Sunday, October 30, 2011


The last week was busy.  I screwed and glued the inner side-deck boards onto the side-deck knees (first photo).  Then I gave the insides of the fore-end (which were to be covered by the foredeck) a second coat of epoxy.  I also put the hinges on the flip-up doors.  This involved gluing scraps of plywood on the underside of the doors where the screws were coming through, and chiseling 1/4 inch off the door frame underneath.  Once all was fitted, I removed the screws while I still had clear access to them; I will put everything back together once the benches and doors are all finished.

Then I marked and cut both fore- and side-decks.  This is harder than it sounds.  The foredeck is curved and nothing about it is straight.  I had to screw the plywood along the centerline and bend it to shape before marking the cut line from below.  Ditto the side decks: they curve in strange ways, plus since the side-decks are over 11 feet I had to mark and cut two pieces per side (which will be butt-joined with a scrap of plywood on the underside).  I finally gave the undersides of all decking and all surfaces that they will be glued to a coat of epoxy.

Today I gave the undersides of the decking a second coat of epoxy.  Then I marked where several boards will be attached to the main bulkhead.  One will support the floorboards, and two will be the rails for the sliding door of the fore locker.  Just before putting down the deck I attached all three (the bottom rail with screws only, so I can put in the door once all is properly varnished).  You can see them in the third photo.  Then I slathered epoxy filleting compound on all appropriate surfaces for putting on the foredeck: centerline beam, extra beams, inwales, and bulkhead doublers.  I finally proceeded to screw and nail the foredeck down.

What I should have foreseen is that after two coats of epoxy even 1/4 inch (6 mm) plywood becomes very stiff, so it took extra muscle, screws and nails to keep everything down.  A curved foredeck (photos two and three) is a thing of beauty, but it's a lot of extra work.  So much so that I gave up on doing the same with the side decks today.  I am still racing against time before serious cold descends upon Ohio, and I owe it to my wife to clean the garage up and clear space to store things like the grill for the winter. Just a few more days, though, and everything but topside finishing and floorboards will be done.

Although come to think of it, there is also the little matter of the oak rubrails.  Will I have to build a steam box to steam-bend them?  Or will I just cut a few kerfs on the inside and hide them with filleting compound?  I think I'll opt for the latter...  

So keep checking 176inches!


Sunday, October 23, 2011

More inside work

In the past two weeks I have been working away, trying to do as much as possible before serious cold sets in.  I cut, fit and glued side deck knees, seen on the left, which are awaiting 1x2 boards (already scarf-joined to just over 11 feet) to be screwed on their narrow faces.  The knees, inwales and boards will provide the base for 6-inch-wide side decks.

Then I made sure I do whatever needs to be done before the foredeck goes on.  It included extra beams between the two fore bulkheads, and reinforcements for the mast hole and for the halyard and snotter cleats (I'll explain later).  These are in the second photo, which shows the fore-end.

I also needed to put on a mast step for the fore (main) mast.  I had to calculate its placement from the rake angle of the mast (trigonometry again).  I glued two pieces of lumber on each side of the keel, and then laminated two square pieces of plywood and cut a two-inch round hole in them.  I finally screwed and glued all together (third photo).  I did the same for the mizzen mast, just next to the aft end of the centerboard case.

Then I laminated two oblong pieces of plywood (3/8 and 1/4 inch thick, or 9 and 6 mm) to make a rowing thwart, which will also be the mizzen mast partner.  I cut a 2 1/4 inch hole in the thwart and attached it to the benches in the right position (again I had to place the mast partner and mast step holes so the rake of the mast is correct).  The thwart is also supported by an oak board that protrudes from the centerboard case.  That's in the final picture.
I also glued together two pieces of oak molding of different widths to make rails for the sliding door of the fore locker.  These will have to be put on before the foredeck goes on, but the bottom one will be finally glued in place after all the surfaces are finished. 

Finally, I cut all the pieces of centerboard and rudder.  They are ready to laminate and finish (sometime in the winter).

That's a lot of work, and good work if I may say so myself.  Why does it feel like I'm not making progress?  I suppose because of unrealistic expectations.

For more progress, keep checking 176inches.


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Back from Europe

I was away for two weeks (and three weekends) on vacation in England and Ireland, visiting friends.  We spent most of the time in London, with a four-day trip to Ireland where our friends are building a house out of the ruins of a family cottage and cow-shed, on a lonely windswept hillside with stunning views, and overight trips to Cambridge and Brighton.  We visited my alma mater (Sussex University), met some of my college friends from 32 years ago, hiked on the Sussex downs, walked long distances, went on a punting trip on the river Cam, attended services at King's College, Cambridge chapel (with the men's and boys' choir filling the Gothic space with angelic music), visited museums, saw four plays, ate wonderful food and sampled excellent beer.  It can be argued that all that is not the subject of this blog, but it is relevant because it delayed the boatbuilding, and in any case it falls under the category of "other follies."  Our second week there coincided with a record heat wave (for England), up to the mid-80s (or almost 30 Celsius).  That was nice except that it was totally unexpected (people had been grumbling that the UK hadn't had a summer at all this year) and we hadn't packed enough warm weather clothes.  On a Saturday in and around Brighton, on the south coast, the beaches were mobbed and the sea was full of beautiful sailboats.

Which brings us to the main subject of the blog.  Since coming back I reinforced the undersides of the bench tops with extra strips of plywood, covered the insides of the benches with a second coat of epoxy, and waterproofed (hopefully) the buoyancy compartments with epoxy fillets along the seams.  Then I glued and nailed the bench tops in place.  They still need to be finished, and the doors reinforced, fitted and finished.  Finally, I glued and screwed the inwales in place.  Nothing worth taking a picture of yet, but things are steadily moving along.  The next big step will be side deck knees and the side- and fore-decking.  Somehow I doubt I will finish before the cold weather sets in.

So, despite the occasional slow stretch, keep reading 176inches!