Lessons Learned (Part 1)

November 28th, 2013

Seems to me that the value of this boat blog is two-fold: first, it’s a way to share progress with friends; second, it’s (hopefully) also a resource for other folks building, or considering building, a Ratty-like boat. This post is geared mostly toward this latter group.

With Ratty now upright, and my thoughts beginning to turn toward the interior, this seems like a reasonable place to call a time out and ask: what mistakes have I made thus far? Given that this is my first build, the answer is an unsurprising “many.” I’ll mention a few that seem most salient.

First, I did not make enough annotations on the bow molds (0 and 1) before I started planking. At all the other stations the hard chines make it so apparent where each plank ends, I overlooked how hard it would be to figure this out at the bow while planking. Here the chines are much more subtle—or in the case of station 0, essentially non-existent. Next time, as I’m battening, I’ll mark the heck out of everything.

Second, I would not join my scarfs in situ again. Instead, I think I’d cut the entire strake roughly to shape, glue it when flat on the bench, and then mark and cut it more precisely. THEN I’d glue it to the boat. Each and every one of the scarfs I made this go round required extensive fairing, and I think that gluing flat would avoid this. If I’d wanted to keep the boat bright, that would have been key, since as it stands there is a bunch of filler on the hull that wouldn’t look great.

Since we’re on that subject, I can’t think of anything I’d like less—perhaps other than a stab wound (though even that might depend on location)—than taking care of that much varnish. Laying the strakes whole at once would mean that a helper would be vital, but I found that to be the case anyway.

Third, I’d be more cognizant of which filler I used for which purpose. My wallet hurt at all the epoxy squeeze-out I had from various joints, so as planking progressed I increasingly used some of the squeeze-out to begin building up fillets. Never again. Sanding these fillets was absurdly difficult, and in the process I sanded away a fair amount of wood. Next time, I’d try to reduce squeeze out as much as possible, but I’d doggedly mix up new goop thickened only with fairing filler for the fillets.

Fourth and last, I’d at least think about glassing differently. Instead of just laying a big sheet down and going for it, I might be tempted to glass each strake individually, and then tape the chines. I might even do this on the bench before putting the strake on the boat; glassing flat is so much easier. But then again I might do the same thing I did this time.

Entry Filed under: Building Ratty


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