Posts Tagged ‘Iain Oughtred’

The Fleet Is In

September 28, 2012

After what seems like the busiest summer yet, our fleet is home again and we are starting the chores to get all of our boats ready for winter. This includes fresh bottom paint, winterizing the diesel on the Friendship Sloop, cleaning and stowing sails, cushions, pillows, and mattresses, packing up the galley, and most importantly making lists of repairs that need to be done over the winter.

Typically, once the boats are bedded down for winter, they are allowed to rest for at least a couple of months while we focus on the autumn chores  at the cottage,  and then the winter holidays. Come January and February, though, I know I will start thinking about winter boat projects that need to be done before spring-cleaning and painting begins in earnest. Having made a list in the fall saves time and helps push the process along.

When we built the shed it seemed huge—much larger than it needed to be—and I remember wondering if we had not gotten a bit carried away. Now, twelve years later, part of the autumnal ritual of putting the boats to bed is the process of figuring out how to get everything into the building and still leave enough room to move around.

I know I will enjoy puttering on projects in the boat shed over the next six months, almost as much as I enjoy being on the water. And there is something very satisfying about putting all the bits and pieces away, making sure everything is tagged or labeled, sometimes adding a shelf or box somewhere in the shed so that another piece of gear can have a better place to winter over. Like stacking firewood, the process of putting things away, brings a sense of order to what is usually a frantic end-of-season rush, and a knowledge that I will benefit later from the work I do now.

For the moment though I am taking a deep breath and savoring the fact that the boats ate all back safe and sound in the boat shed.

The leaves have begun to change colors, the equinox has come and gone, the boats are in the shed: autumn is here.

New Boat Part 22

August 13, 2012


Before I continue with the building of mast and sail for our new Penny Fee, now called Fee-Fie, (the dinghy has become Foe-Fum), I wanted to record some observations on the performance of the boat thus far. We have had the boat in the water and have been using her for about three weeks. We have used the boat to ferry loads to and from the Friendship sloop, and have towed it to Rockland from Boothbay and back, and have basically rowed it around a bit. As of this weekend we have been sailing it too, but I will save my observations on sailing qualities for the end of this post.

Penny Fee: Fee-Fie


The first surprise was how easily she tows behind the Friendship Sloop. She is heavier than our dingy, but she also has a much longer waterline and appears to sit high in the water when unloaded. She also tracks well, partly due to the longer waterline and partly due to the lap-strake construction.  The result is a longer heavier boat that does not squat down in the water behind our sloop but that slips along with less resistance than I would have imagined. Part of our trip back from Rockland was in 5 to 8 foot seas with 15-25 knot winds. We found that in every condition except heavy following seas; this is a very well behaved boat. In following seas she tends to surf and surge and a long towline and a watchful crewmember to tend the towline is advisable.


We have noticed that when under oar power it is more comfortable to sit on a seat cushion that raises up the rower about 2 ½”. I don’t think that this is the result of the benches being placed low, either by the designer or in our construction, but rather that we deliberately raised the height of the oarlocks so that the oars would be less prone to rub on the fender of the boat. She does take more back power and a longer stroke than the dingy to propel, but she carries her way beautifully and once moving is easy to keep moving. The other aspect that will take some getting used to is that she rows a little easier with a load rather than without. This is both the opposite of our dinghy and is also a bit counter-intuitive.


Another impressive feature is the stability of the boat, it has greater secondary stability than I would have imagined and, in some ways this drove us to make the sail because we wanted to see how she handled the pressure of the sail and how that effected the stability. We have experimented by having a helmsman stand in the back of the boat and steer with the rudder while the rower provides the power from the front bench. Our experience is that she provides a stable platform for the helmsman, to say nothing of the fact that it is just plain fun to stand in the back of the launch and con the boat.

Now on to the last pieces of construction:

The Mast:

I bought two pieces of 2”x 8” spruce stock that were not flawless but that had long, relatively clear sections in each. I got them at the local home center, total cost was about $20. I then ripped out the two best sections and using a dato-blade on the table saw cut a ¾” channel in each that started a bout a foot below the truck of the mast and ended about a foot above where deck level would be. Then the two halves were glued together giving me essentially a mast blank with a hollow core.

The two mast halves with dato ripped

The two mast halves glued together

When the glue was dry I cut a taper using the table saw so that I had a long, tapered, spar that was square in cross section. Next step, cut off the corners of the square so that the spar becomes eight sided, and then move to hand planes to make the mast round in section.

