If you are a dreamer, a doer, a horizon viewer - come in! come in! Announce yourself and let it be known.
The seed of adventure has been sown.

The goal is to take this boat on a trip that no other Wharram boat has taken.
From Great Slave Lake in Canada's Northwest Territories up the MacKenzie River to the Beafort Sea
and westward to the Bering Sea and south to the inside passage on the Alaska and British Columbia coast.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

MIXING RESIN - I have been working with epoxy resins for 20 years. If there ever was a place to be clean and keep the stuff off your skin, this is it. I've met former boatbuilders who can't even go into a shop where epoxy is being used. They have immediate sensitivity reactions. It has made it hard for them to continue staying in that livelihood. I have a tendency to want to scratch my nose and forehead while working - a problem, not to mention a slowly building torture if you can't scratch that itch. Pretty soon I has sapped your concentration. Now what I do is coat the exposed skin on my face with barrier cream. I still scratch my face but with a paper towel. Atleast now with the barrier cream and the towel, I'm not getting any residual epoxy from my gloves onto my face.

I've converted an old typewriter table, I found, into a epoxy mixing station. I added a shelf for the scale and mixing cup at the exact level necessary. The added bonus is that I can place a small heater,on this same shelf, under the epoxy to keep it warm. Having a good solid set up for the epoxy, I began measuring, mixing and coating the full sheets on one side. Getting exactly the right amount of resin is a challenge. I might be mixing at a 1 to 4% error but I figured out that by using two additional cups one for Part A and one for Part B, my skills pulling consecutive beers from a tap could come in handy. I can cut off flow without closing the tap. The excess that goes in the over flow cup will be used later. I've come up with a really good way of spreading resin on the sheets. I pour the mixed resin in loops on the sheet then squeegee it out. I started out with a 6" plastic squeegee as SystemTree recommends. This works ok but I thought I'd try a 12 inch window cleaner's rubber squeegee with a handle. It worked really really well. I can push the epoxy around with ease, pull it to dry areas and squeegee off excess resin before I backrolled with the foam roller. It's a quick process; in an hour I had 6 sheets coated and backrolled.

Friday, September 29, 2006


I REALLY need my digital scale now! Please deliver it today. The weather is perfect for getting started on coating panels. Instead I continue to loft other parts of the boat which is productive but still just feels like dreaming. I want to be building!!!

Here I am in the picture lofting.

Please UPS/FEDEX, whomever it is that is transporting my goods. I can't track it through Amazon other than:
Delivery estimate: September 25, 2006 - October 2, 2006

Why do I need this scale so bad?

Epoxy is not a catalytic reacting chemical like polyester resin (often termed fiberglass) is. It uses two components that form specific cross binding structures to cure. The successful outcome of this reaction is volume specific. Too much of one or the other component and you have a sticky mess you are scraping off. There are two ways to achieve this accurate volume, measure the material volumetically or figure out its mass. The volume method only works for liquids. As some of the epoxy products are actually non-flowing they have to be weighed - accurately! Hence the need for a digital scale.

I built this experimental proa using my Aire Superlynx kayak... http://www.aire.com/aire/superlynx.shtml , and an outrigger I built with a thermorest, ABS pipe, bamboo and webbing. For the rig I used bits and pieces from sailboards and a custom made daggerboard to prevent leeway. Heres the problem with inflatable boats; when you have to stay the mast you impart flexural forces into the hull. Though I could get it to sail downwind and on a beam reach, I couldn't go upwind, the more the wind loaded the sail, the more the hull flexed! I was sailing a great big red bannana. The execise was fun though and I got to wallow around in the water on a hot summer day laughing my head off. I thought I'd have a fast sailer that I could pack in to where I wanted to start from. I've kept all the parts so maybe I'll pick this up in the future sometime with a different kind of rig. For a different kind of sail, check out this link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_OYV0chVUUU or search Youtube for moth foiler.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Westsail 28 - Narnia, No wind day on the Juan de Fuca Strait!
Do people still build boats in their backyards. Isn't it kind of like making your own granola or energy bars? Who does that these days. Besides can't you just buy this stuff without all the drift and unknown outcomes. You can't return it if it's the wrong size or color and what about instant gratification. Well if I have to lie awake at night thinking about some problem it might as well be one of my own creation. So why am I doing this to myself? I didn't start out with this intent though I've done it once before, a drift boat I built with a buddy over a couple of weeks. A couple of weeks was easy this is an eight month or more process.

What happened was I was out in my 13 foot Achilles inflatable coming back from a 9 day circumnavigation of Vancouver Island when I spotted an F-27 trimarran. Even though I was doing 20 knots plus, I couldn't catch it! That got me on the web one boring day at work looking at multihull options. Sailing my full keeled Westsail 28 is a walking speed adventure. I stumbled across Wharram's website and soon I was checking it constantly for used Wharrams that I could buy. I even pursued a couple; a Pahi 31 in Germany - nice boat, too much money for me, and a Tiki 38 (Google "Razzle Dazzle tiki 38) in the Philippines - the price was right but apparently the jungle had gotten into it so to speak. Meanwhile I had ordered two sets of study plans from Wharram, looked at every forum and website I could find, drafted up cross-sections of the hull on a wall to see what size the hulls would be and stewed about what to do. Now I didn't really need a new boat, I have a collection already. A Westsail 28, and Achilles 385 RIB, an Aire Superlynx, I even own a liferaft! But I couldn't get the Wharrams out of my head. Since I can't sail all these boats at the same time, I decided to put the Westsail on the market - sale pending. The Achilles is a work boat, my 86 year old father lives by himself on a remote island and I don't like having to charter a floatplane in emergencies (because of $ not experience) but I love to crash through waves wearing a drysuit and accessories. If I built a Wharram, I figured the liferaft and the superlynx can come with me.

All was going well in dreamland when one day Wharram's website said his webmaster was retiring. I panicked, what if Wharram was retiring himself never to sell another set of plans! I found my wallet got out my credit card and ordered plans on the spot.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

I'm starting to see why I paid all that money for architecture graduate school - I learned how to draft! Mixing those skills with my traditional navigation skills and the various navigation tools I own like three armed protractors and parallel rules, I am quick and accurate at layout.

Today was a hot one. It hit 80 F. Hotter in the building shed. I'm not complaining I got to work half naked enjoying the last days of summer before the rains really set in. I spent the day lofting the upper hull sides, stem and stern and three of the bulkheads. I built a sloped desk for the plan book and screwed clothes pegs to the wall to hold the drawing sheets.

Templates are the way to go and I am happy I had made some of these over the weekend. Transferring the lines on to the plywood was efficient and accurate and I was able to layout the elements so that I optimise the plywood and have pieces left over big enough to make shelves and other interior bits. I kept listening for the UPS truck to deliver my digital scale so I can start coating the sheets. I have other things to do before I get to that so really I'm not in a rush to start the epoxy part. Perhaps the UPS truck will deliver tomorrow... I'm in that honeymoon phase where it feels like I can get this first hull done in say "a week?" Like I said, the honeymoon!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Work on the Tiki 26 has started in earnest! I am marking September 26th, 2006 as the official start of construction. After storing all my newly acquired materials that showed up today, I cleaned out the building shed, layed plastic on the floor and brought in 3 sheets of 6mm plywood to loft out the first hull sections. As I've discovered, it will take awhile to interpret the Wharram drawings. Where to start, what is left up to interpretation, what I'll need to design and most important how to catch any mistakes that I might make. I don't like making cuts that need to be redone on a new sheet of plywood. I can't totally launch into the work however as I'm waiting for my digital measuring scale to arrive so I can start blending epoxy. It will be best to coat the sheets in a flat position so that runs are avoided. Now that I have committed to the process by dropping $3k any doubts about the sanity of this project have left me. It feels like the commitment it takes to ski off a cornice/cliff. Once you push off you better focus on the process. I also decided to copy the drawing sheets before they get torn/coffee stained etc and I totally can't read them. One issue to stay aware of is that the metric and imperial dimensions don't always line up perfectly. I had decided awhile ago to build in metric as the plywood is dimensioned in metric. To be able to do this I got metric tape measures in Canada a while back. I haven't seen them down here.

My epoxy order was ready today too, so after storing the plywood I drove to SystemThree and picked up the order.

Is this really all the plywood I need?

The wood delivery truck arrives.

