Construction I


Start to March 2002

Simply put, the Mixer is a 2-chine ply design with a plumb bow and stern that makes construction uncomplicated. The whole thing can be done with 4 sheets of 1/4" plywood. But since I had some scraps left over from Egia, the bulkheads were cut from 3/8" ply and the transom was made from 1/2" ply.

Assembly went pretty well. But there were a few head-scratching moments. The first was over the bilge panels. The designer gives the dimensions for the bottom panel and the sides but not the bilges. So I was forced (like any builder) to stitch and glue the sides and bottom, then carefully measure the remaining section. Carefully measure...yeah, right! I just held a sheet of plywood against the boat and ran a pencil line where I needed to cut. Awkward? Yes. Accurate? No. But I'm not building a Concordia Yawl here.

Next head-scratching moment: what to do about the copper wire stitching. Since I did all the twists on the outer part of the hull, that really hampered my idea of taping the outer chines first. I wound up putting an epoxy fillet on the inner part of the chine, then snipping off the wires on the outside. The fillet held the panels together well enough to get the tape glued in place. Then I could breathe a bit better.

Third head-scratching moment: how to leave the forms in when I fiberglass the outside of the hull. There are 2 temporary forms that help define the shape of the hull along with the built-in bulkheads. These forms are screwed in place and then removed after the gunwales are installed. I wanted to fiberglass before installing the gunwales, so that left me with taking out the forms. Somehow they'll have to be back in place when I glue on the gunwale.

April 2002 - October 2002

It's fair to say that building boats is best left as a winter pursuit. Other outdoor activities always seem to eclipse that project in the garage. But I've still plugged away here and there so progress is not totally inconsequential. Completed are installing the gunwales, fiberglassing the hull, installing and fiberglassing the decks (gosh, this is so easy and quick!). Still left are fiberglassing the cockpit, making the sailing rig, and then painting the whole mess.

Here's the most recent shot of the whole boat as it rests in the garage. Distortion of the camera lens makes the stem look angled; it is actually vertical. So is the transom.

A closer shot of the hatch detail. The two hatches will be secured by line similar to kayak hatches. Some rubber gasket material around the edges will ensure some degree of water resistance. Also visible here are the butt blocks for each of the hull panels.

What you're looking at here are 2 plugs. The plug on the right will become the leeboard for the Mixer; the one on the left will be for...well, I don't know at this point. Instead of being built of several layers of plywood as described in the plans, I decided to laminate them with alternate poplar and pine strips. They were then planed and sanded to somewhat of a foil shape and then coated with 6 oz. fiberglass. A little additional sanding and that's what they look like.

I've done plywood laminating before, like for Egia's rudder, so I thought I'd try something new. Besides, I think these boards are stronger than a ply laminate.

Now I'm plugging through the various pieces needed for the sail rig. Mast partners, leeboard attachments, and so forth. Pretty soon I'll be ready to start making the mast and booms themselves.

November 2002 - February 2003

It's fair to say that building boats is best left as a summer pursuit. Well, when doing finishing work anyway. I'm to the point where I'm waiting impatiently for a daytime temperature over 50 degrees so I can prime, paint, and varnish. At press time the mast and spars are done and varnished, plus there are 2 coats of paint on the hull.

March 2003 - Stop the Presses!

Okay, so I'm finished with the painting, just a few more things to varnish. I've started putting some of the hardware on. The most significant was the leeboard. I attached it with the pivot bolt, and then stepped back to take a look at it. Like a proud father inspecting his newborn, I looked at it from this angle, from that angle, wiggled it a little, moved it up and down a little.

The more I looked at that leeboard, the more uneasy I became. The more uneasy I became, the more I fretted. And the more I fretted, the more I looked at that leeboard again to begin the cycle anew.

For months I've been thinking about that leeboard. There's no doubt that the idea is a good one. It is fixed so that it will work on either tack unlike traditional leeboards. But I've always had a nagging voice wonder about the strength of the gunwale and whether it would stand up to the torque the leeboard will exact upon it. There was no doubt that the gunwale would bend, since there is no structure in the cockpit to prevent it. Michalak specified a thicker gunwale, probably to offset this bending force. But how much bend was too much? I wouldn't find out until I took it out in a blow.

My next nagging voice was over capsize. The leeboard is installed on the starboard side. What if I capsized to port and fell out of the boat in the process? Righting the boat would depend on getting to the leeboard, which would now be 3 ft. above the water. Could I reach it while treading water? If I could, would it withstand 170 lbs. of man gristle hanging on the end? Then we're back to the gunwale bending again. Ach, Himmel!

Now that I'd installed the leeboard, the nagging voices had turned into the chorus of an angry mob. The issue now? When retracted, the leeboard hovers away from the hull, especially the aftermost end. It is unprotected from coming along side another boat, unprotected from waves, and unprotected from capsizing to starboard on a beach landing. All of these scenarios could have catastrophic effects on the leeboard, the attachment points, the gunwale, or all of the above. Hence the deafening mental cacophony.

Right. Now it was prime time to make a mockery of the designer's hard work as mentioned on the previous page. Scrap the leeboard! Build a daggerboard trunk! Lengthen the building process another 3 months! Shiver me timbers.

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