Private Signal Flag

Private signal flag of Christopher Cook and Emily Delmotte. Left, three blue stars in a vertical column. Center, International Code of Signals Charlie flag. Right, International Code of Signals Echo flag.
Private signal flag of Christopher Cook and Emily Delmotte.

Several years ago, I designed a private signal flag for Emily and me in anticipation of future boating adventures. I began work on the flag, sewing by hand with many fits and starts, over the winter of 2017-2018 but abandoned the project when the sewing got tough. After buying a sewing machine recently, I finished the flag in about two hours!

Sketches saved from the recycling bin by Emily.

The three stars echo those on the flag of the District of Columbia where Emily and I met. They are blue to represent three bodies of water from our lives: Lake St. Clair, near where Emily grew up; Lake Okoboji, in Iowa, where I learned to sail; and Lake Michigan, the great lake shared by both of our home states of Illinois and Michigan. The five bars in the middle make up the International Code of Signals (ICOS) flag for the letter “Charlie” (for Chris) and the two larger bars make up the ICOS flag for the letter “Echo” (for Emily). The flag’s colors follow the flag of the United States and the shape is a triangular swallowtail, the traditional shape for private signals.

The last step is for me to finish Blue Moon so we have a place to fly this flag!

A Wonderful Year

Winter arrives.

As the year’s end quickly approaches, I’ve been reflecting on just how much happened over the last twelve months. In many ways, it’s been a momentous year for Emily and me.

In February, I took a multi-week course on beekeeping which allowed me to keep a hive that thrived through the spring and early summer. When we moved to Michigan, I decided to move the bees too. Unfortunately, they don’t seem to have fared well here and the last check in late October revealed a dying colony. I learned many lessons from the bees and find them to be absolutely fascinating creatures. However, with so many other pans in the fire, I likely won’t keep bees next year.

March took Emily and I through Kentucky bourbon country and to Nashville, Tennessee, where we enjoyed unseasonably warm weather and a night at the Grand Ole Opry. Emily graduated from her three-year nursing program at Ohio State University at the end of April and we celebrated her hard work (she’s still working hard). In May, members of the Columbus Philatelic Club invited me to speak to them about my book, The 1965 United States Dante Stamp, which has received favorable reviews.

Summer brought Midwestern travels to visit family and friends in Illinois and a family vacation to Leelenau County, Michigan, and the majestic Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore. While I’d made good progress on my skiff, Blue Moon, I wasn’t able to finish it for the vacation. Next year.

Hazy sunset over Sleeping Bear Bay.

With a job offer in hand for Emily in St. Joseph, Michigan, we embarked on the life adventure of buying a house. We found a place to make our own in the country a few miles from St. Joseph, Stevensville, Baroda, and Berrien Springs. There is plenty of work to be done on our old house and five acres of grass and woods.

Holly basks in the sunlight.

In November, we adopted a dog from the county animal shelter. Holly is a Labrador Retriever mix and has brightened our home with her very sweet and loving nature. We hosted my dad and his wife for the first Thanksgiving in our own home and Emily’s sister will be here soon for Christmas.

We have so much to be thankful for and so much to look forward to in 2019.

A Floating Vessel

Many clamps make light work.

The Bevin’s Skiff plans call for 3/4″ × 1 1/2″ chines. Hoping to use lumber I had on hand, I cut the required pieces from southern yellow pine. However, when I test fit them, it became obvious that the chines were not going to bend enough for attachment without seriously deforming the shape of the sides. After pondering the issue for several days, I decided to laminate the chines out of three strips of pine, each 1/4″ × 1 1/2″. This created a considerable amount of extra work but the outcome was satisfactory.

With the chines installed and planed, I laid the bottom on the upside down boat and carefully located and pre-drilled holes for bronze screws. In order to put a layer of epoxy on the underside of the bottom I rigged up a lift which also allowed me to gently lower the plywood onto the boat without smearing epoxy all over everything.

Suspended bottom.

Lining up the bottom with the pre-drilled holes was not as difficult as I had anticipated but it still took a fair amount of fiddling. Nonetheless, I zipped down the screws and cleaned up squeezed out epoxy before flipping the boat over and installing the quarter knees.

With the bottom attached this boat could float!

A whole hull (quarter knees have not been installed yet).