“And a star to steer her by…”

Well, first we need steering, and that starts with a rudder. The thickest section of the rudder is 2 1/4″, so we bought full sheets of 1″ and 1 1/4″ foam core. This is more than enough for two rudders, so we’ll cut out materials for a second rudder along the way of building the primary. This occurred to me while attending the Singlehanded Sailing Society lecture on emergency steering requirements for the TransPac race to Hawaii; gotta have a backup steering plan for offshore races, and most boats depart with emergency rudders that put the boat in to ‘limp home’ mode, meaning they are smaller and usually weaker than the main rudder. But we can make a second rudder that can do the dual duty of replacing the damaged first rudder in the original cassette, or being partially inserted into a backup cassette. Need to think more about that backup – with only a few F39s sailing, I’m not aware of anyone having worked this out yet.

Work started with big thanks to shop-neighbor Michael Metela Woodworking for the 16 3/4″ rips on his perfect-straight huge table saw. Then we glued and vacuumed the panels together for two 2 1/4″ rudder cores.

IMG_0728 One piece was set aside for working after the boat is launched, and the primary was cut out roughly with a jigsaw and shur-formed to the right shape. This thing is BIG – about six and a half feet tall. In this photo, note that it will ride about a foot and half lower than the floor height allows here. It will also be angled so the bottom tip leans forward of the pivot pins, helping to balance out the helm feel.

IMG_0757Tonight will drift off to sleep thinking about how best to start the shaping of the rudder core. That began with making the profile shape templates, copied from the plans. The manilla pieces will be traced on to wood (MDF probably) and made in to female shaping guides. Gross amounts of the foam will be removed with the Makita power planer (hand held), then the fine work with the shur-foam and sander. Figuring here it’s best to shape the whole thing, then go back and cut out the sections that need to be replaced with the high density foam inserts. You’ll see that developing in the next post.

IMG_0760There are a number of steps before wrapping the rudder in its finish fabric, but it was quite luxurious to open up the carbon fiber double-bias fabric today. Spun black gold was the first impression (which coincides with the credit card bill).  Pretty stuff, but as an ocean going boat, this beautiful material will get covered up under high quality paint. Oh well.


Does it come with a moonroof?

The UPS truck brought goodies today, thanks to the clearance rack at Defender.com – saved many 100s on this order :)

To further brighten up the main salon, here’s a healthy sized (14″x20″) ceiling hatch. Should make for nice stargazing on cool nights. Vetus brand looks really well made, with the satin finish to match the big Lewmar one over the fore-cabin.


The Plastimo Offshore compass is new but since the white dial doesn’t sell well, they reduced it from 225 to 80. SOLD! And will mount nicely in the cockpit.

Also picked up two dorades for continuous ventilation. In the first photo the base is open – look near the black ring at the bottom…


That base is spring-loaded, so if water gets in the round tray gets heavy and plunges down to shut off the whole thing. See the difference in this photo:


Back to the beams, two have been finished in fairing work and the other two get a big push over the next couple of days. To better handle the uneven face gap from the form frames mentioned a month ago, this time we’ve tried some 2mm “core mat” which worked really well to add some very light weight bulk, and then a thin layer of finish fiberglass.

Nice to find the products to help amend minor lapses in finish work!

Do a little jig

Well, not exactly dancing in the workshop, but we did make a drilling jig today and got very nice results with the net lashing points on the beam edges. These slots cut in to the long tubes will allow us to loop small lashing line around a skinny rod inside the big tube, creating anchor points for the nets every seven inches along the beams, the float decks, and along the sides of the main hull.

First up was a practice piece to get the depth right. Cut on the left didn’t take enough of a bite…

The drilling jig is simply some hardwood pieces screwed together and carefully drill pressed. It’s enough to get the pilot bit started on the actual work surface, then set the jig aside and finish each cut.


These were cut using a one-inch hole saw (the wood-cutting version burned up quickly – needed to upgrade for metal-cut bits). The outer edges point in, following the circle, so another straight cut is needed next.


Note the little paper pattern in this photo – that got marked on each hole with about 35 degree legs so the lashing line can run out at angles and not rub.

Got both leading edges of the two being-worked beams done. Next is some fine-finish work around these cuts and two of the beams will finally be complete.

And while glue was drying – back to the hatches. Decided to beef up the locking area (it’s also the grab handle) with sturdy aluminum plates. That’s another pound or so added to the boat, but intruder security is the one place we don’t mind taking a small hit on performance wise. It’s a safe house before it’s a race boat.


