Part two; building the 50' Daedalus

Build Logs of single hulled boats
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Part two; building the 50' Daedalus

Post by capt.fred »

Draft copy 12/15/15

This series of chapters 11 through 16 of my autobiography, years 1974 though 1983 describe how my adorable first mate and I designed, built a 50' 23 ton cutter yawl the Daedalus solely by ourselves, taught our selves to sail, always single handed including some of our adventures and what that entailed... After 43 years and several boats, I now happily sailing an 18' gaff cat.

Chapter Eleven
1974 thru 1977 Part one (Getting started on an ambitious idea)

The 3 years at UCSB (University of California at Santa Barbara) were again an era of great change in my life. I will now say in our lives. I started work at UCSB in late November 1974 and sailed away in December of 1977. We rented a house here and there as the situation changed. Carol started at the Santa Barbara Community College until she was accepted and started at UCSB. There we were, two peas in a pod, living a good life.

Little did I expect to find a partial plywood mold disintegrating in a back yard? The bow and aft end were mostly missing. That old useless mold got my juices going and I could see thru all that mess a very beautiful potential for a hull. The basic shape for this sailboat hull was there and with a lot of bracing and bending, I figured I could do something with it. I had previously read every book I could find on sailing, cruising and boat building. I visualized every condition at sea and studied where all the rocks were in many harbors, just for my pleasure. I knew the sailboat world, around the world and the mistakes and triumphs sailors made. I knew I could build anything I wanted to build, bar nothing.

Carol just smiled. If I was happy she was happy. I must say here before I really start Carol worked very hard on the boat, even sacrificing some school obligations now and then. At that time in history people were building thousands of boats up and down the entire West Coast from Canada to San Diego. I found a build it yourself boat yard on Gutierrez Street in Santa Barbara and rented a little corner of the yard.

About 8 other boats were under construction. Some were under construction for as long as 10 to 15 years, Also, transferring ownership that many times. One fellow boat builder, an Engineer, who said he went through two wives and families already while building his boat, really scoffed at me when I said I would be done in about three years. He asked if I was going to buy a boat kit, which were available in different stages of construction. “No from scratch”, I answered. When he saw the old mold, he raised one eyebrow. His sympathy for me was obvious. At the yard we all became friends and trusted and watched out for each others stuff.

Old beautiful wood boats were being demolished by the hundreds of thousands worldwide. Beautiful bronze parts were available. Fiber glass materials were relatively inexpensive and distressed sales were all over the place.

I heard that 10,000 ferro cement boats were built on the West Coast. Sadly, presently there are only a few of them left. The steel mesh armature and sea water make a nice battery that just ate them up. My engineer friend in my boat yard was building out of cement, and he launched at the same time as I launched the DAEDALUS. His 60 foot Ferro cement settled in at about 12 inches above the waterline, to just below the portholes. That is what mindset is all about! However, he just raised the waterline and kept the port holes sealed.

The miracle I experienced building the DAEDALUS was mystifying to say the least. When I needed something, whatever it was, resin, a bronze fitting, the mast, whatever it was. It just seemed to materialize. I found it shortly somewhere. I guess it's like having your ear to the railroad track. You find out what's happening.
The mold was restored and I fashioned a bow and stern section as I saw fit. I painted the mold with a can of light colored paint, I found lying around. Then I heavy waxed the mold. BTW, I built scaffolding that went all around the inside of the mold without touching it, out of some used 2X10 lumber I found. Now I could reach it all and store supplies and cans and buckets of resin around. I did make a few mistakes, but a major one was not to take a pictorial record of the whole procedure. Big mistake! I did build a kind of shed over, with very valuable used sails I had salvaged. I did not know how valuable they were.

A beautiful old 1930’s 50 foot sloop named the “LAST STRAW”, designed by the famous yacht builder, Herreshoff, had just left Santa Barbara heading north, to be refitted in San Francisco; she hit the rocks at dangerous Point Conception and was destroyed. Somebody dove and cut off the enormous lead keel, she floated on to the beach. Some farmer said it was his beach and he chained sawed that beautiful yacht into pieces, right through another skylight and some other precious parts.

Frantically I was in the fray trying to save what I could from the LAST STRAW. For $1,000 I saved almost all the major bronze, including all the winches, cleats, sails, beautiful famous Herreshoff teak and copper hatches and thousands of other parts, anchors lines, turnbuckles etc., etc. I was stoked; the antique stainless gimbaled 4 burner propane stove alone was worth more that a $1000. The DAEDALUS was becoming a reality.

Within a year we actually started to live in the boat yard. Adjoining the yard on the South side was a large 2 storey galvanized building, where they manufactured pine furniture. It was real nice hippy type stuff that sold like hot cakes. Across Gutierrez Street was a lumber yard that I had a good relationship with. Adjacent to the lumber yard and smelling great was a tortilla factory, which had a retail store with vats of fresh sour cream, all kinds of tortilla fillings and more. West of us was a 100 foot wide blank galvanized wall and north of us were several very tall, very menacing gas storage tanks.
Carol’s Morris Minor Woody, commuter to her classes at UCSB. It was Carol’s dream car. We bought it with the engine just sitting behind the back seat in a pile of parts. I put it together and with a couple cranks on the hand crack, she clattered to life.

Ok, back to the furniture factory. Up on the 2nd floor there was one lonely 3 foot wide aluminum sliding window. Out of curiosity I got my ladder and looked in. It was right next to the DAEDALUS. It was a pine paneled room with a sink, refrig, double bed, carpet floor. Hey, what else do we need? Ok, a toilet, which was in the factory. Wow! I spoke to the amiable owner and he rented the room to us and we became kind of his night watchmen and friends. He had just kicked out an ex girl friend he had secreted in that room. What luck we loved it and moved a ladder to the window and that was our front door to our cozy home for a couple of years. It was great. Friends and relatives visited us there from all over the Country. We ate lots of tortillas and drank lots of rum in that boat yard.

End of chapter 11
17, 1976 Carol in Fred's mess.jpg
15, 1976  Carol's '57 Morris Minor Woodie.jpg
15, 1976 Carol's '57 Morris Minor Woodie.jpg (12.14 KiB) Viewed 28151 times