Next Passion

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.

I am running a list of possible construction tasks from which to pick as the conditions dictate. The list does have sequences where some tasks have to be finished before the next one for ease of construction. For example to fit the base of the anchor locker at the bow I left one of the side stringers loose until the base was installed. Due to the triangular shape of the base and the stringers that run mid way through the length of the base it would be impossible to make a neat fit. Even with the loose stringer it was still tricky and I should have left the stringer doubler off the bulkhead as that 9 mm was critical. Being such small item it was easy enough to notch the base to get it to fit but it would have been neater and not required the small infill piece.

Before installing the base I filleted the bulkhead to the skin while I could stand on the ground. On the second side I will have to crawl into the locker under the anchor locker to do the filleting so I am on the lookout for tasks that are easier to do early rather than late.

The anchor locker base after installation. You can see how the stringer passes through the base. Also show are the two 22mm by 35mm stringers to stiffen the base and on the bow is a third layer of 12 mm ply to increase the gluing surface for the side sheets. the capping timber will be 12 mm thinner as a result
Filleting the anchor locker base from below and the bulkhead A to the skin while access is easy. After hull turning the anchor locker base will be glassed to the hull for durability.

Monday was an early start to pick up Passion X from Woolwich Dock after her annual antifouling but we still managed to get the first sheet of 12 mm ply installed on the starboard side albeit a late finish. Today we installed the second sheet on the starboard side so that both sides are fitted back to bulkhead D. When I say we I mean Elaine and I as we are getting into quite a productive routine with Elaine selecting the screws and placing them in the pre drilled holes so that I can run along with the impact drill and finish the job. The impact drill was a thoughtful Christmas present from two of the children and it has proven a great acquisition. One drill for the hole, another for the countersink and lastly the impact drill to drive the screws home and pull the plywood down to the stringers.

Today was quite an effort as the temperature soared into the 30’s making gluing impractical until the cool of the evening. Then as the afternoon wore on the rain clouds started to gather. As it was we timed it to perfection and had all the holes pre drilled and pre counter sunk so we could pull the glue surface faces together before the glue set.

We managed to beat the rain today but we have had a good run of fine days and plenty to do under the awnings for the next little time

While waiting for the temperature to drop I fitted one of the chainplate frames again to double check my position. With a range of clamps and temporary stringers I had it firmly fixed in place so as a last task before the rain hit I fixed it to the stringers with thickened epoxy. Once that has set I should be able to remove some of the clamps and install the other two thicknesses of 12 mm ply on the port side and then repeat the process on the starboard side.
While waiting for glue to cure I have still to fit bulkhead doublers for the next sheet of ply and there is bulkhead filletting piling up behind the sheeting.

Looking ahead I think the next milestone will be to get the chainplate frames installed and braced with the settee shelves so that they become an integral part of the structure. Then I can trim the excess on the hull side and fit the next sheet on both sides.

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.