Thursday, December 13, 2007

Black Bottomed Boat

As I mentioned earlier, we changed the color of the boat's bottom. Here's the pic I promised.

Sunday, December 09, 2007

Updating the Blog

Over the next several days (or weeks if I'm pressed for time), I will be moving some of my older pictures and videos to a new host. As a result, if you are an RSS subscriber to this blog, some of my posts may not be in chronological order. You are, however, still welcome to read these older posts... think of them as "best of" episodes.

Wednesday, December 05, 2007

New Bottom Paint

We laid the first coat of the graphite-infused, epoxy-based bottom paint, and I've got to say I'm really pleased with the results. It went pretty quickly, and I like the black better than the red. Unfortunately, I didn't bring my camera, so no pics this time.

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Dancing the Boat

Building this boat is kind of like dancing a box step... step forward, step sideways, step back, step sideways, repeat ad nauseum. Greg decided that he didn't like the red finish on the bottom... too much orange peel texture for him. So we sanded it smooth and tried a roll and tip. It wasn't good enough. Now Greg's decided to do an epoxy-based, black-tinted bottom, infused with graphite, giving us a smooth bottom that (theoretically) will give us a more durable bottom coat that does a better job of sliding over rocks without killing the paint. He had done the copper-infused bottom paint, but since we're going to be running this almost exclusively in fresh water, he's not concerned about buildup on the bottom.

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A Second First Coat

Last week we saw the results of our first coat of paint and were not pleased. Lots of lines in the paint. Greg decided to sand the paint smooth and start again. This time around, things look better, and we've agreed not to do any more sanding until the second-to-last coat is applied. This way we have a build-up of paint. Next week, another coat.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

No More Sanding

That's not exactly true, but it feels good so say it and mean it... at least in this context. Yes folks, Greg finally said "good enough" and decided it was time to paint. In a desire to support this decision (and get a coat of paint on the boat before he changed his mind), we did a rare Saturday session. Between the final round of sanding (a quick but thorough sanding of both transoms and sides with 220-grit sandpaper), prepping the surface, mixing the paint, and the roll and tip process, we put in roughly four hours.

We had the little Ozzlet there to help us out. She's a great little photographer, and she also helped us prep the surface, paint a little of the hull (rolling, not tipping) and she watched Greg's girls.

On Tuesday (our regularly scheduled boatbuilding day), we will do some light sanding as needed and apply a second coat of paint. We're planning to flip the boat sometime between late November and mid-December.

I know we'll be doing some touch-up sanding between coats, and I understand that we'll be doing another round of sanding and fairing when we build the deck and cabin, but it shouldn't be quite as long and arduous as the hull. I can't describe how gratifying it is to be out of sanding and fairing hell.

I have several more pictures here...

Or, you can view the slideshow here.

Thursday, November 01, 2007

Fair-ly Short Session

We didn't paint any more this week because we were short of the 220 grit sandpaper needed for topcoats. So we did some more sanding and fairing on the port side. It was okay because we saw an immediate payoff, because there are progressively fewer spots to handle, and each spot is progressively smaller. We're hoping to have her painted and flipped sometime in December.

Friday, October 19, 2007


I had kind of a crazy dream last night. In the dream, I went to Greg's house to check on his dogs while he was on vacation. As I walked through the garage, I gazed at the boat -- and was instantly horrified. Greg had gone on some sort of crazy spree; he had sanded off all of the paint, and on the bow he had sanded back down to bare wood. On the sides he had fabricated some sort of space-age shaped add-ons that looked like the fins from a 59 Chevy on steroids. As my eyes adjusted to the horrific site, Greg nonchalantly strolled into the garage (it was a dream, remember) and casually asked me what I thought of the work he'd done.

I went ballistic and woke up. Thank God it wasn't real.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

More Painting

Last night we applied our first coat of white paint. This is the paint that uses a cross-linker, and has a high-gloss finish, as opposed to the copper-infused stuff I mentioned previously. We applied the paint to the bottom, figuring that it's an area nobody will ever see, which allows us more latitude for mistakes. The roll and tip method seems to work well, but we ended up with a couple of runs. We noticed the runs after the paint had started setting, so we decided to let it completely set and see how well it sands. Wish us luck.

Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Baby's Bottom

Last night's session brought another round of sanding and fairing, and a second coat of the copper infused bottom paint. I also remembered to bring the camera, so here are a couple of shots of our progress...

This first shot is taken immediately after laying the second layer of bottom paint, though the picture doesn't quite do it justice. All of the white is a high-build primer. The bottom paint is the red in the back.

It's still shiny because it's still wet. Once it dries, it looks pretty much like your run-of-the-mill rust-colored primer. Either way, I'm pleased at the progress.

Before we laid the paint, I ran the random orbit sander over the starboard side, the bow and the stern for a final sanding, using 120 grit sandpaper. After laying the paint, Greg and I chatted, and we agreed that we will do no more sanding on these areas until we have placed a coat of paint on these surfaces. He still wants to do some additional touch-ups on the port side, which is fine because I agree that it needs a bit more work.

As I took the pictures of our paint job from the front, Greg asked me to post a shot of the skeg, so here it is. The skeg is constructed from a 2X2 strip of cypress (used for its highly water-resistant properties), with a strip of aluminum screwed into the top, after shaping the wood.

Important: According to Greg, copper and aluminum do not go well together. Apparently, they will cause a lot of corrosion. In order to prevent the aluminum strip from coming in contact with the copper in the paint, Greg was very careful to lay a thick coat of primer between the aluminum strip and the copper-infused paint. Please keep this in mind if you choose to mimic our addition!

Greg suspects that the addition of the skeg may reduce the maximum speed by one mile per hour or so, but he thinks (and I agree) that the increased maneuverability and handling will more than offset the decrease in top speed.

Next week, we plan to lay some white paint, using your standard roll and tip method. We plan to experiment on the bottom area. Since this is an area that few people will ever see, we figured that it's the perfect area to work out the kinks in our technique.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

F*ckin' A!

Greg and I laid our first coat of paint last night! We painted the portion of the bottom and sides that will be underwater, and after being stuck in sanding and fairing hell for a couple of years, words cannot properly express the gratification that simple coat of paint brought us.

The paint itself was a little different than I expected. I expected a bright red, high-gloss finish. What we saw was rust-colored and had a flat finish. The paint was more watery than a latex paint, but it ran less and dried very quickly. Since I didn't expect to paint, I didn't bother to take the camera, so no pics. Next time.

Man, I'm stoked!

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

I Missed It

Greg and I finally had an opportunity to work on the boat last night. Despite the fact that we spent yet another evening in sanding hell, I noticed that Greg had done a lot of work since I last set eyes on our project. And as I sanded the hull to a smooth-to-the-touch finish, I realized that regardless of how much I've bitched, moaned and complained about sanding and fairing hell, I missed hanging out with Greg and working on the boat.

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Still Alive

We're still alive, but no progress has been made on the boat. Greg and I have had other commitments, but we hope to do some more work next week. Besides, there's really nothing to report until we get it painted.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

More Bling

Despite my lack of posting, we're still working on the boat. Okay, it's mainly Greg who has been working on the boat. Between my busted leg and family commitments, I haven't had the time, but the point is, a lack of updates doesn't necessarily mean a lack of work.

The biggest change is that Greg has decided to add a skeg. (That's the aforementioned bling.) The skeg should help the boat track a little straighter, and add a little tip-resistance during turns. I really wish he'd have decided this six months ago, though. We had the bottom completely ready for painting, and now that he's added the skeg, we're looking at another ten hours or so of sanding and fairing before the finish meets Greg's stringent standards.

