Saturday, May 2, 2009


I wonder if there's some sort of cosmic index measuring how closely one's life matches one's plans for it in the final analysis. If there is one I must be pegging the meter on inverse correlation. None of this seems real. Perhaps I am truly John Malkovich, and he is me, and we are each simply doing our level best given the circumstances.

There is a point at which the Moth ceases to be merely a boat and assumes a larger significance, as though invested with an ambition or longing for the impossible. Flying has always been the next best thing to impossible, and with the possible exception of sex, flying in a moth is the closest most of us will come to transcendence, in a physical sense. Which is why foiling is so popular I suppose.

But that altered state can extend onto land as well, and that is where the definition of Mothing gets blurry. Velocity prediction programs. CNC programming. CAD. XFOIL. Epoxy. Clearly the lure of the design and build is as strong for some as the lure of flying, which makes it all doubly intoxicating.

It seems clear to me that this is why professional boat designers do what they do: sit and think all day about new ways to accomplish things in a slightly more efficient, or elegant, or just plain smarter fashion. They dig the whole process, from soup to nuts. Mothing is just another way to check that box, but on a highly personal level, so when you combine the two, look out.

Perhaps that is why the foils on the production boats seem to get better and better with time: there are factories of smart dudes thinking about how to do this stuff, with all the machinery and resources needed to do a completely ridiculous job of optimizing everything, and the time to spend on it.

The rest of us muddle along on a shoestring and a prayer, hoping we might actually have something to add to the mix in the odd hours away from whatever we do with the rest of our waking lives. For instance, I have no CNC machine, which left me in a bit of a fix for a rudder foil recently. My old rudder works fine but the latest trends suggest I might go better with a new one.

This is how I found myself working backward from positive to negative en route to another positive. It is like 3d photography but everything is 1:1. I could have had something machined but the journey is often as important as the destination and I thought I might learn something on the way. Which I have, but I have learned as much about myself as about the foils really. And that is the point.

There is a feeling you get when you do something a bit crazy and it actually works. Even if it is only a small thing, like splashing a mold, there is a satisfaction in a job well done which doesn't come with the purchase price of a new Moth, no matter how fast it might be - or how expensive.

It is probably this feeling which keeps some people working on new things at home, despite the fact that God is in his heaven and labor is discounted in China. CNC time might be cheap for the big boys, but good ideas are still free.


Marcel Herrera said...

wow that was confusing

Karl said...

No extra charge.

Kirk said...

How do you manage to get all the edges in the same plane so when you mount them in the plate the parting line is in the right place?

Karl said...

support with clay from bottom and mash it down. Getting the mdf flat was harder after going to lots of trouble to join fins with straight trailing edge and finding mdf tacked up a bit... Also routing hole to fit precisely was tricky.

Fred said...

Great reading! Especially when down with a flu and no chance to go mothing. Thanks

Karl said...

Glad you enjoyed it Fred I often wonder why I bother writing that stuff as I seem to be on a different wavelength than many mothies but it's my bloog as Norkla would say so I write what I want. Get well soon!