What your wife doesn’t want

Boat parts in the driveway!

Just before thanksgiving we lost the shop neighbor’s storage space for this little trailer holding the finished beams. It’s been crowding the shop and now that we’re serious about painting, the trailer had to move. Seeing the beams in the driveway is rather motivating to keep working!

Three weeks of business travel caused a gap in boat work (and updates here), but we have a bit of catch up for you. Doing a solvent wipe down for the primer, we found a bunch of pinholes in the fairing along the hull topsides. So much for painting before the flight. Better to catch them now, under the primer. Look closely…

And the blue tape is the treasure map

They were fixed with a thin slurry of red-balloons putty; nice and runny with plenty of pressure filled the little holes.


And finally, we’re starting to imagine a painted boat. This primer is similar (but darker) to the platinum grey final color of the topsides. It’ll go up to the net lashing tubes.



This is probably about the fifth time I’ve said “one last little external build piece to go…” We had assumed the bow pulpit would be build in steel post-launch. But since we’ve been on the roll of eliminating metal, why not here? Now I want to get this done and glassed in before painting the deck. Here’s a mockup of thin glass that was wrapped around PVC.

Thinking we’ll carve this shape from styrofoam, glass that, then dissolve out the foam to form hollow tubes. If anyone has tips on this, or a better way to form the curves, we’re all ears.

4 more inches

Keith called today with a story of a friend’s boat build; things were done with a heavy hand and when it launched with the bottom paint done at the designed waterline, the boat settled in a few inches lower leaving unprotected topsides submerged a bit. What a drag to pull a fresh launch out of the water and redo the waterline paint job. So… Not that we think we’ll be fat and saggy, but it’s a lot easier now to add a few inches of barrier coat ‘just in case’

Here’s coat #2 of 5, with the roller headed northbound by about 4″ :). One more coat tonight and hopefully two tomorrow to finish this step.

I pity you guys as this website is now literally watching paint dry! To keep busy in between bottom coats today we tackled final builds on the stern tower. First is the little crane off the back to lift the rudder out of the water when stationary. If you look at older photos the top edge was purposely lower than the top of the tower. But overall this thing seemed too flexible and potentially weak. So it grew an extra foam core top, then more carbon ‘strapping’ wrapping over the top of the tower. Much stiffer now!

Next is the radar, to mount on the extra ‘ear’ of the tower to starboard. The mounting pattern of the Raymarine unit required some modification. And since we’re not interested in a metal bracket, we made a fiberglass foam pizza instead.


Last up is a shelf for the tiller pilot. This location should allow us to attach the ram directly to the steering gear, or more intriguingly to a second set of cables to steer the trim tab on the rudder just as the windvane system will do. Much more on that story to come once we get to sea trials.

This little shelf add is perhaps 5 ounces of foam and carbon, but further stiffens the whole structure – so much better than a big metal structure on the back of the boat! (We hope anyway)


Lady in waiting

This boat hull was built 15 years ago. The deck and topsides got a primer coat 5 years back, but some of you will recall the bottom wasn’t faired until just a few months ago. But tonight, a decade and a half late, the raw underwater skin was painted with the first of five coats using Interlux interprotect 2000. This will create an epoxy barrier coat over the epoxy-skinned hull, so blistering or other water intrusion should not be a future worry.


One more bow shot here to remind us where the Kevlar protective strip sits across the front. (You can see it as a vertical yellow shadow under the white fairing skim)


No boat should take this long to build, but what a great step tonight. You could feel the good vibe in the room – seems like the boat knows we’re sealing things up and sprinting towards the water. Anticipation grows…

Selfie gone wrong

Clearly I don’t get the concept of glamorous self-taken phone photos in picturesque locales. BUT, this is actually a very relieved boat builder. This goes back a few months to our first experience with the very good but rather volatile high end marine topsides primer paint. One night I geared up to hit the shower and toilet compartments with the Interlux Primecoat 2 part system. I wore the full face respirator, but neglected any fans to force air out of the space. After about 15 minutes the respirator was overwhelmed, resulting in attacked eyes and lungs. I basically dropped everything, and threw the paint/roller/brush in the trash as I ran out of the shop seriously spooked about painting this boat.
So we’ve pretty much been skulking about re: paint fumes, but yesterday sucked it up and dove in to researching solutions. Holy cow, did you know decent industrial volatiles protection hoods are a thousand bucks!!?? So instead we went half Apollo 13, half McGyver rerun and came up with this:

Yep, that’s the good full face respirator with one filter taped completely shut and the other taped off except for the receipt of a long vacuum cleaner hose. The other end of that hose is the output from our oldie-but-goodie 3M belt pack NiCad battery-driven forced air filter. So instead of taking the positive flow filter in to the paint environment the jury rig hose keeps it out in the fresh air, feeding the face mask.
Tonight with all the simplified plumbing cabinet and bulkhead revisions finished, the toilet space was prepped along with the abandoned shower, the goofball selfie was taken, and we dove in again with the nasty paint. The work took about 30 mins, the mask performed well – no eye discomfort and negligible smelling of fumes. Certainly no dizzying or worrying amounts of volatiles coming on board! That was a big relief and we’re once again seeing the path to paint completion.

