Monday, September 28, 2015
Since late May I have been working on Wild Birds deck. She is a 34 year old Trintella 44' ketch built in Holland and designed by Van de Stadt. Tim and Gayle Evans emailed me a year ago asking if I would replace their worn out teak decking in the cockpit and fore cabin deck with new glued on teak. They also wanted all the rest of their flush teak decking removed and fiberglassed over with an Awlgriped finish over the entire deck. This I could do while they went home back to England for the summer.
Sure! So I sailed from the Bahamas single handed to St Martin where Rachel and our dog Bequia met up with me. (They don't like sailing to weather for days at a time.) Tim and Galyle arrived a few days later having sailed across the Atlantic to meet up with us for a winters adventuring in the Caribbean Sea before they were to leave me with Wild Bird to make her like new. You can see in this blog we have been having fun.
Here's an update with how this project is moving along with some thoughts and observations to go along with it.
First off I will point out that I grew up on a wooden ketch that had caulked teak decks, hatches and teak every where. Teak as a wood is a wonderful natural timber.
But I personally would never own a boat with teak decks. They are super hot to stand on in the tropics.
They collect dirt like crazy. They take daily maintence to keep alive by cleaning them all the time. If they are laid in the tradional manner with caulking to keep out the water they have to stay wet to keep the water out from below. If screwed down then you will have to deal with Thousands of fastening at the very least. All a potential leak. And they are not really that great as a non skid surface unless barefoot.
Now take a modern boat built in plywood with its decks glassed over. No leaks. Now take a molded one piece fiberglass deck. A thing of the utmost in low maintence perfection and then screw at least 2,800 holes into this watertight perfection to add a teak deck to. Total madness.
Read along and see what this madness can and will produce after 34 years of wear and tear.
The original teak was about 1/2" thick when new and screwed down with pan head # 10 1-1/14" screws using at least three different types of caulking. The deck was worn down to 3/16" in many areas with screw heads showing all over the place. The black caulking was degraded so far as to leaving black stains on your feet and pants if you sat on the deck.
Years before the previous owners had sailed to Turkey and had the decks seams recaulked in places and refastened in many other places with in some areas doubling the screws in the deck. Madness.
While in the yard in turkey the past owners had all the head liners taken down and all the deck fastenings epoxied over to stop the many leaks in the deck.
As I removed all the headliners, deck hardware and the teak decking I was to learn of Wild Birds past builders the good, the bad, and the down right ugly.
I thought the whole deck would look like this. Not so.
So I replaced the rotten plywood and glassed one half at a time.
What a mess being hidden under and behind the boats liners. Anyone buying a used or new boat should look behind that boats deck liners to get a look at the sins lurking there.
After the cabin deck was glassed over with fiberglass cloth and epoxy I glued down this sheet of closed cell core on top to fair out the 1/2" dip and to then fiberglass over again to gain strength by having a double skin cored deck. The teak when glued on top onto a flat straight surface would then make it very stiff.
Otherwise you can use peel ply cloth or you will have to sand the resin to get a good secondary bond. I do not trust wiping off the hardened epoxy with alcohol , acetone or vinegar.
I know they used a router to cut the seams when the boat was originally built as all these grooves went under all the deck hardware and these had never been removed.
Lots of production boats decks have all their deck hardware attached before the deck is attached to the hull. You can see this on this boat by all the deck bolts that have landed on top of bulkheads and in areas that for me to unbolt I had to cut away parts of the interior. This I have found on many name brand boats that claim to be the utmost in Yacht designs. Just plain BS. Before redoing a teak deck on a yacht I make a deck list to make sure I can get to every piece of hardware. On many boats it's impossible to get to lots of deck hardware without cutting out parts of the interior.
This method works well for me in strong winds as the cloth is always under control. If it should start to rain then cut the cloth off and the resin part will cure getting wet. Then come back and start again when dry.
I will post pictures next month of the finished project and will show my time sheet and what it cost to do. 384 hours logged so far.
Now onto some detail ideas on deck hardware and some ranting from me of how bad some boats are in the deck and interior design.
Let the ranting start....
I feel that plywood boats like the Hogfish Maximus have been misaligned for too long. The thinking today is if your boat is built out of plywood you are a cheap skinflint that is willing to live in a continually rotting box. I get so many questions about how I keep the HFM from rotting and falling apart.
