Prepping for Carlins & Finish

There existed a small cavity where the seat tops aligned with the seat extension.  I wasn’t happy with how it lined up, so I taped off the area and filled it with thickened epoxy.  DSC00001On a few of the bulkheads, the top panel was a touch proud of the bulkhead.  On others the alignment was spot on.  Instead of planing the top panel (which has a beautiful smooth curve cut from the kit), I decided to shim the low areas.  DSC00005Here I used an epoxy stir stick.  The thickness was perfect.  DSC00006Here I used a slim plywood piece about twice the thickness of the stir stick.  After these cure, I’ll shape them to fit perfectly atop the bulkheads.

Shaping Gunwales

With the gunwales bent in place, I’m feeling really good about life.  It was a lot of fun to pull the clamps off and observe the shape of the gunwale.  It adds a lot of stability to the top panel and beautifully defines the sheer.  DSC00033The next step is to bevel the gunwale to match that of the bulkhead top.  As you can see, I need to remove a fair amount of material to achieve this.  DSC00032A good block plane is worth your money.  I have used my Lie Nelson plane as much as any tool I own for this build.  It took only a few minutes to achieve the desired bevel. DSC00035I have decided to tape off and varnish up to the sheer before attaching the carlins.  This allows great access to the upper insides without having to reach around the carlins.  I have taped off the top line and bulkheads for the deck and cockpit coaming fillets yet to come.

Now for some bright work

Gunwale Success

After my talk with the gunwales, the next 4 attempts went forth seamlessly.  One moment they all wanted to break…the next they all bent perfectly.  What do I credit this change to:

  1. My frank, honest discussion with the gunwales regarding their potential and future destiny.
  2. Warming the wood (I kept the wood at 70 degrees).
  3. Allowing the wood to bend its preferred way.  I laid the wood on 2 sawhorses and allowed the gunwales to tell me which way they wanted to bend.  This worked marvelously well.  It was plain to see their natural tendencies.  The vertical bend was harder to decipher, but still manifest itself with careful observation.

DSC00006Dry clamping to drill screw alignment holes.  DSC00004Countersink bit made nice holes for the screws.DSC00009 Second installment…all glued up.  My son aligned the gunwale as I screwed and clamped my way along.  The screws aid in alignment (things get very slippery) and were placed about 18″-24″ along the gunwale.  DSC00002I placed clamps about 4″ apart.


  1. I dry clamped the gunwale (stern to bow) flush with the top of panel #3.
  2. I drilled pilot holes for screw alignment (which would be used during the glue up process).
  3. I removed the gunwales and rolled epoxy on all mating surfaces.
  4. I applied thickened epoxy to mating surfaces.
  5. I re-attached the gunwales using clamps (for even pressure) and screws (for alignment).
  6. I cleaned up all the squeeze out with a sharpened stir stick.
  7. I removed all the screws while epoxy was still green.

 I installed the 3/8″ x 1 1/4″ gunwales one at a time (2 per side for a total of 4 gunwales).  I used all the clamps I own for each gunwale installment.  I waited 20-24 hrs before removing the clamps and keep the shop between 60-65 degrees.  

I am so happy to see this step complete.  I had a slow, difficult start, but things all seemed to work out in the end.  Now on to the carlins.  (finger crossed).  


Talking to Wood

After the first two gunwales snapped with an authoritative ‘CRACK’, I was a little nervous and a bit out psyched.  Everyone said it should work fine, but my VG Fir had other thoughts.  Oh no, I wasn’t trying to bend anything thick, just the standard 3/8″ x 1 1/4″.  This should work, without steaming.  Well, It wasn’t working.  So I took some time to think things over.   After meditation and prayer, the answer came to me in the middle of the night.  Talk to the wood, explain in simple terms that the wood (gunwales) has two choices.  1-Break and end up in the junk pile, never to be of useful service to anyone again, or 2-Bend and become something much greater…yea verily, even a sailing vessel, to sail the seas, and transcend their present condition.  Yes, to become a ship.  Now, which choice would you like to pursue?  Every stick would need to decide.  There would be no middle ground, no neutrality.  Break or transcend.  After this discussion, the wood spoke up and said it too had a few concerns and requests to make of me.  They felt forced, unappreciated and a little used.  They wanted to be treated with utmost respect…never abused or talked down to.  They also wanted to move in their natural way and asked me to consider their will and tendencies.  They asked me to turn them over and over in my hand to determine their preferred direction of bending and orientation on the boat.  They requested I warm them prior to bending…they don’t like to be cold.  And, finally, they all wanted a fair chance to make their way onto the boat…no preferential treatment.  I would kindly bend each one of them, their way, and see who would break and who would rise above.  This I could agree to.  DSC00002 I’m happy to say, stick #3 has made the team.  Here is a most excellent VG Fir gunwale becoming part of Shackleton.  I’ve never been more proud of a stick in all my life and delighted it has made such a noble decision.  I’m encouraging all the other pieces to follow the great example of this little gunwale.

Stay tuned

I’ve Got Seats

So, I was very careful when glueing the underseat supports, making sure to glue them on the underneath side of the seat (as opposed to the top side…hey, things happen).  Well, I was so careful that I glued one of them on the inboard side instead of the outboard side of my hatch opening.DSC00001This photo shows the mistake.  I used a router bit, wood rasp and sander to clean up the mess.  I could have made it look even better, but this is on the underneath side, so this was good enough for me.  DSC00001I decided to add graphite to the underside.DSC00003I installed the seats when the graphite epoxy was still tacky to ensure a good bond.  DSC00002Two coats on the top sides.DSC00002It’s so rewarding to see the seats go in.  I’m very excited to be at this stage of my build.

