Sunday, January 6, 2013


Nan is back in Wisconsin visiting family, so I spent the weekend in our freezing garage working on a gangplank for our sailboat, Whispering Jesse. It's based on an idea I've had about how to get our dog Scout up and down the steep companionway steps, and in and out of the water when we're at anchor. The gangplank, when not being used in the traditional manner to bridge the gap between the boat and a marina dock, would serve extra duty as a ramp into the cabin and, with floats attached to the end, as a ramp into the water. It's sized at 6'7" so that it can be secured in front of the port-side settee when not in use.

Several weeks ago, I found a good-quality pressure-treated 2x12 at Home Depot. A contractor friend cut it to the required length and then I let it season in the garage. Yesterday I used a vibration sander to remove any rough edges and smooth all the corners. I cut four lengths of cedar 1x2 using a mitre board to give the ends 45-degree angles and then fastened them 3 inches from each end on both sides using 2-inch stainless steel screws. They will act as friction reducers to save wear and tear on the heavy-duty non-skid tape and floating lines that will be attached after the wood is sealed with several coats of Cetol. But the sealing will need to wait until the temperature in the garage gets above 50 degrees, at least 20 degrees above where it is now.

Next, I drilled 5/8" holes 1-1/2'' from each corner for the floating lines, which are 4-foot lengths of Samson 3/8" Floatine multi-filament polypropylene. As a final touch, I wood-burned our boat's initials, "WJ", on one side at each end so there's no question about whose boat the gangplank goes with.

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