I also gave him some crap about continuing to use the quick fair. When we did our last session a few weeks back, we had decided that the starboard side was ready for paint, and that the port side was "close." Well, when I dropped over last night for a round of work, both sides had another round of quick fair added, with the intention of filling dozens of little pinholes in the pre-finish. I've been telling Greg for months that we need to just lay the paint and find out if it will fill these pinholes. There is so much surface area that it's virtually impossible to find and fill all of these pinholes, yet finish the boat before we retire.

I semi-jokingly told Greg that if he keeps doing this work when I'm not around that I'm going to make a "Keep off the Boat" sign and put it up when I'm not there. We've been "just about ready" to paint since June or so, but every time I go over there, Greg has done more crap that sets us back by a week or two.

It should be apparent that I'm quite frustrated by this lack of progress. Greg and I have different approaches to this portion of the project. Greg wants things to be perfect before going to the next step. An immaculate finish is very important to him. I think that we should forge forward and see what happens, based on the law of diminishing returns. In ANY project, you can do a quick and sloppy job, or a perfect one. As you move closer to perfection, the amount of time you spend increases exponentially, and the payoff decreases exponentially. We are at the point where we need to quit looking for pinholes, fix the bottom (where we added the skeg) and paint the damn boat.

Now that I've vented, I need to reiterate my position. I know my place in this project. I know that it's Greg's baby and I'm the free help. I also know that Greg listens to my input. The thing he needs to get though is that we need to be flipping this boat soon. We've only got another month or so before it starts getting cold, and once the snow hits, it'll be more difficult to get the boat flipped. We need to get the thing flipped before this winter, so we can continue working on the project during the snowy time of year.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

A "Break"

On Saturday Greg and I were able to sneak in an extra few hours of work, during which time we finished sanding and priming the one remaining section of unprimed hull. It was incredibly gratifying to see the entire boat primed. We next planned to fine-sand the primer in preparation for the actual paint.

Alas, our plans have been slowed by fate. On Sunday I fractured my ankle while learning to water ski. I took a tumble and the ski didn't pop off. Fortunately it's a minor break and I only need to wear a boot, as opposed to a full-blown cast. I also got the green light to put weight on the foot, so I may be able to do some boat work after all.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Prime Time!

We are finally breaking out of sanding and fairing hell! Last night Greg and I did a final round of sanding on the bottom and the starboard side, using 120 grit sandpaper, and applied a coat of primer to the areas we sanded. Over the next week or two we will finish sanding and applying the first coat of primer.

Those of you who have been stuck in sanding and fairing hell can appreciate how happy we are over hitting this milestone. But considering how long we've been doing this -- roughly two years now -- this accomplishment is especially sweet. Since I rode my bike over to Greg's house, I didn't bring the camera so once again I don't have any pictures yet, but I think I'm going to wait until the boat is completely primed.

I still can't describe how gratifying it is to be coming out of hell.

Wednesday, July 04, 2007

Every Little Bit...

Every little bit of work brings us closer to our goal of completing the boat. We haven't done a lot lately, but Greg is still plugging away a few hours here and there. I'm only available once or twice per week, and lately it's been prohibitively hot to get much accomplished when I'm available. Greg on the other hand, has the luxury of being able to work on the boat late at night, when the temperature is at its coolest. Throw in the holidays and other summer activities, and you can understand how the progress has yet again slowed to a crawl.

The picture to the right is a shot after our latest round of sanding and fairing, and the addition of the skid guard I mentioned in my last post. If you judge by the dull sanded area, it looks more crooked than it actually is. Compare it to the center line and you'll see that it's pretty good.

Greg has finally acquired a motor for the boat. It's an Evanrude 150 horse motor. He got it from an outfit somewhere around Kansas City. I think he paid roughly $2200; when compared to a new motor, it's a hell of a deal. Last week we fired it up and it runs very well. If I think about it, I'll get more details from Greg about the motor and give the seller some props... no pun intended.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Back Ta Work, Ye Scurvy Dogs

After our relaxing canoe trip, Greg and I returned to work. Greg has been putting in a lot of time doing finish work in preparation for painting the hull. He's still got a few areas that he's not happy with, but we're seeing light at the end of the tunnel. I can't wait!

