If I were a king, I would declare that every man should build something, preferably a boat at some point of his life. Just because.
It’s been a while since I’ve made a real boat. In fact the last one was finished about 20 yeasrs ago! It was a small cabin cruiser that ended up on the cover of Australian Amateur Boatbuilder magazine. That made me feel almost like a king, at least for a while and only among amateur boatbuilders, but anyway. Whoever was responsible for it at AABB – thank you.
This new creation is a simple 9ft dinghy. It’s uniqueness is perfectly round transom, which, in a plywood dinghy, has never been done to my knowledge. Not the easiest thing to accomplish, but possible with the use of 4mm plywood and quite a lot of bending (to the point of cracking…). The construction is a simple and well known ‘stitch and glue’ method. Here are some pictures to illustrate the process.
First of all, a paper model (1:10) was made to see if the shapes are OK. This is simple, but knowing what is OK is the hard part. Next, the biggest and most exciting part, was getting the wood from timber yard and hauling it on top of the car home. At 60km/hr the 9ft thin sheet of plywood behaves like a sail – good luck controlling it (and avoiding the stupid looks on people’s faces as they pass you).
The next day the transom (the rear bit) was cut out and the sides drawn as accurately as possible. The transom and sides were then temporarily attached using tie wire and spread with a scrap piece of wood. The width of the boat was accurately measured and adjusted. Following that, the boat got turned upside down and the wobbly bottom was somewhat stiffened with, again, scrap wood. Symmetry check and proper seats were cut out and roughly placed. She was looking good now, the shape was pleasing, from the bow and stern.
Btw, I bet most people wouldn’t know this, but the Lloyds of London (the biggest boat insurance firm in the world) few years ago decided that boats and ships would no longer be referred to as ‘she’, but rather – as ‘it’. In response to this, the Yachting World proclaimed, that they would continue to refer to boats as ‘she’ as long as they looked good, all others can be ‘it’. Political correctness…? Screw it.
The only issue with my little dinghy was – the seat was too high… This was fixed by adding another stringer to make it look like it was supposed to be this way.
The next stage was quite boring and tedious and involved permanent joining of all the panels with epoxy resin and fiberglass tape. The few stages after that up to the painting point were also quite mechanical.
And then there was the launch. Nice Sunday afternoon with a short break from all the rain on our Gold Coast, the family gathered around and the boat was lowered down the ramp. Yipee. She sat on her lines gracefully and we had a go rowing. Gusty wind made it a bit tricky and I lost my hat, which was funny to the onlookers as I tried to rescue it with the 7′ oar trying not to end up in the water. Not even 5 min after the launch that could have been really hilarious… Fun times indeed. And now it’s time for a cold one.