Caledonia Yawl – Chapter 4: Starting the spars

We picked up lumber to make the spars. We are fortunate to have easy access to Sitka Spruce. A small mill an hour from our shop brings logs down from Alaska and grades and mills the wood to our specifications. We usually buy 8/4 Sitka 6” wide and 20 ft long. This allows for minimal waste when used for oars and spars.

We spent one afternoon gluing up the mast, boom and yard halves. Later we will shape them from the rough straight four sides to tapered round sections. We will cover that in more detail when the time comes.

Mast and spar halves ready to be glued up

Mast and spar halves ready to be glued up

Mast and spars being glued up

Mast and spars being glued up

Mast and spars cut to rough shape

After glue up, mast and spars cut to rough shape

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Caledonia Yawl – Chapter 3: Turning her over

A lot can happen in a few weeks! We reached the first milestone the last weekend of July, taking the boat off the mold and turning her upright. This means all the planks are installed and the keel and stems are in place.

One more strake to hang

This photo shows that we still have the sheerstrake to hang. We then bevel the garboard to accept the keel and stems. Climbing on top of the boat is the only way to reach it!

Beveling the garboard to accept the keel and stems

Beveling the garboard to accept the keel and stems

Unlike the inner stems, we choose to build up the outer stem from solid stock. Laminating the inner stems is practical because it is consistent in cross section whereas the outer stem varies considerably.

We marked the sections of the outer stem on the lofting and then using the same 3d nail transfer technique, made patterns for each section out of 2.7 mm door skin. By taping the sections together, and fitting them to the boat, we can be sure of an accurate fit before cutting stock.

Laying out the stem pattern

Laying out the stem pattern


The completed stem pattern

The completed stem pattern

We fit the keel to the boat, and cut a rough slot for the centerboard. Once the keel is installed and the epoxy is cured, we used a flush trim bit in a router to finish the slot.

Stems and keel on the boat

Stems and keel on the boat

At this point we were ready to turn over. This used to be a nail biting exercise as the two of us lifted her off the mold and turned her over. Since the operation was completely impractical when turning over the hull of the electric launch, we installed two pairs of rollers in the roof trusses of the shop. With a loop of webbing around each pair of rollers, turning over a hull is now significantly easier on the back and the nerves. Our customer and some family members chose to come to the shop for the occasion, so we had some help, making it even easier.

The rest of these photos illustrate the process of getting her off the mold and turned over.

Off the mold

Off the mold - Photo by Barbara Wiesenbach

In the slings

In the slings - Photo by Barbara Wiesenbach

Rolling her over

Rolling her over - Photo by Barbara Wiesenbach

Keep rolling...

Keep rolling... Photo by Barbara Wiesenbach

Just about there...

Just about there... Photo by Barbara Wiesenbach

She's upright!

She's upright!

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Update on the construction of the Tirrik

This gallery contains 8 photos.

We got behind on the blog for the Tirrik, and since the boat is now in the painting and varnishing stage, we will just settle for a photo gallery of the progress to date.

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Caledonia Yawl – Chapter 2: Construction continues

We are getting into full swing on the construction of the boat. In the last few weeks we have made the station molds and set them up on the ladder frame.

Making the molds is an interesting operation. We take 3d nails and lay them along the station lines of the body plan. We then take a section of 1×6 pine and place it on top of the nails and give it a few good whacks with a mallet. This transfers the location of the 3d nails to the underside of the 1×6 pine. Using a batten, we draw a line connecting the indents, creating a fair curve representing the shape of the hull that station.

We then nail the 1×6 pine to a second piece of pine and cut both simultaneously on the bandsaw, This ensures the port and starboard sides of the mold are identical. The molds are usually made in several sections, so the process is repeated until the entire curve of all the stations are created. The sections of the mold are assembled into a whole, creating the shape of the hull at that station. A cross spall is added to each mold at the baseline. The location of this cross spall is critical, as it establishes the height of the mold on the ladder frame. This ensures the molds are all vertically aligned with each other.

Caledonia Yawl station molds

Caledonia Yawl station molds

We set up the ladder frame in the shop, making sure the rails are parallel, level and in the same plane as each other. The rails are spaced an appropriate distance apart based on the beam of the boat being constructed. To support the stems, cross members at the bow and stern are set at an angle. We transfer the location and angle of the stems from the lofting. We then stretch a string to mark the center line the length of the ladder frame.

