Friday, November 11, 2022


 Wow, long time no post, but we've been frankly exhausting ourselves with this project.  Lemmessee, where did we leave off?

We finally got done with the damned Epoxy.

After a lot of trial and error and cursing and everything we own either being sticky or ossified, we finally completed epoxy on the hull.  The seams, as aforesaid, are done in 6 oz tape, which is doubled on the leading edges to help protect them.  The whole hull up the to gunwale is covered in 4 1/2 oz biaxial cloth, and then two coats of epoxy over the whole surface.

The squeegee proved a much better tool for applying epoxy than a roller or brush.

While still slightly tacky, we applied the bottom paint (Interlux ablative) to make a chemical bond.

So glad to see the bottom paint go on.

AAAAAAND we messed up.  By the time we finished the hull, some parts had fully cured and the bottom paint crazed off.  We were forced to do a bit of scraping and sanding on those parts that didn't fully adhere and then to recoat.

Finally, though, we got a double coat of decent antifouling paint, and then gave it a couple of days to cure.

Now we come to the scary part:  Turning over the boat hull.  I frankly had no idea how this would go, I just knew we would need a lot of hands.  Kyle at the Marina floated using the sling lift or fork lift, but at this stage the boat had no internal structure, so I was more than a bit leery of that.   We managed to assemble five people and tried to lift the thing.  We did, but it was far to heavy to be safe (I'm figuring that, by this point, the hull is around 8-900 lbs).  We sent out scouts and managed to get our number of helpers to nine, picked up the beast, moved it over ten feet, then set it on it's starboard side, and gingerly walked the thing down onto some 2x4s.

I wish I had more pix of that, but all hands were . . .well. . .more than somewhat occupied.  Many, many thanks, though to those who pitched in.

The hull was surprisingly solid when we turned it, no creaks or groans.  It didn't seem to flex at all.

Then we covered the thing and hid from the rain for two days.  The cover leaked.  The thing was a swimming pool, but at least it held water.  We used a wet/dry vac to suck the water out, swabbed the inside, and let the sun dry her out.

Sole going in.
We now began putting in the sole, inslulating between it and the hull with Reflectrix (it's a kind of silvered bubble wrap), and putting spacers along the chine to support the flooring.
Foiled again.
Having gotten all that done, we began contemplating getting the walls up.

I would be more badass if everything didn't hurt by this point.

The walls are 2" foam, framed in 2x3, caulked and screwed into place, and will be coated on the outside with an elastomeric coating and inside with an exterior latex.  The foam sheets are spendy (about $52 each) but when you combine the light weight and insulative properties, they actually are a bit of a bargain.

Foam sweet foam.

Meanwhile, gail started insulating the side walls.

One of the problems with building like this (that being, in an open field with no strongback) aside from rain and wind is that it's really hard to keep things squared.  As I said with the original Floating Empire, "Welcome to the Temple of Accumulated Error" (with apologies to Domebook II, if memory serves).

The framed foam walls are light and surprisingly strong.

Roughed (and I mean roughed) into place.

The framed walls (4' 3") will give us 6' 4" over the sole of headroom.

Closing in.  As we're using membrane foor the roof like the original Floating Empire, the roof structure is just simple sheathing.

With doors and everything.  Things coming together more quickly now.

Wave, Gail.

Excuse the blurry fisheye, but once the interior is enclosed, we now have a place to store tools and materials that isn't the back of my freaking car.  As a live-abord, our cars already look like a homeless person lives in them.  White box to the left is the water tank, ready to go under the stern deck.

And here we are thus far, ready for paint and for the roof to go on.  

So here we are thus far.  It's raining off and on all day, but tomorrow we'll finish the forward hatch and get the actual roofing on, then it's on to finish the interior, the galley, and the paint work.

We both agree that this project has been good for the both of us, both physically and emotionally.  During the building of the original Floating Empire, I lost nearly 35 pounds just from the effort, and that seems to be happening again, so if you want a great excuse to build a boat, just convince your spouse that you need to lose weight.

More shortly, stay tuned.


Tuesday, October 11, 2022

Freakin' Epoxy


I really hate this stuff
We had a few days of decent weather and decent temperatures so we knocked out more of the glass work.  May I say again parenthetically that I despise fiberglassing things.  I debated doing it on this project and was finally convinced to, but I'm not at all sure of the decision.  We finished the entire bottom of the hull, covering it with 4.5 oz cloth and epoxy and also covering the bow and stern.  Tomorrow we'll do the sides, then sand--which will be miserable and prickly--then do an overall epoxy coat prior to painting.


Still, the boat proceeds, if a bit set back by six days of rain and wind.  I'm hoping to get the beast painted and turned by midweek next week and then knock out the enclosure as quickly as possible.

After beating ourselves up sticking down fiberglass cloth yesterday, we went up to Carson's Creek for a libation and come calimari.  I kinda figured we needed a break.  So tomorrow we'll dig into it as quickly as we can (I'm trying to wait till the temperature tops 61F to work with the epoxy).  Rain Thursday, and apparently rather heavy, so at least we'll get an enforced day off this week.

Stay tuned.


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.