Thursday, August 4, 2011

Week of sailing

My body still has the wave action in it...  a week long of wondeful sailing aound St Marin and St Barths was a long awaited awesome vacation.  The 43' Beneteau boat did it's job very well and the Moorings' staff was very nice and helpful.
But nothing got done on my boat.  The work schedule is overloaded so I doubt much will be done on it the coming week.  But I will try and get a couple of tapelengths epoxied in.
I played around with a Wagner 8' dingy in St Barths and was surprised at the stability of it.  I assume my boat will also show this stability...
Sam Devlin responded to my question regarding the gunwales not looking straight...  they should come out straight so I will go ahead and use as many clamps as I can find and get them fitted...  and do that before the turnover of the hull, so before the glassing!

Thanks for your kind supporting words Cliff!

Friday, July 22, 2011

Gunwale question

In our local hardware store I found right sized light wooden strips for clamping around the gunwales.  I dry fitted them.  But since the gunwale is curved they will not fit without cutting or shaving them to size.  But I wonder how that will look.  The bottom line of the batten on the sheer will be straight and the top line will follow the curve...   I could also leave the straight lines and fill the gap between the topline of the sheet, and the two clamped gunwale guards with a filler.  How is this supposed to work? I will bother mr. Sam Devlin with this little question.

Thursday, July 21, 2011


After the first fills and epoxy mess, I thought it may be a good idea to check out Youtube for some actual advice...  this helps a lot and is definitely something I will do. But my temporary fills, before I took out the wires, are so huge, that I am forced to lay a thick final fill for this project.  But future projects will for sure use the plastic bag and the alcohol-tipped finger to smooth the fill after a few hours of curing of the fill.  And use the tongue depressor to make the fills' radii smaller.  Right now they are large for a 3/4" plywood boat. I just hope it will not weight down the dinghy and sink her.

Maybe the next project will not be a bigger one...  that kayak looks pretty nice.  And it would be feasible for me to do because I do not have the garage empty.  And I still have soooo much more to learn before I go bigger. And I am kind of short on attention spans on project.  A smaller project will take less time and give me quicker return.

Lesson learned:
Check out vids on internet to get a feel for how things are done elsewhere if a boat school is too far.  I actually bought the Sam video many years ago.  But I need to see his crafts again and I do not own a video player anymore, I know this is a sad excuse.

Sanding makes things better

Tried to sand the first strip of tape in the centerline of de boot.  Got the sharp edges of the tape removed, and some of the uneven pieces.  Sanding is pretty fast, with the ros and a 8 grit fresh paper, hooked up to my shopvac.  Unhandy with the hose and the power cord, but clean and effective.  No idea how to reach those crannies, I guess I'd have to do those by hand.  I wanted to sand within 24 hrs, somewhere I read that the curing time allows optimal sanding around that time.  Epoxy requires planning and working with job-times.  I have to read up some more on that.  (Also on how to get rid of the waves in the tape now).
No pic today.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

A mess!

Sloppy? It's a mess! How in the name of ... does everybody get these fills and strips of tape so neatly lined up and without creases sticking up on corners?  Oh, wait a minute, by not having one long tape continue from the tip of the boat all the way back to the transom? I got this two corner pieces of tape sticking up, wet.  Maybe I should have cut them before laying them on the wet filler?
Can you see the tape sticking up?

I don't have that little squeegee roller so I used the plastic squeegee together with the paintbrush to attempt to eliminate the bubbles and wobbles in the tape.  But the filler beneath it was still soft so when I thought a wobble was an air-bubble, it really was not, causing a bigger problem.  So I walked away after bombing the first strip.  I have to keep reminding myself that this is a "progress not perfection" project.  I do hope that one day I will be able to make a good fill, and tape it nicely.

Drunken sailor strip...

Lessons learned:
Do not make one long tape from the tip of the bow all the way to the transom.  
I don't know what the lesson is which will make better looking tape/filler joins... but there is a lot to learn in this area!


After reading some of the posts of Peter's Artic Tern Project I feel dirty.  This guy is absolutely the most disciplined, neat and perfect woodworker I have seen on boat building sites.  The ply cuts, the fillers, the way he rolls the wire, everything he does is immaculate.
I have to still fill-up the rough first fills I made with a neat fill-job and strips of fiberglass tape. Then sand and fair the hull on the outside.  I intend to make the whole boat look a lot neater then it is now.  Especially after looking at Peter's work...  jeeeezzzz...

