The Boat Project 2011

So this is the progress achieved during 2011... Work here constitutes the efforts since moving to Aberdeen in May 2010 to New Year 2011.  Before moving to Aberdeen, a lot of the deconstruction and strip out was completed in the boat park at Brucehaven Sailing Club in Limekilns.  As this section has got somewhat large new progress through 2012 and onwards will be on a month my month basis...

Have a great 2012 everyone!

The Boat Project 2011

I feel like I should offer an update on the situation with the boat!

Looking Forward, Grinding done Cockpit Keel as excavated


Currently, I have stripped the innards out of Contradanza.  She had a composite moulding that defined the bunks, the sink and stowages, and the structural grid under the liner mould.  It took very little to convince me to remove the interior moulding... I don't fit on the forward bunk!  It was 4 inches too short for me.  Other inspection at the time revealed that the water that sat in the boat had leaked through the pathetic keel capping laminates, and rust was bubbling up beneath it.  This led me to conclude that water had managed to seep down into the keel material - not a good outlook as the ballast appeared to be mild steel punchings.  I therefore resolved that I could come up with superior interior design and structures and thus began digging the interiors of the boat out!!!


Looking aft, Grinding still to do Forehatch Hole for the old toilet to be filled


This process took me the best part of a month while the boat was at Limekilns.  The interior mould came out cleanly, but the waterlogged steel ballast punchings were another matter.  As the keels were so narrow, and the ballast so tightly packed and rusted together my first efforts with hand tools missed the mark completely.  To keep the project on track an investent in tooling was needed, so an SDS hammer drill was purchased.  This, although noisy, made the process of excavating the keels a relatively smooth, albeit filthy affair!


Stem fitting underside Lots going on in the bow area Under the cockpit to become a locker


Once the ballast was out and the boat starting to get clean again, I started grinding the interior hull such that there was a nice clean substrate to start from afresh.  This is the stage the boat is currently at.  75% of the interior grinding is complete, with a small bulkhead and portion of the interior lining left to remove - its still there as it was a convinient tool shelf as I worked!


Looking up underneath the cockpit coamings Looking up at the cockpit drains Nice moulded lockers!


So that is the stage the boat is currently at.  My priority at this point is to get the trailer back to 100% as then the project can follow us wherever we go, as we have intentions of buying a house soon.  Having said that, I am getting antsy for some progress on the boat, and I have been planning how I would like the interior to come together, and putting together lists and bills of materials.  The main reason that nothing has happened is that I am working outside with the associated low temperatures - I really need temperatures consistently above 5 degrees, and preferrably 10 degrees to work properly with epoxy or vinylester.


Looking onto the transom Chainplate locations Foredeck


Looking aft from foredeck Looking aft from foredeck again




15th May 2011

Incredibly, some new material made it onto the boat this weekend!  I wanted to get a feel for the work required for the filling and fairing of the deck, so I bought a cheap dremmel, countersink bit and some gelcoat filler and went to work.  I found the decks to be in surprisingly good condition for their age, and they sanded up well and smooth.  There are however fairly numerous voids and airholes in difficult to laminate areas such as tight corners and radii which have broken out and these have to be filled.  As I am using gelcoat filler the end effect is to have the decks all white again albeit without gloss, so the end result of nice clean white decks is surprisingly starting to show itself!  I am using where I need to a technique a greek guy called "Panayotis" taught me when I used to work out in Lefkas - use a strip of stiff cellophane or OHP slide type material to get the shape good.  Also, if you are using straight gelcoat, fully tape round the "window" to inhibit air from the gelcoat to get a non tacky surface cure.  In my case the gelcoat filler cures without tackiness, but its still useful to get the shape.  This filler is proving tough and firm to sand back, but I feel gelcoat in this case as filler is a better solution, and its cheap!


Transom - starting work Windowing technique



20th May 2011

Naomi has been sanding!!! We have made solid progress with the filling and fairing of the starboard side deck.  This process involves dremmeling out the stress cracks - a laborious but fun job, and countersinking all the little old hardware holes in the deck, and a general sanding.  Naomi also took great delight in sanding off the old name on the bow, which for superstitious reasons, shall not be mentioned!  There are lots of voids in tight to laminate areas, so these are been identified and broken out for filling.  I am considering changing to a marine filler instead of a gelcoat filler as the gelcoat filler is proving tough to sand, but it does give a good overall job.  I will get a tube of it and see.  Really to be honest I should be filling and fairing with my own mix of epoxy and microballoons, but have held off on this purchase so far.  these attempts on the deck are cursory and investigative by nature, so no significant investment has been made here yet.  Pictures of the process to come this weekend as we carry on with the other side!

21st May 2011

Naomi has been sanding again!! Tyvek suit, mask, goggles, latex gloves taped at the wrists and ear defenders.... combine that with 40 grit on the sander and the bottom paint is going byebye!!

