Artist Builds SAILBOAT from CONCRETE, The Pterodactyl, a Gaff Rig Schooner

My name is Edwin Landis, but people in
the sailing community know me as Eddie and I have my captain’s license now so I
guess I can be Captain Eddie. This is the schooner Pterodactyl 42-foot JR Benford
design concrete haul everything else is wood. I always liked boats and built my
first boat at about eight but it wasn’t a shape, but it was a sort of, it was
square. No adults told me anything about it. I was just building it and I thought
that wood floated so it would float. I didn’t know about displacement or any of that.
I built the thing. The neighborhood was like “Eddie’s going to launch his boat”,
put it on my back and took it down to the river. My mother made me a little bag
of lunch and there were other and the neighbors were down there and everything
and I said, “okay I’m gonna take it out a little ways to come back and then I’ll
give everybody rides.” And I stepped in it and instantly went right to the bottom
and I’m up to my knees or so in the water standing by. It didn’t even
hesitate. It just went *bloop*. That was my first boat and my second boat I could
bail if I had another kid with me I could bail fast enough to keep it afloat
and then I took it home and wrapped an old shower curtain around it and it
didn’t leak any more it was great so I was always into boats, loved boats, and
building shacks and stuff. Things I could get inside of and everything and I
always liked to draw stuff. When I was a real little kid I drew a bird. When I was
trying to think, “how do I make it look like it’s flying?” and I managed to
figure out how to make the wings up and make it look sort of three-dimensional
and since then I always thought of as a challenge to
do it right. That’s when I realized that that was my real calling and I went to
art school. It’s kind of funny I built my house, all my easels, my paint box,
the boat, everything I built and I draw up first. Like some things I’ve maybe
drawn 50 pictures before I come up with a way that would really work. This is a schooner rig with a midships cockpit after the cockpit the deck comes up a
little bit and continues back to the stern, that’s a quarterdeck. This boat has
a quarterdeck and we’re on the quarterdeck right now. These particular
lines are lazy Jack’s. I just put these on it. They’re easy to put on but when
you lower the sail it catches it you don’t have it falling all over. It’s
saved so much work. I actually had a temporary hatch over this where the
skylight is for years and years even though I’ve made the framer for the
skylight I never finished it so that’s only been there for three years
really makes it different because you know it’s pretty dark down below. These, I
just put these rat lines. My daughter says I say ratlins, but I didn’t learn
boating from being with real boaters I did it from books or just myself so I
don’t use all the terms and everything but I’ve got this generator recently and
now I can work my power tools everything right out here on my mooring. We have to
take it off when we start taking people for rides. This year we’re gearing up to
actually take people for rides, Scooner Pterodactyl Charters LLC. We’re not
totally ready yet obviously but that’s what we’re going to do. This is the
mainmast. On schooner the bigger mast this aft these masts are Sitka Spruce. Most
people have Douglas Fir, very strong but Sitka Spruce is just as strong but way lighter. And that’s the fore mast there. I have my
air-cooled diesel engine instead of having like regular yachts I have a stack
like fish boats. Like I said I like work boats and tugs and all that. The engine
room’s right underneath here so I got this little light. Every steel fitting
everything is just homemade. This is my old steering wheel and actually I need a
new one now finally. It’s got like a chain in there it’s all stuff that I
made so it’s a little crude. This is very very Drakish. I have a hydraulic drive
it can creep when I went in neutral I have to put this thing down so you don’t
think you’re, you put it in neutral and then you’re doing something all of a sudden
it’s in gear gone full bore so I had to put this thing on there. This is another
example of real Drakeism. With the air-cooled engine it has to have good cool
air going in. I think in the catalog those bronze air scoops worth hundreds
of dollars. I just went to Lowe’s and got some PVC.
Tommy Drake build his own boats. He was a retired sailing ship captain. They call
him The Lone Sea Rover and he didn’t set records, he just sailed and he built his boats, everything: design and build them. They’re fairly crude in some ways but
functional good boats and I named my club after Tommy Drake. That whole
attitude with making it seaworthy functional, use what you got, and go out
there. The Tommy Drake, the lifetime Commodore. You make your own
version, you can use a sock, underwear, whatever you want.
TDC right on there, put it on your starboard where you put your Yacht Club
Burgi. Okay! You’re in. Make your burn seat and whatever. It’s
the Drake attitude and if something is Drakeish well, it’s functional and
unpretentious and if you think like that you’re a Draker. Captain Tommy the Lone
Sea Rover is my biggest hero. The mainsheet for this sail comes here and
goes up down and then you can control that right here and for the fore
stay sail and the main sheets right here so when you tack the jib sheet goes on
each side here so you don’t really have to go up there unless something’s tangled
up which happens all the time. I’ve single handed a lot. You just have to
run back and forth but it’s doable. By having a Schooner Rig with four working
sails and I can put two other sails up it divides the square footage in so no
sail has to be so big that it’s unmanageable and there’s no winches you
notice. When you see Popeye the cartoon you know and he has those oversized
forearms there’s a reason for that. Sailors are always gripping and pulling, at least the old-fashioned ones, unbelievably big forearms. I have this hundred
pound fisherman anchor it’s unwieldy but it holds. I have metal cable from my
anchor. This is a 6-ton logging winch that I got secondhand. It’s real old. If
you put the crank it didn’t, I didn’t, I had to make my own crank it didn’t come
with one. Six of these cranks turns the drum once but if you put it over here it’s
