Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Combing work

I cut the small pieces of plywood used in the curved part of the deck edge. It bends easily so I should not have trouble final fitting it. I trimmed the forward combing to mate with the deck edge in a scarfed joint. Getting all fancy making it look like I simply split the plywood, the lower on the deck edge the upper making the combing. I screwed and glued the forward combing in place with enough glue to make a nice fillet along its outside and inside face. you can never have it too strong.

The forward edge is temporarily held in place with a small screw to be removed when fitting the other side. When both sides are in place, a strip of biaxel tape will be glassed in place for reinforcement.

Time 1 hr

From there to here

I had a Leisure 17 sailboat for several years and a 15ft racer before that. But I did the most traveling in this 17ft tub. I had made many weekend trips where we would moor the boat and camp on the beach in a tent. Very comfortable if I do say so. One day I suggested to my wife that we spend a weekend on the boat. She's a little claustrophobic and this boat served to cure it or drive her into an institution. She agreed to at least try it and my daughter was up for the trip. Not having enough on board we brought my nephew along as well. With all the gear, the boat was full. He thought it was the greatest thing, the idea of sleeping on a boat.
We set sail in the late afternoon and headed for the cove of choice. The sun was shining but lingering clouds were around and a steadily increasing wind was blowing across the bay. On a single tack we were well out the bay and nearing the point to tack into the next harbor. The wind was steady, but the ocean swell gave good indication of the high winds further out. My small crew broke out the Gravol and passed them around like candy. I am not prone to sea sickness and know how to mostly keep it at bay. However my family and nephew were well and drugged for coping with the sea. (yes there's children's Gravol) My nephew was loving the high seas by now and white caps were forming. The rest of the crew however looked a little concerned. Warning bells rang in my head.
I spotted the cove that we were supposed to settle into for the evening, but as I approached it became apparent that the wind was right into the cove. I did my best do maneuver in, drop sails and set anchor, but my wife was figuring like myself that this wind would get stronger before it lessened. She wanted to go ashore to spend the night and so did my daughter. She was right (always is) and I set them all ashore with gear in tow. As they set up camp, I wrestled with the boat in the now rough surf.
A note about the leisure 17. It's a bilge keel boat. Two short keels that come off the bottom of the boat allowing for more beaching ability.
I only had one anchor and the wind combined with waves pushed my boat all over the cove. This wasn't working. I have to swallow pride and admit that I couldn't properly moor the boat here. We'd have to find safer anchorage. I told everyone my plan to head deeper into the bay and find a more suitable cove. They packed their gear and came to the shore line. I used the motor to maintain some distance so I wouldn't completly go aground. The wave action really moved the boat around now as everyone was trying to load gear aboard. One by one they jumped aboard. My wife was last. As the boat tossed about, she made an attempt to climb onto the front of the boat. The next wave hoisted her right off her feet as she held onto the forward rail. With that motion, off came her sandal. She cried out in vain as her sandal was swept away. She lost concentration and grip and now hung mostly over the side of the boat. I doing my best maintaining position looked perplexed when she started to laugh. She called for my daughter and nephew to help her aboard. The did their best but in the swell, the two kids were not able to do anything other than laugh at her. The more she tried to climb aboard the more she failed and laughed harder. I was a little in the dark on some apparent joke and shouted for her to stop fooling around and climb aboard already. She barely could muster "I can't! I can't stop laughing"
I finally ran the boat into the beach with a crunch of twin keels and she managed to get a foot on the bottom to push herself up. As soon as she was on board, I gunned the motor in reverse and away from the beach. She came to the cockpit exhausted and still laughing, explaining how she couldn't stop laughing after she lost her sandal. I had no response.
I set sails with the main reefed, storm sail set and headed deeper into the bay. The next cove served no better, and though it wasn't in the forecast, the winds were now out of my comfort zone with family on board. (my guess well over 30 knots) I told everyone that were heading for the nearest town and mooring to the wharf. It was a short but interesting sail in the long channel with the ocean swell following the whole way. We finally got to the town wharf dropped sails and tied up for the evening. We all settled down to a large supper of cooked noodles, Beans and bacon, with a fine spot of tea to chase. We spent the evening playing kids card games by lamp light. The sleep never went so easy. I apparently snore... alot. and I awoke in the morning to some unhappy crew, if we were at sea my guess is that there would have been a mutiny. The wind had died and the sun was shining as if nothing had happened. I did my best to make it up to them, made a large breakfast cleaned up and took the kids up into the village to the general store for treats. We all settled back into the boat and packed things away for the voyage out. As we sailed along we mused on the cramped conditions in this 17ft tub and that it certainly was tight for 4 people, and if it were all adults, simply too cramped. The location of the head cover made rolling over a pain as ones hip would strike the edge. As we completed out weekend journey we figured this boat would not serve our purpose well as a sleep aboard and the bilge keels made launching very difficult with a simple car and trailer affair. We would have to find something else that suited our needs for adventuring and thrift. When fall arrived, we sold the little boat and oddly enough my wife seemed more upset than me. She looked at me waiting for a tear or some sign of distress and asked if I felt sad.... I said nothing at first, I had something brewing in my skull, I tried to muster a fake tear... nothing, "A Little" I said, paused for effect. Now, when was I to tell her I was going to build my own sailboat?!