24th May 2011

Fair bit of good work done!  I managed to get into the boat and remove the last of the interior mouldings and starboard cockpit bulkhead.  I used a 0.8mm cutoff disk on the angle grinder and this kept the dust to a minimum, although there was still loads!  We took advantage of a very windy day to get the cover completely off and let the wind howl through carrying the dust away.  It was a noisy day so we felt less guilty about the angle grinding!  I got the moulding and the bulkhead, and proceeded to do some exploratory cuts into the weird little mystery area that I have yet to see into under the aft part of the cockpit.  I also managed to remove the cockpit drains from the hull and the deck after identifying old plywood backing plates which had seen better days.  The removal was surprisingly pain free, and the through hull fittings were the original good quality bronze before they started using rubbish like Tonval.  There was incredibly absolutely no pinking or major corrosion.  After a bit of touching up on the angle grinder and wire wheel I had 4 original fittings that looked like new after 40 years on the boat.  They will be refitted and used for hopefully another 40 years!

Remaining moulding removed Mystery area beyond! The black hole of doom!


Inside the mystery area Cockpit Drain - Plywood backer Same through hulls!

Meanwhile Naomi has been making progress on the removal of the antifoul to give us a good clean bottom to begin fresh from.  She is using loads of PPE to stay out of the reach of the dreaded dust, and has come up with some unique innovations in this field, namely swimming goggles covered in clingfilm to mitigate the effects of dust on the eyes!  She is using 40 grit cloth backed high quality sandpaper on the 1/4 sheet random orbit which seems to be making fairly short work of the old antifoul.  It seems that as Contradanza has stayed outdoors and out of the water for so long the rain has leached away a large portion of the old antifoul making the job fairly easy in places.  This is interesting work as it has revealed some interesting things.  Overall original gelcoat is pale blue, but there is a moulded boot top in white.  This has me pondering all sorts of crazy stuff with my naval architect hat on as I will be significantly changing the interior and fitout, but hoping to arrive at the same waterline... I am going to have to do some actual naval architecture here to see how far we will be from the mark.  Meanwhile the filling and fairing of old fastener holes continues, although we need to order some more fillers.  Some grinding got done on the interior revealed by the bulkhead remove, and finally the cover went back on as the crazy wind of late has subsided.

Naomi sanding away! Naomis Progress


26th May 2011

A 30 minute sanding session took care of another few feet of the bottom paint!

More sanding


04th June 2011

Some continued sanding of the anti foul leaves a bit more of the bottom clean and clear, and has identified a couple of loose points in the gel coat which has been broken out and dremmeled with a view to epoxy filling.  Meanwhile I have polished up the old stem head fitting and the hawse pipe, which someone in the past had, for some inexplicable reason, decided to put several coats of paint on!  One has to wonder... Meanwhile, Naomi and I managed to remove the old rivets from the starboard hull to deck joint and replace with nice new aluminium rivets and aluminium washers.  This has had the effect of seriously tightening up the hull to deck joint in this area, which is a nice feeling.  It will be further reinforced with some laminations on the inside of the joint for ultimate watertightness.  Also got some filling and fairing of the toe rail and the stem got done.  I am using an epoxy filler here.  I still need to get a decent order in for some bulk epoxy and filler products as I am starting to get into the actual reconstruction work.  I have solidified ideas on how to deal with the weak cockpit sole and am just working out the finer details.  It will be nice when the cockpit sole doesn't flex under foot!  Further grinding and deconstruction has taken place inside the boat, clearing up more of the dodgy flowcoating job and smoothing out areas in preparation for new construction.

Thoughts on the ballasting job:  I have to get the boat back onto the trailer before I progress this.  The boat will start to become increasingly heavier as the new construction progresses and re-ballasting occurs.  Also, it would be nice to get a little bit of structure back in place before bringing heavy stuff back on board, as there will be a need to walk over the cockpit sole with bags of ballast etc. so it would seem to make sense to reinforce the area before re ballasting.  Largely the structures forward and aft of the bilge keels can be placed without compromising the re ballasting.  I talked with a company who can supply punched ballast, but they are unfortunately not prepared to give me less than a tonne.  I only need 350kg, so I would then have to somehow get the rest of the ballast either sold, scrapped or stored and that 650kg of steel I don't need hanging around my neck - back to the drawing board temporarily on this one!


Polished stemhead Filling of the stem Polished stemhead




09th June 2011

Interesting times!  Just ordered a huge amount of stuff for the beginings of interior reconstruction!  The plan is to get the hull to deck joint fixed and sealed completely, and to reinforce the cockpit sole undersides and fix the mystery hole areas.  I can do this stuff without the vessel needing to be level yet, and I am itching for a fibreglass project now!  Gotta start somewhere!



13th June 2011

A load of the laminating supplies arrived today so obviously I couldn't resist getting all sticky!  Seriously... the stuff is slowly curing in my hair as I type!  Aside from the normal filling and fairing of anything I can find on the hull and deck as I go, I managed to make a start on the hull to deck joint.  I have started up in the bow as this area will be the first little "finished" area once the anchor bulkhead goes in.  I am using Lloyds approved polyester resin at 3% catalysed, with colloidal sillica and talc as my fillers.  this makes a nice filleting putty that slides in and smooths down well.  The talc makes the putty very dark grey in color so I am wondering if I am using the right stuff as I have seem this end up a lot whiter in other work...  I then proceeded to laminate some woven roving tapes into the hull to deck joint at the bow while the filleting mix was still gelling up to make sure everything was chemically bonding.  I also made some more structural tapes into the area where the forestay lands.  I will make a few more of these laminations before I call it quits in here.  I also need to form a backing pad for the bow eye that will allow the boat to be pulled up on the trailer in here.  On the inside this will also serve as an attachment point for the end of the anchor rode that will reside in here once all is done.  I plan to use a rope and chain rode to keep the weight down, and I also plan to get a stainless length of chain to keep the mess down!  A few pictures of progress today below.


Bow laminations Bow laminations Bow laminations


I forgot to mention why I am carrying out these repairs to the hull to deck joint.  I feel that there are a number of issues present in the current arrangement:

  • Poor condition of original sealant/adhesive in joint interface
  • Poor condition of existing rivets
  • Flexing and lack of stiffness causing stress cracks in the gelcoat on deck
  • Uneven hull to deck line - large gaps

So clearly a fix needed.  I am reinstating new rivets in the hull to deck joint, then filling the void and laminating over to give stiffness back to the joint to hopefully prevent reoccurence of stress cracks.  Also the hull to deck joint will be very leak free with this arrangement, which will be excellent!



11th September 2011

So there has been some work on the boat, along with some more planning and thinking!  Work has continued on the hull to deck joint repair, and I am now fully bonded up in the forward half of the boat, from the bow back to the cockpit bulkhead on both sides.  this continues to solidify the hull to deck joint and is creating a great watertight connection.  I will continue in this theme until the entire hull to deck joint has been consolidated.  I have also adjusted the filling mix slightly with white micro balloons, grey talc and colloidal sillica, which seems to work much better and dries a lighter colour.  I have painted out some more or less finished areas with grey Danboline as I was getting sick of looking at unfinished areas - they are looking pretty good, although I am wondering if I would prefer white Danboline! I plan some nice Carbon Fibre surrounds and doors for these areas, which will be nice details, and should soften the grey ;-)  I will mask these areas off before carrying on with any more grinding and dusty stuff so they can remain clean and ready.


Locker Painted Out Hull to deck joint looking good Under mast locker

Also been thinking about how I want the anchor locker to come together... I ordered a big watertight hatch which seemed exactly what I wanted for the area.  It was good quality and a good price so we ordered another for a hatch into the area under the aft part of the cockpit.  I was initially going to fill this area with expanding foam, but have decided I would prefer to have a wet storage area for small stuff, like wetsuits, snorkelling kit, trash etc.  You can see the rough location of this hatch in the pictures below.

Under companionway locker More lockers! More lockers!

I have also been working on the fore and companionway hatches, which are now cleaned, filled, sanded and degreased ready fro painting.  They are now wrapped and stored in the garage awaiting further work.  We have also put the boat up onto the trailer, which is now largely finished save for the bow winch and snubbing assembly.  The 4mm HDPE sheets on top of the 18mm laminated ply works a treat.  The boat slid over the plastic fine.  Also the gap on the inside was quite tight, but there was clearance so that was a relief!  It will be much better this way as the boat won't slide around, especially once the bow snubber and winch are installed.  Speaking of which, below you can see the bow fitting I am thinking of using.  I don't like it!  I am finding it tricky to source the exact quality of parts that I would like.  Maybe I am being too fussy!  I also constructed a large brace for the back of the boat to ensure that I can work inside safely without risking the boat pitching aft on the trailer as I shift weight around inside.

Proposed bow eye fitting Proposed hatch location Boat now on trailer

The next jobs will be creating the anchor locker bulkhead, and the under cockpit reinforcement, and the rear under cockpit locker.  I still expect to get the ballasting job complete before the winter.  As soon as the Jeep is back up and running I can go and get steel for this job.


14th September 2011

A productive evening!  I managed to get the cockpit sole cut out for the new locker hatch.  I scribed a line around one of the hatches after centering it in the sole at a position I liked, which placed it as far aft as reasonably practical, thus keeping the hatch out of the helmsmans feet.  I managed to chew up two jigsaw blades as they were cheapies supplied with the jigsaw.  Once the main hole was cut I needed to fine tune the shape with a sanding drum in the dremmel, which created the right shape quickly.

Hatch in place Lid open Surprisingly thick cockpit sole

I was pleasantly surprised with the thickness of the cockpit sole laminate, and the cut revealed an interesting aspect of the Vivacity laminate schedule.  It would appear that the first 4 layers onto the gelcoat are laid up with biaxial or woven roving cloth and a clear polyester resin, then there are subsequent layers of chopped strand laid up with a white polyester resin which add a good deal of thickness to the overall layup.  The wood formers for the top hat stiffeners appear to be plywood, and in my case were in very good, dry condition.

Laminating up inside the locker Laminating up inside the locker Laminating up inside the locker

I then proceeded to fillet and laminate the sides and the back of the new locker compartment after a good solvent wash and sanding.  It was nice to get the filthy compartment cleaned out and fresh, as it is an area that has never been seen since the boat was built.  Stagnant water would sit in here, random object would have been lost in here after falling off the main sole, basically this area is a pain in the arse!  It was a pleasure to see the area put to good use.  It was however very difficult to laminate in, and I found myself largely upside down and contorted into rediculous positions trying to make good in here.  In the end it was done, and I considered it a wise decision to catalyse at 2% to give myself a good bit of working time.

Looking forward from the back of the new locker Nice new locker waiting for a front face Rough location of new anchor locker

Naomi came to see how I was getting on, so I roped her into some assistance with the layout!  As you can see in the above picture, the new hatch will provide an excellent anchor locker when we get the bulkhead in place.  The philosopy at this stage is to do as much as possible that does not require the boat to be levelled, as I have yet to invest in a laser level.

As a further thought on the new locker... some have simply filled this area up with expanding foam, plastic bottles, or otherwise sealed it up.  This is a good idea in general for the Vivacity in stock form as a damage/sinking limitation strategy owing to the lack of sub division between the various areas of the boat.  My strategy is going to be slightly different.  My plan is to ensure the right structure goes into the boat at this stage to ensure a bare minimum of leak paths into the vessel.  The hull to deck joint is being completely re worked, the chain plates are being completely reworked, substantial backing pads are being put in place for all major hardware to ensure no holes get ripped in the deck etc... Any 1 area below the waterline will have subdivision that won't flood above a certain level.  I know what you are thinking... Titanic and bulkheads that do not extend fully up to below the weather deck!  So a degree of both strategies are being employed, and I have expanding foam to go into strategic locations.  Also, all parts of the hull will be accessible in the final design, unlike current Vivacities where access below the bunks and sole are severely limited.  This will make below waterline damage control substantially easier.  A water ingress prevention kit will be part of the cruising inventory as such.  Any through hulls are to be in their own compartment, so that failure of any one through hull only floods that compartment and the new damaged waterline is not above that compartments top edge.  The through hulls are also to be protected from anything that might fall onto it in the locker.  There is an effective "collision bulkhead" with the anchor locker design, thus hopefully mitigating the effects of a bow impact or say, the fore stay fitting ripping out.  The cockpit lockers are to be completely seperated from the main cabin this providing additional redundancy.  Careful attention will be paid to ensuring things that have to seal to keep water out are well designed and implemented.  I am trying to develop a boat that will have a completely dry bilge, if that is possible!  It is nice to have this opportunity to re work the Vivacity interior from a blank slate, as I feel the original interior was appropriate for mass production, but not for ease of maintenance or access.

I have made a realisation... If you are not happy or enjoying the job at hand, it is highly likely that you are not using the right tool.  I was loathing sanding lately.  My 1/4 sheet finishing sander was just not cutting the mustard.  Having bought a very powerful random orbit with dust extraction I have realised sanding nirvana!  Before, my old sander just couldn't shift the non skid pattern.  10 minutes with the new tool saw all the non skid flattened to nothing on the companionway hatch!

18 September 2011

More progress on the locker and some bottom sanding for a change!  I also got in my epoxy delivery and made a start on some interior bulkheads.  The new sander is working a treat, and in conjunction with my stanley scraper, Naomi and I managed to make a huge dent in the antifoul removal.  I reckon it will not take too much more time to get the bottom completely bare ready for epoxy barrier coating.  I removed finally the upstand from the old internal moulding under the cockpit, and further prepared the area to receive new bulkheads - grinding, sanding, hoovering and solvent washing.  I also put some new laminations on the underside of the cockpit sole to reinforce a weak area.

Naomi sanding away! Naomi sanding away! Bottom getting burned away!

I find that a good way to get acceptable laminations in areas where there is a lot of directional change is to start with some mixed up fillet.  With the fillet in place to bridge the major gaps, but before it cures, get the laminating resin mixed up with some silica to thicken it, then paint it onto the filler, which further smooths the filler and since everything is still wet, it will all cure together.  The cloth then sticks much better, especially useful if laminating up hand!  I got the new closing partition gut out and started encapsulating it in epoxy & Biax cloth - necessary as it will be in a low down locker and storage area and so vunerable to things banging around.

Upstand cut away and ready for further construction Laminations on the underside of cockpit Sanding in the fore peak ceiling


19th September 2011

So more progress this evening.  I managed to get the laminated panel for the first stage of the under cockpit work bonded into place.  I sanded the area, vacumed, then solvent washed with acetone, let everything dry off, then using epoxy and colloidal silica mixed up to butter like consistency and pasted up the bottom and top of the new panel, then placed it into position.  I used my hot melt glue gun to fix all 4 corners of the panel in place which then allowed me to carry on filleting the panel around its edges.  I filleted inside the new locker and within the cabin, although it will need further filleting to ensure perfection.

Looking at the back of the new panel in the locker Looking at the front of the new panel in the cabin Looking at the front of the new panel in the cabin

The West System resin is nice to work with!  It is a lot thicker than SP106 which I normally use, which helps a little as it does not drain out as easily and spills are less likely.  A little bit more effort required to wet cloth out though, but I am looking forward to working with it more to find out which I prefer - SP106 or West System.  I have made an arrangement with Buccaneer of Banff.  As they are the only chandlery in my area I will be ordering most of my hard to get marine stuff through them as they have a chap that travels regularly between Aberdeen and Banff who has agreed to deliver to me.  Thanks Buccaneer for working with the project - it will certainly make this project more viable not being extorted for delivery!  In other works I carried out a trial on the 2 part expanding foam that I will use to fill up the sides of the void shown below for over laminating.  I plan to use duct tape to seal the edges then I will pour in the mix from the top.  The expansion you see below is literally only a splash of part one and part two!  Better not over do it!

