We were surprised that the race was abandoned when we were all the way back to Steele Point and had only to get to a short course finish in Rose Bay which is the usual order of events in light winds. There was a good chance that the calm in Rose Bay could have persisted but we were coming down with wind.
Up to that point we had been having a wonderful afternoon with three knots of westerly wind carrying the fleet out towards the Sow and Pigs. Everyone seemed to have a turn doing well. Amanti jumped out early only to have to wait as she sailed into the doldrums first. Agrovation went South and missed the whisp of westerly that carried the fleet forward. We started near the boat and stayed south of the fleet waiting for the wind shadow from Fidelis to pass to windward. Once in clear air we accelerated to keep pace with the fleet and headed down the rhumb line. We were doing well to leeward of the fleet but in clear air so it was unsurprising that Cuckoos Nest and Crosshaven came across on starboard. We wriggled behind the starboard gybe Crosshaven and Monkey Magic and held our course for the distant mark.
Everyone seemed to have a turn at catching up but by good luck we managed to keep gapping few boat lengths on the fleet except for Amanti and Agrovation.
As the breeze swung from zero knots to a 6 knot south east we hunkered down into beating mode but keeping it fast. Being inside Amanti and Agrovation we made up a little ground and rounded just behind Amanti. Britannia came charging in from deep down south and rounded on our stern. They very promptly had their large genoa poled out to leeward and maintained a position to windward of Passion X while we were chasing down Amanti.
Then the news of the abandonment came across the radio and that was it.

As the fleet order stood Britannia would have been clear leader with Passion X a good prospect for a second on handicap but it was not to be.

In the tug of war between adding more plywood panels towards the stern and finishing the ply that was already installed the extra plywood won out.

It was not a hard choice as the weather suited adding more sheets of plywood and once I got into a routine the extra six sheets to finish the sides back to the stern progressed well.

View off the side ply panels towards the stern
Hull stern view with side panels complete

While it appears that a lot of progress has been made the appearance is deceptive. The hull had been prepared for the ply sheets many weeks ago while I was waiting for construction drawings for the keel floors. Likewise I had already cut and fitted ten shelves so gluing in the six shelves in the quarter berth area was a quick task. Nevertheless i did recheck all the stringers and did take a few plane strokes off here and there. Finally all the surfaces to be glued were sanded.

Quarter berth shelves had been cut and fitted many weeks ago so gluing them to the cleats was a quick job

When the Wednesday racing at RANSA was cancelled due to the strong wind warning I used the time to advantage and fixed more panels. It was helpful that the two sided are identical so that once one side was trimmed to size it was a template for the other side.

By Thursday I had only one sheet to fit and that was already cut to size, marked with the stringer positions and had the edge rebated at the tangent chine.

Fitting the sheets to the hull was not without drama with the occasional shower threatening but with help from Elaine the panels were all fixed to the hull.

The balance of Thursday was spent with some finishing tasks and priming a lot of bare plywood in the quarter berth and cockpit locker areas. This priming is bringing forward a lot of finishing and I am confident that the road to completion is shortening with every coat of primer.

Fitting the side panels against the house needed assistance from Elaine
Primer in the cockpit locker with two coats in the rudder port structure at the stern
First coat of high build epoxy primer in the quarter berth

In contrast to the appearance of speed earlier in the week today was a slow one with careful preparation of the chainplate frames for glassing to the external plywood. I am being careful to remove any cured epoxy or at a minimum ensure that all the surface gloss is removed and well sanded surface is presented for gluing. In all there are five layers of glass to go over the join of the chainplate frames to the hull and today I managed only three layers on one side of one chainplate. On the bright side all the connections have been prepared so it is just a lot of glassing to go.

I am pushing forward with the glassing of the chainplate frames so that I can prime the settee locker area and work towards the stern priming the interior of all the plywood panels installed this week.

The title is appropriate for the sailing and for the boatbuilding but first the sailing.

Last Wednesday I had every intention to do a boat end start for clear air and a lane out of the strong incoming tide. Everyone else had the same idea and while we had a close hauled line to clear the stern of the committee boat there was an impenetrable wall of Division 1 yachts and other than breaking rule 14 and giving them all a nudge into the start boat the only choice was to let them all break the rules.

From our position down the line we were blanketed by the bargers and a long way from clear air. Well that is the end of the story. We never broke cover all the way to the top mark and were second last to round in conditions we usually enjoy.

The work home provided some relief and we had some very good angles coming into shortened short course finish line in Rose Bay. Others had equally good angles so we made little ground.

We are left to ponder how different it would have been if we had clear air and kept out of the tide as planned.