Last week we installed a skid guard on the bottom of the hull. Since it's a flat-bottomed boat, it's designed to coast to shore, allowing our more dainty passengers to go ashore without getting their feet wet. In order to protect the hull, we've installed the skid guard.

The installation process was pretty straight-forward, but required some precision. First we sanded the area where the skid guard would be placed, and then cleaned the area with rubbing alcohol. Then we test-laid the skid guard, and once we were happy with the layout, we traced a pencil line around the skid guard, so we'd know exactly where to lay it. We then applied part one of the two part adhesive. Part two is applied directly to the skid guard from the factory. After this, we were finally prepared to install the skid guard. This process was a little tricky, because the bond is instantaneous. We ended up a little bit off from the line we drew, but it still looks okay, and it will definitely perform to our expectations.

Once again I neglected to bring the camera with me, so you'll have to wait in suspense for a little longer before you see the changes.

Thursday, June 07, 2007

Boys' Trip 2007

Not So Hard Anymore

Our trip ended a little earlier than we expected. We anticipated three full days of paddling, three full nights of camping and a fourth day that consisted of a couple of hours on the river. Since the river flowed a little faster than we had calculated, our canoeing came to an end toward the end of the third day.

We weren't really interested in setting up the tent, and we didn't feel like driving back, so we did what any hard-core 30-something group of pioneers would do... we rented a cabin.
Upon our late arrival, we all took to our now-familiar chores. I started a fire, so we could cook our dinner. (Yes, I really did... we cooked our steaks and pork chops over an open fire.) Greg took a nap, and Darin took a shower. Okay, I did my chores... they slacked.

Hint to inexperienced downriver paddlers: Some sort of fire starter and waterproof lighter can literally save your life. It definitely makes life easier.

Okay, okay, we're not as hard as we used to be. But it certainly doesn't take anything away from this year's trip. We had a relaxing couple of days (despite the ticks and setting up a tent in the rain). We took things at an easy pace and saw the wonder that nature offers us daily, yet we overlook because of the hustle and bustle of life. We saw bald eagles galore, clear water and ran some mild rapids. Did we cheat a little on the last day? Yeah. But who cares. It was our trip, and we enjoyed it.

Let me leave you with a reprise of the slideshow... judge for yourself.

Wednesday, June 06, 2007

Boys' Trip 2007

Cab-Forward Design

As our trip went on, our load got progressively lighter. Each meal, beer or soda brought made our canoes progressively more back-heavy.

This wasn't a real problem for me, because I started off nicely balanced, and I was able to adjust the load a little more than Darin and Greg were. But Greg was especially ass-heavy by the last day of paddling. With the first foot of his boat out of the water, it was difficult to slice through the river, and the term "shallow water" grew increasingly liberal by the day. On our last day, Greg decided that he could no longer tolerate the poor weight distribution and moved himself to the front of the boat. His weight was more evenly distributed than it had been all weekend, but he lost a little bit of control.

Hint to inexperienced downriver paddlers: The farther back you are in the boat, the easier it is to steer, but weight distribution needs to be considered as well.

Stay tuned for the next episode... "Not So Hard Anymore"

Tuesday, June 05, 2007

Boys' Trip 2007

Tick (Toc)

Bugs are an unfortunate aspect of camping. Mosquitoes, ants, biting flies and ticks are inconvenient at best, and at their worst, they can absolutely ruin an otherwise pleasant trip. We were surprised to find a virtual absence of mosquitoes and flies, but I don't remember ever seeing so many ticks. We first noticed the nefarious bloodsucker after waking up from our nap on the first day of the trip. There were several ticks stuck to the outside of the tent. Darin is creeped out by ticks, so he immediately went outside and doused himself in bug repellent. Unfortunately for him, we were using mosquito repellent, which had almost no impact on the ticks. Either that, or they were more hungry than repelled by our bug juice.

