Archive for January 2022

Last Friday I was ready to fix the first sheets of plywood to the hull but the wet weather intervened and the hull was double tarped to keep her dry. Saturday and Sunday are Laser sailing days and the first order of duty on Monday was to get Passion X to Woolwich Dock for the annual antifouling.

Passion X keel was glassed in February 2020 and looks perfect today.

With what was left of Monday I fitted some ply doublers to the bulkheads where the stringers are attached. These are fitted on the forward side of the forward bulkheads and on the aft side of the aft bulkheads where they would be very difficult to fit at a later date. And so it was that the first sheet of ply was fixed to the hull on Tuesday afternoon with help from Elaine.
The process of cleaning up all the glue from the joins so that the glue lines are full of glue and any surplus is removed before the glue sets rock hard is quite time consuming. My Dad would use his bare fingers to force the surplus glue into the joins on my moulded Moths but I use good quality gloves most of the time.

The doublers on the bulkhead where the stringers join are quite time consuming
The glue lines are cleaned up before the glue sets

The second sheet went up today, Australia Day. We made an early start while the temperature was still low and had the sheet installed and cleaned up before lunch.
The rest of the day was spent preparing the other side of the hull for sheeting but I won’t be rushing into it.

The first two sheets of 12 mm ply are glued and fastened in place

Before fixing the first two sheets to the starboard side I have a dozen ply doublers to fit to the stringers, a set of shelves to fit and critically the floor to my anchor locker. I have left one stringer at the bow loose so that the anchor locker floor can be inserted and glued in place from outside the hull. The anchor locker base will brace the bow in much the same way as the deck would.

I am very happy with the first two sheets fitted and hope that the other side goes as well.

Wednesday was a forgettable day with cool wet conditions and not enough wind to finish a short course. The cut off time is 8:15 pm regardless of the start time for the different fleets and at 8:00 pm our position was hopeless so we started the engine and motored to the finish line to see if anyone would make it. A few of the early starters did finish but for the majority it was a wet, windless and win less night. With no post race BBQ it was a quick dash home to dry clothes and poached salmon and salad dinner.
With no race results to report there was no rush to print but for other reasons it has been an interesting week.
On Thursday Elaine and I had our vaccine booster shots and while she seemed energized, I was a bit flat for a few days and really only came back to life on Monday.
Saturday was a long haul to Gosford for the Laser racing and with a up and back course and a big shift in the wind it ended up reaching both ways for a pretty uninteresting race. Sunday was no better with the Middle Harbour Amateurs cancelling the club championship due to the tsunami warning. This was the right call given the circumstances so I dashed home to pick up some hardware from Bunnings. Now every visit to Bunnings seems to be accompanied by another Covid alert so I scored two alerts for the day.

Monday I was up early to visit Passion X and replace the raw water inlet pump shaft seal. This is a ten dollar seal which retails for something more substantial but you do need the genuine part don’t you? After watching a couple of different U tube videos on how to replace the part I was confident it would be an easy task if done with an impeller replacement. It was and by 11 am the task was complete and the engine running without a trace of a leak. One of the tips from U tube was to use an appropriately sized socket to push the seal evenly along the shaft and into the recess and that worked a treat. The next hour was spent mopping up every last drop of salt water that had leaked through the seal into the bilges. It was a good test of the bilge pump and I can report that the bilge pump works very well as long as you hold the float switch up until the last dregs are pumped away. Next there was a bit of mildew to wipe off the settee fronts above the bilges where the water had been sitting since last Wednesday’s wet and windless non race. Normally the bilges are bone dry and mildew is not a problem so hopefully we will resume normal conditions from now.

So with not much sailing to report how is the boat building going you might ask.

All the stringers are now glued in position

All the stringers are in and the critical path is waiting for the keel floor beam details to be completed. In the meantime everything has to be done some time so I am doing the time consuming tasks now like fitting cupboard shelves and chainplate frames.

The chainplate frame is three layers of 12 mm ply angled at 24 degree to the centreline and this is the template
Another view of the chainplate frame template showing the tricky angles to be negotiated

Twelve shelves have been fitted and there are four more to do. It helps that the hull is very true and a shelf on the port side can be turned over and fit the starboard side. There is some angling of the edges needed where the mirror image requirements have to be met but in general it has been a lot faster than anticipated.

I do have lots of little doublers to go over the stringers at each bulkhead and with 9 stringers a side and twelve bulkheads and one each side you can arrive at a number of 432 but that would be misleading. There are also bunk stringers to count and there are deductions. Many locations have a widened attachment point due to the intersection of cleats from different directions and some will have a doubler on one side and a thickened epoxy fairing on the other. I have a good supply of 12 mm ply doublers ready to go but I need to make a large number of 9 mm ones for the 9 mm ply bulkheads.
On Passion X the stringer doublers were finished square but on the new build I am rounding the edges of the doublers with a router to remove the hard edge. The hard edge looks modern but the rounded edge looks more traditional.

First the Wednesday sailing results and that makes it two wins in a row. Last night was special because we picked the breeze well and were up with Utopia at Goat Island after a windward work and we managed to hold out Joli to the finish. It was a bit more exciting than that because even though the fleet was reduced for the holidays and Covid caution it was still sailed seriously. At the start we opted the port tack but Joli continued on starboard tack well after the gun and forced us beyond head to wind into a stalled tack. The sailing gods have a way of giving it back and on the run through Humbug we caught the fleet because of freshening wind from behind and then Kevin spotted wind on the left so we pointed up to it and then ran away for a handy lead at Cockatoo Island.

The view from Utopia as they pass us around Cockatoo Island

Around Cockatoo the quicker Utopia ran past but on the windward work we picked every shift right and even the covering tacks were onto lifts. While we were pleased with out tacks, Joli still gained on both of us by Goat Island.
Approaching Goat we were lining up to cross on port in front of Utopia on starboard. I thought we were well clear but just before we reached their line a strong gust rounded Passion X up and into an involuntary tack so we will never know if we would have crossed.
From there Utopia had us covered and we could not tack to round the island until they did. it is just as well that they held us up as we had a pretty significant header going into the rounding and that is where Joli on starboard lifted to the mark and made up ground.
From there it was a run home with Joli coming at us with breeze behind and then us pulling away when the breeze arrived. We had two more breaks our way, the first the freshening header approaching Humbug where with our jib held out we were able to come onto the reach quickly while Joli with the pole up had to run away. The second was sailing through Humbug without having to tack.
Ausreo was there but the light shifty conditions are not her strong point and she and crew wait patiently for stronger winds.

Between showers I took the covers off the new build and took some photos because with the forecast the covers could be on for a week. Lucky me the rain held off and I managed to glue another three stringers into their positions.

I can now glue in the side stringers except the No 1 at the bow where I have to leave it loose to fit the anchor locker floor. I might install the 12 mm ply sheeting on one side first before removing the very strong temporary brace that has been holding the stem while all stringers have been fixed in place. Anyway it is a debate I am having with myself because on Passion X all the internal furniture was fitted before I started sheeting but I would like to complete the skin back to the mast step so that I can leave the covers over that end.

Bottom stringers very curved compared to Passion X
A view from the quarter
Starboard side of the bow shaped ready for cladding. I had to do the shaping to find the best alignment for the stringer above the plywood tangent doubler

I keep looking at my boat building efforts and thinking that there has not been much progress. That is true because since my last post I have worked less than six days on the project. The other time has been sailing the Laser or Passion X and celebrating Christmas with the family .
We spent Christmas at Ballina hoping to cross the border into Queensland after our Covid test on the 24th. Christmas was great with a limited family gathering appropriate to the times but the border crossing into Queensland was a non event as the Covid test result was delayed beyond the 72 hour window we needed to get into Qld and the chance of another test result in time was negligible. Instead of a week in Buderim with our son Mark we had an hour face to face with his family on the border at Tweed Heads and headed back home the next day.

Wet weather prior to Christmas and my own plodding progress had dashed any hope of finishing all the stringers before our trip North but now with the unexpected early return home here was a chance to catch up.

As my new project is a prototype there are some surprises in the construction and the biggest obstacle to a speedy finish was fitting the 12 mm by 100 mm ply strips to the tangent stringers. This is the place where the flat sides and bottom meet the moulded ply chine so it is important to get it right. On Passion X the standard practice was to fit short lengths between the bulkheads. With the new design we opted for a continuous strip from front to back with slots cut in the bulkhead. The thinking was to join the lengths and add them to the hull in one go. Well that was far too optimistic as the front end of each strip had to be shaped to fit the bow and a 12 metre length was never going to behave. The next issue was the sweep of the bottom tangent stringer which is much more pronounced that on Passion X. I opted to cut slots half way through the 100 mm to torture the plywood into the required curve with lots of clamps and screws for good measure and the end result looks fine. It certainly looks much sweeter than the series of straight strips on Passion X but the other option of cutting the strips into the required curve is possible the easier one for future builders. The upper tangent is a slow curve and the plywood easily followed this sweet line.
There are now enough stringers fastened down for the hull to be easily covered with tarpaulins if the weather turns wet again.
The challenge ahead is to fix the remaining stringers in position and catch up to my original program by the time we would have returned from Queensland.
I have a lot of options to move forward including starting on some of the furniture elements that are better fitted before the skin goes on or I could skin the bow back to the mast step or I could skin from the gunwales to the upper tangent along the whole length.

What I cannot do yet is skin the bottom from the mast step back as we are still designing the floor structure. What I can reveal is that we have decided on a keel depth and weight. After much consultation with Dudley Dix we have settled on a 2400 kg keel at 2.6 metres draft which means the keel projects around 2.2 metres below the hull canoe body. With the extra beam and the deeper heavier keel the righting moments should be 50% more than the original Didi 40 CR and 40% more than Passion X so there will be a good increase in sail carrying ability. Obviously the extra weight and depth means a more robust keel structure and we are working through that now. It is not on the critical path as I have all the options mentioned above. It is nice to have these choices.

The plywood doubler on the upper tangent stringer merges with the bow bulkhead
The sweep of the bottom tangent stringer was hard to manage and lots of cuts were needed to torture the plywood to the curve
Another view of the sweet sweep of the bottom stringers
Stepping back to look at the emerging hull shape