Back on the boatbuilding I have been bogging the water tank lids and the settee shelves to the stringers ahead of fixing the ply sheeting. Bogging in shelves takes time especially as each shelf meets the angled stringers at different angles. Nevertheless the job is finished and the next sheet of ply is ready for each side.

Settee area shelf bogged to the stringer
Keel floor 1 bogged to the chainplate frame, the water tank top and the tangent stringer
Keel floor 1 bonded to the tank top and the tangent stringer
Ready for 12 mm ply plating in the chainplate area

Other jobs have been progressing at pace including the rudder port reinforcement at the deck level and completing the plywood panel that separates the quarter berth from the locker. This panel had to be extended down to the hull skin and the join glassed both sides. For good measure the cleats that will support the bunk tops have been glued to the vertical panel so that the whole panel can be primed next time I am in the painting mood.

Rudder port reinforcement at the cockpit underside, corner join glassed and primer everywhere
Quarter berth plywood with cleats and glassed joins ready for primer

Since the last blog the bare plywood in the quarter berth ante room and the head has been primed, sanded and spot patched so the interior has a semi finished appearance and the plywood has a level of protection from the elements. I had hoped to do a second coat of primer but in the cool conditions it was insufficiently hard for machine sanding so I have let it cure and done extensive preparation for the second coat. I think that will be more successful as the finish is already very smooth.

There were extra cleats to be added to the plywood in the quarter berth and cockpit locker and a 12 mm doubler for the bottom of the locker to take the tie down points for the heavy equipment. So soon there will be a 75 mm strip of 24 mm plywood to take the straps that will secure the 16 kg spare anchor and the chain attached to the rode.

Primer to the quarter berth and head doorways

The potential damage from the heavy anchor always concerns me and on Passion X I have added Tasmanian Oak hardwood strips to the top of the stringers. The Tasmanian Oak is stock trim from the local hardware store and is an ideal timber for the task. I also use this timber to make the tracks for the sliding doors in the galley as it is tough and machines well.

Looking ahead I am inclined to complete the next sheet of plywood on each side before moving aft. Once fixed I can do the epoxy glass join inside and out and glass the chainplate frames to the skin. There is a total of four layers of 450 gram double bias to go over the connection and before the epoxy glass is too hard I would like to do the fairing and prime the shelf area behind the settee.

To be honest I will be torn between finishing the settee area and doing more external ply and the weather will play a big part. The settee area is well protected so it would be sensible to use any fine weather to complete the ply towards the stern where the transom sticks out from under the awning.

Prior to our Wednesday RANSA race we took Passion X for a speed trial under motor. This is my test to see if the hull is clean and she passed with flying colours. We achieved a tide assisted speed over 8.6 knots and the two way average was well over my 8 knot minimum requirement so she was good to go.
Pre start the westerly gusted up over 20 knots well in excess of the forecast 15 knots but as the start was downwind we elected to start with the No 1 heavy genoa. It was a good decision as the wind abated and we never saw 20 knots for the rest of the day. We did get the forecast dead square run to the top mark and by staying away from the crowd arrived with the leading yachts.

The work home was now dead into the wind with lots of crossings along the way. Occasionally we picked a shift and maintained our position near the front. Foreign Affairs managed a break followed by Allegro and Cuckoo’s Nest and then there was a large group including Meridian and Joli from GFS and the two Sydney 36’s Amanti and Crosshaven. Krakatoa was close behind as was Britannia. Agrovation was unusually playing catch up having tangled their genoa leads.
There was plenty of action up to Steele Point when Amanti went in too close and lost a lot of ground. We went wide and were rewarded with clear air and a good line into the mark in Rose Bay. The beat to Point Piper was also busy and we were passed by Meridian and Joli but on the run around Shark Island we were first with genoa out to windward and went straight to the mark with good effect. The work down the back of Shark Island was the icing on the cake as Meridian and Joli were headed going into the mark. Behind us Crosshaven and Amanti were lifting all the way into the mark while the shift did not reach us.
Very fortunately Amanti and Crosshaven kept going on starboard well past the mark which allowed us to tack onto port and make distance to the finish. Joli and Meridian were caught with the starboard tackers carrying on too far and that cost them a lot of time.

Approaching the finish it was our turn for an unfavorable shift as we were headed on the beat to the finish so that we could not cross the line on port. Meanwhile Crosshaven behind was lifted all the way to cross the line before we could tack onto starboard. The line was terribly biased in favour of the port tack but we managed to hold on for a 2 second lead over Meridian and a 4 second lead over Amanti.

We were happy with our mid fleet finish on handicap and the close racing was a bit of a thrill.

Meanwhile back at the boat yard the several days of fine weather were put to good use. It was so unusual to be able to leave the tarpaulins off overnight.

