Fire Extinguisher

After looking at other options, I decided to mount the fire extinguisher under the port side bunk, next to the battery.  Maybe this is a bad idea, if the battery explodes, but I can move it later if needed.



I used the battery strap to secure the fire extinguisher.  There is room to slip the extinguisher out without loosening the strap.  Notice the (2) 12V receptacles near the upper edge of the photograph.  These will be handy to charge digital devices when motoring.  Remember, the 25 Yamaha has an alternator for charging when motoring.



Front Storage Hatch and Garbage Bag

Still finishing up loose ends with Northern Cross

First up:  The Front Storage Hatch


I applied a liberal amount of silicone around the hatch prior insertion.


The O-ring kept coming off the hatch plate, so it also got a dose of silicone.  I screwed the hatch into the front bulkhead using 1/2″ SS screws.


This could prove to be a great place to add some ballast for trim if needed, or other things you rarely need to access.  


Just need cushions and I’m ready to go.

Next up:  The Garbage

You always have garbage.  Drink your pop…need somewhere to throw it.  Eat your sandwich…need somewhere to throw the napkins.  Toast off the licorice…need somewhere to throw the wrapper.

My criteria for the garbage:

  1. Conveniently located
  2. Secure, so it won’t blow overboard
  3. Simple
  4. Cheap
  5. Easy to replace

Check it out:  (I stole this idea from my sailboat)


You start with a small soft sided storage bag, secured with a carabiner and a pad eye.  The draw string/toggle keep the bag closed during travel.  


You stuff the storage bag with disposable grocery bags.  You have hundreds of them lying in the bottom of your kitchen drawers.  


You secure the bag using the carabiner.  When the garbage gets full, tie off the ears and toss it in the garbage at the ramp.  Simple, cheap and effective.  

Great News:  Northern Cross goes into the upholster shop Monday morning.

The upholstery shop will be doing 4 things for me:

  1. Sewing a bimini
  2. Sewing the cabin cushions
  3. Sewing the cabin top
  4. Sewing a travel cover

…Stay tuned for a softer, more comfortable Northern Cross

Securing the Coolers

I always had a plan for the 2 small coolers that were designed into the U seating.  Today you can see the final outcome of this idea.

Here it is:


The basic bungie ties off behind the seat longitudinal and snakes up and over the Igloo logo on the cooler.  This logo causes the bungie to place downward pressure on the cooler and keeps it properly located.  



The seats hang into the cockpit a few inches, hence the coolers tuck under quite well.


Looking straight down off the cockpit seats.  

I plan to use one cooler for cold drinks, the other for snacks and sandwiches.  


Securing the Motor Cover

One item that needed attention was the motor cover.  When traveling, I didn’t want the motor cover to flop forward and spring the hinges.  I also wanted a way to keep the cover from blowing forward when motoring.

Here’s what I came up with:


I first added 3 eye straps to the inside of the slosh well.


I then attached a bungie cord to the top eye strap and added a carabiner to the opposite end.  I secured one end of the carabiner with shrink wrap.  This leaves the opposite end for attachment.  


This is the “ready to raise the motor” configuration.  Notice I added shrink wrap to the ends of the bungie cord to keep it tidy.


When the motor is completely raised, the bungie cord keeps the motor cover from blowing forward.  


This is the “motoring around the lake” configuration.  When cruising, I can clip the bungie cord to the bottom eye strap and keep the cover from blowing forward on the water.  Both of these configurations are about 12″ apart, hence the tension is comparable in either position.  

Even in the “motoring around the lake” configuration, I can raise the motor several inches…if I come across a shallow area.  The flexible bungie offers movement to accommodate some lifting of the motor.


I love trying to get things right on my boat.  These little things make the overall experience so much better.  If you take care of the little things, the big things seem to take care of themselves.  



Test Launch of Northern Cross

(Unfortunately, I didn’t get a photo of today’s test launch of Northern Cross)  

Here’s how it went down:

At about 4:15 pm this afternoon, I decided it was time to get Northern Cross in the water to see if it would float.  After filling the gas container with 4 gallons of premium gas (and watching the gas gurgle out of the gas line connector), I realized I’d never purchased the Yamaha fitting that screws into the gas container to connect up the gas line.  There’s always something waiting to get you, even at this late stage.  So, I set the container upright which minimized the gurgling of gas upon the ground, and drove to Cabela’s to buy the needed fitting.  This trip took an hour, round trip.  After attaching the fitting, hooking the boat back up and driving to the boat launch, it was now after 7:00 pm.  Sun goes down at 7:45.  It didn’t matter, we were launching Northern Cross no matter what.

After backing the boat into the water, I attached the gas line and squeezed the bulb to fill the line with fuel.  We were now ready for the moment of truth…would the outboard start?  I’d previously added premium synthetic motor oil to the engine.  Floating gently at the dock, I hit the starter…the motor started instantly.  I had expected it to turn over a few times to get the fuel into the carb, but it fired instantaneously.

The purr of the motor was amazing.  It sounded strong, deep and solid.  I let the motor idle for several minutes to allow the oil to work its way around the motor.  Then, using the dock lines, we repositioned the boat for launch, dropped the shifter into gear, and slowly pulled away from the dock.  It was amazing!  To finally feel the boat in the water after hours of building…it was the culmination of all that preceded this moment that made it so special for me.  And, my dad was with me in the boat.  He has been my constant consultant, engineer and builder advisor for the past year as I worked on this boat.  I was so pleased to have him with me for this special moment.