Ladder Frame

Ladder Frame

Then we were ready to set up the molds. Using the lofting as a reference, we marked the locations of the molds on the rails. Then one by one we installed each mold aligning the center lines and ensuring they are level and plumb.

Station 1 mounted on the ladder frame

Station 1 mounted on the ladder frame

All the molds setup on the ladder frame

All the molds setup on the ladder frame

Station molds viewed from the stern

Station molds viewed from the stern

We decided to laminate the inner stems with 9 to 10 laminations of sapele. Using the same method with the 3d nails, we transfer the shape of the stems to two pieces of 2.7 mm door skin to make a pattern for each stem. We then trace the curve of the pattern on a piece of particle board. We glue and screw short sections of 2 x 4 every few inches along the curve. The laminations are bent around these blocks and clamps hold everything in place until the epoxy cures. Once well cured (about 24 hours) we plane the stems to thickness.

Stem laminations

Stem laminations (note keelson on top of the molds in the background)

In the meantime we’ve milled up the material for the keelson.  We have learned from experience to cut the centerboard slot in the keelson on the table saw before installing it on the ladder frame. For aesthetics, we beveled the top edge of the keelson and inside face of the stems. Then the keelson and stems are installed on the ladder frame to form the backbone. The outer face of the backbone is beveled to accept the planking. All of this setup is time consuming, but well worth it in terms of easing construction going forward, but more importantly, to have a pleasing shape to the hull.

Lining off the planking

Lining off the planking

While glue is curing we are working on other items. We draw the shape of the rudder on the lofting. This helps us determine the location of the rudder and the rudder hardware so we can get it on order.

We also draw the centerboard trunk on the lofting. We make a pattern for the centerboard and place it on the lofting to make sure it fits well and that there is adequate clearance as the board moves up and down in the trunk.

Centerboard and c/b trunk patterns

Centerboard and centerboard trunk patterns

Centerboard pattern

Using pattern to make sure centerboard will pivot in the trunk

We use the same 3d nail technique to make a pattern for the centerboard trunk. This is made from 9 mm okoume marine ply with sapele logs and spacers. This is glued in sections and set aside until ready for installation.

Centerboard trunk gluing up

Half of centerboard trunk gluing up

Once the backbone is set up and beveled we start making patterns for the strakes. We can hang a pair of strakes a day, so this seven strake boat will be planked in little over a week.

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Caledonia Yawl – Chapter 1: Getting started on a new CY

Iain Oughtred’s Caledonia Yawl is proving to be a popular design for us. And why not? It is an attractive double-ended lapstrake sailboat that is easily rigged and sailed single-handed, yet can accommodate the better part of a cub scout troop and the dog.

We recently received a commission for the newest release of this design, the seven-strake version. It has numerous enhancements as wells as a slightly wider beam than the four strake version we have built previously. The customer prefers the sloop rig over the lug yawl, which eliminates the mizzen mast, yard, boom and boomkin, and can use a more conventional straight tiller.

The CY is based on the traditional lines of Norwegian and Shetland open boats. She is seaworthy and comfortable, with a spacious interior. She is capable of carrying large loads yet light enough to be easily handled in the water or on a trailer. The beaching rudder and easily raised centerboard allow her to navigate shallow waters under sail or by paddle or oar. Numerous configurations for the interior allow each boat to be built to the unique requirements of the customer.

We got started by setting up the ladder frame at a convenient working height for lofting the boat. Lofting on the shop floor is much too hard on the back and knees. Due to other projects in the shop, we set up the lofting in the side yard where we have plenty of room.

Lofting is the process of converting the scale drawings from the architect to full-size using the offsets (measurements) provided with the plans. This allows us to make the necessary station molds that establish the shape of the form that the hull is built on, and the patterns that will be used to build the interior components. Lofting also ensures that the hull components will fit together correctly.

Iain provides full size paper patterns that can be used instead of lofting the boat, however we have found that the time spent lofting the boat is well spent, since it allows us to work out the shapes of components without resorting to the less efficient “cut and fit” method.

We laid out sheets of particle board to create a long 24’ x 4’ surface. We then nailed sheets of 1/8” door skin painted flat white to the particle board. We then draw a grid to create the three views we will need – the profile, half-breadths, and body plan. The profile view is the hull seen from the side, the half-breadths is seen from above, and the body plan is seen from the bow and stern.

