It’s Finally Done

June 3, 2018

It’s finally done —

— Not the Tardis re-launch

— Not the dinghy

— Not the Osprey steamboat or Alva Starr drag boat for the Connecticut River Museum.

They wait and wonder what the hell I’ve been doing.

But The Red Flash (Compass Skiff) as Ray calls it, is done after taking over my whole boatbuilding life for a solid month.  Plus I was a delegate to my party’s state convention which involved me in all local nominations as well.  Connecticut voting is based on a sort of modified version of the English township system, and by the time I got through the Probate Judge and Registrar of Voters conventions, I was really beat.  And all this conventioneering has raised my blood-alcohol level to a permanent state barely below the legal limit.

Only about a month ago, we decided that the Compass Skiff I described building in the last post would be a featured item at “Riverfare,” the season opening fundraiser and silent auction for the Connecticut River Museum.  But that meant I had to take the boat to a very high level of finish.  So on went 10 coats of varnish, a teak-and-holly “deck,”  an inlaid compass rose on the central thwart, all solid mahogany trim and transom, bronze and brass hardware, bronze rubbing strips on all the corners, a fancy rubrail dadoed in so no exposed plywood edges would show anywhere, non-skid paint on the floor.  Every joint had to be tight — no filler allowed!

But the really time-intensive item was the hull finish.  Ray came back from Egypt last Saturday, and it was a hot, extraordinarily humid day.  We just couldn’t get the two-part paint we wanted to use to “kick” right and the initial finish was really bad.  So we tried a one-part “Kelly Green” that made the boat look like one of those shiny green hats people wear to the St. Patrick’s Day parade.

We settled on red as a great color for a little speedboat, but it did not want to cover over the green.  I finished the FIFTH coat at 10:30 the night before Riverfare.  But let me tell you, with two coats of primer and six coats of finish on the boat, all sanded down in between, the result was spectacular.  You could shave (or check your make-up) in that finish.

The only fly-in-the-finish so to speak is that the boat did not sell at Riverfare, although it did get a great reaction from the crowd.  As we anticipated, the chances that someone would need a little skiff that very night were pretty slim.  So we will auction it off over the summer and see what happens.

I know we have some hard core builders reading this blog now thanks to Jamestown Distributors, so I want to mention I new product that saved my bacon on the timing — Pettit EZ Fair in a tube.  Fiberglass over plywood boats are basically an exercise in sanding, filling and fairing, and a 24-hour dry time between fairings is  sometimes just a killer.  So I found this stuff at West, and you can sand it in about five hours.  It’s also a very fine filler, sort of like toothpaste, so you can shoot it into a little blemish and sand usually with just one coat.  I shot a thin coat onto all the fillet and smoothed them out with a gloved finger, and they look like gelcoat.  I’m sure Jamestown will come up with a version soon.


Transom — note the rubbing strips

Seating all varnished up

Executive Director Chris Dobbs acting as auctioneer

Quit dawdling and write the damned check!

Patterning the central thwart for a perfect fit.

Cutting in the inlay used all the tools (again!)

It fits!

Rail going on

Fairing — the white stuff is the EZ Fair

Sanding the Kelly Green off

EZ Fair saved the day!

Tardis is back after her trip south

Oh my God! Did she shrink sitting in Florida?

Boatbuilder masquerading as politician. Or is it the other way around?



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