormick and Schmicks. Very easy to do, we stir-fried baby bok choy in a little bit of olive oil, salt and pepper. On the side,we melted miso paste in a sauté pan with a tiny bit of white wine to make a sauce that we drizzled over the top – another success.

And lastly, we made a corn salad. We completely made this dish up on our own – no recipe. We took a package of frozen corn, thawed it quickly in the microwave, and mixed in a chopped red onion, a chopped red pepper, and diced green mango, with fresh basil. We sprinkled a bit of balsamic vinegar over the top, and finished it off with lime juice and bits of lime. It was great. Truly. This would be a fantastic summer side-dish.

Pictures below:

Taylor helping in the kitchen by ripping up basil leaves for the caprese salad:

Drizzle of olive oil on the trussed and skewered turkey:

Turkey starting to roast on the BBQ…. in the rain:

… and less than three hours later it’s done!

And soon after, everyone sits at the table to enjoy it: