Monday, April 30, 2012

Tying up loose ends (literally)

Before I go on, I'd like to add another photo of the finished hull, this one taken from the side.  In the last post, the wide-angle camera view made the proportions look deceptive.  This should give a better idea of the boat's freeboard and the relative positions of the two masts.  I find the rake of the masts a little, well, rakish.

I made some good progress in the past week.  A whole bunch of little things still needed to be checked off before finishing the rigging.  I varnished the floor with non-slip grit mixed in, screwed the middle plank over the ballast box, and laid the floor in its place.  I fitted the sliding door on the main bulkhead and glued and screwed its lower rail.  You can see the finished interior in the second photo--looks nice and roomy, does it not?  I put the brass hinges on the three flip-up locker doors, but I haven't installed closures yet.  I have had a hard time deciding how to keep these doors closed (in case of rough weather or a capsize)--the setup isn't right for latches, so I considered using bungee cords and hooks, but I decided they wouldn't look right.  I am thinking of using little pivoting flat blocks of wood, but I don't feel there is much hurry for them.  I also installed a watertight inspection port on the foredeck, and two in the seat risers for access into the buoyancy compartments.  Finally I touched up the hull with blue paint up to the rubrails--I had left an irregular patch unpainted so I could glue the rubrails on.

I also sanded the masts, yards and oars and gave all two coats of varnish  Then I finished both sails--I had a few reef patches to sew on, batten pockets to sew closed, and a whole lot of loose thread ends to tie and trim.  In the coming week I will start on the rigging.  First I will lace the sails onto their yards, then I will attach the halyards to the yards, then install blocks and cleats for halyards, sheets and snotters, then set up the tack downhaul systems, the clew snaphooks, and finally the lines for pulling up the centerboard and rudder.  The end is in sight!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

All but the running rigging (almost)

In the last few days, I started by filling the ballast box with lead shot, 50 lbs of it.  I used silicone caulk and styrofoam to seal it into its two compartments (see first photo: forward compartment after the styrofoam went on, aft one before).  I will be screwing the middle floor plank on top.  Then I finished assembling the floor.  It was quite tricky because I had to do everything upside-down, since the cross pieces were glued and screwed on the underside.  Of course in a home-designed and hand-built boat nothing is exactly square and even, so I had to do some sanding, trimming and dealing with inevitable small mistakes after assembly to make all three parts of the floor fit properly.  In doing some of that I managed to cut my left thumb with a detail saw that slipped; not deep enough to need stitches but it took some work to stop the bleeding.  It was the first (and hopefully last) mishap I've had that needed as much as a band-aid.  Anyway, a good reminder to always be careful.  I also drilled ten 7/8-inch holes in all in the floor assemblies, two (one port, one starboard) for each space between frames.  The holes are for pumping the bilges dry, extra ventilation and for my fingers so I can pull the floor up as needed.

Then I reinforced the bow from the inside with two strips of 3/8-inch plywood, and drilled the holes for the U-bolt that will hook to the winch. Then I sanded tops and insides and laid on the first coat of varnish, followed by the second.  Then I gave three coats of white paint to the fore- and side-decks.

I also gave the floor assemblies a coat of epoxy.  They will be varnished next week, mixed with some non-skid grit additive to reduce slipping.  This plus a few other things (like touching up the blue hull paint below the rubrails, locker door closures, installing the three inspection ports with white caulk and screws, and screwing on the middle plank) account for the "almost" part in the title.

Then, on Sunday, on the first anniversary of beginning the physical boat building (the planning of course went on a lot longer than that), I and some friends transferred the boat from its cradle to its new trailer.  Thanks, Gregg, Mark and Ralph! (second photo). 

The last two photos are of the (almost) finished boat (minus the running rigging).   Isn't Aerie a beauty?

In the next 2-3 of weeks I hope to have everything ready for launch, barring any unforeseen issues.  So keep checking 176inches.


Sunday, April 15, 2012

Getting close to the finish

 In the past week I first carved the letters of the boat's name on the rubrails near the bow, in English (starboard) and Greek (port).  I used a borrowed gouge and sharpening strop and my own rubber mallet to do so, and it was tricky but ended up being good enough (first photo).  I then nailed and glued the decorative top on the centerboard trunk.  I sanded all tops and insides again and put on a first coat of epoxy on those plus locker doors, oars and masts.  Then I filleted the keelson-to-garboard joints on the inside bottom and cut out a scoop on the transom to fit an oar to use as a scull.  I had to stain the transom reinforcements (which are aspen and very pale) to match the plywood, and used epoxy tinted dark with Minwax stain.   Finally, I drilled the holes for the oarlock sockets with a 7/8 inch spade bit, glued on some reinforcements for the oarlock boards from under the side decks and drove a couple of screws through from below on each one for good measure.

I then sanded the first coat of epoxy and laid on a second one.  The weather has been quite cold, so to encourage curing I kept  the garage door closed and gave the garage the occasional blast from a space heater; the combination made the fumes pretty bad, and I was very glad to be wearing the respirator.  The boat is looking beautiful already!  [second photo]  When the decking is painted and the insides varnished it will look even better.  After that I am going to highlight the carved lettering with gold paint (nail polish actually).

Then I drove to Marblehead on Lake Erie and bought a new trailer from Islander Marine.  The winch strap hook needs something to attach to.  I planned to reinforce the bow from the inside and put a long welded eyebolt through the bow, and the inspection port hole makes that possible, one more reason I'm happy I cut it.  Unfortunately he winch hook is too thick for the eyebolt I bought, so I exchanged the eyebolt for a U-bolt.  I need to drill two holes but should be even stronger.

In the coming week I plan to varnish the unpainted surfaces, paint the decking white, install the inspection ports, put in the ballast and assemble and coat the flooring.  So hopefully the boat (except the rigging) will be ready, almost to the day, a year after I started.

Then it will be time to set up the rigging, with blocks, cleats, wooden eyepads, metal eyestraps, bullseyes, snaphooks, a minimum of 64 screws, four kinds of line (sail lacing, halyards, sheets, snotters, tack downhauls, painter, anchor cable, miscellaneous loops, etc., etc.), and other fun stuff like knots and eyesplices.  I already bought all the screws I need (it was tricky and I may have forgot something) and a piece of closet rod for the mizzen sprit (I already have one ready for the main) which needs epoxy and varnish.  Also I will put leathers and rope buttons on the oars.  At the very end I will also make a boarding ladder from rope and oak boards.  I think I will tie the top end in a single loop to hang from an eyebolt or cleat.  So actual sailing may not happen for a while, but I hope soon at least to launch the boat, row and scull it, check for stability etc.


Saturday, April 7, 2012

More miscellaneous progress

This past week I first finished filleting all the seams along the bottom and the splashguards.  I then installed the mizzen mast step and assembled the ballast box with filleting compound, screws and nails.  You can see the box in the first photo.  It has two narrow compartments, and I will pour 25 lbs (11.4 kg) of lead shot into each, on a bed of caulk, after they get two coats of epoxy.  The ballast box will be covered by the middle floor plank.  In the meantime, the lead arrived by mail.  I wonder how the postman avoided getting a hernia or back trouble: 50 lbs in a small parcel was deceptively heavy and very awkward to lift.

I then measured and cut the cedar floor planks and tried them on for size (see second photo--they are not properly spaced or assembled yet).  The 30-inch-wide cockpit can be covered pretty exactly by eight 1x4 planks (3 1/2 inches wide in actual dimensions).  The part of the floor aft of the centerboard trunk and thwart will have eight such planks.  The forward part, however, has a middle plank covering the ballast box, so there are three planks on either side of that plus one plank ripped in two lengthwise for the edges.  On the starboard side I had to cut a notch into one plank to accommodate the centerboard trunk.  I also cut pieces that will connect the planks on their undersides from 1x2 lumber.

Then I mixed up a batch of filleting compound and did several things.  I put in floor supports on both sides of frame 5 (under the thwart) and on frame 7 (which is the bulkhead forming the aft seat and storage compartment).  The floor support on the main forward bulkhead (frame 2) is on already.  So now there are supports for the fore and aft ends of the two parts of the flooring.

I also glued on the boards for the oarlocks, which are centered 10 inches (254 mm) aft of the rowing thwart.  I widened the reinforcement along the top of the transom by adding another board.  Finally, I finished some details on the rudder and tiller and cut the decorative plywood top for the centerboard trunk.  I am now ready for the first coat of epoxy on the insides and decking.


Monday, April 2, 2012

Slow progress

Last weekend I sanded the masts smooth and tried them on again.  They really look good, but it's clear if you look closely that they were not precision-cut on a lathe.  I prefer the hand-hewn look anyway, it has my handiwork all over it.  I will need to sand them with fine grit and epoxy them, but I will do that as part of a big coating push later.  I also cut the hole for the inspection port in the foredeck (next to the mast hole) and began sanding the decking. 

In preparation for further work on the insides of the boat, and for selling the old trailer, I moved the boat to a cradle I built out of the original building frame long boards and some more lumber.  I won't have to stand on a stepladder and lean over a precariously balanced trailer to do what I need to do any more.  Now that the weather is warmer (although not as warm as we had in the middle of March) I have moved all the tools and supplies back into the garage.

This weekend I cut the lumber pieces for the ballast box, drilled a hole in the centerboard for the pivot bolt, tried it in (it fits perfectly as per plan) and test-fitted all the ballast box pieces and the mizzen mast step, which sits at the aft end of the ballast box against frame 5.  I measured the size of the box and estimated how much lead shot it could take.  Turns out it's under 75 pounds.  Given the weight of the boat without the ballast, I decided that 50 pounds of lead shot is a good amount: it will help make the boat more stable without adding unnecessary weight.  And lead is not cheap anyway.

I also gave every part of the boat on the top and insides a good sanding, vacuumed up all the dust and shavings, and started putting in the epoxy fillets along the inside bottom seams and where the splashguards meet the fore and side decks.  In the coming week I hope to finish all that, build the ballast box, and perhaps carve the boat's name on the rubrails.  Then, after a final light sanding, I will be ready to put on the epoxy coats, and finally the paint and varnish.  It's good to be able to see the light at the end of the tunnel!