Wee Rob – August 2015 (2)


OK – so – problem solved – maybe! I read a blog which described this as the “pursuit of the elusive fair curve”, and that seems about right. I set to with fairing batten and pencil and made what seemed like “fair curves” on the bottom edge of the plank first of all, then planed to that mark, and the plank began to look better. I then cleaned up the excess west from the joint, and scribed a similar curve on the top edge and worked towards it with the little rabbet plane and gradually it began to look closer to right. Eventually, I decided to be content with the shape.

There remains of course the question of the narrow faying surface in the joint between 3 & 4. I thought a lot about this – of course the mitigation is that no joint in a monocoque construction like this is ever completely isolated. So 4 is secured to 3, but also eventually to 5, all three of those being glued to the stems at either end. Then there are the bulkheads that will be fitted “athwartships” (what a wonderful word that is!), plus the floors which will carry the bottom boards and so on and so on. So every joint is ultimately reinforced by every other joint – there’s a metaphor in that, not to mention a sermon illustration!

So 4 is fixed on both sides ….. I have to say that with various lessons learned and a lot more fairing and fitting off the boat the starboard side went on a lot more readily. There are a couple of flat spots (ie where the curve of the plank doesn’t actually run quite fair) in way of the scarph joints; I suspect that these will sort themselves out when 5 and then the sheer strake are fitted, but as an experiment I’ve left them splinted between two lengths of scrap ply with half a dozen clamps on each side …. I’m sure this won’t do any harm, and it might just lift them to where they need to be.

I’ve done some more research and thinking about finishing (yes, I know that’s a long way off!). To epoxy or not to epoxy seems to be the question, and there are as many voices on various forums (?fora) suggesting that one should as there are suggesting that one shouldn’t! Using straightforward oil based marine paints (International for instance) is certainly less complicated, perhaps a touch less expensive, and in the longer run easy to repair … persuasive arguments, especially when used by Iain O himself.

I’ve subscribed today to “Watercraft” magazine, which feels as though it might be the UK equivalent to the influential but very US based “WoodenBoat”. Published it seems by P Greenfield publishing; I take this to be Pete Greenfield whom I remember from various meeting in the 1990s at various Wooden Boat shows. There’s certainly a community of sorts around the concept of wooden boats, traditional and otherwise, with which it will be good to be back in touch.


Plodding on quite nicely. I’ve tried to learn the lessons in setting up strake 5, and the first side has gone on and looks to be OK under the clamps. It’s about getting it right off the boat and then trying it “dry” at various stages in that process.

Closing in on the sheerstrakes then and feeling already the temptation to get it turned over. I need to resist that and spend a good bit of time fairing off the hull and then priming it. I’m not sure whether stage 1 of the gunwales goes on before turn over or after – I guess that depends on how right the sheer line is looking while she’s still on the moulds!


2nd side of 5 on this morning. I’ve just taken the clamps off and and am quite pleased and indeed very relieved to find that I’ve managed to avoid the latest plank picking up the slight midships “dent” that 3 and especially 4 have; this by careful manipulation of the clamps at the appropriate points. That means that 5 (on both sides) has a reasonably fair curve the full length of the boat, which is especially important in that next up is the sheerstrake. That’s the most conspicuous plank on the boat, and has to be right if the boat is to look something like ….. I’m hopeful!

Next move will be to trundle mould and boat out of the garage again, have a good clear up inside, and crucially get a good look at the emerging shape from a decent distance. Fairing up 5 will be important because it will obviously form the foundation for 6.

A delivery of gloop and bits and pieces arrived this morning from Gael Marine that equips me now to finish the outside up to and including primer before turnover. The delivery guy asked if he should put my name down as “Noah” – I chuckled politely, having of course never heard that particular line of humour before!!! I did however refer him to the weather of the past few days …….


No 5 faired up, last set of gains cut and bevels planed. Patterns made for sheerstrake this morning, and planks duly cut. I have to confess to having cut these rather proud of the lines and thus I suppose wastefully! I’m conscious though of the importance of this last strake, and wanted to leave myself some room for manoeuvre; I’m also quite confident in my improving technique for final fitting, which will probably take the rest of the week!


Really satisfying couple of hours in the workshop this afternoon. The sheerstrakes must both be dry fitted before either can be glued, because of the lack of space now between the top (bottom!) of the strake and the building frame. I set to then to fit the starboard strake as accurately as possible, grovelling on the floor to draw the lines and then working towards them with the plane – the latter is a strangely satisfying task. So I’ve left the boat with that strake, fitted and scarfed, clamped to the boat and look forward to resuming tomorrow morning.


Chilly day today – which is significant because it means the glue goes off less quickly. I had drifted into a sort of deadline of fitting the sheerstrake by the end of August, and I nearly made it! Port side is glued on, starboard side is ready to fit and so I guess that’ll happen tomorrow. I played a bit wt the templates for the stems – or “cutwaters” as WJ Simmons in his book “Lapstrake Boatbuilding” describes them. I rather like that – the traditional language of boatbuilders has a sort of descriptive accuracy about it. The stem is that part of the boat that first cuts the water, so what else would one call it but “cutwater”? So – I played a bit with the templates for the cutwaters in anticipation of making them up from Douglas Fir. We make progress!

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