I want all of you that read my rants to just look around you. One of the most successful design brands out there today is the J- Boat franchise. Great boats all. They perform, they cost lots.
They are made out of balsa cored wood, with the thinnest plywood interiors. Basically they are fiberglassed wood incapsulated boats. If you do not fix a leak through the deck or hull of one of these speedsters she will start to rot. Try fixing a rotten balsa core deck or hull. I have had my fair share of doing this. It's a miserable job that you need to get paid well to do. I HATE BALSA CORED BOATS ! The worst things ever.
But my next job is to fix a big hole in the side of a Mumm 36 that is balsa cored so.... Work to pay for this winters sailing.
Most all top end Swedish , Danish, Finnish , German, English, American built boats today are built around a balsa cored deck and a totally plywood interior. There is no difference from what they have to deal with than a simple plywood built boat that is well looked after. All the builders will tell you they use the balsa core because of its compressive strength. Yes it has that, but they use it because it is the cheapest thing to buy plain and simple. J-Boats should be using Closed cell core but that would be interfering with their bottom line.
On a fiberglass built production design everything has to be hidden because they don't have the time to build a proper interior. It would just cost way to much. So when you are buying a Halberg Rassey or some such plywood incased sloop with all its vynel headliners you are in reality buying the cheapest thing in the boat building market. Only one off boats can be built with everything thought out to be seen and delt with at all times. Or worse! You buy a sailboat that has a full Fiberglass headliner. Now you can't track a leak or fix it because it's hidden till you get out the saw.
HFM has 5 through hulls or holes going through her hull. The average amount of underwater through bolts and through hulls I counted the other day in the boat yard from Niads, Oysters, and their type was 28-32. Try and keep track of all that when you're in a gale and you're taking on to much water.
Most boats have an automatic bilge pump so don't really know how much their boats are really leaking.
On the HFM we have no bilge pump as we only leak through the prop shaft when motoring.
My Guess on Wild Bird she had at least 3,800 holes in her. Now 2,800 less.
These are few of the things I have done to make maintaining my plywood boat very easy.
Properly glassed over plywood boats if maintained will last forever. They are very easy to maintain if you are using them. They will not last if left half sunk in a lagoon.
Most all of the production boats that I sail in company with take way more maintence dollars than HFM. Why , well we don't have as many systems and our boat is very easy to keep clean and running in top condition.
When thinking of your next boat keep it simple so you can be out here sailing most of the time instead of fixing something that was built into the boat years before and now is broken and you will now have to do open boat surgery to repair.
Rants over for now.
Latest news on the Chris Morejohn - Tom Gordon Islamorada Marine skiff and several other home built skiffs a building.
Tom Gordon sent me some pictures of our skiff collaboration a few days ago with an update on what's up with it. I also will be sharing some pictures of several homebuilt skiffs that are being designed and built by their owners for their own use. Each one has a different story to go with each skiff.
Sounds complicated but it's not. The pictures that you see are a basic plywood jig set up to hold the putty that is being sprayed into this jig-form. Then the computer driven router comes over into this glob of cured putty and starts routing out to the hull lines. When done it's perfect. Of course if our thinking is not then we will just end up with another skiff.
Tom Gordon gave my hand drawn lines drawings to a navel architect by the name of Johnny Sebastion.
I love that name. We have never met. Johnny put all my lines into a cad program and faired them with this.
In doing this he could now see the displacement at any angle, with any amount of bow weight and stern weight at any draft. All this and you can see every thing in 3- D moving it about the screen.
From this you can see what the weight could be. That is what the displacement would be at such and such draft and tilted angle.
From here you have to do a hull skin analysis and get your whole hull weight list together. With a computer in the right hands this is the best way to go.
Tom has told me that they are sticking very closely to my rounded stern concept. They ended up moving my upper chine up a bit from my drawing. They have widened the hull a bit as drawn to be able to meet the Coast Guard standards for a 115 HP engine on the stern.
