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April 2008
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June 2008

Pooduck Skiff: Progress Notes and Varnishing Tips


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Once in a while someone will publish an "Everything I learned from building my last boat" post on one of the building forums.  I love those posts because they can be packed with good advice.  Usually while talking with people who are just getting started on their first boat I'll realize just how much I've learned about building over the past few years.  I'll have so much to say and find it impossible to distill everything into a few good pieces of advice, except for maybe "Do your research.  Read the building manual thoroughly." 

I've been asked before what kind of varnish I recommend.  I don't think it's that important exactly what kind of varnish you decide to use.  More important is the application technique.  On my Joel White Pooduck Skiff I sanded with 220 grit before and in-between coats of varnish and vacuumed and wiped off the dust with a lint-free rag dampened with mineral spirits.  I like to roll traditional marine varnish on with a thin foam roller and tip it off with a good badger hair brush.  I used to use those cheap disposable chip brushes because I never liked cleaning brushes but later learned from experience that it's definitely worth it to pay more for a good brush and spend your time cleaning them. 

It is very important to use fresh varnish for the final coat. The final coat of varnish is the only one that really counts.  All the previous coats just smooth out the surface and build up the layers.  Varnish starts to go bad as soon as you open the can, so the while the first coat usually flows on like a dream, the last coat from the same can might end up a nightmare, with little particles in it, and spreading too thickly which will create runs, drips and sags.  I recommend opening a new can just for that last coat.  Another thing that people do that I'm just trying now is to fill the opened can with propane from a handheld torch before closing it back up again.  That keeps the oxygen out.  I got a canister of Bernzomatic for about $13, which is less than half the cost of a can of varnish.

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Here is picture of the brass half oval rubstrip installed on the stem and keel.  It is screwed in place and attached with 3M 5200 bedding compound, which provides a flexible and permanent bond.  I just discovered that 3M 5200 now comes in convenient small tubes (instead of caulk gun canisters) and in a fast curing formulation (the original formulation took a week to cure).

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Lastly here is a picture of the swing-up half of the rudder after a couple coats of marine primer.

With the weather getting warmer and days longer I'm really getting tempted to try this boat out on the water with oars before the rudder and spars are done.


The Work of a Master

Ursa_open_hatchesJoe Greenley of Redfish Kayaks recently posted a picture of his latest cedar strip project, the Ursa 420, a unique rough water expedition kayak designed by and built for Robert Livingston, creator of the Bearboat Pro boat design software.  I remember seeing this project in the stripping stage in Joe's workshop maybe a year and a half ago.  Probably the most striking feature of the design is the really big aft compartment, which I think makes the boat self-righting.  There are four hatches, all secured by rare earth magnets.  As to be expected from Joe Greenley, the craftsmanship is superb!

While looking over Robert Livingston's site it struck me that I saw a kayak very similar to this years ago when I first joined the Washington Kayak Club and started going to their pool sessions in Tacoma.  I was struggling to teach myself how to roll and after an exhausting hour or so thrashing around, I sat on the edge of the pool and watched this guy perform slow and graceful sculling rolls in a short stubby white fiberglass kayak.  It had kind of a bulbous bow and a very large aft compartment just like the Robert Livingston design. A fellow observer told me he thought that boat was "self-righting".  Note the picture of the kid doing a hand roll with the Ursa 350 on the Robert Livingston site. 

Do you think they would let one of these boats into the Greenland National Kayaking Championships?


Painted Hull

Green2Green1Green3Green4Just some building notes on my Joel White Pooduck Skiff: I finished painting the hull and started making the rudder.  My daughter chose the color.  It's Epifanes Marine Enamel, "light green".  At the last minute I decided to paint the red accent stripe.  I followed a masking technique I read about in the lastest issue of Wooden Boat.  After laying the masking tape down, you paint over the border with the same underlying color or varnish, before painting over with the new color.  This seals the tape and produces a crisp border when the tape is removed.  It is important to use fresh masking tape and keep the edges of your roll clean by being careful where you set it down, and by storing it in a plastic bag at all times.   

Still a lot of work to be done but now it's getting close to the point where now I have to figure out how I'm going to get it to the beach!