Building Double-Pipe's Kid
Between early 2001 and mid 2002 Bill Erickson in Michigan built the
Caledonia Yawl Double-Pipe's Kid. His account and pictures follow. Double-Pipe's
Kid was launched in June 2002. Pictures and an account of the first
sails are on the page Sailing Double-Pipe's
Kid. Click on the boat pictures to enlarge. Select 'Back' to return
to this page.
dad passed away two years ago at the age of 90. He was a gentle, quiet
man with a great love for the outdoors. He made his living working in
the iron and copper mines of northern Michigan. His shift started underground
at midnight and ended when he came back to the surface at day break.
After a night's work he often headed directly to his favorite pass time
- fishing from his boat in Lake Superior.
Fisherman around the harbor all knew him by his nickname, Double-Pipe.
He got that name because he always hunted with a double barrel shotgun.
As a young boy I would walk along the docks looking at the fishing boats.
One of the old fisherman called out to me from the back of his boat.
He said, "Hey, ain't you Double-Pipe's kid?" I felt proud.
Now, almost 40 years later, I am building a Caledonia Yawl called "Double-Pipe's
Kid" and looking forward to sailing it in the waters that he loved
been building boats for about 12 years. My first was a cedar strip canoe,
then a sea kayak, followed by a row boat and finally a small sail boat.
For many years I was obsessed with canoeing, paddling my canoes year
around both for recreation and competition. After building my third
boat I was paddling less and building more. In the fourth boat I discovered
the power of the wind and haven't picked up a paddle since!
The only trouble with my last sail boat was that it was too small. It
was comfortable for two but crowded with four. I searched the plan books
looking for a bigger boat with a simple sail rig. At a wooden boat show
in Connecticut I spotted a Caledonia Yawl. It was perfect. Before the
end of the day I had Iain Oughtred's book under my arm and was heading
back to Michigan.
Building Double-Pipe's Kid
a low-budget boat builder, I don't have fancy shop or a lot of expensive
tools. Our two-car attached garage serves as my work shop. This makes
boat building a seasonal operation because here in Michigan, we need
to park our cars in the garage in the winter. As the boats get bigger,
the garage seems smaller. The boat only fits when orientated from corner
to corner with little room to walk around the ends.
My tools are pretty basic. Most of the work gets done with a table saw,
saber saw and a power hand plane. The Bosch power hand plane is my favorite.
Purists may scoff at the noise and dust but for me it is the best boat
building tool ever. It makes scarf joints, tapers stems, planes the
bevel on plank lands and rounds the square stock for masts and spars
in a fast and efficient manner.
This was my first lapstrake boat. The planks all laid down on the
mold and glued up much easier than I expected. Getting the forward bend
on the garboard plank to lay down was the biggest struggle. I solved
the problem by applying leverage with 2x4's and ropes to force the plywood
One thing that impressed me was Oughtred's home made plywood clamps
for gluing the plank seams. They are easy to make, cheap and effective.
By using these clamps I was able to construct most of the boat with
very few permanent metal fasteners.
The planks are built with okoume marine plywood. The stems, keel, keelson,
and gunnels are built with douglas fir. Yellow pine is used for the
thwarts, side benches, and floor boards while the center board is white
oak. I agonized over the buying of sitka spruce for the masts and spars
but went with common white spruce because I couldn't justify the added
cloth was applied to the bottom two planks. It wasn't recommended in
the plans but will offer more protection to the bottom for those less
than perfect landings on rugged shorelines. All of the wood surfaces
of this boat are covered with a sealer coat of thin epoxy. It's wonderful
stuff that aggressively works its way into all the pores and makes a
good base for subsequent paints and coatings.
I will be using the balanced lug sail plan because of it's simplicity.
The ride that I had in a Geoff Kerr's Caledonia proved to me that this
sail moves the boat around with ease.
initial plans are to make this boat as light as possible. I'm building
the non-decked version without the permanently attached extra ballast.
This boat will live on a trailer and be used for beach cruising where
it's lightness will be important when dragging it up on shore. Maybe
I'll change my mind on the ballast thing but I'll try without it first.
What's left to do?
I write this, in early March 2002, it's still winter here, so my boat
is out of the garage for another month. I've been keeping myself occupied
by working on the masts, spars and oars in the basement. As soon as
the weather allows I will begin to paint the inside and outside of the
boat with Interlux marine paint. The next step will be setting up the
rigging. I've already purchased the sails and trailer so most of the
big expenses are over. In a big push to get Double-Pipe's Kid done,
I may take a two week vacation from my day job in May. The projected
first launch is June 1st.
Double-Pipe's Kid was finally launched on June 19th 2002 on Lake Lansing.
See Sailing Double-Pipe's Kid.
If you would like to share information about a Caledonia Yawl you
are building or sailing, contact me via the Discussion Forum and I'll
create a page for you and your boat. Nick Grainger