Saturday, December 05, 2009

Hatch Openings and Companionways

I've had the main hatch/companionway structures complete for awhile now, and have also built level hatch landings for installing the opening Bomar hatches on the forward ends of the cabins.

For this type of hatch to be watertight and to keep it from distorting, it is essential to have a dead flat surface to mount it on. I incorporated the longitudinal carlins under the cabin roofs (as shown in my previous post) as part of the hatch opening framework. The raised section above the cabin roof is topped with a 9 millimeter plywood ring cut to match the hatch perimeter. It was then faired to the cabin roof with a large fillet, as shown below:

These opening hatches with their screens are going to make the interior infinitely more pleasant while sleeping at anchor.

For the companionway openings and drop board arrangement, I opted for the sleeker, more modern design of the Tiki 30, rather than the Tiki 26 style. One big difference is that with this design, there is no external framing for the drop board, and the top of the drop board extends straight up to the top of the coaming, unlike the Tiki 26 style with it's horizontal section.

This requires gluing spacer blocks to the insides of the openings, to provide enough clearance for the 6 mm drop boards.

Another inner flange in line with the openings in the cabin sides retains the drop boards. Here you can see the slot between the cabin sides and this inner flange, where the drop boards fit in. At the bottom of the opening, a raised inner retaining flange prevents water draining down the drop boards from entering the cabins. At the top, the flanges fair into the adjoining hatch coamings.

The coamings themselves are made of two layers of 9mm ply, laminated together for a total thickness of 18mm. Triangular blocks of solid teak reinforce the corners. After these were glued in and the tops of the coaming were leveled off, I used a router to radius the edges so that a layer of 6 oz. fiberglass can be laminated over them.

Here's view of the coamings looking from the outboard side of the port hull. The glass sheathing has not been done yet, but the structure is all finished and shaped.

Here is a view of the port companionway with a temporary drop board of plywood in place. The final drop boards will be made of 6mm Lexan. As it turned out, the Lexan panel I had for this was about an inch too short to get these out, so I have to order some more. These ply drop boards will be carried on board as spares. One disadvantage of the straight drop board design like this is that it can be lost overboard if gets dropped through the slot between the cockpit seat and the cabin side. David Halladay found this out the hard way on his Tiki 30, Abaco. After that incident the drop boards are always placed below on a bunk when not in use.

At this point, all that remains to be done on the hull exteriors, other than building the main hatches is more fairing and then priming and painting. It's been unusually cold here for the last couple of weeks, and today the forward decks are covered with about two inches of snow. But there will be some warm days here and there where bit by bit I can finish these details.

Sunday, September 27, 2009

Closing in the Hulls

It was a good feeling earlier this week when I permanently installed both cabin roofs - at last completely closing in the hulls and marking the last big pieces to go into the construction of them. They had been cut and test-fitted as I wrote about in a previous post a few weeks ago, but now they are glued on, trimmed and edge-shaped, and awaiting fiberglass sheathing.

Here's a view of the completed undersides of the roof panels taken earlier this week. The longitudinal carlins were glued and filleted in place to provide the necessary stiffness and to define the sides of the front opening hatches and the outboard side of the companionway hatches.

The carlins, combined with the slight camber I've addd to the tops, has made them incredibly stiff even before fiberglassing. The next step, other than sheathing these, is to begin building the landings for the forward hatches and the framing for the companionway hatches and dropboards.

Fiberglassing the Mast

It's been an unbelievably long time since I finished building the mast and last posted about it here in (October 2007). Things do get in the way, despite best intentions when undertaking a project like this! Anyway, the mast has been hanging from the rafters all this time, covered in the dust of building and fairing the hulls. I lowered it down last week and pulled it out enough to get to the masthead end and begin the tedious task of sheathing it in fiberglass:

Round objects are not the easiest things to fiberglass, but it's not as bad as it would seem if you plan in advance and use the masking tape method to avoid epoxy runs and ragged fiberglass cloth overlaps. As seen above, the masthead section has the additional complication of the shroud hounds to go around, as well as the mast cap and crane.

The other sections, as shown below, are simply round and are best done in by going around half of the circumference at time. After the epoxy cures, the tape is cut away, a weave-filling second coat is applied, and the mast is rotated 180 degrees to complete the other side. I'm working in 4-foot sections, as the roll of 6-oz. glass cloth I have on hand is 48 inches wide.

There are specially-made fiberglass sleeves that fit on like a sock that some people use for processes like sheathing round masts, but with the hounds and mast step protruding from each end of the spar, it seemed to me like this might be difficult to get on. In addition, these sleeves are much more expensive than ordinary glass cloth. At any rate, by using the taping method, this is a straightforward operation and will result in neatly-sheathed spar when it's all complete and the cloth has been filled, faired and sanded. The mast will be painted the same Off-White as the decks.

Below, the top 12 feet or so is now sheathed. The short PVC pipes protruding from the masthead are the wiring conduits, which will be cut shorter and capped off with PVC elbows to keep rain out once the wiring is run.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Emerging from the Shed

Well, part of the way at least. Today I moved the hulls out approximately 10 feet. This was made possible because of finishing the foredecks this week - not the final coat of paint, but enough to protect them and allow mounting of the forward hatch covers and inspection plates.

I've been wanting to move the hulls out this far for awhile now, to make it easier to finish the cabin interiors and fair and paint the cabins and stern decks. Controlling dust in the back part of the shed has been a continuous issue.

Before proceeding further with painting the decks, I first had to lay out the non-skid patterns for the walk surfaces. Most of the foredeck area got non-skid, except for where the crossbeams go and a 1-inch margin around the toe rails, hatches, inspection plates, etc.

The non-skid I used was the Petit non-skid additive - really just fine, uniformly sized grains of sand. I mix it thoroughly into the paint and apply two coats with a foam roller, allowing to dry overnight between coats.

Additional fill coats over the non-skid that are applied when painting the rest of the deck surfaces help to fill it in some and take the edge off, while still leaving it very effective. The decks will get a couple more coats in the final finishing stage. It's a bit hard to discern the non-skid areas in these photos, but they are quite visible despite the fact that everything is the same color. For ease of maintenance and to keep the decks cooler, I chose to paint all deck areas the same off white.

Below you can see the forward hatch covers and the horizontal partitions that fit in the forward holds after a final coat of paint was applied to these.

After painting the foredecks, I also had to bring the topside paint up to the cut line at the bottom edge of the sheer stringer. I had left the top 3-4 inches bare while working on fiberglassing the decks, to allow bonding the deck glass to the layer already on the stringers. I like the way the green contrasts with the off white. The topsides will also get additional paint coats when the hulls are completely finished.

Today I finished the assembly of the two-wheeled carts I had started early in the build.

The V-cradle of the cart fit to the mid-section of the hull perfectly. With the carts strapped in place just slightly aft of the balance point, the hull was easy to move single-handed. I raised it up with my webbing straps hung from the rafters to lift it out of the stern cradle.

Since I had the hulls on wheels and could move them easily, I pulled the port hull out farther to take this photo. It's hard to photograph a 26-foot boat in a 28-foot shed!

Now that the bows at least can see the light of day, I feel like I'm getting closer to moving the hulls all the way out. The next step is to get the cabin interiors finished so I can install portlights, the cabin roofs and hatches, and build the companionways.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Fitting the Cabin Roofs

Sorry for another long break between posts. I have been working on the boat some during this time, although nothing major. In July, I signed a publishing contract for another book, and this one is due to be completed in just six months. It will be my top priority until then, but there will be time to work on the boat here and there, and the best weather for building here is between now and December.

Most of what I've been doing on the boat is not worth photographing, as it has been the seemingly endless little tasks of filling and fairing, sanding and priming of the foredecks and cabin sides. I put the first coat of paint on the foredecks so I could see the last of the tiny imperfections and fill them. Now, I'm ready to make a trip to the coast this weekend to buy more paint and non-skid additive so I can complete them.