Mast with taper cut and corners cut off to make a long octagonal spar

Spars varnished and ready for hardware

The sprit is made of solid spruce about 1 ½” in diameter, shaped in the same way that the mast was shaped.

The mast has four, unfinished teak cleats; one each for halyard, brail, snotter, and downhaul. There are two heavy cleats set inside the gunwale, port and starboard aft, for the mainsheet. These too are made from unfinished teak. My experience has been that cleats do not hold finish, due to lines running around them, they are also a pain to keep finished. Raw teak weathers well and always looks pretty good without much care.

Cleats on the mast

Building the sail:

We used as a reference the excellent Sailmaker’s Apprentice, although sailmaking is not new for either me, or the woman who will willingly get up in the middle of the night and stand an anchor watch. It is also worth noting that first, the sprit sail is one of the easier and more forgiving sails to make, and second that we are using canvas that we were given free, so, in many ways this is a prototype sail and we might make a more durable version once we have learned all we can from the performance of this canvas model. On the other hand if this sail works, why fix it?

The sail is made of four panels and will take its shape partly from the cut of these panels (particularly the two closest to the mast) and partly to a slight curve built into the luff of the sail. A bolt-rope is hand stitched along the head, luff and foot of the sail to help minimize the stretch in these sections of the sail. We used 3/8” brass grommets for the reef points and the robands on the luff of the sail, and the brail-line grommet in the leach of the sail. The rest of the sail hardware is sewn in by hand. The thimbles and metal rings are all solid brass.

The building process:

One thing we did that made the whole sailmaking process much easier was to recycle the boatbuilding table and use it as a sailmaking table. All we did was cut the table in half into two eight-foot sections. This allowed us to either push the sections together and make one long table to lay out panels and pin seams and that kind of thing, or we could pull the two apart and put the sewing machine in between them and pass the sail from one surface to the other over the sewing machine table. If we were making a larger sail I would have raise the levels of the tales to the same level as the sewing machine table, but with a sail that is only 85 square feet it seemed unnecessary.

Work table with sewing machine in the middle, sail in the foreground

The sail took about two weeks to build working in the evenings and in what free time we have, but I would not want to be misleading about this. As I said before both the woman who will willingly get up in the middle of the night and stand an anchor watch, and I have sailmaking experience, added to which I have a fairly comprehensive collection of sailmaking tools and supplies on hand. It would be a different story if we were having to figure out each step from scratch and then purchase the appropriate tools, materials and hardware. As it was there where plenty of choices to make regarding where to put in grommets, cringles, and thimbles.

Details of the sail showing the hand-sewn hardware at the clew and head

Anyway the finished sail looked great, the question was how would it perform in collaboration with the Penny Fee? The short answer is: far better than I expected.

Penny Fee under sail

This shot shows the boat well

Sailing in light air

There is a tendency to make leeway with very light air, but that disappears when there is any real wind. The boat points higher than I thought it would and virtually flies downwind. Beam reaching it is remarkably stable. The other factor that I love about this rig is how easy it is to haul on the brailing line and collapse the sail and sprit against the mast. It was really fun to sail right up alongside the Friendship sloop, touch the side, and collapse the rig by pulling on one line.

Sail brailed up against the mast

The two aspects of the rig that I question at this point have to do with the mast and the foot of the sail. I went to great effort (explained above) to make the mast hollow and light, it now appears that that was not necessary and that it may in fact be a weakness, because the mast does flex alarmingly in strong gusts. However, if the mast breaks it will be easy and inexpensive to replace. My concern about the foot of the sail is simply that now that we have seen the sail and how it takes shape in the wind, I think we could have easily added twelve to fourteen inches of length to the foot of the sail and gotten her to round up a little faster when tacking.

In both these cases, however, I am splitting hairs and speculating. The factual evidence that we have so far is that this is an easy rig to sail, to break down and set up. It brails quickly so that if the wind dies you can row without taking down the rig, and you can dowse the sail quickly when coming alongside. In short, it is everything we had hoped for and we had a fantastic fun day testing it out.

Really fun to sail

If you would like to read all the posts related to this project together, go to the category at the right called “Penny Fee” and click on it. It will pull all the posts on the penny fee onto one page for you.

New Boat Part 21

July 16, 2012

This will be a long post because while I have been writing and chronicling what has been going on in the boat shops, I have not been good about putting up posts. so now it is catch up time. First we needed to focus on the Friendship Sloop, getting her ready for the season. Then launching and rigging her and even getting in an occasional weekend cruise.

Friendship ready to move, picture taken early in June

Transport day June 10th

Then we had a little time to re-focus on the Penny Fee, we got to do some of the fun jobs. The rope fender, floorboards, rudder, and oars. I would have liked to have slowed down and tried to savor these jobs more, but then we never would have gotten the boat in the water this season.

The rope fender:

As described in an earlier post, we designed the outwale of the gunwale to have a groove or gutter running the length of the boat so that the rope that we are going to use as a fender will lie evenly along the edge of the boat. The fender is attached to the boat with stainless steel screws. The installation is fairly simple, the idea is to place a screw within the twist of the rope so that only the innermost strand is pierced by the screw and secures the rope to the outside of the gunwale. We started at the transom and worked along to the bow, around to the other side of the vessel and back to the transom again. At least that was the plan.

I had bought 36 feet of 1 1/8” rope, which should have been enough to do the job easily. I back spliced an end with almost no waste and started to attach the rope. I got most of the way down the starboard side and noticed that it looked like there was not enough rope. An optical illusion, I thought. To be safe, I felt I had better double check, I checked and found that there was not enough rope. Then I measured the rope and found that it was not 36 feet long, but 32. Oops.

Some desperate calls to Hamilton Marine, and we determined that whatever I had bought was a closeout and not a standard rope. Since they could not match it, the only plan was to replace it. They offered to do so free of charge and a new length of rope was on the way. The new rope arrived in 48 hours, and I have to say that the customer service at Hamilton Marine was excellent. I had found that to be true in the past, but when things go wrong it is always nice to find someone who is going to go out of the way to help you out. Anyway, removing the fender we had already installed took a lot of time and then the screw holes had to be filled. Still, in all the new rope went on fast (under two hours) and looks great.

Rope fender in place


We started the oars back in March, but we simply did not have a great deal of time to work on them until recently. All we did was to glue up spruce blanks that were oversized oars. Then we simply shaved the first one down until it was the shape and weight that we wanted. Once we did this it was only a question of whittling down the second oar to match the first.

One oar shaped and the other still in the rough

Matched pair

The oars are quite long (9 foot 6 inches), we decided to leave the loom of the oar above the oarlock position square in section to act as a bit of a counterbalance to the long outboard section of the oar. The oars will be painted to minimize the amount of maintenance that they will need each year. Varnish looks great, but is more of a challenge to maintain on oars.

Oars painted and waiting for their leathers


This is an area of the boat that we wanted to keep simple. 1”x4” pine boards were a relatively inexpensive option, we have been cutting and shaping them so that they lie on top of the floor-timbers and are fastened to cross-pieces of 5/4” pine with bronze screws, countersunk and bunged. The floorboards will get no sealer and will be allowed to weather naturally. The end result should meet our needs, were quick to assemble, and require little or no maintenance.


The centerboard pin:

A very important piece that sometimes gets overlooked in the rush to launch is the centerboard pin. In our case a piece of 3/8” bronze cut so that it is short. In other words, it is recessed about 3/8” from each side. This leaves plenty of pin to do the work, but it also leaves a space to squirt caulking goop. The goop is covered by a rubber gasket, and that is capped with a bronze plate that is held in place with four screws.

The hole for the pin, with the pin in place, the rubber gasket (red), and the bronze cap-plate

The goop has been squirted into the end of the hole with a caulking gun

Bronze cap in place

The Rudder:

The plans for the boat came with two options for the rudder. One was a traditional wooden rudder, and the other was for a kick-up rudder made of wooden parts. Unfortunately for us, neither of these designs will exactly meet our needs. We do need a kick up rudder, but we need something that will need less maintenance than the one provided in the blueprints. That design is also a bit more complicated than I would like, and requires some hardware that I was not sure I could find in the limited time I had before launching. So I set about pulling together a kick up rudder design of my own, one I could put together with some off-the-shelf hardware, and one where the lower section of the rudder (the kick up part) is made from a single plate of 1/4″ aluminum.