The first task was to finish the and trial fit the quarter berth door so that the two door panels could be glued into position. First the adjoining panels had to be stiffened with straight planks so that the door panels would be both straight and in the correct alignment. Next the joins had to be masked to keep the ply clean and finally the glue applied. It took much longer than expected and was finished under lights at 6:30 pm.

Door frames braced every which way and plywood protected with masking tape.

At 1:00 am I was awake so removed the masking tape before the glue was too hard and early next morning was cleaning the surplus epoxy before it cured further. The result was pleasing so I took a few photos for the record.

Showing off the completed door frames

In preparation for fitting the shelves in the settee area the chainplate frames had to be trimmed to their final dimensions after which the laser level was used to establish the position of the cleats for the shelves. Each of the four cleats per side was fastened with 20 mm silicon bronze nails while the epoxy set and it was encouraging to be able to hammer the nails in with little bounce back. That shows how rigid the chainplate frames have become now that they are fastened to the water tank tops.

Chainplate partial bulkhead trimmed and cleats for shelving attached

Being anxious to protect the plywood from the inclement weather I purchased a HVLP spray unit to apply the epoxy primer. The section of the hull from the bow to the chainplates was then sprayed in a short afternoon. The spraying is a work in progress as I found it difficult to adequately cover the stringers without getting runs on the ply. For the first coat I compromised with a brush for loading up the stringers and with brushing out the runs. I think it will be fine for loading up primer on external hull and in the meantime I have plenty of interior on which to practice.

First coat of epoxy primer in the bow area

Between jobs I took delivery of another 70 litres of epoxy resin and an additional 16 sheets of plywood. If you said I was hoarding against future shortages I would not deny the accusation.

One of my jobs is to take photos for the record and I find that I have to make time for this activity as I tend to attack my list of jobs with a certain level of intensity. One catch up photo was the mast step support in front of the bulkhead and another was the interior view of the head doorway.

Forward section of the mast step support glued in position

Yesterday I was keen to sand the primer between the bow and the mast step and get on another coat but it was not to be. The primer is very hard and needs aggressive sanding to smooth the surface and remove the gloss. Also the first coat shows up any glue drips and any rough timber so the sanding took much longer than expected.

While up in the bow sanding I took the opportunity to finish the bob stay connection. The bob stay will be a dynex dux which is stronger than dyneema and the rope will be passed through a 12 mm hole just above the water line. The hole go through 8 layers of 12 mm ply and two layers of 15 mm hardwood which are wedges in the bow to bridge the gap between the tangent stringer doubles and the 48 mm wide bow knee. That is another job done and mighty strong too.

Primer in the bow area aggressively sanded also blocks to enclose the bob stay hole.

With not enough time to paint I rounded the corners of the cockpit underside in the quarter berth ready for a layer of double bias glass to reinforce the join and stiffen the floor. This is over and above the ISO requirements but I did the same on Passion X with excellent stiffness resulting.

Today is Friday and the rain has returned with a vengeance as if to make up for the sunny days. The ground around the hull is more boggy than ever but I was able to glass the underside of the cockpit floor and prepare all the element for the rudder stock ports.

Looking forward to the coming days, rain is forecast for a week. That means no ventilation for spraying epoxy primer but I might revert to the roller and brush method in areas where there is adequate ventilation. In this way i might get most of the bare timber covered before I move on to installing extra plywood.

I cannot recall a sailing day with more random wind directions than yesterday. We made a good start at the boat end but on the first header the pin end yachts crossed and in a few minutes Amante was so far ahead she was in a race of her own. For a few tacks we crossed tacks with Fidelis but when she sailed over to Steel Point she came back on a big lift on starboard. To cut a long story short we short tacked the middle of the course and while generally on the lifting tack both sides won out big. The run home brought no relief as the breeze died and shifted so that by the time we were supposed to be running home we were beating into a dying breeze. As painful as it was we kept trying but the conditions provided no relief.
As well as the fluky conditions I suspect that either the propeller did not feather or we picked up some garbage on the prop but whatever the reason we managed a last place on handicap only beating the did not start yachts.

Thankfully the boat building is going better than the sailing. Since the last post I have finished the cockpit all the way to the transom and that means the quarter berth is finished too. The forward side of the mast step is installed and the doors to the head and quarter berth are well advanced.
The doors have taken longer than anticipated but at the same time I have been rather particular with the details and as a result the complete door assemblies are almost done. All that remains is some trim on the 9mm doors to stiffen them and the hinges and catches. Given the miserable weather we are having I may well finish these in the garage as a rainy day job.

The cockpit is completed as far as it will before the yacht is turned.
The king size quarter berth
Doors under construction on the garage floor
Trial fit of the head door assembly, Still needs 2 mm trimmed off the side of the panel

In between larger jobs I have been filleting and sanding in the bow from the stem back to the mast step and with another half day of sanding should be ready to spray a lot of epoxy primer around. The primer will protect the completed parts of the hull from the wet and damp weather should it persist.

