October consisted in finishing already started projects and November will be more of the same, and November also marks 6 years of building. About 4100 hours in 6 years but the end is finally in sight. I have less than 3 months of actual construction, (including wiring and plumbing) to go, then I start on final finishes, laminating, lining panels or epoxy painting (inside cupboards, behind lining panels etc.) whilst Dean starts on fairing the outside. He figures he has a 2-3 month job with he and I or another worker working near full time. Initially I will pay for another worker but then towards the middle of next year if the boat is still too far off launch I plan to wind my work hours up to full time in order to make sure that the boat can be launched next year (I have drawn the line at 7 years!!). We think around mid year is a realistic aim. I had hoped that we could make it for end April so I could have a combined 50th birthday and launch party, but that doesnt seem likely now.
So 3 loose ends got finished in October. Some loose ends were for a reason, for example not fully knowing what was required yet before glassing stuff in. That is what was happening with the starboard hull aft bunk side walls/cupboards. I had made walls with doors already cut out many months ago but did not want to glass them in until I was sure that the access I was leaving for wiring and steering was adequate. I have measured out that the panel would fit against the chamfer panel about 100mm from the top, then I would leave a space under the bottom shelf of the cupboards which created a V shaped trough for the wiring umbilicals x 2 that the outboards would require as well as hydraulic lines to the steering but wasnt sure if, once the walls were glassed in, I was making it difficult to access the space to do the actual fitting. Having been reassured that there was plenty of access and space for the required wiring looms etc I was free to glass the panels in.
Which I duly did. Nothing particularly difficult about it. I glassed some ply stringers down that the bottom shelf would sit on (or be screwed down to) to leave the void below of about 50mm for the wiring etc. I cut out a ply base in 2 halves small enough to be able to be removed through the cupboard doors and once fitted on each side (the wall is split into 2 cupboards with a space in the middle that will have a portlight fitted to it that opens to the cockpit. I glassed the fronts on without any issues. I then glassed a panel of ply along the bottom between the 2 cupboards to the height that the mattress will be in order to complete the mattress enclosing wall (it too has a removable shelf that conceals part of the wiring trough below and above that shelf will be the portlight).
Dean suggested I would be better off de-coring the sections of the aft bulkhead where the outboard tracks would be bolted and replacing the balsa with 25mm ply. The bolts are going to be done up very tight and balsa is a bit softer than ply and may compress under the loads. So I cut the glass with a multi tool, for those of you that havent seen one, it used to be only available from an obscure German factory whose name escapes me but their patent must have expired and first Bosch, another more famous German brand introduced one and now the Chinese are making cheap knock offs. Its basically an oscillating triangle sander that converts into a cutting tool by attaching a blade that vibrates so fast it cuts but isnt sharp like a jig saw or circular saw. You can literally grab the blade while its going and not cut your self. It also wont cut anything that is soft or can vibrate with it. Anyway, I cut the glass away and chiselled the balsa out, cut ply replacements, glued them in and glassed over with 2 layers of glass overlapping the edges by about 200mm just to be sure (normally 100mm is enough). The effect of the light coming through the de-cored panel before I glued the ply in was a strange sight.
I also finished the room off by finishing the ply lid of the storage space below which doubles as the bed base. I braced the ply underside a little more with triangle webs and glassed in the front and back ply opening panels onto which I will hinge the front and back quarter lids (piano hinge) leaving a removable centre ply panel that will also have a piano hinge down the centre so that it becomes a flap that can easily be lifted without removing it, to access the storage space. The reason the centre half section is removable is so that larger items like push bikes can be stored in there, we also plan to carry around a portable air conditioner that we will use when in marinas on shore power when the heat becomes unbearable.
So apart from any construction required to fit the steering and outboard controls the construction in the aft cabin is done. There is a portlight to fit into the space between the cupboards and of course final lining and finishing which will include fitting a light and switch. I am so glad I decided to not go with the walk through transoms and to raise the height of the rear bulkhead by 100mm. The difference it makes to the headroom and space in this rear bunk will be instantly apparent to anyone building a similar boat that went with the walk through transoms. They look great and are very convenient from outside but man they pretty much kill any room below them. We opted for more room inside.
I also finished some of the cupboard in the starboard forward bunk. I cannot complete it until I have the mast posts, which are still being made. We still dont know when we will have them but are hoping for early next year. So for now I just finished the back of the cupboard that forms the side of the bed walls. I decided in the end to tier the cutaway that I had shown part of in my last posting, so the rest was just filling in the panels and glassing that all in.