Design showing rudder down

Design showing rudder up

The rudder design is still not what I would call simple, but the dinghy dock is only in about two feet of water at low tide, and we intend this boat to take us ashore on rocky Maine islands, so a kick up rudder is necessary. The top section of the rudder is glued up from three pieces of plywood, the middle piece is slightly thicker than the aluminum plate. This middle piece of plywood is cut in such a way that it not only provides space for the aluminum bottom plate to pivot, but it also provides stops for the up and down position of the lower section of rudder. The weight of the aluminum  section of the rudder will keep it in the down position unless it strikes a submerged object, then the lower section can kick up. A manual line and jamb-cleat on the trailing edge of the rudder allows for locking the lower section of the rudder into the “up” position for extended periods, like when the boat is beached.

Bottom part of rudder with cardboard template.The aluminum was cut with a saws-all and a metal cutting blade. Then hand filed.

Finished rudder in down position

The launch:

Before we trailered the boat to the coast I wanted to launch her here at our local pond where all of the boats we have built have been launched. On a lovely summer evening we sprinkled some hard cider over the bows, slipped her off the trailer, and went for a row. I was too busy checking to make sure there were no problems, but there were not, and as I slowly relaxed, I realized that this was a delightful boat. Stable, she caries her way well, although she does make noise with those laps and a little chop.

The first launch

The next evening we brought the boat over to the sea by trailer, and launched her again, this time in salt water.

Sitting in salt water

The new tender

We need to use her more before we have any real idea what her performance will be like. We will tow her with us to the Friendship Sloop Gathering in Rockland this week, and we will find out how well she tows, then I need to finish the mast, sprit, and sail. Can’t wait to get a sail on her.

If you would like to read all the posts related to this project together, go to the category at the right called “Penny Fee” and click on it. It will pull all the posts on the penny fee onto one page for you.

New Boat Part 20

May 4, 2012

The hull is done….

Basically we have a little more varnish to do on the transom and we need to seat the centerboard and pivot pin and install the rope fender. For now though we need to shift gears to the Friendship sloop. We have been going over the rigging and the blocks and will soon start the yearly varnishing and painting. When that is done we will return to the Penny Fee. At that point we will be working mostly on accessories.

The finished hull. Look carefully and you will see standing rigging for the Friendship sloop hanging around the shop as we mend the service, redo the blacking and, and overhaul leathering.

Blocks for the Friendship getting an overhaul.

It will then be time to go to work on the oars, rudder, finish the centerboard, make up floorboards, attach hardware, look at making up some spars and a sail.

Gee other than that we are done.

In the meantime, here are some pictures of the finished hull all painted and nearly ready for those last touches and accessories.

If you would like to read all the posts related to this project together, go to the category at the right called “Penny Fee” and click on it. It will pull all the posts on the penny fee onto one page for you.

New Boat Part 19

April 24, 2012

More painting and the foredeck

With the benches in and the hanging knees in, the main job was painting.  Working in two shifts, we managed to get three topcoats of paint on the entire interior over a week. Each day I would go to the shop early and either do some painting, or more often some prep-work. Then, in the evening after work, we would paint for an hour or so.

Two other projects were going on at the same time; I have been trying to get the centerboard finished up, and getting the foredeck finished.  The foredeck was a design change of my own and was based, originally on three factors. The first factor is that I don’t like and never have liked open bows. The “V” shaped bow area of a small boat is a place where ankles get twisted and people lose their balance; a foredeck largely eliminates this factor. The second factor is quite simply that we want to have storage space and the space below the foredeck will meet this need. The third factor was that when we started this boat, our ship’s wolf, Saxon, was having more difficulty getting from the dinghy to the deck of the Friendship. The foredeck was intended to give her more height and a better, more stable place to stand and jump for the boat. Since she passed away, this factor no longer applies, but it was an important element, when we were making our original design choices.

The foredeck will be installed as one panel, and creating that one panel by laminating pieces together and then shaping it so that it fits snugly where it will be installed has taken a lot of time and head scratching. With any luck I will make the last adjustments and prime it over the next few days.

Dry-fitting the foredeck

The centerboard has been difficult only because of the many coats of epoxy, 4oz fiberglass cloth on the leading edge, and subsequent paint. It is just one of the projects that to date has had eight gluing sessions, three paint sessions, and will have six more paint sessions before it is complete, and the end result will just be a single piece that has a hole in it on which to pivot. It gets more complicated because after four fittings to make sure that the centerboard fit correctly when I went to check it a fifth time, it did not fit. The combination of layers of paint, epoxy and fiberglass has added enough thickness to cause the centerboard to jam. So, I have had to start sanding and removing layers and veneers on the centerboard, and then we will have to start the painting again.