Side of the panel to be filled with expanding foam Expanding foam trial Epoxy station!

Quick Update:  Just been out to check the cure of the new panel, and the heat from the 150 watt work light has pretty much fully cured the new bonding.  Cursory testing of the floor and it feels rock solid under foot!  Thats a win!


22nd September 2011

More progress on the interior laminations for the under cockpit work.  I filled the little triangular recesses created by the existing moulding and my new ply piece with expanding foam and let it cure.  I then sawed and cut it flush, and then applied thickened epoxy filler to flatten the area out ready for laminating.  the next day I sanded and adjusted the shape to perfection, then applied further filleting as necessary.  I let this set up for a while then went straight into laminating.  The results are as below... Looks like it was meant to be there!

Bulkhead laminations going in Bulkhead laminations going in - up under the cockpit sole Bulkhead laminations going in - excellent!


25th September 2011

Naomi made further excellent progress on the bottom sanding, and we are now with a bare hull save for some still to do on the bilge keels and under the aft support pad!  Very pleased I am!  In other works, I laminated new material over the large hole in the bow which used to be the old ball head toilet through hull, and the old sink drain through hull.  Even though I intend to have a through hull for the galley sink I don't want to be tied to the location of the old one.  I did not make any progress inside the new under cockpit locker, which I am saving for when I am in the mood for a real challenge!

Outside the old toilet hole after laminating Outside the old sink through hull hole after laminating Hull well sanded!

Interestingly, the sanding of the forefoot uncovered some previous damage.  As I can't verify if this is epoxy filler, and I don't think it is as it sanded far too easily, I will grind it out and get some good epoxy filling done here when I come to do the closing laminations on the toilet through hull.  Also, in other works, Naomi an I managed to mark the waterline on the inside of the hull.  We waited until after dark then working together using the 150 watt work light we managed to see the moulded waterline on the inside of the hull and mark it using a sharpie marker.  Using this waterline we will be able to level the boat side to side and front to back before proper interior construction begins in earnest.

Old galley through hull well laminated Old toilet through hull well laminated Other little holes - old sounder hole



27th September 2011

"Imagine a world where beautiful ladies sand your boat for you when you're not there..."

Struggling?! Imagine my surprise when I returned from having to work on the bank holiday to find Naomi had completed the sanding of the bottom!  Its completely clear, save for some difficult to get at bits in the inside bilge keel radius and under the aft support pad, which will be completed and hand sanded as required.  Needless to say I was pleased!

Pictures to come, but just imagine a perfectly sanded bottom, and you're there!

Meanwhile, I have started design work on a new aspect - the electrical installation. See the new project starting over here: The Electrical Project


Chain Plate Design - For more details follow the Chain PLate Project - Here

Also now complete is the design work for the new chain plates.  I am trying something new with the chain plates.  I have batted this around in my head for months now looking for the optimum solution... this may not be optimum, but it is novel, and I would like to try it.


You can see the new chain plate drawing here: Chain Plate Design.pdf


My requirements for chain plate design for Contradanza are as follows:

Carries the loading to the hull

The old U Bolt fittings were woefully inadequate in this regard.  They were attached to the deck only, and it was only the hull to deck joint in way of the U bolt that carried any load to the hull.  I have seen several examples of Vivacities with horrible deck uplift in this area.  This arrangement had to go, hence the hull to deck modifications.  Any new chain plate would have to be a calculated and designed item that carries the loadings into the hull in an engineered manner.

Correct Orientation

The chain plates have to orient fore and aft to look right on the existing deck chain plate upstands.  This makes things trickier as I could have just used traditional chain plate "knees" if transverse orientation was possible.  It is, but I feel the chain plate just would not look right on top of the upstand if it were.  Call me fussy!

Stronger than Wire Break Load

As discussed above, they have to be considerably stronger than the rigging wire break load.  The wire in use will be 4mm.  4mm wire typical break load is approx. 12.6kN, equivalent to a 1284kg, or 1.3 tonne pull.  Saving you the maths and naval architectural mind numbing reams of calcs, I have checked this and it is the right wire to specify for the Vivacity.  Peak Righting Moment is approx. 5.6kNm which translates to 4mm stainless 1x19 wire having a factor 3 safety in the Vivacity application.  My chain plates are designed to have a factor 4 safety on wire break load, i.e. they would fail at 5kN or 5.1 tonnes!  This margin of safety more than covers any poor bonding, and distributes the load into the hull over a very wide area, making the proposed arrangement very much superior to the original Vivacity offering.

Visible/Removable for inspection

A lesser requirement, although important.  The key fabrications that make this design work are visible within the cabin for inspection.  If they ever need removing, this can be achieved by unbolting and extracting the chain plate from its pocket.

