31 August 2011

Forward locker coming on

I have started boxing out a small locker in the bow. Partly for buoyancy but mainly just for the heck of it. I am going to board the mini-deck over the top and varnish it. The rest of the boat needs to be painted.

I have also bored a hole through the stem, fitted a solid backing block and inserted an old eye-bolt I had left over from my Winkle Brig, which had two towing eyes for some reason. I have fitted it low so that the bow lifts when the dinghy is towed. The mast box needs to be sealed off from the locker so that it is water tight.

I have an air tight locker cover which is a spare from Daisy G. which I shall fit on the starboard side to give access to the locker for inspection and maybe a bit of storage.

29 August 2011

End of season sail to Studland (13nm 359nm total

A sunny day, but cool. Wind in the NW and I went for a gentle sail, out into the open sea and across to Studland, where I anchored for lunch. Views of Old Harry rocks and the sail training Tall Ship Lord Nelson coming into Poole with people on the yard arms. It feels very much the end of the season. Boats just drifting about, most with paint work looking a bit scuffed.

I may be down again in September, but probably just to pack her up and bring her home. I sailed off my mooring and didn't use the engine at all until I had to battle the full ebb flow to get into the harbour entrance. Then I needed full power just to make 1kt against some of the current.

Mast support frame work on the dinghy is fully set, but needs surplus epoxy grinding off.

28 August 2011

Fitting the mast support structure

Just about a year since my shed started in earnest and it is starting to blend in. Plants growing up it and the trees in leaf hide the bulk from the house. Good thing too. The main comment form most visitors is "My God it's huge!"

I have fitted the inwales to the dinghy and the longitudinal seat, which is all looking quite good. The seat allows you to adjust the rowing position if there is more than one person on board. A neat idea.

Now I am working on the mast support. This looks good clamped but is covered in a mess of epoxy at the moment which I hope I can get tidied up when it has set. I am having to make all of this up as I go along as the boat plans don't cover installing a mast at all. This is real woodworking, Compound mitres and curved tops to the beam. Fingers crossed that it all stays in place over night as the glue sets.

26 August 2011

Basic hull more or less "complete" for about £75 in materials and 25 hours of work

She looks like a boat and I am very chuffed with her. Second gunwale now firmly glued in place and I am just fitting inwales, which are not part of the original plan, but I think they will make her stronger and give a better base for the rowlocks. More strengthening needed on the transom for an engine but the rudder of my Blue Peter Dinghy will fit on without any problem.

The outside seams still need taping but apart from that, and an awful lot of finishing, tidying and painting, this is the built boat. About two weeks of very simple evening work, I would say about 25 hours maximum to this stage. Total cost of cheap plywood and softwood about £35. Epoxy and fillers about £40. Yes the glue costs more than the wood, but not if I was using marine ply. Mind you, this isn't MY finished boat, as I want to fit a mast support, towing eye and probably a skeg, possibly with a wheel built into it. Another couple of weeks at least for all of that I should think, and then an age painting her.

23 August 2011

First gunwhale on after two weeks work

The starboard gunwhale is clamped on and the espoxy is curing. This was really a filthy job, epoxy everywhere. I hope I managed to clear up most of it. I have used every clamp I have. If I want to do a serious bit of boat building I will need more, and powerful ones too. The second gunwhale is jambed in a bent position between daisy G's trailer and the shed wall and I have been toasting it with the hot air gun, which does seem to soften it. All being well I will fit the second one tomorrow. I have one screw in each end of each gunwhale and I think those will be the only ones left on the finished boat.

After the gunwhales the next job is smoothing and glassing the outside of the hull joints. Not looking forward to resin and fibreglass tape.

22 August 2011

Corners braced

I have screwed and glued simple trinagles of wood into the corners of the hull. The difference they make to the stiffness in remarkable. If needed, you could actually float and punt the hull now, but there is no where to fit rowlocks yet.

I have also trimmed the floor roughly to shape with a flexible Japanese pull saw and will finish that off with with a disk sander. Gunwhales next.

