Finishing up the Deck, Cabin, Cockpit & Ballast
We, my wife Mary Ann Parr and I, sold our home in the country and moved into Charlottesville in December of 2013. So I had to get the boat building project a new home. In November of 2013 we moved Nichiko to my brother Piers’ place in Somerset, VA where she would be safe and remain until finished.
We set up the saws and tools and ended up with a nice work space. The frame is 60 x 12 feet, set two feet above the ground to give more clearance. We put a three-foot entry door at one end and two box fans at the other. When the temperature is 40 degrees F outdoors, if is is sunny, it will be almost 70 inside. Quite cosy. And, the light!! Lots of sunlight so one can see to work.
The next sequence of photos show the preparation for putting down the deck. I painted each piece on the “inside” while this was easily done.
Port side deck beams painted; reinforcing rim of cabin top filleted so Xynole cloth will stick more easily. With a sharp edge, especially on the underside, is difficult to get the cloth to stick properly, so this is filleted in. It doesn’t look as nice as a straight line, but it won’t give trouble in the future by having voids under the cloth along the bottom edge of the rim of reinforcement along the top edge of the cabin. The band around the top edge of the cabin is 1 & 1/2 inches thick, half an inch on the exterior, half an inch of the cabin sides, and half an inch inside between each of the cross beams.
Port side progress – same as above
Above, the 3/4 inch plywood reinforcing triangle between deck beam and back of cockpit. Hole on the right is for the tiller.
Previously, I had cut the deck pieces to fit, and painted them on the underside except where the epoxy would bond to the deck beams.
All of the deck pieces were painted underneath before being epoxied in place. I used Sherwin Williams Tile Clad, 2-part epoxy and put on about four coats.
Finally, gluing and screwing the deck with some expert help all the way from New Hampshire! We got it done in an afternoon. Now for —
I had studied many cockpit articles with a multitude of opinions on what makes a good cockpit. Very helpful, thinking it through. Reuel just says “make the cockpit,” so you are on your own as to just how it will end up. The coaming is already there, made according to the plan, so the rest is completely up to the builder. I wanted a small area for the feet and a larger area for lazarettes, storage and seating. The two 2×4’s going from front to back defined how it was divided up.
The cockpit well ended up being 20 inches across at the aft end and 24 across the front, 63 inches long. I used 3/4 inch ply for the sides and bottom, as it could possibly completely fill with water. The No 5 bulkhead forms the rear of the cockpit and gives another watertight compartment between the cockpit and the aft-end compartment. Including the two lazarettes, there are seven isolated compartments in the boat. (not counting the two water tanks under the settees in the cabin) Putting this “box” inside the cockpit added a lot of rigidity to the entire boat. Every joint is taped with 3 inch fiberglass tape along all of the seams, as are all of the bulkheads. Then the seams are filleted and sanded and all of the surface areas are painted first with a thinned epoxy primer and then with Tile Clad epoxy paint. This takes a lot of time, and work, sanding and sanding and … finally, painting.
I added a bridge deck for strength and convenience entering the companionway. You can see I have been making the companionway entrance progressively smaller. The light-colored piece of plywood in the photo above, and below, raised the bottom of the companionway entrance about five inches. It is still too wide for my liking, so later I made the entranceway quite a bit smaller. I couldn’t get the memories of heavy seas out of my mind when I look at the cockpit entranceway and the sliding hatch top in this photo, it looks like an invitation for a huge wave to pounce right in!
The cockpit is framed in, with lazarettes, and a 2×4 for a bridge deck is added to the front. The locker doors have to be framed along with the gutters to keep water from entering the lazarettes in the crack between the doors and the surface of the seating area. I got working on these with the help of my son, Hans who was visiting from Colorado.
This shows the fore end of storage or flotation chamber below the cockpit well having been taped, filleted and painted; and also the holes through the hull where the 1.5 in PVC drain pipes will go.
I picked up the tiller tube from Quality Welding in Charlottesville and installed that, drilling another hole in the bottom of the boat. I had to dig a hole in the ground under the boat almost two feet deep to get this up into the hole, but this was easier and safer than jacking the boat up a couple of feet. I let in the square flange at the bottom so it was flush with the bottom and used plenty of epoxy seating this in place.
Now that the deck was in place, I was constantly filling in all of the screw holes and getting it quite smooth before putting the Xynole cloth to cover it. And, of course, I needed to install frames for the hatches and make the hatch covers.
I used 2×6 Douglas fir for these and put simple miters in the corners. The front and rear hatches are not square, but trapezoidal, so a bit more complicated figuring the angles.
