Thursday, September 18, 2014

The " Red Baron" project

I move around a lot sailing from one project- job to the next. Right now a front is coming through here and it is raining so will sit down and share this story with you. Four years ago my friend Phil emails me a picture of an unfinished Ian Farrier 32 AX trimaran bare hull and some parts that is for sale in Oregon state. This is Phil's dream boat. The man that started it has died of a heart attack , the boat and parts are for sale by his young son-24 and his surviving sister. They are not sailors. Would I hop on a plane and go out and look at it and if it's worth finishing buy it and get it to Florida for me to Finnish the build? Sure why not I need to settle into a routine and be a normal dad for my youngest daughter as she finishes high school. This will be a good job. I was in the Bahamas working on building my house but this could be good. 
My wife and daughter were renting a small place in St Augustine fl. As they have good schools there. My wife was running a used antique book store. I sail on up. 
The first thing I do is look up this tris hull sections for me to see if I can get it into a freight box. I have 3" to spare if it is built to plans and I can get it in sideways. The place where the boat is being built is in the middle of no where in a garage. I will need to fly to Oregon drive 350 miles to the boat,look the boat over ,find a crane rental, line up a trucking company, meet with the son, make an offer and if accepted start the process of getting out and into the container all ASAP. 
The gentalman that started his dream project was an engineer at the nucular war head site in this town. His name was Charley Brown. Charles Brown. He was very detailed in building what he had done so far. The boat was being built in Systems Three Epoxy , Core Cell foam core with some modifications to the design aft cabin deck height. Smart move as it is way too low as designed unless you are an earth worm that likes to wiggle your way in and around and out of that coffin like aft cabin.
His work was perfect so far. He had gotten the two hull halves together, the outer Amas built , the daggerboard case and board. Some tools were there . Lots of supplies but all a long ways to go. 
I am always amazed at people that take on projects like this when they have retired. This design build is a huge under taking by anyone . Tons of hours to build. Nothing romantic about the whole project as it is all about glass work and fairing. No wood in site except for the plug work. Pretty much a thankless job unless you are getting paid to build it. It is by no means cheap to build on your own as the materials still cost a bundle. Labor still costs, but it will take you at least 3,500 + hours of yours so it's a part of your life. When done you will not make your money back unless you have a buyer waiting. It is way better in the long run to buy a used boat now and enjoy your life. But if you are like me you will take great joy and pride in creating your own flying carpet to explore the world. Forget the itch, the dust, smell, endless hours inside a shed with only a peak of the out side world waiting. Let's get going and see how this contraption sails.
The son and his Aunt wanted a lot of $ for the bare hull and parts. My offer was this; the boat as it sits is pretty much not worth anything till built. Does not matter what was spent to date , the boat must be in the water to have real value. They had several offers. I offered them way less than the others but said
 " Iam  the only one that will have the boat built in a little over a year from now. The others will not be doing this if at all. If you want to see Charley's boat sailing I will be be the one to do it". Seeing the boat finished was worth more to them than a bit more cash. 
I took working alone 13 months to finish building Charley's dream boat and making it into Phil's. My deal with Phil was I would charge $25.00 an hour for labor and would get all the materials at cost or better and pass the savings on to him. He would cover all expenses. I am very good at finding deals as I have been around for awhile. The finished boat cost $226,000.00 with my labor at just under $40,000.00. 
A friend was building one in Canada in a professional shop with the cost going out the door at over $350,000.00. So we were ahead of it a bit.
This was a good project . I lived in a house for this period , and kinda acted like a regular guy during this time. As soon as the sea trials were over Rachel and I sailed back to the Bahamas. Our daughter Lillian had been awarded a full scholarship to finish her 11 th and 12 th grade schooling in an IB program in the UWC in Duino Italy during this time.She escaped before we did.

 Arriving from Oregon ready to lift out . I built the cradle there and loaded the boat and parts in myself. The truck driver being an American weighed at least 350 lbs and could barely breath. He made it though across the states.

I think everyone should have a machine like this , so much fun. Never used one before this project but you can rent for very little and learn on the job or poke a hole in something.

Nothing like a strong light weight hull.

Everything is cored so you just make up these sheets and start putting the puzzle together. I still have to glass everything in here and then fair.

The folding system that Ian Farrier has designed is complicated but works beautifull when done. You only have 3 mm of play to work with so have to have a secure level boat and pay attention to all the details. Kinda like building a plane.

Daggerboard rudder before glassing.

Interior shot after Awlgripping. I use a full face mask. Your eye balls are an open skin membrane so if they are protected from the fumes then you can work and paint away. If not you drop dead. This was a total bitch and nightmare to fair and paint. The shop at this point was at mid summer about 100 degrees so I sweated up a storm but I am used to this being in the tropics my whole life.

A detail of the stern and the daggerboard rudder. I like these as you just lift the rudder up an can still sail. With a kick up rudder you tremendous weather helm. 

This is not Bondo but the System Three fairing putty they sell. Since this was all epoxy no fumes and plenty of working time.

My home made fairing rig. Works like a charm but you have to cover your eyes and like to work in a dust storm. I was renting a small storage bay so could not blow the dust out the door. Had to do all this with the door shut. I like to wear all cotton shirts and jeans even though it is 100 degrees plus in here my sweat cools me off. The fan provides a breeze but because the door is closed the dust storm will be about for a bit. I then Vacume out the whole shop.

The boat had a beam of 25' and the shop was 20' wide . I just built one Ama  and Aka at a time and then slid the boat over to the other side. Saved a ton on rent. Rent was $750.00 a month. The building was metal and the inside was sheet rock nothing else. I had to buy insurance to rent . My landlord said to insure for $100,00.00. The insurance company's said they would only insure for a minimum of $500,00.00. Crooks. The custom trailer people are about to arrive.

The Epoxy that the boat was being built out of had to be cured to 120 degrees for 4 hours taking up to ten hours to slowly cure this type of epoxy resin. I built this shed over the boat with all parts inside , renting a propane furnace heater . I installed 10 thermometers around the box . Took a day to build , a day to cure and a day to remove. I had no need for the wood and all that good insulation and offered it to the guy in the next bay. He said a friend was building a shed and would get it in the morning. He shows up with his Fire Marshall uniform on , looks at the furnace and me and says " I don't want to know what you were up to". To this date with a bright red hull no print through.

Stern with a custom engine mount .

Rachel posing like the bikini girls on my walls. Getting ready to put the bling on the boat.

Only an inch at the door. Ian Farriers plans are very detailed but kind of scattered with the info. 

Tied up along side the Hogfish. I knew the Hogfish would not be jealous of me spending so much time with this sexy new boat. Although lean light and super fast this red thing could only carry a six pack of beer and you could poke a hole through her sides in an instant. Nothing like the battle horse you know and love.

Calvert sails, wing mast, 18 knots in 12 . 


The end of a good project with a happy owner. 

1 comment:

Sixbears said...

Looks a lot like the boat that passed me going into Naples Fl Back in Feb.. Wonder if it was the same one?

Anyway, beautiful work. I'm embarrassed to say it's taken me 2 summers to build a 12 foot sailboat. Of course, no one's paying me and I've had to squeeze in the time.

I know just enough about boat building to appreciate the quality of your work. Well done.