21 August 2011

Dinghy progresses

I have glued the floor onto the hull. Very messy job, with thickened epoxy fillets. I got through about four pairs of rubber gloves. I hope I have filled the joints well as they are crucial to holding the whole boat together.

I will be putting fibreglass over the outside of the joints, so they should be strong and watertight. The hull is slightly distorted where the seat frame is glued in, but I think I might have broken a side if I had tried to move it around without the frame. The whole thing is much heavier with the floor in place.

Lovely days sail but with a sad note at the end (24nm 348nm total)

Day and a half sailing in mixed weather. Sailed in a lovely evening to Shipstal point for the night. In the morning nearly aground when my daughter texted to say she was on her way. Managed to get off and was at the marina in time to meet her, so trouble was avoided.

It rained in the morning and the wind died. We studied just how fast the tidal currents were, drifting around Green Island. I got quite wet, but I gather that it was nice and dry under the sprayhood. Then we anchored off Brownsea and somehow managed to fit in the dinghy to row ashore for tea at the National Trust Cafe. Just before that we had had a most spectacular grandstand seat for a Red Arrows flying display, which was focussed on Bournemouth, but the jets reformed over Poole, so we saw the most wonderful flying.

After Brownsea we had the most beautiful sail of the season. Fresh winds and clear blue crystal skies. First time it has been like that for two years. On the way home we heard the awful news that one of the Red Arrows planes had crashed just after the display we had watched and the pilot was killed. Dreadfully sad.

19 August 2011

Seat support in and stern fillets now curing

I glued on the seat supports, which will brace up the whole structure. All this thickened epoxy is good stuff, but it is hellish messy. I am sure I have got some on the threads of my wood clamps, which may wreck them. I am thinking of fitting a small foredeck with a locker under but not sure yet.

I need to figure out how to support the mast and how to fit a rudder. I have a whole rudder assembly for my Blue Peter Dinghy, so I might use that, at least to start with. But primarily the boat will be for rowing.

18 August 2011

Turned her over

I have roughly cut out the floor, leaving a big margin for trimming. Tracing the shape, as described in the plans, is not straight forward as the sides are so wobbly. I am going to fit the seat brace before fixing the floor, with the hope that it will hold the whole thing a bit more solidly.

At the moment various bits are glued and curing overnight. If I get time in the morning I will fillet some corners and then take a break as I hope to go sailing over the weekend. Also need to fit the job in somehow.

Stem glued and knees more or less cut

I have glued the stem of my dinghy, using oiled screws to hold it all together. The theory is that I can remove the screws when it has set. I hope it works, because the screw holes are full of epoxy. I measured the diagonals and it is just about square. I have also just about cut some simple quarter knees, which I should be able to fit satisfactorily. They are really hard to make!

I have tested the 9mm ply I am going to use for the bottom, and it curves easily so shouldn't be a problem. I want to see if I can fit my mizzen mast and sail from Daisy G as a sailing rig. That will require a mast support and some form of lee/centre board.The alternative is to extend the floor outside the hull to form chine runners. Some people say they are brilliant, some say they just don't work. Both camps tend to slag each other off on the web. I shall make my own mind up.

17 August 2011

Tricky parts starting

I was right, it gets harder. I have just been trying to cut corner knees for the  stern. Really difficult as there are no fixed lines or angle to use as references. I have chewed up a couple of pieces of wood already. I think I will have to cut down the temporary extension to the transom earlier than I planned in order to be able to fit something. But I will get there. I am planning to paint the boat completely, so should be able to hide any dodgy joints.

Suddenly she is a boat

I have tied and clamped together the three parts of my Portuguese dinghy, and suddenly you can see what she will look like. about four hours work to date, and I have never built a boat before, so I really do think anyone could do this. Although the tricky bits still lie ahead.

15 August 2011

Transom finished

I have finished cutting out the inner transom and gluing the two parts together. Quite pleased with the results so far.

I have started posting some details of this construction on the Woodenboat forum. I suppose I should just do one or the other really. But they prefer all the technical detail over there.

Transoms glued, always a mucky stage. Just squeezed enough for the glue to ooze out, but not so hard that all the glue is squeezed out.

