Sunday 14 December 2014

Gone 3D...

Here we go, got a couple of days off work to concentrate on the Pathfinder project and soon enough the full 3D beauty of this boat design became apparent.

All the components were already built and prepared: floor,  frames, centercase assembly, stem girder, cockpit seat sides, transom. They were already finished with doublers and floors already fixed to them.

The strongback took a little to build and check for proper alignment. As soon as the floor was "draped" on it, it became clear that the alignment of the supports was spot on as the curved floor leaned naturally on all ten of them. Only one support required a millimeter adjustment.

This result wouldnt have been possible, or as easy to obtain without my brand new laser cross light projector. I would really recommend it to all home boatbuilders out there. Mine is made by Bosch and cost below 50 euros. The laser cross is invaluable to check for correct alignment and verticality.

I managed to glue into place the bottom chine stringer wich required some persuadion in order to follow the curved floor edge. Then the centerboard case was epoxied in, then all other components placed and screwed into place; next step would be glueing them permanently.

Ortogonality was checked several times over with the laser light, as well as the spacing between the frames measured countless times. I am not sure I followed John's instructions to the letter, and rather followed what I felt would be the more logic, or easy, way to sequence up the different phases of the assembly. Also in all honesty, in the excitement of seeing the boat taking shape I completely forgot to look at the building instructions....

The result is very pleasing. I find myself staring at the boat's structure for long periods of time, imagining the next steps, the customised solutions I have in mind and then all the way to the first sail onboard her. It's going to be, and it already is and has been, a fantastic journey!

Saturday 8 November 2014

10 stringers a-hoy!

After a bit of mess and noise cutting off the 20 scarfs with the router  I have glued up  the required length to make 10 stringers. It took me a while to figure out on the plan why 10 stringers are required as it would seem obvious that only 8 are needed. Well the remaining two are used as seat and bunk flat support along the planks.

The wood I used is carolina pine. My local supplier can only source 4.5 m lengths hence the scarfs. By the way I was particularly happy to buy (once more) wood from him: he's recently struggled after an arson attack damaged his stock and machines.

Thursday 6 November 2014

What's behind a nice behind?

.... oh well, nice raw material(s) to start with and some good deal of work... As is the case for my pathfinder's transom board.

Some 10mm thick mahogany slats are epoxied to the 12mm ply panel shaped as the transom as per the original drawings. I have used clamps in a spreader set up to ensure the slats where compressed against each other while the resin set.

After cleaning up and routing the edge with a flush trimming router bit the result was very pleasing for the eye.

This is the last component I need to prepare before starting to assemble the hull. Yesterday I received the stock to make the stringers ( one scarf joint needed per stringer) and today I have ordered the wood for the strongback.

Hull assembly will start in early december after I get back from  a two weeks' work deployment at sea .... I simply can't wait!

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Ideas are hatching ...

The pathfinder design calls for the installation of several screw-on watertight inspection hatches to allow access to the dry storage compartments. There are 2 on each of the seat fronts, further two on the main twarth, two (or four) on the raised forward floor and, depending on builder's choice, 2 more on the aft locker bench. And, oh yes almost forgot, one ore in bulkhead #1.
I have never found this type of hatches attractive. It is perhaps due to their white plasticky feel; they  undoubtedly come with plenty of practical advantages but in my opinion they hardly match the look and feel of a traditionally inspired wooden boat. Now, don't get me wrong,this is a very personal point of view and there are scores of beautiful homebuilt wooden boats out there using this practical solution to great effect.
In my previous build (Janas) I admit using plastic watertight hatches.... I have however installed them under hinged wooden lids to keep them out of sight. There is one in the aft locker and one cut out in the little foredeck. The teak strips are glued on top of the ""vanity lid" that hides the white plastic giving continuity to the decks.

Now going back to the pathfinder I have opted to cut out hand-made wooden hatches. They require a "window" to be cut out of the receiving surface. Then a further piece is tailored to obtain the frame with lip where a soft neoprene seal will be glued to providing the seating for the closing lid. Then of course last but not least the lid itself.
In order to cut the same shape over and over again with different scale factors, I have first made a template window on a 10mm MDF sheet, taking into account the required offset to match the diameter of the router template follower that came with my new Bosch router. I then cheaply sourced suitably sized ball bearings to mount onto the template follower to obtain different offsets and therefore the correct scaling factors to match the three cuts, i.e;  the opening, the locker lid and the inner frame.
The results are very satisfactory, the obtained offset cuts are correct as the lid fits to the hatch opening with a 1mm clearance all around as expected. The seal seating measures 13mm wide which I think should be enough surface to allow the neoprene seal  to work correctly.
Here is the resulting seat fronts with the two hatches cut out and dry fitted. The hatches will be clear varnished while the seat fronts will be painted ivory or cream. The lids will receive stainless steel hinges and locking knobs.

The size of the opening has been carefully tailored to allow loading and accessing of essential items, such as the one pictured below ;)

At present I have cut the hatches on the seat fronts and bulkhead #1 as these components will soon be installed permanently on the building frame.

