3D boatbuilding

New stage of boatbuilding commences. I had to hoist the hull up to the ceiling to make space for covering the inside of the deck. I’d wish I bought a house with more space! The stuff you see on the hull is filler I applied to the deck (microlight).

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Christmas progress

Building progress has been good. I think I’m almost halfway now. With lots of time off for Christmas holidays, I can make some good steps.

The scariest bit of the build is over now. I’ve covered the outside of the hull with carbon cloth, and it seems to have gone on well! I found it quite daunting to work with a 400 euro roll of carbon (I got 25 metres of it on sale ;), then try not to think about messing it up! But, all went well. I watched lots of instructional videos on youtube on how to do things, and it worked more or less as planned. I worked my way from the middle of the boat, up forward. When I had enough epoxy on to keep the cloth in place I trimmed the ends, then folded them around the bow and stern. The stern went well, as I managed to get the cloth folded around fully. This stern will be bulletproof!


Getting so much carbon on the boat is overkill, but I just wanted to play with carbon, and it will help the boat become very stiff, which will help sailing performance.

Next up is to build the deck. I’m trying to get myself from working fast mode into working carefully mode. I’ll want to clear coat the deck, so I’ll need to work cleanly now, as mistakes will be seen! The seam on the middle of the foredeck is my best now, lying very cleanly, and it stays in place with just a bit of tape.


In the meantime Axel has been busy with design and construction of the sliding seat. It cost me a sleepless night when he first sent the plans over. I kept thinking on how to install it in the boat, where my feet would go, how to hike from it, how fast the boat would be when using it…sigh. It will be great fun to build the seat, then the actual sailing… wow…

Another big thing is the mast and sail. All lot of thought has gone into this. Finally, I decided to ask Michael Storer to build me the same sail that Joost Engelen is using for his new canoe build. Is it a 5 sq metre sail, which sets from an aluminium tube. One reef, and, it looks great. Another sleepless night, as I kept on going through the options:

  • bufflehead sail: it works well, you can easily reef while sailing/paddling, the parts store in the boat (handy), but for me, it is maybe a bit too safe an option?
  • Hobie tandem island / adventure island. Easy TI_sailto buy, great reefing options, and the size goes up to 8 sq metre. But: the sail is butt ugly! Out.
  • Storer sail. Performance oriented, may be a bit harder to reef (only one reef), but it looks great, and I can set it on a home built aluminum mast.

Ultimately, I’ll still want a bigger, fathead sail (does someone have an old moth rig lying around? Maybe a Cherub?), but I’ll have to see how I fare with 5 sq. metres of sail, then see where to go from there.

The nice thing about a project like this is meeting people, and going places. Along the way I had a nice chat with John from Compositesplaza. We decided to keep in touch, and maybe we can do something interesting in the future. They sent me some samples of some new materials they are using, maybe something nice to build outriggers some day?

Then there was an ad, with a guy selling a gennaker. 8 sq metres, and quite close by! This guy turned out to be Marten Jan, from Hallum. He’s a small boat guy, and built his own sail and oar boat, designed by Frank van Zoest. The design is intended to do well in Raid events, and it seems he did well. I even took some photo’s of Marten Jan during the Dorestad Raid! Unfortunately, when seeing the gennaker, I got the creeps, and decided this was a way to big sail for me at this point. I’d need a more moderate size, if I’ll do a genny at all. Maybe a wee jib or genoa will do. Maybe 5 metres of sail is enough? DSC_7053

I’m hoping to come a long way towards finishing the hull this holidays, next up will be deciding where to drill the hole for the mast, and how the deck layout will be, so I can build reinforcements. I’m planning to spend quite a bit of time sanding as well. That will involve lifting the boat out of the window, getting it back in, more gap filling, lifting back out. Hope I’ll have enough patience!

I’m updating the video section often, photo’s are updated on Flickr.

West smells best

With the kit here, I took a day off work, and started building! After a too rushed false start on wednesday evening (too much work during the day, no patience or energy left for boatbuilding in the evening) I’m glad I waited till friday to start.