Despite this annoying delay, the painting continues and the foredeck will get glued in this week with the caps for the centerboard well. At this point in the project, it is hard not to work on it. A few minutes spent looking at and enjoying what we have created makes me want to pick up a tool or brush and do just a little bit more, and then a little bit more, and perhaps just this little bit more….

I think this shot and the next show off the shape of the boat well

Just a little more work…

If you would like to read all the posts related to this project together, go to the category at the right called “Penny Fee” and click on it. It will pull all the posts on the penny fee onto one page for you.

New Boat Part 18

April 16, 2012

Lots of painting…and putting the interior back together.

With centerboard trunk installed and the benches cut and fitted, it was time to take the benches back out of the boat and begin the laborious process of prepping the interior of the Penny Fee for paint. This is another one of those jobs totally lacking in any form of glamor. For example one job consisted of mixing thickened epoxy and pouring it into the low points of the laps where they intersect with the floor timbers. The purpose of this is that water coming into the boat, when it rains for example, will drain to the bilge so that it can be pumped out more easily and will not pool in a dozen places. It sounds easy enough, but the boat needs to be even on her waterline and the exact right amount of epoxy needs to be mixed and poured in each space or there are overflow problems. The long and short of this is that it takes a lot of time.

With the low spots filled and the benches removed the interior sanding could be started. Basically the less said about this job the better, except to say that it needs to be done before the primer can be applied. Equally important and uninteresting is the cleaning and vacuuming of the interior. Anyway with all this prep work done it was time to start the priming of the interior.

Priming the interior

The good and bad of the priming is that now you can really see how good (or bad) a job you did with the prep work. As I applied the primer, I became less and less resentful of all that prep-work. While not perfect, the end result was smooth and easy on the eye, and will make the application of topcoats of paint easier.

While the primer was drying we started on the base coats of varnish on the interior of the transom (the only part of the boat that is varnished). And we started in on the sheer strake. The sheer strake is a bottle green. The paint scheme is designed to match that of our Friendship sloop, which has bottle green bulwarks.

Sheer strake painted

Once the primer had cured we started on the top-coats of paint on the interior sections of the boat that would be easier to paint with the benches removed.  This is particularly true for the interior of the fwd and aft storage compartments.

Finish coats applied to the bilges and storage compartment interiors

Now that we have two coats of primer and three coats of paint on the bilges, the interior storage compartments and the underside of the benches, it is time to glue the benches into their final positions.

Dryfitting the benches before gluing

The actual gluing is not that big a deal, but we had needed to make up the hanging knees for the benches as well. I had already ripped white oak strips and steamed them to the correct curves. We glued these up and had our hanging knees ready to go.  You can see the steam bent curves of white oak here.

After laminating, we will cut two hanging knees out of each of the curves of wood.

We got so involved with the gluing in of the benches and the hanging knees, that I never got any pictures of us installing them. Perhaps just as well not to get the camera coated with epoxy. Anyway you can see one of the knees glued into place here.

With benches and the hanging knees glued into the boat, we changed gears a bit. We still need to install the foredeck, but have put that off in order to continue on with the painting. The only reason that we have done this is that I am getting antsy about wanting to get to work on the annual chores on the Friendship sloop, if we can get enough painting done this week, I can turn my back on the Penny Fee for a bit, work on the Friendship, and know that the worst of the painting on the Penny Fee is over with.  I emphasize the “worst” of the painting because I have been dreading the painting of the gunwales with the spaces between the inner and outer wales and the attendant difficulties of painting them without creating many many drips and runs in the paint.

We got the two coats of primer on the rest of the boat (including the gunwales), and will try to get to at least one finish coat before we break from this project. On the whole, we have made a lot of progress in the last six weeks, and I am now much more confident that we will be able to launch and get some use out of this lovely boat this summer. Whew…

Interior primed and ready for finish coats

If you would like to read all the posts related to this project together, go to the category at the right called “Penny Fee” and click on it. It will pull all the posts on the penny fee onto one page for you.


New Boat Part 17

April 6, 2012

Centerboard trunk and more on the interior details.

In our last exciting episode we were struggling with seat supports and gearing up for multiple coats of paint on the interior surfaces of the centerboard trunk. Since then we gave the interior of the centerboard trunk two coats of epoxy-paint-primer, three coats of topcoat, and three coats of antifouling paint. While we were painting we primed the sheer strake and the outwale of the boat and got the exterior of the boat ready for its final coats of paint.