Scarfing router gig

Simple, basically "major drama" proof but effective ... Each of my pathfinder stringers will require 2 scarfs in order to reach the required length, so I needed a solution to speed up cutting the (precise) angled planes for the scarfs .

The slides are such that the router cuts a 1:9 scarf . I don't mind the noise and the dust.... the surfaces are cut effortlessly and precisly, ready for the glue

Friday 12 September 2014

Going to the bottom of the question...

Recently I have been busy scarfing, or better assembling the bottom panel of the boat. This is a rather big panel CNC cut out of 12mm marine ply... quite heavy and tough!
As the pictures show the puzzle joint I designed and decided to employ helps to line up accurately the two halves, making sure the panel ends up correctly axi-simmetrical.

I have used epoxy, both unthickened and charged, a 160g/m² biaxial glass cloth inside out and peel ply. The whole under a decent amount of weight.

The result was particularly satisfying and the bottom panel ended up measuring correclty compared to the dimensions given in the plan.

I have also built a simple router gig to cut 1:10 scarfs out of the stringers stock. I cannot source long enough wood planks to produce the stringers in one go hence the need for scarfing.

At the moment both bottom chine stringers (the 70mm wide ones!) have gone through the scarfing process involving routing and glueing.

I intend to glue them on the bottom panel before placing the latter on the build frame.

Sunday 17 August 2014

Laminating the blues away...

Tomorrow's back to work after a three weeks break mostly spent holidaying and sailing with the family... In order to kick the blues away I focused on a fun little project, laminating the stem for our future pathfinder.

The 4mm thick sipo mahogany strips were dry fitted and left there for a while (actually few weeks due to other commitments)  to take the shape ...

The glueing involved priming each surface with unthickened epoxy first and then applying a little quantity of slightly thickened epoxy for proper bonding.

I will leave the lamination to cure a few days for the epoxy to harden properly given the elastic load the strips are subject to.

A fun little project to end the holidays.

Saturday 16 August 2014


Building of Pathfiner Astrid has been put on hold during our annual summer holiday to Sardinia. Three weeks before leaving our Stornoway 12 Janas has had a varnish stripdown and recoating to allow her to look her best in the emerald blue sardinian waters.
I applied 5 or 6 coats of International Schooner traditional varnish that provided pleasure applying and a gleaming finish.

Holidays were packed with fun: sailing, beaching, picninc-ing and in general being out as much on the boat as possible given the young age of our crew...

Sailing encounteres: Almagores II a majestic Southern Wind 102' superyacht sails past giving thumbs up to Janas:

Sailing to the island of Tavolara:

Sailing home with wind and waves:

Having fun with the underwater camera:

Great 2014 summer! We look forward to the next trip down there in 2015.... perhaps onboard our Pathfinder? .... mmmh more likely to happen in 2016...!

Wednesday 25 June 2014

A bunch of frames

Building of pathfinder "Astrid" has finally got underway again. Here's an update on the progress on frames and stem "girder". All such parts have been fitted with the pine doublers for seats, decks and fixing to the boat's floor. This weekend I will glue the outer stem lamination (out of 5mm sipo mahogany lamells) that has been dry fitted to help take the shape.

Frame 6A and transom are the next two that need finishing. The objective is to have all of the frames done before the summer break and then build the strongback in september. I should have some time off in november/december where I hope to plank the whole hull.....

Monday 23 June 2014

Excuses?? well I have a few!

.... here's another typical post saying "it's been a while since my last post ....blabla.... excuse1 .... excuse2.... etc"

Well in my case the past months have been quite busy with work and family commitments; in addition to that every spare minute of time was devoted to preparing the final two exams for my music degree at the local music conservatory.
With that finally out of the way I spent some time readying my current boat "Janas" for the upcoming sailing season and what better season opener than participating in the Venice lagoon raid for a week among like minded people??

I had a new main and jib cut by Morgan sails  and Janas required a new boom to accommodate the larger mainsail. Ian did a great job and the new sails have performed really well and have been much admired during the raid. Thank you Ian, I will contact you again when I get to the point of ordering the sails for the Pathfinder! I also had to build a new tille (the old one snapped in Sardinia last summer) and give a major overhaul to the home-made inboard engine.

The VeLa raid is a great opportunity to go sailing and explore the Venice lagoon. This year 60 boats took part and more then 150 people shared their passion in a 5 day marathon around the beautiful scenery of the lagoon.
I had a great time meeting people from all over Europe (Italy, France, UK, Holland, Germany, Austria, Romania), some I had met already some became new dear friends. I hope to take part to the next edition (june 2016) sailing my new Pathfinder!

Janas fared well during the 100 mile - plus - long raid and despite being the smallest boat in size taking part, we were not always the last ones to cross the finish line.
Single handing over 5 days on a small boat, handling the shallows, the busy water space, the currents and the lack of sleep made it all in all a very intense week.... definitely something to look forward again to for 2016!