Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Summer update

Yours truly on Embla
Hopes to launch this summer came to an end when a shop restoration project took me away from my boat building, then summer holidays complaints as cruising the Ionian in Greece is not hard sailing by any standards!

On my return, I decided to get stuck in and made a conscious effort not to procrastinate as to what way to make parts, but to get things done!  I've found that I seem to spend more time thinking about what way to approach a task rather than just moving ahead.  The result has been encouraging....progress at last!

I began with finishing the mast and spars as I wanted to get these varnished while the weather was reasonably clement.  July was a very hot month in Ireland - when I was sailing in Greece, but when I came home, the weather turned quite wet, which didn't really help
Mast hanging to dry
matters, but at least the temperatures were suitable for varnishing and painting.  I had to reduce the diameter of the mast from the foot to the mast partner in order for the MP to fit - I had built a birdsmouth mast which was 20% larger in diameter than
Orange peel on centre board trunk cap
original spec.  Once completed, I applied several coast of varnish.  I'm using Hempels Classic Varnish which I find tricky to use - it needs to be applied in very thin coats, anything heavier results in orange peel on flat surfaces and drips and runs elsewhere.

I had to redo some bright work as the varnish never did seem to cure properly.  So I had to scrape off the varnish and start again - this time I was especially careful to apply the varnish very thinly and it seemed to dry satisfactorily overnight.

Next I scarfed some Sapele to make the rub rails.  Once again my trusty Farriers
Farriers File on scarf joint for rail
File makes short work of the hardened epoxy excess from the joint which saves blunting planes and scrapers.  The plans call for a variety of angled cuts on the table saw, but my table saw tilts in the wrong direction, so I couldn't make this work.  I then resorted to the router table with a selection of bull nozed cutters.  The rails need to be tapered at both ends in two dimensions so the final trimming was done by hand.  The result was reasonably elegant.

Attaching the rails was quite easy although the thin ends which were tapered were tricky to counterbore and plug.

Side rails being molded

Sole boards with spacers in
between to even out planking
Next up was the sole boards.  I had bought lengths of  US Red
Wood as per John's plans.  I resawed and ripped these into plank lengths and then went about fitting them to the floors.  I made the soles in two halves either side of the centreboard trunk.  It was more tedious than I had originally envisaged.  I then finished them with Hempels Wood Impreg, which seems lighter than a wood oil and seems to penetrate the timbers.   Job done...

The mast step was next up.  Not having sailed small boats like these before, I had no real picture in my mind as to how this was to be fabricated and the plans did not enlighten me.  A fellow SS builder, JohnC kindly send me a photo some
time ago, which I was able to reference and construct the mast step out of Sapele. I had read on the Yahoo Glued Alpstrake forum that some builders were planing on having the step rest on the keelson, but I elected to stay with the plans and have it sit for and aft on its designated cleats, which you can see ffrom the photo opposite.   It is quite a solid beefy part, which is reassuring.

Then the dreaded sanding..... I had been sanding intermittently on the inside hull but as additional parts were added more epoxy spilled here and there, and even when wiped off, it still seems to leave an uneven surface.  So out with my Bosch Multi Tool and I spend a good solid day sanding the inside hull.  Next I applied a coat of Hempel aluminium primer which showed up a few minor imperfections and so began the tedious iterative process of epoxy filler,sanding, priming again, filling, sanding etc.. you get the picture.  It is difficult to know when enough is enough....I guess when the finish coats are applied, I'll know the answer to that conundrum.

Yesterday, I began working on the seats.  My boat has been in my garage for nearly 3 years in the making and I had three large 16ft long x 2" thick x 14" wide
sitting under covers underneath the building jig and cradle.  So the time had come to take her out of the garage into the sunlight.  Four expensive caster wheels later and my son Harry, my good lady Siobhan and I were pushing the boat out of the garage sitting in its now mobile cradle.  It's a heavy boat make no mistake!

Just as I was about to take some photos, the rain came down - so this is as much as you can see of her now!!  But I was pleased that the planking lines looked good to my eye, which was a relief as up to now I had about 18" of a vantage point looking at her bow!  Such are the joys of building in a tight working space.

The clear garage space allowed me to tidy up and get working on the seats.  Since I had opted for the lockers, my seats would need to be 14" wide necessitating in cutting a curve in the straight 14" board and gluing the inner curve to the back of the outer curve.  I made this cut first as my thicknesser will only handle 12".   It also meant that the band saw would have a slightly easier time resawing the boards.
As it transpired the band saw protested and squealed its way through the board with quite a lot of drift, so I had to thickness the resulting boards down from 1" (25mm) to  more like 19mm.   However, I think the result is
actually quite fine as 1" seats would have been very heavy - as it is they are quite heavy at 19mm.  Maybe at some later stage I might router out faux planks in the seat either side of the lockers to save weight and allow water to flow away more easily.

Here's a shot of making the two parts mate to each other using John Brooks advice to flush trim each edge against a common straight edge.  On such a long run, I found that I had the odd splinter however, I think the result will be fine.  It's gluing up tonight so tomorrow will tell the tale when I get to finishing off the seats.

You can just see a glimpse of  caster wheels on the cradle in this photo.

I'm happy now that I am well on the way to completing this boat.  I need to source some more bronze plate to finish off the mast hardware.  Finish painting, screw on the bronze hardware, organize a trailer and buy some sails....Can't see a 2014 launch...can you??


  1. Wow! Good going, Paul. You certainly lit a fire under yourself. Perhaps we all should take a trip to Greece! I'd love to go back having been there in 1999. I think it was while in Greece that I re-caught the sailing bug. It took a few years, but now I'm back.

    The progress you have made recently is truly inspiring. Keep up the pace and you'll make the 2014 launch!


  2. Hi! My co-boat builder Jay and I were thrilled to come across your blog. Very nicely done and full of great advice! We are now about 50% complete with the SS here in Richmond, Va. I'm sure we will garner much from your experience.
    We lazily started a little blog, rather slim, but nonetheless started:
    Would love to chat more!