Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Building a Skerry

What I did on my summer vacation

  • Day: Who knows, I lost count
  • Total Build Time: Don't know, don't care. See above

One of the things that has stalled any interest in moving ahead with this boat build guessed it, sanding. You hate, I hate it, we ALL hate it. Using a palm sander to fair the hull was proving to be an exercise in futility, and I knew I needed a random orbital sander to do the job. A good friend offered a loan on a well used Porter Cable unit, and I jumped at the opportunity to save a bunch of money not buying a new sander (although the Festool Rotex is a REALLY nice sander!) I plugged it in, started sanding, and in less than thirty seconds pieces of the sander were flying in every direction! The sanding pad was dry rotted and was disintegrating, throwing pieces of itself everywhere in it's final death throes. Well, now I had a problem. How to sand all that hull without taking forever? Fortunately, I'm a smart guy and knew what the ONLY possible solution was...go out immediately and buy that brand new Festool Rotex!!! What an amazing sander, and it should be for the price! But I'm a firm believer in buying the best and buying once, and Festool is by far the best. It took relatively no time at all to sand the entire hull smooth in preparation for the finish coats of epoxy, which I have yet to apply. 

As a result of continued shoulder issues, the one month sabbatical that I had planned to take in September to do a bike trip had to be postponed until next year, so I decided to take two weeks off anyway and see if the shoulder would recover after being away from work. While slowly getting better it was still not healed, so I decided to just make the best of it. 

September is always my favorite month of the year because of the annual Port Townsend Wooden Boat Festival, which I never miss. This year was particularly beneficial for me because Chesapeake Light Craft had brought their demo Skerry (the same one that inspired me to build mine), and that afforded me the opportunity to have a closer look at it to compare and contrast with my build. Not only was it educational, it also gave me great perspective because they obviously didn't sweat the details anymore than anyone else, and that helped me accept the flaws and problems with mine. No boat is perfect, and as the following pictures show, every build is a balance of good, and "good enough."

The stern fillets on the CLC demo Skerry. Gaps, glops, and god-awful epoxy mess.

Same with the bow. Yeesh.
I'm clearly spending way too much time on trying to make my boat look pretty!

I wanted to have a close look at their bow and stern profiles since this was what I had to do next. Even their bow is a bit asymmetrical. The varnish looks nice though!

Same with their stern. These both show something important that will come up later.

Now, back to MY boat build!  

I had to do some cleanup on my rails in preparation for rounding them over. I found that my Lie Nielsen large rabbit plane fit the rails PERFECTLY. This made short work of cleaning up the undersides of the rails, and keeping them square.

Once I had the rails cleaned up I started to work on roughing out the radius for the bow...

...and stern.

This brought out a big challenge. CLC tells you to round over the bow and stern of the upper panels...BEFORE putting on the rails. WTF? Why would you do that? Now you have a round profile that you have to bring two square rails in to meet! Grrrr. As you can see if you look closely, the rails have a gap at the rounded part of the bow and stern. And, looking back at their finished boat you can see that they just continued sanding back until the rails met the panels. If the panels were left sharp until this point you would have a finer entry and exit point at the rails. Dammit! Well, get out the block plane, surefire rasp, and sanding block and get to work!

Stern roughed out...

...and the bow.

The next step was to round over the rails. I wouldn't know what the final bow and stern profile was going to be until I figured out the rounded over shape, so I grabbed my router and a 3/8" roundover bit and...the bit didn't fit through the router base plate. Crap. I was going to have to free-hand the round-overs with the router, top and bottom! Yikes! 
It made sense to be concerned about this step because I screwed up, BIG TIME. The rails taper at each end and this made the router dig in really bad on the bottom of the rail. So bad in fact that I thought I was going to have to cut a bunch of material away and put in a patch. Funny enough though, as I started to remove material to taper and hand round-over the rails...I ended up having to take so much off to bring the rails back past the gaps that I had enough rail to work with when all was said and done! HUGE sigh of relief!!!

Beginning the shaping after the round-over disaster. Yep, I sanded through the veneer of the breast hook. It looks way worse here than in real life, and I really don't give a damn at this point! 

Less of an issue in the stern, this looks really nice

Beautiful round-over with a nice scarf!

 I also needed to put a fillet along the skeg. This was one of the only things I have done on this boat that went smoothly!

I put the boat on my little ultralight Yakima trailer to move it around for sanding, epoxy, etc.

The final pic for this post. After sanding the exterior it's truly looking at its ugliest! Pretty soon it will start to look much nicer as the epoxy, paint, and varnish go on. At least I hope it does.

I was also very excited that during the final "sail-by" at the Wooden Boat Festival one of the guys from CLC had their Skerry out on the water and I was able to see first hand how it sails. I have to say, I was very impressed! The boat was really stiff and heeled very little. It's also fast! I watched it run away from CLC's PocketShip, a much bigger boat that carried a lot more sail area. The Skerry is also a very pretty boat under sail, which is important! Seeing it helped get me inspired again to get back to work on mine, and seeing the quality of their build helped me get mine back in perspective. Below you will see a quick video of the CLC boat coming into the beach at the end of the sail-by. Until next time, enjoy!