What a glorious day for the first race of the RANSA Winter Wednesday series! The race had it all with sunshine and better winds than forecast with enough shifts to keep everyone on their toes.
The first leg was into the eye of the wind and while windward leeward courses are not our strong suite we did get a good start at the pin and took the opportunity of the first flick in the breeze to get back across the course. Allegro with new antifouling was out of the blocks strongly and held her lead over us all day. Agrovation, clearly in a class of her own was soon in the lead through good boat speed but also picking the first shift to the east to perfection.
We were happy to be crossing tacks with Amante, Foreign Affairs and Crosshaven and to keep in touch on the long slow run home. Only the nimble Brittania popped our bubble when she sailed around us going into Rose Bay and did the same to much of the fleet to the finish to win on handicap.
I am content with our mid fleet position and happy that everything worked as it should.

The sailing did take second place to the boatbuilding this morning as I was determined to complete the front section of the new cockpit design on the new yacht. I rose early to finish what I could not do yesterday due to the complexity of the shape around the front of the cockpit. The cockpit narrows from 850 mm to 600 at the bulkhead so that we have more headroom in our enormous quarter berth. Now that we can see the berth in real life any complexity is well worth the effort. Now that we can see how much extra cockpit room is created by taking it right to the bulkhead we are very happy.

I have rotated the photo so you can see the longer cockpit and lower sill on the companionway. Pretend the dirt you can see at the top of the photo is sky.

There are not a lot of photos because I have been working to dark and the sun sets not long after 1700 hours in our valley.

Settee berth top and water tank top photo taken after dark

Water tank side finished before sailing at Gosford on Saturday

Quarter berth and cockpit side is a full width sheet of 12 mm plywood. This shows part of the enormous quarter berth. Photos next time.
Mast step components pre glued and cleaned up prior to installation

After a brief period of enjoyable alfresco boatbuilding the rain has returned, the lawn is saturated and the tarpaulins are back on the boat. To be fair there has been several days on pleasant weather when the activities on the project have been humming along but the majority of the time progress has been weather affected.
There was a brief few days when the sun shone enough for the lawns to be mown and for one sail to be hosed down on the grassy slope and then taken into the sun room for final drying but since then it has been damp.
Yesterday was Wednesday 27th and with persistent rain I confined my activities to cutting timber for the mast step and for the water tanks.

I have found the vacuum cleaner attached to the saw bench does a reasonable job of sucking up the sawdust and so long as the lengths are short I can operate inside the garage and so the mast step timber is cut as are some 30 by 30 triangular cleats for the water tanks and the V berth bunks.

Inside the garage the jig saw has been busy cutting out the 9 mm ply for the water tanks and various other locations. Fitting the water tank tops has been a little more difficult than on Passion X as on the new build the sheet plywood meets the tangent stringer at the hull so there is a lot of careful cutting to get a fit that is good enough for the gap to be filled with thickened epoxy. It took a full day to fit the water tank fronts around the massive keel floors and a day to fit the water tank tops around the tangent stringers but both are now ready to go when the weather invites me outside again.

Before the water tank plywood I was fully occupied with completing the infill blocks on the keel floors and installing the king plank. I am particularly pleased with the king plank fit and the 12 to 1 scarf join situated over a long solid infill section just behind the mast step. It was a bit fiddly getting the surfaces coated both sides with thickened epoxy but by sliding the king plank forward the rear could be moved from side to side to expose the surfaces that needed glue and then by sliding it back the front end could be swung from side to side to repeat the glue application. I tried to err on the side of too much glue so there was lengthy clean up exercise once the planks were clamped in place.

Keel floor infill blocks all glued in place
Thee king plank goes all the way forward to bulkhead C
The trial fit of the king plank showing the 12 to 1 scarf join over the solid infill block behind the mast step

My last job yesterday was fitting 30 by 30 cleats to the frames for the join between the top and sides of the water tank so when the weather and mood are aligned there will be photos to show.

Today it rained consistently so instead of starting with boat building I headed out early to ready Passion X for the upcoming Winter Wednesday series. Sails were retrieved from the sailmaker and reloaded on board together with fuel and a little water to keep the bottom of the tanks wet.

Reloading Passion X for the Winter Wednesday series

Between showers and they were the predominant feature of the day, I acid washed the hull to remove the grime from the last trip to Port Stephens. The floods had brought down so much iron that the hull was a light beige colour and in need of some cleaning. The acid wash worked a treat to my surprise as I applied coats between showers and retreated to the comfort of the cabin whenever the rain returned.

