Sunday, March 16, 2008

Starboard Hull Gets Topside Panels

The topside panels went on the starboard hulls yesterday. Despite the lack of recent updates here, I've been making progress on lots of projects on the boat, such as interior shelves in the port hull and getting the fairings installed on the crossbeams. Perfect weather recently has made for ideal working conditions.

The topside panels were already prepared and ready to install months ago. Once the bunk panels were filleted into place in the starboard hull, it was safe to lift it out of the building cradles and lay it over on it's side for pulling the remaining wire stitches out of the keel. I then turned it on each side and did a dry fit of the topside panels before gluing them on. The panels were fit with temporary screws. Here is a sequence of photos showing the procedure that makes it feasible for one person working alone to do this. My friend Chris Carter stopped by yesterday to see the project so I asked him to take some photos of me positioning the second panel.

With the hull in rope slings, the long topside panel was placed on the hull so that the slings hold it in place. The joint areas of both mating surfaces were sanded and cleaned with alcohol to prepare them for epoxy. I measured down 1 inch along the upper edge of the lower panel. This is the overlap area for the topside panel. A few small blocks were screwed in along this line to serve as rests for the topside panel until screws could be placed.

By grabbing in the midships area, I could easily flip up and manipulate the long panel.

Moving it in position: note the small wooden blocks I'm trying to get the bottom edge over.

The bottom edge is on the blocks, now it can be lowered in place.

The panel is in position. Now it's a matter of carefully aligning it at the bow and putting in temporary screws along the bottom edge. After everything was dry-fit to my satisfaction, I removed the panels one at a time and put them back on with epoxy in the joints.

Here's the hull flipped back the other way, after both panels have been installed with epoxy.

A view of the keel showing both topside panel joints. Like the port hull, the topside panels aligned perfectly and went on without distortion. The next step is to make the fillet joints where all the upper bulkhead sides join the insides of the topside panels. Soon I'll be ready to turn the hull upside down for shaping, glass sheathing and fairing.


Rodney Waites said...

Nice to see your new boat coming together. I just moved to Gulfport from the Alabama interior and I have caught the sailing bug something fierce. I picked up your book, Exploring Coastal Mississippi. It is fantastic. I read it in one sitting.

Scott B. Williams said...

Hi Rodney,

Welcome to the Mississippi Gulf Coast. I'm glad you enjoyed the book. Some of it is outdated due to Katrina, but much of the information is still applicable.

Rodney Waites said...


Thanks. I was wondering how much changed since Katrina. Besides the loss of your Intensity. Tough luck, there.

I need some time on the water before I buy a new boat and because I don't know anyone down here, I am thinking about trying to volunteer maintenance labor and newbie crewing skills in exchange from time sailing and learning by osmosis. Any thoughts on that plan? How to do it?


Scott B. Williams said...


Email me directly ( and I will try to answer your questions in more depth.