Two halves of the centerboard trunk in foreground and the Penny Fee in the background


While paint drying we started to fit the blocking for the oarlocks. We had bought the actual oarlocks a year ago on sale, and now it was time fit them into the gunwales. Once they have been fitted we will leave them in place right up until the interior painting of the boat. They will be removed for this step and then will be bedded in marine bedding compound and permanently installed.

Blocking for oarlocks

Oarlock in place

With interior of the trunk painted we glued the two halves together and got the trunk ready for installation. The centerboard trunk, as is always the case in small boats of this nature, has taken a lot of time and work to complete, but this is also the part of the boat that is most likely to cause problems if it is not completed carefully.

Centerboard trunk glued together

Because of the placement of one of the floor timbers cut into the aft end of the centerboard trunk, and because the base of the trunk is the same width as the keelson, the alignment of the trunk during installation is easy. What is not easy is dealing with the squeeze-out of epoxy inside the trunk as it is secured. You see, you need to be able to get under the boat and reach up inside the centerboard slot to clean this out, and you can’t do that while the boat is sitting on the boat table. However,  when I decided to go with the table method of building the boat,  was aware that this issue would arise and my plan has to do with the fact that the tabletop is made using two pieces of plywood. The plan was to unscrew the two pieces from the frame and separate them leaving a space big enough to get under the boat and reach up and clean off the squeeze-out in the centerboard slot. This method worked pretty well and the process of shifting the boat made me again appreciate the lightness of the vessel.

Opening in the boat table

With centerboard trunk in place, we continued to work on the interior of the boat. The forward bulkhead with the framed opening for the hatch that will eventually go there was glued into place. We also measured out and cut the two seats that run crosswise in the boat. These were fairly easy projects.

Centerboard trunk in place

Rowing benches and fwd bulkhead

More difficult was the layout for the aft benches. The primary difficulty lay in trying to lay out the pieces of the aft benches so that we could get all of the pieces out of the Spanish Cedar bought for the purpose and not have a lot of waste or have to try and find more.

Starting on the aft benches

While the benches were being fitted I was also making adjustments to where the mast step and mast partners were located.

The Penny Fee plans come with an extraordinary number of options for the rig; lug sloop, lug yawl, gaff rig, gaff yawl—just not the rig we are looking for. All of these rigs have advantages. They are all beautiful, to my eye anyway, and I am sure they all sail well. They are, however, all more complicated than what we are looking for in a sailing launch for our Friendship Sloop.  What we want is something that we can set and strike with as little fuss as possible, has minimal spars, and those spars need to fit comfortably into the boat. After much thought (nearly two years) we have opted to go with our original instincts and chose the sprit rig.

The reasons for this are multiple and are rooted in simplicity. First, we have a loose-footed main. No boom means that the sail can be brailed up against the mast and the boat can be rowed without the need to strike the mast and sail. Second we get away with a mast and sprit that are the same length and shorter than the mast for the lug rig. Third, the sail area and shape of the sprit-sail is almost identical to the lug sloop rig which should result in very little change in performance. The center of effort of the sail is a little bit lower which should make the boat a little stiffer. The center of effort is also a few inches farther forward than on the lug sloop, we will correct for this by slightly adjusting the position of the mast step and partners. If you look at the drawings below; the first one is the lug sloop as drawn as part of the boat plans we bought. The second drawing shows the modification to the sprit rig. You can see yourself the differences and similarities.

Sail plan for the Penny Fee as a lug sloop

Our plan for the sprit rig for the Penny Fee

In essence we have changed little about sail area and placement, but have reduced the number of spars by one and the length of the remaining spars by at least a foot. Lastly, we have chosen a rig that has only three pieces of rigging, a sheet, a halyard, and a line called a snotter. Awesome.

If you would like to read all the posts related to this project together, go to the category at the right called “Penny Fee” and click on it. It will pull all the posts on the penny fee onto one page for you.

New Boat Part 16

March 27, 2012

March seems to be the month for getting things done on our Penny Fee project; at least it was last year and is looking to be the case this year as well.

After making the cardboard templates for the bulkheads we went on to make the bulkheads themselves out of the left over marine grade plywood from the planks. Using the same basic method utilizing cardboard templates, we started in on the floor timbers. We glued in the first three floor timbers over the weekend.

