Sunday, May 29, 2011

First hull turned!

Almost there! Photo by Carol Martin

The first hull is turned!

We had a wonderful afternoon. At 1:30 people began arriving for our two o'clock start. They kept streaming up the drive way until we had a total of about 80.

Over it goes! Photo by Aileen Adam
Watching the hull turn was amazing. Trevor gave clear instructions to the teams on either side of the boat, there was a brief pause, and the hull seemed to float up from the floor. Trevor, Robbie and John Carlson positioned the pre-made cradles, and the team gently settled the hull down on to them.

After the success, people stayed around for coffee, lemonade and apple turnovers -- the event-appropriate snack promised in the invitation. We made 120 of them, and they were gone, to the crumb.

Thanks to the following... and to those who came, turned, and left without writing their names down.

The hull, ready to turn

Part of the crew ready to go -- Photo by Carol Martin
Trevor Henderson, John Carlson, Naomi Melnyk, Shelagh H., David S., Grace D., Alisa P., Helen C., Stewart L., Christine W., Dave B., Patsy T., Regina, Matthew, Richard H., Claire H., Don T., Neil, Aileen, Carol M., Hiromi B., Richard B., Miriam C., Gwen S., Joke M., Kimm N., Barbara H., Raymond T., Heide B., Q. Goldman, Judy S.,  Zephyr, Frid, Leif, Lisa, Pollen, Kyron, Luke, Jim D., Linda P., Kyla S., Frank Stevens, Elisa B., Shawn G., Victor A., Bev, Paul T., Patrick R., Phil H., Judith R., Nancy, Steff, Claire, Jackie, Kevin, Hayden, Kristin, Christine, Ken D., Rick S., Raymond, Susan Y, Randy, Richard A., Jan E. Phyllis F., Cathy H., Lynne & Randy Y., Vic F., Frank B. Ursula M., Jackie D., Rick M., Mitch B, Allister M., D. Davenport, Trish N., Al B., Louise A., Iain L.

Off the floor!

Almost too high -- touching the next hull's bulkheads, hanging in the shop rafters.

Over it comes

Ta dah! Carol Martin photo
Braced and waiting for cradles Carol Martin photo

Ready for the next step! Photo by Carol Martin

Monday, May 9, 2011

Time to turn the first hull

We're inviting our Gabriola friends, family and neighbours to come and help us turn the first hull. Here's the invitation.

Our first hull is complete! And now we’re asking for your help. Please join 49 of your friends and neighbours and help us turn it right way up.

Monday, May 23 at 1:30 p.m.
1725 Petkau Road
(last right-hand turn off Whalebone Drive)

The order of events:
1:30 -- Gather and take positions
2:00 -- Turn the hull
2:15 -- Admire the results! Have a coffee, chat with friends and enjoy an event-appropriate snack

Please RSVP to Robbie or Mary, 247-0242, or

Friday, May 6, 2011

The Centre Deck Crisis

It started when we were working on the beams. One of the steps is to glue in blocks for attaching various structures to the deck: the boarding ramp, deck pod, and engine boxes. I (Robbie) was laying out the locations for the engine box blocks, and everything felt wrong.

We are using the design improvements package based on the Tiki 38. On the Tiki 38, the engine boxes sit on the deck like big deck lockers, giving easy access to the two engines and storage for fuel, but they, along with the deck pod, also frame in a portion of the centre deck, making a cockpit-like space. The open deck between them is not huge, but it's enough for people to move around, and there's a much larger open space forward, so the deck space still feels generous. 
On the Narai, the beam locations are different. The centre deck portion is significantly longer, and the foredeck shorter, than on the Tiki 38. Also, the Narai beams are a little shorter and the hulls are wider, which results in the centre deck being narrower than the Tiki's. These differences didn’t seem significant when we were first looking at the plans. But when I laid out the engine box locations on the beams, the space left between them was obviously going to be very small, less than two feet, nothing more than a foot well between the engine boxes. 
The big open centre deck of a catamaran is one of the most attractive things about it. It's the natural place for groups of people to gather. It's a place to sleep in fine weather. It should have a hatch so you can easily haul up a bucket of water. It's the place to take a shower. And, as on the Tiki 38 and the Pahi 63, it can have a fire pit. The fire pit is part of the Pahi 63 plans, and it’s an option on the Tiki 38. The versatility of a fire pit on a cruising boat is appealing, especially for cruising in our chilly climate, but we certainly weren't going to put a fire pit in a foot well between our gasoline lockers! 
This caused us to look more closely at the deck pod as well. Here, too, it wasn't going to work as neatly as it did on the Tiki. The cabin hatches don't line up with the pod on the Narai, and the narrower deck means that there's no space to walk past the pod on either side, or else you have to make it so narrow that the watch bunk is too short to stretch out on.
So we rejected both the deck pod and the engine boxes. We're going to steer from a cockpit as was done on the original Narai design. So far, so good, but what about engines? 
On the original Narai there was an engine in a deck locker on, you guessed it, the centre deck. We didn't like that idea, but what else could be done? What, we asked ourselves, did we want an engine for? Our answer turned out to be, manoeuvring in a crowded harbour and getting out of trouble, not for getting somewhere when there's no wind. Other people have managed these things without engines. On James Wharram's own video of his Tehini, there's a clip of it being rowed. The Ariki "Piggy" circumnavigated without engines, propelling herself at times by pushing with the outboard-powered dinghy. People have been moving huge, heavy junks around harbours with a single sculling oar for thousands of years. Couldn't we be that resourceful? Yes, we could. We took a deep breath, and rejected engines altogether.
We're still not one hundred percent confident in that decision, but we're sure we want to keep our centre decks clear and open, whatever else we decide.

Glassing Hull #1

Glassing was easier than we thought it would be.

We did a single layer of glass on each side. The plans for the Narai Mk IV call for glass just up to the waterline, or up to the gunwale if desired. We decided to glass up to the gunwale, and to add five layers of glass to the keel, stem and stern post.

For the first side, we experimented a bit. After the first layer of glass, we applied a coat of fairing compound -- micro-balloons. We had read that the micro-balloons could fill the cloth with a single coat. We were not overly impressed with the results. It was quick to apply (approximately two hours for the side), but hard to get even. We ended up with quite a few drips and patches where the cloth clearly wasn't filled.

We roll-coated the second side in the usual manner, putting on two coats so far after the glass.

We intend to roll-coat the whole hull, keel, etc. once the final fairing is done.

Hours for glassing so far:
- six hours per side for the actual application of glass (three people -- one to mix, two to spread)
- two hours for fairing compound on the first side (three people -- one mixer, two spreaders)
- five hours total for roll-coating on the second side (two people -- one mixer, one roller)
- keel, stem and stern post -- approximately five hours per layer (two people -- both mixing and spreading)

Sanding took a total of nineteen person-hours, and now we are ready for fairing compound. For sanding, we used electric orbital sanders, both connected to independent dust collection vacuums.

It's stunning to look inside the vacuums at the end of the day. The filter on one of them (a shop-vac type) was coated with approximately a two-centimetre layer of white, powdery dust. The canister had at least two or three litres of the same powder. The shop itself is amazingly non-dusty after this process. Robbie and Trevor did the sanding, and wore full-face double canister respirators throughout the process. The air in the shop, though, stayed reasonably clear throughout.
Glass taped in place with painters' masking tape
Wetting out the glass