Monday, March 30, 2009


Few know it but in the past couple of months I have been submitting articles to Duckworks Magazine for their monthly cover story. It's pretty cool having my words put to a site thats not mine.


The articles are just snapshots of whats in this blog but it gives me a chance to add some narritive to an otherwise boring "this is how I did it."
If you look at their site you will quickly see how much very useful information is there. One of the best sites i've seen for small boat builders.

The latest article has just been sent off, the pictures are slow to load... now its time for bed.

Combing supports, and cutting scarfs

The forward section under the deck needs some additional support, So I added some 3/8" (10mm) stiffeners. I cut them across the grain so they would bend to the curve of the deck easily. Sure enough they clamped in place nicely.
By tomorrow evening this will be all cured and I can continue with the lower section of the combing as a frame around the deck edge. I took the additional time this evening to cut the opposite side combing and back section. not much to look at. pretty rough cutting, both top and bottom edges will be trimmed back considerably. Though I did scarf the back edge of the main combing for the matching of the rear section. Gee I almost forgot about that. It took only a couple of minutes and the slope is only 1/6. Cutting scarfs are easy and I like the results I've gotten from the ones i've done.
Time: 2.5 hr

Saturday, March 28, 2009

Combing start

With the decking complete, the combing is next on the list. Its one of those things shown on the plans that leave much up to the individual boatbuilder regarding its shape. In my case I'm making a steep pitch to the front end to make for a look of "sleekness" it's a little tricky but this part is one of those areas where the measuring tape don't serve any purpose and it's all about how it looks to the eye, "artistic form". Cool.. I suck as a carpenter anyway. Free form I can do.

I started at the bow (front) with the sloped part of the combing/spray rail. I cut a piece of 8ft long paneling 1/4" thick laminated junk wood. They probably use alot of this stuff in making holywood sets for doors for the "hero" to break down. Off topic I seen People down south crush beer cans on their foreheads while in a drunkin stupor. I wondered how it was possible since a large welt is the result when this is done with canadian beer cans. Until I seen the southern cans. They practically crumble with gravity with no fluid holding it up. Things are not always as they appear. Nuff said, though it would be funny to see someone from down south attempt a can crush with one of our canadian cans... I am sooo off topic.

Anyhow I cut a piece of paneling and roughly cut the shape forward to where it meets the centerline of the deck. I screwed it in place to hold it for the next step.

Since I have not thought about the template method for this part I just looked around to see what I could use to help make a template... Stir sticks! I have a full case for mixing epoxy. I placed them to where they hit the deck and stapled them in place. It was removed from the boat and placed on a sheet of paneling to make my main template. I made my marks and ran a batten over it to draw my line. Cut out the whole thing and checked against the boat again.

I came pretty close to what I had in mind. Note that the width of this is to be trimmed down considerably once the length behind to the rear of the boat is cut and palced. The main part of this is to make the proper match to the curvature of the boat.

The template is close enough and with a small adjustment I made a copy onto 1/4" plywood for the installed piece. Some small amount of fairing and this piece is ready to copy for opposite side.