And the framing for the aft cabin hatch is coming along. Style is matching the main companionway area. This work allows procrastination on the hard dodger design decisions. :)


Quick updates…

… Mostly because I got Mom pretty worried about the vacuum pump! The guys at Fiberglass Supply in WA diagnosed over the phone, and it sounds like it’s all about not drawing the full vacuum, so the pump was overworked and passed oil as vapor. Lesson is to stop the pump rather than limp along with a partial bagging, and we’re pretty sure the pump is fine. We’ll use it hopefully tomorrow eve to affix the handles to the hatch sliders; an easy job that’ll test the system.

Chris Harvey’s going to do a shop day soon so we can build the chainplates – he’s curious about that for his F25Carbon project. In trade, I get a ride on that hot rod – way better than a day in the epoxy barn!

Work plotting out the windshield led to an old floor lamp standing in for the fancy mast, and some cardboard for the boom. Oops, the gooseneck on our beautiful Canadian mast is WAY too high! Spoke with Cole at U-spar who will now lower it to get the boom top 32″ above the deck. This means a whole new Tides Marine track because they are single-piece extrusions. Ouch. But ours will get sold to another U-Spar mast, so it’s not too bad. I took our cues from Yellowfish and the F39 plans. 8 batten pockets and 10 slides. And after hearing the price of battens, Holy Crap we need to try and make those. Let’s see how much carbon is left after the rudder and dagger.

Christmas came again today, as the foam core and bi-directional carbon showed up on a semi truck. Very excited to get the rudder started. Because it’s so tall and skinny, I needed the full 4×8′ sheets of foam core (about $400 for 1″ and 1.25″ to make the 2.25″ base). There’s room for two rudders on there, so I bought most of the extra carbon fiber needed to make a second one. This is one ‘spare’ that makes a LOT of sense at sea. Dad, we should pick a day very soon when you can come up and start tracing out the rudder from those big plan sheets (I know you like the old carbon paper!)

Lots of good comments are coming in re: windshield and dodger. While we sort thru all that, i simply turned around and went back to work on the aft cabin sliding hatch; could have installed a $500 glass deck hatch, but the simplicity of a slider and hatch boards system will also give much easier access based on our cockpit shape. So I’m being careful to match the style between the aft and main hatch areas. More photos will come once it’s not all full of boring looking clamps.

Photo of the day is the award for the Summer Splash “dinghy race”. Kind of an inside joke, but we touch the mug each day as a talisman for getting the boat launched this summer and making it to Catalina by September. Keep working, Carter!


Changing the sight lines

The windshield base is now complete, and it’s a little scary to be changing the look of the boat this much. We REALLY want a nice protective wind and wave screen, and it seems to make a lot of sense to have this with a removable top. Kind of like a little roadster car, where the winter hard top can be left home in the garage during the sunny weather.



But how do you design the side windows for a windshield that stays put and hard top that can be removed? I’d rather not have soft plastic side curtains, so maybe part of the windows will attach to the top?  As Drew quickly figured out, the Hallberg-Rassy boats got me thinking; one with windshield style…


and theirs with the permanent hardtop…


If anyone has ideas on how to combine these two, let’s hear them!  (maybe split the side windows in to stacked triangles, the lower being part of the windshield, and the upper a part of the hardtop. And a hand-hold running along the joining seam?)

Back in fairing land, the first two beams are getting close. This thing actually looks like the right overall shape now. A skim-coat went on last night, so tomorrow’s sanding should be all about ‘finding final level’.


With the other two beams down at floor level, I figured it was a good time to add the final two glass layers that tie the fairings to the inner end piece. After having just read Henny’s account of a very frustrating vacuum bag leak chasing on his major hull infusion job, I was feeling happy and smug about our ‘bagging’ success so far. Pride can be a nasty thing, as I was treated to a horrid Saturday evening of leak chasing! This little bag isn’t pretty, but the ridiculous part is all the blue tape… that’s operator error thinking he was hearing leaks along the yellow sticky tape line, and then the vacuum plug joint.


There were actually two of these bags, set up with a t-fitting over to the pump. The pictured one would not get past -8 mercury inches, and the other one only -4 (-20 to -25 is my preference). After about an hour and a half of cursing and messing with tape, I came to the realization that air was probably being sucked thru the unfaired portion of the glass weave where the wave deflecting fairing joins the main square beam – if I had waited to do this operation until all the weave had been filled in, this would have likely been a 10 minute, ‘just fine’ operation. Argh. And of course after rolling around on the floor all that time, it was time to check the vacuum pump. Big problem there as many ounces of pump oil had blown out the exhaust hole. This new $400 pump has blown some oil on each of its first five runs, but it gets worse each time. Really hoping Fiberglass Supply will come thru with warranty support tomorrow. Time to take a Sunday break and go watch the Super Bowl commercials (and lick wounds over no 49ers).