The Boat Project - August, September & October 2012


The Boat Project - August, September, October, November & December 2012

Continuing from July 2012

2nd August 2012

Another excellent session in the boat, with some really visible progress.  It seems that a number of things are needed to make things progress on a composites project, they are the following:


  • A well thought out plan.  Time spent thinking about how to progress something is never time wasted.  I think about the details all the time, how edges and panels come together, how I will trim things to make a seamless interior look, how to get a perfect epoxy bond line... so much so my brain hurts.  Once the project is over I will finally relax!
  • Good access.  Don't underestimate how much longer things take where access is impaired!  Trying to get the under cockpit area completed was extremely challenging with access, and at times was downright miserable.  I estimate this area took 4 times longer than it would have taken with good access.  A part of the problem was not wanting to deal with the area as well.  Investing in things that make life easier in these areas is money well spent.
  • A good stock of consumables.  When you are making good progress, you go through consumables at a fair rate.  Latex gloves, brushes, mixing sticks, mixing pots, epoxy, fillers, plywood... have it all in stock, in good quantity.  If you have 2hrs after work to complete a job, there is no point wasting half that rooting around trying to get some mixing sticks cut out or finding a mixing pot in the recycling bin!  Have it there, ready to go, it is such a time saver.  Cost wise, it spreads itself over the time of the project, and saves you so much grief.
  • If you think you need a power tool, just buy it.  Don't think about it for days or try to do something the hard way.  Just buy it.  It does not have to be a top brand tool or anything fancy... If you need a router, a £60 router is as good as a £200 one, and a hundred times better than trying to profile by hand.  If you need a really powerful sander, just buy it.  A huge volume of sanding is created on such projects.  Don't waste your time with a puny sander!  Don't hesitate to buy the tool!
  • Read the datasheet!  If using unfamiliar chemicals or products, read up on them.  The internet is a wonderful thing.  Get familiar with the way people work with the products, what the hazards are, what to watch out for, what the long term characteristics are what the shortcuts are... Time spent researching your product is never wasted.
  • Don't be afraid to get it wrong.  Chances are you will.  You will recover and move on.  There is nothing about a composite boat that can't be fixed.  Get on a forum, like the Plastic Classic Forum... its full of helpful people that have made exactly the same mistakes as you, full of good advice.  I have made mistakes that feel like two steps forward, one step back.  Recover and get on with it!


Anyway, enough of the motivational drivel, on with the project!  I managed to get the starboard galley panel bonded in, and I panned out the storage area below.  With a clear plan I cut a hole in the panel and rounded over the edges with the router.  After bonding it in I fitted the storage divisions before the final closing panels on the ends of the galley units get fitted.  I need to get more ply in stock before I progress this however.

Galley storage set up Galley front panel Limber holes cut out

In other works, I got the closing panels fitted in under the companionway partition.  Nothing major to report here, just the usual templating, cut out and filleting process.  I did manage to get the limber holes cut out in the companionway bulkheads.  I used a hole saw and made two holes side by side.  They will have to allow passage of water from the storage area aft to the cabin bilge, where the auto bilge pump will locate.  Also, the hoses from the auto bilge pump and pick up hose for the manual bilge pump will have to pass through here.

Some dork in crocs demonstrating the galley stowage! Partitions in and limber holes cut Interesting cross section of the limber holes



3rd August 2012

So to keep up progress, and not feeling like doing anything major as I had just put a fair bit of effort into the garden, and the Olympics is on, I kept work in the boat light this evening, but none the less managed to do something worthwhile.  I got the 4 main face panels of the new interior - the galley panels and the fore and aft bulkheads all sanded up to 240 grit, solvent washed and hoovered.  I then applied a sealer coat of varnish, thinned 50% with turpentine.  The transformation to the interior was instant and dramatic!  Great stuff.  I need a sealer coat on these panels as I continue to build in case I get some muck or epoxy on these visually important panels - this way it won't sink into the grain.  Access is getting tight so I need to be careful now.  I am also pleased I opted to keep the wood vivible on this part of the interior.  Originally I had planned to paint these panels white.  I think I will prefer the wood.

In other matters, I must thank everyone who regularly emails me with encouragement, thanks, stories of their own Vivacities, advice or where to find parts.  It is great knowing you all enjoy the contents of this site, and your feedback keeps me going in places!  Aside for my main reasons for engaging this project, my regular readers have become another excellent reason to keep at it and bring this project to a conclusion.

Recently, progress on the project has taken a leap forward as I now have a clear plan for the interior, the difficult bits are largely out of the way, and I can see an end in sight for this phase of the project.  It is a good time in the project, I am enjoying progress, and I feel my skills have progressed too which is all conducive to good progress.  Happy days, and plenty more to come!