Lofting the Caledonia Yawl

Lofting the Caledonia Yawl

We then created a series of tick sticks that contain the measurements from the chart of offsets provided with the plans. We use these sticks to mark the location of the offsets on the grid.

Tick Sticks containing the measurements from the table of offsets

Tick Sticks containing the measurements from the table of offsets

Then, using a stiff batten, we connect the dots and create a fair curve. Battens are best made from soft woods; Spruce and Cedar are good choices. If the batten is rectangular rather than square in cross-section, it can be used for a wider range of bend radius. Always use the stiffest batten possible to ensure the batten doesn’t easily deflect, and give a false contour. Drill a hole in one end and hang them from a nail when not in use, otherwise they will deform over time. Sometimes I paint them black, which can help visualize the long sweeping curves.

We do this for each set of measurements, comparing the resulting drawings with each other for consistency. Here we are showing the

Batten marking the position of station mold 1 on the body plan.

Batten marking the position of station mold 1 on the body plan.

Since the weather can be unpredictable at this time of year, there are other things we can be working on: spec’ing the sail plans, procuring materials, and specifying colors. We have received the bulk of the plywood we’ll need, and are now getting in the other materials we’ll use – hardwood and softwood lumber, brass half-oval and flat stock, paint and rope. There is plenty to do!

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Installing Gunwales and Floors on the Tirrik

The gunwales are on, but not the rub rails. I’ve been shaping the forward breasthook, it’s almost finished. The floors are fitted, but not yet glued in. I halved the spacing, it stiffens the bottom and supports the floorboards better. The trunk is in also.

When I built Grace, our Electric Launch, I installed rollers in the trusses of the shop to allow me to fit slings around hulls to turn them over. One of the best things I’ve done. Now I can turn the largest boat I can fit in my shop over single handed. And it is under full control.

Once upright I fuss with the sheer a bit. In this case the sheer was about 1/8″ high a couple feet aft of the stem. Clamping a batten to the sheer made a fair curve, and I trimmed the new profile. Much better.

The inwales are in two laminations, as shown on Iain Oughtred’s plans. Rather than taper both lams, I left the outboard lam full siding (width), and put all the taper into the inboard lam. The taper works out the same, and it’s a bit easier if you are sure you can bend the lams. Sapele can be a bear to bend. It takes most of the shop’s small clamps to glue these up.

The keel centerboard slot was cut with a router previously, so all I had to do to align the trunk was insert some temporary posts to center the trunk exactly over the slot. I think they’re still in there…

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Planking complete on the Tirrik

The sheerstrakes are on, and the outer stems are fitted, but not yet glued. Tomorrow I will start in on the skeg and keel. Here are a few photos showing the progress of the planking.

Once these boats have their garboards on, planking goes quickly. On all but the smallest boats the planking needs to be scarfed to make up the strakes. On the first few boats I scarfed whole sheets of plywood, which gets it all over with at one go, but doesn’t make the best use of materials, since the planks can’t be “dog-legged” after they are scarfed. Scarfing whole sheets also means that you are wasting effort scarfing sections of the plywood panels that end up getting sawn off as the strakes are shaped.

I much prefer to scarf the strakes on the boat. This means I don’t have to work with 17′ floppy strakes, which is far easier. The process is a bit lengthy to describe (and tedious to read) without a bunch of photos, but I’ll give an overview here, and explain the whole workings on the next build.

After lining off the strakes on the mold, I make full-length patterns of the strakes from doorskin. While the pattern is on the mold, I decide where the scarfs should be, and cut the pattern at these locations. I now have a pattern for the aft, mid, and fwd sections of each strake.
These patterns are used to shape the planks, after adding the approximate length required to make the scarf. Before cutting the scarfs the strakes are screwed to the mold and the exact cut line for the scarf is marked. The scarfs are cut on the bench, and the planks are then glued and screwed in position. Screwing the planks in place uses the same holes as when the parts were previously fitted, so everything still fits. The scarf joints are sandwiched between pieces of plywood that are as wide as the scarf joint, and a few screws and clamps hold the joint closed while the epoxy cures. Piece of cake.

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The Tirrik’s centerboard, centerboard trunk and beaching rudder

I’m jumping around a bit in the build sequence to keep the project moving while waiting for the planking material to ship.