I figured he would do this as the hull lines I sent were to the inside of the hull skin. They have stuck to the hull sides and bottom I drew and have tweaked the aft bottom pads to their current thinking and knowledge. I can see a very intresting detail in the stern vee. Looks to me like a nice keel setup for turning at speed. They ran the stern bottom through many different programs before settling on what you see here. I'am very happy with what I see. Notice how all the hull lines flow. No hard parts or straight lines except for the lifting pads aft.
The skiff will weigh 530 lbs ready to install an engine on. With two 250 lb guys aboard with a 70 hp outboard it will draft 6.5". With the same two guys and a 115 hp motor it will draw 10".
The great thing that Tom Gordon is doing is using all of today's modern technology to make a perfect hull with out rushing and worrying about everyone else. This skiff will stand alone when done.
The next skiff here is being built by Jon Conner up in Vermont. He has built several other skiffs over the years and after reading my blog decided to design and build another new model. We have been corresponding this past year going over ideas, the pros and cons etc. of each.
He likes to build in plywood using the stitch and glue method.
With this method you are kinda stuck with a limited amount of hull shape forms. It is hard to add in chine pockets and such as you are not building over a solid building jig and molds.
But a very nice hull can be made this way in a short amount of time.
Jon felt it was worth putting in. He can always remove it. I feel when he's in a fast turn his skiff will be like on railroad tracks and will not slide much with this setup. The black bottom is carbon powder in epoxy. I personally think doing this is a waste of money. If worried about bottom friction or wear then add one more layer of 7 oz. cloth just in the areas of worst abrasion.
Look at the sheer on this skiff. When building a skiff on the floor like Jon did it is hard to stand back and lean over with your head upside down to get a look at your sheer. To me this sheer is fine for this boats intended purpose which is to run and fish in shallow protected waters. There's no pretense that this is going to be a rough water skiff. The flattish bottom precludes that to some degrees.
For looks an inch more in bow height might look good, But when running this bow will be up in the air at all times. When poling around it will be sitting perfectly with little windage. Jon fishing from the stern with the added bouancy of his stern boxes will support his weight well so this skiff should pole and float quite level when fishing alone.
Design in a bit of upturn to the bottom of stern boxes. But with a light weight skiff, trim tabs and a biggish engine this is not needed. The skiff will just want to be out of the water when running. So that's where trim tabs help so much.
Here you can see how simple this trim plate is to make. Aluminum can be cut with simple power tools so a setup like this is very cost effective.
Jon says his skiff will be in the water soon so will post the pictures when I get them. Well done Jon !
A very energetic young man by the name of Dustin Bates has been corresponding with me as he has been making a plug and mold for a biggish flats skiff for himself and other family members to build and finish off on their own. He plans on building three skiffs from this hull design and mold. I feel he will be building more though once people see his work.
Dustin started off this hull design by building over an old hull shape that he acquired. He felt this initial shape would be a good starting point for him to add all his ideas and energy too.
When going this route you can save yourself lots of time and money if the the hull shape you have cost next to nothing and is close to what you invisioned for the final hull. But you will be stuck with a lot of its old shape to start with and this can steer your shape in directions you may not eventually want.
So think about it, draw it out before you start.
Dustin knows boat building and mold making. His last company was Barracuda Boatworks.
We have talked back and forth about details on the bottom of his skiff. My advice to him and to everyone is to keep things as simple as possible and don't make cute gimmicky details.
Dustin liked some of my idea details that I had posted a while back on reverse spray strakes, and chine details.
Let's look at what he's come up with.
Nice, now let cure and then skin coat.
If you see sloppy glass work around a builders molds its a good sign that his boats will be sloppy too.
For this boat size about two days worth. Then let sit and gas off. Then it's wax on wax off. Five coats. Will take two days. Then let gas off. Now you can build a hull.
Bow detail. See how long and straight the outer lower chine is. If you start with your own design then that could have a bit more curve in it. But this skiff is going to be very stable at rest. It looks like it should be very dry when running. Lots of stuff going on down there to stay dry.
The thing is with a mold like this if any of those reverse spray strakes need to be removed or shortened it's just a matter of filling in the mold and refairing.
When building the Whipray plug I used a new type of Bondo type fairing compound that was so easy to use and sand. I went through all my usual steps. When it came time to remove the mold it was stuck completely! I had to tear out the entire plug piece by piece. Luckily the plug was built in cedar strips. About 50% of the bottom had stuck. The plug was destroyed. I later learned that this new putty was giving everyone the fits. It needed days to gas off before spraying on the gelcoat.