Varnishing started varnishing started Varnishing started



5th August 2012

More progress in the boat today.  I got the 3 compartments at the aft end of the cabin water washed, sanded and solvent washed, then painted out with Danboline.  Hopefully this batch will cure ok as its a little soon to be painting it out with the extensive fresh epoxy in here... im crossing my fingers.  In other works, I templated and cut out the port galley losing panel.  I made a major cock up with this panel.  I had originally planned to carry the panel up under the deck in a similar way to the forward closing panels, but in a fit of confusion I cut the panel in the wrong place.  Fortunately I could still cut the panel straight across and fit it like that.  I was kicking myself for the mistake, as if I opted to re cut the panel out of my fresh ply, I would have to commit to buying another sheet of ply... didn't want to do that if I could avoid it.  In the end, I cut the top off flush and tried it in anyway.  I ended up preferring this option.  It had some disadvantages, i.e. the deck in this area will not be as well supported, but that ok as the forward one is more than was ever there before.  The advantage I saw was that it allowed the forward and aft areas of the boat to communicate better, and made the space feel larger.  I am happy with my decision to just go ahead and fit this panel.  I will likely do the same thing on the other side, where it should have the same effect, as that area is a bit tighter and can advantage from this... disaster averted!  Some cleats on the new panel got installed in preparation for the top to go on.  I need to order a load more biaxial tape as I have run out now, and I have a sheet of 25mm Celotex foil faced polyurethane insulation in stock ready to begin the cool box installation.

Port Galley closing panel in place Danboline in the lockers Cleats fitted



9th August 2012

More good progress in recent days, and some minor setback.  Bad news first, the new danboline in the lockers under the companionway did not cure!  I was rushing again, and didn't leave the epoxy to set up properly... What was it George Bush once said?  Fool me once shame on you... ahem!  Anyway, not to get hung up on it, I flushed it all off with acetone, and I will leave it for some time before I contemplate a repaint and final fitting of the berth top.

Good news moving forward, I managed to fit a foam hull support in the new cool box area, and the remaining meranti cleats that will support the future work top.  I then managed to fit the insulation for the cool box, which was a pleasant job.  The insulation is standard Isocyanurate foil faced foam, 25mm thick installed in 3 layers to give 75mm minimum thickness.  In the base, there is much more as I used expanding foam to fill up the difficult shape, along with the outboard side.  in the forward outboard corner, the thickness unfortunately comes down to 25mm for a small area, a necessary compromise between insulation and useable space inside the future box.  Ideally I would prefer 100mm of foam minimum all round, but again a compromise to useable space within the box.  I can store 9 standard size 2 litre bottles and various bits and pieces tucked inside of this.  I estimate that there is 30 litres of useable volume.  75mm is pretty good though, as most production boats have barely 30mm of poor insulation.  I look forward to seeing how well it does.  Next on the job list for the cool box is to develop the liner, which I will do in Alufibre and clear epoxy gelcoat for a nice feature.

In other works, I decided I needed a division between the cabin and the aft storage area.  I reasoned this as I feel I would prefer to insulate and carpet the cabin, and I didn't want anything wet from the utility area near the carpet.  The division also serves to attach maybe a storage net or whatever as required. This will get varnished and I think will properly finish the area.  Same to come on the other side once I move over.  the intent is to get Port fairly well progressed so I can move the tools over and work on Starboard.

Cleats fitted and coolbox insulation complete Insulation progressed Storage space divider



18th August 2012

So plenty progress of late, I decided to break out the cool box work to a separate project, so tune in here for the trials and tribulations of the liner development.  Meanwhile, in the boat, I painted out most of the vee berth to start to hide the raw fibreglass and start getting the dust down.  I also templated and fitted the berth top for the port side.  I got the cleats fitted underneath, and fitted the berth top.  I opted to go for a single hatch cover for the two compartments to save a bit on materials, and to increase the size of the access to the space below.  Meanwhile, some bits and pieces got a prime coat of varnish to protet it and start the build up to final finish.

Berth top fitted Fore cabin painted out Vee berth getting painted

Just noticed that these pictures are at a slightly wrong aspect ratio... a consequence of the automatic scripts I have written to resize the photos and compress them for web as applicable for a particular camera.  When I change cameras, the script gets confused.  I cant be bothered to fix this, so this will have to do!  I will change back to the normal camera for the rest.

