Caledonia Yawl half way stage

Friday, 18 April 2014

It was a Good Friday...

Here is the workshop as I left it on Thursday. I was planning to work on Friday but the weather was so nice that I decided to sort out the club Flying Fifteen instead. I spent an hour or so only sanding the Ilur, after the day before when I put up the garboards and fixed the skeg.

The mizzen for the Caledonia Yawl is a "recyled" Gannet mast. It will serve well enough until the owner gets round to making one for himself. It seemed a shame to waste a good length of spruce, but I did have to spend more hours than I should have tapering it and cleaning it up.

The hatch covers are also recycled, from the deck of a superyacht refitting in Holland. They should look smart against the interior which will be painted cream at some later stage.

That's a gadget my friend Mattis sent from Norway to gauge the angle of garboards, rabbets and indeed the angle of planks in general. I put it to first use checking the bevel on the Ilur's keelson, to make sure it was symmetrical. Clever people those Norwegians. Such a simple device and beautifully crafted by Mattis, for which many thanks. Incidentally he calls it variously a leggfjol, gradbrett or batvater (NB there are some accents missing along the way).

That's about all until Tuesday when more planks will go on the Ilur and a start made on the side benches for the Yawl. Lots more to do, although I can begin to see the end of it. Keeping two boats inside one head is quite an interesting challenge.

Monday, 7 April 2014

Two on the Go Now

Today saw real progress on the new build, a Francois Vivier Ilur. The planks were scarphed last week and since then it has been a case of cutting out the MDF moulds and plywood bits and pieces, all of which slot together to form a rigid, box-like structure.

If this is the future of boat building, then it looks nothing like the past. I can't say that it gives quite the same level of satisfaction but it is a welcome change from the traditional, and once everything is cut out it certainly makes for a quicker build. Enjoyable too, especially with Alan and Gordon lending an expert hand.

I take my hat off to the ingenious Frenchman who designed the boat. Salut Francois! The way it all slots together. Hats off also to Alec Jordan who programmed his router to cut the kit. 

Work on the Caledonia Yawl will stop for a few days while we get a handle on the Ilur. The keelson needs shaping, the centreboard box made and fitted, then the transom and by next week we may be in a position to start planking. That will be 14 or so days work to date.

I did manage to knock up a forehatch for the yawl, using some recycled iroko decking from the aft deck of a superyacht, refitting in the Netherlands. Who knows who might have trod those boards. Maybe Kate Moss sunbathed on that very spot. I think you can still see the marks of the suntan oil...

Thursday, 3 April 2014

Day 30. Back Broken?

After a long day today and the day before, and... I reckon the back's broken - unfortunate phrase perhaps. So much more to do, but at least the hull is finished, and the foredeck fitted. And the whole lot primed with International two-part clear sealer.

The foredeck  is a departure from the design (how did you guess?). The level has been taken down a strake or so, and the deck now stops at station 2.

The higher deck as drawn made no sense to us. The owner insisted on stowage. so there's access through the bulkhead and via a hatch. The deck as drawn, however, is too high to perch on safely, and had not much more useable space unless you fitted shelving, like a fridge. And that double mast box (sloop or yawl rig mast positions) was just a fiddle.

This lower  foredeck now makes a nice, safe area for kids to sit, protected by the higher topsides. Ah, but how are you going to support the unstayed mast now that you have lowered the deck and done away with the mast box? Well, a mast thwart will be fitted bridging station 2, but a wide one, with sweeping curves that will support the mast when sloop rigged on its aft face, and on its front face the mast in its forward position when the yawl rig is being used. The thwart will be at gunwale level, and therefore really supportive of the mast. And the scalloped mast thwart will provide a comfy back rest for the occupamts of the "play pen".

We'll see. The aft deck will be pretty much standard. 

Wednesday, 26 March 2014


A few milestones passed in the last week or so; the gunwales were laminated, clamped around the outside of the boat, thicknessed and fitted.

The centreboard trunk was made up and faced in larch, which will give it strength and the wood will contrast with the painted ply.

I lined the slot with iroko which will protect the exposed end grain of the ply and provide a smooth, hard bearing surface.

The breasthooks were fashioned and fitted today, and a start made on the rudder which is a laminate of 9mm ply and larch.

Meanwhile the aft deck is taking shape, the bulkhead and beam fastened and ready to fit.

That's about it for now. Time moves steadily on and there's another boat starting this week, an Ilur by Francois Vivier. With two of us on the job, it will be a busy time but the sun is out and the daffodils in bloom, so it's a joy to be working down by the lochside.

Monday, 17 March 2014

Caledonia Turned

Monday saw the Caledonia Yawl turned over, the excess Collano glue planed off the lands and the interior sanded.

Time also to fashion the stempost, which may change to suit the owner. I have however told him, politely,  that I can take more off, but not add anything on. I am crossing my fingers. It may well be up to Ella and Alex who, at this moment are no doubt asking their father: "can we make the stem a little higher, you know like a proper Viking boat with a dragon..." I am not great at dragons, but I know a wood carver who is.

And finally, another plug for Collano Semparoc. Sticks like... and as it expands a little, you don't need to mix it with filler, or pour it on like epoxy and suffer the hideous prospect of having to scrape off the dribbles with a hot knife. Time to clean the interior, with a bull-nosed plane, chisel and a little sanding? Two hours. Is it time to put reassess epoxy?  For my money Collano wins hands down: no mixing, no mess, easy to clean up and very little waste. Tell me if I am wrong.

Friday, 14 March 2014

That's it for the Weekend

The paint arrived just in time to finish off the week on a brighter note. Hempel's light blue and mid grey Multicoat were the colours of choice, with white under the water. The stems may or may not be left varnished. See what it looks like.

The waterline will be cut in finally at the next painting stage. And remind me to get a broom to the place. A job for Monday morning when we will, with luck, turn her over.

Thursday, 13 March 2014

Ready to Roll

Two coats of clear primer and a coat of undercoat and the hull is ready to turn. The keel was fastened first, using Collano, followed by the first layer of the stems, laminated against the inner stem, scarphed into the keel, followed by more laminations on top of the laminations, the aim of which was to completely bridge any weak spots. Photo shows it better than words.

It probably took longer than making the apron and stems on the jig at the same time, but I have found that when it comes to fitting the outer stem to a previously laminated inner stem (apron) the curve has somehow subtly changed and you have to force the two to mate. And there's not so much pressure all at one time, jigging apron and outer stems. This way is more controllable

The stems have been left unpainted for now, which might or might not look nice against the painted hull.

The colours have been chosen for the exterior and interior: mid grey sheerstrake, light blue topsides, white under water and cream inside, set off by the solid timber thwarts and other bits and pieces.

Two coats of International Clear primer (two-pack) were applied with roller, then flatted with 3M's excellent Abranet abrasive under a Norland's white undercoat, rolled and tipped. The finish will be in Hempel's Multicoat, a semi-gloss that to my mind looks nicer on a working/fishing boat type than high gloss enamel, and a lot easier to bring back to scratch.

The bilge runners are rather heftier and longer than designed as the boat will be drying out in a Cornish port