Sunday, February 1, 2009

Boatbuilding Weekend

I spent the weekend helping friends Mike and Mark set up for laying up the inside skin of their new "keelboat-skiff" to replace their old "kiwi" In Theory. This is a pretty cool boat, designed by friend Ross Weene at Rodger Martin Yacht Design. The idea is a narrow light hull form with most of the righting moment coming from crew weight out on the racks. A relatively light keel makes the boat self rescuing, but the boat is supposed to operate at less than about 14 degrees heel upwind (to keep the chine/spray rail out of the water) so the keel weight isn't doing much. This keeps the boat super light for blasting offshore. They have built all the deck parts already as a warm-up, learning how to use carbon pre-preg before finishing the hull plug last week. The weekend I had the time to help out, spending Saturday building the rest of the oven panels used to surround the boat and cook the hull, waxing and buffing the hull plug (see pic below) to make sure the part comes off when they are done and then cutting out 32 plies of pre-preg carbon that surrounds the hole in the bottom of the boat for the keel fin to pass through (replacing the core).

The flats you see in the plug are at the bow. The lower part will be solid foam as it gets too narrow to make a decent plug, and the upper part is left off to create a chainplate for the set back forestay. It also makes a somewhat sacrificial bow should they bang this thing around. They were hoping to start laying out the carbon tomorrow, but we discovered a problem in the test panel with the core-bond resin they had planned to use that was a room-temp curing epoxy that basically lost all properties once it was cooked with the carbon. This means that they will likely have to lay core out with the inside skin and cook it all together to get a good core bond and avoid delamination. The downside of this is that they will have to be more carful when laying out the core to avoid disrupting the carbon and it also insulates the carbon from the heat of the oven so they may have to leave the heat on a bit longer. The other thing this means is that they will have to pre-cut all the core before they start laying out the cloth to save time and avoid contaminating the skins, so this delays their initial layup a bit.

If you know anyone interested, they have enough carbon to lay up a second hull and are entertaining an interest in a follow-up hull. It should be a blast of a boat. I will definately be making time when I return to New England in August/September to get out for at least a Tuesday night PHRF evening.

In other news, I finally got over my adverse reaction to the Yellow Fever Vaccine I got last Friday on Saturday morning. After 50+ hours of fever, rash, hives, and swollen hands and feet, relief was sweet indeed.

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