The intermittent cleaning and resting was a relaxing way to spend the day and with a break in the weather I was able to disembark along with some surplus equipment that is not needed for the winter racing.

After a very pleasant Sail Port Stephens and return voyage I am back to boatbuilding in a measured way. Over Easter we had family visiting from Ballina, family gatherings and a great family sail on the harbour. A bonus with the family sail was the opportunity to hoist damp sails from the last regatta and give them a good airing in the warm sunny conditions. We also finished unloading Passion X by removing the spray dodger and the surplus kitchen ware and cooking ingredient. She is almost back in racing condition with just some minor routine sail maintenance to be finished.

The boatbuilding has to be fitted in around these activities and by design I chose some tasks that could be done in short time slots.

I take the view that everything has to be done some time and spreading the tasks out gives variety to the day.

When we left for Port Stephens the keel floors were installed but that is just the start. Each floor has a doubler across the centre to compensate for the timber removed for the keel bolt holes.

Using blocks and wedges to secure the keel floor doublers while the epoxy cures
The keel floor doubles completed waiting for the fore and aft blocking

Between the doubler and the next floor there is a full 300 mm width block by 115 mm deep of end grain timber to take compression loads in the event of a grounding. This is made up of nine blocks 33 mm wide with a extra narrow block where needed to achieve the full width. After much debate with myself I chose to glue the blocks before installation as that allows me to make a neat limber hole passage and epoxy saturate the end grain before installation.

Four of the six blocking pieces to go between the keel floors

Some of the fill in jobs include adding 10 mm strips to the stringers between bulkhead C and D to compensate for the extra frame spacing compared to Passion X. The extra 100 mm length plus the extra 400 mm width in this area makes the V berth cabin seem enormous and I am excited for the extra space under the bunks for sail storage. I am not being over dramatic when I say I am excited because I find myself shuffling sails around in the V berth.

When we go offshore we have a No 1 light, No 1 heavy, No 3 carbon, No 4 Hydranet, a storm jib, two symmetrical spinnakers, a asymmetric spinnaker and a code Zero. For harbour racing we take off the No 4 and put on an old high clewed No 1 for the social races so there is always a lot of sails to move around with half under the lockers and half above the berth top. With the wider berth tops on the new build each half will lift more easily and more sails will fit underneath.

There is also a large increase in volume in the locker under the chain locker. It is 300 mm longer and 400 mm wider at the fat end and that should be excellent storage for light but bulky items and certainly big enough for an a spinnaker or two.

I find myself torn between completing the front of the yacht and progressing the keel and aft end and so am doing a bit of both. Once the king plank is installed everything from the stem to the mast step could be finished. When I say finished I do mean finished. All the locker shelves are cut and could be installed and all the interior could be painted. It is very tempting to do this as it would spread out the sanding and painting tasks. In this respect I am reminded that 90% of boatbuilding is sanding and I have already destroyed one random orbital sander and one multipurpose tool.

Epoxy structural fillets being used as a fill in job. Also the extra strips on the stringers can be seen in this photo

The strong southerly forecast caught me unprepared for the trip to Newcastle so I had to abandon boatbuilding and prepare Passion X for a Wednesday morning departure ahead of the Thursday front. The main tasks were loading all the category 4 safety items, doing an oil and fuel filter change and loading the boat with our bedding, clothes and provisions. In a classic just in time I returned home for dinner and a trip back to the yacht for a overnight sleep so we could depart at 6 am on the Wednesday morning. This was the last daylight saving Wednesday of the year so we had enough time for a safe trip to Newcastle.
We arrived Newcastle at 4 pm just as the wind was building and surfed a wave into the harbour at over 12 knots. Kevin had been kind and accompanied us on the trip up in case the wind arrived sooner than forecast and as Elaine was seasick for the last four hours his assistance was most welcome. He made a quick departure to catch the train back to Gosford and Elaine and I settled in for few days of rest while waiting for the Newcastle to Port Stephens race on the Sunday.
After the last minute rush to prepare Passion X the few days in Newcastle were most welcome.
Sunday came soon enough and we took part in the most genteel race I can remember. A two sail reach from the start line to the finish line! Some yachts set spinnakers and ended up so low that eventually they dropped the kites and came quite hard on the wind to finish.

We had an interesting tussle with Lady A who carried a code Zero skillfully and we only passed them at the finish when they had to furl the sail. Lady A took out the handicap and we were pleased with a 6th place out of a large fleet.
Sail Port Stephens was the usual great regatta with the best conditions kept for the sailing days and the miserable wet weather falling on the lay day. The final day was abandoned when there was no wind.

Drifting conditions for the first race of the Commodores Cup

Elaine grabbed the opportunity to head back to Newcastle that afternoon so we scrambled to reload Passion X and headed out at 3 pm. Sunset was around 5:30 pm and maratime twilight just on 6 pm so we had an hour of motoring in the dark to reach Newcastle.