Invisible on the outside of the hull

Call me vain, but there is no reason good engineering can't be functional and pretty!  Whenever I design something I always try to see the neatest, most elegant solution, and I am reminded of Theo Jansen, the Kinetic Sculptors words:


"The walls between art and engineering exist only in our minds"



1st October 2011

Progress made up in the bow.  I went and got a sheet of 12mm marine ply from the suppliers and started preparing to install the anchor locker bulkhead.  I cut off an old backing pad associated with the original sampson post, a feature I would not be retaining.  I wanted a large backing pad under the foredeck for fitting cleats and so on to, so I cut and ground the area flush and acetone washed.  I then bonded in a new panel with epoxy thickened with colloidal silica.  Then I used a colloidal silica and micro balloon mix to fillet the panel in place.  Results as below:

New 12mm marine ply Arty shot of the light curing the new epoxy! New panel in place and filleted


6th October 2011

So the ballast arrived, see the new Ballast Project.  It required my lifting 300kg in 12.5kg bags up the drive and into the garage off the massive truck that barely made it up the street!

In other works, I have continued with fabrication up in the bow locker area.  My first task was to develop a suitable backing pad and reinforcement for a bow eye.  This had to be fairly sturdy as it needs to take the loads of trailering, hauling the boat up onto the trailer, maybe a bobstay if I ever fancy a bowsprit, and I feel like it might come in useful when anchoring.  So I used chopped glass strands and polyester mixed up with some talc and silica to a thick paste and made a nice flat area in the bow.  I let this cure then overlaminated with biax and epoxy to ensure its overall goodness.

New forepeak bulkhead epoxied New forepeak bulkhead epoxied - inside face with surface tissue New panel dry fit

Next I laid a few bonders up into the hull to deck joint to further reinforce the bow fitting and hull to deck joint.  Nothing spectacular here.

I then templated for the forepeak bulkhead.  I used cardboard and a stanley knife to slowly develop the right shape for the bulkhead, which was tricky for me as it was my first time doing such a thing!  Once I had a satisfactory shape I transferred to 12mm marine ply and jigsawed it out.  I worked out where I wanted to have the hatch and then cut that out too.  I tested the fit and made some adjustments in the boat to my satifation.  The fit was not the best, but not bad enough to scrap the panel, so I proceeded to encapsulate the back face with epoxy and surface tissue to ensure survivability, as it will be in a locker with the anchor rode clattering about.  I also epoxied the edges and the face that would be seen inside the cabin.  I set the panel aside for the next stages.

Marking out for floor and bulkhead New floor filleted and ready for bonding, also bow eye flat above New floor filleted and ready for bonding, also bow eye flat above

I realised that I would not be able to fit the floor of the new compartment through the hatch hole once the bulkhead as fitted, so I resolved to build the floor in first.  I templated for this, making a better job than the previous template as it was smaller and easier to handle.  I then epoxied the panel and hotmelt glued it into position with a run towards the bow to keep water from sitting against the bulkhead panel.  I then filleted and laminated the panel with biax and epoxy.

New floor bonded and fully encapsulated

So a fair bit of good progress before final fitting of the bulkhead!  Hopefully I will never need to see the area below this floor ever again... I have truly epoxied the hell out of it to make sure it does not stand a chance of rotting!


9th October 2011

So further excellent progress this week!  I have finally managed to level the boat.  I bought 6m of 15mm tubing, threw some food colouring and some water into it and had a water level.  Naomi and I proceeded to first level the boat side to side, then fore and aft.  We blocked up the axle to keep the weight over the tyres over the winter, and levelled the side to side based on the lower moulded in boot top, as this was the only real reference to a waterline I have.  We then levelled fore and aft.  The method proved to be extremely accurate.  When levelling fore and aft I kept the water level back from the ends as the line does do some funny stuff up under the ends and at the bow.  This seemed to work well.  Once I knew the boat was level it was clear to see from a walk round that the lower moulded boot top line was a true water line, while the shape of the top line of the boot top was shaped up at the bow, and down at the stern.

Side to side - showing level Starboard Side to side - showing level Port Blocked up trailer registering level side to side

Once I knew the boat was level, I checked various other parts of the boat.  The chain plate flats were registering true across the boat, the cockpit sole registered a run forwards to the drains, We also checked the waterline on the inside of the boat and extended it aft as a build datum for the internals.  We marked off where the water line was in relation to the cockpit sole, which registers approx 80mm above the datum.

Fore to aft - level at the stern Fore to aft - level at the bow Fore to aft - level at the bow and showing upper line rising

In other works, I managed to largely complete the installation of the anchor locker bulkhead.  I completed the necessary laminations within the locker and then sanded, solvent washed then painted out with grey danboline, but leaving enough of a border to complete the internal laminations.  I initially bonded the new panel in with thickened epoxy and some blobs of hot melt glue to hold it while the epoxy set up, then I completed the filling of the voids around the perimiter.  Then once that set up I made a bonding fillet, again letting things cure a bit, then put 150mm biax tabbing all round with epoxy.  I could not complete the inside, which I shall do once the outer bonders have completed their cure.

Useful tool inside too! A nice shot! Insane-O-cam shot showing work left inside forepeak locker

Other works also included a new lamination over the hole at the top of the transom, and a new backing pad for the rudder fittings.  I taped over the outside and laminated up on the inside, then got a piece of marine ply ready and encapsulated in epoxy, with a lot of thickened resin to take up the space at the back.  I managed to devise a cunning means of supporting the new panel in position using whatever I found to hand!

Painted out the other side too New laminations and backing pad for the rudder in the transom New laminations and backing pad for the rudder in the transom

Further thought and preparation went into the ballasting job, with orders placed for the 26 litres of polyester resin needed to complete this action.  Also the port side deck head lining locker got sanded, solvent washed and painted out.  Interestingly, cursory standing on the foredeck reveals a very very solid feeling foredeck - just the job!

New laminations for the fore peak locker



17th October 2011

So a few more bits and pieces on top of the ballasting efforts ongoing.  I managed to complete the laminations required for the Rudder Backing pad.  This was nice to get out of the way as its in a tricky place to work, and more insane contorting was necessary to make good in here.  I have an excellent plan coming together for this area that involves a self draining sealed off compartment accessed from the back of the cockpit to store fuel for the outboard and the gas for the stove.  It will ventilate and drain overboard through the transom through some clamshell vents at the bottom, and some louvred vents at the top.  The hatch will be a Vetus Planus 340x280 and is on order now.  Just wait and see!

Filler going into the void spaces More Insane-O-cam action! Rudder laminations complete


23rd October 2011

Some more bits and pieces this weekend.  I finalised the laminates inside the aft cockpit locker and sanded it out.  Again this area offered some challenging conditions for laminating, and I found myself contorted as usual.  Once the laminates were complete I painted out the area with grey danboline, drawing this area to a finish.  While I had the can open, I also painted out the remainder of the forepeak locker, again drawing another area to a close!

The hole of doom - done! The other hole of doom - done! Canoe paddle and long storage potential solutiion?

I decided to see about the backing pads for the cockpit drain through hulls.  I made some backing pads by pouring polyester resin in to some tubs and mixing in a load of chopped glass fibres.  This produced some excellent rot free backing pads.  Meanwhile, as the pads cured, I chiselled and sanded the old ply wood backing pads until I had a nice clear place to land the new pads.  Sanding the pads got them ready for installation, and I installed them in a bed of colloidal silica thickened epoxy.  I then filleted around the bases, and cleared the through hull hole of epoxy from the outside.

Backing pads for the cockpit drain through hulls Backing pads for the cockpit drain through hulls - Port Backing pads for the cockpit drain through hulls - Starboard

I also had a few thoughts for the configuration of the port side cockpit locker.  With a potential need to store long items, like kayak paddles, boat hooks, fishing rods etc.  I spent some time considering a few options.  One option came to light that seemed sensible.  If i installed a low bulkhead in the port cockpit locker, I could have a very long storage option through here.  Thurther thought is required on the limbering and sealing arrangement though, so watch this space...



25th October 2011

I couldn't wait any longer... I had no excuse any more to hold off starting to fit the interior!  The V Berth calls for a transverse division 600mm aft of the anchor locker bulkhead.  If you look down on top of the boat, this places the division a little aft of the front edge of the fore hatch opening, so there would be good structure underneath the berth for anyone standing in the hatchway.  I set a level around where the top of the berth would sit, then templated with cheap pine stripwood and my hot melt glue gun.  This produced a superb template of the required mini bulkhead.  I transferred the template to the 12mm marine ply and marked the shape out.  I filled in the blanks free hand, and then cut the shape with my jigsaw.  I was flaberghasted to see that my bulkhead fitted perfectly the first time, with no trimming required!

Templating with cheap pine stripwood Panel fitting first time! Panel filleted...

I then sanded the landing area, and acetone washed.  I buttered up the edges of the plywood panel with thickened epoxy and fitted the panel, securing it temporarily with hot melt glue.  I then filleted the panel with the thickened epoxy, and let things cure.  The next day, I sanded and acetone washed to get rid of any amine blush, then carried out some fitting for the cleats that would support the berth top and give strength to the panel.  I cut the cleats out of 20mm x 45mm Meranti hard wood.  I planed the bottom edge off so that there would not be a hard edge to catch hands and kit on when stored in the locker, and to better hold paint on the edges.  Then I fitted the two cleats to the top edge of the panel with thickened epoxy, and went berzerk with clamps.  Meanwhile, I fitted the bonders for the panel with epoxy - 150mm wide 450gsm biax cloth.  Finally, using the leftover epoxy I encapsulated the remaining bare plywood, thus ensuring this division will live forever!

Cleats fitted to the top of the panel Bonders laminated in and panel encapsulated!


26th October 2011

Just been having a play with the theme for the interior, and finishes for panels and floors, and how the trim will have to work...  This is a deceptive and complex problem, and my poor little brain has been chewing on how the various materials, panels, edges and trim interact to produce a seamless interior look.  This is what I have so far:

Showing interior trim and colour scheme


Cabin Top

The original gelcoat for the cabin top is tired... There are plenty scrapes, scratches, voids and stains.  I had initially thought I would be able to gelcoat repair and then polish the existing gelcoat, but the more I think of this, the less I like the idea of spending hours patching and repairing into inside corners and then overhand polishing for more hours.  Although this would produce the most original finish, I can't bring myself this level of punishment!  Therefore the cabin top will likely be something like international primer, followed by Toplac snow white, probably with the matting additive to keep the glare down and make any brush strokes less visible.  I also thought I might buy an HVLP spray setup and use this... maybe.

