Last Song of Summer

Despite the thunder and lightning at the end of August, summer has conducted a fighting retreat and September has been a glorious month. The local harvest has been safely gathered in, basking in warm sunshine. Nonetheless, the evening twilight comes earlier and is increasingly chilly to remind us of what’s coming. The leaves are turning on the trees and rattle (yes, rattle, not rustle) in the stroner breezes.

To the sound of mice running around the insulation in the cow boatshed roof, the boat building has continued. To be honest, it’s getting a bit tedious. All the big stuff has been done, it looks like a boat and she’s itching to get in the water (or I’m itching to get her in the water). I’ve even got a name for her……..

But there’s lots and lots of details to be completed. And, as the Owners Agent will be delighted to tell you, I’m not a completer finisher.1 So this bit of the build is proving difficult for me and I’m always finding things to do that do not include boat building.

The gunnels down the side of the boat (at the join between hull and deck) are to be made of hardwood, about 70 mm wide and 10mm thick. The timber that I had was 3 m long, but each gunnel is over 3.5 m, This meant that scarf joints were required.  These are joints where the ends of  two pieces of wood to be joined are cut at the same shallow angle and then the resultant faces glued together to make one long piece of straight timber.

I don’t have the skill to make such joints by eye, so made up a jig that would hold each piece of timber at a constant angle to the saw blade. The Mark 2 version worked surprisingly well.

The Mark 1 Scarf joint jig – trying to cut both pieces of wood at the same time.

The decks have been glued to the hull, so some compartments have now been sealed permanently (I did vacuum and wipe them clean before gluing the deck on and counted my tools to make sure I hadn’t left any behind). The decks have some awkward camber angles and I was a little at a loss about how to clamp them in place whilst the epoxy set. In the end I used stainless steel wood screws to hold them down.  There is a danger with this technique as the effects of temperature changes might make such screws emerge from the deck over time so I crossed my fingers when screwing them in, hoping that I could get them out2. To my surprise (and delight) I was able to extract most of the screws after the epoxy had set. Those that I couldn’t extract usually hid themselves as the screw heads shearied off.

I’m now reinforcing the edge of the deck around the cockpit and forward hatch, fixing some hardwood edging around the centreboard base, making up a grating for the bilge well and upper and lower supports for the mast.

Now the deck is in place, I can tackle the awkward gunnel around the transom but the bend required here is too much for one thickness, so I will have to resort to laminating it. Here’s a selection of pictures:

Adding the lip around the forehatch
Another view of the foredeck
The bilge grating
The lower mast support block (note – that’s a piece of drain pipe……)
The transom gunnel taking shape

There’s still lots to do before I can take her to be painted – getting her on the trailer will be a big challenge for she is now heavier than I can lift on my own…..


  1. A long time ago, when team building was the management buzz word 3, I had to complete a survey of my management traits. I discovered I was a “plant”4 and wasn’t very pleased about it.
  2. A bit like Boris when he signed the “Leave the EU” treaty although I don’t have to break international law when not boat building.
  3. It probably still is (or would be if you workers were allowed to meet f2f).
  4. It turned out that a plant was (is?) s someone who is full of ideas: I was moderately pleased about that until I read the next bit of the description “some of a “plants” ideas might be useful if given to a completer finisher to execute but most were usually judged to be too ‘off the wall’5 to be any good”.
  5. Naturally, it was an American course.