 I’m convinced slow and steady wins the day.  

Improved Outboard Bracket

DSC00006Anytime you fabricate your own parts, things happen.  Sometimes it takes a few tries to get it right.  Well, the first outboard bracket came close.  It will work, but places the outboard cavitation plate 1 1/2″ below the estimated water line.  My concern is that in rolling waves, the motor will cavitate.  I was striving for a 3″ drop.  I knew I wouldn’t be happy with the original bracket so I went back to the drawing board.  DSC00005 Behold the second version.  You can see the difference in the mounting plate.  The first version (to the right) measures 10″ high.  The improved version (to the left) measures 7 1/2″ high.  This shorter version allows the cavitation plate to be 3-4″ below the designed water line.  DSC00006 Additionally, I was a little nervous about the V. G. Douglas Fir splitting when I bolt the bracket to the transom.  My father recommended glueing a 1/4″ plywood piece to the back for increased strength.  Hard to go against the wisdom of a father.  DSC00007To summarize the changes:

  1. Lower back plate height allowing for a lower mounting position.
  2. Circular holes in the sides to lighten up the weight.
  3. Solid back plate for more mounting options to transom (the original design had a center cut-out).
  4. Strengthened the mounting plate with 1/4″ plywood.
  5. Improve version weights 6.28 lb. (original weighted 6.25 lb.)
  6. All other measurements remained the same as original design (documented in earlier post).


This boat is all about getting things right.  Getting things the way you like them.  Otherwise, just go buy one.  To me, this is the fun of building your own…it is your own.  By taking a little extra time, you can make Scamp uniquely yours.

 It’s more about patience and consistency than proficiency.  


Seat work & finish work

DSC00001I marked the 3″ fiberglass tape (used for the plank #2/3 joint) with a Sharpie before cutting and glueing in place.  After all was cured, I noticed the Sharpie marks sticking out like a sore thumb.  So, I decided to paint that section instead of sanding to remove the markings.  I guess I’m getting a little lazy at this point in the build.  However, I actually like the contrast between the brightwork and painted panels.  DSC00002This paint line is actually straight, but it looks bent due to the top line being curved and the hull flaring outward.  At this point, I have finished painting all interior compartments up to their top line.  It feels good to see some of the finish work being completed as I progress through the build.DSC00004After trimming the seats to fit around the bulkheads (impossible to keep the BH’s perfectly vertical), I  cut out for an access hatch between bulkhead 5-6.  This is the only dry access hatch I am planning in the seat area.  I will open up a wet access area between bulkhead 7-8 on both sides of Shackleton.  DSC00006I used some 3/8″ scrap ply to strengthen this area.  I wrapped the plywood around the corner to better pick up the corner screws of the hatch.  The opposite side of the cut-out will screw into the existing seat longitudinal cleating material.  The forward and aft edges of the hatch areas have just over a 1″ span to the bulkhead cleating, hence I felt no need to reinforce these areas.  DSC00002I purchased these awesome seat hatches from Duckworks Magazine.  They measures 24″ x 9″ and fit perfectly between bulkhead 5-6.  I was happy to find a hatch that fit so well in this rather confined area.  I’m hoping to have the seats installed by week end.

I’m not getting much cycling in these days. I’m up to 188 lb. instead of my 174 lb. cycling weight.  But, I’m having a great time building this little micro cruiser.  I have drooled over larger boats, even during this build.  My first choice would be a Com Pac Eclipse.  This would allow for convenient overnighters with the family.  I may well buy one some time in the future, but Shackleton will be a great day sailor and a great trainer for me.  

Installing Plank #3, Finally

DSC00017There always seems to be so many little steps in building this sailboat.  I often say, if you have 2 hr/day, that’s all you need.  I couldn’t work any longer even if I had more time.  I prefer to stay with one given task before moving on to other issues that need attention.  It seems it takes all my concentration on each step, so I don’t multi task.  I stay with one step until I feel things are correct and complete.  Only then do I move on.  This pattern seems to work for me.  That way, I don’t get in over my head, loose my focus, go into deep depression and burn the boat in the backyard late at night.

I’m very glad to see plank #3 installed and ready for epoxy/glass fillet.

If you do something each day on your Scamp, this build will slowly but surely continue to take shape.  Just don’t stop!  Solve a problem, finish a step and then keep moving forward.  Love’n it baby, love’n it!

Installing Hatches

First off, I’ve very thankful for a shop heater.  It’s negative 8 deg. F this morning in Idaho.  Without this shop heater, I would be at a complete stand still for the next 3-4 months.DSC00013I had this heater installed about a month ago.  It cost around $1,400.  I can’t believe I didn’t install one years ago.  They are essential for year round building in Idaho.DSC00001With the sole painted and textured, I was ready to install the hatches.  DSC00003I applied a generous bead of 100% silicone around the hatch flange.  DSC000123/4″ stainless steal screws secure the hatches.DSC00002I wiped up any squeeze-out with a paper towel, making sure none got on the seal and top flange.  All holes were predrilled, so this step went very quickly.

After taking so much time to get the sole finished and textured, this step was like the icing on the cake.