Welcome to the Black & Tan blog!
Thanks for checking out our site! We have just begun construction on a Mckenzie River Style drift boat that we have affectionately named the Black & Tan, which will be her ultimate color scheme. It is no coincidence that she shares her name with one of the greatest adult beverages of all time. We have chosen this proven design because we are confident it will serve us quite well in the waters we fish most, which include the The Housatonic and Farmington Rivers of Northern CT, The inshore waters Long Island Sound, and most recently the Great Lakes Tribs and the wonderful St. Lawrence River waterway, a place that Mack calls home. We obtained the boat plans online, similar plans are available through Rivers Touch. She will be 14 feet long with a relatively wide beam and bow rocker for safely navigating the rapids but she will also have a high and wide, slightly rockered, transom which can accomodate a up to a 10hp motor should we decide to venture out into the brackish bays and estuaries of Long Island Sound. Unlike most traditional drift boats, this boat can be used both as a flat bottom motor skiff and a rowing dory. Our project has just begun, and we are full of enthusiasm. The design and finish concepts change every day, who knows what the final product will look like, but thats half the fun! We hope you enjoy our site, we will try to update it weekly if possible. Thanks for stopping by!

For more info on the Rapid Robert Mckenzie River Skiff we are building, Click Here or better yet, Here

Monday, April 29, 2013

2nd coat and exterior gunnel

quick update, progress is slowing as we wait for good weather to finish our 2nd and 3rd coats of epoxy.  at this point, the interior has had its second coat, and the exterior gunnels were cut, planed and added from leftover Sapelle stock from the interior chines.

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Sealin her up!

On Sunday we tackled the transom and interior.  First Mack trimmed all the rib stems and then notched out the motor well.  While he sanded out the interior I glassed the transom with 6oz glass fabric and we cut it to fit.  Then we coated the entire interior with 105/205 epoxy using rollers and trimming and finishing with brushes.  While we waited for it to cure we took Bross to the river to catch some trout....

Another Special Thanks

To Natalie, Mack's wife.  Not only has she been supportive sharing her time, but she has been a gracious host.  I camped out at Mack's last weekend to work on the boat and we had delicious meals breakfast lunch and dinner!  Highlight of the weekend was a Kale, sausage and white bean soup with Cheese crostini that was absolutely delicious, i took a pic but it came out awful, but heres the recipe....Thanks Nat!  sooo tasty.

Kale, Sausage and White Bean Stew from The Gourmet Cookbook
1 tsp olive oil
1 lb bulk Italian sausage (sweet and/or hot) broken into pieces (can use chicken sausage)
5 large garlic cloves, minced
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1 head Kale, trimmed and cut into 1 inch pieces
3 cups cooked or canned white beans (drain and rinse canned)
3 cups chicken broth
1/2 stick (4 tblsp) unsealed butter -I don't always include this
1/2 cup grated parm
2 plum tomatoes, diced- I sometimes use canned diced
2 tblsp chopped fresh parsley - I don't always include this

Heat oil in soup pot ( I love to use a Dutch oven for this soup) until hot but not smoking. Brown saus, stirring, for 7-10 minutes. Add garlic and red pepper flakes and cook stirring until garlic is softened, about 2 minutes. Add kale and cook, stirring until wilted, about 2 minutes. Add beans and cook, stirring, for 1 minute.
Add stock and bring to a gentle boil. Stir in butter, cheese, tomatoes, and half of parsley and cook, stirring until butter is melted and stew is heated through. Season with salt and pepper.

Glassin The Hull

Another busy week.  Its getting harder and harder to remember all the steps in our process, but last saturday we glassed the topsides and bottom.  First off, all the seams were taped to ad reinforcement using 105/205 and 6 oz 4 inch fiberglass tape.  Next, we started on the sides, the hull was wetted with west system 105/205 epoxy and then blanketed with 6oz fiberglass cloth. The cloth was wetted out using rollers, i mixed as Mack rolled.  We taped the bottom along the corners with 4 inch tape as well in order to fill in the gap between our 38inch cloth and our 44 inch beam.  Then we glassed the center of the bottom with the 38 inch cloth.  The port side went flawless, starboard had some difficulties but we managed to keep our cool, and the bottom went on pretty easy although we did come down to our very last drop of epoxy at the end, talk about cuttin it close!  After a short visit from the Fire Cheif we were on our way, thankfully he didn't shut us down.....


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

A Hull is Born!

Probably the most exciting day so far, yesterday we cut and attached the floor!  Before we began Mack routered out scupper holes in each of the ribs, we kept them small to limit the pace at which water can flow around the boat.  Next up was the 2nd Scarf Cut.  We rigged a jig for the circular saw in the driveway, it was not pretty but it got the job and done after a few attempts we had a nice cut.  We decided to scarf and join the plywood on the boat rather than joining the wood, letting it cure for a day and then cutting it to fit.  We were able to use one piece of plywood for the floor section from the transom to the 3rd rib, and another small piece for the rest, thereby conserving our valuable plywood. It was a nice alternative to the center joint (4th rib).  Each piece was scarfed, traced out, cut and then fastened using the stainless screws and epoxy.  Pre drilling holes in the chines was necessary to protect the Sapelle hardwood.  Once the floor was joined, we used a flashlight to determine if there were any gaps in the seams, which there were luckily very few! Then we spent at least 20 minutes admiring the shape of our new hull!

routering drain holes

scarf jig, patent pending....


scarf jig

look at that cut!