Aft bulkhead glued into place

Fitting the floor timbers in the boat

Next we started in on the centerboard trunk. Mostly this consisted of making up the individual parts of the centerboard trunk and gluing them together to make the two halves of the trunk. We will not glue the two halves together until the interior surfaces of the trunk have been painted. We had finished coating the centerboard with epoxy, and before getting too far along on the centerboard trunk, we did a dry-fit to make sure centerboard and trunk were going to fit together properly.

One aspect of the centerboard and trunk that I wanted to elaborate on is the pivot pin for the centerboard. The actual pin arrangement is not made as clear as I would like in the drawings. It seems to call for a tube that is set though the trunk of the centerboard and centerboard as well that has a bronze pin inside it. I have a lot of experience reading blueprints, but could not make sense out of the drawing. My concern with the pivot pin is that since it is below waterline, this is a potential place for water to seep into the wood of the centerboard, or the wood of the trunk.

I finally decided that what I would do is to make a sort of epoxy bushing for the 38” bronze pin. The pin will be cut a little short, and either end of the hole for the pin will be filled with Boat-Life polysulfide, before we cover the ends of the holes with the “squishy rubber” gasket and plate that the design calls for. What we did was to bore out a 1” hole where the 3/8” bronze pin would go in the centerboard and in the two trunk sides.

Next we coated the sides of the holes with raw epoxy. Then we filled the hole with the thickened epoxy mix and let it set. We put waxed paper under the hole so that the glue does not attach the piece of the boat to the surface that it rests on. When the glue is dry the waxed paper pulls right off. Waxed paper is one of the materials that we use a lot of that you might not think is typical for a boat shop.

When the epoxy had set we drilled out the 3/8” holes for the bronze pin, and there you have it; epoxy bushings that seal the marine environment out while providing a stable and tough surface for the pin to pivot on.

You can see the first couple of steps in the process on the centerboard itself here.

We now need to paint the interior surfaces of the centerboard well before we glue the two halves together, otherwise we would have to paint the interior with some sort of narrow roller on a stick arrangement, and we may have to do subsequent paint coats this way, but while we can paint these surfaces easily and well, it seemed like a good time to take this on.

While all this was going on, we also started in on the oars, or I should say we started in on the first set of the oars. Eventually we expect to have two sets of oars, but for now we want to try out one pair before committing to a second set. The oars will be 9’ 6 ¼” long. We contemplated spoon bladed oars, but they would require additional time that we don’t have right now, and are not in keeping with the work-boat function that we are striving for, so regular oars will do. We are using kiln-dried spruce to make the oars light and inexpensive. I should say that although the plans are very detailed for the Penny Fee, and although just about every spar combination has been meticulously drawn out, there are no notes for oars. There are a number of formulas for calculating oar size. The simplest is to make the oar just a little shorter than twice the beam of the boat.

Starting to glue up the blades of the oar blanks

Adding thickness to the looms of the oar blanks

Oar blanks ready to start the rough shaping

If you are looking for a more specific formula I can recommend the Shaw and Tenney website. It gives a much more complicated formula that involves measuring the beam of the boat in inches, dividing that number by two, take the result and add two inches, divide the result by seven, then take that result and multiply by twenty five to get the final length in inches. The end result is an oar that is—wait for it—just shy of twice the beam of the boat. However, if you are afraid of making a mistake go to their site, check it out and do the math. They make a fantastic oar and they know what they are doing, we are making our own because we can save money that way. I calculate that what we will have spent in materials to make a pair of oars, including paint and epoxy will amount to about $35 a pair.

Seat supports. The other project that we have been working on are the seat supports that are glued into the insides of the hull to support the outboard ends of the seats. Cutting and fitting these pieces took more time than I would like because they are a complex shape and curve in two planes to match the inside surfaces of the hull. Having said that, I can also say that the plans make very good use of the interior laps to locate the correct placement and to facilitate the gluing of these pieces into place. Even so it was a challenge.

Gluing in seat supports

You can see the seat supports and aft bulkhead in place here

The next week will see the multiple coats of paint on the interior of the centerboard trunk, continued placement of the seat supports and we need to place the socket for the heel of the mast soon. Stay tuned….

If you would like to read all the posts related to this project together, go to the category at the right called “Penny Fee” and click on it. It will pull all the posts on the penny fee onto one page for you.