Be a “Boatbuilder for a Day”!

We are partnering with the Gig Harbor BoatShop for a new program – Boatbuilder for a Day!

Starting February 11 and running most Saturdays through September, we will be building a classic rowboat.

Have you always wanted to build a boat, but didn’t want to go it alone? Here’s your chance! Join us as we build a classic 15’8” rowing boat. You’ll develop a combination of traditional and contemporary skills as part of a small crew guided by experienced boat builders.

Lake George Rowboat - Winona

Lake George Rowboat - Winona

The workshops will cover the entire building process from selecting a design to launching. You can attend as few or as many sessions as you like.

This boat will feature the details and proportions of classic pulling boats from the pre-WW1 era. We intentionally chose a design and construction method that is more complex than some others, but we are willing to spend a bit more time building in order to end up with really nice boat.

Lines Drawing - Lake George Boat

Lines Drawing - Lake George Boat

We’ll kick off the construction on Feb 11, 2012 with an introduction to lofting, the technique  of enlarging the designer’s plans to full size. We’ll draw the “lines” which determine the shape of the hull in three views.

During the following session we’ll complete the lofting, including construction details and “expanding” the transom.

Don’t worry, it isn’t as difficult as some might think. It’s mostly a matter of careful measuring, drawing “fair” (smoothly arcing) lines using a wood batten as a guide, and applying a bit of logic. It’s actually a lot of fun, and it is easy to get hooked on it.

Subsequent sessions will cover the process of  building the boat step-by step. Each week we will post photos of the progress of construction and forecast the activities occurring in the next session or two. Due to the complex nature of boatbuilding, activities in any given session are subject to change without notice.

We are really looking forward to this fun series of workshops, and hope you’ll be able to join us.

To enroll, go to the Gig Harbor BoatShop website and sign up!

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Caledonia Yawl – Chapter 12: Sea Trials

Naturally it was an absolutely flat calm day when we took the CY out for her first sail. ­We put up the mainsail, but accepted reality by puttering around using the Torqeedo 1003 Electric motor.

The Caledonia Yawl's first sail

The Caledonia Yawl's first sail

She moves easily through the water.

Motoring along in the Caledonia Yawl

Motoring along in the Caledonia Yawl

Even without any wind, the sail from Nathaniel Wilson, Sailmaker, sets nicely. It’s not often that it is so calm you get an almost perfect reflection!

Caledonia Yawl

Alas, no wind

A few days later we tried again, but once more there was zero wind.

Caledonia Yawl

The 10-1/2 ft Sitka Spruce oars are in the long gray bag

Finally, on Christmas Eve we found a few puffs and were able to enjoy a brief evening sail.

Finally able to sail

Finally able to sail

Sailing into the sunset

Sailing into the sunset

We’ve delivered the boat to the happy owner, and now we start on our next boat – another Caledonia, this time with a balanced lug yawl rig. Stay tuned.

 

 

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Caledonia Yawl – Chapter 11: Paint and varnish are complete. Let the rigging begin!

We’ve spent the last few weeks watching paint dry. Oh, and enjoying the holidays with our families.

Finally the paint was hard enough for us to reassemble all of the interior parts – centerboard cap, thwart, side benches and floorboards. These four photos show the interior components.

Interior looking aft

The completed Caledonia Yawl, looking aft

This photo is looking aft. The soft gray interior looks great with the gray blue thwart and benches and the bare cedar floorboards, which will turn gray in time. The water tight compartment to the left of the motor well will be useful to store gear you wish to keep dry.

Interior looking forward

The interior looking forward

Looking forward, we see the large storage compartment under the forward deck. Note the centerboard is graphite/epoxy coated for wear resistance and ease of maintenance. A garboard drain on each side of the centerboard will make it easy to wash out the interior periodically.

Floorboards

Interior of the Caledonia Yawl

The floorboards remove individually without tools.

Interior of Caledonia Yawl

Note the garboard drains on either side of the centerboard trunk

The mainsheet and block attach to the pad eye on the end of the centerboard cap.

Turnbuttons for the floorboards

Turnbuttons for the floorboards

Notice the turnbuttons used the hold the floorboards in place. We like this method because it not only holds the floorboards down, but also keeps them in place. A quick twist of the turnbutton, and the floorboard is easily removed without tools.

Looking into the motorwell

Looking into the motorwell

We mount a sacrificial teak pad on the forward edge of the motor well. It can easily be replaced in the future when required. When we cut the hole for the motor’s lower unit, we saved the cut out piece so it could be used as a plug when the motor is not in place. A stick attached to the plug is wedged under the teak pad to hold it in place. This also means you don’t have to stick your hand in icy water to remove the plug when you are ready to mount the motor.

Plug for the motorwell

Plug for the motorwell

Using the cut-out to create the plug results in nearly seamless surface on the exterior of the hull which reduces drag.

Thwart knee with copper bushing

Thwart knee with copper bushing

Since the jib sheet passes through the thwart knee to a cleat just aft of it, we installed a copper sleeve to reduce chafe on the knee. Carriage bolts fasten the benches to the thwart.

Boom and yard fittings

Boom and yard fittings

Rigging the gunter sloop requires some specialized hardware. Some we buy, some we cast ourselves in our small foundry. This photo shows the boom fitting and the jaws on the yard. We add protective leather where spars would otherwise get chafed.

Caledonia Yawl masthead

Caledonia Yawl masthead

We purchased the boom fitting as well as the mastband illustrated here. The diamond shaped copper pieces are covering the pins of the sheaves. This will allow for maintenance or replacement in the future if the need arises.

The shoulder  which the mastband rests on is reinforced with a few layers of fiberglass tape. This will prevent the mastband from crushing the shoulder when the rig is heavily loaded.

Now that the boat is complete, it’s time for sea trials!

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Caledonia Yawl – Chapter 10: Paint and Varnish, Part 2

With the exterior painted (except for the sheerstrake), we now move to the interior. Sanding all of the interior surfaces is time consuming, but care and attention results in a superior finish. We prefer a satin finish on the interior, usually a neutral beige or grey with an accent color or varnish on the trim pieces. This boat will have a light grey interior with grey–blue thwarts and benches and a white exterior with a dark blue sheerstrake. These two photos show the interior before the primer and enamel are applied.

Preparing to apply undercoat

Preparing to apply undercoat

Vacuuming before applying undercoat

Vacuuming before applying undercoat

Here Tom is using an HVLP spray set up to apply the undercoat to the interior. We apply two coats and then sand and putty any imperfections.

Spraying the undercoat

Spraying the undercoat

The undercoat sands easily and provides a smooth base for the marine enamel.

Two coats of undercoat have been applied

Two coats of undercoat have been applied

The thwart and the side benches are receiving their first coat of grey blue enamel. The centerboard trunk cap will be the same color.

The first coat of enamel on the thwart and side benches

The first coat of enamel on the thwart and side benches

Meanwhile, progress is occurring on the other painted parts. Here the rudder head is receiving its second coat of enamel. This is the same white as the hull.

The final coat of enamel on the rudder head

The final coat of enamel on the rudder head

We took advantage of a day when it wasn’t actually raining to let the parts air dry. The outdoors has significantly better air flow and the recent rains have kept the dust down. Keeping dust out of the paint and varnish is a challenge in a busy shop. We have several parts in various stages of finishing. The rudder blade is clamped to the CY mold while it receives its final coat of enamel (the top of the blade is masked off because it is coated with graphite infused epoxy for wear resistance). The 10 foot oars in the background are receiving their fourth coat of varnish. We apply at least six coats of varnish to the clear finished parts. We’ve been having a small issue with suicidal bugs the last few days. What on earth attracts them to varnish? White paint is equally appealing, it seems.

Normally we disassemble the mold immediately after the boat is removed from the it to clear space in the shop. In this case we left the mold assembled, in case our next commission was for another CY. As it turns out, it looks like the next two boats built will both be Caledonia Yawls.

Painting and varnishing various bits and pieces

Painting and varnishing various bits and pieces

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Caledonia Yawl – Chapter 9: Paint and varnish, Part 1

Scott Whitlow from Shoreline Canvas was over last week and made a pattern for the canvas cover. The mast will be held in place fore and aft and will support the cover allowing water to shed off of it. You can see that the cover will come down to the bottom of the third strake. Originally we planned to have it come down one more strake, but with the flare of the hull being so great, it isn’t necessary.

Pattern for CY cover

Pattern for CY cover

We are currently varnishing the gunwale. We’re working on the top and outboard edges first; we’ll varnish the inboard edges later. I think the photo has only two coats on, so it doesn’t have the gloss it will in the end. We are also in the processing of varnishing the spars, tiller, oarlock pads and other interior bits and pieces.

Varnishing the gunwale

Varnishing the gunwale

We laid out the main on the floor of the living room and assembled the spars and confirmed that everything was a good fit before continuing with final shaping and varnishing.

Checking the fit of the spars to the mainsail

Checking the fit of the spars to the mainsail

We’ve added a strip of fiberglass tape below the mast band to give it a wide shoulder to rest upon.

Reinforcing the shoulder for the mastband

Reinforcing the shoulder for the mastband

Most of the spar will be varnished. The tip of the mast above the mastband will be painted the white of the hull color. We will coat the foot of the mast with epoxy mixed with aluminum for wear resistance.

Making the outboard bracket

Making the outboard bracket

Tom is installing a teak bracket forward of the motor well to reinforce where the motor is mounted.

Installing the forward coaming

Installing the forward coaming

We’ve fabricated and installed the coaming on both the fore and aft decks.

Installing the rudder hardware

Installing the rudder hardware

The rudder hardware is tricky to align on a curved sternpost. The hinge axis needs to be the same on both upper and lower hardware, and for maximum strength the hardware should be as far apart as possible, and for good looks it the rudder should be as close to the sternpost as possible. Wherever possible we have the lower rudder strap capture the rudder blade axle. The threaded rod holds all the parts rigidly in line, while the threads allow for exact placement on the rudder and sternpost.

The curved tiller

The curved tiller

Then once the rudder is installed the tiller can be fitted. We steam bent the ash tiller to be just above the gunwale when hard over. The sweeping curve not only looks nice, it brings the end of the tiller to a more comfortable height. A tiller extension (white oak) is being bent to fit neatly on top of the tiller, several inches aft of the end of the tiller so as not to interfere with the helmsman’s grip.

The first of undercoat goes on

The first of undercoat goes on

The first coat of primer is going on the exterior of the hull. It will take two (or three), then it will mostly get sanded off in preparation for enamel. We were hoping to get enamel on the exterior over the weekend, but it looks like we’re going to run out of primer, and we won’t have more on hand until Monday afternoon.

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Tirrik is complete!

We completed the Tirrik in time for the 2011 Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend, Washington in early September. The weather was perfect for the festival, so the Tirrik gleamed in the sunlight.

Tirrik at the 2011 Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend, WA

Tirrik at the 2011 Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend, WA

We love participating in the shows because it gives us the opportunity to talk to other interested in wooden boats and to answer questions about the boats we build.

The completed Tirrik interior

The completed Tirrik interior

Here Tom is explaining the benefits of the mizzen in a lug yawl rig. The mizzen sheet runs through a block on the rudder head and leads forward for easy access for the helmsman.

Tom discussing the benefits of the mizzen

Tom discussing the benefits of the mizzen

You can also see the beaching rudder in the same photo. It has internal control lines that raise and lower the rudder blade. Whichever is in use is tied to a cleat on the mizzen partner.

The rudder control lines

The rudder control lines

This boat is rigged with a Norwegian style tiller. This is attached to a tiller arm that is held in the rudder head with a wedge attached to a piece of leather.

The mizzen rigging

The mizzen rigging

The owner of this boat chose to have an open boat with no bulkheads or decks. There are two rowing stations and three thwarts. There are side benches which help the skipper adjust crew weight for the appropriate sailing conditions.

Interior of the Tirrik (CY ladder frame in the background)

Interior of the Tirrik (Caledonia Yawl ladder frame in the background)

We leather the spars where they cross each other to protect them from damage. We fabricate a teak block that holds the main mast in place while in use. A bungee cord applies tension and holds it in place. When it is removed, the mast can easily be lowered for transport or storage. We make our own teak cleats. Two are installed on the forward and aft inner stems to use to attached mooring lines, and others are used to cleat off halyards and the rudder control lines.

Finally the day comes when we can launch her and go for a sail with the new owner.

Getting underway in the Tirrik...

Getting underway in the Tirrik...

...and returning after a successful first sail

...and returning after a successful first sail

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Caledonia Yawl – Chapter 8: Getting ready for paint

There is a lot of prep work to get ready for undercoat. We are also doing a lot of sanding and filling, and epoxy coating of plywood end grain.

Graphite filled epoxy on the interior surfaces of the rudder head
Graphite filled epoxy on the interior surfaces of the rudder head

Before assembling the centerboard trunk and the rudder head, the interior surfaces are coated with graphite filled epoxy. This negates the need to paint these areas in the future, and protects against chafe in high wear areas. Note that the channel for the rudder control line is also coated with graphite filled epoxy.

Preparing centerboard for lead plug
Preparing centerboard for lead plug

We weight the centerboard by adding a lead disk. We cut a hole of the correct size near the bottom of the centerboard. We chamfer the edges of the hole and insert bronze ring nails to stabilize the lead plug. We then cast the plug in place.

Painting the interior of the enclosed spaces
Painting the interior of the enclosed spaces

We have painted the under deck areas, and the underside of the decks themselves, so we could glue and fasten the decks down.

Installing the forward deck
Installing the forward deck

Now that the decks are in place we are fitting the trim along the deck edge, and a bit more around the motor well. We are also working on rigging items to fill in the time gaps while we wait for something to cure.

Forward deck installed
Forward deck installed
Aft deck installed
Aft deck installed

After shaping the rudder blade and centerboard and adding the lead plug, we apply Dynel cloth saturated with epoxy to the leading edge and tip of each of these two parts. Then it’s time to fill and fair them before we are ready to apply paint.

Fairing the rudder blade and centerboard
Fairing the rudder blade and centerboard

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Caledonia Yawl – Chapter 7: Gunwales and motor well

The mast, yard and boom are ready for finishing. The centerboard is shaped and the lead insert is poured. The rudder trunk is assembled, the rudder blade is shaped, and the tiller is ready for finishing. The side benches and thwart knees are fitted, the motor well is finished, and the areas under the fwd and aft compartments are ready for paint. The keel shoe has been fitted, as have the bilge runners and their half-oval bands. The rudder hardware has been cast, and is almost ready to install.

Brass half oval and shoe

Brass half oval and shoe

The brass shoe is 1/4″ thick. It provides then best possible protection to the keel and skeg, which is perfect for beaching and trailering. The stems are protected with half-oval brass which is also 1/4″ thick.

Bilge runner

Bilge runner

The bilge runners have 3/16″ half-oval over their entire length. The fitting of this metal is labor-intensive, with all the rolling bevels and compound angles, but the protection makes it all worthwhile. It also adds about 35 lbs way down low on the boat.

Attaching the gunwale

Attaching the gunwale

The gunwale (guard) is built up of two layers, which combined with the three inwale layers, makes for a very stiff sheer. Add in the laminated frame (currently gluing up), and the bulkheads, and you have one very rigid hull. This is particularly nice on a rig which relies on shroud tension to keep the forestay tight.

Gluing on the gunwale

Gluing on the gunwale

We complicate the gunwale a bit by having it taper in height and width as it approaches the ends of the boat. If the gunwale is a constant cross-section it will appear to grow towards the ends of the boat. The hard way looks much better, and once you realize this, there really is no other way to do the job right.

Making the pattern for the motor well

Making the pattern for the motor well

The motor wells take a bit of thought. We considered making the cutout in the hull as small as possible, but that would require ensuring that the propeller was in the vertical position when installing or removing the motor and that didn’t seem like a good idea in a panic situation. So a pattern for the cutout was made which allows the prop to be in any position.

Determining the location of the motor well

Determining the location of the motor well

The diameter of the prop and length of the lower unit requires that the well be a few inches larger than Iain drew. The well is as small as is possible, with about 1/2″ of clearance from the cutout to the well sides. The cutout was made as close to the keelson as practical.

Cutting out the motor well

Cutting out the motor well

Cutting out the well opening is a bit tense. The cutout is used as a plug when the motor is removed for sailing, so the saw cut needs to be accurate.

The completed motor well

The completed motor well

The edge of the cutout is vulnerable, so we epoxy on a layer of Dynel fabric to beef it up.

The motor in the motor well (before enclosing it)

The motor in the motor well (before enclosing it)

The motor fits well. I’ll need to raise the fwd edge of the well up an inch or so to get plenty of clearance between the aft deck and the bottom of the powerhead. No big deal and it will look nice, too. The long shaft gives plenty of clearance between the prop and the hull. The short shaft may have worked, but this removes all doubt.

The motor fit through the cut out

The motor fit through the cut out

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Caledonia Yawl – Chapter 6: Continuing the interior

Although some time was spent recently getting ready for and attending the Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend, Washington, we still have made a lot of progress.

We picked up the King KB-910 trailer in mid August. These galvanized trailers are great for this area because they can be used in both fresh and salt water. The long tongue makes backing easier and helps keep the tow vehicle out of the water.