Time: 4 hrs

Sure signs of spring

On cue, spring arrives. Seals in the bay and a phenomenon known as "Shela's" Brush hits us.

A spring storm that arrives around St. Patty's Day. This storm is not quite cold enough for a lot of snow, so instead it coats everything in ice. Makes for nice pictures all the same.

Decking complete

It took a little longer to complete the decking than I planned but its done now. I had to do some work with the front bulkhead in prep for paint and I didn't want to crawl in under the finished deck to work on it. The inside of the anchor well also needed some finishing, because once the deck is on, all you'll get inside there is your anchor and a pair of hands.
Once all the pieces were cut and temporarily fitted in place, I ran over the edges with my router and a flush bit

With all the router work done, it was just a matter of epoxy gluing, and a lot of screws.

The hole for the anchor well access was cut and sanded.All these deck panels were given 2 coats of epoxy on the underside before installation. they also had the blush washed off and the areas that were to be glued were sanded. It will save me work at the end.

While the glue is setting I'm having a nice meal of fried moose with spices, garlic and onion. On fresh bread of course. a treat for some late nights this week. The 2 coat epoxy was done on a week night. The first coat at 6pm, the second coat was at midnight. Then up for work at 6am... A bit sluggish after that. But Being the trooper she is, my wife Nadine stayed up with me for the second coat. We talked as I applied the epoxy. I couldn't ask for more.

Time: 10 hr (several evenings)

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Stephen my maple supplier

Since I have begun this project there's been one person who regularly checks my blog and gives me a phone call almost daily on how things are progressing. My brother Stephen who's an avid boater and loves anything dealing with boats and the water, perhaps it's why he quit working in a Quarry operating heavy equipment and moved back to Newfoundland to help Dad with the mussel farm.
He even built himself a fine house overlooking the lake we grew up around. When I say he built it himself I don't mean he had a contractor build it for him. From cutting the logs to shingles and siding, he did it all. He and his missus Michelle keep their eyes on my parents who live just down over the hill.
He's on the left at the helm of the stiletto that our grandfather built.
Were both eager to get this Pathfinder in the water this summer.
He and my father were cutting firewood a couple of days ago and managed to snag another maple for me. I'll head out there soon to pick it up for sawing. that will likely be for the skeg, the left overs I have now will be for cleat support blocks.
Stephen informed me that he was planning on buying an RV in the spring, it's official now. He's picking it up in April. I asked him jokingly if it had a trailer hitch, "yes" he said "and one on the front too". How good is that! Hopefully, with some bribery and begging I might be able to convince him to go on a road trip with boat in tow to some place like L'Ance aux Meadows on the northern Peninsula. The site of a viking settlement some 1000 years ago, 500 years before Columbus "discovered" America.

Thanks for your interest Stephen. And thanks for the maple!

Monday, March 23, 2009

Newfoundland spring

I'm sure people in other countries south of us (actually with exception of Russia, All are south of us)
think that we have a long harsh winter that lasts seemingly forever. In some places yes, but in Newfoundland we have a relatively short winter, but a spring that practically skips summer and turns into fall. See the link below and its what I can expect for practically 2 months straight, possibly 3.


Anchor well floor complete

The 2 layers of glass cloth got laid within 6 hours of each other so the bond was good. In between layers the king plank/forward deck was put back in place so I could make the curved forward section that the combing will follow.
(I covered the front of the king plank in wax paper to prevent it from sticking to the forward bulkhead and stem)
The combing at the front follows more of an ellipse than an arc so it took a bit of fiddling to get it right. But it got done and could be altered a bit more when I start putting on the combing.

Time: 3 hr

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Anchor well

The king plank is temporary because I want access to the anchor well. I need to lay in 2 layers of fiberglass cloth to reinforce the well. Dropping an anchor is only part of the reason... I've launched other boats of mine over waves that would bounce an anchor through a weak floor, so its a little insurance. I laid in a fillet of epoxy filler earlier the week and done A bit of sanding in prep for the cloth. This morning I cut a pattern and then laid it in and epoxied it in place. The second layer will be this afternoon. I'm taking a little coffee break right now and heading down in a minute to keep working on the decking as the epoxy cures. Im not kicking up any dust so no worries about the wet epoxy, Plus its covered.

Time: 1 hr

Decking start

Its been a few evenings picking at how i am to lay out my forward deck area. I would like to have a rounded deck section that blends into the seat backs/combing. I could have went with a deck that cut perpendicular to the center line like many other pathfinders, but in this case I want to be different. It's shown in the plan to be curved. I would save time by going straight across, but... I'm doing it this way. Oh.. by the way, The plan called for 6mm (1/4") for the decking, but being gifted with "mass" I'm using 10mm (3/8") thick decking. I already tested to make sure my ply would bend over such a tight radius. Compared to the lower hull this is nothing. As long as you ease the ply down over the frames, there's no problems.
There's not much work to the deck in difficulty. I cut the king plank, cut the notch at the front where it meets the stem, and left it over length for trimming later. It was test fitted and marked for the curve in the deck from side to side. I screwed it in place temporarily so i could make my measurements for the decking.
I cut it well over size to be trimmed after fitting. The same was done with the side decking all the ways back. As I worked my way back I put in a few screws to hole the forward piece. the end cuts are the final cuts/joins. Once it was all fitting, the opposite side was cut and fitted.
In the meantime I sanded and installed the deck support blocks and mounting strip that would be a backing block for both the combing and the deck top. In the plan it called for a 9mm ply backer, but since I had the long wood on hand I installed that.

Time: 8 hr (several evenings)

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Sticker shock

Though the boat looks very unfinished, it's mere weeks from the painting stage. This means that I have to get all the materials for the finish. Like cleats, chocks, hatches, paint and oh yeah more epoxy. Which is the point of the title... The epoxy resin per gallon went from $89 to $119 in the past 2 months! Thats $30 per gallon difference, and the glue powder went up by the same ratio. That was a painful purchase today. I won't get into the numbers, i'm still coming to grips with the price. Needless to say, it stung. I'm glad i never posted the running cost of this project, it's taking on an Olympic host budget that keeps changing daily. Of course I'm over budget. I just need to vent a little. My wife jokingly said when I gave her todays tally "Your not stopping now, its too late to stop" funny...
On the other side of this, Scott Mercer of Mercers Marine listened to my plea and cut me a deal on my large purchase, and even offered to ship it for free. So it wasen't so so bad.
Guys, gals.. if your planning to build a boat and you make a budget... prepare to have it shredded!

I have yet to pick up a motor, and a trailer... oh dear.

Time: 6 hrs
(Spent fretting over the price before I made the call to order almost $1700 worth of "stuff")

Saturday, March 14, 2009

Planking complete!

That's it! All planking is now complete. I finished installing the planking last evening bringing an end to the planking saga. It went better than I had hoped and encountered no major issues, I did make one repairable mistake in one ship lap, but nothing that epoxy couldn't handle. As the planking progresses I got a bit faster and of course the plaking easier with less curve in the boat.
Cleanup of planking will be done when the boat is flipped over.

Even with no work done on the planking for finish, the curve looks fair to my eye.
My longtime friend Travor came by early this morning with coffee to celebrate. How good is that! He helped a great deal with clean up as we chatted about the trips were going to take to different places and if there will be any fish. But today was a lazy day of cleaning up the massive amount of sawdust I generated in the process and general clean up of the basement. The pile of scrap plywood was just a big mess. Thats now firewood.

More friends are dropping by to mark the occasion so i'm putting on the BBQ and throwing on some slain meat. March... yeah I don't care, and of course today is -26 C with the windchill.

Time to relax and admire the work.... and try not to trip on the big globs of hardened epoxy on the floor.

Time: 2 hr (last evening final plank)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

200 hours and counting

I knew I was close so I did a count, sure enough 98 hours since posting the 100 hour mark. I added in 2 hours since i'm sure I neglected post some time somewhere. By my estimate I have about 100 hours of work left to do not including final painting. (fiberglass work is included)
Excellent! 200 hours and I haven't lost interest one iota. In fact I am getting more excited as I go because now the hull is taking shape and I'm working on the stuff I truly enjoy. The details. Decking, flooring, combing, locating and mounting hardware and hull work like fiberglassing, shaping, sanding and painting. I'm one of those odd sticks who don't mind shaping and painting. I have restored, repainted every boat I've owned, and many of my beater work vehicles that I bought second hand so it's something I know how to prepare for. This all will take place in time with spring thaw and warmer weather. This will naturally bring up my shop temperature even before my heaters cut in. But more on that later.

No snow

I took this picture off my front deck last evening. Outside temperature +8 Deg. C
It's March here in Newfoundland, and normally there's a pile of snow high enough at the end of my driveway that it's difficult to see oncoming traffic. But this year, there's none. I don't mean that theirs a little snow covering the ground but not enough to call anything... There is no snow. And on top of that, there's no frost in the ground. It's reeking havoc with the trees now trying to bloom early. I certainly don't miss the snow, (not having to dig out my car regularly) but it's very strange to see my winter in Newfoundland with no snow. On the west coast of the province there's plenty however. A strange winter indeed.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Last plank template

The second section of planking was made from the template I created and scarfed at both ends then fitted to the hull so I could mark out the last plank going aft.The last section of plank was created like all the others. There have been some questions on how this template method works, so in this last plank I will show it one more time. I'll try to explain it a bit better with more pictures.
Step 1:
Take a piece of scrap plywood, panel board or other thin wood paneling. (longer than finished plank) Draw lines perpendicular to its length about 8" to 12" apart. the more lines the more the final template matches the stringer. (not always the best thing if your stringer is a little wobbly etc.) Staple it to the hull in the same place the new plank will go with an overlap at the ends so you know you have long enough length of plywood. Try to position it approximately between the stringers.
Step 2:
Use a straight edge and project the lines outward from the panel up to the stringer above and the one below to the point you want the finished plank to stop. (on the pathfinder its at the halfway mark on the stringer. This is marked over the plywood installed below. The process is repeated for the rest of the marks on the panel back the full length. Use a measuring device like a set of dividers set at a spacing that you won't accidentally change. The dividers are placed at the intersection of the stringer point marked and the line on the panel. Push in on the divider to make a point on the panel, and draw a circle around it to identify where it is later. In this case I'm going to the top of my top stringer.
Step 3:
The panel is then removed and placed on a full length of plywood. It is then fixed in place, in my case I used a construction stapler.Step 4:
Once in place, the lines on the panel are extended outward onto the plywood. Note the marks made where my scarf is on the installed plank. This will be the end of this plank when I'm done. The dividers are then used to make marks on the plywood. One point is already located on the panel. One end of the divider is placed in this mark, the other is marked out on the line extended on the plywood. That point is then marked with a circle for future use.
Step 5:
Once all the points are marked on the plywood using the dividers, take some finishing nails and put a nail at each location made in the plywood. Just drive it in far enough not to be easily pulled out or fall out.
Step 6:
Using a batten whether it be a piece of even flexible wood or any other material, place it against the outside of the placed nails. To keep in place tack additional nails outside the existing ones. Mark along the inside of the batten with a pencil, this is your cut line.Step 7:
Cut out the plywood along the outside of the scribed lines. You now have a plank panel. To make the plank for the other side, you flip it over and trace it. then you have an opposite side panel. That's essentially it.
I take the two plank pieces and match up the bottom edges, clamp together and run the planer or belt sander over to even out the slight bumps or dips but they should be very small if you were careful in the process to this point. This particular plank is the last on and it's at the back of the boat. So I only need to make one scarf on its forward face to match the forward plank. I use my 4 1/2" angle grinder to make the rough scarf and finish up with the belt sander. As in all the other scarfs on the planking, I used a 1:6 slope. This picture is my normal setup for scarfing, I use my clamps as helpers in nearly everything I do in this project, from clamping down items to a saw horse, to hanging my power bar from the side of the boat. This method is not my idea and I tested it before going ahead and doing the whole planking with it. I personally think that this method is the easiest way for one person to plank this style of boat. The steps are long to describe but only a short time to do. And accurate! I am pleasantly surprised with how well it works.
Tomorrow night I will be varnishing the area below the anchor well, and underside of the anchor well floor. if I get time I'll glue and screw the well floor in place. Perhaps fit and final glue the forward plank.

Time: 4 hr (two evenings)