Finished transom, with a timber ledge clamped in place. When this is glued it will form a landing for the bottom of the boat to be screwed to. when all is finished, the curve of the outer transom will be cut to match the inner.

Another couple of steps on the new dinghy transom

I cut out the inner transom in 9mm plywood in the evening after we got back from sailing. The double edged Japanese saw was flexible enough to follow the curve of the top edge beautifully.

I want the inner transom to have large cutouts in it to reduce its weight. I sized the retained edges and central strip to allow my Honda outboard to be clamped to it. Then I used a 45mm hole saw to drill out the radiused corners of the cutouts.

Four of these hole were taken right through the outer transom so I can have two handholds. Two pairs of holes were joined to create hand slots for lifting the back. A Japanese saw again was perfect for cutting out the waste between the holes. Only the tip of the blade could be used to start the cuts, but because you are pulling the saw, it cuts very easily. Now I just need to cut out the waste form the inner transom, glue the two transoms together and then find a use for 14, 45mm diameter plywood disks...

14 August 2011

Day sailing with wife and friends, and stuck in the mud (17nm trip 322nm total)

Went down to Dorset for a couple of nights and went out sailing with friends on Saturday. Motored west in the Harbour and then tacked up the Wareham channel. Motored up the Frome to Wareham, where we rafted up alongside a friendly motor boat and had lunch and a drink the the Granary Pub.A nice spot. Left rapidly when someone started rafting up outside us. We didn't want to get stuck (little did we know what was coming then).
We motored down the Frome and in the channel I turned up into the wind so we could raise the sails and have an easy run home. I concentrated on not banging into a starboard channel marker, not noticing we were on the wrong side of it until my wife commented that we weren't moving...
Got the sails down too late. We had slid onto the mud, which was too soft to either jump out on or to push off from. we were stuck, on a falling tide and we just had to wait for it to come back. 2 1/2hours later we got off. I now know that low water at the head of the Wareham channel is 45 minutes later than at Poole quay. Nothing moves slower than a watched tide.
We had the benefit of water ballast. We pumped it all out, which helped pass a bit of time, and meant that we probably got off about half an hour sooner than we would have otherwise. But all was well and we were back in time for dinner. We left the boat on the pontoon over night and I went back to her the next morning to clean off the Poole mud and put her back on her mooring.

This google map shows where we spent the afternoon doing a bit of unplanned bird watching (godwits and egrets in particular).

Further note: the hinged table over the centreboard came into its own. The board was firmly jambed when we floated off. Mud sticking the whole board into the trunk. My wife hinged it open and a good push on the blade forced it down and cleared the slot. Total action took less than half a minute.

12 August 2011

So much for a winter project...

I had half an hour free before I went to work. It only took 25 minutes to cut out the sides and transom. Most of those minutes were spent standing back and admiring what I had done.

First side cut. It took about three minutes using my beautiful new Japanese pull saw. It holds a straight line almost perfectly, and all the lines on this boat are, or at least can be straight.

Both sides cut, with the waste section used for the transom. About ten minutes in total.

The basics of the boat! I am sure it must get harder as I try to stick it all together. I have cut the transom over-large with the top edge straight. This will make it easier to work on the hull upside down. I will do the inner transom next in 9mm ply wood, with the top edge curved. The outer transom can be shaped to it later. Now off to work.

10 August 2011

Short "check the boat" sail (9nm 305nm total)

Went down just for the day to check the boat as I haven't been on her for three weeks. Very windy, F5-6 gusting 7. Lots of Oppies and Toppers racing as it is school holidays. Somersaulting all over the place and strings of empty dinghies being towed back by rescue boats. I presume the kids had been picked up and taken ashore and not left to their own devices in the water.

I sailed jib and mizzen for a bit, but you really can't point well so I plucked up courage and raised a double reefed main. She sails fine like that and I do realise now that she is not going to tip over, but I don't like strong wind sailing. Sailed around Brownsea Island, looking for a sheltered spot but without great success. When the wind is in the south west, the most sheltered spots are also very shallow and inaccessible at low tide. So I bobbed off Brownsea's north shore for a bit and then packed it in. The boat was fine apart from a lot of bird poo, which washed off easily.

