Friday, September 30, 2022

aaaaaand, there's a hurricane.

 So here we sit in the rain, with Hurricane Ian having just clobbered Florida and the rain headed our way.  We've covered up everything we can cover and will just have to sit tight for the next three or so days until the rain passes.


Ah well, ten years ago when we built Floating Empire (Go back to the very beginning of this blog if you wanna see that.) we went through the same thing, stymied by rain and wind until we finally got the boat closed in and could work inside.

It's the process.

Fortunately, there is wine.


Wednesday, September 28, 2022

The discrete charm of fiberglassing

 . . .or:  Why is everything sticky?

Yesterday we started--finally--fiberglassing the seams on the hull.  It actually went pretty well.

This was tiring, but actually went pretty well.

We're using a marine epoxy from the Epoxy Resin Store on Amazon, available here.  We chose this particular one because it's UV stable, reasonably priced, and doesn't produce and amine blush when setting.  So far, so good.  It gives a reasonable amount of working time before kicking, and the surface when cured is really hard.  

While I'm on the subject, do you know this thingie:

You need this.

This little watzis is for rolling out bubbles in the fiberglass/epoxy without sticking to it.  I asked a slipmate who does a lot of epoxy work if I really needed it.  "Trust me" he said, and he was right.  Makes things a whole lot easier.

So we're steaming along with the build.  Unfortunately we're gonna get an enforced break this weekend due to fallout from Hurricane Ian, but I'll use the time to put together the second wood order for after we turn the hull.

The sand and fill stuff took waaaaay longer than I wanted.  Be careful in your carpentry folks.

Sunday, September 25, 2022

Scary day

 I really wish I had gotten you guys pictures, but I was too busy having a heart attack.  In the midst of the build, the Marina--which has been lovely with us btw--comes to us and says "we're shifting boats around and we need to move your hull."  My face must've dropped, because that was followed up with "Is that a problem?"

See, here's the thing.  The hull is, of course, currently inverted getting prepped for fiberglass.  There is virtually no internal bracing at this point, and won't be until we flip her.  So the idea of putting the hull in a sling is kinda scary.  I had all sorts of images in my mind of the sides simply collapsing.

At this point, it's just a big box.

So with me gnawing my fingers, they put the hull in the sling and moved the thing a dozen yards or so to a new location.  It flexed.  I could see it flexing.  But in the end everything was fine, and the new location is frankly easier to work with.

So today is more sanding and filling, and hopefully tomorrow we'll be able to tape the seams, then fiberglass the entire hull the day after.

We make progress.

Stay tuned


Wednesday, September 21, 2022

Fill and Sand and Tabbycat.

 It always amazes me how inconstant these builds are.  Some days, you're handling large pieces of wood and they go together into large structures and you go "Wow, we got a lot done today."  Other days your working your ass off on the little niggly bits and you end the day wondering if you've done anything at all.  Both of course, are work that needs to be done.  One of them is just hard to see except for your splinters, the other can be seen from space.  Carry on.

Today we began sanding and filling in the gaps in preparation for what we hope will be fiberglassing this weekend (Wednesday at the moment).  I've tried Six10 from West Systems for the first time.  It's a two part epoxy fill and adhesive in a single cauking gun tube with a mixing nib.  It works rather well, fills stuff easily and looks handy, but as a colleague warned me, it doesn't cover a huge amount of stuff and the pressure needed to squeeze the stuff out is substantial.  Still, it's great for small cracks and crevasses and has the lovely addition that you don't freaking have to mix ANYTHING.

Gail basically wore her hands numb running a sanding disk to correct from my lousy carpentry, some lousy wood, and stuff.  I remember a wonderful line in "Domebook II" many decades ago in which a geodesic dome builder greeted his friends with "Welcome to the temple of accumulated error."

Yeah, it's like that.  Fortunately I'm GREAT at fudging.

Using West System Six10 epoxy filler.  Takes some doing but works well.

Sand, sand, sand. . .you're not done until you can no longer feel your hands.

Tabbycat. . . Ob Cit
So tomorrow we're taking off.  It's supposed to rain off and on all day, laundry is becoming a desperate need, and, to be honest, my screaming back muscles are demanding a break.  The next day, Friday, we hope to get the hull prepped for fiberglass.  I've never really done fiberglass.  Stay tuned for comedy of errors.


