July 2022—February 2023: The Interior


I've been working on the exterior of the boat for a long time. A long time. There is still a little more work to do on the skeg, but now it's time to work on the interior. What a depressing sight. Look at this mess.

I guess there is some humidity in the basement. And having the boat upside down for months at a time probably helped trap moisture. That looks like mold to me. Also, look at how the frame (the thing with the hole in it, yes, the hole is supposed to be there), attaches to the hull. There are gaps. The epoxy is a mess.

I sanded the frames, which at least made the wood look less moldy. Further treatment might be needed though.

I also sanded various random epoxy splotches and found remaining bits of wire to remove.

I'm going to check with the forums about the mold and cleaning up the epoxy, and then start on the interior fiberglass.

August 1: The advice (a couple of weeks ago) was to scrub the affected wood with diluted bleach, and then let it dry in the sun. So I did that. Note that this is the first photo showing the boat, and the lake in which it will eventually float (let's hope).

Moving on.

Glassing the interior

The exterior of the bottom and first panels were covered with fiberglass and then a few layers of epoxy. I proceeded after great trepidation, but it went pretty well.

Now I have to do the same to the bottom and first panels on the interior of the boat. There are a few problems here.

First, the exterior of the boat's hull is convex. (Digression: In grad school, I happened to be around people who were getting the field of computational geometry started. And one of the first problems examined was computing the "convex hull" of a set of points — basically what you would get by stretching a rubber band around all the points. The problem is to computed the shape of that rubber band, which is a convex polygon. This is a very cute problem because it is definitely geometric, but the solution uses extremely little geometry. It is basically the same problem as sorting. Anyway, here I am, about 40 years later, working on a very different kind of convex hull.)

But the interior of the boat is definitely not convex. The interior is interrupted by vertical frames, so the fiberglass needs to go up to but not past those frames. And the ends of the boat, come together in V shapes, and the fiberglass has to conform to those shapes. And fiberglass is very floppy, so it is tricky to keep excess fiberglass from flopping into the parts that are being epoxied.

Second, the seam between the bottom and first panels was, per instructions, covered with wet epoxy. So getting the fiberglass smooth, with the angles, and the frames, and the V shapes at the end of the boat, oh, and the somewhat rough interior catching the fiberglass, AND the clock ticking, while the epoxy in the seams was drying — all that made for a very difficult and somewhat frantic epoxying session.

Here is the interior after all the glass was epoxied:

It's kind of a mess. Lose strands of fiberglass all over the place, blisters, and wrinkles.

My plan is to use the heat gun and a knife to carve out the defects, and then apply a patch.

Do you see? You see why this is taking so long? Every time I spend N hours doing something to this boat, I have to spend about 5 x N hours cleaning up my incompetent work.


It's September 1, 2022. It's cold and windy, and we are leaving tomorrow. We are going back to Somerville, and Hannah is going to LA for a wedding and then back to Brooklyn. We will chauffeur Eloise back to Brooklyn next week.

I haven't posted anything for a month, because it's all been the same: heat up parts of the interior fiberglass that I botched, cut it out, put in a patch, cover with epoxy. That's almost done. It really isn't pretty. It looks like a Frankenstein boat, with all the patches and seams, but hopefully the fiberglass and epoxy will do their job and keep the wood protected.

Next, I need to install the seats, at the ends and middle of the boat. And the box that holds the centerboard needs to be assembled and installed. I needed to deal with mold, as with the frames, so the sanded and bleached pieces are drying outside right now.

But I already see the next problem. The center frame is bent. As with the breasthooks, the boat is slightly too narrow. In this case, the frame is bent to compensate. That means that the top of the frame points aft (toward the back of the boat), and the centerboard box won't fit right. The frame and the bottom panel should form a right angle, and because of the bend in the frame, the angle is a bit more than 90 degrees, so the centerboard box doesn't line up right.

CLC support tells me to use straps or something similar to apply pressure and bend the frame into shape. Braces. For my boat. I'm trying to figure out how and where to place the boat in the basement, where to attach the straps, so that everything stays in place while the frame is gradually modified. I've also written to the CLC forums for advice.

October 14: I got lots of ideas from the CLC forum. One idea was to attach a strip of lumber to the bent frame, to straighten it out, allowing the centerboard box to line up. I tried that idea using clamps, and it seems to work!

Here is the frame and centerboard box without clamps. Notice that the top notch of the centerboard box does not reach the cutout in the frame.


And with clamps. They do meet!

So I have a plan. I still need to assemble the centerboard, and finish the interior — lots of sanding and epoxying for all of that. Once that is done, I should be able to install the centerboard box permanently, (using epoxy and screws instead of clamps).

More of the same

January 16, 2023: The boat is back in the basement for the winter. More sanding. More epoxy. This is right after the 2nd coat of epoxy.

February 12, 2023: More of the same. Here is a picture, but it really looks the same. More sanding, more epoxy.

In related developments, I'm also continuing to sand and epoxy the pieces of the centerboard.

And today's weather is bright and sunny, high in the low 40s.

More epoxy is better than less epoxy

Or that's what I think, anyway. The CLC kit ships with large containers of epoxy and resin. I have had to buy a second pair of the same size. And a third, smaller pair. I hope I don't run out.

I have a very heavy hand with epoxy. The boat should weigh 100 lbs. when done. I suspect that mine will be quite a bit more, maybe 20-30% more. I use epoxy to cover mistakes, like the badly fiberglassed interior. I use excess epoxy because I am paranoid about missing spots, and water coming into contact with wood. I use more coats of epoxy than I should because there were spots where the epoxy took on a weird texture, so I figured more sanding and more epoxy would fix the problem, (maybe it did a little). Basically, I throw epoxy at any problem I encounter. So this boat has a LOT of epoxy on it.

Expert makers of this sort of boat go with a natural finish, just varnish on top of the epoxy. I had been thinking about painting, as a way to cover my many, many mistakes. But you know what? I'm just going to own the flaws. I mean, look at this (from the CLC website). This is the boat I'm building, in its rowboat configuration:

Mine won't look this good, but a natural finish, with all the flaws visible, will remind me of building the boat. Good times, good times.