October 2017


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What are the necessary ingredients for a boat building workshop? For starters, adequate space is an essential element, and it was clear when I began building the Mana 24 our garage was not long enough for two 23 1/2 foot hulls to be constructed at the same time.

 

Even with only one hull set diagonally in the garage, the stem and stern posts could not be added. Fortunately, my quest for a better option was successful and a new place became available just a block from home – a heated two car garage, inside dimensions 23 feet x 23 feet, leaving space for two hulls to be constructed at the same time when placed diagonally. The garage is well lit, with cupboards, pegboard and counter on one wall for tools and supplies. It also features graphics that would gladden the hearts of professional sports fans in this part of the world – check these out:

 

Yes, the Saskatchewan Roughriders and the Edmonton Oilers have a solid fan base here. I do hope they are not offended to learn that I have no interest in professional sports – I just want to build a sailboat and go sailing!

Still, the new workspace is pretty fancy and I consider myself greatly blessed to have found it. With the help from a good sailing buddy, I have moved in and set up shop. As they say in the cartoons, on with the show, this is it!

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One of my favourite stories from my summertime job in a Vancouver Island sawmill in 1967 was the joke that workers liked to pull on naive newbies to the mill. They would tell the unsuspecting victim that a certain pile of lumber had been cut too short and would then send him in search for the “lumber stretcher” to remedy the problem. The unfortunate victim would go from one area of the mill to another, asking for the device, only to be told that he should try in yet another place, until he had covered most of the mill and someone would relent and let him in on the joke. Fortunately for me, the mill workers thought that a farm boy from the prairies would have too much common sense to be caught by such a prank and they didn’t pick on me!

Boat building does have a similar problem to that posed by the mill workers – how to make short boards into longer ones in order to build boats beyond the length of available lumber. Various methods have evolved in the history of boat construction, including the scarf joint (which we will encounter in a future post). The advent of CNC directed routers, able to cut out patterns with great precision, has enabled one modern version of “lumber stretching” that the Mana “cat kit” incorporates – the jigsaw puzzle joint.

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On the Tiki 21 that I built in the 90’s and on most of the modern designs from James Wharram Designs, plywood panels are joined, end for end, in a butt joint with a piece of plywood epoxied over top of the joint. This method is effective and requires no specialized scarfing equipment or expertise but it does not leave a smooth panel on the interior of the hull. The jigsaw joint used on Mana 24  gets around that limitation – a 100mm strip of fibreglass tape reinforces the joint instead of a piece of plywood.

 

The puzzle joint ensures that the joined panels line up correctly. I followed the advice from JWD and placed MDF board above and below the joint along with plastic sheeting, weighed things down overnight while epoxy cured, and the results were a nice smooth, 23 foot long panel.

 

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Every project must have a starting point. With some rough lumber sized to specifications at hand, work in the Mana 24 began. The pre-cut plywood pieces enabled me to go straight to preparatory assembly, adding bearers cut from the planed Douglas Fir to bulkheads, six bulkheads for each hull.

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Most of the plywood used for bulkheads has its first coat of epoxy already applied, allowing work to proceed quickly.

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IMG_1824 With the bulkheads completed I turned my attention to the cabin soles and bunks, adding doublers to the underside of each where required, and then adding the second coat of epoxy also to the underside.

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The forward section of the keels also has doublers, which were added, and once that was completed, I couldn’t wait any longer. I had to try a dry-fit with bulkheads 2, 3 and 4 set in place on keel. It is starting to take shape, don’t you think?

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