Showing new berth top to port New galley panel fitted New panel fitted

The last galley panel got fitted up in short order, and I will progress the back panel later on this week.  I have finalised concepts for the galley tops.  Instead of wood as I had planned, I feel like I am going to develop white gelcoated composite tops.  This will be easy, cheap and fully cleanable and waterproof.  Again I will break this out to a separate project.



4th September 2012

Back by popular demand!  Many of my regular readers have expressed disgust at my recent lack of progress, and for this I must apologise.  I have been over in Norway again for work.  To appease the masses, I have painted something for a bit of quick visual progress to restore boat building karma.  Pictures below!

Port hull painted and holes for hatch cover Lockers painted out Lockers painted out

I painted out a couple of the forward lockers that had the old Danbline not curing issue, and they started looking really good.  Hopefully all the Danboline will cure this time.  The epoxy should have cured by now in these temperatures.



15th October 2012

Ok, so still going slow on the boat, owing to the RS400 getting in the way and trying to squeeze as much out of our dismal summer as possible... sorry dear readers!  Rest assured that there is a plan, and there is a will to implement it.  Once the sailing season is over at Stonehaven its full speed ahead on the boat project.  Meanwhile, a bit of prep work got done.  I have fitted the boat with a new tarpaulin, the existing one having survived for almost two years now and leaking.  I placed the new tarpaulin, 7m x 4m over the top of the existing tarp, to prevent chafe to the new one and give more protection.  The tarp has been secured down to the trailer with small stuff and bunjee, and I placed the oil filled radiator back in the boat to dry it out a bit - there had been one or two leaks and the insides of the boat could do with a little drying out...

The plan I hear you ask?  With the difficult structural work almost out of the way its time to set a schedule...

  • November to April - Sailing off season - Complete interior in all respects.  Structures, Coatings, Basic Fittings, Galley, Mouldings, Plumbing, Electrics
  • April - June - Skene Sailing Season - Stonehaven Boat Yards at sailing club empty - Contradanza goes into dry shed for exterior prep and finishing
  • June onwards - Contradanza back to driveway, Final fit out, capital purchases - sails, engine, navigation
  • Ready end of summer 2012?! Maiden voyage 2 weeks in Greece September 2013?!?!  Dun Duun DUUuuuUUNN!!!!

So stay tuned over the coming months.... hopefully we will be into the fun completion stages next year!




25th November 2012

As work is sending me down to London on a regular basis at the moment, the boat project is seeing little physical progress, however I have been buying in lots of bits required to complete the interior project!  I now have the sink and galley pump in place ready to develop the counter tops.  Also, I have ordered up the 3 bronze (not brass!) gate valved, 1" through hull assemblies required for the two cockpit drains and the galley waste.  The remaining through hulls are bilge pump outlets and will be high above the waterline, and so will be plastic.  Also now in stock are the two LED lights that will provide illumination up in the vee berth.

Other works, I have continued with the galley fit up and installing cleats for the remaining berth tops and work tops.



30th November 2012

Having been up and down to London for almost 3 months now, I am finally back in Aberdeen for the foreseeable, and I can devote a bit more time to the boat project.  Over these months I have managed some progress in the galley area, managing to fit up some cleats and paint out the area.  Pictures below!

Galley area painted out Back recess Back recess

I made the usual preparations for painting, leaving the epoxy for a very long time, sanding through 120 grit and a serious flushing with Acetone.  If it does not cure after that again I will be extremely displeased!

Back recess Underside of back recess Looking forward

So I just have to fit the back cleat in this area, and do a final coat of paint once this coat cures properly, then I can go ahead and varnish the remaining bits and pieces.  Then I can fit the work top.  I am tempted to go back to my oak worktops instead of the white gelcoat... I have flip flopped on this idea as long as I have been building the interior, and no doubt I will change my mind again!

Sink and Whale mk6 Sink and Whale mk6

Meanwhile, the sink and whale Mk 6 hand pump arrived, and they are good!  The outlet on the sink waste is 1" so I have ordered up the required through hull fitting to take the waste outboard.  The hose required for the hand pump is 1/2" and this will simply be let through the bulkhead into the water tank area.  Once I get the worktops set up I can get this fitted.  Also on the order book is the Cookmate 2100 spirit stove, which will compliment the sink on the starboard worktop.



1st December 2012

Some more work ongoing to get things completed with the major woodwork, I added cleats to the back part of the galley area, and another to the lockers forming the rest of the starboard constructions.  Also, I got the partition to the aft storage area on the starboard side fitted in place.  Fairly soon I will be able to paint out the aft storage area, which will bring this area to more or less complete.  I also got the lockers painted ready for covering them in.  The paint seems to be curing very slowly owing to the temperatures over night.  I dare not leave the 3kW oil filled radiator on all night or the bills will be a bit steep!

Cleat in galley area Lockers painted out Starboard partition in place

So looking good, but I do need to buy a new sheet of plywood to complete the berth tops and the sliding part directly under the companion way.  This puts the project total to 5 or 6 sheets of ply.  Seems like a lot, but there has been a lot of wastage owing to the weird shapes involved in the project, and since I don't have a table saw, the only way to get really decent straight edges was to use finished edges of ply sheets!  Anyway, all good.  Its getting cold outside these days, but the boat is still here!

Contradanza still here!



6th December 2012

Plenty ongoing!  I managed to complete a switch board for installation into the starboard side overhead locker.  this was simply a ply board 400mm x 450mm, rounded corners and routered edges, and painted up in Danboline.  This will take all the buss bars and fuse boxes and so on.  I also got some varnishing done in the galley area just to get a sealer coat on some of the exposed surfaces while construction continues.

Plenty more parts arriving, I got the main 100aH wet cell leisure battery in stock now, so I can start developing an enclosure and securing method before finishing up in the wet locker area.  I also got in an east coast leisure folio of charts so I can develop a rough plan for a chart table... not sure where that is going to fit, but we will see!

Quotes are arriving for things like the Vee berth cushions, and I think I might have to do this part myself if the budget is not going to get blown apart!



10th December 2012

Over the past few days I have been busy varnishing and painting, so more areas are starting to look finished.  I also got the final sheet of plywood in stock for the last bit of berth top and the sliding piece.  I am painting the utility area forward of the cockpit lockers out with danboline now.  I am having to split the area up as it is a difficult area to access and I already have my hair coated!  Pictures to come when I get the camera back into the boat.



13th December 2012

So loads of bits arriving, and loads of progress in the boat.  Good times!  The order for through hulls arrived, and I was a little taken aback by the size of the 1" through hulls.  they are quite massive, and really, for the galley drain and cockpit drains, 3/4" would have been more than adequate, but I have them in now, and all the hose tails and hoses and hose clamps will be the same size, so I am ok with it.

1" through hull assembled... Clearance may be tight... Good size for the backing pad though...

In other works, I you can see the storage compartment now painted out and looking good.  There are still some bits and pieces to paint in this area, and its been a little bit patchy as it is difficult to paint in this area without getting madly dribbled on.  The whole area needs a second coat as there are some resin starved areas that soaked up the first coat, so a little filler coat need.

Locating the galley drain Sink set up for clearance check Tight, but ok owing to the 90 degree exit on the sink

Further, I checked the through hull clearances in the galley.  This would be tight again, but better than the cockpit drains.  It looks like I would only need to order a metre of hose to do all the 1" drains with spare, which is nice.  All hoses will be double hose clamped, with red plastic caps on the free tails to prevent slashing and scratching of hands and kit!

Cheap LED for cabin lighting Cheap LED for cabin lighting option 2 location Looking good looking aft!

I offered the lights I had bought for the vee berth in to have a look.  These Warm LED lights from ebay are cheapies, but had all the features I wanted - warm white, surface mounting with hidden back, switched, reasonably attractive etc.  We will see how they go.  Next to come is the construction associated with the remaining starboard side berth top, the sliding top, the galley tops, and the ice box insert... plenty to do!



15th December 2012

For something a little different I proceeded to install the cockpit drain through hulls.  This was lots of fun!  I had to reduce the height by 5 threads on each side as I realised that I would not have the clearance above the through hull to mate with the cockpit drain right above.  I quickly regrouped and decided that I would cross over the bilge drains.  They were installed with copious amounts of Sikaflex 291.  It took a 35mm hole saw to put the holes in, which was easier than expected!  Pictures as below!

Nice new cockpit drain through hulls! Nice new cockpit drain through hull - port Nice new cockpit drain through hull - stbd

Once the sealant has set up, I will give the area its second coat of paint.  The clean up with acetone did strip a little of the new paint away.  I assembled the parts with plenty of PTFE tape, and I had to weld up a spanner big enough to fit them!  You can see the height problem... I think I should have enough height to do a proper cross over job, which is a relief.  The galley through hull should be easier as I won't have to trim it down.



18th December 2012

Plenty ongoing, I managed over the course of two days to template, cut out and fit the final fixed panel in the interior!  The starboard side berth top got its cleats and was bonded down with epoxy last night, signifying a bit of a milestone.  every panel or part from now on will be removable or unfixed, so kind of cool, if you are a boat geek!  Final glassing of the hull to panel interface to come tonight, and pictures later.