Many adventures will now follow, with many photos documenting our adventures.

My initial impressions are:

  1. It floats
  2. It planes at multiple speeds
  3. The outboard sounds deep and strong
  4. It steers easily by simply shifting one’s weight
  5. The steering wheel stays exactly where you leave it
  6. The boats seems to hold it’s course very well on the water
  7. It’s a bit stern heavy when motoring with only 2 adults (moving weight forward helped trim the boat)
  8. It seems to move through the water effortlessly and at very low rpm’s
  9. The motor is very quiet.  It was easy to carry on a conversation at moderate speeds
  10. It exudes a strong feeling of efficiency, just as Kilburn said it would
  11. The torsion axel trailer carries the boat gracefully along providing a buttery smooth ride
  12. The boat pulls so easily, you don’t know it’s behind you.  I wouldn’t hesitate pulling this boat cross country at highway speeds.

I can’t wait to get the upholstery work done and get it out on the water again.  This is a very special boat and I believe it will serve my family well for many many years.  

Up next:

Final fittings to secure things like:  the coolers, motor cover, fire extinguisher, etc.  Attachment of dock lines, fenders and tow line.  Addition of a repair kit with tools and basic survival equipment.  

Steering Wheel Cover

I love the look of the wooden steering wheel, but the center hole with accompanying bolt needed some attention.

Here’s what I came up with:


1/4″ okoume plywood scrap. I traced Cygnus the Swan constellation onto the cap. 



Three small stainless steel screws secured the cap to the wheel.



I have several more small things to touch-up to complete the build.  Then, Northern Cross will be off to the upholstery shop for travel cover, cushions, cabin top and bimini.

DIY Teardrop Trailer Design

To keep this blog clean, I’ll be posting all teardrop trailer posts to the following new blog:  DIY Teardrop Trailer Design

Now that Skiff America is built, I’m wondering what to build next.  I thought long and hard about building another Scamp sailboat, which I would really like to do…at some point.  But, my wife suggested I wait a year before diving back into another boat build.  I think this is good advise.  This allows time for John Welsford’s Long Steps design to more fully develop.  It also allows Scamp to possibly evolve based on Howard’s experiences through the Straits of Magellan.  I love the Scamp design, but think the boat could stand a few changes to make it even better.  I’m happy watching others for a year and seeing how the design plays out.

So, let’s transition to Teardrop trailers.  I’ve always wanted a teardrop trailer and watched their popularity grow over the past few years.  Now there are dozens of good manufactures producing qualify teardrops.  I’ve also watched the prices of these small practical trailers hit $10,000 – 15,000.  This seems steep for what they provide:  Which for me is essentially a hard walled backpacking tent.  The industry has turned these simple trailers into complex units with showers, refrigerators, sinks, water pumps, holding tanks, colored mood lighting, the sky’s the limit…always in the name of being better.  But, we all know simpler is better.  My design criteria for a practical teardrop trailer would be a skosh better than a backpacking tent…more in line with a Scamp or Skiff America.


  1. Trailer Dimensions comparable to a 2 person backpacking tent:  54″W x 80″L x 44″H
  2. Ventilation through both doors (no roof vent, they always end up broken).
  3. Roof rack for hauling bicycles and kayaks.
  4. Good ground clearance:  15″:  think off road usage
  5. 14″ wheels:  for smoothing out the gravel roads
  6. Cooking off the back:  think basic single burner with one pot and one fry pan.
  7. Awning off either side or the back:  canvas tarp 54″ x 80″ with 2 poles.
  8. Light weight:  700 -800 lb. all in fully loaded travel weight.
  9. Easily pulled behind any vehicle.
  10. Torsion axel for smooth independent ride:  1,200 lb. rating

Teardrop Trailer Design

That’s the overall design criteria.  Now let’s build one 

Most manufactures build either 4′ or 5′ teardrops.  To me both widths seem wrong.  The 4′ width is just too tight to sleep with anyone other than your wife for 30 minutes.  The 5′ width seems too wide, especially if you plan to access mountain switch backs gravel roads. So, this forces you into ordering a custom axel exactly how you want it.  This is actually a blessing.  You get to build your trailer exactly how you want it…just like your boat.


I’ve ordered a Dexter torsion axel that will be custom built to the above specifications.  I can provide the technical details if anyone is interested.  These are not overly expensive ($263) and provide the foundation to your teardrop.  I’m not sure how this build will go…but I’m excited about trying to create a simple, practical, strong teardrop.  It’ll come in very handy with all my outdoor adventures.  

Bow Eye, Trailer Winch and Rub Plate

Now just finishing the small details that remain in the building of Northern Cross.  Up next was the bow eye, the trailer winch and the stainless steel rub plate.

Check it out:


I had a local fabrication shop make me this rub guard. It’s from stainless steel .058″. There’s actually a double bend in the steel to keep the aft edges tight against the boat.  If you look real closely, you can almost see it.  


The bow eye was first cut to length, the run all the way through the stem.  Ordered from West Marine,  it started as a 6″ long U bolt.  


Here’s the entire ensemble all hooked up and ready to go down the road.


Up next, I’m making a small wooden cover plate for the steering wheel bolt.  

Then Northern Cross will be off to the boat shop for bimini, cushions and cabin cover.  I can’t believe I’m actually nearing the finish line with this build.  It was almost one year ago exactly, when I started.  I’m so glad I did!