Next projects to get finished and that I am still working on is the electrical cabinet under the bench that also houses the fridge. This cabinet will also house the rubbish bin that will pull out into the stairwell. And simultaneously (I am hopping from one job to the other) I am also starting on the port bedroom surround which includes cupboards that run down the sides of the mattress surround. This bunk is running across the boat the other 2 run down the boat, although the saloon bunk (lower the table and add the cushion to form it) will also be across the boat.
I divided the half space of the electrical cabinet in half front to back and then further divided the back half of that into halves, the aft side that runs along the stair side becoming a rubbish bin receptacle the other half will have a hinged door that will have all of the switching and monitoring built into the door and behind that will also be the inverter/charger mounted onto the wall at the rear that separates this space from the fridge. The switching panel will only be hinged so that the wiring loom and charger etc can be easily accessed. My only concern with this plan is heat dispersion. Inverters generate heat and I am not sure if this area is well enough ventilated (with the switch panel in front of it closed and then the main cupboard door in front of that also closed. And the fact it is alongside the fridge, another item that will create heat, but that had about 200mm of space between it and the side wall that adjoins the electric cabinet, about 100mm on the other side where the cupboard ends and the lounge seating starts and about 50mm across the back top and bottom. Anyway thats the plan for now.
So it was just a matter of cutting ply panels. Starting with a ply main shelf and the middle shelf and kickboard. Onto the middle shelf I may one day fit a HF radio (the marine VHF will go into the side of the nav cabinet in the main saloon doorway wall so that it is easily accessible from the helm). I am not yet convinced I need the expense of an HF radio but others tell me they are essential if I plan to cross oceans. In the space under the middle shelf above the kickboard shelf is unused as it houses the sheet pipes leaving not much usable depth.
I am making this section in ply for 2 reasons, first I have ply left over and not much more polycore left and second because I figure that heat might struggle a little to pass through it rather than the hollow polycore. I am still not sure if that is counter to what I actually want, perhaps I want heat to disperse through the panels, but on the other side of the panel is another heated area so not sure what would be gained by that. In the end the solution may be heat sinks or bilge blower fans to remove the heated air. This one may be a suck it and see type thing that I wont really know until all the electricals are fitted. Feel free to comment to advise me if you know. So with the shelves in place and the quartering off of the rubbish bin enclosure I white coated the inside of this section to signify that the construction is completed, save for the doors. I am also considering cutting a slot in the aft side wall of this panel, in front of where the rubbish bin enclosure is, to accommodate what would be a sliding louvre door that would hide the switch panel, provide ventilation to help dissipate the heat but also provide another function. By sliding out of the slot in the side it could slide out into the stair well to block off and privatize the port hull so that whenever we have guests aboard overnight, the port hull in its entirety will become the owners hull and they will have the other hull.
With the rubbish bin enclosure glassed in (from the outside of it) I cut the door out of the front of what will be a slide out rubbish bin, which would slide into the stairwell space. The cut out section will be the door that will attach to the sliding mechanism. Unlike other doors that would sit proud of the main panel, this door, like those in the curved vanity cabinets in both bathroom and ensuite, and the doors in the starboard aft bedroom cupboards just fitted and mentioned above, these doors will sit recessed into the panel they were cut from so as to fit flush leaving just the outline of the door gaps visible once laminated.
With the doorway cut it made reaching the bottom of the cavity much easier to cove and glass, I could stretch and reach from above because the top is not yet glued and glassed down (because I am waiting to fit the fridge that is sitting below the boat but the wiring is not yet in, having no top just makes initial fitting a little easier) but it was much easier through the cut away door. Then I decored the edges of both the doorway and the door and back filled them with filler. Then I left that to set and moved down to the Port forward bedroom to measure and cut the panels for the mattress surround.
Its amazing how long some jobs are tossed around in your head and then how fast those months and months of deliberation turn into the manifestation of the picture you had in your head for so long. It has happened a few times on this build, mostly because I put off jobs I thought were harder than others. In most cases that fear was ill founded. Once I got stuck into whatever task I was putting off, the work proved much easier than I had made it out to be and the job finished relatively event free.
Such is the case with the main bedroom surround cabinets. The mattress in this bedroom will sit on ply battens pre curved (taken off an old bed I had but these battens and holders are available new and I will need to buy another set for the forward bedroom in the starboard hull) on a 45mm ceder frame (each side and centre rails). The plastic batten holders fit into holes drilled into the rails. The pre-bent battens provide some suspension in addition to whatever the mattress provides. Most boats have foam mattresses, we intend to have either an inner spring or latex mattress custom made to the shape of this bed (in the forward starboard bed we will have a standard innerspring and on the aft bed a foam mattress. The rails and slats also provides a space below the mattress for ventilation and to run wiring and water pipes up along the middle rail and up the rear wall, which will have a liner over it with a void behind it so room for wiring and pipes, into the tanks.