The first bit of the build manual is getting the planks glued together. Glueing the first plank was a bit scary, and the fit was a bit complicated, with three parts going together at the same time. After that, it was a matter of aligning the planks, keeping them in the same place with weights then glueing. I remember now from building my first boat, once you’ve got the hang of it, the job is done, and there is a new job to do. Maybe I should build two boats. One to practice skills, and a real one.

Photos from the build are on Flickr.

There was one major glitch. While glueing together my second patch, the epoxy got heated up in the pot, too big a batch. It started boiling, so I put it away fast (toxic fumes). Normally, this would not be a big problem. I had just wetted out the planks, and it was on nicely. The thing was I had used the last of the West epoxy I had. I have a new pot of poly-pox, which I’ll use for the build. I thought I had to wait till the epoxy would harden fully, then sand, and put the new epoxy over. Then I got the luminous idea of finding more West epoxy, so I could apply it wet-on-wet. Not easy, finding a specific brand of epoxy on a saturday afternoon in Friesland.

After some phone calls, the owner of evecom.nl assured me I could use my new epoxy wet over the West system. As long as you don’t mix the hardeners, this should work. So, on we go.

Cutting kevlar

With this overcome, I decided to treat myself to some carbon-kevlar cloth for strengthening the skeg end. The specs say it is 155 grs glass, I used 155 grs carbon kevlar. Nice if I want to add a more beefy rudder. The kevlar was a bitch to cut. I first tried my cloth cutting wheel (pizza cutter), scissors: no succes. The cloth started to look a mess. Then, with a small scrap of wood to press the fibres in place, I could cut with a ceramic kitchen knife. I had to cut though lengthwise the carbon thread, going crosswise through the kevlar, and not cut lengthwise through the kevlar. It was still a tricky job, but worked. I’m beginning to love my ceramic knife, obviously, it works a treat for plain glass as well. Now I see the point of these 80 euro professional cloth cutting scissors.

The planks are done now. Good, as the space in the room I build in is limited. I’ve got some place to move now. It will be -different- when the hull starts to form. I’ll be crawling over and under the half built hull for a while. Should be good for fitness…

Axel says I can go 3d next weekend. That’d be fun. But we’ll see. I’m planning to build fast, but I don’t know how fast fast is, so will just take it step by step. Fun in building is the main thing.

Oh, the title. The smell of West epoxy! My leftovers are gone now, but that smell. mmmmhhh.

Shooting blanks

So, a month ago I decided to build a sailing canoe. The boat will be an Artemis. I met Axel, the designer of the boat at the International sailing canoe criterium in Bremen. After that, we had great fun exchanging manymanymany secret plans over email, and put them all in a spreadsheet. The plan is to spice up the boat, and see how much speed can be got out. I was very comfortable sailing the canoe in a very gusty wind force four. With that being the first time in a sail canoe for me (awkward steering!), I think we can do more. Ok, forget the secrets. The best things that stick out from the plans right now are:

  • Add a sliding plank seat, Axel has a plan, I’m guessing something like the blue canoe: something simple, small, but that will allow me to do a full hike on the end of the plank, then can be stored inside the boat. 2 kilos. Hiking straps will go somewhere too.EC-Meade Gougeon
  • The Bufflehead rig: this rig is tested, developed, and works. I enquired with Meade Gougeon (who actually answered!), he has the sweetest looking canoe rig around. I want to go there, but I’ll start easy, and, since he builds his own masts, it is hard to get a reference point to copy his rig.
  • skin the outside with carbon: it will give a stiff boat. I plan to fiddle around with the hull, so I’ll want something that I can modify later. Maybe I’ll do the inside with kevlar.
  • Add a jib/gennaker. Small dinghy gennakers can be picked up easily. Using a sock they can be hoisted and taken down with a single line. I already bought a nice IMCS 32 windsurf mast (bowsprit?). Even better would be to use a code zero on roller, just like the Weta trimaran, but these things are more expensive, and may need quite some shroud tension to roll well. I’m not sure if that is a good idea on an unstayed mast. Which brings me to the next point;
  • Stay the mast: to add more sail, stays may be needed. I’ll just love buying some of that new no stretch, no creep dyneema line (SK99), to use as stays. Then, Meade Gougeon did it as well. He won his class in the Everglades challenge. Maybe it is a good idea?
  • Add a profiled rudder: when I did the test sail on Artemis, and got the boat planing, I felt the rudder become a bit shaky. I’ll look for something with a profile, then try and fit that to the stern. Maybe the rudder of an Optimist, a second hand finn from the surf board, or an old catamaran rudder. I can cut it up a bit to suit the size.

