Port Light Frames Installed

Good news is my epoxy arrived, so I’m back at it.  This morning I glued the window frames in place on Northern Cross.  Take a look:

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Inside view of the cabin windows.  I’ve tried to clamp with minimal pressure as to not mar the window frame.  

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You don’t need very many clamps, due to the curve of the cabin sides.  If you clamp near the center, the outer edges receive plenty of pressure.  Oops, I see an epoxy run up under the gunwale.  These things show up all the time, even though you’re sure you’ve got em all fixed.  

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I love my Skiff.  She just keeps getting better looking each day.

Summary:

I’ve got a ton of small little detail things to work on while I wait for my trailer to be built.  I’m so happy to be at this stage in the building process.  This has been a great building experience for me.  

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Protection through Painting

Paint adds a layer of protection and wear surface to epoxy coated areas.   Here, I elected to paint the bottom of the slosh wells, the motor well and the bow.  I wrapped the paint up the sides 2.75″.  This creates a nice finished, protected look to any painted area.

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First coat needs to go on thin to prevent sagging.  

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Above the paint line, I’ll probably do a bright finish.

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The bow subfloor.  I’ll definitely do a bright finish above this paint line.  

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I stuffed a paper towel in the self draining holes of the bow to prevent paint from running down the side of my finished hull.

I’m going to add a non skid powder to the next coat and then probably finish off with one last coat, making 3 coats in all.  Great fun folk, great fun!

Building Lap Trays

If it appears I’m preoccupied with miscellaneous, frivolous accessories for Northern Cross, you’re probably right.  But, I’ve got to do something with my time as I wait for more epoxy to arrive.

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Head navigator (Jennifer) ordered 2 small lap trays to be build.  And, I don’t want to get in a contest with the head navigator.  So, build them I did.  

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Utilizing 1/4″ mahogany plywood for the base and 1/2″ x 1″ cleating for the edging, I made the trays using my table saw.  

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One for her and one for me.  Guess who gets the bigger one?  The navigator of course.  

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And, they self stack to economize on storage space.

What are we going to do with 2 dorky lap trays?

  1. Use them in the cockpit or cabin to contain salami and cheese.
  2. Place fresh grapes on them as we cruise in style.
  3. Provide a place to set my hot drink.
  4. Provide a nice level platform when using my backpacking stove.
  5. Use as a backer plate behind my adventure journal.
  6. Use as a lap desk in the cabin at night.

I plan to store them on the inside of the aft bunk longitudinals.  This will keep them out of the way and off the floor.  Because of this, the larger tray cannot exceed 12″ in width or the lid won’t close.  

 

 

Thunder Plank Redesign

(This is going to be a very nerdy blog post.  You’ve been warned)

Sometimes you’re in a hurry when you build something.  Your mind might be preoccupied or things just aren’t clicking for you.  In the end, you’re not happy with the results.  This was the case with my original Thunder Plank design.

The design wasn’t terrible, but could have been much better.  It was heavy and just felt clunky in my hands.  Everything about Skiff America is finesse and I didn’t want to screw it up with my heavy Thunder Plank.

Skiff America is like a little birdie, not a B52 bomber.

While I’m waiting for more epoxy to arrive, I’ve decided to redesign Thunder Plank.

Old vs New:

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The old version is shown on the left.  The new version is shown on the right.  The new version is slightly smaller in nearly every dimension.

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Underneath side of toilet seats showing the arrangement of cleating and the extended backer plate.

How does the new version differ from the old version?

  1. All mahogany materials
  2. No use of wood screws
  3. 3/8″ mahogany ply instead of 3/4″ baltic birch
  4. Mahogany cleats instead of baltic birch plywood cleats
  5. Backer plate is 1/2″ thick as opposed to 3/4″ thick
  6. Backer plate extends lower to make contact with the front bunks, preventing the seat from moving toward the bow.
  7. Addition of a forward cleat prevents the 5 gallon bucket from moving toward the stern.

(I warned you this was going to be a terribly nerdy post)

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The result of my newly designed Thunder Plank weighs in at a scant 1.4 lb.  That compares to the original design weighing 3.6 lb.  It now feels light and appropriate to fit inside Northern Cross.