Below is a photo of the port hull with the cabin roof temporarily fitted with screws and the forward deck hatch sitting in it's approximate location. I fitted internal carlins that will support the hatch from below, the outboard one also defining the outboard edge of the companionway opening. Notice too the camber of the coachroof. I like the way this came out, and it will actually make the roof stiffer than it would be if it were flat, as in the plans. The edges are untrimmed here. After installation, they will be cut flush with the router and rounded over like the deck edges.

Here's a view from inside the port companionway, showing the carlin that supports the outer edge of the opening. This will aid in building the hatch coaming as well. Again, you can see the camber in the roof. The companionway opening is 26 inches long by 24 inches wide - small enough to be strong and seaworthy, but large enough for easy entrance and exit.

It will still be awhile before I permanently install the cabin roofs. I want to complete as much as possible in the interior while it is is still open, especially the final sanding and and the installation of the fixed portlights.

Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Deck Hardware

Last week I finished rounding up the various parts and pieces that will enable me to finish enclosing the hulls once the cabin roofs are installed. This includes a large hatch over each bunk in the cabin roofs and an opening portlight in each aft cabin bulkhead.

Other deck hardware includes mooring cleats. The two larger ones in the photo below will be the bow mooring cleats. The sterns will be fitted with the same. The smaller cleats will be mounted on the cabin tops, near the outboard sides for use as midships mooring cleats; good for attaching spring lines, fenders, etc. You can never have too many cleats on a boat, and after sailing Abaco to the Bahamas, I like the way David has his cleats located on the decks. In order to mount the two bow cleats, I am having to install a small, 4-inch inspection plate forward of each forward bulkhead, so I can reach in with a wrench and through-bolt the cleats to the deck. Large backing plates will be used on the undersides of the decks.

The big deck hatches that will be fitted over each bunk near the forward ends of the cabins are manufactured by Bomar and the opening size is 16 x 16 inches. This is large enough to get in and out through if necessary, and will let in plenty of air. The hatches can also be locked in the vent position, allowing some air into the cabins, while keeping out the rain when the boat is left unattended.

The opening portlights are the Lewmar Standard series in size 0. Though small, they will help greatly in allowing a cross-flow of fresh air down below, and they come with insect screens for those shallow water anchorages close to the beach. In addition to the two that will go in each aft cabin bulkhead, I'm considering adding one each on the inboard cabin sides forward of the main bulkhead and just above the cockpit seats and jib sheet tracks.

In the photo below, you can see that the outer cabin sides have been primed in preparation for painting and installing the fixed Lexan portlights. The starboard foredeck is a bit ahead of the port one in that it is now primed and most of the little fairing issues have been taken care of. Both foredecks will be painted soon, then the bow access hatches and bow cleats can be mounted permanently.

We finally got a break here just yesterday from a two-week long heat wave in which afternoon temperatures have been at 100-103F every day. After living with that for awhile, today's high of only about 88F felt like a taste of fall!

Friday, June 19, 2009

Insights from a Tiki 30 Delivery Trip

When building or outfitting a boat, it's always helpful to spend time actually cruising on similar vessels to get a better understanding of what works, what doesn't, and why. Taking David Halladay's Tiki 30 Abaco over to Nassau, Bahamas from West Palm Beach, Florida, was just such an opportunity. The non-stop 24-hour first leg of the trip, plus a couple more nights of living aboard both at anchor and at the dock gave me some new ideas about outfitting my own Tiki 26 and steered me away from certain ideas I had been planning all along.

For example, the bar-mounted sliding hatches shown on the Tiki 30 plans seemed like a logical modification to incorporate into my Tiki 26 build. They are slick in operation and offer several different opening configurations. In the real world, however, they become a royal pain and are subject to being torn off by the wind (this has already happened once on Abaco). They can also become head-cracking deadfalls in any kind of a seaway if they slip off the prop sticks that hold them in the half open position. In the fully open position, flipped back on the retaining cords as shown in the photo below, a gust of wind from outboard can also send them slamming down. It's clear to me and to David Crawford, who went with me on the trip and who has logged over 1,000 miles on Abaco that hatches that slide forward would be a better option. So, having learned this from experience, I'm back to planning hatches similar to the ones shown in the Tiki 26 drawings.