I am starting to think about how the battery will be mounted, and I have bought a length of galvanised M8 threaded rod, and some large washers and nyloc nuts.  Using this lit I will be able to concoct some kind of battery restraint.

Later this evening I got into the construction of a battery support and restraining setup.  I was very pleased with how this turned out in the end.  I have to wait until the epoxy cures and I can paint things before I set it up permanently, but basically, the battery sits on a platform under the cockpit, which is then bolted back to the under cockpit bulkhead using 4 threaded rods with big penny washers and nyloc nuts. 

Also completed was the filleting and bonders for the freshly installed berth top panel.  Looking forward to starting the varnish build up on this, and when the epoxy cures I will be able to get some paint on the hull - the last section on the interior needing to be painted out with grey danboline!  I am now thinking ahead to painting the overhead in the cabin and wondering what product to use... maybe toplac.



19th December 2012

More progress in the boat... I set up a set of cleats at the right level to support the future cabin sole leaving enough room underneath for a very slimline bilge pump and an uptake for a manual pump.  I ran out of 2 part expanding foam so I ran out and got some expanding foam in a can.  This stuff is not the best for this application, and I would muh prefer the 2 pack stuff, but with the holidays and postage going mental, I can't get it delivered with any degree of confidence, so rubbish foam it is.  It only needs to be a former for overlaminating, and this way I can get things done before new year.  Pics below!

New panel in placeCabin floor cleats in placeNew battery support

Pictures pictures pictures.... 

New battery support in placeNew battery support fitted upnot much space lost

So you can also see the design of the new battery retaining arrangement,  which I am quite pleased with.  I just need to wait for the epoxy to fully cure then I can paint the parts with Danboline.  Happy days!

Limber holes still accessible underStorage compartment painted outHorrible foam!

Hopefully the expanding foam will cure nice and rigid... at the moment its still a bit of a damp squid... progress progress progress!!



27th December 2012

Muchos progress on the sole bearers.  Over a few days I got the foam shaped up, then filled and faired ready for over laminating.  I found that the first filling and fairing with polyester resin was not kind to the foam, causing it to sag a little and melt.  Fortunately it did not loose too much shape, and the next filling and fairing round with epoxy was enough to get to final shape.  

Foam filled with polyesterSole bearers overlaminatedSole bearer close up

I over laminated with 3 layers of 600gsm Biax over two days so I could stand on the cured one as I worked on the second one, otherwise I would have got into a bit of a mess trying to do two at a time!  I was pleased with the overall result, but will need to do a little levelling, as the foam had expanded more than I had wanted by a few mm.  I will do this later with some thickened epoxy trowelled to level then overlaminate again.  I also took the opportunity to overlaminate the remaining areas of the bilge to ensure the long term cleanliness of the area. 



29th December 2012

Another productive session or two over the last days.  I got the starboard side painted out with Danboline, making the bilge the last area to be painted out in grey - a milestone looming!  I am planning how to get the overhead moulding painted out, and to this end I did a little sanding of the overhead to see how it would come up.  I figured I should have the parts ready to fit to the overhead, such as hatches, trim and panels so I don't have to mess up the fresh paint with the process of fitting trim, and so I have started building hatches and panels.  I have the starboard overhead locker and the under companionway locker doors ready and in first varnish.  Other panels that are low on varnish also got an extra coat to continue the build up.  Of note is the cool little routered latching blocks I made up for the panel under the companionway... little things!

Battery retaining bits paintedStarboard side painted upNeat routered up retainers!

In other works, I made up a polyester and chopped strand backing plate for the galley through hull.  After this cured, I drilled through the hull with a hole saw to locate the through hull, then drilled the backing plate with the same hole.  I used thickened epoxy to secure the backing plate in the right area after sanding away the Danboline in way of the hole.  I taped up the through hull fitting and used it to ensure the correct alignment of the backing plate - a refinement of the method used on the cockpit drain through hulls.  The good thing about this one is that there is no need to cut the through hull down to size, there being plenty clearance under the sink.

First hatch in placeHatch panels in varnishBacking plate for galley through hull bonded

Other bits and pieces, I bonded in the new electrical panel with 4 big dollops of Sikaflex 291... time will tell if this is a good solution for fastenerless fixing of this panel!  can't see why it won't work, but it will have lots of bits and pieces such as bus bars, wiring, fuse boxes etc. screwed to it, so heres hoping!

Switch panel bonded in with Sikaflex 291Galley recess painted outMore panels in varnish


31st December 2012

This page is a bit full these days, so lets have a new one for 2013...

The Boat Project - Q1 2013, Onward and Upward!

Last Updated (Tuesday, 01 January 2013 01:52)