Wednesday, February 29, 2012

No more, or no choice?

That's it.  I am done with outside epoxy layering.  Basta!  There were still slight rasterish areas on the hull before the last epoxy layer today went on.  I hope these are well coated now.  If no major rough spots are left over tomorrow, the painting phase of the outside hull will start!

Sometimes it feels that I have been working for a long time on this small little boat.  But actually, the last 1,5 weeks was the only time I spent 1 hour a day on it. Before that was in September last year, stitching it up and putting in one filling (the messy one) and one tape (the center one).  That took 5 hours at the most. So now I am about 15 hours in the hole.  What?  60 more to go?  What is awaiting me?  Now I am getting worried.  I thought once the hull outside is done, that's it, besides some bulkheads, transom enforcement for engine, bulwarks, seats, cleats, and some inside painting...  Maybe all that is most of the work...

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Last epoxy layers

The side panels still have the rough feel of the fibermat. The hull has been sanded and faired to complete smoothness, at least by touch (with a rubber glove on). So today another coat of epoxy was put on the sanded sides of the hull and transom. One more layer on top of this should smooth out the sides of the hull. Once that point is reached, the painting can be done. After that, the hull flip.

The Honda outboard has been shipped to my Miami forwarder so it can be shipped to me next week Wednesday. It should be here a week after, mid March. What stage will Nemo be by then?

There is a lot of stuff needed besides the small boat:
1. Engine, gas tank
2. Oars with hardware, manual propulsion as backup
3. Bimini, otherwise the sun will lobster all aboard
4. Small trailer
5. Hookup for trailer on car, with electrical conns
6. Safety equipment (mirror, wistle, vests, water); We have no lakes here, so all the boating will be done on close to coast waters. But with previous sailing experience, no risks are to be taken, ever. Cover these bases, and then go ahead and have a lot of fun!

All these items together cost me about USD 3500, including shipping and import duties. Most items can be used for subsequent boats. Nobody ever said boating was cheap.

Nemo Rendering

Took the sketch of the Sandpiper from Sam's Devlin catalog and added the Honda 2HP with approximate size.  Also the bimini from Iboat is added to get a feel for what Nemo is supposed to look like. I used paint to put it together real fast just to get an idea.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Skeg mount

Epoxied the skeg, sanded it and mounted it with thickened epoxy on the hull. Filled it along the edges. Let it dry one day, buildup fiber tape or matting or both and finish it off. This part will have to endure some abuse in life so better make it strong at the base. After this part the hull is ready for turnover so the interior can be built-in. Still not sure about painting now or later. If I do it now, there may be a big nice milestone- reached feeling. But scrapes and dents may happen during interior construction; no hammering, just lots of sanding. And that will not be done by machine but by hand. So for now painting now looks like most logical thing to do, like everybody does.
Normal fiberglass mat, cut to overlap about 4 inches all over was wetted around the skeg today. Somehow one blister found its way so will have to cut that out and fill. You can see it on this picture, at the beginning of the skeg.  Did not see this when applying...  hmmm, maybe I was rushing again.  This will cost me some correcting time. 
Since I used the 410 filler in this project and found the result as advertised  and application and sanding easy, I plan to use it right after the first epoxy layer of the skeg.  Fill it out one shot, fair it and give it one or two layers of epoxy to seal.  

Big time saving lesson in this project is to use this filler a lot more and as soon as possible. 
The challenge is to not go for perfection.  The paint I will be using, dark blue, glossy, will show imperfections. Fillers for paint which will make it less glossy.  But this is not a production boat.  This is the first boat, meant as a learning project.  Next boats will be better and prettier.  

Thursday, February 23, 2012


This will be working boat. It may be sold one day. This boat project is a learning experience for future projects. For these reasons I decided to fair the hull as much as reasonably possible. Learning how to is a valuable lesson, just like all the other phases of building are. Reading Sam Devlin's book, he mentioned 410 filler and that it was very easy to work with. I found this in the marina shop and made the first batch of filler yesterday. It spreads very easy an uniformly with a large squeegee. Today sanding will show the result. A long flexible base for the sandpaper is needed for this. This needs to be found still.

Devlin estimates 75 hours for this project. As a first timer, 150 hrs is probably a reasonable estimate of actual hours. At a 100 dollar hourrate, the worth of the boat would be 7,500 usd + materials, totalling close to 10,000 usd. Out of pocket costs for me are just the materials, about 2,500usd. A walker dingey costs about 1,500 usd here. But the value to me of building and learning how to cannot be bought with any money. Like Devlin mentions in his book, don't build a boat because it may be cheaper than buying one.

A much larger sailboat, like a 26 footer, would cost me too much time to build next to my other duties, and the out of pocket costs would be more than purchasing a good boat, even a new one, and work on it instead. Getting her from Florida to Aruba will cost about 10,000 usd + duties. So any boat of around 25,000 usd purchase cost will endup costing around 40,000 usd. Sailing her down to Aruba from Florida is an option, but may not be the wisest thing to do.

While figuring out if and when the sailboat comes in the picture, the next project may be a larger skiff, like Sam's candlefish or the tango skiff. Loa wll be around the 15 foot mark.

To fill or not

Sand and give her a coating of epoxy, were the tasks today. Just an hour of work. Seems that manual sanding is much easier than the hassle of the sander with vacuum cleaner getting tied up together. But the epoxy dust does remain at a minimum with the vacuum cleaner. The tapes show of course. I doubt whether to fill them or to just giving them epoxy layers till they are smooth.