Now I’m happy with my Thunder Plank and can move on to the next project.  

Building the Thunder Plank

When you gotta go…you gotta go.  

Every well designed boat needs a system allowing the weary traveller to relieve oneself.

Here’s my solution:

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I started by tracing an elongated toilet bowel onto 3/4″ baltic birch plywood.

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I then cut out a pattern using my jig saw.

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Next, I added a backer plate so users would respect the boarders.  

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I then added cleating to the underside to center the board within the footwell and to keep the toilet bowel from drifting forward and aft.  I also added a cleat near the back of the seat to keep the bucket from shifting toward the bow.   

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Here you can see how I added the backer plate.

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Next, I needed a way to raise the bucket to the proper height under the toilet lid.

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The 2 pieces hook together to provide a stable base for the toilet.

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The bucket now fits up tight against the underside of the toilet seat, yet it can’t slide toward the bow, due to the under cleat.  

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Now I will line the bucket with disposable toilet bags.  These bags have a dry chemical added to them to sanitize the waste and allow you to dispose of them in any garbage receptacle.  You can buy them at Walmart.  They work very well and keep the mess all contained into one bag.  No dripping porta potty to drain and clean.  

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The backer plate hooks onto the mahogany seat cushion edge support.  This keep the toilet seat from sliding forward.  

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And, here’s the finished product.  I’ll keep all the essentials inside the 5 gallon bucket which stows perfectly under the aft bunk.  

Summary:

The Thunder Plank will provide us with an emergency way to relieve ourselves should duty call.  I now want to design a board for cooking and preparing a hot brew utilizing this same cleating system.  

Naming my Skiff America

Naming a boat is a hard thing to do.  You can come up with a lot of different names, but many don’t seem to fit in the end.  You need to live with a few different names in your mind and over time see how they settle out.  It’s almost as if the boat needs to name itself.  I’ve been brooding over several names over the last several months and up until tonight, I hadn’t made a decision.  Until now that is.  I think I’ve finally settled on a name that’s both fitting and inspiring for this graceful wooden vessel.

So, what is it?  What is it?

Let’s have a drum roll first…(official drum roll please)

The name which I’ve settled on for my Skiff America is:

Northern Cross

The Northern Cross is considered the backbone of the Milky Way Galaxy.  It’s officially known as Cygnus the Swan and forms a large cross in the Northern Hemisphere.  The name inspires me by anchoring the night sky throughout the entire year in the Northern hemisphere.  A ever present reminder that Skiff America can take care of me through multiple seasons and multiple waterways.  Her visual grace ever present before my eyes.

So there you have it:  Northern Cross.  She’ll receive an official christening in March of 2017 at Lake Havasu in Arizona.  I’ve got lots to do between now and then.

What have you named your boat and why?

Filler Board Work and Cabin Layout

After a quick dinner, I slipped out into the shop for the simple task of sanding and glueing parts to the front filler board.  Building this boat is a series of small daily tasks.  If you touch your boat daily, things seem to fall into place.

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You don’t need much clamping pressure when glueing with epoxy.  In fact, you’ll just dent the wood if you over tighten.  Light pressure is all that is needed.

I decided to add a bottom piece to the top filler board which will slip over the lower filler board.  This will create a shingle effect and keep the boards in the same plane.

Jennifer and I spent an hour just sitting in the cabin tonight, seeing how we would like to configure and use the limited space.  We made several decisions:

  1. We decided against the curtain rods and holders.  When you lean back against the side of the cabin, the curtain rods would definitely be in our way.  Furthermore, the top seems to be plenty strong without them.  And, in the end, they will offer very little privacy because the curtains won’t hang tightly against the window.  So, we’re nixing them.
  2. We want to utilize the forward side of the aft bulkhead to organize our personal belongings like:  book, cell phone, 2 way radio, head lamp, water bottle  etc.  I’ll now design something that won’t take up much space, but help to keep us organized.
  3. We will utilize the walkway between the bunks as a bathroom area when needed.  Details to follow.
  4. We want at least 4 large pillows in the cabin area for comfortable lounging.  This allows you to sit in a number of different positions comfortably.
  5. We want to rig up a simple line to hold the bunks lids open for hands free loading and un-loading.
  6. We want to design and build 2 small lap trays to be used as a multi purpose tools for tasks like:  Cutting cheese and salami…to support my travel journal when writing…as a lap desk when playing cards or looking over a guide book, etc.  Basically, a lap organizer tray.  They will store under the bunks up against the bunk longitudinal out of the way when not needed.