Berth fronts and Galley Sides

This will be clean white again.  As these panels will be encapsulated with epoxy, I will be able to fill and fair these panels to perfection before undercoating, white toplac and matting additive.  This will be easy to maintain hopefully, and should be recoatable without too much hassle.  The nice thing is, with this finish, I don't have to be too careful to protect the ply finish as I construct.  If I was using a fancy teak or cherry veneer ply, this wouldnt be the case, and I would have to carefully protect the joinery as I construct.

Galley Worktops

These will be 27mm Oak worktops.  These will look fantastic and when combined with the sole will give the boat an instant feature.  I am also considering an oak veneer like material on a ply substrate incase this is dictated by other aspects of the construction in this area, e.g. the need to incorporate sinks and hatches through the work tops.

Cabin Sole

This will be typical household oak hardwood flooring strips bonded to a ply substrate.  This will be varnished and will look phenomenal next to the white panels of the berth and galley fronts.  There will be a large removable panel in the middle of the sole which will reveal a very shallow bilge to keep the cabin sole low, but have enough height to hide the back up plan... a 10kg Brittany anchor and the bilge pump!


The trim will be readily available Meranti Hardwood.  I have been varnishing some of this up and have decided the appearance is quite acceptable for the purpose.  I can't wait to be at the varnishing the trim stage!  There will be some sneaky features of the rim to allow versatility, e.g. the fitting of a table between the galley fronts, and fitting the infill for the athwartships berth below the companionway.

Cabin Sides

The cabin sides shall be initially painted with grey or white Danboline just to seal the surface, then as time and funds allow, I shall line them with 10mm plastazote foam for insulation, then fit a light grey lining carpet over the top of this.  This will keep condensation at bay, while keeping the cabin warm in winter, and insulating the cabin from the heat of the sun.  I can't wait to see how this woorks... I think it could make a real difference in the habitability of the boat overall.


The cushions will be a heavy waterproof canvas/sunbrella type material in light grey again.  I am toying the idea of white or black piping on the edges too.  The foam will be sourced from a cheap foam Ikea mattress, with a layer of lower density plastazote laminated to the mattress to give it a little more durability.  Proper foam suppliers are stupid expensive... just get a 50 quid Ikea foam mattress!


29th October 2011

So a fair bit of progress again!  I managed to paint out the remains of my can of grey Danboline into the forward part of the under vee berth storage.  I kept away from where I needed to fit something to support the berth top at the hull sides, which I hadn't figured out at this point.  I also fitted the second division for under the vee berth following much the same process as the first one.  I levveled this panel across the boat by plumbing down from the head lining moulding, but this proved to be out by 10mm!  Annoying, but I am not worried - this will all be hidden.  Before I fit the most important bulkhead, the one that carries the front of the vee berth and part of the galley I will level side to side by measuring back from the bow.  You can already see the crazy storage I am building into this boat - you could easily fit a small outboard engine in this locker!

Forward vee berth loker painted out New Bulkhead in and formers getting poured formers getting poured...

So I then started working out how to do the supports for the berth tops at the hull.  I used some cheap pine stripwood and some duct tape to make moulds against the hull into which I poured my 2 pack foam.  The key to success with the 2 pack foam is accurate ratio control.  Previously I had tried a test batch by just splashing the stuff willynilly into a tub... this produced a foam but it had no ridgidity.  This time I got the ratios spot on and poured the mix into the moulds.  Over about 30 mins the foam expanded and set solid.  I then proceeded to cut off the excess and trim the formers to shape.  They were well bonded to the hull.

formers getting laminated formers getting laminated formers getting laminated

I then proceeded to laminate a 450gsm biax tape over each former.  This produced an excellent result, and now I have the method perfected, I can use it elsewhere in the build.  I feel like I might install some low divisions in this big compartment.  The intent is that the dingy/inflatable canoe will lie here, along with other less bulky items.  It would be a good thing if there was a little division, with the ability to strap it down if neessary.

formers getting laminated formers getting laminated formers getting laminated

30th October 2011

So a little more progress up in the vee berth with the forward compartment shelves fitted up and laminated.  This went smoothly as I had the technique down from the previous efforts.  Wile I was up here I also decided to install a capping layer in the big locker.  I decided this as the hull in here was rough, with dry laminate areas.  The painted out area more forward would need more coats because these areas just sucked in paint.  I wanted to see if I could improve this with the next locker, so I installed a light weight surface tissue into the bottom of the locker.  This was a tricky job surprisingly and took loads more epoxy than I thought.  The light stringy strands of surface tissue kept lifting up with the roller and I had to resort to stippling with a brush, which was annoying because of the enormous area.  Nonetheless, I persisted and won.  Once it cured it was obviously a success, leaving a nice uniform surface that would hold paint well.

Formers overlaminated all round now Formers overlaminated all round now Surface tissue installed in big locker


Last Updated (Wednesday, 28 December 2011 00:01)