Archive for October 2021

I have been getting a bit ahead of Dudley Dix who is designing my new dream racer cruiser to the ISO standards. Dudley has other clients to serve and believe it or not he has another life with his yellow Lotus Europa and his surfing passion. That said he has been very responsive and making good progress.
While waiting for confirmation on some of the vital statistics I have spent time installing as many structural cleats and furniture cleats as seems practical. That includes optional cleat for removable floors in some cupboards where I will be routing the services This is not needed for functionality but for appearance, not that anyone but me will look into the bottom of a locker looking for a tiny removable floor. However with time to spare I have been adding little finishing touches.
When it comes to finishing the random orbital sanders that I discovered during the Passion X project have been put to good use finishing the sawn surfaces of the triangle cleats so that there will be much less filling and sanding at the end of the project.
One of the benefits of building a second time is to know what surfaces need some minor details differences whether for comfort, durability or just plain old appearances. I have to confess the latter one does exercise my mind a lot as I like the aesthetics of cleats finishing at some visual logical end point rather than just the functional one.
Today my only task has been to fit the 32 by 32 mm triangle cleat that joins the deck and the bulkhead. It is fine Meranti and quite stiff so I have left the cleat as one long length for ease of bending and after the thickened epoxy has cured I will cut out the center section where the deeper cabin hatch goes down to the cockpit floor level. The clamping arrangement for a triangle cleat is a bit agricultural so I will leave it to cure overnight and go sailing this afternoon. That will leave me just a few 20 by 20 furniture cleats to finish this last bulkhead before shuffling the deck again for a final check.

Not too shabby considering the plywood arrived 4th September and we did not have plans at that stage. Did I hear you say “Well done David and Dudley”

Fitting the 32 by 32 triangle cleat to join the deck to the bulkhead. Post cure the center section will be cut out to allow the hatch to be extended down towards the cockpit floor. Note the agricultural clamping arrangement.

After four months isolated from our family due to Covid 19 movement restrictions we were able to visit our Sydney based family on Sunday and dine in the evening with local friends. Those activities took precedence over boat building or sailing so a return to swinging off the side of the Laser was delayed for another week. Sunday was a great sailing day at Middle Harbour where 30 Laser sailors from various clubs met on the water at Middle Harbour and it will be good to join them in the near future.
Meanwhile back in the shed another bulkhead, bulkhead D, has been fitted with furniture cleats and bulkhead E is well on the way. With only so much room on the floor of the garage I took the afternoon off to chase up my major timber purchase and procure a little more to keep me going.
That done it was still a fine afternoon so I turned my attention to the building frame.

When I built the frame for Passion X only the best materials were used so consequently the frame needed very little attention to bring it back to working condition. Over the years I have used up any left over epoxy glue to seal the timber on the building frame and part of today’s job was grinding all that epoxy resin back to a flat surface.

Tomorrow I am doing an urgent Category 4 audit but despite the boat building time lost to visit the club I think that bulkhead E will be finished and I will have a session cutting up timber for more furniture cleats and for the big laminated post under the mast. I am thinking of laminating in a ribbon of carbon fibre on the centre line of the mast post as a permanent line just for show.

A very pleasant working environment to restore the building frame to working condition.

The first Saturday for post Covid 19 sailing was a windy one but not that it mattered. I had already decided that I would work on the new Passion as I am enjoying the project. As I work through the details I remember little things that I have on Passion X that I would have done differently. I recall standing bare footed on a V berth cleat and thinking that that was a bit sharp and so on the new Passion I am making tiny but for me material changes. Also the time pressure is not there and I can spend more of it in finishing touches so that there will be less finishing later in the project.
I am planning on a few mass production efforts where every bulkhead is painted at once rather than the one by one process on Passion X so I know that there will be some catch up time to compensate for my attention to detail now.
For the record I stood up station 0, bulkhead A and bulkhead B for a photo opportunity as they are completed. Bulkhead C could not come to the party because the epoxy glue was still curing but she is finished too. Also finished are the transom and the Aft Perpendicular which is a fancy way of saying the last little bit of overhang that forms the boarding step.
Next on the list in order of priority is bulkheads D, E , F, H, J, and K all of which are in semi finished state and need at most a day to complete. It is not quite that easy as there are furniture cleats to be fitted to both sides of most bulkheads and I have room for one at a time.
What is pleasing is that half of the bulkheads are now finished except for the final detail around the keel support. Dudley’s strong back on this yacht goes from Bulkhead C all the way back to Bulkhead H and is going to be an impressive I beam for the engineering minded.

On Passion X the keel structure is pretty impressive already and one of my professional boat builder friends opined that the keel structure would be an archaeological find for future generations. I cannot wait to see what he says about the new structure.

Station 0, bulkheads A and B out for a photo opportunity
Bulkhead C could not come to the party as she was waiting for her epoxy glue to cure

Today was the first official post Covid 19 race from the Balmain Sailing Club and it turned out to be an exciting one. Pre start the wind and rain came through in waves so we had already decided to sail with a reef in the main and the No 3 jib by the time we arrived at the club.