Summary:

Lots to think about when it comes to being comfortable on a boat.  If you spend a few hours just hanging out in your boat, envisioning how you can use the space, things start to come to you and systems can be worked out.  I feel our time on the boat tonight was well spent and it has given us several ideas which we can now incorporate.  

Have you hugged your boat today?

 

 

Filler Board and Port-Light Frames

You get pretty efficient at epoxy work while building a wooden boat.  Today was more of the same as I epoxied the front filler boards and port-light frames.  Check it out:

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After I get one coat of epoxy on all the pieces, I’ll add the mahogany and apply 2 more coats.  I want these parts very well sealed, they’ll take a lot of weather.  

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The port-light frames need to be well sealed as well. 

Thoughts:

I’m dreaming of some sort of cabin galley complete with wine glasses and bottle holder.  This, even though I don’t drink.  But, I could store a fresh bottle of Welches grape juice, for casual cruising.  When you think about how this boat will cruise from 8 – 15 mph, all these thoughts come flooding into my mind.  Skiff America allows you to enjoy the sailing life style without reefing the sails and tending the sheets.  This might just be the best cruising vessel the common man can own.  It surely seems to have a lot going for it.   Those of you who already own a Skiff America can comment…am I wrong?

Stowing the Front Filler Board

One of the biggest considerations for the front filler board is where to stow it.  I originally thought maybe the front bow area would be a good place, but after looking things over, I realized the front filler board is too large to fit reasonably well in the bow.  That left the cabin.  Here’s the deal:  I hate stuff laying around when I want to lie down for a few minutes.  Furthermore, I didn’t want to stow the front filler board under the cushions, because that would create a bump, and I don’t want a bump under my cushions.  So, that left under the bunks, but the filler board is too big.  OK, how about building the filler board in 2 halves like on a sailboat companionway?  Now were coming.  This way, both pieces could easily fit under the bunks and out of the way.

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Here’s the top half of the filler board (the bottom half is boring, so I didn’t photograph it).  I planed the top mahogany piece down to 1/2″, because the 3/4″ looked too thick.  I also left it quite wide, around 4″.  I want my soft top to wrap over this piece with plenty of overlap (to keep highway speed rain out of the cabin).  I also built a lower piece to overlay the lower board.  It will act like a shingle and keep both boards in the same plane.   I also beveled the mating edges of the plywood boards to help shed the rain.   

Summary:

The 2 filler board system provides the following advantages:

  1. 2 small boards are easier to maneuver in tight quarters than one large board.
  2. 2 boards allows for partial wind block by using only the lower board when cruising.
  3. Enhanced visibility from the cockpit when using only the lower board.
  4. By easily raising the upper board at anchorage, one could get a glimpse forward of the oncoming storm or general surroundings.
  5. And, finally the best reason:  2 filler boards can neatly stow below the bunks, out of the way and off the cushion tops.

Bunk Tops and Port Light Frames

The bunk tops now have 2 coats of epoxy on them and the front edge is attached.  I’m really happy with how these turned out.

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With the bunk tops in place, I used a Sharpie to mark their position against the hull.

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This line will provide me with a reference point for painting the storage areas.

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Taped off ready for paint.

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I painted all the storage areas for a finished look.  

 

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While waiting for the paint to cure, I decided to work on the port light frames.  After looking things over, I decided to use 1/2″ plywood for thick looking port-light frames.

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I used a band saw and jig saw to rough out the frames and then used a carpenter’s rasps to clean up the lines.

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Finally, I used an 1/8″ round over bit to soften all the edges.

Summary:

Next up, front cabin filler board.