…Now it’s time to glass the outside. The first
step is to round the chines. I prefer a belt sander. This is
one place where feel is almost more important that sight. There
will be places where the topside panel overlaps the bilge panel,
and places where the bilge panel overlaps the topside; and the
same at the bilge panel/bottom joint. Consequently the joint
line may not appear to be a smooth curve. But if you produce
a nicely rounded corner, it will probably work out. I’m
always surprised at how much better the chines come out, once
the boat is glassed and painted, than I think they will.
Here’s my nomination for the most boring YouTube video:
me belt sanding the chines, getting them ready for taping.
The outside chines are filled with thickened
epoxy and taped over, again using the mat tape.
While the chine tape was still tacky but not
enough to stick to the cloth, we spread out fiberglass cloth
over the bottom. The only fitting that had to be done was
at the stem. I trimmed the glass to roughly follow the stem
and then folded the surplus on the other side over for extra
protection. It was one (long) day’s work to sand the
chines, apply the tape, and put down the fiberglass cloth.
The glassed hull. Some people like to apply
the epoxy with brushes, others with rollers. I prefer plastic
squeegees, the kind you find for applying auto body putty.
It worked on the bottom and the bilge panels, except at
the bow where the bilge panels got too vertical. We got
the cloth down with using the spreaders without a single
wrinkle or pucker.
The uncovered section on the topside panels as well as the
transom were fiberglassed later with separate pieces of fiberglass.
For strength we wanted to ensure that the chines were covered
with both mat tape and fiberglass cloth.
The 2 x 2 (1.5 x 1.5 actual size) skeg is
attached. It was surprisingly hard to bend it at the forward
edge, where the skeg is tapered, to match the curve of the
bottom. If I did it again, I might cut the skeg from a 2
x 4 and scribe it to match the bottom curve. We wound up
driving a screw through the skeg and bottom of the boat
to hold the forward edge down while the epoxy set.
Also, there was no centerline drawn on the outside of the bottom.
What we did was predrill holes from the inside along the centerline
for the screws that hold the skeg in place. Connecting the holes
established the centerline on outside of the bottom and gave
a guide for attaching the skeg. Note also that the hull has
been sanded. It takes at least two coats of epoxy to fill the
weave. I like to sand the hull, apply a fill coat, sand again,
and apply another coat. From here on in in the construction
process, if there was nothing else to do, there was always something,
usually the hull, that needed sanding.
With the hull fiberglassed, it’s time
to start the rubrails. Here the first layer is applied with
epoxy and a generous use of screws from the inside of the
hull and clamps.
A stern view of the first rubrail. Note how
it has smoothed out the curve of the topsides around the
The fore and aft decks are dry fitted before
the second layer is laminated to the rubrails. Michalak’s
plans call for the desks to run to the edge of the inner
rubrail layer. This "indenting" protects the plywood
edge of the deck.
Another view of the decks.
With the decks fitted and removed, the second
layer of the rubrails is laminated in place, again with
clamps and screws. Leaving the inner layer long at the stern
gives an extra spot for a clamp. The rubrails add a great
deal of rigidity to the boat.
The leeboard guards are attached after the rubrails. The upper
guard is initially glued in place and then backed with through
bolts. There’s no outward pressure on the lower guide,
so lag screws are sufficient to hold it in place.
But the face should be as parallel to the
boat’s centerline as possible. Here’s how we
did that. The lower guard was cut several inches wider than
it needed to be, and then scribed to fit the hull’s
curve and temporarily screwed into place.
A centerline had been marked on the transom and was still visible
through the fiberglass. A board was clamped to the transom at
the height of the guard and extending out about three feet from
the hull. One of us held another board at the bow (the center
of the stem is the centerline) and a string was stretched between
the bow and stern boards at the same distance from the centerline,
and marked where it passed over the lower guard. We deliberately
made that line on the guard a couple inches wider than necessary.
Then the lower guard is removed and securely clamped to sawhorse.
Using the scribed parallel line, we draw and cut to one that
will give us the correct width of the guard (around a inch and
a half at the narrowest point, as I recall). Then the guard
is permanently reattached with the screws and thickened epoxy.
We routed a round corner on the top and bottom edge of the lower
guard and applied a layer of cloth fiberglass tape for protection.
It’s done except for drilling the hole for the leeboard
The mast step and partners are installed.
This was actually done before the deck was attached.
With the rubrails, leeboard guards and mast
step and partner installed, its finally time to add the
decks. The fore and aft compartments had fiberglassed floors
and bilge panels, and the rest was sealed with epoxy. We
also painted the compartments white, for better visibility
(I hate rooting around in dimly lit compartments looking
Note that in the aft compartment, a hole has been cut for a
deck plate for access. On the foredeck is the opening for the
hatch that Michalak specified for both the fore and aft decks.
And at the very front is a hole for a small deck plate that
will give access to the watertight area forward of that extra
bulkhead we added at the beginning of construction. A backing
plate has been added under the foredeck where a deck cleat will
be installed. Also, we were smart enough (for a change) to install
the gudgeons before the stern deck, while it was still easy
to reach the bolts to attach washers and nuts.
The deck has now been coated with epoxy.
Gluing on the framing for the foredeck hatch.
This framing adds a great deal of strength and stiffness
to the foredeck. A mistake we made was not adding any beams
under the stern deck when we decided to use a deck plate
instead of a hatch. The result is the stern deck is very
flexible, and I’d be nervous about stepping on it,
and maybe even sitting on it.
Noel has obtained a water proof marine hatch and we plan to
replace the deck plate with that, and will probably retrofit
a couple of beams under the deck when that change is made.
On to the finish! We moved the boat from my
house to Noel’s so he would have easier access to
the endless finishing work, which is no small task. Here,
the hull is coated again with epoxy, and the bottom covered
with a graphite powder/epoxy mix for resistance to scrapes.
More sanding. It’s hard to express or
show how much sanding is necessary to finish a boat.
Noel had coated the hull with a epoxy/microballoons mix prior
to yet another round of sanding. Then he painted the hull and
decks, varnished the rubrails and we installed the leeboard,
rudder, cleats and other miscellaneous gear.
Here’s a video form an early outing in the Voyager. The
sail is from my Piccup. It is smaller than the designed sail
and, in this video, not particularly well set. But the boat
is moving along well and seemed close-winded and cut well through
the small chop.
At this point, we’ve just about finished making a full
size sail (I need myPiccup sail back!), and we still need to
install the oarlocks. The cockpit needs a little more sanding
and finishing, but we already know Noel has an excellent and
P.S. By Noel.
Voyager was a nickname for a friend of mine: David B. McMurtrey
who was the executive director of the Tallahassee Freenet (a
free internet service offered in Tallahassee several years ago).
He passed away in 2003. He grew up sailing small boats off St.
Petersburg beach. That morning in Alligator harbor (when the
videos were shot of Noel sailing his boat) I thought about how
happy he would befor me, having built such a lovely boat and
then sailing it on such a nice day. And she was named. -- Noel