Sunset 10 nautical miles out from Newcastle

Monday was the last light wind day to get south before the next southerly front arrived so we set out at 7 am and arrived safely in Sydney Harbour at 4pm just as the wind was picking up to 20 knots.
We consider ourselves very fortunate to have had such good weather windows for out trips.
By 7 pm were were back at West Pennant Hills having unloaded Passion X.
Next day I installed the engine beds in the new build and today I began to prepare the bulkheads for the king plank. The king plank runs from bulkhead C to the engine beds and the engine beds run all the way to companionway at bulkhead H so in a very short time all the significant structure will be installed.
Now that daylight saving time has gone for another 6 months I have installed lights inside the hull and there I worked away today out of the wind and rain.

This season will go down as one of the most disrupted with adverse weather conditions. Three of the seven Autumn series races have been abandoned and there has been some did not finishers in the races that were sailed.
I cannot write much about abandoned races but it seems we have become a little too cautious in using as our benchmark a weather station a long way from the club sailing waters and one which is typically several knot windier than our venue.
I do appreciate that for the smaller craft a very cautious limit is wise but for the larger ocean going yachts which are capable of handling much windier conditions they are being deprived of valuable sailing experience.
As the season winds up another southerly front is approaching and our plans for a pleasant passage to Newcastle for the Newcastle to Port Season offshore race are up in the air. That is an apt phrase given the shows around 30 knots offshore at the relevant period. It is all going to blow through for the Sail Port Stephens Regatta and it is a pity we cannot save some of the windy weather till then.

I am hoping this forecast is an April Fools joke

Today I glued in place the last of the keel floors complete with pre drilled bolt holts all aligned. It has taken six weeks from starting to cut the timber for the laminations to get to this stage and that seems like a long time. The wettest start to the year for many years did not help with the progress and I have had time off the boatbuilding to go sailing and to do maintenance on Passion X. Allowing for these diversions I still think that there has been six weeks of three and a half days construction per week. In the process I have worn out one saw bench and one random orbital sander as well as investing in a dozen new clamps.
The new saw bench is a great improvement on the old one and I have no regrets that the old one died in service. The random orbital sander was the only one left standing five years ago when buildin Passion X so it had done some heavy sanding. For the replacement I went for a more powerful 150 mm size with 44 % more sanding area which should speed up the heavy sanding on the hull but I will buy a more gentle 125 mm one for the interior sanding. I use a vacuum cleaner to suck up the dust through the sander and it has the added advantage of pulling the random orbital head down onto the work piece.
Drilling the bolt holes piecemeal has advantages and disadvantages. With the limited home handyman tools the full depth holes would a special bit to do the 190 mm depth. By doing each element if the hole is a fraction of a millimeter out it can easily be corrected. For the 85 mm holes through the keel floors I was able to set the floors up horizontal in the drill press and drill most of the way through. The remaining depth was completed by hand but with a deep hole as a guide. So far 145 mm of the depth is completed and the king plank and hardwood spacer on the bottom can be predrilled to the bold pattern and the holes used to pull them together.
There are lots of options for the next tasks and I am leaning towards completing the engine beds from bulkhead F to H and the kingplank from bulkhead C right back to the floor behind bulkhead F. Most of that is under cover and when complete will give a solid backbone.

All the keel floors glued in place
Looking through the bolt holes drilled vertically in the bench press

Another two weeks have passed and the keel floors are still a work in progress. I will lay some of the blame at the feet of the floods or at least the constant downpours but now that the rain has abated and some semblance of normal conditions has returned there must be other reasons.
The keel floors are much larger. They have grown from 80 by 50 laminates on Passion X to 125 by 85 on the new build so there is more timber and much more glue. The easily handled eight layers of 6 mm laminates has grown to fourteen laminations. which I did in two stages compared to the one stage process on Passion X. I think it would be fair to say that there is four times as much work in the timber so I am a bit surprised at how long it is taking. The floors in Passion X are very substantial but with the large increase in dimension there is more floor than space in some sections which means I cannot fit my head up through the gaps to take measurements. On the upside my monkey climbing skills are improving as I clamber out from under the gunwales to up the ladder and along the strong back to check a measurement from above. After a day of this I feel like I have had a very long work out at the gym.
Did I mention how heavy these keel floors are and how I am holding them up one handed while fitting clamps. It must be doing an amazing amount of good and I look forward to the benefits down the track.
All this clamping meant more trips to the hardware store for more clamps for now I have double the quantity I used for the Passion X build.
Being optimistic I am hopeful that once past the massive keel floors the work will be similar to Passion X but there is a bit of work ahead to get to that stage.
A very important stage to get past is the blocking of the keel frames to the hull. For the section between the 85 mm deep laminate and the 30 mm deep strong back I have opted for multiple layers of 6 mm timber across the hull all the way out to the first stringer. I feel this will give me a better bond than trying to infill a 125 mm wide by 44 mm deep space between the floor and the 12 mm plywood skin. For the rest of the infill all that is required is 44 mm thick by 125 mm wide lumber of good quality and that might be four 31 mm by 44 mm high blocks on edge so hopefully that will go quickly.