Speaking of plumbing, this week has been finishing those 3 below-waterline through hulls, plus another big one about a foot above the line for the galley drain. Here’s the process for the toilet tank drain. Measure, stare, worry a bit, measure a few more times, then get the hole saw spinning.

Next was very careful Dremel work to dig out the cedar core about 5/8″ back from the hole edge, but not disturb the outer or inner hull skins. (The Dremel is skilled in throwing little shards of boat hull in one’s eyes and nose.)

Then fill all that rebated space with solid epoxy/cabosil putty, and after it cured, sand it back flush.

During curing steps we had been making epoxy-coated plywood backing plates for the seacocks. They finished up as the holes were done. I understand these backers can be loose and mounted with the same sealant as the thru-hull fitting, but we opted for permanently bonding them to the hull and one more shot of putty to smoothly line the thru-hull passage as one watertight unified ‘tunnel’. These two are the toilet tank drain and depth sounder that’ll be close neighbors.

That’s a little bolt & block setup to clamp the backer in to the bonding glue.

All four came out just as planned, and now await paint. We’ll show them off again when their fancy Forespar valves are installed. About six layers of primer and bottom paint from now!


PS – is anybody wondering about that red fairing putty in the first photo tonight? Um, yea, those are the finished, painted main cabin surfaces getting just a bit more touch up once all the new lighting went in and I could see little nits that would drive me nuts once the boat is launched. Figured it was worth the piece of mind and a couple of hours to clean it up now…

Practice those fillets!

So I’m on my back, sprawled on the aft cabin bunk, reaching up installing lamp wires. Damn, that looks like crap up there! The memories come back from last summer – it was hot, the workspace was awkward and I was SICK of fairing work. There were some spots under the big wiring chase in that cabin with pock marks, uneven fillets and spreader-knife ridges. But “no one will ever see that and enough is enough!” And I had left in a PO’d state. So it was sort of funny two nights ago realizing I was working where future crew will lay heads on pillows and gaze up at the blotchy spots!

OK, never mind it’s already painted and the cabin declared done. Go get the sanding and fairing tools and clean it up! We cast a critical eye around the whole interior and found a few more spots that needed a bit more. And all because we’re waiting for the electrical fittings (which just showed up, so it’s Christmas again tonight!)

The point is, for new boat builders, don’t do what I did. Don’t just read the pages in the Gougeon Bros book that make fillets look super easy, and declare yourself ready. They wrote that guide after making 100s of strong, lightweight, elegant joints. But as a rookie “finisher” contorting around the far reaches, working on acute/weird angles, it just doesn’t happen smoothly. I should have practiced! Out on the workbench, in the light, in the fresh air, with nice music on the radio, etc. Make the fillets along the floats bulkheads works of art that no one will see. Get the techniques down. So when the conditions suck inside your to-be-pretty cabin, you are actually very skilled and won’t do work that has to get done a second time.

There, end of soapbox.

We figured out how to light the wardrobe locker areas, which led to a couple more mounting bases needed, plus a nice face frame for the main battery switch. And more Birdseye trim over the galley to hide wiring in case the sink and freezer need additional lighting. That’s a few ounces of wood and glue to future-proof. Seemed worth it.


Also huddled under those heat lamps at the top of the photo is another glass tube build – wrapped around a 1.5″ PVC coupler, to line the hose-pass throughs for the toilet platform. That’s the one area inside the boat that needs finish work, so we attacked old problems with fresh eyes this week and get the head compartment ready for proper marine paint as soon as the shop warms up. Today you see your breath in there :(

Between the decks

So, we’ve reported on the hull exterior & deck being ‘done’, and you’ve seen the painted & trimmed interior. But there’s a bit more fabrication of ‘the spaces in between’. This weekend we tackled deck fills for water and diesel, through the cockpit coaming box and lazarette, to the equipment room. We’ll use flexible pipes between the deck fills and solid fiberglass tubes that bisect the tops and bottoms of lockers. The Forespar marelon deck fills are 1.5″ OD. 1″ sched 40 PVC wrapped about ten times in lightweight glass cloth gets to exactly 1.5″:



The pipe was coated in good mold release wax, so a few hammer taps on a big screwdriver popped it out


The diesel and water deck pass throughs are on the left, and the grey curve is a trial fit of PVC conduit that will carry the 110v shore power to the inlet on the right.

