Don’t want the fire-hosing!

When you see the videos from the Volvo Ocean Race boats bashing through big waves at 25kts, the alarming thing to me is the blasting of water that often hits the exposed driver, not to mention anyone else who happens to be on deck. Not that we expect to be that extreme, but this should be a relatively fast boat and there will be days of choppy water and cold temps. Simply put, we need a good windshield.

This project is a custom job (not in the designer’s plans). I’m making it in removable sections so we keep the trucking height down, and have options for a more open air cockpit here in SF bay. Here’s the first step, laying out three big forward windows via base framing.



Tomorrow we’ll fill in the big gap from these new frames down to the sloping-away coaming, and start on the forward edge of the frame. Building it right on the boat seemed faster then mocking it all up on the workbench with repeated up and downs.

Meanwhile, the beam bottom sides were finished and Sunday afternoon Griffin helped me get two of them up in position for fairing the tops. Unfortunately it looks like the wave-deflector framing mold had about a quarter inch miss in two of the nine forms. That showed up today as shallow depressions on the front slopes of the finished beams. So we’ll have a few ounces of wasted weight added with some extra foam and another light glass layer over the fill-in areas. And of course chalk up another couple of hours in the re-do column. (Keep the saw exactly on line next time).


Fair thee well

Lots of boat builders complain about the “fairing” work. This is the part where all the imperfections of roughing-in construction have to be smoothed out to get a perfect finish. In a factory setting, great care is taken to “fair” the finish inside a mold where new parts like a boat deck will be made repeatedly. In a one-off custom build, I have to do the same work, but it’s done on each part as we go. The 4 big beams looked pretty ugly before fairing began – the courseness of overlapping heavy 17oz fiberglass fabric, and some struggles with smoothly seaming the compound curves of the front splash diverters, etc all add up to lots of fairing work. Everyone advises to put time in to smoothing out the core surfaces before laying final glass layers; there were a few places I didn’t do that enough, and I’m paying for it now with extra fairing work.


Figured it made sense to start on the BOTTOMS where no one but the fish and curious kayaker will see – a good place to learn this skill. Of course the shop is now a big mess with little room to move. Time wise it’s good to have them all going because there are long intervals where the fairing compound has to harden before the next sanding.

Here’s one at the beginning; white compound is spread on with a notched trowel, then sanded back with a longboard to find level/even planes. The dark red sander is our first air compressor driven tool – an 18″ long sander for auto body shops; works well for this too.


And here’s one farther along, pretty close to final sanding…


The bottom sides should be all done by Friday night, and this weekend we’ll reconfigure the shop to work the top sides hopefully all at once and get this dreaded task completed. During drying/curing times I’ve been climbing up on the main boat, designing the windshield and hard dodger setup. It all has to be remove able for transport, so this is pretty fun freehand fabrication. Photos to come once we get past the cardboard practice stage :)

And a quick congrats to Rick Waltonsmith on recent upgrades to Corsair 37 Transit of Venus as he gets her ready for the Pacific Cup race to Hawaii this summer. Yesterday we watched as Swensunds yard put her back in the water after a nice bottom job. Just to be clear, our boat won’t fold up like that – we’d have to take the beams completely off to make things trailer ready. Anyway, it was a great afternoon sailing TOV on the Estuary, testing out her big Code Zero and carbon main. She’s all rigged up to GO FAST!



(Ted, Rick and Jim, note the yellow lifting straps – exactly the same thing as we did on Origami in Sausalito, only with much bigger shackles!)

Goodbye Golden Gate (transit, that is)


That my friends is the 72 pulling up the last time for the 65 mile ride SF to Santa Rosa. All those commuting hours sure cut in to the boat work time :). But now it’s Monday morning, day 1 of full time building – very exciting indeed!

Met up with Cal in the Strawberry Village parking lot to exchange a wad of 100’s for the military surplus diesel furnace kit. This was supposed to be installed in a large Abrams troop transport vehicle, but supply was greater than demand. “Craigslist Cal” speculated on a pallet of 4 kits, and had enough proof that I’m convinced it is not nefariously obtained.


This is hydronic heating, meaning that the small diesel fed furnace will tap in to the main engine fuel tank to heat the same radiator fluid system as the engine. Pipes will run this hot fluid through a water heater tank (for sink and shower) and through hot air radiators with fans on them. That hot air will be ducted through large tubes just like a household furnace.


This is the Espar D10 model, intended for buses and boats up to about 49′. Since this unit was kitted out for a truck, I have to order some different exhaust parts and other marine tidbits. But overall well worth the effort as I saw these at the boat show with installed prices of about $5k. We’ll get this all done at about a third that much. And having a heater a little too big sounds just fine for the Gulf of the Farralones or a few weeks on the Irish coast, right?

Time for the shop now, back to beam fairing. And if I get mad at the boss today, I’ll have to look in the mirror – it’s a whole new ball game.

That’s a wrap!

Literally and figuratively.
The beam fairings are getting their final fiberglass skins to tie in to the beam boxes. This is the last big step of the overall beam builds work – straightforward and repetitive including lots of ‘filling and fairing’ rounds to smooth out the surfaces for painting. The beams are each well over 100lbs now, so turning them and moving around the shop is a pain (especially when one got away and rolled over on my foot – that bruising ended an evenings work!)


But the big “wrap” is saying goodbye this Friday to my dear colleagues at Ryan/Epsilon. I’ve hit the 30 year mark in corporate marketing, and realized this boat needs a full time builder to get her launched in 2014. So, welcome to the new blog followers who are kinda pissed at me for leaving the San Fran office but are happy to have reserved themselves crew positions aboard 005 :). Let’s just say things are really going to heat up in the boat shop now and we’ll all start seeing more interesting progress reports.

Found a source of military surplus diesel-fired hydronic furnaces. With a wad of cash tonight I’ll inspect and hopefully purchase a ‘new old stock’ Espar unit that was intended for a US troop transport in Arctic service. Supposedly someone made up a dozen or so too many kits… Stay tuned