My Boatbuilding Day

Jan. 31, 2015,  Hours spent building to date:  620

Holly Berry and Fredi

Holly Berry and Fredi

After the crescendo of putting on the last plank, we are now in the diminuendo of filling and fairing — troweling on a mixture of epoxy and filler at any possible low point, then sanding 90% of it off, trying to get to a perfectly even surface. Over and over again.  So in the absence any visual interest, a description of a day at the boat shop:

Friday 9 a.m. (we don’t start early at the Tardis Project) — Dropped Fredi the Field Spaniel off at the home of her personal trainer, Holly Berry the Border Collie.  They will run miles and miles on the beach, through the woods and in Holly’s huge yard.  No squirrel or sheep in Connecticut should feel safe.  I walk Fredi for miles each week myself, but sometimes she just needs a good run.

9:15 — Stop at Cilantro on the Guilford Green for a cheddar cheese bagel, Sumatra French Roast and lunch (cranberry chicken salad).  An excellent sort-of-gourmet place run by a crew of engaging young women, which never hurts.

9:30 — Tried a first fit of the outer stem to the boat.  No go.  It will need a lot of fitting and trimming.  You will of course remember the pictures from last August of the inner and outer stems fitting together perfectly when they were laminated.  Why they don’t fit now is a mystery, but this is my fourth boat trying this and they NEVER fit.

10:30 — Had to glue a filler to the stem, so moved on to the keel.  I made a 12-foot pattern from a couple pieces of pine, so I could mark out a flat place on the boat to glue the keel.  I had already roughed it out with plane and grinder.  On the boat with the pattern, off the boat to tweak it.  Back on the boat to mark it, dropped my pencil overboard.  Back on the boat, marked the keel and started sanding, sandpaper was worn out.  Back on the boat with new sandpaper (twice).  I eat like a lumberjack, but have lost five pounds since last August building the boat.

11:30 — Halfway through the keel flat, needed a break.  My break book is Lincoln Paine’s “The Sea and Civilization,” an interesting 900-page tome, but somewhat exhausting in its depth.  I am on the chapter, “Maritime Law and Jurisprudence in the Middle Ages.”  I made it a short break.

1:00 — Keel sanding over, ate the chicken salad.  Then more sanding to smooth out all the fairing I had done yesterday.

2:30 — Break time.  As much as I was fascinated by the Genoese “commundata contract” which revolutionized cargo financing circa 1150, I decided to forego Paine for an article in one of my favorite magazines Epoxyworks.   It was about the rebuild of a 20-foot Norwegian motorsailer in the Florida  Keys, where it is so hot that the epoxy almost-doesn’t-works.

2:45 on — Filling screw countersinks (400 of them) and working on the chine and scarfs.  The filler is working its magic and they are starting to look pretty close — maybe two more passes.

4:00 — Left early to take Sparta the Cat to the vet for a much-needed nail trimming, which she calls a “manicure.”  My duty, since I am the only one who can get her into her cat carrier.  She behaved very nicely at the vet once she was assured there was no need to take her temperature.

5:00 — Fredi gave Sparta a good chasing, realizing she was weaponless, and after some rather nasty comments from the cat on Fredi’s deplorable nail hygiene.

5:30 — Little early, but time for a Tanqueray martini.


Needs work

Needs work

Filling and fairing

Filling and fairing

Chine after one pass

Chine after one pass

Sparta the perfectly manicured cat

Sparta showing off her manicure



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