How I came to build my first boat - part 9

We finally got a break from the rain over the holiday weekend and put it to good use. Saturday morning we got started the push for getting our little boat sail-worthy in time for the Eastern Mid-Atlantic Messabout. According to the countdown on our calendar we have six days till we shove our boat on the van and head for Maryland, and while it looks like we don't have much to do, it turns out we had more than I thought.

The first thing we did was to glue and screw a piece of 2x2 onto the transom to allow the rudder full movement. We are using eye bolts and a long bolt from our old fence gate to secure the rudder to the boat. It looks like it's going to work, but next time I want real pintels and gudgeons. We also glued in the cat little bucket hatch on the port side. We also tried to fill in some hollows and cover over some screw with body putty. We're really at the mercy of the glue and putty cure rates at this point, so we went in and had breakfast. After breakfast we put a second coat of fiberglass on the rudder and leeboard, and commenced to sanding out the rough spots on the hull.

The glue isn't really set but it's got a pretty good skin on it and it's not so flexible that anything is coming off. I'm sick to death of sanding and I figure that I'm running out of time, and that paint may actually cover some of my rougher work… So Dancer went back up on the sawhorses and Vaughan grabbed a roller and the primer and went to work.

He was very excited to finally be painting and he did an excellent job with the first coat of paint… but it was HOT outside, and friends were calling from over the backyard fence, and he's 10… so I lost my first mate after the first coat. However as I pointed out before, he did a very thorough and excellent job. I was left to wait. While waiting I got to sand the foils… again. Somewhere in all of this I apparently stepped in poison ivy. My feet are ITCHY, and the fiberglass dust is making the rest of me itchy too. This sucks because it's hard to tell where the poison ivy ends and the fiberglass begins. (Just have to resist the urge to scratch anything!) So Dancer is now primer grey and drying out in the heat.

The great thing about it being really hot is that the paint is drying to the touch pretty quick. I've lost my first mate so I am left to put on the second coat of paint on my own. We ran out to Wally World and got a gallon of garage floor/Deck exterior latex paint in marine blue. I went to work as Vaughan went to a neighbor's party. I think he got the better end of this deal.

While I wait for this coat of paint to dry I pull out the rudder-head took off the hardware and gave it some paint too. Now I don't know if this is good or bad, but they had some really inexpensive spray paint in dark blue at the big box so I thought… why not? I got a bunch of it (I figure I needed a bunch). It's my plan to use this to contrast the marine blue. It also turns out that this is what we are going to use on the foils. So I went to work on the foils with the spray paint.

Finishing that first coat I returned to the hull and put a second coat of marine blue latex all over. Some of the sanding imperfections are starting to disappear under the paint and this makes me feel good. Woo Hoo! Let's go spray some more stuff on the foils and rudder head! Apparently I missed lunch. So while the second coats were drying we went to dinner. This marked the end of the first day's work.

The morning of day two… Sunday… Sunday at our house means one thing always. Dad gets up before everyone and makes "big breakfast". This includes toast, pancakes, bacon, eggs, and if I'm feeling generous fried spam for Vaughan. I don't know why, but my kid loves fried spam. He prefers it bacon! (I don't get that, but to each to their own right?) Then it was a half hour ride up the turnpike to the only West Marine near to me, I am going to… buy oars. I know, I can hear it now; I should make my own… but I'm out of time! I also need oarlocks and sockets. I got there and I was gonna get these super cool collapsible aluminum oars I saw online.

I would like to say that the helpful folks at west marine near me… weren't. Maybe it was because it was super-hot. Maybe it was because they were working on a holiday weekend. Maybe they were just asses… Who knows? All I can say is that I don't plan to go back, ever. I found the cool oars. They had one of each, a strait blade and a spoon blade, and none in the back. (It took fifteen minutes of trying to get the guys attention to ask.) They also didn't have the lock/socket set I was looking for. I did get a pair of chrome edge sockets for about five bucks more than it was listed for on the website. I also walked out with a clam cleat and a fairlead both on sale and both on a whim. I paid by check and this too seemed to annoy they helpful sales staff. I came back to Willow Grove a little disgruntled and without oars. So I stopped at Dicks sporting goods and found an excellent deal on oars ($25 each). They aren't collapsible but they work. I also got oarlocks that you screw on. They also had a sale on PFD's buy one get one free, so we both have new PFD's. I got a couple of camp things too. Everyone was nice, everyone was helpful and the prices were better. Oh… Vaughan got an anchor. He's very excited and proud of the anchor. It's a small grappling anchor and he's right, it is cool. Then I headed home.