After Darin realized that the ticks weren't impacted by the Off, he went into obsessive-compulsive mode, visually inspecting himself for the parasites almost non-stop. In all honesty, Greg and I checked ourselves periodically too, but nowhere nearly as obsessively as Darin did.

Hint to inexperienced downriver paddlers: Make sure to pack plenty of bug juice. There is little that can ruin an otherwise awesome trip like an insect infestation.

Over the course of our trip, we picked dozens of ticks off of ourselves every day. But aside from this, the trip was relatively bug-free.

Tune in for the next episode... "Cab-Forward Design"

Monday, June 04, 2007

Boys' Trip 2007

(Almost) Drowning in Ankle-Deep Water

One of our ongoing contests (for lack of a better word) is determining who falls in to the river first and/or most often. We are experienced paddlers, but alcohol, inattention to our surroundings, or riding with inexperienced paddlers has led to someone taking an unexpected tip into the drink on virtually every trip we've ever made. This year was no exception, and this year's winner (loser?) is Greg, hands down. Greg was the only person to take an unexpected bath this year, and he managed to do so 3 1/2 times. (I'll explain the 1/2 in a bit.)

Three of his river baths occurred in a single day, and two happened in such a rapid succession that it almost counted as a single fall. The consumption of alcohol is almost a requirement for our trips. We're legally intoxicated from the time we wake up until the time we go to bed, and occasionally we forget to moderate our consumption, which makes for a hysterical trip.

On our first day, Greg got a little too tipsy and got hung up in shallow water because he wasn't paying attention. When he realized he wasn't going to be able to paddle his way out of the shallow water, he got out of the boat, promptly lost his balance and ended up flat on his back. Yes the water was only ankle-deep, but he somehow managed to soak himself from head to toe. I saw the spectacle and promptly pulled out my camera to commemorate the occasion. I was a ways downriver and had to zoom the camera to its full extent to get the shot. I was laughing so hard while all of this was going on that he managed to stand up by the time I snapped the picture.

Realizing that a wet body, cool air and a gentle breeze are a bad combination, Greg decided to put on his rain coat in order to preserve body heat. As soon as he got his coat zipped, he lost his balance again and fell flat on his back, taking a second bath. Greg was a trooper, but the alcohol and the cold caused fatigue to set in. Knowing that our stopping point wasn't too far away, I sent Darin ahead to find us a campsite, and I stayed back with Greg. This allowed us to find the closest available camping spot, while taking care of each other.

Hint to inexperienced downriver paddlers: Always pay attention to the river. If you do end up going in the water, make sure to stay warm. If you can, change into dry clothes. If you can't, add some layers. A raincoat is a good way to stay warm, and hypothermia is your enemy. If someone does go in, the safest thing to do is stay with that person and make sure they're safe and warm.

A half hour or so later, Greg and I came to the spot that Darin had snagged for us. We pulled to shore, got out of our boats, and Greg promptly took another bath. As we unloaded our gear it started to rain. It was a warm spring rain -- far warmer than the water -- but Greg was soaked and miserable. We set up the tent during this brief downpour, crawled into the tent and promptly fell asleep.

It was our first day on the river, so we were all sleep-deprived. We had set up camp by 2:00 PM. We slept until about 6:00 PM, cooked our dinner, and were back in bed by 9:00 PM, sleeping until noon the second day.

Stay tuned for the next installment... "Tick Toc"

Sunday, June 03, 2007

Boys' Trip 2007

Nice Canoes

The first group of paddlers we encountered was a troop of Boy Scouts. Greg, Darin and I were all in the Boy Scouts, and we credit scouting for our love of camping and canoeing. In fact, we all earned our canoeing merit badge during the same trip to summer camp.

We mentioned to the young scouts that we all belonged to their organization as boys, and a brief conversation ensued. One of the kids commented on our canoes and was quite impressed when we told him that we had built them ourselves. After a few minutes we commenced with our journey, saying we'd see them again when they caught up with us downriver. (After all, they were young and energetic kids, anxious to paddle; we are older paddlers, more interested in allowing the river to do the majority of the work.) Sure enough, they caught up to us within a half hour.