Keel floor 1 connection to the chainplate semi bulkheads
Keel floors 1, 3 and 6. Wait till they are all in place.
Keel floors 2, 4, 5, 6 and 7 showing manufacture of spacers between the floor and the strong back. No 6 with the plastic tube shows a completed spacer with the bolt hole predrilled. No 7 goes under the engine beds and has no bolt hole.
a side view of the spacer on floor 6 separated for the purpose of the photo

It is almost three weeks since my last post on the keel floors and not much seems to have happened. We did take a break and drive to Queensland where I helped son Mark with some concrete block retaining walls but allowing for that progress stills seems to be slow.
The front floor which we will call 1 had to be done in five stages as the very sharp bend around the radius chine required a lot of pressure and the most I could manage was two 6 mm laminates at a time. So all up that was one gluing session for the first series of short lengths which form the V and the taper of the floor and four sessions each gluing two more with full length laminates to what had already been glued up. With hindsight which is a wonderful thing we should have laminated the frame before installing the chain plate frames as the shape where they meet clashed with the laminates before they were pulled into shape. So as the laminates were clamped to the previously cured frame the whole structure had to be pushed hard up against the chain plate frame.
I was relieved to get that first ring frame completed and start on the short floors which have a shallow V and a taper from 83 mm down to 50 mm at the outboard end. I found it easiest to glue up the laminates that would form the taper and the V first and then clamp the remaining 8 full length laminates to the curved section on the shop floor. The first six lengths making up the taper are comprised of successively longer sections until the last is full length and that makes for a light laminate that can be handled with ease.
As of the 3rd March four of the keel floors are glued up and a two more have the V and taper section formed and only need the full length laminates glued in place on the shop floor. The last floor is the narrower one that goes under the engine and that is mostly cut. Being narrower it should be easy to handle once the rain stops and work outside can recommence.
If you don’t know what rain I am talking about it is the one in 500 year rain event hitting sections of the East Coast of Australia.

Keel floor at various stages of completion. Left is floor 1 which just needs an extra 3 mm added. Floor 2 is completed until it gets added to the strongback and has doublers and infill added. Floor 3 is ready for gluing. Floor 4 has the taper section completed and needs an extra 8 layers of 6 mm to complete. Floor 5 has the taper section glued up but not faired and the 8 by 6 mm laminates are shown clamped on place but not yet cut to length, Floor 6 is just the tapered section ready to be cleaned up and faired and the last set of laminates are the ones that will make floor 7
Keel floors 3 and 4 glued up waiting for overnight cure
Making a drilling template for the keel bolts

In the first photo you can see a foil section which is the size of the top of the keel. I am making up a drilling template ready for drilling the strongback and the keelson. So far I have cut 4 layers of 12 mm hardwood ply ready to make a 48 mm thick guide to hold the drill bit straight. It is an idea and a work in progress.

After a pretty wet series of Wednesday night the weather on the 16th of February had taken a turn for the better with a warm sunny evening and a fresh breeze. Being a little on the tender side we were a bit apprehensive about our choice of our No 1 heavy genoa but as the race wore on and the wind abated a few knots we made full use of the sail area to notch up another fourth place on handicap.
At the start it was Utopia, Joli and Meridian showing the way. We were next trying hard to stay ahead of Ausreo and Jackpot in the lottery around Greenwich Point. Utopia got into the breeze first and was off like a rocket followed by Joli and Meridian. Jackpot climbed to windward of us and ahead while Fireball did one better and climbed ahead too. From Humbug to Goat Island that was the general order although to be fair we lost sight of the leaders around Goat island the first time and only caught a glimpse of Joli on the second rounding of Goat Island.

The view from the stern of Utopia she gets into the breeze first

Back at the first rounding of Goat Island we somehow managed to get past Fireball and hang on to the tail of Jackpot albeit at a respectable distance. As the breeze backed off a little we had a good run back to Cockatoo island and a work back to Goat island where we seemed to stretch out the gap to Fireball, Ausreo and Sweet Chariot. The main interest for us was staying as close to Jackpot as we could.

On the reach home to Humbug and the work up to the finish Fireball made up a lot of ground so that at the finish we beat her on handicap by just one second with Ausreo just 15 seconds behind.

With the results published it shows what a good race Meridian had being beaten for fastest by just 4 seconds by Utopia but alas the timing was wrong by about 90 seconds. After the presentation where Passion X scored a bottle of wine for third on handicap the results were corrected and Utopia pipped us by a few seconds. So OK Utopia got the points but we kept the bottle of wine.

It was fitting then that Meridian scored first place from Joli and with Utpoia third and just that little bit of luck Passion X was that 1 second in front of Fireball.

Well that was the last of the fine weather as the next weeks the racing was abandoned for lack of wind.

Jester working to windward in the only breeze of the evening

That brings us up to 2nd March which is the first week of Autumn down here in Australia and what a start to Autumn it has been. There have been historic flooding events all the way down the East Cost and we have had and still have our adult children who live in Northern NSW flooded in and waiting for roads to open to restock on food.

The rain has now reached Sydney with the worst expected this evening so it was only right that the sailing was again abandoned if only to keep the competitors off the roads

I have been apprehensive about cutting the 125 mm wide by 6 mm deep keel floor laminations and fitting them to the hull because of the dimensions. The longest laminates are over three metres and curve around the hull from the upper tangent on one side to the upper tangent on the opposite side. Because of my concerns I decided to tackle this first and discover the issues along the way..
The saw cutting went quite well cutting 70 mm deep into the 125 mm wide plank and turning the plank over and doing a second cut. The roughly 8 mm planks were then thicknessed down to 6 mm.
The day’s task was going slowly with the old saw bench occasionally going out on overload until the motor died. That called for a quick trip to the tool store and an hour later I was home assembling a new more powerful unit.
Taking up from where I left off the cutting proceeded much faster and with greater accuracy.

Cutting 6 mm by 125 mm planks before the saw bench died

Late in the day Elaine and I spent hours cleaning up the sawdust and shavings but had enough planks cut for the first large floor and a bit to spare.
That had been a big day sorting and restacking my lumber supplies, cutting the timber and cleaning up so Wednesday was a quieter day glassing one side of a plywood splice and doing a tiny fillet but somehow I was satisfied with that as we had an early finish to leave for our Wednesday twilight race.
Last week had been a sailing disaster as on leaving our mooring the raw water pump on the engine seized and we could not compete.
In one moment we went from leading the series to runner up as there was no drop available.
The pump failure was disappointing on two fronts. Firstly the shaft seal on the pump failed after five years and secondly that I did not replace the bearings when I changed the seal.
The remedy was simple. Buy a new pump on the way to the Laser Masters Regatta at Port Stephens and then after a grueling weekend sailing in over 25 knots rise early Monday morning and change the pump.
Monday was a pretty miserable day with lots of showers but the swap was achieved in the morning and the engine run for an hour to be sure.
On return home it was still raining so I overhauled the failed pump to ensure I had a spare on board. It is not practical to change bearings at sea so a spare pump seems to be a must for any serious ocean sailing. The bearings in the raw water pump had failed spectacularly. The ball cages were mangled, balls were missing and the seals had failed. It does raise the question as to how we had not heard the progressive failure so perhaps the sound insulation in the motor compartment is too good.
This Wednesday was much more satisfying as we had ideal twilight racing conditions and courtesy of a generous handicap scored a third place and maintained our lead in the series. All the crew stayed for the post race BBQ in the best conditions so far this season and we scored a bottle of wine.

Utopia won from Fireball but it was close at the front on handicap. We had a good start but were run over in Humbug by Ausreo and Fireball while Sweet Chariot did a bolter to leeward and deserved a better result on the night as it took us a third of the race to catch them. We made up a bot of ground on the free leg from Goat Island back to Cockatoo and for a few moments had Joli in view but once around the island she was off and away. Meridian also pulled away on this leg as we did not enjoy sailing in her dirty air.

Thursday became D day for starting the keel floors and thanks to some prompt work by Dudley Dix we resolved all the angles and settled on a procedure for laminating the 13 layers of 6 mm timber to form these massive keel floors. As of this evening the first 5 layers are glued up inside the hull and the epoxy has cured hard in the 30 degrees Celsius weather. Tomorrow the aim is to clean up the first lamination and do a second batch of four layers each 3.1 metres long.

Trial fit of first 6 mm layer of the keel floor
Another trial floor, this time all the short lengths

In the meantime the chainplate frames have been installed and glued to the stringers. The 36 mm wide frames are held rigidly by glue on the stringers and have already been planed down ready to affix the external plywood skin.

Massive chainplate frame waiting for structure to be built around it.

Everything has to be done sometime so I have a long list of small tasks to complete as well as big ones but I would like to get these 3.1 metre keel floors finished as this opens up my choices of tasks depending on the conditions.