Four days. Four hours.

Long time readers might notice that I am slightly obsessed with time. I frequently ask: How much can I get don in a day? How much can I do in a weekend? How long until I’m done?

Well, with a few unseasonably warm days last week, I took my obsession to a new level. How much, I wondered, can I get done in an hour?

My enthusiasm for boat building has been growing in recent weeks and I didn’t want to squander the opportunity to make some progress. But good weather came at a busy time. I couldn’t drop my other obligations and head out to the garage. So I applied my guiding motto:  “Doing something is better than doing nothing.”

This philosophy makes me a fairly efficient person. I have an ability to juggle multiple projects and I finish what I start. But it also makes me more than a little neurotic. Willing to parse my day into tiny, minute-by-minute segments, I grown antsy after a few moments of inactivity. In ten minutes, I can…make a phone call, send an email, wash some dishes, or even begin a blog post. I convince myself that I can always squeeze one more item into my to-do list. (And, yes, I do make to do lists.  They guide my days. I even catch myself adding already completed items to my lists just so I can check them off.)

So while the good weather lasted, I vowed to find some room in my day for the boat and see what could be accomplished in an hour. After four days and four hours, here’s my mid-winter progress report:


Adding about three feet to the boat's overall lenght, bowsprint is nothing more than a piece of 2x3.

The gaff is secured to the mast with a simple yoke.

In photographs, the Pocket Cruiser’s bowsprint looks very jaunty. Fully rigged, it gives the boat a classic, boaty appearance. In real life, I discovered, it’s nothing more than a short piece of 2×3 and, in its current unfinished state, I really does look like a construction site discard. It took an hour to cut because, first, I spent a long time looking for my tape measure and, second, I needed to cut the little pointy bit at the end. I trust it will look more impressive when it is sanded, varnished, painted, and attached to the hull with chains. For the moment, it’s not adding much to the overall appearance.

That was the first day.


Continuing with the rigging, I spent my second day and my second hour cutting the boom, which is the part of the rigging that can give you a concussion if it swings about unexpectedly. It too has the pointy bit at the end. It is also rounded and slightly tapered. It will be attached to the mast with a hinge fabricated from pipes, iron bars and a pin. That was an easy hour of work.


Before starting this project, I didn’t know what a “gaff rigged” sail was, but at some point I came to recognize this distinctive, old-fashioned form of rigging. Simply put, the gaff  is a pole that holds the top of the sail out and away from the mast.

Cutting the gaff was a bit more interesting and slightly more complicated than the previous day’s work, primarily because I needed to cut and assemble a yoke at one end where the gaff slides over top of the mast. The yoke is held in place by a short piece of rope, which holds a series of plastic rings cut from pvc pipe. These pipe pieces act as rollers so that the gaff can slide up and down the mast as needed. I was able to cut the gaff and wooden yokes on the third day. The pieces were assembled on the fourth day. It was a pleasantly mechanical thing to build.

So that’s it: Four hours of work over four days yielded most of the pieces needed to support my sail. The weather turned colder after that and I once again returned to the woodstove and my books, but I feel that I regained some momentum and am ready for the next warm day. All I need is an hour.

And my tape measure, wherever it is.


2 Responses to Four days. Four hours.

  1. RyanC says:

    I spend an inordinate amount of time looking for my tape measure. My first solution was to buy several tape measures but now I spent an inordinate amount of time looking for several tape measures. I am now convinced that someone should make a tape measure that comes with a remote clicker that can be clipped to a tool bag. The clicker will have a button that will make the tape measure chirp and flash an LED.

    It is starting to look like you might get to sail this summer!

    • Paul Boyer says:

      I estimate that a quarter of my time is spent looking for something I put down “just a minute ago.” Age is not in my favor. Thanks for writing! Paul

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