It seems almost un-American to say but I really hate summertime. Not everywhere of course; summer time in my wife’s hometown in upstate New York is phenomenal. Warm in the daytime and pleasantly cool in the evening. No, the summer I hate is the wet, hot summer of the deep south. I think a lot of the reason why I hate the southern summer is I have spent my whole working life outside in the elements. My lovely bride who has a Master’s degree and a respectable job comes home with a jacket on, because the office is so cold. She bought a space heater for under her desk. She mows grass in the evening to “warm up”. I come home covered in sweat with no other goal than to become a hermit; shying from the sun and praying for September. That doesn’t mean I am idle, I just am inside. Last years summer project was the 30,000 mile service on my old BMW. I covered the pathfinder in plastic and dug in to the bike. That kept me busy the whole summer  and in the AC!


This summer project was a little different. It was time to turn the old kitchen into the new kitchen.

New floors in the bathrooms, kitchen, dining room, and laundry. The cabinets were sanded and painted. A new range hood is on the way. I blame HGTV. I have been really busy lately but still able to sneak in some time on the pathfinder – here is a look at what has been accomplished during the “dog days”.

With the hull painted I had some time to take stock of the project as a whole. After all of this work it’s hard to believe that the build list is down to just a few items.

  1. Mast and spars
  2. Floorboards
  3. Splash guard on deck
  4. Finish the centerboard and rudder
  5. Fit the motor
  6. Paint the top and inside.

That’s the big list. Six items and I am off and sailing. There are a lot of little things that are going to take up some time but those six items are the broad strokes. Item one has been a big concern for me for a while. You see Mr. Welsford calls out for aluminum masts and booms. I am comfortable working with aluminum but I really wanted that traditional look for the pathfinder. More than anything else I was worried about my ability to build a proper birds mouth hollow spar mast. With summer here and my free time limited it was time for some R/D.

There is a ton of data out on the web as to the construction of a birds mouth spar so I will not go into it here. Check out Duckworks Magazine, there site is a good springboard for all things boaty. I had some junk pine 2×4’s laying around so I decided to practice.

Test spar 1Test Spar 2test spar 3Test spar 4

It turns out that hollow spar construction isn’t all that difficult. My first 8′ blank came out mostly round and super straight, I was really happy. After the glue had properly cured it was time to go into destructive testing mode. I abused the cheap pine in every why I could imagine and it turned out much stronger then I had imagined. If a mast made out of cheap knotty pine is this strong one made out of clear douglas fir should be bullet proof.  This gave me the confidence to go ahead with a full sized hollow spar. Now I just have to find the wood…


One thought on “R&D

  1. Ha – I am definitely NOT showing my wife the picture of your kitchen! It looks great! If she saw that I’d never be allowed out to the garage again.

    I’m at the same spot as you: short list. For me it’s coaming, rub rails, rudder, interior paint, rigging. Only five tasks but each has 17 steps! I’m shooting for October, but we’ll see. Everything I do takes twice as long as I expect. If not October then I must wait until April, and I really don’t want that.

    I made a birds-mouth mast and it worked out surprisingly well. The mast straightens itself. I suggest lots of hose clamps. Have a plan to get the glue on fast – I had cold temps which really helped, because it took forever to spread on with the tongue depressor. A ziplock bag/pastry bag system would have helped, and/or an assistant to mix epoxy while you are spreading. Good luck!


    Liked by 1 person

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