Before I sailed I carried out a couple of jobs, one of which I have been planning since the day I got Daisy G. The jib cam cleats were aligned to angle towards the crew, rather than towards the line of the sheet. This meant they didn't drop between the cams automatically. I had fitted a couple of cheek turning  blocks, which improved the angle, but introduced more friction. I have finally removed the cheek blocks and realigned the cleats. Although they angle away from the crew, it doesn't matter. The cage on the cleats allows for this, and when single handed, I tend to cleat the windward sheet before tacking, so that it does not run free after the tack. This means that the new angle actually points to where I am most of the time anyway, up to windward. It took all of an hour to do, including filling holes and sikaflexing around the cleats. Don't know why I have waited two years to do this.

This photo shows my control lines on the starboard side. Working outwards from the companionway: centreboard uphaul, topping lift/lazyjacks with a green fairlead, main halyard and the newly angled starboard jib cam cleat.

This one shows the port hand side. Working outwards again, the centreboard downhaul with automatic release cleat for when I hit the bottom, the kicking strap with the red fairlead, the jib halyard with the hook of the handybilly just above it, which I use to tension the jib luff, and the newly angled port jib sheet cam cleat. The scuff mark above the jib cleat is the sanded area where the turning cheek block used to be. The sheets run out much more freely now.

Finally, I am planning to fit wooden strips to the cockpit benches to give a more hard wearing surface than the current paint. Real and fake teak is really expensive so I am going to strip it myself over the winter. I laid a single strip along the deck to check length and curve. Should be do-able but it will take a long time. I will need 10-11 strips per side. I could force them into a curve to match the seat front, but I think I would make a mess, so I will leave them straight. They will also need to be cut around the hatches at the after end, so it will be a fiddly job. Will keep me occupied during the dark months.

9 August 2011

Just can't wait

The plywood arrived. I had an hour to spare so I couldn't waste it. First sheet marked out with the boat sides and outer transom, all in 5.5mm plywood, which looks quite good. It has been stored flat so there are no nasty curves in it. I have marked the stem, which is just a square section batten. The sides meet at 90 degrees at the bow. As I said this should be a very simple boat to build. I am sure I can prove that wrong.

I am building the transom in two layers, a full sized one in 5.5mm and an inner one in 9mm, 5.5mm narrower. That will give me a recess to glue the sides into before I fillet the joint. You can just about see that I got the initial drafting completely wrong. Measure twice and cut once as they say. First diversion from plan. I have added a 50mm curved top to the transom. It will look enough of a box as it is. I may put a sculling notch in it. Or not.

The sides are held apart by precut, temporary battens. I have cut these already and they will be screwed in placed at specified distances along the sheer. Some people have had the plywood split as they have bent it, and recommend wetting it first. That is a way down the line as I have to build some garden paths over the next few days.

More on the Portuguese Dinghy

I have built a little card model of the Portuguese dinghy to get a better feel for it. The cross bulkheads are only there to hold the model shape, they are not there in the finished boat.

Quite different from the Peanut pram. Significantly smaller and with a flat bottom. I have a feeling I may end up building both for the fun of it. The dinghy is the simplest as it only requires straight saw cuts and the flat bottom means far fewer joints to form and fill. I am planning to add a skeg or even a full length shallow keel to to keep it straight in the water, and possibly a couple of wheels for trundling to the water's edge.

8 August 2011

Boat building urges

I had planned to build myself a little "Peanut pram" this winter, but I think I have found an even better one, Hannu Vartiala's Portuguese style dinghy.
Hannu in a Portuguese Dinghy
It is pointed at the front, which is nice, and it does look as easy to build as a boat can be. I have just ordered bog standard builder's plywood for the hull (5.5mm for the sides, 9mm for the bottom and transom) and I have some cut price timber from the "Focus" closing down sale.. So this will be cheap. Longevity will be interesting. I know I "should" be using marine ply, but it is so expensive I will give it a by for the first build. A good thick layer of paint should help it survive a season at least.

The plan is to build her over the winter, but I can't see me waiting that long...