Monday, February 20, 2012


Today i got the feeling of "starting to get the hang of it" for the first time. Lots of work done, more than i anticipated, in just two hours. Sanded down the fillings and the rest of the hull. Bonded a full transom fiber mat, with 6 inch overlaps to the sides of the hull for added strength. Also epoxied tape on the two chines and the keel, since blisters destroyed the integrity of the hull. That has now been more than restored. Remaining epoxy was spread over the hull... Tonight she glares beatifully in the light. The wood grain begs not to be painted in a couple of days. But i can see many possibilities of working with the bare varnished wood look with the stich and glue method of boat building. Lessons today were that even if i use a full body coverall, eye protection, air protection, gloves, rubber shoes, the drop of epoxy that fell of went right on my bare ankle... The ro sander i bought a few years ago for this project works excellently. I attach my shop vacuum and there is practically no dust. The lessons remains to be learnt is how to prevent dust from manual sanding. There must be a way to capture it into the vacuum cleaner... I reminded myself not to rush. There is no deadline. This is the most enjoyable activity for me so just enjoy being in the process. Pacing myself is a challenge. If it wasn't for the necessary curing time i would have burnt myself out already. Tomorrow sanding of the tape and hull is the schedule. From now on it is fairing and prepping for the paint job.

What's in a name?

"Nemo" was the result of a brainstorming session with my 4 year old.  But for us it mean just a small cute orange fish.  But after checking around, it means many more things also.  But besides the other meanings people may give the name, I wonder how others get the name of the boat on the hull so neat. Here is a fine example of a possible next project.


She is ready for some sanding down of the corrected blisters.  Especially the transom need a lot of filling.  It will get another matting of the faired surface.  The skeg is not attached yet.
Nemo has a shine to her already with two epoxy treatments.  Beautiful wood veneers show.  In future another project will include varnishing.  This learning project is about basics first.
The tarp tent works pretty well to ward off leaves, wind an rain.  The stands are better than the chairs I used before.  3ft high, they will allow clear access to all the insides without scraping the arms.  It will also allow to fit a V-form to keep her upright.  
The many fillings are of the cut-out blisters.  The tapes are pre-cut to length of all the chines.  Since many blisters occurred right around the chines, probably due to think cloth and sharp angles of chines, I intend to tape them for strength.

Not sure if the bow angle is too sharp for the tape.  After sanding I will find out...

Sunday, February 19, 2012


The hull is completely glassed and epoxied. :)

But there are quite many blisters. :(
Maybe this is due to the thicknes of the glass which makes it hard to bend at the chines. Many lessons with this step.
1. Try to do the entire hull in steps per plane but in on stretch. Drips of epoxy on future to epoxy planes will harden and make it impossible to get a smooth bubble free plane. If the drips are still wet when the plane is done they will not cause problems.
2. Stubborn and heard headed as i am, i used exterior filling instead of the cabosil microbubbles as filler. The exterior wood filling softens with the epoxy! I do hope it hardens back after the epoxy is set otherwise i will have many soft spots on the bow...
3. I used pumps which makes the production of epoxy much faster. Working with the containers everytime is cumbersome. Now i can keep everything on, mask and gloves, and just pump. They are wewst system pumps, not mas, so they don't fit, but they pump great. I don't know if i can keep them in the containerse ven though they are not clos properly. I will close them anyway and let the pumps drip dry.
4. With the pumps i can make smaller batches easier and that works more controlled.

I don't know what to do with the cut out blisters. The largest is a few inches wide. Should i just fill it or does it need fibrematting? All posts i see only talk about filling and fairing. That's what i will do. The mat i used it heavy so i will need around 4 or 5 layers of epoxy to even it out. With the rollers this happens pretty efficient.

While everything is drying, the inside pieces will be designed and rough cut. Next days will have fairing scheduled and subsequent painting. So one more week of working on the hull? Let's see.

Friday, February 17, 2012

First epoxy planes

Today I covered the panels of the hull..  My first ever!  The undersides have one layout.  All I have to do now is figure our how to epoxy the side panels, with the fiber cloth hanging over them.  Seems to me that the epoxy will run down pretty fast so I have some googling to do.

We, my daughter and I, have a name:  "Nemo".

Also bought the paint and some hatches today...  Another 600 florins in the hole.  It may be cheaper to buy some boat then to make one.  But this is so much more fun!

Pictures will follow.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Skeg and skin

Heard from Sam Devlin today regarding my question which to do first, mount skeg or mat and epoxy the hull.  Both are OK, but the epoxying the mat first is a lot easier.  So that advice I will follow.

Read many posts of other boatbuilders again.  Why do we build boats?  I, for one, love sailboats, and just want to be busy with them.  I love building stuff, especially with wood.  So the combination of these two passions is only logical.  This is mostly a learning project for me.  The best way to the next bigger project.  The plans of Egret are in already, and that will be much more boat to sail...  The updated plans will come my way soon.

An important tip was not build during weekends only.  Take some time every day to do small steps so that overall progress is steady and faster.

I also need to to bring my ship into my shed so that I can do the detailing indoors instead of out.  This will prevent bugs and leaves damaging the surfaces.

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Been a while...

Spent today working on the polliwog after quite a while. Taped all the joints! The center joint was done last year august but then the last quarter of the year kicked in...
I started fairing the hull also with food filler. I see many examples of others with a bulkhead in the center of the boat. That will strengthen it considerably. Also good practice for future vesels. But i see everybody glassing the hull before they work on the inside of the hull. So that will be the next thing to do.
I fabricated the skeg with supports. It is about 8 inches long at the stern and starts about half way the bottom. With rowing i will need some directional stability. Dont know when to mount the skeg, before or after glassing the hull. Mounting it first will strengthen the entire structure. But it will wreak havoc trying to layout the fiber mats. Have to check around for that.
Hopefully the next weekend i can continue with my awesome project.