One feature on David's boat that I've always known I wanted on mine is the aft net beam and aft tramps on either side of a boarding ladder. I can't imagine being without this as it proved so useful while cruising. It's essential, however, that the tramps are made of good, solid material that can be comfortably stood on, just as those on Abaco are. These tramps become a perfect "back porch" for emptying buckets, washing dishes or whatever, as well as an extra margin of safety for anyone falling out of the cockpit.

Interior space is at a premium in all the smaller Wharrams, especially the Tiki 26 and Tiki 30. One thing that helps is having a place for everything and keeping everything in its place. I've never been a big fan of Wharram's "flexi-space" concept, as an empty hull without built-in shelves and other organization results in a pile of junk. Who wants to live on top of their clothes for days or weeks at a time, or have to move everything out of the way to get at something stored under a bunk? In my opinion, shelves are essential, and though I've already built in a few, after this trip I have begun making and installing even more.

The shelves on each side of the main bunk in Abaco's starboard hull can be seen here. They do not intrude into usable space, due to the shape of the hulls, but are infinitely useful for keeping stuff you need close at hand.

Other essentials that can be seen in this photo are the opening portlight on the inboard side of the cabin, and the opening deck hatch over the forward part of the bunk. In the tropics, getting some air flow into the boat makes all the difference in the world in liveability. Abaco is also equipped with 12-volt fans over each bunk and in the Nav. station and galley.

This view of the Nav. station shows the mounted DC circuit panel that controls all the onboard electrics, as well as other equipment such as an AC inverter, solar panel charge controller, VHF radio, and barometer. After we were offshore, however, I was dismayed to learn that there was no bulkhead-mounted clock onboard, but thankfully, I had my watch. Also lacking was a ship's logbook, but that's another story and has more to do with the racing versus cruising mentality.

Note also the opening portlight in the aft cabin bulkhead. Element II will be fitted with a similar opening port here as well, made possible by the 4-inch increase in cabin height that I built-in back in the early stages of construction.

Back at home this week with a couple of days available to work on the boat, I've been shopping for parts such as portlights and hatches, and working on the additions such as the extra shelves with high fiddles shown below. The portlight frames to the left in the photo are the inner trim rings for the fixed ports on the outboard sides of the cabins. This is the final coat of epoxy before they will be sanded again and varnished prior to installing the Lexan ports. I'm also working on pre-fitting the cabin roofs and planning the companionway openings. My major goal for the next few weeks is to finish the fairing, priming and painting of the decks and cabins, get the hatches and ports installed, and move the hulls out in the open where I can spread them to assembly width.

For photos and more about the trip to Nassau on Abaco, read my post on Scott's Boat Pages here.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Yes, I'm Still Alive....

But despite the title, I'm making no apologies for not posting here for two months. I've been incredibly busy with other writing and computer projects, not to mention my other carpentry work besides working on my boat. This has been a period of many new ideas and opportunities that I have had to take action on. Work has continued on Element II, although at a more sporadic and slower pace. I'm not concerned about time frames however. Since the beginning I've known how I wanted to build this boat and the quality standards that I have to adhere to, so there is no particular rush to speed things up in time for some arbitrary launch date. When it's ready it will go in the water, and not before. That being said, a lot has been completed on this project and an awful lot remains to be done. The best way to build a boat is to enjoy the process, and that I have done from the beginning.

I don't have a lot of new photos to post today, as much of what I've been doing is tedious filling and sanding in the fairing process. A small project has been making and installing the crossbeam locating blocks on the decks, as you can see below.

I cut these out of some heavy teak boards David gave me on one of my trips to work for him in the Boatsmith shop. One still had the bark on one side. I made these beam blocks just a little thicker than on the plans, adding almost an inch to the height above the deck so that the top of the mast beam will be closer to the level of the raised fronts of the cabin tops. An added advantage is that extra bit of clearance this will provide for the cockpit over the water.

The blocks are squared off on the top now and matched to the contours of the deck where they are epoxied and screwed in place with large countersunk SS screws. When the boat is spread to assembly width and the beams are fitted, I can grind the top profiles of the blocks down to match the undersides of the beams. Meanwhile, the sides of the blocks and all the rest of the deck surfaces can now be primed and painted.

Last week, while working on a residential carpentry project, I scored a great find for my boat in the form of an abandoned aluminum tube that will be just right for making the stern net beam. The owner of the house gave it to me, as it was going to the dump if I didn't want it. It's 14 feet long, 3 1/2" in diameter, and has a wall thickness of 4mm. Cut down to length and capped off on the ends, it should be perfect for the net beam and will save me the labor of laminating one out of wood. I'll have to prep and prime it, of course, so that it can be painted, but at least its one more part I won't have to build from scratch.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Fairing, Fiberglassing and Priming

I'm in the middle of a labor-intensive stage of boatbuilding at the moment - still working on all the details of fiberglassing, fairing, sanding and eventually priming and painting of the decks and cabin sides.

The cabin roofs have still not been installed, as I am waiting to finish up some more interior details before closing them in and making access more difficult. But in the meantime I am working to completely finish all other exterior glassing of the cabin trunks and details such as the hatches and lashing cleats so that the decks can be painted. This involves spreading lots of fairing compound (see below) and sanding it smooth so the glass can be laminated over it.

All the joints between the decks and cabin bulkheads get a strip of fiberglass tape to reinforce them in addition to the sheathing on the main surfaces.

The outer surfaces of the hatch coamings, being made of plywood, also have to be sheathed with fiberglass to protect them from checking in the sun and to bond them to the surrounding deck surfaces.

The twelve beam and four shroud lashing cleats are also made of plywood and are separately sheathed with the cloth wrapping around the radiused edges to prevent delamination.

These small details are time consuming but essential to the longevity of the boat.

All the corners of the cabin trunks are reinforced with a separate strip of fiberglass.

And then the main surfaces are sheathed, as you can see below in the example of the aft bulkhead of the starboard cabin.

Working from the bows back, I'm slowly getting the fairing finished and have began applying the undercoating primer, as seen here on the forward part of the foredecks, stems, and bow hatches.

Fairing and priming the decks and cabins is a much bigger job than the hulls, as there are so many surfaces to work around. After the final coats of primer are applied and sanded, the green topside paint will be cut in to the bottom of the sheer stringer. Everything from the sheer stringer up will be painted an Off-White, with symmetrical patches of non-skid on the decks.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Installing The Inner Cabin Sides

Most of the detail tasks I've been completing on the boat have had little visual impact and things have looked much the same for many weeks. Yesterday, I changed this when I installed the inner cabin sides. I've been holding off on this until most of the interior work was completed, as these will make it harder to get in and out of the hulls with my low shed roof overhead. But at this point it was time to get them on so as there is a lot of finishing work to be done on the inboard sides that can only be done after the sides are on. Having the sides on will also discourage my cat from hanging out in the hulls, (I hope) and cut down on the amount of dust and other trash getting in there.

Here's a view from the inside of the port hull, looking through the drop board opening towards the starboard hull. You can see the top shelf/step under the opening, and just forward of that, the lower shelf where the two-burner stove will live.

Here's another angle looking forward inside the port hull, the corner of the sink barely visible in the foreground, stove shelf on the inboard side, and the unobstructed inner cabin side in the bunk area. I'm thinking that instead of a fixed shelf on that side, I will make custom canvas storage pockets.

Here's a view from forward in the port hull, looking aft into the galley and main companionway area.

A similar view from forward in the starboard hull shows the companionway steps and the hinged attachment point for the drop-down chart table on the inboard side.

I'm a step closer to having enclosed cabins, but there is still much work to be done before the cabin roofs go on. I will be ordering hatches for the forward ends of the cabin tops and portlights for the aft bulkheads in the next few days.

When the closing in of the cabins is complete and hatches and ports installed so that the hulls can be closed tight against the rain, Element II will at last emerge from the tiny shed I'm building here in so I can spread her hulls to their assembled width and put the beams in place.