When we got back I pulled out the spray paint, looked at the tansom and thought… why not? So I started painting. Once I got a coat on I thought to myself "hey that doesn't look bad" and went to come up with some kind of contrasting color design for the rest of the hull.

At this point I realize that I didn't have any painters masking tape. Now I am a big fan of Red Green and he and I agree that "if she can't find you handsome, then she ought to find you handy." We both also share a deep belief in the ability of duct tape to fix almost anything. So instead of wasting time and money on painters tape me and my trusty roll of duct tape taped off our design and I went to work. With some small amount of trepidation I pulled the tape off… and it didn't pull up the latex! Also it gave me VERY clean lines. I then painted the whole bottom. We let it dry and gave the whole thing a second coat. It was getting dark so I snapped some photos and went inside.

Day three of the holiday weekend begins. It's hot. It's really hot, up in the nineties… and humid. Almost as bad as summers back home in St. Louis. There are not a lot of photos from this day because I was frantically working, I also had a bit of an accident that could have been serious but turned out not to be.

I took the Dancer off the horses, flipped her over and went to work. First I laid my mast across three of the horses and glassed the bottom 2.5'. I was in a hurry and I didn't have gloves, or eye protection. Everything went well. Then I mixed up some putty and filled in the area on the bow that I had misjudged earlier. Then I dove into the cockpit and painted the side of the air boxes marine blue, the air box decks, inwalls, and transom dark blue.

By then the putty had set up and I sanded it down. Then I went to put a second coat of glass on the bottom of the mast. Again in a hurry, and this time ran into trouble. I had the mixed resin in one hand, a brush in the other, no gloves, no eye protection, no mask… this was only gonna take ten minutes or so anyway right? I put on a layer of resin, lay on the cloth, and began covering the cloth. I didn't notice the far end of the mast moving to the edge of the horse. It went over. The near end came up hitting my hand holding the resin and it went flying. It came up into my face. I got a partial mouthful. It was in my hair, on my nose, and near to my eye (I closed it fast enough apparently). The left side of my face was dripping. I ran into the house top speed. I happened to have paint remover in my path and grabbed it up as I ran to the shower alarming my lovely wife. I jumped in the shower and blasted the water over my face. I then took paint thinner and used it liberally all over my head. This burned, but so did the glass resin. All of this while still under the shower. I flushed out my mouth a couple of times, I flushed out my nose, and let the water do it job. It was a close call. I got lucky. NEVER work with this stuff without the safety gear! Ever! I missed the splash on my right shoulder and it not only ruined my favorite red t-shirt, it burned my skin. I can't reiterate enough. That stuff is dangerous. Treat is so. I could have been seriously harmed. I probably should have been. Always use the safety gear! All right? All right.

I calmed down, got my masks, glasses, and gloves and finished the job. Then I painted the foredeck. While waiting for paint and resin to dry I finally put the grommets in the sail. I put them in every six inches. That job sucked. It was tedious and I'm glad it's over. It took longer than I thought, but it was very satisfying to see the sail finally completed. I missed lunch again.

I put a second coat of paint on everything. I sanded the mast. I painted the mast. I screwed and glued on the splashguard. I put a second coat of paint on the mast. (It was still tacky . I'm getting impatient and running out of time.) I laced the sail to the spars. I painted the reinforcement boards and splashguard on the foredeck.

I started putting on the hardware. I attached a block on the mast. I attached two blocks on the boom. I put a line across the aft of the boat. I attached the oar sockets. I attach some cleats. It's getting late, the family is hungry. I'm out of time. I step the mast and hoist the sail. It's beautiful!!! I have a boat! I still have to tension the sail and attach the leeboard but it's sailable. Right now. It could hit the water right now if I wanted!

I hope to get her name on her transom and do some small stuff before Friday but the schedule is hectic this week. We're being audited at work Tues-Thurs this week, we have a boy playing in a concert, we have a boy going on a field trip, we have physical therapy for our recovering fingers. But you know what else we have? We have a BOAT!!!

Next time: We will be launching our dancer Friday evening at the Easter Mid-Atlantic Messabout. We'll be racing some on Saturday, and we'll be playing with our boat the rest of the day.