Saturday, April 30, 2011

Building ‘Sharpy’ Part 75

Arrangement of steering line pipes

I was very pleased today because I carried out the first stage of installing the
steering line pipes.

I also levelled the top edges of frame number four to make the hull ready for when I shall attach the aft decks. Doing those jobs plus filleting the bottoms of number three and number four frame took most of the day. I’m an incredibly slow woodworker, mainly due to checking measurements over and over again. I’d rather have the correct shapes before cutting them.

Close-up of how the pipes are attached to the transom

Getting the pipes in the exact positions matters, because if they are not, then undue friction caused by the steering lines rubbing against the openings and closings of the pipes will cause the lines to wear and make the feel of the rudder less sensitive. Being able to ‘feel’ weather helm is helpful when it comes to efficiently sailing a boat. Weather helm causes drag and slows a boat down. If she can be made to balance as a windsurfer balances his board without a rudder, she will sail to her maximum potential.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Building ‘Sharpy’ Part 74

Ready for the epoxy

I am not an ardent royalist, but I couldn’t fail to notice there was a royal wedding* today, William and Kate at Westminster Abbey. They have now been given the title of Duke and Duchess of Cambridge. I wish them happiness, long life and children. I feel sure they will take their responsibilities seriously and do all they can to serve the citizens of their Queen’s realm.

However, having visitors with us for the day and enough curiosity to view the TV, especially the marriage service, these distractions from boatbuilding were sufficient to limit what I could do, which was to add a few small pieces of wood to the tops of frames that did not line up for supporting the deck. I deliberately mixed more epoxy than I would require, so that I could fillet compartments within the hull to make them airtight – that’s once the decks have been bonded to the side panels and frames.

Filleting base of transom

Keeping the forward and aft compartment sealed will provide adequate buoyancy in the event of capsize. I shall also make sure that the adjacent compartments will also be airtight, but I may add inspection hatches for access to them. Such hatches would allow me to stow small items such as a change of clothing, food, drink and emergency equipment, i.e., VHF set and flares.

*Royal Wedding

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Building ‘Sharpy’ Part 73

Aft knee butting onto the spacer frame

Forward knee under the foredeck support beam, plus the side deck support knees

If I can keep doing a little each day towards building the boat she will eventually be completed. I visualize her out on the water, gliding along in a Force 2. Little waves run away from the wind; it’s sunny and there are cotton wool clouds skipping across the sky. ‘Sharpy’ slightly heels and she leaves behind her an almost imperceptible wake.

May the dream spur me on so that it will become a reality!

Today I smoothed away the odd dribble of epoxy from yesterday’s efforts at fixing knees either end of the keel box - one adjoining the forward keel box support and the foredeck support beam; the other braced against the middle frame that butts against the aft end of the keel box.

After the cleanup I made two side deck support knees, each one with an inch diameter hole drilled through it for the appropriate steering line. I also drilled holes for the same purpose in the frame that butts to the aft end of the keel box. I checked that the steering lines will pass through the holes without coming into contact with the knees and frame. This also enabled me to pinpoint the locations on frame three where 15 millimetre holes will be drilled to accept plastic tubes for the steering lines. (Note that frame three is the one at the aft end of the cockpit. The frame before it that butts onto the keel box is not shown as number three on the plans. It is a spacer frame made to fit the hull section after the first four frames have been fixed between the side panels.)

Apart from fixing the steering line tubes and the tube for the sheet, I only have to make four ‘plates’ that will be screwed to the chines for the lifting handle ropes, and the interior will nearly be ready for painting. I do have to make up my mind with regard to the seat. The designer of the boat has modified an office chair and mounted it on supports in his boat. He shows this arrangement in the plans. I am contemplating designing and making a seat, but whatever the arrangement, I want to be comfortable because I may have to spend many hours at a time in the boat. On my ‘Paradox’ I found a waterproof cushion from a wheelchair was comfortable to sit on. I could resort to getting hold of one for my new boat. If the sides of the coaming were to be padded, the seating arrangement with the cushion could be quite comfortable.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Building ‘Sharpy’ Part 72

Turned out OK

Shaping deck beams and upper sides of the hull

There she is, almost ready for her decks

Astonishing! It all works

I was able to accomplish a lot today. The major job achieved was fairing the upper sides of the hull and the deck support beams in preparation for attaching the decks. In addition to that I made two support pieces for the bottom of the keel box - one for each side of the keelson; two knees for bonding to the keel box to prevent lateral movement, and I removed a piece of the forward deck beam so that the mast could be slotted into the mast support bracket.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Building Sharpy Part 71

Testing size of hole

Gradually I’m building the interior fittings of the hull. The most recent piece is the mast support bracket. This is sited almost four inches astern of number one frame and it sits upon the keelson and the adjoining floor panel. The upper fore and aft pieces slot onto the foredeck support beam. When the deck is in place and an exterior collar is attached to it, the structure will be strong enough for supporting the mast and rig without stays.

My aim today was to get the inner pieces epoxied in place, and I was able to find enough time to do the job towards the end of the afternoon, but the temperature was not high enough for epoxying; therefore I switched on my mini hot air blow heater and covered the finished work with an old tarpaulin.

Upper section finished

There aren’t many things left for me to complete within the hull before I set about painting a primer in preparation for an undercoat and topcoat. I actually need to make brackets for four lifting handles; two knees either end of the keel box, one that strengthens the deck where it joins the front of the coaming and the other at the aft end of the keel box for additional support; I must fix plastic tubes for the steering lines and mainsheet, and supports for the seat. That’s it!

Tarpaulin to keep the heat in

When the painting has been done, I’ll set about making deck panels and fixing them. There is a snag. I do not have the metal parts! I really need the rudder fixtures so that they can be bolted through the transom, rather than simply being held to the boat by screws.

Incidentally, I still have no news of when the sail will be finished.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Building ‘Sharpy’ Part 70

Washers on Foot Steering Bar

Before doing anything else I inserted stainless steel washers either side of the foot steering bar. These will ensure there is no undue wear from the inverted bolt around which the steering bar articulates. If I can’t find a locking nut, I’ll seal the one I have with epoxy to stop it undoing.

Shaping Mast Step

Mast Support Bracket


I then turned my attention to building the mast support bracket. The plywood forward and aft pieces are 4.25 inches wide at the bottom, and where they slot onto the deck beam they are 3.00 inches wide. I shaped blocks from wood and plywood at the base of the bracket to form a square socket. To ensure a snug fit, I took measurements from the base of the mast. Finally, I epoxied the whole lot together and clamped the lower section to form a tight bond.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Day

The setting and rising sun reminds me of the Son who was born to die and rise again. He said He was the Light of the World. (John 8:12; 9:5)

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Building ‘Sharpy’ Part 69

Location of the foot steering bar support bracket

Close-up of the support bracket for the foot steering bar

Today it was the turn of the support bracket for the foot steering bar. I did not make it exactly to plan, because I lacked a solid piece of mahogany, but I improvised, and came up with something just as good as shown on the plans, perhaps better – certainly lighter.

The epoxy work was a bit messy; however, when it hardens I’ll be able to clean it up, and when painted, there will be little evidence of any messiness. More important than the appearance is the functional aspect, and I think it will work well.

The plans do not show clearly what is used for the foot bar spindle, but I have inserted a stainless steel bolt into the support bracket which will be very good. I’ll be able to remove the foot bar, if necessary, simply by undoing a nut.

When the epoxy has hardened I shall be able to set up the steering lines, but as I do not have pintles and gudgeons for fixing the rudder, I shall not be able to test the system.

Friday, April 22, 2011

A Robin on Good Friday

There is no connection between Robins and the crucifixion of Christ, but there is folklore that a Robin felt for Christ as He hung in agony on the cross, and to ease His pain he pulled a thorn from the Saviour’s brown; in so doing the bird’s breast was stained red with the blood of Jesus. From thereon Robins were for ever blessed. Off course, that’s a load of nonsense, but it can point one to the most significant act in history, the pivotal moment when God forgave the sins of the world through the atonement of His Son. (John 3:16)

I have a wonderful photo of a Robin for wallpaper on my laptop, and it’s a reminder to me of the sacrifice of Christ.

If you would like the same photo for wallpaper, then go to JT’s Photoblog;* scroll down until you find the Robin; then right click your mouse and choose, ’Set as Background’. Don’t forget to enlarge the photo to its maximum size before saving it as Background.

*JT’s Photoblog


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Building ‘Sharpy’ Part 68



Today’s contribution towards completing ‘Sharpy’ was the addition of backing pieces for the butt joint between the bottom panels. After applying epoxy to the appropriate surfaces I tacked them into place, but I did not fully hammer the tacks home, so that I shall be able to withdraw them when the epoxy has hardened. To make a strong bond I sealed the edges with epoxy putty.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Building ‘Sharpy’ Part 67

Second batch of chandlery

As I expected, I couldn’t spend a lot of time today on building ‘Sharpy’ because I was out on the water at Burnham-on-Crouch with my daughter aboard 'Ladybird'. We tuned the rigging, set up the Genoa roller reefing, checked all the electronic gear, did a bit of varnishing and scrubbed the decks.

All I did on ‘Sharpy’ before setting off this morning was to fill a minor void with epoxy putty where the bottom panel joins her transom.

By way of interest for anyone who may be contemplating building a Derek Munnion ‘Sharpy’ I’ve uploaded a second photo showing additional chandlery that I recently purchased from Botacs at Westcliffe-on-Sea. In theory, I now have all the chandlery items I shall need to complete the boat.

My article, Part 60* of Building Sharpy, included a photo of the first batch of items. This second lot cost a staggering £88.00 exactly!

*Building ‘Sharpy’ Part 60

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Building ‘Sharpy’ Part 66

Epoxy dribbles

After being removed with the rotary sander

There was a change of plans which enabled me to spend most of the morning on the boat. During that time I removed epoxy dribbles from the interior of the hull by using a rotary sander and a file. I also trimmed the bottom panels along the chines. A little bit of sanding of the slot through the bottom of the boat resulted in a very good fit for the drop keel. I’ll need to do more sanding of the slot so that there will be room for applications of epoxy to seal the wood and plywood.

Testing the keel after trimming the chines

This leaves me in a good position for building the interior parts, including a foot steering bar, four wooden brackets for loops of rope that pass through the decks to be used as grips when moving the boat, plus things I mentioned yesterday.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Building ‘Sharpy’ Part 65

Panel Pin Dispenser

Aft Panel

The weather played ball – fine again today! Therefore I was able to cut and prepare the forward bottom panel and glue both panels in place. There were a number of distractions by way of unexpected visitors and telephone calls, but I was able to keep the rhythm going, and after a three hour stint the job was finished. Just as well, because I was requested to meet my wife at Chelmsford around mid afternoon. While I was doing that, the epoxy was hardening. I had moved the boat to the front of the house where the sun made an appreciable difference to the temperature. It was 12 degrees Celsius by the side of the house once the sun no longer shone there, but 21 degrees at the front, and the house made a lee from the northerly wind.

In the Sun

From above

Maybe tomorrow I’ll be able to trim the edges of the panels and fill any gaps with epoxy putty. Then I shall be in a position to start building more parts within the hull, such as the butt joint pieces, mast support box, panels either side of the keel box and knees for supporting the side decks.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Building ‘Sharpy’ Part 64

Beginning to look like a boat

The time has come for making and fitting the bottom panels of ‘Sharpy’.

Bottom aft panel

This afternoon, I managed to cut the aft panel with a margin of about a quarter of an inch all-round. By measuring very carefully I marked and cut the slot to fit perfectly with the keel box. Before calling it a day, I scored all the parts that will be epoxied together.

Close-up of scoring

Sanding and scoring helps make for better bonding. Sanding removes any oils that have accumulated on the surface of the wood, particularly with hardwoods, and scoring improves grip.

If the weather plays ball tomorrow, I plan to cut the forward panel and hopefully bond both panels to the bottom of the boat. She then will look like a boat; in fact she would float as a boat. But there’s a fair amount of work yet needed to bring her to a finish.

I’m still having problems with getting the stainless steel parts made, which may mean coming up with solutions and doing the metal parts myself. There’s no sign of the sail yet, either, but I live in hope.

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Building ‘Sharpy’ Part 63

Slot in the keelson

I had an enjoyable day building ‘Sharpy’. My skills were tested because I had to cut out a slot in the keelson to exactly fit the keel box. I first drilled a line of fine holes through the keelson; then I chiselled away at them until I cut a hole through the wood for the blade of the jigsaw. Using the saw I cut one side of the slot. Similarly, I cut the other side. Finally I chiselled out the ends of the slot, ensuring they were cut at right angles to the other sides.

Testing the keel before glueing parts together

As I had already prepared the fore and aft deck beams, I glued them and the keel box to their respective parts. I tensioned everything together with pieces of string and left the epoxy to set. Meanwhile I screwed two jam cleats for the steering lines to the yoke of the rudder stock and I tested the rudder. I found that I shall have to add pieces to the rudder were it rotates in the stock, to make it fit better, with a minimum of slack.

All glued together

I may find time tomorrow for a little more boat building – perhaps shaping the aft bottom panel.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Building ‘Sharpy’ Part 62

Checking the position of the keel box

Keel Box assembled

I thought I had reached the point where I would be able to glue the deck beams in place, but decided it would be better to finish the keel box, along with the vertical support rod for the keel line bracket. Having made those things I would be able to attach them to the keelson after cutting out a slot in the keelson for the lifting keel. Only then would I be able to fix the aft bottom piece of plywood, but not before cutting out a slot for the keel to marry with the one in the keelson.

All of these jobs are fairly precise; otherwise the keel may not fit into the keel box. I took great care making the keel box by having the sides parallel with one another and to have the vertical pieces at either end, at right angles to the side panels. I think the keel will fit into the box nicely, with just a millimetre to spare. Getting the box exactly lined up with the slot in the keelson will tax my skill or lack of it.

The outside air temperature today was about 13 degrees Celsius. Hopefully tomorrow it will increase to 15 degrees minimum for doing the epoxy.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Building ‘Sharpy’ Part 61

Epoxy Workshop

Fitting aft deck beam

This afternoon I started working on the hull again.

Before I can attach the bottom panels I must first fit the deck support beams – two of them, one for the foredeck and another for the aft deck. To that end I made a start at fitting the aft beam. Prior to that, I turned the kitchen into an epoxy workshop so that I could apply a third coat of epoxy to the insides of the keel box and secure the clevis pin that is a spindle for the sheave in the rudder stock. I secured the end of the clevis pin with a small quantity of epoxy putty where it passed through the starboard side of the stock.

You might wonder why I shall attach the deck beams before fitting the bottom panels. The reason for doing it is to stiffen the framework because there will be a tendency for the bottom panels to reduce rocker, of which there is precious little. I need to measure the amount of rocker to check that it is according the plan, but if it isn’t, there’s not a lot I can do to remedy the situation. If the boat has less rocker than she should, she will not be as manoeuvrable as she should be. Derek Munnion, the designer, says his prototype ‘Sharpy’ never fails a tack which would imply that his boat is able to turn while carrying her way.

Building the boat has once again become exciting, because I can see the prospect of rapid transition as the bottom panels are shaped and fixed into place. The stern panel, a full 8’ long, will be attached first. That will determine the position of the butt joint between it and the forward panel. The centre of the butt joint will be about 4.5 inches forward of the keel box.

All I am hoping is that the weather will be warm and dry so that I can shape and attach the bottom panels. The forecast is not exactly encouraging, but I’ll have to wait and see how things turn out.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

‘Ladybird’ Ready for the Water

Having more than one person working on ‘Ladybird’ to prepare her for the season before being launched makes things that much easier. Yesterday, my daughter and a friend of hers did a first-class job of antifouling her yacht. Last year and the year before, ‘Ladybird’s’ underwater parts were painted with light blue Flag antifouling. I much prefer the darker blue colour chosen by my daughter, because it contrasts with the white topsides, making them look whiter.

Today I rigged the sails. I hoisted the Genoa in the groove of the rotating luff spar and rolled the sail so that the anti-UV strip would protect it from the devastating effect of sunlight. You’ll note from the photo that the furling line has yet to be fitted to the drum. I also put the sail cover on the mainsail and attached the mainsheet. I left both backstays loosely attached by string to their quarterdeck fittings so that the launching crew could easily release them when the boat is being craned into the water next week.

Before packing up, I checked all the electrics, including the navigation lights. I also put new sealant along the lower edge of the cockpit drain board, and varnished it.

Back at home I filed and sanded the upper parts of ‘Sharpy’s’ keel weights and fitted a sheave on a spindle into her stock for the rudder downhaul line. All in all, it has been a productive day.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Strange Day


It’s been a virtual, almost surreal twelve hours while my wife and I have been with our young grandchildren. They woke up with the expectation of attending a Teddy Bears' Picnic at their Tuesday playgroup. On the way to the Salvation Army building where the feast was to take place they each pushed their teddies in miniature four wheel buggies, the sort that foldaway.

At first they were treated to outside games on the local green along with other small children. The most popular game by far was The Parachute, which consisted of a multi patterned circular piece of fabric that the youngsters held by the rim. In the middle of the ‘parachute’ there was a circular hole large enough for a child to stand in. Small colourful balls were thrown onto the material which was vigorously raised and lowered until all the balls either disappeared through the hole or fell off the edge. One of the aims of the game was to get the balls into the air, but tiny arms were not able to do it. By the commands of the leader certain boys or girls ran under the material and took up stations on the opposite side. Finally, they all sat under the parachute and supported its rim on their shoulders to form a tent. There was much laughter until the command was given for silence, and not a word was uttered before permission was given for them to speak again.

The next treat was a hunt for little Easter eggs that had been hidden in the gardens, and there were plenty for all. With cheeks glowing because of the exercise and fresh air the youngsters were invited into the main hall where their teddy bears were to have the awaited picnic. Hungry mouths rapidly consumed cookies, sandwiches and biscuits. Then it was time for sitting at table and making bunny masks from paper plates and pre-cut paper ears.

Away from the party there was more food at the ASDA restaurant. Our boys were exceptionally well behaved, but not very hungry, as chocolate eggs, cookies and sandwiches already lined their stomachs.

Play Sand


Back at home, they were eager for more games and to watch a DVD of Toy Story with the leading characters Woody and Buzz Lightyear. After the film, the lounge became a playroom full of toys. Buzz and Woody fell asleep on the sofa while the children tried their hand at making shapes with play sand in the kitchen; thereafter, there was more play and more to eat; then it was in the garden for a session of digging and planting with their Nanny. Daddy arrived home, and at last they had a bath and were snugly dressed in woollen pyjamas. Hugs, kisses and goodbyes ended the day.

Buzz and Woody

The surreal had gone. My mechanic knocked on the door and presented me with my car which he had worked on all day to eliminated noises, get a back seatbelt working, do a MOT and service the vehicle. My eyes were fully opened when I saw the bill, and I was truly jolted from my dream.


Toy Story

Monday, April 11, 2011

‘Ladybird’ Again

They look OK, but two of them failed

A few new stitches at the head of the mainsail

Neat finish with glued sailcloth

I didn’t visit ‘Ladybird’ today, but her owner did. She did a little more varnishing. I just hope it thoroughly dried before the arrival of rain this evening.

I did my bit by making a few simple repairs to ‘Ladybird’s’ sails. Considering their age, which must be at least 10 years, they are in remarkably good condition. The sails took a bit of a bashing last season when I sailed the boat to Falmouth and back from Burnham-on-Crouch. The only parts requiring attention were a small section along the luff of the roller Genoa and a few stitches needed at the head of the mainsail by the luff rope.

I broke two needles in the process! Particularly difficult was the very thick section of the Genoa at the luff. I finally tidied it by gluing a piece of sailcloth around the luff with Evo-stik. That worked well, and looked quite smart.

Prior to me repairing the sails my daughter bought a packet of sailmaker’s needles at a cost of £7.94, which seemed exorbitant for ten needles. She’ll be surprised I managed to break two of them; one couldn’t withstand pressure on the eye when being thrust through the sail and the other bent. So much for W. Smith and Son’s handmade needles! A note on the label of the container says they were made of ‘Forged Best Cast Steel’. Under the address, Redditch, England, is the word, ‘Warranted’, whatever that may mean.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Building ‘Sharpy’ Part 60

Most of the Chandlery

‘Sharpy’ is not the cheapest 15 foot sailing boat, because of the expense of the keel parts and chandlery. Chandlery alone will set you back about £150.00, and lead for the keel cost me £128.70, even Evo-stik for the keel amounted to just under £60.00.

Here’s a list of chandlery I’ve more or less acquired; I have yet to buy a ball bearing sheave and a swivel fiddle block for the keel hauling line.


1 x Keel Haul Jam Cleat

1 x Halyard Jam Cleat

1 x Keel hold down Jam Cleat

1 x Mast hold down Jam Cleat

2 x Yoke Jam Cleats for the Steering Lines

1 x Jam Cleat for the Boom Kicker

1 x Deck Hook for the Rudder Bungee

1 x Hook on Eye for the Mainsheet Block

1 x Swivel Block for the Mainsheet

2 x Pulleys for the Steering Lines

2 x Pulleys for the Main Halyard

1 x Sheave for the Rudder Downhaul

1 x Ball bearing Sheave for the Keel Haul Line

1x Clevis Pin for the Rudder Downhaul Sheave

Saturday, April 09, 2011

Building ‘Sharpy’ Part 59

Parts ready for assembly

Testing the fit

Keel box interior

Before concentrating on making parts for the keel box I filed and sanded the undersides of the keel weights.

The most important parts of the keel box are the forward and aft vertical pieces. These will take the strain if the keel comes into contact with an underwater object. They are also the parts that will receive most wear and tear because of the keel being repeatedly moved up or down. As the keel will be lifted by the Bowden cable from a position 10 inches from the bottom of the leading edge, its aft edge at the top and the forward edge at the bottom will rub against the vertical end pieces of the box.

Because of limited access to the slot within the keel box I shall make sure the inside parts are well epoxied. To that end I made a start with the first layer of epoxy. I also glued and nailed the upper and lower horizontal strengthening pieces to the plywood panels. I joined the vertical pieces to the port panel with epoxy and brass screws. I felt screws were necessary because of the side loading that will be imparted to the keel box by the keel when the boat is going to windward. The forward end of the keel box will be attached to a vertical wooden support for the keel pulley and its bracket which will be at the forward end of the coaming.

I really feel I am making progress. Much of the hard work has been done. I guess I’m about halfway through the build. Fixing the bottom panels and deck panels should go quite rapidly, but before I can attach the decks I shall need to work on interior bits and pieces, things like the mast support, seat brackets and plastic piping that will convey the steering ropes and mainsheet.