I have laminated the rudder blade and centerboard from four layers of 6mm okuome. A doorskin pattern from the previous build was used to shape the top layer of each, and the other layers were cut slightly oversize to allow for less than perfect alignment during glue-up. Once cured, the parts were trimmed to the shape of the top layer using a flush-trim bit in a router.


Constructing the rudder

I hate routers. They scream in my ear, and it is often difficult to see what the bit is cutting until it is too late. But in spite of this, I use both of ours extensively to replicate plywood parts; nothing else does the job as fast or as accurately.

The centerboard as shown on the plans has no lead in its tip. The Caledonia Yawl has something like a 6″ lead -filled hole near its tip. I drew a suggested cutout for lead on the centerboard, as I like a slightly ballasted centerboard. When a board has some lead, it won’t need to be restrained to remain in the down position. This means the board can be left fully down, yet it will be free to swing up into the trunk in the event of a grounding. I usually use a bronze pin in a bushed hole to hold the board in the up position. It is very tidy and secure, but doesn’t have the adjustability of the “pennant tied to a cleat” approach.

Centerboard Trunk

Centerboard Trunk

The rudder blade will need control lines to hold the board up and down. I find that the rudder will stay down at lower speeds without tensioning the “down” control line. This is nice when sailing in thin water, since it will readily swing up when it touches bottom. As speed increases the rudder blade will lift slightly, which makes for a heavy helm, but control isn’t lost. At this point, the down control line comes into play. When the rudder is fully raised for launching and beaching the blade is still immersed enough to provide good control of the boat.

Beaching Rudder

Beaching Rudder

I like to have the rudder control lines run inside the rudder trunk. The lines can have a large sweeping radius and exit the trunk with a very fair lead for operating the lines. The plans show the control lines outside the trunk, turning abruptly at right angles exiting the tiller. Iain’s method is simpler, but has more friction and is not particularly elegant.

While waiting for glue to cure I milled and shaped the partner arms and wedge. I like to use teak on these high wear areas that would be difficult to keep a finish on.

Mast Partner

Mast Partner and Wedge

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Construction begins on a Tirrik, an Iain Oughtred design

We are just getting started on another Tirrik. We built one a few years ago which was partially decked and included a motor well for a small outboard motor. Since we build to a customer’s specifications, this one will be built as an open boat.

Our local source was unable to supply us with the 9mm Okoume plywood we like to use, so we have ordered it from another firm out of state.

While waiting for the 9mm there is plenty to be done. I laid out the stem patterns on the 8/4 Sapele plank, and planed the plank to the 1 1/2″ thickness required for the inner stems.

Stem Patterns

Laying out the patterns for the stems

The patterns made short work of shaping the stem parts on the bandsaw. A bit of fussing with a block plane and they were ready for gluing up. The outer stems will be left roughed-out until they can be fitted onto the planked hull.

Gluing Inner Stems

Gluing Inner Stems

The keelson is also sapele, cut about 1/2″ long at each end to make alignment easier. I plunge-cut the slot for the centerboard on the table saw, finishing up the ends of the slot with a jigsaw. This is fast and accurate. Best of all, after planking and fitting the keel I can use a flush-trim router bit to trim the planking and keel to match the keelson cutout exactly.

Fitting the Keelson

Fitting the Keelson

The keelson mated nicely with the heels of the stems, and with center-lines marked on all components, alignment was a snap. One of the advantages of lofting a boat vs. using full size patterns is that when patterns are used, and something doesn’t fit quite right (or at all!) the builder really doesn’t know where the problem originates. Could be the patterns, maybe the set-up, maybe the components. When a lofting is made, and the parts are true to the lofting, they pretty much have to fit. If they don’t, the only place to look for errors is in the set-up.

Heel aft stem

Heel aft stem

A quick note: When I mention “up” or “top”, it refers to the boat as if it were upright, even though it won’t be for a while yet.

I have chamfered the inboard edges of the inner stems, and the upper edge of the keelson. On the stems the chamfer dies out as it approaches the sheer so the cutout in the breasthooks is simpler.

I also cut out blanks for the rudder and centerboard (four layers of 6mm), and the centerboard trunk sides.

Tomorrow the epoxy will be cured enough to bevel the keelson and stems in anticipation of hanging planks.

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Welcome to the Grapeview Point Boat Works blog!

Welcome to the Grapeview Point Boat Works blog! We decided this would be a good way to keep everyone updated as to what is happening at the Boat Works. Check back often for updates!

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