Hey Bart, How are you doing? Henricks has kept me abreast of the developments in your life back east and the cards you are being dealt but I figured I should get in contact directly. He gave me your email. It's been a couple of years. First I should let you know that all the same guys still work the desk at Dunn Lumber down on Latona. Pretty unbelievable - it's like 20 years since I first started buying twobyfours and the like from those guys! They must like their jobs. Speaking of jobs - I don't have one, not one that pays anyway and I like it that way. Instead of being gainfully employed, i'm drainlessly spending my loose cash on plywood and epoxy. I'm a stay at home dad and plan on keeping it that way for as long as I can. Now that doesn't mean that I am not busy because I am. Of all the stupid things to do I am building a 26 foot Catamarran in my 38 foot long backyard with no good way of getting it out of there except up over my deck through the fence and out my neighbor's driveway. I'm on good terms with him - still. Let's hope it stays that way! Being a stay home dad is lonely business. Most dads work, most stay home moms are cliquey as a bunch of highschool seniors and certainly won't go there about boats. So I toil away between school dropoff and school pickup my 6 hours of undisturbed time. Yes my baby is now in first grade. So as I sit here, mid-morning, waiting for the delivery of a load of Okume BS1088 plywood from Edensaw I'm wondering how I am going to get all the other things done that the day demands. ....oh, got to go I hear the strain of a diesel grinding it's way up the hill and through the obstacle course that is my street.....

Monday, September 25, 2006

I feel like I have started in earnest now though I had a momment of doubt as I was driving home from my first big order. I kept thinking "what am I doing setting out on a boat building project!" I'm over it now though doubt will likely raise it's ugly head again.

Today I ordered 29 sheets of plywood and $1,500.00 of epoxy. After looking for a source of FSC Fir plywood so I could build "green", I was disheartened to discover that it is not available in marine grade on the west coast on N. America. It is available in Europe but not here - go figure! Ordering "green" plywood and then shipping it with jet fuel over such a great distance seemed pointless. I am now back to using Okume BS1088. Fortunately, the way the panels layout, there will be very little waste. For an epoxy system I chose to go with System 3, www.systemthree.com , over West System. I've used System 3 before and have had good luck. They have tailored a new line of resins specifically for marine use. It is truely a system with various mixtures of varying viscosity for each different application; laminating, gluing, fillets and filler. Hopefully it will work well. They even have a line of paints specifically blended to go with their epoxy.

Now that I have plywood and epoxy, I need to figure out what I will use for dimensional wood for stringers, deck beams and all those little bits. The goal needs to be to keep the weight at or below design weight without compromising strength.

I spent the weekend lofting the plans into full size templates on kraft paper. This has been helpful in getting me thinking about what to do next, how to build this boat and what to change (ever so slightly) for efficiency with the materials I can get.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Here are the latest photos of the shed now covered and wired

The building shed is done! It looks like a shipping container from the outside. It will likely need some modifications with time but for the moment it will keep the rain out. I've woven the roof out of a variety of materials including bamboo, weed eater line, bender board, lumber scrap, etc. I've wired it too - lights and a retractable powercord from the exterior GFI on my house. The plywood I need is now in Seattle so I will place my order with Edensaw. I need to finish my epoxy research but I'm leaning towards System 3 Epoxy as they are local and I have worked with their product before on other boat projects.
...got back from 4 days of surfing at Neah Bay Tuesday. Fished too. Caught 3 rockfish and a Lingcod. There were a couple of whales feeding in the kelpbeds where we were. One came within a 100 feet of us. I was cool to see them in the kelp as it drapes over their backs as they come to the surface for air. The surfing was ok - good swell Friday, moderate Saturday and Sunday morning after which it died. Apparently it raged Tuesday but by then I was back in town working on the boat shed.

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

These are photos of the "foundation" for the building shed.

Wharram Tiki 26 - this is the boat I have decided to build.
I have been working on the building platform and shed that I need to have to start construction over the past week. Rain has re-appeared in the Pacific NW after two months of absence. The roof frame started going up today. I'll post some photos. My neighbors say they are cool with the shed. My one neighbor is cool with me taking the boat out his drive. I'd have to rip down a fence and a wisteria trellis to get it out my drive./ Basically the boat is as long as the yard and 2/3's the width when assembled. Is this akin to the proverbial "boat in the basement?"

Friday, September 08, 2006


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