The lazarette currently has the main cockpit drain entering and exiting its aft edge.


That needs a dedicated drain tube, especially since the propane well was added in this compartment. And there’s already a second overboard drain for the lazarette on its forward hull edge. So here’s a simple 90degree form with non-stick tape and peel ply laid in before the glass channel is made.


And the new piece tabbed in place.

It looks like the diesel Espar heater will exhaust through the hull up high in this area so we’ll wait in placing the second half of the diesel and water filler pipe pass through tubes until the exhaust pipe is in place.

Random segue over to wood finishes: we’re happy with the transparent non skid that was added to the sole (floorboard) panels a couple months back. But that was added to a floor-finishers polyurethane that came out too yellow. The companionway sills and steps needed non skid yet we don’t want to cover the woodwork with the standard tape. So here they are redone in Interlux Perfection topsides paint with zero pigment (labeled simply Clear) and a heavy dose of non skid powder.


20160111-225010.jpg Very happy with the results.

And while we await that big box of electrical parts, we’ve finished up cable runs and installed most of the cabin lights. There are two halogen map lights, and everything else is LED. There’s a bit of angst about turning on all these lamps for the first time in place – really don’t want it to be the sterile, operating room blue-white look. The catalog copy and packaging has lots of “warm, soothing” descriptors but the old marketing hand here says “we’ll see”.


Hopefully usps will deliver and we’ll dive in to 100’s of crimps and heat shrinks over the next few evenings.

I looked up and suddenly it was done

The fairing process of this big hull seems to go on in a punishing ‘foreverland’ manner. So much sand paper laid to waste, so many times back to the mixing table for epoxy putty. Tired arms. And then suddenly this evening, this was it:

That’s the last surface on the whole exterior of the boat that needed just a bit more goo (in white, as a skim coat) to fill some imperfections. Yea! At last. There were a dozen other small spots ahead of this one, and they’ll all get a quick final hand sanding as soon as the shop warms up enough to cure the epoxy (no heater in our thousand sq ft California locale). We’ll prep for primer and start rolling once we get back to above-60 reliable daytime temps.

Here’s how those beam strut fairings turned out

Those will help smooth the water flow through waves, and further seal the hull at a key flex/stress point.

Charlie knows about the big cardboard box of foam core off-cuts. It’s divided in to still-unused foam scraps on one side and various composite part scraps on the other. We’ve been thinking about a lightweight, removable cockpit table and how to mount it. A quick scrounge in the cut box found part of the original tiller idea:

You’re looking at it now cut another foot shorter, with the old foam core dug out of the target piece. Once it was cleaned up, we laminated it to the lower face of the cockpit bench, near the engine control cable conduit. So now we have a custom carbon fiber table mount that weighs about four ounces :). Making the table and the leg now sits on the growing POST-launch to do list.

Time to go back inside the boat and start wiring while we wait for painting weather.

That wasn’t fun

They say you should only build a boat if you really enjoy the work. And for the most part this has been fun. But there are “those days”… Fairing the bottom has been about 20 hours of squirming around the cold cement floor and holding tools overhead the whole time. Yuck.

After two putty & sanding passes, we hit the surface with spray paint, then used the 24” longboard sanding block to find low spots.

Here it is the next day, with the black spots (low spots) filled with a white show-thru putty.

Another complete sanding at 120grit revealed everything fair enough to call it done. Tonight was one more putty application pass to fill in all the little trowel dings and gaps. Those are the darker, wet splotches in these photos.


Tomorrow these will get a light sanding and the whole bottom will get declared Ready For Paint!

Since we’ve been back in fairing mode this week, miscellaneous pieces are also getting handled on the table. Here are a companionway slider, some cabinet panels and the motor mount box.

And it looks like we told a little white lie last time; the deck area isn’t quite done as we found a few more bits that need some fairing cleanup. Putty in hand… When in Rome!

ps – congrats to captain Drew for driving F27 Papillon last Sunday to a high finish. Second in the tris only behind a fast F31, dead heat tie with the Gunboat 62, and ahead of the dueling F25carbons. Great day.