DJ joined us for the day and Elaine was relieved to have a strong male on board to help with crew duties. From the start it was a balancing act to find a groove with enough height but not too much heel. Our almost full water tanks helped to make up for the small crew numbers and we trucked along in the 20 knot breeze quite nicely. As we pulled away from the yachts that started with us I though we must be the only yacht with a clean bottom. Whatever the reason we were pleased to be overtaking and to be creating distance between the back markers.
From Spectacle Island to Goat the breeze hotted up and we saw regular hull speeds of over nine knots. Just off the navigation mark at Goat Island the wind hit 30 knots and we surged and popping up momentarily to 12.2 knots.
That was the last of the downwind excitement as we had to turn away from the breeze to sail into the wind shadow to leeward of Goat Island.
Little by little we drew up to the Jeanneau 409 only to have them jump out again. They were sailing well to windward and as the breeze had freed a little there were no overtaking opportunities. Our lucky break came at our next approach to Spectacle Island where we had obstruction rights in the narrow channel.
No sooner had we passed the 409 the breeze died down to seven knots. They with full mainsail seemed to be catching so we shook the reef out and held our slim lead to the finish.
I am sure next week will see a lot of yacht return to form as they clean their hulls ready for the first of the races where points count. Our hope is that todays result will not affect our handicap for next week

Yesterday was a very productive day as far as visible progress goes. I have had seven cabin beams laminated up for several weeks waiting for the right time to fix then to bulkheads. With the part complete bulkheads up off the floor I tackled the task of removing all the excess epoxy glue from the laminated beams. Once clean enough to go through the thicknesser they were all dimensioned down to 29 mm. This is two mm thicker than on Passion X and well above specification.

The next task was to router the edges of the beams up to the point where they join to the bulkheads and no further. In one day I managed to attach three roof beams and other cleats which seemed like good progress but it was more the culmination of scheduled work.

Today we had a scheduled power outage from 7:30 am to 4:30 pm and it went the whole distance. In anticipation I had used the time yesterday to cut some lumber some of which did get used today.

Mid morning with bulkheads stacked up against the wall again I saw the empty floor and promptly dragged out bulkhead B for more work.
Bulkhead B is mid way along the v berth and is designed to have a moulding around the edge of the 9mm plywood frame for comfort. The prospect of rolling into a 9 mm wide plywood edge while rocking around at sea is not one that would be welcome. Many options were contemplated but the one I settled for could be produced with my battery operated jig saw and a lot of time. Many 25 mm wide shapes were cut from 9 mm ply and by nesting the shapes very little plywood was used. To improve the uniformity of the strips they were clamped together and shaped to the same dimensions.
I now have a beam made up of five layers of 9 mm ply and after rounding the edges it should provide the necessary level of comfort while at the same time producing a very still and strong cabin beam.

I am a fan of reinforcing on the internal edges of plywood frames for durability and this one on Bulkhead B in the middle of the V berth gave me as much satisfaction as the three bulkheads completed the day earlier.

A lot of work went into trimming the edge of this bulkhead which is mid way through the V berth

With only half of the garage floor available for construction the progress on the bulkheads has been very sequential. The warmer weather of October spring has accelerated the epoxy resin cure and on some days two gluing sessions have been possible. One before coffee in the morning and one after dinner in the evening.
Today I tried the double decker method where the first epoxy lamination was covered with my favorite gluing aid, oven baking paper, and the second bulkhead placed on top. Not only did that work well but the day was warm enough for a second session before dinner.
In between laminating sessions I carried bulkheads into a shaded part of the garden for routing, sanding and marking up. I would call this al fresco boatbuilding, a term stolen from my sailmaking friend, Ben Gemmell who has done a bit of sailmaking in the garden during Covid lockdown.
While working in the garden a friendly lizard visited to make a close inspection and I did manage to capture his visit on camera.
All in all it was a pleasant productive day

Two bulkheads stacked for epoxy gluing
Working in the garden on the transom
Able Seaman Mr Lizard inspecting the work

A month after the plywood arrived I have finished cutting all of the bulkheads and have them stacked up against the wall of the garage. Allowing that the thickness ranges from 36 mm on parts of the transom to 9 mm for the lightest frame the full pack of bulkheads occupies very little room. So thin is the pack of frames that it is deceptive that this will expand out to a 12 metre yacht.
Now it is wrong to say that the bulkheads are finished as I still have to attach all the timber cleats to which the longitudinal structure will be fixed and that needs a delivery of timber and a lot of cutting. On the plus side I have marked all the frames with the location of these timber cleats so that the process of completing them should be quite straight forward.

One of the advantages of building a similar yacht is that I have good photographs from the first build and can recall the parts of the construction that were difficult. Perhaps difficult is not the right word. Perhaps it would be more correct to say that having done it one way I can see a better way the second time. I am taking more time to fair cut lines to exactly the design mark as I have more confidence it will be exactly correct. It also helps that the Naval Architect is providing very precise drawings with more detail that enables more precise location of the stringers. As well the PDFs can be exploded and unknown dimensions checked to a very close tolerance. The combination of the lines plans and the hull and deck lines gives a very accurate location of all the construction lines.

Unfortunately there will be very little to show for the next few weeks of finishing the bulkheads and cutting the strongback and stringers. Add to that the anticipation that we will be more mobile and able to return to active sailing rather than just daydreaming about it while cutting frames progress is likely to slow a little.

And while progress might slow as life returns to normal I will be able to look back at the lockdown and reflect on how it crystallized my ideas for a new yacht, engaged a Naval Architect and progressed the plans fast enough for me to cut a full set of bulkheads.

A full set of bulkheads stacked against the garage wall a month after the plywood arrived