The new dinghy is coming along nicely. Yesterday (day two), i fitted knees to the main deckbeam and the centreboard trunk, and finished epoxying the deckbeams into their permanent place. The knees are substantial pieces of iroco, an extremely tough tropical hardwood. All the knees came out of one piece of scrap; a salvaged deck chock from a large yacht’s liferaft. LIke the mahogany, this is a great find, and just the sort of wood i probably would never have “just laying around” anywhere else.
Also yesterday, i got the mast and bowsprit together. In a total departure from tradition, instead of building wooden spars (as i did for the Dink), i’m using salvaged windsurfer masts. We have a dozen or so of these around the yard, in one state of decay or another. Most of them suffer from delamination in the sun; over time, the outside layer of resin is baked off by the sun, leaving a fuzzy surface of glass fibres.
For my mast, i chose the best of the lot, an 18 foot bi-axial carbon/glass mast. i soaked the whole thing in straight West epoxy to seal in those evil little fibres, and after curing and sanding, primed it with white epoxy paint. i got the bowsprit out of another mast, this one a wound-fibre mast (stiffer, but not quite as strong overall). The latter mast will also provide me with a boom (yet to be made). The gaff will be in wood, which i’ve set aside.
Today, i got in the mast step, centerboard trunk collar, and bobstay U-bolt. The mast step is a 1″ thick plate of teak supporting a laminated mahogany cup which holds the base of the mast, all layed in thickened West epoxy. The step had to extra beefy for another reason: i’ve added a deck tie-rod. The rod (a turnbuckle, actually) ties the bottom of the main deckbeam to the top of the mast step. All the other standing rigging will be compressing the mast, and like a giant bow trying to shoot the mast through the bottom of the hull. That same rigging compresses the deck from side to side, flexing the hull. While definately overkill on such a small boat, the tie rod should really help with the overall “beefyness factor”.
i tried to get the centerboard trunk collar out of teak, but the short grain at the the ends of the trunk were splitting, so i gave in and laminated a 1 1/2″ thick collar from two pieces of 3/4″ marine plywood. So, the collar will have to be painted instead of varnished, but it’s still a vast improvement in both strength and esthetics over the thin fibreglass flange it replaces. The bobstay U-bolt was another compromise; i wanted to keep all the visible fittings in bronze, but after searching through boxes and boxes for a suitable fitting, i found none. Besides, the stem was already shaped at the waterline to receive a standard stainless Wichard fitting, of which we had plenty.
i cut out and laminated the major pieces of the rudder, and fabricated a bronze U-bolt for the stemhead fitting. i also managed to get two of the thumb cleats onto the bowsprit; that’s two down, six more to go! Fiddly little bits of teak that must be tapered and curved to fit the diminutive spars just so, but they look so much better than metal fittings! In the same vein, i counted up how many deadeyes i have yet to make, and have figured it at 18. 18!… it’s enough to make me consider lacing lanyards to shackles, or worse yet, caving in and buying tiny bronze turnbuckles!
Tomorrow, work on the rudder will continue, as well as the beginnings of the centerboard. i’m leaving off putting on the decking until the very last, as it makes it much easier to get at the inside of the hull forward. Still, i can hardly wait for that pasrt! Then, the sheer will really come together, and she’ll start to look like a proper boat, not just a skeleton