Hatch frames were cut and fitted for the three access hatches, one forward just behind the bit as an anchor locker, one 20 x 20 inch main cabin hatch over the vee berth, and one aft just behind the mizzen mast.
I used clamps to hold the pieces together on the smallest one, and a Spanish windlass for the larger ones which worked well. Gently held the four pieces in place without distorting them while the epoxy set.
Around the cabin-deck joint, you can barely see above, there is a grey fillet in preparation for putting three-inch fiberglass tape joining the cabin and deck, all the way around the cabin. This is covered with another filet or two to smooth out this joint. We don’t want water coming in between the cabin and the deck.
Reuel suggested that she needs about 1,500 pounds of lead ballast. I found this online priced at over $4,000, so then tried scrapyards, but “regulations” prohibited them from selling me scrap lead. So, on to tire stores. I found four tire stores within twenty miles which were willing to sell or give me used wheel weights. I managed to accumulate a couple of dozen five gallon buckets of these weights over a few months. Then, in July my son Hans was visiting and he melted down most of the lead and poured it into fifty pound ingots, using 11 x 14 cake pans. If you let them rust up first, the cooled ingot falls right out. We used an outdoor propane pot boiler from Lowes to heat the lead, and an Asian wire screen-spoon to filter out the impurities. Nuts, bolts and the metal clips float right to the top so it is easy to skim them off. Hans made about 35 of these, weighing 50 pounds each.
I placed the ingots directly against the hull on both sides of the centerboard trunk and epoxied stringers between them to screw the plywood cabin sole to while epoxying that in place. I had to trim a couple of the lead ingots to fit properly, but the lead cut easily using an old skilsaw blade. .Once I had thirty of these ingots fitted, I mucked them in well against the hull and to the little spacers. Later, I “leveled” them out using the spacers as a guide. They covered the entire cabin sole of the boat.
29 Sep 2013. Next item was to impregnate the dynel cloth to the deck and cabin exterior. First, I cut and laid out all of the pieces, using a few monel staples to hold them in place.
You can see that the cloth overlaps the edge of the deck onto the wale planks are. I’ll do the hatch frames and hatch covers later.
For this job, I got Carlos and Oscar to help, as I wouldn’t be able to do this by myself in one day. They had helped with the hull, so understood the work to be done. Mostly, I mixed the epoxy while they impregnated it into the cloth and hull.
I made the gigantic, huge companionway entrance smaller; it was way too large for me as described in the instructions as I cut it originally. I had been agonizing about the companionway hatch for months; actually since my trip in 2010 from Stuart, Florida to Cartagena, Colombia in my previous sailboat, a Ranger 33. My son, Chapman, and I got pretty well completely soaked on that trip from water coming into the boat, sometimes gallons at a time, when waves, or at least what was left of them, swept over the deck and cabin while beating into the wind in the Old Bahama Channel for almost a week, day and night. Reuel sent me a nice drawing for the details for the companionway hatch which is a great help. I will use his drawing combined with an idea for the front end of the hatch runners, coamings, and slides suggested by Fred P. Bingham in his book Boat Joinery & Cabinet Making Simplified. Here is an image below.
The theory is that the water entering at the front, below the stop piece, will be slowed by the second coaming and drain out the scupper between the two coamings.
Well, back to the construction details. Some work on the cabin sole, I epoxied the 1/4 inch plywood over the lead ballast layer.
I sanded the cabin sole very fair and smooth with the Makita 8 inch rotary sander and 40 grit paper and epoxied 1/4 inch plywood over that, so it is completely sealed.
First layer of lamination for the toe rail. Here you see I am using a digging iron and loading strap to pull in the toe rail into place. It’s January 2015, it has turned cold, so I am focusing on sanding and carpentry items until it is warm enough to epoxy. If it is 50 degrees F outdoors, it is almost 70 inside, so the greenhouse effect is helpful, but nights can be very cold. I’ve started with the first layer of the toe rail, there will be four to make it 3 inches high. Also, am working on the bowsprit and boomkin.
April and May 2015 – With the nice weather, I’m getting started on the new projects. Next is to build the sliding hatch, then the spars and on to the interior. I have just finished making the companionway entrance smaller, putting the cabin roof to fit up to the sides of the new companionway and so on. A good deal of work getting it all faired out and smooth, both the roof and the hatchway. Then I put the runners for the sliding hatch on and sanded and painted the entire boat with Awlgrip 545 primer. I don’t have any photos of the details, but it ended up looking like this, after spraying two coats of Awlgrip 545.
I still wanted to use Fred Bingham’s fantastic double-coaming sliding hatch idea, so I built that.
I’ll put an image of it as finished next time I take some photos.