When I got the last piece out of the mold I called Hal Chittum and said we now had a mold to start the project with.
To me there's too much going on in this transom. Like I said before I don't like cute. All those little pockets add drag and turbulence when running. I did suggest Dustin round the corners as much as possible to help with the noise.
I will keep posting Dustin's build updates as I get them. This young man needs to be followed as he is doing this whole project in his spare time on his own dollar. He must have an understanding wife.
This next project is being built by another young man that wants his own skiff to guide and fish out of. He cannot afford the current costs of flats skiffs so has taken it upon himself to design and build his own skiff. Ren emailed me a month ago asking some basic questions about foam cores and building a one off. I did not really have the time so just said give me a few weeks and I would post a blog about lofting a skiffs lines and how to set up for building. ( soon).
Ren is a man that wastes no time so these past few weeks he started on his skiff project with his vision in his head and his energy getting things done.
He is building to his own devised method.
This is fine. There are lots of ways to hold down the core. I like finish nails as they pull out really easily with only a small hole to fill with putty.
Look at this shape. With a bit of fairing this could be the next new skiff.
Keep up the energy Ren.
This skiff I saw on Facebook on a site-group called Trick my Skiff that I follow. I don't know who's building it but a mold in the background in one of the photos looks like one of mine that I designed and built. So.... Someone please let me know.
I'am just showing this skiff to not pick it apart but to share what I see. This might help you to look at all skiff designs with a questioning mind. Please look at all what I say in the same way.
Ok, this is a great looking skiff hull. Love that bow. The chine detail is very crisp. This skiff from here looks like it will run great with a 6 hp.
Now what I question is if it's designed to be a flats fishing skiff then with its very obvious shallow draft that very nice chine detail most likely will be very noisy as the boat hull is tipped from side to side. The sharp edge of the chine when coming out of the water will cause a small wave and dripplets that will make noise. It's to close to the surface of the water so will be coming out allot. No one fishes a boat totally flat at all times.
But the Chines are up too high for being quiet. If this skiff were totally flat bottomed then you would have to really lean over to get its chine out of the water. Not so with this type of bottom. Will only take a few degrees of tilt. The difference between this ever so slightly veed hull and a totally straight flat bottomed skiff in ride would only be in speed underway. And only just a bit. A totally flat bottomed skiff if leaned over by its operator and passengers to a ten degree angle would present a nice vee into an incoming chop. With a veed hull you will end up with a flat bottom when leaning over.
So I feel the dead flat bottom would give you the better ride if you knew how to run the skiff.
But this skiff looks so cool upside down. I want one! But without that stern bottom.
All this will add drag when poling. I would like to know how this skiffs turns out.
It should plane out with a 15 hp if built in the 250-300 lb range at about 18 knts.
I sure like its lines but want to know if all that stern bottom stuff works.
It's back to cute stuff. Is it really worth it? We'll see. But I would love to have a hull like this with a clean run to the stern, solid glass bottom with cored sides. Nice all round nock about skiff for low hp.
When I next sail back home to the Bahamas next summer I will look up this Bahamain and give him hull lines drawings to work from for his next build.
A few skiffs out there being built. Lots of the skiffs today will look very similar but in reality they will all be different as its all in the details that will separate them all. Some will be be real yachts done to perfection but all will float and get you out to the same spot looking at the same fish. Remember this.
I live aboard my own self designed and home built plywood sailboat that is moored in the same anchorages as the wealthiest people in the world with their perfect yachts. We go to the same reasturants, shop in the same stores, drink side by side in the same bars, breath the same air and swim in the same sea. Are they having more fun than me? Do they see the same sunsets differently? Probably not. The difference is they drink more expensive Rum than I do.
Start building your own skiff, yes it will take a bit of time out of your life. Give up your time on the Internet and you will have plenty left to get building. Think of the satisfaction of catching fish out of your own self built skiff.
The Hogfish Maximus is a very unusual looking boat. But because I built it myself and sail about the oceans in it I get more job offers than I can take to help others with their store bought boats.
Let's get going!