It’s almost the New Year

Don’t forget, we are still in B(oat) time at the moment. Immediately after Christmas I had been rather pleased with progress, even though we had taken a couple of steps back. But we had stabilised the platform on which the bloody boat 1 and I was keen to press ahead with the build. I refitted the second plank, fixing it in place with the cable ties. I was now a little worried about how the whole lot would come together. I knew I had to fit in place a few cross bulkheads and it looked to me as if they would be tight to get in place.

So far I had been following a build plan that seems to be generally accepted in the various books on building plywood boats – stitch the planks together then fit the cross members before using epoxy to glue it all together. However, I could see that this might be difficult. My stature is that of the hooker of a third fifteen rugby team before the game went all professional – short and stout 4 – and I knew I would not be able to reach over the top of plank three to apply epoxy to the seam on the bottom plank ( I could barely do so over plank 2). 5 It was pretty obvious that the assembly would be far too loose to maintain it’s shape if I tried to “get aboard” to apply epoxy. …. I decided to abandon accepted practice and revert to the way I built model ships when I were a lad. Put the bulkheads in first and then fit the planks.

So, off came the plank 2 pair: I cut out the three full width cross bulkheads and the partial one that is to be situated at the aft end of the centre board case and which will form the aft end of the water ballast tank. (Did I say this boat was to be lightweight and water ballasted – well, if not, you saw it here first.) All these items were then positioned on the bottom plank and cable tied in place. Getting them in the right place was easy because the programme for the CNC machine had included blind slots in the planks to mark the position of the bulkheads.

This all seemed to work really well. The bulkheads went into place on plank 1 – with a bit of effort. I had to use cargo straps to hold it in place round the curve by the first bulkhead and to hold it in place with a temporary wood screw through the plank into the bulkhead.

The first two bulkheads – note the strap.

Nevertheless, I blithely proceeded to refit plank 2. And here’s where trouble hit. Despite the application of hot water to soften the plank, 6 there was an ominous and sharp “crack” as I forced the starboard plank into place, aligning it with the top of the bottom plank. Instead of the plank taking up a smooth curve round the edge of the first bulkhead, there was a rather pointy corner and no smooth transition from the bottom to the second plank..

Another problem to solve – and would the dreaded twist return?

I retired for the day to think about it.


  1. As the Owners agent refers to the whole project. 2
  2. This has been the soubriquet 3 that the Owners Agent has applied to all the boats so far
  3. The editor advises me that, strictly speaking, this term applies to the nickname given to a person. Boats do have (or acquire) a personality so I have overruled the editors objection.
  4. Not a teapot, for those of you who remember the rhyme
  5. I refer you to nomenclature in a previous post
  6. I had (fortunately) placed the full kettle on top of the woodburning stove that morning!

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