When they caught us, we got quite a laugh out of their lack of experience. Right around that time, the river started getting shallow, and they were constantly hanging up in the shallows. Our superior experience (and my shallow draft) allowed us to navigate the river without any problems, but the kids were continually getting out of the boats and hauling them over the sandy bottom. The only person in the troop to not get hung up was one of the two adult leaders. Like us, he tended to paddle at a slower pace, knowing he'd catch up to the kids when they tired out or got caught up in shallow water. The leader was the only one paddling solo, and said to us that he wished that he'd brought kayak paddles like we did.

Hint to inexperienced downriver paddlers: If you're paddling alone, a kayak paddle is an invaluable tool. It's far more efficient than a canoe paddle.

During the course of our trip, we met up with dozens of fellow paddlers... college students, families, retired couples... the list goes on. We had two other groups who commented on our boats and were very impressed that we had built them ourselves. We finished the boats a little over three years ago, and have taken them on our last four boys' trips. They were a lot of work, but the finished product was well worth it. We have pride in our craftsmanship, and we don't have to rent canoes anymore. But the icing on the cake is hearing comments on our boats, years after finishing the work.

Stay tuned for the next installment... "(almost) drowning in ankle-deep water."

Saturday, June 02, 2007

Boys' Trip 2007

Day I: The Drive Up

Part of the reason this trip will be memorable is how smooth everything went; from packing to paddling, this trip was easy-going. I usually work the day that we leave, choosing to pack a little at a time over the course of a couple of days. Greg is the exact opposite. He takes the day off, but doesn't start packing until the last minute. The result is that I usually get over to his house around 7:00 PM, we leave sometime between 10:00 PM and midnight, and arrive sometime between 5:00 and 7:00 AM.

This year I got off of work a little early, so I was at Greg's place around 4:00, and we were gone by 6:00. Greg and I usually meet Darin at our destination, but this year our travel route took us right through his neck of the woods, so we stopped at Darin's place along the way. Darin has a vacuum sealer, so we vacuum sealed all of our meat; we also pre-cut and sealed some of our veggies. I wasn't as impressed with how that turned out, but it certainly was convenient.

Hint to inexperienced downriver paddlers: If you are going on a long trip, freeze the meat that you will be eating later in the trip. The meat and ice will both last a little longer as a result. This is something we figured out during our third year or so. Vacuum sealing it will add even a little more life to the meat, and it will also prevent meat juice from getting into the cooler.

We drove through the night and arrived in the little town of Trego around 4:30 AM. This was pretty good, considering how much time we spent at Darin's place. By the time we got there, we were pretty tired, so we slept in the cars for an hour or so. (By the way, I don't know why Greg was so tired... he slept during the majority of the drive.) After our brief nap, we got directions from a gas station clerk and headed to our destination. This is what we saw upon arrival...

We weren't sure if the guy had a double blowout, or if he somebody "borrowed" strategic parts of his vehicle. Either way, we were a little bit nervous about leaving our cars there after that sight, but it turned out okay in the end... our vehicles were intact.

Stay tuned for the next installment... "Nice Canoes"

Friday, June 01, 2007

Our Annual Diversion

You may recall from a post I made around this time last year that a couple of friends and I make a yearly boys' trip, which consists of canoeing, kayaking, camping and whatnot. (Whatnot = drinking) Last weekend we had our 2007 trip.

This year's trip took place on the Namekagon River in Western Wisconsin, and it was one of the best trips yet. The current was smooth but fast in the beginning, with a surface so calm that you could see reflections of the foliage off of the river in certain places. The air temperature was a few degrees cooler than in my neck of the woods, but it was still comfortable. The water temperature was also cool, but not frigid. We had a short downpour the first day... a warm spring rain. The water was clear enough to see the bottom and we had some mild rapids on our last day. 2007 will undoubtedly go down in history as one of our best trips ever. Over the next few days, I'll post some of the highlights.

For those of you who can't wait, here's a slideshow of the trip.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Got the Pic

I finally got around to snapping an updated picture of the boat. The color you see is tinted epoxy, not a finished paint job, but hey it's progress. Either way this shot should give you an idea of what we've done since my last post with a photograph. The shape is a little more refined, and the spray rails are much more polished.

I still can't wait to get this thing flipped, but the picture helps me visualize the progress we've made over the last couple of months.

To put things in a little more perspective, I've been looking at other builders' boats. Today I did a check-in on Andrew Lucking's boat. Andrew started a couple of months before Greg and I did, and it looks like we're progressing at a similar pace. Of course Andrew is a one-man show, and has a shorter season because he's in Canada, but it still helps keep the perspective.

Friday, May 11, 2007

I Really Need a Picture

We haven't done any pictures since January, and haven't done any videos since... well, it's been a little longer. The reason we haven't done any pictures or videos is because things haven't significantly changed in months. At least it doesn't seem that way to me.

We've still been working on the hull... sanding and fairing, filling in the inevitable pinholes and sanding, and repeating as necessary. We've added a couple more coats of tinted epoxy, and we've blended and shaped the spray rails to Greg's satisfaction. We've been in sanding and fairing hell for over a year now. We started fairing in February 2006. By July, I was beginning to see the Law of Diminishing Returns kicking in. I'd say that by August of 2006, we were firmly in sanding and fairing hell.

Greg and I have discussed this in depth on several occasions. Greg is a perfectionist by nature. He wants things exactly right before we paint. I'm firmly convinced that the primer and paint will cover many of the imperfections we see now. I think that Greg is starting to come around to my way of thinking. But as I say this, I also acknowledge that some flaws we've corrected would not have been corrected by simply slapping a layer of paint on the hull. In the end, this is Greg's project, and I'm his assistant.

Greg has said that if he had things to do over again, he would not have built up the perfectly sharp chines. He doesn't think that the performance payoff will outweigh the amount of work we've put in as a direct result of the chines. I tend to agree. So if you're thinking about building a boat, skip the sharp chines.

Part of the issue is that Greg and I are both family men. We have pretty busy schedules, so we can only get a couple of hours per week to work on the boat. This naturally extends the project by an order of magnitude. When I get frustrated, I try to keep this all in perspective.

With all of that said, I went back today and looked at our pictures from January. It doesn't look a lot different, but there is a noticeable improvement in the hull. The tinted primer helps smooth things out. The spray rails are shaped and blended. Yeah, I really need to take a picture.

I'd also like to say hello to the newest member of my blog roll, Bruce Dillahunty at Craft-a-Craft.

Saturday, April 28, 2007

Additions to the Blog Roll

I'd like to welcome two new additions to the blog roll. Eric is building Nina, an LB22 model, designed my the folks over at Bateau -- the same crew that designed the boat Greg and I are building.

Ben is building his boat in The Invisible Workshop which, in his words, is "a nomadic, exterior boatbuilding space."

If you're discouraged from building a boat because of the slow rate of progress that Greg and I display, please check out these blogs. They certainly demonstrate that a boat doesn't need to be built over a two-plus year period. The second blog also shows that you don't need an elaborate workspace to achieve your dream.

Monday, April 02, 2007

Still Alive

Damn, I haven't done a post in two months!

Despite my lack of posting though, we're still working away on the boat. We work on the boat for a couple of hours once or twice per week, and the drill is pretty constant... throw back a brew or two, smoke a cigar, work for a while, toss back another beer or two and admire the night's handywork... and curse the new flaws that we continually find.

Each new session is progressively shorter than the last one, which I take as a good sign. We are finding fewer flaws each time, and the flaws are continually more minor as time passes. Eventually we'll need to take out the magnifying glass to find the defects, at which point we'll know that we're satisfied with our craftsmanship or in serious need of psychological help.