Tuesday, September 20, 2022

Sheathed in

 Well, today at long last we finished sheathing in the hull with plywood.  Due to a combination of lousy wood, warpage, and my generally horrible carpentry, it was a bit of a fight.  We wound up using a spanish windlass to ameliorate a spiral warp that developed in the gunnel 2X4, but we made it work.  (great little improvized tool, by the way, if you don't know it.)

Finally closed in, and LOTS more stable.

So tomorrow we begin sanding and filling in the gaps with epoxy resin and thickener.  Thursday, there is supposed to be rain.  On the weekend, though, we should get to applying the epoxy and glass.  Wish us luck.


Monday, September 19, 2022

By the way. . .

 The boat has told us her name.  Her name is "Dragonfly," because she'll flit lightly across the water.  Just thought you'd like to know.


Missed it by that much. . .

 Well, I almost called the initial wood order right.  I forgot that I had to use some of the 2X4's as cribbing, so today I'm back off to Lowes for more wood. . .also more screws, didn't count that right either apparently.

Ah well, it's scheduled to be beastly hot here today, and frankly we got a bit overcooked yesterday, so a bit of a short work day isn't out of order.  

We're doing this build in two segments:  The first is the hull itself, through fiberglass and paint, and then, after we flip her over, the topsides.  I could have done a single wood and foam order, but I frankly didn't want all my supplies sitting exposed here in the marina while I finished the hull.

We're watching the weather closely, but it looks like we can have the fiberglass work done by the end of the coming weekend.

More pix shortly, so stay tuned.


Sunday, September 18, 2022


 We began sheathing the hull today, using tightbond III glue and decking screws.

A whole LOT of decking screws.  Guess who's going to Lowes tomorrow to get some more.

Everything takes longer than you think.

We're countersinking the screws and will be filling all of them in prior to fiberglassing.

More shortly.


Saturday, September 17, 2022

The hull truth and nothing but the truth

 Today with a lot of cursing and sweating, we got the sides upright and got the stringers--most of them, anyway--screwed and glued into position.

framing the side

Levelling the beast was amazingly simpler than I'd anticipated.  A couple of plywood scraps under the blocks and we were home free.

Beginning to look quite a bit more boat-like.

With any of these structures there's this weird point where your wanky carpentry suddenly goes from wobbly to rock solid.  I can never anticipate where that moment is, but I'm always gratified to see it.  In this build, it was about the fifth stringer in when the boat stopped swaying while we were working on it.

I was also pleased to discover that--the gods knoweth how--the thing is a uniform 8 feet all the way down the hull.  I knew sacrificing that chicken was a good idea.  Ha!  And you all laughed!

Tomorrow, naproxin willing, we will begin to actually sheath the hull.  That will be immensely satisfying.

More later.  I've a chilled bottle of Verdejo awaiting me.


Friday, September 16, 2022

framing in the sides

 Spent the morning yesterday finishing in the framing of the pieces which will become the sides of the boat, that and correcting some of my more lamentable carpentry.

I'm honestly NOT forcing my wife to do all the work, I'm just the only one that carries a cell phone.

We'll finish screwing in the blocks and braces today and tidy up the work site so we have some room to actually assemble the hull.

When we built 'Floating Empire' we would work ourselves sick, and we're trying to be a bit more sensible about that this time.  The rule is: once you get tired enough to start making stupid mistakes, it's time to knock it off.

Progress will look a lot more boatlike from here on in so stay tuned.


Tuesday, September 13, 2022


 Today we finished notching the chines (24' or 2"x8") and sistered the beasts.

The plywood under is just to provide us with some semblence of a level work surface.

This is the sister/butt block joining the two halves of the chine.  No, no, that's the wife, the sister is the wood thing.

It amazes me how the boat always goes from small to huge to small as you build the thing.

Tomorrow the joined chines will be attached to the ply siding and the sides framed in, getting ready to add the bottom, at which point this will look a whole lot more boatlike.....or in this case, barge like.

Everything hurts.

Stay tuned.


Sunday, September 11, 2022


 We actually began construction on the new shantyboat yesterday, measuring and notching the chine logs only to have my jigsaw die on us.

This is $800 bucks worth of wood?  At least the marina is providing us a nice space to build.

Marking the chines for notching.  Hull is, of course, being built upside down.

and then my 10 year old jigaw died.

Now, of course, it's pouring down rain.  Seems to me we had he same weather problems building 'Floating Empire' ten years ago. . . 

. . . .has it been that long?  Jeez.

So as soon as the weather clears, we're back at it.  Progress is always so slow at first, but I'm hoping this will come together pretty quickly.

Stay Tuned.