We figure that a basic inner-sprung mattress is about 200mm thick and on the 50mm base, that makes the height of the mattress top 250mm. That is the height I have made the cabinet sides that run down the side of the mattress each side. It is this simple measurement that had stopped me making these otherwise ridiculously simple cabinets.
If the side areas are not to be wasted you have to be able to use the space, which in this case means having a lid on it that can be opened. Its not that this boat does not already have enough storage space, its just that sometimes you need stuff to be stored next to the bed. If the lid is to be flat then it has to be at the same height or lower than the mattress. Why? Because in the event of a very rough sea or unexpected slam when asleep you dont want to roll onto a raised square corner if the side is slightly higher than the mattress. You could make it much higher than the mattress but then you start to have a very deep cabinet and a more claustrophobic feel to the room as you start bringing the walls in. At the same height you would simply keep rolling until the wall stopped you. Not comfortable but not dangerous like a square corner might be on you, such as your head neck, ribs, wrists etc. A rough sea would get decidedly more uncomfortable with broken bones.
And this is probably what I should have built ages ago. But for some reason I kept putting it off because I felt I shouldnt be lazy and make the corners curved. I have put curves in just about every room in the boat and have not shirked it even though it is harder to make than flat and square. A couple of months ago I made a curved front for the pull out pantry and using a poly drain pipe as a mould I made the glass curved section. I made a couple of extra curved glass strips for these cupboards.
And now that the skeleton of the cupboards are made I wonder why I didnt make the curved lids ages ago (I actually haven’t finished the lids but I can see now that they wont be too difficult for me to complete, given that I have completed just about every other curved cabinet in the boat. One other thing that seems to often happen is that I dread doing the actual work and often procrastinate and put it off then when it is done I am so pleased I put in the extra effort. I really enjoy curved lines rather than square corners and straight lines. I guess thats part of the attraction for the actual design of this boat.
Once the ply sides and dividers were cut to shape and size and glassed into the boat I gave them a coat of white epoxy (while the glass tapes were green) in order to seal the ply. (Have you ever seen a ply panel that hasnt got some warping?) I used the uniform dividers in order to ensure the ply side stayed as straight as possible and coating them ensures they stay that way.
I then cut some cedar to size to make the rails (stripped 45mm x 5omm strips off a 200mm x 50mm plank) and glued and glassed them to the duflex bridgedeck to create the bed base. I will seal them once I have drilled the holes for the plastic batten holders. All that is left it to finish glassing the curved glass panel to the ply top. When done the curved top will eventually be upholstered with deep padding in the same material that the lounge upholstery.
All that is needed to finish the construction of this room now, besides fitting the mattress battens which is a 5 minute job, is some (3) battens (pine 20mm x 20mm should do it) along the back wall in order to take the upholstered wall panel that will also hide the wiring for the lights and the water pipes that will climb the wall about half way before going through into the anchor well (also about half way up) to a shelf in the anchor well that will house the water pumps. The water tanks are between the 2 bunks so the process will be repeated in the starboard berth also. The thinking is that should a water pump leak, it is in a wet well so the leak wont do any damage other than waste fresh water. I need them elevated so that they are not beneath the anchor chain otherwise I have to get all the chain out to access them. Ideally you want them low (below the bottom of the tank height) so that they are not lifting water out of the tanks and have head pressure to keep them primed but these pumps are self priming and only lifting water 500mm so it shouldnt make them work too much harder. But this isnt possible for the aforementioned reason so like about everything else on board, its a compromise between conflicting requirements.
That means, once I have completed the curved lids in the main bedroom I have finished construction in all 3 bedrooms except for installing the mast posts and a little furniture work around them. In the starboard hull there will be a shelf in the cupboard constructed around the post and then a side wall and floor to ceiling door (probably timber louvre) to close it all up. And in the port hull some steps up into the bed to match the ones already in on the aft side of the bunk side.
So next I move back into the bathrooms to finish the fit out in those rooms. The furniture is constructed but there are loose ends such as tops not glassed in yet because plumbing is not completed so that is another job, get all the plumbing in and the wiring. Yeah, I might get all the wiring and pipe work laid next.