Since my last post -- and picture -- we've laid two more coats of the red-pigmented epoxy, found a few more flaws, laid a coat of white-pigmented epoxy, found a few more flaws, worked on the spray rails, and found a few more flaws. We've been finding and fixing these flaws since Moses was a child. It still amazes me how long we've been working on this project, and how much it DOESN'T look like a boat. Yeah, I see the hull, and I can picture the boat, but your average joe on the street couldn't be expected to visualize our finished product.

For a while I was really gung-ho on the boat, and then we got stuck in sanding-and-fairing hell. We've been stuck in this stage since roughly July -- almost nine months. In retrospect, Greg thinks (and I agree) that we would be much farther along if we didn't make perfectly sharp chines and if we had omitted the spray rail. If it weren't for these two minor variations from the plans, we would have undoubtedly have flipped the boat by now. Those two modifications have made for uncounted additional hours of labor and several weeks of burnout.

Eventually though, you work through the burnout and get re-motivated. The main thing is that we continue to make progress, and that we continue to work on the boat. The progress comes in fits and starts, and anyone who builds a boat -- especially on this large scale -- will undoubtedly agree that sanding and fairing is the worst part.

So what's the point of this post? Well, I have a couple of points...

-We're not dead.

-We're still working on the boat.

-Try not to get discouraged by a lack of visible progress.

-If you build a planing hulled boat, don't make perfectly hard chines.

-Spray rails seem to be more work than they're worth.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Starting the Finish

Last night we began seeing light at the end of the tunnel. For two consecutive sessions, we have performed tasks other than the mind (and hand) numbing tasks of sanding and fairing. As I mentioned in my last post, we mounted the spray rails. Last night we rolled out a coat of pigmented epoxy.

Painting the hull with pigmented epoxy will serve two main purposes. One purpose is to get the hull a uniform color, which will make any remaining flaws more visible, and if the paint gets scratched, the pigmented epoxy will help hide the scratches. (That's the second purpose.)

As you look at the pictures below, you will likely notice a couple of things...

- The area that's painted doesn't cover the entire bottom. This is because the painted area follows the approximate water line of the boat according to the plans. The area that hasn't been painted red will not be in the water.

-The spray rails do not follow the water line. We decided to have the spray rails follow the hull (from the top), not the water line.

-If you look really close, you may be able to see that the spray rails extend past the transoms. This is also intentional. It gave us room for error when mounting the rails to the boat; we will trim to the correct size and shape before we lay pigmented epoxy on the rest of the boat.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Spray Rails

Greg and I had a nice diversion from the seemingly-endless task of sanding and fairing this weekend as we mounted the spray rails to the boat. For those of you who aren't familiar with spray rails, they are designed to reduce the amount of water that sprays you (and your friends and the deck of the boat) as you cruise through the water at higher speeds.

We built the spray rails out of cypress, which Greg chose for its extreme rot resistance. He bought three 10 foot long 1x1 sections, which we scarfed together to form a single, long rail, and then we diagonal-cut the single long piece, forming our two spray rails. After this, we prepped the spray rails by touching up the rough spots and by pre-drilling the holes.

Greg wasn't sure how he wanted to mount the spray rails... whether to follow the water line, the hull from the bottom, the hull from the top, or some hybrid. In the end, we followed the hull from the top, and drew our line using a jig. We epoxied the rails in place, and held them with stainless steel screws. After the epoxy cures and we do more touching up, we will fill in the screw holes (which were counter-sunk) with epoxy, making the seal truly water-tight.

Once again I forgot my camera, but I will try to get a shot or two in the near future.

Sunday, January 07, 2007

Entering Orbit

Greg and I both had vacation between Christmas and New Year's day. We had planned on having a couple of long sessions during this period, but that didn't happen. I was occupied with family and friends, but Greg was fortunate enough to get in several small touch-up sessions. In reality, that's what we needed. We're at the point that when we work together, it's usually a short session because all we need to do is a little fairing here and a little sanding there. Of course I've been saying "we're getting close" for several months.

Last night was another minor breakthrough. Greg broke out the orbital sanders, and we started finish-sanding the transoms. What can I say. We're getting close.