Week 2 continued...sure picked a bad time to stop sniffing glue!

Hope you caught that "Airplane" reference, If not no worries lets move on.  Alright so as you can see, the sides are cut and ready to be joined.  we begain with the center rib and moved out from there, so rib 4, then 3&5, then 6&7 and lastly the stem.  Each rib was slathered in West System Fast Curing Epoxy and then tacked to the walls using a nail gun for placement .  Then we used 1.25in stainless screws for fastening. We clamped a piece of scrap to the bottom of the rib to ensure the bottom edge of the wall was flush with the bottom edge of the rib.  I wish we had more photos of this assembly but the was not much time as we were working with the fast curing epoxy....

After the sides, transom and stem was joined, we let the boat sit overnight to cure.  The next day we began work on the Chines.  Mack found a nice deal on a 16'x8" piece of Sapelle which we cut our chines from and will eventually use for for the gunnels as well.  Real Nice stuff!  We ripped our 1.5 inch Chines using the table saw then planed them down fit the rib notch width ( 5/8 in).  We tacked them into place and secured them using the epoxy and clamps where necessary.  The strong sapelle chines did not want to make the final curve for the rise in the transom, so we let them float and then cut in trim pieces to fill the gap between the 6th rib and transom. 
planing the chines

a true lifesaver, though she has been a little temperamental lately.

Sapelle Chines

fittling the chines

"What were gonna do in this boat Bross? " "Catch Fish!!!!"


Week 2....

Well, a lots happened since we last left off.  After the ribs cured, Mack got to work during the week on a few things to keep us moving. He notched the ribs for the Chines, made the transom cut from our 3/4 in.  Fir, attached Rib 7 to the transom, and clamped and glued 2 of our leftovers planed studs together to use for the stem, saving us the need for a 4x4 piece.  More importantly, Mack scarfed the two plywood sheets together for the sides at his shop, as the weather was not ideal for outdoor curing. To make the scarf cuts, He made a jig for the 7.5 in circular saw.  It actually worked quite well.  We transported the 16 foot piece of plywood using a borrowed flatbed from Mack's workplace, thanks to Brook and the guys at ESI. This set us up nice to break out the glue on the weekend and begin attached the sidewalls.
7th Rib notched and attached to cut transom

 SCARF one done!
 This is one of the hardest cuts in the process.

Our future stem...

plywood pre sidewall cut

......plywood post cut

they bitin?

A special thanks....

To our shop hand, Bross Mackenzie Hodges......

Before anyone calls the department of labor or child welfare, it should also be noted the Bross is also the job supervisor and can be a relentless taskmaster, we often joke that the "R" in his name is silent....yes thats a tear I'm wiping from my eye, just couldn't take the pressure.....

Monday, April 1, 2013

The Fun Begins....

Our Project began last week when Mack's Dad, Tom, dropped by with 4 wonderful sheets of 3/8 Okoume Plywood and a nice sheet of 3/4 inch Douglas Fir for the Transom. Thanks Tom!  Mack and I quickly ran out to purchase our studs for the ribs.  We elected to use Douglas Fir 2x4s which we planed down to 2.5x1.25 stock.  We then cut, beveled and joined the pieces to form our seven ribs, which at 1.25 inches should be plently strong. We chose to taper our ribs as they approach the gunnels to give the boat a lighter look.  The ribs were joined using a 5/8 inch notch to join the floor pieces to the sidewall pieces, then glued with west system gap filling epoxy (the caulk-gun version, highly reccomended!!!!) and tacked with a finishing gun and braces to aid drying.  They will be bolted with two T-nuts in each joint to add lateral strength and then re-epoxied during the final assembly process.  For our first try, we were happy with the way they came out, Mack did some great work on the table saw and added a nice routered round finish to the inboard edges of the ribs.  This was done over two days in Mack's driveway, total beer consumption is about 12 beers so far between the two of us, we will be keeping count along the way, but we can't guaranty that our estimates will be accurate:)!

 Planing the Studs.
Mack Cutting and Beveling.
Note: these papers are pieces by piece 1:1 scale CAD drawings which Mack drew up in his spare time using the Rivers Touch plans as a guide.  We were able to eliminate a lot of guesswork and "trial by error" this way.  They are incredible timesavers and came in handy many times throughout the refinement process, to quote Ferris Bueller, "they are so choice, if you have the means, we highly reccomend them. "

Braces for drying (thank you Nat for letting us use your room temp living room!)
nice router work Mack!