Thursday, July 21, 2016

Sawdust Commences

Jean Louise, AKA Scout
In April 2016 I took advantage of a week-long Spring Break and began cutting wood in earnest towards building the Gypsy. But in February 2016 I got a puppy. It all seemed harmless enough. And winter felt so slow and lifeless. A puppy was just the thing, I was sure of it.

By April, when I was ready to start cutting wood for the boat, the puppy was demanding about two hours of time EVERY DAY. When school is in session this makes it very difficult to get any work done on the boat. But for a week during Spring Break I could multi-task enough to get something done.

The first step was to scarph two pieces of plywood into one long 16-foot panel. People on the internet post photographs of their scarph joints as if they were pornography, and with this testosterone-fueled concept in mind I commenced to scarph away. I beveled seven inches from each end of two plywood panels. Then matching the bevels I glued them together with two-part marine epoxy. In the end I managed to get the requisite 16-foot panel which would form the floor of the boat, but the process felt strangely anti-climactic.

By May I had managed to assemble the five panels which make up the hull, but the transom (back end piece) was proving elusive. I had made a couple of alterations to the drawn plans: two inches wider on the bottom panel, two inches higher on the side panel, eight inches longer overall. These changes transmuted the necessary shape and position for the transom end panel. and I procrastinated solving that problem.

In the photo to the right you see the hull has been tacked together with zip-ties, and a few spots of epoxy on the seams. About this time I decided it was time to flip the hull over so I could deal with the transom. With my wife on the stem and me positioned aft, we started to lift the hull when suddenly pop! pop! pop! the zip ties and glue spots began to break under the weight of the hull. I can laugh about it as I look back now, but it wasn't funny then.

The solution to the popping zip-ties was to lay fiberglass tape along the hull seams, and epoxy it in place. This accomplished, I was able to flip the hull right side up, and begin laying in thick fillets of epoxy on the insides of those seams. And afterwards, the transom problem was resolved. With these pieces in place, the hull was structurally complete and would float without leaking. Not that it has seen any sort of body of water yet. It should float in theory at this point. In theory.


  1. I'm glad I know you. You are such a unique person. I admire you and your talents. Keep up the great work.

  2. Love the photos that document your progress. May you enjoy the journey as much as the finished product. Have fun!

  3. Enjoyed reading your blog. Loved the pictures, as well. What a brave project you have undertaken!