Week Sixteen – Tuesday

The stems were shaped to reflect the boat's Nordic roots

The stems were shaped to reflect the boat’s Nordic roots

To meet our expected launch date we are putting in some extra shop time. At this stage of the construction there are lots of small jobs to be completed. Today was a good example: the frame extensions were glued in place, the shaping of the stems was completed and additional braces were added to strengthen the thwarts. The trailer bunks supporting the boat on the strongback were removed and are now fastened to the trailer frame.

Braces were added to the seat supports for additional strength

Braces were added to the seat supports for additional strength

Week Sixteen – Monday

Gunnel rubbing strake being fastened

Gunnel rubbing strake being fastened

A very busy day in the shop. The sheerstrake rub strips were attached with screws and a coat of varnish instead of glue so they can be easily replaced if damaged. The floorboards are coming along, the stems are being shaped and the breasthooks are almost ready to be glued in place.

Our trailer will be finished next week at which point we will lift the boat onto it. Any remaining work to be done on the boat will be completed with it on the trailer.

Gunnels completed

Gunnels completed

Stern breasthook

Stern breasthook

Aft section of floorboards

Aft section of floorboards

Shaping the aft stem

Shaping the aft stem

Trailer fender

Trailer fender

Week Fifteen – Thursday

Starboard gunnels clamped

Starboard gunnels clamped

Things are so much easier the second time around and that was definitely the case with the gunnels on the starboard side. Gluing up three laminations, 22 feet in length, all in one go is a daunting task. Next steps involve fitting the frame extensions and the coxswain seat and floor supports. Once those are done, plus a final cleanup of the interior, we’ll need to search out our paint brushes.

Port gunnel after the clamps were removed

Port gunnel after the clamps were removed

Trailer fender ready for final welding

Trailer fender ready for final welding

Week Fifteen – Wednesday

Applying epoxy to the inner gunnels

Applying epoxy to the inner gunnels

This week is all about gunnels. Not unlike laminating up the stems, with fewer but much longer pieces, it took just as many hands, clamps and quantities of epoxy. The first step was planing the 12 foot lengths of ash and then tapering the last few feet towards the stems. One end of each strip had to be shaped to fit the stem and the opposite end was bevelled for a scarf joint. All three laminations were glued up at once which took a considerable amount of time and made us appreciate the fact we are using the slow epoxy hardener. The whole process now has to be repeated on the starboard side.

Unfortunately we were so busy that photos of the other jobs taking place in the shop were missed. The trailer received a coat of primer and the fenders were fabricated, floorboards were cut to length and fastened together to make four removable sections and the oar blades were sanded in preparation for painting.

Cleaning up the excess epoxy

Cleaning up the excess epoxy

Week Fourteen – Wednesday

Starboard gunnel spacer blocks clamped in place

Starboard gunnel spacer blocks clamped in place

Spacer blocks were glued and clamped to the inside of the sheerstrake before the gunnels are added giving the appearance of ribs in traditionally built boats. Almost every clamp in the shop was put to use and that was just for one side. Hopefully we can space the clamps further apart when we attach the next pieces, allowing us to glue both sides at the same time.

Week Fourteen – Monday

One of the most enjoyable aspects of this project is meeting people who share our enthusiasm for the St. Ayles skiff. Today was no exception, with five visitors from the Bowmanville area who came for a shop tour. We all agreed that getting the first boat on the water will be a great incentitive for other community groups to build.

A trip to Toronto this past weekend put us a step closer to launching our boat. The Argonaut Rowing Club of Toronto generously donated 5 Macon blade sweep oars to our project. We also received 4 Concept 2 oarlocks from Peter Code, a boatbuilder in Mississauga. Peter has taught traditional boatbuilding for many years, his latest project is a 39 foot gig equipped for both sailing and rowing with 10 oarsmen.

Traditional boatbuilding at it's finest!

Traditional boatbuilding at it’s finest!

On our little boat we continued the cleanup in preparation for painting the interior. A sheerstrake edge covering was glued on to disguise the plywood planking and we installed some temporary floorboards. The next step is to work on the gunnels, which will accept both our Concept 2 oarlocks and traditional kabes.

Temporary floorboards

Temporary floorboards

Week Thirteen – Wednesday

The shop returned to its former glory today. Prior to us adding a layer of sawdust to everything in sight, this space was originally used to manufacture horse trailers, some large enough to accommodate 6 horses. With all the equipment on hand, the trailer frame only took a day to be fabricated. A little paint, running gear and lights and we’ll have a trailer ideally suited to match the size and weight of our boat.

Welding trailer frame

Welding trailer frame

Trailer frame

Trailer frame

Meanwhile, at the other end of the shop, additional cleanup of the boat interior was underway, scraping and sanding to get rid of any excess epoxy. The support structure for the floorboards was installed, cleats were cut for both sides of the frames and floors were shaped using the moulds for patterns. All the pieces were then glued and clamped in place.

Floors and cleats installed

Floors and cleats installed

Week Thirteen – Monday

For anyone in Scotland who follows this blog, you may have noticed a familiar face in last week’s post. The gentleman in question is our new coach Stewart Bates. We are extremely fortunate to have someone so qualified to offer us his services. You’ll understand why we are so excited after reading the following:

Stewart spent most of his adult life in Scotland and retired to Perth, Ontario in 2006. For over 25 years he was involved in competitive rowing. A member of the Royal West of Scotland Amateur Boat Club, he rowed in both sliding and fixed seat boats.  He is a qualified Scottish Rowing Coach and a highlight of his coaching career would be two Royal West oarsmen going on to row for Great Britain in world championships. He himself was Scottish Champion on a number of occasions.

Stewart Bates (left), our new coach

Stewart Bates (left), our new coach

Sparks were flying in the shop today from cutting and welding equipment as work got underway on the trailer. Not only do we have boatbuilders in our group but we also have someone who is expert in trailer design and construction. Unlike the boat however, this project will only take a few weeks to complete.

Cutting the steel for the trailer

Cutting the steel for the trailer

Trailer axle and springs being assembled

Trailer axle and springs being assembled

The trailer bunks, that we had formed on the moulds are temporarily being used to stabilize the boat while we work on the interior. There doesn’t seem to be an ideal height to work on the boat. Lower makes it easier to get in and out, but requires a lot of bending over. We chose to set the boat up on the building frame, getting in and out is more difficult but its a very comfortable height to work on the gunnels.

Trailer bunk fastened to building frame to stabilize boat

Trailer bunk fastened to building frame to stabilize boat

Week Twelve – The Turn Over

Our boat is now sitting on her keel. With all the moulds removed and the thwart supports clamped in place to brace the hull laterally, we lifted her off the building frame and performed the ceremonial turn over. Time for a well deserved wee dram!

Up and over

Up and over

A proud bunch of guys

A proud bunch of guys

Looking Pretty!

Looking Pretty!

Week Twelve – Monday

Before applying the last coat of paint, the hull received a light sanding followed by a rub down with Scotch-Brite pads. The sheerstrake will get a coat of dark green paint tomorrow and then we can put our brushes aside for a few weeks until the interior carpentry is completed. Wednesday will mark a milestone in the construction of our boat, she will be turned over in the presence of the builders and invited guests.

Almost ready to be turned over

Almost ready to be turned over