King KB-910 trailer for the Caledonia Yawl

King KB-910 trailer for the Caledonia Yawl

We’re working steadily on the interior. Fitting the floors, bulkheads and thwart risers is fussy work – it takes time to get the fit just right. We have to wait until we receive the Torqeedo motor before we fabricate the motor well, and we have to make the motor well before we install the decks.

Installing the deck beams

Installing the deck beams

Fairing the sheer is an important part of completing the hull. It has to be considered from several angles so that it looks right in all views. When planking the boat, we make the sheerstrake a little wide to allow for some modification. Here we have clamped a batten to the upper edge of the sheerstrake and we are getting ready to trim it to shape.

Fairing the sheer

Fairing the sheer

Before we go too far with the bulkheads and decks, we have to consider the porta potti. We ordered the shortest model available, since it has to fit under the forward deck. We still had to make a slight modification to the width of the forward bulkhead so that the porta potti could be stowed there. The photo illustrates the porta potti in place, as well as the side benches. They will be bolted to the underside of the center thwart and will rest on cleats at the aft end and the partial bulkhead forward.

Side benches

Side benches and capping the sheer

This photo also shows the trim piece being glued to the sheer. This covers the end grain of the plywood which would otherwise be visible when varnished.

Gluing up the inwale

Gluing up the inwale

Next we glue on the inwale to strengthen the sheer. This takes all of our clamps! You can never have too many clamps.

Then it was time to stop and get ready for the boat show. Since we were delivering the Tirrik the day after the show ended, it had to be ready. We had made the decision to take the CY in whatever state it was in, as long as we could get it on the trailer. Here are a couple of pictures from the show – the Tirrik with her sails up, and the partially built CY. We brought along her partially made spars, centerboard and rudder. Visitors found it very interesting to see the partially completed boat and the beautifully finished one. The contrast between the two boats helped people have a better understanding of what it takes to build one.

The completed Tirrik at the Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend, WA

The completed Tirrik at the Wooden Boat Festival in Port Townsend, WA

The partially completed CY at the boat show

The partially completed CY at the boat show

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Caledonia Yawl – Chapter 5: Interior construction

Once the boat was turned upright, the pace picked up. The centerboard trunk we made earlier was installed.

Centerboard trunk installed

Centerboard trunk installed

We then added the forward brace and trunk cap.

Centerboard trunk cap and forward brace

Centerboard trunk cap and forward brace

One day was “Floor Day”, where we made all the floors, which strengthen the bottom of the boat as well as supporting the floorboards. We are halving the spacing of the floorboards so that we can use thinner material for the floorboards. Thinner floorboards are easier to bend into place and lighter and easier to handle when assembled into sections. Additional floors also better support the floorboards.

We fabricated and installed the deck beams and bulkheads. The aft bulkhead is full height to the deck, with an enclosed section on the starboard side and a motor well (as yet unbuilt) on the port side.

Aft bulkhead

Aft bulkhead

The forward bulkhead is only a partial bulkhead which will allow for storage under the forward deck.

Forward (partial) bulkhead

Forward (partial) bulkhead

Since you spent a lot of time waiting for epoxy to cure while building a glued lapstrake boat, you always need to have other projects in the works.

We turned our attention to the rudder, rudder head and centerboard. These are laminated from multiple thicknesses of plywood to yield the desired thickness. We have to run a couple of pieces through the planer to shave off a millimeter. No 5 mm stock on hand? No problem. One pass through the planer on the 6 mm, and presto: 5 mm.

We use two methods for gluing up the pieces. The first method involves screwing the glued plywood sandwich to the workbench, but that means we later have to plug the holes. We chose to use the second method — vacuum bagging.

We installed a new surface on the bench, a piece of 3/4 melamine-faced particle board. We then placed the glued up plywood sandwich on the bench. We placed a 3 mm plastic sheet over it and sealed it around the perimeter using butyl tape, which is readily available from our local hardware store. Using a fitting that attaches to a compressor and creates a Venturi vacuum we suck the air from the workpiece aiming for about 21 inches of vacuum. We allow about four hours for the parts to cure. During the winter the shop is much cooler and the cure time can double.

Vacuum bagging

Vacuum bagging

Before assembly, we shape one of the outer layers to the final shape using the pattern as a guide. The rest of the plies are rough-cut. After the epoxy cures, we use a flush trim bit to rout the rest of the parts to the final profile.

After epoxy has cured on centerboard

After epoxy has cured on centerboard

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