The Boat Project - Jan, Feb & Mar 2012

The Boat Project - January 2012

So a new year begins on the boat project!  Herein is some wrap up from 2011... progress of late has slowed down significantly owing to deteriorating weather, and a new Jeep project.... see the latest in the tow pig section!  During the last parts of 2011 I managed to get a fair bit of work done on 2 aspects of the project - the new fuel locker in the stern of the vessel, and the continuing work on setting up the interior vee berth structures.

I had an interesting problem with the International Danboline paint in the second part of the vee berth.  In this area I had put in a thin surface tissue to improve the surface of the raw fibreglass, using epoxy.  The laminating went well and produced a great hard surface, which I painted over with the International Danboline in grey.  However, unfortunately this paint did not cure at all.  I had to remove the paint after 3 weeks attempted cure with acetone and sanding.  It seems I did not let the epoxy cure enough in the temperatures I was working in... live and learn!  Anyway, I am back to a bare surface and the epoxy has had plenty of time to cure now, so re-coating can happen any time now.  For full details of the issue, see this discussion at the Plastic Classic Forum.

Can fresh West Epoxy retard the cure of International Danboline?

So, back on track, here is where we close out 2011 on the Vee Berth work.  I have also recoated the locker where I had curing issues, and am pleased to note that it has cured properly this time.  I prepared the tops and fitted them in a bed of thickened epoxy, and its all looking good.  I will try to bring this area to a finish before moving on as I need to start working on the main interior bulkhead that defines the end of the vee berth!

Work on the Vee Berth - Second top installed Work on the Vee Berth - Second top installed Hatches for the vee berth

And here is where we close out 2011 with the work on the fuel locker in the transom:

Hatches for the vee berth New hatch and fuel locker work in the transom New hatch and fuel locker work in the transom

The fuel locker I think is going to be a winner.  It will be completely separated from the rest of the cockpit lockers, the base of the compartment is angled so it can drain overboard and will be ventilated from the top of the compartment.  This makes me a lot more comfortable carrying fuels on board.

Locker hatch Locker hatch open Contradanza still here!

And Contradanza is still here!  After all the winds so far this winter, I am still amazed that the tarpaulin that is now over a year old has held on as long as it has!  It is a little ripped where I didn't pad the mast supports, but otherwise remarkably intact


29th January 2012

So not been doing too much owing to the miserable weather, but have finalised the laminations and bonding on top of the vee berth that hold the top down.  I have also done some finishing, and have a fair few coats of varnish on the top that will protect the wood beneath during the remainder of construction and will not take too much time to bring to a final finish when the time comes.

Also today I took the time to set up the next bulkhead aft.  This bulkhead is a critical one as it defines the rest of the interior, and is visible in the final finished product.  So I have taken the time to ensure this one is as close to perfectly perpendicular to the centre line of the boat as I can.  Once in and perfect, it will serve as the datum for the rest of the build.  So far I have the template set up, so I will cut out the panel in the next week.  Note that I will add the side panels that form the galley at a later stage as it will be difficult to make the panel in a complete piece and fit it in.  I will do some butt joints and fit it all up neat as needed.

Berth tops varnished up and bonders in Berth tops varnished up and bonders in New bulkhead templated up and ready to cut

The Boat Project - February 2012

So with a nice template in the bag, I transferred the shape to a 12mm piece of marine ply.  I selected a nice grain pattern to be exposed in the cabin as I am still undecided on the finish options for the cabin and I would like to keep my options open.  If I do decide to go for a nice varnish work up I want to have a good grain pattern visible to the cabin.  So I bedded the newly cut out panel in thickened epoxy, using wedges, sticks and hotmelt glue to get the panel precisely where it needed to be.  I left this to cure for several days owing to the temperatures I am working in... it takes a good few days to reach a tack free cure just now. Once I was happy with the cure I went ahead and laminated up the bonders for the forward face of the bulkhead.  I used two layers with additional pieces where the panel plunges into the bilge keels as I feel this is one of the more structural pieces since it is spanning the bilge keels.

New bulkhead bedded in thickened epoxy New bulkhead forward bonders installed New bulkhead forward bonders installed

So after I left the forward bonders to cure for a few days, I carried on and got the aft bonders installed.  I had to be careful to keep the bonders lower than usual and not get any epoxy on what would become the finished panels, just to keep my options open.  The bonders went in without a hitch, and I encapsulated the sides that would be inside the galley units.  Then I managed to get the foam installed for the edges of the compartment.  To finish out the area, I want to get the porta potti I want to fit in stock.  I am looking at the Dometic 972.  Also in this compartment will be the vessels water stock.  2 x 10 litre and 4 x 5 litre plastic jerry cans.  I am going don this route to make fill ups easy.  In the Ionian, where I might like to take the boat one day, you have to pay for fill ups and hoses are few and far between.  With this method, you can take a water can into a taverna or public loo for a quick fill up!

New bulkhead aft bonders installed New bulkhead aft bonders installed New bulkhead aft bonders installed

Designs for the compartment layout are underway and I am now just waiting for a few items to arrive as I like to have the actual items on hand before designing their stowages.  Once they are in I will divide up the compartment they way it needs to be!

New bulkhead aft bonders installed New bulkhead aft bonders installed


12th February 2012

Some superb progress this weekend!  My order for the water tanks arrived, and the order for the porta potty is placed.  I feel I should discuss a little about my thoughts for the water tanks for this project.   I have opted to have my water in plastic jerry cans that are a readily available euro standard size, and in a stowage that is sized to perfectly support them.  The reasons for this are many fold:


  • Easy to maintain and clean.  Just remove and replace if necessary - only about £3 each.
  • Readily available if replacement required.  Available from hundreds of suppliers as a Euro standard.
  • Modular.  If I don't need a full load of water for a day trip, I don't need to carry it - it can come off easily.
  • As a modular system, the space can quickly be re assigned for other duties if necessary.
  • Emergency.  If required to abandon ship to life raft or otherwise, the water can quickly come with us.
  • No need to find a hose to fill up.  They can be easily filled from the local taverna/loo/marina or whatever!
  • No need for expensive custom tankage to gain the most from difficult spaces.
  • Less risk of burstage than with a flexible tank, and a flexible tank would need a filler hose.
  • Readily manageable.  You can easily see that a tank is running low, then you just swap a new one in.
  • Contamination - a large single built in tank can get manky, and is difficult to clean & disinfect.
  • No need for an electric pump.  A hand pump in the galley will be more than adequate.


To be honest, for this size of boat there are very few disadvantages, which is why I have gone down this route, but I suppose with built in tankage I could possibly carry more water, but really thats the only thing I can think of in this instance.  for all the above reasons and for the way I intend to cruise this boat, water stored in this manner really makes sense.

New tankage - Starboard New tankage New tankage - Port

So I got round to building in the stowages, and with my new router things turned out really well!  I have to hang off fitting the compartment dividers until I have the porta potty in stock as the width has to be right.  I have chosen the Fiamma Bi-Pot 30.  I was considering a Dometic 972, but I can't justify spending £30 more on something that looks identical to the Fiamma.  Also its only for emergencies!  If I never need to use it I will be more than pleased!  Using the new router and its many bits, I milled up a nice set of dividers for the compartment, which can be used later if needed to provide tie downs for the loo and water tanks.  I also milled big chamfers on the cleats that the top will hinge down onto to allow the tanks easy in and out access.  When the new porta loo arrives, I will finalise things in here and bond it all up!

Template for port galley taking shape Port galley panel in and bonded up Port galley panel in and bonded up

In other works, I started to work on part of the project that has been grinding away in my head since I started to conceive the interior.  The first panel for the port galley unit got templated up, cut out and bonded in.  I took my time and got a nice accurate template, and it also gave me time to think how things would come together, and I adjusted things accordingly as I went.  I carried the panel all the way up under the deck to provide some support.  In order to get the panel in and secure while the epoxy sets up I hot glued an additional piece of wood on to hold things together.  Also I hot glued a cleat to the hull so I could wedge the bottom of the cleat hard up against the bulkhead.

Starboard fuel tank closing partition template Starboard fuel tank closing partition template Starboard fuel tank closing partition

So with other works I managed to get the starboard panel templated up and bonded in for the fuel tank compartment.  This will be a great compartment when complete, but I have been holding off templating these closing panels as I thought it would be really tricky getting things working in the tight spaces under the cockpit.  In the end it wasn't that bad and I will get the other side done soon.  I had a really good thought about how to do my bilge and closing partitions for the cockpit lockers.... watch this space!



14th February 2012

So some more work got done since the new porta potti arrived.  I opted for the Fiamma Bi-Pot 30.  There are 3 in the Bi-Pot range, small medium and large.  In hindsight, I could have gone with the medium and still have the required clearance under the folding lid for this compartment.  In this instance, I will have to raise the floor of the compartment somewhat to put the toilet at a comfortable height.  This is ok, as I was anticipating having to do this anyway, as the higher the loo seat, the better overall for comfort.  I was also anticipating having to level under the water tanks to make everything sit pretty.

New Porta Potti located Starboard galley panel bonded in Porta potti dividers bonded in

Meanwhile, I got the dividers bonded in after confirming clearances on the porta potti.  My initial spacing was bang on (amazingly!) and so I applied the epoxy and silica fillets to keep these in place.  I then proceeded to template for the opposite side galley panel, a process that went without a hitch by adjusting the template taken from the other side with the planer and hot melt glue.  I cut the new panel out and started fitting things up.  Annoyingly, the bonding of this side did not go as smoothly as the first!  Try as I might, I could not get a support block to stick to the hull to wedge against.  I must have spent an hour and 4 cheap s&*t glue sticks trying to get something arranged to brace.  I even thought (shock! horror!) about using a screw to get things clamped sufficiently!  Pride prevailed... I have not used any metal work in the interior so far, and am trying to avoid it as much as humanly possible.  So I got something arranged in the end, and I filleted the panel ready for bonding.  I was mighty upset that I broke the spring return on the trigger of my prized glue gun in the frustration of it all, and no doubt partly to do with the cheap crappy glue sticks I was using!

Tabbing in all the panels Tabbing in all the panels Tabbing in all the panels

Also, the brand new router started being intermittent!  I opened up the switch to find poorly made mains power connections... As you can imagine I somewhat cursed the gods (B&Q) over this distinct lack of quality control!

For the eagle eyed among you, a keen eye might have spotted the rediculous messages written into the hull in marker pen.  This was not me, but Naomi, who bored to death by me, decides to vent her frustrations by graffiting my hull.  If they ever show through the paint there will be repercussions...

With time marching on from the debacle that was the router fail and the panel bonding fail, I needed to do something that I couldn't screw up to keep the boat building karma in balance.  I therefore took the time to cut and label all the new glass tabbing for the freshly installed panels.  This, at least was a win!  The next day I went on to successfully install the bonders for this area, which was a quick win with all the prep work done.

Contradanza 2, Chris 1



23rd February 2012

So with some more time today, aside from the usual water wash and sanding of the fresh epoxy, I managed to get the port side toilet compartment division templated, cut out and filleted in place using the usual techniques.  I also got the base of the toilet compartment installed.  I cut out a scrap piece of board to the right dimensions, then cut out some relief holes to allow the foam to expand.  I then wrapped the panel in cling film to ensure it would release from the foam.  I hot melt glued support blocks for this panel at the right height and ensured everything looked good before the first foam pour.  It took 3 cups of part A and 3 cups of part B, and once it was all in and expanding I placed in the panel.  During the expansion phase I found that the large volume was forcing the panel up, even with the relief holes and gaps around the edges, and I had to apply considerable force to keep the panel down to the right height.  Infact, I actually had to physically stand on the panel for 30 mins to ensure the finished height of the foam was correct!  I also noted quite an incredible heat from the large volume curing quickly.

New divider panel in place Foam at the correct finished height! Planning the new hardware for the hinged lid

Once the foam had cured I managed to lift the panel out without difficulty, then trimmed up the squeeze out.  I sanded and finished the foam in preparation for overlaminating.  I was pleased to see the finished height of the foam was spot on, and the toilet will be at the maximum possible height, which is the best of all scenarios!  I also spent some time planning the new hardware for the hinged lid.  All in all a productive 2hrs.


1st March 2012

So some work on the boat... the starboard side panel got bonded in and filleted, and I prepared the foam surface for subsequent over laminating.  I got the bonders all cut out and prepped for installation.  I was pleased with how this little compartment was shaping up, and looked forward to installing the over laminations to the foam come the weekend.  I resolved to complete this with polyester resin as I did not see the need to drain out the expensive epoxy on this application.

Port panel installed ready for bonding Starboard panel installed ready for bonding Foam toilet base prepped for over laminating


8th March 2012

So a fair bit of work recently.  I installed the cleats for the sides of the WC compartment hatch with epoxy fillets at each end.  I used temporary strip pine and hot melt glue to get the positioning right while the epoxy set up.  I also got the laminations for the top of the foam installed and levelled and looking good.  I used polyester resin here for the sake of saving some epoxy.  Also, I realised that to make the hinges for the WC compartment lid work effectively, I would need to double up under where the hinges are on the panel to give the screws something to bite into.  This would interfere with the cleat that was already in place on the bulkhead so I routed out some recesses to accommodate the doubled up areas.

Routing pattern for bi-fold hinges Side cleats installed Routing to let in WC lid doublers

With this prep work done I made a start on building the top panel for the port side.  I carefully templated for the panel and cut out a fresh blank from a new 12mm sheet of marine ply.  I then carefully laid out where the hatch would go, ensuring the opening would be as large as possible.  I used my round nosed saw to start the outline, then finished with the jigsaw.  I rounded the corners this time, and in hindsight should have done this on the forward hatches.  Not to worry, I will carry on in the rounded vein now I have a cunning method.  Once things were sanded up, I installed some cleats.  When the epoxy is solid I will route chamfers on the edges.  In other works I installed a surface tissue in the port locker, but was indifferent on the need for this in here as the surface was better than the other surfaces so far, so I may not do the starboard side.

Templating for the port side panel Panel cut out and cleats offered in Cleats installed in epoxy

While I was working away, Naomi spent some time getting the boat into a state of extreme tidyness.  This was a welcome improvement!


9th March 2012

Some more good progress, I got the new panel cleaned up and milled some big chamfers on the underside.  This produced vast quantities of debris, even though I was using the vacuum attachment on the router.  I spent some time cleaning things up, then painted out the two side compartments with grey danboline.  This was quite satisfying as always!  I also got some varnishing done where I could, using varnish thinned 50/50 to prime the ply and cleats.  I will now make up the starboard side panel, and I can bond the port one down now too.

Fresh varnish work Fresh Danboline Port panel varnished up and danboline


16th March 2012

So much great progress!!!  I got the starboard berth top panel all bonded in and looking good with some initial varnishing too.  Just the final filling and bonders to go and that will be the panel complete.  I also got a good start on the hinged panel for the toilet compartment.  I made a final decision not to cut into the bulkhead as it was not necessary.  Owing to the height of the toilet one can sit on the seat and the backs of your legs do not hit the bulkhead, so there is no need to cut it out.  I was very pleased with this result.  It makes things very neat in here.

Backing pads needed for the hinges The local idiot on the pan! Templating for the new lid

All that is left to do is cut out a recess in the lid so it can be opened easily from above.  Also some backing blocks beneath the hinge plates to accommodate the protruding screws will be necessary.  As you can see from the pictures, you have full headroom on the toilet, and on the seat when the lid is down.  I also had a shot of the vee berth, and it feels enormous!  It can easily hold two.  This vee berth is exactly what the boat needed!

Router detail for hinges Hinged panel working well Folds all the way back


23rd March 2012

Some finishing details on the vee berth this week, with more varnishing as required to build some thickness.  I have not been too careful with the varnishing so far, merely intending to build some thickness to protect the wood for the remainder of the construction.  Once things are starting to draw to a finish I will reate a dust free environment in the boat and put some finishing coats down with a degree of care!  I also painted out the porta potty compartment, which is now looking fantastic.  I got the lid and its backing blocks installed and started varnishing that too.

Varnish building on the vee berth Porta Potty compartment complete Water tanks only

In other works, the last of the tops to the vee berth got its finishing laminations installed, so I can be pleased about that.  It is definately nice to take a break from the vee berth and start some other little projects before the rest of the major interior construction.  Working on the big stuff is great, and you see extensive progress, but this 2ft of boat (from the 2nd to 3rd bulkhead) took me over 2 months to complete!  I will tackle and enjoy a few small projects before I leap into the next major constructions!

Bare Compartment Mast beam reinforcement Mast beam reinforcement

So one of these projects is the mast beam reinforcement job.  Through my web research on the Vivacity and Alacrity, some evidence has come to light that people have had to repair this before.  Mine is intact at the moment, but it is easy to see that damage could occur.  In my case, the interior moulding serves well to reinforce this area as it works like a big box section beam, but it does not hurt to beef things up a bit while you have the chance.  The best way to reinforce a composite beam is to make it deeper and provide more tensile shear laminates, so to this end I started by bonding in a strip of plywood.  I kerfed the back face to ensure that it adopted the curve of the mast beam, and bedded it in thickened epoxy.  Once this cured I sanded the exposed edge to a decent radius, then applied more thickened epoxy to develop a decent shape to the new beam.  I also ordered 2 metres of 410gsm biaxial carbon fibre which will serve as the primary stiffening laminate for this area.

Mast beam reinforcement Final vee berth laminates oooooooh!!! carbon!!!

I will over laminate this area extensively which will seriously stiffen this area up.  Also, I continued my production of the chain plates.  Another 4 chain plates have been produced - see over in the The Chain Plate Project!


24th March 2012

So I managed to get the 2 metres of carbon installed on the mast support beam.  Laminating up hand was tricky and messy, but I persisted and won.  I was tempted to put a nice carbon overlay on the beam and making a feature of it, but I realised that you can't really see it from the cabin, and so I shall just make a neat job of over laminating and have it painted.  The vast majority of the beam will be covered in the carpet that will be fitted in the vee berth area anyway.  I will do some carbon features elsewhere!

oooooooh!!! carbon!!! mast beam structural laminations oooooooh!!! carbon!!! mast beam structural laminations oooooooh!!! carbon!!! mast beam structural laminations

Last Updated (Saturday, 24 March 2012 22:03)