Building a Killer Whale - Orca #778

Hi Shorty,

Just thought I'd give you an update from New Zealand.

I want to start with thanking Dean Bowles for starting me on this boat adventure. As two Irishmen living in New Zealand, its always a good idea to have boat ready to sail back to the Emerald Isle if things don't work out in NZ ! Hopefully we will start Deans puddle-duck soon! And my wife Orla – you have the patience of a saint!

Like most people, I procrastinated about building for almost a year. I did manage to build a scale paper model, but after months of “So... have you started the boat yet?”, it was time.

So after starting the boat back in October and taking a Very long brake over the holidays, I finally got back on track. I had all the panels cut and most of the chine logs fixed on but it seemed a bit daunting to get back into it. Thankfully my mate Dean came to the rescue and helped with the next stage on construction. I must say working with friends makes the whole experience even more enjoyable!

The day we went 3D was awesome – what a feeling, you can see the excitement in Deans face!

Everything was going pretty smoothly until we hit our first major problem. Since I scavenged most of the materials and got what I could cheap from the building supply shop, I some how never noticed that I had bought an imperial base and metric ply for the sides! I only realised this when we placed the base down and saw it was 6mm narrower than the sides! But necessity is the mother of invention. We ended up fixing a 10mm x 10mm timber strip down either side which has the added benefit of now no longer having the bottom or side edge of the plywood exposed – Boom!

The next issue we had was that after fixing the stern end of the base down with screws / nails / no-more-nails glue / prayers, we worked our way to the front. Afetr patting ourselves on the back after the hard work we noticed the stern end had lifted half an inch! How?! I think having a slightly thicker ply might have been to blame (curse you metric sizes!). But again, the solution was found. My boss had lent me furniture clamps “ just in case” which were strong enough to force the base down, while even more screws and nails were fired into it

Next it was time to seal her up. Epoxy resin and fibreglass cloth was used on the edges (600mm was all I could afford and was just enough!) A note to point out for those who are not familiar with fibreglass cloth – once I sanded down the dried cloth, the dust is till fibreglass dust -and its Damn Itchy!! Beware!

The inside of the air boxes was sealed with No-More-Nails and and a silicone sealant as it was all I had available. I was quite happy to get the air-boxes sealed, as for me, then she was a boat. Half a dozen half empty paint cans later and she was primed with a base coat. This is me at about 1am in the morning, refusing to give up.

Next I attacked the rudder and leeboard. The rudder is mainly made out of Aluminum composite panel and a curtain pole. The leeboard was made out an old bit of timber I found that was the perfect size but had a little rot in it. (I hope to replace it pretty soon before it damages the boat)

Now it was time for was the mast and mast holders. My new planer made making the mast round a doddle. I ended up getting a 19ft length of 2 x 4 which meant I was also able to cut a rectangular spirit boom out of it

The garage was not tall enough to test the mast in its holders, so being on my own that day, I simply put the duck on her side, put the mast on saw horses and slid here in – perfect!

Now the part I'm supposed to be good at. Where we live, there is often sightings of Orca's close to the shore, and as a joke I said I would paint the puddleduck as a killer whale so I could sail away and join their pod. So Orca is what I decided to call her and paint her. (My wife’s name is Orla so she almost has a first boat named after her!)

So started with sketching on the design

Threw the paint on

and voilà, my own little Killer Whale! (mmm... might have to sort out those drips!)

Next was the name and number. I am a signwriter by trade so this was the only part where I knew what I was doing!! Here I am applying the vinyl to the stern. It looked even better than I had hoped

I have ordered my HIN plate and am looking forward to fixing it on, I just have to figure out where now!

So that's where I am at the moment. Next is the oars, oarlocks, sail and a life-jacket. I'm so close to being ready I can almost smell the sea!!!!