Archive for April 2022

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.