something like 32 cranks and this is a 6-ton winch and if you put it on that
one you can actually crank six tons I got it fouled on some big thing
underwater and I’m cranking and the bow’s going down and down and I’m just
cranking away and I forget what it was some big thing finally came up. This is
the fore staysail then I have the jib and then I also have a flying jib so
there’s three headsails if I want to have em. Started building I guess it was 73. I
was with my brother Davi my wife at the time Victoria and
schoolmate of my brother Davies Don and my brother in law, we built the boat shed first that took over a month probably although I
had built lots of boats as a kid I didn’t really know even how to read boat
prints or any of that. I sent my money in, a tube of blueprints
comes in the mail with all the lines and details and stuff but no instructions
whatsoever. I had to bone up. I had to get every book
I could find and first it meant it was new. A year later in March it was ready for
plastering. You can build the boat your armature your steel armature it’s
perfect as you want but if you don’t have it plastered right you’re screwed.
Nobody’s building them now has a bad reputation and no not much resale value
because a lot of people did such a poor job building them but there were lots of
goers and this boat was plastered in 74 and here it is still working fine. I’m
happy with it. This is the galley. This is an old Washington Stove Works
Neptune 15a and it’s got an oven. In hot weather you can’t do it. I got this
alcohol stove and I made these gimbals you can buy a gimbal sink for a hundred
bucks so when the boat’s tilted the stuff on the stove stays level. For
meals we’ve used, eat burgoo, which is what Tristan Jones called the one pot
thing you just whatever you have and we just have a pressure cooker. Lift it up so it won’t slide out when
the boat heals but see, won’t come out but then you lift it and you got it.
I had a interval water tank and I, I don’t know, I didn’t like the idea of it so I
took it out and the foot pump here for the water but I have to make a new
one and obviously this fitting is just made out of copper pipe.
That’s Drake-ish and that I like too. You can see all these bottles here and think, “boy he
drinks a lot of liquor”, no, they’re water from my well. Just drinking water. I just I
like the well water you know spoiled. The table you can pull the pin and make it
go down and you got a double berth there but I couldn’t get pipes that fit really
snug so I’m gonna have to pad out the one pipe see, but hey it’s been this way
forever and I like it so you can go back in there.
This is recycled wood too, fir. This is the typical thing, when it’s really hot we
have all the utensils holding the port lights open and up here which is catch
all right now is the fo’c’sle. It’s got a double berth for a couple. It would be
pretty intimate then a single berth over here and I have ground tackle down under
there rope and storage up there. I lost the little thing for that but this is a… she’s not working now but this was the
ship alert and I used to have a knot meter there was a little L tube with a
cork in it and you stuck it in the water and there was calibrations on the
tube and wherever the cork came to it would tell you how fast you’re going six knots
or whatever. I don’t know what happened to that. I
don’t know if they have those anymore. Watch your head here people have really
gotten a bad rude awakening from that. this is the head, the bathroom. This is
new too it’s a composting toilet. You put this peat moss in it you have to crank
this put it in there and crank it 15 times that’s your flushing. It’s legal that’s
that’s a legal thing. I welded this thing up out of pipe 40 years ago and
it’s still around too and it heats it up really well. Got to have musical instruments when there’s no
wind. That’s what you use to call the wind. Storage you know instead of having
hinges I made them like the old America Flyer wagons from when I was a kid. The
double berth is really really nice. I did my own steering too and it’s quite crude.
Cables go through tubes underneath and it comes in here and I just made this
emergency tiller. There’s the wrench right there that you
bolt it down with and you can get it on there and I’m gonna have a rope in here
and it’s going to go the pulleys here and here and go up so I can control it
from up above and this is black locust
that’s strong. So let’s see, there’s two three four
somebody could sleep on each of these they’re six the galley table could go
down and eight and then three more up so actually you could sleep 11
people but that would be really tight and who wants to have to lower the
galley table and bring it up you know? You want to go get a midnight snack there’s
somebody in there laying on the table down so that’s not so cool. This is the
chart table you know the charts and stuff are in here. My sextant nobody used
that I actually used this going to Hawaii not on this boat another but there was a other person who was the main navigator
had a real sextant but I was pretty accurate with this thing. I don’t remember
how we’re doing it, now everybody’s got satellite navigation for position works
great. My father-in-law gave me this for birthday or Christmas something awhile ago,
couple years ago, finally put it in you know the whole thing Roger over now all
that. I had never had any of that before you just sort of think
hope they see you or whatever and whatever they want, you can’t talk to
anybody it’s like, “I see you over there.” Um pretty cool, I really like this
design because I got my own shop and here’s the engine.
Another uncommon thing an air cooled doats diesel from Germany 1980 and I got
the Spencer fluid power hydraulic system and I got my vice and my complete shop
here for doing everything. Say we go to Port Townsend come back
takes maybe 10 days, it feels like you really did a real experience. Time is
way different with a really good wind really good wind up we can probably go
about 8 knots. It’s just a different perspective and it’s helpful. And just start if you could boil it down
that’s that’s it. Just try. Just start. You can not have your exact plan for the
rest of your life and never start you just have to start and that’s my
that’s the way I have done everything and that would be my advice…go for it.

Dereck Turner

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