Lessons Learned

Learning from a true boat-builder, Norm Bernstein, I like the idea of posting the lessons learned from a work session.  Not only to give my own stubborn brain to absorb what it needs to, but also to expose myself to others.  It is very important for me to regularly eat some self-baked humble pie. As with Marathon running where the victory is getting to the starting line, to start a boat building project is a victory for me.  But the core-goal for this project is learning (in the most fun way I can imagine) so bigger boats may be built later.  Better post as much as possible about the lessons.

The first lesson learned is...  I should have started this project earlier.  Instead of watching stupid TV for hours, I could have spent a couple of hours a day on building a boat. Enough said I think.

The second lesson of the first couple of work sessions is, Plan Do Check Act.  Really do this.  I preach this many times as a management consultant.  But now I have to practice what I preach.  Plan the session in my head. Before starting lay out the tools, setup the vinegar (unscrewed) with towels when working with epoxy, unpack spoon/brush/squeegee, gloves etc. Take off your watch and note the time you start.  I set my divers watch's bevel to the minute hand.  The epoxy work needs to be done in 30 minutes.  Maybe a kitchen timer will also help remind me the time is over. Check the work afterwards, note bumps, heaps, drips of epoxy and clear them.  Tidy up and leave the workplace clean.

Lesson three, Work in small batches. A little bit each day will bring a kick every day.  One day "de boot" will be ready.  Take the necessary time. Enjoy the path.

Lesson four, although I have not gotten to the fairing part yet, a blogger somewhere talked about working very neatly and basically said that the fairing needs to be done before the glassing.  The glassing he did was meticulous, he used tape and marked where the borders of the sheets were on the hull to make very close seams, again to minimize sanding afterwards. He mentioned he learnt this from a woodenboat school instructor.  When I re-find this I will post it here.

Finally Started

After some years of many other projects, I finally started my first boat building project. The Sam Devlin's "Sandpiper" design attracted me many years ago as a first project. I bought the design drawings in 2005.  Last week I strolled around in a our local marine supplier and saw some marine ply...  Marine ply was never available before on this island until now.  I instantly bought 2 sheets of 1/4". It is hard to put into words the internal joy and excitement I felt once I had the ply: "Finally Started" were the words in my mind.

Over the weekend we cut the four panels and the double transom. My daughter of 4 assisted me all the way. She held the ply while I cut them, she drew the lines, held the batten in place, checked the drawings... we had a blast working together. Sunday I did the epoxy work on the transom and filling alone of course.

The boat is starting to actually look like something.  The broom-stick spreader is to get the correct form.
All the wires were pulled out today and all connections held! I read somewhere that the epoxy with wood filler was tough as nails. But nails can be cut through; this epoxy stuff is impossibly hard. As you can see my amateurism has resulted in ugly fillings in dire need of some shaving. But my ros is too large for these small angles. What to do? Luckily these fillings are the rough ones which will be augmented with the actual final fillings, which have to me be done near perfect so I don't have to sand as much.  The plastic spreader will be cut in the form with the correct radius so I can make the filling's shape perfect.  Still have to find a way of sanding in these tight corners.

I am amazed at how quick this small project is advancing. Everything (besides the wood-work) is new to me and I am doing my best to absorb all the new methods. After I execute a step and reread Sam's book on the topic, I realize I did not read his words thorough enough the first times. But that is precisely why I do this project; to learn so I can advance.

"De boot"
These are the tools and ppe's I used today. A dremel tool, which helped out with the big gunks of epoxy built up around the wires, the vacuum cleaner, the ros, the respirator and glasses.
Tools and ppe

Next job is to finish filling all the join(t)s.  Then mount the strips of wood on the gunwales... I am not sure about the sequence of these, first the reinforcements of the gunwales so the form of the boat is final then the filler or visa versa?  Any comments are welcome.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Wind direction

What is it that draws a man to build a sailboat? As a child I made a boat for my GI-Joe.  I used triplex, masking tape and oil paint from a canister.  It did the job.  GI-Joe floated through the Sheraton pool and the ocean nearby.  I even built a battery operated motor and light in it!  So now, some 40 years later, I find myself building a similar boat, slightly larger, but still getting the same altered state of mind.  Knowing one day I will be on the water, playing with his self-built thing.  First rowing it, eventually setting up a sailing rig for it. Then, probably before it is ready, plans for a larger boat will have been bought from Devlin's shop.
Where does the Wind for ones Spirit come from?