The blog will now be devoted not to boat building but to my 82-year-old Vertue, Sally II, now undergoing a well needed refit at Johnson & Loftus in Ullapool (and gliding...)

Wednesday, 5 March 2014

Five up, Two to Go

Thing about planking is once you've started there's no stopping you and the higher up, the easier it gets as the twist lessens, hood ends go in like a dream without any fine fiddling and you establish a rhythm.

The rhythm of a plywood kit boat is different to that of a traditional build, in that you do not have to spile the plank from the last one, transfer the marks to a board, cut out the boards, thickness and plane. Nor is there any riveting, let alone steaming involved, which is good and bad. Good in that... there is no steaming involved, not so good in that plywood is pretty inflexible and a little encouragement might not be a bad idea.

You could steam in a plywood hood end, I suppose, but it doesn't seem right somehow and, besides, the glue wouldn't stick (although Collano, being moisture cured, probably wouldn't mind).

But with five planks up and two more pairs to go I can't complain. The shape is lovely and I like the way you can judge a bevel by the veneers that show up as you plane. Building, certainly from a kit, is quicker, the rhythm just being different in that, after fitting a pair of planks, the rest of the morning is spent scarphing the ones for the morrow. And the residue of glue, mixed with wood dust, makes a fine filler for the temporary screw holes of the previous day's planks. Thus the aim of two strakes a day can be maintained whether you build from a kit or plans, and that goes forsolid timber or plywood. Just different.

So, I would say that building a plywood boat from plans would not be any quicker than from solid timber though, and probably more expensive if using plywood of the same quality as good larch. So, plywood ideally, I would say, means a kit.

That's my initial observation having built a 24ft plywood Ninigret launch from scratch, using offsets and a comprehensive set of plans.

And this one had been modified to give more flair to the bow sections (tricky in lapstrake).

Turned out pretty well, by all accounts and should last a while as the owner specified Bruynzeel plywood with a 25-year guarantee. I'm not saying this Elite is not good, but compared to the Hechtout, well there's no comparison. Then at ££££££s a sheet, so it should be.

Back to the Yawl. With luck that'll means the last pair on Friday, after which a lengthy hiatus while the hull is sanded, the lands cleaned up and any unfairness rectified. Then for the keel, and outer stems, bilge runners and a coat or two of clear primer, maybe even undercoat before turning her over and beginning the long job of fitting out.

Spars have been ordered from Collars (Douglas Fir mast and spruce yard) and Steve Hall at North Sea Sails may have the job of making the sails.

Meanwhile I have been re-rigging a Shetland Maid for racing, using a Flying Fifteen mast and there's another new build in the pipeline. Busy summer ahead...

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