Then there is the minor issue of actually building the hull.





So, I prepared my workshop (the upstairs computer/hobby room, the boat will go out of the window, then over the fence of the neighbours, they don’t know that yet šŸ˜‰ I laid a cardboard floor, got everything out, and got the tools in. The pc will have to stay, as there is no other place in the house for it.

Having studied the manuals Axel put on his site a few times already, I was a bit apprehensive about the last bit of day 7: coating the entire outer skin with glass (carbon in my case). I’ve worked with carbon before, but that was for International Moth bits, not large areas of lamination. So, having set up my workshop, I decided to shoot some blanks and practice. I had some old scraps of carbon and epoxy lying around, and studied on youtube (long live youtube!). I’ll invest in a proper squeegee, but for now, a scrap of wood helped me spread the epoxy. It seems to work!

Test panel


I’d like to get a feel for how thick the layer of epoxy will become, and to get an idea of how much to sand off (I’ve learned the rule: stop when your dust turns black). So, as I write this the first layer of epoxy is curing, when it gets sticky I’ll do a second. With the squeegee, even one I made myself in a few minutes, it was easier then I thought. I was worried about the cloth starting to shift around, but it didn’t happen.

Wet enough? Too many air bubbles?

Meanwhile, Axel has been quite busy to construct the kit. The main parts are ready now. Now we need to find a way to get the boat kit from Switzerland to the Netherlands. We’ll try and work with one shipping company to pick up the boat in Switzerland, then deliver it here. That may avoid toll and tax issues, or the kit getting stuck somewhere. Stay tuned.

Hours worked:

7: workshop made ready, carbon test panel

Canoe sought: has sail, fits the hallway, and sleeps 1

After a modest career in sailing international moths it is time for a next step. It was hard to quit the class, so let’s move on before I get sad. I was looking for something simpler, something I can build in the 4 by 4 metre room I have in my house, and I can hoist up the ceiling in my 6 x 2 metres hallway. Preferably something light (plywood), and cartoppable. Then, it needs to be able to sail, and I’ll want to eke some speed out.

Sailing area? I live on the water (Dokkum), so I’ll want to enter from my house, cruise the canals around, then go on the Frisian lakes, maybe get ambitious and go out on the Wadden sea, or cartop it, and travel someplace else.

The boat exists, and I think I’ve found it this weekend at the “Internationale Segelcriterium” in Bremen. Axel from Bootsbaugarage.ch was there, and he brought the boat he designed, Artemis. It is 4.7 metres by 77cm. Fairly light (about 23 kg hull weight), and it has a nice 5.2 metre carbon sail rig.

Axel won the “segelcriterium” a few times, although this year first and second prize went to the “Dresdner” (from Berlin, Kassel, and uhm, Dresden?). They have extended their folding canoes with outriggers, and a nifty looking sail-plan (see faltbootseglen 3.0). There wasn’t much in it though, watch the video:

After the event Axel lent me his boat to try. There was a nice wind blowing, and although I’ll have to get used to steering with weird double sticks on the side of the boat, I got the boat on a plane a few times. Overall, the boat just works as it is. Simple, efficient stuff. I’m quite sure a lot more speed can be get out of the boat (and there are some ideas). But I’ll build the hull first, then we’ll see. Can’t wait to start.

The event in Bremen was great. Very friendly and welcoming people. A great group of all ages with all sorts of boats. Good winds. And my first capsize in a canoe (can’t help it, moth sailor…). I’ll let the photo’s speak: